Lost Words From our Childhood

children-runningBy – Richard Lederer

Words gone as fast as the buggy whip! Sad really! The other day a not so elderly (65) lady said something to her son about driving a Jalopy and he looked at her quizzically and said what the heck is a Jalopy? OMG (new phrase!) he never heard of the word jalopy!! She knew she was old but not that old…

Well, I hope you are Hunky Dory after you read this and chuckle..

About a month ago, I illuminated some old expressions that have become obsolete because of the inexorable march of technology.  These phrases included “Don’t touch that dial,” “Carbon copy,” “You sound like a broken record” and “Hung out to dry.” Back in the olden days we had a lot of moxie.  We’d put on our best bib and tucker to straighten up and fly right.

Heavens to Betsy!  Gee whillikers!  Jumping Jehoshaphat!  Holy moley!

We were in like Flynn and living the life of Riley, and even a regular guy couldn’t accuse us of being a knucklehead, a nincompoop or a pill.  Not for all the tea in China!

Back in the olden days, life used to be swell, but when’s the last time anything was swell? Swell has gone the way of beehives, pageboys and the D.A.; of spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes and pedal pushers.

Oh, my aching back. Kilroy was here, but he isn’t anymore.

We wake up from what surely has been just a short nap, and before we can say, well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! or This is a fine kettle of fish! We discover that the words we grew up with,- the words that seemed omnipresent as oxygen, have vanished with scarcely a notice from our tongues and our pens and our keyboards.

Poof, go the words of our youth, the words we’ve left behind.  We blink, and they’re gone.  Where have all those phrases gone?

Long gone:  Pshaw, The milkman did it. Hey! It’s your nickel.  Don’t forget to pull the chain.  Knee high to a grasshopper.  Well, Fiddlesticks!  Going like sixty.  I’ll see you in the funny papers. Don’t take any wooden nickels.  Heavens to Murgatroyd!  It turns out there are more of these lost words and expressions than Carter has liver pills.

This can be disturbing stuff !  We of a certain age have been blessed to live in changeful times.  For a child each new word is like a shiny toy, a toy that has no age. We at the other end of the chronological arc have the advantage of remembering there are words that once did not exist and there were words that once strutted their hour upon the earthly stage and now are heard no more, except in our collective memory. It’s one of the greatest advantages of aging.

See ya later, alligator, after a while crocodile!

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4 years ago

My mother always told me to mind my p’s and q’s

D.J. Fuller
4 years ago

OK so maybe I am one of the younger readers here.. in my 50’s. These remind me so much of the expressions you hear as a kid or teenager. I still use some of these – though not old enough to be in the same age group, they are ones that stuck with me from my relatives usage of them. Many I find colorful to this day and I often sign off email with “Later Alligator!” and say “What’s that got to do with the price of tea in China?” often. We cannot let the colorful expressions of any age… Read more »

4 years ago

Holy Toledo. It takes a cool dude to write an article like this. He’s a real hep cat!

4 years ago

Can still hear my mother’s “bed time” rhyme! “To bed, to bed!”, said Sleepy Head! “Wait a while!”, said Slow! (with a growl in your voice!) “Hang onto the pot!”, said Greedy Gut! “We’ll eat before we go!” …or my dad’s song! Show me the way to go home I’m tired and I wanna go to bed Had a little drink about an hour ago And it went right to my head Where ever I may roam Over sea or land or foam You can always hear me singing this song Show me the way to go home…(and repeat!) Anybody… Read more »

4 years ago

Memories….I still say see you later alligator to our 11 yr old grandson, don’t let the bed bugs bite you…

Diana Erbio
4 years ago

Loved hearing those expressions from days gone by! They stirred memories of sayings my grandfather used to tell us youngsters in an effort to get a reaction. One was, “Life is just a bowl of cherries – with a lot of pits.” He used to expect us to think about what these crazy sounding strings of words meant. I smile when some of them pop into my mind today and often “ring true”. We should pass on our quirky ways of saying things to youngsters of today – they will still get a “kick out of them”.

Suzanne Gerad
4 years ago

Unfortunately Heavens to Betsy and Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat and Holey Moley have been replaced by the “F: word in all of its glory with its many offshoots “f” you, Mother “F-ing, “f”-off and ad infinitim “F” this and “F: that. Not only foul mouthed but totally lacking in imagination. A loss on many levels!

david velasauez
4 years ago

I know everything evolves, even phrases but can the changes be for the better? what was once “No way Jose!” has become “#$%^ you!” So “Whoa Nellie! lets Change coursed and get off the “$%^&* side of the street” and on to the “Sunny side!”.

Matthew Chandler
4 years ago

Very funny! Most of these I remember (and still use once in a while). I also write scripts for my puppet shows and will use some of these old phrases for comedy effect (like when Arnold the Alligator and Sarge the Crocodile use the “See you later, alligator, After while Crocodile” lines! Thanks for the article!

4 years ago

And I thought I was the only one that thought this progression from old adages was more than just a Hill of Beans!

4 years ago

How about, “I’ll Moider Da Bum!”

Running to keep up!
4 years ago

Pardon me, but isn’t the term “in like Flint” (not Flynn)? I loved the article. At 67, I have also come up with some issue with words changing meaning over the years. I was having a conversation a number of years ago with my 20-somethng son-in-law, and we had a discussion in which he had difficulty understanding my irritation. In exploring this further with him, we discovered that the younger generation sees the word “aggressive” as a positive, when I see it as a negative. I even took a class some 30+ years ago on how not to be aggressive… Read more »

Lee Ann Phillips
4 years ago

Know what I mean Jelly Bean? Sure do Tennis Shoe

Texas Crude
4 years ago

If any of you cats ain’t hep to the jive, that’s two carburetors and an overdrive.

4 years ago

In all my youth I don’t ever remember using the word “delete”.

Flag girl
4 years ago

Amen to that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Margaret Paddock
4 years ago

Well, this was just the Cat’s Meow :)

4 years ago

Oh, don’t be such a “cornball”. Be happy and “gay”?

4 years ago

You use to get in trouble for swiping stuff at th store, now a days it’s In couraged. But you do it with a card.

Roxanne Davis
4 years ago

Neat !

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