What I find interesting about this is that it seems dictionaries are now including non-physical meanings of entropy, in addition to the original thermodynamic meaning given to it by Clausius, who invented the term.
This, I find, is a double edged sword. On the one hand, there is no denying that it is useful to have a term for the concept of things tending to get more disorganised with time. On the other hand, entropy has a precise meaning in physics, and it is sad to see this meaning warped and misunderstood.
Dictionaries are doing a lot of that - going along with what words have become in usage. Sometimes that works; sometimes not. And it hits all levels. They used to identify how these words are being used. You are referring to a specific formal use for a specific formal purpose. And I'm thinking of the more common words. They used to mark how words are used: slang as slang, vulgar as vulgar, informal as informal. Oh, I don't know. I guess what I'm saying is the publishers of dictionaries are not holding up standards as they used to do. They are following the crowd. If you ask them about it, they say their job is not to teach grammar. Maybe that is true but wouldn't publishers have an easier time of it if they could use the dictionary as a standard?
Two examples that have become almost boring to think about: We never were allowed to call children "kids". Kids were baby goats. The older dictionaries called it slang when used for children. Now it is simply "informal". And calling policemen "cops" was considered an insult. That could really get you into trouble. I mention those two because a friend and I were talking about it last night. We remember how we were corrected. The time was you would never have found either in New York Times. Now?
But, yes. That is what sent me searching for a definition of entropy -- again. I like how Oxford Dictionary does it - sorts words into categories such as how they are used in physics, biology, etc. Entropy gets two categories: physics and logarithmic measure. You know specifically where and how to use it. Of course, my Oxford dictionary is old. Maybe it has also changed. I hope not.
Sorry if I carried your comment a bit off-stream. I'm just saying the practice is noticeable at all linguistic levels. And now, as John Simon says, we don't even try to spell it right, let alone use it right. We have grown terribly careless since they did away with the proof readers. With old typewriters, it was a chore to change an incorrect word. Now, with computers, you just highlight, delete and retype correctly. But we don't have time to do that. I and a friend got a smile out of John Simon's comment because we talk of this very thing often.
Edited by hazelm, 31 December 2018 - 09:16 AM.