In a shock move by the Oxford English Dictionary, boffins have started showing signs of bending to public pressure on the use of certain over-used words. The words in question, which 100 years ago would have inspired respect and romance in the ears of those hearing them, are being downgraded to more mundane and less impressive meanings as a result of years of neglect, abuse and misinterpretation.
As such their original meanings are either lost or the words are so infrequently used in the correct context that the OED was left with no choice but to alter their meaning. The first word to be relegated was the word ‘unique’. This poor word, described in the OED to mean something that is ‘the only one of it’s kind’, ‘unlike anything else’ or ‘belonging to one particular person, group or place, has more recently been used in conjunction with adverbs in lazy attempts to increase its value. Ironically, this has had the reverse affect and ‘unique’ now just means ‘good’. In fact, ‘ironic’ was next for the dumb-down grinder. This word has so long been misused as a replacement for ‘coincidental’ that no-one knows what it ever meant. Ironic finds itself down with the wines and spirits being described as ‘funny or odd’.
‘Literally’ is another man-trap for lazy, talentless TV writers and sporting commentators to associate everyday occurrences with metaphors. Take, for instance the phrases ‘the place is literally crawling with journalists’ or ‘he literally hammered the ball home’, neither of which involved crawling or DIY tools but both of which you’re very likely to come across in the nation’s remedial press or television. Literally is now something that you can use instead of ‘really’ when increasing the gravitas on something. Penultimately, we come to the word ‘ultimate’. So long this word was correctly used in its intended form as a word to describe something that is ‘the best or most extreme example of its kind’ it has now latched itself onto any spurious list of Top 50 TV howlers, rebuilding old mansions or any television series about celebrities dancing in ice skates. ‘Ultimate’ now means ‘tiresome’. But it’s not all bad news. The word ‘celebrity’, derived from ‘a celebrated person’, someone that years ago would have been a soldier, scientist or other such luminary with a list of real achievements or discoveries as long as their arm, is now simply synonymous with ‘c*nt’.