Sunday, April 6, 2014

Clod Pates, Sapsculls and Noddies: Fools in the Regency Era

Francis Grose, author of Dictionary of he Vulgar Tongue
by Maria Grace

Since I am a writer, language captivates me, especially in the way it relates to a culture. With three teen aged sons living at home I get to hear a lot of the slang they encounter. I never cease to be fascinated by the terms that come up, and how often I haven't a clue what they are referring to.

Since every era has its own unique slang, I thought it would be interesting to share some Regency era slang from time to time. Today's offering: calling out a fool in a Regency appropriate way.

A Fool

  • AddlePate, Clod Pate, Shallow Pate
  • Ben
  • Buzzard

  • Chaw Bacon. A countryman. A stupid fellow.

  • Cod's Head

  • Dummie: A wooden man. A fool.

  • Gudgeon: One easily imposed on. from the fish of that name, which is easily taken.

  • Gull: A simple credulous fellow, easily cheated.

  • Jack Adams

  • Jacob

  • Jolter Head: A large head; metaphorically a stupid fellow.

  • Loggerhead

  • Lout: A clumsy stupid fellow.

  • Mud

  • Nick Ninny, Nickumpoop, or Nincumpoop, Ninny, or Ninnyhammer

  • Nickin, Nikey, or Nizey. A soft simple fellow: also, a diminutive of Isaac.

  • Nocky Boy

  • Noddy

  • Nokes

  • Paper-scull,  Sapscull

  • Pig-widgeon

  • Ralph Spooner

  • Rum Cull: A rich fool, easily cheated, particularly by his mistress.
  • Simkin

  • Simon: Sixpence. Simple Simon; a natural, a silly fellow;

  • Simpleton: Abbreviation of simple Tony or Anthony, a foolish fellow.

  • Spoony: Foolish, half-witted, nonsensical; a man who has been drinking till he becomes disgusting by his very ridiculous behavior, is said to be spoony drunk; and from hence it is usual to call a very prating shallow fellow, a rank spoon

  • Tom Coney

  • Tony

  • To Describe a Fool Plainly
    • Beetle-headed, Buffle-headed, Chuckle-headed, Fat Headed, Leatherheaded, Mutton-headed
    • Benish
    • Bird-witted: Inconsiderate, thoughtless, easily imposed on.
    • Cakey
    • Clumpish
    • Cork-brained
    • Sammy
    • Sappy
    • Squirish
    • Windy
    To Describe a Fool more colorfully
    • A poor honey: a harmless, foolish, good-natured fellow.
    • A hubble-bubble fellow: a man of confused ideas, or one thick of speech, whose words sound like water bubbling out of a bottle.
    • He is no burner of navigable rivers: he is no man of extraordinary abilities; or, rather, he is but a simple fellow.
    • He is a young chub, or a mere chub: a foolish fellow, easily imposed on: an allusion to a fish of that name, easily taken.
    • His garret, or upper story is empty, or unfurnished: He has no brains, he is a fool.
    • He is like a rope-dancer's pole, lead at both ends: a saying of a stupid sluggish fellow.
    • Pudding-headed Fellow: A stupid fellow, one whose brains are all in confusion.
    • He was rocked in a stone kitchen: his brains having been disordered by the jumbling of his cradle.
    • Sleeveless Errand: A fool's errand, in search of what it is impossible to find.
    To Make a Fool of Someone
    • Bam. A jocular imposition, the same as a humbug. See
    • Humbug. Bamboozle. To make a fool of any one, to humbug or impose on him.

    Quoted from: Grose, Captain (Francis). (2004) Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1811 ed. Ikon Classics
     Maria Grace is the author of Darcy's Decision,  The Future Mrs. Darcy, All the Appearance of Goodness, and Twelfth Night at LongbournClick here to find her books on Amazon. For more on her writing and other Random Bits of Fascination, visit her website. You can also like her on Facebook, follow on Twitter or email her.
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    1 comment:

    1. Maria, Thank you for this now-lyrical window into the Regency period of insults. Lyrical because some of these words ring with onomatopoeia delight: Squirish and Sappy, and Clumpish too. More imaginative I'd say than the crass adjectives applied today :)


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