Here Are 7 Words That Are Older Than You Think

Posted: September 4, 2019 in History, Inspiration, Things I Love, Words
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Big word guy here. Everyone knows that. I’ve written several blogs about words, including the classics William Shakespeare, Rad Bro of Avon and Inventor of Words, 7 Redundancies We Need To Eliminate, Moving Forward, Allow Me To Reiterate, A Message To Social Media Users, 11 Examples of Why We Should Let Kids Name Stuff, Mispronounced Words: My Top 10, My 15 Favorite Palindromes, Here Are Some Words That Need To Make A Comeback, Word Up! Snorkel, Curds and Uranus and the legendary Cool Beans! Words and Phrases That Need to Make a Comeback.

So yeah, a lot.

And I once had a kid claim that “dude” was a word that only young folk should use, so of course I had to point out to him that it’s been around for at least 150-years, and that it was even used with regularity back in the stone age when I was in high school. And yes, I wrote about that too, in the blog The Etymology of Dude. 

Which brings me to today’s little piece about words that are older than you think. Let us proceed . . .

HIPSTER

Seriously. “Hipster” shows up in the 1941 Dictionary of Hash House Lingo (yes there was such a thing) and it meant “a know-it-all.” The words hip and hep had been around since the early 1900s, meaning being up on the latest and knowing what’s what. And by the way, I’m old enough to remember beatniks being called hep cats. God I’m old.

UNFRIEND

Think “unfriend” is a word brought upon us by Facebook? Naw. It’s been around a long time. It shows up in this example from 1659: “I Hope, Sir, that we are not mutually Un-friended by this Difference which hath happened betwixt us.” Cool. On a related note, if you don’t think I’m going to use the word “betwixt” henceforth you’re out of your gourd.

HANG OUT

Hang out has been used as a verb for passing the time since at least the 1830s. In the Pickwick Papers Charles Dickens wrote: “I say, old boy, where do you hang out?” True story.

PUKE

Puke has been around since the 16th century, man. The word, not actual puke. That’s been around forever. Anyway, while it is often claimed that Shakespeare invented the term, puke has been found in earlier sources. It meant then what it means now, to vomit. To hurl. Barf. Heave. Spew. Upchuck. You get the picture. But it also used to be a causative verb, meaning to make someone vomit with a tonic or potion. Your doctor might have you purged, bled, and puked for your own good. That’s disgusting, but I get it. Sometimes puking does make you feel better.

FUNKY

Funky was used as a term describing music back in the 1930s, but the “strong smell” meaning has been around long before that. Since the 1600s funk was slang for the stale smell of tobacco smoke, and by extension, anything that stank. Cheeses, rooms, hobos, and especially ship’s quarters could be described as “funky.” And oh by the way, I saw Wild Cherry perform “Play That Funky Music (White Boy)” on High Street in Columbus, Ohio 6-months before they hit it big. Boom.

FRIGGING

Wait, what you say? I kid you not. Frigging has been around since the late 1500s and has served as the more family-friendly substitute for that other F-word. Check out this 1943 quote, man:  “This shunting frigging new arrangement has got every flaming thing foxed up.” People used to talk way cooler than they do now, amirite?

LEGIT

Legit as a shortening of legitimate has been around since the 1890s. It started as theater slang for things associated with legitimate (as opposed to vaudeville or burlesque) theater. From the 1920s on, it referred to underworld or shady occupations or places. If you were “on the legit” you were being honest. Kewl.

So there ya go. Words that are older than you thought they were. I hope you learned something today, kids.

 

 

 

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