In case you haven’t noticed, the English language has changed over the past several hundred years. There are many words once used that have become obsolete and, perhaps, should no longer be used.
Now there is a movement afoot to remove these words from the English language. Take, for example, the word “wend,” which you rarely see without a “way.” Certainly, you can wend your way through a crowd or down a hill, but no one wends their way to bed or to work. In other words, “wend” is not exactly an everlasting word.
“Talk in everlasting words and dedicate them all to me, and I will give you all my life, I’m here if you should call to me. You think I don’t even mean a single word I say, it’s only words, and words are all I ha…ave to take your heart away…ay…ay…ay…ay.” (“Words” – The Bee Gees – 1968)
OK, now that you’ve got the hang of it, here’s another obsolete word: “eke.” And, no, it isn’t a word that’s said when something scares you. It’s a word used in conjunction with “out,” such as when you “eke out a living.” One would never say, “I’m going to eke out a girlfriend.” Well, maybe you would, but I certainly wouldn’t, because my wife would clobber me.
Next is “desserts,” which you rarely see without the word “just,” as in, “When you get your just desserts, you get what you deserve.” One would never say, “When I get my paycheck, it will be my ‘just dessert,’” unless you plan on eating it.
Another one is “roughshod,” which is generally used when you “run roughshod” over somebody or something. It shouldn’t be used in the context of, “My car is going to run roughshod all over the highway.”
The “kith” part of “kith and kin,” which came from Old English, stood for your country and family, as in, “My kith and kin came from England.” One should not say, “My kith and kin came from an alley cat.”
“Umbrage,” which comes from the Old French word “ombrage,” means to shade or shadow. To give “umbrage’ to someone was to offend them by throwing shade over them. One would never say, “I’m going to give umbrage to my just dessert,” unless they were going to eat it in the shade.
We might not know what a “shrift” is, but we know we don’t want a “short” one. The word “shrift” came from the practice of allowing a little time for the condemned to make a confession before being executed so, in that context, shorter was not better.
Sure, there are plenty more, like “to and fro” and “hither and yon,” and where exactly is “yon” here on the mountain… oh, never mind, it’s only a word.
“… It’s only words, and words are all I ha…ave to take your heart away…ay…ay…ay…ay.”
Keep it flyin’ Uncle Mott