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Mathew Oluwaseun
University of Ilorin (Unilorin)
Mechanical Engineering
500Level, Nigeria.
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Did you know a cloud was originally a rock and alcohol originally meant eyeshadow?

Our childhood was ruined when we discovered in a report published on Guardian UK, that blockbuster used to originally be a bomb and our good ol treadmill was a prison punishment.

See the full list of other words that don't mean what they used to.

1. Alcohol was originally eyeshadow

Al-kohl was a term derived from an ancient Arabic name meaning “the stain” or “the paint”, which was used to describe their distinctive jet-black eyeshadow made out of the mineral stibnite, crushed and heated to produce a fine dust that could then be mixed with animal grease to make a cosmetic paste.

Alchemists and scientists of the European middle ages then picked up this term from their Arabic-origin textbooks, and they change it to alcohol, which included the distillation of wine to form its purest essence.

2. A blockbuster was originally a bomb

A blockbuster is literally a bomb large enough to destroy an entire block of buildings. In this sense, the first blockbusters were produced by the RAF during the second word war, the very earliest of which – weighing an impressive 4,000lb – was dropped on the German city of Emden during an air raid in March 1941. The wartime press was quick to pounce on the nickname “blockbuster”, and soon it was being used figuratively to describe anything and everything that had an impressive or devastating effect.

3. A bimbo was originally a man

Bimbo is originally derived from an Italian word for a baby boy, when it first emerged in American slang around the turn of the 20th century.

It changed meaning when it was used to describe not a man but a beautiful, voluptuous woman, in a song popular in 1920.

4. A treadmill was originally a prison punishment

The fact that our beautiful fit fam and precious gym equipment used to serve as a prison punishment is really funny. The original treadmill was an enormous man-powered mill used for tasks such as crushing rocks and grinding grain on which convicts could be gainfully employed for many hours a day.

But the term changed in the 50s during the post-war vogue to mean gym quipment.

5. A cloud was originally a rock

The Old English word from which our modern word “cloud” didn’t mean “cloud” at all but rather “rock” or “mountain”. But it was changed due to confusion in pronunciation at that time.

6. A cupboard was originally a table

A cupboard, quite literally, was originally just a board on which to place your cups. Or put another way, a cupboard was originally a table.

But by the early 16th century that meaning had begun to disappear from the language, and a cupboard was no longer a tabletop on which to use or display one’s crockery, but a covered recess in which to store it.


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Don not get stuck at the well of argument. Let God be your vindicator. Let Him fight your battles. He will vindicate you better than you can vindicate yourself.

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