Words at Play

Long-Gone Words

We Asked Our Users: What words did you hear as a child that you no longer hear today?
Last Updated: 4 Apr 2022

words we dont hear anymore floppy disk

We asked our Facebook and Twitter followers to recall words from their childhood that people just don’t seem to use anymore. The responses ranged from 80s slang to regional patois to words we really wish we could resurrect. Here are a few of our favorites.


: a thin plastic disk coated with magnetic material on which data for a computer can be stored

About the Word:

The first known use of the word floppy disk was in 1972, and while the last known use isn't marked it's certainly a term, and tool, that has fallen out of use. We're pretty sure our kids have no idea what a floppy disk is (and, er, equally sure we have a stash of them somewhere with "important things to save" on them).

Ironically, the icon that often means "save" on software and apps today is in fact an image of a floppy disk.

words we dont hear anymore gallivant


1 : to go about usually ostentatiously or indiscreetly with members of the opposite sex

2 : to travel, roam, or move about for pleasure

About the Word:

"To gallivant all over town" sounds like such great fun, and yet you don't hear the term much these days. It didn't have an entirely positive connotation, but gallivanting at least allowed for a bit of naughty fun without being vulgar.

words we dont hear anymore britches


: breeches, trousers

About the Word:

A variation on breeches, an old word for trousers or pants, britches isn't a word you're likely to see on clothes racks these days. But the word persists in the idiom too big for one's britches - still as applicable today as ever.

That phrase refers to someone who has an exaggerated sense of their own importance, position, or abilities; and with bosses today complaining about millennials who think they can be CEO after a month on the job, we just might see this term come back into vogue.

words we dont hear anymore hootenanny


: a gathering at which folksingers entertain often with the audience joining in

About the Word:

We saw this word on the list and thought it was a quainter and more colorful word for hoot, as in "something or someone amusing." But a quick check revealed it actually means, "a gathering at which folksingers entertain often with the audience joining in." So apparently your last evening out was probably not "a real hootenanny" - unless you were indeed at a folk festival.

words we dont hear anymore dungarees


: clothes made usually of blue denim

About the Word:

Dungaree refers to the cloth we now more frequently call denim, or to clothes made of denim. Now we call them jeans.

A lot more has changed than just the word: when dungarees was used, the items were inexpensive, hardworking gear for folks whose work required it. Now jeans are considered business casual for people who sit at a desk, and cocktail wear for the happy hour set - with price tags in the $200 range not uncommon.

words we dont hear anymore icebox


: refrigerator

About the Word:

The word icebox may seem like a throwback to the age of TV dinners and Jell-O molds, but it’s actually much older than that.

The first known use of icebox dates to 1792 - a long time before the invention of the household fridge. However the word is a relative neologism compared to refrigerator - which can be traced back as early as 1611.

words we dont hear anymore yuppie


: a young college-educated adult who is employed in a well-paying profession and who lives and works in or near a large city

About the Word:

"Here Come the Yuppies!" proclaimed a 1984 Time magazine article that chronicled the tastes and mores of a new breed of "upwardly mobile folk with designer water, running shoes... and $450,000 condos." The word most likely comes from a playful acronym: young urban professional + -ie.

The age of the yuppie was more than thirty years ago, and the original yuppies are not exactly young anymore. It raises the question: What do you call a yuppie who's now facing retirement?

Get fun facts and observations on language, today’s lookup trends, and wordplay from the editors at Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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