Karma irritates me.

No, that’s not true.

The way people use the word, “karma,” irritates me. A lot. Because how it’s used simply does not match what it means.

As defined by the Oxford English Dictionary:

Buddhism. The sum of a person’s actions in one of his successive states of existence, regarded as determining his fate in the next; hence, necessary fate or destiny, following as effect from cause. Also in Hinduism.

As defined by Dictionary.com:

“1. Hinduism, Buddhism. action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation: in Hinduism one of the means of reaching Brahman. …
2. Theosophy. the cosmic principle according to which each person is rewarded or punished in one incarnation according to that person’s deeds in the previous incarnation.
3. fate; destiny. …
4. the good or bad emanations felt to be generated by someone or something.”

As defined by Merriam-Webster:

“1 often capitalized: the force generated by a person’s actions held in Hinduism and Buddhism to perpetuate transmigration and in its ethical consequences to determine the nature of the person’s next existence.”

As used frequently by people on television and people I know:

1. When something happens that you think someone deserves, e.g when something bad happens to someone you don’t like, or when something good happens to someone you do like.

For example, when your arch-rival in the department, Myron, who beat you out for a promotion last year and has generally pissed you off in all ways, gets the hiccups during a crucial client meeting, you shake your head while thinking of how many times he has been totally rude to you and, with a smug expression, you say “He shouldn’t have taken the last of the donuts from the break room – bad karma.”

Or when your bestest friend, Lindy, who has always been there for you, and who recently ran a puppy down with her car without owning up to the deed, wins $500 in the lottery, you smile and beam and exclaim, “Lindy’s got such good karma!”

That’s not how it works, folks.

Or not how it is supposed to work. Language evolves, and, now that the dictionaries have caught up with the common usage of the word, “hopefully,” there is hope for karma.

Now, I know there is a term that covers this usage, that of so-called, “instant karma.” However, I almost never hear that phrase spoken. The “instant” has completely dropped off, even while people use the term as if “instant” were spoken before it.

Therefore, I propose that the dictionaries begin reflecting actual usage when it comes to karma, and include my proposed definitions as soon as possible. Hopefully, that’s just what will happen. You know, because I’ve got really good karma.

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