English Words That Changed Their Meanings Through Time

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Admittedly, English can be a confusing language to non-native speakers. This is mainly due to the spellings and pronunciations of numerous words. Added to that is the way that many of the English words we know today had entirely different meaning now compared to when they were first coined. Below are 8 examples of these words:

1. Addict

In roman times addicts were broke folk given as slaves to the people they owed money to.

2. Awful

In the 1300s it originally meant “inspiring wonder” and was a short version of “full of awe”. But now the word has purely negative connotations.

3. Bimbo

From “bambino”, the Italian word for “little child”, it once meant “fellow, chap or one of the boys” in theatrical circles.

4. Bully

Referring to someone as a bully in the 16th century was like calling them “darling” or “sweetheart” – probably from the Dutch word “boel”, meaning lover or brother.

5. Nice

Derived from the Latin nescius meaning “ignorant”, the word began life in the 14th century as a term for “foolish” or “silly”.

6. Silly

In its earliest uses, it referred to things worthy or blessed; from there it came to refer to the weak and vulnerable, and more recently to those who are foolish.

7. Myriad

If you had a myriad of things 600 years ago, it meant that you specifically had 10,000 of them — not just a lot.

8. Artificial

This word used to mean full of artistic and technical skill.

Sources:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/words-literally-changed-meaning-through-2173079

http://ideas.ted.com/20-words-that-once-meant-something-very-different/

http://mentalfloss.com/article/54770/15-words-dont-mean-what-they-used

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