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Oct 13, 2022
This week’s theme
Eponyms

This week’s words
Copernican
ritzy
bacchanalize
Overton window
Barmecide

Overton window
Image: Hydrargyrum / Wikimedia

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Overton window

PRONUNCIATION:
(OH-vuhr-tuhn WIN-doh)

MEANING:
noun: The range of beliefs, attitudes, etc., considered acceptable at any given time.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Joseph Overton (1960-2003) who proposed the idea. Earliest documented use: 2003.

NOTES:
In 1973, when a fire in UpStairs Lounge, a gay bar in New Orleans, Louisiana, killed 32 people, some of the families did not even come forward to claim the bodies of the victims. That’s how stigmatized gay people were. Today, same-sex marriage (or equivalent) is legal in most of the civilized world. Only the most bigoted still rail against it. The Overton window has moved.

Another example is our treatment of animals. Today we recognize that animals think, love, plan, grieve, scheme, play, feel pain and joy, and more.

The Overton window moves. Progress happens. Though it moves too slowly because those who benefit from the status quo try their best to stop it.

This would be a great time to thank those who propose what may be outlandish today and help move the Overton window. Also, we need to watch out for the window moving backward too as it seems to be doing in many parts of the world.

USAGE:
“The Overton window on climate policy in Canada has shifted remarkably in just two years. In 2019, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer fought the election explicitly against Trudeau’s carbon tax, but this time out, Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives had their own carbon pricing plan.”
The Election That Disappointed Everyone; Chatelaine (Toronto, Canada); Sep 21, 2021.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
They'll tell you you're too loud, that you need to wait your turn and ask the right people for permission. Do it anyway. -Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, US Congress member (b. Oct 13, 1989)

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