Tag Archives: old expressions

Old Tyme Sayings (we should bring back!)

As I continue to type Dad’s letters, smiling all the while (because it’s fun to imagine my Dad writing them as a 20 year young man), I’ve been gathering remnants of the lexicon that was fashionable in the forties. I will add to this list as I come across sayings we rarely hear nowadays (and please feel free to add ones you might hear from your great, great relatives!):

  • The old duck (a 74 year old European story teller)
  • Chum around together [hanging with your peeps]
  • t’other [as in, you take one, I’ll take t’other]
  • I’m back in the chips again [after being paid]
  • Pretty classy [I suppose we’d say ‘stylish’?]
  • Weather is wetter than babies’ diapers [how’s that for a simile?!]
  • Those so and so’s [i.e., sonsofbitches]
  • Fair to middling [feeling only okay]
  • Full of vim and vinegar [fiesty!]
  • Get dolled up [so you’ll be looking fine for your babe]
  • Terrific [used to express excess or something horrendous ]
  • You’ld think… [an unusual contraction]
  • Methinks… [perhaps he was trying to be “classy”!]
  • ___ will come in mighty handy [fill in, “the dollar you sent”]
  • I’m a’raring to go [so look out, world, I’m ready!]
  • That fellow is really tops [and is probably a swell chap!]
  • Spry young man [lively, energetic, fun]
  • Stepping out [hitting the town, looking for action!]
  • Perchance [quite the elegant way of saying ‘perhaps,’ or ‘maybe’]
  • The laundry “did me dirt” last week…[didn’t come back dirty because it didn’t come back at all! Our much more crass saying today would be, “screwed me over”]
  • Gaily decorated tables [the word “gay” continues to evolve from the original meaning of “bright” or “cheerful”]
  • Someone ‘put us wise’ to an empty barn…[now we might say “schooled us” or “told us about”]
  • So I can’t kick too much [can’t complain too much]
  • On the blink again [not working quite the way it should]
  • All the Gilder Snerds and Vander Snoots of the town…[the upper crust of society–and perhaps “upper crust” is slowly becoming obsolete!]
  • Swell…as in, “You’ve done a swell job on your homework, Jimmy,” or, “The dollar you sent in your last letter was swell!”
  • No soap! [for “it’s not happening,” or “no way”]
  • Umpteen times [I now use the word “kajillion” for large numbers]
  • Here I am hale and hearty [and probably feeling “swell”]
  • Bitching to beat hell [what the fellows did when unhappy]
  • Fellows [dudes]
  • Jalopy [a car which needed lots of TLC to stay running]

I’ll keep my eyes peeled (yuck!) for more swell saying!