Obsolete and Archaic Expressions: Bygone Words of the 18th Century


“Zounds!” “I am surprised at the news!” The word, “zounds,” was used back in the 18th century to either convey indignation or surprise.

Waits and Uncles

The street singers you see depicted in drawings of caroling were called waits at the time while uncles were the names given to pawnbrokers.

“Trig” Meant a Smart and Neat Appearance

Trig: A Smart and Neat Appearance

If you looked trig in those days, you had a smart and neat appearance. Success referred to an outcome, regardless of whether it was good or bad. If you were silly, you were considered helpless or defenseless, not light-hearted and goofy.


People often ate sippets back then, or small pieces of bread that were dipped into a sauce or soup. If someone referred to something as sanatave, they meant it was healing.


If you were recreant, you were considered cowardly while a person who was rathe-ripe was thought to be precocious. The same term was used to define early-ripening fruit as well.

Recipes were Not Recipes

A recipe was a medical prescription at the time while a receipt was a recipe. If you quizzed someone, you were not asking questions, but giving them an intent look. Quidnuncs were inquisitive, if not gossipy, while a pythoness was a woman who was believed to foresee the future. If you were nearsighted during those times, you were purblind while a person’s portion was their lot or destiny.

Image Source:

Jane Austen’s World





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