Special Report

36 Old Words We Use Today But With New Meanings

Source: artisteer / Getty Images


Bootless once meant useless but now it most obviously means without boots. However, its roots are still visible in the expression “to boot,” meaning something extra.

Source: chee gin tan / Getty Images


Breech once meant buttocks and has retained a related meaning in the plural — breeches, or pants — and in the expressions “breech presentation” or “breech birth,” as in buttocks first. The rear end of a firearm is also known as the breech.

Source: PamWalker68 / Getty Images


A caboose originally was a kitchen on a ship’s deck, but it came to mean a railroad car that provides shelter for the crew. The earliest known printed use of caboose in the latter sense was in 1859 in a lawsuit filed against the New York and Harlem Railway.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images


In the 17th century, a cadet was a younger son. The older son inherited the estate, and the younger one went into the army, and so today a cadet is a student at a military school. Caddie, as in the person who carries your golf clubs, has related roots.

Source: CherylCasey / Getty Images

Carbon copy

Carbon copy originally meant a duplicate of typed or written material made by carbon paper — but nobody does that anymore. Typewriters gave way to word processors, which gave way to personal computers and printers. Still, carbon copy is sometimes used to mean an exact replica, and the abbreviation CC is used in email.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.