Word Nerd Wednesday: Princess Bride Edition

don't think it means

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. ~ Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride

I am pretty sure we’ve discussed this here before, but this past week I thought about it again. So you get to be the beneficiaries of my periodic belaboring over the misuse and misapplication of words and how this makes it easy for us to misunderstand concepts that should be simple. As a result, we live in a culture and society where a majority of people are misled about the reality of things. This accelerates the erosion of our personal and collective freedom so it needs to be considered. I’ll start with the word which recently reignited my passion for this particular topic.

*Healthcare: The quick click online definition of healthcare is as follows: The prevention, treatment, and management of illness and the preservation of mental and physical well-being through the services offered by the medical and allied health professions.

That is not a terrible definition, except that it neglects to include the things we can do individually to contribute to our health and personal well-being. Things such as the brisk walk I took with my husband not long after 5:30 AM, or the weight training workout that followed it. The idea that individuals can be largely responsible for the care of our own health has been largely ignored. However, that’s not the part that sparked my notice. How many of us have heard a politician breathlessly bleat out this panicked refrain into the nearest microphone:

“Millions of Americans are living without healthcare!”

Yeah, you’ve heard it. And by that, they mean health insurance. In effect, our entire society has been conditioned to equate health insurance (the bureaucratic apparatus by which medical bills are sometimes partially paid) with healthcare. Drinking plenty of water, eating your broccoli, and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle is probably better insurance than said bureaucratic apparatus.

*Sex: The first quick click online dictionary definition of sex is, again, pretty close to the purest definition of the word, which is actually a biological term: either of the two major forms of individuals that occur in many species and that are distinguished respectively as female or male especially on the basis of their reproductive organs and structures.

Of course, we’ve replaced sex with gender (which now operates on a spectrum) and taken the words coitus and intercourse and replaced them with sex. For the longest time, I didn’t see a problem with this particular evolution of language, but that was back when I was gullible enough to think that science still held some clout in our society even as religion waned.

I could go on about this particular evolution of language, but then I’d be wandering off the word nerd reservation and that’s not really what we do here.

*Education: The quick clink online dictionary definition of this word is pretty strange: the action or process of educating or of being educated. When I looked up educated, I got: having an education. The second definition is like unto the first but it at least gets to the heart of my problem with our modern understanding of education: the field of study that deals mainly with methods of teaching and learning in schools.

The classic understanding of education (probably prior to mass schooling) was this: that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations.

In effect, we have discarded the idea of education as a comprehensive endeavor meant to form the whole person into a useful citizen, spouse, parent, employer, and employee. We have replaced that with the notion of education as synonymous with schooling.

Well, that’s it for this edition of Word Nerd Wednesday.

As always, feel free to add your picks for words that don’t mean what we’ve been conditioned to think they mean.

6 thoughts on “Word Nerd Wednesday: Princess Bride Edition

  1. smkoseki says:

    We review 60 words/d, 6 d/wk on an 8,000 custom-built word list. I wasn’t sure if inconceivable was on the list so I just checked & it was :-):
    Word #7885: inconceivable
    Definition; unbelievable (ĭn′kən-sē′və-bəl)
    Sentence: David had an inconceivable victory.


  2. nellperkins says:

    Socialism does not mean communism. Capitalism does not mean fascism. Everyone please calm down.

    So earlier this morning I had an idea — we need a Union of Christian Workers to at a minimum serve as a support group for people facing, like I do, the prospect of losing their jobs over refusal to cooperate with preferred pronouns. It was the pronoun thing that almost broke my mind over the left, and I can tell the day may be drawing near when it costs me my income. I came here today not to talk about words in general, but about “union.” Just how anti-union do you think the right is? Do you think they’re just hopelessly wedded to the idea that the guy with the most money makes the rules? If I call it the Union of Christian Workers, will I have to endlessly deal with pushback and complaints about some stupid problem with some stupid corrupt union leadership somewhere else a long time ago when unions still mattered in this country?

    Unionism is not socialism which is not communism. But do enough people understand that?


  3. Elspeth says:

    Good Friday morning, Nell!

    I’m not a fan of socialism as I understand it but I agree with you completely: socialism is NOT communism. There are several Western European countries which employ lots of socialist policies, but they are clearly not the same as China, Cuba, or North Korea.

    I am more curious and favorable towards Chesterton’s distributism myself, but that’s a big topic for another day. Maybe I’ll read a book about it, 🙂

    As for the Christian union question: My strong preference is for a Christians to develop something more similar to what black Americans had established during segregation. Quiet as its kept, even with all the hardships and discrimination, there was a decent-sized, prosperous black business class that catered to black Amereicana who couldn’t procure goods and services any other way. This article at The Henry Ford webpage is a good snapshot of what that looked like. It’s a great article:


    The persecution of bad think against Christians may or may not happen in the short term, but as a long term strategy, we should probably be thinking along the same lines as blacks had to think during Jim Crow.

    In the meantime, an organization of Christians uniting for the purpose of having our Constitutional rights honored and upheld in the work place doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me upong first thought. Call it a “union” or call it something else, but in a country where so many conservatives are fully bought in to the materialist, corporate run capitalist zeitgeist, yeah. I’m not averse to what you are proposing.


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