I’m deep in edits of my novel set in the early 18th century and keep coming across the same problem. I look up a term or a word to see if it’s reasonable for a character to use it and discover that either it didn’t exist or that it has replaced an earlier similar term with just enough difference to look odd.
For instance today I wanted my 1718 protagonist to describe someone as a ‘cat’s paw’. A quick check with Etymonline proved that cat’s paw didn’t appear in print until 1790 and it may not have been used at all in 1718. Instead my protagonist, Kit, would say ‘cat’s foot’ – which just looks wierd.
I consulted the oracle [Erastes :)] and have used cat’s paw in the interests of clarity. What would you do? What do you do? Which is better? Accuracy at all costs or an easier experience on the reader?