Tuesday, September 20, 2022

No Slang Like Old Slang...Unless It's New! Part the Six

With school back in session, it seems like an appropriate time to call class into session at NineteenTeen and spring a quiz on you all: it’s time to play “No Slang Like Old Slang…Unless it’s New, the Nineteenteen game where you have to identify whether a word or turn of phrase was used in the 19th century, or has a later (20th century) origin. I’ll post the answers in the comment column...and don’t worry, this won’t count toward your final grade. 😊 Answers are in the comments section.

Pick up your pencils…and GO!

1. Ripsnorter: something of exceptional strength, someone of remarkable qualities. (The raspberry cordial our stillroom maid makes is such a ripsnorter that no one under the age of twenty-one at our house is ever served it.)

2. Wreak havoc: Create chaos or devastation. (That rule was established after my younger brother sneaked a thimbleful and wreaked havoc in the pantry.)

3. Rush one’s fences: To act precipitately. (His parents wish that Herbert would stop rushing his fences and proposing to girls after the second dance.)

4. Rush Hour: A time of day when traffic is at a peak. (The cleverest young men dine at their clubs in St. James’s on Wednesdays to avoid the rush hour traffic around Almack’s.)

5. Hocus-pocus: Nonsensical words used by magicians as an incantation preceding a trick. (My younger brother is much dismayed by the fact that no matter how often he mutters “hocus pocus” when riding his pony, he does not in fact transform into the Duke of Wellington on Copenhagen.)

6. Hang out: A place where one is accustomed to spend much time. (It is monstrously unfair that my brothers practically live at Brooks's, but that my friends and I are not allowed anywhere to hang out.)

7. Viewpoint: A person’s way of looking at an issue, or a physical place from which to look at a scene. (Of course, from our parents’ viewpoint that is probably a blessing, as we are much more likely to hatch nefarious plots together.)

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Don't forget that the answers will be posted in the comment section. So how did you do?


Marissa Doyle said...


1. Ripsnorter: YES—to U.S. usage by 1840.

2. Wreak havoc: NO. The word havoc dates back to the early 15th century, but the phrase only goes to 1926.

3. Rush one’s fences: NO. It sounds like it should date back to the golden age of foxhunting in the late 18th and into the 19th centuries, but this phrase dates to 1922.

4. Rush hour: YES. First used in the 1880s.

5. Hocus-pocus: YES. It appears in the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue in precisely the same way it’s used today—in fact, it goes back to the 17th century.

6. Hang out: YES. Another bit of thieves’ cant in the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, though it could also mean the place where one lived.

7. Viewpoint: YES. Both senses of the word date back to the 1850s.

QNPoohBear said...

Wow! The ones that sound old are new and the ones that sound new are old. I was surprised by rush one's fences. Novelists use that one.

Marissa Doyle said...

That's what's fun about these!