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What Does The Word Mean Literally?

I've heard many people talk about the importance of words in a novel. The way we write them in determines their meaning and could add emphasis to the message we convey. Some writers, especially those who like history, would never let an 'okay' slip from their characters or allow them to respond with an 'awesome'. I know I certainly try not to.

I've always had a fascination with the English language. One of my dreams growing up was to go to college and get a degree in the subject. Every time I am interested in something, I don't stop finding out as much as I can about it. I guess you can say I endeavor to persevere.

Today, I wanted to show you ten words that have changed meaning over the years.

1) Decimate - The original meaning was "to reduce by one-tenth", now it means "to destroy a great number of". Ex: The population was decimated by a plague.
2) Disinterested - This word used to mean "not interested", now it means "not influenced". Ex: ...a disinterested decision by the referee.
3) Enormity - Some know it as "outrageous or heinous character", now people refer to it as "greatness of size, scope, extent, or influence". Ex: The enormity of such an act of generosity is staggering.
4) Fortuitous - It used to mean "occurring by chance", but now means "lucky". Ex: ...a series of fortuitous events that advanced her career.
5) Fulsome - Which used to mean "abundant, generous, full", but now means "disgusting; sickening; repulsive". Ex: ...a table heaped with fulsome mounds of greasy foods.
6) Ironic - Which used to mean "counter to expectations or what is appropriate", but now means "coincidental". Ex: It was ironic that I was seated next to my ex-husband at the dinner.
7) Literally - It used to be confused with "figuratively", but now it is used "in the literal or strict sense". Ex: What does the word mean literally?
8) Notorious - It originally meant "widely and unfavorably known", but now people use "infamy". Ex: An infamous gambler.
9) Peruse - Which used to mean "to use thoroughly", now it means "to read through with thoroughness or care." Ex: ...to peruse a report.
10) Plethora - Its original meaning was "overabundance; excess", but now it means "abundance". Ex: ...a plethora of advice and a paucity of assistance.
(Words found on Daily Writing Tips and in the Dictionary.)

Of course, all these words are listed in the dictionary with both meanings, but when it's spoken in modern-day conversation, you'll better understand their relation to the sentence in which it's used.

"When an idea is wanting, a word can always be found to take its place." 
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Do you know any words that have changed their meanings? I'd love to know your thoughts in a comment below.

Happy writing!
-Diva J.

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