10 Words That Mean the Opposite of What They Used to Mean

Thanks to cultural changes, incorrect translations, and a host of other reasons, word meanings often shift over time. Here, ten words that have done a 180.

By Beth Dreher
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Awful

Current meaning: Very unpleasant

Original meaning: Inspiring wonder

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Bully

Current meaning: Someone who mocks or harms those who are weaker

Original meaning: A good fellow or a darling

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Symposium

Current meaning: A conference or meeting to discuss a particular subject

Original meaning: A drinking party

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Artificial

Current meaning: Contrived or false

Original meaning: Artfully and skillfully constructed

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Villain

Current meaning: Evildoer

Original meaning: A trusted farm hand

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Harlot

Current meaning: A promiscuous woman

Original meaning: A goofy, mischievous man

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Moot point

Current meaning: A matter of no importance

Original meaning: A hypothetical idea created specifically to be talked about

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Resentment

Current meaning: Indignation

Original meaning: Gratitude

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Specious

Current meaning: Seeming fair, but falsely so

Original meaning: Fair or beautiful

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Egregious

Current meaning: Shockingly bad

Original meaning: Anything that separates itself from a group

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