Agnostic (non-theological)

Federico Escobar federicoescobarcordoba at GMAIL.COM
Mon Dec 6 21:15:53 UTC 2010

There was a thread on non-theological "agnostic" back in 2008. An article
published today on ZNET, about the new Google eBooks site, uses a compound
with that sense of "agnostic" twice: "platform-agnostic." That goes along
with what Jeff Prucher had said back in 2008 about the business and
technology use of that sense of "agnostic." But it seemed strange that the
writer didn't think it was worth avoiding the repetition of such a bulky
compound in a matter of a few paragraphs. The article is here:

A search on the COCA for "noun+agnostic" compounds shows that it's still an
unusual semantic leap for "agnostic." The word even drew this criticism from
a Houston newspaper just last year (it's stored in the COCA): "This is an
incorrect use of the word 'agnostic' that I have noted creeping into the
vocabulary of American business people over the past year or so. Especially
among individuals in the financial services industry, the word is being used
to mean 'indifferent,' as I think Immelt intended it to mean in his usage.
In business circles today, the word has become one of those buzz words that
people like to use."


The American Dialect Society -

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