Language is a living, breathing entity that evolves and changes over time. As new words are introduced and become commonplace, older ones gradually fall out of use and eventually become obsolete.
These words may have once been popular or essential to everyday conversation, but as the language evolves, they become relics of a bygone era. This list explores 100 obsolete English words that have fallen out of use over time.
From archaic words used by Shakespeare to long-forgotten slang from the 1920s, this list encompasses many terms that are no longer part of modern vocabulary. While some of these words may still be recognized by older generations, most have yet to be discovered by most English speakers today.
Abacinate – to blind by holding a red-hot metal plate before someone’s eyes.
Abnegate – to renounce or reject.
Abrogate – to repeal or cancel a law or rule.
Accend – to kindle or light up.
Aceldama – a place of bloodshed or slaughter.
Adimpleate – to fill up or complete.
Afforce – to strengthen or confirm.
Aggrieve – to cause distress or harm to someone.
Agrestic – rural or rustic.
Alacrity – eagerness or willingness to do something.
Amain – with great force or speed.
Amenity – a pleasant or agreeable quality.
Anfractuous – winding or circuitous.
Apodictic – unquestionably true or certain.
Apostate – one who renounces a religious or political belief.
Argle-bargle – a heated or confused argument.
Augury – a sign or omen of something to come.
Auspicate – to predict or foretell.
Bacchanal – a drunken reveler or party-goer.
Beldam – an old woman or hag.
Beldame – a witch or sorceress.
Bight – a bend or curve in a coastline or river.
Blatherskite – a person who talks nonsense or blabbers on.
Blither – to talk foolishly or nonsensically.
Bombilate – to make a humming or buzzing sound.
Bombinate – to buzz or hum incessantly.
Borborygmus – a rumbling or gurgling noise in the stomach.
Boustrophedon – a type of writing that alternates from left to right and right to left.
Brabble – to argue noisily about trivial matters.
Brummagem – cheap or showy, of low quality.
Bucolic – rustic or pastoral, relating to the countryside.
Bumptious – self-assertive or conceited.
Cachinnate – to laugh loudly or immoderately.
Callipygian – having well-shaped buttocks.
Celerity – swiftness or speed.
Chicanery – deception or trickery.
Chimerical – imaginary or fanciful.
Cockalorum – a small man with a big opinion of himself.
Collywobbles – a feeling of anxiety or nervousness in the stomach.
Comity – mutual courtesy or respect.
Concupiscence – strong desire or lust.
Connubial – relating to marriage or the relationship between husband and wife.
Contumely – insulting or abusive language or treatment.
Coprolalia – the involuntary use of obscene language.
Couth – cultured or refined.
Crapulous – relating to drunkenness or excessive drinking.
Currish – mean-spirited or dog-like in behavior.
Defalcate – to embezzle or misappropriate funds.
Defenestrate – to throw someone out of a window.
Deliquesce – to dissolve or become liquid.
Demesne – a person’s land or property.
Denigrate – to belittle or criticize unfairly.
Desuetude – disuse or neglect.
Desultory – lacking a plan or purpose, random.
Didymous – twin or paired.
Diffidation – distrust or doubt.
Discomfit – to defeat or frustrate.
Discombobulate – to confuse or disconcert.
Discordant – lacking harmony or agreement.
Disembogue – to flow out or discharge into the sea.
Disestablish – to end the official status of a church or organization.
Disgruntle – to make someone dissatisfied or unhappy.
Disinter – to dig up or exhume a buried body.
Dislimn – to erase or obscure a painting or image.
Disport – to amuse or entertain oneself in a lively way.
Dissemble – to conceal one’s true feelings or intentions.
Dissertate – to give a formal or lengthy lecture or discourse.
Divagate – to stray or wander off the subject.
Dizen – to dress up or adorn in a showy or cheap way.
Doff – to remove or take off clothing or a hat.
Dollop – a large or shapeless amount of something.
Dragoon – to coerce or force someone to do something.
Eburnean – resembling ivory, white or ivory-colored.
Effulgent – shining brightly or radiantly.
Elide – to omit or leave out a sound or syllable in speech or writing.
Emolument – salary or payment for work or services rendered.
Encomium – high praise or tribute.
Endue – to provide or endow with a quality or characteristic.
Ennui – boredom or a lack of interest or excitement.
Ensconce – to settle comfortably or securely in a place.
Entelechy – the realization or actualization of potential or purpose.
Entreat – to plead or beg for something.
Equipoise – balance or equilibrium.
Erewhile – formerly or previously.
Ersatz – inferior or artificial, a substitute for the real thing.
Eschatology – the study of the end of the world or the afterlife.
Esoteric – intended for or understood by only a select few.
Evanesce – to disappear or fade away gradually.
Evince – to show or demonstrate clearly or convincingly.
Excoriate – to criticize or rebuke harshly or severely.
Exiguous – scanty or meager in amount.
Expatiate – to speak or write at length on a subject.
Exscind – to cut off or remove completely.
Extemporize – to improvise or speak without preparation.
Extramundane – existing outside or beyond the physical world.
Factitious – artificially created or produced.
Fain – pleased or willing to do something.
Fastuous – boastful or pretentious.
Fatidic – prophetic or predicting the future.
Fealty – loyalty or allegiance to a lord or king.