Look: At some point, everybody misuses certain words.
It’s just a fact of life. At some point today, you’re going to be having a conversation with someone, and they’re going to say “literally” when they mean the polar opposite of “literally,” or “over” when they mean “more than,” or “chromatophore” when they mean “three-ring binder,” or whatever. Sure, it can be irritating, particularly if you’re obsessed with exactitude, or just someone with a respect for the language.
Usually, though, it’s not really that big a deal, because usually, you know what the person misusing the word is trying to say.
Politicians, though, are another story. When a politician misuses certain words, the results can be provocative or even downright disastrous. Generally not for the politician in question, but more often for the people who misunderstand what the politician intends.
Were I a more cynical person, I might suspect that politicians occasionally attempt to redefine certain words to fit and color their respective agendas. Luckily, I’m not; I just think that our duly elected representatives sometimes throw out a 50-cent word without looking it up, that’s all.
So, in the interest of education, clarity and avoiding any unpleasant miscommunications, let’s take a look at some of the terms most often misused by politicians — and exactly what they mean.