Digging Up Old Slang For Body Parts

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Aggravators

Those aggravating bits of hair that whip and whirl loose around the face were called “aggerawators” (now aggravators) by Charles Dickens in 1836. Apparently, in those days, ladies and gents loved to tame choice cowlicks with grease by pasting them “toward the ear, or conversely toward the outer corner of the eye.” How stylish.

Cat-sticks

Cat-sticks, a term described in the 18th-century Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, are "skinny legs." We’re not sure if it was a male-biased term—based on the fact that it’s inspired by a boy’s game called tip-cat—or if the slang was equal-opportunity and applied to gals as well. We’re going with the latter for equality's sake.

Dew-beaters

Dew-beaters are attached to your cat-sticks (or your stumps, cheese-cutters, rose stems, barn silos, whatever). At 7:30am, when you race across the lawn, jump in your car, and speed to work, you’re running with your dew-beaters. Your feet are just pummeling that dew.

But, considering you probably wear nice loafers or pumps, today you would likely take a paved route to your car. Maybe, that’s what today’s equivalent of feet should be: pavement-stompers.

Maypole

Maypole dancing was an early pagan fertility celebration to welcome the blooming blushes of Spring and . . . other things. And, wouldn’t you know, centuries later, the word maypole would become a slang reference to the—uh—trowel that helps fertilize the soil.

Other horticulture euphemisms for the "staff of life” were—well, that one right there, and also the pioneer of nature as well as the generating tool.

Peerie-winkie

No, peerie-winkie is not another slang sibling of “peenie-weenie,” though it’s a heck of a good lookalike.

Instead, peerie-winkie refers to the little finger or toe. Peerie is an old Scottish word for “tiny.” And, pee-wees once described small marbles, which are what the peerie-winkies on a precious little baby’s dew-beaters look like (of course, the infant’s tiny feet can’t brush, let alone beat, the dew yet, but you get the idea).

Phiz

Phiz—and its friends fizzog and physog—have the sensical nonsense quality that clop, creech, and droog have in A Clockwork Orange. And, that’s because, there’s actually some sense behind them.

For Clockwork, a lot of the words were inspired by sensical words in other languages, but that’s another story! Phiz and friends made sense in the 1700s because they’re abbreviations of physiognomy, the $64,000 11-letter word for “face.”

Prat

Ever seen old slapstick comedy? The kind where grown men—usually men, maybe not so grown (sorry Charlie)—waddle around in baggy clothes and fall down all the time? Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin were masters of the most fundamental act in slapstick: falling wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am on their prats. The name of the act, of course, is the pratfall.

Prat’s been a slang term for “butt” since the 1500s. But, it hasn't always been funny; a prat-digger was the term for a pick-pocket skilled in the art of removing back-pocket booty.

Trillybubs, trolly-bags

There’s something musical about trillibubs. Whatever could they be? Fluttery, flirty, long-lashed peepers? Maybe. But, then there’s the coarse screech of trolly-bags—and nobody wants eye baggage.

No, trillibubs and trolly-bags (also trotty-bags) are located further down, deeper in the body. They’re the things you figuratively spill to people when you’re having relationship problems. Or, the things that literally squelch out too often in slasher movies (those movies are nothing but “trillibubs and gore.”) Yep, these bags ‘n bubs are your guts.

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