I don’t know why I didn’t think to see if this sort of phenomenon was covered in Extraordinary Popular Delusions… Of course, it is.
Walk where we will, we cannot help hearing from every side a phrase repeated with delight, and received with laughter, by men with hard hands and dirty faces, by saucy butcher lads and errand-boys, by loose women, by hackney coachmen, cabriolet-drivers, and idle fellows who loiter at the corners of streets. Not one utters this phrase without producing a laugh from all within hearing. It seems applicable to every circumstance, and is the universal answer to every question; in short, it is the favourite slang phrase of the day, a phrase that, while its brief season of popularity lasts, throws a dash of fun and frolicsomeness over the existence of squalid poverty and ill-requited labour, and gives them reason to laugh as well as their more fortunate fellows in a higher stage of society.
Wherein we also learn that the FAIL of the day was Quoz:I’m also sure I’ve read of a fad – Greek, Roman, 18th century, something like that – where a group of young (aristocratic?) men who would suddenly grab a common woman and proclaim her Helen and make her their queen and swear to die for her and so on. And the tearing down of such idols could be seen, if you were wont to be pretentious like me, as part of Frazer’s Golden Bough’s Sacrificial King idea, although I’m not sure script kiddies care if the crops grow. (One other problem with that is that Frazer was romancing; but so are the more literal memecists, so yah!)
When a disputant was desirous of throwing a doubt upon the veracity of his opponent, and getting summarily rid of an argument which he could not overturn, he uttered the word Quoz, with a contemptuous curl of his lip, and an impatient shrug of his shoulders. The universal monosyllable conveyed all his meaning, and not only told his opponent that he lied, but that he erred egregiously if he thought that any one was such a nincompoop as to believe him.
Since then however, it appears that “quoz” has entirely flipped meaning, according to UrbanDictionary:
slang for quality, a cockney term for something good. usually accompanied with a hand action of slaping ur index finger against the stationary thumb and middle finger. ‘thats quoz man! propa quoz.’ finger slappy hand thingy