Sunday, March 16, 2014

It's a Moot Point

"It's a moot point that brownies are superior to cookies in every way."

I'd wager that as 99.99% of you read that sentence your conclusion was along the lines of thinking it's settled that brownies are superior to cookies and it's pointless to argue anything to the contrary.

You'd be wrong.

In the words of Inigno Montoya, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

"Moot" actually means "subject to debate, dispute, or uncertainty." It means exactly the opposite of how most people use it. How did this come to be true? It's an easy matter to look up a word to see what it means but this misuse of "moot" has persisted over decades.

Now we're also starting to see the word "literally" being used in its completely opposite sense. "Literally" is being used to mean "figuratively." Should we change the dictionary definition to accommodate this change in usage or should those of us who know the difference just shake our heads, mumble incoherently, and walk away when we see or hear a word used incorrectly? At what point do you just give up trying to correct people and just toss in the towel in frustration?

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