Culture

Am I weird for wanting a couple to mean two?

 

I’ve got a rant today. It is not a major rant. I just had to get a couple of things off my shoulder.  It is Friday, afterall, and we are working for the weekend. Need to ventilate.

Here is my rant. No one uses the word “couple” correctly anymore.  Or at least no one uses it the way I understand the word couple to mean. It irks me. It really irks me.

When individuals come to my office and tell me that they have a couple of things to discuss with me, I nod and tell them to go ahead, even if I am in the middle of a project. I often figure that it shouldn’t take long. However, what I have come to find is that when people come by my office saying they have a couple of things to discuss, they never mean that they have just two talking points. After the 4th discussion item, I start to get ansy and agitated. It gets me agitated to the point where I wonder why people don’t mean two anymore when they say couple?  When did the word couple come to mean “a few”?

I think of it as a classic switch and bait.  People think they can soften you up by saying it is just a couple of discussion items or just a couple of things that went wrong and so forth.  They get you to think it will just be two and then bam (to quote Emeril) you get knee-deep into a conversation where you are discussing everything wrong in the universe.

Do you remember Chuck Woolery, the host of “Love Connection”? Whenever he tossed it to the commercial break he would state “We’ll be back in two and two,” which meant two minutes and two seconds — the standard length of a commercial break. Now, what if he had said they would be back in two and two and the commercial break lasted five minutes? Such a scenario would undoubtedly be frustrating. A couple should be just that. Two!

At this point, I just don’t believe anyone anymore when they say they have a couple of issues to bring to my attention.  I have learned to brace myself mentally for a long-haul discussion. I also have taken to pointed out to people when they are not sticking to their two items. I do it somewhat jokingly but I make it known they were not entirely truthful.  Of course, many look at me and think I am the one that is nuts since I am taking the word “couple” too literally.

In a world where Millennials are supposedly all about authenticity, words have lost a lot of their original meanings and have become “floaters”.  Words can mean whatever you want them to nowadays. When is the last time you consulted a dictionary? Do dictionaries even exist anymore?  I suppose we can thank Bill Clinton, in part for that. For it all depends on what “is”, is.  We can actually go back further to Gertrude Stein when she wrote of Oakland, “there is no there there“.

You know how in the movie Top Gun Maverick (played by Tom Cruise) sang in the bar, that Righteous Brothers Song

bring back that lovin’ feelin’

 Whoa, that lovin’ feelin’

Bring back that lovin’ feelin

‘Cause it’s gone…gone…gone

That’s how I feel about the word “couple” …It’s meaning is just gone.. gone..gone

scooby doo

7 replies »

  1. I had a debate with someone once on this subject. They insisted that couple could mean 3-5. And that is ‘few’. NOT couple.
    Couple is 2.
    But I don’t think that people really recognize that anymore. I think its melding into ‘a few’. I don’t even know what a few becomes if a couple is 3-5, then few is what – 6-10?
    I’m annoyed about it too. The world isn’t sticking to my rules.

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  2. Dictionaries are of no use as they are updated to reflect the illiteracy of the current generation. Case in point: the pronoun “they”. As far as I’ve always known, it has referred to two or more people. Over the years it has somehow mutated into the standard pronoun for a person of unspecified gender. I’ve always used “he or she” in that case but someone recently brought to my attention that the dictionary does, in fact, define “them” to include a person of unspecified gender. Anyway, with that in mind, I decided to look up “couple” and, I shit you not, the definition actually extends to “more than two, but not many; a small number of”.

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  3. Had the “Odd” “Couple” of “Floaters” in my time Mimi.
    Wow! Top Gun is my favourite movie. It was always featured on the long hauls from Australia to England and I looked forward to seeing it a ” Couple of times a year.
    Yes; a dictionary is still important. At least in my life. Every morning when showering, a word pops into my head and thereafter the dictionary needs to be utilised.
    Are you weird for wanting a couple to mean two? Well, sometimes we need to make a stand. We need to fight for what is right, take a couple of minutes to reflect on our decline and then have a coffee.
    In Aus, “Couple” is pronounced ‘Cupla’.
    Like all words, should you look at it long enough it begins to to take on a strange shape. – COUPLE- looks like French or perhaps a word from an African country.
    See ya in Cupla days.B

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  4. I referred to three dictionaries today.
    My 13-volume ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ (1933) and ‘Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary’ (1983) both firmly say a couple is two or a pair. In both, one of the other main meanings is to couple things, as in train carriages. However, I was stunned to see that ‘The Concise Oxford Dictionary’ (1972) has one definition that says, in part, ‘approximately two: a few’.
    What is the world coming to?

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