I am a firm believer in using the dictionary. When I was younger, my mother would have me look a word up that I didnt know. We are very careless with our words, especially with our children. I agree with the above. People loosely use the word retarded. It is very degrading and we should never call someone that. Perhaps if we carried around a pocket dictionary it would make us think twice.
Yes, I believe people should pay more attention to what words actually mean. Sometimes we use words carelessly without thinking that we might offend someone. The word that comes to mind is "retarded." People will carelessly call someone "retarded" because they think the person is acting stupidly. However, it is a heavily loaded word for people with disabilities and offensive as well.
If people do not know what words mean, then their vocabulary is not very good, and because of that communication and/or comprehension of words is hurt.
But if people know what words mean, everyone is better able to communicate clearly and effectively. You can see in books that words matter. The books with better vocabulary are read more often than those with poor word diversity.
Words should be used consistently. Bush used "weapons of mass destruction" to refer to nuclear, chemical, biological weapons. We did not go to Iraq because we thought he had improvised explosive devices. And now they are using the words "weapons of mass destruction" in the charges against Tsarnaev. He deserves to rot in prison for the rest of his life, but aren't a few counts of murder, attempted murder, destruction of property, possession of illegal weapons (the bombs) good enough? We shouldn't butcher language, our primary means of communication as a society just in order to emote. The law, 18 USC § 921 defines "weapons of mass destruction" as "any destructive device". This law should've used differently terminology. It cheapens the use of the words "weapon of mass destruction".
How can we feel safe knowing that our lawmakers feel free to use their writings of the law in order to emote to the point where actual meanings of things are irrelevant to them? They are basing their decisions on emotions instead of rational considerations. No wonder they couldn't keep us safe. What ever you are more concerned about, liberty, security, freedom, justice, it's always better if we base on our decisions on reason particularly in how we choose to communicate about these concepts instead of tossing our country into linguistic anarchy.