Deceptive Word

24 Sep

The word ‘lifestyle’ must surely be one of the most deceptive words in the English language. places it circa 1925-30, but I don’t recall seeing it in print until the 1980s.  As per (, the word means:




1. the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic level, etc., that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group.

2. pertaining to or catering to a certain lifestyle: unhealthy lifestyle choices; lifestyle advertising; a luxury lifestyle hotel.
3. (of a drug) used to treat a medical condition that is not life-threatening or painful: lifestyle drugs for baldness.

I would define the word as:  the choices made by those who can afford to make choices.  The first entry above lists economic level in the definition , but  to say something like “The people formerly employed at the company that went under are now living a poor lifestyle” seems perverse to me.  It almost implies they  got together and collectively said “Let’s get poor!”
The word is sometimes used when discussing sexual mores. However, I doubt that anyone ever got up in the morning and said “Hmmm.  What to have for breakfast?  I’ll have the fruit instead of the sticky bun – it’s healthier.  Now, what should my orientation be – I think I’ll be strait/gay” (fill in the blank) “’cause it seems like a good idea.”
Some years back on the show “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” the host would  fawn over a different rich person and his/her possessions every week.  I never watched the show, but the show’s usage of the term ‘lifestyle’ seemed close to what I believe is the true connotation of the term .

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