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message 1: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 528 comments I'm writing in the 1820's in England and I have a scene where 'gotcha' is the perfect word but it didn't exist then.

If I use the word 'nabbed' instead, do Americans readily recognize it? Or should I go on searching!

message 2: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4283 comments Mod
I thought "nabbed" was a fairly common word and I'm a dumb American. Go for it.

message 3: by Martin (new)

Martin Wilsey | 447 comments Use it in the sentence for us. It should work.

message 4: by Micah (last edited Jun 06, 2017 08:28AM) (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments Your setting is England, so use the English. Readers will figure it out or look it up ... or ignore it.

Depending on the situation and your preference, you could also use "nicked," "copped," or "pinched." Although you'd need to verify the usage of these in the early 19th century. Pretty sure they're all fairly old words.

message 5: by Jane (new)

Jane Jago | 888 comments Nabbed is fine. But we could probably help,a bit more if you gave us the context

message 6: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Most people will understand context, so any word will do, even a made up word. In my opinion, making sure the word you use fits the scene is way more important than making sure one demographic gets its meaning.

message 7: by John Hooker (new)

John Hooker | 90 comments While published in 1860, A Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words (UK) might serve your needs. A free ebook can be downloaded from Google Books:


message 8: by Anna (last edited Jun 06, 2017 11:33AM) (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 528 comments Thank you, John - very interesting! And free!

Thank you so much everyone - it appears I can use it! There's so little context that there's not a lot to go on!

The context is:

"His smile said nabbed."

I wanted to say "His smile said gotcha."

Or I could say "His smile said Caught you" But he's more of a gotcha kind of guy. It's just that the word wasn't around in the 1820's.

Gotcha is the right word - it's so annoying. I suppose it's my fault for writing historically!

message 9: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4283 comments Mod
"His smile said you're nabbed."

message 10: by Nat (new)

Nat Kennedy | 317 comments Or you could say caught ya... Nabbed sitting by itself doesn't feel right.

message 11: by Isaac (new)

Isaac Alder | 60 comments Gotcha is just a quick, slang-y way of saying "got you." So while "nabbed you" works, maybe "nabbed 'ya" or something like that better preserves the intention. Something to consider. But either way, nabbed makes sense and is definitely underatandable to us simple folk.

message 12: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4283 comments Mod
Y'know, just because it wasn't recorded historically before 1930 or so, it's still possible, even likely, that someone in the 1820s said, "gotcha". After all, the words "got" and "you" were around. It is possible that someone could have run them together and made the word "gotcha" before it was part of popular slang and before it was recorded by writers, linguists, or historians.

If you're afraid people might hate your book for the use of "gotcha", though, you could say "got you" or "got ya."

message 13: by Morris (new)

Morris Graham (morris_g) That's easy. Try the English author, Doyle, writing about an Englishman, Sherlock Holmes. True, it is about 60 years after the period you are shooting for, but probably close enough. You'll find a treasure trove of English sayings of yesteryear.

message 14: by Tony (new)

Tony Blenman | 90 comments Considering the context provided, I don't think "nabbed" would be the best choice, since the word refers to making an arrest. And I'm not sure nineteenth century Britains would say, gotcha. I like "got you."

message 15: by Anna (last edited Jun 07, 2017 01:08AM) (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 528 comments Thank you so very much, everyone. All your thoughts have made me think again - and again, and again!

By the way, I wasn't thinking that Americans were 'simple folk', I just wasn't sure if 'nabbed' was a particularly English word, used mostly by the police.

At the moment I'm leaning towards 'Got you'. It's exactly what the character is thinking but being who he is, he'd say 'gotcha' but maybe I'd better not use that because there'll be readers who know their stuff. I do, however, agree that many a person might have used 'gotcha' long before it was documented. I'll stretch to using a word a couple of years before it was documented but not more than that.

'Got you.'

I think.

Or maybe 'Got ya'.

message 16: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments Funny, it is not the gotcha itself that might bug people but the ya. When was ya first said instead of you? In the past, people pronounced their sired more than now. Same with contractions. At least it's the idea I have.

Anyway...I'm guessing 'nailed' isn't what you're looking for either?

message 17: by Anna (last edited Jun 07, 2017 05:59AM) (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 528 comments And then there's those that mumbled or never quite knew the word they wanted, and that hasn't changed much over the years!

I've used 'Got you'. So far. :)

Thanks everybody. Very much appreciated.

message 18: by Angela (new)

Angela Joseph | 132 comments How about simply saying, "His smile said he understood." We will all understand that.

message 19: by Isaac (new)

Isaac Alder | 60 comments Anna Faversham wrote: "By the way, I wasn't thinking that Americans were 'simple folk', I just wasn't sure if 'nabbed'..."

No worries Anna! I didn't think you were saying that and I wasn't offended at all. I used "simple folk" very sarcastically to poke fun at myself.
One day I'll probably figure out that sarcasm doesn't always carry over to text well..... or I'll just keep getting myself into trouble.

message 20: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 528 comments Oh Angela! My nasty guy is not very understanding! But some will definitely understand why he's not!

I have that problem, Isaac, and worse. I reread something the next day and it then seems to say something almost opposite to what I intended. Very worrying.

message 21: by M.L. (last edited Jun 08, 2017 01:14PM) (new)

M.L. | 1102 comments I would have gone for 'nabbed,' but after reading the context, 'gotcha' fits. I can easily hear a sketchy/dodgy character saying it.

message 22: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 528 comments Yes, M.L., it's so annoying that it wasn't around in the 1820's. It expresses the situation and his feelings perfectly. I just daren't run with it.

message 23: by Leona (new)

Leona (mnleona) | 4 comments I though "caught" before I saw someone write it. Nabbed to me means someone is "nabbed".

message 24: by J.N. (new)

J.N. Bedout (jndebedout) | 115 comments What about simply "exposed"...?

message 25: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 528 comments Thanks Leona and J.N. Every comment has helped to make me more confident of making a choice.

I'm probably going to stick with as close to 'gotcha' as I can get, i.e. 'got you'.

He's very pleased with himself for capturing someone.

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