Author Topic: Victorian slang - a guide to sexual Victorian terms by Magda Knight Victorian  (Read 13294 times)

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Victorian slang - a guide to sexual Victorian terms

by Magda Knight

Victorian slang is littered with weird and wonderful references to hanky-panky, and our charmingly filthy how-to guide for sexual victorian slang is guaranteed to make your boyfriend/girlfriend blush. Are your twiddle-diddles boiling over at the thought? Then it's time to dust off your Victorian lingo and visit the Abbess for directions to Cock Lane...
Sex and the Victorians

We in the highly sexed early 21st century often assume that the Victorians were quite a prudish lot. We tend to think of quiet tea parties where frank discussions about anything, least of all sex, were strictly taboo. The Victorians, it is assumed, said "white meat" instead of "breast"; Victorian women only thought of sex as a means to producing children and caged themselves from neck to foot in stiff crinoline and whalebone. Was this true? Were the Victorians scandalized by even the very mention of sex or of sexual desire? How "Victorian" were their ideas about love and sex before and after marriage? How was sexual desire thought to be divided along gender lines? What were Victorian assumptions about female or male sexuality? What were Victorian attitudes about gay or lesbian desire?

The neo-Puritanical Victorian era lasted as long as the reign of Queen Victoria? did, 1837-1901; it was a time when a woman had to wear bathing garments for convention's sake -- even in the privacy of her own bath. The hems of Victorian skirts touched the floor because the sight of a woman's limb would be shocking beyond belief. Victorians even pulled stockings over the legs of their pianos.

Famously, Victorian art critic John Ruskin? had been to Venice and Paris but had no idea that women possessed a triangle of fur above their genitals. Thus on his wedding night he went into apoplectic spasms when presented with his naked wife Effie's tuft of pubic hair.

Writer Peter Gay discovered a different crop of Victorians, however - bourgeois folk who were sexually aware, sexually active, just discreet about it. Gay's revisionist vision of the Victorians is confirmed by an art show that originated at the Tate Museum in London. "Exposed: The Victorian Nude" is not an exhibit of a few daguerreotypes of naked piano legs. Rather, a viewer wanders among more than a hundred paintings and sculptures and photographs of naked women, men and children. We can see proof that the Victorians were at least as sexually knowing as the average modern subscribers to HBO.
Victorian slang and Victorian sex

One thing that Victorian slang reveals is that, for all our talk of Victorian prudery, you could strip a Victorian man and woman naked and find they had the same attitude to sex as us. If they were poor and impolite, that is.

If you look at our quick guide to Victorian slang for rude bits below, you'll see how cute and endearing all the words to describe a man's bollocks are. You'll worry at the connotations of referring to the muffs of little girls as their 'money'. You'll laugh at the pomposity of a man's willy bein his Nebuchadnezzar! And you'll groan at the dubious humour of a grown woman's quim being called her 'old hat' (because it's frequently felt).

There's plenty of history and home-made social comment to be found in words, and some of this slang is simply dying to re-enter modern society - so find a favourite Victorian word and pass it on!
Victorian slang - quick sex dictionary

    Breasts - Diddeys, bubbies (a bushel bubby is a full-breasted woman), chicken-breasted (flat-chested), one's dairy, cupid's kettle drums
    Testicles - Whirlygigs, ballocks, bawbles, trinkets, gingambobs, thingambobs, tallywags, twiddle-diddles
    Woman's private parts - Cock alley, Cock Lane, one's commodity, dumb glutton, fruitful vine, old hat (because frequently felt), Miss or Lady Laycock, madge, money (commonly applied to little children. 'Careful there miss, or you'll show us your money'), muff, notch, cunny, quim, crinkum-crankum
    Willy - Arbor vitae, gaying instrument, lobcock (a willy that's large and relaxed), Nebuchadnezzar, plug-tail, tackle, whore-pipe
    Shagging - to tup, to dab it up with, to give a green gown (ie. get her dress grassy), to join giblets, to grind, to knock, to occupy, prigging, wapping
    Gay - Mandrake (man), Tom (butch or boyish lesbian), Sapphist (any kind of lesbian)
    Prostitute - Pinchcock, bunter (half-whore, half-beggar), laced mutton, toffer, unfortunate woman
    Lady who's a bit of a romp - wagtail, bobtail, bangtail, cleaver, rantipole (to ride rantipole), dirty puzzle (a nasty slut)
    Wanking - to fetch mettle (mettle being semen), to toss off. Women apparently didn't wank - at least Queen Victoria thought so, which is why she changed the law to say a woman could never be accused of the female equivalent of onanism.
    Buttocks - blind cupid, nancy, roundmouth (but that's just the bottom's winking star)

Victorian slang - doing sexy

    Terms of endearment - My dear nug ('My dear love')
    Tipping the velvet - tonguing a woman's mouth or, if you were very naughty, her muff
    Unrigged - undressed
    Brother starling - a man who has sex with the same woman as his friend
    To play a game at loll tongue - to drool over a woman, to do anything with a woman that would cause saliva
    Melting moments - a fat man and woman in amourous congress
    Piss-proud - having a false or unsturdy erection
    Quail-pipe - a woman's tongue
    Having a buttered bun - engaging in the carnal act with a woman who's just finished lying with someone else

Victorian slang - Was sex ever talked of?

The Victorians, with their supposedly prudish ways, had a treasure-trove of slang. Victorian slang was commonly used to allude to all things sexy, since making the beast with two backs was not spoken of in polite Victorian drawing rooms... But was, nevertheless, a prime topic of discussion in bawd-houses (brothels) and lusheries (cheap drinking dens) all over town.

Victorian slang is full of colourful terms for all sexual matters. Male / female private parts and sexual positions were alluded to by sly, saucy, filthy-sounding and occasionally endearing Victorian slang words (Just imagine: Victorian gentlemen would turn to jelly over a flash of ankle or knee, so they'd probably have a 3-second Vesuvius eruption over actual breasts and bottoms!).

Slang is a wonderful way of broaching a taboo subject without really speaking of it - if a Victorian was to spice their conversation with vulgar slang, then those in know would understand, and if they didn't know what you meant it was probably safer all round.
But who used sexy Victorian slang?

If you look through our guide to Victorian sexual slang below, you'll see there were plenty of semi-polite terms of endearment that could be used by a loving man and wife, or by a couple that had romantic feelings for each other, even if their night-time fumblings were a bit beyond the social pale.

Vulgar slang would also have been used by polite gentlemen looking for a quick tumble, a bit of dirty sex that they could keep nice and separate from their respectable, mundane marriage life. It was a regular custom for married Victorian couples to have their own bedrooms, so a gentleman parched for sex would not be averse to consorting with prostitutes or procuring a mistress.

Slang was the daily staple of a commoner's vocabulary - their bread, butter, treacle pudding and foie gras. And sex was even better than slang! Sex was breakfast, elevenses, dinner and tea all rolled into one. Most poverty-stricken Victorians couldn't afford to have the same hoity-toity values as rich toffs. Poor Victorians were less likely to wait until marriage to have sex, and more likely to have a series of sexual partners in their lives. If you're poor, and can't afford many pleasures, what else is there to do? Other than drink at a lusher, flash house (drinking den for criminals) or flash house - which leads to dropped inhibitions and the likelihood of more sex anyway.
Slang and Victorian prostitution

Polite gentlemen would also have been pretty familiar with sexual victorian slang. Prostitution was big business in Victorian cities. Mistresses (known as one's 'Convenient') were not uncommon - a mistress being a lover you had alongside your wife, who you bought with presents and money and even housing. A mistress could range from a woman well-versed in arts and educated conversation to a street girl, but a mistress was - at least as her fancy-man was concerned - a prostitute who only had one client. You had toffers (posh prostitutes) and bawd-houses ranging from grimy cheapside affairs to select brothels that catered to exotic, expensive or even simply clean tastes.

Prostitutes and procuring love for money were rife in the Victorian era. Prostitution was a common outlet for a man frustrated with the inhibition of polite Victorian ladies. It wasn't spoken of much, but a far greater percentage of men resorted to prostitution back in the day. Poor living conditions, lack of education and rife prostitution led to a host of Victorian slang words dedicated entirely to the catching and treatment of venereal diseases.

Sexual slang offered Victorians a form of protection. If a gentleman fancied dabbing it up with a naughty bobtail in a quiet cheapside brothel, he could use victorian slang as a kind of code - a polite woman would not understand his request and a naughty lady (a filthy, rampant biter, f'rinstance) would nod understandingly and take his hand. Using real words would have led to potential embarrassment, but the intricacies of Victorian sexual slang would mean there was no embarrassment and no harm done either way.
Full dictionary of sexy Victorian slang

    ABBESS - Brothel madam.
    APE LEADER. An old maid; their punishment after death, for neglecting increase and multiply, will be, it is said, leading apes in hell.
    ARBOR VITAE. A man's penis.
    ATHANASIAN WENCH, or QUICUNQUE VULT. A forward girl, ready to oblige every man that shall ask her.
    AUNT. Mine aunt; a bawd or procuress
    BACK GAMMON PLAYER. A sodomite.
    BALLOCKS. The testicles of a man or beast; also a vulgar nickname for a parson. "His brains are in his ballocks" - a cant saying to designate a fool.
    BARBER'S CHAIR. "She is as common as a barber's chair, in which a whole parish sit to be trimmed": said of a prostitute.
    BAWBELS, or BAWBLES. Trinkets; a man's testicles.
    BAWD. A female procuress.
    BEAST WITH TWO BACKS. A man and woman in the act of copulation. Shakespeare in Othello.
    BEDFORDSHIRE. I am for Bedfordshire, i.e. for going to bed.
    BELLY PLEA. The plea of pregnancy, generally adduced by female felons capitally convicted, which they take care to provide for, previous to their trials; every gaol having, as the Beggar's Opera informs us, one or more child getters, who qualify the ladies for that expedient to procure a respite.
    BITCH. A she dog, or doggess; the most offensive appellation that can be given to an English woman, even more provoking than that of whore, as may he gathered from the regular Billinsgate or St. Giles's answer--"I may be a whore, but can't be a bitch."
    BITE. A cheat; also a woman's privities. The cull wapt the mort's bite; the fellow enjoyed the wench heartily. Cant.
    BITER. A wench whose **** is ready to bite her a-se; a lascivious, rampant wench.
    BLEACHED MORT. A fair-complexioned wench.
    BLIND CUPID. The backside.
    TO BLOW THE GROUNSILS. To lie with a woman on the floor. Cant.
    A BLOWSE, or BLOWSABELLA. A woman whose hair is dishevelled, and hanging about her face; a slattern.
    BLUE BOAR. A venereal bubo.
    BOB TAIL. A lewd woman, or one that plays with her tail
    BORDELLO. A bawdy house.
    BREECHES BIBLE. An edition of the Bible printed in 1598, wherein it is said that Adam and Eve sewed figleaves together, and made themselves breeches.
    BROTHER STARLING. One who lies with the same woman, that is, builds in the same nest.
    BUBE. The venereal disease.
    BUCK'S FACE. A cuckold.
    BUNTER. A low dirty prostitute, half whore and half beggar.
    BUNTLINGS. Petticoats.
    BURNING SHAME. A lighted candle stuck into the parts of a woman, certainly not intended by nature for a candlestick.
    BURNER. A clap. The blowen tipped the swell a burner; the girl gave the gentleman a clap.
    BURNT. Poxed or clapped. He was sent out a sacrifice, and came home a burnt offering; a saying of seamen who have caught the venereal disease abroad. He has burnt his fingers; he has suffered by meddling.
    BUSHEL BUBBY. A full breasted woman.
    BUTTERED BUN. One lying with a woman that has just lain with another man, is said to have a buttered bun.
    BUTTOCK. A whore
    CAB. A brothel. Mother: how many tails have you in your cab? how many girls have you in your bawdy house?
    CAMBRIDGE FORTUNE. A wind-mill and a water-mill, used to signify a woman without any but personal endowments.
    CAPON. A castrated cock, also an eunuch.
    CASE VROW. A prostitute attached to a particular bawdy house.
    CAT OF NINE TAILS. A scourge composed of nine strings of whip-cord, each string having nine knots. Normally a form of capital punishment, but oh, those naughty Victorians!
    CHEEKS. Ask cheeks near cunnyborough; the repartee of a St. Gilse's fair one, who bids you ask her backside.
    CHICKEN-BREASTED. Said of a woman with scarce any breasts.
    CHIT. An infant or baby.
    CLEAVER. One that will cleave; used of a forward or wanton woman
    COCK ALLEY or COCK LANE. The private parts of a woman
    COCKISH. Wanton, forward. A cockish wench; a forward girl
    COFFEE HOUSE. A necessary house. To make a coffee-house of a woman's ****; to go in and out and spend nothing.
    COOLER. The backside. Kiss my cooler.
    COMMODITY. A woman's commodity; the private parts of a modest woman, and the public parts of a prostitute.
    CONVENIENT. A mistress.
    CORINTHIANS: Frequenters of brothels. Also an impudent, brazen-faced fellow, perhaps from the Corinthian brass.
    CORPORAL. To mount a corporal and four; to be guilty of onanism: the thumb is the corporal, the four fingers the privates.
    COVEY. A collection of whores. What a fine covey here is, if the Devil would but throw his net!
    CRINKUM CRANKUM. A woman's commodity.
    CRINKUMS. The foul or venereal disease.
    DAB - "To dab it up with --- " means to engage in carnal acts with ---
    DAIRY. A woman's breasts, particularly one that gives suck. She sported her dairy; she pulled out her breast.
    DARK CULLY. A married man that keeps a mistress, whom he visits only at night, for fear of discovery.
    DICKY. A woman's under-petticoat
    DIDDEYS. A woman's breasts or bubbies.
    DIRTY PUZZLE. A nasty slut
    TO DOCK. To lie with a woman. The cull docked the dell all the darkmans; the fellow laid with the wench all night. Docked smack smooth; one who has suffered an amputation of his penis from a venereal complaint.
    DOG'S RIG. To copulate till you are tired, and then turn tail to it.
    DOUBLE JUGG. A man's backside.
    DUGS. A woman's breasts
    DUMB GLUTTON. A woman's privities.
    DUTCHESS. A woman enjoyed with her pattens on, or by a man-in boots, is said to be made a dutchess.
    FIRE SHIP. A wench who has the venereal disease
    FLAP DRAGON. A clap, or pox.
    FRENCH DISEASE. The venereal disease, said to have been imported from France. French gout; the same. He suffered by a blow over the snout with a French faggot-stick; i.e. he lost his nose by the pox.
    FRUITFUL VINE. A woman's private parts, i.e. that has FLOWERS every month, and bears fruit in nine months.
    GIBLETS. To join giblets; said of a man and woman who cohabit as husband and wife, without being married; also to copulate.
    GINGAMBOBS. Toys, bawbles; also a man's privities. See THINGAMBOBS.
    GOAT. A lascivious person. Goats jigg; making the beast with two backs, copulation.
    GREEN GOWN. To give a girl a green gown; to tumble her on the grass.
    GREEN SICKNESS. The disease of maids occasioned by celibacy.
    TO GRIND. To have carnal knowledge of a woman.
    GUTTER LANE. The throat, the swallow, the red lane. See RED LANE.
    HAT. Old hat; a woman's privities: because frequently felt.
    HEDGE WHORE. An itinerant harlot, who bilks the bagnios and bawdy-houses, by disposing of her favours on the wayside, under a hedge; a low beggarly prostitute.
    HORSE BUSS. A kiss with a loud smack
    ILTED. Rejected by a woman who has encouraged one's advances.
    INDORSER. A sodomite. To indorse with a cudgel; to drub or beat a man over the back with a stick, to lay CANE upon Abel.
    KETTLEDRUMS. Cupid's kettle drums; a woman's breasts, called by sailors chest and bedding.
    KNOCK. To knock a woman; to have carnal knowledge of her.
    LACED MUTTON. A prostitute
    LAYCOCK (MISS OR LADY). Female sexual organs.
    TO LEAK. To make water
    LEFT-HANDED WIFE. A concubine; an allusion to an ancient German custom, according to which, when a man married his concubine, or a woman greatly his inferior, he gave her his left hand.
    To LINE. A term for the act of coition between dog and bitch.
    LOBCOCK. A large relaxed penis
    LOCK HOSPITAL. An hospital for venereal patients
    LOLL TONGUE. He has been playing a game at loll tongue; he has been salivated.
    MADGE. The private parts of a woman
    MANDRAKE - Male homosexual.
    MELTING MOMENTS. A fat man and woman in amorous congress
    MERKIN. Counterfeit hair for women's privy parts.
    METTLE. Semen. To fetch mettle; the act of onanism, or self pollution.
    MONEY. A girl's private parts, commonly applied to little children: as, Take care, Miss, or you will shew your money. Now, the only reason we're referring to children's private parts in a guide to sexy Victorian slang is because it's rather telling that a girl's private parts should be referred to in a way that suggests keeping her legs open is where her fortune lies. Then again, perhaps money is to be hoarded to make a man rich, so the term is encouraging abstinence? An interesting quandary for all Mookychicks to ponder...
    MUFF. The private parts of a woman. To the well wearing of your muff, mort; to the happy consummation of your marriage, girl; a health.
    NANCY. Buttocks.
    NEB, or NIB. The bill of a bird, and the slit of a pen. Figuratively, the face and mouth of a woman; as, She holds up her neb: she holds up her mouth to be kissed.
    NEBUCHANDNEZZAR. Male sexual organs; "to put Nebuchadnezzar out to grass" means to engage in sexual intercourse.
    NIMGIMMER. A physician or surgeon, particularly those who cure the venereal disease.
    NOTCH. The private parts of a woman.
    NUG. An endearing word: as, My dear nug; my dear love.
    OCCUPY. To occupy a woman; to have carnal knowledge of her.
    PIG. Sixpence, a sow's baby. Pig-widgeon; a simpleton. To pig together; to lie or sleep together, two or more in a bed. Although this is actually lying together platonically, no sex involved - two sisters in the same bed, say, or two maids forced to share a bed in cramped conditions in their master's house.
    PINCHCOCK. Prostitute.
    PISS-PROUD. Having a false erection. That old fellow thought he had an erection, but his--was only piss- proud; said of any old fellow who marries a young wife.
    PISSING PINS AND NEEDLES. To have a gonorrhea.
    PLUG TAIL. A man's penis.
    PRIGGING. Riding; also lying with a woman.
    PRIGSTAR. A rival in love.
    QUAIL-PIPE. A woman's tongue
    QUIM. The private parts of a woman: perhaps from the Spanish quemar, to burn.
    RANTALLION. One whose scrotum is so relaxed as to be longer than his penis, i.e. whose shot pouch is longer that the barrel of his piece.
    RANTIPOLE. A rude romping boy or girl; also a gadabout dissipated woman. To ride rantipole
    RELISH. Carnal connection with a woman
    TO ROGER. To bull, or lie with a woman; from the name of Roger being frequently given to a bull.
    ROUND MOUTH. The fundament. Brother round mouth, speaks; he has let a fart.
    SHANKER. A venereal wart
    STRIP ME NAKED. Gin. Gin-palaces clearly had something to do with people getting naked, then!
    SWEET HEART. A term applicable to either the masculine or feminine gender, signifying a girl's lover, or a man's mistress: derived from a sweet cake in the shape of a heart.
    TACKLE. A mistress; also good clothes. The cull has tipt his tackle rum gigging; the fellow has given his mistress good clothes. A man's tackle: the genitals.
    TALLYWAGS, or TARRYWAGS. A man's testicles.
    THOMAS. Man Thomas; a man's penis.
    THREE-PENNY UPRIGHT. A retailer of love, who, for the sum mentioned, dispenses her favours standing against a wall.
    TOFFER. A superior whore.
    TOKEN. The plague: also the venereal disease. She tipped him the token; she gave him a clap or pox.
    TOM. Tomboyish lesbian.
    TOOLS. The private parts of a man.
    TOP DIVER. A lover of women. An old top diver; one who has loved old hat (muff) in his time.
    TOSS OFF. Manual pollution.
    TROLLOP. A lusty coarse sluttish woman.
    TO TUP. To have carnal knowledge of a woman.
    TWIDDLE-DIDDLES. Testicles
    VELVET. To tip the velvet; to put one's tongue into a woman's mouth.
    VENUS'S CURSE. The venereal disease.
    UNFORTUNATE WOMEN. Prostitutes: so termed by the virtuous and compassionate of their own sex.
    UNRIGGED. Undressed, or stripped. Unrig the drab; strip the wench.
    WAGTAIL. A lewd woman
    TO WAP. To copulate, to beat. If she wont wap for a winne, let her trine for a make; if she won't lie with a man for a penny, let her hang for a halfpenny.
    WAP-APACE - An expert at wapping. A very saucy lady indeed.
    WASP. An infected prostitute, who like a wasp carries a sting in her tail.
    WHIFFLES. A relaxation of the scrotum.
    WHIRLYGIGS. Testicles.
    WHITHER-GO-YE. A wife: wives being sometimes apt to question their husbands whither they are going.
    WHORE PIPE. The penis.
    WIFE IN WATER COLOURS. A mistress, or concubine; water colours being, like their engagements, easily effaced, or dissolved.
    WINDWARD PASSAGE. One who uses or navigates the windward passage; a sodomite.
    WOLF IN THE BREAST. An extraordinary mode of imposition, sometimes practised in the country by strolling women, who have the knack of counterfeiting extreme pain, pretending to have a small animal called a wolf in their breasts, which is continually gnawing them
.... I need an orgasm and a nap....


Offline Mystique

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Lol these are funny.

Offline Trill

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Trollop is still used and John Thomas is slang for penis as well.
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