The ’40s and ’50s were home to a good many things – unusual slang, progressive inventions, and an entire ice-cream tub for $0.20 (probably).
These breakthrough years were also a time when the English language was a little different. With no obsession over abbreviations, words and phrases were longer and just that bit more extra.
We’ve collected our favourite 5 old-school terms for everyday items, from a dodgy car to your favourite pair of stockings.
Did your mind just go straight to ‘Wi-Fi’?
In the mid-century, wireless meant something totally different. A wireless referred to a radio, and you’ll often hear of families in the ’40s huddled around their wireless during the war. And far from the black plastic radios of today, a wireless in the ’40s was often made of sleek polished wood.
Stockings, tights, pantyhose. Whatever you like to call them, it wasn’t their most popular name.
Almost all women wore stockings in the mid-century, and their sturdy nylon construction gave them their very sensible title of ‘nylons’.
Nylons would often feature a dark seam running down the back of the leg. And when they became rationed in the war, women would actually draw a line down the back of their leg with a pen to mimic them. It doesn’t get much more dedicated than that.
Before we started calling dodgy cars ‘lemons’ (which, why on earth do we do that?), the term was ‘jalopy’.
Jalopy was, however, a broader term – it included cars that were a little ugly or just old. It also included cars that were total death traps. That really is the definition of an umbrella term for you.
4. Pedal Pushers
Getting your pants caught in a bike chain certainly wasn’t fun in the ’40s. And so, the ‘pedal pusher’ pant was born. This cropped ladies pant was crafted to be the perfect length to avoid bike chains whilst still looking sufficiently stylish.
And while bike riders now have the options of activewear and lycra for their peddling, the pedal pusher style is still around in the form of the beloved Capri pant.
Although it seems like a mispronounciation of Dunkaroos, the term ‘dungarees’ referred not to a delicious Aussie snack, but to a pair of work overalls.
These work clothes were popular through the early-mid 20th century, usually being worn by mechanics, farm workers and the like. Sported by both men and women, dungarees were beloved for their practicality, durability and pockets for absolutely everything.
What’s your favourite retro term? Do you still use any of the names on this list? Let us know in the comments!