For as long as humans have been around, we’ve loved talking about sex. And for just about as long, we’ve needed a way to talk about sex without getting too graphic. Today, if we want to tell our closest pal about a bedroom experience, we might say something like “Last night, my partner and I did the ol’ horizontal foxtrot!” or “No, people DO actually say that, YOU’RE the weird one, I don’t want to be friends with YOU any more.”
But what did people say hundreds of years ago when they wanted to talk about sex? Thanks to lexicographer Jonathan Green, author of Green’s Dictionary of Slang, now we know! If you think the way we talk about sex is weird now, just look at how they talked about it in Shakespeare’s day, and the centuries that followed.