Monday, 17 October 2011

Radical Retro Wordage

Can you imagine a time before the Internet?  I can't any more.  Too much screen time has effectively killed off my long term memory...and my short term...what?

After doing some research, I discovered that the Internet used to be powered by a crank, and due to war rationing, was only available for 20 minutes a week before the national anthem was played, and the whole thing was shut down in case Germans wanted to use it.  But did you know that much of the terminology used on the Net originated from rural England?  I've traced the coinage and morphology of web language, and as you can imagine, these terms had a very different meaning back before the World Wide Web.

App - Back before Apple shortened the word "Application", people in county Devon had shortened the word "Appropriate" for the same effect.  Usage - "The way he irrigated his field so provocatively was just not app".

Googling - This referred to the rather violent act of pushing a member of the opposite sex to the floor and assaulting them with your genitals.  This was a popular pastime in the 60's, back when words hadn't been invented to initiate intercourse, and was engaged in by both genders during times of immense frustration.

Web - This was used to refer to the beautiful silky spiral constructs found in forests and areas which haven't been cleaned.  No one knows what makes these little miracles, but many believe it is the invisible silk gnomes attempting to ensnare the souls of children.  This phenomena still occurs today.  Oh, and don't attempt to search for a solution online.  Searching for the web on the web can crash the Internet, or so I have been reliably informed.
Tis not natural!
Blog - In remote areas of the Peak District, this refers to a mardy person rather than a web log.  For example - "What's up with him?  He's got the blog on, hasn't he?"

LOL - This used to be an inland Naval distress signal which meant "Losing Our Lives".  Of course, what many sailors in the dark ages didn't realise is that they needed water to sail in.  Many brave women and children lost their lives when trying to mount an invasion against the Icelandic people, by setting sail from the top of Snowdonia.

eBook - In the same vein as "Eee by gum", the term "eBook" originally came into use to express mild surprise about a bound parchment.

Wi-Fi - This was an ancient form of martial art conducted in Newcastle in the late 1700's.  Although it was first known as "Wi-Aye-Fi", it was shortened due to the fact that many participants in the discipline had lost their teeth.  This majestic fighting style involves glassing an opponent with a bottle of the ceremonial liquid, "Newkey Brown".  The last one to end up in A&E is declared the winner.

Epic Win - A term which was only used to describe the heroic feats of generals who, with only 100 able bodied men, had managed to fend off the invading fleets of the entire world, killed all who stood in the way, and disembowelled one of the Gods in a seventeen day fist fight on top of an erupting space!  This is in direct contrast to these days, when the term can be used to describe someone who has posted an amusing image on the Internet.
Impressive but...Alright, it's pretty epic, I'll give you that.

That's all I've managed to find for now.  If you know of any more pre-Internet words (or as it will be known in the years to come, the Printernet), please share them with me.


On another note, I'm looking for topic ideas for an upcoming article.  In a similar vein to this post, if you have anything at all that you want me to write about, feel free to suggest.  You can do this by commenting on this post, sending me an email at, or if you are reading this on Facebook...commenting I guess.  I'll do my best in include all submissions.


  1. I love learning about etymologies of words and I think this is an awesome post. Really interesting!

  2. Maybe you should do something about Halloween. It's traditions, variations and the like. That would be pretty nifty.

    Elton Says Things...

  3. @A Little Girl - Thanks, so do I. I have a fascination with the English language and how it has developed. I could probably fill a very unfunny Blog about it.

    @Elton - Cool, I'll give it a try. Thanks for the suggestion.


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