Every once in a while, I stumble across a word that doesn't quite mean what I thought it did, or at least doesn't apply as broadly as I had been led to believe. I'm not sure how that happens, precisely, other than to say that given the breadth of my vocabulary, it's surprising it doesn't happen more often than it does.
Though that sounds somewhat... egotistical, at the very least. But it isn't meant that way.
Often, it's simply a result of having heard the word in question used improperly often enough where I mistake the meaning that I know for it's common usage. Assuming I ever knew the proper meaning in the first place. I'm willing to admit that sometimes I've just always been wrong about what a word meant. Fortunately, most of those haven't been words that have occurred with any kind of frequency in my communications, otherwise I'd look more foolish than I already do.
I do try and improve my vocabulary, and yes, subscribe to one of those "word of the day" things. I like those because even when it's a word I know, they provide the etymology of the word. Or should that be entomology? That's one of those where I know one is bugs, and one is words, but often get them turned around. At least, I think one of them is bugs...
And yes, sitting at my computer I can easily look them up and determine the difference - as I just did, because despite the topic of this blog I'd just as soon not commit said mistakes in the actual entry - but sometimes taking that moment away from whatever else I'm doing disrupts the flow of thing. So as long as the spellchecker signs off on the word (which ironically it does not do with "spellchecker") I'm inclined to let it go and hope I catch it in the editing phase.
If it's in conversation though, the only way to catch it is to have someone else know the difference, which doesn't always happen. And in not catching it, in helping to perpetuate an incorrect meaning, I sometimes wonder if I am shaping the future etymology of the word so that, generations from now, it will come to mean what we all think it does.
Or if they'll just point and laugh at what idiots their forebears were.