What does a person mean when they say “They got the vapors”?

My husband’s grandmother use to say “I just got the vapors.” What did she mean when she said this. We were just recently watching the show “Hairspray” and a woman on the show made that comment that she was getting the “vapors.” Just curious if anyone else out there remembers their grandmother saying “the vapors.”

16 Answers

  • ?
    1 month ago

    “The vapors” was a catch-all name for many different “female conditions” during the Victorian Era. These included hysteria, mania, clinical depression, fainting, mood swings, and what we refer to now as PMS and bipolar disorder. The vapors were attributed to the practice of wearing corsets, the poor diet of wealthy Victorian socialites (anemia was common), and the belief that a sickly woman trying to recuperate was viewed as desirable.

    Of course, when the fairer sex were overcome with the vapors, they would have their fainting couch nearby to regain their composure.

  • Devil’s advocate
    5 days ago

    College students now get the vapors when their thoughts and ideas are challenged. The cure is called a “safe space”. The way today’s college students avoid the vapors is by the use of a “trigger warning”

    For more information see Milo Yiannopoulos.

    Don’t say you weren’t warned.

  • Angela R
    7 days ago

    A wide variety of symptoms were lumped under “the vapors,” including anxiety, depression, bloating, fainting, loss of appetite, tremors, digestive issues, and behavioral problems. In an era where women were expected to adhere to very strict rules of behavior, free-spirited women like suffragettes were often diagnosed with this condition. The treatment most generally prescribed was rest, sometimes with the judicious application of smelling salts to revive swooning women.

    At the time, medical professionals claimed that as much as a quarter of the female population was afflicted with the vapors. Given the wide variety of conditions that could be encompassed by this umbrella term, this is perhaps not surprising, especially since women who thought for themselves were often assumed to be suffering from this problem. Some Victorian women undoubtedly did have legitimate medical complaints that were left untreated, such as cancers, depression, underlying infections, and conditions caused by lacing corsets too tightly.

  • tutisnowbird
    5 days ago

    Actually now days, in the Deep South, when we say we got the vapors or caught the vapors it just means we’re having a hot flash, sugah! lol

  • teacupn
    1 month ago

    Being short of breath, feeling lightheaded and vaporous, misty in the head.Feeling dizzy and faint, shortness of breath and rapid heart beat that causes fluttering and shortness of breath. It’s an old fashioned expression. The ‘vapors’ can occur after a sudden shock, or embarassment, or dizzy spell.

  • tammyt2226
    1 month ago

    I think they are saying the vapors because like the others said feeling faint/light headed as if you just inhaled some vapor of chemicals, paint, hairspray, etc.

  • PrincessMoononite
    1 month ago

    It was an expression used to explain feeling faint when it was normally caused by tight corsets being worn by women and not getting enough blood pressure back in the day. I think I’ve also heard people use that in jest about flatulence.

  • CurlyQ
    1 month ago

    Women used to say it thinking it meant they were feeling faint. However, “the vapors” is actually an attack of gas LOL.

  • Vera Gabriele
    1 month ago

    No woman has the vapors anymore now.. that was in victorian times.. and no surprise. they had to have a 20 inch waist and had corsetts that made it almost impossible to breathe. no wonder if they felt faint.. about to faint any moment. that was having the vapors.. Modern woman don’t wear corsets and don’t get them tied to have a 20 inch waist which almost prevents breathing so nowadays they have to say ” i feel faint’ I need to sit down… that means the same but the vapors died with Queen Victoria.. that was a Victorian times upper class ladies complaint… x

  • ?
    5 days ago

    The Vapours

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