Brit Language: A Bit of the Old and a Bit of the New

The name librarian conjures up an image of a woman with her hair in a bun, glasses, and that finger shushing action. I plead guilty to wearing glasses, but I never wear my hair in a bun unless I forget to wash it. As far as shushing action goes, I leave that to stereotypical archetypes like the Librarian Action Figure.

“Librarians wield unfathomable power, bring order to chaos, wisdom and culture to the masses, preserve every aspect of human knowledge and rule the information universe.” Urban Dictionary

Maybe. I’m just sharing a little knowledge with you by collecting a few old and new language gems from the chaos of the information universe or what us information superheroes like to call the Internet.

Here are a few from Ye Olde Dictionary of the Old English Language, a short list just for fun:

huzzah – Huzza or huzzah is first recorded in 1573. Originally a sailor’s cheer or salute. Spend just one day saying this everyone you meet, I dare you!

pudh – horrible. That green bean casserole is pudh!, imo. I could have used this last week for the American Thanksgiving holiday. Apparently, we love green bean casserole.

Renaissance Unicorn

Rennies – Renaissance fanatics. I’ve never heard this one, but you know who you are.

tallt – to stand above others in a snobby way. Anyone come to mind? I’m too nice to list names here, but I know you thought of someone.

My take: That pudh Rennie tallts riding unicorns shouting huzzah as they come round. Okay, it’s a stretch I know, but it’s fun to string old English words together. Try it!

There’s those weird Old English Measurements:

Shaftment: Width of the hand with outstretched thumb, 6 1/2 inches before the year 1066, 6 inches thereafter. Why did we drop this one? So convenient, especially if you’re holding a bag of groceries.

Knights Fee: A somewhat arbitrary amount of land that a knight would need to sustain not only himself, but his esquires, horses, equipment, and supplies in times of war. You need a lot of room for that Round Table.

Butt: Two hogsheads, or about 128 gallons. Hmmm, that’s a surprise. I thought I knew this one;)

Everyday, New Words are added to our venacular to baffle and confuse us:

Fram: spam email sent by your friends and family. This one I understand well!

Cornea gumbo: Click on a website and you are overwhelmed with flashing buttons, ads and icons. And you can blame it all on cookies.

Potato: Person Over Thirty Acting Twenty One online. Ha, that’s me.

Threadjack: person on a message board takes the conversation completely off topic. Who hasn’t experienced this phenomenon?

These new words from WordSpy, may or may not stand the test of time:

Recreativity: Repurposing or remixing existing artistic works to create, in whole or in part, a new work. LOL! I think that’s what I’m doing here, but now I can give it a fancy title. Awesome!

Faitheist: An atheist who respects or accommodates other people’s religious beliefs, or who attends religious services. Are you as confused as I am?

SMIDSY: Describes an accident caused by the driver of a car failing to see a cyclist or pedestrian. Sorry, Mate, I Didn’t See You.] I don’t think a cop is going to buy this one, do you?

Lolbertarian: A libertarian whose views are so extreme as to invite mockery. I’m thinking this could also be lol-ibrarian, like when a clergyman asks for Fifty Shades of Gray at the public library.

Doorer: A driver who opens a car door into the path of an oncoming cyclist. Ouch! I think the doorer could claim SMIDSY, don’t you?

What would Noah Webster think of this creative word-smithing? He won some and lost some in his own Spelling Reformation. When was the last time you had a bowl of “soop”? Thankfully, he didn’t win that one.

I hope you enjoyed my tongue-in-cheek look at language, old and new. I think huzzah kind of has a nice ring to it. Librarians Rule! Huzzah!


Disclaimer: My husband, Scott King, created the Librarian Action Figure.

New Words: Source: Readers Digest pg 102.

Read More at Anglotopia


  1. avatar says

    Crystal, loved this! At one time I might have been called a Rennie, but I think I’ve settled into being more of a Reggie or a Vickie. If I ever need to serve a pint to a thousand people, I’ll be sure to order a butt of ale!

  2. avatar says

    Actually, the most popular usage of “Rennie” is people who attend Renaissance faires, primarily in costume (or “garb” as we call it). I’m a Rennie who is a cast member at the local Ren faire, although it’s not so much because I’m passionate about the era (I prefer the late Victorian/Edwardian period) as it’s simply a lot of fun to dress in costume and play a character.

  3. avatar says

    Being the daughter of a librarian, books have often been fond companions and words in all their forms tend to pique my curiosity, sstound and bewilder me at times.Nevertheless a jolly time can be had via discovering antiquated terms such as huzzah or Dicken’s notion of raising a child “by hand” as was often said. Crystal I love the cartoon superhero of a speefing librarian–my mom would have reveled in such a fantastic image. Wielding books to aid us befuddled humans. I dare to take up the cry, “Huzzah!!!”

    Patty Reinke