Getting by in World War 1

Monday, 17 December 2012

If the past is indeed a foreign country, then – if you visit - you’re going to need some help getting by.

On the off-chance you find yourself in London during the First World War, here are 15 terms and phrases that are going to be pretty much indispensable. 

1. Monkey on a stick. (Colloq.) A thin man with jerky movements.

2. To gallop one’s antelope / maggot. (Low colloq.) To masturbate. Perhaps prompted by jerk one’s mutton / gherkin, pull one’s pudding.

3. Muffin Walloper. (Gen. Pl.) A scandal-loving woman delighting to meet others at a tea-table.

4. Nob-thatcher. (n.) A wig-maker. (gen. female.)

5. “Or would you rather be a fish?” (c.p. quip.) A quip after a proposed line of action (the more at odds the better). To the response “Yes”, the rejoinder is: “You haven’t far to go”, rebutted by “No, it’s too wet”. Common among servicemen in 1914 – 18.

6. Park a custard. (v.) To vomit.

7. “Gabardine!” (Gen. Pl.) Excellent! (Since 1918. It is probably a pun on the Fr. très bien!)

8. Galloping knob-rot, (a touch of the).  A phallic itch.

9. Maggie Miller. (v.) That method of washing clothes that consists of towing them over the stern while the ship is underway.

10. Matrimonial peacemaker. (n.) The penis. (Mid-C. 18-20)

11.  “Or my prick’s a bloater!” (Low colloq.) A most unlikely alternative to the proposition just stated, which is by implication a dead certainty

12.  Pig-eater. (n.) An endearment.

13. “Remember the girl who went to buy a knick-knack and came back with a titbit?” (Low colloq.) Low-punning. On with a tit (nipple) bit(ten).

14. Hoof-and-mouth disease (n.) Boasting, esp. at night to one’s wife, of one’s exploits at golf.

15. “Gone for a shit with a blanket (or rug) wrapped around him.” (Low colloq.) In WW1 army usage, simply an answer to “Where’s so-and-so?”

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