Today’s topic: words that are experiencing definition drift, but aren’t yet fully unmoored from their original meaning. That means you can “misuse” them without most people realizing it, but some pedantic subset of readers/listeners will snicker up their sleeves at you.
Here are two prime offenders:
1) Nauseous. Most people think of this word as synonymous with “nauseated,” as in, “I’m feeling nauseous this morning.” What does it/did it actually mean? “Nauseating,” as in, “I passed a nauseous car accident on the way to work.” So every time someone says, “OMG, I’m so nauseous today!” the pedants might think, “with that kind of vocabulary, you sure are!”
2) Disinterested. Many people think of this word as synonymous with “uninterested,” but it actually means “unbiased.” This one isn’t as far gone as “nauseous,” so beware.
That’s all for now, but I’ll probably rinse and repeat as I think of new examples.