Word Pollution.

Pollution is generally taking something that is useful and converting it into junk or toxins or something ugly, and then usually just disposing of it.  It occurs to me that in politics and advertising they do this with words.  This occurred to me as I was watching part of a Seinfeld rerun and someone said “it’s not fast food, it’s good food quickly”.

People, companies and politicians do something shitty a long time until it comes to have bad connotations, then rather than changing the policy, dump the word like radioactive waste.

Politicians also use words to attack people until the words become toxic, so the opposition then switches to a synonym.  Conservatives villify anyone describing themselves as “liberal”, so they just say progressive instead, etc.

It’s word pollution.

Just a novel little concept I thought I’d share.


About agnophilo

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10 Responses to Word Pollution.

  1. crazy2love says:

    Interesting. I’ve never thought about it like that before.And I love the songs in your playlist, btw!

  2. leaflesstree says:

    interesting idea. from the title, i thought this post was going to be about people using 9 words when they could use two. i’m guilty of that myself. from a linguistics perspective, there is a term for what you’re describing in which a word begins with a particular meaning and slowly but surely comes to mean the exact opposite. consider the words “terrible” and “terrific” and “terrifying.” at one point these all were related to the word “terror.” Yet today, “terrific” is thought to mean something good while they other two are more related to something bad. something similar also happened when the word “bad” was slang for “good.” Eventually, if this trend continues long enough, the word bad will come to mean good and the word good will come to mean bad. just adds to the difficulty of anyone trying to learn the language.

  3. EgoOverdose says:

    Good blog. : ) It is amazing what a simple name-change can do. Especially when the thing which the name is describing essentially stays the same. It’s like dressing a pig up in silk. Underneath, it is still a pig.

  4. BobRichter says:


  5. kinda like with christians who call themselves “followers of christ”…. among many other examples. Good point. It’s kinda sad that it happens, but when a word becomes polluted…. shit happens…So the question I’m thinking… should we strive to stick to a word/name even if it has been polluted, so that we can clean it up and redeem it… or should we revert to these synonyms to sound more “clean”?

  6. tracezilla says:

    Interesting and very true. I always roll my eyes when this occurs, but my eyes have become tired and threaten to stick that way lately because it seems to be happening with even more frequency lately. :pOh, and I watched that episode of Seinfeld today, too!! :p

  7. LydJaGillers says:

    Bitch and ass were totally acceptible words until someone made them bad. :-p bu I do hate the missuse of words. Makes people sound dumb.

  8. agnophilo says:

    @crazy2love – : )  I get that a lot.@leaflesstree – We also say something is terribly important or someone is terribly good looking.  Or that a bachelor will go terrorize the town, etc.  Great example : D@EgoOverdose – Or putting lipstick on a pig, to use the currently popular political vernacular.@BobRichter – ?@nodnarbassoon – Another good example : )  Also in the creationism/evolution debate tons of creationists are now saying “of course natural selection happens” and “of course change over time happens in a species!”  As if they’ve been insisting this all along.  But evolution?  NO!  They refuse to accept that evolution happens, though they act like they’ve been maintaining it’s synonyms happen all these years.  They just can’t bring themselves to use the word.  Same with admitting that “climate change” happens while shunning the idea that “global warming” occurs.And yeah thinking about it more it’s the natural progression of language.@tracezilla@lovelyish – : )  It’s a small syndicated world after all.@LydJaGillers – I doubt it was considered okay to call a woman a dog even back yonder. : P

  9. pureboy123 says:

    Great idea. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes these minor epiphanies happen for me too.

  10. This needs to be added to Webster’s dictionary STAT. 

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