Quiz: Can You Guess The Original Meaning Of These Common Words?

Some of these modern words have very little in common with their original forms.
July 1, 2020
Quiz: Can You Guess The Original Meaning Of These Common Words?

The way language is taught in grade school, you might think that words never change. The dictionary, in this mindset, is written in stone. But if you’ve been alive for more than a decade, you can literally see how language is constantly changing (and you might be mad about, say, people using “literally” when they actually mean “figuratively”). Often times, these shifts in word definitions are pretty small. But if you look back far enough, you can see how the original meaning of some words has changed drastically over time.

Seeing how words change from their original meaning can be fun. In that spirit, we created a quiz that looks at 10 words that have very little in common with their original forms. We also include an explanation as to how and why these words evolved over time. Try not to get too tripped up on what the words mean today!

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Author Headshot
Thomas Moore Devlin
Thomas grew up in suburban Massachusetts, and moved to New York City for college. He studied English literature and linguistics at New York University, but spent most of his time in college working for the student paper. Because of this, he has really hard opinions about AP Style. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and getting angry about things on Twitter. He's spent a lot of time trying to learn Spanish, and has learned a little German.
Thomas grew up in suburban Massachusetts, and moved to New York City for college. He studied English literature and linguistics at New York University, but spent most of his time in college working for the student paper. Because of this, he has really hard opinions about AP Style. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and getting angry about things on Twitter. He's spent a lot of time trying to learn Spanish, and has learned a little German.

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