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The Graveyard of Lost Words and Phrases
Posted On 05/08/2018 11:31:28 by Beth777
This was shared with me by a friend recently who knows I'm a lover of words.   Enjoy!


About a month ago, I illuminated some old expressions that have become obsolete because of the inexorable march of technology. These phrases included "Don't touch that dial", "Carbon copy", "You sound like a broken record" and "Hung out to dry." A bevy of readers have asked me to shine light on more faded words and expressions, and I am happy to oblige:

Back in the olden days we had a lot of moxie. We'd put on our best bib and tucker and straighten up and fly right. Hubba-hubba! We'd cut a rug in some juke joint and then go necking and petting and smooching and spooning and billing and cooing and pitching woo in hot rods and jalopies in some passion pit or lovers lane. Heavens to Betsy! Gee whillikers! Jumping Jehoshaphat! Holy moley! We were in like Flint and living the life of Riley, and even a regular guy couldn't accuse us of being a knucklehead, a nincompoop or a pill. Not for all the tea in China!


Back in the olden days, life used to be swell, but when's the last time anything was swell? Swell has gone the way of beehives, pageboys and the D.A.; of spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes and pedal pushers. Oh, my aching back. Kilroy was here, but he isn't anymore.


Like Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle and Kurt Vonnegut's Billy Pilgrim, we have become unstuck in time. We wake up from what surely has been just a short nap, and before we can say, I'll be a monkey's uncle! or This is a fine kettle of fish! we discover that the words we grew up with, the words that seemed omnipresent as oxygen, have vanished with scarcely a notice from our tongues and our pens and our keyboards.

Poof, poof, poof go the words of our youth, the words we've left behind. We blink, and they're gone, evanesced from the landscape and wordscape of our perception, like Mickey Mouse wristwatches, hula hoops, skate keys, candy cigarettes, little wax bottles of colored sugar water and an organ grinders monkey.

Where have all those phrases gone? Long time passing. Where have all those phrases gone? Long time ago: Pshaw. The milkman did it. Think about the starving Armenians. Bigger than a bread box. Banned in Boston. The very idea! It's your nickel. Don't forget to pull the chain. Knee high to a grasshopper. Turn-of-the-century. Iron curtain. Domino theory. Fail safe. Civil defense. Fiddlesticks! You look like the wreck of the Hesperus. Cooties. Going like sixty. I'll see you in the funny papers. Don't take any wooden nickels. Heavens to Murgatroyd! And awa-a-ay we go!

Oh, my stars and garters!

It turns out there are more of these lost words and expressions than Carter had liver pills. This can be disturbing stuff, this winking out of the words of our youth, these words that lodge in our heart's deep core. But just as one never steps into the same river twice, one cannot step into the same language twice. Even as one enters, words are swept downstream into the past, forever making a different river.

We, of a certain age, have been blessed to live in changeful times. For a child each new word is like a shiny toy, a toy that has no age. We at the other end of the chronological arc have the advantage of remembering there are words that once did not exist and there were words that once strutted their hour upon the earthly stage and now are heard no more, except in our collective memory. It's one of the greatest advantages of aging. We can have archaic and eat it, too.

 See ya later, alligator!

by Richard Lederer



Tags: Idioms


Viewing 1 - 7 out of 7 Comments

12/28/2018 09:18:24

Yuupers!  Hit the nail on the head.  Ever played Lost Positives?  e.g.  Do we say you look very "kempt"?  Unkempt yes but...  Cheers, Anne

06/25/2018 15:21:10

I loved this - thanks so much for posting this.  I am unfortunately (or fortuneate) enough to remember almost all of these old sayings.  I can remember hearing them from my grandparents or other older folks I grew up with and this brought back alot of memories.  Shared them with my other half - he remembers them too.  Hope it's ok to copy them and send them to my sisters and friends so they can get as much a kick out of them as I did.  You certainly are the cat's pajama's!

06/16/2018 11:12:48

I'm so glad that you shared this with us. I've had a few 'giggles' with some of them, especially the ones that my Dad used. It sure brought back memories, adding to the nostalgia of this weekend.

I love words too, but your posting pointed me in a different direction. Words, especially on social media such as NOTH, are a wonderful way to learn about 'new' friends, even though we may never meet. Something like penpals in our early life!

06/06/2018 22:48:30

I love your blog too Beth and still use many of these phrases .... I often leave my Grands wondering just what I'm on about. lol

05/22/2018 15:44:25

Great one, bud. I'm glad you appreciated it... and shared.

05/14/2018 12:59:51

What memories you're blog has induced.  I love it and yes, it's the cat's meow, LOL.  It is hard to invoke any conversation at all now as many have their heads down in a phone, tablet, or device of their choice.  The skill of communication has declined.  Speech is no longer necessary, an icon will suffice.  Love your blog, and miss those days.

🤷 😃 ❤️


05/10/2018 00:20:50

Oh I couldn't agree more with this. Australia has so many unique 'slang' words and Phrases and sadly these have been dissapearing over the years especially in the last 25 or so. We have become such a multi cultural country although this really didn't seem to matter previously as most new settlers adapted to our language and 'slang' words  and were proud to say them. I think as my daughter said its the modern trend of text messages that has been the main cause of the decline. Most of the phrases that are in your blog are also well known and were and many still are being used here

Great Blog . I really enjoyed it.

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