With all due respect, gentlemen, I do think that you're being a bit too literal-minded here.
Love it when a renowned Ph.D and Professor of Chemistry tells an English/Education major that he's being "too literal minded."
I often felt that way when my Chem teachers insisted I learn exactly the right formula for all those annoyingly variant carbon/hydrogen/oxygen compounds. And don't get me started on that damned table of elements thing. Precision and correctness are far too literal minded!
What, pray tell, does "too literal minded" mean in this context? Say anything you want? Don't pay attention to what I'm saying, understand what I mean? That comes uncomfortably close to an evangelical license to "make stuff up."
As an extremely amateur linguist (or to be perhaps more literal, should I say 'linguophile") I most certainly understand co-opting existing words to use for new, vague and inexact meanings of something that did not exist before. It's easy, it's natural for us humans, and it works well (and enrichens our living language as a side effect!). But to take a term and eradicate its original basic meaning to replace it with----essentially, thousands of possible meanings and therefore not a singular one... can't be cavalierly dismissed or discarded as being "too literal minded".
Both Thomas and I, and I would hasten to add Brian to the mix, I think with his approval, simply want a somewhat less murky, opaque, vague, rambling definition of what some of these people are talking about. I know that this is a process, and that we need to penetrate through the miasma and mystical mumbo-jumbo of metaphoria as best we can while these thousands of meaningless and distracting, if not magical-thinking based, concepts get hammered out, so that we can get to a point of clearly understanding what the hell all these people are talking about. Or what they mean, versus what they say.
Of course, Thomas already said this with his wonderfully succinct and snark-free "words have consequences" so I'm just blathering (not uncommon, eh?)
Oh, and is it possible to audit your class in "Non-literal Chemistry 101"? Sounds fascinating.