March 16, 2023

Three Things Thursday: Old Phrases

This is kind of a short, silly post for today; I started working on a different topic and then two hours later, had only written half of it! So I'm going to save that for another time when I don't feel rushed. (Today has been crazy--I need to remember to write about my day this weekend because it was kind of a mess.) I'm going to head over to help Becky load the moving trailer soon, because she leaves tomorrow morning for Minnesota.

I don't know why this topic pops into my head every so often, but there are some common phrases people use that I realized most kids probably have no idea why we say them. And it's kind of fun to think about more that we may use and have lost their original meaning. Here are a few that we use on an everyday basis...

1. Hang up the phone/Dial a number

Anyone remember having a rotary dial phone that hung on the wall, with the long spiral cord that got stretched out and tangled over time, most likely a beige color? I imagine many kids today would have no idea what it is, let alone how to use one. We still say "hang up the phone" and "dial a number", but it doesn't really mean the same thing it used to. We would literally have to "hang up" the phone on the wall, and use the rotary dial to place a call.

I was surprised to see that I have a picture of me holding one! Hahaha

2. Roll down the car window

My 2010 Jeep Patriot (which Eli drives now) still has the good old manual windows, where you have to rotate a lever to raise and lower each individual window. It also has manual locks! I actually chose those on purpose--I liked the idea of being able to roll down the window in an emergency situation where modern technology might fail. Same with the locks.

I'm probably super old-fashioned, but I do think simple is better in a lot of circumstances. I always tell Jerry (and this sounds like something my dad would say) that the more bells and whistles something has, the more things there are that could go wrong with it. I frequently resist current technology in favor of the old-fashioned manual versions of things. Anyway, thanks to my Patriot, my kids understand the meaning of "rolling down" the window--although they totally disagree that simple is better! Hahaha.

3. Rewind the video

Remember the "Be Kind, Please Rewind" expression that was posted at video stores like Blockbuster? I actually used to work at a video rental store, and when people would return video tapes without rewinding them, I would put them in a "rewinder" to make sure all of the film was shown in the left (or was it the right?) window of the tape. 

"Rewinding" was literally winding all of the filmstrip back to the beginning--a courtesy for people to be able to just insert the tape into a VCR and press play. We still say that we're "rewinding" a video when we're not actually winding anything. I'll have to ask my kids if they know this one!

If you know of others, please share! I was having a hard time coming up with them, but I do notice them more frequently when going about my day. It's kind of fun to see how the phrases change over the years--and it makes me wonder which modern phrases will be phased out 20 years from now. 


  1. Your pictures are priceless. You were adorable!

  2. Oh wow, I feel old. Good memories though. Not much more satisfying when you're angry than slamming down the receiver onto the phone!!

  3. Look up the number/address in the phonebook! (my kids thought I made the concept of a phonebook up!)

  4. We still have a landline and I do enjoy slamming down the receiver at times. My father also favored the less bells and whistles for the same exact reason. I also remember rewinding the VHS tapes. When I get a car, I do prefer some things, sunroof, heated seats though I don't want the push button start car. I prefer to have a key to start.

  5. This is not quite the same flavor as your sayings, but this post made me think of it. In my college class, I made a comment about treating someone with "kid gloves". There was a discussion activity between students that followed, and then I asked some students to report out. One of the students also used the term "kid gloves", but the way he said it made me realize that he thought it meant "handling something very carefully like you would handle a baby". I couldn't help laughing about it and explained to the class that "kid gloves" were gloves made of the softest leather, which came from baby goats. Honestly, that's really something that's out of my personal experience, too, but I was familiar enough with the meaning behind the phrase to understand it. There are definitely a lot of sayings like that, too.


  6. "On the flip side," which refers to the flip side of a phonograph record.


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