FIVE WORDS WITH NEW MEANINGS
The Latin word decem meant tenth. To decimate meant to kill one-tenth of a military unit if there was a mutiny or disobedience of some sort. The word decimal has its origins here. Even the month of Dec-ember was originally the 10th month in the Roman calendar.
Now it means widespread destruction and is not limited to being only a tenth.
Actually means “occurring by chance.” The Latin word for “chance” is fors.
But in the last 100 years it has changed to a common meaning of being “lucky” or “fortunate.”
Still used to describe the puffy things that float in the sky. But now has a new meaning of that ubiquitous place where your computer data is stored off-site somewhere.
A nautical term to measure the depth of water. A fathom is equal to six feet (1.83 meters). Came from the old English word fæthm, which meant “outstretched arms.” If you stretch your arms out and measure from fingertip to fingertip, it might be close to six feet, depending on who is being measured.
But somehow it came to mean “understanding” or “comprehension.” Maybe it came from the act of “getting to the bottom” of some issue?
In classical Greek, myriad was literally the word for 10,000. Now it has come to mean “a lot.” Some day I will have written a myriad of blog posts. But for now, it’s just a lot of them.
The word phobia seems to have changed lately. It used to be that a person with a phobia had an extreme or irrational fear of something, now it means hate.
Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D.
The term “woke” is making the rounds. It used to be what my mother did on school days; she woke me up. These days, I’m not sure…..
Right, see the 3rd entry in the etymology here:
I should note: it’s often derogatory, so definitely don’t use this term unless you’re 100% sure you know you’re using it correctly.
Thank you, sir, for the entertaining & enriching blog. I appreciate your conscientiousness in continuing to offer these Fun Friday posts.
I enjoyed this fun read. Words are fascinating.
Kristen Joy Wilks
That is so fascinating that Myriad used to means such a specific number, wow! It’s funny, but my sons still insist on the classical meaning of decimate and will insist that any destruction should be counted and proven to be 10% if the term is used in fiction, ha!
I think all writers are fascinated with words and their origin. My dad’s generation provided a few that I found interesting. He used to say he was going to go to town “to do some tradin’.” I think that came from the days they used to trade eggs for a week’s groceries. Keep on fascinating us, Steve. I, for one, enjoy your blog posts.
“Classic!” Was my response, which then occurred to me to be another word dragged into ‘kiwi’ slang, meaning that it amused me and fascinated me.
Fun Friday information for sure! The real surprise for me was the word decimate with Dec-ember actually having once been the 10th month of the year. Thank you, Mr. Laube.
I fought so hard for many years to correct people who misused the word ‘apocalypse’ to generally refer to the end of the world. Then one day I just accepted that no one cared. I use it too now, but every so often I still kick myself for getting on board!
Sydney F. Grey
I love learning about the origins of words! One of my favorites is Scuttlebutt!