Published: 10th October 2017
#TakeAKnee: Did you know that some of the words that we use today had a different meaning when they originated?
Dr Albert P' Rayan, Professor of English at KCG College of Engineering, looks back into the history of words and phrases
Creative writers play with words creatively. Creative readers, on their part, appreciate the way the words have been used to mean something different, make the words popular by using them. This is how words and phrases acquire new meanings.
Recently, the expression ‘take-a-knee’ was widely used by the social media globally following US President Donald Trump’s tweets about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernik’s protest during the 2016 football season. Colin refused to stand for the playing of the national anthem expressing his protest against racial discrimination in the US. Attacking the National Football League (NFL) Mr Trump tweeted NFL owners who see players “disrespecting the flag” should say “get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired.”
This inflammatory comment made many more players take part in “take a knee” protests. According to Twitter, there had been over 2.5 million tweets with the hashtags #TakeAKnee or #TakeTheKnee.
“What is the meaning of the phrase “take a knee”? It is an American football term. It refers to when the quarterback kneels down on one knee and places the ball on the ground in order to run out the clock and to end the play.
Now, after a series of protests across the US and the popular use of the phrase in social media, the sports lingo might have a different meaning and be used to indicate any type of protest.
Let’s all take a knee and express our dissatisfaction.
Is it fair to take a knee and oppose NEET?
If you think it is injustice, you should take a knee.
While going through various news reports on “take a knee” protests, I came across the word ‘balloon’ used as a verb. If something suddenly swells out or gets bigger, we say it has ballooned. Here is an example:
What began as a peaceful protest by Colin Kaepernick ballooned into a full-blown movement.
Poverty has ballooned to twenty per cent and unemployment to fifteen percent.
The usage of the phrase “take a knee” has ballooned the past week.
Language historian Anne Curzan says that words change meaning over time in ways that might surprise us.
Here are some of the words which have different meanings.
The word “unique” originally meant “one of a kind” but now it means “very unusual”.
“Is GST a unique reform?” “Yes, it is. It is very unusual.”
‘Nice’ is one of the most frequently used words by English language learners. if a learner does not get an apt word to describe positively, they use the word ‘nice’. It was originally used to mean “silly”, “foolish” or “simple”.
The word “silly” originally referred to things worthy or blessed. Now it is used to refer to those who are foolish.
The word “awful” meant “worthy of awe” and now it means “very bad or unpleasant”.
I don’t want to visit this place again. It is an awful place.
This dress looks awful on you.
The old meaning of the word “naughty” is nothing. If someone is said to be naughty, it means the person has nothing. Later, the word came to mean “immoral” and now it means “badly behaved” or “mischievous”.
He is fond of cracking naughty jokes.
She is such a naughty girl.
“All slang is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry” – GK Chesterton