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13 Old-Fashioned Ways To Refer To Pregnant People

"Knocked up." "Preggers." "With child." There are all sorts of weird ways to say you're pregnant besides using the actual medical term. A lot of these idioms are benign, but some of the old-fashioned ways people referred to pregnant people are downright bizarre.

Slang for pregnancy is abundant, in part because the word "pregnant" was taboo to say in public for a long time as it was deemed suggestive, despite it referring to a condition without which no one on the planet would exist. The word was censored on network television in the fifties, with Lucille Ball being unable to name her pregnancy for what it was on I Love Lucy, as CNN reported. Now, you can say and write the word freely, assuming you know how (that video of a guy narrating all the misspellings of "pregnant" never fails to make me laugh).

Although the word no longer carries the same risqué reputation, some of the idioms for pregnant are still around. A look at the ones that have gone out of style, meanwhile, will have you giving some serious side eye to your great-grandparents. Read on to learn 13 old-fashioned phrases used in place of the word "pregnant," and be grateful you live in the 21st century.


In The Family Way

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This one probably still sounds familiar, but it's kind of weird when you really think about it. What does "family way" mean? And are you always in a family way once you're pregnant, or is just for the gestation? It makes me think of the scene in Juno where the titular character says, "Uhhh, I hate it when adults use the term "sexually active." What does it even mean? Am I gonna like deactivate some day or is it a permanent state of being?"


Bun In The Oven

Another classic, it's hard to miss the metaphor here. Baked goods are made in an oven, and babies are made in a uterus, boom. According to The Phrase Finder, the idiom's first recorded usage was in Nicholas Monsarrat's Cruel Sea in 1951.


The Rabbit Died

If you did a double take at this colloquialism, I feel you. Referencing death seems counterintuitive when it comes to talking about life, but the phrase actually comes from an old test scientists used to use to see if women were pregnant, as The New York Times reported. In the test, women's urine was injected into rabbits, and scientists then dissected the rabbits to see if a certain chemical reaction happened that would indicate the woman was pregnant. Thankfully, this test has long been out of practice, but the phrase still exists.


Up The Duff

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This British slang for pregnant has its root in duff, a type of boiled or steamed pudding, as the BBC explained. Pregnant bellies are said to look like pudding, thus the name. It's kind of a stretch, but the term is still popular today.


In The Pudding Club

"In the pudding club" is a relative of "up the duff," according to the Oxford Dictionary. The BBC also reported that "the 17th century slang use of pudding to mean a penis" might also have something to do with the idiom. Ya don't say.


Tin Roof, Rusted

Anyone familiar with the B-52's classic bop "Love Shack" will be familiar with this phrase, though I didn't know it meant pregnant before doing some research. reported that the saying usually refers to an unintended pregnancy.



"Late" is a formal way to say your period is overdue in conversation. People still say it sometimes, but more often when they're nervous about their period being late rather than when they're trying to conceive. (Also: remember the scene in Breaking Dawn: Part 1 where Bella dramatically tells Edward she's "late" when she discovers she's pregnant with their vampire human hybrid baby. Important content.)


Wearing The Bustle Wrong

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This phrase dates back to the time of the American Western, when women had to wear bustles on a daily basis, according to Baby Gaga. A pregnant belly wouldn't fit into the bustle correctly, thus indicating the wearer was carrying a child.


Up The Pole

"Up the pole" as an indicator of pregnancy was first recorded in James Joyce's Ulysses, Phrase Finder reports. Pole crudely refers to a penis, referencing how a woman got pregnant.


Bacon In The Drawer

This phrase wasn't used as frequently in English even back in the day, as it actually comes from a French saying according to Oxford Dictionaries. But if someone ever asks you if you have bacon in your drawer, maybe double check what exactly it is they're asking you before you answer.


Stung By A Serpent


The metaphor here is eye-roll worthy, with the dual references to the story of Adam and Eve and a man's genitals ringing abundantly clear.


Bat In The Cave

I actually gasped aloud when I discovered this phrase, mostly because it was used on the playground to tell people they had a booger in their nose when I was growing up. But apparently it's a colloquialism for pregnancy in England, according to Every Mum.


Up The Spout

"Up the spout" is basically interchangeable with "up the pole" or "up the duff." Hard to miss the meaning, especially when you think about spouts pouring out liquid. Sorry for the graphic image.

All in all, I think I'll just stick with saying "pregnant" instead.