Friday, May 26, 2006

AWAW: Evangelist

The word Evangelist used to conjer up images of gospel preachers, trying to convert people to christianity. But now there seems to be new definition appearing in the english language. I first noticed this when google hired Vint Cerf as "Chief Internet Evangelist" now we have Guy Kawasaki's "The Art of Evangelism" and Jeremy Zawdony from Yahoo advertising for a "Developer Network Evangelist". Clearly something is changing...

The American Heritage Dictionary picks up some of this 'newer' meaning in definition 2 of the related word evangelism - "Militant zeal for a cause".

e·van·gel·ism (ĭ-văn'jə-lĭz'əm) pronunciation
1. Zealous preaching and dissemination of the gospel, as through missionary work.
2. Militant zeal for a cause.


Other dictionaries only seem to list the older "gospel preacher" meaning.

So we might think this whole new meaning for evangelist is an exciting new "Web 2.0" thing? Well it turns that that definition has been around for a while. The OED lists this 1978 quotation as an early example of the definition they call "A zealous advocate of a cause or promulgator of a doctrine."

"1978 P. HOWARD Weasel Words xxi. 90 It makes sense to say that the French Revolution found its evangelist in Rousseau; that Mary Whitehouse is the evangelist of cleaning up television. "

That being said, this meaning is a a lot newer than when it was first use to refer to a gospel writer (Mathew, Mark, Luke or John).

"1297 R. GLOUC. (1724) 67 And sende Sent Mark be euangelist in to Egypt. "

Quotations taken from the Oxford English Dictionary


At 7:40 PM, Blogger Ranganathan Jaikumar said...

Seen this? - Totally genius!


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