How Certain English Words That Come From the Same Source Can Have Very Different Meanings

In an enlightening episode of their incredibly informative whiteboard series for Mental Floss , linguist Arika Okrent and illustrator Sean O’Neill verbally and visually explain how certain words, such as terrific and terrible and awesome and awful, each come from the same source despite having meanings quite opposite from one another.

The word awe originally referred to immediate and active fear. It then became associated with religious, reverential fear, and then to a feeling of being humbled at the sublime. While awful retains the negative sense, awesome took on the positive one.