Changing with Time 時の流れに変化

The fact is, languages change over time. Words are born when new tools, ideas, or concepts, come into existence. For some words, their long disuse leads to their inevitable death fated to be either forgotten or possibly resurrected and made anew. Even with the birth and death of words, some words evolve over time, their initial meaning perhaps even forgotten by most who utter them. Language is, in an abstract way, a living thing.


Roughly every six months Oxford English Dictionary and Mirriam-Wesbster’s dictionaries add hundreds of new words to their lists. With these lists of new words there always seems to be a number of people who believe that these new additions are in some ways eroding the language they speak or are familiar with. Some people just don’t care for change, and there’s no changing that. And that’s okay.


I tend to think that new words and their subsequent meanings are great things. If a new word can better convey an idea between people then, “why not use it?” For the rest of today’s blog though, I want to look at words that have changed meaning over time. This is a fascinating study and I challenge you to think of some words in either English or your native tongue that have changed over time. Let’s dig in.


According to the word nice, a very common word in English, had a very different meaning. 


Nice, it turns out, began as a negative term derived from the Latin nescius, meaning “unaware, ignorant.” This sense of “ignorant” was carried over into English when the word was first borrowed (via French) in the early 1300s. And for almost a century, nice was used to characterize a “stupid, ignorant, or foolish” person.”

The entry continues on for some length and I’d recommend that you give it a read, it’s quite fascinating.


Now let’s take a look at the awesome word, awesome, today it often is used in a way that means that something is extremely good or even excellent.


‘“The earliest use of awesome comes in the late 16th century, and the word had the meaning of “filled with awe.” The problem with saying that this is the same meaning that kids today should intend when they say the word is that awe had a somewhat different meaning back then; it generally referred to feelings of severe fear or dread. So people in the 17th century who were saying that something was awesome did not necessarily mean “that is a thing of great beauty”; chances are, they might have meant “that is a thing that sends shivers of terror down my spine.”’

Once again this excerpt comes from and fits nicely with today’s subject. 

Thank you and I hope that you have an awesome day!



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