18 words that used to mean something completely different

The English language is one confusing dialect – one word can have many different meanings and then there’s regional sayings and colloquialisms too. But there are quite a few words that have evolved with time, that used to mean something completely different years ago.

Here’s 18 of the best:

 

Awful

Meaning now: bad, unpleasant
Used to mean: full of awe, i.e. the awful majesty of God

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Decimated

Meaning now: destroyed, completely ruined
Used to mean: kill one tenth i.e. that war decimated Germany

Artificial

Meaning now: fake, not authentic, false
Used to mean: artful and skilfully constructed

Bully

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Meaning now: person who belittles or upsets a person
Used to mean: a good fellow or a darling

Fathom

Meaning now: to understand after much thought
Used to mean: encircle with one’s arms

Clue

Meaning now: a hint
Used to mean: a ball of yarn

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Naughty

Meaning now: doing something bad or mischievous
Used to mean: having naught/nothing

Egregious

Meaning now: outstandingly bad
Used to mean: remarkably good

Facetious

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Meaning now: flippant
Used to mean: well-manner

Nice

Meaning now: pleasant, good, lovely
Used to mean: silly, foolish, simple

Bachelor

Meaning now: single man or lowest level of university degree
Used to mean: young knight

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Flirt

Meaning now: playing with emotions in a cheeky way
Used to mean: flicking something away

Defecate

Meaning now: bowel movement
Used to mean: to purify something

Passenger

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Meaning now: accompanying person in vehicle
Used to mean: someone travelling by foot

Buxom

Meaning now: large breasted woman
Used to mean: meek, obedient

Spinster

Meaning now: unmarried woman
Used to mean: a lady who spun wool or cotton

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Matrix

Meaning now: intricate sci-fi web; movie series
Used to mean: womb

Stupid

Meaning now: dumb, silly
Used to mean: amazed or surprised

 

Which of these surprised you most? What’s another word that meant something different when you were younger vs now? Tell us below.