Changing Word Meanings

Words that have changed their meanings over time can make for an interesting class activity or discussion. Here are some of these words with their older meanings shown in parentheses. You can present each word and have your students try to identify its older meaning.

  • sophisticated (corrupted)
  • nice (unaware)
  • counterfeit (a legitimate copy)
  • guess (take aim)
  • awful (wonderful)
  • cute (bow-legged)
  • truant (beggar)
  • knight (boy)
  • nuisance (injury)
  • brave (cowardice)

You can point out that some of the words have taken on an opposite meaning.