15 Charming Old-Fashioned Compliments

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istock

The only thing more rewarding than receiving a fine compliment is doling one out. Here are a few charming, cute, and kooky kudos from the days of yore, dating back through the past seven centuries, all sure to land you in good favor with those on the receiving end.

1. BELLIBONE

Even during the brutal Medieval period there were instances of delicacy: Romantic knights, well read royals, and love-struck troubadours all knew their way around some fancy words. For instance, we have this delightful term for a lady rich in personality as well as physical beauty.

2. POPLOLLY

A regular companion to “bellibone,” this charming little term of endearment, which comes from a French word meaning “a sweet baby,” has a more youthful, impish connotation.

3. PEERLESS PARAMOUR

If you’re looking for a bit of Middle Ages jargon that feels a little more romantic, this phrase denoting unbeatable affection is the way to go.

4. TRUEPENNY AND STRAIGHT-FINGERED

During the 16th century, honesty became a characteristic of newfound acclaim in the English language. If you happen upon someone whose trustworthiness cannot go without commendation, try one of these.

5. BAWCOCK

While the Medieval and early Elizabethan periods boasted plenty of colorful colloquialisms, you’ll no doubt want to advance to the height of William Shakespeare’s career to get some of the really good stuff. This term for a gentleman of character and integrity, for instance, is pretty hard to beat.

6. WAG

If you spend your time among particularly humorous company, this diminutive designation will come in handy. After your funniest friend earns a particularly big laugh, champion him or her as the group’s beloved wag.

7. BULLY

This is a bit of a confusing one, considering the word’s modern connotation. You’ll probably want to explain to your friend that you’re intending to point out his good nature and strong moral fiber before calling him a bully.

8. FAIRHEAD

Say you just caught a glimpse of an attractive stranger across the room—this assessment of him or her as one brimming with physical allure should win you due favor.

9. LIQUOROUS ROLLING EYES

In 1663, English author John “J.G.” Gough made a living off the art of niceties by publishing The Academy of Complements, in which he offers a wide variety of options for laying some charm on a romantic partner. Along with the above line, Gough included the likes of “cheeks like Punic apples,” not to mention the designation of one as a “fit subject for the pleasant songs of youthful poets to acquaint the world with.”

10. YOUR VIRTUES HAVE SO STRANGELY TAKEN UP MY THOUGHTS

More than a century later, The New Academy of Complements was published in New York. It offered a few more long-winded gems: “Your virtues have so strangely taken up my thoughts, that therein they encrease and multiply in abundant felicity,” and “As you are fair and beauteous, be generous and merciful to him that is your slave.”

11. BRICKY

The Victorian era brought things back to basics. Here we have an adjective you can use to laud a friend for his or her bravery, likening the tough and unyielding nature of the party in question to—what else?—a brick.

12. JAMMIEST BITS OF JAM

Granted, it sounds a bit like a compliment you’d pay to a nice piece of toast, but this old slang superlative actually signifies “absolutely perfect young females.”

13. PIPPIN

While this moniker has conflicting records of origin, bearing premiere attribution to the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, it is consistent in its definition as a person of high esteem and admiration. Granted, it’s also a type of apple, but context clues should clear things up in conversational use.

14. SNUGGERY

It’s always appropriate to pay notice to a friend’s living quarters when stopping by, too. If a warm, cozy, or otherwise pleasant little abode wins your notice, make sure to remark on what a fine snuggery your chum has managed to land.

15. ELEPHANT’S ADENOIDS

All of these words and phrases are great, but what need have you for any other compliment when you can tap into the wide variety of zoological possessive couplets that earned popularity in the 1920s? You’ve got your choice of “caterpillar’s kimono,” “bullfrog’s beard,” “clam’s garter,” “eel’s ankle,” “sardine’s whiskers,” and “butterfly’s book”—and our favorite, “elephant’s adenoids.”

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The Hidden Meanings Behind 11 Common Tombstone Symbols

Tombstone symbols can sometimes be hard to interpret.
Tombstone symbols can sometimes be hard to interpret.
Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

Walk through any cemetery in the world and you’ll find a solemn landscape that honors loved ones that have passed on. Accompanying the inscriptions of names, dates, and family crests are some common symbols that crop up repeatedly on tombstones. If you’ve ever wondered what they could mean, take a look at some of the explanations behind the graveyard graphics.

1. Eye

The eyes have it.Valerie Everett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

If you feel someone may be looking at you in the cemetery, you might be near a tombstone engraved with an eye. Often surrounded in a burst of sunlight or a triangle, an eye typically represents the all-seeing eye of God and could denote that the decedent was a Freemason.

2. Clasped Hands

Hands on a tombstone can mean several things.Christina Ramey, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Seeing two hands clasped together can illustrate shaking hands or holding hands, depending on the position of the thumbs. A handshake can mean a greeting to eternal life. If clasped hands have different cuffs, it could indicate a bond between the deceased and a spouse or relative. If one hand is higher than the other, it could also mean that a person is being welcomed by a loved one or a higher power. The hand engraving grew into wide use during the Victorian era.

3. Dove

Doves appear in a variety of poses on tombstones.Tim Green, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A dove usually symbolizes peace and the Holy Spirit, but its specific meaning depends on how the bird is posed. If it’s flying upward, the soul is ascending to heaven. If it’s flying down, it represents the Holy Spirit arriving at the baptism of Jesus Christ. If it’s holding an olive branch in its mouth, it refers to an ancient Greek belief that olive branches could ward off evil spirits.

4. Broken Chain

Chains on tombstones can be linked or broken.Carl Wycoff, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Medieval wisdom once held that a golden chain kept the soul in the body. In death, the chain is broken and the soul is freed. If the chain is unbroken and if it features the letters FLT (for Friendship, Love, and Truth), it probably means the deceased belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a fraternal organization that seeks to promote charitable causes and offer aid.

5. Book

The meaning of a book on a tombstone isn't always easy to read.Carl Wycoff, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Was the deceased an avid reader? Maybe, but not necessarily. An open book on a tombstone might refer to a sacred text like the Bible, the “book of life,” or the person’s willingness to learn. If you see a dog-earned corner on the right side, it could indicate the person’s life ended prematurely and before their “book” was finished.

6. Finger Pointing Up

An index finger pointing up can direct visitors to look up.Christina Ramey, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

A hand with the index finger raised skyward is one of the more ambiguous symbols found in graveyards. It might be pointing to heaven, or indicate the fact that the decedent has risen from the land of the living.

7. Corn

Ears of corn could mean the deceased was a farmer.mike krzeszak, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A corn stalk on a tombstone means the deceased could have been a farmer; it used to be a custom to send corn instead of floral arrangements to a farmer’s family. It might represent other kinds of grain. Alternately, corn seeds can symbolize rebirth.

8. Scroll

Scrolls on a tombstone can refer to an unknown future.Kelly Teague, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

A scroll engraved on a tombstone with both ends rolled up can indicate that part of life has already unfolded while the future is hidden.

9. Lamp

Lamps can mean a love of knowledge.Sean, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

A lamp on a tombstone could speak to a love of learning or knowledge, or it might refer to how the spirit is immortal.

10. Camel

Camels aren't something you'd expect to see on a tombstone.Glen, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

While this particular camel signifies the Imperial Camel Corps that occupied desert regions during World War I, a camel can also represent a long journey or a skilled guide—in this case, for the afterlife.

11. Hourglass

An hourglass can be a message to the living.justiny8s, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

As you may have guessed, the hourglass symbolizes the march of time. An hourglass on its end may mean the deceased died suddenly, while a winged hourglass communicates how quickly time flies. It may also be construed as a message to the living—time is short, so don’t waste it.