Obaid Translation

July 22, 2015 English Words That Had Different Meaning In The Past Posted In: Articles

English Words That Had Different Meaning In The Past

If Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines language as: “The system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other”; then we have to add that this is a very lively system that grows and changes over time. As of today, there are dozens of English words that had a completely different meaning in the past:

“Sly” is currently associated with a cunning person, but it used to mean a skillful person, few hundred years ago.

“Pretty” on the contrary, was used to refer to “a cunning person”.

“Cute” or “keen”, as it used to mean before, was shortened form of “acute”’.

“Silly” used to describe a blessed person.

“Nice” on the contrary was used in the meaning of “foolish or stupid”.

“Awful” was used before to mean “worthy” of admiration. The same goes for “awesome” which only recently acquired the meaning of “great”.

“Villain” described a male servant, not a wicked person.

“Addict” comes from Roman times; back then the word was used for the slaves. In the 15th century, it meant a person practicing something. Only in the beginning of the 20th century it acquired its current meaning.

The bottom line, nothing stays the same forever; even words do change. Put this in mind the next time you come across a bizarre sentence in a classic novel or play.