In an episode of a podcast I really respect, three of the experts quoted used words that I was familiar with: Debunk, gaslighting and cult. These are powerful words, words with specific and evocative meanings.
In all three cases, the people speaking used them ‘wrong.’
Being on a podcast might be nerve-wracking, and in an effort to overcome anxiety, sound smart and level up, each person ended up doing the opposite.
But that’s how language works. We’re trying to say what we mean, and sometimes, it’s not what other people think we meant. The emotions behind the words are real, even if the words are a mismatch.
When it happens often enough, the words develop a new meaning.
Words are a moving target, an expression of feelings, and they inevitably shift.
There’s no absolute measure of wrong. Simply what we thought vs what they meant.