— 479 —
Propriety not a sufficient Remedy.
      §8. ’Tis true, common Use, that is the Rule of Propriety, may be
supposed here to afford some aid, to settle the signification of
Language; and it cannot be denied, but that in some measure it
does. Common use regulates the meaning of Words pretty well for
common Conversation; but no body having an Authority to estab-
lish the precise signification of Words, nor determine to what Ideas
any one shall annex them, common Use is not sufficient to adjust
them to philosophical Discourses; there being scarce any Name, of
any very complex Idea, (to say nothing of others,) which, in com-
mon Use, has not a great latitude, and which keeping within the
bounds of Propriety, may not be made the sign of far different Ideas.
Besides, the rule and measure of Propriety it self being no where
established, it is often matter of dispute, whether this or that way
of using a Word, be propriety of Speech, or no. From all which, it is
evident, that the Names of such kind of very complex Ideas, are
naturally liable to this imperfection, to be of doubtful and uncertain
signification; and even in Men, that have a Mind to understand one
another, do not always stand for the same Idea in Speaker and Hearer.
Though the Names Glory and Gratitude be the same in every Man’s
mouth, through a whole Country, yet the complex collective Idea,
which every one thinks on, or intends by that name, is apparently
very different in Men using the same Language.
Locke Hum III, 9, §8, p. 479