time for a new word: apologetics

Sometimes the meaning of a word changes right before the eyes of the people who use it most. It changes in a way the most devoted users don’t like, but if they insist on using the word the way they always have, they’ll look ridiculous (or worse) to everybody else.

To these people we say: We are sorry. It’s not fair that this happened to you. But It’s time for a new word.

Today’s victims of the evolution of language: Apologetics.

To the ancient Greeks, an “apologia” was a formal defense of a person or an idea. Eventually, people who tried to convince others that their religion was true or that some piece of writing was good started referring to themselves as “apologetics.” Probably it was an honorable title in the first few centuries AD, but if you’re alive now and reading this and you consider yourself an “apologetic,” I’m afraid I have some bad news.

Today, to the vast majority of English-speaking people, an “apology” is not a defense. It’s the opposite of a defense. If we apologize for an idea, it means we’re sorry about it because it’s stupid or horrible.

So by all means, keep defending the ideas dearest to you. But don’t call yourself an apologetic unless you are comfortable with a lot of people thinking things like “If you have to apologize for your ideas, maybe just get some new ideas?” every time you open your mouth.

Like I said, it isn’t fair. Think it over.