Saturday, June 11, 2005

What's Wordsworth's Words Worth?

Back in the good old days life was a real gas. It was flipsville and endsville. Our friends were the bees knees, the cat's pajamas, and the cat's meow. It's funny that none of us ever found out who won those submarine races. When we were knee-high to a grasshopper we were always reminded to pull the chain, and not to take any wooden nickels. The boys wore knickers and sported a DA. The girls' fashions included poodle skirts and pedal pushers and on their heads they had pageboys or beehives. Parting company wasn't noted with a simple good-bye, it was catch you in the funny papers or see you later alligator.
~ Oh my stars! The English language is an ever-changing reflection of the times. Each generation brings with it a unique vernacular and slang. To be hip, you to talk hip if you wanted to be a part of the in-crowd. Remember when hunk meant a large lump of something? Crack was a small opening. Ice was frozen water. Pot was a cooking utensil. Rap meant to knock on a surface. Do you recall that pound was British currency or a measure of weight? Now it is that tilted tick-tack-toe thingy above the 3 on a keyboard or beneath the 9 on a telephone.
~ A stay-at-home mom used to be a housewife or a homemaker. Somewhere along the way the stewardess morphed into a flight attendant. When I was a boy, my mother wasn't pregnant, but in a family way or expecting, and it was the stork she was expecting.
~ We had our own words for money: greenbacks, cabbage, moolah, dough, ticket to ride, jingles (coins). Today the kids use: cheddar, shekels, benjamins, dead presidents, duckets, ends, grain, paper, scrilla, and they kept dough.
~ Yes, the times they are a-changing as we try to keep up with the lingo of the kids today.
~ The following disappearing words and phrases still hold meaning to some of us:
~ Jeepers. Swell. Spiffy. Hunky-dory. Groovy. It's your nickel. Pshaw. Nifty. Just ducky. Spooning. Billing and cooing. Flivvers. Hubba-hubba! Moxie. Cut a rug. Straighten up and fly right. Put on your best bib and nickers. Juke joints and Juke boxes. Life of Riley. Copacetic. Kilroy was here. Skate keys. I'll be a monkey's uncle. Candy cigarettes. Passion pit. Lovers' lane. This is a fine kettle of fish. Rumble seats. Peachy-keen. Fountain pens. Nincompoop. Fridgidaires. Victrolas. A dilly. A doozy. Heavens to Betsy. Not for all the tea in china.
( Some of the words and phrases appeared in the article "The Way We Word" by Richard Lederer, appearing in he Mar-Apr '05 AARP Magazine)>
To see how well you know the English language, try the 20-Questions at:

1 comment:

schnoodlepooh said...

Hey, I like to use those old fashioned words and phrases, especially around younger people. It keeps they guessing. My 27 year old coworker did not know what a "greasy spoon" was when I told him where a couple of us were going for lunch. His remark was "that sounds like a good name for a restaurant". Another young lady explained to him that it was a place where you go for a hangover breakfast (I forget the word she used for it) and he understood right away. Funny!