40 Words That Will Instantly Reveal Your True Age
You may have been born in the 20th century, but you live in the 21st.
“Last year’s words belong to last year’s language,” wrote T.S. Eliot in Four Quartets. “And next year’s words await another voice.” By that measure, if you’re someone who regularly uses any of the following bits of language, you’re not living in last year. You’re living in last century. If you know what “Sunday shoes” are and find yourself calling dinner “supper,” then beware, you’re using words that are actually revealing your true age. And for more on outdated terms, check out the 100 Slang Terms From the 20th Century No One Uses Anymore.
Long before “me too,” the coolest of the cool in the 1960s would say “ditto” when they agreed with someone. Pretty groovy, right?
Ah, these were the special pair of fancy shoes only worn on Sundays for church. Nowadays, church attire is usually less frills, more casual. (And you can get away with the same flats you wear every day.)
Nowadays, when we’re coupled up, we either wholeheartedly embrace it or categorically deny the relationship at all costs. The half-heartedly ambiguous “go with” is a thing of the past.
We’re no longer “wishy-washy.” We’re on the fence.
Have you heard of Apple Pay? Venmo? Credit cards? Unless you’re paying bills or rent, put this away.
Some regions still address the sugary, carbonated drinks as “soda pop” or just “pop.” Soda pop used to be what you ordered at a soda fountain, a counter in a shop where you could purchase root beer floats and other ice cream-drink hybrids—during the Eisenhower administration.
Also rendered unnecessary by the smartphone. A Rolodex referred to a metal box that sat on your desk and would turn around and around. It was full of contact numbers, usually professionals. The modern-day Rolodex is just the contact section of your phone.
Sure, dictionaries still exist. Like, in libraries and stuff. But nowadays, you hear “look it up in the dictionary” much less than you hear “Google it.”
In 2017, we quite literally just say, “have sex” or, if we want to get mysterious and ambiguous, “hooked up.”
In today’s day and age if we want to insult someone, we usually resort to “stupid” or some variation of a cuss word. “Nincompoop” as an slur was most popular in the early 1940s.
You mean, my iPhone’s voicemail? Answering machines are a thing of the past—AKA the ’90s.
We don’t use Mapquest anymore, guys. We have GPS for that—and no, not navigation systems that adhere to our dashboards. We have GPS literally in our phones and in our cars!
Irrelevant. Your phone has that now.
Up until the mid-1960s, the milkman was the guy who showed up at your house in the morning to deliver the day’s milk. Now, we just grab a gallon at the grocery store.
What’s for supper? used to be a common question in the household, but in more recent years, “dinner” has become the colloquial expression for our evening meal.
Actually, add DVD to that, too. VHS is an acronym for video home system and refers to a bulky video recording on a cassette tape. (Add “cassette” to the list, too.) VCRs were usually accompanied by a VHS rewind system because once you watched the movie, you had to rewind it to play it over again.
Why use operators or dial 4-1-1 when we have Siri at our disposal at all times? TGFS. (Thank God for Siri!)
Make the person a banger of a Spotify playlist and call it a day. The gesture’s the same.
If you say “pay phone,” you better be referencing the Maroon 5/Wiz Khalifa collaboration from 2012. Or be in a museum or something.
A terrible hairstyle in which women (or men) added a permanent wave or curl to their hair by using chemicals and heat to redo the hair’s chemical structure. Prevalent from the 1930s to the ’70s, but (hopefully) dead anytime after that.
Ice boxes first came on the scene in the 1930s and let’s leave them there. We have refrigerators and built-in freezers now.
Up your nose with a rubber hose
Popularized by the 1970s show Welcome Back, Kotter, John Travolta’s character used to retort, “up your nose with a rubber hose” as his signature comeback.
Whereas we get on the train with the wave of a ticket (or better yet, a digital e-ticket downloaded on our phones), tokens used to be the magic currency with which a person took public transportation or played Tron at the arcade.
You can say “pickle” if you are eating a pickle as in, “I hope my grilled cheese sandwich comes with a pickle.” But you cannot say “pickle” if you happen to mean an extenuating circumstance—as in “We are in a pickle here.”
Today, a fuddy-duddy might be referred to as an “old fart.” It describes a person who is out-of-touch and old-school. (Two things the term itself has inevitably become!)
Surfing the web
We don’t surf it, we search it. We Google things but it never involves a surfboard. Leave the surfing to the open waters.
Um, have you met your cell phone? Yeah. Guess what? It also makes long-distance calls, too!
Little black book
Rendered immobile (as many things were) by the invention of the smartphone. A little black book used to be a tiny book full of contacts, phone numbers, and lists. Nowadays, we just keep that in our phones.
Another old-school nickname for rain or snow boots. Nowadays, people either say “rain” or “snow boots” or they call their boots by their specific brand name, like Wellingtons or Hunters.
Just one more thing
It was a phrase popular in the 1970s popularized by the television detective Columbo (from, uh, Columbo), who would interview a suspect, leave, and return saying, “Just one more thing…”
You put a piece of carbon paper underneath what you were going to write on and that’s what made a copy. Nowadays, we have printers for that—or better yet, we take a picture with our iPhones.
Have a canary
This is likely a phrase your grandma still says in reference to someone who’s freaking out but it is likely not a phrase you’d hear in the halls of a middle school.
Whether it was a Walkman with a cassette or a CD player, you can barely find those things around today. We have phones for that (and wireless ear buds, too).
Gone are the days when kids need to use one of these complex gadgets to help figure out their math homework. A slide rule (also known as a slipstick) was a mechanical analog computer used for aid in multiplication and division and other facets of trigonometry.
Not when referring to rabbits, of course, but to the TV antennae that very few people actually use anymore.
As in, the aluminum kind. If you’re not living in the 1950s, chances are you don’t even use ice trays anymore (especially aluminum ones) to make ice cubes. Your refrigerator likely does that for you at the push of a button. (And it also spits out filtered water for you, too.)
In order to take a picture with flash, all you have to do is press the flash button on your phone’s screen. But a flash bulb used to be a separate photography device you had to attach to the top of your camera in order to achieve that flash of light.
No one’s demure about mental health anymore. Instead of accusing a fraught, disheveled person of needing a “chill pill” in order to calm down, one might say, “Take a Xanax.”
“Rubbers” was an endearing nickname for rain boots, courtesy of your grandmother.
Uh, seriously? It’s a computer.
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