"I don't know what you mean by 'glory,' " Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't—till I tell you. I meant 'there's a nice knock-down argument for you!' "
"But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument'," Alice objected.
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. "They've a temper, some of them—particularly verbs, they're the proudest—adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs—however,I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That's what I say!"
In a living language such as English word meaning is constantly changing.
Let's take for instance the etymological definition of pagan: (n)late 14c., from L.L. paganus "pagan," in classical Latin "villager, rustic, civilian," from pagus "rural district," originally "district limited by markers," thus related to pangere "to fix, fasten," from PIE root *pag- "to fix".
Now let's look at a modern definition from the dictionary:
1.one of a people or community observing a polytheisticreligion, as the ancient Romans and Greeks. Synonyms:polytheist.
a person who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim. Synonyms:heathen, gentile; idolator; nonbeliever.
an irreligious or hedonistic person.
a person deemed savage or uncivilized and morally deficient.
Hmmmmm...nowhere in the eytomolgy of the word is there any reference to polytheism or even a religious connotation.This happened after the rise of Christianity and their stipulative definition of the word.
All a pagan was was someone who lived a rustic or country lifestyle or non military(civilian) personnel.
Now let's look at Wicca: An Old English masc. noun meaning "male witch, wizard, soothsayer, sorcerer, magician;"
The newly accepted definition: ( sometimes initial capital letter ) witchcraft, especially benevolent,nature-oriented practices derived from pre-Christian religions.
And let's throw in the stipulative definition going around as of recent years(which is actually a persuasive definition see below.):Any member of an initiatory orthopraxic religion or philosophy that can trace itself back to Gardner or the New Forest coven.
Let me give the meaning of persuasive definition while I'm here: "Stipulative definitions that slant or bias meanings are called 'persuasive definitions.' They are meant to persuade and to manipulate people, not to clarify meaning and encourage communication. Persuasive definitions are sometimes encountered in advertising, political campaigns, and in discussions about moral and political values. For example the definition, 'A caring mother is one who uses Softness brand disposable diapers,' is persuasive because it unfairly stipulates the secondary designation 'Softness user.' The term 'caring mother' is much more significant than that!"
Now let's tackle Animist:1866, reintroduced by English anthropologist Sir Edward Burnett Taylor (1832-1917), who defined it (1871) as the "theory of the universal animation of nature," from L. anima "life, breath, soul." Earlier sense was of "doctrine that animal life is produced by an immaterial soul" (1832), from Ger.Animismus, coined c.1720 by physicist/chemist Georg Ernst Stahl (1660-1734) based on the concept of the anima mundi. Animist is attested from 1819, in Stahl's sense; animisic is first recorded 1871.
The dictonary's definition:
1. The belief in the existence of individual spirits that inhabit natural objects and phenomena.
2. The belief in the existence of spiritual beings that are separable or separate from bodies.
3. The hypothesis holding that an immaterial force animates the universe.
Pretty close to one another.But then again Animist is still a relatively new word.
There are people who support a Naturalistic way of looking at the world and spirituality who use animist as well.Here is the new or speculative definition: The old theory of animism alleged that indigenous people and the earliest human ancestors had made a mistake in believing in spirits. The new theory, associated with Nurit Bird-David, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Signe Howell, and others, seesanimism as a relational ontology- the recognition that the world is full of persons, only some of whom are human. In Irving Hallowell's terms, there are human persons and other-then-human-persons, including rock persons, tree persons, cloud persons, and perhaps "spirit persons."
And here is a quote to sum it up:
Yet I remained puzzled by my hostess’s assertion that these were gifts “for the spirits.” To be sure, there has always been some confusion between our Western notion of “spirit” (which so often is defined in contrast to matter or “flesh”), and the mysterious presences to which tribal and indigenous cultures pay so much respect. I have already alluded to the gross misunderstandings arising from the circumstance that many of the earliest Western students of these other customs were Christian missionaries all to ready to see occult ghosts and immaterial phantoms where the tribespeople were simply offering their respect to the local winds. While the notion of “spirit” has come to have, for us in the West, a primarily anthropomorphic or human association, my encounter with the ants was the first of many experiences suggesting to me that the “spirits” of an indigenous culture are primarily those modes of intelligence or awareness that do not possess a human form.
— David Abram, author of Spell of the Sensuous (Vintage Books, 1997)
There are many other's like this floating around.In order to understand a word we first know how a person is using it.Your definition may not be mine.
Welcome to the world of Humpty Dumpty words.