I feel in the mood to post a rant so I’m going to do so. This one is about something particular that annoys me. Enjoy.
I have seen this line both in arguments online and in real life ‘well according to the dictionary definition of the word’-stop right there please. The dictionary is not some holy bible of the English language. It is not the final and deciding factor on what words mean. A dictionary is written by people whom have biases and flaws just like the rest of us. Words gain their meaning from social political and historical contexts. This does not mean that words can mean whatever we want them to mean. But rather that what they mean is governed by social norms of a person’s community. Therefore when you start arguing that a word definition is X and only X because it is written in the dictionary you fail to take into account the social, political, historical and cultural reasons why they define the word in that particular way. Often the reasons maybe not as simply as you think. So before you begin arguing about terms and definitions do some fucking research.
Many words have more then one meaning because different groups have different norms. Most dictionaries reflect only what the majority of people in particular setting see the word as. Many groups fall outside the majority (and just because you’re in the majority does not make you right-language is an anarchy not a democracy).
Many groups have terms and language that would not even be recognizable to people outside those groups. (an example would be many of the different identities in the queer community which cisgender and heterosexual people would be unfamiliar with). In short the common dictionary is not some holy bible of the English Language, if you have a problem with how a group of people define a word then you need to come up with another reason then ‘well the dictionary says so’.
You’re welcome to debate me on this but be warned I have two years of an English degree under my belt and will not hold back.