Is Deportment an Archaic Word?

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, April 9, 1913:  Got my report card today. Had quite a fall in deportment. I must be really very bad. Began to address my invitations this evening.

Building that once housed the McEwensville Schools. The high school was on the second floor.

Building that once housed the McEwensville Schools. The high school was on the second floor.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma seemed to have a bad case of senioritis—so I guess it isn’t a surprise that her grade for deportment fell.  For example, on March 26 she wrote:

Teacher gave the school a lecture, but it was really meant for me. I don’t think what I did was so bad, but I guess I won’t do it again . . .

Does anyone use the term deportment any more? It almost seems like an archaic word.

21 Responses

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever heard deportment used in conversation.

    • I also don’t think that I’ve ever heard it used in conversation. It’s a term that I definitely know–but I think that I associate it more with vocabulary words that I memorized in preparation for the SAT many years ago.

  2. This is poignant indeed.

    Are you from Pennsylvania?

    Shakti

  3. I agree that “deportment” is an archaic word. I’m sure many folks aren’t familiar with it. (I think it, more or less, refers to your behavior…??)

  4. She doesn’t seem to be very bothered by her bad marks in deportment. I’m sure I haven’t heard that word used recently. Maybe I’ll try it on my grandkids and see if they have a clue as to what it means.

    • If you use the word deportment, I bet your grandkids will just star at you in a confused way–though it probably will get their attention. :)

  5. A matter of personal conduct and behavior…. hmmmm. Your Grandma was a rebel no doubt. :)

  6. I have not heard that term in ages, part of my grade school years were spent in a Catholic school so we heard that word all the time and like Helena I never did get good marks in it, and nothing has changed in over 40 yrs!!

  7. I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know what the word “deportment” meant. I had to read the comments here to find out.

  8. According to Google, Deportment: a manner of personal conduct. Really how bad could she be? They must have had crazy standards.

  9. Deportment may not be used much anymore but it is such a lovely word, it should be reinstated in our vocabularies. Your grandmother obviously wasn’t worried that she would fail to graduate because of her fall in deportment. She still went ahead with her invitations!

  10. I was wondering what “deportment” meant, but you and Dianna answered that in your conversation. I guess it could be considered, ah, archaic (? Did I use it correctly?).
    It’s interesting that Helena’s old school is now a fire station. Wonder what she’d think?

    • It was converted to a fire station in the late 1950s or early 1960s when the small country schools were closed and the consolidated school district created.–so Grandma would have known about this change when she was an older woman. I don’t have any idea what she thought about it.

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