Words that are on the endanger list.

A term I haven’t heard in a long time, and thinking about ‘fender skirts’ started me thinking about other words that quietly disappear from our language with hardly a notice like curb feelers.  Any body remember them.

And ‘steering knobs.’  (AKA) suicide knob, Neckers Knobs.

Since I’d been thinking of cars, my mind naturally went that direction first.

Any kids will probably have to find some elderly person over 50 to explain some of these terms

‘Continental kits

They were rear bumper extenders and spare tire covers that were supposed to make any car as cool as a Lincoln Continental.

Emergency Brakes

At some point ‘parking brake’ became the proper term.  I miss the hint of drama that went with ’emergency brake.’

Clutch ‘Foot Feed    Dimmer Switch.

I’m sad, too, that almost all the old folks are gone who would call the accelerator the ‘foot feed.’  Many today do not even know what a clutch is or that the dimmer switch used to be on the floor.

Running Board

Didn’t you ever wait at the street for your daddy to come home, so you could ride the ‘running board’ up to the house?  You felt like a real G-man.  Heck, most of you most likely don’t know what a G-man is.


Here’s a phrase heard all the time in my youth but never anymore –‘store-bought.’ Of course, just about everything is store-bought these days.  However, once it was bragging material to have a store-bought dress or a store-bought bag of

Coast to Coast

Coast to coast’ is a phrase that once held all sorts of excitement and now means almost nothing.  Now we take the term ‘world wide’ for granted.  I guess that soon it will be Universal.

Wall to Wall

On a smaller scale, ‘wall-to-wall’ was once a magical term in our homes.  In the ’50s, everyone covered his or her hardwood floors with, wow, wall-to-wall carpeting!  Today, everyone replaces their wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood floors.  Go figure.

In A Family Way or P G

When’s the last time you heard the quaint phrase ‘in a family way?’  It’s hard to imagine that the word ‘pregnant’ was once considered a little too graphic, a little too clinical for use in polite company, so we had all that talk about stork visits and ‘being in a family way’ or simply ‘expecting.  The more sophisticated town girls called it P G.

Apparently, ‘brassiere’ is a word no longer in usage.  I
said it once to my daughter when she was a teen and she cracked up.  I guess it’s just ‘bra’ now.  ‘Unmentionables’ probably wouldn’t be understood at all.

Picture Show

I always loved going to the picture show.  In fact, I have written about it in this very blog. I considered ‘movie’ an affectation.

Rat Fink

Most of these words go back to the ’50s, but here is a pure-’60s word I came across the other day – ‘rat fink.’ Ooh, what a nasty put-down!  These two words could cut like a sharp knife.  Especially if they were true.

Percolator          DynaFlo          Elevtrolux        Spectra Vision

Here is a word I miss – ’percolator.’ That was just a fun word to say.  What was it replaced with?  ‘Coffee maker.’  How dull.  Mr. Coffee, I blame you for this.
I miss those made-up marketing words that were meant to sound so modern and now sound so retro.  Words like ‘DynaFlow and‘Electrolux..’ Introducing the 1963 Admiral TV, now with‘SpectraVision!’

Lumbago       Castor Oil

Food for thought – Was there a telethon that wiped out lumbago?  Nobody complains of that anymore.  Maybe that’s what castor oil cured, because I never hear mothers threatening kids with castor oil anymore.


Some words aren’t gone, but are definitely on the endangered list.  The one that grieves me most, ’supper.’ Now everybody says ‘dinner.’  Save a great word.  Invite someone to supper.  Discuss fender skirts


One last thing, when I was a kid we passed a neighbors house.  They had a T V antenna strapped to their Chimney.  It was a cold day and smoke was bellowing out the old leaning stack.

My mother said, “Look there can’t afford butane to keep warm but they got a television set.

Yes, when I was kid a sure sign of poverty was smoke coming from your chimney.  Now you know you are in an up scale neighborhood.

Explore posts in the same categories: humor, January 2010, ramdom thoughts, stories


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  1. 5kidswdisabilities Says:

    Funny! I remember them ALL!!! (Still use some…)
    Lindsey Petersen

  2. Michelle Says:

    My students think it is hilarious that I use the word “britches.” As in “Pull up your britches.” I don’t hear that word very often, but some of us still use it.

  3. fuifduif Says:

    I do use some of those termes you just named. And I’m Dutch. ^.^

  4. Hi. Great post.

    Parking Brake. I always call it an emergency brake. Because that is what it is, right? The brake that you use to prevent an emergency like rolling down a hill.

    Supper. Sometimes I still say it. Although I read a book a while ago that used the word “sup” meaning to dine. It kind of ruined it for me.

    Percolator. It’s one of my Granmother’s favorite words. She doesn’t make coffee with a coffee pot, she uses a percolator on the stove and you can see the coffee percolating through the glass knob at the top.

    Dimmer Switch. We have them all over the house and my husband LOVES THEM. He’s dimmin lights all the time for ambiance in empty rooms, and I’m turning them off….

    You’ve got a very good point with Coast to Coast and Chimney also. Great post. Really enjoyed it. Made me smile.

    • gary Simmons Says:

      Sorry Princess the dimer switch was in the floor board of the car before they moved them tp a lever behind the wheel. I have a dimer switch in the house also. I like them also.

    • Jerry Clark Says:

      It was called a parking brake because most of your cars were manual transmission and even though you left in gear, the “parking brake” was to assist in keeping from rolling down the drive when starting the vehicle.

  5. DL Fields Says:

    What about “over the shoulder boulder holder?”
    Or pedal pushers? Clam diggers?
    My parents grew up on 365 aka gravy. Named so because they had it 365 days a year.
    My parents had a percolator until the 1970’s. My husband’s grandmother had one until about five years ago.
    What about “the curse?” When was the last time this phrase was used to describe a period.
    I’m doing research for a book that takes place in the 1950’s and bookmarked a page about slang from that period.

  6. chunter Says:

    Running Boards are installed on pickup trucks. I still say “supper,” it’s the big meal late in the day. “Dinner” is a snack you have around 9pm.

    My mother used to give me cod-liver oil, but that’s because she was worried about my nutrition.

  7. Thomas John Brown Says:

    Emergency Brakes is still used by me! You’re right about the drama with the name of them! Now that I read your Blog, I may start using Wall to Wall again as well:)


  8. Funny! I remember them ALL!!! (Still use some)
    Lindsey Petersen

  9. sittingpugs Says:

    A few of those terms I had never heard of before (‘Continental kits, running board, dimmer switch), but I still hear “brassiere,” “picture show,” “wall-to-wall,” “coast to coast,” “supper,” “chimney,” and “store-bought.”

    I admit it’s because I love Masterpiece Theatre and BBC dramas that I know what these terms mean. I’m curious about when the last time you heard someone say “baby carriage” vs. “stroller” ?

    Lightning bug vs. dragon fly.

    • gary Simmons Says:

      Its been a long come to think of it, We bought a baby carriage for out kids. They bought strollers for theirs.

  10. shutterboo Says:

    My parents refer to lunch as dinner. And the last meal of the day supper. I think it has to do with what region you live in too – like pop versus soda versus. coke.

  11. jstjessie Says:

    haha, i barely know like any of those

  12. Bob In Chicagoland Says:

    “coal chute”… “wash machine wringer”…”clothes line” (soon to die!)…”lap robe” (for back seat riders)…”picture tube” (it’s all “flat screen” these days)…”radio tubes”…”streamliners”…
    “streamer trunk.” (Long sunk!)…”sent a wire”…”spin a top”…”hop-scotch”…”observation car”…:fireman” – the guy who shoveled coal in the steam engine!…”
    fire plug”…”jacks” – best sidewalk game, ever!…”it”…

    Well, I am REALLY showing my age. But, my “age” was a lot less stressful; and, it was much kinder!


  13. […] noticed this blog post called “words that are going extinct” on the wordpress front page. It’s on […]

  14. Lauren Says:

    I remember a lot of these, and I haven’t even graduated from college yet! “Chimney” reminded me that many new homes don’t even have word-burning fireplaces anymore. It’s all gas fireplaces and fake wood. It makes me grateful to have a (semi) functioning wood-burning fireplace at my home!

  15. angirach Says:

    I definitely appreciated hearing those growing up since I was raised by my grandparents, who had a percolator. And shopping for unmentionables was my worst time of year and talking about “the curse” was done in the most round about way.

    I feel like the directness of this generation leaves nothing to the imagination, it also respects nothing. Everything is crude and raw.

    Thank you for keeping those words in rotation!

  16. skaheru Says:

    Even Percolator! I’ve used most of the words above – underscoring yet again how old I must appear to my workmates…

  17. rajat Says:

    hi.. nice blog. still use some of them..
    these words have a certain kind of sweetness among them, which takes us to the 60’s. thanks.

  18. nadiaqh Says:

    I grew up with my parents saying “supper” now it sounds like a religious term “the last supper”. It is nostalgic for me and I still love that word… I will start to use it again and see if heads turn!

  19. Jon Says:

    Ha, I recently used a percolator and actually think the coffee tastes better than making it in a coffee maker.

  20. S Fox Says:

    Language, of course, evolves and words rise and fall like empires. It seems to me that this happens faster in English than in other languages and faster in one epoch than another. The world of words is currently spinning so quickly that many are disappearing, escaping the gravitational pull of common usage and getting lost in the void of obsolescence.
    Should we mourn them?

  21. lilabyrd Says:

    Very funny! I do remember a lot of these and I just turned 50….. now if you let your kid ride on the running board you would be reported and they would come and take your child away! Clutch, dimmer and choke are all familiar to me but I did learn to drive using a car that was made the year I was born…lol…..a 1960 Ford Falcon {it was old even then}…..then there was something I never understood why…like I can understand “the curse” but why “falling off the roof”? “Oh, don’t bother her. She’s in a bad mood….she’s fallen off the roof.” Oh yeah, how about “The rabbit died.” Now we have home “Preggers” {I find this new word so very crude} tests. Thank you for the nice walk down memory lane…..it walks past the drive-in picture show that left no real need of a Lover’s Lane….hehe……

    • gary Simmons Says:

      I have heard of the rabbit but not falling off the roof. funny thanks for sharing.

      • My mother used to say “There’s a cardinal (red bird) on the roof”. While I agree with one post that many of these words are regional, there were many that were universal. Many kids today would not have any idea what I was talking about if I said: ” I would stop at the penny candy store on my way home from school. Then I would put on a “45” on my “record player” , drop in a root beer “Fizzie” into a glass of water and dance to the “Twist”. I would play “Kick the Can” till dark then tune into the “Monkeys”
        THanks Gary for prompting me to go down memory lane.

    • Jerry Clark Says:

      Do you remember any movie you seen at the Drive-Inn? You’re right it was truly a paid lover’s lane.

  22. s kawu Says:

    i am a student and still managimg a shop selling some things but i need money pls i need ur asisstance

  23. After my grandmother finished with the electrolux she would get a cold lemonade out of the Kelvinator. And one time my father got a bird stuck in the grille of his car.

    Recently I was floating in an inner tube. Do they just make those for floating now?

    • gary Simmons Says:

      They may still be in big truck tires. I will have to ask about that.

    • Dave Wilber Says:

      I recall the name Kelvinator but back then I had no idea what kelvin meant. It concerns low temperatures and absolute zero is expressed in degrees kelvin which is 459.9 degrees below zero Fahrehenheit. The web site is adopted, I know the owner.

    • Inner tubes are alive and well in the Midwest. We have limited things to do, so we take day trips floating down the river. And there is always an extra inner tube for the cooler too. 🙂

  24. Tony Says:

    Here in Tasmania & the rest of Australia too, we call it a hand brake & as far as I remember always have, I hae heard some call it a parking brake but I always say hand brake because you put it on with your hand.

    I haven’t seen curb feelers for a long time, I’m assuming you mean those wire thingy’s that hang down at an angle & make a scrapey noise when they touch the curb.

  25. senderok Says:

    Just tweeted this link. Great that you wound up as the recommended post of the day.

  26. Wow. I didn’t know most of these words {though I was proud each time I came to a word or phrase I DID recognize!}.


  27. dorkarama Says:

    Aside from Mr Burns in the Simpsons, it has been far too long since I heard anyone use “boondoggle” and “lollygag”, both of which are exemplary words for being busy doing nothing.

  28. Jen Says:

    haha, maybe it’s because I grew up with my grandparents in the house, but I have heard and still use most of those words every now and again, so they won’t all be very extinct =^^=

    My grandpa still calls them brassiers, and when I’m trying to make an obvious statement, such as ‘my brassier itches’, I will use that word in that manner.

    I haven’t heard of a continental kit, or a lumbago though, so I learned something new =)

    However, I still use the old breakfast, brunch, dinner, supper routene. It confuses my friends when I’m calling lunch ‘dinner’ and dinner, ‘supper’.

  29. Wasim Says:

    This is a really intersting post. It’s funny how the meaning of words can change. There was a time when the word ‘gay’ meant ‘happy’ now it means ‘homosexual’ but poeple also use it to describe something that is silly. I’ve heard youngsters say things like, “Oh have you seen my new mobile phone?” and then the other would reply, “that’s soooo gay!!”

    Strange !!!!!!!!

    • Dave Wilber Says:

      In those long gone days, homosexuals were called “queers” but our misleaders whose goal is to reduce population wanted a more palatable term that makes evil sound as if it is good. ALL who spell sodomite with 3 letters are promoting sodomy whether intentional or not.

  30. slamdunk Says:

    Funny list. “Rat fink” is such a nostalgic term.

  31. Nyna Says:

    Hee! Just great : ) Though in your last extinct word, “Chimney” you missed one other that is right there in the description of chimney!…”Television Set” who says that one anymore either? : ) Love this thought of extinct words…got me thinkin’ now too! Have a great day!

  32. pyrit Says:

    Nice work putting the spotlight on some wonderful words!
    I am glad swimsuits are no longer called trunks though.

    I have a percolator. Percolator has a nice ring to it. And makes better coffee.

  33. conradvisionquest Says:

    oh, this is awesome. i think my new favorite term is “rat fink” or also “you dirty rat.” i think i will start a campaign to bring those back.

  34. Rohit Says:

    Very interesting.

    Chimney are very much used in India with a lot of “electric chimeny” in use today.

    “wall-to-wall” has become a word/phrase which is used only in real-estate dealings when a person buying a house wants to know the exact dimensions on a room etc.

  35. jjgilmore Says:

    Great post … loved everyone of them!


  36. Liz Says:

    I have a Percolator! It is the only method of brewing coffee that I like…. drip coffee yuck. (extra editorial comment, no extra charge) And I still use the emergency brake… I love the drama of that…
    Thanks for such an entertaining post….I think I’ll invite a friend over for supper soon 🙂

  37. John Says:

    What a smashing post. I remember most of these though I’ve never used ‘rat fink.’

  38. superalzy Says:

    Store-bought seems to have done a 180 in terms of connotation. Once it was bragging material to say you had a store bought dress as opposed to home made. Now it’s a cheap, lazy… almost shameful thing to bring store bought cookies or pastries to a party. Home made things have become special again. 🙂

  39. lm2703 Says:

    It’s so decadent now to use words such as ‘picture show’. It’s nice to be able to think of themand remember memories of the past, but it is sad when they disappear altogether.

    However, perhaps we should be looking toward the future! There are new words coming out every day which will one day be considered as decadent and maybe one day forgotten altogether. It is just all about the natural cycle of things and the reason why we have unique and special memories and feelings of old and new.

    Great blog!

    Keep pondering!



  40. jingle Says:

    I wonder how did you find out this?
    very impressive post.

  41. hmm

    Still ‘supper’ means completely different to ‘dinner’. So if you invite someone ’round for dinner they expect a big meal, which is more of an event, so it happens more.

    Supper’s your snack meal after your dinner, which is your evening meal. Maybe people just don’t have supper any more, like they don’t really have ‘afternoon tea’. Or only occasionally have brunch.

  42. Great post, Supper is a sad word to go, but I bet their are some southerns out there that still love it!

  43. […] a writer who loves the English language, that one naturally caught my attention. You can find it here. The rest of his blog is a bit eclectic. You might find something you like […]

  44. frances Says:

    Most people don’t have percolating coffee makers any longer. I have one and I call it a percolator.

  45. artfeltwritings Says:

    My Blog is actually called “What’s for Supper?” – we use “supper” all the time in my house. 🙂

  46. Sherrie Says:

    Once, when my older son was a new baby (c 1970), we were invited over to our next-door neighbors’ home for a 7-course Italian dinner. The people next door had 3 kids–twin girls aged 14 and a boy age 13. After dinner–and a brioski to settle our stomachs–somebody suggested playing Monopoly, Clue, cards, or Charades or something. I made the horrendous mistake of saying, “Great, I love parlor games!” None of the adults thought anything of it, but the 3 teenagers went crazy, laughing and mimicking over and over, “PARLOR games! PARLOR games! What IS that?” That was the term I’d always heard and used to refer to any game played at a home party. Anyway, that’s when I learned the word “parlor” was extinct — and I made sure I never used it again.

  47. madame7 Says:

    Lol. I love the chimney bit! Yeah, it is pretty sad when words drop off the radar and silly terms like ‘bootylicious’ make it into the Oxford English dictionary. And ‘Facebook me’ becomes a common expression. The way we communicate, our social fabric is changing. The word ‘supper’ has more close-knit connotations attached to it than ‘dinner’. Dinner seems like a concept for the actual act of eating. It removes the communal nature that supper suggests. Like I said, the social fabric is changing. We are becoming more inward beings. Internet language is taking over, slang is replacing traditional English.

    Did you know that most English kids have never heard of certain classic books? Some don’t know who Oliver twist (I’m ashamed to say this but my brother is one of them – by the way, we’re South African though)? But they can tell you who Harry Potter is or what a Nav’i is. They’ve never heard of the Catcher and the Rye. SMH. Soon, no one will understand or value Shakespeare as the word bank simply won’t exist!

  48. 1dental Says:

    Great post! Very interesting!

  49. thanks for the giggle over brasserie. 🙂

  50. iceangel Says:

    Yeah, that does make sense. A lot of those are more like phrases, and a lot of them i dont even know what they are 🙂
    Please read my blog, and i will read yours.
    My screen name is iceangel97, please look up my blog. I really need some comments, because I just got a WordPress just today. Please read my blog.

  51. Spencer D. Says:

    Emergency brake certainly isn’t gone. Kids still talk about “drifting”. They say that they will “floor it” then pull the “e-brake” and go “drifting”.

  52. […] blogger named gartalker has a list of words that are becoming extinct. Maybe it is a southern thing, but PG still hears supper used. The rest of the list is amusing, and […]

  53. reisball Says:

    Alright, I like this post, but I have to disagree with a few words. You may never hear them any more, but they’re still very much alive in my vocabulary and the vocabulary of my friends.

    First, let me tell you that I’m 19 🙂 and my friends are around the same age too, of course.

    Emergency Brake –> Parking brake? No one I know uses that.
    Store-bought —> We still use it, but I do agree it’s scarcely heard.
    Coast to Coast –> Although we’re (friends and I) pretty much world travelers now, we still get all excited when we talk about coast-to-coast.
    Brassiere —> we use it often, but we don’t really use it in place of bra. We use it more in the terms of a lingerie thing.
    Chimney —> Are you serious? With Christmas cartoons and Santa? Plus where I’m originally from a lot of people still use wood stoves. I think they’re cool. Screw the “sign of poverty” thing, but I suppose it’s where you come from.
    Castor Oil –> …. wow. Castor oil is something every one should know of. Sure, my mom never threatened me with castor oil, but I know what it is and what it can do.

    As for the rest of the words, I can’t argue! Haven’t even heard of most of them. 🙂

  54. Dave Wilber Says:

    I’m 78 so many words here are remembered. I find that young people do not know what bushels and pecks are with a peck being 2 gallons and a bushel being 4 pecks.
    When any merchant on lone or off line is done with me and asks if there is anything else they can do for me I nearly always say slowly, “I uh need a bushel of 100 dollar bills and I am paying 50 dollars a bushel.” Their reactions can be interesting.

    • Jim Says:

      I’ve often wondered what size quantity a bushel and a peck were. There is an old song that goes ♪♫”I love you a bushel and a peck…”♫♪ Now I know it is 10 gallons of love!

      • Eric Says:

        Jim, my mother used to sing “bushel and a peck” to me when she rocked me to sleep as a baby/child. Now, I’m passing it on down to my kids! It’s a bit hokey, but the words are great for them to hear!

  55. blackwatertown Says:

    Hidalgo – originally a Spanish nobleman, but anyone cutting a dash at a dance, a swashbuckler, someone with an air about them.
    Kingsley Amis uses it in his book Lucky Jim, but it’s not even in the dictionary anymore.
    I use it still. Well, maybe just to myself.

  56. Estherlou Says:

    I’m 60 years old and I remember a lot of these but never heard of some of them, as I’m not a “car” person. When I was a kid we had an old 1950’s chevy, so I remember the dimmer switch and I still drive a stick shift. I think supper and dinner depend on what part of the country you come from. My husband, born in Amarillo, Tx. says dinner instead of lunch.

  57. sinbalas Says:

    The truth is you never know when they return, but what is certain that every 10 years they change the words

  58. jjs691 Says:

    Remember “three on the tree” as opposed to “four on the floor”?

  59. My grandmother did her part to keep “supper” alive — she never said “dinner.” I picked up that habit from her, so maybe I can pass it on to my kids!

  60. saratoday Says:

    Great post. “Percolator” hasn’t disappeared though. Most people say coffee maker because that’s what they have. We have an old glass percolator and sometimes use it for fun. It makes really freaking hot coffee.

    I would like to see “saucy” back in fashion.

  61. i8godzilla Says:

    I can still hear my grandmother yelling, “If you don’t get your feet off of the Davenport there will be no supper for you!”

    To which my grandfather would reply, “Poppycock! You’re not going to let the young’ins starve.”

    Great Post!

  62. Lakia Says:

    GREAT LIST! I so remember the word “Brassiere”–I used to HATE my mom to say that word, it just seemed so archaic and weird lol. And the word supper is DEFINITELY endangered lol

    Thanks for taking me back down memory lane 🙂

  63. I LOVE this. I still say supper and use it interchangeably with dinner…never lunch. Great post, thanks for sharing your point of view.



  64. Julia Says:

    Yep, we still use supper around here in the south.

    How about the ‘frigidaire’? That’s what we called the fridge growing up.

  65. ahh, dimmer switch….. what a “fond” memory i have…. driving home about 1 am, after my afternoon shift where we were talking about speeding tickets… i have never gotten one i had said. well, i’m speeding along tapping my toe on the dimmer switch to fleetwood mac. it was my dad’s car and he had a radar detector. BEEEPPPP!!!! scared the crap out of me and i slammed on the dimmer switch right then. that cop gave me a ticket for sure…..

  66. Scott Says:

    For the record, I still use the term ’emergency brake’, although interchangeably with its apparent replacement. I’m used to this kind of situation, having learned imperial measurement (gallons, miles and the like) until age 8, and then had to start all over again with metric. Now, that’s a whole other language!

  67. […] Simmons of Gartalker’s Blog blogged about Words that are Going Extinct.  (I didn’t know “supper” was becoming extinct.  I thought I just didn’t […]

  68. chrissie Says:

    How about ‘icebox’ for refridgerator? Also, we used to call any kind of abrasive sink cleaner (Ajax, Comet, etc.) ‘Bab-o’. And we used to know some ‘beat-niks’ who were ‘groovy’.

  69. gajjab Says:

    good to know about these words…at least you know them!

  70. CHIA YH Says:

    The observations are interesting; words are where we develop a life, and obviously life is changing before our very eyes. The message you post really gives everyone a reflection! Thanks S Gary!

  71. Ryan Garden Says:

    I love this blog made me smile reading some of the words. Love the word SUPPER, i still use that and people are like what? lol

  72. mesmered Says:

    Come to Australia . . . so many of us here still use the old-fashioned word instead of the globalised word. And what’s more we’re trying to keep them! The daily newspaper has a protective column devoted to denigrating the bastardisation of the ‘real’ English language (ie that one that has its origins in England (with a soupcon of Norman and whichever other invaders placed their imprimatur over the language before either the USA or Australia was sailed past).

    The National Broadcaster also had a magnificent programme on radio with a language professor who took questions and set us on the correct track each week.

    I blame the homogenisation on the pictures (aka the movies), the wireless (radio), the TV (aka TV). Probably magazines, newspapers, etc (aka electronic media). Maybe even schools (aka ?).

  73. Noelle Says:

    Michelle, my mom still says “britches” (and sometimes I do too!). I’ve had to stop myself from hollering at some teenagers to “hitch up your drawers!” At least the words “dude” (from the 60s) and “awesome” (from the 80s) are still surviving… I wish they still had dimmer switches on the floor – so much easier!

  74. Sharon Says:

    I hear them sometimes. And the best part about hearing them, is understanding them.

  75. My girlfriend thought this looked interesting and we read it together. It definitely made me think! One of my brothers still uses a percolator once in a while, especially when he is roughing it. I grew up with all the guys in my family (lots of mechanics) using terms like emergency brake and running board. I had to learn how to drive a tractor (with a clutch) no automatics with the old farm machinery. And I am very familiar with chimneys as I had to carry in wood as one of my chores, since all we use back home is a wood stove. All that and I am only 21 😉 Very interesting!

  76. Valerie Reeves Says:

    My best friend growing up was the youngest of a large family, so her parents were the same age as my grandparents. I heard lots of words at her house that I never heard at mine. These come to mind at the moment: valise (suitcase), divan (sofa/couch), breezeway (like a screened porch/room), ice box, trousers (never pants!). My friend and I are still best buddies, (now 46 years old), and she still uses some of these regularly.

  77. I love this blog! My sister uses the term brassiere still, and I use a Spanish stove percolator to fix my coffee.

    The great thing about this blog is simply the truth behind it- some of these are going out of style. Though I think a few will stay in the mainstream.

    You might like my latest blog, Here it is: http://theriverjordan.net/the-gift-of-today
    Check it out and comment if you can! Thanks!


  78. cyn. Says:

    Wonderful article – well put. A wealth of info for us to archive, before the English language is destroyed completely.

  79. Magic Wanderer Says:

    I remember “P.G.” and “in a family way”, as well as “expecting.” Movie writers sometimes forget how much the language has changed. For example, in “Blast from the Past,” a woman at a 1950s cocktail party states that another woman is “pregnant.” She would not have been so blunt as to use that term.

    In college, one of the students used to confuse me by talking about going to “dinner” and “supper” in the cafeteria. To him, “dinner” was the noon meal, and “supper” was the evening meal.

    Referring to all refrigerators as a “Frigidaire” reminds me that some people called all vacuum cleaners a Hoover.

    I recall some funny words for body parts. Fists were “dukes”, one’s head was a “noggin” or “noodle”, and feet were “dogs.” In polite company, a lady’s legs were “gams.”

  80. Tara Aarness Says:

    Several of these terms I’ve used and still use today. Our ’69 Cougar happens to have a floor dimmer, as well as our ’74 International Scout. Used to drive a flatbed, 1965 custom cab, Ford F250, 4 speed on the floor, with a granny, dimmer, armstrong steering and bias ply tires; chitlins up front, dogs in the back. Miss that ol’ beast…Lol My hubby still refers to my over the shoulder pebble holder (what I call it) as the brassiere and a friend of mine still ‘has supper.’ Don’t worry too much, we won’t let these words, and many others, go extinct.

  81. Alienstranger Says:

    I use most of these terms yet (however, I am almost 64 years old). I still maintain that this is the proper names of family meals:

    Breakfast (self-explanatory)



    Dinner was the big meal of the day, and could be either Lunch or Supper.

    This is how it should be. Don’t disillusion me. 🙂

  82. Age disclosure: 27

    Trousers, britches, – add to that slacks. What an old lady/old man term to use. And blouse. I’ve never heard of a steering knob, continental kit, or dimmer switch. And what is a G-Man? It sounds thug-ish.

    My parents were old fashioned. We had a chimney that was used (wood burning stove). I also remember my parents percolating their coffee until I was in high school. My grandma always called her freezer the ice box and I love to use that word with the familiy, just for sentimental purposes.

  83. Wpremix Says:

    Yes, do you remember the “Rat Fink” I hear some of them sometimes. And the best part about hearing them, is understanding them.

  84. Shelli Says:

    Great post! I remember 99% of these words and phrases, AND STILL USE THEM! I wouldn’t be able to get into our truck without the running board (I’m too short!). My ex used to cringe every time I’d say “supper” instead of “dinner”. To me, the terms are interchangeable. I never thought to ask, but why did they take the dimmer switch off the floor and make it hand operated? The manual transmission is coming back into style now, especially with males in their early 20’s, so the clutch will be around a long time.

  85. Sweetman Says:

    Terrific post, I enjoyed reading the responses as well.
    I remember my grandparents calling a stomach bug the “grippe” and if a person had a stroke they called it having a “shock”.
    My grandfather wore “braces” for suspenders and they had a “divan” in the living room–which made everything in that room seem elegant. There was also a “chiffarobe” which was a tall bureau.
    One of the most marvelous wonders of their home in the city was the underground garbage cannister: it had a metal lid that you stepped on to raise and you dropped a bag of garbage (the things which absolutely had no further use) and it got picked up once a week. That cannister was tiny! Talk about cutting edge recycling, they had less than 5 pounds of garbage a week! They composted, recycled every piece of paper that came into their apartment, turned in tin cans, bottles and aluminum foil balls. And “store bought” was a rarity.
    Thanks again,
    Cheers, Sweetman

  86. If it makes you feel any better, I am still a fan of “rat fink”.

  87. Jim Says:

    With electric windows in almost all vehicles now, a phrase that is soon to go extinct is “roll up the window”. I asked my younger son to do that and he inquired why I said “roll up” instead of “put up”?

    One of my favorite car terms though is the Fuzz Buster, hardly ever referred to that anymore it is now a radar detector.

  88. Eric Says:

    I enjoyed this post so much, I linked it from my own blog.

    Sorry if this was already mentioned, but my father, who was born in ’36 in West Virginia, insists on calling blue jeans “dungarees.” I don’t know for sure, but I think he says that was a brand name, or style of pants.

    Those black, 4-buckle boots that slip over your shoes are called “Ardiks.” I think it was slowly transformed from the word “arctic,” but that’s only my theory… If you really wanted to impress people back in the day, you had a pair of 5-buckle ardiks!

  89. Pat Says:

    Gary, certainly enjoyed your blog and extinct words. I know and have used nearly all of them. In my day a baby carriage was a buggy or moving bed vs a stroller. Mom used her treadle machine or some had Singers, my dad wore overalls, we worried about the radiator boiling over if you could get the car cranked. Dad banked the fire and spread the cinders on the snow packed sidewalks, we sent wires not faxes, and I still perk. However, I’m glad my sisters no long can ‘knock me under the kitchen table’ (pick on me or scold)!

    That’s fun………how about the old movie stars and the crazy songs – Mares Eat Oats and Lil’ Lambs Eat Ivy”. I was adult before I had those words figured out!

  90. gary Simmons Says:


    Thanks for the comment. Come back soon. There is always something here that will either make you mad or smile. One or the other.

  91. Nice introduce!I just now have new choice to buy Vacuum equipment.I have new car and I would like very fastvacuum toolsto have clean my car.

  92. OldeSpy Says:

    For those who ride off road motorcycles… we used to have a kill switch. The lawyers have had a heyday with that one. All distributors now refer to it as “an emergency stop switch.” The term “Kill Switch” has been made extinct for political and legal reason…. dad blasted pedants.

  93. Ronny Wheeler Says:

    How about:

    Trunk Lid
    Hood Ornimate
    Curb Feeler
    Fog Light
    Screen Door
    Bug Light
    Paper Boy
    Dog Days
    Monkey Bars
    Snipe Hunting

    Just a few I could think of.

    Ronny Wheeler

    Check out: Bynumkids.com

  94. Mark Rothschild Says:


    I can still remember someone in our home shouting emphatically “It’s long distance!”, referring of course to a call that was from some another city, presumably somewhere in the United States.

    Often it was a call initiated by an Operator. (You remember them, don’t you?) That meant that the call was expensive, that every precious minute was costing a fortune. It meant that everything else going in the home came to an immediate halt while the rest of us — breathless — would watch as whoever the lucky recipient was would come running from upstairs or downstairs and raced to the phone.

    It was a big deal, remember?

  95. Bill Swingle Says:

    How about “chesterfield”? My grandma used it regularly for the couch.
    Bill Swingle
    Janesville, CA

  96. bet365 Says:

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    • gary Simmons Says:

      WordPress sent it out one day and i thought it rather represented my writing. I am sure if you go to their theme page you will be able to find it.

  97. […] blogger named gartalker has a list of words that are becoming extinct. Maybe it is a southern thing, but PG still goes to supper. The rest of the list is amusing, and can […]

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