Weird History
844 voters

18th Century Slang That Could Be Due For A Modern Comeback

Updated December 30, 2019 8.6k votes 844 voters 26.8k views27 items

List RulesVote up the old-timey slang you could see yourself using in everyday conversation.

From the 18th century and well into the Victorian era of the 19th century, there were so many ways the English language was simply better. It was filled with bizarre innuendo, puns, and jokes hidden within words. Much of English slang came about simply from crooks trying to keep their conversations coded, so as to not be overheard by cops.

While slang transforms every day, with new terms regularly being added to the Oxford English Dictionary - inevitably leading to stodgy grammar aficionados freaking out about dictionaries adding words they don't deem worthy - the truth is, slang has always been an evolving and essential component of our language. In the spirit of the classic idiom, "Everything old is new again," it's time to look back at some of the most popular old slang terms, primarily from the 18th century, that have fallen out of fashion but deserve a comeback - and how we could add them fruitfully to our modern vernacular.

As chronicled in two of the most influential records of antique slang - the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by Francis Grose and Passing English of the Victorian Era by J. Redding Ware - get ready to feel betwattled by this afternoonified look at brilliant classic slang that just might leave you feeling dicked in the nob.

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  • Dicked In The Nob1
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    Dicked In The Nob

    Definition: "Silly. Crazed."

    Use: "There's no point in reasoning with obsessed trolls on Twitter, they're all just dicked in the nob."

  • Shipwrecked2
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    Shipwrecked

    Definition: Inebriated.

    Use: "We went to this pirate-themed bar downtown and, after a few hardy glasses of rum, I was definitely shipwrecked."

  • Gollumpus3
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    Gollumpus

    Definition: "A large, clumsy fellow."

    Use: "He might seem intimidating, but Clyde's just a big gollumpus."

  • Betwattled4
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    Betwattled

    Definition: "Surprised, confounded, out of one's senses."

    Use: "Today's lesson on quantum physics left me entirely betwattled."

  • Wake Snakes5
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    Wake Snakes

    Definition: "Provoke to the uttermost."

    Use: "I saw that political meme you posted to Instagram - you are definitely trying to wake snakes before your family reunion."

  • Gigglemug6
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    Gigglemug

    Definition: "A habitually smiling face."

    Use: "I don't know what it is about that gigglemug, but I just can't trust it."

  • Bone Box7
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    Bone Box

    Definition: "The mouth."

    Use: "If that guy doesn't shut his bone box, I'm gonna shut it for him."
     

  • Piss Prophet8
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    Piss Prophet

    Definition: "A physician who judges of the diseases of his patients solely by the inspection of their urine." A urologist.

    Use: "After taking some tests, the doctor sent me to my in-network piss prophet for some answers on why it burns every time I go."

  • Bottle-Headed9
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    Bottle-Headed

    Definition: "Void of wit."

    Use: "It's hard to watch these bottle-headed sitcoms, since none of them have even been funny since Friends."

  • Silent Flute10
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    Silent Flute

    Definition: "The virile member."

    Use: "If you play a solo on your silent flute in public, you're probably going to get hauled into custody."

  • Arsy Varsey11
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    Arsy Varsey

    Definition: "To fall arsy varsey, i.e. head over heels."

    Use: "I was texting while walking and I went arsy varsey down a flight of stairs and broke my phone."

  • Muffin-Wallopers12
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    Muffin-Wallopers

    Definition: "Scandal-loving women, chiefly spinsters, who meet over a cup of tea."

    Use: "My grandma wanted me to join her book club's Facebook group, but they're all a bunch of muffin-wallopers who never actually read the books!"

  • Screw Jaws13
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    Screw Jaws

    Definition: "A wry-mouthed man or woman."

    Use: "Listen here, screw jaws, I've about had it with your mean tweets."

  • Bags O' Mystery14
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    Bags O' Mystery

    Definition: "A satirical term for sausages, because no man but the maker knows what is in them."

    Use: "If you want to order some bags o' mystery from that BBQ place, be my guest, but the Yelp reviews said they taste suspiciously like horse."

  • Skilamalink15
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    Skilamalink

    Definition: "Secret, shady, or doubtful." Often used in Victorian London to refer to disreputable business dealings or clandestine rendezvous.

    Use: "I don't know, this guy on Craigslist wants to meet up in an alley to sell me his bike. The whole thing seems super skilamalink, but it's such a good deal!"

  • Irish Apricots16
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    Irish Apricots

    Definition: "Potatoes. It is a common joke against the Irish vessels [or boats] to say they are loaded with fruit and timber, that is, potatoes and broomsticks."

    Use: "There's no better comfort food than a fresh-fried plate of Irish apricots."

  • Suggestionize17
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    Suggestionize

    Definition: "To prompt," or to influence someone's thoughts or actions.

    Use: "I'm not trying to bribe you, I'm just trying to suggestionize your decision with some cold, hard cash."

  • Sky Farmers18
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    Sky Farmers

    Definition: "Cheats who pretend they were farmers in the Isle of [Skye], or some other remote place, and were ruined by a flood, hurricane, or some such public calamity."

    Use: "Be careful of those suspicious emails from people looking to give you money. They're all just a bunch of sky farmers trying to steal your identity."

  • Fly Rink19
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    Fly Rink

    Definition: "A polished bald head."

    Use: "That biker has a tattoo of a skull on his fly rink, and it's pretty impressive."

  • Captain Queernabs20
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    Captain Queernabs

    Definition: "A shabby, ill-dressed fellow."

    Use: "If you shaved, showered, and put on a tie, you wouldn't be such a Captain Queernabs in your job interviews."

  • Oil Of Gladness21
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    Oil Of Gladness

    Definition: "'I will anoint you with the oil of gladness,' ironically spoken for, 'I will beat you.'"

    Use: "If you talk trash about my fondness for essential oils one more time, I'll whip out some oil of gladness and see how you like that. And that essential oil doesn't need a diffuser."

  • Rantum Scantum22
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    Rantum Scantum

    Definition: "Playing at rantum scantum; making the beast with two backs."

    Use: "We played at a little rantum scantum in the back of the Uber and now my passenger rating has absolutely plummeted."

  • Quail-Pipe23
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    Quail-Pipe

    Definition: "A woman's tongue; also a device to take birds of that name by imitating their call."

    Use: "There's nothing more inspiring than a bold woman who's not afraid of trumpeting her quail-pipe."

  • Owl In An Ivy Bush24
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    Owl In An Ivy Bush

    Definition: "Frequently said of a person with a large frizzled wig," or whose hair is dressed messily.

    Use: "After Sarah stepped out into that windy rainstorm to grab lunch, she came back looking like an owl in an ivy bush."

  • Afternoonified25
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    Afternoonified

    Definition: "Smart," as in high-class, refined, or fashionable.

    Use: "I went into a Target to check out their lamps, but nothing was quite afternoonified enough for my tastes, so I went to Ikea instead."