Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Such Language! Part 17

Time for more 19th century verbal shenanigans, courtesy of the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. Enjoy!

Cork-brained: lightheaded, foolish. (My friend Eliza was cork-brained enough to order all her spring dresses in the same shade of purple because someone once said it suited her, and her mother was even more cork-brained to agree.

Chub: A foolish fellow, easily imposed on. (Eugene may be a silly chub who thinks that Australia doesn’t really exist, but his friends love him anyway.)

Gutfoundered: Exceedingly hungry. (My little brother was gutfoundered enough to eat two of Aunt Agatha’s beet-and-celery scones without blinking, but that’s twelve-year-olds for you.)

Bubble: to cheat. (No, I shan’t ever play croquet with Miss James again as she bubbles her opponents shamelessly by kicking their balls into the shrubbery.)

Square-toes: An old man: square-toed shoes were anciently worn in common, and long retained by old men.  (Great-uncle Ambrose was so annoyed when my little brother called him Uncle Square-toes that he went to Hoby’s and ordered the pointiest-toed pair of top-boots you’ve ever seen.)

Royster: A rude, boisterous fellow. (Mr. Clark was such an appalling royster at Lady Hume’s ball—did you hear what he said about the dowager countess’s nose?—that I doubt he’ll ever be invited back.)

Fly: Knowing, acquainted with another’s meaning or proceeding. (Our old nurse was so fly when it came to Henry’s lapses of plague that he seemed to suffer at the end of his holidays from school that she would often remind him when it was time for him to start manifesting symptoms.)

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