Many use the phrase life hack to describe a novel or clever solution to an everyday problem. Before this expression became popular I remember seeing another phrase in the English language to describe the same thing. It is possible that it also refers to a secret passed down within a family.

I remember this phrase from the title of a TV programme that used to air in the UK. It had segments of homemakers using half a plastic bottle to make a funnel, or using an old dustbin to make a home for hedgehogs.

Does anyone know the phrase I'm trying to remember?

  • Sort of grandmother lifehacks?:lifehacker.com/…
    – user66974
    Mar 26, 2015 at 15:00
  • Most people have no clue what “life hack” is intended to mean.
    – tchrist
    Mar 26, 2015 at 15:18
  • "We often use...?" WHO often use? Honestly, I've never HEARD anyone say "life hack." I've SEEN it - in the headlines of poorly written Yahoo "helpful hints" articles... supposedly, somebody thinks it's clever. I sincerely don't hold out much hope for "hack" replacing "hint", "tip", or "trick", in the day to day lexicon because "hack" will always conjure images of hatchets and cleavers and blood and gore.
    – Oldbag
    Mar 26, 2015 at 15:26
  • 2
    For medicine/illnesses there were/are "home remedies"; though your question has sparked a vague recollection in me that there's a broader or more general term.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 26, 2015 at 15:32
  • 1
    List of Britiish TV Programmes
    – Ed Miller
    Mar 26, 2015 at 16:16

2 Answers 2




1 The traditional beliefs, customs, and stories of a community, passed through the generations by word of mouth.


Which includes: Folk wisdom, Folk memory, Folk music, Folk remedies, Folk medicine, etc.

From etymonline.com


"traditional beliefs and customs of the common people," 1846, coined by antiquarian William J. Thoms (1803-1885) as an Anglo-Saxonism (replacing popular antiquities) in imitation of German compounds in Volk- and first published in the "Athenaeum" of Aug. 22, 1846; see folk + lore. Old English folclar meant "homily."

This word revived folk in a modern sense of "of the common people, whose culture is handed down orally," and opened up a flood of compound formations: Folk art (1892), folk-hero (1874), folk-medicine (1877), folk-tale (1850; Old English folctalu meant "genealogy"), folk-song (1847, "a song of the people," translating German Volkslied), folk-singer (1876), folk-dance (1877).


Old English lar "learning, what is taught, knowledge, science, doctrine, art of teaching," from Proto-Germanic *laizo (Old Saxon lera, Old Frisian lare, Middle Dutch lere, Dutch leer, Old High German lera, German Lehre "teaching, precept, doctrine"), from PIE *leis- (1) "track, furrow" (see learn).

A current TV program entitled Folklorist.

  • Thanks but that is not the phrase I am looking for... Sorry I do not have any good information to give. Mar 26, 2015 at 15:54
  • No problem, Alex. It is not the word you are looking for, but it may be the word someone else is looking for in the future. Good question!
    – ScotM
    Mar 26, 2015 at 15:59
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    I would add "folk wisdom".
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 26, 2015 at 17:16

The recipe for Coca Cola is a trade secret. There is an old family secret that tells you to use it as a cleaning solution because it contains citric acid.

  • 1
    IIUC, it also contains phosphoric acid, which is more corrosive than citric acid. Mar 27, 2015 at 8:39

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