Victorian Slang of the Week – Gander month

Today, a slang phrase that actually rather shocked me. In 1865, what was good for the gander wasn’t good for the goose.

GANDER MONTH, the period when the monthly nurse is in the ascendancy, and the husband has to shift for himself.

The Slang Dictionary, 1865

The Slang Dictionary, 1865

This refers to the four weeks “lying-in period” following childbirth, when the new mother was kept in confinement to recover. And when the poor neglected husband of the house was allowed to go and seek his fun elsewhere for the duration.

Grose’s “Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue” from 1811 also refers to it, describing it as the time when “husbands plead a sort of indulgence in matters of gallantry”.

Although later, elsewhere, E. Cobham Brewer’s “Dictionary of Phrase and Fable” from 1898 gives it a much milder description, as a time when the husband is ignored or, rather, – “…the master is made a goose of.” Possibly the meaning of the phrase had changed by that point and attitudes had changed.

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3 Responses

  1. Andrew says:

    Essentially a hall pass, that lasts a month

  1. September 8, 2014

    […] I came across Gallimaufry a few weeks back, while putting together my post on Gander-month, as it’s on the same page of The Slang Dictionary of 1865 – […]

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