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Crush: How We Play with Language

February 14, 2020

Another Way for week of February 14, 2020

Crush: How We Play with Language

 (Editor’s note: Sixth in a ten-part series on physical, mental, relational, and spiritual health.)

Crush used to be a downer word: “I was crushed when my son’s report card came out.” Perhaps you think of crush as smashing a pop can or stepping on a spider, or what happens to your clothes in a suitcase, or backing into someone else’s car in a parking lot, or the young one-way romance (since Valentine’s Day is here) most of us went through at one time. Well, time to step up your vocabulary!

In the last few years, a whole new meaning for the word “crush” has come into play. This is the 6th of great action verbs we’re exploring for several weeks, as found on my favorite cereal box, “Kashi.”

An online dictionary “The Free Dictionary” gives one current usage as “to succeed at something in a particularly impressive way. Often used in the past tense.” Example: “Wow she really crushed that exam.”

They give these other examples: “Her presentation for the CEO went really well. She totally crushed it!” Or, another: “That band always crushes it, so I’m not surprised their halftime performance was spectacular.”

Urban Dictionary (another online reference) defines the current usage of “crushed” as “Being in great shape, looking good, feeling positive, getting more done and generally being a better person.” Example: “She totally crushes that outfit!” Or maybe “Bryce so crushed that solo.”

I’ll confess I’m probably not young enough or hip enough (is “hip” even in anymore?) to use crush on a regular basis and not inclined to try to sound young by using such. Yet I kind of like the Urban Dictionary definition above: feeling positive, getting stuff done and done well.

Do you still have one of these old behemoths? What should we do with ours? 1978 version.

Language changes. We used to refer to new words or uses as coining a phrase. Now, I see that that phrase itself is mostly used in a sarcastic fashion. The Cambridge Dictionary (again, online, sorry Mom), says that “to coin a phrase” is “something you say before using an expression that has been very popular or used too much.” Like this: “Well, to coin a phrase, she stopped me dead in my tracks.”

Some old words or expressions become archaic and new usages (such as turning nouns into verbs) is part of how we live in the 21st century. We’ll have to wait see whether “She crushed it” to describe a daughter’s role in a musical still works in 20 years. Or, thinking ahead to some early interests and recreation for our grandsons, “He totally crushed that 5k run” or “Wow, he crushed that pass!”

Some changes in language we resist, as we should. It’s good to keep up with changes, to be in the know, to be able to listen and communicate and relate. But we can choose or not choose to adopt new meanings or usages as we wish. Especially the vulgar.

Back to the best meanings of “crush” as positive feelings flowing, and knocking stuff off your to-do list. How will you rise to the task today or this week?

I’m definitely a list person. I’m the kind of woman who puts something on her list just so she gets the satisfaction of crossing it off. I like the old-fashioned paper and pencil (or pen) lists, although since those lists have a way of getting lost and buried, I have been known to take a picture of a list on my phone so that I’ll be sure to have it in the grocery store. I know I know, there are apps and functions on my phone where I can make notes to myself, but I’m a low app person.

Did I just coin a phrase? Nah, probably not.

But set out to enjoy your day. Rain in the forecast or not, set your goals high and you just might find yourself crushing through that list!

***

Did I “crush” this column? You tell me! I’m game whether positive or negative.

What’s your favorite “newish” word?

What is a word you could live the rest of your life and never hear again??

Comment here!

Or send stories or comments to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

9 Comments
  1. I thought maybe you’d mention Candy Crush, an online word game I’ve been invited to play with friends. I’ve declined every invitation, thinking it would be a waste of time. Maybe I’ll join in when I’m an old, old woman – hahaha!

    My favorite word: serendipity! A good example just happened around the table at a bed & breakfast. A guest and his son going to the Daytona 500 asked what I do, and when I mentioned Mennonite Daughter he said he wanted a copy as a Valentine gift for his English teacher wife at home. Doesn’t happen often but when it does, it’s “serendipity”!

    To answer another of your questions: Yes, I have a dictionary with paper pages, but I use an online dictionary much more often. Hope you had a happy Valentine’s Day, Melodie!

    • Yes I totally forgot about Candy Crush and I always declined invitations back when I got them. I think the algorithms out there got the hint I was not into that. 🙂

      Wow, that was a sweet serendipity for you and the man needing a Valentine gift.

      Ye olde dictionary can still make a nice extra toddler seat in the dining room–if the toddler isn’t too wiggly and inclined to slide off. 🙂 Have a restful Sunday.

  2. You crushed this topic Mom! 👏

    My least favorite word change of the last 5 years is the rise of using “gift” as verb. I’ll just stick with simple, traditional “give.”

    • Thanks for the kudos. I hate that use of gift as a verb very very much! A close second is “sourced” in vogue at farmers markets and those kinds of restaurants. “Got it from” still works for me.

  3. It’s interesting to see how language changes. And yet, other parts of it remain steadfastly the same. One thing I laugh about is how Google – a search engine – became a verb. I’m sure Google doesn’t mind. Every time some says ‘Google it’ or ‘I Googled it’, their brand is mentioned.

    • You are correct, truly amazing and Google is the most well known search engine out there, probably. I remember when Xerox tried to change the generic use of Xerox to mean photocopy, to refer only to their brand. When did you last here someone use Xerox as a verb? You used to hear it a lot but not very often anymore.

      Thanks for conversation!

      • How funny! You’re right! I haven’t thought of Xerox in years. But you’re right, we were always running down the hall at work to ‘go Xerox something’.

  4. From Nick:
    Yes, you pretty much “crushed” it last week, Melodie, and I “defy” anyone to disagree. Your “Melodie Muse” always seems to be helping you along.

    “Defy” might have come from a Middle English word, “defyen,” meaning to renounce faith in, according to Webster’s dictionary. This is sort of apropos, considering your conversion to Presbyterian. And I defied my mother’s wish for me to stay in the Eastern Orthodox religion – too confining. Accepting those truths and beliefs that are common to all religions, races and cultures seemed a better path.

    One’s defying declines with age, tempered by experience and wisdom. My biology and chemistry teacher was subtle, not preachy, as she countered her students’ normal teenage rebellion. I’ve always remembered one thing she said to us: When I was a teenager, I thought I knew it all.

    Our current president provides many opportunities to learn about defying. I’ve waded into the fray on newspaper editorial pages. I try to present novel ideas in humorous ways with minimal offense. It hurts less that way. –Nick

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