Perhaps the greatest criticism of current common language is that too many words have inaccurate definitions, are rather vague in meaning, and are associated with other words such as synonyms, antonyms, and slang words which tend to obscure the meaning rather than clarify the meaning.
Let’s take the example of the word stupid. If you are stupid then you are also dumb, half-assed, dull, unintelligent, brainless, a dummy, dopey, empty-headed, and dense. 9 words that mean absolutely the same thing and are a little misleading because can one truly be brainless or without a brain? and can one truly be empty-headed or without a brain also? Unintelligent is also misleading because there are degrees of intelligence or IQ and there is no such thing as being without any intelligence which is what unintelligent implies.
The dictionary definition of stupid from Google and the Oxford Dictionary is –
Stupid: adj. having or showing a great lack of intelligence or common sense.
There is a great difference between having or being genetically stupid with a very low IQ and showing a lot of stupidity which young inexperienced children and ignorant adults sometimes do demonstrate or show. You can be very intelligent in your professional specialty but be very stupid or show little emotional intelligence in other areas of life. You can make many stupid mistakes but be very intelligent and therefore not very smart at doing certain things.
Having or showing is really a multiple meaning for the word stupid so vagueness exists in the definition which obscures the true meaning in real life. When you stereotype a human and call him or her stupid then are you saying that they have low IQ? or are you saying that they make too many stupid mistakes or errors in their behavior or task? There is lack of clarity so it is no great wonder that someone being accused of being stupid will get defensive and offended by the suggestion. Yes, you can try to be a little more accurate and accuse one of doing a stupid thing rather than calling them stupid but if you call him or her stupid the damage is done and you have offended someone with your impulsive accusatory statement. Your intentions are pure or just but the result because of the inaccuracy of the definition and your inaccurate use of the word insults someone and it is the fault of language common usage and not really your personal intentional fault.
Common sense is relative to a specific culture and as an American you may have much common sense in America but in Japan or an African country, because of cultural differences, you may do some very many stupid things and it may seem that you lack some common sense relative to that culture. So if you lack some common sense then you are not stupid but are ignorant or lack the knowledge of the behavioral norms of your culture or the behavior norms of a foreign culture.
From vocabulary.com the description rather than a definition for stupid is-
“A stupid person doesn’t have much intelligence or imagination, and they go through life making decisions that seem to lack all common sense. If you’ve got a brain but you don’t use it, you might be a bit stupid.”
This is a rather ignorant descriptive and not a factual or accurate definition for stupid and it shows you how ignorant the description is. Imagination has not been proven to be related directly to intelligence so that you can’t make the statement that as intelligence increases your imagination increases also. Some intelligent specialists are some of the least imaginative humans that one can meet. Intelligent artists can be very imaginative and intelligent technologists are limited in their imagination by the fact that their imagination must function within rather strict rules of acceptable technological and even scientific thinking.
The descriptive words “lack ALL common sense” is impossible unless you are talking about a chronic imbecile that is stupid all the time. If you’ve got a brain but you “don’t use it” then it is an untruth or lie because you use your brain in any communication. If you really “don’t use it” or don’t use your brain then you are not just a “bit stupid” but you are totally stupid or even brain dead.
From the Cambridge Dictionary the definition for stupid is-
Stupid: adj. silly or unwise: showing poor judgment or little intelligence
Showing bad judgment or making judgmental mistakes is a frequent occurrence for some humans starting out in a new job or new skill and even though they may be called stupid mistakes it doesn’t mean that you are stupid with a low IQ or low intelligence. Bad judgment is more often a function of little experience or lack of knowledge which could merely be considered temporary ignorance and not permanent stupidity.
A huge fault in the definition is using the words silly and unwise to obscure the real meaning of stupid.
The Google definition for silly is-
Silly: adj. having or showing a lack of common sense or judgment; absurd and foolish.
Having implies that you are naturally silly or that there is a silliness IQ and there is no such thing as having genetic silliness. Yes, you can show silliness as a child and do so intentionally as an adult but it is not a trait or characteristic that you possess or have most or all of the time.
As is usual in many current definitions two words absurd and foolish are inserted to obscure an accurate meaning for silliness. It raises the question- When you are silly then are you also absurd and foolish or can you be absurd without being foolish at the same time? See what I mean? There is no clarity in the definition but the definition is intentionally obscured by randomly associating 2 words which in this case could remotely be considered to be bad synonyms.
My definition for foolish by using and/or sometimes makes silly a subset or smaller part of foolish and at other times the two definitions are more independent or distinct.
Foolish: adj. being silly and/or making a wrong frequently impulsive judgment(s) and behaving with many wrong behaviors which usually are not immoral behaviors and frequently have no serious consequences
As you can see by my definition silliness is sometimes a subset of foolish but foolishness is a rather benign form of making wrong but not immoral behaviors which are often the result of making rather impulsive judgments on how to behave but usually have no serious consequences. Yes, some foolish humans are funny to some extent but unfortunately it is a rather sad state of affairs if someone is frequently foolish under social circumstances. How often or frequently you are silly or foolish is an important consideration under given circumstances. The more frequent you are silly or foolish the more you can justly or truly be considered to be a silly or foolish type.
I use the term and/or to indicate that some subsets are shared by sets and other subsets are not shared. It is a fact of life that when considering behavior one cause may have two or more effects and one effect may be caused by two or more causes. This creates much uncertainty in behavior definitions which by mere definition may not seem so logical to everyone. Venn diagrams are often used to demonstrate this overlap of sets and subsets.
Silliness is primarily a relatively random behavior which foolishness may not always be. So there is a degree of randomness which differentiates silly from foolish. Most silly behavior is more random than foolish behavior. You could logically say that wrong foolish behavior is wronger than silly behavior or has more serious consequences socially and you can say that foolish behavior deviates to a greater degree from an accepted social norm than does silly behavior. So we could all probably agree that it is better to be called silly than a fool.
My logical definition of silliness is-
Silliness: n. showing a (random behavior(s) without a serious goal(s) and/or an unknown goal(s)) which frequently causes laughter and/or a smile
With my logical or more accurate definition of silliness there is no vague association with dubious synonyms and no mentioned lack of common sense or judgment which is usually mostly due to ignorance or lack of knowledge or ignorance of behavioral norms.
One form of silliness is sticking your tongue out and trying to make fun of someone or showing slight disrespect. With this in mind you can almost conclude that silliness is really a rather minimal deviation from a human norm which often causes laughter or a smile or slight irritation. So silliness could even be considered to be a subset or small part of funny or humor much of the time or frequently. The fact is that silliness is usually random behavior without a serious goal or purpose and silliness is usually not shocking or high in emotional intensity.
Cultural norms also determine what is silly or not since sticking out the tongue is totally acceptable in rare cultures and has a realistic meaning associated with the behavior.
Could my definition for silly be improved and include words such as slight deviation from accepted behavioral norms? Probably yes, but I leave this to future definition fanatics who want to more accurately define what silliness really is or should be. Especially important are the more than one cause which can lead to silliness or silly behavior. As we can see by our description silliness can be caused by random behavior, bad impulsive judgment, ignorance, low IQ, willful intention or a combination of two or more of these causes. Because the causes or variables for behavior are so numerous true logical definitions are hard to make accurately and they are infrequently so general that they include all the potential causes and effects. However, trying to be more logical or accurate in a definition is not a bad thing but means making progress towards a more meaningful and usually more complex definition for a behavior.
Here are my logical definitions for stupid, intelligence, and smart which no doubt could be improved upon to be more accurate at some point in the future since finding logical definitions for words is a rather new linguistic challenge which I offer to all Anglophiles.
Stupid: adj. behaving with incomplete logical reasoning skills and unsuccessfully applying them to solve political and social and economic and scientific problems
Intelligence: n. possessing the ability to efficiently memorize and process much information but it is not frequently a measure of how smart you are in life
Smart: adj. behaving with above average logical reasoning skills and successfully applying them to solve political and social and economic and scientific problems and/or having emotional intelligence
Googles definition for intelligence and smart is-
Intelligence: n. the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills
Smart: adj. having or showing a quick-witted intelligence
Which definitions are more meaningful, accurate, or logical? Mine or Google’s? Yes, my definitions are more complex but also more meaningful as a result and less subjective or biased or less open to relative personal interpretation. My definitions are not perfect and are subject to improvement in the future but the definitions are definitely much better or more accurate than what we now have.
Not only inaccurate illogical definitions handicap our current language but so do distinct multiple meanings, synonyms, antonyms, descriptive language, bad analogies, and an absence of words such as frequently, infrequently, probably, degree, improbable, random, sometimes, etc.. These words more accurately describe reality than words such as yes, no, always, never, all, nothing, certain, uncertain, etc. which are absolute terms or words which convey the idea that reality must be either good or bad with nothing in between such as grey areas or possible exceptions to the rule or word.
Another ignorant language phenomenon is using the same word as a noun, adjective, verb, and adverb. For example- you are stupid (noun), that is a stupid human (adjective), that is a stupid laugh (adverb), and stop being stupid (verb). In Logical English Dictionary I try to make every noun, adjective, verb, and adverb unique in spelling so there is no confusion as to what part of speech you are talking about. So my attempt at accuracy is making context less important in the meaning of a word.
Stupidity (noun), stupidev (verb), stupid (adjective), and stupidly (adverb). I think that we could all agree that saying- that is stupidity is less offensive than saying you are stupid.
Finally, everything in the physical world that we know and understand has sets and subsets and our current archaic language infrequently reflects this reality causing much confusion and inaccurate statements which further exacerbate the situation and make the emotional reactions of fear, anger, hate, aggression, abuse, and offense more probable.
Because of multiple causes and effects behavior is much more complex than the physical world and has many more than just two dependent variables and simple mathematical equations. There is frequently much uncertainty in a behavioral definition because of so many causes and effects so it is important to include uncertainty in definitions with words such as frequently or often, sometimes, mostly, probably, miniscule, etc. This is why psychology and the concepts used is not a science but merely an attempted bad description of reality with dubious statistical coefficients but no provable causes and effects since there usually are so many of them which often seem contradictory depending greatly on the circumstances and personality types.
If I have stimulated your curiosity about logical or more accurate definitions then view my free book with Amazon prime with the title- Logical English Dictionary. Happy hunting. Enjoy!
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