Afternoonified A society word meaning “smart.” Forrester demonstrates the usage: “The goods are not ‘afternoonified’ enough for me.”
A figure of speech used to describe drunken men. “He’s very arf’arf’an’arf,” Forrester writes, “meaning he has had many ‘arfs,’” or half-pints of booze.
Back slang it
Thieves used this term to indicate that they wanted “to go out the back way.”
Bags o’ Mystery
An 1850 term for sausages, “because no man but the maker knows what is in them. … The ‘bag’ refers to the gut which contained the chopped meat.”
Bang up to the elephant
This phrase originated in London in 1882, and means “perfect, complete, unapproachable.”
Low London phrase meaning “to thrash thoroughly,” possibly from the French battre a fin.
Nineteenth century sailor slang for “A riotous holiday, a noisy day in the streets.”
Bow wow mutton
A naval term referring to meat so bad “it might be dog flesh.”
Brave or fearless. “Adroit after the manner of a brick,” Forrester writes, “said even of the other sex, ‘What a bricky girl she is.’”
A verbal attack, generally made via the press. Forrester cites The Golden Butterfly: “I will back a first-class British subject for bubbling around against all humanity.”
Butter Upon Bacon
Extravagance. Too much extravagance. “Are you going to put lace over the feather, isn’t that rather butter upon bacon?”
A London society term for tea and coffee “used scornfully by drinkers of beer and strong waters … in club-life is one of the more ignominious names given to champagne by men who prefer stronger liquors.”
A talkative woman.
A nickname given to a close friend.
Quarrels. A term from Queen Victoria’s journal, More Leaves , published in 1884: “At five minutes to eleven rode off with Beatrice, good Sharp going with us, and having occasional collie shangles (a Scotch word for quarrels or rows, but taken from fights between dogs) with collies when we came near cottages.”
Cop a Mouse
To get a black eye. “Cop in this sense is to catch or suffer,” Forrester writers, “while the colour of the obligation at its worst suggests the colour and size of the innocent animal named.”
A delightful way to refer to your rather boring hands.
This creative cuss is a contraction of “damned if I know.”
A phrase meaning “elderly,” because it “makes the spectator giddy to think of the victim’s years.” The term is usually refers to “a maiden or other woman canvassed by other maiden ladies or others.”
Doing the Bear
“Courting that involves hugging.”
Don’t sell me a dog
Popular until 1870, this phrase meant “Don’t lie to me!” Apparently, people who sold dogs back in the day were prone to trying to pass off mutts as purebreds.
A type of beard “formed by the cheeks and chin being shaved leaving a chain of hair under the chin, and upon each side of mouth forming with moustache something like a door-knocker.”
“Satirical reference to enthusiasm.” Created by Braham the terror, whoever that is.
Not the game you might be familiar with, but a term meaning complete and absolute confusion.
An 1875 term for a polished bald head.
An 1870 term for “a man devoted to seduction.”
A term for especially tight pants.
“An habitually smiling face.”
Got the morbs
Use of this 1880 phrase indicated temporary melancholy.
Jammiest bits of jam
“Absolutely perfect young females,” circa 1883.
Lying, from 1896.
Mad as Hops
An excellent word that means getting rowdy in the streets.
Make a stuffed bird laugh
A street term meaning coward.
Mind the Grease
When walking or otherwise getting around, you could ask people to let you pass, please. Or you could ask them to mind the grease, which meant the same thing to Victorians.
This 1883 term for a policeman is so much better than “pig.”
A tavern term, popular from 1800 to 1840, that meant great fun.
Someone who takes a day trip to the beach. He brings his own provisions and doesn’t contribute at all to the resort he’s visiting.
Not up to Dick
A prominent nose.
This term, Forrester writers, describes a person with a “wilful determination to ignore the objectionable or inconvenient, at the same time assuming airs of superior virtue and noble resignation.”
An 18th century tavern term that means “getting drunk.”
Shake a flannin
Why say you’re going to fight when you could say you’re going to shake a flannin instead?
Shoot into the brown
To fail. According to Forrester, “The phrase takes its rise from rifle practice, where the queer shot misses the black and white target altogether, and shoots into the brown i.e., the earth butt.”
Secret, shady, doubtful.
Smothering a Parrot
Drinking a glass of absinthe neat; named for the green color of the booze.
A legal term from 1889 meaning “to prompt.”
Take the Egg
According to Forrester, this low class phrase means “thoroughly understood.”
A term meaning “inferior, noisy singers” that could be used liberally today during karaoke sessions.
"One of my priorities is to manipulate people’s perception, and produce work that appeals to different ways of perceiving at the same time. Therefore, one of the most important reasons for me to use different disciplines is to be able to address different senses. Just like in synesthesia, I wonder how sound feels as a visual or how a visual can be perceived as the wind. Using different disciplines enables this kind of exploration.
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