Help prevent these words from becoming extinct! Or, as they’re known in the literary world, obsolete. Though, the words don’t fully disappear when they fall into heavy disuse. They just get categorized as “obsolete” in the bigger dictionaries and removed from the smaller dictionaries. So they’re still around to puzzle younger readers, or prompt older readers to take a trip down memory lane. A millennial would likely not understand the concept of a “wittol,” a man who is aware and tolerant of his wife’s infidelity, commonly heard in the 1940s and 50s.
Thankfully, the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) exists to preserve regional and dialectic words and phrases, a project in progress since 1965. Learn more here. And then read on for some words you might or might not know, that are in danger of being used no more.
- succedaneum (n. a substitute)
- woolfell (n. the skin of a sheep or similar animal with the fleece still *might already be generally considered obsolete)
- aerodrome (n. an airport or airfield, mostly British usage)
- charabanc (n. an early form of bus)
- wittol (n. a man who is aware and tolerant of his wife’s infidelity)
- supererogate (v. todomorethandutyrequires)
- sonsy (adj. charming or lively; agreeable; good-natured)
- wamus (n. a heavy work jacket)
- bonnyclabber (n. thick, sour milk)
- vectarious (adj. belonging to a wagon or carriage)
- whom (often confused with “who,” and since “whom” sounds more formal than “who,” people seem less inclined to use it than the other. It is easier to default to the more approachable word.)
- fishwife (n. a woman who sells fish)