What is the term in linguistics for when a word comes to have a new meaning over time?

(Like the word 'wicked', which is commonly used to demonstrate this idea)

  • Meaning migration? Sense shift?
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    Sep 26, 2013 at 16:12
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1 Answer 1


It is called semantic change (also semantic shift, semantic progression or semantic drift).

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    Thanks, I thought so but suspected there was a single word that fitted it better. This will suffice. Great response time and nice service this.
    – track2now
    Sep 26, 2013 at 16:39
  • Is it still considered "semantic change" when the new meaning is additional, i.e. when the older meaning shows no signs of going away?
    – LarsH
    Sep 26, 2013 at 20:43
  • Is it still considered change if I put a million dollars in my bank account without taking any out?
    – Kyle Hale
    Sep 26, 2013 at 21:30
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    @LarsH: Semantic change from Wikipedia: ... Semantic change ... is the evolution of word usage — usually to the point that the modern meaning is radically different from the original usage. Types of semantic change: A number of classification schemes have been suggested for semantic change. The most widely accepted scheme in the English-speaking academic world is from Bloomfield (1933): Narrowing: ... However, the categorization of Blank (1998) has gained increasing acceptance: [2] Metaphor: Change based on similarity between concepts, e.g., mouse "rodent" → "computer device". Sep 27, 2013 at 11:01

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