From the forums

18th January 2013 at 00:00

Words that have changed meaning

Satisfactory. It once meant "This is fine, carry on" but now means "We are going to sack you." Has anyone else spotted words changing meaning?


Some sentences have changed meaning within the past couple of years. "We're all in this together" now means "Many of you are really going to have to suffer, but me and my mates will carry on doing exactly what we like."


Leadership. It used to mean "a guiding, inspirational figure all could look up to". It now means "an anonymous figure who attends a lot of meetings off-site and relies on a large team of deputies to implement their will as communicated via text messages".


"Education" seems to mean different things to different people.


"Pants" for trousers. Americans are plain weird.


"Awful" is a classic example. Still used with its original meaning by Isaac Watts in the 18th century: "Before Jehovah's awful throne, Ye nations, bow with sacred joy." But it had taken on its modern meaning less than a century later.

florian gassmann

Plebs. Formerly: non-aristocratic middle or lower order. Plebeians may become either wealthy or influential but can never be accepted in the highest levels of society. Latterly: synonymous with oiks.


Listening to the kids at school, it seems that the words "wicked" and "sick" have changed meaning over the past few years.


Fit. Now it is impossible to say "fit and healthy" without pupils thinking you fancy somebody.


"Freedom of speech" now includes the unspoken caveat "only if you agree with others' views".


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