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Go ahead and swipe; it’s kewl now!

Country Roads

December 26, 2011
Arvid Huisman ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

While paying for a purchase recently the clerk told me to swipe my credit card. I reminded her that when I was a kid the word swipe was used differently. Even though swipe meant a sweeping blow or stroke 50 years ago, it was more commonly used as a synonym for steal. Nowadays, swipe is most commonly used to describe the motion of moving a credit card through a card reader.

My, how things can change.

Fifty years ago "text" was a noun, not a verb, and a cell was something we studied in science. Back then babies sucked and life didn't.

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The drug culture has given old words new meanings. When I was a kid Coke referred to a soft drink and crack was something the plumber showed when he bent over. Back then gay meant happy and queer meant odd. And a party was a noun, not a verb.

The advent of the computer changed the meanings of many words. Whoever thought we'd be using a mouse to write a letter? Back when I was a kid we ate apples, not used them. A net was something used to bring in a fish or catch a butterfly, not a shortened synonym for the World Wide Web (aka the Internet.) When I was a kid folks drank java; now it's a computer programming language.

Fifty years ago if something was sweet it was probably candy. Now sweet means awesome or cool. Back then cool had just morphed from a reduction in heat to something that was awesome or, yes, even swell. Fifty years ago swell meant really nice.

Back in the '60s something good was salty. "Hey, man, that's salty." To the current generation of young people, salty means a bad attitude.

By the way, cool is now also spelled "kewl." It can be complicated.

When I was a kid someone who was "bad" was naughty. Now something that is bad is cool. Back then something that was hip was cool and now hip is back to just being a joint that needs replacing when we get older.

In those days the boss was the person who ran the place. Now boss is awesome or cool. But is being boss kewl? Lucky is the person whose boss is awesome or kewl.

Not so many years ago trash was somewhat akin to garbage. Now the term is used to describe someone who is dirty and stupid. I am ever mindful that we are all created in the image of God and humans are never trash, but some folks live that way.

Another old word given a new definition in recent years is grid. At one time a grid was a grating of crossed bars. Now you hear folks refer to "the grid" as the national network of transmission lines, pipes, etc, by which electricity, gas, or water is distributed.

When I was a kid the term hurl mean to throw something with great force. Nowadays it refers to the act of vomiting. Similarly, barf used to be something your dog said. Now it also means to vomit. 'Nuff said.

I don't recall use of the word "download" when I was younger, though we saw plenty of it in the barnyard. Today, of course, the term is quite common and related to the computer.

Years ago "props" were found on a stage or on the back of boats. These days "props" is a term of respect or recognition, as in, "I have to give him props for that performance "

I enjoy a cheesy dish like cheesy hashbrowns or mac and cheese. When I was younger that mean it had lots of cheese flavor. Nowadays, something that his cheesy is tacky or tasteless. I prefer the former. I have been called the latter.

When I was a kid we used the word chicken to describe a "scaredy-cat" and the term "chick" described an attractive young woman. Nowadays the usage has been expanded. A chicken feeder is a poor tipper and a chicklet is an annoying, bubbly teenage girl.

Years ago we kicked a football and got kicked out of class for misbehavior. These days "kicks" is another word for shoes.

The latest new/old term I learned: brute. It's short for brutal. Trying to keep up with some of today's words can be brute.

Our language is always evolving and it is always interesting. It's really kewl.



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