We all know about the continual misuse of ‘literally’. Usually employed in a verbal volley by the likes of Jamie Redknapp, the word has shifted meaning; indeed, young Jamie may well end up being responsible for the death of the word ‘figuratively’ (I’m with Frasier Crane on this one).
What other words are changing their meaning? My nominations are ‘allude’ and ‘obsessed’.
‘Allude’ is traditionally defined as ‘suggest or call attention to indirectly; hint at’. Not any more. Again, it’s sportsmen doing the damage. A typical podcast will often flow along these lines:
FLINTOFF: “England football team were rubbish at the last tournament. Rubbish. They couldn’t pass, shoot or tackle. Pathetic.”
SAVAGE: “Yeah, as Fred’s just alluded to…”
No, Robbie. He wasn’t alluding – he was explicitly mentioning.
My second choice, ‘obsessed’, is traditionally defined as ‘preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually and to a troubling extent’. I’m not sure it’s used in this way now. Here are some uses I’ve heard recently:
“I’m obsessed with Game of Thrones!”
“I’m literally obsessed with Christmas films.”
I know both of the people who are responsible for the quotes above. They actually mean, “I quite like Game of Thrones/Christmas films.”
Over to you. What other words are changing meaning?