from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Foul, abusive language.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Profane or scurrilous language or abuse; blackguardism.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A market near the Billings gate in London, celebrated for fish and foul language.
  • noun Coarsely abusive, foul, or profane language; vituperation; ribaldry.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun profane, abusive language; coarse words

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun foul-mouthed or obscene abuse


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[After Billingsgate, a former fish market in London, England.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From the London, England fishmarket Billingsgate


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word billingsgate.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • A large fish market in London, presumably where foul-mouths were in abundance

    July 24, 2008

  • Billingsgate was the central London fishmarket for may years. It relocated a few years ago. I knew it reasonably well. My Grandfather was a wholesale fishmonger there. Some of his children and their children became fish porters. I worked there myself for a few weeks during summer break in my first University year (I was the very first of any of my paternal or maternal family ever to go to University. I went on to study medicine). The porters were UK famous for their foul language - I can tell you it was pretty awful. So bad was it that the expression 'to Billingsgate it' meant to swear with optimum strength. I bet some of this rubbed off onto their wives, although I never heard my grandmother swear.

    I guess Billingsgate was one of the old London gates, like Ludgate. The market was nearby.

    July 24, 2008

  • Billingsgate was one of the old gates into the city. Originally devoted to Belin

    July 24, 2008

  • No relation to Bill Gates, of course.

    July 24, 2008

  • This word was chosen as Wordnik word of the day.

    November 11, 2009

  • "Its style is an almost pure Army billingsgate that will offend many readers, although in no sense is it exaggerated: Mr. Mailer's soldiers are real persons, speaking the vernacular of human bitterness and agony."

    - David Dempsey, 'The Dusty Answer of Modern War', New York Times, 9 May 1948.

    November 20, 2009