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A word which used to mean "a specific kind of thing" changes to mean "the thing in general" (eg. dog)


A word which used to mean "a thing in general" changes to mean "a specific kind of thing" (eg. deer)


A word's meaning gains a positive connotation (eg. knight)


A word's meaning gains a negative connotation (eg. knave)


Over time, through a combination of various changes, the earlier and later meanings of a word might come to have nothing obvious in common (eg. crescent)

Folk etymology

A word's meaning may be changed by analogy with which is has a similar shape, even without a change in the word's form (eg. disinterested)


Meaning A and Meaning B are similar; B is like A, so Form A can be used for Meaning B (eg. crane)


Meaning A and Meaning B are associated but not similar, so Form A is used for Meaning B (eg. pigskin)


A part is used to refer to the whole or vice versa (eg. stagehand)


Meaning shifts from one part of an utterance to the other, with later loss of the first part but retention of the meaning, so the meaning of the second part has changed (eg. contacts from contact lenses)


A word's meaning becomes less emphatic due to repeatedly exaggerated use (eg. "you slay me!")


A word's meaning becomes more emphatic due to repeatedly euphemistic use (eg. "whack somebody")

Taboo replacement

An "unpleasant" word is replaced by a different word, to which the old meaning is attached but which "feels" less unpleasant at first (eg. "bathroom", "restroom")

Taboo deformation

An "unpleasant" word is altered in its pronunciation to soften the sound of it (eg. "dag nabbit")


Lexical items added from other languages or dialects. (eg. "animal")


Lexical items abbreviated into the first letter or syllable of each morpheme (eg. "DOC")


Lexical items added from combining two words (eg. "shitstorm")


Lexical items added by adding a prefix or suffix to a word (eg. assassination)


Lexical items abbreviated by removing parts of a word (eg. blog)


Lexical items added by imitating actual sounds (eg. achoo)

Root creation

Some genius comes up with a word from thin air (eg. blurb)


Lexical items changed by reshaping due to......


Just made this term up, but it's when sound changes make related forms seem unrelated, and they become two different words


Lexical items lost but their meanings are retained in other words (eg. coney)


Lexical items lost because societal changes have rendered their meanings..........

Contact shift

Semantic meaning changes because of language/culture/societal interaction (different from loan shift, in which the shapes of the words are already similar -- in this case it is just a culture using a word for a familiar concept to refer to a new, scary, unknown concept, like "deer" for "horse")


A word whose meaning is taken from a personal name (a type of metonymy)


A word whose meaning is taken from a place name (a type of metonymy)

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