We are sad to report that the word ‘Pro’, an abbreviation of the noun ‘Professional’, has died, aged 221.
‘Professional’, meaning “one who does it for a living,” was first defined in modern English in 1798. it rose in popularity in the early 20th Century but in recent decades has been under near-constant attack.
Along with its abbreviation ‘Pro’, the noun form of ‘Professional’ had been showing signs of ill health for some time, but its decline accelerated in the mid-2000s, after which point it was routinely and arbitrarily appended to the names of everything from computers and software to smartphone apps and kitchen appliances. Even then, it hung on bravely, still managing to retain some of its original meaning in the face of determined misapplications which would have killed a lesser word years ago.
But the writing was on the wall. Created originally to describe a person that gets paid for doing something, it was clear by the end of the first decade of the 21st Century that ‘Pro’ had been tortured into taking on an almost opposite meaning: Something that a person has to pay for.
When Apple added ‘Pro’ to the name of its latest smartphone last month, friends of the word were warned by etymologists to prepare for the worst.
Sadly, with the launch this week of Apple’s ‘AirPods Pro’, the word has finally been rendered meaningless, and as such, dead. Killed by professional marketing executives.