— 408 —
Their Signification perfectly arbitrary.       §8. Words by long and familiar use, as has been said, come to
excite in Men certain Ideas, so constantly and readily, that they are
apt to suppose a natural connexion between them. But that they
signify only Men’s peculiar Ideas, and that by a perfectly arbitrary
Imposition, is evident, in that they often fail to excite in others (even
that use the same Language) the same Ideas, we take them to be
the Signs of: And every Man has so inviolable a Liberty, to make
Words stand for what Ideas he pleases, that no one hath the Power
to make others have the same Ideas in their Minds, that he has,
when they use the same Words, that he does. And therefore the
great Augustus himself, in the Possession of that Power which ruled
the World, acknowledged, he could not make a new Latin Word:
which was as much as to say, that he could not arbitrarily appoint,
what Idea any Sound should be a Sign of, in the Mouths and com-
mon Language of his Subjects. ’Tis true, common use, by a tacit
Consent, appropriates certain Sounds to certain Ideas in all Lan-
guages, which so far limits the signification of that Sound, that
unless a Man applies it to the same Idea, he does not speak properly:
And let me add, that unless a Man’s Words excite the same Ideas in
the Hearer, which he makes them stand for in speaking, he does not
speak intelligibly. But whatever be the consequence of any Man’s
using of Words differently, either from their general Meaning, or
the particular Sense of the Person to whom he addresses them, this
is certain, their signification, in his use of them, is limited to his
Ideas, and they can be Signs of nothing else.
Locke Hum III, 2, §8, p. 408