5 Old English Words We Still Use Today


While we may not actively use Old English in both verbal and written communication any longer, there are a few words which were originally part of the old English vocabulary and have now entered the modern English vocabulary. Here we list 5 old English words which we still use today.


‘Eke out a living’ is a commonly used phrase in modern English. The word ‘eke’ has its roots in an old verb which carried the meaning of adding, supplementing or growing. Even the word nickname (originally eke-name) which also means additional has the same roots.

Example: Ria ekes out a living selling books on the pavement.


‘To and fro’ is another commonly used phrase in modern English conversations. The word fro was actually the Scottish way of pronouncing the word ‘from’. There were a few expressions associated with the term fro, such as to do fro (to remove), fro and till, and others which eventually didn’t stick.

Example: Mike spends three hours daily travelling to-and-fro his workplace and home.


The word hue is used in today’s conversations in the context of colour. This hue has its roots in the old English word, híew which meant appearance. The other hue which is used in the context of creating a word imitating sounds, like hoot.

Example: The walls, now painted in rich pink hues, have added life to an otherwise dull room.


Kith and kin is commonly used in today’s language to mean friends and family. In old English vocabulary, kith actually meant knowledge or acquaintance. Over the years, the phrase kith and kin has come to mean friends and family instead of what it originally stood for – country and family.

Example: The kith and kin of the accident victim needed to be informed at the earliest.


Just deserts sounds familiar? Well, we aren’t talking about having only deserts (sweet dishes post meal) nor are we talking about the sandy deserts dotting the world map! The phrase ‘just deserts’ refers to a person getting his/her due or what he/she deserves. It comes from an old French word and was incorporated in the English vocabulary from the 13th century.

Example: The student who misbehaved during the assembly received his just deserts.

Well folks, those of you who love going into the history and delving into the roots of modern English vocabulary, have a look at this! Feel free to share with us, in the comments below, any other word you think should make to this list.


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