Buzzfeed: 19th Century Slang That Should Totally Be The New “Swag”

From our partners at Buzzfeed: Kids these days with their FaceSpace and Instantgram and their always-waking-up-feeling-like-P-what’s-his-name. It’s time for the new to make way for the old. Here’s ten examples of slang from our forefathers that’s got even more swagger than swag. Take a step back in time to NYC 1865, with an all-new season of Copper premiering Sunday, June 23rd at 10/9c only on BBC America.


A mouth. Sure, “claptrap” and “pie hole” are pretty good, but “bone box” has that great alliteration and really makes a statement when you say it. Just try it! Then shut your bone box.


Wife. “Rib.” Simple. Elegant. Maybe even a little bit meaningful! Because it’s like your wife is a part of you! And that’s how it should be. Really romantic and everything.


Drunk. There’s no shortage of euphemisms for drinking, but none of them are quite as dignified as calling yourself disguised. Plus, it makes you sound like you’re an investigator on a secret mission! (You’ll like that when you’re feeling disguised.)


A large, clumsy guy. Few words sound exactly like what they’re describing, but could anything more accurately describe someone who’s tall and clumsy? Gollumpus. It’s completely perfect.


Pants. This one’s just too cute to pass up—and the whole “pants” thing has really gotten stagnant.


Have a drink. Not only have you probably not seen these words before (except “your,” hopefully), but imagine going out to sluice your gob instead of the decidedly plebeian-sounding “happy hour”? Sold.


  • JAM

    “Claptrap” is not a synonym for mouth, but the type of nonsense that might come out of it. Think “balderdash” or “hogwash.” And a sit-upon, as any Girl Scout or Girl Guide knows, is a small cushion or piece of water-proof cloth to sit upon whilst one is out camping or otherwise out of doors. I was raised by a woman who was born in 1872, so perhaps I have a better 19th century vocab than the average person.

  • johnesh

    “Probably not seen the word ‘sluice’ before”? I think of this as a fairly common word – I guess my vocabulary is better than I thought. And I know the word “gob” because I’m Scots. The “rib” is, of course, because in the Bible (which I suppose people in those times were more cognizant of than today), Eve was formed from Adam’s rib.

  • A_Large_Pie

    “Rib” is a pretty obvious reference to the biblical concept that Eve was created from the rib of Adam. Feels somewhat less romantic now, doesn’t it?