Top Ten Words and Phrases that Meant Something Totally Different in the Past as They Do Now

The Top Ten
Rule of thumb

Today= Basic concept
1970 or earlier= The rod you beat your wife with can't be thicker than your thumb



Awful's original meaning is quite the opposite of what we call it today. If you dissect the word, one may infer that my abs are so smokin' hot that I put an individual in awe, rather than meaning "Dude, you're flabby,"

This is my favorite one given how basically means the reverse and it also makes sense when looking at the word. I think there was a king called the awful.

Hook up

“Hook up” used to mean getting some kind of device or service or appliance up and running, I.e. “hook up cable television.” Today, it also means “hooking up” with someone to have sex or just “hooking up” with someone as in meeting up.


Y'know the Christmas song "It's the most wonderful time of the year" with "gay happy meetings when friends come to call" or whatever? If you connect the dots and realize it's not someone gay acting extra gay; it meant happy

I think everyone knows this one.


Used to mean sandals. Now, thongs (don't ask me how) means your underwear.


"Trump" meant trumpet, and still does, in church, but it's also the name of the Leader of the Free World.

Trump also used to be a term used in card games and still is.


We only started calling phones "cells" in the '90s, give or take. Before that, it was a tiny thing in a human, animal, or plant. Before that, (and this definition still stands) it was the place you rotted in prison in.


“Backlog” meant the biggest log in the fire during colonial times. Today, it means a reserve or a pile of work you still need to plow through


Fantastic meant a figment of your imagination, and understandably was morphed into a synonym for great

Letter me

This was the old term for "message me." Sounds odd, doesn't it?

The Contenders

In the fourteenth century, this meant to steal or withdraw forcefully, and had no association with sexual assault.


2000s - cook meat
2010s - creative insult


Like rape and roast, this has more so expounded its definition than totally changed but it originally meant (surprise,) ghosts, but "high spirits" now also means a good mood and spirits also means alcohol. I can't say I know how it got to meaning alcohol, though

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