“Remember when woke used to be cool? And now it’s Mom on Facebook. Like, I don’t know what happened.” — Jemele Hill on MSNBC, April 8, 2021.

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1. Cancel
Origin: African American vernacular English
Dates to 1991

Then: To remove a person, such as a romantic partner, from your life (see: Wesley Snipes in New Jack City).

Now: 1. To “call out” or boycott a public figure, a private citizen, or an entity considered problematic or unwelcome. 2. To respond sarcastically to constructive criticism or perceived punishment.

2. Culture
Origin: French and Latin
Dates to 1400s

Then: The act of preparing land for crops.

Later: 1. Education, taste, and refinement. 2. A people’s learned way of life (beliefs, values, attitudes).

Now: Whatever is sacred to powerful people.

3. Freedom of Speech
Origin: Greek
Dates to fifth century B.C.

Then: Fearless and frank speech that still respects public order and safety.

Now: Freedom to express oneself, no matter who gets hurt.

4. Politically Correct
Origin: Russian
Dates to 1917

Then: Adhering to your political party’s ideals.

Now: Being gutless because you bottle up your feelings to avoid offending other people.

5. Revisionist History, aka Revisionism
Origin: Russian
Dates to 1903

Then: A break from Marxist doctrine.

Later: The conscious removal or reinterpretation of a particular people’s history by oppressors.

Now: 1. The distrust of traditionally held beliefs and facts about historical events. 2. The opposition to people examining the accuracy of past and current events.

6. Victim
Origin: Latin
Dates to the 1400s

Then: A sacrificial offering to a deity.

Later: A person experiencing pain and suffering because of someone else’s actions.

Now: A person who inflicts harm on others and then hides behind freedom of speech to escape accountability.

7. Woke
Origin: African American vernacular English
Dates to the 1940s

Then: A slang term for the awareness of racial justice and social justice.

Now: An insult used by people against social justice to attack a brave person who speaks out against injustice.