"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."Language evolves. Over time, as people speak a language, some of its words take on new meanings, and the old meanings may fall into disuse. Sometimes the new usages become mainstream; when was the last time you heard someone (who wasn't trying to be funny — and likely failing) use "gay" to mean anything other than "homosexual" or as a disparaging term?note Sometimes, things are more... contentious. This trope covers those words that writers, and indeed people in general, are frequently accused of misusing, although given the continual evolution of any spoken language, exactly what constitutes a "misuse" is hotly contested. The most common examples can be sorted into categories of varying pedantry. The more pedantic ones may rely on obscure usages or represent a vain attempt by linguistic purists to turn back the clock on the evolution of language (sometimes to a supposed past state that never actually existed), often accompanied by the belief that linguistic evolution is always "degradation." The usage may simply be so widespread that, while the "correct" usage is still valuable in some contexts, one can generally get away with the "incorrect" colloquial usage. The less pedantic ones, though, will probably elicit eye rolls at least from most people with an interest in language or a university education. Then there are some words that are just so specific that nobody actually bothers to look up what they really mean. This happens most often to scientific or medical terms. In some rare cases, the opposite may happen: a shorter word may be replaced by a longer one, either coined or borrowed, because the writer thinks using longer words makes his character (or himself) seem more intelligent. See "irregardless" below for an example of pompous writers trying to create a word. This isn't a general style guide; these are specifically words that have commonly contested usages. Homophones, humorous misspellings and bizarre malapropisms belong in The Big List of Booboos and Blunders or Rouge Angles of Satin. For errors of punctuation rather than usage, see Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma. When this happens because you didn't know a language as well as you thought you did, it is My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels.
— Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride, after one "Inconceivable!" too many from Vizzini.