Words ~ Old and New

Hi, SE readers. Joan here. I thought we’d do something fun today and talk about words.

Over the years, our use of language has evolved. Thank goodness we no longer use seventeenth century English with words like thee, thou,  or shouldst. These days we’re much more casual in our conversations. For instance, how often do you order a vegetable burger? You order a veggie burger.

The last few years these words have sprung up: SCOTUS, POTUS, and FLOTUS. These are actually acronyms for Supreme Court of the United States, President of the United States, and First Lady of the United States.

I never used the entire term, but I still stay Supreme Court, President, and First Lady. Evidently, some people are too casual (or perhaps too lazy) to use these terms. It takes just as much effort to use the acronyms as it does to say the word.

Merriam-Webster recently added over 1,000 new words to their dictionary. A few of these are:

  • Seussian – of, relating to, or suggestive of Dr. Seuss
  • Conlang – an invented language (Tolkien invented languages when he wrote Lord of the Rings)
  • Face-palm – to cover one’s face with the hand as an expression of embarrassment

Technology plays a big part in the growth of language or added definitions of words. My 1982 Funk & Wagnall’s has the word “web” but nowhere in the definition does it refer to the world-wide web.  Incidentally, Internet isn’t listed in this edition, although I recently learned the word was coined in 1974. Where we once used software programs, (still do) with the onset of new devices such as smartphones (something that wasn’t heard of a few years ago), we use apps.

Computers and technology have given us words such as net neutrality, abandonware, and botnet. Devices enable us to binge-watch movies and videos and photobomb someone as they snap a photo with their phone.

Teenagers have always had a language of their own. Some of the words or phrases popular over the years are groovy, right on, dig it, far out, and cool. Even those have changed. My teenage nephew tells me “epic” is what teens use today to describe something spectacular.

What happened to the phrase, “You’re welcome?” Often when I’m in a restaurant and thank the server for refilling my drink, they will reply, “No problem.”

And then there are words which we don’t often use anymore. Some are considered archaic. A few are:

  • Hornswoggle – bamboozle or hoax
  • Skullduggery – underhanded or unscrupulous behavior
  • Dastardly – cowardly or characterized by underhandedness or treachery
  • Rapscallion – rascal or ne’er-do-well
  • Baseborn – of low birth or social standing
  • Accouchement – birthing

In these days of instant access, hot topics are known to be “trending.” According to Webster’s, there are also trending words. The most popular ones on March 26 were:

  • Ignominious – marked or characterized by disgrace or shame
  • Vindicate – to set free or deliver
  • Interpretate – an archaic variant of interpret
  • Gravamen – the material or significant part of a grievance or complaint
  • Transom – a transverse piece in a structure

As you can see, language is ever-changing and ever-evolving. It’s impossible to keep up with all the new words. I don’t know about you, but I’m thankful for modern technology and the dictionary app on my smartphone.

Joan Hall

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Advertisements

47 thoughts on “Words ~ Old and New

  1. OMG, Joan! You’ve brought together decades, maybe centuries of expressions, words, and labels. I enjoyed every letter it took to write it. Now, if we threw in the Southern expressions we might both know, we could really confuse a large number of folks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh for real, Sherrey! Several years ago, John and I were in Cheyenne, Wyoming and had stopped for lunch. The waitress took our order and then came back to table and asked, “What part of Texas are you from?” Turns out, she was raised in the DFW area. She had lost most of her Texas twang, but told us she still used the terms “y’all” and “fixing to.” We laughed together. On a side note, it turned out she had lived in the same town as a couple of my cousins and knew them from high school. Small world!

      Like

  2. Love this post, Joan! Words, the old and new, and especially the origin stories, are so interesting! And then there’s always the words that are just plain fun to say. Rapscallion! Like an onion relative that does the word-rhyming sort-of-singing thing snicker And supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is one of my favorites. When I come across words that are rarely seen these days in prose, I’m always tempted to use them, especially when they mean exactly what I’m trying to say, like eisengrau (it means that period at dusk and dawn when the landscape colors are just gray–yes, there’s an actual word for that, and I’m waiting for the perfect time to use it 😀 ) Thanks for a great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Funny how we remember certain things. When I was in school we (meaning students, not the teachers) tried to impress one another by using antidisestablishmentarianism. It’s not even in the dictionary, but we didn’t bother to check it out. Sort of like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. On a whim, I checked the longest word, and it is electroencephalographically. I would find it hard to pronounce if it wasn’t for the fact I took a medical terminology class a few years ago.

      Thanks for stopping by today, Flossie!

      Liked by 3 people

    • I’m with you on POTUS and FLOTUS. The first time I heard those terms I thought, “What the heck?” I refuse to say them. Glad you liked the post and thanks for stopping by.

      Like

  3. Enjoyed your post and couldn’t help but smile. Language has definitely evolved in my lifetime, but my siblings and I – all children of the 50s, 60s, and 70s – still use “hornswoggle” and “dastardly” so much in casual conversations, our GenX and Millennial children use them too! 😄

    Those conversations, by the way, are usually through group text messaging! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’ve trained those kids right! I grew up in the sixties and seventies. A couple of years ago, I went into my local grocery store wearing a Beatles t-shirt. When the young man who carried my groceries saw it he said, “Beatles. Right on!” I hadn’t thought of that expression in years.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Joan, I absolutely love this post! What a fun look at words.
    Even if we don’t use them today, I love so many old words.
    On the newer end, it is sad when the President of the United States become POTUS. Some things just shouldn’t be shortened,
    I’m also one of those people who type out words in full when I text. I just can’t butcher words the way most texting is done today!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Reblogged this on From the Pen of Mae Clair and commented:

    Calling all dastardly rapscallions who speak Suessian then suffer a face-palm moment when they’re photobombed,

    Confused? It’s quite simple actually, as Joan Hall takes a laugh out loud (or should I say LOL) look at word usage old and new. This post is a gem! Hop over to Story Empire to check it out. Abscond with thee! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Hi Joan, A fun article. There are some interesting words in here. I love it when I come up against unusual words while reading books and articles. I always look them up and add to my word list. I’m still trying to figure out how to add winklepickers to one of my stories.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I love hornswoggle, skullduggery, rapscallion, and dastardly. I admit, though, I don’t use them. Maybe it’s time to start. (Somehow I can’t see the Brothers saying their opponents are dastardly, though.)

    Great post, Joan.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It won’t surprise you that I also like those words. 😉 I haven’t used them in a story either. Like you I can’t imagine Matt or Brian from my Driscoll Lake series using those words.

      Like

  8. Yes, Joan. You are right. Language is a living thing. Changing along with our life.
    Imagine what would have happened if we had had to use English in its initial form, when it had, like its sister German, many forms in conjugation of verbs.Likewise the adjective forms.
    Thank God it evolved and it’s, on the surface, an easier language to learn than German or Spanish, or Romanian.
    There are many words here , in the list you offered,that I never heard of. That’s why, for me, a non-native English speaker a beta-reader or critique partner is absolutely essential.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Carmen, I had often heard English was the hardest language to learn because we have so many words that sound alike but mean different things. To, too, and two or their, they’re, and there being a couple of examples. But my Romanian co-worker tells me he had a harder time learning French. And yes, I’m glad English has evolved. I can’t imagine using what I call King James English on a daily basis.

      And even though English is my native language, I think beta-readers or critique partners are essential. I took a chapter of my WIP to my critique group on Monday and they found where I had used the contraction we’re (we are) instead of were. (Among other errors!) 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      • The above examples are just, let’s say, the top of the iceberg. For someone who wants to study English thoroughly, not just to learn to speak it, it’s a real adventure. Thinking about all kind of agreement between verb and noun, of the different types of plurals, and so on. And the differences between American and British English…..
        However, what fascinates me about the English language is its power of revival. A language considered too vulgar to be used by nobility during Norman invasion, is nowadays the most used international language in the world.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Great post, Joan. A lot of these, I’ve never heard of! Recently, I emailed someone and used LOLS, and then had to explain to them what it meant (lols). It goes to show how much I take the internet/texting slang for granted these days! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • That is funny, Harmony. I remember the first time I saw that and didn’t know what it meant. I think it was in the days of the old chat rooms. Texting has certainly changed the way we write. I guess I’m a stickler for language, but I’ll still type full words.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I text my children (and everyone else) by using full sentences, spelled out words, and proper punctuation. It drives my kids nuts because I’m slower than them to begin with, and the longer construction takes me even longer. But I don’t care. I can’t embrace the destruction of our language. I can deal with new (and weird) words or phrase, but don’t start messing with proper grammar!

        Liked by 3 people

We'd love to know what you think. Comment below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s