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Five Words That Used To Have A Different Meaning

by Marie Vonow (follow)
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Five words that used to have a different meaning
Adapted from Pixabay

Language keeps changing. Some words have a different or an extra meaning from what they had say forty or fifty years ago. I am thinking of words like wicked, cool, sweet, sick and bad. There are many more. While surfing the internet I came across other words which had a very different meaning in the distant past.

5 words
Adapted from Pixabay

Five such words are usher, shambles, silly, recipe and receipt. Where I have quoted a definition, I have used the Macmillan English Dictionary For Advanced Learners Second Edition.

Today an usher is someone who shows people to their seats at the theatre, cinema, a wedding or similar place.

In Britain, 'someone whose job it is to allow people to enter or leave a court of law.'

In the past an usher was an assistant teacher.

These days 'shambles' is a term used to refer to something that is very disorganised and doesn't operate efficiently or to somewhere that is extremely untidy.

Back in time, a shambles was a slaughterhouse, a building where animals were killed for their meat.

Today 'silly' can be an adjective -
'showing that you are not intelligent, not serious, not thinking carefully'
'not serious, important or practical'
'unsuitable and annoying, especially because it makes you seem stupid or like a child'
'in a state where you are not able to do anything sensible', for example: She was scared silly or Too much wine made him silly

Pulling a silly face Courtesy of Pixabay

It can also be a noun, 'used for telling someone, especially a child, that you think their behaviour is stupid or annoying'

Sometime back in the past, silly meant helpless or defenceless. But even further back it meant worthy or blessed.

We are all familiar with recipe meaning a set of instructions for making a particular meal or dish. However, there was a time when a recipe was a medical prescription.

These days it is wise to get a receipt as proof of purchase and file it somewhere safe in case you need to return an item to the shop for a refund. If something breaks down while still under warranty you need a receipt to prove where and when you purchased it.

Jump in your time machine and go back in time and at some point you will find a receipt is what you need to cook a favourite meal.

Language has a way of changing over time. If you look at something written a few hundred years ago you will have trouble working out the meaning. We are very much aware of all the changes occurring these days but it has always happened, although I do think it's happening faster these days.

Related Articles -

# Change
# Communication
# History
# Language
# Meaning
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