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Posted by James Briggs on October 25, 2002

In Reply to: "Moot" posted by Bob on October 25, 2002

: : : : It might be interesting, if there is interest enough among your contributors to have category for words that are obscure, archaic, or have had their original meanings changed. For one of these, I give the example of "moot". It is currently used to mean a point or subject not worth discussion. But, according to Webster, it comes from the Middle English meaning opposite to its present use. I believe this change came about from its being used in a facetious manner.

: : : : Comments or stones anyone?
: : : : ES

: : : Better revisit your dictionary. Moot means discussable, subject for discussion.

: : It came to mean "of only academic importance" because of its use in law.

: I stand corrected. Maybe I'm stuck in an earlier decade, but I haven't yet been "overtaken" by the newer meaning.

The reversal of word meaning is well recognised - it's called 'catachresis', and I quote Bill Bryson in 'The Mother Tongue' for that. He gives an example of 'brave', which used to mean 'cowardly' but now means the opposite. A hint of the original meaning is still found in the derivative word 'bravado'. BB doesn't say why these changes take place

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