Definitions, Schmefinitions…

I was having a rather interesting chat with a friend recently, and we spoke about how obsessed we were about definitions.  He told me that he would refer to the dictionary most of the time, and loved to write his pieces beginning with a definition of the topic.

Growing up, the dictionary was my best friend.  My mom encouraged my brother and I to refer to the dictionary for almost every word that we didn’t understand, and I loved how it provided all the answers that there were times I’d read it just for fun.  Did you know that the word ‘fuddy duddy’ refers to ‘being old-fashioned’ according to Oxford?  When I first learned that word I tried using it any chance I could.  Yeah, it was that addictive.

But then, as I progressed a little bit further in life, I realized that words do not always mean what they seem.

For instance, when I ask what’s bothering a friend of mine who seemed a little down, and she answered “Nothing” it doesn’t always mean, nothing.  According to Webster, ‘nothing’ means ‘something that does not exist’.  But in this case, it meant, ‘there’s something going on, but I don’t feel like talking about it until you pester further.’  I couldn’t find anything similar to that definition in any dictionary.

Soon, I found out that definitions are very subjective.  They vary according to situations and it takes one thing to figure them out: experience.  The more you have it, then you’re more likely to get it right.  I think this is what guys mean when they say that “women are very hard to understand” — at least part of it.

In homework though, at least in what I study, definitions are very direct and important.  We have to quote our sources too.  We call that part ‘reference’ and sometimes you need a few reliable sources to back what you are trying to define.  In Math and Physics, however, things are a little more straightforward.  You define something via formulae and somehow people like Newton, Einstein, Bernoulli and many other dead people have all the answers.  I don’t know who started to believe them, but hey, that’s the way it is now.

According to Newton, weight is equals to mass times gravity.  According to women, weight is…an issue.

See why homework doesn’t blend with life?