It is an interesting feature of the English language that a word can have both its own meaning and at the same time have a totally understandable meaning which is completely opposite that meaning. So take the word “terrific”. Its root meaning is of course terror, things that are terrifying. However, we readily understand its meaning to be” good” – indeed “very good”; far from terrifying. Or going the other way – consider the word “awful”. Again its basic meaning would relate to awe – something is full of awe and wonder; and yet usually we associate the word with being bad, indeed very bad. It is of course a feature of language development things like this happen . . .so for your average teenager today a word we might perfectly understand, like “wicked”, or say “ugly”, really is used to convey an entirely different meaning.
Take my word for today “martyr”. Read more →