The Panda Blog

Attempts at understanding life


Since words are, in effect, the building blocks of language, one could say that words allow us to communicate. Words are essential to our day-to-day lives, and, due to my interest in all things life related, this post will be the beginning of a new series on words.

Words are the basis of human interaction, since facial emotions, head movements, hand gestures, and emoji can only communicate so much. The true power of words lies not in the appearance of the word, but in the higher-dimensional definition we assign to it. Without a definition, a word or phrase such as “garfilly tuffle garowr” doesn’t mean anything. But if “garowr” is defined as “Golden Son,” “tuffle” means “should read,” and “garfilly” is “you all,” there is suddenly meaning in the seemingly random phrase. Definitions give life to words.

Despite definitions being the backbone of words, we pay very little attention to the actual meanings. How many times have people misused a word, or mixed up two similar words? I know that I personally have brushed off many such mistakes with a “close enough” and a sheepish grin.

But what if we deliberately changed the definitions of words? For example, if we, as a human race, flipped the meanings of the English words “tall” and “short,” basketball players would be considered “short” and young children “tall.” Someone 5’2 would be “tall” in this world, while someone 6’5 would be ”short”; this noun would be quite different from our current perceptions (unless the human race suddenly downsized or grew rapidly for whatever reason). Such a world would appear quite foreign to us, even if this were the only change in language.

If we expanded the flipping of definitions to all perfect antonyms, we’d be left with a completely new language, and probably a completely different world. In flipped-English, common phrases like “good night” would become “bad day,” and “I love you” would be “I hate you” (imagine saying that to your mother). Many other sectors of society would also be affected, but there would be certain phrases whose meanings wouldn’t be changed. For example, both “I’m down for that” and “I’m up for that” convey the same meaning, as does “slim chance” and “fat chance.”

Sometimes, though, we sardonically intone words to display sarcasm (as in the above example). I could say “Wow, you have really good grades, don’t you” to someone with several failing grades and mean the complete opposite of “good”.  We already adjust the meanings of words in daily life to fit our purposes.

There have actually been some words that have had their definitions turned around. The word “wicked” was previously used to mean evil or immoral, such as the Wicked Witch of the West, but has recently taken on a meaning of cool or awesome. Today, we think of “manufactured” goods as mass produced, machine made goods, but in the past, it meant something that was handmade, and thus probably quite unique .

Words can be very confusing if not used correctly. Simple misspeaks can cause irreversible damage, especially if the meaning of the statement was ambiguous to begin with. Interpretation can be difficult, so stay away from complicated words with many or conflicting definitions to avoid confusion. Your spoken words can define you, so pick your words with care.

Thanks for reading,


Expect an entry in this series every few posts, until I run out of ideas 😛 I’ve been through a pretty tough April, so I should (hopefully) be posting more this month.

For some more words that have had their definitions flipped, check out this buzzfeed article and this ted article.

Additionally, happy (very, very late) birthday S, A, and C!


2 comments on “Words-Definitions

  1. Siva M
    July 9, 2015

    Someone 5’2 would be “tall” in this world, while someone 6’5 would be ”short”

    wait a 5’2″ 6-year old would be quite tall, don’t you think?


    • royalreter
      August 9, 2015

      For his/her age, but if s/he didn’t grow after that, a 5’2” 20 year old wouldn’t be very tall…


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This entry was posted on May 10, 2015 by in Analysis, Words and tagged , .
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