Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Lost Words from our Childhood


This article sent to me by my brother, was written by Richard Lederer, an author, speaker and teacher who has written extensively about words, origins, puns, and so on. Being of about the same generation as Mr. Lederer, I include it here because it includes a number of phrases that are familiar to me but have gone out of style.

 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."

Back in the old days we had a lot of moxie. We'd put on our best bib and tucker to straighten up and fly right - Heavens to Betsy!

Gee whillikers! Jumping Jehoshaphat! Holy moley! We were in like Flynn 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 old 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 day of spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes and pedal pushers. Oh, my aching back. Kilroy was here, but he isn't anymore.

We wake up from what surely has been just a short nap and before we can say, "Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle! This is a fine kettle of fish!" - we discover that the words we grew up with, the words that seemed as omnipresent as oxygen have vanished with scarcely a notice from our tongues and our pens and our keyboards.

Poof, go the words of our youth, the words we've left behind. We blink, and they're gone. Where have all those phrases gone?

Long gone: Pshaw! The milkman did it. Hey, it's your nickel. Don't forget to pull the chain. Knee high to a grasshopper. Well, fiddlesticks! Going like sixty. I'll see you in the funny papers. Don't take any wooden nickels. Heavens to Murgatroyd!

It turns out there are more of these lost words and expressions than Carter has liver pills. This can be disturbing stuff! We of a certain age have been blessed to live in changing 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. Now they are heard no more, except in our collective memory. It's one of the greatest advantages of aging.

See ya later, alligator.

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