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Victorian Slang of the Week


Ass—kiss my ass—derisive retort, an expression of amazement–Now who’d have thought this was a phrase the Victorians would use?  But it was used, as early as the 1630’s.  To copy straight from the dictionary (in case you don’t believe me) “1862 in J.M. Merrill Battle Flags 188: God damned Dutch son-of-a-bitch. . .kiss my arse”



  1. Dee,
    This is the most surprising “Victorian Slang of the Week” you’ve ever posted! I would never have guessed the phrase dated to the 1600’s.
    Thanks for expanding our vision of early English slang.
    Mary Ann

  2. A lot of phrases we think of as modern are actually very old. I guess that’s why readers of historicals sometimes think they’re reading something anachronistic, when in fact, the word or phrase was used in the period and even long before.

  3. I love it! A good “kiss off” never dies. 🙂

  4. Denise Eagan says:

    Me neither, Mary Ann. I did recheck it–it was used in print at least 3 or 4 times during this period, and if a semi-curse word is in print, I figure it was probably used quite a lot. Including Arkansas:

    1846: in Ark. Hist Qly. XII (1953) 305: Tell Johnny Wool to kiss our ——.

    In print it seems like it was generally “arse” but I expect that was to get around the obscenity. They also used “suck” but that’s just getting icky.

    Most of the other “ass” phrases seem to be mostly 20th century, other than “stick it” or “shove it up” someone’s ass.

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