"Bricky" and other fabulous old-fashioned compliments that time forgot
Earlier this week, I was strolling down the Internet for column ideas and stumbled upon a list by BBC writer Fraser McAlpine called 10 Old English Insults That Could Be Band Names. Music, British culture, and fun words? I couldn’t resist such a perfect combination. The article was as hilarious as I’d imagined, and it inspired me to hunt for other old-fashioned compliments that were just as entertaining. (I’ve covered old-fashioned, non-insulting insults in the past so this was the logical next step.) Sure enough, history didn’t disappoint.
Myn Lykyng (n.): the person you fancy
Taken from an old 15th century ballad, myn lykyng refers to a person that you are fond of or cherish. Lykyng on its own means “the thing which is pleasing to me.” When paired with “myn,” the phrase literally translates to “the one I delight in, the one who gives me pleasure.” The key is to say this phrase eloquently without getting tongue-tied. Do that and you’ll have your crush chasing after your coattails in no time.
Bellibone (n.): a woman excelling in both beauty and goodness
Have you ever wondered why we call the funny bone the funny bone? Apparently, it derives from this English word meaning “an all around amazing woman” because someone that perfect gives you a “funny” feeling in your belly and sends a shiver up your spine and into your bones. Well, okay, maybe that’s not how “funny bone” originated but I like to think that the two words are related somehow, like maybe they’re second cousins once removed.
Bricky (adj.): tough, courageous
These days, when you want to compliment someone on their bravery or determination, you say that they have a “steely resolve.” The Victorians came up with a word that was a little less creative: bricky. If you’re wondering what deep, emotional meaning this word has, stop. Unfortunately, “bricky” is exactly what it looks like. If a person is “bricky” it means they are tough, like a brick.
Dillydoun (n.): little lullaby
Forget “sweet darling” or “my little cherry pie.” Dillydoun is an old English term meaning “lullaby” that’s typically used to refer to innocent-looking children. Use “dillydoun” next time your neighbor’s son walks his grandma across the street and you’ll be helping to rid the world of phrases like “snookums” and “sweetie pie.”
Leof (n.): a dear person
Leof doesn’t sound like a term of endearment. Leof sounds like the name of a bodybuilder who’s been assigned to carry you from your bedchambers to the dinner table every night or the buff, a lumberjack who fetches firewood for your family, or the charming royal who wants to save you from your parents cruel, arranged marriage and sweep you off your feet like some bona-fide folklore hero. I claim dibs on Leof, everyone.
Snuggery (n.): a particularly cute and comfortable home
If this word doesn’t make you curl your toes and giggle to yourself, someone needs to teach you how to appropriately respond to adorable things because it doesn’t sound like you’re doing a very good job. Back in the day, calling someone’s house a snuggery was equivalent to calling somebody’s house today “quaint” or “a place where I could see myself raising my kids.” If you said it now, people might think you’re referring to your secret “cuddle puddle” room dedicated solely to snuggling which, now that I’m saying it, might not actually be a bad idea.
Pippin (n.): a person of high esteem and admiration
What I like most about the definition of “Pippin” is imagining what Peregrine “Pippin” Took from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series would say if he found out his name actually meant “a person of high esteem.” I’m guessing he’d order a few pints in celebration, but not before teasing Merry about his name in comparison. “Your name just means happy. Mine means ‘a greatly admired person.’”
Wonder-wench (n.): a sweetheart
Wonder-wench, the next big superhero movie from Marvel coming to a theater near you!
Snoutfair (n.): a person with a handsome face
I can see it now. “Prince, I love you endlessly. You have a snout so fair, it would make anyone cry.”