9 old-fashioned words we should bring back

old fashioned words we should bring back

Bored of using the same old words for the same old things?

Perhaps it's time to go retro with your language (assuming you're sassy enough to go 'word rogue', that is)?

Although they sound as though they've scuttled straight out of the pages of Harry Potter, many of these words are British street slang from the 19th century. I've also thrown a few American ones in for good measure (and also because they were irresistible).

I had way too much fun writing this post.


1. Shackbaggerly

I'm kicking things off with a particularly good one—shackbaggerly is an olden times word which hails from the British Midlands and means 'disorderly' or 'messy'. Slagging colleagues off at the coffee machine can now be educational andsophisticated.

Oh my days, did you see Sarah this morning? She's so shackbaggerly it's unreal.


2. Monkeyshines

This isn't some prohibited, bathtub liquor brewed by monkeys. It's a fun name for hijinks or mischief and it comes to you fresh from 19th century America.

Bro, I'm sick of your monkeyshines.


3. Copper-clawing

Anyone who dares go out into the streets after 11pm on a Friday and Saturday night will get to see 'copper-clawing' in real life. According to the Routlege Dictionary of Historical Slang, this term was born circa 1820 and was used to describe a 'girl fight'.

Jane and Sarah had a right old copper-clawing on Friday night. It was savage!


4. Uglyography

Doctors suffer from uglyography pretty badly (as do a few developers I could mention). It's another zinger from the 19th century and is the official name for the unfortunate combo of poor spelling and bad handwriting.

Your poems would be sick if it weren't for your uglyography.


5. Cattywampus

Next time you come across something wonky or crooked, try switching things up and throwing this olden times word into the mix. According to Merriam-Webster, this word started life as the name English gamblers gave to the side of a dice with four dots on it. The dots were perfectly aligned to make straight diagonals with one another. Years of word evolution have left us with 'cattywampus'.

I suck at origami because I fold the paper all cattywampus.


6. Humbuggery

Dishonest chatter and deceptive behaviour are, plain and simple, a load of humbuggery. At least, that's how it was back in the mid-18th century when this word was in popular use.

I came off Tinder because I couldn't be bothered with all the humbuggery.


7. Taradiddle

This one goes out to a pal I used to work with a year or two ago. She discovered the word, was delighted with it and challenged me to use it in an internal company newsletter. It was a challenge I couldn't refuse.

Taradiddle means 'pretentious nonsense', and is best experienced inside the meeting rooms of those who enjoy using buzz words and jargon.

The agency spouted taraddidle like there was no tomorrow.


8. Giggle Water

Another American contender—the British don't always have the monopoly on weird and wonderful words. This rather delightful term was coined during the prohibition and is used as slang for alcohol.

I got right up on the giggle water and made a total dick of myself.


9. Gruttling

There's no way you're not going to use this when you find out what it means. 'Gruttling' is the official old English word for a weird noise that can't be explained. Make of that what you will.

I heard a gruttling from under the duvet cover, and decided not to lift it.

Emma Cownley