Never tell a woman she looks "fine"
25 June 2015, 18:47
You know when people use the word “literally” when they mean “figuratively” and then you get all snooty and tell them they literally don’t know what literally means?
Well the joke’s on you, ma’am.
Since the incorrect usage of “literally” was so widespread, The Oxford English Dictionary officially changed the meaning of literally to include both definitions. In 2011 already. So while literally still means in a literal sense as in: “Advanced Ebola symptoms include literally bleeding from the eyes” it also officially means in a figurative sense as in: “The last Game of Thrones episode literally made my eyes bleed.”
So literally can literally mean figuratively these days.
While this might be an acrid pill to swallow for the staunch upholders of English grammar, I actually think it’s pretty cool. Languages evolve through time and usage and the only languages that do not change are the dead ones. Besides, there are many other words that we use daily that didn’t originally mean what they mean in today’s usage.
“Awesome” is a great example. It used to mean inspiring awe or terror. A natural disaster or a god would be awesome. Not a night out with friends, or getting to leave work early on a Friday.
“Amazing” is another one. It’s supposed to mean "to cause great wonder or astonishment". Yet, no one will blink an eye, or more pertinently, ask you what happened if you tell them you had an amazing chicken salad for lunch.
This is all good and well if everyone knows the new meanings and uses the words in the same way of course. Which brings me to my point this week…
These days I’m a big believer in building human relationships, mending rifts between the sexes and striving for harmony in general. Which is why I want to make a public service announcement right here in black on white:
“FINE” IS NOT A COMPLIMENT. AND YOU SHOULD NEVER ATTEMPT TO USE IT AS SUCH.
It is all very well that the word originally meant satisfactory or pleasing, but any woman can tell you that saying “Fine” in response to “How do I look?” is a deeply and incredibly stupid thing to do.
No one wants to look fine. Unless it’s with a long “I”. As in “damn, girl, you fiiiiiiiiiiiiine”.
There are literally dozens of other adjectives you can use that can denote a wide, nuanced variety of positivity in your response.
Fine is not one of them.
And while I’m at it, when you ask her how she is, hours later after the dragon fire has died down, and she says “I’m fine”, that’s probably not meant positively either.
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