Say What? 25 Forgotten English Terms We Love
Language is a fickle beast. Just take the yearly additions to the exhaustive Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, which features words so utterly current it’s hard to predict their longevity, as proof. Just as certain slang phrases (on fleek, bae, basic, and so on) are so ubiquitous now, so too were an entire other cast of characters in decades past. We dug up 25 terms dating back to the 18th century that we love and think are due for a comeback. Do you accept our challenge to drop one of these into a conversation ever so casually? We hope so.
Meaning: A phrase used to get two people to stop kissing in public.
Example: “Bank’s closed! Get a room!”
Meaning: A hot-blooded, vivacious, and fiery woman.
Example: “Joan had the reputation of being something a bearcat.”
Meaning: Good or pleasing. Used kind of like “the bee’s knees.”
Example: “That sounds like berries to me!”
Meaning: A term for a killjoy or prude.
Example: “Having a party? Don't add the bluenose to the guest list.”
Meaning: To quarrel or bicker noisily about trivialities.
Example: “The couple was known to brabble, even when in the company of friends.”
Meaning: Having a well-shaped behind.
Example: “Lots of the Met Gala’s attendees were downright callipygian.”
Meaning: A kiss.
Example: “Give me a little cash.”
Meaning: Haughtily proud.
Example: “That promotion has me feeling downright chuffy.”
Meaning: To revel, luxuriate, and enjoy oneself completely; referring to indulgent tendencies and tastes.
Example: “Take a moment to deliciate in the simple pleasure of a Sunday morning spent sleeping in.”
Meaning: A person who lives an extravagant and moneyed life (a reference to The Great Gatsby’s “West Egg”).
Example: “That Daisy's a real egg.”
Meaning: A young, playful, lighthearted girl.
Example: “May we all retain some of the air of a giglet, even as we age.”
Meaning: Very intoxicated.
Example: “The wedding crasher was half-seas over, from the looks of it.”
Meaning: Idle talking or the act of gossiping.
Example: “Don’t jangle away the time on the telephone.”
Meaning: To jumble, confuse, or mess up.
Example: “Opposing advice has the power to jargogle even the most intuitive person’s compass.”
Meaning: To be in the know; to “get it.”
Example: “Before you spout your opinion, make sure you know your onions.”
Meaning: To spend or waste time aimlessly; to dawdle.
Example: “The silver-haired woman warned her grandchildren to quit lollygagging about.”
Meaning: To be buzzed, slightly intoxicated, or unsteady due to drinking.
Example: “Two drinks in, and you’ll likely be feeling a little nizzled.”
Meaning: Formally or stiffly dressed.
Example: “The older ladies of the community are known for their primpit appearance.”
Meaning: A contemptuous lawbreaker or one who flouts rules and conventions.
Example: “Her brother-in-law was a known scofflaw, prone to resisting all manner of expectations and precepts.”
Meaning: Descriptor for someone with a handsome, pleasing face.
Example: “That snoutfair gentleman is known for charming women wherever he goes.”
Meaning: To smile.
Example: “The best way to make a good impression is to sport some ivory.”
Meaning: An avid wine drinker.
Example: “When selecting a wine at dinner, it's always best to consult the resident vinipote.”
Example: “Did you hear Marie is with squirrel?!”
Meaning: A vague unwell feeling.
Example: “Having stayed out late the night before, she slept in well past noon in an effort to help drive the woofits away.”
Meaning: To be heavily intoxicated.
Example: “The party was full of zozzled guests.”
Opener image by Nina Leen.
Continue your education into lost words of the English language by checking out the book below!
What do you think of these amusing phrases? Share your favourite in the comments!