I hate it when a new word is invented out of thin air and people start using it as though it’s always been a part of their vocabulary. There’s a new word (to me) that I’ve seen in print and heard on numerous broadcasts over the past six months. I’m not sure when the word came into existence. I’ve looked up the definition of the word on three separate occasions, and I still can’t explain in simple terms what it means.
I don’t think that I’m a dumb person. I graduated from college with a degree in accounting and then passed the CPA exam. After that, I graduated from law school, and I have run my own law firm for the past 38 years.
I hate admitting that I looked up the meaning of a stupid word on three occasions, and I still can’t explain what it means. That’s the reason I’m writing about the word today. I found that when I write about a topic, I am forced to think it through and come up with simple explanations and examples that other people can understand.
The hardest work that I do is when I write about something. My written explanations ordinarily start out with scattered thoughts on a sheet of paper or my computer monitor. Most of the time I struggle to present my thoughts, examples, and stories in an orderly and understandable manner.
The advantage of writing about something is that I am usually able to bring clarity to certain concepts and theories that I otherwise would not fully understand or be able to explain.
Can you guess what word I’m referring to? If you pay attention to social media, the news, and politics, you will recognize the word as soon as I tell you what it is.
The word is “woke.” If you have seen or heard the word, can you tell me what it means? You will have to make your explanation simple for me because as I’ve already admitted to you, my brain has not been able to wrap itself around the meaning of the word.
For most people, the word “woke” has always meant the occurrence of a person waking up from sleep. Here are a few examples of how the word has traditionally been used:
● The sound of loud voices woke her up.
● I thought you would be back home by the time I woke up.
● After a rough night of sleep, he woke up to sunshine.
● My wife woke me this morning with a loving hug.
Over the past several years, the word “woke” has become politicized and different meanings have been assigned to it. As I’ve already indicated, the word started out as the past tense of the verb “wake.” It then morphed into an adjective that meant “up-to-date” or “well-informed.” Then it was redefined again to refer to an awareness and acknowledgement of racial or social injustice.
The word became so popular that Saturday Night Live did a skit about being woke.
In June 2017, the Oxford English Dictionary added “woke” to its dictionary and provided this definition:
woke, adjective: Originally: well-informed, up-to-date. Now chiefly: alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice; frequently in stay woke.
After the new meaning of the word became widespread, people who were politically progressive started using the word to virtue-signal their claimed sensitivity to racism and injustice. In response to the progressives, social conservatives started using the word as a derogatory way to disparage people and institutions who support cancel culture, demonstrations that include burning and looting, defunding of the police, and laws that allow voting without any requirement to sign for a ballot or show a valid ID.
Here are some current examples of how the word “woke” is currently being used in a sentence:
● There’s a reason why some men won’t date woke women.
● Harry and Meghan are the oppressive King and Queen of Woke.
● Fox News is terrorizing the Wokerati.
● I’m not really woke.
Can you imagine going to confession and saying, “Bless me father for I have sinned, since my last confession, I was woke on three different occasions.” Do you think the priest would say, “Ok, for your penance, say…” I don’t think so. Here’s what he would probably say: “Would you mind telling me what you’re talking about? I need for you to tell me exactly what you did on the three occasion that you’re referring to.”
That’s the problem with the word. Since it means different things to different people, you cannot be certain what the person who uses it is talking about.
You will never see me use the word “woke” in anything that I say or write unless I’m using it in the context of being awakened from sleep. Here’s what I have to say to people who use the word to refer to various political beliefs or activity:
Grow up and quit hiding behind an abstract word that can easily be interpreted in different ways by different people. You need to have the courage to say exactly what you’re objecting to, and then you need to be ready to defend your position with a reasoned argument.
I’ve solved my problem. If anyone ever asks me what the word “woke” means, I’ll give them a copy of this article.