Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Words change over time, in meaning as well as sound. Since much of this comes from misuse, ignorance, laziness, and even wordplay, the more you know and the less fun-loving you are, the more a scold about words you will likely be.

Over the long run, though, for each loss in meaning we gain another. Might as well live with it.

In any case, the history of words can be fascinating. For example, did you know that “rob” and “robe” have the same ancestor?

Rob means to steal by force; robe means a loose flowing garment. Both hail from the same Old High German word, which I won’t try to pronounce. “Robe” comes close to the original meaning, of “clothes.” The original became synonymous with “stealing by force” because, in times long past, one of the most common items to grab from another was clothing. When one was robbed, one often had to disrobe. It was your robes you were being robbed of. Clothes were that valuable.

No wonder, then, when clothing was a robber’s favored booty, to become poor meant utter destitution. The destitute often wandered around with nary a scrap on them.

Not only have words changed, times have, too.

When next I catch a word in painful transition, I’ll remind myself that it’s more like a peaceful clothing change than a robbery.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor

3 Comments

  1. voxoreason says:

    Neither can you know whether someone using the term “decimate” (to reduce by one-tenth; Roman soldiers who disappointed their leaders were lined up, then every 10th soldier killed) is using it in exactly the opposite sense: killing 9 out of 10. This makes a difference, and I’m not interested in trying to go through the context to “interpret” the writer’s intended meaning.

    There are too many witty, intelligent, and literate writers to read to bother with those who slept through elementary English classes.

    You see the non-word “alot” a lot. “A” is an article (a, an, the), while “lot” is a noun, whether as an amount or a piece of land; what part of speech is “alot”? I’ve never heard a credible answer to that one.

    “Jay Walking” (Jay Leno asking people on the street fairly easy questions) is a segment of Leno’s show based on the ignorance of what used to be common knowledge.

    Education is no longer about learning. It just keeps a bunch of kids off the streets most of the day during the work week. Indoctrination is about the only subject taken seriously these days. The choice: learning (requires some work) or indoctrination (requires watching videos and learning how to masturbate, or perhaps get a condom on a banana. (This last is so teenage girls don’t have baby bananas. Well, perhaps it’s prep for rocket science.)

    Then there are hoodlums in school because it spares them jail time. Yes, these are motivated learners. They learn that they can party in school better than they can in jail.

  2. dianabol says:

    I myself think this is a very informative and educating article on using words of meaning. I am one of the people that would know much of what someone was trying to say if I heard someone saying these different sayings. Thanks for this great article.

  3. Emmy says:

    Thakns for sharing. What a pleasure to read!

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