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The Meaning of Words

7 Aug 2013

The Meaning of Words: How language has changed

How language has changed!

It was my love of language that first led me to NLP

Dr John Walker

But even before I knew what NLP was, I acquired of a very old dictionary, ‘Walker’s Pronouncing Dictionary.’ I’ve been unable to determine the publication date for the tome which is now somewhat tattered and torn.

John Walker’s picture at the front of the dictionary is hand drawn and he is wearing a full curly wig! Wikipedia informs me that John Walker was born 18 March 1732 in Colney Hatch, Middlesex and died 1 August 1807 in London.

This dictionary is fascinating.

I’m sure you’ll be as amazed as I was at how some words have completely changed meaning or have fallen out of use since the dictionary’s publication. Here are a few examples:

  • Terse: Cleanly written
  • Toilet: A dressing table
  • Toady: A Toad Eater
  • Toad-Eater: A fawning obsequious parasite, a mean sycophant
  • Lizard: An animal resembling a serpent, but with legs added to it
  • Bee: A stinking, filthy insect
  • Kine: Plural from cow
  • Sizar: A student from the university of Cambridge who receives free board
  • Strumpet: A whore, a prostitute
  • Tag Rag: People of the lowest degree
  • Breeze: a Gentle gale
  • Sensitive: Having sense of perception but not reason
  • Shampoo: To rub and percuss the whole surface of the body at the same time racking the joints in connection with the hot bath
  • Fub: A plump, chubby boy
  • To frounce: To frizzle or curl the hair
  • Gallant: A gay sprightly man, one who caresses women to debauche them
  • Vaccine: Belonging to a cow
  • One-eyed: Having only one eye
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