A skunked term is a word that becomes difficult to use because it is transitioning from one meaning to another, perhaps inconsistent or even opposite, usage, or a word that becomes difficult to use due to other controversy surrounding the word. Purists may insist on the old usage, while descriptivists may be more open to newer usages. Readers may not know which sense is meant.
Garner recommends avoiding such terms if their use may distract readers from the meaning of a text.
"Factoid" had the original meaning of "an inaccurate statement or statistic widely believed to be true", but now increasingly means "a minor fact".
- Bryan A. Garner, Garner's Modern American Usage, 2009, p. 306f
- Ben Yagoda, How to Not Write Bad: The Most Common Writing Problems and the Best Ways to Avoid Them, ISBN 1594488487, 2013, p. 82 and passim.
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