A Vintage Phrase

I’ve been reading lots of English historical fiction you’ll see on my next reading list, you know, the one, no one ever reads? Well, except for Skinny that is. 🙂

I can’t say enough how tantalized I am with the language. Alison Weir, who I call the English Doris Kearns Goodwin, is more than a little gifted the way she splices in words, terms and phrases no longer in use.

Gainsay, is a word she uses a lot, meaning, to deny, dispute or disagree with. It’s a verb used in dialogue so often, it was clearly a casual term in the mid 1500s.

A woman who is expecting has her courses interrupted, meaning her monthly period stops. When her baby starts to move, it quickens rather than kicks.

Sweeting, more than honey or even sweetheart, is the common endearment.

But my favorite term is, seeing the back of them.

Queen Mary, at perpetual odds with her younger sister Elizabeth often banishing her from court, would say to her ladies-in- waiting, “I will be glad to see the back of her.”

Don’t you love that?

How many men could I have said that about? Glad to see the back of him as he tooled out the door.

Language of yore when explored, is fascinating making you wonder why and when it changed.

How come instead of saying, he contradicted me, we no longer say, he gainsaid me?

We should try it and see how the person you’re addressing reacts. Will they ask what it means, or pretend they know?

I always ask, or look it up on my phone, when you go to the restroom.






About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
This entry was posted in Books, History, humanity, humor, words, writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to A Vintage Phrase

  1. Hira says:

    haha, pearls of english 🙂 Now I have find the right victim to see the back of him!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. robprice59 says:

    It’s a good piece: I much enjoyed reading it. Makes me sit and wonder: there are so many great things that sprout fertile from the ease of communication in our digital age; but we lose something too. The English language is a dynamic and fluid beast. It grows strange in different places, creating complexity and character, rather like the terroir of fine wines. The BBC peddled Oxbridge English for years before they realised they were killing something vital. Now we are served Jordies, Scots, Cornishmen, Mancunians, in a rich farrago. When Fox News owns the world, will it all die? I hope not. I am so pleased that you are “doing your bit” for preservation.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I love the old words and words that aren’t used locally. I love gobsmacked and use it every chance I get!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. skinnyuz2b says:

    I love old language, Susannah, (and your book lists, too). As a teen I came across the word ‘mayhaps’. I used it quite often and you can imagine the looks and comments I received.
    It isn’t just language from centuries ago that has changed. Recently there was an underwater scene on a TV movie that one of my children and his family were watching with us. I mentioned the skin-diver and they thought the term was hilarious.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the old words, too. Methinks it’s a shame they’ve gone missing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. jojothyme says:

    Susannah, I love you dearly, but you would have gainsaid the person. That said, let me confess, I strive for only a small fraction of the writing skill displayed in your truly delightful blog. Thank you – always

    Sent from my iPhone



  7. I’m pretty sure no one has used that word naturally in conversation in the last century. It’s the sort of word I read but never say. The thing I love about literature is that it keeps those obsolete words alive. Keep up the good blogging! This is my treat to myself in the middle of the afternoon to get away from emails for a bit. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Eilene Lyon says:

    Fun bit of language history. I read many 19th century newspapers and the slang really tickles me. I recently discovered that a great grand-uncle who was telegrapher for the railroad was “jerking lightning.” Another fun one was a Scottish term for “buttocks” used to describe 3 women and a man the editor was happy to see leave town on the last stage.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Patricia says:

    I don’t read much historical fiction but I love words so maybe I should. I will check out your reading list.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. You had me at “courses interrupted.” The English and Southerners have a way of expressing their anger that makes the rest of us look like raving lunatics. I don’t think I could say “I will be glad to see the back of her” without an F-bomb.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.