Billingsgate was the name of a fish market in London. I believe it was very close to London Bridge. During its time, the place was well known for two things – the smell of fish and the abusive language used by the people doing business there. Believe it or not, the people using the filthy language were mostly women! The fishwives who conducted business in Billingsgate were famous not only for their salted fish, but also their salty language! It is for this reason that Billingsgate means “abusive or foul language”.

*The workers hurled more billingsgate at their boss after his speech.

Source:  ‘Know Your English’ Series – The Hindu Daily, August 29 , 2005.


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