Summer’s here! After this week, Nineteenteen will be appearing on a slightly reduced schedule for the months of July and August: Regina will take most of July off, and I’ll be taking most of August off--so posts will appear once a week rather than twice. We’ll be back to our regular twice weekly posting schedule on September 1…and in the meanwhile, have a lovely summer!
Speaking of September…last fall Regina did a wonderfully entertaining post on nineteenth century slang, and I thought you might like to learn more from time to time. Have fun with these!
Mushroom: No, not something you sauté to put on top of a burger…a mushroom was a person or family suddenly raised to wealth and prominence from humble origins--just as a mushroom can spring up overnight. (“That Lady Smallbeer may be a mushroom--no one knew her at all last season before her husband was knighted--but she has the loveliest smile.”)
Cut: To publicly snub someone--a term that seems to have originated at Cambridge University. I’ll quote here from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue because the definition is so wonderful:
“(Cambridge.) To renounce acquaintance with any one is to cut him. There are several species of the CUT. Such as the cut direct, the cut indirect, the cut sublime, the cut infernal, &c. The cut direct, is to start across the street, at the approach of the obnoxious person in order to avoid him. The cut indirect, is to look another way, and pass without appearing to observe him. The cut sublime, is to admire the top of King’s College Chapel, or the beauty of the passing clouds, till he is out of sight. The cut infernal, is to examine the arrangement of your shoe-strings, for the same purpose.”
Sing Small: To be humbled or abashed. (“That mean Miss Hornby! Did you see how she cut Lady Smallbeer? I expect she’ll sing small when it comes out that her Papa used to be in trade himself.”)
Roaratorios and Uproars: Slang for oratorios and operas. (“Darling Primrose, thank you so much for inviting me to hear Dame Rigatoni sing…Papa simply can’t be convinced to take us to Covent Garden and refuses to be dragged to listen to roaratorios and uproars.”)
Cap Acquaintance: People who know each other only slightly, enough to acknowledge each other in passing with a tip or touch to their hats. (“Did you see that handsome Mr. Roberts riding in Hyde Park this morning? I must convince Papa to call on him so that he can be more than just a cap acquaintance.”)