It’s too late to get this into my curses-and-insults book, but I have to share it with you all: looking for something else in the Cassell Dictionary of Slang, I noticed the following entry:
cheeks! excl. [mid-late 19C] a coarse and insulting excl.
Just before it was:
cheeks n. [late 18C-late 19C] an imaginary person, usu. used in a rude reply to an irritating question. [note synon. 19C naut. jargon Cheeks the Marine. In both cases the phr. refers to the buttocks and equates with ASK MY ARSE!]
And just after it was:
cheeks near cunnyborough phr. [mid18C-early 19C] a coarse rejoinder to what the speaker (invariably a woman) categorizes as a stupid question (cf. ASK MY ARSE!). [CHEEKS + CUNNY]
Naturally, I checked the OED; none of these delightful usages were there, but definition 1.c. read “Used like beard, teeth, etc. in defiance, cursing. maugre thy (his, etc.) chekes” (Langland, from 1377: “We wil haue owre wille, maugre þi chekes”).
And now that I have your attention: for Pete’s sake, somebody get Helen DeWitt an agent! I want to read her next novel, dammit.


  1. Send this entry to the scriptwriters for those damned pirate movies.

  2. Oh, this is lovely! I’ll start using this immediately.

  3. You are going to tell us the title, publisher, etc, of the book ? Please …

  4. All in good time.

  5. hey… what meens: eu t place???

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