I Didn’t Mean That

Contradiction II

Here’s a list of words that don’t mean what they used to.

  1. Nice

The original meaning of nice used to be, well, not so nice. The adjective actually comes from the Latin word “nescius,” meaning “unaware” or “ignorant.” When it was picked up by the English language in the early 1300s, it described a “stupid, ignorant, or foolish” person. Ouch!

2. Awful

Nowadays, if you say something is awfulyou’re not being kind. However, back in the day, it was actually a term that people used to praise things, seeing as it literally meant that someone or something was “worthy of awe.” As awful became more negative, the word awesome largely replaced it in terms of its original meaning.

3. Flirt

Flirting with someone in today’s sense is what most people would consider to be flattering. However, if you were to flirt with someone based on the word’s original meaning, then what you’re doing is less sweet and more savage. Back in the 1500s when this term was coined, it was actually used to describe a quick motion or jerk—something like a flick

4. Cheater

Centuries ago, the term cheater was used to describe the royal officers who looked after the king’s escheats, or the land he acquired when someone died without a legal heir. However, because of the shady ways these officers went about their jobs, the word “cheater” eventually became synonymous with someone who lies, tricks, and defrauds—and this is how we define the word today.

5. Egregious

When someone describes something as egregious, they are trying to say that it stands out—and not in a good way. However, when it was first coined, the word actually meant the exact opposite. According to Merriam-Webster, the adjective was once used as a compliment to describe someone “who had a remarkably good quality that placed him or her eminently above others.”

6. Naughty

In the 1300s, people who were naughty had naught, or “nothing.” In other words, they were poor. Nowadays, however, the word is used to describe someone not as poor, but as evil or improper.

7. Terrible

The original meaning of the word terrible is similar to its definition today, only way more extreme. When you described something as terrible back in the day, it meant that it caused genuine fits of terror; today, people use it to describe anything that’s mildly bad.

8. Bully

No one wants to be called a bully—unless you’re using its original meaning, that is. In the archaic sense, bully means “sweetheart,” as it was derived from the Dutch word for lover, and for a while meant excellent, or splendid. Think Teddy Roosevelt, and his, “Bully, bully, bully!”
(David Bowie’s song, Fame has the line, “Bully for you, chilly for me.”)

9. Silly

The word silly has seen quite a few definitions throughout history. Derived from Old English, the adjective has been used over the years to mean everything from “happy” and “fortunate” to “innocent.” Eventually, though, the word somehow became synonymous with ignorance, thus bringing us to its current meaning of “foolish.”

10. Dapper

If you’re a stylish, neatly groomed man, someone today might call you a Dapper Dan. However, if you were to use the word according to its original meaning, then this wouldn’t make sense. Seeing as it’s derived from the German word tapfer for “brave,” dapper was originally used to describe someone as bold and daring—not in their fashion choices, but in their endeavors and undertakings.

11. Fantastic

Fantastic is an adjective used to describe something that is extraordinarily good. However, seeing as it was derived from the Latin word phantasticus—meaning “imaginary”—this word was originally used to describe something that only exists in the imagination. So, technically, a unicorn would be fantastic in either sense of the word!

12. Artificial

When something today is described as artificial, it’s usually a far cry from what’s considered a masterful creation. However, that’s exactly what the adjective used to refer to. If something was artificial back in the day, it was artfully or skillfully constructed.

13. Brave

Being called brave is quite the praise by today’s standards. But the word’s original definition—which is “showy” or “gaudy”—is much less complimentary.

14. Girl

A young female is typically referred to as a girl today. However, when the word was first used in the Middle Ages, it referred to any young person, regardless of their gender.

15. Guy

Guy, man, dude, fellow—they’re all monikers used to refer to the male species. However, you wouldn’t want to just throw the word guy around back in the day; in the 1800s, it was used to describe a person of grotesque appearance.

16. Clue

If someone were to give you a clue today, they would be giving you a hint about something. However, when the word was first coined, someone who was giving out clues was actually giving out something more tangible: balls of yarn, now spelled ‘clews’.

17. Manufacture

Manufactured, when used in its original sense, describes something that has been produced by hand. However, today, people generally describe something as manufactured when it has been mass-produced in a factory by machinery.

18. Nervous

There are a lot of things that can make someone nervous nowadays: job interviews, talking to someone they’re attracted to, public speaking… the list goes on and on. In the 1600s, however, nervous in this context wouldn’t make sense, seeing as it was originally used to described someone who possessed great strength.

19. Passenger

If you’re a passenger, you’re just someone who’s along for the ride. However, the original meaning of the word passenger is someone who is traveling, fleeting, or just passing by, typically by foot.

20. Pretty

The term pretty is derived from various words in other languages that meant “cunning,” “tricky,” and “skillful”—and therefore, it makes sense that the adjective was originally used to describe a sly person. Nowadays, however, it’s used to positively describe someone’s appearance rather than their deceitfulness.

21. Radical

Radical is an adjective used to describe anything extreme that shakes up the fundamental nature of something, and it’s typically employed in regards to social or political activism. However, radical actually comes from the Latin word for “rooted,” and it was once used to describe the opposite of extreme: something rooted, basic, and fundamental.

22. Sad

It’s no fun being sad or unhappy. However, it wouldn’t have been such a bad thing to be sad back in the day. In Old English, to be sad meant to be satisfied or content, usually in regards to feeling full from a meal.

23. Success

It’s a good thing to have success nowadays. However, back in the day, it could go either way, seeing as success originally described both positive and negative outcomes alike.

24. Villain

You know a villain as any evil person, typically in a movie, novel, or play. However, in Old English, this word simply referred to anybody who worked on a country estate or villa, such as a farm laborer.

25. Fathom

Today, fathom is just another word for “understand.” But way back when, it was used for measurement purposes and described the length of someone’s outstretched arms (about six feet!). Can you fathom that?

 

A To Z Challenge – R

 

Challenge '18letter-r

RECOVERY

Hedge Clippers

I HAD A VASECTOMY!  I know, I know!  TMI!  TMI!  The guys are now clenched so hard that they could hold an aspirin with their butt-cheeks, and the women are diplomatically trying hard not to smile.  Still, it’s something that should be mentioned.

After a few years of marriage, I had produced a couple of offspring and a paltry paycheck, so we decided to stave off poverty, using birth control.  ‘The Pill’ was available, but difficult to obtain, and expensive.  Using Ontario’s “free” socialized medicine, either the wife or I could get sterilized.

If she has her tubes tied, it’s three or four days of extreme discomfort, and a week to recover….all while I’m taking care of a 4-year-old, and a 1-year-old.  If I have the snip, it’s a couple of days of mild discomfort, and I get waited on.  The choice wasn’t difficult.  Some years later, my brother also decided to have it done.  He drove to the hospital on a Saturday morning…. but couldn’t bring himself to go in.

I got the idea for this post from another woman, whose husband was given a Valium at the hospital, to calm him down, and had an interesting reaction.  I’ll tell you about him in a couple of weeks, when I write about ‘S for surgery.’  I wanted to tell my tale first, so I titled it ‘Recovery.’  I already have a word picked out for V, so I don’t need either Vasectomy (easy, guys), or Valium.

When she wrote of her husband’s Valium adventures, I made the following comment:

Now I feel cheated. I didn’t get a Valium. They may not have been invented back when I had the procedure. I had it done in the doctor’s office on a Friday morning, before I went to work. I got a local anesthetic injection, and went to the office after.  The doctor who actually performed the procedure was another, of three doctors sharing a practice.  I wasn’t told why at the time, but found out later that my doctor was a barely-functioning alcoholic.  I am so glad that he didn’t get his shaky hands on my delicate crotch.

The shot was just wearing off by the time I left work at 5 PM. Still, I only took 4 of the 8 pain pills Doc gave me, over the weekend. He warned me that I would feel like I got kicked in the groin by a horse. Actually, I didn’t. I looked like a horse had kicked me – bruises in colors not normally found in nature.  Her husband was grumpy after the meds wore off.  I purposely had mine on a Friday, then I had the entire weekend to be grumpy, and there was that bag of frozen peas that never made it to the table.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll tell you a tale about the dangers of drug use – even if it was just an innocent little Valium, but please come back before then.  We have other topics to discuss.  😀

 

Flash Fiction #133

Financial

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

THE REAL COST OF LIVING

We recently returned from the vet’s with the wife’s favorite cat – $200 dollars, and no guarantee the medicine would cure it. Then she had to go into hospital for knee-replacement surgery.  You could say that she doesn’t need surgery, but, to her, gardening is as important as eating.

The bill for the last oil change said that the year-old car’s brakes need work. The cost of gasoline and electricity are mounting.  The yearly ‘cost-of-living’ increase on my pension was 97cents/month.  I feel the financial walls closing in.

Will we survive this retirement tunnel, or finish, begging on the street?

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Flash Fiction #122

grind

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

GETTING THE RUNAROUND

His mother had told him a thousand times. His Dad had said the same thing a few times, but nothing nags like a Mother.  Stay in school! Get a diploma!  Get a good job!

He was smarter than that.  Right after high school he’d got a paying job, while the rest wasted their time and incurred debts.

Ten years later he was making auto parts, while his sister was a doctor, making triple his salary.

All he had to look forward to was the daily grind, round and round. Get up, work his ass off, come home tired – and poor.

***

This little cautionary tale is all Rochelle’s fault. Go to her Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story for the Friday Fictioneers.

 

I Am A Challenge Too….Two

challenge

Now then, what was I saying writing, when I so rudely interrupted myself??  Ah yes, the 31-Day Challenge Magic Act, where I sawed a woman blog in half.

Why and when did you start blogging? My first post went out on November 21, 2011.  As to why, read my ‘About’ page, which includes the text to the post ‘If’.  Anything that doesn’t include, feel free to ask.

Advice on your area of expertise Since I am now successfully retired, my advice consists of, “Sleep in, have a snack, take a nap.  Rinse, and repeat if necessary.  Wage slaves, apply only on weekends.”

List 5 blogs you read on a regular basis, and why Many of the blogs I used to read ‘regularly’, are now dormant, or episodic.  One that I read regularly is Cordelia’s Mom because, as her tagline says, it’s ‘just good reading’.  Another we perhaps should all read regularly, is You’ve Been Hooked, tales from a bellman at a ritzy hotel in Niagara Falls.  (Caution, Humorous Adult Content)

What do you collect? Bills(notes/money – not utility), coins, knives, books, aches, pains, medical specialists, prescription drugs

What’s your greatest fear? I like to think that I keep my life well-ordered enough, that I don’t put me or mine in any position where I need fear anything.  I have no …phobias.  Fear/worry are counterproductive.  Either stay away from that which causes fear, or learn to face and defeat it.

Provide 5 easy steps to anything From my living-room chair, to the kitchen fridge/snack.  One….two….three….four….five – a pickled egg and some cheddar.  That was easy.

What do you do to save money? Not spend it.  While there are many who have less than us, I am/was a child of poverty.  Raised by a Depression-trained Scottish mother, I learned early to make a buck go a long way.  Once, while on an extended period of unemployment benefits, the Government office sent me home with a booklet on how to get the most from the least.  [Put soap bar ends in a mesh bag, and use it like a puff for hand and face washing, or soak and swish it in hot dishwater to produce suds.]  I took it back with 5 or 6 suggestions that they hadn’t thought of.

Describe your most embarrassing moment Like ‘fear’ above; I am careful/lucky enough, not to place myself in embarrassing situations.  Mostly, I just don’t give a shit – almost impossible to embarrass.  I could be a nudist.  I don’t wear clothing for my own modesty, but to protect the eyes and sanity of those around me.

Describe your city Germanic, and organic.  The entire area was settled 200+ years ago by Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants.  Waterloo, our twin-city to the north, has flowed to join my Kitchener, renamed a century ago from Berlin.  To our south, the small cities of Preston, Hespeler and Galt were merged in 1973, into Cambridge.  We have continued to flow together to produce a city of half a million, 5 miles wide, by 20 miles long, straddling Ontario’s major highway.  Streets and roads run hither and yon, confusing tourists, as told in my ‘You Can’t Get There From Here’ post.

What’s your favorite restaurant? With a Cordon Bleu chef/wife on staff, and wallets full of moths, we eat very well at home.  The occasional treat meal out is limited to the Golden Arches and its cousins.  Like the ‘favorite recipe’ in part 1, my love of Tex-Mex is so well known that, “What is your favorite restaurant?/Taco Bell” is a security question/answer on a website.

What’s your guilty pleasure show? With satellite TV costs soaring, we cancelled our subscription a year ago.  We moved the television from the basement den up to the living room, and linked to Netflix.  TV watching might be 2 hours a week.  It has led to a large increase in reading.

What’s your favorite season? As I wrote in ‘Location, location, location’, we live in a Goldilocks area.  It gets warm, but not too hot in the summer.  It gets cold, but not too frigid and snowy in the winter.  I wouldn’t want to live in Winnipeg or Atlanta.  Spring is great, with its burgeoning greenery and promise of rebirth, but, my birthday is in the autumn, and I love the harvested crops, and the colorful foliage.

Talk about your idea of a prefect date Wellll….it would have to be one that the wife is unaware of.  More and more, I get ones with people with MD after their name.

How do you normally spend your weekend? Ah, the joys of being retired.  If it weren’t for reading newspapers, I wouldn’t know what day it is – or month.  Weekends differ from weekdays in that, instead of going out to pick up a Toronto Sun newspaper, I might drive the wife to the Farmers’ Market, or the daughter to a Pow-Wow for fun and profit.

Explain what you liked most about this challenge It’s finished!  It gave me yet another chance to drop some (more) smart-ass comments that you’re still shaking your head about, and wondering if they’re really true.  And of course, it helps my stat numbers of published posts.

Thanx for visiting Crazyville Archon’s Den.  I hope to see you again in a couple of days.