PDA

View Full Version : Archaic Words That Made Comebacks


Markxxx
01-28-2009, 01:49 AM
Are there any words that were considered archaic, fell out of use then made a comeback into general use?

I mean let's say the word "thou" or "thee" which is now archaic (for most things) were to come back and take over it's previous role.

I also mean having the same meaning. Not a world that fell out of favour then came back under a new meaning

foolsguinea
01-28-2009, 03:55 AM
I think it has happened, but understand that sometimes a word survives in some corner of the population, or just isn't in print much for a while, so it's not always clear that it completely left, or really left at all.

Hostile Dialect
01-28-2009, 04:19 AM
Well, "literally" meant "figuratively" a long time ago. That usage was considered archaic until a few years ago, at which point it began to make a comeback. Now people talk of "literally jumping through the roof" and it's perfectly correct, although the resurgence of this archaic usage is recent enough to throw some people off.

Understand, though, that in the case of "thou" and "thee" and things of that ilk, it's not just a word, it's an entire morphological system. "Thou"/"thee" was just your average second-person singular pronoun, and then it took on an air of familiarity while "you" developed as a more formal system for expressing the same thing. Even though it theoretically disappeared in the 17th century, it's still in use in some way-northern English and Scottish dialects. And I'd argue that it has made a resurgence in more mainstream English as, paradoxically, an ultra-formal alternative to "you". Just because it's often used ironically doesn't mean that it isn't part of the language.

And I would argue that the development of constructions like "you guys" and "y'all" is sort of like "thou" and "thee" making a comeback, syntactically speaking. I just wish the English-speaking world could decide on "y'all" as the second-person plural and be done with it, but of course that'll never happen!

Hostile Dialect,
Hostile Dialect, Narcissist

Paul in Qatar
01-28-2009, 06:24 AM
The verb "to wed" is the common example. It supposedly made a comeback with the rise of telegraphs and newspaper headlines which preferred it to "to marry" as it is shorter.

foolsguinea
01-28-2009, 06:56 AM
And there are the words which pick up rude connotations for a while & fall out of polite use, then come back after the rude sense goes out of fashion.

Like "occupy."

Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party
01-28-2009, 07:16 AM
Even though it theoretically disappeared in the 17th century, it's still in use in some way-northern English and Scottish dialects.


"Thou" and "thee" are still very much in use in the dialects in Wigan, northern England, and surrounding towns (not in an ironic "look-at-me-I'm-talking-like-I'm-from-the-sixteenth-century-aren't-I-special" kind of way, neither), for instance. The dialect there is pretty archaic, with plenty of words that have fallen out of usage in standard English centuries ago still surviving in widespread use (e.g. klempt, a variant of clem, to starve, from the Old English berclemmen, related to the German word for pinch (imagine stomach cramps), and the Yiddish word for being overwhelmed with emotion.)

Colophon
01-28-2009, 07:21 AM
"Thou" and "thee" are still very much in use in the dialects in Wigan, northern England, and surrounding towns (not in an ironic "look-at-me-I'm-talking-like-I'm-from-the-sixteenth-century-aren't-I-special" kind of way, neither), for instance.

Indeed, as heard in the song I Predict A Riot by Kaiser Chiefs, who are from Leeds. ("Watching the people get lairy / It's not very pretty I tell thee").


I think there are quite a few words that have come back from the dead (or at least, emerged from specialised uses) because of computers and the internet. "Avatar" is one that immediately springs to mind.

LSLGuy
01-28-2009, 07:58 AM
No cite, but I recall reading 10-15 years ago in a legit source that in the US Wild West era a bunch of Olde English or some such words were revived. "Gulch" being one memorable one, but there were several others.

The current meaning is more or less the same as the ancient one, with the added connotation, at least in the US, of being Wild West-ish.

aldiboronti
01-28-2009, 08:24 AM
Well, "literally" meant "figuratively" a long time ago. That usage was considered archaic until a few years ago, at which point it began to make a comeback. Now people talk of "literally jumping through the roof" and it's perfectly correct, although the resurgence of this archaic usage is recent enough to throw some people off.



Cite?

Here, from the online OED, are all the recorded senses of the word literally.

literally, adv.

1. nonce-uses. a. By the letters (of a name). b. In letters or literature. Obs.

1584 R. SCOT Discov. Witchcr. XVI. iii. (1886) 399 One T. of Canterburie, whose name I will not litterallie discover. 1593 R. HARVEY Philad. 7 And yet I tell you me-thinkes you are very bookishly and literally wise.

2. a. With reference to a report, translation, etc.: In the very words, word for word.

1646 SIR T. BROWNE Pseud. Ep. III. xvi. 145 Which are literally thus translated.

b. transf. With exact fidelity of representation.

1816 BYRON (title) Churchill's Grave, a fact literally rendered.

3. a. In the literal sense.

1533 FRITH Answ. More's Let. C3b, Allthough it were literalye fulfillyd in the childern of Israell..yet was yt allso ment & verified in Christ hym sellfe.

b. Used to indicate that the following word or phrase must be taken in its literal sense.
Now often improperly used to indicate that some conventional metaphorical or hyperbolical phrase is to be taken in the strongest admissible sense. (So, e.g., in quot. 1863.)

1687 DRYDEN Hind & P. III. 107 My daily bread is litt'rally implor'd. 1863 F. A. KEMBLE Resid. in Georgia 105 For the last four years..I literally coined money.


As you can see, none of the above support your assertion.

nofloyd
01-28-2009, 08:31 AM
I've read in a history of English book (by Mario Pei?) that 'handbook' was almost dead in the middle ages?, when Latin and French terms replaced many Old English ones, it was replaced by 'manual' and 'enchiridion', now handbook is back in general use and enchiridion is obscure.

Dr. Drake
01-28-2009, 09:38 AM
How about "car"? Once an obsolescent poetic word for chariot, now standard.

Zsofia
01-28-2009, 09:43 AM
I understand from the occasional novel that "vex" is used by trashy British teenagers and they get corrected for it, which is hilarious to me and I hope it's true.

Illuminatiprimus
01-28-2009, 09:47 AM
I understand from the occasional novel that "vex" is used by trashy British teenagers and they get corrected for it, which is hilarious to me and I hope it's true.Yes teenagers will use vex (I've heard it) as in "I was well vexed" or "he vexes me". In terms of them being corrected, I don't know what you're reffering to there because as far as I can tell such usages are already correct.

Yllaria
01-28-2009, 09:52 AM
And there are the words which pick up rude connotations for a while & fall out of polite use, then come back after the rude sense goes out of fashion.

Like "occupy."

Occupy was rude? I'm trying to picture how. I know the usual suspects, but it's hard to picture.

Keeve
01-28-2009, 09:55 AM
How about "horrific"? (Why people prefer it to "horrifying", I have no idea.)

Another possibility: "emergent" Whenever I hear this word, I think of something emerging from something else, but context tells me it relates to emergencies.

RealityChuck
01-28-2009, 10:02 AM
Most obvious: Gender

It meant "sex" up until about 1900, when the term faded away and was only used to mean grammatical gender. In the 1960s, it came back as a term for human sex, though sometimes with a slightly different meaning than it originally had. But forms often use "gender" these days as a substitute for "sex."

robby
01-28-2009, 10:02 AM
One word that comes to mind is "mock."

This word would have sounded terribly old-fashioned and archaic to me when I was growing up. (Instead, we used the term "make fun of.")

Now, I hear it all the time.

For example, my sister used to whine to my mother: "He's making fun of me!"

Now, I hear my son say: "She's mocking me!" I always want to snicker when I hear that.

Zsofia
01-28-2009, 10:04 AM
Yes teenagers will use vex (I've heard it) as in "I was well vexed" or "he vexes me". In terms of them being corrected, I don't know what you're reffering to there because as far as I can tell such usages are already correct.
Being told that it's a trashy word, or not proper - in other words, it's correct usage but "nice" people don't talk like that. Like I said, though, this is from books.

Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party
01-28-2009, 10:38 AM
I understand from the occasional novel that "vex" is used by trashy British teenagers and they get corrected for it, which is hilarious to me and I hope it's true.

Never heard anybody corrected for using vex, although it isn't common nowadays, where I'm from (it sounds like something my grandma would have said).

RealityChuck
01-28-2009, 11:40 AM
Occupy was rude? I'm trying to picture how. I know the usual suspects, but it's hard to picture.John was occupying Mary.

DrDeth
01-28-2009, 12:20 PM
Look up the various meanings of "nice" sometimes, as the meaning changed quite a bit over time.

Foolish, over-precisely accurate, trivial, particular, wanton, punctilious, etc, etc.

Rigamarole
01-28-2009, 12:53 PM
I understand from the occasional novel that "vex" is used by trashy British teenagers and they get corrected for it, which is hilarious to me and I hope it's true.

Yes teenagers will use vex (I've heard it) as in "I was well vexed" or "he vexes me". In terms of them being corrected, I don't know what you're reffering to there because as far as I can tell such usages are already correct.

Huh, that's fascinating to me not just because they're getting corrected for the proper usage, but because to an American using the word "vex" in casual conversation borderlines on sounding pretentious and is definitely not a word you'd hear thrown around in "trashy" or uneducated social circles.

capybara
01-28-2009, 01:00 PM
Look up the various meanings of "nice" sometimes, as the meaning changed quite a bit over time.

Foolish, over-precisely accurate, trivial, particular, wanton, punctilious, etc, etc.

As in "that's a nice distinction."

And I'd also like more information bout 'literal' once having meant 'figurative'-- back in medieval/Renaissance exegesis it meant precisely 'of the letter' *rather* than allegorical, typological, etc.

Cunctator
01-28-2009, 04:26 PM
How about wireless? It had long since died as an alternative to radio, but it's everywhere now relating to internet access.

Chronos
01-28-2009, 04:50 PM
One that I get a kick out of: In classical times, "ether" meant "the ever-moving", since it was the stuff that stars and planets are made of, and they're perpetually moving across the sky. By the late 1800s, though, it had come to mean "the ever-still", the hypothetical medium through which light was thought to propagate, and against which all motion could be measured.

And while I'm mostly descriptivist in linguistic philosophy, I still insist that "literally" cannot and must not mean "figuratively", since allowing it to do so makes it impossible to communicate certain concepts. Any other figure of speech or ironic usage can be disambiguated, if necessary, by use of the word "literally", but if "literally" itself is used nonliterally, there's no way to do so.

Enola Straight
01-28-2009, 04:56 PM
Ablative.

Originally a grammatical form designating a case "to carry away from" or "to move away", assumed a new role by NASA in the form of heat shields, which protected the capsule by allowing the ablative coating to absorb heat by wearing away during re-entry.

casdave
01-28-2009, 05:00 PM
Thee and thou are not archaic at all, tha' noes.

Theres quite a few Norse words in use in this region, such as laiking, ducal, parne, morte, keke mush, beck, bait.

One that springs to mind that fits the OP, how about "ding" - meaning to hit [Danish = daenge] nowadays used when you put a small dint in your car - yes it really is an old word and not slang.

Hostile Dialect
01-28-2009, 05:15 PM
Here, from the online OED, are all the recorded senses of the word literally.


No, that's a list of what the OED considers to be the current meanings of the word. I've noticed that 3b includes a prescriptive admonition:

b. Used to indicate that the following word or phrase must be taken in its literal sense.
Now often improperly used to indicate that some conventional metaphorical or hyperbolical phrase is to be taken in the strongest admissible sense. (So, e.g., in quot. 1863.)

1687 DRYDEN Hind & P. III. 107 My daily bread is litt'rally implor'd. 1863 F. A. KEMBLE Resid. in Georgia 105 For the last four years..I literally coined money.

Bolding mine.

Prescribing the proper usage of certain words is not a dictionary's place anyway; a dictionary is (or should be) a log of all the words used in a language, not a style guide. Merriam-Webster is more rational about this:



Main Entry:
literally
Pronunciation:
\ˈli-tə-rə-lē, ˈli-trə-lē, ˈli-tər-lē\
Function:
adverb
Date:
1533

1 : in a literal sense or manner : actually <took the remark literally> <was literally insane>

2 : in effect : virtually <will literally turn the world upside down to combat cruelty or injustice — Norman Cousins>

usage Since some people take sense 2 to be the opposite of sense 1, it has been frequently criticized as a misuse. Instead, the use is pure hyperbole intended to gain emphasis, but it often appears in contexts where no additional emphasis is necessary.

(Bolding not mine.)

Anyway, even your cite gives a quote from 1863, so I'm not sure what you're disbelieving.

I could be wrong about the specific sequence of events, but without dates, it's a little hard to nail down quickly, and I've got Syntax homework to do.



It meant "sex" up until about 1900, when the term faded away and was only used to mean grammatical gender. In the 1960s, it came back as a term for human sex, though sometimes with a slightly different meaning than it originally had. But forms often use "gender" these days as a substitute for "sex."

Which is unfortunate, since "gender" refers to the social construct of gender (i.e. masculinity/femininity), as opposed to the biological reality of sex.

Hostile Dialect
01-28-2009, 05:19 PM
And while I'm mostly descriptivist in linguistic philosophy, I still insist that "literally" cannot and must not mean "figuratively", since allowing it to do so makes it impossible to communicate certain concepts. Any other figure of speech or ironic usage can be disambiguated, if necessary, by use of the word "literally", but if "literally" itself is used nonliterally, there's no way to do so.

That's a bit of a stretch. Like other ironic usages, "literally" can usually reveal itself as ironic pretty easily. Compare "I literally jumped three feet" to "I literally went through the roof".

I think you're imagining a hypothetical situation where somebody said something believable and used "literally" to mean "figuratively", but since the figurative meaning is hyperbole used for emphasis, it seems like that would be rare. If it does happen every once in a while, well, language is confusing sometimes. Nothing we can do about that on an individual level, although you can refuse to use the word that way if you think that will help.

Hostile Dialect,
Hostile Dialect, Narcissist

aldiboronti
01-28-2009, 06:29 PM
No, that's a list of what the OED considers to be the current meanings of the word. I've noticed that 3b includes a prescriptive admonition:



Bolding mine.

Prescribing the proper usage of certain words is not a dictionary's place anyway; a dictionary is (or should be) a log of all the words used in a language, not a style guide. Merriam-Webster is more rational about this:



(Bolding not mine.)

Anyway, even your cite gives a quote from 1863, so I'm not sure what you're disbelieving.

I could be wrong about the specific sequence of events, but without dates, it's a little hard to nail down quickly, and I've got Syntax homework to do.



Which is unfortunate, since "gender" refers to the social construct of gender (i.e. masculinity/femininity), as opposed to the biological reality of sex.

You haven't studied the OED entry carefully enough. Calling it a 'list of current meanings' ignores the fact that the first meaning is marked as obsolete. OED doesn't list merely current meanings, it records all senses of the word that it can find, none of which fit with your description.

Literally did not previously mean figuratively, nothing you have cited says that. That 1863 cite is not an older sense, and how you can point to it as such is beyond me.

I repeat, show me a cite for a sense of literally, meaning figuratively, which lapsed into disuse and was then revived. There is no such animal.

And BTW if you consider the OED to be a prescriptive dictionary you really need to look again.

RealityChuck
01-28-2009, 06:49 PM
Which is unfortunate, since "gender" refers to the social construct of gender (i.e. masculinity/femininity), as opposed to the biological reality of sex.But that's precisely what the OP was asking about: an archaic word that came back. However, your statement about what gender "refers to" is contradicted by actual usage and also by the OED, which merely says

In mod. (esp. feminist) use, a euphemism for the sex of a human being, often intended to emphasize the social and cultural, as opposed to the biological, distinctions between the sexes. You are merely taking one particular meaning ("social and cultural") -- which the OED indicates is not the primary one -- and prescribing what you think it really should mean.

Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party
01-28-2009, 06:49 PM
Thee and thou are not archaic at all, tha' noes.

Theres quite a few Norse words in use in this region, such as laiking, ducal, parne, morte, keke mush, beck, bait.

One that springs to mind that fits the OP, how about "ding" - meaning to hit [Danish = daenge] nowadays used when you put a small dint in your car - yes it really is an old word and not slang.

"Warch", meaning pain, as in "bellywarch" or "yedwarch" is another Old Norse word, as is "agate", meaning in the habit of, from the Old Norse, "gata". "Toot", meaning a quick look, comes from "toten", the Anglo-Saxon word for peeping.

I've been trying to find out where "powfag", for exhausted, comes from, though, for some time, without success.

Hippy Hollow
01-28-2009, 06:52 PM
I'd nominate "fracas" and "fisticuffs." They're funny-sounding words that sportscasters and entertainment types use, but were archaic until they were dusted off in the last decade or so.

Morbo
01-28-2009, 06:58 PM
I think there are quite a few words that have come back from the dead (or at least, emerged from specialised uses) because of computers and the internet. "Avatar" is one that immediately springs to mind.

Agreed - quite a few. Concatenate comes to mind.

Simplicio
01-28-2009, 07:09 PM
I think there are quite a few words that have come back from the dead (or at least, emerged from specialised uses) because of computers and the internet. "Avatar" is one that immediately springs to mind.

Avatar is Hindu religious concept. It's certainly been co-opted recently, but I don't think it ever fell into disuse.

GorillaMan
01-28-2009, 07:09 PM
Yes teenagers will use vex (I've heard it) as in "I was well vexed" or "he vexes me". In terms of them being corrected, I don't know what you're reffering to there because as far as I can tell such usages are already correct.
Never heard anybody corrected for using vex, although it isn't common nowadays, where I'm from (it sounds like something my grandma would have said).
I hear it from kids. Not frequently, but it's certainly part of their vernacular.

'Well vexed', and more commonly 'well pleased', seems to be something that grates with less-informed grammar police. I also enjoy pointing out to teachers eager to correct kids who talk about being 'larned stuff' that they're actually using one of the few surviving features of East Anglian dialects, and that it's not evidence that they have a lack of understanding of the words 'learn' and 'teach'. (I do it tactfully, honest...)

ralph124c
01-28-2009, 07:25 PM
Can somebodt please revive "rascal" and "scoundrel"? They are very useful (if dated) words.

Chronos
01-28-2009, 07:30 PM
That's a bit of a stretch. Like other ironic usages, "literally" can usually reveal itself as ironic pretty easily. Compare "I literally jumped three feet" to "I literally went through the roof".Usually, but not always, and I've seen cases where it really isn't clear. Consider, for example, "Bob has literally a thousand CDs". Maybe Bob's an amateur DJ, in which case that could well be literally true. Or maybe Bob just has more CDs than the speaker, and "thousand" is figurative. Now, if the speaker had said "Bob has, like, a thousand CDs", then I could ask "Literally?", and the speaker could then clarify. But with "literally" losing its meaning, I can't ask that any more.

GorillaMan
01-28-2009, 07:49 PM
Can somebodt please revive "rascal" and "scoundrel"? They are very useful (if dated) words.

Dizzee Rascal is trying.

MizTina
01-28-2009, 09:26 PM
I miss "rapscallion", "reprobate" and "hie".

njtt
01-29-2009, 01:57 AM
Nobody ever uses, or even misuses, "literally" to mean "figuratively." Substituting "figuratively into a sentence where "literally" is used will never give you the intended meaning. Saying "I figuratively went through the roof," is quite different from saying "I literally went through the roof." The first tones down the impact ("I went through the roof. . . sort of."), the second intensifies it ("I went through the roof! Yes, I did!").

When people say that "literally" is used to mean "figuratively" that just a humorous way of complaining about the allegedly incorrect usage of the word, but it is not an accurate characterization of what is going on.

The use of "literally" that people object to is when it used merely to mean something like "very much so," and this does not necessarily have to go with a non-literal figure of speech. Suppose I walked ten miles, and (boasting or complaining) I tell someone "I literally walked ten miles!" This is literally true, but most likely what I intend is not something like "I walked exactly ten miles," but rather "I walked ten miles. I really did!" In this case the, er, literal meaning of "literally" and the intensifying meaning do not conflict with one another, and, indeed, diverge only subtly (and I imagine it is from contexts like this that the intensifying meaning first arose). The problem arises when "literally" gets used in this intensifying way together with a non-literal figure of speech. Then the two meanings contradict one another, which makes some of us uncomfortable, and introduces a possibility for real misunderstanding.

dtilque
01-29-2009, 02:14 AM
Ablative.

Originally a grammatical form designating a case "to carry away from" or "to move away", assumed a new role by NASA in the form of heat shields, which protected the capsule by allowing the ablative coating to absorb heat by wearing away during re-entry.

Ablative never went away, since you need to use it to discuss Latin grammar.

My personal favorite revived word is orc, which meant "demon" in Anglo-Saxon.

And for those wanting to revive an archaic word, how about eftsoons...

Johanna
01-29-2009, 03:50 AM
How about wireless? It had long since died as an alternative to radio, but it's everywhere now relating to internet access.
That's the best example yet.

A lot of these words seem to have revived spontaneously, but there are some that have been brought back deliberately as conscious archaisms. For example, engine in the sense of computing device, first there were Babbage's "difference engine" and "analytical engine" in the 19th century, and then in the 1990s they dusted this off to coin the term "search engine." For the longest time after search engines were introduced, the word always sounded self-consciously steampunkish. It must be no coincidence that it was coined shortly after the steampunk novel The Difference Engine was published.

panamajack
01-29-2009, 05:34 AM
'Ask' as a noun (meaning 'request') fell out of usage for about 500 years, then was revived in the 18th century and made its way into some specialized fields (Bridge, the stock market).

It's making a bit of a comeback as a general term, and may already be common in Australia. I heard an (American) announcer at the Australian Open use it tonight, which reminded me of it. More from Language Log (http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=340).

Hostile Dialect
01-29-2009, 05:46 AM
I've heard "big ask" (as in, "coming back from a 3-goal deficit is a big ask" or "following in Ronaldo's footsteps is a big ask") from English soccer announcers quite a bit. I often find myself resisting the temptation to use that term; it sounds a bit too much like "big ass" to just slip it into conversation casually. I wish it were common here, though.

Cider Depot
01-29-2009, 06:02 AM
Can somebodt please revive "rascal" and "scoundrel"? They are very useful (if dated) words.

Only if I can have "cad" and "bounder".

Alessan
01-29-2009, 06:59 AM
[
My personal favorite revived word is orc, which meant "demon" in Anglo-Saxon.


I'd say the fantasy/RPG industry has revived a few archaic words. Another one is "Paladin."

GorillaMan
01-29-2009, 07:05 AM
I've heard "big ask" (as in, "coming back from a 3-goal deficit is a big ask" or "following in Ronaldo's footsteps is a big ask") from English soccer announcers quite a bit.
That one you'll even hear from Radio 4 presenters nowadays.

even sven
01-29-2009, 07:14 AM
I'd nominate "fracas" and "fisticuffs." They're funny-sounding words that sportscasters and entertainment types use, but were archaic until they were dusted off in the last decade or so.

This is a good one. One of my friends said "fisticuffs" and then I started noticing it everywhere. What a silly word to revive.

SciFiSam
01-29-2009, 07:18 AM
The teenagers I teach use vexed frequently. It would never occur to me to correct them for it. The slang meaning they're using has the same meaning as the one in dictionaries, so why would I correct them on it?

Some of their slang (like 'bare') is contrary to official definitions (that's one of the reasons such slang arises, after all), but vex isn't one of them. It was the very word I was thinking of when I saw this thread.

Dash is also used to mean to throw or pass something to someone, including violently, which is an old usage of the word; at least, a meaning I never came across often till recently.

chowder
01-29-2009, 07:34 AM
Wench.

What a fine word that is, well deserving of a comeback

GorillaMan
01-29-2009, 07:35 AM
The slang meaning they're using has the same meaning as the one in dictionaries...
Does that mean it's simply not slang, anyway?

Simplicio
01-29-2009, 08:15 AM
This is a good one. One of my friends said "fisticuffs" and then I started noticing it everywhere. What a silly word to revive.

Most of the time I hear it, it's people using it purposely because it sounds archaic. Sort of like when people use 'thou' and 'thee', actually.

sailor
01-29-2009, 10:26 AM
Vex is a pefectly good word used a lot by Kipling
And Suleiman-bin-Daoud said, 'O my Lady and Content of my Heart, I shall continue to endure my fate at the hands of these nine hundred and ninety-nine Queens who vex me with their continual quarrelling.'

Then all the Queens except Balkis--the Most Beautiful and Splendid Balkis, who stood apart smiling--fell flat on their faces, for they said, 'If these things are done when a Butterfly is displeased with his wife, what shall be done to us who have vexed our King with our loud-speaking and open quarrelling through many days?'

it has also delivered me from the vexations of my vexatious wives

Regarding dictionaries, it is interesting to note "obsolete" is obsolete, "archaic" is archaic and "gullible" is not in the dictionary.

Really Not All That Bright
01-29-2009, 11:44 AM
How about wireless? It had long since died as an alternative to radio, but it's everywhere now relating to internet access.
I'm not sure that counts since in original usage it was both a noun and an adjective, while nowadays it's just an adjective.

ProfessorX
01-29-2009, 12:25 PM
Most of the time I hear it, it's people using it purposely because it sounds archaic. Sort of like when people use 'thou' and 'thee', actually.
Yeah, agreed it said kind of as a joke just to get people to laugh.

Markxxx
01-29-2009, 12:42 PM
How about wireless? It had long since died as an alternative to radio, but it's everywhere now relating to internet access.

That's an example but I was looking for a word that went out and came back with the same meaning.

chappachula
01-29-2009, 01:03 PM
leggings.......

Robin Hood and his band of men wore leggings in the 14th (?) century.
Romeo and Juilet wore leggings in the 16th century.
Maybe cowboys wore leggings (chaps) in the 19th century.

But nobody wore leggings after that.... until about 1975, methinks.

Duckster
01-29-2009, 01:09 PM
Are there any words that were considered archaic, fell out of use then made a comeback into general use?

I'm still waiting for "please," "thank you," and "excuse me" to make a comeback.

Gorsnak
01-29-2009, 01:27 PM
I'm not sure that counts since in original usage it was both a noun and an adjective, while nowadays it's just an adjective.

Did your hotel have free wireless?
I like that coffee shop, but they don't have wireless so I rarely go there.

Looks like a noun to me.

casdave
01-29-2009, 04:09 PM
Most of the time I hear it, it's people using it purposely because it sounds archaic. Sort of like when people use 'thou' and 'thee', actually.


Nope, its not used around here in that manner at all, its pretty normal speech pattern, no effects, no pretensions.

"Get thesen off owd lad" = go away.

Some use thyself ,theesen, thissen to mean yourself, thats just the way we speak.

Others also use dus't in the following manner.

"Dus't want a drink" = Do you want a drink. Which contracts thee even more, just to the letter.

Oddly enough you'll see hear this carried over to other words that simply do not fit this pattern, like

"Mun't it?" = Mustn't it?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yorkshire_dialect_and_accent

SciFiSam
01-29-2009, 05:47 PM
Does that mean it's simply not slang, anyway?

I guess so. What I mean is, they use it as part of their slang and see it as slang - saying 'vexed' far more than most adults do - and usually I'd have to say 'don't use slang' in some kinds of work (it'd be fine in others and in general classroom usage). But this is not one of the words I'd correct them for using. Hope that makes sense.

Hostile Dialect
01-30-2009, 02:56 AM
Most of the time I hear it, it's people using it purposely because it sounds archaic. Sort of like when people use 'thou' and 'thee', actually.

In hockey broadcasts, there's (almost) no irony to its usage at all. ETA: Referring to "fisticuffs" here.

That one you'll even hear from Radio 4 presenters nowadays.

I can't say I have any idea what that means.

Hostile Dialect,
Hostile Dialect, Narcissist

jabiru
01-30-2009, 03:40 AM
Me thinks. You never hear it in real life but I see it all the time on message boards. I have no idea why.

Hostile Dialect
01-30-2009, 05:35 AM
I'd bet it's mostly due to Hamlet:

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Often reconceptualized here as "Methinks the boy doth protest too much." I like the original better, personally, but I can never remember it.

Hostile Dialect,
Hostile Dialect, Narcissist

Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party
01-30-2009, 08:38 AM
That's the best example yet.

A lot of these words seem to have revived spontaneously, but there are some that have been brought back deliberately as conscious archaisms. For example, engine in the sense of computing device, first there were Babbage's "difference engine" and "analytical engine" in the 19th century, and then in the 1990s they dusted this off to coin the term "search engine." For the longest time after search engines were introduced, the word always sounded self-consciously steampunkish. It must be no coincidence that it was coined shortly after the steampunk novel The Difference Engine was published.

I don't think steampunk as a source for the revival of the use of "engine" in computing is all that likely. Engine has a long history in computing, prior to the 1990's, namely in usages like "graphics engine" and "inference engine" in programming languages like Prolog (that dates back to the 1970's).

spike404
01-30-2009, 08:50 AM
segue

I had only heard it used in the musical sense until about ten years ago. Now, it is ubiquitous.

ralph124c
01-30-2009, 11:59 AM
Could we revive the old english "ye"? Of course, we would need to add the "thorn" character to the alphabet. I allways liked "ye".
By the way, when did the thorn go out of use?

Sunspace
01-30-2009, 12:21 PM
Could we revive the old english "ye"? Of course, we would need to add the "thorn" character to the alphabet. I allways liked "ye".
By the way, when did the thorn go out of use?"Ye" is actually "the", is it not? It was just written with a version of the thorn or eth character that was mistaken by later scribes as a 'y'.

Really Not All That Bright
01-30-2009, 12:38 PM
By the way, when did the thorn go out of use?
It started being supplanted by th in England during the 14th century. Caxton used it only in a few very specific word forms- three or four at most, IIRC.

I think it's still used in Irish, but I might be confusing it with eth.

ralph124c
01-30-2009, 02:24 PM
My boss asked me why i didn't have my report ready, I told him I did not deign to do it!
Nice word-how is it related to "reign"? I know "reigning" is what a king does, is there such a word as "deigning"?

Laughing Lagomorph
01-30-2009, 02:45 PM
No cite, but I recall reading 10-15 years ago in a legit source that in the US Wild West era a bunch of Olde English or some such words were revived. "Gulch" being one memorable one, but there were several others.

The current meaning is more or less the same as the ancient one, with the added connotation, at least in the US, of being Wild West-ish.

'Varmint' is one word that I associate with the Wild West era (probably through watching too many Yosemite Sam cartoons) but which is actually much older: http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/varmint

I don't know if it ever fell out of use though.

Polycarp
01-30-2009, 03:01 PM
Which is unfortunate, since "gender" refers to the social construct of gender (i.e. masculinity/femininity), as opposed to the biological reality of sex.

But that's precisely what the OP was asking about: an archaic word that came back. However, your statement about what gender "refers to" is contradicted by actual usage and also by the OED, which merely says

You are merely taking one particular meaning ("social and cultural") -- which the OED indicates is not the primary one -- and prescribing what you think it really should mean.

Oh, for heaven's sake! I am firmly descriptivist, but point out regularly that most 'prescriptivism' is merely reporting descriptively the usage customs of the more formal modes of English speech and writing, for the benefit of those who have grown up familiar with colloquial usage and who now have questions about formal usage. It differs little from someone raised in Hawaii and speaking fluent Hawaiian-dialect Japanese (which I presume does not incorporate the 'respectful' nuances of formalized address in Japan) seeking to inform him/herself as to what is 'proper' in the more formal settings he or she may encounter in visiting Japan on business.

Mrs. Kendrew, who taught me Latin, had a specific meaning for the term 'gender' that explained why agricola and nauta, First Declension nouns referring to male individuals, took First Declension endings but were modified by adjectives taking second declension forms. Other people have over the years had specialized meanings for the term.

What Hostile Dialect ought to have said, had he been mindful to be a precisionist in his definitions, is that social scientist and commentators on sexuality regularly employ 'gender', carefully distinguished from 'sex', to convey the distinction he reported. He might have added that this appears to be by far the most common usage of the term outside specialized disciplines such as comparative grammar and bacteriology, in the 21st Century.

That a term is often used synonymously with another, the usefulness of the distinction sometimes made between them being blurred, is certainly descriptively true. It does not follow that writers and speakers wishing to make that distinction are in error in demanding of their readers or listeners that they accord them the right to make that distinction.

In another recent thread on usage, I brought up the point that parliamentarians distinguish between "Chairman" the elected office and "Chair" the person presently presiding, whether the Chairman or not. Exapno Mapcae rightly pointed out that the two terms are regularly used synonymously -- missing my whole point that there is a distinction worth preserving in the customary usage. I believe the same thing is valid here. No German speaker actually believes his child is neuter and his car female -- but he speaks a language in which they are those grammatical genders. Nor does anyone actually believe that drag queens are of female sex -- but they present as feminine in their routines, a gender construct.

Zsofia
01-30-2009, 03:08 PM
'Varmint' is one word that I associate with the Wild West era (probably through watching too many Yosemite Sam cartoons) but which is actually much older: http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/varmint

I don't know if it ever fell out of use though.
Old people around here have always said it to refer, for example, to possums. "Vermin" is another great word that hasn't gone out of use but has become IMHO uncommon. Today the library is full of vermin, and the cockroaches are getting pretty offended about it. :)

An Gada
01-30-2009, 03:10 PM
"Ye" is actually "the", is it not? It was just written with a version of the thorn or eth character that was mistaken by later scribes as a 'y'.

Ye = you plural around here.

ETA: See also yiz.

Polycarp
01-30-2009, 03:16 PM
"Ye" is actually "the", is it not? It was just written with a version of the thorn or eth character that was mistaken by later scribes as a 'y'.

Thorn (intriguingly, since the modern sound is the voiced TH of edh). The character for thorn was a vertical with an angle drawn off it 'pointing right', roughly like this: |>. This made it very easy to confuse with another obsolete Anglo-Sxaon letter, wen, which had a semicircle in place of the angle, something like the overstriking of a p and b on a typewriter. Edh, on the other hand, was in upper case a D and in lower case an italic d, looking much like a lowercase Greek delta, each with a crossbar through the vertical about midway along its length. Visualize uppercase edh by mentally sliding the hyphen to the right in -D; lowercase, imagine an unlooped script d with a crossbar through the ascender.

NDP
01-30-2009, 03:40 PM
Occupy was rude? I'm trying to picture how. I know the usual suspects, but it's hard to picture.

When used in political and military discourse, the term "occupy" was neutral. However, after the War in Iraq started, the Republicans and their conservative brain trust decided to politicize the term. As a result, "occupying" became what the Nazis were doing in Europe during WWII and what the Soviets were doing Afghanistan. What America was doing in Iraq was "liberating" and anybody saying they were "occupying" was a no-good, dirty, treasonous piece of America-and-troop-hating fecal matter. With the end of the Bush Administration, I suspect this definition of "occupy" has now mostly fallen by the wayside (at least I hope so).

Dr. Drake
01-30-2009, 05:04 PM
Thorn (intriguingly, since the modern sound is the voiced TH of edh). The character for thorn was a vertical with an angle drawn off it 'pointing right', roughly like this: |>.Some half-misconceptions about edh () and thorn () in this thread. Neither was ever used in Irish, though the uncial script used in Irish manuscripts is closely related to the Old English scripts where such letters occur. (Regular [d] has a tilty-back line instead of an upright one.) Old Irish th /θ/ was usually represented by [th], and // by medial or final [d], sometimes with a dot over it. Both sounds disappeared from the language by the Middle Irish period.

Each of the two Anglo-Saxon letters made both voiced and voiceless sounds (then / thin) in Old English. This is contrary to both Icelandic usage and common sense, so a lot of people refuse to believe it, but have a look at some manuscipts. It's the same reason OE used [f] for both /f/ and /v/, and [s] for both /s/ and /z/. did survive in a few high-frequency cases such as e (the) or t (that). Those did evolve graphically to ye and yt. Ye, the old nominative second person plural pronoun, fell out of use in most (but not all) dialects, but was a separate word: Get ye to e nunnery (misquoted for example's sake).

iamthewalrus(:3=
01-30-2009, 05:05 PM
That's an example but I was looking for a word that went out and came back with the same meaning.It's awfully close to the same meaning, at least in the adjectival sense. Radios are machines that transmit data without wireless, and a wireless card is a machine that transmits data without wires. The difference is that one of them is a switched network and one isn't, but it's all just radio waves.

Also, responding to a previous poster, "wireless" is used as a noun these days, but for the network, not the end device. "Can you get on the wireless?" means "Are you able to connect to the wireless network?"

foolsguinea
02-07-2009, 11:13 PM
Which is unfortunate, since "gender" refers to the social construct of gender (i.e. masculinity/femininity), as opposed to the biological reality of sex.As a linguist, I consider that unfortunate.

foolsguinea
02-07-2009, 11:32 PM
Polycarp, thanks for that great description of edh (Đ đ ), thorn ( ), & wen (Ƿ ƿ).

Madgolf
02-08-2009, 12:26 AM
Duckets, for money, is verrrry slowly climbing the charts.

I had to humbly explain myself once when using the word and there were only like 5800 Google hits four years ago.

Now we have a cool 61,500 count *and* the very trendy "mad duckets".

I am feeling a bit let down that the Simpsons TV show has not ushered in a few comebacks. Arglebargle, fooferaw, 23 skidoo,... I mean c'mon.. the show made "Yoink" an everyday word.

Chronos
02-08-2009, 12:44 AM
Are you sure that's not "ducats"? As in, "O my daughter! O my ducats!"?

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
02-08-2009, 02:02 AM
Yes teenagers will use vex (I've heard it) as in "I was well vexed" or "he vexes me". In terms of them being corrected, I don't know what you're reffering to there because as far as I can tell such usages are already correct."Vexed" doesn't sound archaic. I've certainly heard it in Monty Python sketches, though I'm pretty sure it was mostly by characters supposed to be older, as in "Your dad was dead vexed about [the pet whale you kept in the garage]".

Jragon
02-08-2009, 02:34 AM
This may be a shorter cycle than some, but it seems not ten years ago the default meaning for "mad" was "angry" and it seems to have reclaimed it's original/principle meaning as "batshit insane" recently. In fact, saying "I'm mad at you" would probably illicit an involuntary snerk and asking the speaker if they were 6. However, it's still hard to find someone who freely uses "angry," often opting for euphemisms such as "not happy" or more extreme synonyms such as "pissed."

Madgolf
02-08-2009, 02:34 AM
Are you sure that's not "ducats"? As in, "O my daughter! O my ducats!"?

Tis!

The punk-ass gangstas of the day not only shun the traditional "O" in favor of a territorial groan of a disinterested "Yeh" but also freely revel in the abundant and completely unnecessary k's our society so loosely allows because hard k sounds are so boss that the redundant consonant reinforcement is slickly excessive much like the champagne and helicopters that are found accompanying every rap video on MTV2.

Plus the rap rhyme with "fuck it" probably helped the newfound spelling along.

Hostile Dialect
02-08-2009, 04:31 AM
As a linguist, I consider that unfortunate.

Well, yeah, I feel you on that, but the word "gender" was stolen from linguistics a long time ago.


Now we have a cool 61,500 count *and* the very trendy "mad duckets".

OK, I'll bite: what the hell are you talking about?

Hostile Dialect,
Hostile Dialect, Narcissist

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
02-09-2009, 01:29 AM
I've noticed that "man" and "mankind" in the sense of "all humanity" seem to resurfacing. It does make some sense historically. "Man" and its cognates in other Germanic languages did originally function as a gender-neutral designation for humanity; the word for an adult human male was "wer" or "were", or something similar, as attested by words like "werewolf" and "weregeld".

The Second Stone
02-09-2009, 02:49 AM
Cite?

Here, from the online OED, are all the recorded senses of the word literally.




As you can see, none of the above support your assertion.



As much as I would have tended to agree with you before reading your quote from the OED, the OED supports using "literal" in a sense of "I'm being poetic".

chowder
02-09-2009, 08:14 AM
Rogering.

"Egad sir, I gave that buxom wench a damn fine rogering"

"Well done Sir Percy, but I feel you've gone to far sirrah, that wench was my daughter"

**slaps across face with glove**

BJMoose
02-09-2009, 09:45 AM
Rogering.

"Egad sir, I gave that buxom wench a damn fine rogering"

"Well done Sir Percy, but I feel you've gone to far sirrah, that wench was my daughter"

**slaps across face with glove**

You may be right. A few years back, the fictional President Bartlett of The West Wing used the term "rogered", 'tho I fain believe it went over the heads of most viewers.


I'll side with those who think wireless is the best example yet in this thread. (Now, if we could just figure out why communication engineers insist on referring to switches as keys.)

casdave
02-09-2009, 12:19 PM
I am feeling a bit let down that the Simpsons TV show has not ushered in a few comebacks. Arglebargle

Except that arglebargle and the shortened version argybargy never went away, still in regular usage in the UK.

Really Not All That Bright
02-09-2009, 01:49 PM
OK, I'll bite: what the hell are you talking about?
Ducats, not duckets. Type of gold coin that was widely accepted throughout Europe between 1500 and 1750 or so.

Rappers now use it as a slang for money in general.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.