Experts reveals the English words young people have never heard of including 'lush'

Disco, nicompoop, boogie, and trollop are among the words that could go extinct within a generation as young people haven’t heard of them.

As many as 40 per cent of 18-30 year olds have never heard of the word sozzled, meaning drunk, while 37 percent were unfamiliar with referring to a man who behaves dishonourably as a ‘cad’, according to new research. 

Researchers from Perspectus Global, provided a long list of words to a panel of 2,000 respondents and asked them to identify which ones they had never heard of.

Many of the words have origins from the late 19th Century or later, and will be prevalent in the vocabularies of older generations.

Young people believe that the word ‘bonk’ to describe having sex is outdated, while wally, in relation to someone silly or inept also made the list of unknown terms. 

Would you say you’re going to the disco, getting sozzled and having a boogie? Then you’re probably over 30. Young people are unfamiliar with words such as ‘sozzled’ meaning drunk, with 40 per cent of 18-30 years olds never hearing the term. While others didn’t know the meaning of boogie and disco, according to new research. Pictured: Stock image

Boogie, meaning to dance and disco meaning a party where people dance to music where also terms deemed outdated by younger millennials and Generation Z.

Evie Porter, from Perspectus Global who commissioned the research said, ‘Our research shows that many words are simply losing favour, with millennials having no idea of their meaning.’


 Number shows percentage of young people who haven’t heard the term

1. Sozzled (40%) – Very drunk

2. Cad (37%) – A man who is dishonest or treats other people badly

3. Bonk (37%) – Have sexual intercourse

4. Wally (36%) – A stupid person

5. Betrothed (29%) – Engaged to be married

6. Nincompoop (28%) – A stupid person

7. Boogie (28%) – Dance to pop music

8. Trollop (27%) – A woman who has many casual sexual encounters or relationships

9. Bounder (27%) – A dishonourable man

10. Balderdash (27%) – Senseless talk or writing; nonsense

11. Henceforth (26%) – From this or that time on

12. Yonks – (25%) – A very long time

13. Lush – (23%) – Very good or impressive

14. Tosh – (23%) – Rubbish; nonsense

15. Swot – (22%) – A person who studies hard

16. Brill – (21%) – Excellent; great

17. Kerfuffle – (20%) – A commotion or fuss

18. Randy – (19%) – Sexually aroused or excited

19. Disco – (17%) – A club or party at which people dance to music

20. Minted – (15%) – Having a lot of money; rich

In 2018, writer Edward Allhusen released a book with a list of 600 endangered words in which included trollop, to describe a disreputable woman and nincopoop, meaning simpleton, which also made Perspectus’ list of words not known by young adults.  

As well as listing endangered words, Mr Allhusen has also highlighted how the meaning of words has evolved over the past two and a half centuries.

He studied the seminal 1755 book by Samuel Johnson, ‘A Dictionary of the English Language’ to see which words have survived to this day and how their meanings have changed.

In that edition, he was intrigued to find the term ‘betrump’, which was defined as to deceive, to cheat or to evade by guile.

Young people believe that the word 'bonk' to describe having sex is outdated, while betrothed, meaning engaged is also not in millenial's vocabulary

Young people believe that the word ‘bonk’ to describe having sex is outdated, while betrothed, meaning engaged is also not in millenial’s vocabulary

The meaning of other words have changed completely – now associated with cricket, the word ‘innings’ once meant land reclaimed from the sea.

The new list also includes words betrothed, meaning engaged, and bonk, meaning to have sex.

Also listed was tosh, meaning nonsense; henceforth, meaning from this time on; lush, meaning very good; minted meaning rich and kerfuffle, which describes a fuss or commotions.

Across all age groups, 40 percent believe it is right for some words to be consigned to history, if they are insulting or old fashioned.

And more than a third agreed that many words are simply not relevant today, with a quarter saying the English language is constantly evolving which is a good thing. 

But a third of those over 50 thought it was sad that language is dying out.

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