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#1 2007-11-07 16:15:42

JonW719
Eggcornista
From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-09-05
Posts: 285

Words that have fallen out of favor

Every now and then when reading, particularly an older book, I come across a word that used to be very common but for whatever reason has fallen out of favor. I’m not saying you never see them, but they’re so rare that when you do read them, you notice. For the most part, I’m not really talking about slang, mind you, which often has a short shelf life. I’m talking about legitimate standard words that seem to have faded a away.

Some happen because of technology changes (ditto, mimeograph). Others occur because a word sounds suspiciously like a different, offensive word (“niggardly,” meaning miserly or tightfisted, comes to mind, though it should be noted the roots and meaning are nowhere near the offensive word). Others, who knows?

Off the top of my head, here are a few words that seem to have lost favor with writers and/or readers:

Crestfallen (disappointed)
Cross (grumpy)
Chum (friend)
Glum (unhappy)
Davenport (a couch or sofa)

What words have collectively gone missing from current writings and/or speech that you have noticed?


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#2 2007-11-07 23:03:32

klakritz
Eggcornista
From: Winchester Massachusetts
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 674

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

Obsolescent words are indeed prime candidates for eggcorning. Among those you list, I posted ‘chestfallen’ for ‘crestfallen’ in 2005.
It’s in the old user forum which you can get to by googling ‘crestfallen’ on the lower search window on the main page.

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#3 2007-11-07 23:37:21

JonW719
Eggcornista
From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-09-05
Posts: 285

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

I agree that these are obsolescent words; I don’t think I’d say these were obsolete yet. I believe most people would still know what they were, etc., but they might find them a little old fashioned or nerdy. I’m thinking of words that were prevalent in the middle of the 20th century (as opposed to 1920s slang such as zoot suit) and have not been embraced by recent generations.

I was born in the 1960s, and all those words were still pretty much in common use at that time, though perhaps more in writing than in speech. (In fact, they all were used prevalently in the Hardy Boys books, which I loved.) Here is a fake but believable passage from a Hardy Boys book that uses all four examples:

Crestfallen, Chet sat down heavily on the Hardys’ beige davenport with a sigh. His chums waited expectedly for some explanation for his behavior but were greeted with silence. Finally, Joe said crossly, “Chet, would you hurry up and tell us why you’re so glum?”

Last edited by JonW719 (2007-11-07 23:56:08)


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#4 2007-11-21 23:44:13

Tom Neely
Eggcornista
From: Detroit
Registered: 2006-09-01
Posts: 121

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

Jon W,
Yikes! You are younger and hipper than I. I am comfortable with all of your examples. I do not think any of them are very far out of date.

Your concept is interesting nonetheless. My grandparents used to say things were “ducky” (= nifty, cool, whatever). That probably is old slang. How about Pocketbook for Purse? Extremities for Arms And Legs? Here’s an expression from my father’s time: “Pound sand.” People still say this every once in a while, but nobody knows anymore what it means.

“Go pound sand!” used to be some sort of an insult. What does it mean?

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#5 2007-11-29 16:18:14

JonW719
Eggcornista
From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-09-05
Posts: 285

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

Ah yes, pocketbook is a GREAT example. My mom used to say that. All these are perfectly good words, but you don’t see or hear them much anymore. I’ve never heard “pound sand,” though.

Last edited by JonW719 (2007-11-29 16:19:13)


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#6 2007-12-11 14:39:24

DamianLu
Member
Registered: 2007-12-11
Posts: 2

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

“Pound sand” might mean “go away.” As you walk away your feet will literally be pounding sand. It sounds pretty close to “kick rocks” to me.

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#7 2007-12-11 16:40:05

Craig C Clarke
Eggcornista
Registered: 2005-11-19
Posts: 232
Website

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

I’ve heard my family elders (sorry) say “pound salt.”

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#8 2007-12-12 23:36:45

booboo
Eggcornista
From: Austin, Tx
Registered: 2007-04-01
Posts: 179

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

Chifforobe(amoire w/drawers), Divan (backless sofa), yonder (well known, out of use).

The furniture words falling out of favor could do with the fact that we now use closets, and backless sofas are out of style.

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#9 2007-12-13 16:20:25

JonW719
Eggcornista
From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-09-05
Posts: 285

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

Hi, Blandford…. So you’re a transplant too, huh? I thought maybe you were still in Mich.

My mom (raised on a farm during the depression) has breakfast, DINNER, and supper. When I talk with her on the phone, I have to mentally translate that when she tells me what she had for DINNER, she means “lunch.” (She also referred to my dad’s carrying a dinner pail to work. Come to think of it, “lunch pail” or “lunch bucket” is another word that is disappearing…..)

I think to many people dinner carries more formal connotations, and is often later, while friends might invite friends over for a light supper, which is often earlier in the evening and less formal.


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#10 2007-12-13 21:47:43

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

The dinner/supper thing is a central part of an anecdote in my own family. My parents both grew up in the Midwest, but many of my relatives have moved to California—especially to the southern Central Valley, the part of the state that most looks like the North Plains. Decades ago, some of my Midwestern cousins were out in California for a vacation, and they had been invited to the home of some of the Californians for dinner. They showed up around 1 PM, but nobody was home and the door was locked. They waited for a while, but finally assumed they were being purposely snubbed and left. Meanwhile, the Californians were out shopping for that night’s special meal. They had everything ready by 6, but no one ever showed or called. Offended, they crossed my country cousins off the Christmas card list, and that decision was apparently mutual.

Years later (we’re talking 10 or 15 years later, I think) the paths of two of my cousins from opposite sides of the divide crossed, and they got to talking about the family feud. They eventually realized that regionalisms were to blame: the Midwesterners ate dinner in the afternoon and supper in the evening. Fortunately, today the story is all that remains of the rift. I imagine that this kind of thing would be much less likely to occur in the age of the self-phone.

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#11 2007-12-13 22:36:38

JonW719
Eggcornista
From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-09-05
Posts: 285

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

That’s a great story. (Sounds like fodder for a novel.) George Bernard Shaw called Americans and Brits two peoples separated by a common language (or something like that), but it goes to show you that even within a country, regional meanings can vary widely, and in your story, two peoples were divided by the same word!


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#12 2007-12-17 20:03:12

JonW719
Eggcornista
From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-09-05
Posts: 285

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

OK… thought of a couple more disfavored words…. Galoshes (a type of pull-over boot) and (same meaning) rubbers. With the latter, it’s easy to see why people no longer refer to protective boots as rubbers! With the former, it’s probably fallen out of favor because people don’t tend to wear boots over their shoes much anymore (do they??).


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#13 2007-12-18 17:18:43

TootsNYC
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-06-19
Posts: 263

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

no, they don’t wear boots over their shoes, much to my chagrin; that’s the kind of boots I wish I could have.

We called them, as kids, “four-buckle overshoes,” though we did know the term “galoshes” as well. And, I find lots of Google hits for “four-buckle overshoes,” so I see we were not alone.

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#14 2007-12-31 01:58:07

JonW719
Eggcornista
From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-09-05
Posts: 285

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

I don’t mean to keep bumping this topic, but it is one that interests me, and I came across another word this evening to add to the list. I sat down and started watching “The Shaggy Dog” (1959) on Turner Classic Movies, and heard the main character tell another character that he had found a magical ring because it fell into the cuff of his trousers. While trousers is not obsolete, it is slowly fading from use. People will say pants or slacks instead.

I also thought of the word parcel when I saw it in an eggcorn listing on this site (“part and parcel” is probably its most common usage these days, and the potential eggcorn was “part and partial”). People say package, box, etc. I wonder how many people even know that UPS stands for “United Parcel Service”?

Last edited by JonW719 (2007-12-31 02:00:53)


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#15 2007-12-31 10:37:57

Craig C Clarke
Eggcornista
Registered: 2005-11-19
Posts: 232
Website

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

I used to work in a small town where people called it “the ups truck.” Ups, as in opposite of downs. I think they actually thought the company was just called “Ups.”

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#16 2008-04-16 20:07:39

sarhar
Member
Registered: 2008-04-16
Posts: 2

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

I’m familiar with “divan” for a sofa; My grandmother said that one and she placed the emphasis incorrectly on the first syllable: DI-van.

The supper/dinner debate is hilarious, too; In our family (in northwest Virginia), we had supper every night and only had dinner on Sundays after church. Nowadays, I tend to think of supper as a light evening meal and dinner as a heavy one.

“Carbon copy” runs along the same lines as ditto or mimeograph; carbons were still used in the late 70s when I was in grade school. (does anyone else say “grade school” to mean elementary school?)

Last edited by sarhar (2008-04-16 20:19:42)

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#17 2008-04-16 20:57:02

JonW719
Eggcornista
From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-09-05
Posts: 285

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

I’m glad to see my topic still has life in it… :-)

I don’t know how much “grade school” is used anymore. Do kids say it? But it reminded me that “grammar school” used to be fairly common and is rarely heard anymore. (Although perhaps in British usage it is more common, though it might have a different meaning…?)


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#18 2008-04-17 00:36:29

Craig C Clarke
Eggcornista
Registered: 2005-11-19
Posts: 232
Website

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

strumpet

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#19 2008-04-17 14:32:37

Lisa
Member
Registered: 2007-04-25
Posts: 19

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

settee (like a sofa)

Chesterfield (also like a sofa?)

frigidaire (genericizing the Frigidaire company’s refrigerator)

fallen woman (but I guess this distinction is no longer in use)

This is a fun thread. I hope to see (and think of) more contributions!
—Lisa

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#20 2008-04-18 09:34:16

Peter Forster
Eggcornista
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 809

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

Jon, as I seem to be the site’s token Brit it falls to me to respond to your “Grammar School’ query. Prior to the late 60s Grammar Schools here were selective secondary schools winkling out some of the academically gifted by means of an exam taken by all children at the age of 11: the ‘11+’. ‘Comprehensive’ education provision replaced the old system but some Grammar Schools remain state schools in some areas. ‘Public’ schools of course are private over here. That’s enough education.

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#21 2008-04-21 17:37:06

JonW719
Eggcornista
From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-09-05
Posts: 285

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

Thanks, Peter. Sometimes I feel like the US and Britain are often linguistic mirror images of one another where public here is private there, politicians run for office here and stand for it there (right?), etc., sort of like Alice in the looking glass. (The differences between our dialects could make a very interesting topic in its own right.)


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#22 2008-04-28 21:44:35

SkookumPete
Member
Registered: 2006-11-22
Posts: 9

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

In 1950s western Canada we called galoshes “overshoes”, and the smaller things that slipped on over dress shoes were called “toe rubbers”. Of course, in those days even children wore “oxfords” unless they had a good reason to be wearing “sneakers” or “runners”.

Last edited by SkookumPete (2008-04-28 21:46:17)

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#23 2008-04-29 21:30:41

burred
Eggcornista
From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 930

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

Nice (intentional?) eggcorn hidden in a reply to this post above: We’re in the age of the “self-phone”. Beautiful! Sounds like the right accoutrement for the “Me Generation”!

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#24 2008-04-30 00:10:40

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

Very intentional. “Self phone” is one of my favorite entries in the Database.

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#25 2008-05-08 14:23:14

ukexpat
Member
Registered: 2006-03-08
Posts: 9

Re: Words that have fallen out of favor

JonW719 wrote:

I don’t mean to keep bumping this topic, but it is one that interests me, and I came across another word this evening to add to the list. I sat down and started watching “The Shaggy Dog” (1959) on Turner Classic Movies, and heard the main character tell another character that he had found a magical ring because it fell into the cuff of his trousers. While trousers is not obsolete, it is slowly fading from use. People will say pants or slacks instead.

Maybe so in the US, but in the UK, “trousers” is definitely a commonly used word. In fact for us “pants” are what one wears under one’s trousers.

Last edited by ukexpat (2008-05-08 14:24:43)

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