Why Words, Why?

Today I’ve discovered that there’s a word I’m not fond of.  It’s not a new, trendy buzzword.  It’s not some made up word from fiction.  It’s a word that I’ve used throughout my life, and that it’s only just dawned on me is an awful word…   sanction.  Not that the word itself is offensive, either, but that it’s two primary definitions are nearly antonymous.

  1. 1.
    a threatened penalty for disobeying a law or rule.
    “a range of sanctions aimed at deterring insider abuse”
  2. 2.
    official permission or approval for an action.
    “he appealed to the bishop for his sanction”

So, it can be a threat for doing something wrong or it can merit approval.  Good job, English language, you have failed us yet again.  This came up because of a headline on Ars Technica that read: “Star Wars officially sanctions Rick Rubin-produced dance album”.  I assume that by “Star Wars” the author meant “Disney”, but the point remains that the title of the article could work in either meaning of sanction.  It’s not uncommon for Disney to frown upon unofficial derivatives, thus that was my initial understanding of the headline.  Apparently I understood incorrectly.

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