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44
votes
7answers
10k views

When is my son's first birthday?

[Clue: he was born three weeks ago, on 23 September 2014.] Originally, as I understand it, the word birthday meant the day of one's birth. It was a one-off event. I don't want to quarrel with the ...
-1
votes
2answers
55 views

Business English Semantic Shift of “Abreast”

My coworker just sent out an email asking someone to [please] keep abreast for a response. My understanding is that the phrase is keep abreast of x, and that it is used to mean actively keeping up ...
4
votes
1answer
134 views

What lexical relationship lies between the days of the week?

I'm confused, What is the lexical relationship between "Monday" and "Tuesday"? I mean is the relationship hyponymy, prototypes, polysemy, homophones, metonymy etc?
0
votes
1answer
131 views

Whatever happened to thou and thee? Thy words have become more dreary [closed]

Why did thee, thou and thy come to disappear from English? I am looking for solid explanations, rather than observations that these are still used in dialects in the north. Please explain cause for ...
5
votes
2answers
198 views

What is the real history of the word “scenario”?

In a moment of revery, I pondered from what language the word "scenario" originated. Unsurprisingly, it's Italian in origin, according to etymonline, but the etymonline etymology surprised me - the ...
0
votes
2answers
368 views

“Ridiculous amount”: semantic change (amelioration) originated from an antiphrasis? When and how?

"Ridiculous" means laughable, laughable because it is obviously and hilariously not good enough. However in English "a ridiculous amount of money" is "a ridiculously large amount of money". In ...
-1
votes
1answer
838 views

Which is correct: I'll be moving next month or I'll be shifting next month?

For changing one's home from one place to another, I've heard people in western part of the world using the sentence: I'll be moving next month. In India, even in the English news channels, ...
1
vote
1answer
390 views

How common is the misuse of “literally” to mean “figuratively”? [closed]

This question "Literally" and "Decimate" misuse addresses the misuse of the word "literally" to mean its opposite. I am curious as to how prevalent is such misuse. My hunch ...
5
votes
3answers
459 views

Why and when did “breast” become gender-specific?

In the past, "breast" used to be applicable to both male and female chests, but is generally only gender neutral nowadays when used in certain contexts, such as "breast meat" or "breastplate". Why and ...
6
votes
2answers
303 views

Is the difference in “sake” in English and Japanese a form of semantic change?

In Japanese, "sake" means any alcoholic beverage, whereas in English, it means a particular beverage from Japan (Nihonshu, literally "Japanese alcohol"). Is this a case of semantic change, or is ...
18
votes
8answers
4k views

Does “criticism” imply positive as well as negative?

I thought I was always taught at school that criticism meant evaluation and opinion, either positive or negative. These days, it seems criticism, or to criticise, is almost exclusively used to mean ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

“Decimate”: has it been used in the “classic” sense in modern writing?

In this question, I learned that "to decimate" meant to reduce by 10% (hope I got that right). And it is lamented that no-one uses it in this sense anymore. Now, given that I never until today knew ...
5
votes
1answer
195 views

Is there a technical term for the degeneration or evolution of words?

Based on this question, I was curious if there is an actual term that describes how words' meanings change or become deprecated over time.
11
votes
6answers
997 views

“Literally” and “Decimate” misuse

Recently I've heard American TV commentators say "[a person] was literally decimated" and "[a Senator] was literally thrown under the bus". In the first case I think the person was not actually 10% ...