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Wow! Some words are, like, really old!

Even words bearing the stamp of one particular era often go back surprisingly deep into earlier times.

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I have an etymological nugget I've been saving, like a special chocolate bar, until the occasion is right. Here it is: The interjection , as "a natural expression of amazement," goes back to the 1510s. Yes, you read that right – early in the 16th century.

Wow! That is pretty amazing, isn't it? (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, was originally "a Scottish interjection." The verb sense ("We really wowed 'em") was first recorded in 1924, a mere four centuries later. The noun sense ("His last show was a real wow") stems likewise from the 1920s. The Dictionary of American Slang notes, "This old interjection had a new popularity in the early 1900s and again during the 1960s and later."

Speaking of Scotland (warning – the connection I'm about to make is a very loose-knit one): I recall once upon a time seeing my father in an argyle sweater vest I didn't recognize. It was shortly after the 1974 Robert Redford/Mia Farrow film "The Great Gatsby" had come out, with some notable effect on that season's fashions. And so when I saw the sweater, it crossed my mind, however briefly, that I was perhaps seeing Mr. Redford's influence on the attire of my very own, not exactly fashion-­forward father. And so I had to ask: "Hmm, Dad, when did you get that sweater?"

Pause.

"Oh, probably about 1935."

It turned out that after some weight loss, he'd found himself able to get back into threads he'd acquired as a very young man – items that he'd frugally kept in storage over many of the intervening years.

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