Friday, February 24, 2012

7 words you probably use incorrectly.

You will notice that there are many blue words in this post. Each one is a link to that words definition. Click on them. You may be surprised by what you find. Or maybe not. :)

"Inconceivable!!" - Vizzini
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." - Inigo Montoya

If you do not know what that quote is from, then you should stop reading this and go here, and then go and watch The Princess Bride this instant!

You're back? Wasn't it excellent? Now we may proceed.

I have compiled a list of words that either do not mean what we think they mean, or words that have completely lost their value and have had their definitions changed in the dictionary because of societies slang use of them.

Let us begin.

Now, because we, who call ourselves English speakers, have taken what was once a beautiful language and slowly devalued it's more powerful words, the dictionary now reflects the definitions we have invented for ourselves. For instance:

1. Decimate.
Previously, I would have told you that to "decimate" something is to wipe it out, or destroy it. False. Or at least it is only partially true. Originally, "decimate" (from Latin) meant to reduce by 1/10th. Surprised? So was I. Of course, the current definition of "decimate" reflects our slang use of it.

Some words have lost their meaning, because we, the undereducated public, instead of looking up the correct definition, have begun to use what ever word we think of to mean what we want to say. Thus creating a working definition for that word, but, at the same time, ignoring the actual definition.

2. Awesome.
This word is used quite flippantly to describe just about anything. Whether it was a mildly interesting story you heard or a taco you ate, the word "awesome" is thrown into the sentence without anyone batting an eye. This is not the correct way to use the word "awesome". And it's entry in the dictionary has not been changed to reflect our poor use of the word. So, there is no excuse. "Awesome" means "extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear." The word "awesome" should be reserved for things that are truly magnificent and inspiring of awe (Awe is an interesting one too.) So, unless your taco is particularly inspiring of fear, or great admiration, you should probably use a more appropriate word. An accurate use of the word "awesome" would be in reference to God and His glory.

3. Incredible.
Incredible is supposed to mean that something is "not credible, or impossible to believe". Not so now. We currently lump it together with the other words we use incorrectly like "amazing", "fantastic", and "extraordinary".

4. Great.
"Great" is used incorrectly all the time. And most often by Americans. The British have kept a tighter hold on the original meaning, which is "very large, or of unusual size". "That was a great brownie!" would be an incorrect use of the word. Unless the brownie happened to be unusually large. :) It would also be... unusual for you to refer to yourself as "great" in response to someone asking how you are doing.

5. Good.
This one is particularly annoying to me. When someone asks you how you are doing, you can not be "good" unless you are telling them that you are particularly moral or virtuous. Click on the word to read the actual definitions. There are many.

6. Terrific.
Frightening, terrifying. Enough said.

And finally:

7. Peruse.
We think it means to lightly read through, to skim over. Wrong. In fact, it means quite the opposite. To "peruse" something is to read it thoroughly, and carefully.

Now, I realize that the definitions of these words have changed to reflect our use of them, and I will not be offended if you continue to describe your tacos as awesome. However, it might be worth investing in a Thesaurus so that you can impress your friends. (Don't go over board with it. haha)

Because I love the English language, here is a new word for you: Adamantine. See if you can think of a grammatically correct sentence using this word and post it in the comments.

I hope you have a delightful day!

Monday, February 13, 2012


In preparing to give my testimony a few Sundays ago, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I have been through, and what has been happening in my life lately. I came up with a long list of “bad” things that have happened over the years, or at least things I would change if I could. The list includes things like health concerns, the accident I was in that totaled my car the week before this past Christmas, the crazy time I had trying to find reliable transportation, and relationship struggles. …But then I realized that through all of these things, and the things I am struggling with now, God is doing a good work in me. Somehow, Jesus Christ has taken the things I wish I could cut out of my life completely, and used them for His glory, to break me and then build me back up to be more like Him. I have had to learn to trust in God, even when I don’t understand what He is doing with me, and to keep going, knowing that God will use these situations to strengthen and bless me, and to glorify Him.

Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

And in Jeremiah 17:7 it says, “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.”

Laura Story recently wrote a song called Blessings (you should listen to it here). In an interview about the song, Laura explained that, after going through some particularly tough times, and feeling like God was withholding his blessings from her, she had to step back and re-evaluate how she viewed God’s blessings. The verses of the song talk about things many of us have asked God for, but may not have received, like health, prosperity, wisdom, and peace. Often times in my life I get frustrated, or even angry, when I think of all the blessings God seems to be withholding from me. In this song, Laura Story suggests that maybe God’s blessings are not always apparent, that the things we look at as trials might actually be one of the many ways God blesses us. The chorus of the song asks “What if Your blessings come through raindrops? What if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near? What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?”

God does not cause bad things to happen; rather, He takes the bad situations of this life and uses them for good.

This song has challenged me to look at my life as a bigger picture. To see the things I would call trials as blessings. The accident I was in at Christmas time was not fun. Essentially my car was pushed under an SUV by another car, on the freeway. And, though I wish I could still say I’ve never been in an accident, I have realized something important. My red 1993 Ford Probe had become a symbol to me of the things I could do on my own without God’s help. I relied primarily on the things I had, and the things I seemed to be able to accomplish on my own, and I had stopped relying on God for my strength and comfort. That accident, and the loss of my car, forced me to look at what matters in my life, like that I survived an accident that could easily have killed me, and it has brought me back to my Savior, which is a true blessing.

In James 1: 2-4 it says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

As you go about this day, reflect on the things in your life that have been trials, and consider that God may have been using them for a greater purpose, and remember what it says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”