Did You Know

What Language Is That? Do You Know The Meanings Behind The Victorian Slang?

Britain was at the top of its game in the 19th century. Characterized by big dresses and fancy hats, Victorian Era England is one of the classiest eras in history. If you don't look too closely. England was ruled by Queen Victoria, a regal and classy woman who had a remarkably stable time in power. The country celebrated that by having fancy parties and dressing to the nines whenever they could.

Underneath the top hats were some minds that came up with the weirdest slang phrases imaginable. They were speaking English, but no one we talked to knew what the heck they were saying.

Put yourself to the test and see if you can decode these Victorian Era slang phrases:

Sluice Your Gob

I think I'd slap a man who said this to me, it doesn't matter if I knew what he meant or not. If anyone "sluices their gob" it means they took a hearty drink. That actually makes some sense once you know what it means.

Tight As A Boiled Owl

I have...so many questions. Are boiled owls tight? How do they know? Why would you boil an owl? We'll probably never get the answers to these questions, but we do have the answer to another: what does this even mean? Apparently "Tight as a boiled owl" means drunk.


Well this one is easy. A door knocker is a thing that hangs on doors that people use to knock; right? Well, not exactly. That is what a door knocker is, but a door-knocker, when said by someone from Victorian times means a bearded chin that hangs down the face. People from this day and age call it a goatee.

Powdering Hair

I was pretty sure I knew this one. Back in the day rich people had powdered wigs because it kept lice away, so clearly powdering hair was getting your hair ready. Nope, yet again, powedering hair means drunk, or rather, getting drunk.

I can only assume this was a polite way of saying it just like how sometimes we say we're going to "powder our nose" when really we're peeing.


A dinky dink skilamalinky do.

If you finished this Victorian slang with that famous childrens' song you're really wrong about its meaning. Skilamalink means something secret, shady, or doubtful. Actually that does fit pretty well with most kids I know.

Not Up To Dick

If someone asked me if I was up to dick I would definitely slap them. That'd be awkward because they're actually being nice. Not up to dick means you're not feeling well, so if anyone asks they really just want to know how you're doing.

Fly Rink

A fly rink is not a place for flies to get exercise or play hockey, it's actually a polished bald head.

Bow Wow Mutton

If you invite a time traveler over to your house and he calls your meatloaf Bow Wow Mutton you can show him to the door. Bow Wow Mutton was a term used by sailors to describe meat that "probably came from a dog." Rude Mr. Time Traveler...rude.


I don't know how this came to be, but I don't like the idea of it at all. A Gallnipper was a giant mosquito, about the size of present day quarters. That's a big sucker.

I've been writing for Shared for 6 years. Along with my cat Lydia, I search for interesting things to share with you!