Who’s Up for Blowing the Grounsils?

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After the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by soldier Francis Grose was republished online, everyone, including The Telegraph, delighted in its outdated and seemingly awkward expressions. With its popularity still going strong, the folks at Mental Floss have decided to give us 17 Sexual Euphemisms for the celebrated dictionary.

As you may know, Mental Floss’ entire skeleton consists of funny bones, so this list even comes with funny commentary. Thank You, Mental Floss!


Amorous congress.

To say two people were engaged in the amorous congress was by far the most polite option on the list, oftentimes serving as the definition for other, less discreet synonyms.


“Those two recently opened a basket-making shop.” From a method of making children’s stockings, in which knitting the heel is called basket-making.

Bread and butter.

One on top of the other. “Rumor has it he found her bread and butter fashion with the neighbor.”


“Yeah, we had a brush once.” The emphasis here is on brevity; just a fling, no big deal.


“They left together, so they’re probably at clicket.” This was originally used only for foxes, but became less specific as more and more phrases for doing it were needed.


Aside from the obvious, this also comes from “making children,” because babies have faces.

Blanket hornpipe.

There is probably no way to use this in seriousness or discreetly, but there you have it.

Blow the grounsils.

“Grounsils” are foundation timbers, so “on the floor.”

Convivial society.

Similar to “amorous congress” in that this was a gentler term suitable for even the noble classes to use, even if they only whispered it.

Take a flyer

“Flyers” being shoes, this is “dressed, or without going to bed.”

Green gown.

Giving a girl a green gown can only happen in the grass.

Lobster kettle.

A woman who sleeps with soldiers coming in at port is said to “make a lobster kettle” of herself.

Melting moments.

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

Pully hawly.

A game at pully hawly is a series of affairs.

St. George.

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

A stitch.

Similar to having a brush, “making a stitch” is a casual affair.


A tiff could be a minor argument or falling-out, as we know it. In the 19th century, it was also a term for eating or drinking between meals, or in this case, a quickie.

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