Even our language changes, evolving with new phrases and words. The old tried and true of the past may now evoke a “hunh?” and a puzzled look from a youngster who likely will respond with the newfangled that leaves you speechless.
Old phrases and words.
Old faces and worlds.
“Come go with us.”
“Better stay on here.”
That was the routine exchange between my father and my grandfather when we would “make ready” to leave for home after our regular Sunday afternoon visit.
There are so many memories and, now, reflective meanings, those phrases bring to mind — those afternoons that stretched into evening, and our prolonged leave-taking that took us off the back porch, up the dirt path that narrowly figured between house and fig bush to the yard and to our car.
I recently said something to my husband about someone not being “to home.”
“To home?” he asked.
“Well, he wasn’t to home,” I replied. “Haven’t you ever heard that?”
Another that sticks in my mind from my grandmother on the other side of the family is “Fat as mud.” I don’t really know what that means, exactly. She was usually referring to a baby.
Not so long ago, someone passed along a list of “How many do you remember?” phrases. Here are a few I like and do remember.
“A lick and a promise” – doing a job quickly, knowing you’ll come back to it for a more thorough workup later.
“Hold your horses” – be patient.
“Catawampus” — crooked. (I think of it as pronounced catty-wampus.)
“Bee in your bonnet” — to have an idea you can’t shake. (Do you know what a bonnet is?)
“Kit and caboodle” – the whole thing.
“Skedaddle” — get out of here quickly.
“Piddling” or “gallivanting” – not doing anything useful.
My daughter really likes for me to use the word “lollygagger,” which is basically the same, someone who is piddling and gallivanting about.
“Persnickety” — overly particular.
“Pert near” — pretty near.
“I reckon” — I suppose.
Some I didn’t know, but also like, are “Red up,” meaning to clean the house; “Barking at a knot,” meaning you effort is as useless as a dog barking at a knot; and “Blinky,” between sweet and sour.
New Oxford American Dictionary recently announced its word of the year – “unfriend.” After someone befriends you, you can “unfriend” them, technologically speaking, on your social networking site such as Facebook.
Apparently the dictionary expands to include new words, with those adopted based on projected longevity and use.
As some phased out — although they aren’t really gone, they just aren’t used as often and aren’t as well known — others become introduced as “official” words.
Not surprisingly, many of the new words are techno- and social-site based.
Ha. “Intexticated” is “the state of being distracted while driving because of sending a text message.”
I nearly got run over the other day by someone who was clearly “intexticated,” text messaging instead of looking up and ahead to the stop sign where I — a sitting duck — watched apprehensively in my car’s rearview mirror.
Clearly I am no longer a spring chicken.
Jana Adams Mitcham is features editor of The Jackson Herald and a Madison County resident.