Conservative Republicans seem to be having an awfully tough time with their vocabulary lately. They keep misusing words, poor old dears. In particular, these confused politicos keep using words that have traditionally had a positive connotation in a pejorative sense. Therefore, we present a little gloss that might help them with their sorry diction.
“c.1375, from O.Fr. liberal “befitting free men, noble, generous,” from L. liberalis “noble, generous,” lit. “pertaining to a free man,” from liber “free,” from PIE base *leudheros (cf. Gk. eleutheros “free”), probably originally ‘belonging to the people'” (Online Etymological Dictionary)
From the Indo-European root “leudh,” meaning “grow, rise,” as in progressive (Joseph T. Shipley, The Origins of English Words)
“1823, from Fr. élite “selection, choice,” from O.Fr. fem. pp. of elire, elisre “pick out, choose,” from L. eligere “choose” (see election). Borrowed in M.E. as “chosen person,” esp. a bishop-elect, died out c.1450, re-introduced by Byron’s “Don Juan.” (Online Etymological Dictionary)
“1a singular or plural in construction : the choice part. 1b singular or plural in construction : the best of a class” (Merriam-Webster)
“1867, “calf or yearling found without an owner’s brand,” in allusion to Samuel A. Maverick (1803-70), Texas cattle owner who was negligent in branding his calves. Sense of “individualist, unconventional person” is first recorded 1886, via notion of ‘masterless.'” (Online Etymological Dictionary)
Samuel A. Maverick refused to brand his cattle, ostensibly claiming that the practice was cruel. However, by not branding his cattle, he was able to claim any stray cows as his own property. What a devious genius! How’s that for laissez-fair?
Clearly, a maverick would never let himself be branded with someone else’s label. He’d cut his own path, forge his own trail, create his own hackneyed metaphor, and not, f’r’instance, vote with the President 95% of the time.
“Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.” ( Ambrose Bierce, Devil’s Dictionary)
“From the Indo-European root “(s)kamb: bend, change; exchange, barter . . . Fr, change, exchange. Gc, change, changeable, unchanging, etc. . . . This root is related to camp, campus, campaign, etc.” (Joseph T. Shipley, The Origins of English Words)
Synonyms for “change” include: modification, variation, transformation, revolution, conversion, adjustment, amendment, difference, and alteration.
When used in politics, the word connotes a dramatic shift in ideology from the previous regime to its successors (e.g. “The idea that a new set of Republicans would be a change from the old set was both a paradox and a misuse of language”)