The Ultimate Old World Lingo Quiz


By: Isadora Teich

5 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

The phrases and slang used throughout the history of the world may not have always had a great ring to them, but they sure are interesting! Some slang might be funny, charming or even offensive. It comes from different time periods and places making it that much more diverse. Which slang word is your favorite?

Do you know what the first meaning of the word "swag" was? Can you name a "square" in your life? Do you know what "earth pads" would have referred to in the past? Maybe you even know what the "morbs" are? Slang was and is still used in all aspects of life, from descriptions to items and feelings.

Do you know what a "bluenose" is? Do you know what it would mean to have "timber toe?" Would you know what to say if someone said, "Don't sell me a dog?" If those are easy, can you define what "canceled stamp" means? Sometimes a phrase might seem obvious, but it might not mean what you think!

If you're like a slang dictionary, this quiz will be easier than English class. If you think you know your slang (and a bit of history) take this quiz to see your score!

Someone who was "cruisin' for a bruisin'" was looking for:

This classic 50s phrase described someone who was trying to provoke someone or get involved in some trouble. It can be heard in the film "Grease."


If someone was a "muttonhead" they were what?

This word was used in the 1800s to describe someone who was dumb. Mutton is meat from sheep.


Someone who had "earth pads" on was wearing:

This 50s word applied to shoes. Who wouldn't love a pair of vintage 50s earth pads?


How did a person feel if they had "got the morbs"?

This Victorian slang phrase describes a state of melancholy or sadness. Everyone has felt this from time to time.


When someone said "Don't sell me a dog!" what did they mean by that?

This phrase was popular during roughly the first half of the 19th century. People who sold dogs back in the day would try to pass off mutts as purebreds, which is where the saying came from.


What did it mean for a woman to be a "cancelled stamp"?

Very shy women were often described as "canceled stamps" in the 1920s. They were known for often being alone.


If someone was a "dead hoofer" what were they bad at?

A "dead hoofer" was someone who couldn't dance at all. In the 1950s, the opposite of a "dead hoofer" was a "ducky shincracker."


A girl described as a "kitten" was:

The word "kitten" was often used to refer to an innocent young girl without a lot of experience. It was popular in the 1950s.


Two people taking part in "back seat bingo" were doing what in a car?

This phrase was used to describe two people who were necking in the back seat of a car. It's about as 50s as it gets.


If something could "make a stuffed bird laugh" it was:

This phrase was used to describe something unbelievable and ridiculous. This could include badly told lies.


To be "in the ketchup" meant to be in the:

To be "in the ketchup" meant to be in the red. These phrases are usually used to describe businesses that are losing money.


Centuries ago "swag" was slang for what?

In the 1790s, "swag" was used to refer to stolen money or objects. In the 1960s the word was used to describe the promotional materials companies would send out. Today the word "swag" is usually used to describe a sense of style and confidence


"Doxies" or "bawdy baskets" referred to what?

In colonial times there were a number of slang phrases and words for "a group of women." "Delles" and "walking morts" were also used.


Someone who has "bought the farm" has done what?

This phrase became popular in the 1940s. It meant that someone had died.


If a man was a "vice admiral of the narrow seas" he was very:

A man called this in colonial days was drunk. This phrase was used to describe a man so drunk that he peed under the table all over the shoes of the people drinking with him.


In the old days "a fling" referred to:

While today, if you are having a "fling" you're having a steamy affair, this word was used differently years ago. "Giving something a fling" meant to give it a try.


When something was "bang up to the elephant" it was:

This phrase was the ultimate compliment. It was used by Victorian Londoners to describe something untouchably perfect.


A "fart catcher" was a:

Over the centuries, it was common for the elite to have valets and other servants that traveled with them. People called them "fart catchers" to make fun of how closely they walked behind their mistress or master.


Dangerous men, called "chalkers," roamed the streets at night during colonial times doing what?

"Chalkers" were groups of men in Ireland who were famous for walking around at night slashing random people's faces with knives. Groups like this were also known as "Sweaters" in England.


What was a person doing if they are "smothering a parrot"?

This is an old term for drinking a glass of absinthe neat. It came from the green color of the famously hallucinogenic spirit.


A house full of "gimcracks" was full of:

In the 1630s the word "gimcrack" was a noun to describe cheap-looking trinkets. Today they are more commonly called tchotchkes.


If a person was a "bluenose" they were a:

This slang word was popular in the 1920s. It was used to refer to somebody who was prudish or no fun at all.


"Bags O' Mystery" referred to:

This Victorian slang was used to refer to sausages. It was often said that no one knew exactly went into a sausage other than whoever made it.


A "dewdropper" described a person who was:

This slang word was used to describe slackers who sat around all day doing nothing. Dewdroppers were known for not having jobs.


What kind of lifestyle did a person who was called an "egg" lead?

According to 1920s slang, "eggs" lead lives that were extravagant to the point of being ridiculous. They were definitely Gatsby types.


Someone who was "ossified" was:

Alcohol was a staple of the roaring 20s and so was this slang phrase. Despite Prohibition, Americans still found a way to spend the decade "ossified."


Someone who was a "square" was a:

If a person was "square" they conformed to the expectations of society. This 50s phrase stuck around better than many others of the time.


"Dope" originally referred to:

During the Jazz Age, "dope" largely referred to drugs such as cocaine. Over time it also became an insult used to refer to stupid people and slang for a number of other drugs. More recently, it has become another way of saying something is "great" or "cool."


If a man was a "timber toe" he had:

In the 1700s, a man with a wooden leg was referred to as a "timber toe." This was incredibly literal slang.


A man who was "in twig" was very:

In the 1700s, a man who was "in twig" was very fashionable and handsome. However, "to twig" meant to look at something.


If something was a "bugaboo" it made people feel:

Popular in the 1740s, this phrase is not widely used anymore. It referred to something that scared people.


If someone was "a hubble-bubble fellow" the things they said were:

This old phrase meant that someone was very confused and the words they said made no sense. It compared talking to them to listening to water bubbling out of a bottle.


What does it mean if "everything's jake"?

This Jazz Era slang phrase means that everything is going great. It quickly fell out of fashion.


In colonial times, where were "Pompkins" from?

This was a slang word for people from Boston. Unfortunately, it didn't stick around.


The slang word "Jarkmen" was used to talk about a group of:

There were a lot of different slang words used to refer to a group of guys. These included "Fraters," "Whip Jackets" and "Abrams."


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