Do You Know Enough Old-Timey Words to Read Your Grandparents Love Letters?

EDUCATION

By: Teresa McGlothlin

6 Min Quiz

Image: H. Armstrong Roberts / Retrofile RF / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Perchance you've run across a few of your grandparents' old love letters. Are you hip to enough old-timey words to read them, though? There were words in common use even a few decades ago that seem to have disappeared from our vocabularies now. You'll have to use all of your inherited brainpower during this quiz to figure out what your grandparents meant when they were writing sweet nothings to one another. 

Would it alarm your family to know that your grandma once thought of herself as a fizgig, or would they giggle at the notion? Throughout this quiz, you'll get to read some of your family's most intimate correspondence. Try not to take anything out of context and start a family rumor before you choose the correct meaning of their words. 

When you read the line from their letters, take a moment to put yourself in their shoes. What might sound a little salacious at first is probably nothing to be concerned about. But you'll have to choose the right meaning to find out. You'll find their letters a little embarrassing, because who wants to think of your grandparents being involved in a passionate buss? But you're sure to think they're endearing. Will you really know what they say, though? 

If your grandfather told your grandmother that she made him feel "full of appetency," what was he feeling?

Expressing appetency is another way of saying that you feel a longing or a desire. Your grandfather wouldn't be your grandfather if there weren't any appetency during the first phase of their relationship.

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"My dearest, I have been smitten with you since the moment I saw you." Which word also means smitten?

If your grandfather had written this letter, the word would have been smitten. Smitten is the very opposite of smiting. Being smitten with someone means that you're totally enamored.

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What would your grandmother be accepting of a letter that read "please accept the enclosed bijou as a token of my affection?"

Bijou is a word that originates in Brittany — an inhabited area in the northwestern part of France. If your grandmother were accepting a bijou, she would be the new owner of a small trinket or piece of jewelry.

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Your grandmother warned your grandpops that she could be a bit froward in the mornings, but what did she mean?

Grandma is a human being, too. What human really likes mornings? Even though she might have been a little froward, or grumpy, in the mornings, she was polite enough to give your granddad a heads-up.

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"Our first kiss left me feeling zwodder." How was your Grandma feeling after the kiss?

It must have been one magical kiss! The first kiss between your grandmother and your grandfather left your grandmom feeling dizzy. You'll want to add zwodder to your vocabulary now, won't you?

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Grandma advised, "You'll have look out for my father. He can be a little bit of a cockalorum." What's a cockalorum?

Before introducing your great-grandfather to your future granddad, your grandma wanted to warn him about his over-inflated opinion of himself. Or, instead of cockalorum, she could have said that he was slightly nithing.

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Your grandma once wrote, "all previous love interests feel like piffle compared to you." What did she mean by piffle?

When your grandmother compared her previous dates to your grandfather, she was saying that they all felt like trivial nonsense in comparison. Take a lesson from her; no one needs to be in a relationship that feels like piffle.

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What did your grandpa mean when he wrote, "I will plain over the distance between us?"

Ahh, young love! Being forced to be apart is enough to make star-crossed lovers cry over it, lament about it or plain over it. Your grandparents must have spent hours pining for one another!

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"The world feels so schnikked without you by my side." What do you think your Grandad meant by schnikked?

When you've found your true love, sunshine seems brighter and birds chirp louder. It's not unusual for the world to feel warmer when you have a special someone by your side. Here, your grandpa used the word "schnikked" to describe the feeling of coldness he felt without his main squeeze.

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In a letter your grandma wrote, she says that your grandpa's touch leaves her feeling purfled. What did she mean by that?

Obviously, your grandparents had a physical relationship, too. Otherwise, you wouldn't be taking this quiz. Your grandmother used the word "purfled" to express the breathless feeling your grandad's handholding always left her with.

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Do you know what your grandparents meant when they promised to love each other even when they were batten?

If your grandparents' love letters show anything at all, it's that they were fully committed to one another from day one. By using the word "batten," they promised to love each other even when they got older and fattened up.

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Where did your Pops want to take your Granny when he said, "I would be delighted to take you to a bouffage?"

Your grandparents probably enjoyed a few dozen bouffages and long walks before taking their relationship to the next level. Bouffage is an old-timey French word that means a nice meal.

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"You'll have to forgive my quixotism, darling. I'm crazy about you." What is meant by quixotism?

It sounds like your granddad was quite the romantic! Even the fact that he used the word quixotism to woo your grandma is adorable. She must have appreciated all his sweet gestures and notions.

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When your grandpops told your grandma that his brother was a dormedory, what did he mean?

Without the aid of social media, young lovers were left to learn about their future in-laws the old-fashioned way. Here, your granddad is saying that your great uncle was a lazy person with little ambition.

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Your grandfather wrote, "The riband you wore in your hair made you look beautiful." What was he talking about?

Depending on when your grandmother was born, she could have worn any one of these things in her hair. Your granddad seems to really like the ribbon, or riband, that she wore on their date, though.

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What did your grandmother mean when she wrote, "I will utter an orison that I see you again soon?"

Orison is a word that is derived from the word orate or to speak out loud. In this case, your grandmother is going to say a prayer. She wanted to see your grandfather so badly that she was willing to ask the heavens for it.

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Do you know what your grandpa meant when he assured your grandmother that he was not a coxcomb?

Not many men would admit to being a coxcomb, but you can spot a conceited man across a crowded room. Thankfully, your grandfather was humble and sweet when he sent letters to your grandma.

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"Your love is aliment for my soul." Any idea what aliment might be?

Your grandfather was waxing a little poetic with this line! When he says that your grandmom is an "aliment for his soul," he means that she is the food or nourishment that he needs. Awww!

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How was your grandma describing herself when she said that she was a fizgig?

Lighten up! Your grandmother certainly did when she was dating your pops. When she described herself as a fizgig, it was her way of saying that he makes her feel silly and flirtatious.

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Grandma says she has been quite bootless since your grandfather has been on her mind. Do you know what she's saying?

We're hoping that your grandfather didn't leave your grandmother out in the cold in her bare feet! Saying that she's been bootless since meeting him means that she's been unable to function normally and feels quite useless.

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What do you think your grandfather was talking about when he said, "I con every word you write?"

How sweet! Your grandfather loved receiving your granny's letters so much that he read them again and again until he memorized them. Back in their day, con wasn't such a bad word.

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"I think of you as the ruler of my demesne." What is your grandmother describing here?

Look at your grandmother using all these big, fancy words! You probably already knew she was smart, but using the word demesne instead of domain is the stuff of literary giants. Go, Granny!

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In one letter, your grandfather asked, "Will you be my leman?" What did he want your grandmother to be?

Look at grandpa finally getting up the nerve to make a commitment! When he asked your grandma to be his leman, he was looking to make it official. Upon agreeing, she was known as his sweetheart from then on out.

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If your grandparents agreed to meet in a sennight, when would they see each other?

Even a moment apart from your one true love can feel like an eternity. Your grandma and grandpa would have had to wait for seven whole days to be together again if they agreed to meet in a sennight.

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Grandma's letter stated, "I have not been able to guttle since meeting you." What has she been unable to do?

All those crazy chemicals that love sends coursing into our systems can throw us off our daily routines. When grandma says that she cannot guttle, she is without the ability to stuff herself full of food.

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Pops wrote that your grandma took his heart through the welkin. Where did she take it?

You can't get much more romantic than telling someone that they've taken your heart through the welkin. Back in their day, welkin was the word used to describe the passage through the gates of heaven.

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Your granny signed off on the letter by saying, "My dearest, I will think of you at every eventide." When will she think of him?

Just as the sun is setting and dusk is taking over the world, you are experiencing the time of day that your grandparents called eventide. Your grandmother loved to think of your granddad as she watched the sun go down.

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He wrote, "You will never be a bedlam to me." What will your grandmother never be?

We're sure your grandfather meant well when he told your grandmother that she would never be an old woman to him. It was his rather less-than-eloquent way of saying that she will always be young in his heart.

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Grandma got romantic when she wrote, "I can't wait until our next buss." What was she anxiously awaiting?

A kiss was not just a kiss back during your grandparents' day. A kiss, or a buss, was a much less casual affair back then. They might have waited for months before finally locking lips.

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If your grandfather wanted to meet at God's acre for a date, where would your grandparents have been going?

It wasn't uncommon for dates to be held in public during your grandparents' day. During this invitation, your grandfather is suggesting that he and your grandma meet at the churchyard. Maybe they heard wedding bells while they were there!

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Granny once penned the phrase "goodly man" when talking about your granddad. What does goodly mean?

Telling your grandfather that he was a goodly man was quite the flirtatious comment. Goodly can mean attractive or virtuous. We're betting that she meant both when she was talking about your pops.

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What was your gran going to make your granddad when she said she would make him a kickshaw?

We're sure your grandma drew a few bubble baths for your grandpa after they were beyond the letter-writing phase. When she's promised to make him a kickshaw, she's offering to make food for him, though.

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"You opened my heart like a professional peterman." What did pops mean by peterman?

Perhaps, your granddad's heart was a little guarded before your grandma swept him off his feet. In this letter, he's saying that she's managed to steal his heart with the precision of a professional safecracker.

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What did your grandpa mean when he wrote, "A man who couldn't love you is a real poltroon?"

Love is not for the faint of heart! Your grandfather was accusing all your grandmother's previous dates of being cowards when he used the word poltroon. Thank goodness he was a seemingly fearless man, or you wouldn't be answering these questions.

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"Our love makes me feel as though I have saturnism." What did your grandmother feel like she had?

Lead was not as highly regulated back in your grandparents' day as it is now. Although we're fairly sure your grandmother never suffered from it, it was an adorable way of saying that he makes her feel flighty with love.

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