Here’s a fun exercise.
But first, a bit of philosophy. Contrary to many people in the news who use words to destroy, writers use them to create. I love words – love putting them together in a way that paints an action, a sentiment, a hope or a dream. I play with them endlessly when I write, modifying, exchanging, and reordering them until I read them a final time and whisper a blessed, “God, that’s good.”
I also love discovering other authors’ words, ones that I may not know well but should. When those words become part of my writing word-chest, I feel as if I’ve grown.
And then there are words I may have always known, that have taken on meanings undreamed-of years ago.
Take WEB. When I was growing up, a web was something Charlotte spun. Now it’s a worldwide cyber-platform. And CHIP. In my kitchen, a chip is chocolate, but this isn’t true of the chip in an electronic device. And APPLE, which is no longer only something you eat.
Then there’s FRIEND, used as a verb, as in friending a person on Facebook. And LIKE, as in clicking on a little heart icon to show your approval of a post. And, yes, POST, used as a noun and referring to something one has written that now others can see via said worldwide cyber-platform.
What about electronics terms, like ONLINE, E-BOOK, E-MAIL, VOICEMAIL, and APP? Okay, APP stands for application, but, seriously, did you know that? An APP is an APP, right?
There are other verbs, like DOWNLOAD, UPLOAD, and CUT-AND-PASTE. Funny, when I say the last, my mind still conjures the image of scissors and construction paper, and the smell of gummy white paste. Remember that? Or do you automatically think of the computer technique that CUT-AND-PASTE now is?
My grandkids are learning MOUSE SKILLS in the early elementary grades. Nope, not talking about playing rodent by scurrying along the edge of a room and disappearing into a tiny hole.
I won’t effuse on the word SELFIE, because I hate the concept, though there are people who consider a SELFIE the souvenir of choice for life adventures. Of course, I hate having my picture taken at all, much less of me by me. But that’s just me.
I do like VIRTUAL, as in virtual house tour rather than virtual truth, and VIRAL, not as in pneumonia but a video that meets with sudden fame.
CORE used to be the center of an apple. Now it’s the central part of a body that needs to be kept strong so that it can support the more vulnerable parts.
How about the word ORGANIC? I use it in ways now that I wouldn’t have dreamed of a while back. Can I define it? I’m not sure. It’s kind of a catchall for something that goes back to basics, or may connect with something else in an organic – uh, fundamental way.
So here’s the fun exercise. Can you think of words that are either brand new but already part of our lives, or that have morphed so much from their original meanings as to be new words after all?
If so, please put them in a comment below, and I’ll include them in a future blog!