Writing Out Loud: What’s in a Word?

By George Stahl

In 1806, Noah Webster published his first dictionary. This was pre-Merriam days, and prior to his son, William G., joining the company, and certainly way before his son in law, Chauncy, got into the family business. In that book, Webster attempted to give meaning to the words we have been using for centuries. By the way, Daniel Webster may have been Noah’s cousin, but he had nothing to do with dictionaries. He was too busy making up meanings to words of his own as a U.S. Senator.

As time went on, for whatever reason, boredom, wanting to make a mark for their generation or whatever, people have been twisting the meaning of some of Noah’s words for a very long time. Sometime to the point of the publishers making changes of their own and adding the definitions of the people to the official language, English.

‘Bad’ became synonymous with ‘good,’ ‘awesome’ became ‘fabulous,’ ‘far out’ was now ‘wow,’ and one that has men reeling, ‘nag’ transformed into ‘reiterate.’ They all stretch the word they change to a very far point, but three of the four examples are fairly harmless, without substance or wouldn’t cause any great social upheaval. The fourth one, however, could have the potential of doing all of that and more. As far as anyone can tell, that convoluted meaning has not made its way into the dictionary text under the word ‘nag’ yet. Well, nonetheless, it has managed to find itself a way into a few people’s lives today.

The term is mostly used by women, wives and girlfriends. They have openly replaced “nag and nagging with reiterate and reiterating.” So much so to the point that some of these women are known as ‘Reiterators.’ Kind of catchy. Almost like one of those Schwarzenegger movies. ‘I am the Reiterator, hasta la vista baby. I am the Reiterator, hasta la vista baby.’ And that phrase is repeated several more times until she feels she has made her point.

Now, to be fair. It is not without justification and cause that the Reiterator does what she does. The other side of this coin is a common symptom that most men, especially married ones, suffer from. Unlike the practice of reiterating, however, there is no catchy name for this one. Unless you are into acronyms. The dysfunction is simply known as, H.A.D.D. or Husband Attention Deficit Disorder. It is unclear when in the relationship the effects of this common trait among husbands first comes on. The theory is that it happens to different men at different times, but when it does, there is usually no going back to that sharp minded, quick witted, kind hearted, loving soul of a man that they were before being reiterated. Once H.A.D.D. sets in, there is no going back, and this frustrates the reiterator to no end. The vicious ‘circle of life,’ not exactly the Simba version either.

So then, the remedy to all of this mixed up stuff? Who knows. If that’s what you’re looking for, an answer, you need to read something else, or get out and search for a resolution. Because you won’t find that here. All you’ll come across in this column is a poster child for H.A.D.D.

The relationship between a Reiterator and an H.A.D.D. sufferer is a complex one and one that may never be fully understood. I’m sorry, what were we talking about? It’s okay, you can remind me, really. Just ‘reiterate’ it to me.
Oh well, talk to you next week. I think.