Words are born with a meaning.

Sometimes they get lassoed by another meaning.

Sometimes their definition is diluted by fashion and circumstance.

Words acquiring new meanings is a good thing.  The Urban Dictionary, for instance, is full of words that started out doing one thing and then changed career.

This museum contains a list of words, the meanings of which have been destroyed by fashion or consultants.  These words are relics.

Avoid cheap imitations of these words in the stalls outside.

Curate / curator

The traditional definition of a curator is a person who manages, administers or organizes a collection, employed by a museum, library, archive or zoo.  Today, a curator is someone who chooses things – from toast, to cheese, to beards, to cereal to cauliflowers.


Guru used to mean someone revered who dispensed life-changing advice.  Today it can mean someone who explains what a hashtag is.


Disrupt dates back to late Middle English.  It used to mean ‘broken apart’.  Today it means changing the way we order something via  an app on our phone so that it is theoretically quicker and so that venture capitalists can buy another yacht.  It can also mean breaking apart investors and their wealth.


An entrepreneur used to be someone who was no stranger to taking risks in return for potential profit.  Today it can mean someone who is no stranger to self-regard.  There are now influpreneurs, cafepreneurs, chiropreneurs, gradpreneurs, beardpreneurs (what is it with beards?), hipsterpreneurs, artisanpreneurs, ultrapreneurs (a new breed of superhero), solopreneurs, fatherpreneurs, christianpreneurs, veganpreneurs, foodpreneurs, ganjapreneurs, freedompreneurs, mrpreneurs and manurepreneurs. I sh*t you not.


Awesome dates back to the late 16th century.  It used to mean ‘extremely impressive’ or ‘daunting’.  It was a word saved for life-defining moments.  Today it means ‘passingly notable’, as in ‘I had an awesome salad at lunchtime’.  It can also mean ‘OK’, as in “see you  later, dude.” “Awesome”.

More soon. Please send any words for the collection to ruinedwords@houstonpr.co.uk.

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