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13 WORDS WITH MEANINGS THAT HAVE CHANGED OVER TIME –

Fun

Originally, “fun” was a verb that meant “to cheat or hoax,” rooted in the word “fon,” an old word for “fool.” Obviously, the meaning has changed mostly to meaning “a good time,” but you can still see traces of its original meaning in a phrase like “make fun of.”

Fond

Also rooted in the old word for fool (“fon”), it originally was a word for being “foolish and weak-minded.” Essentially, it was a word about being overly-affectionate to the point of being a pain in the ass. The word clearly no longer means that, but now you have the trivia that the word “fond” is basically rooted in being a fool.

Terrific

I think it’s actually pretty obvious to see the evolution of this word. The root word (“terror”) is about inducing-terror. But then the word morphed into an intensifier (think something along the lines of “terrifically fun”), and then it finally morphed into a word (“terrific”) that’s completely positive.

Tremendous

Tremendous just changed meanings completely. It was originally a word about something so terrible that it caused someone to tremble or shake with fear. Now, it’s a term about being overwhelmed at how good something is.

Awe

Hey, look, another word that used to be linked to fear. To be fair, awe still kind of is, but used on its own these days it usually refers to a reverential fear, specifically in many religions. But considering its part of the word “awesome,” the meaning has changed significantly.

Grin

It is not clear how this word changed its meaning, but “grin” used to describe a threat display by baring your teeth in rage or pain. At some point, it became a term for faking a smile, but now it’s just a positive term.

Smart

So here’s some irony for you. “Smart” used to be a word linked to pain, specifically describing things that cause pain. For example, Shakespeare’s Henry VI has the quote “as smart as lizards’ stings.” But that meaning evolved to mean “sharp and quick,” referring to quick uses of words to cause pain that indicated that the person was intelligent.

Egregious

Somehow, this was originally a positive word, meaning “eminent and distinguished.” But over the years, people used the word so sarcastically so often that the meaning completely flipped to becoming a purely negative word.

Sad

There’s no clear explanation for how such a common word changed meanings like this, but sad originally meant “satisfied or sated.” It obviously no longer means that, changing over the years from that to “serious,” to “grave,” to its current meaning.

Smug

Similar to “egregious,” sarcasm doomed this word to a new meaning. Smug meant “crisp, tidy, and presentable,” but morphed into being “self-satisfied and conceited.”

Devious

This one’s a little complicated. Devious comes from “de via,” meaning “off the way.” It was essentially a word about going off the beaten path. From there, it morphed into a word about wandering things. Eventually, it hit its current form, deviating from a “good” path and being “deceitful.”

Facetious

Ironically enough, facetious originally meant to have an elegant style and to be witty. It obviously no longer has this meaning.

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