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Women’s Words

Mother Tongue by Jenni Nuttall

Mother Tongue by Jenni NuttallMother Tongue: The Surprising History of Women’s Words 

by Jenni Nuttall




…that the womb was once known as the ‘matrix’ or the ‘mother

…that our periods were once called our ‘flowers’

…that lesbians were once nicknamed ‘rubsters’

…that growing a baby in pregnancy could be called ‘childing’ or ‘barnishing’

…that the contractions of childbirth were called ‘pangs’

…that both married and unmarried women were once called ‘Mrs’

…that what we call perimenopause was called ‘the dodging time’

…that the word helpmeet comes from a grammatical misunderstanding


Mother Tongue is a rich, provocative and entertaining history of women’s words – of the language we have, and haven’t, had to share our lives. Inspired by Nuttall’s deep knowledge of the English language as well as conversations with her teenage daughter, this is a book for anyone who loves language – and for feminists who want to look to the past in order to move forward.