Old-fashioned language

Some words that were common in the past are no longer in ordinary use but remain in our stock of words. Many dictionaries divide this type of vocabulary into two categories.

Archaic

Words and expressions described as archaic are those which haven't been in everyday use for a century or more. Some dictionaries describe such terms as ‘old use’, or ‘old-fashioned use’. You are unlikely to hear anyone using these terms in everyday conversation, or to come across them in modern writing, but you will encounter them in the literature of the past.

Here are some examples:

standard English

old use

bedroom

bedchamber

frighten

affright

perhaps

peradventure

willing

fain

 

This category of vocabulary is sometimes used to give a deliberately old-fashioned effect, for example in historical novels. Some writers also use it to amuse people.

Dated

Words and expressions described as dated may still be used occasionally, especially by older people, but they are no longer used by most English speakers. Here are some examples of dated words:

standard English

dated

odd, peculiar

rum

excellent

spiffing

nonsense

bunkum

sitting room

parlour


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Grammar and usage