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Confusing words: “agenda”, “diary” and “calendar”

Living in Geneva, a non-English-speaking area, we often hear words used confusingly as they have a meaning originating from another language.  This is particularly the case with agenda.

Diary vs. calendar
You write your appointments into a physical diary (British) while Americans use a calendar.
The British hang a physical calendar on the wall.
We now all use calendar for our online appointments using Google, Outlook or other US-based apps.

Agenda
We don’t use agenda in the context of our appointments. It has the following meanings:

  • The list of items to be discussed in a meeting

“There are several items on the agenda for tonight’s meeting.”

  • A list of aims or possible future achievements

“Women’s rights have been put back on the agenda” (= are being discussed publicly again).
In today’s Guardian: “How Meloni’s anti-migrant agenda is shifting Europe to the right.”

  • A secret aim or reason for doing something

“She felt that some of the group had an agenda.”

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Carol Waites (PhD)
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