Hilarious Vintage Slang That Will Make You Sound Awesome
In 1909, a British writer recorded thousands of Victorian slang words to make sure they were never forgotten. Now it’s your turn to use them.
Mutton ShunterTasmanian Archive
Usage: “Is the President in town or something? There’s mutton shunters on every blasted corner!” Find out the origins of popular modern slang words.
GigglemugLibrary of Congress
Usage: “These Miss America contestants are just a bunch of gigglemugs.” Learn which regional sayings reveal where you grew up.
Fly RinkLibrary of Congress
Usage: “Be sure to wear glasses if you go outside; Grandpa’s fly rink is blinding today.”
Juggins-HuntingNational Library of Ireland
Usage: “Jess forgot all her cash at home, so she’s off juggins-hunting again.” Don’t miss these 16 social media slang words you should know.
Sauce-boxNational Media Museum
Usage: “When my kids won’t stop talking, I give them some chips just to fill their little sauce-boxes.” Learn which other words you still say but make you sound old.
Bags o’ MysteryNational Library of Ireland
Usage: “Hope there’s no intestine in these bags o’ mystery; I’m trying to cut down on intestine.” Here are 20 contemporary slang words that need to end.
Arf’arf’an’arfFlip Schulke, U.S. National Archives
Etymology: Order an “arf-an-arf” (or “half-and-half”) in a London pub and you’ll receive a malty cocktail of half black beer, half ale. Add one more ‘arf of beer to the mix and your mug suddenly runneth over; you, chum, must be arf’arf’an’arf—that is, drunk.
Usage: “Charlie ordered another Guinness? He’s already arf’arf’an’arf!” Don’t miss these other British phrases everyone in the world should know.
Gas PipesLibrary Company of Philadelphia
Usage: “I just saw this poor hipster get his gas-pipes stuck in his unicycle spokes and totally eat curb.” Check out these hilariously weird slang words from the 1920s.
Etymology: From Uncle Pumblechook, a character in Dickens’ Great Expectations described as “that basest of swindlers”; greedy, pompous and piggish.
Usage: “This fat Pumblechook at Arby’s totally cut me off in his Hummer—then he gave me a sneer in the drive-through.” Find out the funny thing “Texas” is slang for in Norway.
Etymology: A play on “row” (18th century slang for “quarrel”) or “rowdy.” Also spelled, “rowdydow.”
Usage: “When the police arrived to break up the Scrabble feud it escalated into a full-on row-de-dow.” Learn the real meanings of trendy words you don’t understand.
For more amazing slang…J. Redding Ware
Browse James Redding Ware’s Passing English of The Victorian Era, available for free via archive.org.