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Victorian Slang of the Week

chuck: food, grub, provisions.  Originated probably in the West. 1850, used often throughout the century.   According to one reference from Wild Indians ” chuck” it was a universal Indian term for all of the plains tribes.  “The boys finished the work for the day, and gathered around the campfire to eat their chuck.”

chuck, as a verb: 1808, throughout the century.  to throw, pitch.

Interestingly, the term “chow” which I’d have thought was an American Western Victorian term, is nautical in origin, and used mostly in the 20th century.  I admit that I may have inadvertently used the wrong term in my Westerns.  Man, there is so much to learn!

Victorian Slang of the Week

choker:  1) a cravat. 1848.  “He dressed in his finest clothes for dinner, including a white choker around his neck.” 2) a tight, high collar, 1869.  3) a clergyman (who often wore collars of this kind). 1886

Victorian Slang of the Week

Chippy–a sexually promiscuous woman, a prostitute, 1886, though the end of the century and into the 20th century.

I have never heard of this.  Generally I try to avoid real profanity in my weekly posts, but I’m making an exception to this, because I was kind of floored.  I’m going to use the actual sentence in the book for an example instead of making up one of my own, from Bangin’on Rhine, “Full many a chippy had he banged.”   Banged, used that way, I had considered modern terminology.  Apparently I am wrong.  It goes back to the 1700’s.  However, there are very few references in the 19th century.  Mostly it’s a 20th century use, where as chippy does seem to be a late 19th century slang term.

Victorian Slang of the Week

chip: money, often in the phrase “in the chips.” 1840, many references throughout the period. “After playing poker with Lee for an hour, he was left without a chip.”

A person could also “cash in” (or pass in or hand in)his chips, which meant to die. 1879. The first reference talks about how this was used in Southern Colorado, so I imagine it started as a Western term.

chip, as a verb, was usually a bet, in poker 1876. Additionally one could “chip in” as early as 1861, which was used as we do today–to give money to. contribute.

Victorian Slang of the Week

chink: money. As early as the 1700’s, and used quite often during the 19th century, apparently all over the U.S.

Victorian Slang of the Week

Chin–This is interesting in that there are two almost opposite meanings to this term.

As a noun: insolence, generally backtalk, 1862. “Just do what I say, and don’t give me no chin.” Several references in the latter part of the century.  Also “chin music.”

As a verb: to flatter. 1871. “George dearly wanted him to join the gang, and spent a good hour chinning him.”  This has a lot of references for the latter part of the century, but very little into the 20th century.  It could also refer to just chatting with someone.

Chin could also be used to shut someone up as in “wipe that off your chin!” 1876. One of the references was from Why West Was Wild, so it may have originated in the West.

Chinwag–a conversation, 1879, but there aren’t too many references to this.

Victorian Slang of the Week

chicken–I’ve talked about “chick” used to refer to people, including oneself. There is another meaning, however, that we are more closely associated with: coward. Interestingly, chicken wasn’t used that way in the 19th century.  The first reference in terms of cowardly is 1933.  I would not have thought that.   Nor did one “chicken out” until 1934.

However,  one could be 1) chicken-livered, which did mean cowardly.  The first reference on this was 1871, by Mark Twain.  There weren’t a lot of other references, however one could also be a 2) chicken-gizzard–a coward.  There’s only one reference to this, in 1851.

The only other reference I could find that came even close to cowardly was “gone chicken” or “dead chicken” (1863) but that seems to be mostly about someone being in a dismal, probably unrecoverable, situation, often in reference to oneself.  “Once Harold found out that she’d been unfaithful, she was a dead chicken.”

So. . . I could very well have incorrectly used chicken in one of my books.  Too late now, but I’ll be watching for this in the future!


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