Can You Spell These Long Old-Timey Words Correctly?



By: Teresa McGlothlin

6 Min Quiz

Image: Guido Cavallini / Cultura / Getty Images

About This Quiz

We won't try to swashbuckle you during this quiz, but we might leave you feeling a little smarter than when you started! We have scoured the literary world to find old-timey words to challenge your vocabulary, and we cannot wait to see how you do. No matter how you score, you are sure to pick up a few words to use around the office. 

Although we've become masters with our modern words, it's always fun to take a look back in time and discover words we don't use nearly enough these days. Our forefathers and our foremothers had very colorful ways to describe things, and we think you'll enjoy this quiz as much as we do. By the time you're done, you'll have the biggest old-fashioned vocabulary of anyone you know. 

Remember that this is really a spelling quiz, and you'll need to examine each of our possible choices for errors. You'll have to look close to see the differences, but we know you'll be able to pick out the correctly spelled word we have described in our question. Impress yourself, and share your results with your friends. Don't be a claptrap and keep it to yourself! How well will you really do? 

Which old-timey word for farmer is spelled correctly?

Back in the days of your great-grandparents, a farmer would often be called a husbandman. It's not clear if this title was also used by single farmers.


What is the correct spelling for the word that means untreatable?

Back in they day, incurable conditions were said to be immedicable. The only thing left to do in immedicable cases was to make a patient comfortable.


Which word that refers to a mischievous person is spelled correctly?

When your great-grandparents were being naughty, they were probably told to stop being rapscallions. Try using it on someone at your office, and see how it goes!


Which old-fashioned word is spelled correctly and means one year?

Instead of celebrating your next anniversary, you should celebrate your twelvemonth. In early times, twelvemonth was a way to refer to a year.


What is the right spelling of a word that means nonsense?

There's no doubt that our social media feeds are full of flapdoodle. Decades ago, flapdoodle was used to describe utter nonsense.


If your room is in a state of disaster, what is the correctly spelled way to describe it?

After you've tried to find the right outfit and your clothes are all over the room, you have turned your room into a cattywampus. Cattywampus is an old-timey word meaning a state of disarray.


What is the right way to spell the word that describes a disheveled person?

The next time your friend is recovering from a breakup and you want them to pull it together, tell them that they look like a ragamuffin. Once you explain what it means, they will, at least, take a shower and change clothes.


What was the correctly spelled way to describe something going counterclockwise?

It remains unclear if our ancestors could time travel, but we know they had to set their clocks by hand. If they were moving the hands in a counterclockwise direction, they called it widdershins.


If someone were behaving deviously, what was the right way to spell it?

During the days of yore, a way to describe deceptive behavior was called skulduggery. It is an alteration of the Scottish word "skuldudrie," which means adultery.


What is the correctly spelled name for someone who sells books?

Instead of heading to Barnes & Noble, your long-lost relatives would have headed to see the local bibliophile. A bibliophile was a knowledgeable bookseller in brick and mortar stores.


If your grandmother's wardrobe was a jumbled mess, how would she have correctly described it?

If your grandmother is anything like mine, her wardrobe could have never been described as a hodgepodge. Hodgepodge is the old-fashioned way of describing a jumbled mess.


If your great-grandfather caused an uproar, what is the right way to spell what he would have called it?

When your great-grandfather did something to cause an uproar like sneak a peak at your great-grandmother's ankle before they were married, he would have also caused a hullabaloo. It's likely that the whole town would have known about the fuss he had caused.


What was the right way to spell being dumbfounded back then?

The correct old-timey way to express being dumbfounded is flabbergasted. It's most likely your first relative to see a car driving down the street felt quite flabbergasted.


What is the correct old-timey way to describe a page of written nonsense?

When your grandpa didn't feel like doing his homework and he rushed through it, his teacher may have told him it was a bunch of gobbledygook. Gobbledygook is a way to refer to nonsense - particularly of the written kind.


Where would a man have gone to be fitted for clothing?

If your male relatives wanted to be fitted for clothing, they would visit the local haberdasher. They could purchase clothing as well as other various sundries while they were there.


Which correctly spelled word meant to be irritating or difficult?

Decades ago, those who were being difficult or irritating where described as being cantankerous. If you were a rapscallion, you were mostly cantankerous.


What is the old-timey word that means mischievous behavior?

When you were pranking one of your friends during your great-grandparents' time, you were up to monkeyshine. Monkeyshine was a fun way of saying someone was being harmlessly mischievous.


Which spelling of the word that means a greedy politician is correct?

If a politician were out for their own gains rather than representing the people, they might have been called a snollyguster. Considering the language in politics these days, it would be refreshing to hear someone simply called a snollyguster.


If a bearded man walked in the room, which word would have been used to describe him?

Instead of saying someone had a beard, your more old-fashioned relatives might have described a man as being barbiegerous. We think it's a word that should be brought back.


Which spelling of the word that would have been used to describe bad penmanship is correct?

When you look at your doctor's signature, it's hard not to wonder if they've had a class in uglyography. Instead of telling someone they had horrible handwriting, our ancestors were polite and used the term uglyography instead.


What might someone who liked to read in bed have been called?

When your forefathers preferred to read in bed rather than in the study, they would have been called a librocubularist. After all, there's no better way to fall sleep than reading by candlelight.


What is the correctly spelled word for someone who is always smiling?

If you had a friend who was always smiling back in the days of yore, you would have called them a gigglemug. Some people didn't trust gigglemugs, but others found them delightful.


What was the right way to say someone was a bad singer?

If your great-great grandfather were to attend a modern-day karaoke night with you, he might be dismayed at the number of whooperups wanting to perform. A whooperup is someone with less than a professional singing voice.


How would your ancestors have correctly referred to a talkative woman?

When a lady was blessed with the gift of gab, she was described as being a churchbell. Your great-grandmother might have heard that she was quite the churchbell in her day.


Which old-timey word for idiot is spelled correctly?

During Victorian times, someone who was not of high intelligence would have been called a zounderkite. It's a fancy word for someone who was spouting unfounded nonsense.


Which word meant that someone was lazy?

The next time you catch a coworker slacking off, accuse them of being a scobberlotcher. You know they will be too lazy to look it up!


Which old-fashioned word for giraffe is correct?

Instead of calling it something boring like a giraffe, your older relatives may have referred to camels as camelopods. Somewhere between a camel and a leopard, the word camelopod was born.


What is the right spelling of the word that means forest?

Robin Hood and his Merry Men preferred to live in the greenwood. Greenwood is another way of saying forest.


What word means perhaps?

Instead of saying perhaps, your elders might have used the word peradventure. Peradventure, you can add it to your vocabulary, too.


Which word meaning a loud and cowardly person is spelled correctly?

Every office has a loud, proud, and boastful employee who would run at the first sign of trouble. Your elders might have called this coworker a scaramouch.


Which word meant to travel from place to place?

A person who traveled or drifted from place to place in the olden days may have been called a peregrinate. Peregrinates had the travel bug before you could book online!


Which word used for childbirth is spelled correctly?

Because our elders were polite, they didn't refer to a woman as having to go through childbirth. Instead, she had an accouchement.


What is the correct way to spell the word that meant flighty?

When your best friend cannot decide what to wear and keeps doing other things instead of getting dressed, she is being a flibbertigibbet. A flibbertigibbet is a flighty person who keeps changing their mind.


How would you spell the word meaning a raggedy person?

Your great-grandparents might not have told someone that they look a mess, but they would have told them that they resembled a tatterdemalion. A tatterdemalion is a person in a state of decay.


Which word meaning dunce has the correct spelling?

When one of your classmates is being the class clown these days, you tell them to stop being so silly. Your long, lost relatives would have told them to stop being such an ignoramus.


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