6 Terms from Historical Romance Novels for Thee to Speaketh

Who needs slang? Historical romance novels, especially regency-era books, are known for their formal, clever turns-of-phrase.


Here are some terms to incorporate into your everyday lingo.

  • Bloody

I’m cheating a bit with this term, since it’s used in present-day speech. But unfortunately, it just hasn’t caught on here in America. Bloody shame.

“Anyway, with his position, her having moved up and out of the protection of the screen, and what with the angle of the mirror, he was looking right at a pair of devilish long legs. Bloody gorgeous, they were.” The Proposition, Judith Ivory

  • Drat it

A good alternative for those who don’t like to curse.

“She lifted her head, having no doubt heard the approach of his horse, and he recognized her. Mrs…Working? Looking? Darling? Weeding? Drat it, he could not recall her name.” Only Enchanting, Mary Balogh

  • Missish

Say this word five times fast. Go!

“She did not want a relationship. She wanted only…well, she must learn to use the word. The Duke had always used it in her hearing, and she was not missish.” A Secret Affair, Mary Balogh

  • Bottle-headed chub

Simply being called bottle-headed or a chub is bad enough. But to combine the two–I shudder to think!

“To be honest, the mere thought of the wedding makes me feel slightly mad. I could bear the rank—though it isn’t my cup of tea, to say the least—if he weren’t such a little, beardy-weird bottle-headed chub.” The Duke Is Mine, Eloisa James

RELATED: Forget the cardigan. Here are 9 historical-romance-inspired items (not) to wear to work instead.

  • Hell’s teeth

If Hell were a person, I really wouldn’t want to encounter its teeth. They’re probably fiery hot, sharp and extremely crooked.

“Hell’s teeth, Georgie!” He exploded. “You’re my wife! You’ll sleep where you slept last night! Where you belong – in my bed, of course!” The Prodigal Bride, Elizabeth Rolls

  • Whither

I’ve heard of hither and thither. But there’s also a whither? Use all three in one sentence for bonus points.

His face took on a broad grin. “Margery, the day improves. Whither do we ride?” Mist Over PendleRobert Neill

I took a couple of these quotes from a more serious article (unlike mine), that includes general tips for writing authentic historical romance dialogue.

I’d like to add to this list, because this is just a wee needle in a giant haystack. Any suggestions?

Photo by Alexander Solodukhin on Unsplash

Published by Rene Penn

Author. Blogger.

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