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10 Victorian slang terms to start using today

10 Victorian slang terms to start using today

Ah, the Victorian Era — a time of corsets, top hats, and strict societal rules. But did you know that it was also a time of vibrant and constantly evolving slang? That's right, even in the stuffy Victorian era, people found ways to inject some fun and irreverence into the English language.

A brief history of Victorian slang

The Victorian era spans the period of Queen Victoria's reign, starting in 1837 and ending after her death in 1901. The creative wordsmiths of that time often crafted new and inventive terms to describe their love lives, bad bosses, wild nights out and other ordeals. Thanks to slang, people could use obscure and coded words to talk with each other to express specific emotions and situations.

Victorian slang really evolved over time. New words and phrases would enter the lexicon and quickly spread, often aided by popular music and books of the time. And just as quickly as new slang emerged, they would fall out of fashion, replaced by new ones. Sound familiar?

Although out of use today, many of these terms are still very apt descriptors of people and situations we encounter in the modern age. Here’s a selection of slang words and phrases coined during the Victorian era to start throwing back into conversation.

1. Got the morbs

This was used to describe the feeling of temporarily being sad, with "morbs" being short for "morbidness" or "morbid feelings.” Nowadays, we’d say we’re “bummed out.”

2. Tickety-boo

Generally, any word with the word ‘’boo” in it can’t be bad. This little charmer of a word means “in good order or satisfactory condition.” Today, we might say something like “all good” to express this.

3. Nanty Narking

Used to express that you’re having a lot of fun. But almost too much fun. The word "nanty" is thought to be derived from the Welsh word "nant", which means "stream" or "brook", while "narking" is a slang term that means "annoying" or "irritating". Today we might say someone is ‘’whooping it up” when they reach that level of fun.

4. Lollygag

This one is just plain fun to say. It means to delay something by wasting time or dawdling.

5. Afternoonified

A very posh way of saying something is, well, posh. In the Victorian era, the leisurely practice of taking tea in the afternoon had become fashionable so to be "afternoonified" was to be associated with this refined and leisurely lifestyle.

6. Enthuzimuzzy

This is a humorous and playful way of referring to someone who is enthusiastic or passionate about something, but almost in a mocking way. Today, we might say someone is “jazzed” about something. Jazz hands optional.

7. Skilamalink

Often used to describe dishonest or underhanded behavior, such as cheating at cards or swindling someone out of money. It could also refer to a person who was clever and resourceful, able to outsmart others with their wits and cunning. Being ‘’shady” would be a close comparison today.

8. Balderdash

This colorful term could be used to dismiss someone’s statement as absurd or untrue. Today we might call it “fake news”.

9. Scuttlebutt

This word’s origin refers to a cask or barrel (called a "butt") that was used to store drinking water on ships. In order to access the water, sailors would "scuttle" or cut a hole to access the water while exchanging news and gossip. Not dissimilar to today’s reference to ‘’watercooler gossip.”

10. Gigglemug

Describes a person with a constantly smiling or grinning face, or someone who looks foolishly happy. Just saying this word makes us a “gigglemug” so we’re determined to bring this one back.

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