Clever Colonial Slang Terms That Are Still Surprisingly Relevant Today

The English language is an ever-evolving way for people to communicate with one another. Since its introduction, men and women have found different ways to say words with the same meaning.

While we’ve grown accustomed to the slang phrases that people use in the modern era, people in colonial times utilized vastly different colloquialisms.

In fact, the slang terms of the colonial period were so different that we’ve collected 38 of them to prove just how much so! You’re not going to be able to stop repeating these to your friends…

1. The colonial slang phrase: Apple dumpling shop.

How it was used during that era: Believe it or not, this term wasn’t used to tell people where they could get an apple dumpling, but instead, to describe a woman’s bosom.

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2. The colonial slang phrase: Bear-garden jaw.

How it was used during that era: This slang term just meant that someone was using foul and vulgar language, like people would at the actual bear gardens where men would watch violent animal sports.

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3. The colonial slang phrase: Chalkers.

How it was used during that era: This slang phrase was used to describe Irish men who would cut passengers across the face with a knife, supposedly unprovoked.

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4. The colonial slang phrase: Cock robin.

How it was used during that era: People used this phrase to describe a man or group of men who they believed were soft or “easy fellows,” as they would say.

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5. The colonial slang phrase: Crinkum crankum.

How it was used during that era: This crude euphemism was used by certain people to describe a woman’s genitalia or private parts. Who’d have thought? 

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6. The colonial slang phrase: Dandy prat.

How it was used during that era: This term was used by people to describe a man as trifling or even to suggest that he was altogether insignificant in every way possible.

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7. The colonial slang phrase: Demanders for glimmer of fire, doxies, morts, walking morts, baskets, etc.

How it was used during that era: This euphemism was used to describe an assembled crew of women. 

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8. The colonial slang phrase: Dillberry maker.

How it was used during that era: To put this euphemism politely, it was used to describe someone’s rear end. You know, obviously their dillberry maker. 

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9. The colonial slang phrase: Dilberries.

How it was used during that era: This colonial slang was used to describe excrement becoming stuck to the hair of one’s bottom or as they’re known today, dingleberries.

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10. The colonial slang phrase: Disguised.

How it was used during that era: Nope, this slang term didn’t mean someone was wearing a costume in order to go unseen, but rather that they were drunk.

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11. The colonial slang phrase: Fart catcher.

How it was used during that era: This euphemism was a not-so-subtle way of describing a valet or footman who would walk behind the person they were serving.

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12. The colonial slang phrase: Flaybottomist.

How it was used during that era: This slang term was used to describe the headmaster of a school. It sure is a lot more fun to say than principal, that’s for sure.

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13. The colonial slang phrase: Gaying instrument.

How it was used during that era: Another less-than-subtle euphemism that was most often used to describe a man’s genitals. Not sure why this never caught on…

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14. The colonial slang phrase: Gilly gaupus.

How it was used during that era: People in the colonial era used this slang term to describe a gangly or a particularly lanky man. Makes you wonder where it stems from.

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15. The colonial slang phrase: Gollumpus.

How it was used during that era: This colonial euphemism was used to describe someone who was large, though more specifically, men and women who were on the clumsy side of things. 

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16. The colonial slang phrase: Hubble-bubble.

How it was used during that era: The word hubble may conjure images of a telescope, though, in this case, it’s used to describe confusion. Someone who’d have thick speech.

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17. The colonial slang phrase: Jerrycumumble.

How it was used during that era: This colonial euphemism was used to describe both men and women who would tumble and shake on a regular basis.

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18. The colonial slang phrase: To knuckle one’s wipe. 

How it was used during that era: This colonial slang term sounds rather vulgar, though, it was used to describe someone who had stolen someone else’s handkerchief.
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19. The colonial slang phrase: Leaping over the sword. 

How it was used during that era: This colonial euphemism was used to describe an ancient ceremony, similar to in a military marriage, where the couple lays down a sword, holds hands, and jumps over the sword.old-slang-20Giphy


20. The colonial slang phrase: Melting moments.  

How it was used during that era: Sadly, this wasn’t when someone would melt right before your eyes. Instead, it was used to describe heavy men and women who were going to “do the deed.”

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21. The colonial slang phrase: Nifnaffy fellow.

How it was used during that era: People used this colonial slang term to describe men who they deemed insignificant, unimportant, and just all around trifling.
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22. The colonial slang phrase: Owl in an ivy bush.

How it was used during that era: This colonial slang term was used to describe someone wearing a large and frizzled wig or whose hair was generally just a mess.

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23. The colonial slang phrase: Pumpkin.

How it was used during that era: This colonial expression was used to describe someone from Boston, Massachusetts. These were people they felt were too loyal to the colonies over England.

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24. The colonial slang phrase: Queer bung.

How it was used during that era: This colonial euphemism was used to describe an empty purse. Those pickpockets had better look out for queer bung, that’s for sure.

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25. The colonial slang phrase: Rufflers, upright men, wild rogues, hookers, anglers, whip jackets, etc.

How it was used during that era: All of these terms were once used to describe a crew or gang of men.

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26. The colonial slang phrase: Remedy critch.

How it was used during that era: Admittedly, remedy critch sounds a lot cooler than what it actually mean, which is a member mug or a chamber pot.

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27. The colonial time slang phrase: Sh*tting through the teeth.

How it was used during that era: A colonial slang term that was used by people to describe someone who was vomiting or throwing up.

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28. The colonial slang phrase: Sluice your gob.

How it was used during that era: This colonial term was used to describe when you would take a hearty drink. Sluicing your gob after a long day was almost mandatory.

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29. The colonial slang phrase: Squeeze crab.

How it was used during that era: This colonial euphemism was used to describe particularly diminutive, shriveled men. In other words, it wasn’t a good thing.

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30. The colonial slang phrase: Twiddle-diddles.

How it was used during that era: This not-so-subtle euphemism was a way for people to describe someone’s testicles. It’s good to know they had a sense of humor all those centuries ago!

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31. The colonial slang phrase: The venerable monosyllable.

How it was used during that era: This colonial euphemism was a direct translation to pudendum muliebre or to covertly describe one’s lady parts.

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32. The colonial slang phrase: Vice admiral of the narrow seas.

How it was used during that era: This extremely specific euphemism was used to describe a man who’d urinate under the table into their companion’s shoes.

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33. The colonial slang phrase: Victualing office.

How it was used during that era: What on earth could this colonial slang term translate to? Well, it was a way to describe someone’s stomach. My office is empty!
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34. The colonial slang phrase: Whiffles.

How it was used during that era: This colonial euphemism was used to describe a relaxation of a man’s testicles. Let’s just say, this had to have been before the invention of underwear.

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35. The colonial slang phrase: Wibble.

How it was used during that era: This colonial term was used to describe a bad drink. Most people have had a wibble here and there, that’s for sure.

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36. The colonial slang phrase: Wrapped up in warm flannel.

How it was used during that era: This colonial euphemism was used to describe someone who’d gotten drunk on spiritous liquors.

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37. The colonial slang phrase: Zedland.

How it was used during that era: This colonial slang euphemism was used to describe an area of the country where “z” was substituted for “s.” So snake would’ve been pronounced znake.

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Wow, to think that none of these euphemisms exist any more is mind-blowing. I’m going to start using these immediately!

Share this hilarious old slang with your friends below!

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