The field of herpes simplex virus (HSV) latency and reactivation has been marked by controversy, which is not unexpected considering the complexities of the biology involved. While controversy is an important tool for digging to the bottom of difficult issues, we propose that unproductive conflict in the field arises in part from poorly defined terminology and the need for a collective framework. The uses of advanced global molecular and next-generation sequencing approaches and an increasing array of in vitro model systems have provided new molecular-level insights into HSV latency and reactivation, with the promise of expanding our concepts of these processes. However, our current framework and language are inadequate to effectively integrate new data streams into the established theories. In this brief perspective, we look back into the past to examine when and how the lexicon of HSV latency and reactivation arose in the literature and its evolution. We propose to open a dialogue among investigators for the purpose of updating and clearly defining terms used to describe these processes and to build a collective integrated framework to move our field forward.