Victorian Slang

‘Thousands of words and phrases in existence in 1870 have drifted away, or changed their forms, or been absorbed, while as many have been added or are being added.’

– Redding Ware. J. (1909) Passing English of the Victorian era, a dictionary of heterodox English, slang and phrase London, England: Routledge.

Female brothel keeper. A Madame.

Bang up to the elephant
This phrase originated in London in 1882, and means “perfect, complete, unapproachable.”

Beer and skittles
A good time.

Bitch the pot
To pour the tea.

Brave or fearless.

A talkative woman.

Cupid’s kettle drums

Dirty puzzle
Promiscuous woman.

An 1870 term for “a man devoted to seduction.”

In Victorian England, Dollymop, Haybag, Judy, Lackin, Ladybird, Midinette, Mollisher, Mot, Nemmo and Twist were all slang for ‘woman’.

An habitually smiling face.

Jammiest bits of jam
“Absolutely perfect young females,” circa 1883.

Nose bagger
Someone who takes a day trip to the beach. He brings his own provisions and doesn’t contribute at all to the resort he’s visiting.

Not up to dick
Not well.

Rain Napper
An umbrella.

Shoot into the brown
To fail. “The phrase takes its rise from rifle practice, where the queer shot misses the black and white target altogether, and shoots into the brown i.e., the earth butt.”

Take the egg
To win.


Prowling for women.

“She wore tight corsets to give her a teeny waist – I helped her lace them up – but they had the effect of causing her to faint. Mom called it the vapors and said it was a sign of her high breeding and delicate nature. I thought it was a sign that the corset made it hard to breathe.”
– Jeannette Walls, Half Broke Horses

3 thoughts on “Victorian Slang

  1. Well, that might be true but still, for special occasions it should be fun though I would draw a line in the sand at the suggestion of beer and pop rocks!

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