I was in the company of an older gent this week, who was pleased with the news of Covid-19 vaccinations. He was amazed, though, to learn of the many types of vaccines the Government has bought.
He said, “There are more vaccines than you can shake a stick at.” It made me wonder when was the last time I heard the phrase “shake a stick at”? Which in turn made me think of other words and sayings that are going out of fashion.
No one puts on a swank these days. You don’t often hear of people being “on the make”, or of gaps you could “drive a coach and horses through”.
Some items disappeared, and their names went with them. I can’t recall the last time I saw a man wear a cummerbund. In my apprentice days very small type was called ruby. And garrets became compact apartments.
My father called strong tea “gunfire”, which I think was wartime slang. Jumble sales have been replaced by car boot sales. Hotels are no longer described as plush. I miss all these words.
A lot of the terms I grew up with were dialect.
No one has told me to skedaddle in a while, and there isn’t a factor to be feart of. No one jouks to avoid a skite. I used to be bawled at for clapping strange dogs. Sometimes I didn’t need a bath, just a dicht. No one gets the tawse. Puddles aren’t dubs. People who live on pletties don’t call them pletties. I don’t know what prefabs are now called. But at least nothing can be lost down a cundie.
I used to think Mutton Jeff was a hard-of-hearing Dundee butcher. I’d never heard of the cartoon characters Mutt and Jeff, and didn’t understand rhyming slang anyway.
The one word I’m most sorry to lose is “scrambly”. After a wedding, handfuls of pennies and hupnies, or perhaps thrupnies and tanners at a posh do, were scattered on the pavement by the best man. The scrambly was what made a good wedding for a wee laddie. No one does this nowadays. Probably just as well, I’d be in the gutter with the rest of the urchins.
The thing about a list of fading words is that the definition of “old fashioned” depends upon you.
You might still use words like kenspeckle, ashet, kist, simmet, and cuddy every day. That’s because your vocabulary includes words learned long ago. In other words, you’re old. I mean that as a compliment.
Word of the week
Of, or occurring in, the month preceding the current one. EG: “I use words common in ultimo days, or even before that.”
Read the latest Oh my word! every Saturday in The Courier. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org