Regency Slang

by Anna Bradley | June 19, 2019

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I heard the word “coxcomb” the other day. Not so surprising, given I was at BookLoversCon, speaking to another historical romance writer with an excellent command of all the best Regency-era lingo. Still, it’s not every day you hear a word like “coxcomb,” in regular conversation.

It got me thinking about all the amazing words that have slipped into obscurity over the years. It’s a shame, because you can tell a lot about a culture from their slang. Years ago, I did a non-at-all-rigorous, very informal study of Regency-era slang, and I found our elegant 19th century forebears had come up with literally dozens of different ways to say “prostitute,” and nearly as many for “drunk.” Shocking, isn’t it?

Here are my top five Regency-era words/phrase I’d like to see make a comeback:

  1. SWELL OF THE FIRST STARE – an elegant, fashionable gentlemen.
  2. NIT-SQUEEZER – a word better known to us as “barber.” Yes, it makes me cringe, too!
  3. ADDLE-PATE – the same as saying “a fool,” but more fun to say!
  4. PURSE-PINCHED – broke. Painfully descriptive.
  5. DICKED IN THE NOB – crazy. I’ve used this expression once or twice in a book, and it really livens up a sentence.

Do you have any favorite Regency-era words or phrases you think should be brought back into vogue?

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