Written Rambles

Words That Make You Sound Old-Fashioned

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong decade. No, I don’t mean the 1980s (as much as I would like to say “groovy” on a daily basis) but rather, the 1800s or little after. Sure, they didn’t have self-cleaning litterboxes or Siri or anything else vitally important to my life back then. Instead, they had something infinitely better: a cutesy, old-fashioned vocabulary.


So, you finally meet up with the mysterious stranger you’ve been chatting with online for the past couple of weeks. Mid-way through your date, there’s a lull in your conversation. The small talk topics are becoming scarce and you begin to get nervous. (Not the pre-proposal kind of nervousness but the kind that you get when you’re coming close to the end of a Scrabble game and you have to reach inside the bag to pick up one of the last three remaining letters with hopes that one of them is one you can use.) The silence becomes deafening, the other tables are laughing at you from afar and you can’t even stuff your face with food to fill the awkwardness because your meals haven’t come yet. Just when you think the night is doomed, your date looks up and says, “I ate a really great sandwich a fortnight ago.” At this point, a flock of butterflies swarms in through a nearby window, wedding music starts to play and Morgan Freeman begins to narrate the rest of your date. Had he simply said “I ate a really great sandwich two weeks ago,” you would’ve been asking for the check and hurrying to your car. What a difference word choice can make after all.


I’m a big advocate for planning how you’re going to raise your currently non-existent children. (Example: My plan when I have kids is to first move to a middle-of-nowhere town where the technology is 50 years behind, get rid of every television and computer, and tell my children that Disney movies are the only movies that exist.) A key part of my plan will be to teach my kids to say “cuss” instead of “swear”. I don’t mind so much if they do either of those things, as long as they tell their friends that they heard Mary Sue cuss the other day under her breath because then I have the full right to send them to school in trousers and vests without any remorse whatsoever.


Picture every Englishman you have ever fantasized about. Tall. Dark hair. Handsome face. Flawless suit. Slightly pompous stature. This is what dapper looks like. If you want an example, imagine Channing Tatum in a suit. Yes, the guy from Magic Mike. No, I said with a suit on. Stop mentally undressing him. Listen, this is not going to work if you do not cooperate. You know what, never mind. If you’re still unsure about what I’m saying, just think “swag” but classier.


I’m smitten with the word smitten, you guys. If I could ever marry a word, it would be this one and we would send out yearly Christmas cards filled with kittens in mittens who are smitten because I like to keep things consistent. Smitten is a less cheesy way of describing a dedicated couple. “Amelia and Constance are head over heels for each other.” Too exaggerated. “Amelia and Constance are two peas in a pod.” No. Whose idea was it to compare love to food? “Amelia and Constance are just crazy for each other.” Really? Like, they go crazy when they see each other? They foam at the mouth and everything? “Amelia is the cheese to Constance’s macaroni.” That one gets nerd points but is still too overwhelming. “Amelia and Constance are smitten.” Perfect. Bingo. I believe that. Let them wed. When’s the wedding? See you there. I’ll bring fondue.


Okay, so this one isn’t that old (I have a friend who claims that her family still says supper instead of dinner but she’s from Maine so it doesn’t really count). Yet, for some reason I still can’t shake the image of a young boy running over to his mother at the end of the day and asking, “Mum, what are we having for supper?” in a cute, innocent way. Now, all we have is its evolved counterpart, “Mom, what’re we havin’ for dinner?” which just verges on annoying, if you ask me.

I’m not saying that I don’t like the vocabulary of today’s culture necessarily. (There is a whole corner of my mind dedicated to fabulous words like clobber and rendezvous but I’ll save that discussion for a later date.) I’m just saying that none of them make me want to dress up in a poofy dress and hold my pinky up while I drink tea. And while I understand my perception of “old-fashioned” may be a bit anachronistic (I don’t even know if half of these words existed in the 1800s or if my mental image of “old-fashioned” is anything close to what that term actually means), I also understand that it is not the only perception. What words do you associate with this term? What does being “old-fashioned” even mean? Personally, I think the world would be a slightly better place if we all set aside time to eat supper, discuss dapper men and appreciate the long lost ye olde fashioned vocabulary of the past.

Image via Shutterstock

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509635672 Ashley Barrett

    My friends and I totally still say supper! But we are from Newfoundland, Canada…so maybe it is an eastern seaboard thing? :) Anyway, funny article!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=514758973 Wanda Fraser

      I’m in Nova Scotia. Most people say supper here as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=516195042 Jennifer McIntyre

    It may be a Canadian thing then, I’m from Ontario and I say supper.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=176000173 Katie Rowen

    I am from South Dakota and we still say supper. I heard it was a rural/farming thing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1730635548 Nikolina Serdar

    I live in Germany and the German language has so many wonderful old words that hardly anyone knows any more but I still love them. But when you majored in German literature and use words like “erkiesen”, everyone thinks you’re the nerdiest nerd living on this planet. 😀

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1008753657 Anastasia Alaniz

    There are so many other words you could have put on this. Granted, a lot of them it depends on the context. But nevertheless, this is a nice article. I’ve always fancied myself something of an old-fashioned speaker in some ways. I’m always told that I use some words/phrases that make me sound old timey.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=41305474 Jessica Leigh Miller

    I’m from South Dakota as well and I, too, still say supper (high-five Katie Rowan!). My boyfriend has been using the term “fortnight” lately more as a joke than anything, but I have a love for old fashioned vocabulary as well. I love using the phrase ” than the dickens”, which I think is something my grandparents said growing up, and they still say it from time to time (“It’s hotter than the dickens outside!” etc). Love it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1010965461 Samantha Mann

    Oh my goodness, I totally laughed at your “dapper” description. I also might be stealing your future child-rearing plans.

    I fell in love with the idea of saying “cuss” instead of actually swearing after seeing “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, and I’m trying to get my students to say it instead of actual swears. (Which makes me a total hypocrite, ‘cuz I cuss like a cussing sailor in my private time.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1464791604 Jeremy Choo

    I’m british and i say all of those words (minus cuss and dapper) and i’m 15. mad world

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=539465729 Claire Tandy

    Yeah, I think they are all words that are still found a lot more regularly in Britain than the rest of the English-speaking world. Fortnight, especially, is far easier to say that “two weeks”…


    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=539465729 Claire Tandy

      ^^ *than, not that >.< ^^


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=640317305 Lane Valentine Hunt

    I say cuss, but I always assumed that was a Southern thing. My mom always said supper (dinner) and dinner (lunch). I also grew up calling the trunk of a car the boot, but that may be because my mom’s family hasn’t been in the US that long. I say dapper and smitten pretty regularly, too. Gonna have to work on getting fortnight into my vocabulary!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=666372214 Romelle Frazee Blanton

    You are very young indeed (another word that makes you sound old) if you think “groovy” is an 80’s word. It is associated with the Hippie era and would have gotten severe eye rolls in the 80’s. I know, I was there.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004080608735 Christopher Brooks

      Exactly. The Brady Bunch said groovy, not the Keatons.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1343714653 Abigail Chance

    When I have to lock up my shop to run out for something (lunch, etc), I put up a sign that says “Back in Two Shakes of a Lamb’s Tail”. I think it does something to soften the blow of finding the door locked during business hours just a little bit! I once saw a woman taking a picture of it, so I guess she must have been amused…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=791170226 Elizabeth Reed

    in northern Maine (where I’m originally from), many people call the mid-day meal (lunch) “dinner,” and the evening meal “supper.” I don’t say “dinner” for lunch, but I do tend to use “supper” and “dinner” interchangeably. I’m from a town right on the New Brunswick (Canada) border, and know a lot of people across the border also say “breakfast/dinner/supper,” too.

    I had NO idea “supper” was an archaic term (outside Maine/Canada). The rural/farming thing sounds about right. We’re surrounded by potato fields up there!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=791170226 Elizabeth Reed

    “slacks” and “dungarees” are old-timer words to me, too. There’s another “old” term that’s regularly used in the south for something – but I can’t remember what it is. I want to say it’s a word for a piece of clothing/outerwear.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604445906 Ivan Remtoula

    I use “dinner” instead of “supper”, and I try to use US English instead of British English (I live in France, and I’ve been told to make a choice between those 2 varieties of English). But, I also think that the type of English they spoke centuries ago was classier than today’s English

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=560295292 Linda Moore

    Yep, I don’t really, ever say “dinner”. It’s breakfast, lunch and supper. Didn’t know that was a Canadian thing. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=697974256 Ceri Evans

    I’m Welsh and we say ‘tea’ instead of ‘dinner’. Some regions of England do the same.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002601949695 Hannah Ailene Schwartz

    I’m from Michigan and I use all of these words except “fortnight” quite frequently.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506585130 Colleen Sweeney

    My grandma is from Virginia, so she says ‘supper’, which my mom uses on occasion. She also says ‘Cuss’. I pretty much use these words except for ‘fortnight’ almost every day and I am from the United States. I guess it’s because most of today’s modern words are ridiculous.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505098098 Livi Flynn

    I spent the summer in Virginia and all my friends there said cuss.. One girl in particular would get so aerated and say “he cussed me out!!”, I found it pretty funny 😀 My friend genuinely talks like he’s Victorian, such as “don’t let’s”

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