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English word changing – DO you have any troubles?

I study English in Japan.
I want to know about English word changing.
Do you understand what these words mean?
hag, fossil, ragamuffin, crotchety, ancient, retirement, ornery, battleaxe,
decrepit, feeble, hoary, alzheimer’s, senile, fogey, codger, whippersnapper
poppycock, haberdashery, rapscalionhas
They are old words according to one homepage.
I wonder
whether younger can understand these words,
whether younger use them.
whether elderly people use them
whether you have problems between generations because of word changing

Hope you tell me your age too.

Thanks for your advise!
I have to research it in my class 🙁


  • I’m 14 and I understand all these words except for ‘rapscalionhas’…
    I’ve read these words before (believe it or not, some of them are in Enid Blyton’s children books),
    But I don’t use them in everyday life or else my friends would think me nuts.

    In fact, the word ‘ancient’ is not “old”…
    We use this word A LOT during History lessons.
    ‘Feeble’ is also quite a common word.


  • Most of the words you have pointed out are from French, Deutch and other origins and some are of unknown origin.

    Those who are familiar with old novels, journalism and crossword puzzles, masters these words.

    We could only have some trouble in understanding the jargon when we happen to listen to an Editor or a good orator, or a poet.

    Ever since the computers entered our life, I presume not the change of words but their meaning and purpose are being changed. For example :

    Monitor : Previously a person who listens and reports new items, a pupil with disciplinary and other duties etc. Now it is well know term for a Computer Visual Display Screen.

    Mouse : A rodant at home, now a device attached to our computer to point and select text or an object.

    Desk top : Simply a solid base of the desk or a decorative lamination or mica, now a model of computer.

    Hard Disk : Any disk with hardness, now applicable to a removable memory of the computer.

    Key board : Attached to a musical instrument, now the input device for computer.

    Windows : An opening in a wall with doors, for ventilation, now an operating system of the computers.

    Escape : Someone who escapes from a tragedy, prison or something, now a single key on the keyboard.

    Ctrl : Cathedral, now stands for Control Key on the computer.

    and many more ….

  • You could perhaps use me as an example, I’m a pretty young guy (22 years old) and I understand most of them but not all. Here is my idea of what the words mean without looking at a dictionary.

    Hag – an old woman, used sometimes as an insult
    Fossil – preserved bones of a long-dead organism
    Ragamuffin – ???
    Crotchety – grumpy? not sure though
    Ancient – very, very old
    Retirement – can have different meanings, but usually this is the period you go into after your working career
    Ornery – I think this also has different meanings, temperamental might be one?
    Battleaxe – a large axe used as a weapon
    Decrepit – old, run down, possibly hinting at corruption
    Feeble – weak
    Hoary – ???
    Alzheimer’s – a disease that plagues older people and causes them to lose their memory
    Senile – an adjective usually used to describe old people who aren’t very mentally sharp
    Fogey – ???
    Codger – ???
    Whippersnapper – A word used normally by older people to describe a child, has a mischievous tone
    Poppycock – Nonsense?
    Haberdashery – ???
    Rapscalionhas – ???

    The words aren’t all that old. Hag, fossil, ancient, retirement, battleaxe, decrepit, feeble, Alzheimer’s, and senile are all words that are used quite often today.

  • I’m 19 years old, here are the word that I do and don’t understand:

    I understand: hag, fossil, ragamuffin, ancient, retirement, battleaxe,
    decrepit, feeble, alzheimer’s, senile, poppycock

    I don’t understand: crotchety, ornery, hoary, fogey, codger, whippersnapper, haberdashery, rapscalionhas

    The words that I don’t understand I have never heard them before, but the words that I know I am very familiar with them.

  • They’re not so much old words as rare words. Some, such as ancient, retirement, decrepit, fossil, feeble and senile may be used in everyday conversation. Alzheimer’s is the name of a disease, so that’s sometimes used.

    The others are mostly old and unusual words which you will hardly ever hear – especially ornery and rapscallion.

    Because a lot of these words are rare, many people will not have heard them before, or if they have will be unsure what they mean – it isn’t really dependent on how old the person is.

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