We were sitting around enjoying a fire in the fireplace and talking about random things. B told us about a project she had going at work, and then said she had to tootle on down to the library the next day to do ... something, I forget.
The conversation proceeded for a few more moments, until we all realized B's son was sitting there, hunched over, his face getting red, desperately trying to suppress his laughter, until he finally erupted in a sudden and loud guffaw. He kept trying to hold it in, but he couldn't, and soon he was laughing so hard he was practically falling out of his chair.
The rest of us smiled, and we looked around at one another. We were a little puzzled.
"What?" said his mother.
"Tootle?" he said. More bursts of laughter. "Tootle! When does anyone actually use the work tootle?"
|Maybe she'd seen this book?|
As the laughter subsided -- from all except her son who still couldn't control himself -- B admitted it was a word she'd probably heard from her grandmother. And she admitted that, yes, it had probably gone out of the standard English lexicon sometime around the 1950s.
Although I remember my mother used to used the term occasionally, probably as late as the 1970s. But actually, my mother more often said, "Toodle loo," when bidding goodbye to someone. You don't hear that one anymore, either. I looked it up. It's defined as an archaic way to say goodbye, derived from the French a tout a l'heure. I never realized my mother was so classy!
The next morning, as B and I reviewed the previous evening, we agreed everyone had had a good time. But as you might imagine, the word tootle came up again. After all, it brought the biggest laugh of the evening. By far. And we couldn't help but wonder: what other words did we use, or at least hear, when we were younger, but are words that today would mark us as an old fogey.
And in case you are about to argue how we older people are not old fogeys -- take it from B's son, using the word tootle does mark you as an old fogey.
Tizzy. If you're all in a tizzy ... are you an old fogey? You're all excited and perhaps a little confused. You're in a dither ... another archaic word.
Actually, I think old fogey is itself an archaic term, a slightly derogatory label for an elderly person who is not up on current fashions.
How about curmudgeon or crank? Maybe Bernie Sanders has brought a little hipness back to those two terms.
|Maybe she'd seen this movie?|
How about jalopy, a word I sometimes use to describe my car, or Landsakes! which I've heard B's mother utter once or twice in surprise, or how about beseech or betwixt?
I don't know what conclusion to draw from all this -- except perhaps, language does evolve, and sometimes we old fogeys have to struggle to keep up.