I’ve always been fascinated by words and vocabulary and spelling and really just anything pertaining to words.
This year I’ve taken a particular interest in the development of words throughout past centuries. I find it spellbinding to know that words that we commonly use on a daily basis meant something completely different from the meaning that it has when it is used today.
At the moment my focus (clearly) is on the words “naughty” and “nice”, and with those two words practically taking on a life of their own as we near each Christmas season, it seems quite fitting.
I’ve learned today that the words “naughty” and “nice” are, like many words, rarely used today in the way that they were originally intended to be. My source for this is simply dictionary.com, though I know that there are more traditional standards that could be referenced.
In the late fourteenth century, the word “naughty” was used to indicate need, rather than our current use being that something or someone is disobedient. A sense of “wickedness” or “evil” is attested from the 1520s, and our modern sense of “disobedient” is attested from the 1630s.
The word “nice” has its roots prior to the thirteenth century, and has meant “foolish”, “stupid”, “senseless”, ” not knowing”, or “timid”, as an alternative to our modern “agreeable.”