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.

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