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Quail pipe was Victorian slang for ‘woman’s tongue’.

The newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst once wanted an answer to the question ‘Is there life on Mars?’ he asked an astronomer via telegram ‘Please cable 1000 words.’ The scientist’s reply was ‘Nobody knows’ – written 500 times.

Main-belt asteroid 9007 is called James Bond.

In Fort Worth, Texas, the Museum of Science and History is adjacent to the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.

Dame Nellie Melba, the legendary Australian operatic soprano after who Escoffier named Melba Toast, believed oral sex was good for the voice.

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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.

Abbess
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.

Bricky
Brave or fearless.

Church-bell
A talkative woman.

Cupid’s kettle drums
Breasts.

Dirty puzzle
Promiscuous woman.

Gal-sneaker
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’.

Gigglemug
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.

Tallywags
Testicles.

Tot-hunting
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

Victorian Prudery in Fashion


Nowadays, Victorian men’s clothing is seen as formal and stiff, women’s as fussy and over-done. Clothing covered the entire body, and even the glimpse of an ankle was seen as scandalous. Though, one must be aware that there are gross exaggerations told about the Victorian age, especially on how prudish they dressed and behaved.

Wuthering Heights shocked the decorum of the t...

An 1868 idea of how the hemline should descend towards the ankle as a girl got older

Men’s formal clothing may have been less colourful than it was in the previous century, but brilliant waistcoats and cummerbunds nevertheless provided a touch of colour. Smoking jackets and dressing gowns were often of rich Oriental brocades. This phenomenon was the result of the growing textile manufacturing sector, developing mass production processes, and increasing attempts to market fashion to men.

Corsets stressed a woman’s sexuality, exaggerating hips and bust by contrast with a tiny waist. Women’s ball gowns bared the shoulders and the tops of the breasts and sometimes even revealed the hint of cleavage. The jersey dresses of the 1880s may have covered the body, but the stretchy novel fabric fit the body like a glove.

Popular culture has been known to link Victorian prudery in their dress – seemingly though it was – to their manners.

Certainly, they may have been as strict as imagined – on the surface. One simply did not speak publicly about sex, childbirth, and such matters, at least in the respectable middle and upper classes. However, as is well known, discretion covered a multitude of sins. It was a time in which prostitution flourished and upper-class men and women indulged in adulterous liaisons. On reflection, not everything was what it seemed.

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