By Brooklyn Hofstad
Boomers had June Cleaver and poodle skirts. Hippies had “groovy” and bell bottoms. It never fails that each generation has cultural relics uniquely tied to them. From fashion choices to word choices, these cultural relics often speak to the larger values of a given group. Given that logic, millennials don’t value the English language. It seems to be a favorite pastime of the kids who came of age in the ’90s to assign new meanings to words that were not in need of a redefinition. In fact, dictionaries are considering updating meanings to reflect this trend.
Here are three words that millennials need to stop misusing (like, seriously):
Literally – the word has recently been appropriated to convey “quite” or “rather” (or even “like,” much to the chagrin of language purists). Literally means, “in a literal sense or manner,” according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. Yet it’s often used when “figuratively” would be the more appropriate word choice. “The novel was translated literally from the original Latin,” NOT “There were literally a million people there.”
Random – Despite my love for Clueless, I’m afraid we have to Cher Horowitz to blame for this (“She met some random guys at Foot Locker”). Random means “lacking a definite plan, purpose, or pattern.” It does not mean “odd” or “unusual.” And random is never a noun. “The study used a random sample for their research,” NOT “That girl was such a random!”
Epic – It’s an epic failure for millennials to misuse “epic.” See what I did there? An epic is typically a lengthy work of writing often derived from oral histories that tell stories of heroic figures. It is not a term used to delineate how good or bad something was. “One example of an epic is Homer’s The Iliad,” NOT “I got off work early; it was epic.”
Not all millennials are a lost cause, though. A couple industrious YouTubers took it upon themselves to correct the examples of irony in Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic.” Ironic — another word for another post…