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14 Fun Colonial Era Terms We Need to Bring Back!

The Colonial period in America had lasted for almost two centuries, spanning from the beginning of the 17th century when the United States was just a group of colonies scattered across North America, to the founding of the United States on July 2, 1776, the day the Declaration of Independence was signed.
This era of massive societal and governmental change was also accompanied by the rapid development of American English - the language that resulted when thousands of colonists from different corners of the globe were brought together and learned to speak one language. Slowly but steadily, this new form of English diverged from the English spoken in Great Britain, and novel, unique terms were born as a result.
Here are 14 such fascinating spoken words and phrases that sadly didn’t survive until the present day, but we certainly think they’re worth bringing back!

1. Cat's-paw

Colonial Era Terms Cat's Paw
When someone was taken advantage of or duped in 17th century America, you could say that they were made a cat's paw out of. The fun phrase comes from a tale called The Monkey and the Cat, in which the monkey is tricking the cat to retrieve chestnuts from a fire.

2. Gut-foundered

Colonial Era Terms Gut-foundered
This slang term was used in the mid-17th century as a synonym for "starving". To this day, the phrase is used in Newfoundland English, where it also originated. 

3. To be Chicagoed

Colonial Era Terms To be Chicagoed
Admittedly, this term is older than the Colonial Era, as it was mostly used in the 1800s, but it's so fun we couldn't skip it! This term can be used referring to a game, but also in an everyday situation. It essentially meant to go scoreless in a game or be defeated quite badly. But you could also say that you were Chicagoed if you were denied access to a certain place, for example.

4. Lally-cooler

Colonial Era Terms Lally-cooler
"This performance was a real lally-cooler!" is just one example of the many ways you could use this fun term. As a matter of fact, this word was used all the way until the 19th century, but it eventually fell out of favor.

5. Kedge

Colonial Era Terms Kedge
If you ask someone how they're doing back in Colonial Times, you might just get something like "I'm quite kedge" as an answer. Is it just us or does this really sound like teen slang from the 1950s? The term actually meant that you're doing well and you're in good health. 

6. Fishy

Colonial Era Terms Fishy
We all know that something that is fishy is suspicious in contemporary slang, but back then the same adjective meant something very different. Namely, it used to mean that a person is drunk.

7. Tell a Thumper

Colonial Era Terms Tell a Thumper
Although this slang term was most commonly used in the 1800s, it is said to have originated much earlier. But what does it mean? Essentially, it refers to a cleverly-constructed and believable lie, what a useful and descriptive word!

8. Savvy

Colonial Era Terms Savvy
When you say that someone is savvy today, we mean that they have a lot of practical knowledge and excellent judgment in a certain subject. But back in Colonial times, it was actually used as a verb, and it meant to understand or agree with something, as in, "That TV show is amazing, savvy?"

9. Bear-garden Jaw

Colonial Era Terms Bear-garden Jaw
Bear gardens were places where so-called animal sports were practiced back in the 16th and 17th centuries, such as bear-bating and bull-baiting. As you might imagine, language in places like these where people would place bets and such wasn't particularly clean, and so, eventually, a bear-garden jaw became synonymous with vulgar and rude language.

10. Hubble-bubble

Colonial Era Terms Hubble-bubble
Some people may recognize this word, but not it's original meaning. This is because a hubble-bubble is another way to call a hookah. But in the past, it also used to mean confusing and difficult-to-discern speech.

11. Shaver

Colonial Era Terms Shaver
Back in the day, a boy who just started shaving could be called a shaver. Since teens are well-known for their self-esteem issues, we're not quite sure that this one is worth bringing back, but the logic behind it is certainly fascinating.

12. Chuffy

Colonial Era Terms Chuffy
Now, this one will certainly come in handy if you start using it. Since few people are familiar with the precise meaning of this word, calling someone chuffy when they're giving you the short end of the stick is a good way to point out their behavior without sounding rude yourself.

13. Adam's Ale

Colonial Era Terms Adam's Ale
Calling water "Adam's ale" may sound strange to you today, but back in the 1700s, it was quite a popular and clever slang word used both in Colonial American and England. The term alludes to the idea that the biblical character, Adam, drank only water.

14. Macaroni

Colonial Era Terms Macaroni
There are many ways to describe something fancy in modern English, but we're pretty sure that "macaroni" is not on the list. However, in the 17th century England, the food was quite rare and novel, so much so that a group of fashionable dandy gentlemen known for their over-the-top style decided to call themselves the Macaroni Club.
The term was eventually only applied to a particular style of clothing, and even the feather hat in "Yankee Doodle" is a reference to this flashy fashion trend.
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