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Victorian Slang of the Week


calico–often a “piece of” calico. The dictionary defines it as a woman or young woman, but the references seem to refer more to women of loose morals, than a more generic definition. I read somewhere, I don’t remember where, that prostitutes were referred to as Calico Queens, which works with that definition. First reference was 1848 and used throughout the period.



  1. Calico is also a type of cotton cloth in which small floral designs are printed on the woven cloth. Because of this, it’s cheaper than fabric into which the design is woven.

  2. One of the characters in the third ‘Back to the Future’ movie used this in reference to Doc’s girlfriend.

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