If you’ve been following the new @HaggardHawks YouTube channel so far this year, you might remember that a few weeks ago we posted a list of 10 Words Derived From Dickens Characters, just in time for Dickens’ 204th birthday on February 7. And following on from that, this week as part of our #500Words series we’re heading back to the nineteenth century with 10 Words From Victorian Slang.
Nineteenth century slang crops up fairly regularly on the @HaggardHawks Twitter feed (indeed a few choice examples ended up being among the most popular tweets of 2015), but we’ve picked ten of the best and most interesting examples for this week’s video—from blue fire, the perfect theatrical term for something amazing or spectacular, to collieshangie, a word for a noisy argument that’s so Victorian it was even used by Queen Victoria.
Although we’re labelling it a Victorian slang term here (as that’s when it first gained any wider currency, and is often listed as such in slang dictionaries), the word collieshangie itself actually has its origins in eighteenth-century Scotland: it probably began life as culleshnagee or cullyshang, an old Scots dialect word presumed to be a compound of collie (a sheepdog) and shangie, a word used for both a noisy quarrel, and a restraint attached to a dog’s tail to make it behave. Either way, collieshangie can fairly confidently be said to derive from one very angry dog.