If a time machine ever teleports you back to the 17th century England, you’re going to need to blend in. But copy-catting the prim and proper speech patterns we see in period dramas would make you stick out like a guy without stockings or britches. You’ll need the slang, the short-hand, the inside jokes to chat up the crowd of a local pub. So look no further to find the rudest and funniest phrases commonly used in the 1600s.

While it also would accurately describe Lady Gaga’s meat dress, roast meat clothes refers to your Sunday best. They’re the nicest clothes you wear to eat a special dinner or attend a religious service.

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Slang is usually a shortened version of a phrase; however, sometimes a long-winded descriptor catches on because it’s way more fun — like this term for teacher. It’s a playful way of saying an educator’s job was to dole out parts of speech.

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You needed to be careful around a pickthank not to reveal any juicy information because they are known snitches. These little secret spillers take whatever gossip they can and use it to benefit themselves.


This describes the humiliating and fascinating bodily event of coughing and farting simultaneously. Oddly, we don’t have a word for that in modern English, so thorough cough stands unless someone comes up with something better.

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Stirring up trouble has never gone out of fashion, but in the 17th century, these wiley characters were slapped with the title of addle-plots, due to their knack for engineering ways to ruin plans.

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This refers to the queasy stomach feeling of riding down an extremely bumpy road. Looks like motion sickness was around way before cars! So next time you pass over a hilly nausea-inducing street, cry jumble-gut lane!

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When your pal tells a long boring story and you sarcastically say, “Wow! Tell another one!” — that’s a Banbury story. It goes hand in hand with the phrase “cock and bull story.”

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To cut a man down in the 1600s, you call him this. It means, “diminutive little man,” and also is reminiscent of the phrase “pain in the behind,” so yeah, we’d say it is quite the scalding hot burn.

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In lieu of paying someone for their labor, you would offer fiddler’s pay, which consists of buying them a drink and saying thanks! This would be particularly useful to offer your friends when you need help moving.

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The vilest, nastiest, most intolerable woman around was often called a harpy. Honestly, compared to some of the more vulgar insults women face in modern times, a harpy almost sounds pleasant.


Anything that makes your jaw-drop open so your mouth gapes in astonishment is what you would label a gapeseed. It’s a spectacle, an unexpected turn of events, or something you seek out to add some spice to your life.

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Despite what the deliciousness of bacon may suggest, this is actually an insult. Getting told you have a good voice to beg bacon is the equivalent of “don’t quit your day job.” It means you’re not good at anything!

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Logically, this means pants. Back in those days, you put on your farting crackers on one leg at a time and made your way out the door. Does it refer to a place to house escaped gas? It really seems like it!

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Tracing back to the 1500s, mulligrubs is another word for feeling sad. Though, curiously, the meaning shifted as the centuries passed to a case of construed sadness, possibly for attention or in a mocking way.

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There are very few problems that money can’t solve, and for that reason, 17th-century English speakers started calling a ready-to-use cash supply a balsam. Whatever the issue, a balsam can heal it.

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The next time your smart friend busts out a few SAT or million-dollar words, give them a taste of their own medicine and call them cramp words! It means, “complicated or obscure words.” So you’ll finally be the impressive one.

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We usually think turtles when we think slow animals, but chameleons were the go-to slowpokes back in the day. Their crawling pace led to the belief that they absorbed their nutrients from thin air, which is why they called skipping meals a chameleon diet.

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This is potentially the most old-timey slang on the list due to its specificity. A heathen philosopher is a man with trousers so worn that they have holes allowing his underwear to peek through.

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After knocking back a few boozy beverages with your buddies, you start feeling chirping merry. It describes the state of bliss that washes over you when sharing drinks with good company.

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Eavesdropping on 17th century conversation, you’d probably catch a few more unfamiliar phrases that date back to medieval times. You might hear the word bellytimber, for instance, which meant food or provisions.

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A negative term for someone who drinks too much alcohol or even alcoholics. Medieval era usage: That ring-pigger was too drunk at the feast and ruined it for everyone there. 

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Refers to a women’s purse or bag; the word had a generally feminine meaning. Medieval era usage: Her new bubble-bow was understated and went with her outfit perfectly.

Someone who is jealous of another person; an unsupportive peer. Medieval era usage: When the queen heard another guest call her staff’s meat pies bland compared to the neighboring kingdom’s she reacted as a wind-sucker.

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A fond way to refer to a small child. Medieval era usage: The noble’s fauntkin was turning six next month and they were planning a lavish birthday celebrate for the young, royal child.

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A dirty term for masculine genitalia. Medieval era usage: As the guests mingled at the massive party, they couldn’t help but notice that the king had undergone a wardrobe change for the event and was now wearing too-small tights with his trinkets on full-display.

A calming song for children; lullaby. It originated from 15th century Yorkshire, England. Medieval era usage: This dillydoun is the perfect way to calm down the children before bed.

The pub or tavern; a local establishment for getting a beer and a simple meal. Medieval era usage: The bousing-ken around the corner is the best spot for stew and wine.

An overconfident person; someone extremely full of themselves and their achievements. Medieval era usage: That hufty-tufty won’t stop talking about his well-behaved sheep flock.

A low-ranking peasant who owned only a small plot of land and a cottage who was forced to work for his lord. Medieval era usage: The cottars were required to give some of their crop to their lord and reserved the worst crops for him.

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Feeling confused; not understanding a situation. Medieval era usage: The vinter left feeling pitchkettled because the queen and king refused to buy his newest vintage.

A term of endearment for a partner; dear or darling. Medieval era usage: The princess watched as her leof served wine during the party, excited to sneak away with him after the meal. 

An expression of gratitude; thank you. Medieval era usage: To the chef responsible for the delicious dessert at this evening’s celebrations, grammarcy, the food was simply incredible.

A female demon who people blamed for nightmares. Medieval era usage: Last week, the baroness felt like the night-hag wouldn’t leave her dreams alone — even though she placed the bread her priest had blessed under her pillow.

The type of lawyer who will do anything to try to win a case. Medieval era usage: My petty-fogger helped arrange a massive payment for me after the lord ran over me with a horse.

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A high-class way to describe an exterminator. Medieval era usage: We’re about to move to our summer house a month early because the rat infestation is getting so terrible — call the rattoner.

Fortune-tellers who used celestial positioning to read people’s fortunes. Medieval era usage: My astrologamage told me that I would be expectedly getting extra money this month.

Describing something as a possibility; maybe. Medieval era usage: Perchance we could meet later on the topic of what kinds of plants we should shift in the gardens with the arrival of fall.

An unspecific time in the future; later on. Medieval era usage: Anon in fall, we’ll need to gather more brush for firewood for the upcoming winter — this season is predicted to be colder than last year.

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A fickle person. Medieval era usage: One day he loves the tailoring we do for his imported outfits and the next he detests it; he has a nose of wax for fashion and it’s getting in the way of our work.