Wordnik word of the day: billingsgate

by Grant Barrett on August 11, 2009

Today’s word of the day is billingsgate, a noun meaning “profane or scurrilous language or abuse; blackguardism.” This curious word comes from Billingsgate, a London fish market described by Charles Dickens as “possessing a language of its own far more incisive and graphic than the ordinary vernacular” and “famous for that vivid interchange of vernacular pleasantry which will engraft its name in the English language for ages.” Dickens may yet be right, but usage of the common noun billingsgate grows exceedingly uncommon while the proper noun Billingsgate continues to thrive.

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