17 Euphemisms for Sex From the 1800s via Mental Floss

Whether you are having a stitch or an extended game of pully hawly, these antique euphemisms for sex are suitable for polite society.

These 17 synonyms for sex were used often enough in 19th century England to earn a place in the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, a book for upper-crust Britons who had no idea what members of the lower classes were talking about.

1. Amorous Congress

The option that was the most courteous on the list was to state that two people were having an amorous congress. It frequently functioned as the definition for less subtle synonyms.

2. Basket-Making

That is, “those two recently opened a shop where they make baskets.” The expression appears to have originated from a children’s stocking-making technique known as “basket making,” which involves knitting the heel.

3. Bread and Butter

As the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue puts it, this refers to one person on top of the other: “Rumor has it he found her bread and butter fashion with the neighbor.”

4. Brush

“Yeah, we had a brush once,” with a focus on conciseness. Just a fling, no big deal.

5. Clicket

Painting in the style of the École Français of a man courting a woman
17 Euphemisms for Sex From the 1800s via Mental Floss

This is the type of behavior that leads to a clicket. /Heritage Art/Heritage Image’s via Getty Image’s

“They left together, so they’re probably at clicket.” This term was originally used only for foxes, but it became less specific as more & more phrases for doing it were needed. One definition from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue maintains the terms outdoorsy etymology: “the man & woman are copulating in the ditch.”

6. Face-Making

This results from “making children,” in addition to the obvious, since newborns have faces.

7. Blanket Hornpipe

There is probably you can’t to use this in seriousness or discreetly, but there you have it.

8. Blow the Grounsils

“To have sex on the floor” is what this phrase refers to, as “grounsils” are foundation timbers.

9. Convivial Society

Like with Similar to “amorous congress,” this euphemism was a gentler term appropriate for the upper classes to use, even if they only whispered it.

10. Take a Flyer

11. Green Gown

Early 20th-century photo postcard of a man and woman courting in the forest

A green gown is imminent. / Culture Club/Getty Images

There’s only one place to give a girl a green gown: the grass.

12. Lobster Kettle

It is said that a woman who sleeps with soldiers as they arrive at port will “make a lobster kettle” out of herself.

13. Melting Moments

Those shared by “a fat man & woman in amorous congress.”

14. Pully Hawly

At Pully Hawly, a game consists of several interactions.

15. Riding St. George

In the story of Saint George and the Dragon, the dragon reared up from a lake to tower over the saint. Playing at St. George or riding St. George casts a woman as the dragon & puts her on top.

16. A Stitch

much like; Similar to having a brush, making a stitch is having a casual affair.

17. Tiff

An argument or disagreement could be the cause of a tiff. But in the 19th century, it was also a term for eating or drinking between meals or in this case, a quickie.

Naked & Nude (Sex): What’s the Difference?

In theory Technically speaking, naked implies that a person is unprotected or vulnerable. It can also refer to something that is simple or unadorned, like the often-stated “bare truth.” Conversely, being nude simply means being without clothing.

Consider this way: if you doff your duds to pose while descending a staircase for a tasteful painting done by a respected artist, then you are nude. If a bunch of paparazzi suddenly burst in through the studio door & take your picture without permission, you are suddenly naked.

And as the late great humorist Lewis Grizzard once pointed out, “Naked is when you ain’t got no clothes on. Naked is when you ain’t got no clothes on and you are up to something.”

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