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comment by user-inactivated
user-inactivated  ·  428 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Teaching is Fulfilling: what TFG's been up to #3

There are TONS of words like that, I'm frustrated I can't think of any off the top of my head other than "terrific." What's amazing is that there are English linguists who track when words first came into use, how their popularity and use fluctuates over time, etc. I'm sure they're doing a very necessary job, but at first glance, it seems trivial.

johnnyFive  ·  428 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My favorite example is "nimrod."

Nimrod in the Old Testament was a great hunter archetype. Fast forward to the 1960s, and Bugs Bunny uses it to insult Elmer Fudd--basically calling him a great hunter sarcastically. Too few people understood the reference, but gleaned the idea Bugs was going for, i.e. to make fun of Elmer. From this, nimrod came to mean "dummy."