Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Toad-eaters and Chicken Nabobs: More Slang!

All right, it's official--BETRAYING SEASON will be following up Bewitching Season next spring. Thank you so much to all of you who wrote in with your suggestions and votes for the perfect title. And the winner of a Betraying Season ARC next fall? Tia Nevitt! Tia, drop me a note via my website with your address.

In the meanwhile, I've found you some more marvelous 19th century slang...with some particularly amusing terms. Have fun!

History of the Four Kings: A deck of playing cards. (“My cousin Freddy is up at Oxford, but Uncle says that considering the money he constantly asks for, all he seems to be studying is the History of the Four Kings.”)

Chicken Nabob: One returned from India with only a moderate fortune, as opposed to the enormous wealth some came back to England with. (“Anne’s Papa won't let Mr. Algernon pay his addresses to her, but really, being a chicken nabob's wife is better than being a toad eater any day!")

Toad eater: A poor female relation or impoverished gentlewoman hired as a paid companion, frequently the butt of unpleasant humor and practical jokes by less charitable members of the household.

Watery-headed: Apt to frequently cry. ("And of course, now Anne is pining for her chicken nabob and is completely watery-headed, especially when boiled fowl is served at luncheon.")

Whipt syllabub: Flimsy conversation or argument, with little sense or meaning. (“I find it impossible to believe Georgiana’s old governess called her brilliant in the schoolroom—now that she’s out in society, all she can speak is whipt syllabub. Perhaps the young men find it less intimidating than Greek epigrams.”)

Beau Trap: I love this one from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: “A loose stone in a pavement, under which water lodges, and on being trod upon, squirts it up, to the great damage of white stockings.” Who'd have thought there was a name for this?

And I've saved the best for last:

Scandal Broth: Tea. Also called Cat Lap.


Tia Nevitt said...

Thank you so much!

Re. "beau trap" I never would have expected this one to refer to a loose stone.

Anonymous said...

I love 19th century slang. In Georgette Heyer's novels, toad-eater is used to refer to a person who is a suck up or "butt kisser" as we would say. Whipt syllabub comes from the popular dessert

Gillian Layne said...

Love, love the slang! I've only heard about half of these--thanks for using them in a sentence, it helps.

And congrats on the title. :)

Geerte said...

Hi! I enjoy your blog a lot, I added it to my blogroll!

Kind regards,


Marissa Doyle said...

Glad you found us, Geerte!