top of page

Idiom: Tosspot

A brief look at this slang term's usage

Which of these slang words might our Georgian heroes have used? Tosser, prat, tosspot

If you guessed tosspot, you’d be correct!

All three of these words originated in the 16th century, rather than the Georgian era, but they were all used during the Georgian era, although meanings changed over time. Only one of these, however, would have been appropriate for our storybook heroes.

Tosspot comes to us from the 16th century, used in friendly company or as an insult, meaning someone is a heavy drinker or they drink energetically. It comes from the literal combination of “pot,” a drinking vessel, and “toss,” to drink by tilting the pot. Over time, its meaning has shifted to mean an obnoxious person.

Prat, used how we hear it today, is from the 1960s. The word was used in the 16th century, but it was only amongst criminals and referred to the buttocks. Our storybook heroes likely would not have heard this unless they were in a very wrong crowd, indeed, but even then, it would not have been used as reference to a person for a few more centuries.

Tosser is the slang word we hear more often these days, but it did not make its debut with its current meaning until the 1970s. Its origin comes from a combination of a late 16th century/early 17th century word and an 18th century word, both of which are a little too dirty to repeat here. The 18th century slang would have certainly been used in the Georgian era but hopefully not by our storybook heroes.

Do you use any of these three, or are they too slangy for you?


And yes, the image is sarcastic, so hopefully it drew a laugh rather than confusion.

bottom of page