In our last entry we went through some of the weird and wonderful words of the 18th century. If you’ve ever wondered if there was a word to aptly describe the time you had to give a horse a suppository then you’re in the right place!
If not... then keep reading anyway, I promise you’ll find many ways to creatively integrate these old words into your vocabulary.
Now as they said back then, on with the motley!
This eighteenth-century word is nowhere as poetic as it sounds. This adjective was used to describe the red nose often seen on drunkards due to the dilation of their blood vessels after long-term alcohol consumption. What’s more interesting about this word is the origin of the word “grog”. The term originally referred to rum that had been diluted with water. However, admiral Edward Vernon abruptly substituted this watered-down drink for the straight liquor and issued it to his naval crew in an attempt to reduce onboard intoxication. The word “grog” was then coined to mean straight liquor after Vermon’s derisive nickname “Old Grog”, from his over-worn cloak made from grogram. (And in case you’re wondering what grogram is, it is a coarse fabric normally woven from silk which has been combined with mohair or wool and stiffened with gum.)
This seemingly innocent Anglo-Saxon word actually has a rather disgusting meaning. The word referred to “animal intestines and internal organs” often eaten by peasants and servants in dishes such as garbage, a dish containing either giblets, eggs, sugar, or haggis. Normally, the best parts of an animal were chosen by the hunters while the less appealing parts were given to the poorer locals. Anthropologists say that this custom is an ironic twist from the Saxon times when internal organs were valued by hunters since they viewed them as the essence of the animal’s spirit.
Sticking with the theme of strange dishes comes this particular delicacy that I’m sure everyone has heard of without realising. If you have ever hummed the nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence” then you surely remember the iconic line in which a pie was split open and birds began to sing. Well, this is that very pie.
The Uzzle-pye was noted in an Italian cookbook in 1549 as a pie that allowed birds to remain alive inside and then fly out when the pie was cut open. The crust was made of temporary contents such as dried beans to help the pie crust keep its shape while baking, these beans were then thrown out and replaced with small birds, such as blackbirds. A lot of care was taken that the birds were not harmed as they were tethered inside so that at an appropriate moment the top crust was removed and they would soar out in a flurry of bright colours and flapping wings to the amusement of all present.
Many women have experience with fibblers, men who express profound infatuation with a woman but are unwilling to commit themselves. The word originates from the verb Fribble, which means to trifle.
The word faded from fashion along with its other derivatives, fibbleism and fibbledom, which connoted the behaviour of a fibbler.
However, one interpretation did survive, the word frivolous, which means to lack any serious purpose or value.
The last word on this list is possibly the strangest word that I encountered and the one that definitely made me laugh the hardest. “Feague” was an eighteenth-century verb that meant to “administer to a horse a suppository made of raw ginger”.
This was a very common practice among horse dealers at the time and was done to make the horses appear livelier, hide lameness in the hind legs, and make the horse carry its tail better.
Sometimes, the ginger was substituted for a live eel when the horse was unusually sluggish or when exaggerated results were desired.
Though I have no experience with horses I wish luck upon anyone who attempts to try this with their own mare.
Though these words are no longer in fashion and are rarely used in any actual conversation they will serve you well if you want to impress your lecturers in your essays or throw your friends for a loop by insulting them as an eighteenth-century gentleman would.
Or perhaps next time you go out for a drink with your friends and you find yourself unable to shake off the attention of some particularly bothersome man you could invite the fibbler over to the bar for some numbles and eel feague!