Etymology is defined as “the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history”. If you were to travel just five hundred years back in time, you’d probably have quite a bit of trouble understanding what people were saying. For example, if you offended a nobleman and he threatened to thrill you, you probably wouldn’t assume he wanted to literally pierce a hole through your chest. That’s because the meaning of thrill has changed drastically since the 16th Century. It’s now synonymous with excite or affect, but it used to mean pierce or penetrate. What else has changed? Read on to find out how the people of the past used words in completely different ways.
That’s right, you’re looking at a bunny. At least, that’s what we used to call it. People made the switch from “bunny squirrel” to “bunny rabbit” in the early 17th century.
If you were to say you’re fascinated by something, you probably mean you’re interested or enthralled by it. Originally, however, the word meant bewitched or enchanted as if by a magical spell.
Today, we use livid to express being furiously angry. When the word first appeared in the early 1600’s, however, it described a greyish-blue color.
Before the word came to mean “wife of a king”, queen was simply a general term for a woman. Thus, in the past, all women were queens and all queens were women.