Victorian Slang Insult of the Week – Cupboard-headed

I love Victorian insults, especially the “head”-based insults like “chucklehead”, as used by Mark Twain brilliantly in the below letter to his gas company in 1891:

“Dear Sirs: Some day you will move me almost to the verge of irritation by your chuckle-headed Goddamned fashion of shutting your Goddamned gas off without giving any notice to your Goddamned parishioners. Several times you have come within an ace of smothering half of this household in their beds and blowing up the other half by this idiotic, not to say criminal, custom of yours. And it has happened again today. Haven’t you a telephone?”

And did you know the word “mutt” started out as “muttonhead”, and so was basically an insult used for dogs?

Here’s my top insult for today – “Cupboard-headed” from “The Slang Dictionary”, 1865 – for one who’s head is both wooden and hollow.

(There’s two for the price of one on this page – there’s also “culver-headed” meaning weak and stupid, which I presume is from an old word for pigeon).

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3 Responses

  1. Steven H says:

    Some fun “period” slang in “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” – though I can’t vouch for it’s authenticity having just read about it this morning;

    LITEFOOT: What unspeakable horror lies behind that mask, do you suppose?
    JAGO: Well, he’s not exactly a “dobbin masher” with it, is he?

    Dobbin – being crude for horse, as in filly, as in pretty lady.
    Masher – being crude for er…. Killer? A lady killer.

    ***Mild spoilers if you’ve not seen this Doctor Who serial from 1977***

    The pair conclude that the bad guy – the earthly manifestation of the God Weng-Chiang (or indeed Magnus Greel the foe from the future) – is not particularly good looking beneath the leather face mask he sports.

  2. Estelle says:

    Just thought of a modern equivalent – made of plastic and full of crap.

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