Old-Time Names for Items

Words and Phrases referring to an item some 80 to 100 years ago can change by the 21st century, so if someone uses that word, most people might not know what it means.

This can apply if you are reading letters or journals from your ancestors. So here are a few examples.

The early televisions of 1940s-1950s and early 1960s had tubes in them that would need replacing occasionally. So the phrase ‘The Tube’ was used to refer to a television set.

Today we refer to a living room or a family room to bring guests to the house into. Decades ago everyone had a ‘parlor’, a neat special room to entertain guests.

A couch or sofa built by A. H. Davenport Co. in late 1800s was called a ‘Davenport’.

Before electric refrigerators of the 1920s and 1930s came out, everyone used an ‘icebox’, that kept the food cool with bug blocks of ice which were replaced every other day. For years even after a family had a refrigerator, it was referred to as an icebox.

People today know of miniature golf courses but originally they were called ‘Tom Thumb Golf”.

Before the electric vacuum cleaner, people used a hand sweeper or broom to clean the floors. Even after the Hoover vacuums came out, people just called them ‘Hoovers’, instead of vacuums.

Now, this goes back decades. Hot dogs were called ‘Red Hots’ because of their red color.

Originally pancakes were called ‘flapjacks’. Same food just a different name.

Casual clothes especially for children were ‘dungarees’. Today the word is ‘denim jeans’.

This term goes back to the early 1900s. It was ‘Lumming’ which we today say ‘a very heavy rain, a downpour’.

I’m sure there were a few you never heard of.

Photo: 1920s GE ‘Monitor’ model of a refrigerator which people called an ‘icebox’.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Antiquated Sayings

Curse Words Used by Your Ancestors

Ancestors’ Funny Sayings

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