What a word for today.
The right word, I’d say. It’s a right mess. And rightly so. As our very rights hang in the balance. Did the US vote in the right president? Can this ship be righted? What can we do right now?
For a word that does a lot of heavy lifting, ‘right’ is arguably, pretty lazy. It’s come to encompass so many meanings in English that, like most jargon, it’s been largely emptied of meaning from overuse and misuse.
From its German roots and first utterances (reht, recht – and yep, you guessed it, reich), the word has always intertwined two senses – just, good, proper, fitting – AND straight, as in not bent. The combination meant “morally upright.” As in that which rules in a straight line, that which does not deviate from the “rules.”
So … r i g h t. It’s always been an intensely relative term. But damned if that doesn’t stop us from throwing it around all willy-nilly. Am I right?
Once you notice it, you’ll see it everywhere. Check your sales pages. I just found it twice on mine. In those two instances, is it the right word? Nope.
That’s the word, bird.