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Forgotten Words/Phrases

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
What a great blast from the past! I haven't thought about fender skirts in years. When I was a kid, I considered it such a funny term. Made me think of a car in a dress. Thinking about fender skirts started me thinking about other words that quietly disappear from our language with hardly a notice.

Like "curb feelers" and "steering knobs". Since I'd been thinking of cars, my mind naturally went that direction first. Any kids will probably have to find some elderly person over 50 to explain some of these terms to you.

Remember "Continental kits"? They were rear bumper extenders and spare tire covers that were supposed to make any car as cool as a Lincoln Continental.

When did we quit calling them "emergency brakes"? At some point "parking brake" became the proper term. But I miss the hint of drama that went with "emergency brake".

I'm sad, too, that almost all the old folks are gone who would call the accelerator the "foot feed".

Here's a phrase I heard all the time in my youth but never anymore- "store-bought". Of course, just about everything is store-bought these days. But once it was bragging material to have a store-bought dress or a store-bought bag of candy.

"Coast to coast" is a phrase that once held all sorts of excitement and now means almost nothing. Now we take the term "worldwide" for granted. This floors me.

On a smaller scale, "wall-to-wall" was once a magical term in our homes. In the '50s, everyone covered the hardwood floors with, wow, wall-to-wall carpeting! Today, everyone replaces their wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood floors. Go figure.

When's the last time you heard the quaint phrase "in a family way"? It's hard to imagine that the word "pregnant" was once considered a little too graphic, a little too clinical for use in polite company. So we had all that talk about stork visits and "being in a family way" or simply "expecting".

Apparently "brassiere" is a word no longer in usage. I said it the other day and my daughter cracked up. I guess it's just "bra" now. "Unmentionables" probably wouldn't be understood at all.

It's hard to recall that this word was once said in a whisper -"divorce." And no one is called a "divorcee" anymore. Certainly not a "gay divorcee". Come to think of it, "confirmed bachelors" and "career girls" are long gone, too.

Most of these words go back to the '50s, but here's a pure-'60s word I came across the other day - "rat fink". Ooh, what a nasty put-down!

Here's a word I miss - "percolator". That was just a fun word to say. And what was it replaced with? "Coffeemaker". How dull. Mr. Coffee, I blame you for this.

I miss those made-up marketing words that were meant to sound so modern and now sound so retro. Words like DynaFlow" and "ElectroLuxe". Introducing the 1963 Admiral TV, now with "SpectraVision"!

Food for thought - Was there a telethon that wiped out lumbago? Nobody complains of that anymore. Maybe that's what castor oil cured, because I never hear mothers threatening their kids with castor oil anymore.

Some words aren't gone, but are definitely on the endangered list. The one that grieves me most - "supper". Now everybody says "dinner". Save a great word. Invite someone to "supper". - Discuss fender skirts.
post #2 of 24
Nice, thank you. Some of those brought memories to my mind too
Like the "expecting" one, it was said the same circomlocuted way in Italian ("In attesa")
And there I thought that brassiere was a kind of restaurant
(I know I know it's brasserie)
post #3 of 24
I'm older than dirt. I still say "foot feed".

It's an Iowaism.
post #4 of 24
One of those "older" words I have never been able to figure out is reconnoiter. Do you have to connoiter before you can reconnoiter?
post #5 of 24
lucky, you can if you're French!

Others you don't hear:
"I'm sorry"
"It's my fault"
"You are better than me"
And a president saying "I cannot tell a lie"
post #6 of 24
It always has and will be the "hand brake".

To quote skier_J:

post #7 of 24
forgotten word? My car has a handbrake!
post #8 of 24
I like to say "tin foil."
post #9 of 24
why not? that's what i call it!
post #10 of 24
Originally Posted by Wear The Fox Hat
forgotten word? My car has a handbrake!
Fox, I know that's what we Brits call it. However, my car (a Toyota Prius) doesn't have one! It has a foot operated parking brake (which is very common on US automobiles).
OT:For interest, how do Americans refer to water that comes from a tap? (US English i.e a faucet). Do you call it "tap water", "faucet water" or something else? I'm pleased that in the US, restaurants serve you free chilled tap? water, unlike most of Europe where you have to pay rip-off prices for mineral water.
Rant over
post #11 of 24
Alastair, my dad has a Renault Scenic which has an automatic handbrake - when you stop, it automatically engages, and when the clutch bites, it disengages (there is a button you can press to "put the handbrake on" for hill starts etc) It takes a while to get used to, but is very good!
post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 

We do have a general common name for water from a tap. - Polluted!

Many mistakenly buy bottled water thinking it is better, but chemical analysis often shows certain contaminants higher than 'tap' water. ....Of course the general exception would be distilled water, but I often wonder where the antioxidants and slip agents used to make those plastic bottles went after water was poured in them!
post #13 of 24
OT: On the subject of bottled water, a few months back, the Coca-Cola corporation introduced their bottled water Dasani into the UK - I believe it has been on sale in the US for several years.
There was quite a controversy when it was revealed that the water supply for it came from the Kent municipal water supply (although the Dasani people explained about them treating it to their high tech reverse osmosis process) - see

However, the story gets even better! In their treatment process they had inadvertently introduced levels of bromate into the water which exceeded UK legal standards, so they did a nationwide product recall and the product is no longer on sale in the UK! - see
post #14 of 24

Yet another.

There is the fine term wright completely ignored these days, as in cartwright, millwright, wheelwright.

This is a reasonably pro-active forum. We can bring it back to stop "tech, architect, mechanic, engineer" from further abuse.

Aside from the 21-st century obvious waxwright and WANwright, I offer Framebuilder and Bikewright to describe gonzo. Further, how about snowright for those that husband the blowers in the frozen noise of night?
post #15 of 24
And the people who send me all that email are spamwrights.
post #16 of 24
Of Course, Women are AlwaysWright.
post #17 of 24
Suebrown, I had a debate with a guy recently about "tin foil". It's actually "aluminum foil".

Half of the population gets tongue-tied with aluminimumim, but we all know what it is.

Who says adhesive bandage instead of BandAid?
Or gelatin dessert instead of Jello?
Tissue for Kleenex?

We all use trade names for things. Got any others?
post #18 of 24
Yeah, I vaguely remember tin foil. Maybe at my grandparents' house. Way heavier than the aluminum stuff. Which I thought was called Reynolds Wrap, but that's what happens growing up on the Southside of Virginia.

How about a grass widow? Anybody remember that one? And what's the difference between a lounge lizard and a jelly bean?
post #19 of 24
Originally Posted by Bonni
Suebrown, I had a debate with a guy recently about "tin foil". It's actually "aluminum foil".
I know, but it used to be tin, and that's what I grew up calling it, and I still do.
post #20 of 24

Why, between 1998 and 2002 did the I get dropped? Was it a protest against the British?
post #21 of 24
Damn Merriam-Webster! Aluminium doesn't exist in my old 1974 dictionary either. Must be the old American English only version.
post #22 of 24
This was where I got it from:
(scroll down that page)


\A*lu"mi*num\ ([.a]*l[=u]*m[i^]*n[u^]m), n. See Aluminium.

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc. "
post #23 of 24
Thanks for HUMOURING me, Fox!
post #24 of 24
If you want something in many colours, you will have to go downunder for them.

Why do different parts of the USA call it a sub, grinder, hero, hoggie, torpedo, submarine sandwich, etc.?

Dictionaries are samplings of published words at a given time in a given place. The words that seem to have disappeared really have not, they just aren't used anymore.
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