Exploring the Charm of Old English Words

Ellison Claptonreviewed byIryna Andrus / more about Editorial Process6 min
Created: Jan 17, 2024Last updated: Apr 2, 2024
Old English Words

Discovering the language’s roots before learning it is thrilling; the good old English words are still somewhere around the corner. It was spoken during the period from 450 to 1150 AD. We can witness the evolution of language daily, but it cannot be said that new expressions have completely displaced old terms from English speakers’ vocabulary. 

Old English words and meanings are essential for learners who would like to explore history and understand how one or another term appeared. Natives still use many terms, but their spelling and pronunciation have changed. For instance, “heart” was written as “heorte,” “woman” used to be “wifmann,” and “house” was “hus.” English has undergone multiple transformations since its inception in the 5th century, but its origins still impact the modern language.

Rediscovering the Lost Old British Words

New words appear in the language regularly, considering the quick evolution of multiple spheres worldwide. At the same time, numerous old wordings always retain their relevance and have been used for centuries. Many are still popular in English-speaking countries but are not very widespread. However, knowing them can boost your skills and show profound language knowledge. It will be complicated to list all the old English words still used today, but take a look at some of them: 

  1. Apricity [e͡ɪpɹˈɪsᵻɾi] – the sun’s warmth during winter.
  2. Brabble [bɹˈæbə͡l] – to dispute about something not important.
  3. Bedward [bˈɛdwɚd] – the process of heading to bed.
  4. Betwixt [bᵻtwˈɪkst] – the old-fashioned variation of “between.”
  5. Crapulous [kɹˈæpjʊləs] – the feeling when one has eaten and drunk too much.
  6. Elflock [ˈɛlflɑːk] – a lock of hair that looks like it was tangled by elves.
  7. Clinomania [klˌɪnəmˈe͡ɪni͡ə] – the desire to stay in bed all the time; sleepiness.
  8. Ditty [dˈɪɾi] – a short and simple song.
  9. Fudgel [fˈʌd͡ʒə͡l] – to pretend to be actively working when doing nothing.
  10. Hum durgeon [hˈʌm dˈɜːd͡ʒən] – an imaginary illness that doesn’t exist in reality.
  11. Unfriend [ʌnfɹˈɛnd] – an enemy, a rival (now this word is widely used on social networks).
  12. Snollygoster [snˈo͡ʊlɪɡˌɑːstɚ] – an intelligent person with no principles.
  13. Ergophobia [ˌɜːɡəfˈo͡ʊbi͡ə] – a strong reluctance to go to work.
  14. Cockalorum [kˌɑːkɐlˈoːɹəm] – a worthless person with a huge ego.

Of course, this list of old English words cannot be considered very widespread; you won’t meet them often, even when speaking with English people. However, it might be exciting for learners to explore the deep language peculiarities. Most terms changed their spelling and pronunciation during many centuries of their usage. 

The above weird old English words are still used in the 21st century, and learning them is a great way to impress others with your profound knowledge. Moreover, knowing these terms will help you avoid misunderstandings when speaking with natives; you won’t have to ask them to repeat to find out what they mean.

Old English Slang We Should Start Using Again

Of course, only a few old terms are utilized by contemporary people, and in vain. There were so many exciting wordings and expressions that we all sometimes need so much to show our feelings and emotions. Take a look at what we’ve found: 

  1. Clomph [klˈomf] – to walk in shoes that are too big for a person.
  2. Crumpsy [krˈumpsɪ] – a short-tempered person.
  3. Eedle-doddle [eˈedle-dˈodːle] – a person who doesn’t show initiative under challenging situations.
  4. Hansper [hˌanspˈɛr] – pain in legs after a long walk.
  5. Omperlodge [omperlˈodd͡ʒe] – to disagree with someone’s opinion.
  6. Quaaltagh [kwaˈaltaɡ] – the first person you meet after leaving home.
  7. Slochet [zlˈoket] – to walk slowly as the shoes are too big.
  8. Vargle [vˈarɡle] – to perform unpleasant work.

These specific dialect words were actively used in the 18th and 19th centuries. Unfortunately, they are now left on dictionaries’ pages and in history. You will hardly hear the above terms from English speakers in the 21st century. However, many wordings have no contemporary analogs, so it would be great to use them again. You can find more in the English Dialect Dictionary by Joseph Wright. Linguistic enthusiasts might be thrilled about this book, which provides numerous words from good old English.


The Evolution of Language: From Old English Vocabulary to Modern Times

The roots of English go back to the 5th century. It originated from Anglo-Saxon, the West Germanic language widespread in the territory of the modern United Kingdom. Old English is its earliest form that was spoken until the 11th century. After the Norman Conquest, during which French, Flemish, and Norman troops invaded the country’s territory. 

During that era, Scandinavian countries’ languages significantly impacted English. The invasion ended with Vikings settling in a part of England’s territory and implementing their vocabulary in the region. It’s exciting that the words “husband,” “sky,” and a few more widely used terms were already utilized. It’s worth noting that the conquerors didn’t replace the words that had already existed; they just replenished the language with their slang, which influenced its further development. 

The history of Middle English started in the 11th century and lasted until the end of the 15th century. The modern language variation began developing in the 1600s, and this is what we learn now. Its evolution never stops: new English words and expressions are constantly implemented. The language we use now differs from its initial Anglo-Saxon version in many aspects. At the same time, many terms from old English have remained relevant for centuries and are used by natives even now. 

Overall, a modern English speaker would hardly understand writings from the previous centuries. However, exploring the roots and studying old English words is still thrilling to impress others with your profound knowledge.

Combine New and Old: Master English with Promova

Replenishing your vocabulary is one of the best investments you can make in your future language proficiency. Memorizing at least some words from the above list will boost your knowledge and allow you to show your exceptional skills to the interlocutor. Would you like to learn even more peculiarities of the English language? The Promova platform is always ready to assist students and provide them with all the necessary materials. 

Guided courses and 1x1 lessons are available to English learners. Highly proficient tutors offer lots of sources and all the required assistance. You can master the language wherever you are; download the Promova app or use the web version. Take advantage of a Premium subscription to get even more benefits from the language school. Mastering languages can be challenging, but we want to do everything possible to simplify your learning journey and make it thrilling.


English is undeniably one of the most widespread languages globally, and its universal appeal is the primary reason why people start learning it. Of course, exploring all the modern peculiarities is essential. However, discovering the amazing old English words will also benefit learners. 

The modern language is completely different from the Anglo-Saxon version, developed in the 5th century, but many terms have kept their initial meaning and are used until now. For instance, “unfriend” is a popular word on social networks. “Ergophobia” is another term that could be applied to many people; we all often face unwillingness to return to work, right?


Where can I find old words in English and their translations?

Online dictionaries are the must-use sources for every learner, so remember to utilize them when meeting a new word. Merriam-Webster and Cambridge Dictionary are the most trusted platforms where you can get the necessary information with a few clicks. Overall, finding everything you need to master a language is possible online, which simplifies independent learning on the go. Use these resources to replenish your old English words list and strengthen your knowledge.

Are there any tips on how to speak English without an accent?

Listening to natives and practicing as much as possible are the best solutions for those desiring to reach proficiency in English. Speaking without an accent requires exercising and paying attention to every little detail during communication. Moreover, following native speakers’ intonations and specific pronunciation can also help.

What are the benefits of studying old English language words?

Discovering the terms’ origins can help you dip into the language history and understand how words are formed. Moreover, it’s a possibility to enjoy all English literature. Would you like to read the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries without using the dictionary too often? Mastering old English terms will be an advantage to understanding the classic works better and exploring their significance in further language evolution.

Would it be possible to master English independently?

A broad choice of online materials and resources provides learners with numerous opportunities. Mastering English on your own requires a detailed plan and persistence. It’s possible to do everything independently, but most students still prefer to find a tutor to help them navigate the world of language learning.


Ahmad Lester Feb 9th, 2024
It's great to see such valuable content!