While shoe-horning these phrases into conversation today might prove difficult, these 17 synonyms for sex were used often enough in 19th-century England to earn a place in the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, a book for upper-crust Britons who had no idea what the proles were talking about.
1. Amorous congress
To say two people were engaged in the amorous congress was by far the most polite option on the list, oftentimes serving as the definition for other, less discreet synonyms.
"Those two recently opened a basket-making shop." From a method of making children's stockings, in which knitting the heel is called basket-making.
3. Bread and butter
One on top of the other. "Rumor has it he found her bread and butter fashion with the neighbor."
"Yeah, we had a brush once." The emphasis here is on brevity; just a fling, no big deal.
"They left together, so they're probably at clicket." This was originally used only for foxes, but became less specific as more and more phrases for doing it were needed.
Aside from the obvious, this also comes from "making children," because babies have faces.
7. Blanket hornpipe
There is probably no way to use this in seriousness or discreetly, but there you have it.
8. Blow the grounsils
"Grounsils" are foundation timbers, so "on the floor."
9. Convivial society
Similar to "amorous congress" in that this was a gentler term suitable for even the noble classes to use, even if they only whispered it.
10. Take a flyer
"Flyers" being shoes, this is "dressed, or without going to bed."
11. Green gown
Giving a girl a green gown can only happen in the grass.
12. Lobster kettle
A woman who sleeps with soldiers coming in at port is said to "make a lobster kettle" of herself.
13. Melting moments
Those shared by "a fat man and woman in amorous congress."
14. Pully hawly
A game at pully hawly is a series of affairs.
15. St. George
In the story of St. George and the Dragon, the dragon reared up from the lake to tower over the saint. "Playing at St. George" casts a woman as the dragon and puts her on top.
16. A stitch
Similar to having a brush, "making a stitch" is a casual affair.
A tiff could be a minor argument or falling-out, as we know it. In the 19th century, it was also a term for eating or drinking between meals, or in this case, a quickie.
More from Mental Floss:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1: 10 major differences between the book and the movie
- The dangerously childish morality of liberal ObamaCare supporters
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
- How to be charismatic, according to science
- Inside Turkey's shadow war with ISIS
- Alien conspiracy theorists think the government is on the verge of spilling big secrets
Subscribe to the Week