A Rose by Any Other Name

I’m sure Shakespeare was not trying to start the English Renaissance version of an urban dictionary. And he was correct that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But it would be good for us all to remember that had a rose been called by another name, we wouldn’t realize he’d been writing about a rose.


Something that really irks me is the need, especially in recent times, of people to make up words. In some instances I suppose it’s an attempt to be less abrasive. The use of the word fluffy instead of fat is an example. But let’s face it. If you’re fat, you’re fat. Fluffy is a word that should be reserved for puppies, kittens, ducklings, and pillows. Unless I suddenly grow a lush covering of soft fur, I’m not fluffy, I’m fat.

When I hear or read the (not really a) word “hangry” it makes me want to climb a clock tower with a rifle. Hungry is a physical state. Angry is an emotional one. You can be both hungry and angry but that doesn’t create a new state of being and shouldn’t cause people to make up a word.

It’s absolutely, to me, horrifying that the Urban Dictionary even exists. We should not be honoring words and phrases that are nothing but a jumble of other words and phrases. The English language is, in its pure form, elegant and beautiful. There is nothing that we cannot express using English. Why then do some people want to pretend that a word with an established definition suddenly means something entirely different?

One way that people pretend they’ve invented new and useful words is to slightly change the spelling of a word then assign it a meaning that is the antonym of the actual definition. I was aghast to hear someone call a young lady fat a few years ago. The explanation that they had used the “word” phat and that it was supposed to mean attractive did nothing to diminish the actual definition of fat.

Yes, I know languages change over time. We no longer speak the same English as Shakespeare and his contemporaries. And my generation had its own slang that we believed somehow set us apart from our parents’ generation. Gosh, was anything ever as groovy as the 60’s?

But we also outgrew the need for phrases like far out just as our parents and grandparents stopped saying things were the bee’s knees or the cat’s pajamas. We became adults and adults were expected to be capable of both speaking and writing in Standard English. Telling your boss not to have a cow would not have led to rapid advancement.

Now, of course, we have high school and even college graduates who believe that spelling is an inconvenience and think grammar is irrelevant. After all, they say, does it really matter if they write your instead of you’re or there instead of their?

Yes! It matters!



Author: Elizabeth

I'm a wife, mom, and grandma (known as Bam) who loves cooking, baking, gardening, and all things that go into making a cozy coop for my brood. I have a disability so you may pick up tips on how to do things when some things just don't work right!

4 thoughts on “A Rose by Any Other Name”

  1. So, tell me what you would think of my propensity to use the made up word “goodmornight” in an online greeting to describe the place I find myself between morning and night, between the old day and the new. In reality, I have not slept but it is a new day. Or my night is the other person’s morning. Or vice versa. So I began to use this as a greeting online. Sometimes shortened to g’mornight….

    I like that language is alive, living, moving and changing with useage.

    I like your article too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First I have to explain I get cranky when my pain level goes way up. I try not to look at my husband, sleeping peacefully or enjoying watching a video when I’m in excessive pain. It makes me start thinking about the various ways I could torture and kill him. I already know several ways to get rid of a body so it won’t be found.
      Instead, I kavetch about things that are meaningless. Like the word “hangry.”
      I like goodmornight. It fits the time when I’m awake and it feels like everyone else on this continent is sleeping.
      And I’m also “guilty” of making up words. I don’t want to cuss, especially in front of my grand kids so I say things like “Frizzem frazzem rizzem razzem” instead of the (more satisfying) REAL cuss words. My mother’s go to swear word was “shar.” It was an all-purpose word and, as I grew older, I knew the actual word that could fill in that blank.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m so sorry yo have that much pain to contend with. It must make things very difficult.

        I’m glad that you appreciate the quirks of language and language making. I have used the words “giant buffalo droppings” as a replacement for a swear word I used to use. They make rather a large pile, but that’s ok 😉

        Language might as well be truly colorful instead of just vulgar 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. When I would like to use the worst of the words I say, “VERY bad words!” I like giant buffalo droppings.
        I don’t want to exactly say you get used to the pain but in a way, you do. It’s just something I have like a big toe that points up and baby-fine hair.

        Liked by 1 person

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