[bil-ingz-geyt or, esp. British, -git]
coarsely or vulgarly abusive language.

1645–55; orig. the kind of speech often heard at Billingsgate, a London fish market at the gate of the same name

vituperation, vilification, invective, scurrility, vulgarity. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
billingsgate (ˈbɪlɪŋzˌɡeɪt)
obscene or abusive language
[C17: after Billingsgate, which was notorious for such language]

Billingsgate (ˈbɪlɪŋɡzˌɡeɪt)
the largest fish market in London, on the N bank of the River Thames; moved to new site at Canary Wharf in 1982 and the former building converted into offices

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1670s, the kind of coarse, abusive language once used by women in the Billingsgate market (mid-13c., not exclusively a fish market until late 17c.) on the River Thames below London Bridge.
"Billingsgate is the market where the fishwomen assemble to purchase fish; and where, in their dealings and disputes they are somewhat apt to leave decency and good manners a little on the left hand." ["Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1811]
The place name is O.E. Billingesgate, "gate of (a man called) Billing;" the "gate" probably being a gap in the Roman river wall.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


former London market (closed 1982). It was situated in the City of London at the north end of London Bridge beside The Monument, which commemorates the outbreak of the Great Fire of September 1666.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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