Special Report

36 Old Words We Use Today But With Completely New Meanings

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Intelligence

Intelligence can be defined as the ability to learn or understand, and it also means gathering information about an enemy. While intelligence as a synonym for news is archaic, there are still newspapers called Intelligencer published in various parts of the United States and Canada.

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Jade

These days, jade either means a green gemstone or something made from it or it means to wear out or tire — and these meanings have different origins. A jade was once a broken-down horse, and the term came to be applied to a disreputable woman.

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Mechanical

Mechanical means of or relating to machinery or automatic. It once meant a worker who did manual labor generally, which in a sense is the opposite of its meaning today. There is also a group of characters in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” called the Mechanicals.

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Meet

Meet once meant suitable or proper, and in this sense is related to commensurate. It is still used in Christian prayer: “It is meet and right….” Now it means encounter or assemble, as in the dreaded office meeting.

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Moxie

Moxie was once popular as a synonym for courage or determination. Today it is more widely known as the name of a popular soft drink that rivaled Coca-Cola in the 1920s.