For Shame, Madam!



“It was a shame for the good lady that her manners were so very rude, that she had such a leaning towards insolence and that her mouth was nothing short of profane.  Often her behaviour would see her dispatched to the stocks or deprived of her meat ration; the latter of which being far worse a punishment for a woman whose appetite was so utterly insatiable.” Five Guns Blazing.

If you’re going to write a bawdy eighteenth century novel then it’s a shame not to celebrate some of the profanities of the time. Here are some of the  vulgar sayings and marvellous slang terms I discovered during my research. Most of them have disappeared from our language – I haven’t quite decided if that’s a good thing or not. These are some of my favourites:

APPLE DUMPLING SHOP – A woman’s breasts.

HE WOULD LEND HIS ARSE AND SHITE THROUGH HIS RIBS – Referring to a person who carelessly lends money.

BASTARDLY GULLION – A bastard born to a bastard.

BOX THE JESUIT AND GET COCKROACHES – A seafaring term for masturbation – a crime said to be widely practised by the reverend fathers of that society.

FLAYBOTTOMIST – A schoolmaster who uses corporal punishment too often

CATCH FART – A servant who is always behind his master to attend to his every need.


SHE SPORTED HER DAIRY – She showed her breasts.

TOM-TURD-MAN – A man who is responsible for emptying necessary pots.

HE MADE A NAPKIN OF HIS DISH CLOUT – A gentleman who married his maid.

HORSE BUSS – A kiss with a loud smack.

JERRYCUMMUMBLE – To tumble about.

JONNY BUM – Instead of jackass in polite society.


NIT SQUEEGER – Hairdresser.

SCANDAL BROTH – Tea. So called because women of society used to gossip over it.

BREAD AND BUTTER FASHION – One slice on top of the other, (John and his maid were caught lying bread and butter fashion).

CHEESER – Particularly strong smelling flatulence.

I shall definitely be trying to sneak the words ‘jerrycummumble’ and ‘Jonny bum’  into conversation this week. For more old fashioned sauciness I’d recommend Francis Grose 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.


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