Convention is a word most commonly understood by recent usage to mean an established set of rules or basic principles which one’s conduct and behaviour should follow. However, this definition of the word is in actuality an evolved meaning of convention’s original definition: a meeting or assembly.
Deriving from the root word convenire, L, convention is equivalent to meaning to come together. From the forerunners of the word, convention, F, and conventionem, L, convention explicitly means assembly. Since the 16th century, the term has been used in English as is. In the 15th century, the definition extended to commonly mean an agreement as well. Expanding further from these primary definitions, convention’s meaning eventually evolved into a sense of agreement, and further still, to mean implicit customaries or agreements. This finally led to its definition as an implied agreement of methods which is what we are most accustomed to understanding convention as today.
All definitions of convention are still currently in use. Convention’s oldest definition, to come together, expresses the summoning of an assembly, otherwise known as a meeting. In the gathering of persons to discuss a particular matter, there must be a central location arranged for their meeting to take place. These locations have utilized the word to create the new term, ‘a convention centre’. Today, the most common conventions are industrial, professional or fandom-based. For each group, the conventions are dedicated to their topic of interest. ‘Con,’ an abbreviation for convention, is used in some conventions’ names such as ‘DEF CON’ and ‘Gen Con’. In sociology, social conventions are proprieties of conduct established by a class or a society. The adjective, conventional, is defined as the nature of conventions, which refers to the artificial or formal, eventually leading to the reference of old-fashioned. Similar is the concept of generic conventions, which are implied methods and rules that define what a particular artistic genre is. Although conventions may be necessary to identify the genre, conventions can also cause excessive repetition in pieces of work. The term convention is also used to refer to specific formal statements of principle within international law. Such an instance would be the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In this case, conventions are only adopted by countries in order to accredit them, and members of the state do not have to take high regard in these conventions.
The connotation of convention can be either negative or neutral depending upon the context in which it is used. When convention is expressed as the opposite of formal agreement, the connotation is neutral. However, convention can also be used in an unfavourable sense. By utilizing the word to imply the artificial, there is a tone of aversion towards conventions due to its effect in making one’s work too predictable, or mundane. What is suggested is a preference towards spontaneity and innovation as opposed to conventional approaches.
"convention, n.". OED Online. September 2012. Oxford University Press. November 21, 2012.
Wikipedia contributors, "Convention (meeting)," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. November 21, 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Convention_(meeting)&oldid=520085926>
Wikipedia contributors, "Convention (norm)," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. November 21, 2012.