Like just about everything in life, your Guru knows that the English language is always changing – it’s what keeps her in those Jimmy Choos. Here are just a few examples of words with their original meanings; you’ll see how those meanings have changed, some more than others:
Awful – deserving of awe
Brave – cowardice (think of “bravado”)
Counterfeit – a legitimate copy
Cute – bow-legged
Girl – young person of either sex
Guess – take aim
Luxury – sinful self-indulgence
Neck – a parcel of land (think of “neck of the woods”)
Notorious – famous
Nuisance – injury
Quick – alive (think of “the quick and the dead”)
Sophisticated – corrupted
Tell – to count (think of a bank teller)
Truant – beggar
The word pretty started out meaning crafty, then changed to clever, to skilfully made, to fine, and finally to beautiful.
Silly originally meant happy or blessed; it morphed through pious, innocent, harmless, pitiable, feeble, feeble-minded, and finally ended up where it is now, stupid or foolish (or a combination of both).
Speaking of stupid and foolish, that’s what the word nice used to mean. It took five hundred years for it to evolve through wanton, extravagant, elegant, strange, modest, thin, and shy, to its current meaning.
But if you think the process is over, it isn’t. Like everything else on the planet, words continue to evolve; just think how the words gay and bad have changed in the recent past.
Just remember – you probably aren’t the one who makes the rules. So, if you want to keep communicating clearly, listen to your Guru, she’ll keep you informed. Carry the Grammar Guru app with you always, and you’ll never be misunderstood.