Inexpressibles, and Other Types of Victorian Shame

Randy“Oh my goodness, Rebecca look at her bustle.  It’s so large and well padded.  She must be one of those French Dandy’s paramours.”

-Viscount Mixalot

My creative writing class has been at alternating times frustrating, enjoyable, and challenging.  It takes a good deal more time and thought than my wife and I anticipated, but it’s also provided a great deal of conversation.  That’s the biggest reason we took the class together, to introduce some new conversation topics and shared hobbies that don’t revolve around work or our child.  So in that respect it’s been a rousing success.  We’ve had more fun sharing ideas with each other than we imagined possible.

This week I didn’t anticipate much discussion or sharing because the assignment is a straight forward and simple one.  Create a character dossier from a series of questions.  I chose to create one about a character I’ve written about twice before, a Victorian era lady named Penelope Anne Eliza Doolittle.  I was correct that the assignment would be simple, but I didn’t realize how much fun it would be to create an entire life for a character originally intended for a 500 word assignment.

In honor of Miss Doolittle and the joy that went into her creation, I bring you my five favorite Victorian slang words that we should all be using regularly. In no particular order.

1. Bitch the Pot – Pour the tea.  Evidently people were much more aggressive about their tea in those days.

“Molly, would you be a dear and bitch the pot?  I’m getting the shakes over here.”

2. Cupid’s Kettle Drums – Breasts.  Because Cupid’s bongos just sounded silly.

“Oh my, dear that corset is absolutely flattering to cupid’s kettle drums.  I insist you purchase it right this moment.”

3. Lawful Blanket – One’s wife.  I typically stick with endearments like Hon, or love, or dear heart, but I’ve clearly been doing it all wrong.  Those Victorian’s really knew how to share their affection with one another.

“Oh how I’ve missed you dear Tabitha.  Being on the road is so hard when it mean’s time spent away from my lawful blanket.”

4. Collie Shangles – Queen Victoria’s term for a quarrel with a friend.  Sure it sucks to be fighting with someone you care about, but it would suck a lot less when you couldn’t describe the situation without saying ridiculous things.

“Sir, if you not immediately repent of your words then you and I will be amidst a collie shangles!”

5. Inexpressibles – Pants.  The Victorian’s really had a thing about leg’s being a dirty and unsuitable subject.  In their writings they referred to them as limbs.  You couldn’t even refer to their coverings without a knowing smirk.

“Did you see the man’s inexpressibles?  They were ill fitting and striped like a jackanapes!”

So if you put all this together, you get:

“George dear fellow, you are correct.  It was inappropriate of me to be gazing upon your lawful blanket, but she has such lovely cupid’s kettle drums.  If you’ll just allow me to don my inexpressibles, I can bitch the pot and we can avoid this whole collie shangles altogether.”


*Note, I cannot guarantee the accuracy of these words, they were all found during internet research.  So they are as accurate as the internet!

This blog is a collaborative outlet for a group of Creative Writing Students. We take turns posting one day a week to share our favorite “wins” in our lives. I’m JK and mondays are mine. Anything I post will be signed -JK. If you want to read more of my posts, they are tagged JK as well. Thanks for reading!

You might also be interested in checking out some fellow student’s blog at  They take a photo each week and talk about what it inspires in them.


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