The word of the week this week is consumerism. The definition of consumerism, according to Google Dictionary, is “the protection or promotion of the interests of consumers”. Consumerism comes from the verb consume, which in turn derives from the Latin verb “consumere” meaning “to use up or to waste.”

However, the origins and exact meaning of the word consumerism have been debated by linguists almost since its first emergence in the English language in 1967. In 1994, Robert Swagler wrote: “The twists and turns in the meaning of consumerism make an interesting story, but the question goes beyond semantics. Words communicate images and values which ultimately shape perceptions; if the meaning of a word is unclear, possibilities for miscommunications abound. An understanding of the term and its history is, therefore, important to both academicians and activists…”

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