Thursday, March 08, 2012

Old West Trivia

Source: via Chris on Pinterest

 A picture of Wild Bill (James Butler) Hickok

As a historical writer I have always been concerned with getting the language, inventions, and many more things correct for the time period I am writing in. One thing that totally appalled me was the cover of my very first historical. It was set in the late 1800's and ironically the year my novel was set in the zipper was invented. Now one could argue the pink nylon zipper my heroine was wearing on the front cover was legit, but...

I rather doubt the zippers then were so refined.

Looking at slang and everyday speech:

dickens: a euphemism for devil, e.g., What the dickens are you going on about now?

inexpressibles: euphemism for pants or trousers.

Jesse: hell. to give one jesse is to give one hell or to beat the hell out of them.

snore, swan, swow: euphemisms used by New Englanders for the swear, which was once itself considered a swear word.

candle-lightning: dusk

bummer: the original word for bum. A lazy hobo or drunk

boodle: a crowd of people

algerine: a pirate

Arkansas toothpick: a long knife. Also known as a California or Missouri toothpick.

g'hai: a rowdy girl: a reveler or ruffian girl.

There are some phrases we still use but most of the above have "gone by the way side."
I would be willing to bet that is one from the past. These were all taken out The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s by Marc McCutcheon.

Do you have a favorite slang from the 1800s?

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