Insubordination means — oh, shit, that has a lot of syllables in it! Did somebody bust you for insubordination? You must have done something terrible. Or at least your accuser would like you to think so.

Practically speaking, insubordination probably means you didn’t follow orders or somebody caught you planning a mutiny.

But the word insubordinate means you failed to be subordinate — to be, that is, inferior to the person whose orders you didn’t follow. That’s all. It doesn’t mean you put other people in danger or cost your company three hundred million dollars — it means you thought too highly of yourself. You didn’t know your place.

Is a word like this good for anyone other than the people in charge? Is it even good for them?  Should questioning authority ever be a crime?