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More Fun with Words: If It Is Broken, Update It

December 16, 2022

A couple of weeks ago, we looked at how slight shifts in vocabulary can significantly affect our communication. Here is one other small but potentially significant change to consider: fixed, changed, updated, or edited.

These words seem to mean similar or identical things, but they don’t! 

Take this scenario: 
Client: Can you fix the sentence on the home page, it is bold, but it shouldn’t be. 
The natural reply would be: “fixed!” But I usually say, “updated.” 

Why does it matter? I have to admit; sometimes I get a little prideful, but beyond that, it wasn’t a mistake, so while it may be a fix to them, this is an update to me. I don’t want to communicate that I made a mistake when it wasn’t one.  

Let’s dive into these synonyms to explore the subtle changes in meaning.

Fixed: Implies there was something broken. It alludes to some level of culpability depending on the nature of the break. You fix problems – you can’t update or change them unless you try to add or modify them. 

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Potential true synonym: corrected. 

Changed: This is a simple modification. It was this way, but now it is another. 100% pure lateral edits are usually described as being changed. 

Potential true synonym: modified. 

Updated: An update is usually an iteration for the better. You update the software, so you get the new features. 

Potential true synonym: modernized. 

Edited: At its core, an edit is a revision heading toward launch. The word is used chiefly in writing, video editing, or other creative mediums. It implies getting refined to be finished. For example, you wouldn’t say as a photographer; I changed the photos! You edited them. But you might make an update on a photo edit or fix something in a shot if you accidentally added a mullet to the groom and you are a wedding photographer. 

Potential true synonym: revised. 

You aren’t going to confuse someone by interchanging these words, but are you communicating clearly by using them interchangeably? 

Choose your words wisely. Subtle changes can make significant differences in perception and communication!