Changing Language:

Recently I came across some Victorian sayings that seem to have left our current vocabulary. Some are sexist, and probably a good thing that they have moved into disuse. I found them interesting never the less. Please don’t be offended, some may be a bit rude! Have you heard any of them before? I had heard only one of them. For those of you writing historical novels, they might be useful in dialogue perhaps?

1. Bitch the pot (pour the tea) As in: “Hurry up and bitch the pot, would you? I’m spitting feathers here”

2. Tight as a boiled owl (drunk) As in: “Don’t remember a single thing about last night. Got absolutely boiled owled.”

3. Quail-pipe (woman’s tongue) As in: “Did we kiss? Yes. There was no quail-pipe though.”

4. Tallywags (testicles) As in: “Oof. Right in the tallywags.” Other Victorian terms for testicles included whirlygigs, trinkets, twidddle-diddles. (sounds as if it’s out of a nursery rhyme!)

5. Dirty puzzle (promiscuous woman) As in: “Sure. I dirty-puzzled around a bit at university, who didn’t?”

6. Cupid’s kettle drums (boobs) As in: “Would you mind terribly if I…had a go on your Cupid’s kettle drums?”

7. Neck oil (beer) As in: “Go on, it’s Friday night, get some neck oil down you.”

8. Dash my wig! (exclamation) As in: “Dash my wig, there’s never anything worth watching on Netflix.”

9. Tatur-trap (mouth) As in: “Your annoying me now. Shut your tatur-trap.” (Tatur being short for potato).

10. Tot-hunting (prowling for women) As in: “I’m married now. My tot-hunting days are over.

11. Bit o’ jam (pretty woman) As in: “People seem to think Kate Upton is a proper bit o’ Jam, but I don’t see it myself.” Other terms for the same thing included “jampot” and “basket of oranges.”

12. Cackle-tub (pulpit) As in: “That’s easy for you to say, vicar, up there in your cackle-tub.”

13.  Shoot into the brown (to fail) As in: “I thought victory was guaranteed, but I shot into the brown at the last moment.” The phrase is derived from shooting. Miss the black and white target and your shot would hit the muddy (ie brown) ground instead.

14. Inexpressibles (trousers) As in: “Put your inexpressibles on, it’s time to get up.”

15. Gas-pipes (tight trousers) As in: “No wonder your voice is so high-pitched, what with you wearing gas-pipes like those.”

16. Tickle one’s innards (to have a drink) As in: “Come on, stop moping. Let’s go out and tickle our innards.”

17. Gigglemug (smiling face) As in: “It’s always nice to come home to your gigglemug.”

18. Mutton shunter (policeman) As in: “Leg it, chaps, the mutton shunters are coming!”

19. Beer and skittles (good times) As in: “Sure, life is all beer and skittles when you’re in your twenties, but just you wait.”

20. Bags o’ mystery (sausages) As in: “PIck up a few of them bags o’mystery on your way home, will you?

21. Crinkum-crankum (vagina) As in: “Careful how you sit. You don’t want to expose your crinkum-crankum.”

Sources: Passing English of the Victorian era, a Dictionary of Heterodox English, Slang and Phrase, by J. Redding Ware; 1909, Routledge, London.

 

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10 thoughts on “Changing Language:

  1. amazedgrazing

    The ‘inexpressibles’ are my absolute favourite. I’m actually writing some short story set in Victorian England, though I’m afraid if the male protagonist talked about his trousers like this, he would lose his credibility. 😉 Thanks kindly for sharing these!

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  2. Sarah

    I can’t say I’ve ever heard any of them before but I might have been able to guess a few given enough context. Which one had you heard of before?

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  3. M. R.

    I was amazed to see that they all come from the beginning of last century, Barbara! – certainly some of ’em don’t seem anywhere near as dated …

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