Every so often, I think of a word or phrase I grew up hearing but never hear anymore. The latest one that came to mind was “just as lief.”
Older people used to say “just as lief” all the time in the West End of Louisville, Kentucky, where I was born and raised, which is another phrase I haven’t heard in a while.
It means, “just as soon as not,” or, “I don’t mind if I do.” I love the example they give at the Oxford Living Dictionary: “He would just as lief eat a pincushion.” Cracks me up.
The OLD says that the origin of lief is an Old English for pleasant or dear, so I guess it’s like, “It’s just as pleasant to me to do this as it is to do that.”
Like “I don’t mind if I do,” the phrase “I’d just as lief” often really meant, “I’d rather.” Like, if Charlie said we would go out for dinner and I said, “Would you rather stay and eat at home?” he might say, “I’d just as lief,” but he would really mean, “Not just yeah — HELL yeah.” He hates eating out. I’d just as lief go.
In using an archaic word like that, how much context do you need to give, in order for it to be comprehensible? I’m thinking, in this particular case, not much.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write about a word or phrase from your childhood you kinda miss.