Euphemisms, per their definition, are used to soften offensive language. Topics such as death, sex, and bodily functions are often discussed delicately, giving way to statements like, “he passed away,” “we’re hooking up,” or “it’s that time of the month.”
Throughout history, the English language has been altered by societal taboos. The role of social codes in the development of euphemisms can be explored through Victorian vulgarities. A woman who didn’t fulfill social expectations of purity or femininity may have been referred to as a “trollop.” Similarly, a man who lacked intelligence may have been written off as merely “beetle-headed.”
We list a variety of Victorian profanities in the infographic below.
Featured image credit: “Victorian Ladies Fashion 1880s” by JamesGardinerCollection. CC0 1.0 Public Domain via Flickr.