Dictionary Editors Say This Is the Most Misused Word in the English Language

A traffic jam when you’re already late.
A free ride when you’ve already paid.
The fact that the King James Bible is the most shoplifted book in the United States.
One of these three things is an example of irony—the reversal of what is expected or intended. The other two (no offense to Alanis Morissette) are not. The difference between them may be one of the most rage-inducing linguistic misunderstandings you’re likely to read about on the Internet or hear about from the determined grammar nerds in your life.
‘Ironic’ does not, technically, mean ‘unfortunate,’ ‘interesting,’ or ‘coincidental,’ despite these terms often being used interchangeably. And that frequent misuse has not escaped linguists; according to the editors at Dictionary.com, ‘We submit that ironic might be the most abused word in the English language.’
In our politically sensitive culture, the word ‘racist’ sometimes gets used when it shouldn’t. For example, if you forget your child’s friend’s name and describe her as the African American one on the right in the class picture, it’s not racist that you pointed out her skin color. (It would be racist if you said something negative about her based on her skin color.) Racist is an adjective or noun that defines an individual, practice, or system that uses discrimination or hatred based on race. There may even be an explanation for how and why we learn prejudice. Racist individuals believe—sometimes unconsciously—that certain races of people are superior to others, and those perceptions are very often people based on stereotypes of say, the best athletes or the worst criminals, the strongest at math or the worst drivers.


This old-timey word started trending after Kim Jong-un used it to describe Donald Trump. Kim was being totally ageist. Dotard basically means someone who is in their ‘dotage,’ meaning ‘in a state of senile decay.’ Here it is in a sentence that reflects its correct definition: ‘To people in their thirties, anyone over 70 might seem like a dotard.’ Trump’s only 71, Jong-un! Age is state of mind. Don’t be caught saying these other words that make you sound old.


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