What's a old-fashioned synonym for the slang term "Savagery?"


Okay, for context: I’m writing a historical piece in which the three main characters can gain different personality traits in order to unlock various outcomes depending on their reactions. One of my MCs, Nyssa, is bold, outspoken, and literally has no filter. The two personality paths I have for her are to gain either compassion or “savagery,” which refers to the modern-day slang “savage,” which I’m sure we’re all familiar with. However, as this story is set in colonial times, I think I would incredibly inappropriate to use the term savage as it could be mistaken for meaning barbaric, or, worse, a derogative term for indigenous peoples.
To avoid any controversy and/or insult, I need to use a more conventional term that reflects the modern connotation of savagery without all the offensive implications of the dated connotation. Any and all suggestions are much appreciated. Thanks in advance!


Maybe something like, “Fierceness”, or “Brashness”

And old colonial term, “potvaliant” can refer to being courageous/valiant.bold (“Foolish if not potvaliant firing and shooting off guns.”), so maybe “Potvaliancy”?

Lol, sorry if this isn’t very helpful. Good luck!


Ooh those are all great options, thank you!


How are these two paths framed in the narrative, is one good and the other bad or are they neutral with both positive and negative effects happening to the character in either?


I’m still working out the kinks right now, but my vision is to have two distinct character arcs possible for all three of the MCs. For example, Lilly, the runaway wealthy girl, has the opportunity to gain charm or defiance. Neither path is categorically positive or negative, but for an ideal outcome, the reader must gain enough points for charm or defiance (or both, if they play their cards exceptionally) in order to unlock a favorable ending. For example, let’s say in an early chapter, Lilly has to face a bandit who wants to mug her. She can either seduce and deceive him (charm +1), stand her ground and intimidate him (defiance +1), or get the attention of a nearby villager for help (no points gained). Lilly would earn points as fit for her choices throughout the story until a later chapter, where she is faced with a difficult and possibly final decision. Let’s say she has to take down an evil tyrant. The options will be to convince the guards to disperse, thus leaving the tyrant vulnerable (charm), quickly disarm a guard and march straight to the tyrant (defiance), or look for another way to get to the tyrant (no points). The difference in this choice is that the charm and defiance options would actually be locked unless the reader has earned enough points to unlock them. This is my way of making choices matter as the charm and defiance options will lead to much better outcomes than that of the no points option. I also plan on implementing other choices that allow the reader to earn points, so it’s not always predictable with one obvious charm option, one obvious defiance option, and one bad option. The same structure will be used for my other MCs: Nyssa (compassion & previously savagery, now I’m leaning towards fierceness) and Joaquin (affability & cunning).
Super long-winded way of answering your question, but that’s essentially what I’m envisioning. It involves some advanced branching, which is pretty ambitious for me considering this will be my first published story, so this grand scheme of mine is easier said that done. I’m also planning on letting you choose your love interests with the help of character points, so we’ll see if I can make it all happen. Fingers crossed!


That’s really interesting, I hope you pull it off too!

Given the time period I think a women who says whatever she’s thinking would be considered shameless, brash, brazen etc. I think audacious would work (it has both negative and positive connotations). To me both “savage” and “fierce” have become terms applicable to anything with varying connotations, what some call savage with reverence another could just call a dick move. Are these labels just for you while your mapping everything out or does your audience see these labels too?


Savage isn’t actually modern day slang, when white people came to the U.S. they called native americans savages. So you could actually use it (it doesn’t have the negative connotation anymore so it should be fine)


They’re mostly a reference for me, but the audience does get a reader message saying “Charm increased” after they earn a charm point. I really like the ambiguity behind audacious. Thank you for the suggestion!


That’s kind of my dilemma though. If I use the term savagery in a historical piece, it kind of implies that I’m using it in the context of that time period, which is unacceptable. I don’t want to risk readers thinking of the old connotation when I really intended it to be the modern day connotation. Also, Nyssa is Arabic, and there was a lot of xenophobic and racist sentiment back in this time period in which Muslims were considered savages. White colonizers thought that they would radicalize African slaves and encourage revolt. I get what you’re saying about it not being considered offensive anymore, but it’s just a risk I’m not willing to take.


The overall meaning of savage is just that the person is terrible and is okay with doing terrible acts, but do whatever makes you comfortable


I equate the slang term savage to something more consistent with badass or fearless. I guess if people think it means “terrible” or “okay with doing terrible acts,” then I’m not getting the right point across anyways. All the more reason to choose a different word.


I recommend using the terms, “wild, barbaric, barbarous, fierce, or outragous.” Using “savage” would be an offensive term if the time period is the Colonial. During that era, Native-Americans were considered “savages” to many people because their definition of civilized was different than the newcomers of America. It was like a racist slur during that time. The Natives were seen as incapable of the high life as well as seen as a less intelligent race to those newcomers.

For example, you can say these things:
“Wild! How wild!”
“Oh, that was barbaric. You’ve got the man walking baker-knee’d (knees knocking together)!”
“Who knew the the beetle-headed (stupid, dull) bantling (young child) could actually say something so fierce, but intelligent?”

You can find slang terms here:


That’s exactly why I want to avoid the term savage. I’m really drawn towards fierce as an alternative. That website is really helpful, thank you for sharing!


Of course!