Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Golden-ager – Wordplay Wednesday™ 09/09/2020

Ol’ Gray Mare She Ain’t What She Used to Be! 

I’m not fond of the new Merriam-Webster’s format of presenting words in its print edition—too complicated for quick perusal. Add to that its attempt to shorten definitions (presumably to save space) by referring the user elsewhere in the massive tome is simply frustrating.

Their new method does injustice to many words; and omitting some former descriptive text has muddled the meanings. And then … I stumbled on a word that made it personal …

GOLDEN-AGER (gōl-dɘn-ā-jɘr; 1961) n. – an elderly and often retired person usu. engaging in club activities. [WW #285] 

Oh my, and this from a bona fide dictionary with a 2020 copyright. Golden-ager, as defined, is so many words of wrong. Obviously its meaning was 1) established in the 1960s which makes it vintage at the very least, and 2) a misnomer at best, and misconstrued meaning at worst?

Having reached that illustrious age of “retired person” (sort of), I have yet to talk with anyone who considers themselves a golden-ager in the dictionary context (or frankly, any other).

In the same dictionary, *golden age is defined as “a period of great happiness, prosperity, and achievement” without mention of age. Yet, golden-ager could come from nothing else.

Oh, we may belong to clubs and enjoy not adhering to a work schedule, but the new golden-ager’s dictionary definition is short-sighted and largely erroneous.

Somehow, the term golden age* (1555), along with golden years (1964)*, became synonymous to the age and lifestyle of the elderly. Other than spotting golden-ager in the dictionary in a hunt for interesting words, I have never heard the term. Whether retired or not, apparently, we elders are supposed to be carefree and without purpose, other than to enjoy our *golden years and join clubs.

*Golden years’ definition states, “the advanced years in a lifetime <[i.e.,] active well into their “golden years>.” That doesn’t even make sense. Setting golden years as an example doesn’t define the term, merely demonstrates its use.

Golden-ager’s 2020 definition differs from the Fifth Edition (2014), which in my humble opinion is more accurate: “[Informal] an elderly person, specif. one who is 65 or older and retired.”

*More 2020 vs. 2014 comparisons of our muddled modern dictionary terms: “Golden Age – 1) Class. Myth. the early age in which mankind was ideally happy, prosperous, and innocent; 2) a period of great progress,
prosperity, or cultural achievement; 3) of or for golden agers.” *Golden Years is not listed in the 2014 edition.

In our modern world, few retired people, especially those with moderate to low retirement funds, consider
golden-ager an apt description of their elder years. In fact, it’s demeaning and dismissive. (Definition written by someone wearing an “OK, Boomer” t-shirt?)

Word Challenge: GOLDEN-AGER. Are you there yet? If you are 55+, consider how you might improve the definition. If you’re not, give some thought to a word you think is more apropos, as you fit golden-ager into your week of contemplative writings and clever conversations.

Learning knows no prejudices or boundaries, and it isn’t fattening! Expanding your mind is a no-cost, simple joy. Do you feel that way too? What’s your inspiration? Share your creative genius and Wordplay Wednesday comments below.

Write first for yourself … only then can you write for others. (L.Rochelle) 

[LinDee Rochelle is a writer and editor by trade, and an author by way of Rock & Roll. She has published two books in her Blast from Your Past series (of three) about pioneering R&R Radio DJs. True behind-the-mic tales make GREAT Holiday and anytime Gifts available on Amazon (eBook and print): Book 1Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The First Five Years 1954-1959; and Book 2Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging Sixties. Coming soon … The Psychedelic Seventies!]

*LR Notes: 1) Dictionary definitions are quoted from Webster’s New World College Dictionary. Yes, we sometimes present them out of “official” context—but that’s half the fun! Think of it as “creative context.” 2) a] Recent dictionary additions to definitions include a date of first use, if known; b] words in small caps indicate “see also.” 3) Neither I (LinDee Rochelle) nor Penchant for Penning are responsible for how you use information found here, that may result in legal action.


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