In the sciences and in mathematics there are a great number of words and terms in use that do not, in any literal sense, describe the concept they are meant to describe.
Let's explore the use of "reaction" as it used in chemistry or physics: Yes yes, we all know the commonly USED meanings of the word. We can and do infer rather than decode all the time. That "re" prefix seems to just be crazy to use if you're wanting to be accurate - which I assume is important to most scientists. So why is inferred meaning OK in this case? Wouldn't using a word that, when decoded, actually defined the thing be better for scientists to do, even if that word was relegated to science and was not in common use in the general public? But scientists do use it to mean "interact" as well as "re-act" (act again) and also "a series of interactions" and "the results of n interactions"...
Another one to explore is the term "irrational number" - which i know has its own questions in these stacks but not in the same context as my question. When you look at the etymology of it it sure seems to me that early USE of the term for maths (as the originators of the concept groped for greek words to describe it) led to our modern definition: 'not able to be represented as a ratio'. Past a certain point going back in time it was really just referencing rationality of thought. But, mathematicians have so long used it that it has actually morphed meaning. On it's own, morphing is no biggie, languages change, word use changes yadda yadda. But in a field where clarity and precision are so very important, it seems really weird that the term survives in this sense. Why has a term not been created to separate the two ideas, rationality of thought vs ratio-ABILITY of numbers?
There are only two examples - there are so many more.
And to be honest here, this strange use of English within mathematics is the primary reason I found maths so challenging when I was young... None of the words used to describe the numbers and what the numbers were doing made any logical connection to what was actually being done with them!
EDIT: To clarify part of what I'm getting at here - a base tenet of science and maths is the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses. Yet that approach is not taken with the English usage. It is never asked "we began using this term because we were struggling to describe X - but why are we still using it when we know it to be inadequate?" We would not continue to use a theory if evidence appeared to show it to be wrong, yet we can show many of these words to be 'wrong' (by word-part breakdown or by use morph) and everyone seems to just shrug and say "yeah it doesn't really describe what hat is, but F*** it- it is just too much trouble to find or create a word that actually means X."
So I ask the crowd:
Why do fields that highly value precision in so many ways continue to use very imprecise language having had ample opportunity to 'clean up' their specific field's language?