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17 Euphemisms for Sex From the 1800s

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While shoe-horning these into conversation today might prove difficult, these 17 synonyms for sex were used often enough in 19th-century England to earn a place in the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, a book for upper-crust Britons who had no idea what the proles were talking about.

1. Amorous congress

To say two people were engaged in amorous congress was by far the most polite option on the list, oftentimes serving as the definition for other, less discreet synonyms.

2. Basket-making

"Those two recently opened a basket-making shop." From a method of making children's stockings, in which knitting the heel is called basket-making.

3. Bread and butter

One on top of the other. "Rumor has it he found her bread and butter fashion with the neighbor."

4. Brush

"Yeah, we had a brush once." The emphasis here is on brevity; just a fling, no big deal.

5. Clicket

"They left together, so they're probably at clicket." This was originally used only for foxes, but became less specific as more and more phrases for doing it were needed.

6. Face-making

Aside from the obvious, this also comes from "making children," because babies have faces.

7. Blanket hornpipe

There is probably no way to use this in seriousness or discreetly, but there you have it.

8. Blow the grounsils

"Grounsils" are foundation timbers, so "on the floor."

See Also: 11 Sexting Acronyms From the 1930s

9. Convivial society

Similar to "amorous congress" in that this was a gentler term suitable for even the noble classes to use, even if they only whispered it.

10. Take a flyer

"Flyers" being shoes, this is "dressed, or without going to bed."

11. Green gown

Giving a girl a green gown can only happen in the grass.

12. Lobster kettle

A woman who sleeps with soldiers coming in at port is said to "make a lobster kettle" of herself.

13. Melting moments

Those shared by "a fat man and woman in amorous congress."

14. Pully hawly

A game at pully hawly is a series of affairs.

15. St. George

In the story of St. George and the Dragon, the dragon reared up from the lake to tower over the saint. "Playing at St. George" casts a woman as the dragon and puts her on top.

16. A stitch

Similar to having a brush, "making a stitch" is a casual affair.

17. Tiff

A tiff could be a minor argument or falling-out, as we know it. In the 19th century, it was also a term for eating or drinking between meals, or in this case, a quickie.

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'Froyo,' 'Troll,' and 'Sriracha' Added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary
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Looking for the right word to describe the time you spend drinking before heading out to a party, or a faster way to say “frozen yogurt?" Merriam-Webster is here to help. The 189-year-old English vocabulary giant has just added 250 new words and definitions to their online dictionary, including pregame and froyo.

New words come and go quickly, and it’s Merriam-Webster’s job to keep tabs on the terms that have staying power. “As always, the expansion of the dictionary mirrors the expansion of the language, and reaches into all the various cubbies and corners of the lexicon,” they wrote in their announcement.

Froyo is just one of the recent additions to come from the culinary world. Bibimbap, a Korean rice dish; choux pastry, a type of dough; and sriracha, a Thai chili sauce that’s been around for decades but has just recently exploded in the U.S., are now all listed on Merriam-Webster's website.

Of course, the internet was once again a major contributor to this most recent batch of words. Some new terms, like ransomware (“malware that requires the victim to pay a ransom to access encrypted files”) come from the tech world, while words like troll ("to harass, criticize, or antagonize [someone] especially by provocatively disparaging or mocking public statements, postings, or acts”) were born on social media. Then there’s the Internet of Things, a concept that shifts the web off our phones and computers and into our appliances.

Hive mind, dog whistle, and working memory are just a few of the new entries to receive the Merriam-Webster stamp of approval. To learn more about how some words make it into the dictionary while others get left out, check these behind-the-scenes secrets of dictionary editors.

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How New Words Become Mainstream
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If you used the words jeggings, muggle, or binge-watch in a sentence 30 years ago, you would have likely been met with stares of confusion. But today these words are common enough to hold spots in the Oxford English Dictionary. Such lingo is a sign that English, as well as any other modern language, is constantly evolving. But the path a word takes to enter the general lexicon isn’t always a straightforward one.

In the video below, TED-Ed lays out how some new words become part of our everyday speech while others fade into obscurity. Some words used by English speakers are borrowed from other languages, like mosquito (Spanish), avatar (Sanskrit), and prairie (French). Other “new” words are actually old ones that have developed different meanings over time. Nice, for example, used to only mean silly, foolish, or ignorant, and meat was used as blanket term to describe any solid food given to livestock.

The internet alone is responsible for a whole new section of our vocabulary, but even the words most exclusive to the web aren’t always original. For instance, the word meme was first used by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene.

To learn more about the true origins of the words we use on a regular basis, check out the full story from TED-Ed below.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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