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Changes in Meaning: Evolution or Corruption? has posted an excerpt from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader highlighting different words and expressions whose meanings are not the same now as they were in the past.

The list is fun, informative, and most of all, accurate. The classic example of “irony” is brought up and, well, it won’t do anything to solve the matter. Its misuse was brought to light by Alanis Morrisette’s infamous and painful (for many reasons) song titled “Ironic”, whose only ironic aspect, of course, was that none of its situations were ironic, but the corruption of the meaning of the word had begun well before that.

Aside from that, however, the examples of “decimate”, “card sharp”, and “spit and image” represent nothing more than an evolution of meaning and an accommodation (psychologically speaking) that allows for speakers to preserve the word or phrase by having it make sense (spitting image versus spit and image is the best example of that, in my opinion) instead of being a random and isolated collection of phonemes that are supposed to mean something. We are fighting cognitive dissonance here, people.

Improper use of “beg the question”, however, is just a sign of ignorance. IT MEANS TO AVOID A QUESTION, NOT TO PROMPT ONE. I will not change my stance on that.