I am looking for a list of words that were used to mean something different from for what they are used now.

  • some words are such that whose meaning has changed completely and
  • some words have more than one meaning, but earlier one meaning was in popular use and nowadays another meaning is in popular use.

I am posting two links here and here, both talk about the change of meaning of some words over a period of some hundreds of years, but I am only interested in past one hundred years period, not older than that.

In case if it is too much for you to type to explain the earlier meaning and recent meaning, you can just type the word, I will try to find the two usages.

  • 3
    You can find a few in this interesting link: aggslanguage.wordpress.com/semantic-change
    – user66974
    Sep 10, 2014 at 5:19
  • 2
    You should start off with slang, for example the term bitch usually referred to a female dog, then its derogatory meaning became predominate but always referred to women. Finally, today, the term can be used for both sexes.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 10, 2014 at 5:19
  • 2
    This is an "nice" paper on semantic reversal. List type questions are OT here, though. Sep 10, 2014 at 5:35
  • 2
    A modern-day list huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/26/… I think your question is "too broad", there are literally hundreds of words that have changed their meanings in the last thirty years, let alone one hundred.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 10, 2014 at 5:45
  • 1
    'Insegrevious', which many would consider a word, possibly changes meaning every time it's used: insegrevious; insegreviate; insegreviously: a catch-all word meaning “anything you want it to mean!" [M-W] Sep 10, 2014 at 8:22

1 Answer 1


How about these:

Some of these may not be exactly what you are looking for.

  • These are absolutely amazing! How did you know that Mathias? Harbinger!
    – Fattie
    Sep 10, 2014 at 11:29
  • It's interesting that some are "soft" meaning change. For example, apparently "obsequious" meant "dutiful" but it has come to mean "dutiful suck-up". So, that's a "strong change of tone". For example, it would appear that "restive" has literally reversed meaning. It would be interesting to find words that just "changed meaning altogether!" (to a totally different field, as it were!)
    – Fattie
    Sep 10, 2014 at 11:31

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