I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Dated Words—Here today, gone tomorrow

Delores E. Topliff
This blog highlights popular expressions made obsolete as technology marches forward. For example, I used to joke that I had a photographic memory that wasn’t developed (which worked fine in the camera film era but not in digital days). Some joke that it’s hard for any Clark Kent to change into Superman in this cell phone age when he can’t find a phone booth.

When a grandmother told her grandson she used to drive a Jalopy, he looked at her and asked, "What is a Jalopy?"

She said, “Heavens to Mergatroyd, you don’t know what a Jalopy is?”
He drew a blank again. Mergatroyd isn’t in Spellcheck. Google says the phrase is popularized by the cartoon character Snagglepuss on the Yogi Bear Show in the ‘60s but was used on the radio in 1944 by Bert Lahr, who played the cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz. Mergatroyd was the family name of aristocrats living in Yorkshire, England in 1371, but no one knows how their name jumped to an American cartoon. Before Mergatroyd, it was “Heavens to Betsy!” or “Gee whillikers!” but I won’t go there.
Sometimes few years go by before such changes occur, but those unaware of earlier technologies look at us like we’re from a different planet. Other words or phrases becoming obsolete include, “Don’t touch that dial”, “You sound like a broken record”, or “You should be hung out to dry.” What?

It’s sad when familiar words enter archival museums to be replaced by space-age-and-beyond terms. To communicate with current and coming generations, we must bridge vocabulary gaps, or risk obsoletism like Gregg’s Shorthand (which I still enjoy), Cursive Writing, or Stick Shift cars which are endangered species. Thankfully our kids and grandkids can help us.

Language is alive and grows with the times. Perhaps we can part with outdated technology terms if we’re careful to embrace the new ones taking their place but still pay respectful homage to the past.

What little-known word or term do you most wish to hang onto?

For more blog posts and news updates, check my website, delorestopliff.com

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

October 16 is National Dictionary Day

Delores E. Topliff
October 16 is National Dictionary Day, an unofficial holiday celebrating the birthday of Noah Webster who published An American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828, the earliest version of the now famous, widely-used Merriam-Webster Dictionary.


A dictionary is a book, optical disc, mobile device, or online source containing the words of a language alphabetically and providing information about their meanings, pronunciations, etymologies, inflections, and derived forms.

The best way to celebrate Dictionary Day is by expanding our vocabularies. Make sure to keep a modern dictionary in your home and that a site like Dictionary.com is tabbed as a favorite on your computer. You might enjoy the Reader’s Digest monthly feature, “How to Increase Your Word Power, or sign yourself up to a site like Grandiloquent Word Of The Day to expand your vocabulary daily.

In his book, Dead Poets Society, author N.H. Kleinbaum describes the purpose of dictionaries: “So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do.”

People who love words usually enjoy puns and team up their dictionary with a copy of Roget’s Thesaurus, so I’ll close with this quote that recently appeared on Facebook: “I swallowed a dictionary. It gave me thesaurus throat I’ve ever had.”

Groan, but only people skilled in dictionaries and vocabularies have that much fun with words.

What age were you when you began using a dictionary? Or, what is the most important thing you have learned from a dictionary?

For more blog posts and news updates, check my website, delorestopliff.com