Most of us were taught at a young age that the word ‘no’ is a noun meaning a negative answer or decision; the opposite of the word ‘yes.’ It meant that MY entire life, strangely enough, even as a teenager from 1979-1989. Apparently, somewhere around 2005 or 2006, the meaning of the word ‘no’ veered wayyyyyyyyyyy off course.

About the time that my oldest son became a teenager, the word ‘no’ began to morph into something that loosely translates to ‘possibly no; but ask again in about 4 minutes and it MIGHT become yes.’ As my children grew, the definition of ‘no’ seemed to grow right alongside them. By 2009, the definition of the noun ‘no’ had evolved to include ‘beg using the word PLEEEAAASSSSSEEEE at least 9 times,’ ‘trade chores that have been blown off for days to better the chances of the no turning instantly into a yes,’ and ‘maybe, but wait and ask again once she’s starting to nod off to sleep.’  By 2015, it had lost any negative meaning entirely and meant, ‘shout and plead your case while stamping feet,’ ‘scream WHAT THE HELL?’ and ‘resort to guilt trips involving phrases like but you always and you never say anything but no. The only time that the word ‘no’ still means ‘no’ in the traditional sense is when it is said by the father.


Bedtime in the early 70’s until 2004 meant, head to the bathroom, brush teeth, put on pajamas, get in bed, close eyes, reach REM and rhythmic breathing patterns within 10-12 minutes, wake up sometime after 6 the following morning. Beginning in 2005, ‘bedtime’ was altered to mean ‘begin all homework conveniently forgotten between the hours of 3 pm and 8 pm,’ ‘it must be time to move your bowels,’ and ‘begin horseplay/fist-fighting.’  By 2015, ‘bedtime’ had become equivalent to Pavlov’s bell requiring all teenagers hearing it said to respond by immediately opening the refrigerator and staring inside until stalactites form on their nasal hair while they moan loudly about how they’re starving and we never have anything to eat.


Way back when the Oxford English Dictionary was put together and the authors finally completed the N’s until the year 2008, the adverb ‘now’ was always defined as ‘at the present time or moment.’ Since 2008, that definition has been altered to mean ‘at the time or moment Mom has repeated the same instruction preceding the word now no fewer than 6 times,’ ‘whenever you remember to do it, just make sure you say I forgot in order to justify it.’ In 2015, the word ‘now’ has become merely a filler word similar to sounds political speech makers use when pausing to regroup their thoughts on the campaign trail such as ‘Uh,’ and ‘Uhm,’ and ‘ahem.’

The exceptions to the latest definition of the word ‘now’ is when said by the father or when it is used by the teenager himself while demanding clean jeans or socks because it wasn’t HIS turn to do the laundry and he is late for school NOW.

The English language passed the 1 Million Word threshold on June 10, 2009. That is only the number of actual words and does not include added meanings to already present words. I’m not even sure if there is a group or agency or council that keeps track of how many new definitions are added to words that have existed for centuries. And if there were such a group, how would they add these new meanings? I’m willing to bet that they’d have to hire undercover baby-faced adults to follow groups of teenagers around while secretly recording the ever-growing list of new Teenese meanings to everyday English words.

Hey, anyone know what ‘homework’ means these days?

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