Owen Barfield on Disputing the Meaning of a Word


In his essay “The Development of Meaning,” Owen Barfield wrote, “When we are disputing about the proper meaning to be attached to a particular word in a sentence, etymology is of little use. Only children run to the dictionary to settle an argument.” (Found in “Notes on Frey” by Daniel Nester.)

Barfield’s quotation reminds me a little of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s guidance on language, which he summarized with, “don’t think, but look!”

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