The rise of the word “weaponized”

The gratuitous use of the word “weaponized” really annoys me.

13 thoughts on “The rise of the word “weaponized”

  1. Well, I came to this blog because of genetics (which I barely understand) and I stayed for the spicy sauces, but above all I follow your somewhat ideological but propaganda-free approach in history books and the evolution of American culture and society. They are topics you can’t trust to be informed by usual mass media, so biased and so full of noise.

    So I find a discussion about the use of a word, like the one you propose, very interesting and I hope that native English speakers will subscribe with their comments. 😉

  2. 2 responses:

    1) Too bad that you aren’t enthused by the word.* Hopefully, its use will soon decline.

    2) “When I hear the word weaponize, that’s when I reach for my revolver” (I know: tuff)

    *”You don’t find the word enthusing”?

  3. My impression is that “weaponized” is primarily linked with the following two things:

    (1) Russia weaponizing everything

    (2) The 4chan “weaponized autism” meme

    Both were very much linked to the 2016 election, so one might think “weaponized” should have declined since then; however, since #Russiagate shows no signs of dying off anytime soon, I suppose you’ll be stuck with it for at least the next year.

  4. As with other jargon terms (I first recall hearing ‘weaponized’ in the context of ‘weaponized anthrax’ circa 2001), once they pass into the general public’s lexicon, the signal:noise ratio coming from the speaker speaking them gradually approaches zero, and the annoyance level invoked in listeners who value precise diction tends to infinity.

    It’s a sure candidate for 2017’s “stop using these overused words” list.

  5. Somehow it evolved from “taking base material and turn into weapon” (e.g. fissile material into nukes), a concretely physical term, to “people who disagree with me are violent thugs” – a term of ideological context – recently.

    Who’s responsible?

  6. Huh, guess I am out of the loop. To me the term sounds old-fashioned, Cold War era, the occasional more creative use cyberpunky.

    Of course we are in the cyberpunk future now, but the quality of the prose has fallen sharply.

  7. Usage of the term seems to relate to usage of “trigger warning.” The 2014 and 2016 election cycles weaponized thoughts, resulting in calls for trigger warnings.

  8. Usage of the term seems to relate to usage of “trigger warning.” The 2014 and 2016 election cycles weaponized thoughts, resulting in calls for trigger warnings.

    All these weapon metaphors…

    My personal un-favorite is “the police gunned down unarmed black youths.” Setting aside the evocative image of out-of-control commandos mowing down dark-skinned little children with automatic gun fire, in all those shootings, I’ve never seen missing arms among the dead.

    It’s like these reporters have never been in a fight with violent 17 year-old young men with both arms intact. Unprepared and untrained people can die or suffer terrible injuries from these apparently harmless “unarmed” encounters.

  9. For me it’s grapple. Why do so many things need to be grappled? Is grapple the new “nuance”? Nuance being a word that seemed to me to pop up in many thinkpieces, and news articles in the mid 2000s.

    Things that need to be grappled (with some links):

    The Future of Black America
    Hillary’s Emails
    Sexual Assault on Australian Campuses
    Trump Coverage

    Maybe it’s just me. Google trends doesn’t show an increase lately, and Ngram viewer shows more use during the early 1900s.

  10. Funny enough, actual “grappling” is much more popular today than, say, 25 years ago. Because of the rise of MMA, there is a Brazilian Jujutsu/grappling school at every other street in America. Even small towns have them.

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