It’s a known fact that the English language is constantly evolving, and words can take on new and different meanings from month to month, not to mention year to year or even century to century. Recently, we stumbled across this great thread at MetaFilter discussing current-sounding phrases that have been around for much longer than we think, so we did a little digging of our own to see which of our most everyday, contemporary slang words are actually rebranded anachronisms from the good old days.
Tricked out — According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word “trick” was used in the 1500s to mean “to dress, adorn,” which would give the phrase “tricked out” pretty much the same meaning as it has today — dressed to the nines — and indeed, you see it used that way all over. Interestingly, the dictionary notes that this may have been an entirely different word (in terms of origin) than the more standard meaning of “cheat, deceive.”
Scrub – Your working definition of “scrub” might be “a guy that thinks he’s fly, and is also known as a buster. Always talking about what he wants and just sits on his broke ass,” but its usage to denote a ”mean, insignificant fellow” (which is basically the same thing, right?) dates all the way back to the 1580s.
Legit – Sure, this generation thinks they invented the casual abbreviation, but people have been calling things “legit” since 1897. Originally, the term referred to “legitimate drama,” that is, drama with literary merit.
Cool – This is one of those words that never gets old, and it has what seems like a million slightly different connotations. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, its earliest slang meaning dates to 1728, to describe large sums of money, a usage still in circulation. It started to mean “calmly audacious” in 1825, and “fashionable” in 1933.
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