Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Thursday, December 06, 2007


They're such funny things.

Last evening during the usual after class discussion, one of my students insisted that my use of a word, "drug", was incorrect.

He informed me that "drug" was only appropriate to use for psychotropics such as Xanax or Prozac. (I was using the word in the context of "a substance used to prevent disease).

Needless to say, I was a bit taken aback. I asked him why he thought this correct, and he told me that it was what he was taught in school.

I know that public education has gone down hill since the Republicans got enough power to hurt public education in the hope of privatizing it, but one begins to wonder if there is some sort of Orwellian newspeak going on here.

The funny thing is, my student is quite bright, so there had to be some real information twisting to leave him with that skewed definition.

In case anyone was wondering, here is the etymology of the word, and its definition from Webster.

1327, from O.Fr. drouge, perhaps from M.Du. or M.L.G. droge-vate "dry barrels," with first element mistaken as word for the contents (see dry goods), or because medicines mostly consisted of dried herbs. Application to "narcotics and opiates" is 1883, though association with "poisons" is 1500s. The verb is from 1605. Druggie first recorded 1968. Drug-store is 1810; drug-store cowboy is 1925, Amer.Eng. slang, originally one who dressed like a Westerner but obviously wasn't. To be a drug on or in the market (c.1661) is of doubtful connection and may be a different word, perhaps drag, which was sometimes drug c.1240-1800.

Main Entry: Drug

Middle English drogge
14th century

1 a obsolete : a substance used in dyeing or chemical operations b: a substance used as a medication or in the preparation of medication c according to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act

(1): a substance recognized in an official pharmacopoeia or formulary

(2): a substance intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease

(3): a substance other than food intended to affect the structure or function of the body

(4): a substance intended for use as a component of a medicine but not a device or a component, part, or accessory of a device 2: a commodity that is not salable or for which there is no demand —used in the phrase drug on the market 3: something and often an illegal substance that causes addiction, habituation, or a marked change in consciousness
— drug·gy also drug·gie Listen to the pronunciation of druggie \ˈdrə-gē\ adjective

Life is strange.


1 comment:

Steve Perry said...

Ignorance is easily curable amonst bright folks -- you just show the student the entry, voila, he's corrected.

There are a lot of words that are misused these days, or pronounced wrong, but enough people do so that the old meaning will eventually change.

"Gay" didn't mean what it does now when I was growing up.

"Livid" is usually used by people who mean reddish, such as "livid with rage," but it also means almost exactly the opposite, bluish, in "the livid face of a long-dead corpse.)

"Joust" was originally pronounced "just," and now the silent "o" is no longer quiet ...

And nearly everybody misusely "hopefully," which means "with hope," and not "I hope ..."