in english, Uncategorized

On the Abuse of “Nonplussed”

Ben Yagoda explores a problem that I’m endlessly fascinated by: When do grammarians such as myself decide to let go of words’ original meanings?

We all know that words change their meanings all the time, sometimes glacially (the prescriptivists have been fighting on behalf of the original sense of disinterested for centuries), sometimes relatively quickly (that nonplussed thing snuck up on me). But this fact raises a question (it doesn’t beg the question—that means something else): How long should we hold on to a word’s old meaning?