Slip Into Something Victorian

Home » Slang » Victorian Slang of the Week

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!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: