Bouncers, Rattlepates and Popinjays—Let’s Talk Regency!

RegencyBuckAndrea/Cara here, No, it’s not a fudge or a Banbury tale! Today I’m going to prose on a bit about Regency cant all the delightful top-of-the-trees expressions that color the era. (I’ll try not to be a windsucker, or to make a cake of myself.)

Like many of you, I fell under the spell of Regency romance on reading Pride and Prejudice. For me, Austen created an endlessly fascinating world—her sharp and slyly witty views on society, family and the elemental tensions of falling love really captured my fancy (honestly, who can resist balls at Netherfield or Mr. Darcy?)

Blue hatBut it was reading Georgette Heyer’s delightful novels that really made me want to write Regency romance. I think part of it was the wonderfully evocative cant she sprinkled so liberally throughout her pages. Expression like “ape-leader,” “under the hatches” or “in his cups” were such fun! They added wonderful color and texture to the stories and helped whisk me away from the ordinary, everyday world to a more exotic—and magical—place.



My early Regencies were peppered with cant, as I loved learning all the slang of the era, both from Heyer (who occasionally made up words—supposedly taking amusement at seeing them copied in the works of other authors) and from my contemporaries. Dee Hendrickson, a legendary Signet author, graciously put out a compendium of terms that many of us used as the bible of cant. (FYI, there's a fun list here.)

Satire-saddleBut it’s interesting. I’ve noticed that the use of cant has really died down in today’s Regencies. I know I’ve cut back a lot on it, even though I still find the expressions bang up to the mark. Why? There are, in my opinion two primary reasons: these days, most editors are unfamiliar with the Regency and keep questioning the use of the terms. “What does this mean? I think it will confuse readers, so can we take it out” is the gist of what many of us hear from traditional publishing houses. And much as I want to disagree, it’s given me pause for thought. It’s true that more and more readers have little background in the era, and if there are too many unfamiliar terms in a book, it can be a turn-off. So I find myself self-editing.

Cruikshank2Many of us authors talk a lot about this among ourselves, not just in terms of language, but also in general history and the little details that bring the era authentically alive. Do we “dumb down” by cutting back on more obscure references to people, events or other real-life textures? We call them “wallpaper” Regencies, meaning books that have dukes and balls and fancy carriage, but little else that really captures the full depth and richness of the time.

But let’s digress for a moment and look at a few examples of some of the terms that tickle my fancy (it truly does make me a little miffy that they’re disappearing) . . .

Regency gent 2Mr. Darcy was quite rich, and in cant there are a number of ways to say so: plump in the purse; stump the pewter; swimming in lard; tip the brads, well-inlaid.

And as gentleman of the era were very fond of their port and claret, there are a number of colorful terms for various degrees of overindulging: in his cups, a trifle bosky, jugbitten, foxed, tap-hackled.

A few other favorites of mine include terms for someone slow on the uptake: jingle-brained, slow top, beef-witted, rattlepate and chucklehead. Terms for a lie are equally amusing: bouncer; farrididdle; plumper. Then there’s blue-deviled, meaning depressed; dirty dish, meaning a cad; and barking iron, meaning a pistol.

Now, reverting back to more conventional talk, what’s your feeling on Regency cant in a book? Do you like it, or find it distracting? And lastly, let’s have a little fun! What’s your favorite bit of Regency slang?

275 thoughts on “Bouncers, Rattlepates and Popinjays—Let’s Talk Regency!”

  1. I like a bit of regency slang – as long as it’s clear from context what is meant. Used judiciously, regency slang adds a lot of flavor to dialog. I recognize most of what I see now, of course, but when I was first reading regencies I wasn’t always clear on what was meant (particularly if it was about sex, or looked like it might be).
    My favorite regency slang term is ninnyhammer 🙂

    Reply
  2. I like a bit of regency slang – as long as it’s clear from context what is meant. Used judiciously, regency slang adds a lot of flavor to dialog. I recognize most of what I see now, of course, but when I was first reading regencies I wasn’t always clear on what was meant (particularly if it was about sex, or looked like it might be).
    My favorite regency slang term is ninnyhammer 🙂

    Reply
  3. I like a bit of regency slang – as long as it’s clear from context what is meant. Used judiciously, regency slang adds a lot of flavor to dialog. I recognize most of what I see now, of course, but when I was first reading regencies I wasn’t always clear on what was meant (particularly if it was about sex, or looked like it might be).
    My favorite regency slang term is ninnyhammer 🙂

    Reply
  4. I like a bit of regency slang – as long as it’s clear from context what is meant. Used judiciously, regency slang adds a lot of flavor to dialog. I recognize most of what I see now, of course, but when I was first reading regencies I wasn’t always clear on what was meant (particularly if it was about sex, or looked like it might be).
    My favorite regency slang term is ninnyhammer 🙂

    Reply
  5. I like a bit of regency slang – as long as it’s clear from context what is meant. Used judiciously, regency slang adds a lot of flavor to dialog. I recognize most of what I see now, of course, but when I was first reading regencies I wasn’t always clear on what was meant (particularly if it was about sex, or looked like it might be).
    My favorite regency slang term is ninnyhammer 🙂

    Reply
  6. I think it’s sad that Regency books are being dumbed down or not told against the background of an historical event. I often wonder if this is in response to the inadequacy of our educational systems and not the fault of the author.
    Personally, I have learned a lot of history and just plain trivia over the 50+ years that I have been reading historical novels (starting with Black Beauty, Little Women and A Christmas Carol). Admittedly, I love history and studied social history in the period 1763 to 1944 in school.
    As to my favourite Regency slang term, perhaps it’s ‘planting someone a facer’, in fact all boxing cant is wonderfully colourful.

    Reply
  7. I think it’s sad that Regency books are being dumbed down or not told against the background of an historical event. I often wonder if this is in response to the inadequacy of our educational systems and not the fault of the author.
    Personally, I have learned a lot of history and just plain trivia over the 50+ years that I have been reading historical novels (starting with Black Beauty, Little Women and A Christmas Carol). Admittedly, I love history and studied social history in the period 1763 to 1944 in school.
    As to my favourite Regency slang term, perhaps it’s ‘planting someone a facer’, in fact all boxing cant is wonderfully colourful.

    Reply
  8. I think it’s sad that Regency books are being dumbed down or not told against the background of an historical event. I often wonder if this is in response to the inadequacy of our educational systems and not the fault of the author.
    Personally, I have learned a lot of history and just plain trivia over the 50+ years that I have been reading historical novels (starting with Black Beauty, Little Women and A Christmas Carol). Admittedly, I love history and studied social history in the period 1763 to 1944 in school.
    As to my favourite Regency slang term, perhaps it’s ‘planting someone a facer’, in fact all boxing cant is wonderfully colourful.

    Reply
  9. I think it’s sad that Regency books are being dumbed down or not told against the background of an historical event. I often wonder if this is in response to the inadequacy of our educational systems and not the fault of the author.
    Personally, I have learned a lot of history and just plain trivia over the 50+ years that I have been reading historical novels (starting with Black Beauty, Little Women and A Christmas Carol). Admittedly, I love history and studied social history in the period 1763 to 1944 in school.
    As to my favourite Regency slang term, perhaps it’s ‘planting someone a facer’, in fact all boxing cant is wonderfully colourful.

    Reply
  10. I think it’s sad that Regency books are being dumbed down or not told against the background of an historical event. I often wonder if this is in response to the inadequacy of our educational systems and not the fault of the author.
    Personally, I have learned a lot of history and just plain trivia over the 50+ years that I have been reading historical novels (starting with Black Beauty, Little Women and A Christmas Carol). Admittedly, I love history and studied social history in the period 1763 to 1944 in school.
    As to my favourite Regency slang term, perhaps it’s ‘planting someone a facer’, in fact all boxing cant is wonderfully colourful.

    Reply
  11. I agree that too many unfamiliar terms can be annoying in a story, which is why I sometimes hold back on slang these days, knowing cant isn’t as well-known to Regency readers as it used to be. But I do miss some of the color the words added.
    Ninnyhammer is a great one!

    Reply
  12. I agree that too many unfamiliar terms can be annoying in a story, which is why I sometimes hold back on slang these days, knowing cant isn’t as well-known to Regency readers as it used to be. But I do miss some of the color the words added.
    Ninnyhammer is a great one!

    Reply
  13. I agree that too many unfamiliar terms can be annoying in a story, which is why I sometimes hold back on slang these days, knowing cant isn’t as well-known to Regency readers as it used to be. But I do miss some of the color the words added.
    Ninnyhammer is a great one!

    Reply
  14. I agree that too many unfamiliar terms can be annoying in a story, which is why I sometimes hold back on slang these days, knowing cant isn’t as well-known to Regency readers as it used to be. But I do miss some of the color the words added.
    Ninnyhammer is a great one!

    Reply
  15. I agree that too many unfamiliar terms can be annoying in a story, which is why I sometimes hold back on slang these days, knowing cant isn’t as well-known to Regency readers as it used to be. But I do miss some of the color the words added.
    Ninnyhammer is a great one!

    Reply
  16. Jan, I do think fewer people know (or remember) history, and in this country, not sure how much “world” history is taught. I often get vague looks when I mention the Regency era to many people. So it is a complicated question——some authors don’t do their research, some editors push those of us who do to cut back on it in order not to “bore” readers . . . it’s hard!
    Like you, I’ve learned fascinating history from novels and I love to do so. But is becoming rarer in the Regency genre.
    Boxing cant is fun! That’s a good one!

    Reply
  17. Jan, I do think fewer people know (or remember) history, and in this country, not sure how much “world” history is taught. I often get vague looks when I mention the Regency era to many people. So it is a complicated question——some authors don’t do their research, some editors push those of us who do to cut back on it in order not to “bore” readers . . . it’s hard!
    Like you, I’ve learned fascinating history from novels and I love to do so. But is becoming rarer in the Regency genre.
    Boxing cant is fun! That’s a good one!

    Reply
  18. Jan, I do think fewer people know (or remember) history, and in this country, not sure how much “world” history is taught. I often get vague looks when I mention the Regency era to many people. So it is a complicated question——some authors don’t do their research, some editors push those of us who do to cut back on it in order not to “bore” readers . . . it’s hard!
    Like you, I’ve learned fascinating history from novels and I love to do so. But is becoming rarer in the Regency genre.
    Boxing cant is fun! That’s a good one!

    Reply
  19. Jan, I do think fewer people know (or remember) history, and in this country, not sure how much “world” history is taught. I often get vague looks when I mention the Regency era to many people. So it is a complicated question——some authors don’t do their research, some editors push those of us who do to cut back on it in order not to “bore” readers . . . it’s hard!
    Like you, I’ve learned fascinating history from novels and I love to do so. But is becoming rarer in the Regency genre.
    Boxing cant is fun! That’s a good one!

    Reply
  20. Jan, I do think fewer people know (or remember) history, and in this country, not sure how much “world” history is taught. I often get vague looks when I mention the Regency era to many people. So it is a complicated question——some authors don’t do their research, some editors push those of us who do to cut back on it in order not to “bore” readers . . . it’s hard!
    Like you, I’ve learned fascinating history from novels and I love to do so. But is becoming rarer in the Regency genre.
    Boxing cant is fun! That’s a good one!

    Reply
  21. I don’t mind the cant as long as it isn’t to obscure. What and interesting list you have included.
    Faradiddle is a word I have always liked just for the sound of it. Windsucker (a bore) was new to me – but I like it. It made me smile. Some of them I didn’t quite understand. For instance, “sick as a cushion” (very ill) – I don’t quite “get” that one.
    Interesting post!

    Reply
  22. I don’t mind the cant as long as it isn’t to obscure. What and interesting list you have included.
    Faradiddle is a word I have always liked just for the sound of it. Windsucker (a bore) was new to me – but I like it. It made me smile. Some of them I didn’t quite understand. For instance, “sick as a cushion” (very ill) – I don’t quite “get” that one.
    Interesting post!

    Reply
  23. I don’t mind the cant as long as it isn’t to obscure. What and interesting list you have included.
    Faradiddle is a word I have always liked just for the sound of it. Windsucker (a bore) was new to me – but I like it. It made me smile. Some of them I didn’t quite understand. For instance, “sick as a cushion” (very ill) – I don’t quite “get” that one.
    Interesting post!

    Reply
  24. I don’t mind the cant as long as it isn’t to obscure. What and interesting list you have included.
    Faradiddle is a word I have always liked just for the sound of it. Windsucker (a bore) was new to me – but I like it. It made me smile. Some of them I didn’t quite understand. For instance, “sick as a cushion” (very ill) – I don’t quite “get” that one.
    Interesting post!

    Reply
  25. I don’t mind the cant as long as it isn’t to obscure. What and interesting list you have included.
    Faradiddle is a word I have always liked just for the sound of it. Windsucker (a bore) was new to me – but I like it. It made me smile. Some of them I didn’t quite understand. For instance, “sick as a cushion” (very ill) – I don’t quite “get” that one.
    Interesting post!

    Reply
  26. I am 84 years old and learned about Regency Romance from Heyer. I still have copies of all of hers. Signet was publishing some very good ones and I met some new authors. Zebra had some very good authors about that time too. Then the period really caught on and there were a lot of poor imitations. Good cant, used wisely, can add a lot to the flavor. Poorly used it sounds silly.

    Reply
  27. I am 84 years old and learned about Regency Romance from Heyer. I still have copies of all of hers. Signet was publishing some very good ones and I met some new authors. Zebra had some very good authors about that time too. Then the period really caught on and there were a lot of poor imitations. Good cant, used wisely, can add a lot to the flavor. Poorly used it sounds silly.

    Reply
  28. I am 84 years old and learned about Regency Romance from Heyer. I still have copies of all of hers. Signet was publishing some very good ones and I met some new authors. Zebra had some very good authors about that time too. Then the period really caught on and there were a lot of poor imitations. Good cant, used wisely, can add a lot to the flavor. Poorly used it sounds silly.

    Reply
  29. I am 84 years old and learned about Regency Romance from Heyer. I still have copies of all of hers. Signet was publishing some very good ones and I met some new authors. Zebra had some very good authors about that time too. Then the period really caught on and there were a lot of poor imitations. Good cant, used wisely, can add a lot to the flavor. Poorly used it sounds silly.

    Reply
  30. I am 84 years old and learned about Regency Romance from Heyer. I still have copies of all of hers. Signet was publishing some very good ones and I met some new authors. Zebra had some very good authors about that time too. Then the period really caught on and there were a lot of poor imitations. Good cant, used wisely, can add a lot to the flavor. Poorly used it sounds silly.

    Reply
  31. One reason for the decline in the amount of cant in recent Regencies may be that there are fewer characters likely to use it. After all, Mr. Darcy and Lizzie Bennett didn’t talk that way. The characters who used cant were generally the comic secondary characters—the tulips of the ton, the fops with their high starched collars, the foolish younger brothers and their friends. They’ve pretty much vanished from the scene. You could call that a loss of historicity, or you could call it a change in emphasis.
    But I do love the phrase “more hair than wit.” I’ve known some people (both male and female) to whom it applies.

    Reply
  32. One reason for the decline in the amount of cant in recent Regencies may be that there are fewer characters likely to use it. After all, Mr. Darcy and Lizzie Bennett didn’t talk that way. The characters who used cant were generally the comic secondary characters—the tulips of the ton, the fops with their high starched collars, the foolish younger brothers and their friends. They’ve pretty much vanished from the scene. You could call that a loss of historicity, or you could call it a change in emphasis.
    But I do love the phrase “more hair than wit.” I’ve known some people (both male and female) to whom it applies.

    Reply
  33. One reason for the decline in the amount of cant in recent Regencies may be that there are fewer characters likely to use it. After all, Mr. Darcy and Lizzie Bennett didn’t talk that way. The characters who used cant were generally the comic secondary characters—the tulips of the ton, the fops with their high starched collars, the foolish younger brothers and their friends. They’ve pretty much vanished from the scene. You could call that a loss of historicity, or you could call it a change in emphasis.
    But I do love the phrase “more hair than wit.” I’ve known some people (both male and female) to whom it applies.

    Reply
  34. One reason for the decline in the amount of cant in recent Regencies may be that there are fewer characters likely to use it. After all, Mr. Darcy and Lizzie Bennett didn’t talk that way. The characters who used cant were generally the comic secondary characters—the tulips of the ton, the fops with their high starched collars, the foolish younger brothers and their friends. They’ve pretty much vanished from the scene. You could call that a loss of historicity, or you could call it a change in emphasis.
    But I do love the phrase “more hair than wit.” I’ve known some people (both male and female) to whom it applies.

    Reply
  35. One reason for the decline in the amount of cant in recent Regencies may be that there are fewer characters likely to use it. After all, Mr. Darcy and Lizzie Bennett didn’t talk that way. The characters who used cant were generally the comic secondary characters—the tulips of the ton, the fops with their high starched collars, the foolish younger brothers and their friends. They’ve pretty much vanished from the scene. You could call that a loss of historicity, or you could call it a change in emphasis.
    But I do love the phrase “more hair than wit.” I’ve known some people (both male and female) to whom it applies.

    Reply
  36. Beverley, Signet and Zebra did many Regencies that carried on the Heyer tradition. I miss them!
    The popularity of the era then became a two-edged sword. There are many good ones these days, but many where the author hasn’t bothered to understand anything about the real flavor of the times.
    And you hit it on the head—for a lot of elements in writing, not just cant.

    Reply
  37. Beverley, Signet and Zebra did many Regencies that carried on the Heyer tradition. I miss them!
    The popularity of the era then became a two-edged sword. There are many good ones these days, but many where the author hasn’t bothered to understand anything about the real flavor of the times.
    And you hit it on the head—for a lot of elements in writing, not just cant.

    Reply
  38. Beverley, Signet and Zebra did many Regencies that carried on the Heyer tradition. I miss them!
    The popularity of the era then became a two-edged sword. There are many good ones these days, but many where the author hasn’t bothered to understand anything about the real flavor of the times.
    And you hit it on the head—for a lot of elements in writing, not just cant.

    Reply
  39. Beverley, Signet and Zebra did many Regencies that carried on the Heyer tradition. I miss them!
    The popularity of the era then became a two-edged sword. There are many good ones these days, but many where the author hasn’t bothered to understand anything about the real flavor of the times.
    And you hit it on the head—for a lot of elements in writing, not just cant.

    Reply
  40. Beverley, Signet and Zebra did many Regencies that carried on the Heyer tradition. I miss them!
    The popularity of the era then became a two-edged sword. There are many good ones these days, but many where the author hasn’t bothered to understand anything about the real flavor of the times.
    And you hit it on the head—for a lot of elements in writing, not just cant.

    Reply
  41. Oh, yes, that’s a great bit of slang.
    You male a good point about secondary characters, though I still see a nice mix of them in regencies. For me, it’s the attitudes have become modern—many Regencies just feel like contemporary characters dressed in period clothes. The sex scenes dominate, leaving less room for other interactions.

    Reply
  42. Oh, yes, that’s a great bit of slang.
    You male a good point about secondary characters, though I still see a nice mix of them in regencies. For me, it’s the attitudes have become modern—many Regencies just feel like contemporary characters dressed in period clothes. The sex scenes dominate, leaving less room for other interactions.

    Reply
  43. Oh, yes, that’s a great bit of slang.
    You male a good point about secondary characters, though I still see a nice mix of them in regencies. For me, it’s the attitudes have become modern—many Regencies just feel like contemporary characters dressed in period clothes. The sex scenes dominate, leaving less room for other interactions.

    Reply
  44. Oh, yes, that’s a great bit of slang.
    You male a good point about secondary characters, though I still see a nice mix of them in regencies. For me, it’s the attitudes have become modern—many Regencies just feel like contemporary characters dressed in period clothes. The sex scenes dominate, leaving less room for other interactions.

    Reply
  45. Oh, yes, that’s a great bit of slang.
    You male a good point about secondary characters, though I still see a nice mix of them in regencies. For me, it’s the attitudes have become modern—many Regencies just feel like contemporary characters dressed in period clothes. The sex scenes dominate, leaving less room for other interactions.

    Reply
  46. I wonder how many of these the Great Heyer made up and how many she founds in her research?
    As for me, sailing terms are fun, such as “three sheets to the winde.” This is a description of someone who is much impaired by alcohol.

    Reply
  47. I wonder how many of these the Great Heyer made up and how many she founds in her research?
    As for me, sailing terms are fun, such as “three sheets to the winde.” This is a description of someone who is much impaired by alcohol.

    Reply
  48. I wonder how many of these the Great Heyer made up and how many she founds in her research?
    As for me, sailing terms are fun, such as “three sheets to the winde.” This is a description of someone who is much impaired by alcohol.

    Reply
  49. I wonder how many of these the Great Heyer made up and how many she founds in her research?
    As for me, sailing terms are fun, such as “three sheets to the winde.” This is a description of someone who is much impaired by alcohol.

    Reply
  50. I wonder how many of these the Great Heyer made up and how many she founds in her research?
    As for me, sailing terms are fun, such as “three sheets to the winde.” This is a description of someone who is much impaired by alcohol.

    Reply
  51. “Jonathan Swift in 1731: ‘Poor Miss, she’s sick as a Cushion, she wants nothing but stuffing.'”
    No body to her, she can barely sit up, — in other words, she’s like a cushion with no stuffing.

    Reply
  52. “Jonathan Swift in 1731: ‘Poor Miss, she’s sick as a Cushion, she wants nothing but stuffing.'”
    No body to her, she can barely sit up, — in other words, she’s like a cushion with no stuffing.

    Reply
  53. “Jonathan Swift in 1731: ‘Poor Miss, she’s sick as a Cushion, she wants nothing but stuffing.'”
    No body to her, she can barely sit up, — in other words, she’s like a cushion with no stuffing.

    Reply
  54. “Jonathan Swift in 1731: ‘Poor Miss, she’s sick as a Cushion, she wants nothing but stuffing.'”
    No body to her, she can barely sit up, — in other words, she’s like a cushion with no stuffing.

    Reply
  55. “Jonathan Swift in 1731: ‘Poor Miss, she’s sick as a Cushion, she wants nothing but stuffing.'”
    No body to her, she can barely sit up, — in other words, she’s like a cushion with no stuffing.

    Reply
  56. “No body to her, she can barely sit up, — in other words, she’s like a cushion with no stuffing.”
    Okay – well NOW I understand it! It does actually make sense. I guess it’s too long since I studied literature… 🙂

    Reply
  57. “No body to her, she can barely sit up, — in other words, she’s like a cushion with no stuffing.”
    Okay – well NOW I understand it! It does actually make sense. I guess it’s too long since I studied literature… 🙂

    Reply
  58. “No body to her, she can barely sit up, — in other words, she’s like a cushion with no stuffing.”
    Okay – well NOW I understand it! It does actually make sense. I guess it’s too long since I studied literature… 🙂

    Reply
  59. “No body to her, she can barely sit up, — in other words, she’s like a cushion with no stuffing.”
    Okay – well NOW I understand it! It does actually make sense. I guess it’s too long since I studied literature… 🙂

    Reply
  60. “No body to her, she can barely sit up, — in other words, she’s like a cushion with no stuffing.”
    Okay – well NOW I understand it! It does actually make sense. I guess it’s too long since I studied literature… 🙂

    Reply
  61. I adore Regency cant, but not so much when voiced by a female character—very unlikely, I think. It can be overdone, too, but should not be entirely missing. My personal favorite is “shooting the caf”: So drunk one projectile vomits like a bullet shot at a proverbial cat.

    Reply
  62. I adore Regency cant, but not so much when voiced by a female character—very unlikely, I think. It can be overdone, too, but should not be entirely missing. My personal favorite is “shooting the caf”: So drunk one projectile vomits like a bullet shot at a proverbial cat.

    Reply
  63. I adore Regency cant, but not so much when voiced by a female character—very unlikely, I think. It can be overdone, too, but should not be entirely missing. My personal favorite is “shooting the caf”: So drunk one projectile vomits like a bullet shot at a proverbial cat.

    Reply
  64. I adore Regency cant, but not so much when voiced by a female character—very unlikely, I think. It can be overdone, too, but should not be entirely missing. My personal favorite is “shooting the caf”: So drunk one projectile vomits like a bullet shot at a proverbial cat.

    Reply
  65. I adore Regency cant, but not so much when voiced by a female character—very unlikely, I think. It can be overdone, too, but should not be entirely missing. My personal favorite is “shooting the caf”: So drunk one projectile vomits like a bullet shot at a proverbial cat.

    Reply
  66. Thanks for an enjoyable post. I read many Georgette Heyer books back in the seventies and eighties, so many of the terms you mentioned seem like words I’ve always known. I do think cant adds to the feel of a book; however, I also think it can be overdone. I feel similarly about the use of dialect. I imagine it’s a fine line to get just the right amount of either.
    I rather like the term bacon-brained, but that may be because I’m predisposed to like nearly anything with bacon.

    Reply
  67. Thanks for an enjoyable post. I read many Georgette Heyer books back in the seventies and eighties, so many of the terms you mentioned seem like words I’ve always known. I do think cant adds to the feel of a book; however, I also think it can be overdone. I feel similarly about the use of dialect. I imagine it’s a fine line to get just the right amount of either.
    I rather like the term bacon-brained, but that may be because I’m predisposed to like nearly anything with bacon.

    Reply
  68. Thanks for an enjoyable post. I read many Georgette Heyer books back in the seventies and eighties, so many of the terms you mentioned seem like words I’ve always known. I do think cant adds to the feel of a book; however, I also think it can be overdone. I feel similarly about the use of dialect. I imagine it’s a fine line to get just the right amount of either.
    I rather like the term bacon-brained, but that may be because I’m predisposed to like nearly anything with bacon.

    Reply
  69. Thanks for an enjoyable post. I read many Georgette Heyer books back in the seventies and eighties, so many of the terms you mentioned seem like words I’ve always known. I do think cant adds to the feel of a book; however, I also think it can be overdone. I feel similarly about the use of dialect. I imagine it’s a fine line to get just the right amount of either.
    I rather like the term bacon-brained, but that may be because I’m predisposed to like nearly anything with bacon.

    Reply
  70. Thanks for an enjoyable post. I read many Georgette Heyer books back in the seventies and eighties, so many of the terms you mentioned seem like words I’ve always known. I do think cant adds to the feel of a book; however, I also think it can be overdone. I feel similarly about the use of dialect. I imagine it’s a fine line to get just the right amount of either.
    I rather like the term bacon-brained, but that may be because I’m predisposed to like nearly anything with bacon.

    Reply
  71. I guess that makes sense. But, you know, when I pictured a cushion in my mind’s eye, I did not picture a deflated cushion.
    I’m sure that 200 years from now some of the slang and phases that we use will seem just as incomprehensible to those folks (smile).

    Reply
  72. I guess that makes sense. But, you know, when I pictured a cushion in my mind’s eye, I did not picture a deflated cushion.
    I’m sure that 200 years from now some of the slang and phases that we use will seem just as incomprehensible to those folks (smile).

    Reply
  73. I guess that makes sense. But, you know, when I pictured a cushion in my mind’s eye, I did not picture a deflated cushion.
    I’m sure that 200 years from now some of the slang and phases that we use will seem just as incomprehensible to those folks (smile).

    Reply
  74. I guess that makes sense. But, you know, when I pictured a cushion in my mind’s eye, I did not picture a deflated cushion.
    I’m sure that 200 years from now some of the slang and phases that we use will seem just as incomprehensible to those folks (smile).

    Reply
  75. I guess that makes sense. But, you know, when I pictured a cushion in my mind’s eye, I did not picture a deflated cushion.
    I’m sure that 200 years from now some of the slang and phases that we use will seem just as incomprehensible to those folks (smile).

    Reply
  76. You make a fair point, Mary M. But I also feel that Regency women, like today and in any era, were not quite so “pasteboard” as some would have us believe. I’m sure many ladies had a sense of humor and privately, or among close friends, used cant, And in novels, there can be many situations where it adds a touch of humor without being out of place. Just IMO.
    And yes, love shoot the cat!

    Reply
  77. You make a fair point, Mary M. But I also feel that Regency women, like today and in any era, were not quite so “pasteboard” as some would have us believe. I’m sure many ladies had a sense of humor and privately, or among close friends, used cant, And in novels, there can be many situations where it adds a touch of humor without being out of place. Just IMO.
    And yes, love shoot the cat!

    Reply
  78. You make a fair point, Mary M. But I also feel that Regency women, like today and in any era, were not quite so “pasteboard” as some would have us believe. I’m sure many ladies had a sense of humor and privately, or among close friends, used cant, And in novels, there can be many situations where it adds a touch of humor without being out of place. Just IMO.
    And yes, love shoot the cat!

    Reply
  79. You make a fair point, Mary M. But I also feel that Regency women, like today and in any era, were not quite so “pasteboard” as some would have us believe. I’m sure many ladies had a sense of humor and privately, or among close friends, used cant, And in novels, there can be many situations where it adds a touch of humor without being out of place. Just IMO.
    And yes, love shoot the cat!

    Reply
  80. You make a fair point, Mary M. But I also feel that Regency women, like today and in any era, were not quite so “pasteboard” as some would have us believe. I’m sure many ladies had a sense of humor and privately, or among close friends, used cant, And in novels, there can be many situations where it adds a touch of humor without being out of place. Just IMO.
    And yes, love shoot the cat!

    Reply
  81. Oh, ha-ha on the bacon!
    Yes, using any device in writing always calls for balance. Dialect is tricky. On one hand, a guttersnipe speaking perfect English sounds strange, but too much slang is tiresome for a reader. It’s a very fine line to keep the character real but not annoying.

    Reply
  82. Oh, ha-ha on the bacon!
    Yes, using any device in writing always calls for balance. Dialect is tricky. On one hand, a guttersnipe speaking perfect English sounds strange, but too much slang is tiresome for a reader. It’s a very fine line to keep the character real but not annoying.

    Reply
  83. Oh, ha-ha on the bacon!
    Yes, using any device in writing always calls for balance. Dialect is tricky. On one hand, a guttersnipe speaking perfect English sounds strange, but too much slang is tiresome for a reader. It’s a very fine line to keep the character real but not annoying.

    Reply
  84. Oh, ha-ha on the bacon!
    Yes, using any device in writing always calls for balance. Dialect is tricky. On one hand, a guttersnipe speaking perfect English sounds strange, but too much slang is tiresome for a reader. It’s a very fine line to keep the character real but not annoying.

    Reply
  85. Oh, ha-ha on the bacon!
    Yes, using any device in writing always calls for balance. Dialect is tricky. On one hand, a guttersnipe speaking perfect English sounds strange, but too much slang is tiresome for a reader. It’s a very fine line to keep the character real but not annoying.

    Reply
  86. The more the better, I think.
    My favorites are, eaten hull cheese, feeling a bit cucumberish, stuck his spoon in the wall, came in through the side door, calf lingers, and civil whiskers, and many more.

    Reply
  87. The more the better, I think.
    My favorites are, eaten hull cheese, feeling a bit cucumberish, stuck his spoon in the wall, came in through the side door, calf lingers, and civil whiskers, and many more.

    Reply
  88. The more the better, I think.
    My favorites are, eaten hull cheese, feeling a bit cucumberish, stuck his spoon in the wall, came in through the side door, calf lingers, and civil whiskers, and many more.

    Reply
  89. The more the better, I think.
    My favorites are, eaten hull cheese, feeling a bit cucumberish, stuck his spoon in the wall, came in through the side door, calf lingers, and civil whiskers, and many more.

    Reply
  90. The more the better, I think.
    My favorites are, eaten hull cheese, feeling a bit cucumberish, stuck his spoon in the wall, came in through the side door, calf lingers, and civil whiskers, and many more.

    Reply
  91. I’ve always loved ‘stuck his spoon in the wall’. Completely weird. When I started first reading Heyer, I struggled big time with the cant but as I’ve reread them over the years it’s all become a lot easier and I find Regency books without some cant in them, strange.

    Reply
  92. I’ve always loved ‘stuck his spoon in the wall’. Completely weird. When I started first reading Heyer, I struggled big time with the cant but as I’ve reread them over the years it’s all become a lot easier and I find Regency books without some cant in them, strange.

    Reply
  93. I’ve always loved ‘stuck his spoon in the wall’. Completely weird. When I started first reading Heyer, I struggled big time with the cant but as I’ve reread them over the years it’s all become a lot easier and I find Regency books without some cant in them, strange.

    Reply
  94. I’ve always loved ‘stuck his spoon in the wall’. Completely weird. When I started first reading Heyer, I struggled big time with the cant but as I’ve reread them over the years it’s all become a lot easier and I find Regency books without some cant in them, strange.

    Reply
  95. I’ve always loved ‘stuck his spoon in the wall’. Completely weird. When I started first reading Heyer, I struggled big time with the cant but as I’ve reread them over the years it’s all become a lot easier and I find Regency books without some cant in them, strange.

    Reply
  96. I can’t imagine Lizzie or Jane Bennett using cant but Lydia and Kitty sure would! Cant just sounds better from the very young!

    Reply
  97. I can’t imagine Lizzie or Jane Bennett using cant but Lydia and Kitty sure would! Cant just sounds better from the very young!

    Reply
  98. I can’t imagine Lizzie or Jane Bennett using cant but Lydia and Kitty sure would! Cant just sounds better from the very young!

    Reply
  99. I can’t imagine Lizzie or Jane Bennett using cant but Lydia and Kitty sure would! Cant just sounds better from the very young!

    Reply
  100. I can’t imagine Lizzie or Jane Bennett using cant but Lydia and Kitty sure would! Cant just sounds better from the very young!

    Reply
  101. My favourite is always “make a cake of herself” you can always imagine a complete widgeon getting herself into the most embarrassing predicaments. I like a bit of cant in my stories. It helps me feel transported back to the time and place. It bothers me when the only sop to the era is the clothing and mode of transportation. I like it when characters have the manners and morals (and speech patterns) authentic to the time.

    Reply
  102. My favourite is always “make a cake of herself” you can always imagine a complete widgeon getting herself into the most embarrassing predicaments. I like a bit of cant in my stories. It helps me feel transported back to the time and place. It bothers me when the only sop to the era is the clothing and mode of transportation. I like it when characters have the manners and morals (and speech patterns) authentic to the time.

    Reply
  103. My favourite is always “make a cake of herself” you can always imagine a complete widgeon getting herself into the most embarrassing predicaments. I like a bit of cant in my stories. It helps me feel transported back to the time and place. It bothers me when the only sop to the era is the clothing and mode of transportation. I like it when characters have the manners and morals (and speech patterns) authentic to the time.

    Reply
  104. My favourite is always “make a cake of herself” you can always imagine a complete widgeon getting herself into the most embarrassing predicaments. I like a bit of cant in my stories. It helps me feel transported back to the time and place. It bothers me when the only sop to the era is the clothing and mode of transportation. I like it when characters have the manners and morals (and speech patterns) authentic to the time.

    Reply
  105. My favourite is always “make a cake of herself” you can always imagine a complete widgeon getting herself into the most embarrassing predicaments. I like a bit of cant in my stories. It helps me feel transported back to the time and place. It bothers me when the only sop to the era is the clothing and mode of transportation. I like it when characters have the manners and morals (and speech patterns) authentic to the time.

    Reply
  106. Heyer’s use of language, including cant, is one of the main reasons I love her books … and why most other Regency authors just don’t do it for me. It’s a large part of how she creates her world.

    Reply
  107. Heyer’s use of language, including cant, is one of the main reasons I love her books … and why most other Regency authors just don’t do it for me. It’s a large part of how she creates her world.

    Reply
  108. Heyer’s use of language, including cant, is one of the main reasons I love her books … and why most other Regency authors just don’t do it for me. It’s a large part of how she creates her world.

    Reply
  109. Heyer’s use of language, including cant, is one of the main reasons I love her books … and why most other Regency authors just don’t do it for me. It’s a large part of how she creates her world.

    Reply
  110. Heyer’s use of language, including cant, is one of the main reasons I love her books … and why most other Regency authors just don’t do it for me. It’s a large part of how she creates her world.

    Reply
  111. I remember one reviewer objected to a Regency because the author made a reference to Astley’s Amphitheatre. She said it threw her out of the story. I wonder why she read a historical if she didn’t want any history.

    Reply
  112. I remember one reviewer objected to a Regency because the author made a reference to Astley’s Amphitheatre. She said it threw her out of the story. I wonder why she read a historical if she didn’t want any history.

    Reply
  113. I remember one reviewer objected to a Regency because the author made a reference to Astley’s Amphitheatre. She said it threw her out of the story. I wonder why she read a historical if she didn’t want any history.

    Reply
  114. I remember one reviewer objected to a Regency because the author made a reference to Astley’s Amphitheatre. She said it threw her out of the story. I wonder why she read a historical if she didn’t want any history.

    Reply
  115. I remember one reviewer objected to a Regency because the author made a reference to Astley’s Amphitheatre. She said it threw her out of the story. I wonder why she read a historical if she didn’t want any history.

    Reply
  116. What a great post, Cara! And I love reading everyone’s responses and favorite cant terms. I fear I have a great deal of trouble with those wallpaper Regencies. I call them contemporary romance in Regency drag. Then again, I am the person who posts a different Regency research book from her personal library every day on my Facebook page. LOL
    I think a sprinkling of cant adds flavor to a good Regency. I do understand a reader doesn’t want to be inundated with it. However, I think we might bring the next generation of Regency readers along by piquing their interest in these sorts of things. Put it in here and there and eventually they will become interested enough to learn a bit more. Then again, that may simply be the former school teacher in me. LOL
    Some of my favorite cant expressions are :
    draw his cork
    half seas over
    attics to let
    more hair than wit

    Reply
  117. What a great post, Cara! And I love reading everyone’s responses and favorite cant terms. I fear I have a great deal of trouble with those wallpaper Regencies. I call them contemporary romance in Regency drag. Then again, I am the person who posts a different Regency research book from her personal library every day on my Facebook page. LOL
    I think a sprinkling of cant adds flavor to a good Regency. I do understand a reader doesn’t want to be inundated with it. However, I think we might bring the next generation of Regency readers along by piquing their interest in these sorts of things. Put it in here and there and eventually they will become interested enough to learn a bit more. Then again, that may simply be the former school teacher in me. LOL
    Some of my favorite cant expressions are :
    draw his cork
    half seas over
    attics to let
    more hair than wit

    Reply
  118. What a great post, Cara! And I love reading everyone’s responses and favorite cant terms. I fear I have a great deal of trouble with those wallpaper Regencies. I call them contemporary romance in Regency drag. Then again, I am the person who posts a different Regency research book from her personal library every day on my Facebook page. LOL
    I think a sprinkling of cant adds flavor to a good Regency. I do understand a reader doesn’t want to be inundated with it. However, I think we might bring the next generation of Regency readers along by piquing their interest in these sorts of things. Put it in here and there and eventually they will become interested enough to learn a bit more. Then again, that may simply be the former school teacher in me. LOL
    Some of my favorite cant expressions are :
    draw his cork
    half seas over
    attics to let
    more hair than wit

    Reply
  119. What a great post, Cara! And I love reading everyone’s responses and favorite cant terms. I fear I have a great deal of trouble with those wallpaper Regencies. I call them contemporary romance in Regency drag. Then again, I am the person who posts a different Regency research book from her personal library every day on my Facebook page. LOL
    I think a sprinkling of cant adds flavor to a good Regency. I do understand a reader doesn’t want to be inundated with it. However, I think we might bring the next generation of Regency readers along by piquing their interest in these sorts of things. Put it in here and there and eventually they will become interested enough to learn a bit more. Then again, that may simply be the former school teacher in me. LOL
    Some of my favorite cant expressions are :
    draw his cork
    half seas over
    attics to let
    more hair than wit

    Reply
  120. What a great post, Cara! And I love reading everyone’s responses and favorite cant terms. I fear I have a great deal of trouble with those wallpaper Regencies. I call them contemporary romance in Regency drag. Then again, I am the person who posts a different Regency research book from her personal library every day on my Facebook page. LOL
    I think a sprinkling of cant adds flavor to a good Regency. I do understand a reader doesn’t want to be inundated with it. However, I think we might bring the next generation of Regency readers along by piquing their interest in these sorts of things. Put it in here and there and eventually they will become interested enough to learn a bit more. Then again, that may simply be the former school teacher in me. LOL
    Some of my favorite cant expressions are :
    draw his cork
    half seas over
    attics to let
    more hair than wit

    Reply
  121. I love Regency slang and agree it was one of the things that made Georgette Heyer’s books such fun! Not sure if it’s Regency, but “three sheets to the wind” is a phrase I picked up from her and I find that really describes a drunk person perfectly 🙂 Great post Andrea/Cara!

    Reply
  122. I love Regency slang and agree it was one of the things that made Georgette Heyer’s books such fun! Not sure if it’s Regency, but “three sheets to the wind” is a phrase I picked up from her and I find that really describes a drunk person perfectly 🙂 Great post Andrea/Cara!

    Reply
  123. I love Regency slang and agree it was one of the things that made Georgette Heyer’s books such fun! Not sure if it’s Regency, but “three sheets to the wind” is a phrase I picked up from her and I find that really describes a drunk person perfectly 🙂 Great post Andrea/Cara!

    Reply
  124. I love Regency slang and agree it was one of the things that made Georgette Heyer’s books such fun! Not sure if it’s Regency, but “three sheets to the wind” is a phrase I picked up from her and I find that really describes a drunk person perfectly 🙂 Great post Andrea/Cara!

    Reply
  125. I love Regency slang and agree it was one of the things that made Georgette Heyer’s books such fun! Not sure if it’s Regency, but “three sheets to the wind” is a phrase I picked up from her and I find that really describes a drunk person perfectly 🙂 Great post Andrea/Cara!

    Reply
  126. I’m coming very late to this discussion, but I always loved the use of the word “vowels”, to mean a debt, in other words an “IOU”.

    Reply
  127. I’m coming very late to this discussion, but I always loved the use of the word “vowels”, to mean a debt, in other words an “IOU”.

    Reply
  128. I’m coming very late to this discussion, but I always loved the use of the word “vowels”, to mean a debt, in other words an “IOU”.

    Reply
  129. I’m coming very late to this discussion, but I always loved the use of the word “vowels”, to mean a debt, in other words an “IOU”.

    Reply
  130. I’m coming very late to this discussion, but I always loved the use of the word “vowels”, to mean a debt, in other words an “IOU”.

    Reply
  131. I feel the cant, if properly used, adds to the flavour of the period setting in a novel. I devoured all of Georgette Heyers’s Regencies when young and don’t think I looked up a single cant phrase in the dictionary, as it was quite clear in context what they meant.

    Reply
  132. I feel the cant, if properly used, adds to the flavour of the period setting in a novel. I devoured all of Georgette Heyers’s Regencies when young and don’t think I looked up a single cant phrase in the dictionary, as it was quite clear in context what they meant.

    Reply
  133. I feel the cant, if properly used, adds to the flavour of the period setting in a novel. I devoured all of Georgette Heyers’s Regencies when young and don’t think I looked up a single cant phrase in the dictionary, as it was quite clear in context what they meant.

    Reply
  134. I feel the cant, if properly used, adds to the flavour of the period setting in a novel. I devoured all of Georgette Heyers’s Regencies when young and don’t think I looked up a single cant phrase in the dictionary, as it was quite clear in context what they meant.

    Reply
  135. I feel the cant, if properly used, adds to the flavour of the period setting in a novel. I devoured all of Georgette Heyers’s Regencies when young and don’t think I looked up a single cant phrase in the dictionary, as it was quite clear in context what they meant.

    Reply
  136. This is yet one more reason I love these posts. I learn so much from both the wenches themselves AND from the all the intelligent, interesting readers who comment. Thank you, Katherine, for providing the link to such an wonderful site. I LOVE the cant in books as it helps the reader become part of that world, and I miss it in the dumbed down books that are coming out now. Please pass on this long list of positive comments to all the scardycat editors out there!

    Reply
  137. This is yet one more reason I love these posts. I learn so much from both the wenches themselves AND from the all the intelligent, interesting readers who comment. Thank you, Katherine, for providing the link to such an wonderful site. I LOVE the cant in books as it helps the reader become part of that world, and I miss it in the dumbed down books that are coming out now. Please pass on this long list of positive comments to all the scardycat editors out there!

    Reply
  138. This is yet one more reason I love these posts. I learn so much from both the wenches themselves AND from the all the intelligent, interesting readers who comment. Thank you, Katherine, for providing the link to such an wonderful site. I LOVE the cant in books as it helps the reader become part of that world, and I miss it in the dumbed down books that are coming out now. Please pass on this long list of positive comments to all the scardycat editors out there!

    Reply
  139. This is yet one more reason I love these posts. I learn so much from both the wenches themselves AND from the all the intelligent, interesting readers who comment. Thank you, Katherine, for providing the link to such an wonderful site. I LOVE the cant in books as it helps the reader become part of that world, and I miss it in the dumbed down books that are coming out now. Please pass on this long list of positive comments to all the scardycat editors out there!

    Reply
  140. This is yet one more reason I love these posts. I learn so much from both the wenches themselves AND from the all the intelligent, interesting readers who comment. Thank you, Katherine, for providing the link to such an wonderful site. I LOVE the cant in books as it helps the reader become part of that world, and I miss it in the dumbed down books that are coming out now. Please pass on this long list of positive comments to all the scardycat editors out there!

    Reply
  141. Love love the cant. They make the books so much more readable. And many of them very clever. It took me a long while to figure out why they called them “vowels” also love the “casting up of accounts” also “more hair than wit” is just too clever!!

    Reply
  142. Love love the cant. They make the books so much more readable. And many of them very clever. It took me a long while to figure out why they called them “vowels” also love the “casting up of accounts” also “more hair than wit” is just too clever!!

    Reply
  143. Love love the cant. They make the books so much more readable. And many of them very clever. It took me a long while to figure out why they called them “vowels” also love the “casting up of accounts” also “more hair than wit” is just too clever!!

    Reply
  144. Love love the cant. They make the books so much more readable. And many of them very clever. It took me a long while to figure out why they called them “vowels” also love the “casting up of accounts” also “more hair than wit” is just too clever!!

    Reply
  145. Love love the cant. They make the books so much more readable. And many of them very clever. It took me a long while to figure out why they called them “vowels” also love the “casting up of accounts” also “more hair than wit” is just too clever!!

    Reply

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