How a liberal defines words (and ignores the dictionary)

From:,  by Jim Yardley,  on Oct 19, 2016


It sort of makes you wonder what kind of medication politicians are using these days.  Words don’t always mean what a dictionary says they mean, and this “alternative definition” appears to be used more and more by political figures on the left.

Gary Johnson, the current presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, gave a letter-perfect example of “alternative definition” during a recent interview.  The interviewer, after obviously searching for the least offensive way of approaching the subject of those who have entered the United States illegally, is taken to task at some length by former Gov. Johnson.

Johnson demanded that the interviewer use the word “undocumented” in place of the word “illegal.”  In fact, he went on and on and on about how Hispanics, particularly in his home state of New Mexico, and he, personally, find the use of the term “illegal” highly offensive.

You have to wonder why Johnson is so “offended.”  And why does the term, according to Johnson, offend only Hispanics?  Don’t we have any illegals in this country from somewhere where they speak other than Spanish?

It’s a simple word.  Even the kids in our world-class educational system (okay, stop sniggering) know what the word illegal means.  The Random House Dictionary defines the word illegal as:

1. forbidden by law or statute.

2. contrary to or forbidden by official rules, regulations, etc.

Regardless of the definition, Gov. Johnson insists that such people who act in a manner contrary to law or statute should be referred to as “undocumented.”  I could be wrong, but if a person or persons need documentation to be considered legal, wouldn’t the lack of such documentation fall under the definition of illegal?

If you’re driving your car and you’re stopped by the police and the officer requests your driver’s license and you don’t have one, isn’t that alone an act that is illegal?  You get arrested not for “undocumented driving.”  The law, in every state of the union, has found possession of an approved license to operate an automobile the only legal way you can operate an automobile.

Should you then be described as an “undocumented driver”?

I’ve heard some humorous people describe drug dealers as “undocumented pharmacists.”  Does that sound like an accurate description of their activity?

It appears that Gov. Johnson is a bit more obvious than many who agree with him in goals, if not totally in methodology, but all are, sadly, devoted students of Lewis Carroll, the author of Through the Looking Glass.  Carroll uses his character Humpty Dumpty to explain it all this way to Alice:

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

The last line in this work by Carroll is key.  The goal of this technique is simply to show that the person defining the word is the master – that is, the master of the conversation, the argument, the issue.  Everyone else is assumed to defer to the definitions of the master.

This is not limited to politicians like Clinton, Johnson, Obama, Pelosi, and the myriad of others, who are (in this year’s political campaign) pandering to some particular minority group.  This verbal effort to become the master of the issue is also the practice of left-leaning lawyers and left-leaning judges.

The most vivid example of “it means just what I choose it to mean” and the complete disregard for the actual definitions intended by the legislators who drafted the words comes from our current chief justice of the Supreme Court, who found in favor of the administration’s interpretation of Obamacare when he declared that “exchanges created by the States” didn’t mean what it actually said.

Turns out that in that case, Roberts actually was the master, and the rest of us are effectively punished unjustly because he (and he alone) meant what he chose the phrase to mean.

It’s sad to think that Humpty Dumpty is directing the political future of our nation.

Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller and a two-tour Vietnam veteran and writes frequently about political idiocy, business and economic idiocy, and American cultural idiocy.  Jim also blogs at and can be contacted directly at


This is a pet peeve of mine (and also of my blog-mates here on PT) that liberals are constantly attempting to redefine words to more closely align with their political views. The actual dictionary definition of the word doesn’t matter if the left doesn’t like the image that the true meaning describes. So, they endeavor to “redefine” the meaning. The “illegal” word given in the article is the perfect example. They don’t want to be seen as aiding illegal acts so they must redefine those people who came here “illegally” to be “undocumented” instead. That’s a far more innocuous term.

They did something similar with “global warming.” When scientists began to report that our climate wasn’t actually warming at an alarming rate as the liberals wanted us to believe, the quickly jettisoned the word in favor of “climate change.” Who could argue that the climate didn’t change?

Just one more in a series of reasons not to trust ANYTHING a liberal says or does – it’ll always be politically motivated and it’ll likely be a lie.



Categories: Political


10 replies

  1. It’s funny how the media latches onto it so quickly – it’s like they’re in on the memo or something. This is such a big deal with them, that If we were to list all the words they’ve bent and mutilated, we could be here for hours…maybe days. It makes me think back to the Clinton days when they tried to redefine ‘is’.


  2. That’s a great post, Garnet.

    Language is the tool of debate. It belongs to everyone and is essential to Democracy. When some people (i.e. Progressives) presume to unilaterally redefine words to suit their own purposes, they are depriving others of the means to debate and to therefore have their fair say in matters that affect them. It is, in a word, undemocratic, and gives further proof to the claim that Democrats are not for democracy at all.

    Thugs don’t always look tough and wear brass knuckles. If you can co-opt the language, you can win the war without ever declaring it.


    • It also fosters confusion when a word’s meaning has been bastardized to the point of there no longer being a single agreed-upon definition. How do you communicate? It’ll be much like a German speaking to a Japanese person without a common language and without the benefit of an interpreter.


    • good good good posting garnet, and good timing.
      CW, your reply is good two, cause i can add 2 things you said.
      “Language is the tool of debate.”
      And without debate the so-called master of their terminology therefore is insisting that you are voluntarily agreeing with the charges they are accusing you of, consequently denying anyone of any debate that there was in fact force compliance to conditions everyone in their right mind would recognize as whichever form of thuggery.

      Also, “Thugs don’t always look tough and wear brass knuckles. If you can co-opt the language, you can win the war without ever declaring it.”
      Nor are they being like socialist heroes they idolize. Instead of pulling folks out who disagree with their positions and openly assasinate them – they hikack the language and make false allgations, pursue suing through the courts which are politically biased in their favor, all without real bullets or brazen brutality BUT with paper bullets and smiles on their lting faces.


  3. The left’s attack on language has long been a fish bone stuck in my craw. I wrote about their bastardization of words almost 8 years ago in Leftists and Language at the old Townhall site.

    Here is a excerpt from that essay:

    … [M]y concern grows for their [word’s] legacy as leftist politicians corrupt our language in quest for ever expanding power. From quibbling over the definition of is, to proclaiming words are just words, these would be thieves of heritage strive to blunt that sword most threatening – the exchange of ideas and information among a free people. Sadly, their efforts may be succeeding.
    AP’s Anne Gearan has placed a figurative shot across the bow of conservatives expounding the values of private enterprise and free marketing. Not content with lambasting US policy, and both Presidents Bush in her article, Analysis: Pirates, poverty mark US Somalia failure, Ms. Gearan goes on to equate piracy on the high seas with owning a family business.
    “The Somali pirates may be bandits and thugs, but they also are entrepreneurs making do in a place without a functioning government, laws or normal commerce.”

    Noah [Webster] and Peter [Roget] are turning in their graves.

    Here is an archived link to the Gearan article referenced.

    I fear Noah and Peter are now in full, high-speed spins over what today’s left is doing.


    • Not only do we need to combat the manipulation of the language to benefit leftists, the bastardization of the language has another even more damaging effect – that of communication in general.

      Communication between two parties depends on both parties defining words (at least) similarly, if not the same. What happens when there is a disparity between each party’s understanding of what the other said? That’s easy – misunderstanding – which, depending on the context, could be embarrassing, or in a foreign relations scenario, could be serious.

      We shouldn’t be so cavalier about the meaning of words.


  4. Perfect, Garnet.

    Pretty soon drug dealers will be unlicensed pharmacists. Hit men can be freelance euthanists. Rapists can be unrepressed sexual expressionists.

    If you can control the language, you can control the game. That was one of Orwell’s continuing themes, expressed in “1984” and “Animal Farm”.

    Liked by 1 person

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