5 words and phrases that age you

5 words that age you

5 words and phrases that age you

The beauty of words – and the joy of copywriting – is how fluid and adaptable the English language really is. The downside is that words are powerful tools to give the wrong impression.

I innocently asked my kids whether they thought my brand new shirt looked cool.

Scornful laughter fell upon me.

“Yeah mum. You look cool,” smirked one son to the other, not even trying to hide his eye rolling or stifle a snigger.

“Constipated. Overweighted. Old. Lady. That’s what C.O.O.L is,” the other son blurted, helpfully putting me in the picture. Cue stomach-holding laughter and finger pointing from teenage sons.

Am I now officially an old person, mocked by children and destined to have my words twisted into insulting mnemonics that age me? Probably.

It got me thinking about all the other phrases and words that can date you and make you appear older than you really are.

So just for the fun of it, I came up with 5 words and phrases that show  you are wiser and more worldly than any young whippersnapper who may dare to mock you.


Well, not everyone believes the word C.O.O.L is an acronym for constipated, overweighted (shouldn’t that be just plain old overweight, hey kids?), old lady. I still hear plenty of my friends in their 40s use the term.

It’s usually guys who use the word ‘cool’ to punctuate the end of a conversation in the affirmative. As in: “Do you want to try that new restaurant?”

“Yeah, cool.”

And a little bit of Googling uncovered other insulting acronyms for ‘cool’.


Using this term is like needing your glasses to look at your mobile phone. It’s a sure sign you were around before people injected the internet into everything they do – email, shopping, reading, socialising, ordering takeaway etcetera etcetera.

Back in the days when you had to hook your computer up to a modem that screeched at you and images downloaded slowly than my kids eat their vegetables, ‘surfing the web’ was a description that made sense. The search engines were terrible and you only occasionally rode the wave of success to find what you actually wanted.

The phrase came into usage in the early 1990s – this librarian has written a piece about it – but it went out of favour as internet adoption hit us all like a tsunami.

The internet doesn’t require its own extreme sport references anymore. It’s like breathing – not surfing.


Actually, I use this word all the time. It’s a filler. A crutch. A useless word, indeed.

It sounds prim. No-one under the age of 30 seems to utter it.

I still like it. Time.com says it kills your credibility. I don’t care.


Sometimes Australians say they are “going to the pitchers”. It’s synonymous with seeing a movie. A hangover phrase from when movies were called ‘moving pictures’ and the cinema was a favoured destination for escape and pleasure. This phrase baffled my kids. I rather like its quaintness and nod to the origins of moving pictures.

Now that movies are something you stream rather than visit a cinema to watch, the ‘moving pictures’ phrase does seem antiquated.

PS: whatever you don’t mistake Netflix and chill for going to the pictures. Definitely not the same thing.


Closely related to the word cool, ‘groovy’ apparently originated during the jazz age when good music was said to be found “in the grooves” of a vinyl record. It came to be used to declare something good, great or even cool.

To me, Marcia Brady from The Brady Bunch popularised ‘groovy’ and you still hear it peppered throughout cartoons, sitcoms and movies from the 1960s and 1970s. But it’s pretty corny.

I noticed my mother used it when she commented on my kids’ clothes last Christmas. That sealed ‘groovy’ for me. In a time capsule.