Tuesday, February 1, 2011

No Slang Like Old Slang, Part 3

Have you had fun with our past vocabulary quizzes…or at least half as much fun as I had putting them together? I certainly hope so…because here’s another!

Again, the rules are simple: figure out which words or phrases were used in the 19th century (or before), and which are of more modern origin. You may be surprised to discover which are which! Answers are in the comments section…let us know how you do!!

1. Flim-flam: Nonsense and idle stories; deception; to attempt to cheat by deception. (“Georgiana told her mother some flim-flam about needing to run out to Hatchard’s to buy a new copy of Fordyce’s Sermons, but I know it was to meet that rather dashing but penniless Mr. Smythe.”)

2. In a tizzy: To be in a state of agitation or nervous excitement. (“Aunt Agatha was in a tizzy when the Duke of Ingot called…and even more so when she found out that he had only stopped by to return the garters Sally inexplicably lost at the garden party at Ingot House last week.”)

3. No-go: An impasse; a situation that has been decided to the negative. (“Alice was very cross when the picnic at Primrose Park was a no-go due to the unexpected rainstorm this morning, not to mention the earthquake and Napoleon's landing at Dover.”)

4. Cup of tea: A personal preference. (“My brother Harry seems quite fond of his new coat, but I must admit that lavender velvet with yellow satin facings isn’t precisely my cup of tea.”)

5. Jinx: Bad luck. (“Dear Annabelle broke her mirror while getting ready for the Duchess of Overbite’s ball, so she’s carrying her good luck teapot with her to avert the jinx.”)

6. Swanky: Fancy, in a luxurious way; fashionable. (“The Duchess of Overbite’s ball was so swanky that even the lobster in the salad was pedigreed.”)

7. Put out a feeler: To make inquiries before broaching a topic or task, in order to get a sense of response. (“Mama put out a feeler to her friends as to whether they thought a whist party in a mail coach driving round Hyde Park would be a good idea.”)

How did you do?

Next week we’ll go back to our series on the life of the Prince Regent


Marissa Doyle said...

1. Old. This dates back to the 16th century…and I’m not trying to flim-flam you!
2. New. It seems people only started being in a tizzy in the US starting in the 1930s.
3. Old. No-go has been a yes-go since at least the 1870s, though it sounds like something from 1960s astronaut lingo.
4. New. Though tea has been sipped for hundreds of years, this expression dates to 1932.
5. New. No one’s quite sure of the origin of “jinx”—though there are a lot of theories—but it doesn’t seem to have entered the vocabulary until the early 1900s.
6. Old. I’m sure there were some elaborately fashionable parties/hats/lobster salads before 1842, but after that they were definitely swanky.
7. Old. Feelers have been put out since 1830.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, I did shockingly badly at this. I correctly guessed 1 and 7 as old, but all the other foiled my expectations ...

Fascinating post, thank you. :)

QNPoohBear said...

I love slang. I guessed about half of them right. I know flim-flam is used by Georgette Heyer but the rest I guessed on.