On December 11th, 1936, the radio broadcast shocking news. King
You might think that language would fall apart if words could simply start meaning the opposite of what you thought, but it turns out that it’s actually not particularly uncommon for this to happen. Check out these words that used to mean the opposite of what you know them as.
1. Today a moot point is something that’s not even worth arguing over. But when it was first invented, it was a hypothetical idea whose entire point was to be argued about, like a thought experiment.
2. Egregious means awful or unforgivable, but before it grew to that meaning it just meant something that was separate from the group: that could be good or that could be bad. So something egregious could be the most amazing thing ever.
3. Symposiums are typically known as being long, boring, and overly intellectual, but the original meaning of the word in ancient Greece was actually a big drinking party.
4. Nowadays if you give an apology it means that you own up to and explain a mistake. But for a long time it was actually a word for defending yourself.
5. Today, the definition of nice is pretty vague, but generally it means something good. In Middle English it was a little different though. It meant stupid.
6. One of everyone’s favorite words on this list is literal, because it used to mean “not metaphorically” and now it can mean that or “metaphorically a lot.”
7. Awful is not something that you’d use to describe great feelings today, as it means something is really unpleasant, but at one point it meant something that was full of awe, or something that inspired wonder.
8. Bullying is a serious problem in many schools across America, because a bully is someone who teases or hurts other people. But at one point it was actually someone who was good and darling.
9. If you say something garbled, it means that it’s distorted or confused. Unless you’re saying it a few hundred years ago, when garble meant to sort something out.
10. If you’re a nervous sort you’re probably anxious, unless you’re using the antiquated meaning of the word in which case you’re strong.
11. If you were alive when passenger was changing its meaning you could be very confused. It started out meaning someone who travelled by foot and came to mean someone riding on a vehicle.