Green. A seemingly simple, unassuming word, consisting of only five letters, four unique.
However, given time, thought, and consideration, the seemingly simple word loses its simplicity. Perhaps by virtue of its initially simplicity, the term “green” becomes fluid, a word which has no definite definition, no concrete sense of being. Even Merriam and Webster, who since 1828 have faithfully defined English terminology in dictionary form, struggle to pinpoint the meaning of green. In fact, green serves as a noun, verb, adjective, and even name, totaling over a dozen different definitions. My personal favorite is the first listed for green as a noun, reading as “a color whose hue is somewhat less yellow than that of growing fresh grass or of the emerald or is that of the part of the spectrum lying between blue and yellow.”
However, in everyday life, we rarely think of green in such poetic terms. Rather, for some, words such as “life,” “forest,” and “mother nature” come to mind for some. For others, green brings back images of childhood toys such as “dinosaur” or possibly “obnoxious lime green closet” for those who went through a neon faze during middle school, or perhaps you are one of those who contemplate in more abstract terms and who would cite “happiness,” “peace,” or general “good feelings” as green. **All of the above terms are responses from gender and racially diverse college freshman at Duke**
The term green has long possessed this subjective, highly variant identity. In Germanic languages associated with vitality, in Greek and Latin associated with sickness, in Britain as a “piece of public or common grassy land situated near a town or college,” green has a multitude of meanings. Recently, there has been an evolution towards seeing green in a more ecological light, hence its inclusion in Keywords for Environmental Studies. However, the term green remains ever changing, ever adapting to the person, situation, or perspective in which it is viewed as is the color associated with the environmentally friendly movement. Both are human constructs privy to change. Perhaps in the years to come, green will find another definition completely distant from the environmental movement and perhaps the rainbow sheen of oil on water will take its place. Only time will tell.
Adamson, Joni, William A. Gleason, and David N. Pellow. Keywords for Environmental Studies. New York: New York UP, 2016. Print.
“green.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, 2016. Web. 26 January 2016.