“The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years. Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities.” — Greg McKeown
I first heard about this historical “fun fact” on the term “priority” a year or two ago during a meeting where the presenter wanted to get a clear point across: we are attempting to do too many things at the same time.
When everything is a priority, nothing is.
I’ve seen priority lists with ten items or more. I’ve seen color-coded priority coding systems. I’ve seen labels like P1, P2, P3. And ultimately having to add a P0 to signify the real top priority. Of course these priorities need to be ordered in a list with the top priority at the top. The rest are also priorities, just lesser ones.
While I generally am not a fan of people reminiscing about the “good old days,” in this case I’d like to make an exception: in our definition and use of the term “priority” let’s go back 100-600 years.
I hereby declare that the word “priority” no longer has a plural form.
There is only the priority. Your spell checker should put red squiggly lines under any attempt at the use of the term priorities.
No more priorities. Just priority.