Infographic of the Week: A collection of Victorian profanities

tags: Infographic of the Week, Profanity

Michael Adams is a Professor of English Language and Literature at Indiana University Bloomington, editor of the quarterly journal American Speech, and President-Elect of the Dictionary Society of America. Adams is the author of In Praise of Profanity (OUP 2016), From Elvish to Klingon (OUP 2011), Slang: The People's Poetry (OUP 2009), and Slayer Slang (OUP 2003). This post originally appeared on the OUPblog.

Euphemisms, per their definition, are used to soften offensive language. Topics such as death, sex, and bodily functions are often discussed delicately, giving way to statements like, “he passed away,” “we’re hooking up,” or “it’s that time of the month.”

Throughout history, the English language has been altered by societal taboos. The role of social codes in the development of euphemisms can be explored through Victorian vulgarities. A woman who didn’t fulfill social expectations of purity or femininity may have been referred to as a “trollop.” Similarly, a man who lacked intelligence may have been written off as merely “beetle-headed.”

We list a variety of Victorian profanities in the infographic below.


Download the image as a PDF or a JPEG.

Featured image credit: “Victorian Ladies Fashion 1880s” by JamesGardinerCollection. CC0 1.0 Public Domain via Flikr.

Read entire article at OUPblog

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