Most people don’t like a word snob. Speaking as a word snob, I can assure “most people” that the feeling is mutual. It is therefore with total “disinterest” for their feelings (yes that’s the correct use of that word!) that I present the following…

 

English is a living, breathing and evolving language. Some words change meaning with each new batch of “cool-kids” that come along. Unfortunately, being “hip” to “groovy” uses of words is not an excuse for not knowing their correct meaning.

 

It’s fine to “play” with words, but like fire (or power-tools) you should first master the proper skills or you will “literally” get burnt. Actually you will “figuratively” get burnt. Words can’t “literally” burn you. Although a pile of books could?!

 

The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride

 

Here are 5 words that don’t mean what the vast majority of English speakers think they do.

Ultimate

What the ignorant think it means: Great, Awesome, Super
What the educated know it means: The Last or Final (one)

The Omega Man was the ultimate man on Earth.

Redundant

What the ignorant think it means: Repetitive
What the educated know it means: Exceeding necessity

The let him go because his position became redundant.

Travesty

What the ignorant think it means: Tragedy, Disaster
What the educated know it means: A Mockery (of)

OJ walking free was a travesty of the judicial system.

Unique

What the ignorant think it means: Extraordinary
What the educated know it means: One of a kind

Every child in the class was unique. Even the dull ones.

Bemused

What the ignorant think it means: Amused, Funny
What the educated know it means: Confounded

I am bemused by the fact that some Muslims vote for Trump.

The common counter-argument is that these words are now so often used incorrectly that their definition is changed by default. This is, unfortunately, another example of ignorance. Language is not a democracy. Be smart! Learn the rules before you abuse them! And stay in school!