15 More Excellent Victorian Slang Terms You Should be Using

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People enjoyed our first list of delightful Victorian slang terms from the 1909 book Passing English so much, we're giving you 15 more words and phrases from the era that need to make a comeback.

1. Abyssinian Medal

Military slang, introduced after the Abyssinian War, for a button in the abdomen area “gone astray from its buttonhole.” This is probably what happens to your vest-wearing uncle after a hearty Thanksgiving meal.

2. Amen Corner

A California term for a church.

3. Basket of Oranges

This phrase, which referred to a pretty woman, originated in Australia before making its way to England. "A metaphor founded on another metaphor," author Andrew Forrester writes, "the basket of oranges being a phrase for the discovery of nuggets of gold in gold fields."

4. Beer Bottle

Not something you drink out of, but a street term for "a stout, red-faced man."

5. Can’t you feel the shrimp?

Cockney, from 1877, meaning "smell the sea."

6. Cheek-ache

"Blushing or turning red in the face rather from the meanness of another than your own."

7. Cut a finger

A lower-class phrase meaning "to cause a disagreeable odor."

8. Damned Good Swine Up

A term from 1880, "suspected to be of American origin," for a loud quarrel.

9. Dimber-Damber

A street term meaning "smart, active, adroit. One of the alliterative phrases with absolutely no meaning."

10. Foot-and-Mouth Disease

A Lancashire term for "swearing followed by kicking."

11. Mouth-pie

A street term for scolding, as delivered by a woman.

12. Nurse the Hoe-Handle

A term from agricultural American meaning "lazy." You're not being a lump on your couch—you're nursing the hoe-handle!

13. Raked fore and aft

Desperately in love.

14. Sponge it Out

This term, used beginning in 1883, meant “forget it."

15. Start a Jolly

To lead applause. The next time you do the slow clap, tell everyone you're starting a jolly.

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November 15, 2013 - 12:15am
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