A Dream of a Girl Before Sunrise by Karl Briullov, 1830
This is a word that I had no idea had anything interesting to it so was very shocked to find such a long entry! And at this point, can’t even remember why I bothered looking it up, LOL.
Dream in the literal sense–a sleeping vision–dates from the 13th century and is related to a number of similar words in other Germanic languages, including a few with a meaning of “merriment or noise,” “illusion, deception, or phantasm,” and from there “ghost, apparition.” Our dream though, the Old English word carried only the literal meaning and those of Joy, mirth, and (for some reason…) music.
There were, however, two identically spelled Old English words. The one that meant a literal dream and the one that meant “revelry.” Folks have tried to prove that the modern dream came from the revelry one instead of the expected one, but to no avail. As it turns out, Old English literature often avoided using the word for the primary purpose to avoid confusion and would use swefn (sleep) in its place.

Who knew?

But here’s the thing that really surprised me. It wasn’t until 1931 (1931!?) that dream gained the meaning of “ideal of aspiration.” Can you believe that?? I had no clue it was so new. And now so need to rewrite a line of my manuscript…and wonder how many times I’ve used it wrong in other books. Argh! Seriously. Never thought to look this one up. But apparently this modern meaning came from an 1888 sense of “something of dream-like beauty of charm.”
Yeah, definitely one of those words I never thought to question and now will never look at the same again. 😉
Have a dream of a day, y’all! And remember–if you haven’t entered the giveaway for Jewel of Persia yet, you only have one more day! https://www.roseannamwhite.com/2012/10/special-giveaway-for-jewel-of-persia.html
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