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I am looking for a verb that can be used to describe the conscious and intentional act of taking action to alter the perception of a phenomenon to the public and/or within a certain group. I'm looking for a term to be used particularly in a political sense (therefore jargon is permissible in this case), although something more widely applicable would be even better.

I am aware of the term 'redefine'; however, I'm looking for something that places more emphasis on the perception of the term (or concept) than on the officially listed definition of it.

For instance:

  • "Our boss has [attempted to change the meaning of] 'salary sharing' to be synonymous with the introduction of Marxism."
  • "Through a barrage of political attacks on any of its proponents, Orban [altered the connotations of] LGBTQ+ Pride as one of disgrace and fetishism."
  • "The party was able to free themselves from these criticisms by [distinguishing in the public's eye] their own austerity measures from those of the parliament that came before them."

As aforementioned, 'redefine', in addition to 'recodify', come to mind, although neither of these seem to satisfy the correct tone or connotation.

Any help in finding a better term would be appreciated!

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    How about "reframe"? Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 11:29
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    @JulianaKarasawaSouza That's a good suggestion, particularly for lexical definitions - it might be worth posting it as an answer. Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 11:31

4 Answers 4

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Our boss has attempted to refashion 'salary sharing' to be synonymous with the introduction of Marxism.

Refashion sometimes conveys the idea of changing how something is perceived by others by giving it a new look, rather than changing its meaning or substance. In this sense it's similar to repackage/rebrand, but perhaps less superficial and closer to rework.

refashion (v.)

REMAKE, ALTER m-w

To give a new form to (something) Collins

fashion (v.) To give fashion or shape to OED


The authors claim that “McMindfulness,” a “stripped-down, secularized technique” that has been refashioned to be “more palatable to the corporate world” betrays mindfulness's “original liberative and transformative purpose, as well as its foundation in social ethics." C. Pierce Salguero; Buddhism and Medicine

Its broadly conceptualised rights-based discourses were refashioned into a more palatable form: “the idea of a 'gay life', revolving around clubs, bars and neighborhoods” Andy Carolin; Post-Apartheid Same-Sex Sexualities

It has more to do with shifting conceptions of freedom of expression and its limits among Norwegian media elites, the conviction on the part of many Norwegian liberals after 9/11 and the cartoon crisis of 2005 and 2006 that liberal values are at great risk from Islamists, and the ability of a refashioned extreme right-wing discourse to appear as if it represent only an endoresement and a defence of liberal values. Sindre Bangstad; Anders Breivika and the Rise of Islamophobia

Benjamin's notion of aesthetic politics brings into view what interwar intellectuals of the extreme Right envisioned as the autonomy of the political. It employs the modalities of industrial mass culture with the intention of giving twentieth-century politics the appearance of unified, heroic action; it recycles decadent notions of artistic practice so as to refashion politics as a space of authenticity and existential self-assertion. Lutz Peter Koepnick; Walter Benjamin and the Aesthetics of Power

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  • Thanks for your detailed answer! I agree that this term captures the sense that I'm looking for, and works both for words/lexical meanings and interpretation of concepts. Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 13:53
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inveigle habituate Just a couple possiblilities

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  • You should include the (cited) dictionary definitions for each suggested word. Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 12:15
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One possibility would be - skew:

From Merriam-Webster:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/skew

Definition of skew

(Entry 1 of 3) : to distort especially from a true value or symmetrical form

(Entry 3 of 3) : a deviation from a straight line : slant

Examples of skew in a Sentence Verb They were accused of skewing the facts to fit their theory. He accused them of skewing the rules in their favor.

This would be along the lines of 'twist' - like to 'twist the facts to support their story'.

Another related idea is gaslighting, but I think that's more broad than what you're looking for:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gaslight.

History and Etymology for gaslight

Verb

after Gas Light, a play (1938) by British writer Patrick Hamilton, subsequently made into British and American films entitled Gaslight (1940 and 1944), in which a man attempts to trick his wife into believing that she is going insane.

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SPIN
Def:
3. Politics [with object] give (a news story or other information) a particular interpretation, especially a favorable one.

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