Do You Know What These Old-School Curse Words Mean?


By: Isadora Teich

5 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Do you think that you have what it takes to read someone the riot act old school style? Language constantly changes over time, from the most proper of phrases to the most vulgar slang. Curse words are no different. While some of these words have fallen so far out of style that they just sound funny to us now, many of them would have earned you a mouth full of soap or gotten a fight started in days past. Some of these were absolutely scathing insults back in the day.   

The English language has gone through many incarnations and changes and traveled the whole world, making it a unique mishmash of words and phrases with all sorts of interesting stories behind them. Whether its insults, exclamations of displeasure, or just dirty words, there is a lot more to old-school swears than many people think. Some of them are just plain hilarious by modern standards, while others may not have been in common use for a century or more.

If you are a language lover with a sense of humor, then see if you can make sense of these historic swear words and escape scobberlotchery with this quiz! 

"Dad-sizzle!" means:

Back in the day blaspheming, or using God's name disrespectfully, was a huge deal. This is why people would say "dad-sizzle" instead of "goddamn it."


"Edge it" means:

This is old Australian slang. They would have said it to people they wanted to shut up.


If you call someone a "Zounderkite," what are you calling them?

This word was used mostly in Victorian times. It means idiot.


What does a "gnashgab" do?

This Northern English slang word was mostly used in the 18th century. It is used to refer to someone who does nothing but complain.


What is a "bedswerver"?

"Bedswerver" is an old British slang term. Invented by Shakespeare, it refers to cheaters.


"Gadzooks!" is an:

This old curse would have been used a lot like "damn!" is today. It's a variant of the phrase "Gods hooks."


Someone who is an "Arfarfan’arf" is a:

This term dates back to Victorian times. Victorians used it to refer to drunkards.


"Dot and go one" is:

This term was originally used to insult pirates. By the 19th century, it was used to refer to anyone who was not doing a good job.


"Gadsbudlikins!" is:

This is an odd one. It comes from the phrase "God's body."


"Zooterkins!" was used to express:

This is a 17th century version of "zounds!" It was used to express surprise or indignation.


"Thunderation!" is an:

This is a variation of the classic exclamation "What in tarnation!" Both of these were popular in the U.S. during the 1930s.


What is a "fopdoodle"?

A fopdoodle is an old school term for a total idiot. Old world insults are often extravagant.


What is a "fustilarian"?

Shakespeare invented many English words, some of which have stood the test of time better than others. His word "fustilarian" means a time-waster.


If someone is a "scobberlotcher" they don't:

Scobberlotcher is a very outdated word. It describes the kind of person who never works hard at anything.


If someone is a "smellfungus," they are:

This word was invented by Laurence Stern to refer to a man he met who traveled to wonderful places and complained about all of them. While it originally referred to whiny travelers, it came to be used to apply to all kinds of buzzkills.


A "rakefire" is a person who:

This old term refers to guests who overstay their welcome. It comes from a host staying up late to keep the fire going even if all they really want is to go to bed.


"Bejabbers!" is a:

This word comes from Ireland. It was a church-friendly stand in for the exclamation "By Jesus!"


A "muckspout" does what too much?

A muckspout was a person who swore too much. The spout is their mouth and the swears are the muck.


"Consarn it!" is closest in meaning to:

"Consarn it!" sounds cute by today's standards. However, back in the day it was a replacement for "Damn it!"


"Sard" is:

This word was used in medieval England. It was their equivalent of the F-word.


"Smatchet" is:

This is an old insult. It means "person of great contempt."


"Buffle-head" was used to express:

This swear was used in the 19th century. It is one of frustration.


Was "Jiminy Cricket" originally a swear?

Despite now being associated with a Disney character, this phrase actually has offensive origins. It was a replacement for using "Jesus Christ" as a swear.


"Coflumpux" is closest in meaning to:

This creative composite swear word implied that you were about to collapse. Essentially it means that the speaker is so overcome with emotion that they are about to fall over.


Someone would say "waesucks" when things are:

This is used to lament over a bad situation. It comes from an Old Scottish saying which roughly means "for woe's sakes."


"Cloak twitcher" would have been yelled in:

In the early 19th century, this became an exclamation of surprise. During this era, having your cloak stollen off your back in the night was actually a concern.


If you call something or someone a "mullock" what are you calling it?

This is the old English version of rubbish. Apparently people have been calling things trash for centuries.


What would be called a "bespawler"?

To bespawl means to spit or dribble. This insult referred to someone who spit or dribbled when they spoke.


If someone is a "cumberworld" they are:

This word was used interchangeably with cumberground. It referred to a useless person who just took up space.


A "dalcop" is a _________ person.

Cop is an old word for the head. Dalcop literally means "dull head" in old English.


Who was called "driggle-draggle"?

This is an old English insult. It was leveled at women considered untidy.


Someone who is a "gobermouch" is:

This is an old Irish word. It refers to a nosy, prying person who does not mind their own business.


A "loiter-sack" is a:

This was a popular 17th century term. It referred to slackers and time-wasters.


Someone who is "doing quisby" is doing:

The Victorians valued hard work. Doing quisby meant to be lazing around instead of attending to your responsibilities.


A "yaldson" is the son of a:

This is a 15th century English insult. It literally means "son of a prostitute."


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