Obsolete stuff, obsolete language

A BlogSnax© post

In this era of increasingly rapid acceleration of technological innovation, stuff becomes obsolete all the time. I expound on the phenomenon in this post. However, it’s important to note that these changes have a ripple effect on our language. I’ve been thinking about all the expressions I use that are as out-of-date and meaningless as the items they reference.

Here are a few. Let me know if you think of others.

  • Bankers hours – Banks used to be open from 9-3. Now they’re online 24×7. I sure hope you don’t keep them hours!
  • Carter’s pills – This is a real oldie-moldie, before my time, even. The saying went, “I’ve got more of <whatever> than Carter has pills.”
  • Bigger than a breadbox – The breadbox is a useless object today and perhaps always was. Is something “bigger than a breadbox”? It’s hard to say, given that they come in different sizes. When playing 10 questions, what question should we ask now? “Is it bigger than an iPhone?”
  • Through the wringer – Again, this predates me. People haven’t used clothes dryers with wringers for many decades. Yet, you can still buy them.
  • Hang up – We don’t “hang up” anymore but the phrase persists because the cell phone has no corresponding function that also gets the message across. “Click the little red button” doesn’t have the same finality.
  • Ring off the hook – Much to our loss, phones don’t ring, nor do they have hooks.
  • Clockwise – I claim this phrase is in its death throes. It will be meaningless to future generations as analog clocks go the way of all flesh… and technology.

The list goes on and on. They won’t completely die until we do. I’ll still be “taping” shows just as my father never stopped exhorting us to “turn off the gas” long after my family switched to an electric stove.