Slang, Euphemisms, and Terms from the 1700 and 1800s – Letter S (Sq-Sz)

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

Terms from the 1700 - letter s

SQUAB was a reference to a fat man or woman and described by Grose as being taken “from their likeness to a well-stuffed couch, called also a squab.”[1]

A SQUEEZE CRAB referred to a sour-looking, shriveled, diminutive fellow.

SQUELCH referred to a hard fall. Apparently, the term originated in Ireland, where if a bailiff was caught in a barrack yard it was customary to put him in a blanket and “have three tosses and a SQUELCH,”[2] which was to let go of the blanket’s corners so that he would fall.

A SQUIB was a small satirical or political temporary jeu d’esprit, which, like fireworks sparkles, bounces, stinks, and vanishes.

SQUINT-A-PIPES was another nickname for a squinting person as the person was “said to be born in the middle of the week, and looking both ways for Sunday.”[3]

If you were foolish you were said to be SQUIRISH.

A prostitute was also called a SQUIRREL, because, according to Grose, “she like that animal, covers her back with her tail.”[4]

A bastard was also known as a STALL WHIMPER.

STALLING KEN referred to a receiver of stolen goods.

If a man was called a STALLION it meant he was a whore-monger and was being kept by a woman for secret purposes.

STAMPERS referred to your shoes.

STAR LAG was another way to describe breaking shop windows in order to steal.

A cuckold was sometimes known as a STAY.

STEENKIRK was a cravat or muslin neckcloth worn carelessly, as in the fashion of French officers after they returned from Steenkirk Battle in 1692.

The STEEPLE HOUSE was a name given to the church by dissenters.

STEPNEY was a combination of raisin, lemons, and sweetened sugar water that was bottled up and placed in the sun.

STEWED QUAKER referred to burnt rum with a piece of butter added. Apparently, it was an American remedy for a cold.

STICKS referred to household furniture.

Gloves were also known as STICK FLAMS.

If you were STIFF-RUMPED, you were said to be proud or stately.

A STIVER was a Dutch coin worth slightly more than a penny sterling. So, to be STIVER-CRAMPED meant you needed money.

STOCK JOBBERS were stock speculators at Exchange Alley who bought and sold stocks they did not possess. They would gamble by pretending to buy and sell public funds but in reality they bet stocks would be at a certain price at a particular time. Bulls were speculators for a rise and bears for the falls.

Map of Exchange Alley in London, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Map of Exchange Alley in London. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

If you had a STOMACH WORM it meant you were hungry.

STONE JUG referred to a prison.

STOOP-NAPPERS or OVERSEERS OF THE NEW PAVEMENT were terms used to describe people placed in pillories, as a pillory was known as a STOOP.

To get a STOTER or STOUTER was to receive a great blow.

A vessel that held liquor was sometimes called a STOUP.

STOW meant to hold your peace or to be wary of speaking.

STRAIT WAISTCOAT was another term for the straitjacket. It was invented in 1790 by a French upholsterer for Bicêtre Hospital to restrain difficult patients.

To draw STRAW meant to calm a man’s passions by conceding to sleep with him.

To be STUB-FACED meant to be pitted by smallpox, a disease that killed Louis XV.

Terms from the 1700 - Louis XV

Louis XV a year before his death (1773) by François-Hubert Drouais. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

If someone told you to STUBBLE IT, they wanted you to hold your tongue.

STUMPS was another word for legs.

If someone offered an absurd reason, you might reply SUCH A REASON PIST MY GOOSE or MY GOOSE PIST.

If you were in the SUDS you were in a disagreeable or difficult situation.

SUGAR STICK was another reference to a man’s penis.

A SUNDAY MAN was a man so fearful of arrest that the only day he dared leave his residence was Sunday, which was the case for the Count d’Artois while he lived at the Scottish Palace of Holyrood.

Terms from the 1700 - Count d'Artois

Engraving of Count d’Artois. Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.

It you had a good fire in winter it was said you had a SUNNY BANK.

A landlady or a hostess at an inn was also known as a SUPOUCH.

SURVEYOR OF THE PAVEMENT was a nickname given to an offender who was placed in the pillory and exposed to public abuse.

Someone who had been hanged and the hanging entered into the jailor’s books was SUS PER COLL.

A pheasant or a horse with an undocked tail might be called a SWISH TAIL.

TO SWIVE meant to copulate.

SWIVEL-EYED was a nickname for squinting.

SYNTAX did not refer to the arrangement of words or phrases to create well-formed sentences rather it was another name for a schoolmaster.


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


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