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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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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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Live Smarter
Why You Should Drop 'Kind of' and 'Sort of' From Your Vocabulary
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How many times have you heard something like this before: “I sort of agree” or “I just kind of wish you had asked me before making that decision.” People tend to couch phrases in qualifying language to protect someone else’s feelings or to protect themselves when they say something that’s potentially inaccurate or makes them feel vulnerable. But no matter how safe and comfortable those words make you feel, they only end up confusing your listeners and hurting your reputation.

Fast Company includes “kind of” and “sort of” on their list of expressions that make you sound like you have no idea what you’re talking about. When you preface a sentence with those words, you’re immediately letting your audience know that they shouldn’t fully trust whatever comes next. Not only does this discredit you as a leader or a confidant, it obscures any feedback or request you were hoping to convey.

“Sort of” and “kind of” aren’t the only crutches insecure speakers love to lean on. Other offenders on Fast Company’s list include “maybe,” “possibly,” “potentially,” and “I’m not sure, but … ”

If qualifiers make poor security blankets, what strategies should speakers use to communicate with confidence? One way is to replace filler words and passive past-tense language with strong action verbs. That way your message will come across clearly and better persuade whomever you're speaking to. If the thought of talking this way terrifies you, try some preemptive confidence exercises before going into your next big meeting or confronting a friend or partner. Working out, practicing power poses, and even checking your own Facebook wall are all ways you can boost your self-image in a pinch.

[h/t Fast Company]

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