Fourteen Modern Phrases First Recorded by Jane Austen

Jane Austen is famous for her era-defining novels such as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, her sense of irony and knack for satire and, now, for being the new face of the £10 British bank note, starting in 2017.

Less known, however, is precisely how great her influence was on the English language. Some might even say that she’s the queen of modern slang. If we’ve told you once, I’ve told you 100 times! (Yes, she came up with that one.)

Brace Yourself – “…it was particularly necessary to brace her up with a few decisive expressions…” – Emma

Breakfast Room – “Then let it be done now. Come with me into the breakfast-room, we shall find everything there, and be sure of having the room to ourselves.” – Mansfield Park

Dinner Party – “Dinner-parties and evening-parties were made for him and his lady; and invitations flowed in so fast that she had soon the pleasure of apprehending they were never to have a disengaged day.” – Emma

Dirt Cheap – “His chance for the Kellynch estate was something, but all the honour of the family he held as cheap as dirt.” – Persuasion

Dog-Tired – “It was 12 before we reached home. We were all dog-tired, but pretty well to-day: Miss Clewes says she has not caught cold, and Fanny’s does not seem worse.” – A letter from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra, November 6 1813

Door Bell – “…she was suddenly roused by the sound of the door bell, and her spirits were a little fluttered by the idea of its being Colonel Fitzwilliam himself, who had once before called late in the evening, and might now come to enquire particularly after her.” – Pride and Prejudice

Dress a salad – “These two girls had been above an hour in the place, happily employed in visiting an opposite milliner, watching the sentinel on guard, and dressing a sallad and cucumber.” – Pride and Prejudice

Family Portrait – ” Of pictures there were abundance, and some few good, but the larger part were family portraits, no longer anything to anybody but Mrs. Rushworth, who had been at great pains to learn all that the housekeeper could teach, and was now almost equally well qualified to shew the house.” – Mansfield Park

Flower Seed – “Some of the flower seeds are coming up very well, but your mignonette makes a wretched appearance.” -A letter from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra, May 29 1811

Morning Room – “That room was the very shape and size of the morning-room at Maple Grove; her sister’s favourite room.” – Emma

Nice Looking – “It was such a nice looking morning! I felt so convinced it would be dry!” – Northanger Abbey

Of the moment – “… and leave her to herself, while they adjourned to whatever might be the favourite holiday sport of the moment, making artificial flowers or wasting gold paper.” – Mansfield Park

Shaving Glass – “So I got Sophy to lend me a hand, and we soon shifted their quarters; and now I am quite snug, with my little shaving glass in one corner, and another great thing that I never go near.” – Persuasion

Shut up – “On the very day of my coming home from Longbourn, your uncle had a most unexpected visitor. Mr. Darcy called, and was shut up with him several hours.” – Pride and Prejudice