These are the top 15 words we no longer use

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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When was the last time you found yourself saying the words “golly”, “ta-ra”, “matey” or “croquet”?

Unless you’re a performer in an am-dram production of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, it probably wasn’t very recently: and as ever, researchers have noticed.

A giant ongoing study currently being undertaken by Lancaster University and Cambridge University has been investigating which words have fallen out of favour the most since the nineties, and some of the top 15 are pretty obvious.

There are, however, some more surprising inclusions, with the words “comb”, “cobbler” and “boxer” apparently not being used very often across the country, alongside the words “crossword” and “playschool”.

Bizarrely, “whatsername” also makes an appearance in the top 15, but that’s probably for the best.

The researchers compiled the list by comparing five million words that were in regular usage between 2012 and 2015 with the results of a similar study from the nineties.

They also looked at the breakout words we have been using more regularly than before, which included tech-related additions such as “email”, “internet” and “Google” as well as “awesome”, “massively” and “yoga”.

The researchers said the biggest reasons for the change in our language habits over the last few years is the arrival of the internet, coupled with a move away from living in close-knit communities.

"These findings suggest the things that are most important to British society are indeed reflected in the amount we talk about them,” researcher and language expert Robbie Love, from Lancaster University, told Cambridge News.

"New technologies like Facebook have really captured our attention, to the extent that, if we’re not using it, we’re probably talking about it. The new data has shed light on some older words which, similar to “marvellous” and “marmalade” in the previous study, appear to have fallen out of fashion in the intervening years.”

The top 15 words we no longer use

  • Golly
  • Matey
  • Whatsername
  • Crossword
  • Playschool
  • Mucking
  • Comb
  • Boxer
  • Draught
  • Avon
  • Permed
  • Cobbler
  • Cassette
  • Croquet
  • Ta-ra

Images: iStock


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Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Commissioning Editor at Stylist. Follow her on Twitter