The English language is constantly changing and adapting to the needs of its users. While new words are created and some old words acquire new meanings, others just fade from use. Of these words we no longer use, some have been around for centuries but disappeared completely for no obvious reason, while others have been made obsolete by technological change.
24/7 Tempo used Lexico.com’s list of Archaic Words That Used To Be Common In English to compile a list of once-popular words and expressions no one uses anymore. Many date from the 16th century or before. Not only are they no longer used, but you would also have to consult a dictionary to figure out what they mean. Some of the words on our list, such as egad and zounds, are minced oaths — euphemistic versions of profane or blasphemous terms.
Nobody says fourscore for twenty, but most Americans are familiar with the word and its meaning because it is the opening line of the Gettysburg Address. Probably few people know what a scaramouche is, but most would recognize “Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?” as a line from the Queen song “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Here is a list of the 100 absolute best songs in history. There are also words no one uses that still have a place in our psyches or in popular culture.
A few are of relatively recent origin and their meanings are fairly obvious, but they are still on the retirement list. Nobody drives a horseless carriage now. Even motor car sounds old-fashioned. And what about Walkman or floppy disk? Two decades ago these were ubiquitous; now they’re more likely to be found in a museum than in your home or office.
Of course, as words have vanished in popularity, brand new words have become commonplace. Here are the 50 most popular words that entered the dictionary in the last decade.