Dictionary, Shmictionary

Time to confess: tell us about a time when you used a word whose meaning you didn’t actually know (or were very wrong about, in retrospect).

This is odd…. how would I know how to use a word when I do not know the meaning? If I do not know the meaning, what is that word to me? It would be like a sound or empty chatter. Even `Duh’ is not actually a word but an exclamation to comment on something foolish… See… even an exclamation has meaning.

Perhaps, this was referring to some word that was used wrongly, like `Understand’. When people argue, it was common to hear one saying to the other, “Do you understand?” or “You don’t understand.” I have used this word many times and I think I don’t know what it means. The dictionary stated that it means to know how something works, the meaning of what someone said or to know something well. I shall not say I understand now but more like, I get the drift 🙂

I have used the word `understand’ when I wanted someone to affirm what I was saying or to get their attention in the process of communication. So I should have said, “You hear me?” instead of “You understand?” Another time I think I used it wrongly was when someone tells me about his or her problem and how difficult or painful it was and I said, “I understand what you are….”. In retrospect, I think it was wrong as I am not actually that person to know how he or she feels deep inside even if I had gone through the same situation before. I know we have been told to learn to put ourselves in another person’s shoes to consider what they are going through but I don’t think we can really understand. This has made me reconsider the use of this word and I stand corrected.

Dictionary Shmictionary – DP

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3 thoughts on “Dictionary, Shmictionary

  1. I know of quite a few people who don’t go to a dictionary for word issues, but rather pick up the “common usage” by their friends, using the context to give them the meaning of the word. If the friends are wrong in their usage, so is the person who learned it from them. And in certain cultural “pockets” this misuse is about impossible to correct.

    For example, quite a few folks I know have picked up the word “contribute” and are using it instead of “attribute. They will say, “He avoided the accident — which I contribute to his good driving skills.” In fact they should “attribute this to his good driving skills.” Oriented and orientated are often thus confused.

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