Everything on this planet eventually dies, even words! The language we speak today is not what was spoken 100 years ago. If you have a family Bible, reading it will show you how differently things were phrased and how difficult it now is to understand what basically still is English. Or listen to the Emancipation Proclamation. Not even 200 years old and yet its language is strange to our ears. Even though we understand the Constitution if it were read, still many of its expressions and phrases would be unfamiliar to us except that we’ve heard them before and had their meanings explained to us.
But you don’t have to go back more than 50 or 60 years to find words that have lost their original meaning. Here are a few:
The precursor of the refrigerator was the ice box. Instead of using electricity to generate cold, it used blocks of ice….that were delivered by the Iceman.
TVs used to have UHF tuners. These initials stand for Ultra High Frequency television signals in the days when TVs had rabbit ears, metal antenna that grabbed the signal out of the air instead of coming through a cable or fiber optic.
People used to make this comment “you sound like a broken record” when you kept repeating yourself. This was in the day of vinyl records that actually could be scratched or broken and played with a needle which could then get stuck in the scratches. All before the Walkman was invented which played small tape loaded cassettes. They didn’t get stuck but could break and gum up the Sony player device, something that never happens to an iPod!
Today we carry our phones around with us in our pockets. At one time, the only way you could place a call when not inside a building was to locate a phone booth, which had a huge phone inside and required coins to be deposited to pay for the call.
Going even further back in time, there was an era when you had to share your phone with other people. It was called a party line and was especially common in rural America where stringing phone wire on poles was difficult and expensive. At any time you could pick up the phone and instead of hearing a dial tone, you’d hear your neighbor talking! Each party’s phone had it’s own distinctive ring so you wouldn’t pick up your neighbor’s call when the phone rang.
Before digital cameras, there was the box camera that used large film and had no settings, just a lever to trip the camera’s shutter to take the picture.
Going steady was what two people did when they dated exclusively for a period of time. To enjoy each other’s company they would go to the drive in and sit in their cars to see the latest movie, or hang out at the soda fountain where all kinds of soda combinations were served by the soda jerk.
Milk used to come in bottles and was delivered to ones doorstep by the milkman.
Food markets used to give green stamps as customer rewards. Actual stamps that were licked and placed in a booklet eventually to be traded in for pots, pans, or other household items.