Write It Sideways

6 Words That Don’t Mean What You Think They Mean

Whether we like it or not, slang has become a major part of how we communicate.

Like dialects that arise out of various languages, English has developed its own nuances over time. Words that may have meant one thing to your parents or grandparents might mean something completely different to you.

I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with slang or informal language (except in a formal written work or letter). I use these words all the time, in fact.

My only thought is this:

Why do we change the meaning of words?

Was our language inadequate the way it was, or are these simply errors that have been perpetuated over time?

Here are 6 words I believe we’re using incorrectly, according to their original meanings.


Can a brownie really be incredible? You tell me.


I’ve heard this one used correctly in the UK, but not so much in America, Canada and Australia.



Maybe you think I’m being picky with this one, but if something isn’t capable of being extreme, then it shouldn’t be modified by the word extremely.

I feel the example about the cheesecake is incorrect because deliciousness can’t really be extreme. In this instance, I think it would be more correct to just say delicious. Saying very delicious would be redundant.


Just looking at the word terrific would be enough to help you guess its origins. Makes you wonder why we changed the meaning.


What Do You Think?

Perhaps you disagree with me on one or all of these words. I’m open to discussion, so please let me know what you think.

Are there other words you feel we’ve changed the meanings of? Do you have a problem with language changing over time, or do you think it’s inevitable?

*Please note, all references on word origin taken from Dictionary.com.