A Curs-ory Look at 18th Century Vocabulary

I suppose that when the going got tough, even the Founders started swearing.  But how?

Here is a dictionary of 18th century vocabulary.  That source is light on swear words, but some other sources (more emphasis on 19th century, but you can extrapolate some of the words used early in or throughout the 19th) are located: here, here, and here

Some of my favorites:

  • damn: a more powerful swear word in the nineteenth century than now. Acceptable euphemisms included blame, dang, darn, dern, ding, and others. Gol was sometimes used as an euphemistic prefix, e.g., the Golderned idiots.
  • nation/tarnation/tarnal (euphemism for damnation): tarnal: a Yankee swear word, ftom the 1700s on. 1825: 1 know your tarnal rigs inside and out, says 1. John Neal, Brother Jonathan, i, p. 158. 1801: The Americans say, Tarnation seize me, or swamp me, if I don't do this or that. Colonel G. Haner, Life, ii, p.151
  • blame: euphemism for damn, used throughout the century and especially in New England. 1840s: I wasn't goin'to let Dean know; because he'd have thought him- self so blam'd cunning. Mrs. Claver's Western Clearings, P. 70
  • dad: a euphemistic form of God, e.g., dad-blame it.  1834: I'll be dad shamed if it ain't all cowardice
  • Nancy, Nancy-boy: an effeminate man, from 1800 on. 
  • Jesse: hell. To give one Jesse is to give one hell or to beat the hell out of him.  1845: He turned on the woman and gave her Jesse.

While we at times speak in the Founder's tongue, let us also put our own stamp on the nation's language.  I've been using DEMONRAT for quite awhile, and more recently DAMNOCRAT, and now I might add NANCY-CRAT.

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