‘Bridgerton’: The ‘Ton’ Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does

Bridgerton fans are no doubt used to Lady Whistledown sharing the ton’s latest gossip. Bridgerton takes place in the early 19th century, so the word “ton” might be unfamiliar to many fans. Although it sounds a lot like “town,” that’s not exactly what the word translates to. Here’s everything you need to know about the meaning of “ton” in Bridgerton. And if you thought Lady Whistledown meant “town,” you’re not alone.

Golda Rosheuvel as Queen Charlotte reading Lady Whistledown's gossip about the ton in Bridgerton Season 2
Golda Rosheuvel as Queen Charlotte in ‘Bridgerton’ Season 2 | Liam Daniel/Netflix

‘Bridgerton’ explores the 1800s social seasons

Bridgerton Season 1 took place during the social season of 1813 when Daphne Bridgerton was first introduced to society. According to Netflix, the annual ritual of presenting young ladies dates back to the late 18th century. The ceremony let everyone know that the lady in question was ready for marriage.

Netflix writes that the social season in London spanned the spring and summer months. During this time, the upper class engaged in a whirlwind of balls, parties, and concerts. This was the perfect time for an available young lady to catch the eye of a handsome gentleman. In Bridgerton Season 2, Anthony Bridgerton enters the season in search of his perfect wife.

What is the meaning of ‘ton’ in ‘Bridgerton’?

Throughout Bridgerton, Lady Whistledown refers to the ongoings of the “ton” in her pamphlets. It’s a funny word, but Netflix gives a simple definition:

“The ton is the who’s who of British high society during the Regency era, made up of aristocrats and rich upper-crust gentry and named after the French expression bon ton, or good manners. Still, as all debutantes would be wise to remember: One can be genteel and not a gentleman.”

It’s sometimes easy to forget that Bridgerton focuses on a family that is firmly rooted in the upper class. Anthony is a viscount, a noble title that would have made him and his family wealthy and well respected. Bridgerton occasionally offers small glimpses of those who live outside the upper crust.

For example, in season 1, Anthony is romantically involved with an opera singer named Siena. He tries to get her to go to a ball with him, but Siena calls them “ridiculous.” She eventually comes to the conclusion that she does not belong in Anthony’s world. In season 2, Theo Sharpe remarks that Eloise spends time with him as an experiment to see how the lower class lives.

Many fans thought ‘ton’ had a slightly different meaning

Bridgerton uses plenty of Regency Era words and terms, so it’s easy to get confused by what the characters are saying. If you thought Lady Whistledown meant “town” when saying “ton,” rest assured you’re not alone. One Reddit user posted an in-depth explanation of the meaning of “ton.” Another commented “Thanks for clarifying. I’m new to the genre and convinced myself that ‘ton’ was a weird way of saying ‘town’ lol.”

Several fans chimed in that they thought the same thing. Thinking “ton” referred to the entire town isn’t too far off the true definition, but it’s important to know that the term is reserved for the upper classes.

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