Old Fashioned Words

It only seems fair that if we’re going to retire some phrases, we should either substitute them with new ones by resurrecting some classics.

Here’s my list of words that should be brought back into the modern vernacular:


And phrases! They’re the best…

“I’m going out to watch the submarine races.” (Beware if your teenagers tells you that.)

And my favorite phrase of all: “Don’t get your knickers in a twist.”

Then there are nouns that are starting to disappear…

record players
pin curls
ice box
house coat

Do you have any soon-to-be-old-fashioned words to add?

Since I’m going to the post office anyway (ugh! My most dreaded errand.), let’s do one more giveaway this week. Another copy of The Choice to a lucky winner. Send in your best old-fashioned, most-missed word or phrase and I’ll pick a winner for both the retired phrases and the soon-to-be-resurrected phrases tomorrow.

Leave a comment or send me an e-mail: suzanne at suzannewoodsfisher dot com

Happy Thursday!

About Suzanne

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes bestselling, award winning fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. Her interest in the Plain People began with her Old Order German Baptist grandfather, raised in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne's app, Amish Wisdom, delivers a daily Amish proverb to your phone or iPad. She writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. She lives with her family in California and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you can't take life too seriously when a puppy is running through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.


  1. Mocha with Linda says:

    "You sound like a broken record." Kids today have no idea what that means.

    (If I win I can do a giveaway! Of course, I would keep the autographed one for myself! I'm not THAT generous! LOL)

  2. Sherry says:

    Words…Pocketbook. No one ever uses that anymore.

    Phrases…"Now that's the pot calling the kettle black."


  3. byfaith says:

    "What the Liverwurst" in PA Dutch, among the Amish old timers.

    Calling a joker/cut-up guy a 'Crackerjack'

    Going out with 'the fellows', now it's going out with the guys . . .


    Gum Louy

    It would be really special to win . . . 🙂

    Thank You for the old fashioned fun!

  4. Cherylyn says:

    Words…twitterpated! As in: "Why are you so twitterpated?"

    Phrase…"made from scratch" as in: "I made this cake from scratch." Now they say I made it or its homemade.

    To borrow Linda's thoughts:
    (If I win I can do a giveaway! Of course, I would keep the autographed one for myself! I'm not THAT generous! LOL)

  5. nancy says:

    The word would have to be…tinfoil. I get in so much trouble each time I say that.. Habit I guess.
    The phrase would have to be "more fun than a barrel of monkeys" or my second one "you have more excuses than Carter has liver pills"…

    Thanks for the fun!

  6. Cindyf says:

    "Dag Nabbitt!" I hope I win!!!

  7. Sherry Hill says:

    Fussbudget or Fussbucket, I think my grandmother meant a person was a worrier when she used Fussbudget and with Fussbucket, a person being cranky or fussing.

  8. Bobbe' says:

    Old Fashion words/phrases;
    Lickety Split
    When pigs fly!
    It takes two to tango!
    The cat's meow!
    Dress to the nines!
    Everythings Hunky Dory!
    She's a peach!
    A sight for sore eyes!
    As far as the crow flies!
    Golly Gee Willikers!
    God Speed
    On a wing and a prayer!
    Tickled Pink!
    As old as time!
    I bought it for a song!
    Rise and shine!
    Chip off the old block!
    In a wink!

  9. Sue Ellis-Palacio says:

    Heebyjeebies, as in I can't set still I've got the heebeyjeebies.
    Contrary as in don't be so contrary, as my Grandma always told me.
    Of course then theres Bull Headed, like my Papa.
    We had a Penn Dutch ancestry so we had lots, like Spuds for potatoes. My aunts said they teased their pennsylvania Granpa when he said it. They thought he was so Old-Fashioned.

  10. Sue Ellis-Palacio says:

    Oh, and from my old days. Icebox.

  11. guera417 says:

    Dadgummit!! I always loved it when my grandfather said this.

  12. mjmoore says:

    When I read your books I feel "snug as a bug in a rug!"

  13. Mama Bear says:

    How about:

    Young whippersnapper

    Knee-high to a grasshopper

    (PS…I just love saying flibbertijibbet…fun!)

  14. Renae says:

    I love these.
    Phrases: "away he scampered"
    and " famished for want"
    and "when night overtook them"

    Words:ponder, presently, rubbish, nowadays, at length, traversed and vexed

  15. Jenn says:

    One that comes to mind and *always* reminds me of my paternal grandmother is methinks….she used it often both in letters and when talking. She died in 1965 and I never see or hear that word used any more.

  16. Sarah L says:

    Phrase – "You look like the bees knees!" Origin? I would love to know!


  17. Crochet Princess Beth says:

    Caddycorner. I would hear my father tell someone "It sits caddycorner to…." Caught myself using that too! 🙂

  18. Jeff Morgan says:

    (A bit Mennonite.. but here goes…)

    The destination is 'yet', and the tank is 'all'… I guess it's time to get some 'Ethel'!

  19. Anonymous says:

    This is really fun!!! I haven't heard some of these words and/or phrases 'in a coon's age'….
    A phrase I remember when visiting relatives in the Midwest was 'don't get your underwear in a bundle' (I never heard knickers.). How about 'older than dirt', and 'supper'. (We always had 'supper' in the evening, but now it's always 'dinner'.)


  20. Anonymous says:

    I love all these old words and phrases. I had no idea how to spell caddywompus, although I use that it. And I did give my Mom a housecoat for Christmas!

  21. C. says:

    cassette tape, glove box, typewriter, ribbon for the typewriter, gem clip, skeleton key, lunch pail, swamp cooler,

    "a penny for your thoughts"
    "dial the phone"
    "crank up the car"

  22. Cindy (Letters From Midlife) says:

    Great post! FYI, I mentioned your book "Amish Peace" in my blog post today.

  23. Sup ppl! says:

    I am just saying all of you are so right! I am a teenager and I don't know half of these old words! They are pretty interesting and it is sad seeing nobody using them anymore! I am writing a essay and I need lots of old-fashioned words. Thanks!

  24. MyThoughts says:

    chifferobe – freestanding closet

    Gentleman's wardrobe – mid-drit high freestanding closet with door and drawers.

    ornery – bad temperament

    unruly – bad temperament or poor quality (his hair is unruly, so it is hard to comb)

    rubenesque – large and beautiful.
    Anna Nichole Smith was not fat, she was rubenesque!

    cagoule – fisherman's raincoat.

    2 bits – Quarter

    sawbuck – ten american dollars

    pence – penny or # of pennies value

    davenport -sofa

    mantel – the shelf above the fireplace that goes to the floor.

    Sill – the shelf in front of the window.

    bone straight – something is very straight.

    Plumb – something is where it should be.

    Cockamamie (yiddish)-crazy/foolish

    Sijk – what you say around children when you dont want to say, "HES FULL OF SH!T"… hes full of (spell it out) S.I.J.K.

    pussycat – cat

    You two look like a couple of wet mops – means, i know what you were doing.

    kicking a dead horse – means, there is no point of making a point of the pointless.

    xerox copy – photo copy

    dittos – Photo copy (use to be lithographs)

    lithographs – old fashion inked photo copy equivalent.

    house shoes/slippers

    bloomers – underwear

    gobbledygook- hbe]9$#(#Bp/

    hubbledehoy- a male that looks strange or a man that looks like a boy or a boy that looks like a man.

    (more to come)

  25. MyThoughts says:

    cocksure – arrogantly sure

    loose as a goose -(google that).

    brazier – bra

    tit-sling – bra

    spats – undergarment girdle

    girdle – a garment use to hold the extra flesh in if a woman was Rubenesque.

    bustle – a device used under women's clothing to give her much larger posterior (i.e. It makes a woman look too bootylicious… literally)

    cool your boots – sit down

    pocket pool – (google that)

    cup-a-joe – coffee

    dĂ©colletage – real estate between a womans nipples and her collarbone.

    bust a gut – to be unpleasantly surprised or to laugh uncontrollably.

    little nippers – small children

    tot- a small child

    hottsie tottsie – young and visually provocative.

    chap – male

    squirt – a short person.

    half-pint – a short person

    smokestacks – tall skinny person

    brickhouse – a perfectly shaped woman or man.(song of same title)

    green with envy – jealous

    tickled pink – very pleased

    white as a ghost – very scared

    black as tar – very dark

    cross my heart and hope to die- A PROMISE phrased used by children. (however, it could be used by a silly president).

    THank my lucky stars- something an well meaning atheist might say.

    Lanai – semi enclosed porch.

    top sheet – flat sheet

    Duvet- an envelope cover that you put the comforter inside. if there is no opening its called a comforter.

    Soapbox – you can be on it, or off of it but these days we call them RANTS!

    siblings – we now say brothers or sisters.

    doughnut hole- this means food or a stupid person.

    THE loo, water closet, W.C. The betty, the stool, latrine, Bathroom, outhouse – ALL MEAN THE toilet.

    doily – a decorative napin used on the back of sofas. In the UK it is used in place of napkin. If you ask for a napkin they will give you a "sanitary" napkin.

    playing possum – pretending you are sleep.

    humdinger – the very best of.

    party pooper –

    lovelorn – inlove but frustrated over it.

    scallywag – young, uncultured, ghetto.

    jodhoppers – horseriding pants

    vestibule – the enclosed opening before you get to the main door.

    Bannister – stairs

    cocajole (cajole) – to loosen out of place.

    kermudgeon – a hermit or someone that does not live up to societies standards.

    hoity toity – unnecessarily fanciful affairs.

    coin purse – a fancy packing that keeps coins secure.

    dullard – a boring person.

    scapegoat -a person or situation to blame.

    parasol – Umbrella

    doo-dad – an object, usually referred to in technology.

    sashay – a fanciful walk thats meant to get attention.

    shantay – a fanciful pause in a walk meant to get attention (used by models at the end of their runway walk. Sashay, shantay

    jux-opposed – opposite ends with

    tallywacker – (google)

    pinky toe – smallest on foot

    jimmy the lock – to pick a lock

    Shindig – party

    Cotillion – fancy party

    hullabaloo – not so fancy party

    knickers – pants

    the slammer – jail

    blacktop – any surface covered in concrete w/tar top

    bewitched – to have a witch present

    pick-a-dilly – deli store w/clothing

    ice cream social – carnival w/o rides

    chaperon – to escort (pg)

    willy nilly – with no rules

    duck N dodge – to avoid

    Fat means greasy – a point someone gets or not gets. "you don't think that fat means greasy"=you fail to see the truth in the matter".

    blunderguff – when someone passes gas by themselves and right before someone arrives. usually associate with an elevator.

    stole – a decorative scarf worn by women to keep them warm.

    sass – attitude

    smartellic/smartallic – one who will sass with words.

    mood music – music to set "the mood"

    hanky-panky – fooling around.

    Frolic – doing things for entertainment.

    hobnob – mingle

    court- mingle or date

    woo – to date with an ulterior motive.

    melancholy -sadness. Only used as titles or plays anymore.

    Dial – to turn an adjustment on electronics.

    **I could come up with more but Im sleepy and my head is starting to thump**

    Is their really a contest?

  26. Anonymous says:

    hoodwink, hooligan, block head, simpleton, ninkampoop, scamp, knapsack, walkman, holy moley, sham, cahoots……………….. im on 16..old fashioned words are ….legit.

  27. Christine says:

    We lived in a "row-home" in South Philly and my dad would call the living room that Parlor…and the basement the cellar. Oh and here's anther one…for example, "she has them all "buffaloed"….means to be fooled.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I actually was telling my husband a story about my Mother and my older siblings- I am 49- I said, "it had come a flood"

  29. elleroi says:

    Sticky wicket
    Fair to midling

  30. Anonymous says:

    fisticuffs and pantaloons are two of my favorites. i use them every day, usually when threatening to not put on pants.

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  34. miseed a typo lol!

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  38. tmace says:

    “Praise the lord and pass the ammunition”

  39. Bill says:

    coal cellar (before we used oil tanks)
    egad (oh my ! )
    pedal-pushers (“flood pants”)
    poodle skirt,
    wiseacre (sassy person),
    cooties (germs),
    hoopaloopus of the blowhole (undiagnosed illness),
    country bumpkin,
    out of the frying pan into the fire,
    doughboy (soldier),
    sweet on (as in “he’s sweet on her”),
    boulderdash (b.s.)

    toodleloo !!

  40. Amy Puschert says:

    My dad always said “wait a cotten pickin’ minute”

  41. Kelly says:

    Davenport ( couch/sofa)

  42. Jennifer says:

    ducken (as in, “to give a ducken”)
    _____________ as big as horseturds (pardon the graphic nature of that)
    “You are forgiven”
    “Thank you”
    “I love you”
    (three above phrases most lost in this world)

  43. Bracha says:

    As my father, of blessed memory, was born in 1911, I was exposed to many old words and sayings:
    A coatroom was a cloak room
    gas station was a filling station
    a great guy was “a dandy”
    marketing (shopping)
    two bits (25 cents)
    charge plate (credit card)
    hosiery (stockings/nylons)
    dry goods store (general store)
    cupboards (cabinets)
    eye glasses
    I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts (to suggest that something is very likely true)
    haberdashery (men’s clothing store)
    tavern (bar)