Two examples, one in Portuguese, the other in English, show that meanings cannot be derived from a word’s etymology or from former usages, and that meanings change as they move from one language to another and from one age to another. My main point of all this is about the church.

The English word “outdoor” is now good Portuguese. Its meaning, however, has nothing to do with the great outdoors, or the opposite of indoors. An outdoor (it’s a noun in Portuguese) is a billboard. It comes from the phrase, “outdoor advertising,” probably a Briticism, and is shortened to the first word. Brazilians don’t think of the outdoors when speaking of an outdoor.

Most of are familiar with the highjacking of the word gay. It used to mean, no so long ago, happy or joyful. No one uses it that way anymore. No one names a daughter Gay anymore. And, of course, no one uses the etymological mean of “swift.”

The point is, etymology nor earlier uses of a term do not determine meaning. Current use and context are the determinants. So the word ekklesia doesn’t mean called-out.

One thought on “Two modern examples: outdoor, gay

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