Sep 26, 2010

A vulgar tongue!

by Emily May

Reading: 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue

Listening to: Fat Freddy's Drop

Watching: Midsomer Murders

Making me smile
: The trees are in blossom!

Hi everyone! My second Regency romance Beauty and the Scarred Hero is out in Australia and New Zealand in October, and to celebrate, I'm giving away a copy of the book!

The beauty is Lady Isabella Knox; the scarred hero is Major Nicholas Reynolds (or The Ogre, as Society has taken to calling him). There's a runaway bride, stray kittens, a risqué masquerade ball, and much more!

(For excerpts and behind-the-scenes info, visit the
Beauty and the Scarred Hero page on my website.)

To be in to win a copy, have a go at the Regency Slang quiz below and post your answers in the comments. The correct answers and the winner's name will be announced on Tuesday evening. (The words are taken from the
1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.)

Regency Slang Quiz

An ‘abbess’ is:

-a very pious woman

-the mistress of a brothel

-a catholic

A person who is ‘betwattled’:

-looks like a turkey
-has their hair dressed very high on their head

-is surprised or confounded

To be in a ‘brown study’ is to:

-be lost in thought

-be drunk

-have a stomach ache

A 'bone box' is:

-the ribcage
-a person's mouth

-a coffin

To 'shoot the cat' is:

-to gossip

-to practise target shooting

-to vomit

Good Luck!


  1. Hi Emily! Congratulations on your new release.

    I love old words & the origins of phrases. For eg. do you know the origin of the phrase "dead ringer"?

    People would be buried with a rope leading from inside the coffin to a bell above the ground. This enabled anyone who was buried alive to ring the bell and to draw attention to the mistake.

    Since people would not expect to see their 'dead' loved ones again, a person resembling the deceased is a 'dead ringer'.

    This is also reputed to be the origin of the expression 'graveyard shift' because people from the village used to take it in turns to listen for the bell. (

    Answers to Emily's quiz:
    abbess - a catholic
    betwattled - is surprised or confounded
    brown study - be lost in thought
    bone box - a coffin
    shoot the cat - to vomit

    The only one on this list I'm unsure of is "brown study", never heard of it before!

    This quiz was fun. Thanks!

  2. Congrats on the book, Emily.

    Regency Slang Quiz
    An ‘abbess’ is: a catholic

    A person who is ‘betwattled’: is surprised
    or confounded

    To be in a ‘brown study’ is to: be lost in thought

    A 'bone box' is: a person's mouth

    To 'shoot the cat' is: to vomit

  3. Kylie, I love your explanation of the origin of 'dead ringer'! Made my skin crawl! (I haven't reached D yet in the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue -- which you can probably guess from my list of words!)

  4. Thanks, Amanda. It looks like you're pretty familiar with Regency slang ... I'd hazard a guess that you read Regencies!

  5. You're welcome, Emily. I don't really read historicals that often but I have heard of some of the terms before, I also looked some of the words up to find out the meanings of the words. I was able to figure out the words just by reading the definition choices for the words.

  6. Well, I'm Catholic and recognise Abbess, but in regency terms I always think of an abbess as a woman who runs a brothel. What I can't place is where I read the phrase "betwattled like a duck in a thunderstorm". It must have been in a Georgette Heyer -- Cotillion?

  7. Great quiz, Emily! And the book sounds like a fun read! I had to guess and the words had me a bit 'betwattled' ... assuming that I guessed that right! LOL

    abbess - a catholic
    betwattled - surprised/confounded?
    brown study - lost in thought
    bone box - part of me thinks this is the ribcage... but coffin makes more sense (can I have a bet each way! ;)
    shoot the cat - vomit?

    The reviews for Beauty and the Scarred Hero are fabulous. I can't wait to meet Major Nicholas and Lady Isabella when they arrive on our shelves next month!


  8. Yeah, it's a bit scary thinking someone thought you were dead enough to bury you alive.

    I mean, I thought you'd at least make sure you weren't breathing or had a pulse??? Yikes!

  9. Jenny, you may be correct about abbess! Check back tomorrow and find out! Are you sure you don't want to do the quiz?

    Betwattled like a duck in a thunderstorm sounds very Heyer! I'm halfway through Sylvester at the moment, and Cotillion is on my TBR pile.

  10. Thanks, Sharon -- I hope you enjoy Isabella and Nicholas! So you're betwattled, huh? Sounds uncomfortable!

  11. Emily, I got sidetracked by the betwattled quote. It's like watching TV and losing the plot because you're trying to remember where you last saw the actor.

    So here's my go at the word meanings:

    Abbess: mistress of a brothel
    Betwattled: surprised or confused
    Brown study: lost in thought
    Bonebox: ribcage (although here I keep thinking of "breadbox" which I've read as cant for stomach)
    Shoot the cat: vomit (ick!)

    Finally, all that reading of Heyer pays off!

  12. Emily, I'm hopeless at these - I would only have got 2 or so right. But I did know about the dead ringers and the graveyard shift!

    Btw, I *love* the cover for Beauty And The Scarred Hero!

  13. Great, Jenny. And you're right -- reading GH pays off! (Quite apart from the fact that they're fabulous, fun books!)

  14. Thanks, Rachel -- it is a great cover! And re the slang ... methinks you need to read more Heyer! Did you ever find Faro's Daughter? And what about Sylvester?

  15. Hey Em

    What a great post. I love slang - old and new. I'm going to leave the experts to answer the questions but I'm looking forward to reading your new book. Yay. Clever you.

  16. Zana, Zana, Zana ... you're going to even try? You can guess, you know!

  17. Emily,
    I love Regency language!
    So many weird words to explore,
    Really looking forward to reading your new book,
    Abbess: mistress of a brothel
    Betwattled: surprised or confused
    Brown study: lost in thought
    Bonebox:a person's mouth
    Shoot the cat: vomit

  18. Ooh, I'm with Rachel on the cover, Emily -- it's gorgeous. Can't wait to get a copy of Beauty and the Scarred Hero into my hot little hands!

    The only term I'm familiar with in your quiz is 'brown study' which I love. I think perhaps the LoveCats should bring it back into common usage :-)

  19. Wow, Suzi! I perceive that you have an excellent grasp of Regency slang! Well done!

  20. Thanks, Michelle -- it's a fabulous cover! Brown study's a great term, isn't it? I'm not sure people would understand us if we used it, though!

  21. Hi Emily,

    I second the thoughts on your cover... beautiful. I'm not too hot on regency slang either although I thought about cutting and pasting Kylie's answers!

    Best of luck with sales.

  22. Thanks, Toni! You can always guess, if you want?

  23. Of fun quiz Emily,
    but I've read the answers now - love 'shoot the cat' LOL!!

  24. Congrats on your upcoming release Emily and fascinating topic. :)