Is there a term for words like "aftermath" or "windfall" that originally had a completely different meaning to the sense in which they are used today? Windfall for example, originally referred to fruits shaken off trees by the wind but has come to mean a stroke of good fortune. Idiomatic is the closest I could come up with but I am not sure if that is accurate.

  • Yes, idiom works. See definition 1. – Lawrence Jul 24 '18 at 6:07
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    I mean, aren't the terms being used metaphorically? I imagine they would be some subclass of metaphors. – tidbertum Jul 24 '18 at 14:38

I think this is an example of semantic shift. In the example of ‘windfall’, its meaning has widened, and it has become a metaphor for a stroke of good fortune.

There is more information about this on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_change

I am not aware if there is a specific term for examples of semantic shift.

  • This wikipedia article cites "broadcast" as an example of semantic shift and classifies it as a metaphor. My examples are pretty much in the same category. Thanks for the reference. – Dinesh Jul 27 '18 at 9:46

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