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Words Do They Mean Anything

Updated on December 26, 2015


Birch Bark
Birch Bark | Source
Dog Bark
Dog Bark | Source

It Started With A Bark

It started with a bark. This could mean a dog barked and something began to happen. Perhaps this is going to be a sentence about examining or looking for the outer covering of a tree. I as the writer have an intention concerning meaning of this sentence. What I intend is very important if my writing is to be understood. There has to be some common reference in words otherwise there is no point to ever reading anything or putting their where there should be would be most acceptable.

While looking at tree bark is something I do regularly, this particular morning, the information you need to understand this sentence is; it was 5 o'clock in the morning when the dogs barked.

The Full Moon

Normally, they go out and that's it. Since, I was unusually wide awake I pulled on a jacket and went out as well. I remembered the news yesterday announcing it was odd for Passover, Good Friday and a full moon to happen all at once. Curiosity had me checking the morning sky. The full moon was amazingly beautiful and low in the sky. The sky always delights me. I like to think of the sky as a painting that is constantly changing. In the Christian tradition there is a saying, "The heavens declare the glory of God". In Egyptian history people worshiped the sun god RA. The sky has fascinated people for a long time.


Antiestablishmentarianism: a political philosophy viewing a nation's or society's power structure as corrupt, repressive,or unjust. The wish to subvert the establishment from within.

Are You What You Say...

Being awake led me to an article on a very politically and socially charged topic. The article was talking about how words no longer meant much. As a word lover this cut to the quick. Was this true?

Some years ago I asked a question about profanity. It was surprising how many of my beloved hubbers defended their use of profanity. They said, "It's just who I am". Think for a moment. Do you use profanity as a comma or exclamation point? If profane words have no meaning then use them as punctuation. But if they do mean something, what do they mean, and is that you want others to think of you. If you say," shit ",often are you being self deprecating? Are you stating you are manure? As a gardener I are love manure, but I don't think that is what most people think when they say," shit ",regularly. If you think about it long enough... Oh the rabbit trails of thinking.

After many years of not using profanity I recently swore at one of my children. Gasp! Is exactly what he did when I swore at him. I used the word very specifically and got a shocked response, which was my intention. I have no problem with people who use profanity to make a point, but a lazy habit with words is not in the best interest of a writer.

Recently a colleague Frank Atanacio used profanity in the most appropriate way. Check out his writing he does a nice job playing with words.

A friend, a flight attendant, recently punctuated a sentence with an F bomb while speaking to a passenger. Did that word meant anything?


Morality is defined as principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior. synonyms: ethics, rights and wrongs, ethically

Words Change

The meanings of words change over time. Think of the word gay. It can refer to a woman whose first name is Gay. It can refer to the singer Marvin Gay whose last name is Gay. If you bring up those names in an elementary school the kids will snicker because the use of gay as a name is archaic to them. They think of gay in terms of sexual orientation.

Words in one culture can differ completely in another. Like the word dog. Dogs in the United States are man's best friends. I heartily agree, since this all started with a bark. In other cultures the word "dog" is a slur. Dogs are disgusting to some Asian and Eastern cultures. Let's leave the word dog. It's like the word think, the rabbit trails dog can lead you down in other societies seldom lead to a good ending for the dog.


Antidisestablishmentarianism is the opposition to the government withdrawing support from established religions.

Words and their meanings change as societies change. This completely stymies me. Why do I have to learn new meaning for words like tolerance and sex?

In the sixties and seventies the mantra was," You can't legislate morality". Now, if you don't want to legislate morality you are any number of nasty names. What what does the word morality mean?

Morality is defined by Webster as principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.

synonyms: ethics, rights and wrongs, ethically

Well here is a good case for words having no meaning. If you have no standard for right and wrong, good and bad behavior you make up your own morality. The more people do this the harder it is for me to keep track of what I am supposed to be doing. The things I grew up believing were right, now are wrong. Hey, there are some advantages to this. I all sorts of things like sit on the counter in the kitchen and drink from the milk carton and double dip the guacamole at cocktail parties. You can't tell me science says it's unhealthy to double dip if I didn't get enough guac on my chip. That isn't my reality. Science is relative there is even a Theory of Relativity to prove it.

The Morning Didn't Really Start With A Bark

I was actually awake before the dogs barked. Remember the article entitled "Do Words Matter". Something triggered the thought of how we played with words when I was a kid. We would find long words and learn how to use them. I suspect the game was the result of Mary Poppins word "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". Someone got the idea antidisestablishmentarianism was the longest word in the dictionary. So when I was reading the article about the meaning of words I got to thinking that I didn't remember the definition of antidisestablishmentarianism. I did what any body does now, but would have never thought of doing 10 years ago, I Googled the word. The first word I came up with was antiestablishmentarianism. Which refers to a political philosophy that views a nation's or society's power structure as corrupt, repressive, exploitative or unjust. The definition also included the idea people who believe in antiestablishmentarianism wish to subvert the establishment from within. I am so going to use this word in a conversation today.


Floccinaucinihilipilification is defined as the action or habit of estimating as worthless.

Well to get back to antidisestablishmentarianism, which is the word I was trying to remember. This word means the opposition to the government withdrawing support from an established religion or church. (Anglican Church, 19th-century England)

When the site said it was not the longest word in the dictionary, my time honored belief, from the fourth grade, reared its ugly head and forced my pride to prove it just wasn't so.

Then I came across the wonderful word floccinaucinihilipilificatiion. Pronounced flok- suh-naw-suh-nahy-hil-uh-pil-uh-fi-key-shuh: a noun. It is an archaic word that I had to look up in the Oxford dictionary because it was not in my Britannica dictionary circa 1958. Webster doesn't include it because they have determined it is no longer used.

Floccinaucinihilipilificatiion is proving the value of something is worthless. Floccinaucinihilipilificatiion: what you do when you try to prove words have no meaning. Every word has meaning. Be very careful what you say and write to avoid being floccinaucinihilipilificatous.

While, it doesn't work well in spoken conversation it's lovely in writing. It does a nice job describing politicians, law,and lots of other words that take me down rabbit trails...


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    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 19 months ago from California


      I just sputter when I think of what people allow to come out of their mouths and off the tips of their fingers. Happy Spring!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 19 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Words do matter and so does morality in my opinion. Love your rabbit trails and where they lead. Some words have definitely changed meanings over the years.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 21 months ago from California

      Rajan, Greetings. You response has me wondering if words switch places over time when does that happen. If the meaning of the words change will what we write now have a different meaning than our intent some day? Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 21 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Words not only have switched places over time, mean different in different places but mean different in the context of the thought at that moment. Very interesting read and well, I did learn a few new ones..

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 21 months ago from California

      Jo, Thanks so much for visiting. I'm getting supper sensitive to words.

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

      Jo_Goldsmith11 21 months ago

      Bravo! :-)

      I would first like to say *Yea* on the correct spelling of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious".

      Go you! And then second, thank you for introducing me to the new word “Floccinaucinihilipilification”, and it's meaning.

      I really enjoyed this very much and how you crafted this excellent journey down the rabbit hole of thoughts. Growing up in the 80’s, I was a happy go lucky person for the most part. And I am still to this day.

      I didn’t have many male friends, because they would ask “who I am, or what is wrong with me”? I would innocently state that I was *gay*. Because to me, gay meant happy! So, yes, whoever turned the word *gay* into a sexual orientation, I would like and enjoy very much kicking their butt down the rabbit hole of better thinking!

      Hugs & Blessings..shared and tweeted.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Interesting comments abut profanity. I don't use profanity as a general rule, but I don't mind it. It is an intensifier. My feeling is, it's just a word. Why should we avoid any word like it was a hot stove that would burn us if we touched it.

      I am a lover of words all words. You might like my hub where I discuss my love affair with words "Words: Why English is the Greatest Language."

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

      Sweetie, People are courious. Yesterday I realized a good friend of mine and I don't always speak the same language. Yes it is English, but she processes differently than me. Not wrong, just different. Knowing this is giving me insight about communication. Thanks for visiting.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 2 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Sometimes I feel like people just do not want to read things, and only like a picture. I am not talking about people on Hubpages or sites like this one, but when I shared an interview with a friend regarding a painting, I heard crickets. Then fifty people would like the next post if it is a picture of a cat rolling around in yarn. It just seems it is not so much about people not understanding words, but just not taking the time to read things. Yes words are important, but it can be discouraging when people are more entranced by Kim K's backside than reading an article that took a day to put together.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

      CrisSp, Thanks for stopping by. Antiestablishmentarianism is a great word.

      Very happy to be helpful.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 2 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Very interesting! Clever work!

      I was in the Philippines last month and although I enjoyed it there, I was very disappointed that the government (and the people) doesn't have any system in place. It was hard for me to describe it. Now, I know what to call it: Antiestablishmentarianism!

      Also, growing up, I knew "gay" means cheerful and bright or carefree. Now indeed, it means something else. So I can't say, "I'm gay" anymore if I mean what I mean. :)

      Good read! You're Supercalafragalistcexpealadocious!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

      FlourishAnyway, These words held far more meaning than I remembered. I needed the refresher too.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      I haven't heard those words in a long time. Thank you for a refresher!

    • chuckandus6 profile image

      Nichol marie 2 years ago from The Country-Side

      Your welcome

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

      chuckandus6, Thanks for visiting. Nice little ditty:)

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

      agusfanani, Greetings. Thanks for visiting. It is curious how words change from time to time. I have a friend who grew up speaking Japanese, she says she can hardly communicate with younger people who speak Japanese these days her words are so outdated.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 2 years ago from California


      My husband actually remembers reading floccinaucinihilipilification in Robert Heinlein's novel Time Enough To Love.

      Good luck bemusing your husband.

      Jodah, That is how it should be with profanity- never to seldom. My husband can take paint off the side of a barn with words and never use one your mother would be offended by.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 2 years ago from Northern California, USA

      My husband and I are word junkies. We try to find strange words and then use them in sentences. I'm going to try to use floccinaucinihilipilification in a sentence tonight. We'll get a good laugh out of that one.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 2 years ago from Indonesia

      Wow I really learned those new words and their meanings. It also reveals that English develops from time to time.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

      Jackie, I love JohnJacob....too.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

      Bill, Great word "quintessential".

      Your comments are especially important.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

      Tsadjatko, You certainly have a way with words:)

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

      Ann, Happy to see you.

      This was the first time I have had fun writing in some time. It was a delight to talk about a subject that has me worried without sounding like a sourpuss. Words need to played with just as numbers should be played with. Neither should be taken for granted. Words and numbers are powerful.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

      Rolly , Thanks for stopping. This is the first I have published in months and it feels good to be back in the proverbial saddle.

      vasantha TK, Very true, they do look like sentences.

      Vallur, Great to see you. I practiced antidestablishmentarianism for days when I first learned it. Our whole class was saying it over and over. It must have been very funny.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 2 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Judy Specht

      Interesting thoughts here and takes one on a journey through what we use so freely... Well written.

      Hugs from Canada

    • vasantha  T k profile image

      vasantha T k 2 years ago from Bangalore

      Interesting hub. The words are catchy and looks like sentences. Nice.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      Interesting read and oh my what words. Learned new words reading your hub. Pronouncing them is quite the challenge! Voted up interesting and informative.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Your title had me hooked for a start; I can't resist anything that questions the value of words!

      This is great because it makes us think and it makes us value what we write. I often think about these changes of meaning - shame about the word 'gay' because it was such a sunny word.

      It is so important to choose our words, use them carefully and weave them into emotions and scenes.

      I enjoyed reading this; your sense of fun comes through the serious topic. I've written a few on a similar theme.

      Voted up & everything.


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very clever work. My favorite word....quintessential. :)

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      My first thought was 'pon my word and honor. Not one word but one that came after JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt which I had fun with as a kid.

      Interesting read.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 2 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

      How about Supercalifragilisticantiestablishmentarianism.

      Supercalifragilisticantiestablishmentarianism: Obama's fantasy political philosophy of "hope" and "change" viewing this nation's power structure as corrupt, repressive,or unjust. The wish to subvert the establishment from within undoubtedly concocted by the Democrat Tea Party.

    • chuckandus6 profile image

      Nichol marie 2 years ago from The Country-Side

      Very Clever well done.

      The best word is Supercalafragilistic

      When you don't know what to say

      No need to dismay

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      A very interesting hub TT, and you even introduced me some new words. I can imagine trying to incorporate them into a poem. :) I very rarely use curse words. Something has to be really bad if I do so if I swear everyone is a serious matter. Voted up.