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  Tips for Writers by Brad Hyde (April 12, 2009)

Terrifically Mean: A Good Thing?

In English, we can say that someone makes a "mean" pasta and by that we mean that it is an impressive and very good pasta!

But doesn't "mean" have the meaning of "nasty, cruel or unkind"? Yes, it does, but in English we often coin new expressions that take the opposite of their usual meanings.

The word "terrific" is another, older, example. Its original meaning came from the word "terrified" and meant "full of terror." Now, the opposite meaning of "excellent or wonderful" is the only one we know.

More recent examples include "sick" or "ill" or "wicked" or "bad"; all of these mean something especially or very good!

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