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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.


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