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Reflecting on old-timey words and phrases

Guest columnist

I am always amazed when I sit and think of the many words we used to use that we don’t often hear anymore. The fact is though that many times they conveyed our thoughts and feelings far better than anything we can think of today.
We used to say, “he or she has the heebeejeebies.”  Translation: They are extremely nervous, or  easily frightened.
“Her husband is henpecked.”  She rules the roost, and that’s nothing to crow about.
“Not worth a Continental.” Goes back to the early days of our nation, when the money printed by the government wasn’t worth a centavo, or more often said to be not worth a hoot.
We would often say, when everything was OK, that it was “hunky dory.” I don’t know why two words were better than one.
There was always some acquaintance that was “highfalutin.” Someone who thought  of  themselves more highly than they ought to have. A snob, or better yet, “stuck up,” and I don’t mean mired in the mud, but conceited or vain.
Then there was the “hobo.”  Commonly used to describe a vagrant or tramp, a wanderer or idler, a bum  and worse names. Someone who likes to think of himself as a world traveler, but never buys a ticket.
“Homesick.” Not really a sickness, but a longing for home when away. I can attest to such a malady. When in the armed forces during WWII and gone for long periods of time, I had a longing to see the folks back home. No medicine will suffice except a return ticket back home.
“Hoe” A long handled tool made for cutting weeds or digging in the soil. Let me tell you, it can get the job done, but it takes a lot of old time “elbow grease” on the handle. How well I remember digging the crab grass out of the little cotton plants on a hot summer day. Whew, that was one hot job. Just as bad is to weed your flower bed or vegetable garden.
“Hogwash.” Hang around a braggart and you will get a lot of this. It refers to the swill or kitchen refuse fed to the hogs, but also applies to some outlandish claim or story that someone may tell.
“Home brew.” A beer that people used to make at home.  I remember one of my brothers made a batch and hid it from Mom and Dad by burying it in the garden. One of the dogs dug it up and his crime was exposed.
“Hornswoggle.” To cheat, trick or deceive. A word we used to hear in the Westerns.  “Old Josh got hornswoggled on the horse trade.” Simply put Josh got cheated because he was not a good judge of horses and traded his good one for a broken down old nag. I like the sound of the word, but it was a dirty word in the old wild west, cause those were fighting words. To get hornswoggled was enough to start a gun battle.
“Curmudgeon.” I like this word, curmudgeon. Looked all over the dictionary to find it. A mean, grasping, miserly person. Someone not very likeable.
“Hot foot.” To light a match between the sole and upper part of a sleeping man’s shoe as a prank. Believe me, it hurts and will rouse the sleeper with a roar. It was often done to young recruits in the army. A prank of sadist soldiers. It also means to hurry as in get moving, or hot foot it out of here.
Some of the younger folk may not have heard of these old words, but I’ll bet there are many of you older folk out there who can relate to them, as they were commonly used back in the good old days.
Charles Eurey is a Lincoln Times-News guest columnist.


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