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opposites

April 23, 2009

Words that have stayed the same while their meanings have changed: 

  • Counterfeit once meant a legitimate copy.
  • Brave once implied cowerdice—as indeed bravado still does (both from the same source as depraved).
  • Crafty originally was a word of praise, while…
  • Enthusiasm which is now a word of praise, was once a term of mild abuse.
  • A harlot was once a boy, and a girl in Chaucer’s day was any young person, whether male or female.
  • Manufacture… once signified something made by hand; it now means virutally the opposite.
  • Politician was orignally a sinister word (perhaps, on the second thought, it still is), while…
  • Obsequious and notorious simply meant flexible and famous.

From a very interesting  and entertaining (though maybe not authoritative) book called The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way by Bill Bryson. The ellipses and the bullets are mine because…

  • I
  • really
  • like
  • them.

(Regular bullets, that is, not these silly stars.)

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 23, 2009 9:24 am

    It would be good to hear Mike Tong’s thoughts…

  2. April 23, 2009 10:09 am

    Don’t worry Jess, they’re normal bullets in Google Reader.

Trackbacks

  1. quite the contronym « ten digit lumber

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