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Victorian Slang–walking papers


I know I’ve been very lax about posting slang–apologies to anyone who misses it. I hope to get back to regular posting soon. In the meantime, I was reading a Horatio Alger book (Do and Dare) for research purposes and came upon this term–walking papers. I’d have thought it had a far more modern origin, but it’s in this book, in the terms that we would use today. The exact sentence: “I lost my situation, father–some meddlesome fellow told my employer that I occasionally played a game of pool and my tailor came to the store and dunned me; so old Boggs gave me a long lecture and my walking papers, and here I am.” The book’s publication date is 1884, but considering there is no italics or quotation marks around it indicating slang, I expect it was used long before that. My estimation, with nothing to back it up save reading a lot of books on slang, is that it was probably in use 10-15 years before at least.



  1. Good to see you back, Denise.

  2. Denise Eagan says:

    Thanks Caroline! Crossed fingers that life does not conspire against me and I can keep it up!

  3. Hi, Denise! I’m surprised by that expression being used so early, too.

  4. Denise Eagan says:

    It’s one of the things I love about Victorian research, Susan, all the neat stuff I learn. The language amazes me. I’ve read in this book as well “loaf” as in to be lazy, “pocketed” as in put something in a pocket and “grocery” instead of grocery store. I read “faze” (not sure if I blogged on that) in Mark Twain’s Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court as well, as in “it didn’t faze him.” That, I thought, came out of the 1970’s!

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