I'm trying to find the right word to describe a wealthy English dandy who finds himself rather out of place in a seedy bareknuckle boxing tavern. The story is set in 1890's, in London, and the character is an eccentric aesthete who might find himself in better company with Oscar Wilde or Agernon Swinburne than in his current company. His friend overhears people muttering derogatory terms under their breath. I've considered toff, fop, or dandy, but none of them seem like they carry enough weight. A homophobic slur might also work in this context, but I think it should convey how out of place this character is in his current setting.

Edit: Someone suggested I add a few sentences for context.

He could feel the eyes of the crowd still on him, and on his companion. Roderick, with his blue eyes and kid gloves to match, his delicate features, blond curls, and manicured nails, looked like a poodle among pit bulls in this place. “Insert derogative here.” The man who’d spoken was a particularly brutish sort, tattooed from neck to fingertip and scarred from his ear to his jaw. Jonathan’s fists clenched. “Leave it. It’s all right,” said Roderick, noticing Jonathan’s posture. Jonathan shook his head. He wasn’t about to let this lie.

  • 5
    I like this question, but could you please add a sentence with a blank or an X where the word you want would fit? See the help for single-word-requests; a contextual sentence is (ordinarily) required: "YOU MUST INCLUDE A SAMPLE SENTENCE demonstrating how the word would be used" (the all-caps are not mine, but rather a direct, if somewhat offensive, quote). Such a sentence might obviate many off-target answers.
    – JEL
    Jun 11, 2017 at 19:08
  • Check out Piers Egan's Boxiana (various editions) -- a bit early, maybe, since it's early nineteenth century, but the bible of bare-knuckle bouts. Useful for background colour, and lots of racy detail. Egan describes various ex-pugilists who end up running pubs -- where, incidentally, fights didn't take place. :-) Jun 11, 2017 at 22:22
  • I thought dandy was already derogatory. Jun 11, 2017 at 22:29
  • stuck-up fart
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 12, 2017 at 1:06

4 Answers 4


Here are some options:



  1. dated A vain or conceited person, especially one who dresses or behaves extravagantly.

pretty boy


derogatory, informal
A foppish or effeminate man.
‘it was rare indeed for any athlete to be a pretty boy at a time when American men were still stuck in a 1950's macho mindset’

lounge lizard


_informal _
An idle man who spends his time in places frequented by rich and fashionable people.
‘he was a lounge lizard in London and a stockbroker in Manhattan’



  1. archaic A vain and conceited man; a dandy.
    ‘As an afterthought, the red-headed girl suddenly added, ‘Good gracious, that Adam Weatherly is such a coxcomb.’’

You could also use Beau Brummell, as Billy Joel does in Still Rock and Roll To Me.


Miss Molly or Molly Mop. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Miss Molly means:

Origin: From proper names, combined with an English element. Etymons: miss n.2, proper name Molly, Mary.

Etymology: < miss n.2 + Molly, pet-form of the female forename Mary, after molly n.1

colloq. Obs.

An effeminate or homosexual man or boy. Cf. molly n.1 2, Miss Nancy n.

1754 World 18 Apr. 348 If he goes to school, he will be perpetually teized by the nick-name of Miss Molly.

1785 F. Grose Classical Dict. Vulgar Tongue at Molly, A miss Molly, an effeminate fellow, a sodomite. (Emphasis added)

1816 ‘Quiz’ Grand Master i. 19 In fact, a specimen of folly, A semi-ver [sic], a mere Miss Molly.

I quoted the entry in its entirety, because someone who does not subscribe to the OED may not be able to access the link.

I came across this term in the novel Morgan's Run by Colleen McCullough. The novel centers on the transport of convicts to Australia in the late 18th century and the first settlement on Norfolk Island. One of the principal characters, the fourth officer of one of the transports, was a Miss Molly. You can find all instances of the use of Miss Molly in Morgan's Run here

Molly Mop is another possibility for the OP. The OED cites this use of Molly Mop

1829 F. Marryat Naval Officer II. vi. 182 I'll disrate you,..you d—d Molly Mop

To us, Molly Mop sounds funny, but spoken in the context and time the OP gives, it would be very insulting to a heterosexual male.

See also this entry for Molly House

Molly-house was a term used in 18th and 19th century England for a meeting place for homosexual men

  • 3
    Just a note for any UK users who may not be aware, many/most local authority library memberships give you access to the OED. Even if you never borrow books it can be worthwhile joining your local library to get a membership no that lets you sign in.
    – Spagirl
    Jun 11, 2017 at 20:15
  • 2
    @Spagirl's point is true for many US public libraries, as well, though perhaps not as high a percentage as in the UK. You can usually sign in with your library card ID, if you already have one.
    – 1006a
    Jun 11, 2017 at 21:49
  • 1
    Rictor Norton, Mother Clap's Molly House (1992) has an entire book about this. It is, however, more early 18thC than late 19thC. As far as I know, there was no specific naval connection, but it was definitely a term used by London criminals. "A bug for the Mollies" would be someone who either associates with, or blackmails, homosexuals. Jun 11, 2017 at 22:10

"Swell" is a possible earlier term, still current in the 1890s, but in fact, "toff" would have been in use at exactly the time you're concerned with. It occurs in a poem printed in 1892:

But a toff was mixed in a bull and cow, [row]
And I helped him to do a bunk ...

— Doss Chiderdoss, "The Rhyme of the Rusher"

"Toff" begins to appear in the mid-1850s, and is well attested. See Green's Dictionary of Slang.


Perhaps 'froggy prosser', 'frog ponce', or one or another of those words, or some collocation thereof, would inspire the reaction described in the context you provided. The terms were chiefly derogatory, and common in popular and thieves' use in the 1890s. Although I could not readily locate attestation of the collocations in newspapers and books published in the 1890s, they are natural and likely collocations.

'Froggy', of course, was (and is) a common derogatory British term for the French, collectively or individually. Less likely is use with allusion to policemen, for which the appellation without the diminutive ('frog') would have been more common. Even so, the use of 'froggy' in a 'rough trade' setting in the 1890s would inevitably carry with it at least a hint of the 'policeman' sense along with the primary sense of 'despised Frenchman' and, more generally, 'despicable foreigner'.

froggy, n. and adj.2
2. Chiefly derogatory. Frequently with capital initial. A French person or (occasionally) French people collectively; (also) a French-speaker or person of French descent, esp. a French-Canadian. Also occasionally as a form of address. Cf. frog n.1 10.


OED provides four attestations of 'froggy' from the last three decades of the 1800s, including one from 1894, but these two uses from newspapers may be more telling:

He Courted the Wife, not the Sister.
Froggy has £500 to Pay.

On Tuesday, in the Divorce Division of the Royal Courts of Justice, before Mr. Justice Butt and a common jury, the case of Lock v. Lock and Thommeret was commenced.
   This was the petition of the husband, a clerk in the Inland Revenue, for a divorce by reason of his wife's misconduct with the co-respondent, Mr. Maurice Thommeret, a Frenchman, against whom damages were claimed. The co-respondent did not appear, but the wife pleaded condonation.

Worcestershire Chronicle, 01 March 1890, p 6 (paywalled).

A sharp look-out was kept for the foe; and hope ran high amongst the sailors at the thought of at last being able to have a "slap at Froggy."

Whitby Gazette, 14 February 1890, p 4 (paywalled).

The cross-referenced entry in OED, "frog n.1 10" is this:

10. Usually derogatory. Frequently with capital initial.
a. A French person or a person of French descent; occasionally as a form of address.


For evidence of 'frog' in the sense of 'policeman', see the entry in the 1889 A dictionary of slang, jargon & cant, by Barrere, Albert; Leland, Charles Godfrey:

frog, 1889, Barrere and Leland

and for both 'frog' and 'froggy', see the entry in the 1890 Slang and its analogues past and present, by Farmer, John Stephen, and Henley, William Ernest:

frog, 1890, Farmer and Henley

For 'prosser' and 'ponce', Farmer and Henley (1890, op. cit.) provide details of common use:

prosser 1890, Farmer and Henley

ponce 1890, Farmer and Henley

For other derogatory terms with similar meanings, see the list of synonyms provided for 'ponce' by Farmer and Henley.

Barrere and Leland (1889) present a much less detailed but here quite pertinent take on 'prosser':

prosser 1889, Barrere and Leland

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