Thursday, October 25, 2012

Perusing Dictionary definitions

I am always having to answer to the fact that "The Dictionary" conflates "anarchy" with "chaos", "destruction", and "disorder".  Or presumably negative concepts to that effect.  And I am not often believed outside the anarchist "community".

People don't seem to like it when I point out that dictionary definitions can be wrong due to common usage being incorrect- eventually if enough people use the word in the wrong way, the dictionary reflects that error.

Such is the case with "anarchy".

Several times I have been asked to give one example of another word that has suffered the same fate, and until now I haven't been able to.

That's right- I said "until now".

I have found another word that the dictionary says means two opposite things.  One word is said to mean both "to examine or consider with attention and in detail" and "to look over or through in a casual or cursory manner".

If you do one, you are not doing the other.  The word is "peruse".

Dictionaries are not infallible, and are subject to accidental errors and intentional manipulation.