Forgotten Words We Ought to Revive

A few weeks ago I asked my friends on social media if they had a favorite word that no one seems to use anymore—and the response was fast and furious (I should make a dozen or so movies about it, right?). While there were far too many replies to list them all, here is a list of some of my favorites (and the person(s) who mentioned each), followed by the one word that got the most mentions and “hear, hears.”

assignation (Kristena Mears)

astonish (Nick Harrison)

bamboozle (Sharon Kopf)

brouhaha (Linda Gilden)

cacophony (Molly Jo Realy)

cheroot (Lisa Kibler)

chivalry (Peggy Derr Follrod)

confounded (Gary Fearon)

discombobulated (Diane Viere)

diversion (Sharon Autry)

eschew (Craig Stoker)

flabbergasted (Karen Bender)

flibbertigibbet (Sharon Kopf)

fortnight (Scott Strissel)

frisky (Tez Brooks)

gobsmacked (Dawn Heatwole, Ronie Kendig)

groovy (Pam Zollman, Candy Westbrook, Jerry Eldred)

intuit (Bill Patterson)

jolly (Robin Prince Monroe)

kerfuffle (Sharon Kopf, Lauren Monico-Crews)

lickspittle (Bob Hostetler)

Lilliputian (Julie Patrick-Barnhill)

lollygag (Judy DuCharme, A. E. Schwartz)

meretricious  (Craig Stoker)

patootie (Cindy Huff, Daphne Woodall)

penultimate (Sarah Thomas)

persnickety (Marilyn Turk)

pervade (Misty Simco)

plethora (Joshua Masters, Rachel McDaniel)

practicable (Craig von Buseck)

pshaw (Jeanne Gowen Dennis)

recalcitrant (Roberta Brosius)

reckon (Rebekah Dorris)

reprobate (Donna Mumma)

sequester (Chris Storm)

shall (Bob McLaughlin, Don Hostetler)

shan’t (Don Hostetler)

smug (Tez Brooks)

stalwart (Mary Connealy)

verdant (Marilyn Turk)

whilst (Jenn Discher)

yonder (Gail Wofford Cartee)

And the winner, mentioned first by Pam Halter and seconded or repeated by several others: vex.

Thank you to everyone for playing, and join us next time on “Forgotten Words We Ought to Revive.”

32 Responses to Forgotten Words We Ought to Revive

  1. Avatar
    Rebekah Love Dorris May 9, 2018 at 4:31 am #

    Well I reckon I’m plum flabbergasted. Thanks for putting mine on the list! Groovy!

    • Avatar
      Mark Alan Leslie May 9, 2018 at 8:25 am #

      I shan’t be smug about gobsmacking the recalcitrant ogre during our kerfuffle because he was a persnickety reprobate…

  2. Avatar
    Sy Garte May 9, 2018 at 6:03 am #

    I reckon this plethora of jolly, groovy words will astonish any recalcitrant reprobate smug enough to eschew their use. However…. (continue until all words are used)

  3. Avatar
    Loretta May 9, 2018 at 6:04 am #

    LOL! As a wordsmith, I love it. I gave myself a little vocabulary test. Did pretty well 😉

  4. Avatar
    Deb May 9, 2018 at 6:10 am #

    How about my favorite words: whippersnappers and nincompoops. 😊

  5. Avatar
    Judith Robl May 9, 2018 at 6:19 am #

    Did I miss the previous post? And why didn’t anyone think of rapscallion? We have plenty of them around.

  6. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser May 9, 2018 at 6:32 am #

    OK, this gives me an idea for a new book…William Shakespeare and Francis Bacon go on a climbing trip together in the Himalayas, and in a fit of pique over actually writing The Bard’s plays and getting no credit, Bacon pushes Shakespeare into a deep crevasse.

    Hundreds of years later, Shakespeare is found and revived, but since no one can understand what he’s saying apart from a few English-sounding words, he’s assumed to be a Sherpa and attains a position herding yaks in a small Nepalese village…where, inspired by his hairy new quardaped colleagues, he pens a pair of songs. Discovered by a trekking American literary agent, Shakespeare consents to be represented.

    And the rest is history, with the chart-topping “Yakety Yak (Don’t Talk Back)” and “Wooly Bully”.

    Shakespeare, meanwhile and tragi-comedically, meets a meet end, with a fell fall from a precipice, and his blood the multitudinous snows incarnadines, making the white one red.

    Wow. Think I just pegged the Lame-O-Meter.

  7. Avatar
    Lee Carver May 9, 2018 at 7:54 am #

    I missed the instigating post, but reckon I found several words I still use in the list. How about a new list: words which don’t exist but should. The primary entrant should be “unforgiveness,” which many of us write about. It isn’t in the dictionary!

  8. Avatar
    Mark Alan Leslie May 9, 2018 at 8:22 am #

    I’d go with “supercilious popinjay.”
    Supercilious: full of contempt and arrogance
    Popinjay: vain and conceited
    I used these words in “The Three Sixes” to describe the dean of students at Yale University.

  9. Avatar
    Norma Brumbaugh May 9, 2018 at 8:34 am #

    Some of these are like old familiar friends. Fun to read them. Love it!

  10. Avatar
    Sharyn Kopf May 9, 2018 at 8:36 am #

    Great list! Though I would love it even more if my name was spelled right. 🙂 Still, there are quite a few here that I haven’t forgotten & use whenever possible.

    Speaking of forgotten words, my sister told me “perhaps” is an old word that people don’t use anymore. Is that true? I hope not … because I use it all the time!


  11. Avatar
    Ian Feavearyear May 9, 2018 at 9:04 am #

    Several of those words are everyday words for me – so I guess they must still be commonplace in the UK as I was born and raised in England: flabbergasted, fortnight, gobsmacked, penultimate, pervade, plethora, reckon, shall, shan’t, smug, yonder – I still use some of the other words from time to time

  12. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D May 9, 2018 at 9:27 am #

    What great words! I love them all. One of my favorites is gobbledygook.

  13. Avatar
    Sarah Jane Robinson May 9, 2018 at 9:45 am #

    Agree with the earlier comment that several of these are everyday words for me on this side of the Atlantic, but otherwise a ‘splendid’ idea.

    I think the best thing about writing is to catch the reader with an element of surprise in this way. It helps to keep readers on their toes, and stops the ad-nauseam of repeating the same words over and over again on the author’s end too!

    Incidentally, just noticed that ‘ad-nauseam’ seems to be another that should be resurrected.

  14. Avatar
    Amy Marie May 9, 2018 at 10:17 am #

    Sigh. Beautiful words. Logophiles of the world unite!

  15. Avatar
    Kristen Joy Wilks May 9, 2018 at 10:25 am #

    Ha, I tried to convince my family to name our new puppy (back in 2015) Kerfuffle. Only got one taker, Princess Leia Freyja won out. But I still think that Kerfuffle would make an excellent name for a Newfoundland.

    • Avatar
      Andrew Budek-Schmeisser May 9, 2018 at 10:50 am #

      Kristen, I’m with you…Kerfuffle would have been perfect.

      Though lately we’ve chosen expedient names, such as the Labrador named…wait for it…Labby, it was not always thus.

      Witness PITunia JezeBULL, and another Pit who delighted in the name Jolly Tulip (he was a boy).

      And wherever did the word Jolly wander off to, except for said dog and Jolly Time popcorn? I want it back!

  16. Avatar
    Claire O'Sullivan May 9, 2018 at 11:57 am #

    ha! Great post, Bob. Love these.

    Don’t forget:




    Quietus – dead

    For my noir:

    Tomato (hot chick) which in NY is pronounced tamata

    Gams (legs, particularly nice legs on that tomato)

    Bohica – which I will not mention what it means

    Jalopy – aw, ya’ll know that one.

    Nose candy – cocaine

    Gin Joint – bar

    Lead – bullet

    Piece – gun

    Chicago overcoat – buried body in concrete

    …and I’ll leave ya’ll with that

    • Avatar
      Andrew Budek-Schmeisser May 9, 2018 at 12:20 pm #

      Claire, this reminds me of a scene in a book, using another word for pistol, ‘gat’.

      A PI opened a drawer in a perp’s room, and saw a .45 Automatic and a pair of smaller .25 autos.

      “Oh, look…the gat had gittens.”

    • Avatar
      Sharyn Kopf May 9, 2018 at 12:40 pm #

      Yes, I love these … especially copacetic. It’s a lovely word.

  17. Avatar
    Maco Stewart May 9, 2018 at 12:24 pm #

    These are great words. The problem with using them in fiction is that unless an erudite character is wielding them in dialogue, they come across as “writtenese” and tend to draw the reader’s attention away from the action and toward the author. I might implement these by having my smarter characters speak more like the smarty-pants they are.

  18. Avatar
    Tisha Martin May 9, 2018 at 12:34 pm #

    How did “plethora” not get on the list?!

    LOVE “penultimate”!!! A grad school professor used that word and got me to using it too!

  19. Avatar
    Tracey Dyck May 9, 2018 at 8:51 pm #

    Love this list! A few of my personal additions would include capricious, petrichor (I was thrilled to discover that there’s a word for my favorite scent in the world: that of rain), plume, vanquish, alacrity, scourge, abyss, illustrious… the list continues.

  20. Avatar
    Pam Halter May 10, 2018 at 5:54 am #

    This is great. I call my girl cat “cutie patootie” and I even used p’shaw in one of my picture books! Ha! Yeah, well, the situation called for it. 😉

    And I used vex (and some of the variations) in my fantasy novel.

    Such fun!

  21. Avatar
    Lois Keffer May 10, 2018 at 9:42 am #

    Diverting, indeed. I find my curiosity piqued by the image of a forsaken structure positioned above your copy. An abandoned ligne de Metro? The never to be entered (by this person) tunnel originating in Chicago, ferreting its way under Lake Michigan? Please quell my nagging inquisitiveness.

  22. Avatar
    Peter DeHaan May 11, 2018 at 5:36 am #

    I regularly use several of these words. Does that make me behind everyone else or leading a trend?

    • Avatar
      Judith Robl May 11, 2018 at 6:54 am #

      I would hope you were leading a trend. 🙂

  23. Avatar
    Ann L Coker May 19, 2018 at 9:51 am #

    Don’t know why, but I’m fascinated with the photo you chose for this post. So I’m curious why and how you chose it. I want a connection.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler May 19, 2018 at 10:10 am #

      Well, I don’t choose the photos (the boss does), but the photo (from a stock photo subscription service) evokes something that was once valued and serviceable but is now old and abandoned. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

      • Avatar
        Ann L Coker May 19, 2018 at 1:38 pm #

        Interesting job for a boss. I like your story, Bob, for it makes a good connection with the topic.


  1. Writing Links…5/14/18 – Where Genres Collide - May 14, 2018

    […] “A few weeks ago I asked my friends on social media if they had a favorite word that no one seems to use anymore—and the response was fast and furious (I should make a dozen or so movies about it, right?). While there were far too many replies to list them all, here is a list of some of my favorites (and the person(s) who mentioned each), followed by the one word that got the most mentions and “hear, hears.” […]

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