How did 殊, as in: 特殊、殊技、殊荣、殊勋、殊遇、殊遇 come to have it's meaning of
歺(歹)+朱 paint out a rather, more, grim meaning if anything...
How did 殊 get to mean special (in a good way)?
I haven't found any reference on it, so I come out with my own ideas.
Phonetic loan. In the beginning the ancestors created the character 殊, but the same sound also means "special" to them. The ancestors are as lazy as us, so instead of creating a new character, they borrowed the character 殊 to fill the blank. This is not as likely as my next speculation.
Amelioration, a form of semantic change in which a word's meaning is changed from bad to good:
to put to death, which is an
殊puts life to death, hence
This, I think, is probably the case. For comparison, the English word
dead could also mean
exactly, all positive meanings.