Slang, Euphemisms, and Terms of the 1700 and 1800s – Letter Q

The following slang, euphemisms, and terms are for the letter Q and are primarily taken from Francis Grose’s Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue published in 1811.

slang, euphemism

QUAIL-PIPE was a reference to a woman’s tongue.

A QUAKING CHEAT was a calf or a sheep.

A QUEAN was not a misspelling and was not a Queen like Marie Antoinette rather a QUEAN was described as a worthless woman or slut.

Marie Antoinette in 1785. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

QUEED was a reference to the devil.

QUEER BAIL involved insolvent persons who created a business by posting fraudulent bails and bailing out persons that got arrested.

QUEER WEDGES were large buckles.

An empty purse was known as a QUEER BUNG.

QUEER CLOUT was a cheap handkerchief not worth stealing.

QUEER CULL was a foolish dandy or a fop, but anyone who wore bad breeches were said to be wearing QUEER KICKS.

“Dandy at His Toilette,” published in 1818. Courtesy of British Museum.

QUEER PLUNGERS were swindlers. One man would throw himself into the river in a pretense to drowned and his accomplice would rescue him. The Human Society would give each a guinea: the hero for his bravery and the plunger because he was so desperate as to take his life.

An inferior or worn-out horse was referred to as a QUEER PRANCER.

QUEER ROOST referred to a man and woman living together as if husband and wife, but a QUEER ROOSTER was an informer or police spy living among thieves.

A QUILL DRIVER was a clerk, scribe, or hackney writer.

A woman’s vagina was also called a QUIM.

If you were QUINSEY or CHOKED BY A HEMPEN QUINSEY it meant you were hanged.

QUISBY referred to an eccentric person, which might have described the Earl of Bridgewater (an over-the-top dog lover), Mr. Martin Van Butchell (who kept his dead wife on display), or Charles II, Duke of Brunswick, who was also called the “Diamond Duke.”

QUITE TOO NICE was an expression used by aesthetic females to indicate the same as “awfully jolly.”


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