10 Old Words That Need a Literary Comeback

As Writers, there are some words that are just music to our ears. And other words that are so stupendously different and odd that they can't be ignored. Whole books could be filled on Old Words that aren't commonly found in Literature--well, not anymore at least.

Today I will be addressing:

10 Old Words That Need a Literary Comeback

10 Words That Need a Literary Comeback

Let's dive right in, shall we?

1. Whelve (v.) Meaning : to bury something deep, or to hide. Old English word that isn't used anymore, but it just rolls on the tongue when you say it. Very Tolkienian and mysterious.

2. Brontide (n.) Used to describe the rumbling noise of a distant thunder. Okay, well, maybe this word isn't exactly old, seeing that it has an entry in the Webster Dictionary, but you have to admit it sounds cool. It would also help provide an interesting break from the usual "storm adjectives." (i.e. rumbling, clashing, flashing, etc.)

3. Kenning (n.) Old Norse compound word which ideally refers to ships or "wave travelers." It really only dropped out of use during the mid-1800's. If any of you have read the old saga, Beowulf, the word appears several times. (This is actually what prompted me to go look it up!)

4. Selcouth (adj.) Meaning : Strange, different or wonderful. Origins in Old English. Pops up in several old sagas. It has kind-of a rough sound to it, though. It may be good in a description of some sort of hearty race.

5. Agon: Unlike the previous four, this has its origins in Ancient Greek. It means "struggle" or "contest" but it is also used to describe an epic story. This would be a great word to use in a narration, or if you have a story-telling figure in your story. Personally, I believe it gives any introduction or story description some height and a lot of character.

6 & 7: Wagtail -and- Runagate: These were both insults used in the Middle Ages. "Wag-tail" refers to someone who is a foot-licker, basically. (Grema Wormtongue comes to mind here...) A   "Runagate" (origins in Latin) is a vagabond, runaway or fugitive. Both these terms would fit in beautifully in a Fantasy or  Medieval-Based Novel.

8. Spoondrift (n.) And yes, this is another word with origins in Old English. It is a term used for the spray of seawater. It adds somewhat of a whimsical element, I think, and would be excellent for setting a fanciful (if not somewhat eerie) mood.

9. Bantam (adj.) Meaning: "small in stature" but with an "element of aggressiveness." (For me at least, my mind just goes to dwarves).  Awhile ago it was used quite often, but it has fallen out of use since the 1900's. Can be found in many of Shakespeare's plays. The funny thing is that it is also the name of a smaller breed of chicken noted particularly for its aggressive attitude. This can put a name on your small, but tough (if not a teensy bit comic) characters.

10. Groke (v.) Last but not  least and my personal favorite. This particular word just so happens to mean "watching someone eat and hoping they will give you some of their food." Dogs are particularly good at groking. Come to think of it though, it would be really funny to see this applied to a character. And honestly, can any of us say that we have never groked before? Didn't think so...

Let's Chat!
1. What is your favorite Old Word that you think deserve a literary comeback?
2. What is the strangest , most hilarious word you have ever heard?
3. What is the most beautiful?


  1. Wow, these are hard.
    I think that my favorite old word is harken. I'm not sure why, its just fun and has a medieval feel.
    The strangest and funniest word I have ever heard is actually parapluie. It means umbrella in French.
    I think the most beautiful word is Virgin. I'm not sure why, but its a beautiful word to me.

    1. Ha! I don't know why, but "parapluie" just made me crack up! That's an awesome word, honestly. XD

  2. Those are BEAUTIFUL words!
    I think epiphany is a word that should be used more often because it it doesn't just relate to the event Epiphany, but it also means a moment of sudden revelation or insight.
    I think one of the most beautiful word is serenade(it's tied with epiphany), I just love how it flows of the tongue.

    1. Yeah, those are both really gorgeous words! They're not bumpy, they're all flowy and poetic and beautiful!! XD I absolutely agree! Epiphany is underused.

  3. Awesome words! I'm going to try to use some of those!
    I believe that the word "epiphany" deserves a comeback. It not only represents the Epiphany from the Bible, but it also means a moment of sudden revelation or insight.
    One of the most entertaining words I've heard is rambunctious(it's just so much fun to say and use) and there is another word I liked, but I completely forgot what it was(I seriously cannot remember! It's killing me!).
    One of the prettiest words I've heard is cadence and I also really like how the word serenade rolls off the tongue.

    1. Cadence is really pretty! I can't remember exactly, but isn't that a name too? (I may have to do, a Literary Comeback Part 2 or something! ) Is "cadence" related to "incandescence"? Now I'm getting all these weird, word-ish questions. :)

    2. Cadence can be a name, but it also is a music term a sequence of notes or chords comprising the close of a musical phrase. It also can mean a modulation in reading aloud as implied by the structure and ordering of words and phrases in written text. A part two would be great!


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