Sexuality explained with soft drinks

Originally published at: Sexuality explained with soft drinks | Boing Boing

Take for instance the words “decimate” […], where decimate once meant to reduce by 1/10th


“Once meant” as in “back in Ancient Rome, when Latin was the main language.” Not really ever in modern English. But for whatever reason, this one sticks in some people’s craws. Someone will use the word “decimate” to mean “destroy thoroughly” and inevitably some pedant will come along and scream “no no no! The proper meaning is ‘to kill one in 10.’”

Truthfully, though, “decimate” as in “one in ten” is the Latin usage, not really the English usage. The word has been used loosely, as in “to utterly destroy” in English since at least the 17th century. It’s not been common to use “decimate” to mean “kill one in ten” for at least 400 years. Heck, it was more common to use the word to refer to tithing than “kill one in ten” or even “utterly destroy.”

The M-W has a nice explanation of the “decimate” thing, along with examples of other words that had different meanings in the original Latin but for whatever reason don’t get picked on like decimate does.



What do we use annihilate for now?


“Mambo dogface to the banana patch.”


Fetch Mean Girls GIF by Paramount Movies


no no no the proper meaning is that one in ten is chosen by lot and then killed by the remaining nine comrades.


Actually, the proper meaning is “to utterly destroy,” because that’s how it’s been used in English for 400 years. Literally.


“literally”? oooo now you’re just being notorious and ironically gaslighting that which comprises an uniquer plethora of fulsome neologistic usages’e’s!

(oh and emacs still uniquely decimates vi)


Ok, I’ll take the pedant’s role on this one. First of all, it’s transsexual, not transexual (two esses). Second, it still means the same thing, it’s just that it’s usage as a noun has become non-preferred. Even as an adjective, you just don’t see it much anymore. Regardless, the definition hasn’t changed at all. The reason you don’t see it used as much these days is that it refers to a somewhat limited portion of the overall transgender and gender non-conforming community. Even the trans community used to be kinda stuck in the gender binary, and the usage of that word reflected that.


arthur dayne hbo GIF by Game of Thrones


That’s a wild and crazy thing to say. ⤜(⚆⚆)⤏

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In that it’s 10 times as bloated and complicated?


I’d be surprised if John McWhorter is seriously interested in the texts of 16 year old girls-- most of his academic publications are on creoles.

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