semantic drift: charismatic

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Apr 7 15:20:46 UTC 2010

Means "interesting and attractive."  If you're talking about animals, that
is.  It lacks the element of magnetic personality that "charismatic" people

2010 Yahoo News (Apr. 7) : "The discovery of
such a large, charismatic, and strikingly distinct new species of vertebrate
in the unexplored forests of the northern Philippines accentuates the degree
to which the diversity of this global conservation hotspot is still poorly
known," Mundita Lim, chief of the country's Department of Environment and
Natural Resources Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, said in a statement.

In 1998 a guide at Yellowstone contrasted for us the vast number of small,
not to say microscopic, creatures in the Park's ecosystem with the far more
visible and popular "charismatic megafauna," like bison and bears.

In response to my out-of-left field question, he said the phrase was in
common use.  He also failed to see anything remarkable about it since
_charismatic_  "means it's really attractive."

OED's 1989 treatment of charisma/ charismatic in their PR senses leaves
something to be desired.

IIRC, the words were first widely applied in the pre-zoological
but post-theological sense to John F. Kennedy.

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society -

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