Slang, Euphemisms, and Terms of the 1700 and 1800s – Letter S (Sa-Sh)

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

letter s

SACHEVEREL refers to the iron door or the blower to the mouth of a stove. The name comes from an Anglican clergyman and politician, Henry Sacheverell, who was idolized by the Tories for a sermon he gave attacking Whigs, Dissenters, and moderate Tories. At the time the Whigs and Tories were divided, and the Tories wanted him prosecuted. He was impeached and forbidden from preaching for three years. Grose gives an example: SACHEVEREL having “made himself famous for blowing the coals of dissension in the later end of the reign of Queen Anne.”[1]

SAINT GEOFFREY’S DAY in the 1700s was based on the idea that no St. Geoffrey existed. However, this was wrong as St. Ceolfrith means Geoffrey in modern English.

SALESMAN’S DOG referred to a barker, which was someone who in their attempt to attract customers was verbally aggressive.

SALT-BOX referred to a prison cell.

SANK, SANKY, or CENTIPEE’S was a tailor employed by clothiers in making soldier’s clothing.

simple fellow was known as a SAPSCULL.

SAUCE BOX was a term for an impudent person.

SAWNY or SANDY was a nickname for a Scotchman.

SCALD MISERABLES refers to mock masons, who in the mid 1700s made a ludicrous procession to ridicule the Free Masons.

SCALDER was the person who infected another person with a venereal disease and SCALDED meant to be infected with a venereal disease.

If someone was called SCALY or SCALEY, the person was a scalawag, but an honest, rough, blunt sailor was referred to as a SCALEY FISH.

A SCAMP was another name for a highwayman, such as James MacLaine.

James MacLaine. Public domain.

Tea was also referred to as SCANDAL BROTH or CHATTER BROTH.

A SCAPEGALLOWS referred to someone who narrowly escaped the gallows.

A SCARLET HORSE was a hired or hack horse.

A dissenting teacher was known as a SCHISM MONGER and a dissenting meeting house was a SCHISM SHOP.

A SCOLD’S CURE was a nickname for a coffin.

If you got a flogging, a cobbing, or a whipping it was said you were SCHOOL BUTTER.

SCOTCH BAIT referred to the rest you might take when you were walking along.

Brimstone (sulphur) and milk were known as SCOTCH CHOCOLATE.

An itchy rash caused by eating an excess of oatmeal was known as SCOTCH FIDDLE.

SCOTCH GREYS was a reference to lice, an insect that helped to decimate Napoleon Bonaparte‘s army.

SCOTCH MIST was another term for a penetrating, drizzling mist that bordered on rain.

SCOURERS were riotous bucks, who amused themselves by breaking windows and assaulting everyone they met.

A public hanging was also known as a SCRAGG’EM FAIR.

A SCRAPER had several meanings: a barber, a fiddler, a foot, a shoe, a penis, or a cocked hat.

SCRAPING CASTLE referred to a water closet.

letter s

Water closet of the late 1800s. Author’s collection.

In the 1700s, SCRATCH was another name for the Devil.

SCRATCH LAND referred to Scotland.

SCREEN was a reference to counterfeit bank notes.

A SCREW was a skeleton key used by robbers to open a lock.

Wry-mouthed people were also known as SCREW JAWS.

SCRUBBADO referred to scabies.

A sailor was also called a SEA CRAB.

A SEVEN-SIDED ANIMAL was a reference to a one-eyed person, because according to Grose, the person “had a right side and a left side, a fore side and a back side, an outside, an inside, and a blind side.”[2]

SHOOT THE CAT was to vomit from having drank an excess of liquor.


  • [1] Grose, Francis, 1811 Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1811.
  • [2] Ibid.

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