Technology terms acquiring non-technical meanings

Paul McFedries lists at MCFEDRIES.COM
Tue Nov 14 14:16:14 UTC 2000

I'm interested in what I'll call "multiple-personality" technology terms
that maintain both their original technical meaning and a second
non-technical meaning. For example, the technical meaning of the word
bandwidth is "the information-carrying capacity of a transmission medium."
Now you hear some people talk about bandwidth in the sense of "the
information-processing ability of a person."

What is this type of semantic change called? In The Cambridge Encyclopedia
of the English Language, David Crystal talks about a form of semantic change
called "extension" where "a lexeme widens its meaning," Is that what we're
talking about here?

If you have examples that I can add to my list, I'd be happy to hear them.

Thanks a bunch.


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