The other all-purpose word

Reflecting on the over-use of the word “cheers” sent me careening down a path towards ranting about the even more commonly abused word “love”–or perhaps more appropriately in this context, “luv”. Now this is a word that already has great number of meanings to begin with (28 in the online dictionary!) and which generally causes great confusion, consternation and angst along with great happiness and satisfaction. And that’s just in considering emotion, don’t get me started on tennis! The pop lyrics alone can barely do the word justice: what love is, what love isn’t, and how to tell.

But completely disturbing to me in the midst of all this linguistic uncertainty is the predilection of burly British workmen in my office building to use this term to refer to me in casual conversation. I do not like being called “love” or “luv” in the context of “Good morning, love!” or any similar informal address made to me by someone I barely recognize. This useage does not fall into the online dictionary definitions for either:

4. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
5. (used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, or the like): Would you like to see a movie, love?

Leave this poor, overused and easily misunderstood word out of your minute-by-minute vocabulary; find another word to use to address total strangers. Let’s agree to just stick with the 14 nouns, 8 verbs and 6 idioms already in the definition. There’s enough confusion there already.

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