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any new shades or aspects to its meaning. This could have led to its rejection. Yet, large managed, to establish itself very firmly in the English vocabulary by semantic adjustment. It entered another synonymic group with the general meaning of "big in size". At first it was applied to objects characterised by vast horizontal dimensions, thus retaining a trace of its former meaning, and now, though still bearing some features of that meaning, is successfully competing with big having approached it very closely, both in frequency and meaning.

The adjective gay was borrowed from French in several meanings at once: "noble of birth", "bright, shining", "multi-coloured". Rather soon it shifted its ground developing the meaning "joyful, high-spirited" in which sense it became a synonym of the native merry and in some time left it far behind in frequency and range of meaning. This change was again caused by the process of semantic adjustment: there was no place in the vocabulary for the former meanings of gay, but the group with the general meaning of "high spirits" obviously lacked certain shades which were successfully supplied by gay.

The adjective nice was a French borrowing meaning "silly" at first. The English change of meaning seems to have arisen with the use of the word in expressions like a nice distinction, meaning first "a silly, hair-splitting distinction", then a precise one, ultimately an attractive one. But the original necessity for change was caused once more by the fact that the meaning of "foolish" was not wanted in the vocabulary and therefore nice was obliged to look for a gap in another semantic field.

International Words

It is often the case that a word is borrowed by several languages, and not just by one. Such words usually con-


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