Herald and Journal
Herald & Journal, July 13, 1998

An icon by any other name?


Have you noticed that whenever a famous person dies, they are usually declared to be an icon?

Charles Kuralt, Jimmy Stewart, Red Skelton, Elvis, Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, Tammy Wynette, and Frank Sinatra were all called icons by the media. When did that word become so synonymous with the death of famous people?

Let's look it up in the dictionary. My Webster's New World Dictionary defines icon as, 1 - an image or picture; 2 - in the Orthodox Eastern Church, a sacred image or picture of Jesus, Mary, a saint etc.

Now what does that have to do with the death of a famous person? Are they in a class with saints? The only person among those listed above that would qualify is Mother Teresa.

I sure would like to know why icon is used like it is. To me, legend is a strong enough word to describe some one famous who's passed away.

On the subject of words . . . how about "got to" becoming "gotta." Same with sorta and sort of, wanna and want to. Are we on the verge of making these slang versions legal? Remember when ain't was included in the dictionary? Gosh is another slang word, now in the dictionary. I can't find gotta, gonna, sorta in my dictionary, but my book was printed in 1970. Maybe the "new words" are in a newer edition.

It must be tough for an immigrant trying to learn our language.

Is this fair? In prison, you get three meals daily. At work, you get a break for one meal and you have to pay for it.

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