[Ads-l] allegory

Stanton McCandlish smccandlish at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 12 23:46:16 UTC 2019

On Tue, Sep 10, 2019, 1:00 PM Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>

[...] But the point here is that the word "allegory" is used in a highly
form not yet recognized by OED.

Maybe "allegory" is a new "ironic".

Several other high-falutin' words get misused in a similar way
("literally", "metaphoric", "proverbial", "methodology", etc.). It's as if
the writer/speaker knows that the word can fit into similar sentences and
is used by others within the same topic area, but they don't actually know
the precise meaning.

It may relate to buzzwording in management and other professional circles
("paradigm", "sustainable", "empowering", "synergistic", etc.) – a form of

It seems distinct from the more slang-induced sort of meaning shift. E.g.,
when my mother used "awesome", it was closer to the original sense; a
millennial would not properly understand "an awesome explosion" as
something frightful, while someone my age is apt to find it potentially
ambiguous (our generation introduced the positive sense, but knew the older
one, too). Shifts like that seem to come from intentional meaning
distortions in the then-contemporary youth culture; viz. "cool" turning
into "rad[ical]" in the 1980s, and odder expressions later, like "sick".
The weirdest one I heard was "retarded" in the same sense of "impressive in
a with-it, hip way". I only ever encountered it in Toronto in the
mid-2000s, but haven't really looked further.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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