Semantic progression


Semantic progression

Semantic progression, also known as 'semantic shift,' describes the evolution of word usage — usually to the point that the modern meaning is radically different from the original usage.

Examples

* demagogue - Originally meant "a popular leader". It is from the Greek "demagogos" (leader of the people), from "demos" (people) + "agogos" (leader). Now the word has strong connotations of a politician who panders to emotions and prejudice.
* democrat - At the time of the American Revolution, the term "democrat" had all the negative connotations of the modern usage of the word "demagogue". A century later, the term had shifted in meaning enough that it was viewed favorably as the name of a national political party.
* egregious - Originally described something that was remarkably good. The word is from the Latin "egregius" (outstanding) which is from e-, ex- (out of) + greg- or grex (flock). Now it means something that is remarkably bad or flagrant.
* guy - Guido (Guy) Fawkes was the alleged leader of a plot to blow up the English Houses of Parliament on 5 November 1605. The burning on 5 November of a grotesque effigy of Fawkes, known as a "guy," led to the use of the word "guy" as a term for any "person of grotesque appearance" and then to a general reference for a man, as in "some guy called for you." In the 20th century, under the influence of American popular culture, "guy" gradually replaced "fellow," "bloke," "chap" and other such words throughout the English-speaking world, and is also referred to "both" genders (i.e., "Come on you guys!" could refer to a group of men and women).

From http://www.enjoywords.com/semantic_change.html


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Semantic change — Semantic change, also known as semantic shift or semantic progression describes the evolution of word usage usually to the point that the modern meaning is radically different from the original usage. In diachronic (or historical) linguistics,… …   Wikipedia

  • Progression — may refer to:In mathematics:* Arithmetic progression, sequence of numbers such that the difference of any two successive members of the sequence is a constant * Geometric progression, sequence of numbers such that the quotient of any two… …   Wikipedia

  • semantic shift — noun A change in one of the meanings of a word over time. Syn: semantic change, semantic progression …   Wiktionary

  • Semantics — is the study of meaning in communication. The word derives from Greek σημαντικός ( semantikos ), significant , [cite web|url=http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3D%2393797|title=Semantikos, Henry… …   Wikipedia

  • reduce — [14] ‘Lessen, diminish’ is a comparatively recent semantic development for reduce. Its Latin ancestor was certainly not used in that sense. This was redūcere, a compound verb formed from the prefix re ‘back, again’ and dūcere ‘lead, bring’… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

  • reduce — [14] ‘Lessen, diminish’ is a comparatively recent semantic development for reduce. Its Latin ancestor was certainly not used in that sense. This was redūcere, a compound verb formed from the prefix re ‘back, again’ and dūcere ‘lead, bring’… …   Word origins

  • Gairaigo — (外来語) is Japanese for loan word or borrowed word , and indicates a transliteration (or transvocalization ) into Japanese. In particular, the word usually refers to a Japanese word of foreign origin that was not borrowed from Chinese. Japanese… …   Wikipedia

  • generous — [16] Generous comes via Old French genereux from Latin generōsus, which originally meant ‘of noble birth’ (a sense which survived in English into the late 17th century – Richard Knolles, for instance, in his General history of the Turks 1603,… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

  • peculiar — [15] The etymological notion underlying peculiar is of ‘not being shared with others’, of being ‘one’s own alone’. It was borrowed from Latin pecūliāris ‘of private property’, a derivative of pecūlium ‘private property’, which in turn was based… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

  • base — There are two distinct words base in English. Base meaning ‘lower part, foundation’ [14] came either via Old French base or was a direct anglicization of Latin basis (acquired by English in its unaltered form at around the same time). The Latin… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.