Skip To Content

    13 Common Phrases With Mind-Blowingly Outdated Origins

    "How many people nowadays know that when you CC someone on an email, the CC stands for 'carbon copy'?"

    When you think about it, if you asked a young child today why we say "hang up the phone," they might not know the answer.

    US National Archives / Via giphy.com

    After all, we don't "hang up" phones anymore, unless you're still hanging onto an old-school landline.

    So, redditor u/6rynn asked the AskReddit community what other words and phrases we use are actually totally outdated, and the answers are fascinating!

    1. "Video recordings being called 'footage,' as in the number of feet of film used, from the earlier cinematographic days."

    2. "Referring to the act of recording video as 'taping.'"

    3. "'Top 40.' The phrase itself still holds up because it's a top 40 list of songs, but the reason it was 40 in the first place was because that's how many records a jukebox could hold. No one uses jukeboxes anymore."

    NBC

    4. "Roll your car window down."

    A manual car window crank handle
    Kara Knight / Getty Images

    5. "Stay tuned. Well, we don't really need to stay tuned with a TV or phone. That phrase was used back when radio broadcasting was how people got the news."

    A vintage AM/FM radio with a tuner knob being turned
    Jakkapan21 / Getty Images

    6. "People think of the area in your car above the steering wheel where your indicators are. ... However, 'dashboard' had a completely different meaning before cars. In horse-drawn buggies, the dashboard was the board at your feet so the horse didn't kick up dirt when it 'dashed.'"

    A sketch of a horse-drawn carriage
    Asmakar / Getty Images

    7. "'Upper case' and 'lower case' for letters. Letters had to be individually placed back in the days of the printing press, and there was a special case where you kept these letters. These terms indicated where in the box the letters were kept."

    Cases of letters for a printing press
    Ferrantraite / Getty Images

    8. "Putting regularly paired letters together as pre-made types for the press were called stereotypes. Then the sound of a stereotype falling into the press was a cliché. My favourite origin of a group of words."

    An old-fashioned printing press with words laid out
    Ferrantraite / Getty Images

    9. "'Rewind' as a verb in general. Like, if I'm watching a YouTube video and say 'rewind,' my younger cousins think it's weird. They just say 'go back.'"

    The Explainer Studio / Via giphy.com

    10. "In Italy, when we answer the phone we say 'pronto,' which means 'ready.' That's a relic from when you called an operator and asked him to connect you with the specific user, he would then say 'pronto' when the connection was ready and the call would start."

    Operators at a 1950s-era telephone switchboard
    H. Armstrong Roberts / Getty Images

    11. "How many people nowadays know that when you CC someone on an email, the CC stands for 'carbon copy'?"

    A notebook with the words "blind carbon copy" written on a page
    Syahrir Maulana / Getty Images

    12. "'Plumbing/plumbers' — pipes used to be made of lead, which used to be named plumbum."

    The entry for lead on the periodic table (symbol Pb)
    Davidf / Getty Images

    13. "'Freelance.' Comes from when knights on horseback were mercenaries — literally 'a lance that could serve anyone.'"

    A knight in armor riding a horse and carrying a large lance
    Bcreigh / Getty Images

    What other words or phrases come from something totally outdated? Let us know in the comments!

    BuzzFeed Daily

    Keep up with the latest daily buzz with the BuzzFeed Daily newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form