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These 12 Everyday Words Used To Have Completely Different Meanings

A woman has her hand over her mouth trying to stop her hiccups, Detroit, Michigan, September 10, 1957. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
A woman has her hand over her mouth trying to stop her hiccups, Detroit, Michigan, September 10, 1957. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

There are slang words like "cray cray" -- meaning someone or something that is really crazy -- that are popular among teenagers but leave older people bewildered. There also are phrases like "Indian giver" that boomers might have said when they were kids -- but that today are understood to be obviously racist.

Recently an acquaintance used the word "boner" to describe a mistake, not realizing that today the word is more often used to describe a penis when it's hard.

Words change all the time and over time. Often origins are forgotten. So what words from long ago carry a very different meaning today? We asked our Facebook fans for their ideas -- and here's what a few of them had to say. We also added some of our own ideas. Have other suggestions? Let us know in comments.

1) "Hook up," said Gena Lovins Fausel.
"Hook up" used to mean getting some kind of device or service or appliance up and running, i.e. "hook up cable television." Today, it also means "hooking up" with someone to have sex or just "hooking up" with someone as in meeting up.

2) "Fantastic" meant "existing only in one's imagination" centuries ago. Today, it means something is really incredible.

3) "Bad," said Nancye Hernsmith.
"Bad" used to describe someone who'd done something wrong or something that was poor in quality. Today, it also means "good" or "great" when used as slang. (And "breaking bad" means to challenge conventions and defy authority.)

4) "Gay," said Anna Cornwall.
"Gay" used to mean merry or happy, i.e. "don we now our gay apparel." Today, it is usually associated with being homosexual as in "gay marriage."

5) "Sick... now is a good thing," said Angel Matuszak Novie.
"Sick" used to mean ill. Today, it also means something is really amazing.

6) "Backlog" meant the biggest log in the fire during colonial times. Today, it means a reserve or a pile of work you still need to plow through.

7) "Rubbers used to be slip-on boots that covered shoes," said Alexa Robbins.
"Rubbers" also used to be erasers (and still mean erasers in Britain). Today, it's most often slang for condoms.

8) "Years ago, 'thongs' were another word for flip-flops. Nowadays, thongs are underwear!," wrote Linda Hervas.

9) "Tool" used to mean something you dug up the garden with. Today, it also means someone who's not intelligent enough to realize they are being used or taken advantage of.

10) "'Message me!' wouldn't have made sense a few years ago... like 'Letter me'?" wrote Amy Richards.

11) "Cell used to mean jail! Or a tiny part of your body..." said Amy Richards.
Today, of course, it's also what you call your phone.

12) "Awful" used to mean something that inspired awe. Today, it means something is bad or that someone looks terrible. It also means exceedingly great as in "an awful lot of money."

What Is The Most Random Fact That You Have Never Forgotten?

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