Reader: When words lose their meaning 


Today, after hearing one of these words at least a million times, I gave a little thought to their use in everyday conversation.

Let's first stipulate that words have meaning. If they don't we might as well just grunt at each other. Overuse of certain words renders them meaningless. Example; if everyone is "special" at an athletic event (participation trophy, etc.) doesn't it follow that no one is special?

One word I've been pondering is "stress." Ever notice how often its used? People will opine as to the degree and amount of stress in their daily lives. I do agree that stress exists, but it is way overused and some stress is good when it is a motivator. This is my take on the word "stress": My parents were young adults during the Great Depression. There were charities, but there were no food stamps, Section 8 housing, no welfare checks, no Social Security, no government medical programs or Aid to Families with Dependent Children or any of the many government aid programs available today. There was just hard work, if you were fortunate to find any! Then in short order WWII entered the picture and hundreds of thousands went off to save the world.

This was my parents' generation who survived all of these hardships and handed off a vibrant economy full of opportunity that they had never dreamed of. What's my point? Throughout their lives I never once heard either one of them use the word "stress," even though they had lived through more of it than most will ever know.

This blatant misuse and overuse of words that have a definite meaning has the effect of making them pointless. The word "racist" comes to mind as an example.

— Len Bentley, Colorado Springs

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