'n Dief aan die kers - skelm woorde deur die eeue | Encyclopaedias & General Reference
This brand-new book by Dr. Anton F. Prinsloo describes how the original meanings of approximately 1 000 Afrikaans words have changed in the course of years, so that the meanings we know today almost make no sense at all.
Centuries ago, the word ambition (ambisie) for example had nothing to do with a strong pursuit of success and prosperity. If someone had ambition in those days, this person walked from house to house like a beggar.
And the meaning of the Dutch dyke (dyk) was at that time least of all that of a “high wall at the sea to keep the water out”. The word particularly did not refer to the wall, but to the ditch that was dug to obtain soil to build the wall, which had to protect the land against the sea.
If we talked about a candidate (kandidaat) today, we shouldn’t have thought that it was someone who should have been wearing a compulsory white dress.
Today a worm (wurm) is a small, crawling animal. In those days this word could refer to a maggot, snake, scorpion or a dragon.
This book differs from a traditional book about the origin of words (the etymology) in that it only treats words of which the meanings had been funnily (and cunningly) distorted over time.