WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Mung

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Mung

Silly post this week. Well, silly and yet also distasteful. *shudders*

Some words sound nastier when said, but their definitions reveal them to be fairly benign. Some words, however, are a twofer and sound just as awful as their squicky meanings.

My trigger words: flaccid, juices, veiny, seepage, squirt, panties, spew, ointment, moist.

This week, I’ve compiled a list of historical vulgar terms that give me a case of the icks. It’s the words that make you go, “ew!”

Mung

To beg.

Snaggs ~ Large teeth; also snails.

Flabby ~ Relaxed, flaccid, not firm or solid.

Dumplin ~ A short thick man or woman.

Pucker Water ~ Water impregnated with alum, or other astringents, used by old experienced traders to counterfeit virginity.

Rumpus ~ A riot, quarrel, or confusion.

Smear ~ A plasterer.

Maggotty ~ Whimsical, capricious.

Giblets ~ Ahem. To join giblets; said of a man and woman who cohabit as husband and wife, without being married; also to copulate.

Fart ~ He has let a brewer’s fart, grains and all; said of one who has betrayed his breeches.

Belch ~ All sorts of beer; that liquor being apt to cause eructation.

Cheeser ~ A strong smelling fart.

Twiddle Diddles ~ Testicles.

Shanker ~ (Sorry!) A venereal wart.

Chummage ~ Money paid by the richer sort of prisoners in the Fleet and King’s Bench, to the poorer, for their share of a room.

Hash ~ To flash the hash; to vomit.

Barnacle ~ A good job, or snack easily got: also shellfish growing at the bottoms of ships; a bird of the goose kind; an instrument like a pair of pincers, to fix on the noses of vicious horses whilst shoeing; a nick name for spectacles, and also for the gratuity given to grooms by the buyers and sellers of horses.

 

All slang terms taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ To Couch a Hogshead

This week’s word (or rather, phrase) is the second post brought to you by my incessant fascination with James Gillray. Like I mentioned last week, I love to look at James Gillray prints, and the National Portrait Gallery has 881 items on file.

It’s a huge time suck and and I highly recommend it.

So this week I took inspiration from the second in his two-part series from 1806, Fast-Asleep.

Fast-Asleep by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 1 November 1806, National Portrait Gallery.

This gentleman is out, spirits and tobacco forgotten, puffing a snore as his periwig flies at half-mast. Some have coined the phrases “sleep like a baby” or “sleep like the dead,” but perhaps this painting conjures a new expression: “sleep like a Regency gentleman.”

To Couch a Hogshead

To lie down to sleep. Cant.

Gillray’s painting made me wonder at slang terms for sleeping, and To Couch a Hogshead was too evocative to pass up. And because my granddaddy was Scottish, I know a hogshead is a type of barrel used to age scotch. Like Sherlock, this made me retreat to my mind palace and surmise that the cant phrase likely represented those who climbed into a barrel to catch some winks after a long hard day (and night’s) worth of disreputable behavior. And as the engraving below shows, a Hogshead held just about anything, including sugar and unruly children.

The Sugar Hogshead From the Original Picture in the Possession of M.W. Collins, 1846, British Museum.

The Hogshead, or “hoggie,” actually refers to the size of the barrel, meaning it holds 53 Imperial Gallons. The Scots age their elixir in oak that is preferably between 100-150 years of age, which makes the barrels rather as precious as their cargo. When casks begin to leak or need repair, coopers break them down into individual planks and reassemble the stalwart ones into new Hogsheads.

It’s a beautiful thing.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Betwattaled

James Gillray really is all that and a bag of chips.

I was minding my own business in the archives of the National Portrait Gallery when I stumbled upon a two-part series of Gillray’s from 1806. The first just screams, “Go forth and find a Regency slang term that describes my expression.”

So I did.

Wide-Awake by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 1 November 1806, National Portrait Gallery.

Betwattled

Surprised, confounded, out of one’s senses; also betrayed.

Also when I saw the Gillray picture above, I thought about how much he looked like Mr. Bennet in form but how his expression resembled that of Mrs. Bennet. So off to the interwebs I went in search of the betwattled looks of Pride and Prejudice circa 1995.

And the pièce de résistance of surprised looks …

 

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Wife in Water Colours

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Wife in Water Colours

They are often written as a foil to the heroine: vain, overblown, and vengeful. They often have some skeevy characteristic such as malice, possessiveness, or extreme avarice that only manifests itself (or seems unattractive and potentially problematic) to the hero after he meets and/or falls for the heroine. In nearly half the novels in which they make an appearance, they don’t take dismissal by the hero with a thank you, but rather use it as kindling in the formation of a plot to harm the heroine.

Beware the ides of Mistress.

The Amorous Courtesan by Pierre Subleyras, 1735, Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Wife in Water Colours (noun)

A mistress, or concubine; water colours being, like their engagements, easily effaced, or dissolved.

I know many Regency gentlemen kept mistresses, and I have no problem reading of their accounts in contemporaneous resources and historical texts. I don’t, however, want to read about them in flagrante delicto with the hero in my historical romance. The hero may visit her off-page, give her her congé, or even offer assistance toward a more respectable direction; I don’t want to read about them engaging in energetic discourse of a horizontal nature.

The Jersey Smuggler Detected; – or – Good cause for (separation) Discontent by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 24 May 1796.

Once a male character in a novel becomes clearly identifiable as the hero, I want him to remain committed to the heroine. He may fight with her and against his attraction for three-fourths of the story, but he may not visit another’s bed. Author Susana Ellis wrote several posts about what she called “Historical Romance Deal Breakers,” and adultery was number two. I concur.

Now, turn the mistress into the heroine … well, I’m all for that. I like a good underdog story.

 

  • Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • Want to learn more about courtesans and mistresses in Regency England? Head to The Culture Concept Circle.
  • Someone else agrees with me about adultery being a no-no in historical romance. Read what Susana Ellis has to say about it.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Apple-Pye Bed

I am not getting sick.
I am not getting sick.
I am not getting sick.

I hope.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds ¦ WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Apple-Pye Bed. Pictured, Hugh Laurie as Prince George in Blackadder the Third.

As I lay here half puny, half slug-a-bed, I feel the need to be amused by great British television. The program I selected, Blackadder the Third, put me in mind of a diverting term for this week, and also provided a few graphic illustrations. The term is an oldie-but-a-goodie prank still around today. The illustrations aren’t necessarily germane to the Word of the Week, but they are period-ish.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds ¦ WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Apple-Pye Bed. Pictured, Hugh Laurie as Prince George in Blackadder the Third.

Apple-Pye Bed (noun)

A bed made apple-pye fashion, like what is called a turnover apple-pye, where the sheets are so doubled as to prevent any one from getting at his length between them: a common trick played by frolicsome country lasses on their sweethearts, male relations, or visitors.

Perhaps Prince George's bed hath been apple-pyed.

Perhaps Prince George’s bed hath been apple-pyed.

Just for chuckles and, again, because it’s barely apropos to the Word of the Week posts yet still entertaining, may I present a clip from the Blackadder the Third episode “Ink and Incapability,” followed by the episode in its entirety for those who have extra time on their hands. What could be more fitting to share on a blog about words than an episode of Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Laurie, and Robbie Coltrane – Blackadder, Prince George, and Samuel Johnson – scheming about just that: words.

For your delectation.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Postilion of the Gospel

I live in the American south, where the unofficial motto is God, Guns, and Gravy (and not necessarily in that order). Gravy is a food group rather than a condiment, guns are fashion accessories, and there’s a Baptist church on every corner. If one is absent from church of a Sunday, rest assured they are at Lakeside Baptist (i.e., fishing) or Bedside Baptist (i.e., sleeping), or NASCAR or the Dallas Cowboys are on TV.

But I joke.

Sort of.

One thing you’re least likely to find in the south is the Word of the Week. If you’re in church, you’d better have on comfy shoes, a pocket full of peppermints, and possess the ability to refrain from clock-watching. The sermon has at least three points, they all start with the same letter, and none of them have to do with beating the Methodists to Cracker Barrel. The only way you’re getting out early is — well — you’re just not getting out early.

The Country Politicians by James Gillray, published by William Richardson 7 March 1777, National Portrait Gallery.

The Country Politicians by James Gillray, published by William Richardson 7 March 1777, National Portrait Gallery. The engraving above the parson’s head in the top middle reads, “The Parson, Barber, and the Squire, Three Souls who News admire.”

Postilion of the Gospel (noun)

A parson who hurries over the service.

I tried to find a clip of everyone’s favorite Georgian parson, the insufferable and toadying Mr. Collins, just to illustrate the very opposite of being  Postilion of the Gospel.

Mr. Collins to be sure was neither sensible nor agreeable; his society was irksome… Pride and Prejudice, Volume 1, Chapter 22

Alas, I could not find one … but I did run across this gem. Just try watching Pride and Prejudice in the future and see if you don’t hear this song every time you see Mr. Collins. Happy Monday!

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Billingsgate Language

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Billingsgate Language

We’ve just wrapped up another presidential election cycle here in the good ol’ USA, but I don’t think we’re going to be lucky enough to wrap up the ill will, hurt feelings, and fears that our continued march into the 21st Century is bringing. This is a politics-free zone here, but I’d be lying if I said that the verbal diarrhea of bleating clodpoles, both red and blue, didn’t inspire this week’s word.

Billingsgate Language (noun)

Foul language, or abuse. Billingsgate is the market where the fishwomen assemble to purchase fish; and where, in their dealings and disputes, they are somewhat apt to leave decency and good manners a little on the left hand.

Billingsgate is one of the twenty-five wards of London whose location was on the northern bank of the Thames, just west of the Tower of London. It was the city’s original water gate and the busiest harbor in the city, where corn, coal, iron, wine, salt, pottery, miscellaneous goods – and most importantly, fish – were bought and sold.

But Billingsgate was also known for another commodity – rough language. The hawking cries of the fish vendors were loud and crude. The women, in particular, took no prisoners with their tart tongues.

A New Catamaran Expedition!!! by Isaac Cruikshank, published by William Holland 1805, Library of Congress.

A New Catamaran Expedition!!! by Isaac Cruikshank, published by William Holland 1805, Library of Congress.

In the above drawing, catamarans loaded with fishwives are dispatched to France to terrorize the enemy. The wives’ speech balloons read “We’ll pepper you scoundrels”, “Give it ’em well, my hearties.”, “Yea ye dirty Blackguards we’ll soon be with you.”, and “Look at our ammunition, you poltroons.”

Hans Turbot Quarrelling With a Fishwoman. at Southampton in Presence of Count Cork Screw by William Austin, 1773, British Museum.

Hans Turbot Quarrelling With a Fishwoman. at Southampton in Presence of Count Cork Screw by William Austin, 1773, British Museum.

Considering the gentlemen characters have closed mouths, I’m not sure how much arguing is going on. The fishwoman is pretty rough-looking, tattooed, and giving a right scolding to all present.

Title and author unknown.

Title and author unknown, from Georgian Gentleman Mike Rendell.

We don’t even need a title to figure out the story to this little gem. The fishwoman – evidently so angry and agitated that her chemise fell down – is putting some hurt on the Frenchie, much to the shock of his compatriot and delight of hers. Another fishwoman is also in danger of losing her top, but will not be deterred from her patriotic duty of putting a lobster on the bare buttocks of the enemy. As you do.

I’ll close with the lyrics of The Bloody Battle of Billingsgate, sung to the tune of The Orange, from the English Broadside Ballad Archive. Brace yourselves: this is Billingsgate.

Beginning with a Scolding bout between two young Fish-women, Doll and Kate.

One morning of late, hard by Billingsgate,
There Dolly she happen’d to meet with young Kate,
They Quarrel’d and Fought, and made a sad Rout,
And if you wou’d know, Sirs, what it was about,
I will tell ye.

Last Wednesday night, young Kate did invite
The Husband of Dolly, her Joy and Delight,
And merrily they, did Frolick and Play,
A whole Winter’s night, till the morning next day;
was it fitting?

Doll.
You’re Impudent grown, shall I lye alone,
And you have delight, while his poor Wife has none;
You saivry young Sow, I will not allow
Such doings, but here I will pummel ye now,
ye bold Strumpet.

Kate.
Marry gap, Mistress Gill, my mind to fulfill,
I’de have you to know he shall come when he will,
And yet not by stealth, ye impudent Elf,
I have as much right to the Man as your self,
he’s no Husband.

Doll.
I’de have ye know before I do go,
That I can a Lawful Certificate show;
Thus I am his Wife, the joy of his life,
But you have between us created much strife,
ye bold Strumpet.

Kate.
A Twelvemonth ye Whor’d, then he did afford
A Marriage, by leaping twice over a Sword,
Your Shams I degrade, for Robin he said,
That under a Hedge-Row that Writing he made;
hopeful Marriage.

Ye pittiful Trull, I never did gull
Like you, the poor Drummer, last Summer, at H[ul]l
An impudent Stock, went breaking his Lock,
And stole the man’s Shirt, for to make ye a Smock.
ye bold Strumpet.

Kate.
Slut this is a Lye, she then did reply
But here is one truth, which you cannot deny,
Ye pittiful Punk, last week ye were Drunk,
Four men had ye home, and they told me ye stunk
like a Pole-Cat.

Kate.
Are you not a shame, to all of your name?
All honest good people against you exclaim:
You left your poor Brats, and went to the t[?] [?]ats
There lay with a Man for a bushel of Sp[yri]ts,
out upon ye.

Doll.
I’ll make ye to smoak, for what ye have spoke
Since you do so often my patience provoke,
What flesh can forbear? besides I declare,
Your Neighbors knows all well enough what you are
Mistress Trinkets.

Kate.
She gave her a thrust, and said, do your worst,
If you have much Money that does lye and rust,
W[h]y then go to Law, I won’t stand in awe;
With that down her Face she her Tallents did claw,
with a vengeance.

The other she flew, and gave her her due,
First tore off her Hood, Quoif, and Filleting too:
They fight and did Scold, and both kept their hold,
At length in the Kennel together they roll’d,
like two fat Sows.

The Women and Men, soon parted ‘um then,
And bid them be Friendly and quiet agen:
Their words did prevail, together they Sail,
And drank up two quarts of hot Brandy and Ale,
in good Friendship.

FINIS.

Based on the pictures of riots and bleeping of soundbites on the streets of America, Billingsgate Language and behavior is neither relegated to history nor confined to the fish market.