A Little Colorful Language: All about Children

Francis Grose, author of Dictionary of he Vulgar Tongue


 One of the things that fascinates me most about slang is its very changeable nature. Words can change meaning at the drop of a hat. New words come into lay and may be gone in an instant, or they may stay around for a very long time.


I found some very familiar terms in this offering of Regency era language pertaining to children.






  • Bantling

  • Brat

  • Chit  

  • Lullaby Cheat



  • Young shaver

  • Kid

  • Little Breeches



  • Sow Child



  • Kinchin. A little child.

  • Urchin. A child, a little fellow: also, a hedgehog.

Bull Chin. A fat chubby child.

Cherubim. Peevish children, because cherubim and seraphim continually do cry.

Chip of the old block. A child who, either in person or sentiments, resembles its father or mother.

Cosset. A foundling.

One of his get. One of his offspring or begetting.

Mother’s loll. A favorite child, the mother’s darling

Pin-basket. The youngest child.


Illegitimate children

  • Love-begotten Child 

  • Merry-begotten

  • Squeaker

  • A natural son or daughter

To stand Moses: a man is said to stand Moses when he has another man’s bastard child fathered upon him, and he is obliged by the parish to maintain it.

A wrinkle-bellied whore. One who has had a number of bastards as child-bearing leaves wrinkles in a woman’s belly.


Being with Child

  • A woman has got her belly full

  • A girl who sprained her ankle

  • A woman has a white swelling.

  • That wench is poisoned, see how her belly is swelled

Hans In Kelder. Jack in the cellar; i.e. the child in the womb: a health frequently drank to breeding women or their husbands.

Jack In A Box.  A child in the mother’s womb.

Launch. The delivery, or labor, of a pregnant woman.


Interesting Expressions related to children

Heavy baggage; women and children.

Black Monday. The first Monday after the school-boys’ holidays, or breaking up, when they are to go to school and produce or repeat the tasks set them. 

To sing the black psalm; to cry

A chip of the old block; a child who, either in person or sentiments, resembles its father or mother.

Chitty-paced. Baby-faced; said of one who has a childish look. 

He has deserved the cushion; a saying of one whose wife is brought to bed of a boy: implying, that, having done his business effectually, he may now indulge or repose himself. 

Foundling. A child dropped in the street, and found and educated at the parish expense.

Free of fumbler’s hall; a saying of one who cannot get his wife with child.

Marriage Music. The squalling and crying of children.

His mouth is full of pap; he is still a baby.

Prattle. Insignificant talk: generally applied to women and children.

He is as like his father as if he was spit out of his mouth: said of a child much resembling his father.

Sunburnt. Clapped: also, having many male children.



Quoted from:   Grose, Captain (Francis). (2004) Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1811 ed. Ikon Classics


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    • Agnes on August 5, 2014 at 4:23 pm
    • Reply

    How interesting. It seems a strange sentiment though that it’s the man who “deserves the cushion” because of a son being born to him (as if it was him exerting himself, not the mother)

    1. It does, doesn’t it. Especially when it was usually the mom who bore the blame for not carrying a son.

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