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Quiz about English Victorian Slang Words Starting With E
Quiz about English Victorian Slang Words Starting With E

English Victorian Slang Words, Starting With "E" Quiz


These English Victorian words come from the "Slang Dictionary", published by Chatto and Windus in London, 1874. The ones chosen for this quiz all begin with the letter "E".

A multiple-choice quiz by littlepup. Estimated time: 5 mins.
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Author
littlepup
Time
5 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
385,258
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
373
Awards
Top 35% Quiz
Last 3 plays: Guest 86 (8/10), Guest 109 (9/10), Guest 2 (8/10).
Question 1 of 10
1. "He's lagging in the race. Egg him on!" That's what you hear a Victorian Londoner say. What did it mean in the Victorian era to egg someone on?
Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. In 1870s London, what was a slang term for the bare feet of poor children? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. An over-dressed dandy stops into a shop in Victorian London and tries to convince the shopkeeper to put some gadget on his shelves for sale, with overblown phrases that display his education. After he leaves without success, someone says to the shopkeeper, "rather extensive, that." What does he mean? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. Someone says in Victorian London: "Have you heard Charlie lately? Ever since he found that new job, he exasperates when he talks. I say, do it at work if he wants, but there's no need to do it around us." Everyone takes it as a joke. What does he mean? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. What kind of grease -- that's not a real grease -- might a Victorian Londoner be told to apply in order to get a hard job done? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. By the 1870s, an American slang phrase had moved to England. If someone in late Victorian London said they had seen the elephant, what did they mean? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. "He cut his eye teeth working on the docks." What does that phrase mean, refering to someone in Victorian England? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. "I received an earwigging from the owner," says an employee in Victorian England. What did he mean by that odd phrase? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. Someone in Victorian England completes a good job he's proud of, and says to no one in particular, "You'll have to get up early in the morning to beat that." What does he mean? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. In Victorian slang, what do you call someone who listens at doors or windows outside a room or building? An eaves ---? Hint



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quiz
Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. "He's lagging in the race. Egg him on!" That's what you hear a Victorian Londoner say. What did it mean in the Victorian era to egg someone on?

Answer: encourage him

This is one of those slang phrases that has lasted from the Victorian era until today with the same meaning, but it actually has lasted much longer than that! It's actually from c. 1200, from the Old Norse verb "eggja," which was used to mean "to goad on" or to "incite." The Norse word was slang itself. Its literal meaning didn't have anything to do with eggs, but meant "edge."
2. In 1870s London, what was a slang term for the bare feet of poor children?

Answer: everlasting shoes

Bare feet never wear out or get holes, or if they do, they repair themselves. In poor parts of London, the barefoot children wore "everlasting shoes and stockings." A similar sly expression was "the shoes and stockings their mothers gave them," because of course that's where their bare feet came from.

The joke was like the slang term "birthday suit," or the suit you were given on your birthday, your naked skin, a slang term that was also in use in the Victorian era. The slang phrase "everlasting shoes" was fairly new, some sources saying mid to late 19th Century, others saying circa 1870.
3. An over-dressed dandy stops into a shop in Victorian London and tries to convince the shopkeeper to put some gadget on his shelves for sale, with overblown phrases that display his education. After he leaves without success, someone says to the shopkeeper, "rather extensive, that." What does he mean?

Answer: The man was showing off.

"Rather extensive, that," was an insult that could apply either to a person's talk or appearance, and meant showing off or bragging. To use another slang term, which could be applied literally to meat or figuratively to behavior, he was "cutting it fat."

The slang phrase "rather extensive, that" may not have lasted long. An 1891 slang dictionary said it was "formerly applied" to a person's appearance, as if it was already out of fashion, despite being listed as current just 17 years before. But the earlier dictionary warned that slang changed quickly, so this may be an example of current slang becoming former slang.
4. Someone says in Victorian London: "Have you heard Charlie lately? Ever since he found that new job, he exasperates when he talks. I say, do it at work if he wants, but there's no need to do it around us." Everyone takes it as a joke. What does he mean?

Answer: Charlie over emphasizes the H sound at the beginning of words.

This is really rather clever, though complicated. A lower-class Londoner might leave off the "h" at the beginning of a word, such as saying 'ome instead of home. Apparently that was the way Charlie normally talked. If he wants to show how proper and upper-class he can be, he might pronounce the "h" but he might overdo it. Apparently that's what Charlie is doing at his new job.

To pronounce the "h" is called to "aspirate" it. But to over exaggerate it would soon become annoying, or exasperating/exaspirating. And therefore, "to exasperate" (in slang) means to over emphasize the letter "h" the way a poor person would do, when trying to sound like a rich person.

Americans can think of Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady," and how important proper speech was to the English. To get her "h"s aspirated correctly, she practiced the sentence: "In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen."
5. What kind of grease -- that's not a real grease -- might a Victorian Londoner be told to apply in order to get a hard job done?

Answer: elbow grease

This phrase has spread across both ponds and is used in America and Australia too, and hasn't faded over the years. "Elbow grease" was considered something necessary to clean up a dirty, dingy household or anything similar that needed industry and hard work, but not actual grease to improve it.

The phrase is as old as 1670, and came from the work necessary to polish furniture. Very little grease was required to get the surface looking bright and shiny, but most of the work consisted in bending the elbow back and forth.
6. By the 1870s, an American slang phrase had moved to England. If someone in late Victorian London said they had seen the elephant, what did they mean?

Answer: They knew the latest tricks; they weren't innocent anymore.

The phrase, as described in 1874 London, meant to be knowing, rather than innocent or green. You knew how people were being tricked and how to avoid it. A similar English phrase was to "see the king," meaning to have been tricked but to refuse to stand for it any longer. Ironically, it didn't refer to the monarch, but instead meant you had seen your opponent's best hand and knew how he was playing cards.

In America, the phrase "see the elephant" flourished during the Civil War, 1861-1865, though it was actually older. Soldiers used it to mean they had seen battle for the first time.
7. "He cut his eye teeth working on the docks." What does that phrase mean, refering to someone in Victorian England?

Answer: He got sharp and wise, seeing what happened on the docks.

This is another slang phrase that I've heard in 20th Century America, though it may be going out of fashion. I knew it meant someone had gained wisdom and sharpness, but I never really understood where it came from before now. To cut teeth meant to have teeth grow in through the gums, as when a baby was teething.

This usually happens around the age when infants start to actively explore the world around them. So the saying refers to the person being at the start of their career, working out the way things work
8. "I received an earwigging from the owner," says an employee in Victorian England. What did he mean by that odd phrase?

Answer: He was criticized in private, rather than in public.

"Wigging" was Victorian English slang for a rebuke, so one can see how a word for a private rebuke would easily develop from the well-known name for the insect, "earwig." A rebuke quietly given near the ear would be an ear wig, and all the different forms of the word would soon be used as necessary.

There was a sense that the person couldn't defend themself from either a wigging or earwigging, so the rebuke typically came from a boss or teacher or parent -- someone who had authority -- and it was more like a scolding than an open debate about whether the person had committed an error. In more modern slang, the meaning seems to have drifted even further, into general complaining or nagging.
9. Someone in Victorian England completes a good job he's proud of, and says to no one in particular, "You'll have to get up early in the morning to beat that." What does he mean?

Answer: Someone would have to try hard to outdo it.

This is another bit of slang from the 1874 "Slang Dictionary" that has persisted and spread even until today, but it wasn't new then. It's as old as the mid 18th Century, over a hundred years before. The slang meaning was that the job was difficult and hard to outdo, requiring a clever person, perhaps based on the fact that someone needed to get up early to get ready for a difficult task.

It's also worth remembering how early that normal laborers had to get up when they depended on sunlight, and so to get up even earlier showed dedication indeed. Work began at 6 a.m. in winter and 4:30 a.m. in summer, if one worked according to daylight.
10. In Victorian slang, what do you call someone who listens at doors or windows outside a room or building? An eaves ---?

Answer: dropper

This slang phrase, which still seems perfectly natural today and not just limited to England, goes back to the 18th Century and refers to the punishment for listening, not the listening itself. It's such a natural-sounding word for the listening that one can see why the meaning shifted.

"A Lexicon of Freemasonry" by Albert G. Mackey, 1860, tells the story: When Masonry was revived and a lecture was given in 1717, a non-mason who was caught trying to overhear was ordered to stand where the rainwater would drip from the eaves of the house until it ran into his coat and ran out his trousers, completely soaking him -- a miserable but ultimately harmless punishment.
Source: Author littlepup

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor ponycargirl before going online.
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