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Slang Hunters Facts

Slang Hunters

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  • The famous Cockney rhyming slang of East London originated as early as the 1850’s as a secret code amongst the underprivileged. One of the most famous Cockney couplets is apples and pears for stairs, for example, “March up the Apples and go to bed!” But slang changes. Nowadays, the trend is popney; whereby celebrity names are used for the revamped Cockney rhyming style. For example, ‘Fancy a few Britney’s?” (Want to have a few Britney Spears [beers])

  • In 1885, while traveling throughout the country, Walt Whitman wrote an article called ‘Slang in America’. In it, he listed the slang terms used to refer to citizens of each state. Some entries include ‘Gun Flints’ for folks from Rhode Island, ‘Lizzards’ for people from Alabama, and ‘Pukes’ for Missourians.

  • In early medieval colleges, silence was often decreed as proper, disciplined behavior on campuses. Tattletales who reported fellow students to administrators for breaking the silence, especially in the vernacular rather than Latin, earned the early slang term lupi, Latin for wolves.

  • HEY YOU! Until the 1600’s you was used to address multiple people, and thou was for one person. In the time when both were being used and you was approaching its modern meaning, it was considered low, messy slang.

  • Earlier this year a Mississippi high school student faced 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for writing ‘I passed a bomb in the library.” The note, written on toilet paper, was in reference to a fart.

  • The term “sloshed” gets its roots in 1844 where “slosh” meant “to splash about in mud or water.” It soon gained the meaning “to pour carelessly” when it entered saloons, and around 1900 it gained its current meaning “drunk” (because you’re likely to “slosh” your drinks while “sloshed”).

  • English inns were once required to pay a tax known as a "scot." Customers who left town to drink in rural taverns were said to be drinking "scot free."

  • The slang word “bender,” referring to a drinking spree, got its name from an obsolete British coin known as the sixpence. The sixpence was commonly called a “bender” because they were made of silver and could be bent to test their authenticity. At the time going drinking with a sixpence meant you could buy enough beer to get thoroughly smashed for a few nights.

  • The phrase “three sheets to the wind” emerged as an expression as early as the 1700s. Although many think of sheets as sails, they are actually the ropes that are used to adjust the positioning of the sails on boats. If all three sheets are untied and blowing in the wind, the ship’s course becomes very erratic and the boat runs the risk of capsizing. Thus, being “three sheets to the wind” conjures images of an out-of-control drunk stumbling around uncontrollably.

  • The phrase "There's no free lunch" comes from an old Pennsylvania drinking law. In 1917 they outlawed free lunches to prevent taverns from luring in customers by giving away free sandwiches to customers who bought beer to drink with them. This led some shopkeepers to sell sandwiches and give away the beer.

  • The word "toast," meaning a wish of good health, originated at least as early as the 17th century. People would drink to a chosen lady’s well-being, the idea being that her name, like the spiced toast people occasionally dipped in their wine, would flavor their drinks.

  • Although the word “slut” now refers to a promiscuous individual, it was originally used to describe someone who was messy or untidy. Chaucer even uses the word in the Canterbury Tales: “Why is thy lord so sluttish, I thee pray/ And is of power better clothes to bey (buy).”

  • In the 16th century the term “hooker” was British slang for “thief.”

  • Although “scumbag” has come to mean a “disrespectful person,” the word was originally used as a vulgar way of referring to a condom.

  • Of all the body parts, there are more English slang words for the butt than any other body part.

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