How would you define this word?

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Avni Prasad

When Noah Webster created the first American dictionary in 1828, he used the Bible to create definitions for his words. In the American Dictionary of English Language Webster established rules for grammar, pronunciations and spelling. And although many of these rules have stuck through today, many definitions have drastically changed. Education, according to Webster’s dictionary, was useless without a Bible. However, now the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines education as “the action or process of teaching someone.”

The word itself may not have ever changed. But its definition is constantly changing. To honor Webster’s birthday this month, look below as students define certain words.

Feminism (noun)

  1. The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
  2. Organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

FeminismAccording to junior Grace Nevitt, feminism is not about “trashing down men,” but “empowering everyone” to an equal standard. Illustration by Avni Prasad

Junior Grace Nevitt defines feminism in her own words.

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Retarded (noun)

“People don’t realize that when they say this word in a casual circumstance, they are associating the negative connotation with people who are actually mentally retarded.””

  1. Slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress

Senior Alissa Patterson defines retarded in her own words.

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Slut (noun) 

“You just can’t compare a person who has a lot sexual partners to a person who is showing skin. There is no comparison. I just feel like teenagers especially are just throwing around this word because they have no better insult to come up with.””

  1. An immoral or dissolute woman
  2. A prostitute

Senior Alice Tsvinev defines slut in her own words. 

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State (noun)

“Most people really underestimate and don’t comprehend how much the state is a part of your daily life.””

  1. A politically organized body of people usually occupying a definite territory
  2. One of the constituent units of a nation having a federal government

Junior Marcus Plutowski defines state in his own words.

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Success (noun)

  1. The fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame
  2. A favorable or desired outcome

22628505796_2f11e16410_zTo sophomore Suki Karlcut, happiness is the best measurement of success, not money or fame. Illustration by Avni Prasad.

Sophomore Suki Karlcut defines state in his own words.

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Correction (Oct. 31): A previous version of the story that appeared on Oct. 31 misspelled junior Grace Nevitt’s name. This error has been corrected.