Two Words: Zoonotic & Decarceration


Few of us use the term zoonotic daily and we hope it stays that way, but it probably will not because of the population growth and declining natural habitat for wild animals.   Zoonotic refers to diseases that pass between species, such as the Corona Virus Covid 19.  Whether it came from a wet market or a lab, this is our latest catastrophic example of a disease that originated in another species and then passed to humans.

Zoonotic diseases and viruses are not unusual, and we all know terms like Cat Scratch Fever, Monkey Pox, Ebola, Trichinosis, Lyme Disease, and Avian Flew.  These and other zoonotic diseases can transfer to humans through cats, birds, bats, rodents, ticks, and pigs.

Zoonotic is a real word, unfortunately.

Red Divider

Decarceration was not a real word, but it had been working its way into the dictionary because of its use on television these days by seemingly educated commentators.  It is most often used in describing rogue district attorneys in cities where police and authority are under attack.

These commentators made it even worse when they threw in the word deincarceration as if it were real, but it also was a non-word.  The sole reason to using this non-word is to lend credibility to using decarceration.  To make things even more confusing, decarcerating is a word.

Now comes the fluid nature of words and the dictionary.  On April 12, 2023, when we started this article decarceration was not a word according to Webster’s Dictionary.  But on April 13, 2023, they suddenly recognized it as a noun and attached the definition:

“Decarceration is the effort to limit the number of people who are detained behind bars, either by limiting who is sent to prison in the first place or by creating avenues to release people already in custody.”

They also cite the earliest use in 2020 and it was used in reference to a movement and a web site.  If every internet or political term makes it into the dictionary there may not be enough room for them all.