Why do people care about the meaning(s)/significance associated with a word? Does it make sense to advocate or to criticize a certain form-meaning association? This article argues that words do real cognitive and social work as they are deployed in social practice and that it is primarily through words and their histories of use that culture links to language. It is not semantic representations as such that matter but the (mostly extralinguistic) reference and conceptual baggage words acquire in their discursive world travels. Lexical significance shifts and is contested as part of shifting and contested customs, institutions, and ideologies.