One of my writing buddies posted a link on Facebook about “18 Obsolete Words, Which Never Should Have Gone Out of Style.” As usual, this was a test and I flunked. I looked and them and thought, “Thank God no one says pussy van when they mean temper.” Seriously. I’m grateful.
And wonder-wench? That sounds a whole lot more like a saucy super hero than a girl who is a sweetheart.
Tyromancy? They seriously needed a word for someone who reads the future by studying cheese coagulation? I find it hard to believe that it was once a thriving industry for which people needed a word.
But there are other words that are just as dated and are working their way out of our vocabulary because of changing technology. Thanks to my grandmother, I often call the refrigerator an icebox and the vacuum a carpet sweeper.
This is one of those things that you need to think about when you write historic fiction. You need not only the right word for the item but also for the time and place. A professor I worked with spent several minutes trying to communicate that she needed a pen because she could only come up with the British-ism. Darn that continental education!
But this is the sort of thing you need to research when you write. And isn’t it fun to ferret out the possibilities?