Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for November 24, 2019 is:

billingsgate • BIL-ingz-gayt  • noun

: coarsely abusive language


A steady stream of billingsgate could be heard coming from my brother’s room as he tried to recover the files lost when his computer crashed. 

“The torrent of involuntary filth that spewed from my mouth at those points couldn’t have been good for my son’s linguistic development. He, too, is in his gibberish phase. God help him if he ends up with my Billingsgate vocabulary.” — Benjamin Preston, Jalopnik, 29 July 2019

Did you know?

From its beginnings during the time of the Roman occupation, the Billingsgate fish market in London, England, has been notorious for the crude language that has resounded through its stalls. In fact, the fish merchants of Billingsgate were so famous for their swearing centuries ago that their feats of vulgar language were recorded in British chronicler Raphael Holinshed’s 1577 account of King Leir (which was probably William Shakespeare’s source for King Lear). In Holinshed’s volume, a messenger’s language is said to be “as bad a tongue … as any oyster-wife at Billingsgate hath.” By the middle of the 17th century, billingsgate had become a byword for foul language.

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