‘Words mean things’

The phrase “words mean things” is something my old journalism professor used to always say. He was talking about how individual words have meanings and should be chosen carefully. Words have dictionary meanings and cultural meanings. Journalism is a very literal world that tends to use words in their dictionary sense and forgets that sometimes the cultural interpretation will hinder the message.

I’ve used the phrase “words mean things” many times in my life, both as advice and as a self-reminder. To me it’s more than a cliche, it’s wisdom that transcends beyond just writing. Words I’ve carelessly spoken have hurt friends, even though they were not intended to offend. On a more positive note, blogs I’ve written with no real plans for them to get a lot of attention seem to be the ones with most “hits” (Who knew that writing about feeling numb about 9/11 and a fake Olive Garden recipe would get me daily hits?).

My point is, words mean things. They have a dictionary and cultural meaning and they mean something to others. If it’s words that are not mean to be harsh but they still sting, or if they are keywords that help guide someone to read something that inspires or helps them.

Words mean things. We all need to remember to use them wisely.

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