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"That's not what disinterested means" and other oddities.

(14 Posts)
TrillianAstra Thu 18-Aug-11 21:34:16

If a person used the word "disinterested" to mean "not interested"

which is incorrect usage - that is not what the dictionary says it means

BUT everyone listening also believes is to mean "not interested"

then the word has correctly conveyed meaning from one person's brain to another's

and so it has served its purpose

so is it still wrong?

Pamplemoussse Thu 18-Aug-11 21:41:13

Strictly wrong, yes, BUT common usage has changed the meaning and I feel it is accepted.

More's the blardy pity.

I get the same enraged feelings about folk staunching a wound

[stabbing emoticon]

LeBOF Thu 18-Aug-11 21:45:10

No, it is still wrong. And people are still stupid. Benignly nodding and letting it go makes you even worse than the stupid person.

Blueberties Thu 18-Aug-11 21:47:07

and refute does not mean argue against whatever the thesarus says

PonceyMcPonce Thu 18-Aug-11 21:48:18

Nope. And I use it to make people reconsider their position.

Blueberties Thu 18-Aug-11 21:49:29

and iterate means repeat

and reiterate means re-repeat

this is fun

SaulGood Thu 18-Aug-11 21:50:11

I've never seen refute used incorrectly to my knowledge but disinterested is up there with the imply/infer confusion.

And very few people seem to understand ambivalent.

Blueberties Thu 18-Aug-11 21:51:28

and you don't have two choices, you have one choice and two options

well you might have two choices but then you would have at least four options

EdithWeston Thu 18-Aug-11 21:56:32

I think that "disinterested" is in transition, as there is still plenty of original use, and it doesn't have a precise synonym (though "unbiassed" is close). I think it has a generation to go.

You can't hold back the tide of language change though.

I regret it when shades of meaning are lost though. A pet hate is "I was sat" - I remember someone elderly and posh using it with distinct meaning that someone had actually manhandled her onto a chair - she wasn't just sitting, nor was she seated, quite a different meaning, and the distinction would be lost on most now.

EdithWeston Thu 18-Aug-11 21:58:09

Blueberties surely you would have one choice between two alternatives or three (or more) options? grin

VictorianIce Thu 18-Aug-11 22:03:13

Can you choose 'between' more than two things? Wouldn't it be 'among' if you meant three or more? 'Between' must come from the same origin as 'two' and 'twain' and stuff like that...

EdithWeston Thu 18-Aug-11 22:13:16

Good point! Perhaps you should go for a safer way and choose from any number?

TrillianAstra Thu 18-Aug-11 22:31:20

Refute lives on the Wikipedia page of words with disputed usage.

Blueberties Thu 18-Aug-11 22:35:37

grin excellent argument

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