Word Play #3/3 | Semantic Change

It’s Sunday already! Where did the weekend go?

I Dont Like It Supernatural gif

On the bright side, it’s one less weekend until Christmas Day!


Today’s post is the final instalment of my ‘Word Play’ feature, which will be focusing on semantic change. Semantic change is the evolution of the meaning of words, to a point where the original and modern uses are hugely different.


Original meaning:
Daft originated from Old English ‘gedæfte’, meaning “gentle and mild“. It continued to evolve throughout the years to mean “to put in order“, “suitable” and “to fit“. Between the 1200’s and 1300’s, it evolved from meaning “mild and well-mannered” to “dull and awkward“.
It wasn’t until the 1500’s that the word evolved into it’s current meaning.

Current meaning:
“Foolish and silly.”


Original meaning:
Until the mid 1800’s, fun meant “a trick, joke, jest, cheat or hoax“.
Current meaning:
Amusement, enjoyment.


Original meaning:
In Old Norse, a ‘ladd’ was a “hose, or woollen stocking” and it was common to use words for socks and stocking as terms of abuse. Eventually, it evolved from “stocking” to “fool” to “inferior boy” to “young male servant”, before arriving at it’s current meaning in the 1500’s.

Current meaning:
Boy, youth, young man.

There are hundreds of interesting semantic changes throughout history, but these three in particular are very commonly used today.

All three definitions are the complete opposite of what they originally meant!


So, I guess that’s all. The end of my Word Play feature! I hope you enjoyed reading them, because I certainly enjoyed creating them 🙂


4 thoughts on “Word Play #3/3 | Semantic Change

  1. Pingback: December | The Secret Diary of a Computer Science Student

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