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"And you're a Ripper Street (Pic: BBC America)
"And you're a Ripper Street (Pic: BBC America)
“Oi windy-wallets, I’m talking now, you zounderkite!” (Pic: BBC America)

Ripper Street returns to BBC AMERICA this Wednesday (April 29) at 10/9c for a third season. There are new cast members—including Sherlock’s Louise Brealey—new stories and all manner of unpleasant goings-on in the grottiest parts of Victorian London.

So, to get you in the mood (and possibly upset your stomach) here’s a brief working definition of some actual Victorian vulgar street slang and swear words. The sort of thing you’d have probably heard on a real street, shortly before being relieved of your valuables at knifepoint. Enjoy!

Oh, and don’t look at the definition for rantallion if you want to keep your breakfast where it is.

• Windy-wallets – someone who talks far too much, in a boastful fashion. The idea being (presumably) that the hot air coming out of the face area is no better than the hot air coming out of the area close to where the wallet is kept. (Source)

• Betwattled – to be confused or confounded or temporarily rendered incapable of speech. (Source)

• Fustilugs – sometimes thought to be a name for a terminal grump, fustilugs was more commonly used as a term for a fat knacker, someone too overweight to get around easily. (Source)

• Zounderkite – the kind of bumbling idiot that will end up making a disastrous mistake of the sort that beggars belief. (Source)

• Lickfinger – a sycophant or toady. It’s a similar term to lickspittle, although lickfinger should be congratulated on being both less disgusting and more disgusting, depending on how hard you think about it. (Source)

Bug hunting – to go out looking for drunks to attack and rob at night. (Source)

• Dirty puzzle — a pejorative term used to pass judgement on a woman for sexual immorality. Not quite the full dollymop (prostitute), but certainly someone with a bad reputation. (Source)

• Haymarket Hector – a pimp. A gapstopper. (Source)

• Bartholomew baby – someone parading the streets dressed in a eye-watering or tatty outfit, like the dolls sold at Bartholomew fair. (Source)

• Rantallion — how to put this… suppose there was a man whose reproductive organs were arranged so that his…ah… billiard sack hung lower than his…erm… cue. He might be called a rantallion. I have no idea under what circumstances this condition would be deemed important enough to give it a name, but it does have one. (Source)

See more:
10 Old British Slang Terms That Deserve A Revival
10 Old Slang Terms for Crimes that Don’t Happen Anymore
45 Everyday Phrases Coined By Shakespeare
Six Innocent Phrases and Their Morally Suspect Origins

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By Fraser McAlpine