Monday, February 15, 2010

The New, Capacious Definition for “Anniversary”; Will Terms Such as “1-Week Anniversary” or “3-Day Anniversary” Become Common?

This past Thursday, February 11, in his setup to a report from Haiti, Brian Williams of “NBC Nightly News” began: “Tomorrow is the 1-month anniversary of the earthquake that…….” Immediately, I said to myself, “What’s wrong with him! Doesn’t an anniversary refer only to the annually recurring date of a past event, by definition?” Of course, I was wrong and Brian Williams was right because, as per “Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary – 11th edition”--the most authoritative dictionary for American professionals--one of the senses of anniversary is: “a date that follows such an event by a specified period of time measured in units other than years; example: the 6-month anniversary of the accident.”

That brings me to the title of this post. Now that the definition of the word anniversary has become more expansive, I suppose utterances such as “Yesterday was the 1-week anniversary of my first ever presentation to the board” and “Today is the 10-day anniversary of my starting work at this company” will become common. And to extend this logic a bit: I know of a certain culture whose members hold a religious ceremony for the departed 3 days after death. Well, they can refer to that day as “the 3-day anniversary of…”.

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