Defining Redefined Words: The Fight for Language

Have you noticed that certain hot-button words in our western culture are actively being redefined to mean something new, that is an aberration from their actual, historical meaning? If you haven’t noticed, it’s time to do so.

Earlier this year, noticing this disturbing trend, I decided to screenshot some word definitions for posterity. I figured I’d use them for some reason sooner or later. Turns out it is sooner.

When news broke in June 2020, that Merriam-Webster was changing the definition of racism, due to the complaints of an individual, I could scarcely believe it. Actually, I could, because I’ve been watching this unfold for some time. But for a dictionary to actually *change* the definition of a word — this is alarming.

I might remind you, that the definition of a word is in most cases immutable, with few exceptions of words that have been updated with cultural shifts, slowly, over time. Generally, a word means what it means. To attempt to change it to is uproot reality itself.

How very 2020 of reality to be uprooted. (For those reading later, 2020 is more than half over, and is going down in history as a year like no other.)

My purpose in writing this post is to simply provide screenshots of some definitions as they have always been understood. I’ll refrain from extensive commentary on this post; it will serve more to establish a baseline than anything else. I may provide commentary in future posts because there is so, so much to be said about all of this.

Historical definitions of hot-button words

Racism: “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s one race is superior.

Rascism

To illustrate my point, here is the modified definition of racism, as of June 27, 2020:

Racism 6-27-20

It’s subtle. But that is how redefinitions work. Subtle at first. More on that in a future post.

Let’s proceed with more word definitions.

Racist: a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.

Racist

Bigot: a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions.

Bigot

Fascism: A governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.

Fascism1 7-7-20 dictionary.com

White supremacist: a person who believes that white people are racially superior to others and should, therefore, dominate society.

White Supremist

Nazi: a member of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.

Nazi

Justice: just behavior or treatment; the quality of being fair and reasonable.

Justice

Just: based on our behaving according to what is morally right and fair.

Just

Tolerant: showing a willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

Tolerant

Equity: the quality of being fair and impartial.

Equity

Wrapping up …

I was motivated to put this set of definitions together as a starting point for fighting back on what I see as a war on language that unfortunately many people don’t even realize is being waged.

There are leftist/Marxist cultural change agents who wield a lot of influence, that are actively redefining terms, and subtly building in different contexts around the words they are using. What’s worse, as they weaponize words that we’ve always understood to have a specific meaning, they often equivocate between the traditional definition and the one they are using functionally. And they do so deliberately to cause confusion and lack of clarity.

That is at best, deceptive, and at worst, evil. Any culture that cannot communicate effectively is doomed to implode eventually. And yet it seems that is what the word redefiners want for western civilization.

Is that what you want?

I urge you, if this topic concerns you, to educate yourself on what is happening on this front. When in conversations with people where words like “racism,” “justice,” and “equity” are being thrown around, ask the people using them to define what they mean by them. If you’re using a different definition than the person you’re talking to, you’ll end up talking past each other.

In closing, I’ll offer this quote. Let me know if there are any words that should be added to the list above, or if you have any questions.

“Social upheaval, in other words, presents an opportunity for would-be autocrats to make a grab for power by weakening the foundations of legitimate rule. Those foundations are: piety, family, and language.” – Spencer Klavan, The American Mind

 

 

 

 

About Summer Sorensen

My aim: to live out Jesus' greatest commands (Matthew 22:36-40) & have the most fun while doing it.
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8 Responses to Defining Redefined Words: The Fight for Language

  1. Reasonable and logical. I love this post so much!

  2. I didn’t even realized this until you mentioned it in your post, they are trying to redefine our language. Knowing this helps when communicating.

  3. Well, you’ve got my attention with this subject! I’m looking forward to reading your next post on “Defining Redefined Words.”

  4. Amy says:

    You know I love you Summer, but I don’t agree with anything that you have written here. Language changes, it’s the nature of language. The change of the word racism I feel just allows for better clarity. “Leftist/Marxist” change agents aren’t trying to deliberately confuse or deceive people. My hope is that you would want to fight against injustice not a perceived “war on language”. I don’t know if you read this website I linked to on your FB page from the Smithsonian (super long) https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/talking-about-race/topics/historical-foundations-race, but it helps give the history of race and racism, which was created by white people to support white supremacy.

    • Summer Sorensen says:

      Hey Amy,
      I love you too, of course. I fully expect you to disagree with me. I am of course fighting against injustice. Letting people know what is going on is one way I fight against injustice. But the question then becomes, how do YOU, Amy, define “justice” or “injustice?” If your definition is different than, or goes beyond, the definition I listed in my post then I would hesitantly suggest that you are making a case FOR what I am saying, not against it.
      Also, how specifically does changing the definition of racism increase clarity?

  5. Amy says:

    Summer, I agree with the above stated definition of injustice. Why do you feel like leftist/Marxist are trying to deceive people, and what is their goal? Stated another way, what are you trying to prevent? I above said language changes and although that’s true, I’m learning that race/racism has always been about an entire people group or a systemic approach, not about individual interactions. If you were able to read the link that I provided above (a lot to read!), the definition of racism has always been about systemic racism, not individual interactions. Race itself is a social construct built out of wanting to distinguish one group of people from another IN ORDER to justify oppression such as chattel slavery. To be able to oppress other humans we actually have to dehumanize them first, thus creating an idea that one type of people group is less than another. I know you care about others and want everyone to know God’s love, and believe that equality is important. Do you feel that we have a just society for everyone? Do you see any inequities between male and females or between black and white people? If so, how do you think we should address them?

    • Mike says:

      Amy,

      I agree with you that racism is a social construct, and a bad one at that, invented with bad intentions. People have different ethnicities, but the Bible says we are all related to the original two people, Adam and Eve, so we are all one race. However, I completely disagree with you when you say the redefinition of “racism” allows for better clarity. It does the exact opposite and makes the term as clear as mud.

      In the Atlantic article that you sited on Facebook the author mentioned the two historic definitions of “racism” that they called Racism 1.0 and 2.0 with the new redefinition being Racism 3.0. Most Americans think in terms of Racism 1.0 and 2.0 which is the basic idea of hating someone because of the color of their skin or their ethnicity. It is personal and intentional. The new Critical Social Justice redefinition of racism (3.0) is not personal, it is about systems, laws and policies and it isn’t intentional. You are defined as being racist if you are white, for example, regardless of what you think of people of other ethnicities. In Racism 3.0, things like punctuality, the scientific method, capitalism, meritocracy and thinking 2+2=4 can be considered “racist”. That will make zero sense to most Americans who think in terms of Racism 1.0 and 2.0. They will think you have two heads if you say 2+2=4 is racist. So, if your goal is clarity then redefining racism to Racism 3.0 is exactly the wrong thing to do.

      If the goal is to weaponize terms to promote an ideology, then Racism 3.0 makes a lot of sense. People associate a lot of guilt and shame with being a racist, and they should if we are going by Racism 1.0! If however, you redefine the term to mean something completely different and equivocate between the meanings you can get the guilt and shame of racism 1.0 and 2.0 onto the redefined racism 3.0 by association.

      There is an interesting article on New Discourses that I think you will find interesting. It directly interacts with the Atlantic article that you linked to as well as Webster adding the 3.0 definition to their dictionary. It is a bit long, but I have read a few rather long articles that you linked to. The article is here: https://newdiscourses.com/2020/08/redefining-racism-against-activist-lexicography/

      “Pigs can fly if we redefine ‘pigs’ to mean ‘birds’.” – James Lindsay

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