The reputed opinion of sexual intercourse by prim Victorian ladies.

Lord Carruthers dragged me to his bedroom and left me in no doubt I was to suffer a fate worse than death.

The United Kingdom.

Worldwide, but now considered rather old-fashioned and used mainly by the older generation.

Referring to something that is done fully, especially as a euphemism for full sexual activity.

I hear Jill’s parents were away for the weekend so she and Jack took the opportunity to go all the way for the first time.

USA, mid-20th century (with the sexual connotation)


1. A cat that lives wild in a town. 2. Slang term for a prostitute.

1. Those alley cats were screeching and chasing rats in the yard all night. 2. Jack’s getting to be a sex addict. He spends all his time with bimbos and alley cats.

USA, 20th century.

Mostly USA

Slang term for a homosexuality.

If Julian didn’t want us to know he was batting from the pavilion end he shouldn’t keep wearing those lilac loafers.

Britain, 20th century. An allusion to the game of cricket.

Of a man pursuing women.

Jack is a borderline sex addict. He’s certainly always chasing the tail.

women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese in WWII.

The Japanese called their prostitutes comfort women – nothing comfortable for them I think.


The rape by a man of his partner on a date.

There’s been so many stories of date rape in the news lately that Suzy arranged to meet her date in a busy pub.

USA, late 20th century. Previously referred to as ‘acquaintance rape’.


Euphemism for sex.

Julie and Jack have been all over each other all evening and have gone upstairs. I expect they’ll be discussing Uganda.

Britain, 1970s. Popularised in the satirical magazine Private Eye.


Everything possible. The whole thing.

Six sixes in one over. He really gave it the full monty.

The precise origin is uncertain. Since the 1997 film of the same name, the expression has also been associated with full-frontal nudity.


A person who adopts a deliberately androgynous appearance, by use of uni-sex make-up, hair-style and clothing. Probably influenced by ‘bender’ being an earlier slang term for homosexual.

With his eye-liner and lurex catsuits, David Bowie was the archetype gender bender.

USA, 1970s.


Cockney rhyming slang for queer.

Julian is ginger – and I don’t mean that he’s got red hair.


Mostly Britain.

To be easily successful, especially concerning sex or romance.

Since he had that lottery win and the nose job, he’s in like Flynn with the girls.

USA, 1940s.

Worldwide, but more common in the USA than elsewhere.

Sexual intercourse between two people standing up.

They had nowhere to go to make love and had to resort to a knee-trembler in the alley.

Britain, 19th century.

Mostly Britain.

The inadvertent exposure of a womans nipple.

Wearing a low cut dress like that, a nip slip was almost inevitable.

USA, late 20th century.

Mostly USA and UK and not amongst the older generations.

Someone who covertly observes sexually active or naked people.

Her habit of sunbathing topless really brings out the peeping Toms.

Britain, late 18th century.


Indulge in a series of sexual relationships.

Jim has three girlfriends on the go at once. He’s always played the field but that’s a bit much.

USA, mid 19th century.


The malicious posting of sexual images online to harm the reputation of an ex partner.

After she ended it he posted some really nasty pictures of her from when they were together. No other words for it than revenge porn.

USA, late 20th century.

Worldwide, but not amongst the older generations.

Cockney rhyming slang for fake.

That picture was supposed to be by Monet but there was a mobile phone in the background – I knew right away it was a sexton.


Mostly Britain.

Jokey term for artificial insemination.

Leaving things to nature hasn’t worked down here on the farm – only 10% of the cows are pregnant. We need a visit from the bull in the bowler hat.

Mostly Britain.

Promiscuous woman.

She’s been with every boy in the neighbourhood – they even call her the town bike.

Mostly Britain.

A woman’s much younger male lover.

Julia took us all by surprise after the kids left home. She left too and set up house with a 19-year old toy-boy.

Britain, 1980s.


The rhythm method of birth control.

It’s a real dilemma for my wife and me. I know Bridget is a Catholic and that condoms aren’t allowed, but I don’t want kids yet and Vatican roulette is just too risky for me.

Britain, 1960s


Said of a man with large genitals.

The legend is that Errol Flynn was well hung, but it’s probably a myth.

The idiom might be thought to be fairly modern but, in fact, its first use was in Britain in the 17th century. Before being applied to humans the expression was used to refer to dogs that had large ears.


Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.