When it comes to nineteenth-century slang, are you a ninny or smart as a steel trap? Keep reading to find out!
Did you know, that if you called me a Kate, I would give you Jesse? I might even plant a sockdollager on your snout and knock you into a cocked hat. You’ll probably wind up in Job’s dock when I’m through. After all, I’ve been known to whip my weight in wild cats when I get wrathy. Now, don’t wake snakes. Any varmint what’s too much of a ninny to shut pan when he’s fuddled deserves what comes to him.
That reminds me: If you’re poor as Job’s turkey, I reckon you’d best steer clear of the groggery. Don’t think that you can pass the old orchard and pull foot. You can’t hornswoggle him and I hear-tell that owner’s savage as a meat axe when he’s in a pucker. He’ll exfluncticate you if you don’t pony-up before you absquatulate.
Cutting up didoes may be all the go among natty kids but it’ll land you in the block-house.
What’s that? You say you’ve got your own bucket shop? Well, ain’t you a huckleberry above a persimmon? Do-tell! And while you’re at it, let me know how much of this made sense to you and how much sounded like bunkum.
Need a dictionary? Here you go:
ninny = coot/idiot/simpleton
smart as a steel trap = particularly intelligent and quick
Kate = smart, brazen-faced woman
Jesse = hell
sockdollager = powerful punch or blow
cock your hat = knock someone senseless
Job’s dock = hospital
whip one’s weight in wild cats = defeat a powerful opponent
wrathy = angry
wake snakes = make a fuss
varmint = wild animal or objectionable person
shut pan = close one’s mouth
fuddled = drunk
poor as Job’s turkey = very poor
reckon = to think or guess
groggery = drinking establishment
old orchard = whiskey
pull foot = leave quickly
hornswoggle = to cheat; to pull the wool over one’s eyes
savage as a meat axe = extremely savage
pucker = in a state of anger
exfluncticate = to utterly destroy
pony-up = pay up
absquatulate = to take leave, to disappear
cutting up didoes = getting into mischief
all the go = in fashion
natty kids = young thieves
block-house = jail
bucket shop = gin mill; distillery
huckleberry above a persimmon = a cut above
Do-tell = express fascination in a way that encourages the speaker to continue
bunkum = nonsense
acknowledge the corn = to admit the truth; to confess
Which of these terms had you the most befuddled? Let me know in the comments below!
(NOTE: While these are true nineteenth-century terms, the above was written in good fun and should not be taken seriously.)
To learn more fun nineteenth-century terms, check out these sources:
19th Century Slang Dictionary (PDF)
Dictionary of Americanisms
Vocabulum – The Rogue’s Lexicon