One of the things that really makes Steampunk literature, and Victorian literature in general, is the use of odd English words to describe little odds and ends that need describing, like parts of machinery, personal items of clothing, genitalia, obscure occupations, and other fluff. Charles Dickens was a pioneer of these charming names, through his naming of characters like Martin Chuzzlewit.
Other names may have emerged from mistranslations. The Low London phrase batty-a-fang, meaning “to thrash thoroughly,” may have been an Anglicized version of the French battre a fin. Some were even literal, like gal-sneaker, which refers to a male seducer, and gas-pipes, mens’ trousers which were as narrow as the name suggests.
Writing Steampunk? Here’s some randomly generated terms to use in your own work or to inspire.
Stiff the keet