Lawrence from San Antonio, Texas, wonders if spelling is a factor in the different meanings of awful, which describes something negative, and awesome, which describes something positive. Spelling doesn’t come into play here; in fact, for years the word awful was actually spelled with an e after the w. The difference in these words is the result of what linguists call semantic drift. Something similar happened with the words terror, terrific, and terrible. This is part of a complete episode.

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