Earlier this year (AKA a few days ago . . . say yes to cheesy 2015 jokes), Wayne State University released their annual list of awesome words that have fallen out of usage but are worth reviving. In addition to their top 10 forgotten words, the school’s website provided an even larger list filled with dozens of terms that are now considered dated and uncommon. I pored over the list and have found my very favorite outdated words that I can completely imagine all of us using in daily life.
Now, I may have already failed two of my New Year’s resolutions but I’ll be damned if I will let some of these amazing words die before they’ve had a chance to truly live! Let’s bring these beautiful bad boys back, everyday English will be so much snazzier with them in it.
1.) Chelonian (adj.): like a turtle
Turtles are highly under-appreciated creatures. I mean, they literally carry their homes around on their backs and they never even complain. Not to mention, they’re forced to listen to us tell them how slow they are all the time. Turtles put up with a lot. The least we can do is integrate them into our vocabulary, perhaps even as a compliment.
2.) Flapdoodle (n.): nonsense
The word “nonsense” really deserves a synonym that’s more, well, nonsensical. If you ask me, any word that even remotely sounds like this one would be a better alternative to the word nonsense. Slapmoodle. Clapwoodle. Mapboodle. Rappoodle. The possibilities are endless.
3) Panoply (n.): an impressive array
I originally chose this word because I mentally pronounced it as “ponopoly”and the idea of a Monopoly spin-off game seemed intriguing. Unfortunately, that is not the proper pronunciation, but I’m going to keep it on here so as to not hurt its feelings. Panoply refers to an impressive array of something, like “a panoply of used Starbucks cups” or “a panoply of litterboxes” if you’re a cat lady.
4) Weltschmerz (n.): the melancholy feeling when you realize that life and the world will never be what you’d like them to be
Also referred to as “the inherent sadness of mortality,” weltschmerz describes the sudden realization that you will never single-handedly bring world peace or become Jennifer Lawrence’s best friend. It is the realization that you are nothing more than a blip on Earth’s timeline. Basically, it’s the feeling you get every time you look into the mirror for too long and realize how weird it is to be a human. The Germans really know how to coin terms for incredibly specific emotions.
5) Woolgathering (v.): idle daydreaming
“Billy, are you even listening to me?? Pay attention!”
“Sorry Mrs. Smith. I was just woolgathering.”
How “daydreaming” becomes “woolgathering,” I’ll never know. Do you enter some weird daze where you start picking wool? Like when you’ve been playing Guitar Hero for so long that you start mindlessly hitting the keys? Or when you binge watch a whole TV series and end up putting your brain on autopilot until it’s over? These are important questions.
6) Flibbertigibbet (n.): a scatterbrained or ditzy person
I’m fairly certain Porky Pig has said this at one point. If not, he should. It would really sound great coming from Porky Pig.
7) Bumbershoot (n.): umbrella
“It’s raining pretty hard outside. Let me just open up my bumbershoot.” Everything after this point in the conversation is moot, because people are probably too busy laughing to even pay attention to you. Imagine how many classic songs we could make better with this simple word change. Don’t make me sing “Umbrella” with “Bumbershoot” subbed in. Because I will.
8.) Hootenanny (n.): an informal gathering with folk music and sometimes dancing
You might have heard a grandparent say this word once or twice. Regardless, I think we need to bring it back into young people use. Asking someone out for drinks would be so much easier if, instead of a “casual get-together,” you could invite them to a “hootenanny” at your place.
9.) Gobbledygook (n.): incomprehensible jargon bordering on gibberish
Gobbledygook is really just a form of gobbledygook. I don’t even need to provide another example. How convenient.