Languages are constantly in flux, even if it's only in small ways. Over time, old words and phrases take on new meanings, or lose their meanings entirely. If you doubt it, just read some Shakespeare—it's written in English and many of the words are completely different from ours.
Here are 6 words or phrases that have lost their meaning over time, either culturally or between individuals.
1. “I’m Sorry”
Somebody said, “I’m sorry.”
Sorry means asking for forgiveness from the person you’ve hurt. A simple sorry can also cure misunderstandings and avoid destroying relationships. However, overtime, it has lost its meaning when people are constantly making mistakes and hurting others, taking advantage of the fact that they can just say sorry.
2. “Love You”
One Redditor shared, “I think it's a word that lost its impact to a lot of people, while also simultaneously not being said enough. It's a weird balance. Close second, ‘On God’ or ‘I swear.’”
Saying “love you,” definitely doesn’t mean anything. It’s also different from saying “I love you,” apart from making an effort to type the pronoun I in the beginning. You can just say “love you” to anyone without actually meaning it. Welcome to the 21st century.
3. “Avoid it Like the Plague”
“‘Avoid it like a plague.’ Well, apparently we didn't,” said somebody.
“Avoid it like the plague” originally conveyed an urgent warning against grave danger, drawing upon the historical devastation caused by the disease. However, as it's been overused for minor inconveniences or challenges, its gravitas has diminished. Paradoxically, even with such dire warnings, human nature often leads us to repeat mistakes, further eroding the phrase's potency.
Another Reddit user commented, “Nazi, racist and fascist these days you don't have to actually be them just disagree with someone and you'll get called them.”
“Nazi,” “racist,” and “fascist” are terms that historically refer to specific ideologies, actions, and societal views that have caused immense pain and suffering. Originally, they were employed to call out genuine instances of prejudice, hatred, and authoritarianism.
Over time, however, they've been increasingly used as hyperbolic labels in heated disagreements, diluting their significance and overshadowing their historical weight. This casual overuse can trivialize real instances of hate and authoritarianism, making it harder to identify and combat the true manifestations of these ideologies.
5. “Trust Me, I’m an expert”
“Trust me, I'm an expert” once served as a reassuring affirmation of one's credibility and mastery in a particular field. However, the title has been overused and diluted in today's information-saturated digital age, where self-proclaimed “experts” abound on social media and online platforms. Coupled with high-profile instances of experts getting things wrong or being driven by ulterior motives, the phrase now often meets skepticism instead of blind trust.
Somebody stated, “These days, ‘traumatic’, ‘triggering’ and ‘toxic' are applied to anything and everything even remotely unpleasant.”
“Traumatic,” “triggering,” and “toxic” once held deep psychological and relational meanings. They pointed to severe emotional harm, specific distressing stimuli, and poisonous behaviors. However, with today's expansive online discourse, they're often used for minor discomforts. This casual overuse waters down their significance. As a result, real trauma, triggers, and toxicity might be overshadowed or trivialized.
Which of these words can you relate to the most? Let us know in the comments!
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