This discussion is kinda making me interested in knowing if "everyday" would be considered to be in the grammatical category of determinative instead of the category of adjective--for those grammars that have those two separate categories (as sister categories) where those grammars consider "every" as a determinative.
I think there are a bunch of tests, and there is also that distribution of usage, to consider to see if "everyday" behaves more like the prototypical determinative than the prototypical adjective.
I'm thinking of those two examples that were in the usage dictionary Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage, on page 320. In those two examples, it appeared to me that there was sloppy editing done.
Perhaps some distribution info, as to the relative frequency of finding the adjective "everyday" when it actually has that meaning of "daily" vs when it has the meaning of "commonplace". (And maybe some decent attested examples that use the "daily" meaning of the adjective "everyday".)
everyday. adj. 1 daily 2 commonplace.
Yet the online version did:
'every day' daily (adverb)
'everyday' commonplace (adjective))
In such cases, I'd go with the online version (and think again of seriously updating my old faithful, lol). The online version will no doubt be updated according to latest frequency use, where my concise will just get frowned at.
nonsenseopinions into the online version or into digital files than into the older system of printed versions.)
I have never claimed that the word means whatever I think it means. In fact, I have looked it up in several dictionaries now. All agree in assigning multiple senses to the word. Some definitions are along the lines of "daily," i.e. they are more or less the same as what I originally took to be the word's main meaning. Other definitions are along the lines of "ordinary," i.e. they are more or less the same as what you take to be the word's meaning.
Many words have multiple senses. This isn't an either/or matter.
For example, here is the entry in the Random House Unabridged Dictionary (second edition, 1993):
everyday, adj. 1. of or pertaining to every day; daily: an everyday occurrence. 2. of or for ordinary days, as contrasted with Sundays, holidays, or special occasions: everyday clothes. 3. such as is met with every day; ordinary; commonplace: a placid, everyday scene.
Incidentally, you may notice that whenever sense #1 is applicable, sense #3 is also applicable. Something that is met with literally every day is automatically ordinary. So I don't think I need to worry too much about using the word in sense #1 and offending an editor who is wedded to sense #3.
(If anything, it's the converse that might cause a problem. If you write "It was an everyday Christmas," meaning "It was an ordinary Christmas," that will come across as very strange to anyone who is attached to sense #1. "It was an everyday Christmas" is still something I wouldn't say, but I will now accept that there is a sense in which the sentence is legitimate.)
I said "Thought is what creates meaning," and that statement may have been misinterpreted as a claim that words mean whatever I think they mean. So let me try to clarify the general point.
In my opinion, people assign meanings to words by thinking about them in a particular way. If everyone thought "red" meant that an ice cream cone was about to land on your head, that would indeed be what the word meant. If some particular subculture thought that was what "red" meant, then the word would have that meaning within that subculture.
Lots of subcultures use words in nonstandard ways. Sometimes they may deserve criticism for doing so. As an extreme case, you can imagine a lone eccentric who assigns the meaning to "elephant" that others assign to "chair." (The example comes from another post in this thread.) I entirely agree that this eccentric individual is making a serious mistake. But his mistake is not about the meaning of the word "elephant." He is perfectly correct about the meaning of the word--for himself. Rather, his mistake is in thinking that any desirable consequences might come from assigning a meaning to the word in such an unusual way.
In less extreme cases, things are a lot less clear-cut. I hope you don't mean it quite literally when you say "we all have to accept the same meanings." That almost sounds like a demand that everyone in the world should speak just one dialect of one language. Are the British doing something wrong when they assign a different meaning to the word "football" than Americans do?
If what you really mean is that all speakers of a particular dialect must accept the same meaning for a word, I still can't accept that as anything close to an absolute statement. Many words have several different senses, with different senses being used in different contexts. (For example, there are words with specialized technical senses. In physics, "color" sometimes has a meaning very different from the one it ordinarily has.) Sometimes that does indeed cause confusion, and it's something you have to watch out for. But it's a significant part of language, and watching out for it isn't the same as trying to eliminate it. So I don't think I can agree with your statement that word meanings are close to universal.
"Everyday" is an example of the general point, but there are plenty of other examples. I could bring in some other words now, but I've gone on for long enough.
I guess you might try to come up with contexts where that's not the case--e.g., "Joe Schmoe's everyday routine of dancing on the rooftop." But if he dances on the rooftop every day, then I'd call it ordinary for him.
This whole discussion is starting to remind me of the dispute over the meaning of "to lie," as in "to tell a lie." But I'm almost afraid to bring that up, since I can imagine things getting even more acrimonious.
Acrimonious isn't the word that is plodding its way to the front of my mind.
Everything yields to treatment.