Onderhond wrote: ↑November 10th, 2020, 12:20 pm
Because ICMf is a smart and varied bunch of people, I wonder if anyone can help me with a little language issue.
The problem is the word: illustrious.
To me it has a strong negative connotation. A word meaning infamous, shady, something used for villains and anti-heroes.
In reality though, it's an overwhelmingly positive word, meaning "noble", "outstanding".
So what's happening here? I've been looking around the web and I see I'm definitely not the only one with this problem, but I can't seem to find the origin of this contradiction. It is a word that looks/sounds a lot like it? Is it a secondary meaning that's less common/context dependent? Or are people just using it incorrectly and has it taken on a different/opposite meaning in popular use?
All it took was Michael Jackson singing "I'm bad." and limited culture slang usage went mainstream. Additionally, a famous Presidential gaffe 100 years ago created the situation where both normality and normalcy bacame equally acceptable ways of conveying the same concept (at least in the US) - can't remember which was correct at this point. So, the fact that people have started to use it 'incorrectly' has given the word the meaning you suggest or at least conferred ambiguity.
More research in the word's etymology might shed some light, but only supports the positive meaning. In some rare cases, words that may seem similar in construction actually come to English in different ways and that can effect the meaning, but that doesn't seem to the be the case here. I can find no authoritative sources that support or even recognize your alternate, negative meaning.
I'd say that there is no negative meaning of the word though some are using the word incorrectly or in a way that leads to improper understanding. While there is always a battle between correct and actual usage, I don't believe this word has risen to that. In other words, the words misuse hasn't been accepted as pervasive enough to consider redefinition or even mention.
And don't worry, as a writer, I struggle with English every day.