Vocab Lessons: Victorian Dating Slangby Chiara Atik on October 10, 2020
Editor’s note: Originally published in May 2020.
The Victorians were known for being pretty uptight about the relations between men and women (not to mention the relationships between men and men, or women and women, or men and self, or, well, basically everything). But this just means ladies and gents in the Victorian Era had to be extra-creative and surreptitious with their slang.
So in the dark were the Victorians about sex that Queen Victoria actually changed a law to say that women couldn’t be accused of onanism (masturbation) — she simply believed it was impossible, so why bother even having a law? Women would never do such a thing.
Ah, but Vicky, they would. And worse.
Here are some of the more colorful examples of dating and sex slang from the (secretly) rollicking end of the 19th century.
To have sex with, to bed.
Ex. So, do you think you are Albert are going to dab it up tonight?
Flat describes any person who is easily deceived, but I like it as a descriptor for a particularly bland romantic interest.
Ex. I don’t know how I feel about Constance–she’s pretty but also a little flat.
…..yeah, this one isn’t particularly flattering.
Ex. All the hottest haybags hang out at the Clinton Street Public House.
Locks of hair styled over your temples, aka bangs. (You’re never going to say “bangs” again now, right?)
Ex. Man, that haybag with the jug loops is smokin‘.
Pregnant. This term would be perfect for clandestine pregnancies, because people will assume it’s just a slang word for “tired”, like knackered or something.
Ex: “You look a little ill!” “No, no, I’m just knapped.” “Ah, okay. Well, rest up!”
Note: this is especially interesting when you think of how Peter Pan’s Lost Boys called Wendy “Wendybird”. Surely J.M. Barrie would have been familiar with the more vulgar associations?
Female Sexual Organs.
ex. I don’t even know.
Note: I’m offering a reward to the first person who can use this in sexual congress without busting out laughing.
A place where a lush (alcoholic) drink may be had; a bar.
Ex. “Maud, if you’re free Saturday night, do you have any interest in going out with me? There’s this great new lushery in my area that I think you’d love.”
Ex. “Mandrake: The Dating Site That Lets You Find Hot, Available Men In Your Area”
Ex. “I like. big. NANCIES and I cannot lie! You other brothers can’t deny!”
Penis. “Put that nebuchadnezzar out to grass” means to engage in sexual intercourse.
Ex. “99 Hot Tips To Set His Nebuchadnezzar On Fire!”
Note: I don’t see this one catching on.
Get away! Instantly!
Guy At Bar: Hey, are you tired? Cause you’ve been running around my head all night!