Monday, December 08, 2008

Words turning bad

There's a good piece on the BBC website's magazine about how words often pick up unpleasant meanings as time goes on - semantic change and, in this case, pejoration - and how this happens.

Their focus is on the word "groom" which has shifted from meaning "to beautify oneself or one's steed" (as in "I'm just popping out to groom the pony.") or to prepare someone for a particular position, usually a successor, to having unpleasant connotations of nurturing an unhealthy sexual relationship with (usually) a young person over the internet.

Given the words used in the article (words from, shall we say the "semantic field of Gary Glitter") you might find it a) unpleasant reading and/or b) blocked by your college filter, but if you can reach the link, it's a good read and one that chimes in with many other words that have changed meaning over time.

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