- Absolutely true – Surprisingly, for a time, this meant absolutely false. The name Absolutely True was the title of a book, the statements in which, were difficult to accept or blatantly untrue.
- Afternoonified – A society word meaning “smart.” “The goods are not ‘afternoonified’ enough for me.”
- Agreeable rattle – A talkative young man.
- Air-hole – A small (often dismal) Public Park adapted from an old graveyard, with the gravestones removed and replaced to stand, sentry style around the circumference.
- Alexandra limp – An affected manner of walking seen in many women for several years and attributed to the then Princess of Wales who had had some trouble with a knee.
- Arfarfan’arf – A figure of speech used to describe drunken men. “He’s very arf’arf’an’arf,” meaning he has had many “arfs,” or half-pints of booze.
- Argol-bargol – To have a row or a fight.
- Amen corner – A church
- Appy dosser – A satirical description of a homeless creature, so wretched as to not have the few halfpence necessary to pay for a ‘dos’ or bed in a common lodging house.
- 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.”
- Balloon-juice – Soda water, presumably suggested by its gasey nature.
- Bang up to the elephant – This phrase originated in London in 1882, and means “perfect, complete, unapproachable.”
- Batty-fang = Low London phrase meaning “to thrash thoroughly.”
- Benjo – Nineteenth century sailor slang for “A riotous holiday, a noisy day in the streets.”
- Bit o’ raspberry – An attractive girl, originally a raspberry jam as this was considered the most flavorsome of preserves, so the prettiest of the girls were a bit o’ raspberry.
- Bitch the pot – Among a tea drinking party of men, it refers to who will pour the tea. “It’s your turn to bitch the pot.”
- Bloody carpet rags – A mutilated man. For example, “he’d make bloody carpet rags of him.”
- Bow wow mutton – A naval term referring to meat so bad “it might be dog flesh.”
- Bricky – Brave or fearless. “Adroit after the manner of a brick,” said even of the other sex, ‘What a bricky girl she is.’”
- Bubble around – A verbal attack, generally made via the press. For example, The Golden Butterfly: “I will back a first-class British subject for bubbling around against all humanity.”
- Burst your crust – Break the skin. “You might slip and burst your crust.”
- Butter upon bacon – Extravagance. Too much extravagance. “Are you going to put lace over the feather, isn’t that rather butter upon bacon?”
- Buzzer – Motor vehicle of any kind, due to the noise made as they passed by.
- Cads on castors – Bicyclists.
- Carachtevankterous – Desperately wanting in self-possession. Perhaps an intensification of cantankerous. Extremely grumpy, grouchy, or mean.
- Carriwitchet – A puzzling question, possibly from the name of a woman notorious for asking difficult questions – Carrie Witchet.
- Cat-lap – 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.”
- Chew into dish cloths – Totally annihilate.
- Church-bell – A talkative woman.
- Chuckaboo – A nickname given to a close friend.
- Cigareticide – A word invented to meet the (1883) theory that the cigarette is the most dangerous form of smoking.
- Collie shangles – Arguments; brought into being by Queen Victoria and said to be a Scots word to describe fights among dogs.
- Cop a mouse – To get a black eye. “Cop in this sense is to catch or suffer, while the color of the obligation at its worst suggests the color and size of the innocent animal named.”
- Cut a finger – To cause a disagreeable odor.
- Daddles – A delightful way to refer to your rather boring hands.
- Damfino – This creative cuss is a contraction of “damned if I know.”
- Dance upon nothing – To be hanged, taken from the convulsions of the condemned prior to the long drop method of execution.
- Dash my wig – “Darn it.”
- Dizzy age – 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.”
- Do a dutch – To remove one’s furnishings from a property and leave the premises without paying the due rent.
- 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.
- Door-knocker – 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.”
- Dying duck in a thunderstorm – Lackadaisical, unattractive.
- Eat vinegar with a fork – Have an acid sharpness in conversation; quick-witted.
- Enthuzimuzzy – “Satirical reference to enthusiasm.” Created by Braham the terror, whoever that is.
- Evening wheezes – News, usually false news spread in the evening halfpenny papers in order to sell them.
- Fifteen puzzle – Not the game you might be familiar with, but a term meaning complete and absolute confusion.
- Flag of distress – A young lad’s shirt as seen through the opening of his trousers.
- Fly rink – An 1875 term for a polished bald head.
- Gal-sneaker – An 1870 term for “a man devoted to seduction.”
- Gas-pipes – A term for especially tight pants.
- Gigglemug – An habitually smiling face.
- Got the morbs – Use of this 1880 phrase indicated temporary melancholy.
- Grinning at the daisy roots – Dead, literally grinning up at the roots of the flowers that cover the coffin of the deceased.
- Half-hour gentleman – A man whose apparent good breeding is only superficial.
- Half-rats – Partially intoxicated.
- Incident – An illegitimate child.
- Jammiest bits of jam – “Absolutely perfect young females,” circa 1883.
- Jinks the barber – An informant, suggested because barbers are such gossips.
- Killing the canary – Shirking work. Probably from miner’s safety canaries going uncared for whilst workers remained at home.
- Kruger-spoof – Lying, from 1896.
- Lally-gagging – Flirting, behaving in a coquettish manner towards the opposite sex.
- Lotties and totties – Ladies at large; out on the town.
- Mad as hops – Excitable.
- Mafficking – An excellent word that means getting rowdy in the streets.
- Make a stuffed bird laugh – “Absolutely preposterous.”
- Married to Brown Bess – To serve as a soldier with Brown Bess being a musket.
- Meater – 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.
- Mouth-pie – An emphatic term for scolding of the feminine variety. Usually a husband lamenting being nagged at by his lady wife.
- Mutton shunter – This 1883 term for a policeman is so much better than “pig.”
- Nanty narking – A tavern term, popular from 1800 to 1840, that meant great fun.
- Niminy-piminy – Effeminately affected, not masculine.
- Nose bagger – 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 – Not well.
- Orf chump – To be off one’s food, Orf being derived from off and appropriated from stablemen who would use the term in reference to their horses.
- Pantry-politics – Servants’ talk; gossiping from below stairs.
- Parish pick-axe – A prominent nose.
- Podsnappery – This term 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.”
- Poked up – Embarrassed.
- Powdering hair – An 18th century tavern term that means “getting drunk.”
- Problem novel – A book that tended to focus upon women, their aspirations and the wrongs done unto them.
- Quite a dizzy – A very clever gentleman; Dizzy taken from Disraeli.
- Rain napper – An umbrella.
- Revolveress – A woman who uses a pistol with a great degree of surety.
- Robin – A young child beggar, being compared to a starving robin.
- Salvation jugginses – An aversion to the more violent members of the Salvation Army (there were violent members).
- Sauce-box – The mouth.
- 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. “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.”
- Skilamalink – Secret, shady, doubtful.
- Smothering a parrot – Drinking a glass of absinthe neat; named for the green color of the booze.
- Suggestionize – A legal term from 1889 meaning “to prompt.”
- Take the egg – To win.
- That’s the ticket – The proper thing to do, ticket being a distortion of etiquette.
- Tight as a boiled owl – Drunk.
- Tora-loorals – The feminine décolletage area or bust.
- Umble-cum-stumble – This low class phrase means “thoroughly understood.”
- Up the pole – Drunk, completely inebriated; derived from an inebriated person’s need to cling to anything to remain upright.
- What ho! She bumps! – An exclamation usually loud and usually in reference to any display of feminine vigour.
- Whooperups – A term meaning “inferior, noisy singers” that could be used liberally today during karaoke sessions.
- Wooden spoon – A thick head, an idiot; some one who displays astounding stupidity.
- Yaller bellies – A person from Lincolnshire; called so because of the large number of geese from that area and the color of the goose’s belly feathers being yellow.
The lowest form of accommodation in Victorian England was a place on a rope. For just a penny, you were given access to a rope strung from wall to wall, and allowed to sleep bent over the rope for the night. Usually used by drunken sailors who had spent all their money drinking and now had no place to go to sleep it off. It is said to be the origin of the term “hungover.”
Essential vocabulary additions for the workplace (and elsewhere). This list was compiled in 2007, so some of the entries are a little dated, but it’s still fun and cute, and surprisingly appropriate.
Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.
- SEAGULL MANAGER
A manager, who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.
The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.
- SALMON DAY
The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die in the end.
- CUBE FARM
An office filled with cubicles.
- PRAIRIE DOGGING
When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people’s heads pop up over the walls to see what’s going on.
- MOUSE POTATO
The on-line, wired generation’s answer to the couch potato.
Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What Yuppies get into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.
- STRESS PUPPY
A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.
An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.
- XEROX SUBSIDY
Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one’s workplace.
Entertainment and media spectacles that are Annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them. The J-Lo and Ben wedding (or not) was a prime example – Michael Jackson, another…
- PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE
The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again.
The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.
Someone who’s clueless. From the World Wide Web error Message “404 Not Found,” meaning that the requested site could not be located.
Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls, and subdivisions.
That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you’ve just made a BIG mistake. (Like after hitting send on an emotionally angry email to your boss by mistake).
Well-Off Older Folks.
- CROP DUSTING
Surreptitiously passing gas while passing through a Cube Farm.
A collection of weather related slang, sayings, superstitions, and phrases:
- as right as rain ~ means that everything is just fine or going well.
- billy wind ~ used primarily in England, referring to a blustery, howling wind.
- bolt from the clear blue sky ~ something [usually wonderful or horribly tragic] has happened and it is sudden and unexpected.
- break the ice or ice breaker ~ is the means in which someone opens up a conversation, generally to make others feel more relaxed or at ease.
- buzzards flying high indicate fair weather ~ weather lore
- calm before the storm ~ an unnatural lull or calm before an eruption of emotion or activity.
- chasing rainbows ~ to try to find or get something that cannot be obtained
- chill wind ~ to have fore-knowledge of trouble or a problem.
- cloud on the horizon ~ this means you can expect trouble in the near future.
- cold light of day ~ being grounded in reality, seeing things as they really are.
- come rain or shine – pertaining to a personal goal or to achieve success, that no matter what it will be accomplished.
- comets bring cold weather ~ weather lore
- don’t have the foggiest idea ~ having no knowledge of a person, place or thing.
- dry spell ~ being unsuccessful for any length of time, abnormally.
- every cloud has a silver lining ~ there is always good in a bad situation.
- face like thunder ~ pertains to identifying someone, by reading the signs in their face, that they are very upset or angry.
- fair weather friend ~ a person whom you engage infrequently, they are usually unreliable, and there are conditions attached the friendship.
- get wind of ~ to be privy to information that should have been kept secret.
- greased lightening ~ an event or moment that is happening extremely fast.
- head in the clouds ~ not having one’s mind on the topic at hand.
- if shooting stars fall in the south in winter, there will be a thaw ~ weather lore
- in the dark ~ to be left without information, to be uninformed, or without knowledge of an event, or a situation or problem.
- in the eye of the storm ~ in the center of, or otherwise deeply involved in a problem or difficult situation.
- into each life, rain must fall ~ something bad will happen to each and every one of us.
- it never rains, but it pours ~ a small situation or problem becomes exacerbated by more trouble or problems.
- Jack Frost ~ when all of outdoors is frozen, [weather lore], then Jack Frost has paid the region a visit.
- know which way the wind blows ~ being able to judge someone’s mood, or to prepare for changes in a situation.
- knows enough to come out of the rain ~ may refer to someone who is stupid, or un-knowledgeable, but they have the sense enough to seek shelter or safety when a situation or event turns bad, or is imminent.
- left out in the rain ~ to be left out of a problem or situation, without support or assistance.
- lightning under the North Star will bring rain in three days ~ weather lore
- Mackerel skies and mares’ tails; Make tall ships take in their sails. ~ Cirrus scattering clouds often follow warm weather that brings rain.
- make hay while the sun still shines ~ to take advantage of a period of time or a situation as it may not last.
- Moss dry, sunny sky, moss wet, rain you’ll get. – weather lore
- on cloud nine ~ a feeling of elation or extreme happiness.
- on a pink cloud ~ a feeling of elation or extreme happiness – often used when one first begins recovery [from alcoholism] and are sober, one may experience extreme happiness, but are often not grounded or facing reality.
- once in a blue moon ~ an event that occurs only very rarely.
- one crow flying alone is a sign of foul weather; but if crows fly in pairs, expect fine weather ~weather lore
- pink at night, sailor’s delight; pink in the morning, sailor’s take warning ~ or the idiom may use the color red, in place of pink. Weather Lore: Pink at night is predicting that fair weather will occur the next day; however, pink in the morning cautions the viewer that rain or a storm may be imminent.
- rainbow to windward, foul fall the day; rainbow to leeward, rain runs away ~ If wind is coming from the direction of a rainbow, then, rain is heading toward you. Likewise, if the rainbow is in the opposite direction, it has passed by you.
- raindrop in a drought ~ to wait or hope for something to happen.
- rain on my parade ~ to ruin or spoil something planned; or to usurp another’s plans or event.
- rain on wet – to make a situation worse.
- raining cats and dogs ~ to rain very heavily.
- ray of sunshine ~ to bring happiness or hope to a situation.
- reach for the moon ~ to be very ambitious, to set your personal standards or goals very high and hope to obtain success.
- right as rain ~ everything is going as planned.
- save for a rainy day ~ to save something – usually money – for an unplanned event or unexpected debt.
- sail close to the wind ~ means that someone may be doing something that is barely legal or somewhat dangerous.
- seagull, seagull, sit on the sand; it’s a sign of rain when you are at hand ~ birds tend to roost before a storm or hurricane. It is believed that it may be difficult for a bird to take-off when there is low pressure, or when the air has become thinner as the updrafts are lessened.
- seven sheets to the wind ~ means a person is very drunk.
- shoot the breeze ~ to converse in a casual or relaxed way.
- The sky is red, the devil is dead, it’s going to be good tomorrow. – old saying
- snowed under ~ pertains to having so much work to do, it feels impossible to get through it all.
- steal my thunder ~ to take the attention away from someone else.
- storm in a teacup ~ to make a fuss or a problem out of something that is not important
- storm is brewing ~ you believe that there may be trouble, anger or outbursts of emotion.
- stormy relationship ~ usually pertains to an intimate relationship, during which many arguments or disagreements occur.
- take a rain check ~ you will return later, but cannot take an immediate invitation or offer to do something or to be somewhere at an appointed time.
- tempest in a teapot ~ to exaggerate an event in an attempt to make it worse.
- there is something in the wind ~ someone may suspect that something important, or significant is about to happen.
- throw caution to the wind ~ to forget planned commitments and do something wild and crazy or unexpected.
- twisting in the wind ~ to be left alone and without assistance.
- two full moons in a calendar month bring on a flood ~weather lore
- under a cloud ~ in disgrace or under suspicion.
- under the weather ~ to feel sickly or ill; not feeling “yourself” on a particular day.
- weather the storm ~ to be successful upon surviving a difficult situation, period of time or problem.
- when halo rings the moon or sun; rain’s approaching on the run ~ A halo is caused by ice crystals that forms a clouds that indicate warm weather and predicts rain within a day.
- when leaves fall early, autumn and winter will be mild; when leave fall later, winter will be severe ~ weather lore
- when leaves show their underside, be sure that rain betide ~ weather lore
- when porpoises and whales spout about ships at sea, storm may be expected ~weather lore
- when windows won’t open, and the salt clogs the shaker, the weather will favor the umbrella maker ~ moisture in the air is very heavy, and rain is imminent.
- wind from the south, has rain in its mouth ~ southerly winds usually blow before a cold front occurs, after which rain will generally happen in the east.
From: The Elysium of Rain