Saturday, September 15, 2012

Word Nerd: Curate

English is a living language that is constantly changing. Ever notice how the definition of a word can change simply because the general populace starts using it incorrectly? After a while, the new definition becomes commonplace and eventually accepted by dictionaries.

It's worth listening to the latest column from NPR's Scott Simon, called Go On, 'Curate' This Commentary, Too, about the (mis)appropriation of the word curate, whose actual definition is to select, organize and look after items in a collection or exhibition.

Simon says:

So I'm beginning to squirm when I hear a lot of people talk about curating because it seems to suggest that organizing your sock drawer — or choosing what hats, shoes or lipsticks to arrange in a store window — calls out the same creative imagination as cataloging and collecting the 1,000-plus works of Johann Sebastian Bach, or preparing and protecting the contents of King Tutankhamen's tomb to display for the ages.

Photo: White House curator's office in 2008