Colorful Victorian Slang

September 8, 2014 @ MoC

Victorian Slang 1:
“Mistresses (known as one’s ‘Convenient’) were not uncommon – a mistress being a lover you had alongside your wife, who you bought with presents and money and even housing. While a man’s legal wife was called a LAWFUL BLANKET, a WIFE IN WATER COLOURS was a mistress, or concubine; water colours being, like their engagements, easily effaced, or dissolved.”

Victorian Slang No2:
“There was also a medical condition known as GREEN SICKNESS, which was the disease of maids occasioned by celibacy. Green sickness was also called “the disease of virgins” or “lover’s fever” and was seen as a common disorder affecting young unmarried girls. Its symptoms included weakness, dietary disturbance, lack of menstruation and most significantly, a change in skin colour. Understanding of the condition turned puberty and virginity into medical problems, and proposed to cure the girls suffering from it by bloodletting, diet, exercise, and marriage. Another name for green sickness was Chlorosis, a form of chronic anemia, primarily of young women, characterized by a greenish-yellow discoloration of the skin and usually associated with deficiency in iron and protein.”

Victorian Slang No3:
“It is assumed that the Victorians were quite a prudish lot. Frank discussions about anything, least of all sex, were strictly taboo. Many euphemisms were products of the Victorian Era. For instance, a leg of poultry became a “drumstick”, thighs became “dark meat”, and breasts became “white meat”***.

*** White Meat: A Victorian term still often used in America for the breast meat of a chicken or turkey, which the British call breast. “May I have some breast?” Winston Churchill once asked his American hostess at a buffet luncheon. “In this country, Mr. Churchill, we say white meat or dark meat”, his hostess replied, a little prissily. Churchill apologized and the next day sent her an orchid along with a card reading, “I would be most obliged if you would pin this on your white meat”. White meat and dark meat are also derogatory slang terms applied to white or black men and women, usually in a sexual sense.


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