Do You Know The Meaning Of These Victorian Words?

About this Quiz

Do you obsessively watch Victorian T.V. dramas? The Victorian Era was romantic... but it was also a bit strange, to say the least! One mystery we can't understand is why they chose to wear all those clothes with no air conditioning! Another is their choice of food. But the biggest is probably the strange words they used.

This quiz has got everything from “parish pickaxes” to “sauce-boxes”. Do you think you know enough about that period in history to demystify the crazy words and phrases Victorian people used? Can you tell us the meanings of these Victorian words?

Start Quiz!
Resume Quiz

1. Dave's got a "parish pickaxe". That means he has a:

igorstevanovic /
  1. Long legs
  2. Pink hair
  3. Large nose
  4. Nice smile
Having parish pickaxe was a really weird way to say that someone had a large or prominent nose.
scroll to continue

2. Stephen's "selling the dog":

pathdoc /
  1. Going to the pet store
  2. Being dishonest
  3. Cooking a meal
  4. Drawing a portrait
Rumor has it that people who sold dogs back in the day sold mutts as pure breeds. So if you're selling a dog, you're lying.
scroll to continue

3. "Church bells" can sure be noisy! Call a woman "church bells" and she is:

DarkBird /
  1. Quiet
  2. Helpful
  3. Talkative
  4. A good listener
Church bells were talkative women. We bet you've met a few in your day!
scroll to continue

4. Is it time for a "cat-lap"?

Iryna Kuznetsova /
  1. Champagne
  2. Cocktails
  3. Rum
  4. Tea and coffee
This phrase was used scornfully by men who loved their beverages on the stronger side.
scroll to continue

5. You're looking at three cool "coves"!

FoodAndPhoto /
  1. Pieces of candy
  2. Aliens
  3. People
  4. Bodies of water
A cove wasn't something you swam in. "Cove" meant a person. More often than not, it referred to a man.
scroll to continue

6. Would you care to eat some "bags o' mystery" with me?

Valentina_G /
  1. Sausages
  2. Pancakes
  3. Eggs
  4. Eggs benedict
Sausages were called bag o' mystery during the Victorian Era. No one except the maker knew what was really in them!
scroll to continue

7. Craig's "gas pipes" must have been difficult to walk in:

Ljupco Smokovski /
  1. Socks
  2. Really tight pants
  3. Cargo pants
  4. Shoes
The word "gas-pipes" was used to describe pants that were really tight. They probably weren't the easiest to maneuver in!
scroll to continue

8. Shh! can you keep a a "skilamalink"? Don't spill my....

DarkBird /
  1. Good news
  2. Juice
  3. Secrets
  4. Water
Not only did skilamalink mean secrets, it also described a shady or doubtful situation.
scroll to continue

9. Wow! Your "crib's" dining room is fancy! A "crib" is a:

Radiokafka /
  1. A hamburger
  2. A shoe
  3. A movie
  4. A house
A crib was -- and still is -- a house. Unless, of course, you're referring to the place a baby sleeps.
scroll to continue

10. If you were at a "dizzy age", things were beginning to go a bit haywire. You were a:

AlessandroBiascioli /
  1. Teen
  2. Elderly person
  3. Toddler
  4. Child
When we get older, we do tend to take liberties! It's not hard to imagine where the word "dizzy age" came from.
scroll to continue

11. Congrats! You're about the win the game, or "take the________":

Masson /
  1. Pigs brains
  2. Broccoli
  3. Macaroni
  4. Egg
If you ended up taking the egg, it meant you won the game or whatever competition you were taking part in.
scroll to continue

12. Your parents disapproved if you went around "mafficking"...

Kiselev Andrey Valerevich /
  1. Getting rowdy
  2. Giving free food
  3. Helping the sick
  4. Volunteering to teach
Mafficking sounds pretty weird right? Well, it involved weird behavior -- that is, getting rowdy in the streets.
scroll to continue

13. Grandma left the bar "half-rats"....

Kaspars Grinvalds /
  1. Half-drunk
  2. Asleep
  3. Sad
  4. Happy because it's her birthday
Becoming half-rats takes a little effort. It meant that you were partially intoxicated -- not all the way, but enough.
scroll to continue

14. A "benjo" was this kind of celebration...

Tuzemka /
  1. A marriage proposal
  2. A funeral
  3. A graduation
  4. A holiday celebrated in the street
A "benjo" was originally sailor slang. It came to mean a noisy day, most likely a holiday, celebrated in the streets.
scroll to continue

15. Watch your mouth! No "gum" around the children!

Everett Collection /
  1. Smiles
  2. Kisses
  3. Compliments
  4. Foul language
Gum was foul language. Funny enough, both the gum of today and back then are prone to get you into sticky situations.
scroll to continue

16. If your food wasn't good, you'd say it was "fit for a dog", or...

Palmer Kane LLC /
  1. Splendicious
  2. Yummylicious
  3. Scrumdillyumptious
  4. Bow wow mutton
Bow wow mutton could actually mean two things. Either the food tasted like dog food or it tasted so bad, it could have been dog meat.
scroll to continue

17. It's raining! Don't go out without your...

Esteban De Armas /
  1. Shower curtain
  2. Rain napper
  3. Plastic tail
  4. Towel bag
As you probably assumed, a rain napper would steal the rain, or at least protect you from it. It was an umbrella.
scroll to continue

18. If you "got the morbs", you'd feel a bit:

Igor Chus /
  1. Happy
  2. Sad
  3. Crazy
  4. Chipper
If you had the morbs back in the day, it meant that you were sad. Luckily, this was only temporary.
scroll to continue

19. "Damfino" means:

Asier Romero /
  1. Damned if I know
  2. The roof is on fire
  3. The food is ready
  4. Your shirt has a hole
Damfino was a pretty common response to questions you had no answer to. The words "damned if I know" were melded together and resulted in a much shorter, one-word slur.
scroll to continue

20. "Making a stuffed bird laugh" means you've just said something that was really....

Everett Collection /
  1. Serious
  2. Sad
  3. Absurd
  4. Smart
When you've made a stuffed bird laugh, you've just said something that was absolutely preposterous.
scroll to continue

21. "Nailing a strike" meant you stole this accessory:

Nejron Photo /
  1. Watch
  2. A bag of flour
  3. Gucci handbag
  4. Stiletto shoes
Today, this phrase often means hitting a hammer. Back then, it meant "to steal a time piece."
scroll to continue

22. Need to catch some z's? Make sure your "kife" is good quality!

Massimo Parisi /
  1. A carpet
  2. A bed
  3. A stool
  4. A toilet
Kife was the word people used when they wanted to say bed.
scroll to continue

23. You couldn't cook and clean without your "daddles"...

WAYHOME studio /
  1. Hands
  2. Butt
  3. Stomach
  4. Feet
Daddles was one of the more enjoyable words of the era! It made the word hands seem just a little less boring.
scroll to continue

24. Ain't life just "beer and skittles"?

FXQuadro /
  1. Difficult
  2. All about food
  3. A good time
  4. Sad
The term "beer and skittles" was actually found in Charles Dickens' work in 1837. Informally, the term means "a good time."
scroll to continue

25. Our dog Toby's a bit of a "meater". He is a:

Aleksey Boyko /
  1. A talented musician
  2. Party animal
  3. Fanatic
  4. Coward
Even in those times, street slang existed. "Meater" was street slang for "coward."
scroll to continue

26. Boxers often "copped a mouse", or got these dark marks on their faces...

ZoneCreative /
  1. Glitter
  2. A lipstick mark
  3. A black eye
  4. Tomato paste
In the Victorian Era, if you copped a mouse, someone had just given you a black eye.
scroll to continue

27. Do you keep a "billy" in your pocket? I need to blow my nose!

Ysbrand Cosijn /
  1. A notepad
  2. A watermelon
  3. A handkerchief
  4. A pillow
Billies had nothing to do with goats during the Victorian Era. The word represents a handkerchief.
scroll to continue

28. King Lewis is "arfarfan arf":

Anneka /
  1. Very drunk
  2. Very tired
  3. Very smelly
  4. Very creative
Arf, as a standalone word would mean "pints." The phrase, however, was a term used to describe a drunk man.
scroll to continue

29. Yippee!! It's your birthday and your party is "nanty narking". How is it going?

Inara Prusakova /
  1. It's tons of fun
  2. The police stopped it
  3. A cat just crashed it
  4. You're crying in the bathroom
This term, which meant great fun, was only popular for about forty years between 1800 and 1840. Time for a comeback?
scroll to continue

30. If you're "poked up" you may want to hide your face. Why?

Stock photo by Yaa /
  1. You're happy
  2. You're lonely
  3. You want to use the bathroom
  4. You're embarrassed
A person who is poked up is embarrassed.
scroll to continue

31. Which bizarre-looking word meant "extremely enthusiastic"?

Everett Collection /
  1. Keen
  2. Passionate
  3. Eager
  4. Enthuzimuzzy
We're not sure who "Braham the Terror was," but he was the one who invented this silly word for enthusiasm.
scroll to continue

32. Careful! Your significant other will "chuck your shoulder" for forgetting your anniversary.

ArtFamily /
  1. Marry you
  2. Turn you away
  3. Give you a promotion
  4. Kiss you
If someone's shoulder was chucked, it meant they were turned away. Romantically, or otherwise.
scroll to continue

33. You get mad and tell a friend to "hook it," or:

Maksim Shmeljov /
  1. What's up?
  2. Where are you going?
  3. Give me a hug
  4. Go away
Hook it, back then, meant to go away. The modern version, book it, means to leave in a hurry.
scroll to continue

34. Aristocrats and common folk would both use their "sauce-box" to grumble:

miami beach forever /
  1. Mouth
  2. Chest
  3. Legs
  4. Arms
A sauce-box could either be used to describe a normal mouth or one that liked to spew very sassy sayings. Context is everything.
scroll to continue

35. Ted is "orf chump" and won't touch food. What's wrong with him?

Everett Collection /
  1. Nothing, that's just Ted
  2. He has no appetite
  3. He can't walk
  4. He has a sprained ankle
A person who is feeling "orf chump" has no appetite. Don't pass them the salad!
scroll to continue

36. If you're "smothering a parrot", you're having a glass of this green alcoholic drink, neat...

Rimma Bondarenko /
  1. Water
  2. Milk
  3. Egg nog
  4. Absinthe
That's strong stuff! Smothering a parrot was the equivalent of drinking a glass of absinthe with no water, ice, chaser etc.
scroll to continue

37. Police and sheep don't usually mix, but officers were called these back in the day.

N-sky /
  1. Mutton shunter
  2. Cow farmer
  3. Cat napper
  4. Dog herder
Police have been known as many things over the years -- mutton shunters are one such name.
scroll to continue

38. Little Thomas sure is "bricky", just like a Knight of the Round Table:

Vasilyev Alexandr /
  1. Scared
  2. Shy
  3. Brave
  4. Timid
Bricky meant brave. It was used to describe both males and females.
scroll to continue

39. Isn't Stella just "butter upon bacon"?

iiiphevgeniy /
  1. Plain
  2. Extravagant
  3. Normal
  4. Cheap
Any way you slice it, if you described something as "butter upon bacon," it was too extravagant -- and often not in a good way!
scroll to continue

40. Peter is a "fly rink". He has none of this on his head...

Kichigin /
  1. Fruits
  2. Hair
  3. Makeup
  4. Clothes
A fly rink wasn't just a bald head. It was a polished bald head.
scroll to continue

41. A man who loved to talk was known as this baby's toy:

T'estimo /
  1. A parrot
  2. A billboard
  3. An agreeable rattle
  4. A candle
Not only did "an agreeable rattle" describe a person who loved to talk, but the word also referred to someone who did it constantly in a silly or excited manner.
scroll to continue

42. Sharon has a "gigglemug". She's:

Voyagerix /
  1. Smiling
  2. Kissing
  3. Licking
  4. Arguing
A gigglemug isn't just a smile, it's a face that smiles habitually.
scroll to continue

43. If you and another person were "of the same kidney", you were:

Everett Collection /
  1. Alike
  2. Opposites
  3. Strangers
  4. Enemies
Of the same kidney didn't mean looking alike or being someone's sibling. It meant that you and another person had similar temperaments.
scroll to continue

44. Who else thinks that Karen is a total "gibface"?

kittirat roekburi /
  1. Ugly
  2. Cute
  3. Funny
  4. Smart
Unfortunately, a "gibface" meant that a person wasn't exactly on the pretty side.
scroll to continue

45. If you had bad champagne, what did it taste like?

Pamela Au /
  1. Coffee
  2. Varnish
  3. Ice cream
  4. Chocolate sauce
In the Victorian Era, the taste of bad champagne was likened to varnish.
scroll to continue

46. Dominic is a "gal-sneaker". He's good at...

Trum Ronnarong /
  1. Sewing
  2. Studying
  3. Spelling
  4. Seduction
This word, which described a man who devoted his life to seduction, was pretty popular in 1870.
scroll to continue

47. Why all those books? If people called you "afternoonified", you probably went to...

vchal /
  1. A support group
  2. University
  3. A carnival
  4. Paris
University! Afternoonified was a word that people used to describe someone who was book smart.
scroll to continue

48. Martha and Elizabeth are "chuckaboos", they've known each other for years!

  1. Colleagues
  2. Enemies
  3. Strangers
  4. Close friends
Chuckaboo was a nickname given to a very close friend, who may or may not have been a relative.
scroll to continue

49. You'd have a hard time breathing if you were "grinning at the daisy roots". That's because you'd be:

Andrew Fletcher /
  1. Ignoring everyone
  2. Working
  3. Dead
  4. Sleeping
This sweet phrase is anything but; it meant that a person was dead.
scroll to continue

50. The town hall was a great meeting place in the Victorian era. It was also called this (the Greeks would approve)...

Morphart Creation /
  1. Condo
  2. Home
  3. Forum
  4. Skyscraper
The word forum has been around for a very long time. The Ancient Greeks used it as a public square. Victorian folk used the word to mean town hall.
scroll to continue

Just a sec, we're calculating your result!