Weird is an example of a word whose most common modern meaning is quite different from its original English meaning. The word, originally a noun, dates back to Old English, where it meant fate or destiny. By the Middle English period, it was being used to refer the three Fates of Greek and Roman myth, and in Scotland this sense evolved into that of a witch. This Scottish use was Shakespeare’s inspiration for the three weird sisters in Macbeth. The modern adjective, however, does not appear until the 19th century, undoubtedly modeled on Shakespeare’s use.
Copyright 1997-2014, by David Wilton