Generalisation or Widening or extension of meaning
A very frequent means by which a change in meaning occurs in a word is by the process which we call by the generalization of meaning, that is a term which at one time has a specialized or generalized meaning in time comes to have a wider application. A typical example is the word ’box’. Originally it was the name of a tree. It then went on to mean the wood of the tree, and then a casket to contain jewels and money. Now we have many boxes-band boxes, jury boxes, boxes in the theatre. The verb ‘box’ has also been coined.
Eg:the word ‘journal’ and ‘journey’ are derived from the French noun’jeur”(day). Journey originally referred to a day’s work or ride. Now, it can be any kind of travel for any duration of time. Journal meant a periodical that appeared daily. Now we have weekly, fortnight and monthly journals. In the words ‘companion’ and ‘comrades’, the former originally meant one ‘one who shares bread with someone and the latter meant someone who shares a room with someone.
In many words which are loosely used today, this same generalizing tendency is seen active at work, though the results of it have not always been accepted as a good thing. The word ‘nice’ is a clear example of this: such a nice day, such a nice party. etc. The term ‘tragedy’ is no longer applied in its strict sense, but means a calamity or event of sadness that befalls someone.’ Catastrophe’ has a similar meaning in that though it initially meant the concluding part of a play, and may be used in a general sense to imply a serious situation.
A common practice of generalization is to extend the name of the material of the object to the name of the object.