As much as each generation would like to think they invented it, slang has been around nearly as long as language itself. Sometimes language takes a leap when a certain time period (including our modern one) has been exceptionally creative when it comes to making up new words and phrases to use.
The Victorian era, for instance, has some of the most innovative slang of any point in linguistic history. Most of these words and phrases don’t make sense to our ears, but when you learn what some of them mean, you might want to add a few to your vocabulary.
You probably know at least one muffin-walloper (if you’re not one yourself). A muffin-walloper is an older, and often unmarried, woman who gathers with friends to gossip. In the Victorian era, these conversations often happened over tea and cakes — hence the muffin part of the phrase. It literally refers to someone who “hits the cakes hard.” Nowadays, muffin-wallopers might meet over brunch or drinks at the end of the week.
Here’s a phrase that says some things don’t go out of style. Gas pipes are just a pair of very tight pants. Anyone want a pair of Victorian skinny jeans?
This male problem continues through the decades. A fly rink in Victorian times referred to a bald head. Think about it — a bald head was an open field where flies could gather (especially in the days before regular bathing).
Some gigglemugs are a delight to be around! After all, smiling is contagious, and when you’ve got a gigglemug — someone who smiles a lot — in your life, you’re bound to join in yourself.
We’ve all had our fair share of podsnappery, whether it’s from ourselves or someone else. Podsnappery is willful ignorance from someone who refuses to acknowledge what doesn’t align with their personal views. Sometimes it’s hard to face the truth, and no one likes to be wrong.
The police have been called plenty of unflattering names. This one comes from a time when “mutton” was used as a term for sex workers, implying that adult women dressed in revealing clothes to appear younger, like lambs. Police were tasked with removing sex workers from cities, hence the nickname.
This phrase appeared in the 1880s, and it means you’re down in the dumps. You’ve been having a rough day or week, and you’re just feeling melancholy for a while. You’ll recover, but you might just have to be alone with your morbs for a bit before you rejoin society.