Connotation loss

Seán Fitzpatrick grendel.jjf at VERIZON.NET
Thu Dec 31 18:03:47 UTC 2009

Is there a thread—or even a term—for the phenomenon of a term losing its
positive or negative connotation and devolving to the simple, neutral core
meaning?  E.g., “blatant” used to mean just obvious with no connotation of
showing something offensive character with no attempt at concealment.  Look
at this use of “comeuppance” in a review of a book about Julius Fromm, the
Jewish industrialist whose condom-making empire was expropriated as part of
the Nazis’ Hitlercare program:


The Fromm family eventually did get their comeuppance, however belatedly.
Throughout the decades, the family has sought and received some reparation
from the German government through various legal channels.  And the Fromm
condom empire, now under a different name, is still the second-highest
selling condom brand in Germany.   - The Jewish
Condom Magnate - The Daily Beast


“Comeuppance” here just means compensation, without the usual connotation of
just desserts for wicked deeds.


Seán Fitzpatrick
So-o-o, young Object-Oriented programmer!  One night the Hollerith 
cards will come up out of the landfill . . . and then where will you be . .
with all your methods . . . 
and objects . . . and pi-i-x-x-els]]]]]]


The American Dialect Society -

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