We all know by now that the literal meaning of a word isn’t always the way it gets used in conversation which is why describing a group of people as “rabid” (which means having or proceeding from an extreme or fanatical support of or belief in something) albeit not the best way to go about it, isn’t wrong. The problem is that most people associate the word rabid with fatally ill, dangerous animals. Negative connotations didn’t stop the Oxford Dictionary from using “rabid feminists” in an example sentence underneath the word’s entry though.
After a few Twitter users questioned the use of the term, Oxford University Press tweeted that rabid isn’t always negative and that they’re example sentences come from real world use. But now the Press is backtracking, first apologizing on Twitter earlier this week saying “We were flippant in some of our tweets yesterday. Sorry. ‘Rabid fan’ now has the highest frequency in the Oxford Corpus & ‘rabid supporter’ also frequent. We’ll review the primary example sentence used for ‘rabid.'” Oxford also provided a statement to The Daily Dot, “The example sentences we use are taken from a huge variety of different sources and do not represent the views or opinions of Oxford University Press. That said, we are now reviewing the example sentence for ‘rabid’ to ensure that it reflects current usage.”
What we associate with certain words is important — and there is already so much confusion associated with the word “feminist”. Adding to that confusion and overall baggage is simply unnecessary.
What are your thoughts on Oxford’s use of the word?