Someone said we need a rescue home for fallen words. Words fall from their original meaning and we become cautious because they are no longer politically correct. Or once-innocent words become suggestive. Or, a word changes its meaning until we can no longer use it as we once did.
Have you noticed how many people use the word “perfect” these days when they don’t mean “perfect” at all? At least not as I understand it.
Someone asks you for some information. The answer you give is neither profound nor extraordinary. It is simply a factual answer. Their response? “Perfect.”
The first few times that happened, I was tempted to reply, “Well, I don’t know about perfect. I’m not sure it’s even above average. But it’s good information.” You understand I didn’t always say these things aloud. I’ve learned that giving a logical response to a non-logical statement only confuses people.
Then the other day I read an excerpt of an article from “Inc.” magazine, in which the author defined “perfect” as “being entirely without fault or defect.” But the article went on to say people use that term when they are agreeing to an idea or plan. It implies they are fully – and happily – on board.
I’m sure that’s what my colleague meant when she responded “perfect” to my less-than-exciting, purely factual answer to her question. It means, “Thank you for not messing up my day by giving me unexpected information. This fits right in with what I was hoping to hear.”
For example, our granddaughter scored the winning goal and won the soccer game! Perfect! Well, I suppose someone could critique her style and offer suggestions as to how she could have done it better. But it was perfect in that it made us happy and brought the game to a satisfying conclusion. At least for our team.
Another example: I deliver a report I promised. My colleague responds, “Perfect!” She hasn’t read it, but because it came as expected, it pleased her to have it.
A final example: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NIV). Perfect! No, really. It is totally perfect, without fault or defect. What I deserve is death, but instead Jesus offers me eternal life. It’s his free gift. Perfect!