March 20, 2008

Incredible Disappearing Words

No one ever describes an object as "oblong" any more. Is it that nothing is that shape? Instead, I'd expect to hear something described as "rectangular with rounded corners," but that is a much more awkward phrase. So is "lozenge-shaped". And come to think of it, real lozenges are often shaped like blocks or discs rather than oblongs. Is this somehow a dirty or sexual word that must never be spoken?

And no one is ever described with "arms akimbo," either. It's much more likely to hear or even say something like, "She had her hands on her hips." Maybe people are afraid that "akimbo" sounds like somebody's name? That's a word that has fallen into such disuse that it's likely a lot of people wouldn't even know what it means anymore.

Slang phrases go in and out all the time. But these are just regular words, which (based on books I recall reading as a child) were apparently used a lot in the fifties and sixties. Nor are they particularly difficult words at that. There are surely more words that simply fall into disuse; one rarely sees these word used outside of crossword puzzles. Can you think of any more words like these, Readers?

What? It's not always gonna be about politics here, folks.

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