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.A/", ex. . 









Tou speak another tongue than mine, 
Though both are English born. 



llfi Fulton Street 


A very dull man, and a pertinacious reader the terras are 
by no means incompatible is said to have had Johnson's 
Dictionary lent to him by some mischievous friend as an 
interesting new work, and to have read it through from 
beginning to end,-quite unconscious that he was doing any- 
thing unusual. He observed, when he returned it, that the 
author appeared to him a person of considerable information, 
but that his style was slightly unconnected. 

The remark had a good deal of truth in it, for a dictionary 
is not bad reading on the whole. It is much more endurable 
than a good many of what are called lighter books, and not 
much more unconnected. 

What is an Americanism? In a good many instances the 
name is given to some archaism belated, or some English 
provincialism that has worked its way into general accep- 
tance in the United States. It is usual to object, when 
expressions of either kind are classed by. some one as 
Americanisms, that they are nothing of the kind, which, 
though in strictness true enough, is a little unpractical ; for 
surely, when words that have become obsolete in the 
mother country, or are merely " local " here and there, find 
themselves in wide or universal popularity in America, it is 
indeed convenient to class them as what they have prac- 
tically become Americanisms. Such words, for instance, as 
shyster, meeching, etc., are for all practical purposes Amer- 
icanisms now, and are best classed and defined therewith. If 
we reject them, we must reject also such characteristic words 
as boss, stoop, portage, etc. Carry it far enough, and we would 
have hardly anything left but neologisms. 


.A very erroneous impression generally exists as to the 
manner in which the English language is spoken in the 
United State?. This has arisen in some degre irom the cir- 
cumstance that travellers have dwelt upon and exaggerated 
such peculiarities of language as have come under their 
observation in various parts of the Union ; but also m 
greater measure from the fact that in England novels and 
dramas in which an American figures whether or not 
man of education he is made to express himself 
dialect happily combining th,e peculiarities of speech of 
every section of the country from Maine to Texas. With the 
exception of Anthony Trollope's American Senator, we can- 
not recall to mind a single work of fiction in which this is 
not the case. Take, for instance, those portions of Martin 
Chuzzlewit, the scenes of which are laid in the United States ; 
Richard Fairfield, in Bulwer's My Novel ; the Colonel, m 
Lever's One of Them ; FuHalove, in Charles Reade's Very 
Hard Cash ; the younger Fenton, in Yate's Black Sheep ; 
or the American travellers in Mugby Junction in each and 
every instance the result is to convey a most erroneous 
idea as to the manner in which the English language 
ordinarily spoken in the United States. 

As a matter of fact, and as regards the great bulk of the 
people of the United States, there can be no question but 
that they speak purer and more idiomatic English than do 
the masses in the Old Country. In every State of the 
Union, the language of the inhabitants can be understood 
without the slightest difficulty. This is more than can be 
said of the dialects of the peasantry in various parts of 
England, these being in many instances perfectly unintelh 
gible to a stranger. Again, the fluency of expression and 
command of language possessed by Americans, even in the 
humbler ranks of life, form a marked contrast to the 
poverty of speech of the same class in England, where, as 
an eminent philologist has declared, a very considerable 
proportion of the agricultural population habitually make 
use of a vocabulary not exceeding 300 wordi. 

The words and phrases which are here collected under 
the general term Americanisms may be fairly classed under 
four heads: 1. Genuine English words, obsolete or provin- 


cial in England and universally used in the United States ; 
2. English words conveying, in the United States, a different 
meaning from that attached to them in England ; 3. Words 
introduced from other languages than the English: French, 
Dutch, Spanish, German, Indian, etc. ; 4. Americanisms 
proper, i. e. words coined in the country, either representing 
some new idea or peculiar product. 

All the provincialisms of the northern and western 
counties of England have been naturalised in the New- 
England States, settled, as they were, in the first instance, 
by the " Pilgrim Fathers ," who had left the banks of 
Trent and Humber, and by the later colonists who followed 
from Norfolk and Suffolk. A similar transmission may be 
traced in Virginia through the settlers from the south 
western counties of England. Indeed, it has already been 
argued, with much plausibility, by several English tourists, 
that New England might more correctly be called " Older 
England. " " Let the English traveller in the United 
States ", says one of those tourists, writing in the New 
Englander, " instead of going west from New- York, go 
east. Let him traverse the Holy Land of Boston Common 
and linger under the impecunious shadow of the old South. 
Let him stroll along the wharves of Nantucket or Martha's 
Vineyard, and spend an hour amid the quaint headstones of 
a New-England burying ground. My conviction is that he 
will come away with the impression that he has never been 
in quite such an old-world country as this. He has left old 
England indeed ; but it is only to find an older England 
still, 3,000 miles nearer to the setting sun. " 

Let UB judge now of the extent of the modifications and 
alterations to which a great many English words have been 
subjected in America, even to their having become nearly, 
if not quite, as unintelligible to the average Cockney as he 
would find the dialect of a Northumberland village. 

Thus, if a Londoner is fortunate enough to cross the 
Atlantic, and be introduced to a sky which has not been 
discoloured by smoke, a sun which has not been dimmed 
by fog, and an atmosphere which the powers have not 
forgotten to dry, and is as stimulating as champagne, but 
is unfortunate enough to have to buy a frock-coat a most 



expensive article or to order one -as a rule, quite a different 
matter he must call it a "Prince Albert." 

Prince Albert coat it is in Republican America, what- 
ever it may be in Monarchical England*, where " Albert 
the Good " is occasionally remembered when the anniver- 
sary of his death comes round. 

If he wants a billycock hat, he will never get it if he aska 
for it by that name ; he must request the shopman to bring 
him a "Derby." 

Should the coverings of his feet Jbe worn out and he 
orders a, new pair of boots, he will be given Wellington?, 
which are " boots " in the American language; if he wants 
English boots he must ask for " shoes, " while if he likes to 
show pretty socks and wears Oxford shoes, he must call for 
" ties " or " low cuts, " and " slippers " if he needs pumps. 

He will find, too, that he does not buy articles in a shop, 
but at a " store, " and he will be sent to its different 
departments by a " floor-walker, " not a shop-walker. 

If he would travel in the city and wishes to go by or talk 
about what he would at home call a tram, he must be 
careful to say " surface car " or " street-car, " for trams have 
no existence in the American vocabulary.. If, further, he 
would, when in Rome, do what Rome floes, let him forswear 
the use of railway until he returns home, and train himself 
to say " railroad, " and let him never forget that he walks 
on the " sidewalk, " not on the pavement. 

Should he unfortunately happen to get ill, let him boldly 
declare that he "feels sick," entirely heedless of what he 
would be understood to mean at home, or it will be taken 
that he is nauseated, for the words sick and ill mean just 
the reverse of what they signify in London; and if his 
doctor gives him a prescription, let him not ask to be 
directed to a chemist, or he will be sent off to a manufac- 
turer of chemical-, if any one knows the address of such 
a firm, but let him seek for & " pharmacy " or " drug 

Instead of a draper's shop he will find a " dry goods 
store," and if he desires to go to one of the upper floors he 
will " take the elevator " though, as is so frequently the 
case, the reverse is the truth for he will certainly not dis- 


cover a lift ; while, if his wife has requested him to buy 
her some hairpins, hooks and eyes, cottons, or other small 
articles, he will find them at the " notion-counter." 

As, being a stranger, he will not have his own carriage, he 
will, if he wants a drive, " ride " in a " waggon," which is 
not a cart for carrying packages, but a very comfortable, 
light, open vehicle, or else in a " buggy," an equally light 
conveyance with a hood, but open at the sides. If he prefers 
a single-horse brougham he will do well to call it a " coupe"," 
and if he asks for a " carriage " he will get a Victoria with 
a pair of horses. 

In the evening he will naturally go to the theatre, but he 
must be careful to ask for " orchestra seats " if he wants 
stalls ; while if his tastes are not for drama proper, and he 
prefers a music-hall entertainment, he should invite his 
friend to go to a " variety show." 

If a play is advertised as a " farce-comedy," and he 
imagines he will see a farcical comedy, he will be doomed to 
disappointment, for a farce-comedy is only an alleged play 
in which the characters are taken by variety show " artistes " 
who introduce their " specialties " song and dance in 
season and out of season. In other words, it is cousin- 
German to a music-hall entertainment without the diversity 
in the programme. 

In its pronunciation United States is a law unto itself, 
and if the aforesaid Londoner gets " busted," or wants 
employment as a clerk, let him not call himself a " clark," 
or people will open their eyes at his peculiar occupation and 
let him also remember he wears a Derby hat, not a darby. 

Above all, let him avoid, as he would the plague, the 
nasal twang which passes current for the American accent 
on the London stage, unless he hankers after being mis- 
taken for a denizen of the " wild and woolly West," or as 
hailing from Oshkosh or Kalamazoo, both of which places, 
in spite of a popular belief to the contrary, will be found 
on the map of the country over which the Stars and Stripes 
float and the bald-headed Eagle screams. 

Amongst the foreign contributions to the American idiom 
the first is a very small offering from the poor Red Man 
The fact is certainly to be regretted, for, as is well known* 


there is music even in the roughest of Indian names, while 
most of them are smooth and melodious almost to perfec 

The representatives of so many different nationalities, 
landing in America in hordes vaster than those of the 
barbarians who from the North used to cross the Alps into 
Italy, have accepted the Anglo-Saxon with a celerity and 
completeness which almost deserves to be called a reversal 
ot the confusion of tongues. But, every emigrant has tended 
nevertheless, although to a very small extent, to influence 
the language of his adopted country, and some peculiar 
strands have thus become interwoven with the national web. 

Almost all Americanisms of French origin, besides names' 
of places, are geographical terms. Of this class are bayou, 
levee, prairie, etc. 

The Spaniards have been so long masters in Texas, 
Arizona, California and Florida, that the formation of those 
State?, after the Mexican war, brought into common use 
many words belonging to their language. Even to-day, 
immense regions of the South- West remain almost altogether 
Spanish, so far as local names and the more familiar 
expressions are concerned. And especially can this be said 
of words relating to horses and mules and to their equip- 
ments. It seems also probable that any future accretion to 
American English will be more and more from Spanish 
sources, the more so that the recent acquisition of Porto- 
Rico and the conquest of Cuba have made the United States, 
so to say, virtual masters of the commerce of their Spanish- 
speaking neighbors. 

The influence of the Dutch is seen in the idioms of New 
York and New Jersey, but, strange to say, the Germans 
have not enriched the American language by a dozen impor- 
tant words, although their element is one of the most 
important in the States. The Germans have, no doubt, 
powerfully affected the national mind in all that pertains 
to the realm of thought; but the marks are not visible, 
because, of all foreigners, they were the ones to show the 
most excessive readiness to adapt themselves to all the 
exigencies of their new home, and their action has been too 
subtle and silent to leave its traces on the surface. 


he subject of Americanisms has been laboriously investi- 
gated by several diligent students, no less than five books 
not to speak of articles in periodicals and brief essays . 
devoted to the " American language ' : having from time to 
time appeared : Pickering's Vocabulary, in 1816 ; Elwyn's 
Glossary, in 1859; Schele de Vere's Americanisms, in!872 ; 
Bartlett's Dictionary, of which successive editions were 
published in 1848, 1859, 1860 and 1877; and Farmer's 
Americanisms, in 1889. 

John Pickering's "Vocabulary, or Collection of Words 
and Phrases supposed to be peculiar to the United States," 
originated in the author's practice, while living in London, 
of noting down, for the purpose of avoiding them, such of 
his own verbal expressions as were condemned by his 
British friends. As finally published, the list contains over 
five hundred words, consisting principally of mere vulgar- 
isms and blunders, and words really British in their origin, 
though not current in good London society. 

Elwyn's " Glossary of Supposed Americanisms " was 
undertaken to show how much there yet remains in the 
United States of language and customs directly brought 
from England, a purpose quite different from that of Mr. 
Pickering. But the chief value of the book consists in the 
contributions it makes to our knowledge of Pennsylvania 
provincialisms, of which the author is evidently a careful 
observer. About four hundred and sixty words are included. 

Schele de Vere's " Americanisms " differs from the other 
works mentioned in not adopting the usual alphabetical 
form common to dictionaries, but presenting American 
peculiarities of speech arranged in various classes. About 
four thousand words and phrases appear in the index. 

Bartlett's " Dictionary of Americanisms " is a valuable 
and entertaining work, although it has been to much filled 
up and weighed down, so to say, with slang words of 
merely temporary vogue, mispronunciations, grammatica 1 
errors, and even wearisome repetitions. This dictionary is 
in its latest edition, a bulky octavo of over eight hundred 
pages, containing something above five thousand six hun- 
dred. entries. 



Farmer's "Americanism Old and New" is likewise a 
valuable book, but the author lacks one essential quality for 
writing upon Americanisms : that of having been born and 
brought up in America. And thus it happens that Mr. 
Farmer, being an Englishman, has often failed conspi- 
cuously in the task of deciding what are really American- 
isms and what are not. We must, however, commend the 
author for his laudable researches in collecting so much 
new material, especially the words relating to the flora of 
America and the strange New-England euphemisms employ- 
ed by those in whom the remnant of the old Puritanical 
spirit is still strong enough to render them unwilling to 
utter vulgar or profane expressions openly. . 

The "New Dictionary," which we present to the public, 
has no pretence at being a scholarly work, the author well 
known tor his proceeding investigations in the peculiarities 
of speech of French Canada having had here simply in 
view to make an up-to-date book which would be accessible 
and useful to a larger class of American readers than the 
one usually interested in philological matters. Particular 
attention has been paid to the faura and flora, and to the 
words derived from foreign languages, especially the French 
and Spanish, the data obtained under those two heads being 
especially noticeable and important. Valuable additions 
have been made to the newspaper and political vocabulary, 
to the nicknames of persons, States, cities, etc., and great 
care has been taken in eliminating all words which are at 
best only mushroom growths or linguistic abortions of 
merely ephemeral vogue. The reader will no doubt also 
remark the wide field that has been covered by this book, 
its scope embracing the peculiarities of speech of the 
Dcminion of Canada and Newfoundland as well as of the 
United States. Lastly, we draw attention to the valuable 
innovation constituted by appendices I and II, in which 
all substantives are classed analytically, thereby offering 
the advantages which have made DeVere's book on Ame- 
ricanisms particularly precious, and greatly facilitating, 






Adjective . 

N. B. 







America, or American. 

N. Eng. 

New England. 



New Eug. 

New England. 







N. J. 

New Jersey. 



N. S. 

Nova Scotia. 



N. Y. 

New York. 



Old Eng. 

Old English. 


England, or English. 







F. A. 




F. C. 














Q. V. 

Which see (quum vide). 



R. I. 

Rhode Island. 



s. c. 

South Carolina. 



S. E. 


I. E. 

That is, namely (id est). 





S. W. 








W. Ind. 

\Vcst Indian. 






































A. The old Anglo-Saxon prefix A, meaning at, in, on, to, is more gene- 
rally retained in the United States than in England. 

A. With the exception of the greater part of New England, we have the 
almost universal use of what we may call the short a ; that is, the pro- 
nunciation of that letter with the sound that it has in "man." This 
particularity also holds good of the provinces in England, the broad 
vowel sound being of cockney origin. 

A for an, as in "a hotel" for "an hotel." The elision of "n" before 
hotel is so general in the United States that it may be regarded as 
universal, while in England it is very rare. This difference is the con- 
sequence of the difference in the pronunciation of "hotel," which in 
England, except among a very few cultivated speakers, is pronounced 

A 1. A slang expression, borrowed from the familiar designation of ships 
at Lloyd's, and which can be distinctly traced to America, if not in its 
first creation, at least in the special meaning which it has acquired. 
Thus, as Sam Slick was wont to say, it is customary to hear : "She's a 
prime girl, she's A No. 1," and J. R. Lowell sings : 

He was six foot o'man, A I, 
Clean grit and human natur'. 

An intensified form also exists : A No 1 and no mistake, which is the 
equivalent of the English "First-class, letter A No. 1." 

Aaron's Band. A Masonic degree, instituted by Joseph Cerneau, founder 
of the Sovereign Grand Consistory of the United States of America. 
See Cerneau rite. 


Abergoins, AbPOganS. A corruption of "aborigines" said to be com- 
mon in the West among the illiterate, and which is used jocularly for 

Aboard. Not exclusively nautical, and generally also transferred from 
sea-life to shore-life, as in the familiar expressions : Aboard a train or a 
carriage, and even aboard a mule or a horse. 

Aboard (all), pronounced as thoagh it were one word, accented on the 
syllabe " all. " 

Before the invention of the railway, the Jhiglishman was generally 
carried by land in a coaah, while the American was taken by water 
in a boat. And this is why an American conductor always cries out 
" All aboard " as his train is about to start, while an English guard will 
prefer to say " Passengers, take your seats. " 

Aboideau, Aboiteau, ah-bwa-doh, toh (Fr. A. ). A sluice through a 
dike so arranged that the water can run out of the creek at low tide- 
When the tide is coming in, a valve automatically closes the passage. 

Used in connection with the dikes of the Tantramar marshes in New 
Brunswick, and of the Grand Pre 1 in Nova Scotia. 

Other forms are abito, bito. 

Abolitiondom. A strictly grammatical word, formed after the manner 
of " kingdom, " and which came into use, in the South, during the Civil 
War, to designate the Northern States then clamouring for the abolition 
of slavery. 

Abolitionists. A name given, during the Revolution, and when the 
Constitution was made, to various societies formed for ths abolition 
of slavery in the United States. At first, these societies generally 
advocated gradual and voluntary emancipation, and indeed it was only 
in 1830, at the time of William Lloyd Garrison's furious arraignment of 
slave-holders as criminals, that radical measures were demanded with a 
view of obtaining the immediate abolition of slavery all over the United 

In 1840, the Abolitionists first appeared as a distinctive political 
party, the great majority of them then forming the Liberty Party, 
which afterward acted with the Free Soil and Republican parties. The 
abolitionist movement finally culminated in President Lincoln's Eman- 
'i]i :tion Proclamation of January 1, 1863. 

Abolitionize. To convert to the doctrine of the abolitionists. 
Aboriginal. Used adjectively for Indian. 

Boiling Robertson had the Indian eye, and the whole cast of his counte- 
nance was aboriginal. (Letters from the South, I. p. 23.) 

Also used in sense of original, out of the common. " That is an 

idea. " 


About. A distinctive Americanism is the habit by all classes of putting 
all they want to say definitely, and know definitely, in a doubtful form, 
i. e. " I reckon the local election about pleased you." 

About East. About right, in a proper manner. 

This curious slang expression originated in the West, among the New 
Englanders emigrated from the East. With them, naturally, all that is 
done in their native land is right, and hence what they admire they 
simply call a'tout East. 

See Down En* f . 

About right. Nearly right. 

In the sense of well, thorough, Bartlett was surely wrong in noting 
about right as peculiar to America, it being in that sense a native ex- 
pression in many parts of England. 

About the Size. An expression covering a wide field : assent, general 
satisfaction, approval, etc. Synonymous with about right. 

Got no home, no wittles, and never a' a penny to buy none with. That's 
about the size of how destitoot we arc, sii-. 

(James Greenwood, New Roughs' Guide, in Odd People in Odd Places.) 

Above One's bend. Beyond one's power, or out of one's reach. Above 
one's ability, power, or capacity. Literally, above one's power of 
bending all his strength to a certain purpose. 

This expression is common enough in the West. Referring to it, J. 
R. Lowell calls attention to Hamlet's " To the top of my bent." 
AM English equivalent is "above one's hook." 

Above One's huckleberry. The equivalent, in the South, of above 

lull '.< '' //'/. 

Above par. A stock-broker's expression, extended to mean anything 
.superior, or beyond the ordinary. 
inch / par. 

Abra (>Sp. ). In the South- West, a narrow pass between mo'.intains. 
In Texas, however, the tvi'::: oxora i'Sj, vially applies t:j a break in a 
mi-* i. (q. v.) or in a rangj of hi] 

Abskise (pr;>b. *!:). aibacheiden). 01 local usage, in parts of tli- 
settled by (u'rnmir!, in sense of to depart, to g-> away. 

Absquatulate. To abscond, to vanish. To run away, with the more or 

less t' ,!<:!>! i<iv i ol running ;:\v,iy in <l;sur;iiv. 

This fictitious word first came to light in 1S33, in a play called " The 
Kentuckian," liy I.t-nrird, and !),3 Voi\; inclines to think that it n:;iy bi 
derived frrn the Latin ah and the Ami? -lean xqunt. Our opinion would 
bo tint 'i ! i :ui'i'' i' ;. only M facetious ne^roism, which has come into 
usi in th'j s iM) j kin i oi' way as many pjopl-'j in England, for 


instance, might say "no forrarder." The disposition of our negro to 
multiplication and confusion of syllables is well known, and, in the 
absence of a sure derivation, the above inference possesses, we think, 
good ground for plausibility. 

Abutter. . A real-estate term coined in Boston, and denoting the owner 
of an adjoining or coterminous estate. 

Such of the present abutters or borderers on the said flatts. 

(Boston Town Records, 10 sept. 1673.) 

Academy. Used with grandiloquence for school, a custom wellnigh 
ancient, and not peculiar to -America, if we may well believe the 
scornful denunciation of it by Boswell's father, the old Laird of 

He keepit a schule and call'd it an acaademy. 

Following the same trend of thought, every college of some pre- 
tensions must needs also, in the United States, be a University. 

Accommodate. Used especially in New England in the sense of 
providing for travellers, from the English meaning of " accommodation " 
as applied to public houses. 

Accommodation train. A slow train stopping at all stations. 

According tO Glinter. According to rule, or correctly done ; properly, 
arithmetically. A popular standard of appeal, derived from Gunter, an 
English mathematician who was the inventor of a famous Rule of 
Proportion, at the time of the early Puritan settlements. The old laws of 
Rhode Island say: 

All casks shall be gaged by the rule commonly known as gauging by 

In England, a similar locution is " According to Cocker," from 
the arithmetician Cocker, living under the reign of Charles II. The 
American phrase is however the older one of the two by at least half a 

Account (of no). An expression of utter contempt, evidently borrowed 
from the ledger, and which is especially much used in the South, and 
South-West. For instance a man is of no account when he is a worthless 
fellow, literally when he does not "count" in the struggle for life; a 
thing is of no account when it has no value. 

Pete ! he no'count nohow, he poor flel' hand nigger ! 
(J. G. Baldwin, Flush Times of Alabama, p. 117.) 

Accountability. The state of being accountable. In England, "ac- 
countableness. " 

Accountability has the authority of Robert Hall. 


Accumulati V6S. In newspaper parlance, a kind of literary, sparring 
match. Some editor will make a remark or a joke ; another will cite it 
with comments ; and, in his turn, he will be handled by a third. Indeed, 
there are cases in which the original paragraph has gone the round of 
twenty or thirty prints. 
Also called codicils. 

Aeeite, ah-say'-ee-tay (Sp. ). In Texas, any kind of comestible oil. 

Aeequia, ah-say'-kee-ah (Sp. ). An irrigating ditch, in Texas and New 
Mexico. The main ditch is called aceqnia madre. 
Also spelled azequia, zequia. 

AeequiadOP, ah-say-kee-ah'-dor (Sp.). The officer in charge of the ace- 
quias, in Texas and New Mexico. 

In Spain, " acequiador " is the acequia builder, while " acequiero " is 
the officer mentioned above. 

(Ind. manachigan, or achigan, Otchipwe). A common name, 
among the French Canadians, for the black bass of Canada. 
This word is found in the old writers, namely in Hennepin : 

On y pesche ...... des achigans. 

(Description de la Louisiane, 1688.) 

The form manachigan is still used by the Algonkins of the Lake of 
Two Mountains, in the province of Quebec. 

Acknowledge the corn. To make an admission of failure, to admit 
being outwitted. To confess a charge or imputation. 

The best authenticated story, to account for derivation, is given by 
De Vere, and runs somewhat as follows : 

In 1828, Hon. Andrew Stewart, from Pennsylvania, was in Congress dis- 
cussing the principle of Protection, and said in the course of his remarks that 
Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky sent their hay-stacks, corn-fields and fodder to 
New York and Philadelphia for sale. The Hon. Charles A. Wickliff, from 
Kentucky,.]' umped up and said : "Why.that is absurd,and I call the gentleman 
to order. We never send hay-stacks or corn-fields to New York or Phila- 
delphia. Well, what do you send ? replied Mr. Stewart. Why, horses, mules, 
cattle, hogs. Well, what makes your horses, mules, cattle, hogs-? If you feed 
a hundred dollars' worth of hay to a horse, when you ride off to market with 
that horse, don't you simply get upon the top of an hay-stack worth a hun 
dred dollars ? Same, for your cattle. Xow, about your hogs, how much 
corn does it take to fatten one of them ? Why, thirty bushels. Then you put 
that thirty bushels of corn into the shape of a hog, and make it walk off to 
the Eastern market." At this, Mr. Wickliffe jumped up again and said : " Mr. 
Speaker, I acknowledge the corn." 

ACPOSS lots. By the most direct way, in the quickest manner. From 
the habit of cutting across vacant lots, in sparsely built-up districts, in 
order to save distances. Brigham Young is reported to have said that 


he "would send his enemies to hell arrow lo's," and J. R. Lowell 
improves upon him by making an epithet of the word : 

To all the mos' across lot wiys of preachin' an' convertin'. 
(Biglow Papers, II, p. 100.) 

I did'nt see Crosby go by, did you ? He'd have had to foot it by the path 
cross-lots, replied Ezra, gravely, from the doorstep. 

(Sarah Orne Jewett, Law Lane, in Scribner's Magazine, Dec. 1887, p. 735.) 

Acting*. Literally "acting as." Said of one who fulfils ad interim the 
duties of a position : Acting Mayor, Acting Governor, etc. 

Ad. A printer's usual abbreviation for "advertisement," now generally 
adopted, not only in newspaper parlance, but also in the whole adverti- 
sing business of the country. 

Adam and Eve (Aplectrum hiemale). The popular name of the 
puttyroot, from its pair of tuberous roots always found together 

Adamites. A current appellation, from 1821 to 1832, for the adherents 
of John Quincy Adams, 10th president of the United States. 

Addition. A legal term to designate part of a village or city laid out 
in addition to original plot. (North Mississipi Valley.) 

Also used generally in New England to denote new part of a house 
added to original building. 

Addition, division and Silence. A Philadelphia expression, which for 
a time had a vogue as a catch phrase, and for which Wm. H. Kemble, 
of Pennsylvania, is generally credited. As the story goes, in March 
1867, Wm. H. Kemble, then treasurer of Pennsylvania, wrote the follow- 
ing letter to Titian J. Coffey, a former Pennsylvania politician, but then 
a resident of Washington : 

MY DKAK TTTTAX : Allow me to introduce-to you my particular friend, Mr. 
George O. Evans. He has a claim of some magnitude that he wishes you to 
help him in. Put him through as you would me. He understands addition, 
division and silence. Yours : W. H. KKMBLE. 

The story was given at length in the Xen- York Sun of Sept. 29, 1891, 
and Kemble admitted on the witness stand, in his suit against Charles 
A. Dana, that he had written the letter. 

Addressed. A postal term which it is still common to find on letters 
sent by messengers, and denoting that those letters are to be delivered 
as directed. The term came up when the Post-Otfice department began 
to fight private mail carriers, about 1840, and only lost its significance 
some twenty years after. The object of so addressing letters was to 
avoid having them come under the postal monopoly, as, theoretically, 
every closed letter must be delivered by the United States postal service. 

Addressee. The person to whom a letter or other object is addressed. 


Adjective jCPker. A term of derision applied, like ink-slinger, to those 
who write for the press. The allusion, in the present case, is doubtless 
to the indiscriminate use of adjectives, among young writers and report- 

Admiral. In Newfoundland, a name given to the oldest man of a fishing 
settlement. Also, to the recognized chief commander of a fleet of fish- 
ing vessels. 

Admire. (1) To wonder, to be affected with surprise. Now obsolete 
in that sense in England, although its use has once had the highest 
authority. In the New-England States, particularly in Maine, still a 
very current expression. 

Let none admire 
That riches grow in hell. 
(Milton, Lost, bk. 1, 1. 690.) 

He (Charles II) is so fond of the Duke of Monmouth, that everybody admires 

(Pepy's Diary, Feb. 22, 1663.) 

(2) To wish eagerly. " I should admire to go to Europe." Also 
especially confined to New England, although it is still heard now-a-days 
in some eastern counties of England. 

Adobe, ah-doh'-bay (Sp. ). In the South-West, a common name for sun- 
dried or unbaked bricks, and, by extension, for the tenacious clay itself 
used as material. 

Also used adjectively in the sense of suitable for making adobes, built 
or made of adobes. " An adobe soil, an adobe house." 

Often colloquially shortened to dobe, or dobie. 

Adoete, ah-dok-tay. In French Canadian folk-lore, a word used among 
the old " coureurs des bois," to designate an Indian who has passed a 
secret agreement with an evil genius. 
Also called Mahowmet. 

Adulterer. Not only an infringer of the 7th commandment, but also one 
wlio "adulterates." 

Adventism. The doctrine taiight by Dr. William Miller, who might be 
called the American counterpart of Dr. Gumming, in England. 

The chief tenet of Adventism was a belief in the physical second 
advent of Jesus-Christ, which event Miller affirmed would take place on 
the 23rd of October 1844, whereupon numbers of his followers settled 
their earthly accounts and prepared to meet their Lord and Saviour. 

Also called Millerism. 

Adventist. A believer in the doctrine of Adventism, as taught by Dr, 
William Miller. 

Also, Milli-inir'init, MiHerite. 


Adventurer. In early colonial times, the landlord " adventuring " or 
investing money in a plantation. 

The adventurers which raised the stock to begin and supply the Plantation, 
were about seventy gentlemen. ...some adventuring great summes, some 
small (Captain John Smith, Historic of Virginia.) 

Advice and consent. A term in American constitutional law, denoting 
a formal vote of specified persons or boards. 

From this day there shall noe house at all be built in this towne neere unto 
any of the streets or laynes therein, but with the advise and consent of the 

(Boston Town Records, 4 October 1636.) 

Parliament used the term, 16 December 1653, in the Instrument of 
Government, borrowing it from Massachusetts, like the term Common- 

Advisement (to have under). To have under consideration. Rarely 
heard in England, but common in the United States. 

Af eared (Old Eng. ). Still current in the Southern States, especially 
Virginia, in sense of afraid, frightened. 

Affection (tO). To have a liking for. A very old form, now about obsolete 
in England. 

Afflicted. Mentally deficient, or deformed. (Maryland. ) 

Afore, Aforehand (Old Eng.). Still surviving in remoter regions of 
the New-England States, in sense of before, beforehand. Also aforetime. 
J. R. Lowell says that neither Spencer nor his Queen scrupled to write 
afore, and that 'fore was common till after Herrick. 

Africanization. A word coined by Southern political writers, after 
the Civil War, for the act of placing under the control or domination 
of the black race The word obtained especially a frequent and melan- 
choly currency, at the time of the nefarious proceedings of the "carpet- 

Africanize. To place under negro domination or control. 

After. Used for afternoon, in South-Eastern Pennsylvania. "I'll see him 
this after. " 

Afterclaps (Old Eng.). (1) A current word in Pennsylvania and the 
Western States, in the sense of an unjust and additional demand beyond 
the conditions previously stipulated of a bargain. 

(2) An unexpected after-effect, the fag-end of anything. Once current 
in England, but very rarely heard now. 

In Scotland, afterclaps means " evil consequences. " 


Again. Used among the illiterate for against, and usually pronounced 
agin : "Again the house. " / 

The language of low life has preserved for us again, as a preposition, 
instead of against. Etymologically, the form is perfectly correct, and 
goes back to the earliest known period of the history of our tongue. The 
literary language, with thorough inconsistency, uses among, as well as 
amongst, and indeed prefers it, while alongst, corresponding to against 
and once in use, has now entirely given place to along, corresponding 
with again. 

Agate. A glass marble used by boys at play. 
Agaze. Astonished, open-eyed. (Thieves' slang.) 

Age. In game of poker, the first player to the left of the dealer who 
bets. This player holds the " age, " and is not compelled to bet until 
all the other players have signified their intentions. 
Also called edge. 

Ager, AgUP, Aguy, Agy. In the South, frequently used among the 
uneducated for " ague, " meaning a form of intermittent fever, while in 
the North " ague " itself is often pronounced like " plague. " 

With the addition of the word " fever, " the familiar fevernagy is 
formed, from fever-an'-aguy for fever-and-ague. 
Also dumb-aqer, dumb-chill, shaking-ague. 

Agohanna (Ind. Algonkin. ). A king, or chief sachem among the Indians, 
This word belongs to the Indian mythology of Canada, and is frequently 
met in the relations of some early French discoverers. 

Le Roy et Seigneur du pais qu'ils appellent en leur langue Affmihanna. 
(Lescarbot, Nouvelle-France, p. 320.) 

AgOStadero, ah-gos-tah-der-'o (Sp. agosto, the month of August, harvest- 
time). In Texas, a summer pasture, a tract of open country used as a 

A-gFCening. (1) Growing or becoming green. " The grass will soon be 
a-greening. " 

The prefix A is an Anglo-Saxon survival. 

(2) To impose upon one's credulity. " Somebody's been a-greening on 

you. " 

AgPitO, ah-gree'-toh (Sp. dim. of agrio, sour). In Texas, a small, red 
berry ; the fruit of a species of berberis probably identical with the 
chaparral (q. v. ) berry. 

Also called algereta, algireta. 

Agua, ah'-goo-ah (Sp.). A retention, 011 the Mexican border, of the 
Spanish name for "water," being applied to lesser streams, as Agua 
A'zul (New-Mexico), Agua Dulce (Texas), etc. 

Aguardiente, ah goo-ar-de-en'-tay (Sp. contr. of agua ardiente, meaning 
literally " burning water"). On the Mexican frontier, a kind of brandy 
distilled from the red wine of Mexico. Also any common distilled 
liquor, especially American whiskey. 

Ahead. A seaman's term, used in the United States for every possible 
forwardness that can be imagined . 

Ahead of every one, at the head, in advance of every one. 

Go ahead, to go on, to proceed, to rush forward. This idiomatic 
phrase, which is very characteristic of the restless and energetic progress 
of the American people, is also sometimes converted into an adjective> 
as a go-ahead fellow, meaning a progressive, dashing fellow. 

Although to <jo ahead is commonly regarded as a genuine Americanism, 
in the sense aforesaid, there are indications of its use, with same meaning, 
in several old English writters. Davy Crockett made the maxim "Be 
sure you're right, then go ahead." Indeed this use of ahead came in at 
least two centuries before Crocket's time, as we read in Milton : 

But how, among the drove of custom and prejudice, this will be relisht by 
such whose capacity, since their youth, run ahead into the easy creek of a 
system or medulla, etc. 

(Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, Letter to Parliament.) 

Ai. In South Carolina, generally prononced ee ': cheer, steer, for chair, 
stair. With strict retaliation, ee generally becomes, in same region, 
a or ai, as in dare-meat for rfeer-meat. 

Aiguille, a-gwel (Fr. ). A name given, in California, to spiry, needle- 
like, bare and inaccessible rocks. 

Aim. To intend. " She aims to go to morrow." (Tennessee mountains.) 

Air-hole. A term applied, in the North, to certain openings in the 
frozen surface of a river or .pond, which, even in the hardest winter, 
do not freeze. 

Air-line. A railroad built in a straight line, avoiding all curves, and 
windings. The term originated in the West, where the surface of the 
level prairies lends itself admirably to those air-lines. 

Although strictly limited at first to the above sense, an air-line is now 
often extended to mean the most direct road from one point to another. 

Also called straight shoot. 

To take the air fine, to go direct, and by the shortest route ; idiomati- 
cally, to avoid circumlocution. 

Airy. Said of one who is conceited, literally who puts on " airs.'' 

Alacran, ah-lah-krahn'(Sp. ). A name applied, in formerly Spanish States, 
to different species of the genus " scorpio," common in Texas and 


Alameda, ah-lah-may'-dah (Sp. ) A popular name, in Texas and other 
South-Western States, for a road planted with alamos (cotton-wood 
trees), and, by extension,, for a walk or park planted with any kind of 

Alamo, ah'-lah-mo (Sp. ). In Texas and other South-Western States, they 
call alamo the species of poplar known as cotton-wood (Populus nionili- 
fera) in other parts of the Union. Whence, alameda. 

Many places, in Texas, bear the name of alamo, among others the 
famous mission in San Antonio, scene of the massacre of the Texan 
garrison by the besieging Mexicans, in 1835. 

Albany beef. A popular name for the sturgeon's flesh, in the city of 
Albany, where it abounds and is highly esteemed, especially when 
roasted in the form of steaks. 

Other expressions, due to a similar mixture of names, are Cape Cod 
turkey, Marblehead turkey, and Tauiiton turkey. 

Albany hemp (Urtica Canadensis). Canada nettle, so called from the 
fact that in Albany its fibrous bark was once largely used in the 
manufacture of hemp. 

Albany regency. A political term designating an important Demo- 
cratic junta, having its headquarters at Albany, and which controlled 
for many years (1820 to 1854) the action of the Democratic party 
throughout the United States. 
See Bucktails. 

Alberea, al-bear'-kah (Sp.). In Western Texas, a water hole, water 
pocket, or watering place; 

AlbUP, al-boor' (Sp. allure*). In Texas, a game of cards. 

Alcalde, al-kal'-day (Sp. ). Iri Texas, and other formerly Spanish States, 
a judge, magistrate, or justice of the peace. We may here recall that 
the ex-governor of Texas, 0. M. Roberts, who was a justice of the 
peace in the early days of the State, bore the affectionate nickname of 
"the Old Alcalde." 

In Spain and Portugal, the " alcalde" is more especially the mayor of 
a pueblo or town, who is vested with judicial powers similar to those of 
a justice of the peace. 

Alder. Deserves a place, among Americanisms, only in so far as the 
term is recklessly transferred to other shrubs, that resemble the 
original in the form of their leaves. Thus, we have the following : 

(1) Black alder (Prinos verticillatus), a species of winter-berry ; 

(2) Dirarf alil<T (Rhamnus alnifolia), the alder-leaved buckthorn ; 

(3) Sjtikt'd alder, also called White alder (Clethra aluifolia), the sweet 



Alewife. A common term, along the New-England coast, for two species 
of fishes of the herring kind, the "Alosa vernalis" and the "Alosa 

In Maryland and Virginia those herrings are called old wives and 
in Connecticut alewhaps. 

The alewife is like a herrin, but has a bigger bellie ; therefore called an 
alewife. (John Josslyn, Two Voyages to New- England.) 

The form aloof, recorded in 1678, is said to be the Narragansett name 
of the fish ; but it is probably an error for alewife. 

Alfalfa (Sp. ). A Chilian plant of the clover family, otherwise known 
as lucerne of the English sanfoin, and now extensively cultivated in 
California, and other South-Western States. 

Alfargas, AlfOPgas (Sp. ). In Texas, a popular name for saddlebags. 
Used almost exclusively in the plural. 

Alfilaria, al-fee-lah'-ree-a (Sp. alfiler, a pin, the sxiffix ia or ria expressing 
assemblage, aggregation). 

A valuable forage plant (Erodium cicutarium) of the dry regions of 
the South-West, especially Western Texas. 
Other names arejilaree, pin grass, storksbill. 

AlgfiC. A generic name proposed by Schoolcraft, to designate the 
different dialects of the Algonkin languages, which were originally 
spoken by all the tribes of New England, the Middle States, Virginia, 
and part of North Carolina. 

AljibaP, al-hee'-bar (Sp. aljibe or algibe). In Texas, a cistern. 

Alkali flats. The region of extinct lakes and inland seas of Southern 
Nevada and South-Eastern California, forming wide and desert-like 
districts covered with an efflorescence of alkali whose dust is extremely 
annoying. Indeed, before the days of the Pacific railroad, so unpleasant 
to the traveller were the " Alkali flats," that they were called the " Old 
bugbear of the great American Desert. " 

Same region is also graphically called Thirstland. 

All any more, or simply All (Ger. alle, a familiar word used in the sense 
of "gone"). A Pennsylvania vulgarism signifying "all gone. " Thus, a 
waiter, at a restaurant, Avill say : " The roast-beef is all any more, " 
meaning that there is no more. 

This curious piece of jargon is also frequently heard in New Jersey. 

All around SpOPtS (sportsmen). Men whose interest in sport is all 

Also taken in a pejorative sense, as in the case of men versed in all 
forms of dissipation. 


All-a-setting. A term of barnyard origin, current in the West, and 
meaning " in good condition. " "It will make them all-a-setting again. " 

All both (Ger. alle beide). Used for both, in South-Eastern Pennsylva- 


Cf. Fr. tons deux. 

All-day. Able to work a whole day, or every day ; and, by extension 
steady, strong. An all-day horse. 

Alleriekstix (Ger. allesrichtig). A ludicrous corruption from the German, 
used in common schools of Cincinnati as equivalent for the English "all 

All-fired. Probably a Puritan modification of " hell-fired, " and in that 
respect a profane euphemistic adjective, carrying with it the meaning 
of immense, excessive, or inordinate. " That's an all-fired lie. " 

All flpedly. A compound of the above, sometimes used for enormously, 


Alligator. In parts of Connecticut, a name applied to the larva of the 
hell-granite (Corydalus cornutus), an aquatic insect used as bait for bass. 

Alligator (Sp. el lagarto, literally the lizard). A term applied to all the 
saurians found in the New World, and more especially to the croco- 
dile of the southern United States. (Alligator mississipiensis. ) 

Alligator gar (Lepidosteus tristcechus). A large pike-like fish found in 
rivers of the South, and so called from its resernblance to the alligator. 

Alligator pear (Laurus persea gratissima). A West-Indian fruit re- 
sembling a pear in shape, and much esteemed on account of its delicately 
flavored buttery or marrow-like pulp. 

The name is also applied to the fruit of other trees of the genus 
Persea, as of the red bay (P. Carolinensis) of the eastern United States. 

Other variants, for the alligator pear proper, are avocado pear and 
midshipman's butter. 

Alligator tortoise (Chelydra serpentina). A marsh tortoise found in 
Carolinian and other Southern waters. 
Also called snapping turtle. 

Alligator WOOd (Guarea swartzii). A West-Indian tree of the Melia 

Allot upon (to). Used by illiterate people, in remote districts of New 
England, in sense of to anticipate, to intend, to form a purpose. Gene- 
rally contracted in to 1 lot. " Plot upon going to see you." 

Allotment certificate. A certificate specifying the land, etc. alloted 
to a person named in said certificate. 


All-OUt (Old Eng.). An archaism preserved in the United States in the 
sense of by far. " He was all out the best of the lot." 
Quoted in Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy. 

Allow. ( 1 ) Constantly used, in the Middle and Southern States, in the 
sense of affirming or making a statement, and then obviously a corruption 
of that meaning of "to allow," which is synonymous with to admit, to 

(2) In the West, "to allow" is frequently heard in the more vague 
sense of to think, to suppose, corresponding with the "guess" of the 
North, or the " reckon" of the South. 

(3) In New England, "to allow" is generally used as meaning to 
approve. This meaning is however common enough in the Old Country, 
as in the phrase affirming that the Deitj 7 "cannot look upon sin with 
any degree of allowance." 

Other variants are calculate, claim, expect, guess, reckon. 

All-pOSSeSSed. Affected by evil spirits. "Swearing like all -possessed. " 

All quiet On the Potomac. A phrase now become famous, and used in 
jest or ironically as indicative of a period of undisturbed rest, quiet 
enjoyment, or peaceful possession. It originated with Mr. Cameron, 
Secretary of War during the Rebellion, who made such a frequent 
use of it, in his war bulletins, that it became at last stereotyped on the 
nation's mind. 

All right on the gOOSe (to be). This phrase had its origin in Kan- 
sas, during the contentions in that Sc.itj on ths subject of the extension 
of negro slavery within its limits, an 1 meant to bj in favour of slavery, 
to bs true to the cause of slavery. 

Now extended to mean : to ba orthodox on the question at issue, to be 
true to the principles of a political party. 

Also, to be sound on the. yoose. 

The old saying, "everything is lovoly and the goose hangs high," is a 
perversion of a phrase that originated in Delaware. When the spring 
comes, the migratory birds fly northward ; if the weather is rainy or 
cloudy thair flight is near the earth, whereas, if th3 sky is clear, they 
soar at a gr^at height, uttering thoir characteristic erics. The phrase 
originally was : "Everything is lovely and ths gooss honks high." 

All SOPtS. A slang term designating the drippings of glasses in saloons, 
collected and sold at half-price to drinkers who are not over-particular. 

All S0rt3 Of. A prevalent vulgarism in th.- South and West, answering 
to the Eaglish slang "out-aud-ou^ " and used as a complimentary term 
in tli? sjnsD of cute, clever, expert. 

She was all sorts of a gal... 
(Robb, Squatter Life.) 


Allspice. In audition to designating the tropical Pimento (Eugenia 
pimenta) of the West India Islands, it is also often applied to a sweet- 
scented shrub of the South (Calycanthus floridus), the bark and wood of 
which have quite a spicy flavor. At times, a more careful distinction is 
attempted, by calling that shrub the Carolina Allspice, from the State in 
which it i i quite abundant. 

All talk and no eider. Purposeless loquacity.^ Literally, much ado 
about nothing, the idea conveyed being the insignificance of results com- 
pared with the means adopted to obtain them. 
Particularly used in political circles. 

All the g"O. Anything in great demand, or on which there is a great run. 
Also, all the rage. 

All the time. An Americanism of the truest ring, used in sense of "al- 

Nature tells every secret once. Yes ; but, in man, she tells it all the time. 
(Emerson, Essay on Behaviour.) 

All tWO. A pleonastic negro corruption used in sense of "both." 

An exact equivalent of that expression is found in the French language 
with " tous les deux." 

Alluvions. Used in parts of Texas for bottom-lands (q. v. ). 

All wag" blue. A rollicking time ; a spree, a kick-up. 

All WOOl and a yard Wide. A simile for thoroughgoing genuineness. 

Almighty. Used as adjective and adverb, in sense of excessively great 
or powerful, as in the almighty doUar, meaning the power of money, 
Mammon regarded as an embodiment of the worship of, and the quest 
for gold. 

However surprising it may appear, we are indebted to England for 
the sense attached to that wjrd, and our English cousins could even 
lay claim on the phrase "almighty dollar," for Ben Johnson has once 
said : 

Whilst that for which all virtue now is sold, 
And almost every vice, n'tniifh/ii' gold. 

(Epistle to Elizabeth, Countess of Rutland.) 

The modern application of the word to dollars is traceable to Wash- 
ington Irving, who made use of it in his charming little sketch, entitled 
A Creole Village : 

The almighty <l<>llar seems to have no genuine devotee in these peculiar 

16 ALM AM A 

al-moo-sheesh (Ind. animout, a dog, with dim. shiih). 
A word borrowed from the Micmac Indians, and used in the region of 
the Restigouche, N. B, to designate a certain variety of dogs trained 
up for porcupine hunting. 

Pour 1'almouchiche point de piril dans la chasse. 

(J. C. Tache, Soirees Cauadiennes, 1861, p. 18.) 

AlmshOUSe. A term often applied, in the United States, to what would 
be called, in England, a poor-house or a work-house. 
See asylum and home. 

Almud, al-mood' (Sp.). In Texas, a dry measure equivalent to about a 

Also as much as may be sowed with an almud of wheat or corn. 

Along (to get). Used in the sense attached, in England, to the 
expression " to get on." Mrs. Trollope has the following words : "We 
must try to get along, as the Americans say." 

Alonsenel (Cowania stansburiana). A Mexican term, familiarized to 
American ears on the Western prairies, and designating a medicinal 
herb, largely found in the neighbourhood of Salt Lake, which is espe- 
cially much esteemed for its astringent properties. 

Alter. A euphemism used in the South in sense of to castrate, to 
geld, the transition from a general change to a special one of this kind 
being very natural. 

AltO (Sp.). In Texas, a hill, or eminence, generally without trees. 

Alumnus (fern alumna ; pi. alumni, nee}. Literally, one who is being 
educated at a particular college or university, and, specifically, a graduate 
of any such institution. 

Alumni society, a society or club formed of some or all of the graduates 
of a college or university, for the promotion of literature and good 
fellowship. Some such societies are large and influential, as the Harvard 
club, of New- York ; the Yale, of Chicago, etc. 

Also called alumni association, society of alumni, etc. 

Alum-root (Henchera americana). A plant formerly much used by 
herb-doctors, and so called on account of its astringent properties. 

The term alum-root seems to be a popular one, and other roots of an 
astringent character bear the same name, as for instance Geranium 

Amalgamate. A verb applied more particularly, in the United States, 
to the mixture or mingling of the white and black races. 

Amalgamation. The mixing of the white and black races. Another 
word, representing the same idea, is the ill-shapen compound miscege- 
nation, which has lately come into use. 

AM A AMO 17 

AmargOSO, ah-mar-gos'-so (Sp.)- The bark of the goatbush (Castela 
Nicholsonii), used as a febrifuge and a remedy for diarrhoea, and intensely 
bitter, as its name implies. (Texas, esp. lower Rio Grande Valley. ) 

Ambia. A euphemism connected with tne use of tobacco, and designating, 
in Virginia and the Carolinas, the expectoration which the chewing of 
the weed makes necessary. When we add that the word comes probably 
from "amber" denoting its color we hope that the whole poetry and 
delicacy of it will be readily recognized. 

Ambition. (1) Oddly used, in Virginia and North Carolina, instead of 
grudge, or spite. " He has an ambition against me." 

(2) In the Northern States, ambition is often heard as a mere synonym 
for " energy." 

AmbitlOUS. ( 1 ) Ill-tempered, violent, unmanageable. ' 'An ambitious horse. " 
(Georgia and Western States. ) 

(2) Angry, spiteful. (South and West.) 

(3) Industrious, energetic, business-like. (New England.) 

Ambuscades. Disagreements. " Him an' me had several little am- 
buscades." (Tennessee Mountains. ) 

American ivy. A name given, in the South, to the Virginian creeper. 
American KnightS. Knights of the Golden Circle (q. v. ). 

American party. A political party, which originated in New York in 
1844, with the avowed object of opposing the usurpation of the city go- 
vernment by foreigners. Owing to the extreme views of its leaders it fell 
into disfavor, but came again to the front in 1853, under the popular 
designation of Know-Nothings. 

American tweezers. A burglar's instrument, mainly utilized by hotel 
thieves, for turning an inside key on the outside of a door. 
Also called nippers. 

Amiable. Ocldly enough, this adjective, when applied to a man, is often 
understood in a derogatory sense, as if he were stupid. 

Amnesty oath. An oath exacted of conquered Southerners, after the Civil 
War, in order to secure their loyalty, and granting amnesty upon cer- 
tain conditions. So peculiarly harsh and severe were some of the mea- 
sures contained in that oath, that it was at one 3 irreverently called 
Damna*h/ Oath, and also Iron-Clad Oath, from Gen. B. F. Butler, nick- 
named "Iron-Clad." 

Amole. The .soap-plant (Phalangiuni pomeridianum) is known as amole 
in California and Arkansas. Its pulp, when rubbed on wet clothes, pro- 
duces an abundant lather, and even smells somewhat like new brown 



Among". The use of "among" instead of "between," when only two 
persons are referred to, is of frequent occurrence in the United States, 
although by no means absolutely unknown in England. 

Among the missing (tO be). A common slang phrase denoting simply 
to be absent, to absent one's self. 

AmparO, am-pah'-ro (Sp.). In the mining phraseology of Texas, permission 
to stop working a mine for a definite period, without forfeiting the 

Amputate. In thieves' slang, to decamp, to take flight, 
same way as to cut, to skip, in English slang. 

Used in the 

Amusers. A brutal and cynic expression, designating those thieves' 
accomplices who throw snuff, pepper, or other noxious substances in the 
eyes of a victim they intend to rob, while a confederate, under pretence 
of coming to the rescue, completes the operation. 
Old English cant, but now obsolete in England. 

Anacahuita, ah-nah-kah-wee'-ta (Sp. from Mex. anaqnahitl). A small 
tree of the borage family (Cordia Boissieri), found in South-Western 
Texas, and often confused with the anaqua (q. v. ). 

Anan, Anend, from "anon" (Old Eng. ). A very interesting survival 
still persisting, in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and among old-fashioned 
people, in the precise sense given by Halliwell : 

Anend : How, what did you say I By lower class of persons to higher, 
when they do not understand what is said tg them. 

The form anan is constantly met with in Fenimore Cooper's novels. 

It may well be remarked here that right anend, used in sense of 
" continuously," is almost certainly a corruption of "on end," and has 
nothing to do with the above interrogative form. 

Anaqua, ah-nah'-coo-ah (Sp. ). A tree or shrub of the borage family 
(Ehretia elliptica), found in South-Western Texas. 
Also called knackaway. 

Anchovy pear (Grias cauliflora). 
digenous to Jamaica. 

A large esculent mango-like fruit, in- 

AnCOn, an-cone' (Sp. ). In Texas, and especially on the lower Rio Grande, 
a piece of land on the banks of a river, which is cultivated by irrigation. 
In Spain, the name applies to a small anchorage or roadstead. 

And the Pise. Used, in some parts of the South, in sense of more than 
that, and more. 
See rising. 

Angel. A slang word of low life designating one who possesses the 
means and inclination to "stand treat." 


Angler (Lophius americanus). One of the most remarkable of American 
fishes, so called from its long feelers, which it protrudes from its hiding- 
place in the mud, for the purpose of attracting the smaller fry on which 
it feeds. 

Also popularly but wrongfully named devilfish, sea devil. 

Angler. In thieves' slang, a street prowler, generally belonging to a 
gang of petty thieves, and who is always on the lookout for oppor- 
tunities to commit small larcenies. 

Angle-WOFin. In Western Connecticut, a common name for the 
earth-worm. Indeed, in that region, no other word is known, although, 
curiously enough, the verb "to angle" is not used. 

Animal. A name given to new arrivals at the Military Academy of 
West Point. See beast. 

Also, in the slang of several colleges : (1) A literal translation, or 
pony (q. v.) ; (2) A very vulgar person ; (3) A Welsh rabbit, or bunny 
(q. v.). 

Animule (with a sly pun upon mule). A favorite substitute for animal, 
in California and the South-West. 

Generally used as a substitute for "mules." A witty play upon 
"animals" and "mules." 

AnnattO. A well known West-Indian orange-red dye, and article of 
commerce, otherwise also called orlian. 
Other forms are anotta, annotto. 

Annex. In thieves' slang, to steal. The equivalent of the English " to 

Annexationist. In Canada, an advocate of annexation to the United 


See Political Union. 

Anointed. One who has been flogged and chastised so severely, that an 
application of ointment has been deemed necessary. 

In English cant the same word is used to signify great rascality. 

Anointing. A chastisement severe enough to call for the application of 

Another lie nailed to the counter. A detected slander. Prob. from 
old pratice of nailing spurious coins to shop counters. 

Antagonize. In addition to ordinary English sense of "to oppose," 
used with the meaning of "to convert into an enemy." 

Ante, Anti. A chip of an agreed value, at game of poker, being the stake 
or bet placed anti, or in opposition to the dealer's bet, before the cards 
are given. 


Ante, Anti (to). A verb extended from the substantive, and meaning to 

risk or bet generally. " What will you anti he will lose his election ? " 

Another form is ante-up, mostly used in sense of to pay, to disburse. 

Antic. Clown, joker. (Tennessee mountains. ) 

Anti-federalist. A word coined about 1788, and more particularly 
identified, in American history, with the political party that was then 
opposing the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. 
Also, anti-unionist. 

Anti-Masonry. A movement precipitated, in 1826, by the alleged mur- 
- der of Morgan by the Free-Masons. Wm. H. Seward, Millard Fillmore 

and Thurlow Weed were among the leaders of the Anti-Masons, and the 

party wielded power for several years. 

Anti-negro. This word acquired special significance, in the United 
States, at the period following the close of the Civil War, and during 
which the extension of the suffrage to the negro was being agitated. 
The anti-negro party was then a large and powerful one, on account of 
the inevitable swamping of the white by the colored vote in some of the 
States which was foreseen in the event of negro suffrage. 

Anti-rentism. An organized opposition to manorial rights of agricul- 
tural lands in the State of New York, which resulted, in 1846, in the 
abolishment of all feudal tenures. The movement resulted from the 
attempt of the heirs of General Van Rensselaer to collect rents, which 
attempt was resisted on the ground that those semi-feudal land tenures 
were inconsistent with the spirit and genius of Republican institutions 
The anti-rant movement bore a conspicuous part in the politics of 
New York, during most of the decade prior to 1847, and those who were 
affiliated to it were called anti-renters. 

Antony OVeP. A school-boy's term, in Pennsylvania, for a game of ball 
played by two parties on opposite sides of a school house, over which 
the ball is thrown. Antony is merely here a proper name pressed into 
service, as Reynard, Robin, etc. 
Also called Mty-over, haily-over. 

AnxiOUS bench. A technical term preserved by some Baptist and Me- 
thodist communities, and designating the seat or bench near the altar 
to which those persons are led who are peculiarly excited, during revivals, 
to a consciousness of their sinfulness. 

Also called anxious seat, mourners' bench or seat. 

Fast falling out of use, althoxigh still common enough in New England, 
in a figurative sense. 

AnxiOUS meeting. A religious meeting consequent on a revival. 


AnxiOUS mourner. A " mourner " at a revival, urged on by the necessity 
of seeking salvation, and who is led to the " anxious bench," there to 
receive aid and comfort. 

Any. Very curiously used, like some, (q. v.), in sense of "at all." People 
speak of not being angry any, or angry some, meaning they were angry 
or not, as the case may be. 

Any hOW. At any rate. " I am going to try, any how." 
Any hOW you can fix it. At any rate whatever. 

Any more. An intensive form used in South-Eastern Pennsylvania. " I 
can't find my knife any more." 

Anything else. An hyperbolical phrase, often added, with not, to any 
assertion requiring, in the speaker's mind, a strengthening affirmation. 
" We didn't do anything else" meaning we certainly dit it. 

On the other hand, if the assertion is strongly negative, anything is 
changed into nothing. 
See nothing else. 

A. P. A. Standing for American Protective Association, an organization 
which sprung into existence some ten years ago, with the avowed object 
of fighting the so-called encroachments of the Catholic Church in the 
United States. See Know-Nothings. 

Apaism. The doctrine of the A. P. A. or American Protective Asso 

Apaist. A member of the A. P. A. One who adheres to the doctrine of 
the A. P. A 

ApareJO, ah-pahr-a' -ho (Sp. ). A Spanish word, preserved in the former 
ly Spanish States, and designating a pack-saddle. 

Apast. Used, in parts of the South, esp. Tennessee, for beyond, on the 
other side. 

Cf. " to apass " (Old Eng. ) meaning to pass by, to pass on, to pass 

ApishamOPG (Ind. apishamon, Chippewa). A saddle-blanket, mad e of 
buffalo-calf skins, and used on the great prairies to protect the animal's 
back from being chafed. 

Also, a bed, or anything to lie down. 

Apola (Ind.). An Indian word, frequently met in the relations of the old 
French traders and " voyageurs " of Canada, and designating a certain 
variety of stew made with larks. 

li'apola, ou tituvee d'alouette-s, avoc ponrnos do terre, rule de pain, et michi 

De Gaspt 1 , Anciens Canadians, p. 192.) 


App3a?aneel. Usjd in parts of tha South, eap. Tenne3S33, ELS part, 
adj. from appearance. " She is very good appezranced." 

Apple-bee. An assembling of neighbors, in the country, to gather apKes, 
or to cut them up for drying. Wnen for the latter purpose, the reunion is 
known as an apple-cut, orapple-peelinj. These gatherings, like " husking- 
bees," consist mainly of young people, and are the occasion of much 

Apple-brandy. A Virginia term for a genuine brandy, distilled from 
fermented apple-juice. 

In New England, known as apple-jack, and apple-john, whilst in the 
South it is called Jersey-lightning. 

Other names are cider-brandy, snap-neck. 

Apple-bug (Conotrachelus nenuphar). A black, beetle-shaped insect, 
frequenting summer pools, and so called by country people because it 
destroys apples, plums, etc. by puncturing them to insert its eggs, 
which causes the fruit to fall prematurely. 
Also known as the plum-weevil. 

Must not be confounded with the apple-worm (Carpocapsa pomonetta), 
which is the name given in America to the larva of the European 

Apple-butter. A thick sauce made of apples stewed down in cider, 
which is then put away, like butter, in tubs and firkins, and keeps for 
nearly a year. Although not unlike the " apple-sauce " of New England, 
apple-butter is a dish more peculiar to Virginia and Pennsylvania, where 
it has been inherited from the first settlers through several generations. 

Apple-jack. A popular drink, distilled from fermented apple-juice. 
Also commonly called jack. 

Applejees or Speck and applejees (Dutch apeltjees). An old-fashioned 
Dutch dish still in favour in New York, and consisting of fat pork and 
apples which are cut up together and cooked. 

Apple-leather. Apples parboiled and stirred into a paste of considerable 
consistency, then rolled out and dried in the sun, when they become as 
tough as leather. (Pennsylvania and Maryland.) 

Apple PePU (Datura stramonium). (1) The Northern name of the 
" thorn-apple," a coarse growing and troublesome weed, the seeds and 
stems of which are powerful narcotic poisons. 

Also called devil'tt trumpet, and Jamestmvn weed, this last one being 
traceable to the fact that it was first noticed in Jamestown, Va. 

(2) The garden rhubarb, or pie-plant. (Maine.) 

Apple-Slump. The old name of a favorite New-England dish, consisting 
of apples and molasses, baked whithin a bread-pie in an iron pot. 


Also known in New England as pzn-hwdy, which no doubt is a 
descendant of Halliwell's pandouble. 
Also pan-pie. 

Apple-tOddy. A favorite mixture made of whiskey or brandy, then 
stirred into a punch, and into which roasted apples are substituted for 
the usual lemons. 

Applicant. Besides English meaning of " one who applies " for anything, 
has sometimes in New England the sense of a diligent student, that is 
one who applies himself closely to his studies. In this latter sense, 
however, it is now fast growing obsolete. 

Apportion. A political term meaning " to arrange " a district in 
the interests of the party who undertakes the work, so as to give to 
every one connected with that party his due share of representation in a 
future election. 

Apportionment. The act of '* apportioning" an electoral district, so 
as to bear on the result of a future election. 

AppP63iate. Besides ordinary meanings, has ths peculiar sense, both aa 
active or neuter verb, of to raise, to increase in value. " These impro- 
vements will appreciate your property ...... His lands have not appre- 


AppP83iation. A rising, an increase, in worth or value, besides usual 
meaning of estimation, valuation. 

Approbate. With some people, meaning to approve, to feel or express 
approbation, but mostly used, as past participle, in a sort of technical 
sense among the clergy, to denote a person who is licensed to preach. 
" An approbated minister." 

Also common enough in New England in sense of to grant a license to 
keep a public house, or sell spirituous liquors. Thus, a law enacted by 
the General Court of Massachusetts, in 1851, prohibits a certain class of 
men " being approbated to keep an inn or public house." 

ar-ah'-doe (Sp. arada). In Texas, plowed land, or cultivated 
land in general. 

APDOP Day. The day set aside, in several States, for the planting of 
shade and ornamental trees. The observance of Arbor Day is a typical 
Western innovation, and was first inaugurated, about twenty years ago, 
in Nebraska, during the administration of Governor Thayer, in response to 
the exigencies presented in the treeless and arid West. 

APCh Of ZePUbbabel (Royal). The seventh degree of the American 


APCtiCS. Far-lined foot-gear, generally consisting in heavy woolen 
stockings to wear with boots. In England, c/oh*ht*. 
See overshoe*. 

Argufy. A corruption of " to argue," in sense of to debate, to discuss. 
The participles argufied and argufying are also common. 

Arid Belt. A tract of country stretching from Canada to Mexico,through 
the middle of the United States, and where stock raising is almost the 
sole industry. 

Ark. A sort of massive boat, made after the form of an oblong ark, which 
was formerly much used on the Mississipi, for the transport of merchan- 
dise, before the introduction of steamboats. Now mostly relegated to 
the more remote water-courses of the great river, where time is of less 
vital importance. The ark is generally about fifteen feet wide, and from 
fifty to a hundred feet long, with a carrying capacity of from two to four 
hundred barrels. 

Also called broadhorn andflathoat. 

APk and Dove. A Masonic illustrative degree, preparatory to the Royal 
Arch degree, and, when conferred at all, given immediately before the 
ceremony of exaltation. 

Arkansas tOOthpiek. A variety of bowie-knife, so called with savage 
irony in Arkansas, because its blade shuts up into the handle, and it can 
thus be worn more easily on the body. 

Arm. In Western Florida, an arm of the prairie extending into and 
partly surrounded by woods. 
See bay. 

Armory. A name applied to a place or building where fire-arms are 
manufactured, as well as to an armory proper. 

In England, armory means only the place where arms are kept, the 
factory being there known as a " gun factory." 

Arm-Shop. In England, a gun-smith's shop. 

Around. Constantly used advcibially in scr.te cf near, in the neij.'hl or- 
hood. " To be around" that is, to be near, or close by. 

The most violent abuse of the word is mentioned by Bartlett, in the 
case of a minister who is reported to have said of one of the Saviour's 
apostles that " he stood aroun-i the Cross,'' thereby recalling memories 
of that Irishman who once " surrounded " his cottage. 

Arpent (Fr.). A French word still persisting for ''acre" in Louisiana, 
as in the days before it was a State of the Union. 

Also in general use in the valley of the St. Lawrence, among the des- 
cendants of the old French settlers in Canada. 


APPastPa, ar-ras-trah' (Sp. orr stre, a mining term). A South-Western 
word designating a primitive or drag-stone mill for pulverizing ore. 

, ar-re-er'-o (Sp.). A muleteer, or driver of a pack of mules, in 
Texas and the South-Western States. 

AFPOba, ar-ro'-bah (Sp. ). A Mexican weight (25 Ibs), and a Mexican 
measure (32 pints), in use in Texas. 

APFOW. The flower of the sugar-cane, previous to the appearance of 
which the sugar-cane does not arrive at the maturity indispensable for 
grinding purposes. 

Arrow-head (Sagittaria variabilis). A common and very variable 
aquatic plant, so called from the shape of its leaf. 
Also known in some parts of England. 

APPOW-POOt (Zamia integrifolia). A valuable plant indigenous in 
Florida, and from which is obtained the preparation called coontie. 

APPOW-WOOd (Viburnum dentatum). A tree peculiar to America, 
and so called from the fact that almost all the Indian tribes, roving over 
the Western plains, make their arrows from its long, straight stems. 

APPOyo, ar-ro'-yo (Sp. ). A common name, all over the South-West, 
for deep, rocky ravines, or dry water-courses. 

The Spanish meaning of the word is simply brook or creek, or even 
street gutter. 

In the North-West, esp. Manitoba, the equivalent of arroyo is the 
coutte of the old French " voyageurs." 

The word gulch, so often quoted in connection with California matters, 
also designates an arroyo, although perhaps generally conveying a mean- 
ing of a mountain ravine still more abrupt and inaccessible. 

Diminutives of arroyo are arroyito, arroyidlo. 

As big as all OUt Of dOOPS. Anything very large or important. 

I will never truckle to any man, -though he be a* big as all out of doors. 

(McClintock's Tales.) 

As gOOd as. An illiteracy often heard in New York, instead of " as well 
as." " I'd as good go there," i. e. I might as well go there. 

As I Can. Following generally a phrase like " I don't know," is fre. 
quently heard in the rural districts of New England, where it represents 
the cautious hesitation by which the Yankee thinks it prudent to qualify 
every promise or assertion. 

The "I don't know as I can" of Yankeedom much resembles the 
" Quien sabe " of the Spanish. 

As long as. Because, since. "As long as you are willing to do it." 
Ash-Cake. A Southern term for a corn-cake baked in the ashes. 

26 ASH AT 

Ash-caPt. A scavenger's cart. 

Ash-hopper. A lye-cask, to contain ashes, used in country districts by 
people who make their own soap. 

AshlandePS. (1) A notorious political club, identified with Ashland 
square, in Baltimore. 

(2) A club of Baltimore rowdies, so name from Ashland square, near 
which they lived. 

Ash pole. The white-ash tree selected in flag-raising, in 1828, as symbolic 
of the whig party, in opposition to the hickory-tree of the Democrats. 
It might here be recalled that ' ' Ashland " was the name of Henry 
Clay's plantation, near Lexington, Ky. 

Assemble (Old Eng. ) Still used in the sense now obsolete in England 
of joining one thing to or with another. 

Assemblyman. A member of the House of Representatives in New 
York, and in some of the New-England States. 

AssentatiOUS. One who is ready and willing to assent to all that is said. 

Assign. Often heard in the South instead of "to sign." A striking 
illustration of the force with which analogy fashions words, coming in 
this instance from a vague conception of a peculiar force adhering to the 
initial a. 

Assignment. Among newspaper men, the particular work for which a 
reporter is paid. His name is placed in a book called the assigjiment- 
book, along with others, and opposite each name is the topic which the 
man is expected to look after. 

Assinabe (Ind. Alg. a,win, a stone). A Franco-Indian word met in the 
relations of the " voyageurs," and denoting a heavy stone used to keep 
a fishing-net in position at the bottom of the water. 

Assistant. From 1621 to 1848 an Assistant was, in New England, an 
officer both judicial and executive, ranking next to the chief Magistrate, 
and being moreover a member of the Governor's Council. 
See Court of Assistants. 

Assoeie", ah-sos-yay (Fr.). In the time of the old " voyageurs, " a 
partner in a fur company. 

Asylum. Asylum or Home is a word often used in America, when idea 
iutended to be conveyed is that which an Englishman attaches to the 
word almshouse. 

At. A particle most abused in American speech, though of course much 
allowance must here be made for ancient usage still surviving from the 
Old Country. 


(1) Sense of by. " A sale at auction. No goods at retail.' 

" I bought it at auction " is correct English, but " it will be sold at 
auction " is American only. 

(2) Sence of about, or after. " What is he at now ?" meaning " what 
does he propose to do now ? " 

As a mere expletive, at plays especially a prominent part in Southern 
speech, and seems in the South the indispensable finish to every sentence- 
' ' Where have you been at ? Where does she live at ?" 

(3) Sense of in. " A t the East. A t the West." 

This provincialism is not, however, promiscuously used, as, curiously 
enough, the better-known New-England States are generally spoken of 
as "in the East" 

(4) Sense of on, or near. " At hill, at wood," meaning a place on a hill 
or near a wood. 

We have here a very old form, dating back from the Puritan days, and 
from which many proper names like Atwood and others have been derived. 
See on, over, to. 

Ataca, Atoea, ah-tah-kah, toh-kah (Ind. <oci). The French-Canadian 
name of the cranberry (Viburnum oxycoccus). 

Toca, petit fruit comme cerises rouges, qui n'a point de noyau. 
(Sagard, Dictionnaire de la langue huronne.) 

AtajO, ah-tah'-ho (Sp. ntajar, to divide off). (1) A current word, in the 
States bordering the old Spanish Dominions, for a drove of pack-mules. 

(2) In Texas, atajo has the additional sense of a "bunch" of horses, 
tame or wild, though more generally the latter. Also a fence or enclo- 
sure in the corner of a pasture, to stop or gather wild cattle. 

See reparadero. 

AtamaSGO lily (Amaryllis atamasco). A small one flowered lily, espe- 
cially flourishing in Virginia and the Carolinas, where it is held in high 

Also called the fairy lily. 

At grade. Used of a railroad, crossing another road on a level. 

Athens Of America. A name usually given, in the United States, to 
the city of Boston, on account of the culture of its inhabitants, and 
its numerous educational, philarithropical, and social institutions. 

Also, the Classic city, the City of baked beans, the City of Notions, the 
Hub of the Universe, the Modem Athens, the Tri-Mountain City. 

Atole ah-toh'-lay (Sp. ). A common term in formerly Spanish States, 
for prepared corn meal, and especially for the thin gruel made from 
corn meal and water or milk. 

The word is probably of Mexican origin, though not in Sanchsz. 


Atomy. An old English word still surviving in America, and used in 
contempt of a small person. Shakespeare has it in the very same sense, 
in his " King Henry IV." 

Also sense of a empty-headed person. 

AtOSSet (Ind.). An Indian word of the Montagnais tribe, designating a 
fish especially abundant in the region of Lake St. John, province of 

Atshen (Ind. ). See Outiko. 

At that. Probably a contraction of " added to that," and often used as 
an expletive to strenghten an expression. " He is a down East Yankee, 
and a smart one at that." 

AttlebOPO. A word applied adjectively to sham jewelry, from town of 
same name, in Massachusetts, celebrated for its manufactures of cheap 

Also, by extension, applied to any men or things of a sham, insincere, 
or doubtful character. 

AugeP. A person given to prosiness ; a bore. (Thieves' slang.) 

Aunt, Aunty. An affectionate term given to old negresses, in the Middle 
and Southern States. Similarly, uncle is used with reference to an elder- 
ly colored man. 

Uncle and Aunt cannot be said, however, to be absolutely 
peculiar to America, as Pegge's Supplement to Grose distinctly states 
that the two words are " in Cornwall applied to all elderly persons." 

Auntsary. In the Maritime provinces of Canada, a kind of catamaran 
turned up at both ends. A variant of " Aunt Sarah." 

Cf. " Aunt Sally," the name given to an athletic game in vogue 
among the English country folk. 

oh'-rah (Sp. ). In Texas, a species of large Mexican vulture, 
probably the true turkey buzzard (Cathartes aura). 

Authority. (1) In Connecticut, the justices of the peace are denomi- 
nated the civil authority. 

(2) Also used, in some States, in speaking collectively of the profes- 
sors, etc. of our colleges, to whom the government of those institutions 
is intrusted. 

Avail. Used actively, instead of reflectively, that is, omitting the 
usual oneself. " He availed of the offer. Availing of the courtesy. . ." 

Witherspoon even cites the following example : " The members of a 
popular government should be continually availed of the situation ..... " 

The active use of to avail was not always unknown in England, for 
Pope has the line : 

What means might best his safe return avail. 


Avails. An old word designating the proceeds of all sales, rents, profits, 
etc. and which is still often heard in some States, especially in New 

J. R. Lowell maintains that avails must forcibly remind us of the 
vails given to servants in Old England, two terms which he assures are 

Avalanche. A curious corruption for " ambulance, " said to be in use in 
Texas and the outlying territories. 

Avocado pear. Bee Alligator pear. 

A Wadosi (Ind. ). The literal translation of this Indian name would be 
" carrier of stones," and the very peculiar fish to which it applies is 
found in the southern region of Hudson Bay. It appears that this fish 
is so called, because it ie wont, in the spring, to gather stones or gravel 
which serve to build small mounds where its spawn is deposited. 

Awful. An intensive adjective, used in New England in sense of diaagre- 
able, detestable, ugly, and in the West in sense of excessive. 

Taken adverbially, as in "awful hungry," etc', it has no claim at 
being an Americanism, as it is in that sense just often heard in England 
as here. 

In sense of ugly, unpleasant, distasteful, the use of awful is very old, 
and was in past times a colloquialism often heard in England, north of 
the Tweed. 

Ax, Axe. In sense of " to ask," still persisting here with astonishing 
vitality among the uneducated, especially in the South. 

This word has the warrant of great antiquity and noble patronage, 
and was used by the best writers, in Queen Elisabeth's time, with the 
same frequency as ask is now. " Axe not why," says Chaucer's Miller ; 
and in the Frere's Tale we read : " Axe him thyself if thou not trowest 

Still provincial in parts of England. 

Axes to grind (to have). A phrase derived from politics, and meaning 
to have some personal object to serve, to seek personal advantages under 
color of party zeal. The phrase first appeared many years ago in a 
newspaper sketch, introducing a boy who was induced, by a clever fic- 
tion, to turn the grindstone for another man to grind kin axe. 

The number of axes which arc taken to the various State Capitols, to be 
ground at the public expense, is perfectly enormous. 

(Xt'io-York Tribune, March, 1871.) 

The whole countryside turned out to greet McKinley, but a number of little 
axes that were desirous of immediate grinding had to remain in the back- 

(Boston Herald, Feoruary, 1899. 


AxolOtl (Mex. all, water, and xolotl, glutton). In Texas, a name common- 
ly used for the Mexican water-lizard (Amblystoma mavortium). 

Ayudante, ah-you-dan'-tay (Sp. ayudar, to help.). In Texas, a man 
temporarily employed on a ranch or hacienda. 

Azote, ah-so'-tay (Sp.). In Texas, a switch, or anything used as a whip. 

Baalam box. See hell-box. 

Babe. A term applied to the youngest member of a class, at West Point 
Military College. 

Babes. A Baltimore term for a noisy set of rowdies. 

Babiehe (Ind. ababich, a string). A word designating, among the French 
Canadians, strips of eel's skin which are especially much Qsed in making 

This word has been known since the discovery of Canada, as we find 
" ababich" mentioned in Lescarbot's "Histoire de la Nouvelle-France," 
under date of 1612. 

Bacayere, bah-kah-yair (Fr.). A variety of duck common in the Gulf of 
St. Lawrence. 

Bach, Batch (to). A slang word derived from " bachelor," and mean- 
ing " to live in a bachelor's way." Thus, young men living alone, and 
doing their own cooking, are said " to batch it." 

Back. (1) Often used for ago, as in the familiar phrase : "A long time 
back." Is a remnant of the old English form backward, formerly so 

(2) Sense of behind, etc. See back of. 

Back (to). (1) A commercial word used in the sense of "to endorse;" 
literally, to write on the back of a letter, bill or check. 

(2) Often heard, in parts of the West and the South, in sense of to 
address a letter, i. e. writing the address on the back of an envelope. 

Back (to take). When a man utters a mistaken charge, or wrongfully 
applies an epithet, he generally says, by way of apology : "I take that 

Back and fOPth. Often used, especially in New England, for " back- 
ward and forward.'' 

Is after all only a slight alteration of the back and fore of Scotch 


Back and hidden. A common colloquialism, meaning that which is 
secret or kept back. 

Backbone. Grit, courage, moral stamina, weight of character. 

The word is now common wherever the English language is spoken, 
but is believed to have been first introduced by the Abolitionists in the 
stormy days just before the war. 

Baekeap (to). To speak evil of some one, so as to spoil his game. 
Backeap (to give a). In thieves' argot, to expose one's past life. 

Back country. In colonial times, the country lying immediately back 
from the earlier settled Atlantic seaboard. Now, the uncleared timber 
country of the West, and we might add, in a figurative sense, th6 con- 
fines of civilization. Hence the terms back country and up country people, 
used adjectively in a derogatory sense, and always suggesting a certain 
inferiority, becaiise up the rivers, toward the headwaters, population 
becomes scarce, civilization imperfect, and schools few in number. 
Other forms are back settlements, backwoods, up country. 

Back down (tO). To retreat, to yield, to give up. Very suggestive in 
meaning, and corresponding in a striking way to the opposite phrase of 
going ahead. 

Equivalent forms are to back out, to back water, to take the back track. 

Back down (a square). A severe rebuff, an utter collapse. 

Back-end. A quaint manner of speech, meaning lately, towards the 
end. " He did not do very well the back end. ..." 

Baek-hOUSe. A privy, so called from its position at the back of the 

In some parts of England, it is called the backivard. 

Backing 1 and filling 1 . A backing and filling policy is one which is shilly- 
shally, trifling, irresolute. 

Back-load. The maximum quantity of game which a man can carry on 
his back. (N. J.) 

Back log 1 . A large log used, in fire-places, to support the other fuel. 

Back Of. Sense of behind, previous to, back from. " This was back of 
Chaucer's time." 

Was known in Ireland as long ago as 1732, and Mr. Heslop, in his 
Northumberland Words, notes it as a dialectal shortening of aback of, as 
in : " He wis back o' the engine-hoose at the time." 

Back Seat. An inferior position. 


Back Seat (tO take a). To retire into obscurity. The phrase also some, 
times implies a silent confession of failure, an inability to accomplish 
what one has attempted. 

Back talk. An impertinent answer. 

Back talk (no). A slang catch phrase indicating that the matter in 
question is closed to discussion. 

Back track (tO take the). To retreat, to abandon, an undertaking 
To recede from a false position, after having gone too far. 

A Western phrase derived trom the life of the hunter and trapper in 
the back settlements. 

Backward. Often used, especially in the West, as an adjective for 
bashful, unwilling to appear in company, on the same principle as 
" forward, " meaning the very contrary. In the West, for instance, a 
modest and timid young man is sometimes called a " backward colt. " 

Back water (to). A Western metaphor, derived from steamboat lan- 
guage, and meaning to retreat, to withdraw. 

Backwoods. See back country. 

Backwoodsman. An inhabitant of the forest, in the back country, and, 
by extension, a simple and unsophisticated man. 

BaekWOOdS preacher. One whose clerical functions are exercised in 
the wild, unsettled portions of the country, with the blue vault of 
heaven for a church roof, and a tree stump for an altar. 

Bad. (1) As an adjective, often refers not to moral depravity, but to 
the state of one's health, as in the familiar phrase : " I feel bad to day/' 
where an Englishman would say "I feel ill." According, however, to 
a recent article in the London Saturday Review, " to feel bad" is 
now a current cockney phrase. 

In low slang bad receives the sense of hard, as for instance a bad man, 
which, in thieves' parlance, means a bull}', a bruiser. 

(2) Used in sense of plenty, in South-Eastern Pennsylvania. "Phea- 
sants are very bad in the woods." 

(3) As an adverb, bad is generally used for badly, greatly, very 
much. " I want to see him bad. This hurts me bad, etc." 

Bad crowd. In Western parlance, a set of people not thought much of 
i. e. what in England would be regarded as no great shakes. 

Bad egg". A Californianism for a worthless specxilation. 

Badger State. The State of Wisconsin, so called in allusion to the 
abundance of badgers in it. Hence also the sobriquet badytr* applied 
to residents of Wisconsin. 


Badger. One. who robs a man, after a woman accomplice has enticed the 
victim into her den. 

In old English cant badgers were river thieves, and in modern English 
slang to badger is to tease, to annoy, in which sense it is also concur- 
rently used in the United States. 

Badger game. In thieves' slang, a variety of the " panel game." A 
woman gets a man in a compromising situation, and her male accomplices 
either rob him, or extort money from him by threats. 

Bad lands. In the arid region of the Great West, the alkali lands with 
bare mud buttes are called the Bad Lands, from the French " Mauvaises 
Terres," which was the name first applied to them by the early French 
explorers, on account of their striking aspect of sterile and dreary wastes j 

By extension, any stretch of specially rough land. 

The French name still answers in the corruption " Movey Star " of 
some localities. 

Bad man. A desperadoe, among frontier communities, i. e. a professional 

fighter or man-killer, who is a sure shot and who will use his revolver 

upon the most futile pretext. 
Bad medicine. One who is objectionable for any reason. Derived from 

the Indian "medicine man's" practice of being helpful or harmful 

accordingly as he is paid. 

Baft. A number, quantity." There was a great baft of people." (Texas.) 

Bagasse (Fr. ). A Southern word designating the dry remains of the 
sugar-cane, going to the furnace for use as fuel. 

Formerly the bagasse was either burned in a furnace to get rid of it 
or thrown out on the " levees " to help fight out the river from eating 
away the bank. 

Baggage. A formerly English word, meaning the " impedimenta " of a 
traveller, now almost entirely discarded in England for the less appro 
priate form "luggage." 

Baggage agent. An employee of a railway having charge of a baggage 
room at a station. 
Also, baggage-master. 

Baggage ear. A railway car usually placed next behind the tender, 
and in which the baggage is stowed for conveyance. In England, 

Baggage cheek. See check. 

Baggage-smasher. A derisive name applied, on American railways, to 
the employee transferring baggage to and from the cars, from his usual 
reckless way in handling the property of travellers. 

By extension, and figuratively, a coarse and brutal person. 


Bagged. Used to signify imprisonment and victimization. 

Probably only an extension of the idea of capture as derived from 
sport, through the slang "to bag," meaning to steal. 

Bagging. A Southern term designating the coarse, hempen bags used in 
packing cotton. 

Also, cotton bagging. 

Bag Of nails. A state of confusion or topsy-turveydom. 

Bags 0'gUtS. A useless individual. A big man with little brains. (N. J.) 

Bail. In New England, a pail or bucket handle. A survival of the old 
Puritan days, and one which is given in Forby's Glossary as a Norfolk 

Bail (to) One's Own boat. To be self-reliant, i. e. to mind one's own 
business, independently and without waiting for help from others. 
Also, to paddle one's own canoe. 

Bailee (Sp. baile, a dance). A cowboy's word, in the South- West, for a 
ball or dance. 

It means also " bailiff, " which is significant, as the connection, in 
those distant regions, between balls and bailiffs, is unfortunately very 

Bait. A common term, in New England, for a fulcrum, i. e. the means 
by which a leverage is obtained. 

Baiting. (1) A hay-makers term, for a lunch in the harvest field. 
(2) A feed for a horse on a road. 

Bake-OVen. Used in the West for the simple word oven, in a bakery. 
Also applied to the iron bake-pan. 

The form bake-oven is of Dutch origin. 

Bake-Shop, Bakery. The place where bread, pastry, etc. are sold. In 
England, bakers shop. 

Balance. Used throughout the United States to signify the remainder 
of almost anything. " The balance of a speech, the balance of the day, 
etc." Indeed, the pitch to which this convenient mercantile word is- 
sometimes carried, seems wellnigh surprising, as for instance reading in 
a newspaper account of a shipwreck : 

"The yawl took ten or eleven persons and landed them, and then went 

and got the balance." 

Or again, as in " William's Florida " : 

"Most of the respectable inhabitants held commissions in the army..., ; 
the balance of the people kept little shops." 

Bald-face. One of the many slang terms under which bad whiskey 
passes in the West. 

Also, forty rod lightning, lightning whiskey, red eye, pine top. 


Bald-faced Shirt. A cowboy's term for a white shirt. 

Thought to come from the fact of Hereford cattle having white faces. 

Bald-headed POW. The first row of stalls at theatres, especially those 
which make a feature of ballets. 

A cynical allusion to the fact that these seats are generally occupied 
by men of mature age. 

Balk. In parts of Connecticut and New York, an iron stake vised to 
" stake out " an animal to graze. 

Balk, Baulk. Said of horses when, in going up-hill, they suddenly stop and 
refuse to move forward, showing, on the contrary, a disposition to go back. 
In the English sense, to balk means simply to frustrate or disappoint, as 
in the sentence given in Bailey : " Balked are the courts, and contest is 
no more." Its American application to horses is, hence, by no means 
inappropriate, a:i 1 quite expressive. 

Balky, Baulky. >?aid of a horse that stands still and refuses to go 

Balloon (to). To fraudulently inflate prices, either in stocks or 
commodities. Confined to Wall street parlance. 

Ballot-bOX Stuffing 1 . Originally practised in New- York, where boxes 
were constructed with false bottoms, so that an unlimited number of 
spurious ballots could be introduced by the party having control of the 
polling place. 

Ball-up. In college slang, to become confused, to confuse. The intransi- 
tive use is the original one, and it probably comes from the " balling up " 
of a. horse in soft, new-fallen snow, when a snowball forms within each 
shoe, making the horse's footing insecure and his movements awkward. 

Balm Of Gilead (Populus caudicans). A well known tree largely culti- 
vated in the Eastem States, more especially in New England. 

Balsam fir (Abies balsamea). A slender tree growing in the North, in 
damp woods, and owing its name to the balsam (Canada balsam), fur- 
nished from certain blisters under its bark. The tree itself is also known 
as Balm of Gilead, in imitation of the Eastern terebinth. 

Balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera). A tall tree growing from New 
England to Wisconsin, and owing its name to the resinous matter 
covering its buds. 
Also, tacamahac. 

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus baltimore). The American oriole, differing 
from its European congenere in that it has here a rich orange plumage 
where the other has pale yellow, therefore so much more deserving its 



name, derived from aureolus, the golden. It is especially found in 
large numbers near the city of Baltimore, and is also known as hang 
bird, from its peculiar hanging nest. 

Bamboo (to). An abbreviation of " bamboozle," used with same meaning, 
i. e. to cheat, perplex, mystify. 

BambOO-bPieP (Smilax rotundifolia). The greeen-brier of the United 
States, attaining at times, in the rich alluvial bottoms which it prefers, 
the size of the bamboo. 
See hull-brier. 

Band. In prairie parlance, a troop or herd of bisons. In California, vast 
flocks of sheep are also formed into bands. 

Band (to). In prairie parlance, to band means to form, to assemble 
cattle, sheep, into vast flocks. 

Banded dPUm (genus Pogonia-y, Cuvier). A fish found in Atlantic waters, 
south of New York. 

Also called grunter, grunts and young sheepskin. 

Banded garfish (Belone truncata). A species of pike found in Southern 
waters, and growing to a large size. 

Also called alligator <icr, or simply gar and bitt-fish. 

Bang 1 . A style of hair-dressing adopted by women, and consisting in the 
hair being generally curled and frizzed upon the forehead. 

Bang 1 (to). To bang the hair is to dispose "bangs" upon the forehead. 
BangCP. At Yale College, a stout cane, a bludgeon. 

BangO. A negro expletive, common to the black race in the South and 
the West Indies, and conveying a meaning of general pleasure. 

Bang-up. (1) An old word for a heavy overcoat, still surviving in some 
parts of the Union. 

(2) Anything of superior quality. " This cloth is bang-up." 

Bank (to). To deposit money in a bank. Also, " to go shares." 
Bank (tO play). To play against the bank or gambling house. 
Bank-bill. In England, bank-note. 

Banker. A vessel employed in fishing on the Banks of Newfoundland, 
and deriving its name from the locality. 

Bankers. A name given, in North Carolina, to the people living near 
that part of the Atlantic coast which there is called the " banks." The 
b-t/t. (<./-. used to be wreckers of doubtful repute, but have now taken to 
farming and fishing. 


Bank Shaving 1 . In banking parlance, the practice of purchasing notes 
of hand and similar documents, at enormously usurious rates of discount, 
the unfortunate debtor being then said to get his paper shaved. 

Before banks were regulated by Act of Congress, bank-shaving 
prevailed extensively among the least reputable of such institutions. 

Bannock. In the United States, a bannock is a cake of Indian meal fried 
in lard, whereas in Scotland, where the word comes from, it is a round 
cake of oat meal baked against a stone. 

Banquette (Fr. ). A word still common in Louisiana, and other formerly 
French parts of the Gulf States, in sense of foot-path or sidewalk. 

Also bankit, now rarely heard however, and which is merely a corruption 
of the above. 

Banter. In South and West, a challenge, a wager. 

Banter (to). Besides signifying, as in England, to joke, to jest good- 
humoredly, to banter means, in the West and South, to challenge to a 
match, to provoke to a wager. 

Bantling (Old Eng.). A child, from an infant in " bands." 
Banty. Saucy, impudent. 

Bar. The common pronunciation for bear, in certain parts of the Southern 
and Western States. 

Commonly written b'ar. In barsmeat the sign of elision is omitted 
BaP. A drinking-shop, or public-house. 

BaP (tO). A verb coined in the West, in sense of to frequent saloons 

or drinking-shops. " He bars too much, and won't stand it long. " 

(Western Scenes, p. 771.) 

A spurious verb, the signification of which is derived from the drinking- 

BarachoiS, bah-rah-shuah (Fr. C.). In the lower St. Lawrence region, a 

name designating a pond or small lake, at the mouth of a river, which is 

separated from the sea by a sand bar. 

Barbecue (Fr. barbe-a-queue, from snout to tail). The roasting whole 
of a large animal over an open fire, the animal being laid on a rude 
gridiron of stakes. The barbecue is a conspicuous feature of political 
meetings, still common especially in the South and West, and is more- 
over often extented to mean any public meeting in the open air, with a 
dinner or other refreshments. 

Although the French barbe-d-queue seems to give us the most plausible 
etymology of the word, many writers have however insisted on barbecue 
being directly derived from the Spanish b'irlwoti, which was as near as 
the early Spanish explorers could get to berbekot, a term formerly used 
among the Indians of Guiana for the wooden grill on which they broiled 
or smoked their meats and fishes. 


(1) A Canadian backwoods term fora kind of blizzard, characte- 
rized by a powdery snow with sharp spicules cutting the face like a razor- 
(2) The vapor rising from the water on a frosty day. (Nfld. N. S. and 
N. B.) 

Barber, Barberize (to). A word confined to barbers, and meaning to 
ply the trade of a barber, to keep a barber's shop. 

Bar diggings. In miners' parlance, placers where the gold-bearing 
gravel gathers in the slack water portions of the streams, and is gene- 
rally submerged by floods. This collection is called a bar. 
See gulch diyyiii;/*. 

Barfoot. " To take one's tea or coffee barfoot," i. e. without cream 6 r 
sugar, is a very curious phrase sometimes heard in the West. According 
to J. R. Lowell, our Westerner only uses, in this very novel signification, 
an old English term written in precisely the same manner in the old 
English Coventry Plays. 

Barge. A vessel of burden, of about the size and appearance of an 
Atlantic schooner, employed on the Mississipi and its tributaries before 
the introduction of steamboats. 

Bark. " The word with the bark on it," i. e. without mincing the mat- 
ter, without circumlocution. 

Bark (to). In the North-West, to cut a circular incision through the 
bark and alburnum of a tree, so as to kill it. A process much in vogue 
among new settlers, in clearing land. Also, to girdle. 
In the South they say, in preference, to belt trees. 

Bark (to) squirrels. In the West, to strike with a rifle-ball the bark 
of a branch immediately beneath where a squirrel sits, and with such 
accuracy that the concussion will kill the little animal without in the 
least mutilating it. 

Hence, metaphorically, the expression signifies to exercise skill and 
acute judgment. 

Bark (tO) through the fence. To take advantage of some obstacle 
or shield for saying or doing something, which otherwise would not be 
said or done, or which might entail unpleasant consequences upon the 
sayer or doer. 

Bark up (to) the wrong tree. To act under a mistaken impression, 
or, as the Englishman would say, " to get on a wrong scent," a mistake 
into which the trapper's dogs occasionally fall when the game has 
taken refuge in a tree which they cannot precisely locate, thereby often 
barking at the wrong one, and deluding their master into straining his 
eyes to no purpose. 

Barley. A child's word, common in Pennsylvania, meaning to intermit 
play (for a rest). 


In Scotland, barley (corrupt, of parley) is a cry used by children in 
certain games when a truce or temporary stop is desired. 

Barm, Barme (Old Eng.). An old English word in use in New England 
for yeast. Shakespeare has it in his Midsummer Night's Dream, and 
we read in Chaucer : 

"Of tarte, alum-glas, berme, wert, and argoils." 
Also, emptyings (pron. emptins). 

8am. Frequently used for stables. 

Barnacle. In Cape May, N. J. , used incorrectly for limpet found on 

Barnburners. A political party representing the young Democracy of 
New York some fifty years ago, and whose members, through their 
proning reforms at any cost, were compared to the farmer who once 
burned down his barn to get rid of rats. 

The opponents of the Barnburners were called Hunkers (q. v. ). 

A hoax ; something pre-arranged, not genuine. 
Also current in England, but commonly supposed to be of American 

Barney. At Harvard College, this word was formerly used to designate 
bad recitations, whilst to barney was to recite badly. 

Barnumize. To talk or assert oneself in the bombastic style popularly 
attributed to the famous American showman, P. T. Barnum. 

Barra (Sp. ). In Southern Texas, the equiv. of bar, meaning a shoal or 
shallow entrance. 

Barrack. A common word to indicate a rough four post structure for 
the storage of hay and straw. 

In Maryland, and perhaps elsewhere, the term is applied to any kind 
of building intended for the storage of hay or straw. 

Barraclade (Dutch baare-Uedeeren, bare-clothes). A term peculiar to 
New York City, and to the original' Dutch settlements of the Empire 
State, and designating a home-made nap-less blanket. 

BarraCOOn (Sp. barracon, used in the West Indies, from barraca, a bar- 
rack). A slave-house, or slave-pen. An inclosure in which, at the time 
of slavery, negroes were temporarily detained. 

BarraCOUda (Sphyraena barrocuada). A valuable fish of the pike 
kind, taken with a spear and especially abounding in Tampa Bay and 
other Florida waters. 

Barranca, bar-ran'-cah (Sp.). In the formerly Spanish States, a moun- 
tain gorge, or deep ravine, with very steep banks, and without water 
.at the bottom except in the rainy season. 


Barraneo, bar-ran'-coh (Sp.). A term applied, in the formerly Spanish 
States, to a bluff or to the steep bank of a river. 

Barred killy. See Mi 

Barrel- A political word used elliptically for a " barrel of dollars, " and 
having originated during the Tilden campaign of 1876, when that candi- 
date was charged with having opened a very large "barrel," for the 
benefit of his henchmen and supporters. 

Barrel-boarder. A loafer in low drinking-saloons. 
Barrel-hOUSe. A low groggery. 

Barren gravel. In mining, the gravel or rocks from which the grains 
and nuggets -of gold have been washed out during the process of depo- 

Barren ground reindeer (Tarandus arcticus). A species of caribou 
confined almost entirely to the Barren Grounds and to Greenland. 

Barren grounds. The denomination of a vast stretch of barren lands 
in the north-eastern corner of North America. 

Barrens. Elevated patches of poor soil, formerly abounding even in the 
Central and Eastern States, and either having no growth on them at all, 
or barely supporting stunted trees unfit for timber. In that case they 
are classed as Oak-barrens, Pine-barrens, etc. according to the kind of 
tree which prevails upon them. 

In Kentucky, the term is applied to certain regions in the carboniferous 
limestone formation, the soil -of which is really very fertile. Hence 
Barren County and Barren River. 

Barring OUt- In cane cultivation the removal, in the spring, of the 
earth from the roots of the cane, to permit the light and air to hasten 
the germinating of the " ratoons." 

Bars (to let down the). (1) To interfere, to put a stop to a thing. 
(2) To wind up a business, a sitting, a session. 

Bartender. The attendant in charge of a drinking saloon, and almost 
invariably a man, as bar-maids are almost unknown in America. 
Also, bar-keeper. 

Base-ball. A game of ball looked upon as the national game of the 
United States, cricket being here comparatively unknown, and so called 
from the three liaxes or stations used in it. 

Base-burner. A stove so constructed that the fire within is fed from 
the top. 

Basket-meeting. A sort of picnic peculiar to the West, and where the 
fun is quaintly mixed lip with religious exercises, after the manner of 
the Pilgrim fathers. 


A basket-meeting is usually got up on the occasion of a " corn-husking" 
or a "raising-bee," each bringing his provisions in a basket. 

It sometimes also occurs, in sparsely populated districts, that a clergy- 
man's stipend is largely paid in kind, and the occasions upon which the 
obligation thus incurred is carried out, are called in the West basket- 

See donation parties. 

Basque (Fr. C.). On the north shore of the St. Lawrence, below the city 
of Quebec, a name given to the velvet-duck (CEdemia velvetina), which 
has a black glossy plumage and red beak. 

BaSSWOOd (Tilia americana). A tree closely resembling the European linden 
in all but the size of its leaves and flowers. 

Also called simply bass or bast, and white wood. 
The name basswood is now obsolete in England. 

Baste (to). To beat, to chastise. Other words used in same sense are 
larrup, lather, lick, wallop, welt, whack. 

All those words are noted in Glossary of Edwin Moor, for county of 
Suffolk, Eng. 

BastCP. A New York term for a house thief. 
Bat. A frolic, a spree. Contraction of " batter. " 

Bat (to). (1) To strike, to beat. " To bat a man over the head. 

(2) To wink, as in the phrase " to bat the eyes." Also " to bat with 
the eyes. " (Southern. ) 

Bat (on a). A slang phrase meaning "on a drunk." 

Bateau (Fr.) In New Jersey, a small, flat bottomed boat, used by oys- 

Batter-Cake. A familiar cake of Indian meal, made with buttermilk or 
cream, and seldom absent from a Southern breakfast-table. 
Also called batter-head. 

Battery. (1) A sort of boat used for duck shooting, and so ballasted that 
the shooter lies below the surface of the water. Other boats are box, 
coffin-boat, sink-boat, surface boat. 

(2) The pitcher and catcher, in base- ball parlance. 

Battle (to). Sometimes heard in sense of "to beat. " 

Battling Stick. A stick to cleanse soiled clothes by beating, after the 
process of French laundry-women. 

Batture (Fr. ). In Louisiana, a deposit of sediment accumulating rapidly 
on one bank of a river at times of high water, due to the caving in of 
the other bank. Also, any alluvial elevation or accumulation of land, 
thrown up at the mouth of a river by the action of a swift current. 


In Canada, the term, which is principally used in the plural, is res- 
tricted to stationary ice formed along the banks of a river or around 

Baweoek (OldEng.). A fine fellow. 

Example in Shakespeare, King Henry IV. 

Bawdy (Old Eng.). Has in the United States the old English sense of 

Bay. (1) In Western and Southern prairie regions, a large opening of 
a prairie into a forest. 

(2) In N. Carolina, a tract of land, low and marshy, producing the 

(3) Applied to water, as a recess in the. land, &.bay may sometimes 
consist of an arm reaching far up into the back country, as Green Bay, 
Wisconsin ; Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. 

(4) In Florida, a deep-set, open curvature of the shore, as Appalachie 
Bay. In Western Florida, however, the word arm is more frequently 

Bay-berry. (Myrica cerifera). A fragrant shrub, so called because its 
leaves have an odor resembling that of the bay. The berries, when 
boiled, yield a green wax much utilized in making candles and for other 

Bay-gall. In Florida, a large and gloomy swamp, almost impenetrable* 
and full of deer, bear and catamount. 

Bayoo. A negro term for a man who would be more aptly called a " low 
down mean cuss." 

Bayou (Fr. boyau, a gut, a narrow passage). In the Southern states, esp. 
Louisiana, an arm of the sea, the accidental and secondary outlet of a 
lake or river. Also, a sluggish watercourse. 

Several etymologists would have this word derived from the Sp. bahia, 
a bay, on the ground that bahia comes nearer, as to meaning, to the 
Anglicized bayou. But the French source seems better to u,s for phonetic 
reasons, and the meaning raises no serious difficulty, as cf. the various 
senses of " gut" in English. 

BayOU State. The State of Mississipi. 

Bay State. Previous to the War of Independence, Massachusetts wag 
known as the Colony of Massachusetts Bay. Hence, the now popular 
name of that State. 

The name Bay State originally came from Cape Cod bay, which 
includes a great part of the coast of Massachusetts. 

From Bay State has been coined Bay Staters, designating the inhabi- 
tants of Massachuset ts. 


Bay-tree. A well known Southern shrub, of the same family as the 
Magnolia grandiflora, only smaller in size, and especially abounding in 
the localities called bays. 
Also called bay-laurel. 

Bay truck. Along the New- Jersey shore, used for food from the bays 
which indent the coast, in distinction from garden truck. 

Bazoo. A slang term meaningto brag, to boast or talk freely about one-self. 

Be (Old Eng. ). The use of be, instead of am or are, as in the Bible, 
is an old English provincialism still surviving with some tenacity in seve- 
ral parts of New England. 

Be ye content, now, deacon ? 


Beach. A name given to sand islands, on the Jersey coast. 

Younrj or little beach, new-made beach containing young timber. 
Old bf.azli, parallel ridges crowned by old timber. 

Beach-combers. (1) A name given to the long deep swell of ocean 
waves rolling on to the shore. 

(2) A term much in vogue among sailors, and applied, in a derogatory 
sense, to certain roving characters who will not attach themselves 
permanently to a vessel, and are a reckless, rollicking set of fellows. 
Especially current on the Pacific slope. 

Bead (to draw a). A Western metaphorical expression, furnished by 
the hunter on the prairies, and meaning "to fire a rifle." Also figura- 
tively, and by extension, to attack another man in his speech. 

In taking cautious aim, the Western hunter raises the foresight of hi 3 
rifle, which resembles a bead, till it comes in a line with the hind-sight, 
and then fires. 

Bead (to raise a). To bring to the point, to ensure success, etc. 

Beagles. A nickname applied to the inhabitants of Virginia, and inherited 
from the Colonial Days, through the introduction, in the Old Dominion, 
of the English beadles of the Court Customs. 

Beaker (Old Eng.). An old English word (from the Dutch beker), preser- 
ved in the United States in sense of " tumbler." 

As bubbles that swim on the beaker's brim. 


Beaker is still used in England, but only with the meaning of a glass 
vessel for chemical analyses. 

Beal. Still used in Pennsylvania, in sense of to fester, to suppurate. 
Now obsolete in England, but still current in Scotland. 

Bean. This word, unqualified, is specialized, in its American meaning 
to what is called in England " French beans, " whereas the simple word 
" bean " implies in England the varieties of broad-bean (faba). 


Beans (Turkish). The beans that were found here were so called by the- 
first Dutch and Swedish writers on America. 

BeaF-bePPy. A translation of the Indian term makauabina, or mask<yw- 
abina, which is the name of a sorb-tree producing a berry of which bears 
are particularly fond. Hence the name of bear-berry, also applied to 
the tree itself. 
See pimbina. 

Beard. On the New- Jersey coast, a term applied to the byssus of mussels, 
or the fringe of an oyster's mouth. 

Bear-gTaSS. See silk-grass. 

BeaP Off (to). A cowboy's term meaning to chase out a stray brand 
from a herd of cattle. 

Also, to keep off a single animal, by riding between it and the herd y 
when in motion. 

Bear State (pron. bar). The State of Arkansas, so named because of the 
vast numbers of bears which once abounded within its limits. 
Also often applied to the State of Kentucky. 

Beast- (1) A common name for a horse in Virginia and other Southern 
States, as it was the custom with Englishmen at the time the Old 
Dominion was settled. 

(2) A euphemism used for "bull" in the South, and especially 
common among the women-folk on farms. 

(3) A name given to new cadets at the Military Academy of West- 

See animal. 

Beast-back. Used for horseback in Kentucky. "I went beaat-bick 
to town." 

Beat. Often used, as past participle for " beaten, " in sense of astounded, 
overcome. ' ' I felt beat. I was quite beat. " 

Beat. (1) Used in many ways, its precise meaning often depending on 
its qualifying adjective. 

Daisy beat, an euphonious name applied to a swindle of the firs 

Dead beat, one who sponges on his fellows. 

Live beat, anybody or anything that surpasses another. Nothing 

(2) In newspaper parlance, an exclusive story, or important news 
which a reporter has obtained for his own paper in advance of others. 

When the story is exceedingly important, it is called a kiny beat. 

Another name is .scoop. 


Beat (to). (1) Still retains here the meaning of to surpass, to excell, 
given in Bailey's Dictionary. " It beats all creation. " 

(2) To amaze, to astound, to overcome with astonishment, as in the 
form beat already given. 

(3) In college slang, to attempt to recite without preparation ; to 
defraud, to obtain an unfair advantage of. 

Beat all hollow (to). To beat thoroughly. In England, they simply say 
" to beat hollow." 

BeatePS. A slang term for boots. 

Beater-coxes is now nearly obsolete in England with same meaning, 
trotter-cases having supplanted it. 

Beat hoop. Used in New England for drive hoop. Similarly, the 
hoop-stick is sometimes called a beater. 

Beat On (to get a). To get the advantage of. The same idea is ex- 
pressed in the phrase " to beat one's way through the world," meaning 
to push one's interests with vigor and pertinacity. 

In thieves' parlance, to get a beat on one, besides conveying the idea 
of obtaining an advantage, also implies that the point has been scored 
by underhand, secret or unlawful means. 

Beat the Dutch. It beats the Dutch is often used in New York and New 
England, whenever a peculiarly astonishing fact has to be announced. 
In Bartlett's Dictionary, we meet with an instance of it, in a Revolu- 
tionary song, showing that it was applied in the above sense as early 
as 1775. 

Beau (Old Eng. ). A general term, among girls, when speaking of their 
lover, or sweetheart. 

The plural form beaux is also often used by them, in a less intimate 
sense, when speaking of young gentlemen who used " to wait on " them. 
Beau is an old word now nearly obsolete in England. 

Beau (tO). Used by the uneducated in sense of " to pay attentions " to a 
girl, or simply " to escort." 

Beautiful. A much misused term, often indiscriminately applied to 
anything good, pleasing, or even tasty. " Beautiful butter, a beautiful 
conduct. " 

See elegant. 

This perversion of language is not unknown in England, but such 
extraordinary forms as the two above cited are scarcely ever heard 
however in the Mother Country. 

Beaver-tPee (Magnolia glauca). A tree so called from the preference 
shown by the beavers in using its bark for their food, and the wood for 
their structures or beaver-dams. 
Also, beaver -wood, castor-wood. 


The name beaver-wood is furthermore also often applied to the hoop- 
ash (Celtis occidentals) or hackberry. 

Beaver-tree is specially Western ; in the East the same tree is called 
the cantor-tree, from "Castor Americanus," the scientific cognomen of 
the American beaver. 

Becaise (Old Eng.). A corruption of because used in the South, and 
especially current in Virginia. Also, cayxe. 

Becaise was already sanctioned by usage in England, at the time 
when Virginia was settled. 

Becaise of my thorough quietness. 

(Pepys, Appendix to his diary, v. IV. p. 339.) 

BeCCi, BeC-SCie, bek-ses (Fr. C.). A species of greenish-black duck 
(Mergas merganser) feeding especially on fish, and frequenting the region 
of the Gulf of St-Lawrence. The French Canadians have so nicknamed 
it, from its beak being like a sharp-pointed saw. 

Bed-bug 1 . The " Cimex lectularius," otherwise known in the South uuder 
the Spanish nanis of chinch, brought from the West Indies. 
See buy. 

Bed-rock. In mining phraseology, the stratum which underlies the 
mineral-bearing rock. 

Metaphorically, " to reach bedrock," to attain a solid basis or foun- 
dation ; "bedrock facts," the incontestible truth. 

Also, bottom-rock, rock-bed, rock-bottom. 

Bed-Spread. A quilt, counterpane, or coverlet. Also, sjmply a spread. 
In England, bed-quilt, coverlet or counterpane. 

Bee. The swarming of bees has given rise to several phrases that savour 
of a new country, and of the help that settlers in the backwoods are 
always ready to afford one another. Thus a bee has come to mean almost 
any gathering of neighbors to do one of their friends a good turn, and to 
have a social laugh or gossip over it at the same time. 

Apple-bee, helping to gather the apples, and prepare them either for 
drying or for the vat. 

Beefing-bee, an assembly of people for the purpose of slaughtering 

Building-bee, or raising-bee, setting up the frame or the logs of a 
house or barn. 

Chopping-bee, felling trees with the axe, so as to clear a tract of land. 

H uxking -bee, stripping the husks from the year's crop of maize, to be 
stored away for the winter. 

Quilting -bee, a gathering of women around a large frame, to make a 
patchwork quilt. 

Seiviny-bee, a gathering of women to do sewing. 


Spelling-bee, a gathering of young people to exercise their wits on 

Stone-bee, clearing a field of its stones. 

Beef. Used in the South and the West as the singular of oxen ; thus a 
beef instead of ox. 

Beef (to). To kill oxen, and convert their flesh into beef. 

Beef-Cattle. Animals fit for food, in contradistinction to those used as 
beasts of burden. 

Beef-CFitteF. In South-Eastern Pennsylvania, a common name for a 
cow or steer to be killed for beef. 

Beef dodger. A meat biscuit made of beef and Indian Corn. 

Bee-gum. A term originally applied, in the South and the West, to a 
species of the gum-tree from which bee-hives were made. Now, the bee- 
hive itself, made of any kind of boards. 

Also, bee-tree. 

See the word gum. 

Bee-line. The straightest possible route to a given point. From the 
well known habit of bees of flying back to their hives in a direct line. 
An Englishman would say "as the crow flies." 

Bee-tree. In the South and the West a tree, often found hollow, in 
which the wild honey-bee makes its hive or nest. 

Beer. A term generally applied to lager-beer, ale being used where an 
Englishman would say beer. 

Beggar-ticks. A species of "bidens" whose seeds adhere to the clothes. 
Also called beggar-lice and harvest-lice. 
In English cant, " chats. " 

Begin. Frequently used, accompanied by not, to express a very emphatic 
negation when making a comparison. "It doesn't begin to.." i. e. it 
does not approach in merit, in importance. Thus, also, an inferior 
article does not begin to equal a better one. 

BegOSh, B'gOSh. A half-veiled oath used as an expletive and probably of 
negro origin. 

Behindments. Arrears, liabilities, deficits. 

BeldUQUe, bel-doo-'kay (Sp.). A common name, in Wes tern Texas, for a 
certain sheath knife, smaller than the " machete, " and larger than the 
" cuchillo. " 
Also, berduque, verduque. 

Beliked. A Western term for beloved, liked. 


Belittle. To lower in character ; to depreciate, to disparage. To make 
small or smaller. 

This word first originated in the United States about 1796, and is now 
also quite familiar in England. 

Bell-boy. In American hotels the " bell-boy " occupies very much the 
place of the English " boots. " 

Bell-mare. A horse chosen to lead a caravan or drove of mules in the 
South-West. Generally an old white or gray mare of known gentleness 
and steady habits. 

By extension, in slang language, a name given to a political leader. 

BellOWS-flsh. See devil-fish. 

Bell-Sniekle. In Eastern Pennsylvania, a name applied to a grotesquely 
attired visitor on Christmas night, who brings candies and toys for the 
good child, and rods for the bad. 

Belly-bump. (1) An awkward dive, as for instance when a boy, instead 
of cleaving the water head first, falls flat on his stomach with a splash. 
Also, belly -bumper, belly-whacker. 

(2) A boy's word, for coasting face downwards on a sled. 
Also, belly-bunk, <>eUy-bu,iter, belly-flounder, belly-grinder, belly-gut. 

( 1 ) In Pennsylvania, molasses candy. 
(2) In New England, low sleds so named because boys lie flat on them 
on their bellies, when sliding down-hill in winter. 

Belly-wax. A New Jerseyism for molasses candy. 

Belly-Whistle. In New Jersey, a common name for a drink made o 
molasses, vinegar, water, and nutmeg, used by harvesters at the daily 

Belongings (Old Eng. ). Often used for possessions, in sense of garments, 
especially gentlemen's shirts and drawers. More often, simply a 
euphemism for trousers. 

This word appears in the Philological Society Dictionary, under 
sponsorship of Mr Riiskin. 

A survival of old English usage. 

Belt. In parts of the West, quite common for blow, in the expression 
" Hit him a belt." 

The verb to belt is used in New England, in sense of to strike with or 
as with a belt. 

Bend-a-bow. In parts of New England, thin ice that bends when skated 

Also, bendy, 


Bender. In New York, a drinking-bout or a spree, in the course of 
which its participants are decidedly "unbent." Perhaps also from the 
facetious name given to the arm, which becomes so frequently a " ben- 
der" in lifting the glass to the mouth. 

In Lowland Scotch, bender is the name given to a hard and persistent 

An intensified form is hell bender, meaning a protracted drunken frolic. 

Bens. A workman's slang term for his tools. 

Bent. In Kentucky, the timbers of one side of a barn as they stand framed 

Cf. the Century Diet, and Webster's Diet, for this sense. 

BePPCndO, ber-ren'-doh (Sp. ). In South-Western Texas, a common 
name for a deer or antelope which is found in herds of sometimes as 
many as two hundred. That animal has been probably so called on 
account of its color, "berrendo" being in Spain an adjective applied to 
ripening wheat when it begins to turn yellow. 

BePPy. In college slang, anything easy or soft ; a good thing. 
Also used adjectively in sense of good-looking. 

BePth. A nautical term, transferred to shore-life, and generally applied to 
a sleeping compartment in a sleeping car. 

Best bib and tUCkCP. One's very best, meaning one's best clothes. 
" She was dressed in her best bib and tucker." 

Bestowment- A bestowal, i. e. the act of giving, or that which is 
conferred or given. 

Best P6om. A name generally applied, in the Northern States, to a room of 
a house kept closed,and scrupuloiisly clean. This room is only opened on 
great occasions, when company is expected, from "a custom bequeathed 
by the first Dutch settlers of New York. 

Bet (you). A new asseveration, which has arisen in the South- West, 
and meaning " You may bet on what I say. " The derivation of the 
word is obvious enough, it having naturally emanated from a community 
whers gambling is prevalent. 

As a pithy way of emphasizing confidence in a fact or statement, you 
bet is said to be now almost as prevalent in England as in America. 

Better. (1) Used to assert a thing certain. " You'd better believe it." 

(2) Also colloquial in the East for " more, " in which sense it is still 
provincial in England, though dating back to Saxon times. 

BettePniOSt (Old Eng. ). A cumulative superlative common in New 
England, and modeled after many a similar form in Shakespeare. 

I stopped the better most part of the time with my cousin, the deacon. 

(Mrs. Stowe.) 


Also, the bettermost best. "To be dressed in one's bettermost best. " 

Betty. The straw-bound and pear-shaped flask of commerce, in which 
olive oil is brought from Italy. 

Between hay and grass- A youth who is neither a man nor a boy is 
said to be between hay and grass, which expression is certainly more 
poetical than the English " hobbledehoy," used in same sense. 

Bevel- In Long Island, a slope or declivity. 

Forby, in his "vocabulary of East Anglia," defines a bevel as a road 
which is laid higher in the middle, hence bevel-edged. 

BezugO, bes-soo'go (Sp. ). A name applied, in Texas, to the coarse fish 
commonly called buffalo-fish (genus Ictiobus), from its hump-like back 
near the front of the dorsal fin. 

BibibleS. An innovation used for drinks, on a bill of fare. Similarly, 
edibles for food. " The table was loaded with edibles and bibibles of 
every possible kind." 

Bible Christians. A denomination of Christians abstaining from animal 
food and spirituous liquors, and living on vegetables and fruits. 

Bif, Biff, Bift. Current in several parts of the States in sense of to strike, 
and especially to give a quick blow. ' ' He biffed him on the ear. " 

Also used as a noun, as in the familar phrase : " To give one a biff on 
the ear." 

Big. Great, fine, excellent in quality. " A big thing, a bi;j country, big 
whiskey, etc. 

De Vere says the term, in sense of " great, " can hardly be called an 
Americanism, and quotes as proof " the biggest example " from Jeremy 
Taylor. But as descriptive of quality, and, in a vulgar sense, of persons 
of supposed consequence (a big bug), it is very probably a product of the 
soil, and especially must that be said of the superlative combination 
great big, which is certainly also a native extravagance. 

A recent writer in All the year round says to " look big " and to " talk 
big" are very old slang expressions, and even assures us that many 
cellars, in England, have been filled with "big" clarets and ports long 
before the American spirit was distilled. 

Big bug. A disrespectful but common mode of allusion to persons of 
wealth, distinction or social importance. The equiv. of "big-wig," or 
" great gun, " as used in England. 

Miss Savage is a big bug, she's got more money than almost any body else 

in town. 

(Widow Bedott's papers.) 

Other forms are big dog, big toad. Thence also come : 
Cattle-bug, a wealthy stock raiser. 
Gold-bug, a monied man. 


Big dog. (1) The principal man of a place, or in an undertaking. 

(2) A recognized leader or chief. 

(3) A consequential pompous individual ; an overbearing person who 
will allow no one to differ from his views. See biggity. 

Thence also come the following intensified forms : 

Big dog of the lanyard. 

Big dog with a brass collar. 

Biggest toad in the puddle. Esp. current in the West to designate a 
recognized leader, whether in politics, or in connection with the rougher 
avocations of pioneer life. 

Big drink. (1) A large glass of liquor. 

(2) A cant term applied, in the South- West, to the Mississipi river. 

(3) The Atlantic Ocean. 

Big figure. See go the big figure. 
Biggest toad. See Ug dog. 

Biggity. A negro term applied to a man inclined to be independent, 
consequential, assuming, or who is giving himself airs. 

Big-head. A disease peculiar to cattle, and so named from the swelling 
produced in the head. 

Big-head (to get a). Applied in cases where new ideas result in un- 
bearable conceit. 

Big hOFH (Ovis montana). The Rocky Mountains sheep, found on the 
plains west of the Missouri River, and so named from its horns, which 
are of great size and twisted like those of a ram. 

Big meeting. A Western term for the protracted religious meetings of 
New England, which are customary among all denominations except the 
Protestant Episcopal Church. 
See camp-meeting. 

Big tree (Sequoia gigantea). The giant pine-tree of California, often 
reaching to a height of three hundred feet, and measuring at the base 
one hundred feet in circumference. 

Bilberry (Vaccinium). Used here, as in England, for whortleberry, with 
this difference that the American variety belongs more properly to the 
division Euvaccinium. 

The same plant was formerly known in England as the " bilberry 
whortle, " which term is now obsolete. ' 

Bile (Old Eng.). Often used for boil both as noun and verb. Bile is an old 
English form, which once had a defender in no less an authority than 
the great Dr Johnson, who says : " Bile: this is generally spelt boil, but, 
I think, less properly. " 



Biled Cakes. A species of doughnuts. 
See doughnuts. 

Biled Shirt (boiled shirt). A linen shirt being an article rarely used in 
the backwoods, where flannel is the constant wear, it is often called 
there a "biled shirt," because forsooth ! it has to be occasionally 
boiled to be washed. 

Bilk (Old Eng.). An old English verb meaning to defraud, or cheat, by 
means just outside the laws. 

Used as a noun it is considered, in the Far West, one of the most 
degrading epithets that could possibly be applied, signifying a person 
who habitually sponges upon another. Its meaning, however, is still 
considerably more softened in America than in England, where it is 
current slang for a down-right cheat or swindler. 

Bill. In general use for invoice, and for a bank-note. 
Bill (to). To charge upon an invoice. 

Bill (to fill the). Some one "fills the bill" when he comes up to the 
description, or is able to accomplish what is undertaken. 

Bill (to foot the). To pay a bill, or to signify his intentions to pay the 

Bill-board. A notice-board. 

Billet. In Newfoundland, wood cut up for burning. 
See breastner, I urn, turn. 

Bill-flsh (Belone truncata). A small sea-fish, fond of running up into 
fresh water during the summer. 

Also called banded garfish, silver gar, sea-pike. 

Billy. A slang word for a murderous appliance, made of a strip of leather 
weighted with lead. 

In English slang, a policeman's staff. 

Billy-noddle. A slang term applied to a fellow whose self-conceit leads 
him to suppose himself specially attractive to the other sex. 

Bindery. A shop for book-binding, a place where books are bound. 

At Worcester, he also erected a paper mill, and set up a bindery. 
(Isaiah Thomas, Printing, I, 402.) 

Bindingf-pole. In Connecticut, a pole used to hold a load of hay on a 

Another form is boom-pole, used especially in New Jersey. 

Bindweed. The popular name, in Massachusetts, for the "convolvulus." 
Binnacle. In parts of New York, the flume of a mill stream, a mill race. 


Birch. A birch-canoe. 

Bird. In college slang : (1) a girl ; (2) a person extremely accomplished 
(often ironical) ; (3) a sport. 

Birdie. A frequent name, especially in the South, applied to young 

From bird or burd, which is a Scotch term of endearment. 

Bird's eye. (1) A variety of limestone in New York, which is a peculiar 
geological formation of that region. 

(2) A variety of maple, also called curled maple, furnishing a peculiarly 
beautiful wood for the cabinet-maker. 

Bird's nest. In parts of New York, a fruit pudding, in which any kind 
of pudding fruit may be used. 

BisagTe, bis-sah'-gray (Sp. ). In Texas, a plant of the cactus family, 
sometimes sliced and candied in Mexican sugar. 

Biscuit. (1) A hot roll, or bun, usually fermented, served at breakfast or 

(2) A cookie, or small hard cake. 

In England, a biscuit is what would be called here a cracker. 

Bishop. An appendage to a lady's dress, otherwise called a bustle, or 
dress improver. 

Bisling'S. The first milk given by a cow after calving. (N. Eng. ) A 
corruption of " beestings." 

Bit. An old cant word designating, in some Southern States, a silver 
coin of the value of one eight of a dollar, the Spanish real (de plata). A 
$hort bit is a dime, a deface^, twenty-cent piece being called a long bit. 

Other denominations exist for the same coin, as for instance escalan in 
New Orleans, eleven pence or: levy in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Vir- 
ginia, nine-pence in New England, and shilling in New York. 

Four-penny pieces are still bits in some parts of England, and in Deme- 
rara the term is in general use for the same coin. 

BlZ. A vulgar abbreviation for " business." 

Biznaga, biss-nah'-gah (Sp. ). A name applied, in Texas, to several cac- 
taceous plants (echinocacti), all growing to large dimensions. They are 
armed with formidable spines, used, it is said, as toothpicks by Mexicans. 
Also called viznaga. 

Black bass. (1) A highly esteemed fresh-water fish of the lake and 
river districts of the North and West. See achiyan. 

(2) On the New-Jersey coast, a name given to the sea bass (Centro- 
pristis nigricans). 


(3) Along portions of the Pacific coast, a name given to the black 
rock-fish (Sebastichthys melanops). 

Black code. A collection of laws -first made by Bienville in Louisiana, 
which became the model for all legislation on the relations of master and 
slave. Its power continued long in Louisiana, even after the colony 
became a State of the Union. 

Black-eyed Susan. A Texas term for a revolver. 

Other slang equivalents in the same State are Blue Lightning, Meat in 
the Pot, Mr. Speaker, My unconverted Friend, a One Eyed Scribe, Peace- 
Maker, Pill-Box. 

Blaek-flsh (Labrus americanus). A fish caught off Rhode-Island shoals, 
and so called from the color of its back and sides. 
Also, tautaug. 

Black grass. A fine, short grass common- on the salt, marshy lands of 
the New- England coast. 

Black gum (genus Nyssa). A well known tree common in the Middle 

Other names are pepperidge, sour gum, and tupelo. 

Black harpy (Centropristis nigricans). A common name applied to the 
black sea-bass, one of the most savory and delicate of fishes. 
Also called hannahill, or simply black-bass. 

Black head. (Fulix marila). A popular name, on the Chesapeake bay, 
for the variety of sea-ducks usually known as broadbills. 
In Virginia, another name is raft-duck. 

Black-jack. (1) The barren oak or scrub oak of botanists (Quercus nigra), 
a small stunted species thriving on the sea-shore, and largely used in the 
manufacture of walking-sticks. Also called jack-oak. 

(2) In the Gulf States, a name applied to small trees (Quercus Ca- 
tesbcei) of little value except for fuel. 

(3) In New England, rum sweetened with molasses. 

(4) A miner's term for an ore of zinc, the sulphuret of zinc of chemists. 

Black-Jack. An army nickname given to general John A. Logan, because 
of his very dark complexion. 

Blackleg. A rapidly fatal disease to which cattle on the Western plains 
are subject. 

Blackleg (to). " To blackleg it," in trade-union parlance, is to return to 
work before the causes of a strike have been removed or settled. 

Black Republicans. A term formerly applied by Southerners to the 
Republican party, on account of the latter's antagonism to the intro- 
duction of slavery into any State where not already recognized. 


Blaeksnake A long whip of raw-hide, with a short handle, largely 
used by cowboys. 

Hence, the verb to blacksnake, meaning to castigate with a blacksnake 

Blackstrap. (1) A mixture of molasses with some spirituous liquors, 
and commonly distributed to the hands during harvest. 

In old times, the common beverage of engine companies at tires in 

(2) Among sugar manufacturers, a technical term for the residuum of 
molasses sugar, itself the product of a second boiling. 

Black swimmer. One of the familiar names applied to the Great North- 
ern Diver. 
See loon. 

Blacktail (Cervus columbianus. ) A species of large deer common on the 
Pacific slope, of a dark color, and with a tail tipped for two or three 
inches with a thick tuft of short black hair. 

Also called, in some parts of the country, mule deer (Cervus macrotis), 
from its ears being rather long and heavy. 

Black-tailed hare. The tiny rabbit of the Rocky Mountains region. 
See jackass-rabbit. 

BlaekwOOd. A comprehensive term, in the Northern States, especially 
Maine, for the timber of the hemlock, pine, spruce and fir. 

Bladder-tree (Straphyla). A handsome shrub, from six to ten feet high, 
and remarkable for its large, inflated capsules. 

Blamed. A New-England euphemism for damned, derived fromblarmed. 
An expletive used to emphasize a statement, and partaking slightly 
ot the nature of an oath. Possibly English slang, but colloquial in the 
United States. 

Blanket. The principal article of an Indian's attire. Hence, to have 
an ancestor who has "worn the blanket," is to have Indian blood in his 

Same remark applies to French Canada. 

Blanket COat. A common term, in the West, for a coat made from a 
blanket, and generally from the quality of blanket known as " Macki- 

Blanket Indian. (1) A semi-civilized aborigine, who receives blankets 
and rations from Uncle Sam. 

(-) A Western term for an Indian who still remains in a savage state. 

Blarney. Besides signifying " to wheedle," as in English slang, 
also baars, among the low and criminal classes, ths secondary meaning 
of "to pick locks." 



Blatt. To talk with noisy assurance and bluster. Doubtless a deri- 
vative of " blatant." 

BlauseP (Dutch blazer, a blower). A typic and graphic name for the 
Deaf Adder (Vipera berus), which, as is well known, has the habit of 
distending or blowing up the skin of its neck and head. 

Blaze. (1) A mark on a tree. 

Some writers affect to derive the word from the old French 
" blazon," and quote the use of " blazen," by Shakespeare : 

" Thyself thou blazerist 
In these two princely boys" 

in a sense not altogether dissimular to the meaning conveyed by the 
American Hazing. At all events the word is in general use in nearly 
all English colonies, especially those like Australia, where there have 
been, or are still, large tracts of primeval forest land. 

The white " blaze," or spot, in the forehead of a horse, will also here 
be familiar. 

(2) At game of poker, a hand consisting of five court cards, and 
which, when played, beats two pairs. 

Blaze (to). (1) A backwoodsterm, used in the sense of cutting tree barks 
with an axe, in passing, so that the path taken might be retraced. 

(2) The process of taking possession of a tract of land, in the early 
settlements, by chopping a piece out of a tree here and there, within the 
lines chosen as one's own. Thus the new-comer would, in the language 
of the day, "at once blaze out on the tree-trunks his pre-emption claim,' 
and henceforth he was secured in his property. 

As for me I am a blazed pine in the clearing of the pale-faces. 

(Fenimore Cooper, Last of the Mohicans, XXXIII.) 

Blazing* Star. (1) A medicinal plant (Aletris farinosa), held in great 
esteem by the Indians and people of the West. 

Also known as the devil's bit, probably from the well known legend 
that the devil once bit off a portion of the root in order to destroy its 
medicinal properties. 

Both above terms are also popularly given to a plant belonging to the 
genus called ' ' colchicum. " 

(2) In the West, a slang term for a stampede of pack-mules or other 
animals from a central point. 

Bleach. A family washing hung out to dry. 

BlenkCP. A cant army word in sense of " to plunder,'' which originated 
during the Civil war. 

Blick, Bliekey (Dutch blick, tin). (1) Used for a small bucket or pail, 
in parts of the States of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The 
variety is distinguished by an adjective, as " wooden "or " tin " blickey. 


(2) In parts of New Jersey, a coat or " jumper," such as workmen 
wear with overalls. 

Blind. (1) An arrangement of bushes, used by duck hunters, so as to 
secure themselves from observation. 

(2) At game of poker, the ante deposited by the age previous to the 

See blind poker. 

(3) A slang word for object, intention. " You see my blind, " i. e. 
the drift of what I am saying. 

This is a curious illustration of the custom of some classes to use 
words calculated to mislead all but those initiated into the mysteries 
of their jargon. 

In English slang, blind means a pretence, or make-believe. 

Blind-eel. Among fishermen, " to catch a blind eel " is to bring to the 
surface a piece of seaweed or some other worthless object. 

Figuratively, to obtain results of little worth, to exhaust oneself in 
fruitless endeavours. 

BlindePS. In Newfoundland and the Canadian maritime provinces, often 
used for the whole bridle of a horse. 

Blind pokeP. A form of poker, whose hazards are indefinitely increased 
by betting on the cards in one's hand prior to examination. 

Blink, Blinky. Often said of sour milk, and even of vinegar which has 
become slightly sour. 

" Blinked," as applied to milk, is still provincial in England and 

Blister. A New Jerseyism, used from Barnegat south to Cape May, for 
an oyster smaller than a quarter dollar. 

Blizzard. A term now commonly applied to a sudden and exceptionally 
severe snow storm, with the air full of dry sharp crystals, which, 
driven before the wind, bite and sting like fire. 

The word probably originated in Pennsylvania, in the counties where 
the German element predominates, and where it has long been familiar 
as implying anything sudden combined with violence (Cf. Ger. blitz, 
lightning). Perhaps, also, as several have been conjecturing, is it simply 
an onomatopy, an attempt, not wholly unsucessful, to represent the 
whistling and driving noise of a terrible storm. 

Also, sense of a stunning blow or an overwhelm! ng argument. 

Blizzardy. Anything stunning or overwhelming in its effects. 
Bloat. A drowned body. Also, a drunkard. 

Bloated eels. In Connecticut, eels prepared for cooking by being 
skinned and drawn. 


Blob. In college slang, to make a mistake. 
Also used as a siibstantive. 

Block. (1) A connected mass or row of buildings, not intersected by 
streets ; or even a whole portion of a town, inclosed by streets, whether 
it be built upon or not. 

Also called a square, notably in Baltimore. 

In New York City, the block is the regular unit of distance 20 blocks 
a mile. 

(2) In Wall street parlance, a block of shares means a large number of 
shares massed together and sold in a lump. 

Also, adverbially, a block loan, a block advance, etc. 

Block COal. A term applied to a peculiar kind of coal, which breaks 
readily into large square blocks, and is used in the smelting of, iron. 

The term originated in Mahoning valley, and is now in general use all 
over Illinois and Indiana. 

Block-Island tUPkey. A common term for salted cod-fish, in Connec- 
ticut and Rhode-Island. 

Compare with Taunton turkey. 

Blood. In some Western colleges, signifies excellent, as a blood reci- 
tation. A student who recites well is said to make a blood. 

Blooded. An adjective used when speaking of thoroughbreds in horses 
or choice breeds in cattle. 

In England, the form " blood " is similarly applied. 

Blood-rOOt (Sanguinaria Canadensis). One of the earliest of the wild 
flowers, bearing a pure white blossom, and so called from the blood -red 
juice of its root. 

Also called poccoon, an Indian name for various roots which furnish 
coloring pigments. 

BlOOd-tllbS. A term coming from Baltimore, and designating roughs 
and street loafers. 

" A set of Baltimore rowdies, chiefly butchers, once got the epithet 
from having, on an election day, dipped an obnoxious citizen head down 
in a tub of warm blood, and then drove him running through the town." 

BlOOdy Chasm (to bridge the). A favorite expression with those 
orators who, after the Civil War, sought to obliterate the memory of 
that great struggle. 

The antithetical phrase is "to wave the bloody shirt." 

BlOOdy ShiPt (tO Wave the). Calling up the issues of the Civil War, 
for political purposes. From this spscial meaning the phrase is now also 
passing into general use to indicate similar tactics, in regard to any cause 
involving revenge as its principal object. 


Has lately been introduced in English journalism in connection with 
the Irish struggle. 

The origin of the expression is to be sought in the Corsican custom, in 
the days of the fierce " vendetta, " of waving the blood-stained shirt of 
a murdered man as an incitation for revenge, and its application to 
American politics is credited to Mr. Oliver P. Morton who, after the 
Civil War, took a prominent part as a leader of the more radical Repu- 

Bloody shirtePS. An opprobrious epithet applied, after the Civil War, 
to the radical Republicans favoring a stern policy of coercion towards 
the South. 

BlOOmeP, BlOOmePS, A costume introduced for independent women, in 
1849-50, by a Mrs. Bloomer, and which comes very near that worn by 
Turkish ladies. 

The term bloomer also frequently designates the wearer himself of 
such a costume. 

BlOOtWOPSCht (Ger. blutwurst). The blood-sausage of the Pennsylvania 
Germans, very similar to the English black-pudding. 

Blotter. A police station and newspaper term for a charge sheet, kept 
at police stations. 

Blow. (1) A single blossom. Now rarely heard. From the old English 
" blowth," still provincial for blossom. 

(2) In the South a blow of cotton means the bursting of the pods 
of the cotton plant. 

BlOW (to). (1) To brag, to boast. In Engla nd, to blow is taken more 
usually in the sense of to " blab." 

To talk boastfully or swaggeringly, varied in Tennessee by blowin' 
his bazoo. 

(2) To blame, to cast a slur upon, to stigmatize. 

BlOWeP. (1) A piece of sheet iron, used to create a free draught in a 
furnace or fire-place. 

(2) A noisy, demonstrative, selp-important person ; a braggart, one 
who is full of gasconading stories. A very near brother, as one can see, 
to the Englishman who blows his own trumpet. 
Also, blowhard. 

Blow in (to), To spend one's money freely. 
BlOW OUt (to). To talk violently or abusively. 

BlOWth. In New England, the blossoming of flowers. "There's been a 
good blowth of apples this year," i. e. the flowers were numerous. 
The word is still provincial in England in sense of blossom. 



Blow up (Old Eng.). Still used, in parts of Pennsylvania, in sense of to 
raise or produce by blowing, in speaking of atmospheric changes. " I 
think it will blow up rain soon." 

This windy tempest, till it blow up rain, 
Held back his sorrow's tide, to make it more. 

(Shakespeare. Lucrece, 1. 1788.) 

Bluebaeks. A term applied to the paper money of the Confederate 
States, in contradistinction to the " Greenbacks" of the North. 

After the war, the "Bluebaeks" became known as Shucks, from 
their utter worthlessness, " shucks " being an old English term for the 
refuse of peas and similar products when shelled. 

Blue Bellies. A nickname bestowed by Southerners, during the Civil 
War, to the soldiers of the North, from the blue color of their uniforms. 
Also, Boys in blue, Yanks etc. 

Blue eat. A fish common in all the plain's streams, and attaining some- 
times a weight of fifteen to twenty-five pounds. 

Blue CUris (Trichostema dichotomum). A common plant, with flowers 
of a deep blue and very long coiled filaments. 

Also called bastard pennyroyal, from its resemblance to that plant. 

Blue-flsh (Pomatomus saltatrix). A voracious salt-water fish of the 
mackerel order, but larger in size. 

Also called skipjack, horse-mackerel (Jersey coast), and salt-water tailor 

On the Jersey coast the name blue-fish is applied to the weak-fish, 
squeteauge or chickwit. 

Blue grass (Poa pratensis). The name of a valuable meadow grass flour- 
ishing on the rich limestone lands of Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Ken- 
tucky, especially the latter. Hence the term blue-grass applied to Ken- 
tucky and its inhabitants. 

In Maryland, the term blue-grass is applied to a species of grass very 
injurious to wheat and clover, and hard to eradicate. 

The Texas ' blue-grass (Poa arachnifera) closely resembles the Ken- 
tucky species, the chief difference consisting in its being better adapted 
to a more Southern range, which fact makes it valuable for winter 

Blue grass State. The State of Kentucky, so called from its rich lime- 
stone lands, yielding blue grass. 

Blue Hen Chickens. A nickname given to the natives of Delaware, and 
which has its source in the following story. During the war of the Revo- 
lution, one of the most gallant fighters of Delaware was captain Cald- 
well, a man who was also notorious for his fondness of cock fighting. 
As he had been heard repeatedly giving vent to a peculiar theory of his, 


i. e. that no cock was really game unless it came from a blue hen, this 
led in the course of time to the substitution of Blue Hen Chickens as a 
nickname for his regiment, all composed of admirably drilled and picked 
men, and from there and then the term was subsequently extended to 
all the sons of Delaware. 
See Musk-Rats. 

Blue Hen State. The State of Delaware, so called from the notoriety 
which one of her sons, captain Caldwell, acquired in the war of the 
Revolution for his fondness of cock fighting. 
See Blue Hen Chickens and Diamond State. 

Blue Law State. The State of Connecticut, from the unenviable fame 
acquired by the first government of New Haven Plantation, in framing 
the famous Blue Laws of that colony. 

Also simply Blue State. Other names are Freestone State, Land of 
Steady Habits, Nutmeg State. 

Blue Lightning. A grimly facetious name, in Texas, for a revolver. 

Blue-liglltS. (1) During the war of 1812, while the British fleet lay off 
New London, the inhabitants 'along the coast were accused of having 
made signals for the benefit of the enemy, by burning blue lights at 
night. The charge, it is said, was utterly unfounded, but the term has 
survived to this day and is frequently used in political controversies as 
applied to traitors. 

(2) At the University of Vermont the term blue-light is used to desig- 
nate a sneaking boy, who reports to the Faculty the short-comings of 
his fellow-students. 

Blue nose. A nickname for a native of Nova Scotia, and derived, as 
Sam Slick informs us, from a celebrated kind of potato which is grown 
there to perfection. 

Others, however, hazard the suggestion that the nickname simply 
refers to the blueness of nose resulting from intense cold. 

The term is also used with reference to New Brunswick, but not so 
frequently as when speaking of Nova Scotians. 

Blues. A nickname of the inhabitants of New Jersey, which has its 
origin in the fact that " blue " was a term once applied to an over- 
religious and strictly governed soatioii of that State. 

Blue Skin. A contemptuous term applied to the Presbyterians, from 
their alleged grave deportment, or because of their stern and steady 
adherence to principles believed by them to be the only true ones. 

Blue-Stocking (Recurvirostra Americana). (1) The American avoset, a 
common bird in the Northern States. 

(2) In college slang, a woman student, and especially a masculine 
college girl devoted to study. 


Bluet (Houstoma ccerulea). A delicate herbaceous plant, producing in 
the spring a profusion of pale blue flowers fading to white. 
Also called quakers. 

Blue weed (Chicorium). The wild endive, or chicory-plant, so called in 
New England from its large dark-blue flowers. 

Bluff. (1) A variety of the card game of poker, 

(2) An excuse or a brag. Mere talk ; talk intended to mystify or 

Also, one who bluffs, i. e. puts up a bluff. 

(3) In the West, a hill of moderate size, by the side of a river. 

In sense of bold prominence jutting out into the sea, bluff is thoroughly 

Bluff (to). ( 1 ) To stay in a game of cards with a poor hand, and, by 
heavy betting, try to "bluff" the game through. 

(2) To frighten a person in any way, in order to deter him from 
accomplishing his ends. 

Also, to bluff off. , 

(3) In college slang, to make a false show of ability. To gain, or 
attempt to gain an advantage by making a false show. To make fun of. 
To answer all questions put by an instructor. 

Bluff City. The city of Hannibal, Missouri, so called from the fact of its 
being built on high bluffs on the margin of the river. 

Bluffe, Bluffer. (1) A braggart. 

(2) In the patter of New York thieves, the landlord of an hotel. 

Blumrnie. A Dutch word still in use for flower in New York city, and 
along the Hudson and Mohawk rivers. 

The diminutive form blummachee or blummechie, meaning small flower, 
is also well known in the New York markets. 

Board-bank. On the coast of New Jersey, a floor of boards placed on 
the bed of a creek near the shore, on which oysters are laid to fatten. 
See floats, platform. 

Board-walk. The "parade" of American wa,tering-places, consisting 
in a foot-path constructed of planking. 

Bob. (1) A bait, used in fishing for eels or trout. The bob is either made 
of a knot of worms or chicken guts, or simply of colored rags. 

(2) Immature veal, the sale of which is prohibited by law. 
Also, bob -veal. 

(3) A petty shop thief. 

Bobbery. A cant term for a noise or hubbub, used here in a good natured 
sense, as differing from the English meaning of an objectionable row. 


Noted as peculiar to Suffolk, England, in sense of disturbance, in 
Glossary of Edwin Moor, published in 1823. 

Bobbing 1 Club. An association of members who amuse themselves, in 
winter, by sliding down hills on bob-sleds. 

Bob-Gat. A species of wild cat, very nearly the color of a raccoon, and 
from twelve to fifteen pounds in weight. Its head is rather large, and 
its mouth is furnished with very strong, curved teeth. 

Bobolink. (Icterus agripennis). A lively little bird so called from its 
peculiar notes, and which is a general favorite for its inimitable and busy 
active flight. 

Other popular names by which it is known in different parts of the 
Union, are reed-bird (Middle States), rice-bunting and rice-bird ( Southern 
States). Also called American ortolan, bob-lincoln (facetiously Robert 
of Lincoln), meadow-bird, skunk-black bird (from its coloring which 
resembles that of the skunk). 

In Jamaica, the bobolink is known as butter-bird. 

Bobolition, Bobolitionist. Derisive epithets for abolition, abolitionist, 
used by the enemies of the emancipation movement in its early days. 
A correspondent of the N. Y. Nation dates the term as far back as 
1824, and remembers having then seen the word " on a broadsheet 
containing what purported to be an account of a bobolition celebration 
at Boston." 

Bobs. Large double sleds with a box for the transportatiou of anything. 

Bob Sled, Bob Sleigh. (1) A sled much used for the transportation of 
large timber, its special characteristic being two pairs of " bobs, " or 
short runners. 

(2) A boy's sled, usually known as " double runner. " 

Also simply called bob. 

Bobtail cap. The popular name for a small tram-car, driven by a single 
horse, and whose only official is the driver, who collects fares and acts 
as conductor. 

Bobwhite (Bonassa umbella). The American ruffled grouse, so called 
from the drumming sound produced by the rapid beating of its wings. 

In New England, this bird is confused with the partridge, and in the 
Middle and Southern States with the quail and the pheasant. 

Bockey (Dutch bokaal). A word limited to N. Y. City and its immediate 
vicinity, and designating a certain bowl or vessel made from a gourd. 

Bodark, Bodok (Fr. lioix iFarc, lit. bow-wood). A local name, in the 
West, for the Osage orange (Madura aurantiaca). a shrub whose wasli is 
especially well adapted to make bows with. 

The form bowdark, long familiar along the whole Western frontier, 
has now nearly entirely given way to the shorter bodok. 


Bodewash (Fr. bois-de-vache). Dried cow-dung used for fuel on the 
prairies of the West and South-West, and gathered near springs, where 
cattle are apt to congregate. 
Also called buffalo-chips. 

The Fr. bois-de-vache was the name originally applied by the old 
" voyageurs " of the West. 

Body (Old Eng. ). A bodice, a corsage, in speaking of a woman's dress. 

Their bodies were of carnation cloth of silver, richly wrought. 
(B. Jonson, Masque of Hymen.) 

Bogie-engine., A form of locomotive used for work in railroad yards. 

Bogus. (1) Applied adjectively to anything or any person suspected of 
being unreal or fraudulent. Thus, a woman whose beauty is artificial, is 
a bogus beauty, and in courts of justice bogus charges are of frequent 
occurrence. A maimed man wears bogus legs, and a member of a Legis- 
lature, supposed to have been unfairly elected, is a bogus representative. 
Indeed, the variety of meanings, to which the term has been bent, 
would be almost endless and we have even heard of the illegitimate 
offspring of a woman being called a bogus child. 

If we may believe a story told by the Boston Daily Courier of June 
12 1857, the word bogus is a corruption of the name of one Borghese, a 
very corrupt individual who, twenty years before, was doing a tre- 
mendous business up West in ""the way of fictitious checks, notes, and 
bills of exchange upon the principal traders and bankers. The Western 
people soon fell into the habit of calling the man by the more handy 
name of Bogus, and his goods " bogus currency. 

On the other hand, and in spite of the almost historical descent of 
bogus from the above source, several etymologers, notably J. R. Lowell, 
have insisted in its being nothing but a corruption of the French baqasne, 
which has traveled up North from New Orleans, where it means the 
worthless refuse of sugar-cane. 

(2) A beverage consisting of rum and molasses, well known to the 
fishermen in the Eastern States. 

Also, caliborjUfi. 

BogUS boys. A broker's term designating the swindler* and frauds, who 
are the pests of Wall stroet and other commercial districts. 

BogUSly. In a false or fraudulent way. 

Bohea-tea. A dark tea made of every other shrub and plant, onl}' not 
of the Chinese shrub known by that name. 

Bohn. In college slang, a clos3 stuJont. Also one who uses a literal 

Derived from Bohn, the nam3 of a well-known publisher of translations, 
from the classics. 


Bohn (to). In college slang, to study hard or diligently. 

Boiled down tO a point. The gist of anything ; a simile denoting a 
reduction to a bare statement of fact. 

Bois baPPe\ bwah-bah-ray (Fr.). A name applied, in Canada, to the 
striped maple. (Acer Pennsj^lvanicum), a small slender tree, the bark 
light green striped with brown or black, and sometimes also with white. 

Bois blane, bwah-blan (Fr. ). A common name, in Canada, for the 
American linden or lime-tree (Tilia americana). 
See bass-wood. 

Bois-brule', bwah-brii-lay (Fr. lit. burnt-wood). (1) In Canada, and in 
the North-West, a burnt tract of forest. Also simply brul&. 
(2) A Canadian metis or half-breed. 

Bois de fer (Fr. lit. ironwood). A name applied, in Canada, to the hop- 
hornbeam or leverwood (Ostrya Virginica). 

BoiS-fortS, bwah-for (Fr. ). A name formerly applied, in the West, to the 
deep forest, near the sources of the Mississipi. 

BoiS-pOUPPl, bwah-poo-ree (Fr. C.). A name applied, in French Canada, 
to the night-jar, or whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus). 

Boke. A tailor's word for the shape or curve of the breast of a coat. 

Boid. Freely, plentifully. " The spring don't flow as bold as it did." 
Cf. sense of deep, in speaking of water navigable close to the shore. 

Bolt. To desert, to reject suddenly one's political party (simile of a 
" bolting " horse). . 

To abstain from voting for, or to vote against the candidate of the 
" ticket " of one's party. 

BoltePS. A word applied, during the Presidential election of 1884, to 
indicate a section of the Republican party who, for that time,, voted 
with the Democrats. 

BoltOCPat. An atrocious verbal coinage invented in the West, during 
the Presidential campaign of 1896, and used to designate a Democrat 
having "bolted" the Bryan-Sewal ticket. 

BomDO. A hedge-hog-like animal found in North Carolina, and by some 
called a badger. 

Bonanza (Sp. lit. good fortune, good luck). A terra first applied, by 
Spanish speaking Californians, to the discovery, in the mining regions, 
of any vein or pocket of extraordinary richness. Now extended to mean 
any lucky nit, or successful entreprise, from a mine of the same name, 
in Nevada, which onca, and quite unexpectedly, turned up to be of 
enormous value. 


Bone. (1) A tip given by a traveller to a Custom House official, to 
ensure a superficial examination of one's baggage. A term especially well 
understood in New York city. 

(2) In college slang, a close student. Cf. bohn. 

Bone-pits. Indian places of interment scattered throughout the United 
States and Canada, the practice among Indian tribes being to deposit 
such remains in long trenches or pits. 

Bones. (1) Castanets made of real bones, and used by negro minstrels. 
(2) In college slang : 1. A skeleton. 2. Dice. 3. Instructor in physiology 
and anatomy. 4. The fist. 5. A thin man. 

Boneset. The popular name of the thorough wort (Eupatorium perf oliatum), 
a medicinal plant much esteemed for its sudorific and tonic properties, 
and so called because it is generally regarded as a specific for the ' ' break 
bone fever." 

BonesetteP. (1) A slang term for a surgeon. 

(2) A hard riding horse. Analogous to the "boneshaker" of the 
English rough, although the American term is far more brutal in its 

Boneyard. A cemetery. 

Bony flsh (Alosa menhaden). A fish of the herring kind, caught in 
enormous quantities in New-England waters and as far south as Chesa- 
peake bay. Besides being used for food, it is also employed as manure, 
chiefly for Indian corn. 

Also called hard-head and white-fish (Maine), moss-bunker, mossyback 
and skippaug (New- York), panhagen, pohagen and menhaden (Mass, and 
Rhode-Island). . 

Booby hack. A kind of sleigh, consisting of a carriage-body put upon 
sleigh runners. 

Only a slight alteration of the booby-hutch, an English provincialism 
denoting a clumsy, ill-contrived covered carriage or seat. 

Boodle (Dutch buidel, a pocket, a purse). A word now immensely popular 
in its present meaning of bribery, plunder, and owing its sudden pro- 
minence to a corrupt board of New York aldermen, many of whom were 
convicted of having accepted bribes or boodle for their votes. 

Was probably thieves' argot a long while, before generally known, 
meaning the "bulk of the booty." We read in Macaulay's Political 
Georgics (1828): "And boodle's patriot band," with evident sense of 
bribery and plunder. The word was also current in the Wesfc about 
1870, with a meaning not far wide of its present signification in American 

Although several etymologers are somewhatjnclinecl to regard boodle 
as an anglicized form of the German beutel meaning a purse, and, 


in a figurative sense, money it is however so easy to see how the 
Dutch buidel might have come into colloquial American without passing 
through English, that we can risk guessing New York as the American 
birth-tplace of our present boodle. We are, also, the more confirmed in 
that opinion, that there does not exist, so far as we know, any Anglo- 
Saxon dialectic form accounting for the term. 

Among the thieving fraternity boodle is used to denote money that is 
actually spurious or counterfeit. Fake boodle is a roll of paper, over 
which, after folding, a few bills are so disposed that it looks as if the 
whole was made up of a large sum of money. To carry boodle is to utter 
base coinage, boodlers being the men who issue it. 

Boodle is also sometimes identical with the slang expressions dust, 
rhino, for money. 

Boof. (1) Scare, fright. " He got a boof." 
(2) Peach-brandy. (Pa.) 

In parts of New York, to shy, be frightened. " That horse 
boogers a little at dogs." 

Boogie. Ball of mucus in the nose. A term mostly restricted to school 

BoO-hOO (to). To cry aloud, to make a bellowing noise, and, idiomati- 
cally, to be in a state of whining supplication. From the sounds made 
by a child, when crying. 

Bookstore. A place where books are sold. In England, it would be called 
a bookseller's shop. 

Boom. (1) A logger's term, descriptive of a flooded or swollen stream, 
bearing logs down toward tide-water. " The river is booming." 

Hence, by extension, a rush of business, or a sudden advance in 
popularity or in price, from the analogy with the "booming out" of the 
logs, in the lumber districts, when the rivers rise to a sufficient height 
in the spring. 

Perhaps also derived from the nautical phrase "boom-out," signifying 
a vessel running rapidly before the wind. 

(2) In the mining phraseology of the Far West, a boom is an artificial 
torrent rushing down a slope, so as to clear off surface soil and reveal 
supposed mineral veins. 

Boom (to). (1) To be lively, prosperous. " Business is booming." 

(2) To inflate prices. Hence " to boom a town," i. e. to cause a sudden 
advance in the value of its real estate. 

(3) To bring into prominence or public notice. " The whole State is 
booming the candidacy of Brown." 

Booma (Ind.). A North Carolina term for the little red squirrel known, 
in the North, as the chickaree (Sciurus hudsonius). 


Boom-belt. Any particular spot within a nourishing district. 

BoomeP. A term applied to those adventurers who, in anticipation of 
the opening of a territory to settlement, attempt to exploit or boom the 
country on their own account. 

A story put forth for political purposes, the untruth of 
which reacts afterwards against its disseminators. 

Booming-squad. A successful team or party. 
Boomlet. A progress, or a boom of a lesser degree. 

Boonder (Dutch). A word still in use in New York City for a scrubbing- 

Boost. A push, a help [up. An upward shove or push. Often used 

Boost (to). To lift or raise by pushing, in the sense of helping one up a 
tree or a fence. 

Whereas ole Abram'd sink afore he'd let a darkle boost him* 

(J. R. LOWELL, Biglow Papers, II., 106.) 

Lord Palmerston was boosted into power by the agricultural interests of 
England. (New- York Herald.) 

Booze (Old Eng.). To drink deeply. 

Boozy (Old Eng.) Originally a vile gypsy word, but now largely used, 
even by careful writers, in sense of drunk, inebriated. The term is an 
interesting reminiscense of Queen Elizabeth's time, when a " bouzing 
ken " was the accepted expression for a public house, from the Dutch 
buysen, to tipple. 

Border ruffians. A term originally applied to bands of voters who 
crossed the border from the slave States, during the Kansas-Nebraska 
troubles of 1854-55, in order to carry the elections in the territories. 

BOS. At the University of Virginia, the dessert which the students are 
allowed twice per week, ,' ' Senior and Junior bos" being the two respective 
appellations of the same. 

Bosaal (Sp. bozal, & muzzle). A peculiar halter, used in the breaking-in 
of unruly horses. (Texas and S. W. ) 

BoSCUllS (Fr. C. ). In the lower St Lawrence region, a name applied to 
packed ice, which offers a rough surface. 

Bosom (Shirt). In England, called "shirt front. 

BOSS (Dutch baas, master). (1) In universal use, all over the Union and 
in Canada, in a semi-respectful way, for master, employer, ^overseer, or 
one who deals the work out to workmen and pays their wages. 


(2) Often heard as the equivalent of the English "Sir" of polite 
society, Also, figuratively, in sense of superior, sovereign. Thus the New 
York Herald once said, in speaking of Rotschild : " The fact is Rotschild 
is the real pope and boss of all Europe." 

(3) In politics, the word boss generally carries with it an implication of 
corrupt or discreditable methods. The renowned Tweed was the first to 
wear the title in a semi-official way, and "political boss" has now 
become a familiar expression for a leader whose word is law to his 
henchmen, and who reigns supreme over them. 

BOSS (to). To rule over, to lead, to domineer, and indeed to direct, to 
manage anything. " To boss a job, " i. e. to contract or superintend a 
work. " To boss the house, " i. e. to rule or manage it. 

BOSS COW. The cow which can drive all the rest of the herd, aud so has 
the privilege of being first in all matters of advantage. 

Bossism. The control of politics by bosses. 

Boston. (1) A card game dating from the War of Independence, and so 
called in honor of the town of Boston. Supposed to have been invented 
by Dr Franklin. 

(2) The generic name, for a white man, among the natives of Oregon, 
having originated there at the time when Massachusetts sent her enter- 
prising sons mostly from Boston on trading voyages to the Pacific 

Boston bread. Bread composed of Indian corn and rye meal. 
Also, Indian bread. 

Bostonese. Said of a method of speech or manners, supposed to be 
specially affected by the residents of Boston. 

Boton, bo-ton' (Sp.). More specifically, in South Western Texas, a 
peculiar knot at the end of a rope. 

Bottom. (1) In the West, a piece of rich, flat land. In England, more 
especially, a low, alluvial land. 

(2) A slang term for spirit put in a tumbler, preparatory to the 
addition of an aerated water. " Soda and dark bottom." 

(3) Power of endurance, stamina. Slang in England but respectably 
colloquial in the United States. 

Bottom dollar. The last of one's money. 

Bottom fact. An undoubted fact, the exact truth about any matter. 
The phrase is also varied by bottom rock. 
See rock bed. 

Bottoms. A common term, in the West, for low or alluvial lands 
enriched by overflowing rivers. 



Also, bottom-lands, river-bottoms. 
See intervale. 

Boueaniere (Fr.). A term applied, in Canada, both to the burning coal 
areas of the northern country, and to a smoke-house for drying meat. 

Bougilten. An old participle used as adjective, in parts of New England, 
New York and New Jersey, to distinguish articles bought at a shop 
from the home-made ones. The term is evidently of Scotch parentage, 
as in the familiar phrase of Scotch settlers : "I have putten on my coat." 

Still provincial in North of England, in connection with baker's 
bread, as compared with home-made bread. 

See store clothes, store goods, etc. 

Bounce. " To get the grand bounce," i. e. to be discharged from service, 
and especially to be dismissed from an office under government. 

Bounce (to). (1) To throw out, to fire. Used especially in sense of 
forcibly ejecting a troublesome or noisy person from a house, a car, etc. 
(2) To swagger. 

Bouncer. (1) One hired in a saloon or dive, for the purpose of throwing 
out objectionable visitors. 
Also, chucker-out. See bung-starter. 
(2) A thief who commits his depredations with bravado and bullying. 

Bound (Old Eng.). (1) Determined, resolved. " I'm bound to have it." 

(2) Obliged. " I feel myself bound to act in like manner." 

(3) Certain. " He's boiind to succeed." 

Still provincial in some parts of England, especially in English districts 
of South Wales. 

Bounder. In New Jersey, to scrub or wash thoroughly (the person). 

Bounty-jumper. A term applied, during the War of the Rebellion, to 
those unprincipled men then enlisting in the army, merely for the sake 
of the large bounty offered for volunteers, and who, as soon as they had 
received it, hastened to decamp, and reappeared in another State in 
order to go through the same performance. 

Bourbon. (1) A Democrat of the straitest sect, so called from the old 
and uncompromising monarchical party of same name in France. 

The term is also generally applied to any old-fashioned politician 
acting unmindful of past experience. 

(2) A superior kind of rye whiskey, formerly only manufactured in 
Bourbon county, Kentucky. 

BourdignonS (Fr. C.). In the province of Quebec, a name applied to 
clumps of frozen snow and earth, which make the roads very rough. 
Also, bourdillons, bourgignons. 


Bourgeois (Fr. C.)- A term formerly applied, at the time of the 
" voyageurs," to the chief -trader, or to the head of a fur-company's fort 
in the great Xorth-West. 

BoweP (Ger. bauer, a peasant, or yeoman). The knave of trumps, or the 
other knave of the same colored suit, at game of euchre, the first one 
being the " right bower, " and the second the " left bower. " 

By extension, a man will also speak of his partner, or business 
assistant, as his " right bower", this expression being moreover a 
common term of high praise, applied to a chief, a director, etc. or 
indeed any one specially fitted to become a leader of some kind. 

Bowie-knife. A short knife, with a broad blade sharp at the point, and 
so named after its inventor Col. James Bowie, a famous frontier-man of 
the South, living in the first half of the century. 

Bowie-knife (to). To stab with that weapon. 

Bowman. An antiquated term applied, in Virginia, among army men, 
to a body-servant. 

Perhaps one of the oldest relics of pre-colony days now extant in the 
New World. 

Bowman's root (Gillenia trifoliata). A medicinal plant, which is a 
species of ipecacuanha. 
Also called Indian physic. 

Box. (1) A boat used for duck-shooting. 
See battery. 

(2) In North Carolina, an incision made in trees, so as to hold a 
quantity of the sap exuding into it. 

BOX (to). In Xorth Carolina, to make a bowl-like incision in gum-bearing 
or resinous trees for the purpose of collecting the exuding sap. 

Box-ear. (1) A closed freight-car. 

(2) In tramway parlance, a closed car, to distinguish it from an 

opened one. 


Box-elder (Negundium americanum). The tree also known as the ash- 

Box-turtle. A species of tortoise distinguished by an under shell 
arranged in two or three sections, which fact gives it the power, when 
alarmed, of rolling itself up, appearing as if enclosed in a box. 

Boy. (1) A term used in the South, before the Civil War, to designate 
any colored man-servant without regard to age, a fact due, after all, to 
the same tendency which in French calls the waiter " gar9on." 

(2) In the plural form, often used to designate the political hangers-on 
of a candidate or party, who expect for their remuneration sundry 



minor offices or even only free drinks. Heelers has much the same 
meaning but is rather derogatory by implication. 

Boys in blue. (1) The soldiers of the North, during the Civil War, from 
their blue uniforms. 

(2) The official title, since the Civil War, of sundry half-military 
organizations, in many of which negroes predominate. 

Brace. To get credit by swagger. 

To brace it through, to succeed by dint of sheer impudence. 

Brace game. A swindling operation. 

Brace up. (1) To pull oneself together, to get to business. 

(2) To take a drink. In English slang, signifies to pledge stolen 

Braekwater. Along the coast of New Jersey, said of the salt water of 
bays or rivers, near shore, modified by flow of fresh water. 

Braes. A New Jerseyism for bark partially charred that slips from the 
wood in a charcoal pit. 
See brands. 

Bragfuero, brah-ger'-o (Sp.). In Texas, a name applied to the girth 
nearer the hip, when two are used, the one nearer the shoulder being 
the cincha proper. 
See cincha. 

In Spain, braguero is said of a truss, a bandage, or the breeching rope 
of a gun, to check the recoil. 

Braid. Instead of beating the eggs, the women in New England often 
say braiding the eggs or cutting them. 

Brainy. (1) Possessing or manifesting brain-power. Clearheaded, cou- 

(2) In newspaper parlance, .a brainy journal is not, as might be sup- 
posed, one characterized by deep thought or research, but rather one 
who has become renowned for its " imaginative and airy nothings." 

(3) Mental restlessness. " The Americans are a brainy people." 

Brake. In parts of Connecticut, said of fern of any kind. 

Brakes (to put On the). Adapted from railroad use, and meaning to 
act prudently, to go slow. 

Branch (Old Eng.). Used in the Southern and some of the Western 
States for any stream or brook that is not a river or a bayou. 

This word in defined in Bailey's Dictionary with same meaning, and 
has been also used in the same sense by sir Walter Raleigh. 

In New England, only brooks are known, while in other States it is 
the run and the creek that prevail. 


Branch Water. A Southern expression for stream-water, as distin- 
guished from well-water. , 

Brand. A mark of proprietorship placed upon cattle, especially in the 
Western ranches. Brands are placed usually on the hip, shoulder and 
side, or on any one of them, and comprise letters, numbers and figures, 
in every combination. 

Brand-book. A register of the multitudinous marks used in branding 

Brand-bunch. A small herd of cattle. 

Brand-reader. An inspector appointed to examine cattle marks, in 
order to see whether they have been tampered with. 

Brands. A New Jerseyism for imperfectly burned and charred wood in 
a charcoal pit. 
See braes. 

Brandy Smash. A well known drink, of which brandy, mixed up with 
crushed, ice, is the chief component. 

Brasero, bras-ser'-o (Sp.). A current word, in Southern Texas, for a pan, 
mostly made of copper or brass, to hold lighted charcoal. 

Brash. (1) In New England and New York, used in sense of brittle, as 
applied to wood and vegetables. Also said of frangible ice, i. e. ice 
which' has become brittle and pulverized. 

This word is no doubt a relic of the English provincialism of same 
name, still used in parts of England for broken twigs. 

(2) Harsh, impertinent, probably from former meaning of hasty, impe- 
tuous, as quoted by Grose. 

(3) Sickly, in poor health. 

(4) In Southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania, used as a substantive 
in sense of a sudden sickness, with acid rising taste in the mouth. In that 
sense, still provincial on border of England and Scotland. 

Also called water-brash. 

Brashy. In Southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania, ill or indisposed. 
Still provincial on border of England and Scotland. 

Brass City. The city of Waterbury, Connecticut, from its extensive 
brass manufactures. 

Brasseur (Fr. C.). A species of seal (Phoca greenlandica) found in the 
Gulf of St. Lawrence. 

Brave (Fr. ). A romantic term borrowed from the French, and meaning 
a fighting-man, a warrior, among the Indians. The word was first used 
by Father Hennepin, in a written document, and Indian warriors are 


still always now-a-days officially described as braves in the military 
reports from the Western plains. 

Bravely. Still used in the United States, as of old in England, for very 
well, excellently. " The work on the big New York subway is going on 

Bravo (Sp.). In Texas, bold, impetuous, in speaking of a stream, and 
then synonym with " grande, " as Rio bravo del Norte. 

When speaking of Indians, bravo means wild, roaming, uncivilized. 

Breachy. In New England, said of unruly oxen, especially those breaking 
down fences. 

Still provincial in South of England. 

Bread-POOt (Psoralea esculenta). A farinaceous root found in the Rocky 
Mountains region, and possessing a sweet, and highly nutritious white 

Breadstuff. A term designating all the cereals which can be converted 
into bread. Also, the bread itself. 

The plural breadstuffs is now more generally used. 

Break. (1) In Virginia, and other tobacco-raising States, the opening of 
the hogsheads of tobacco, previous to a public sale. Also, the sale itself. 

(2) A Wall street term for a sudden decline in the value of stocks. 
See bad break. 

(3) A rough, irregular piece of ground. (Neb.) 

Break (to). To open the hogsheads of tobacco, previous to a public sale. 

Break back. A term applied to a peculiar roof, the rear portion of 
which is extended beyond the line of the opposite side, and at a different 
angle. Such additions are very common in the country, where they are 
used for wash-rooms or storehouses. 

Break (bad). A slang term meaning a serious mistake, or even a collapse 
in some business venture. 

Break (to make a). To make a rush for. Probably a mere modification 
of the same word in billiard phraseology. 

Break (to) One's back. To be crushed, defeated ; to become bankrupt. 
A Californianism which has spread over the whole Union and the Mother 

Breakbone. A species of malarial fever, peculiar to some swampy 
localities in the South, and so called from the extreme pain in the bones 
which the patients suffer. 

Also known under the Spanish name of dengue. 

Breakdown. (1) A noisy dance, generally identified with negro song 
and dance performers. 


In England, any dance deemed violent enough to break down the 

(2) A failure in any attempt or business venture. 

Breaker. In parts of Pennsylvania, a name applied to a ridge of earth 
in hilly part of a country road, to throw surface water into side ditches. 
Other names are cradle, thank-y oil-ma'am, water-butt. 

Breakish, Breaky. A colloquialism for frail, brittle. 

Bream (Pomotis vulgaris). A fresh-water fish, of the perch variety, very 
glittering and beautiful. 

Also called pumpkin-seed more habitually punkin-seed, from the curious 
spots on its sides, and sun-fish, trom its showy and glittering colors. 

BreastneF. In Newfoundland and the Canadian Maritime provinces, a 
word often applied to a stick of wood for fuel. 
Cf. billet, burn, turn. 

Breed. In the West, said of a half or quarter breed Indian. 

Breezy. Noisy and boisterous, when used of persons. Probably a sea 

Bretsel (Ger. bretzeln). German twisted bread. 
Also, pretzel. 

Brewis. A New-England dish made of crusts of rye and Indian bread, 
with milk and molasses. 

In England, a pottage of bread with broth poured over it. 
BriagfO, bre-ah'-go (Sp. embriagado). Often heard, in Texas, for a drunkard. 

Brickie (Old Eng. }. Still common in the South, among settlers of English 
lineage, for frail, brittle. 

The form brickly is also used. 

Brief. (1) In Virginia and the South, often heard of rife, common, pre- 
valent, in speaking of epidemic diseases, and in that sense probably only 
a corruption of rife. "I hear smallpox is very brief there." 

(2) Peart, frisky. " The wind is sort of brief." (South.) 

Still provincial in England. 

Bpiggle. To work clumsily or ineffectively. (Western Pa.) 

Bright. Intelligent, quick, in sense of clear-headed, quick-witted. 

Bright means here what, in England, would be called "clever," but 
this latter word, in the United States, denotes amiability and courtesy. 

Bring. Takes in the United States almost altogether the place of the 
English " to fetch." 

Bring on. To produce, to show. 


Bring 1 up. A steamboat term used in sense of "to stop." 

Broadbill (Fulix marila). A species of wild duck frequenting the Eastern 
shores in the fall of the year. 

Also called black head (Chesapeake bay), and Raftduch (Virginia). 

BPOad hOPn. A name formerly applied, in the Mississipi region, to aflat 
boat of very old-fashioned rig, and used for transporting produce, etc. 
Also simply fiat-boat. 

Broady. Among American thieves, the name given to material of any 
kind worth stealing. 

In English cant, broady, itself a corruption of broad-cloth, is only 
applied to cloth. 

BrogTies (Dutch broek}. An old word, now nearly obsolete, and formerly 
in use for " breeches." 

Broke. Ruined, bankrupt, out of money. 

" All broke up," i. e. either miserable, or in hard luck financially. 

Broncho, BPOnCO (Sp.). In the South-West, an unbroken mustang, and 
by extension any native pony, even after being broken. 

The Spanish signification of the name is "rough and crabbed little 
beast," and the term is also familiarly applied to any horses that buck 
and show other signs of vice. 

See cayuse and mustang. 

Broncho-buster. One who makes a profession of breaking-in bronchos. 
Also called & flash-rider. 

Bronze John. A Texas name for yellow fever. 

Broom Corn (Sorghum saccharatum). A variety of maize, whose top 
and dried seedstalks are largely used for brooms. 

Broom-Sage. A tall, stiff jointed grass, common on the abandoned fields 
of Virginia and N. Carolina. 

Brother Jonathan. The cognomen of a citizen of the United States, 
as John Bull is the designation of an Englishman. Said to be derived 
from Jonathan Trumbull, to whom Washington was often wont to apply 
for advice, saying : ' We must consult Brother Jonathan." The phrase 
soon became familiar, and ultimately passed into a bye- word. 

BrotUS (pron. brought us). A superfluity, a heaped measure, i. e. something 
given in as make-weight. Almost exclusively confined to Charleston, 
S. C., and the exact equivalent of the New-Orleans layniappe. 

Brought on. Said of clothes not home made. " Your clothes are brought 
on, I see." (Tennessee mountains.) 


BrOW. Logs piled on the steep bank of a stream, ready to be rolled in 
when the spring freshet comes. (Nfld. N. B. and N. S.) 

Brown bread. A bread much used in New England, and made of a 
mixture of two parts of corn-meal, with one part of rye-meal. 
In other States, known as Boston brown bread. 

BPOWn Stone. A dark variety of red sandstone which, although a very 
perishable material, is highly esteemed in New York city in the building 
of fashionable quarters. Hence, " living in a brown stone house " is apt 
to be looked upon as a sign of gentility. 

Brown thrasher (Turdus rufus). The popular name of the brown 
thrush, one of the best known American song-birds. 
Also called ground or mountain mocking-bird.. 
In Maryland, French mocking-bird. 

Brush. (1) The undergrowth of a forest ; also branches of trees. A con- 
traction of brushwood. 

(2) In Maryland, brush is whatever wood cannot be cut into cord 

In England, the term brushwood is exclusively confined to under- 

(3) A well-known Californian plowing implement. 

Brush (to). To humbug by flattery. 

Brushing up a flat. The slang equiv. of "laying it on thick," i. e. 
using mealy-mouthed words. 

Brushed (to be). To be covered with brush (brushwood). 
Brusher. A cant word for a full glass. 

Bubbler (Aplodinotus grunniens). The fresh water drumfish of the Ohio 
river, so called from its peculiar bubbling noise. 

Buccaneer. A term now obsolete, applied to a long musket, by the 
early settlers of New England. 

Buck. (1) A frame of peculiar construction, on which wood is sawed for 
fuel. Also called saw-buck and wood-horse. (N. J. and Pa. ) 
See saw-horse. 

(2) A New- Jeraeyism for a fop, a flash swell. Used contemptuously. 

(3) A slang term applied to a driver of a public cab. 

(4) In the West, an adult male Indian or negro. Probably from the 
general meaning of buck as a slang term for strong or lusty. " A big 
buck nigger." 

Buck (to). (1) To saw wood for fuel. " To buck one's wood." 

(2) In speaking of horses, in the West, " to buck " is plunging forward 
and throwing the head to the ground, in an effort to unseat the rider. 


(3) An equivalent of "to butt," in sense of to strike with head or 

(4) In slang of some colleges, to haze. 

(5) Said of swinging a boy against a tree. (Kentucky.) 

(6) To buck the tiger, to play against the bank at faro. 

Buck ague, Buck fever. A hunter's and trapper's term for the 
trepidation which seizes young and inexperienced sportsmen, when in 
the presence of deer or other large game. 

BuckbeeF (Ger. bock). The strongest beer made by the Germans, in the 
United States. 

Buekboard. (1) A light, four-wheeled vehicle in which a long elastic 
board or frame is used in place of body springs and gear. 
Also, Luck wagon. 

Buck-darting. Along the coast of New Jersey, said of a /igzag method 
of sailing employed on tide- water creeks. 

Bucker. In political parlance, a refractory voter, one who refuses to 
follow the lead of his party. The significance of the term is obvious, 
when compared with the verb " to buck." 

Bucket. A general term, in South and West, especially Kentucky, 
applied to all kinds of pails and cans holding over a gallon. 

Bucket-Shop. (1) A petty stock gambling den, carried on in opposition 
to regular exchange business. 
(2) A low groggery. 

Buckey. The name of the " alewife" in Western Connecticut. 

Buckeye. (1) A beautiful variety of horse-chestnut (^sculus glabra), 
which used to be specially abundant in the valleys of Ohio. The tree 
was so called on account of the resemblance which its dark-brown nut 
bears to a buck's eye, when the shell first cracks and exposes it to sight. 

(2) A nickname for a native of the State of Ohio. 

Buckeyes are very proud of the connection with their native State- 
Hence, the adjective "buckeye" often used in that region to signify 
excellence of quality. 

Buckeye State. The State of Ohio, so called from the buckeye tree 
(horse-chestnut), which formerly abounded in that region. 

Buck fly. An insect pest of the West, which, at certain seasons, becomes 
very troublesome to deer. 

Bucking iron. A miner's term for a small flat iron tool, used in 
" bucking " or breaking up ores. 

Buckle. The bend of the knees. (New Eng.) 


Buckle (to). To bend. Used of ice under one's weight. (New Eng.) 
Buckle in (to). To close in ; embrace or seize the body, as in a scuffle. 

Buck-party. A party composed entirely of men. 
See hen-party, stag-party. 

Buekra. A negro term, in the Southern States, fer a white man. Also 
used adjectively in the sense of superior, excellent, the term swanga 
buckra standing for an elegantly dressed white man or dandy. 

In the Calabar language of Africa, buckra means the devil, in the sense 
of a spirit or powerful being, and the early application of the term to 
white men probably comes from its having been at once closely identified, 
by the natives, with the slavers carrying on their nefarious traffic on the 
Calabar coast. 

Buck-saw. The saw used with a saw-buck. 

Buckshot War. The electoral riots of 1838, in Pennsylvania, so called 
from the suppressing forces having been supplied with cartridges of the 
buckshot stamp. 

Buckskins. (1) The American troops were so designated during the 
Revolutionary War, from their dressed deer or "buckskin " garments. 

Analogous to Boys in Blue, Blue Bellies. 

(2) A name formerly given to inhabitants of Virginia, a State settled 
by hunters, who traded in deer skins. 

Bucksome (Old Eng.). Racy, with life and vigor and originality. 
So used by Milton. 

BucktailS. A term applied to a political faction, which sprung in New 
York about 1815, in opposition to the administration of Governor 
De Witt Clinton. Its members were so designated from their having 
adopted, as insignias, ' ' bucktails " worn in their hats. 

Budge. (1 Used in N^w England, and as far south as New Jersey, for 
intimate, familiar. " She and your sister are quite budge." 

(2) An accomplice who gains access to a building during the day, for 
the purpose of being locked in, so as to admit his fellow thieve during 
the night. 

Buffalo. (1) The most gigantic of the indigenous mammalia of America, 
once so abundant in our Western prairies, but now nearly extinct. 
Also called biaon. 

(2) A sleigh-robe, made of a buffalo skin. 
Also, buffalo-robe. 

(3) A sort of fresh- water fish of the sucker species, found in the Missis- 
sipi and other Southern rivers. 

(4) Occasionally, during the Civil War, the pilfering " bummer," on 
the flanks of the army, was called a buffalo. 


(5) A name given by their opponents to those members of the Equal 
Rights party who in 1836 accepted the overtures of the regular Demo- 
cratic organization toward a coalition. 

(6) A nickname given to the dwellers on the coast of North Carolina. 

Buffalo-berry (Sheperdia argentea). A plant of the upper Missouri, 
growing in thickets, and producing scarlet berries much relished by the 
Indians. So called from its being mostly found on the plains once fre- 
quented by the buffalo. 

Buffalo-bush. A shrub growing near Humboldt river, Utah, the fruit 
of which is called the bull-berry. 

Buffalo-Chips. The dry dung of the buffalo, used for fuel. 
Also called bodewash. 

Buffalo-elder. A liquid found in the stomach of the buffalo, and for 
which many a hunter has felt thankful when far removed from water. 

Buffalo-Clover (Trifolium reflexum). The Western species of clover, of 
which the buffalo was formerly believed to be particularly fond. 

BuffalO-eoW. A common expression, among colored people of Virginia, 
for a cow without horns, because its head somewhat resembles that of 
the female buffalo, whose horns are very short. 
See mooley cow. 

Buffalo-gnat. A small, black, and poisonous insect pest, common on 
the prairies of the West, and infinitely more dreaded than the mosquito. 

Buffalo-gPaSS (Sesteria dactyloides). A species of short grass covering 
the immense prairies of the West, where formerly the buffalo was roam- 
ing at large. 

Buffalo-nut (Pyrularia oleifera). The oil nut of the West. 

BuffalO-WallOW. A sink or marshy place in the prairies, caused by 
heavy rains, and in which the buffalo was wont formerly to take especial 
delight in rolling and rubbing himself. 

Buffalo-WOlf. A lean and gaunt animal of the wolf kind, as tall as an 
ordinary greyhound, and which is of an exceedingly cowardly disposition. 

Bug. A generic term, in America, for all coleopterous insects, with the 
exception of the " Cimex," always called in full bed-bug. 

In England, the word bug is restricted to the species found in bedding, 
all coleopterous insects being there called " beetles. " Indeed, the term 
has now-a-days, in England, so limited an application, that, when a 
recent edition of the works of Edgar Allan Poe was put in London, the 
editor altered the title of one story, the " Golden Bug, " to the " Golden 
Beetle," in order not to give offense to " ears polite. " The English 



writers who are apt to amuse themselves at the American habit of 
calling their beetles bugs, should not however lose sight of the fact that 
the word comes in direct line from their ancestors, as witness the fol- 
lowing in one of Bacon's Letters : " A bug hath buzzed it in mine ears." 

Also, the verse in Pope : 

" Let me flap this bug with gilded wings. " 

See bed-bug, hoodlebug, hornbug, lightning bug, peabug, pinchbug, 
potato bug. 

Bug-eaters. A term applied derisively to inhabitants of Nebraska, on 
account of the poverty-stricken appearance of many parts of the State. 
Indeed, so they say, if one living there were to refuse to eat bugs, he 
would, like Polonius, soon be " not where he eats, but where he is 
eaten. " 

Buggy. (1) A light, one-horse, four wheeled vehicle, usually with one 

In England, a two wheeled vehicle. 

(2) An adjective, meaning eaten with worms, as of dry-rotted wood. 

Bug" juice. A term formerly applied to the Schlechter whiskey of the 
Pennsylvania Dutch, a very inferior spirit. Now extended to bad 
whiskeys of all kinds. 
Also, bug-poison. 

Bugleweed (Lycopus virginicus). A medicinal plant, which is especially 
a favorite for affections of the chest. 
Also called Virginia water-horehound. 

Bug OUt. To extend, or expand ; idiomatically, to be filled with astonish- 
ment. " His eyes bugged out, and he was interested. " 

Build. Whilst in England to build is rarely, if ever, used outside its 
natural meaning of masonry, except for wheeled vehicles and vessels, 
the tendency in America is to extend the word in all ways imaginable. 
Thus, not only do we build embankments, tunnels, and even telegraph 
cables, but a merchant builds up his fortune, and a professional man his 
reputation. Nay, tailors often use also the word for making clothes, and 
will speak of " building you a nice pair of pants. " 

The expression is even extended to individuals, being used in the 
meaning of formed. " I was not built that way, " expressing thereby 
one's unwillingness to adopt a specified course. 
Also, to build up. 

Bulger. Western for anything uncommonly large, a whopper. "A bulger 
of a story, a bulger of a town. " 
Not unknown in England. 

Bulkhead. Outside entrance to a cellar, with a sloping door. (New 




Bull. (1) A general prefix, in America, for large, immense. 

(2) A cant word for a locomotive. Also sometimes lengthened into 

(3) In college slang, an error, a mistake of any kind. 

Bull (to). In college slang, to recite badly, to make a poor recitation. 
From the substantive bull, meaning a mistake or blunder of any kind. 

Bull-bat (Caprimulgus americanus). The vulgar name of the large bat 
or night-hawk. 

Also called chuck-will 's-widow, and whip-poor-will. 

Bull-boat. A term applied, in the Far West, to an ox-hide boat, once 
commonly used for crossing rivers. 

Bull-brier (genus Smilax). A large brier growing to a large size in the 
rich alluvial bottoms of the South-West, and whose root contains a 
farinaceous substance much esteemed by the Indians. 

Bamboo-brier is another name, from the plant often attaining the size 
of a bamboo. 

Bulldose. A flogging, a cowhiding, the cow's hide standing for the bull's 

The derivation is almost literal : a " bull dose," a flogging with a strip 
of hide. 

Bulldose (to). To intimidate by violent and unlawful means, especially 
in politics. To overawe, to terrify, to silence by threats. 

Also spelled bulldoze. 

A term of Southern political origin, originally referring to an associa- 
tion of negroes whose enthusiasm on the suffrage question led them to 
use coercitive measures in converting their brethren to the Republican 

Bull-frog 1 (Rana catesbiana). A large species of frog, with a deep, harsh 
croak, at times so potent that it resembles the low roar of a bellowing 

In New England, bull-paddock is a popular synonym for bull-frog. 

Also, bull-paddy. 

See bull-tucker. 

Bull-head (genus Pimelodus). One of the most common fish of the 
United States, usually dark in color, so called from its thick head with 
long feelers. Also called cat, cat-fifth, catty, horned pout. 

Another species is known as mud-pout, from its preference for the mud 
of rivers and creeks, and, irreverently, from its black color perhaps, as 

Bull-headed. Clumsy and strong. 


Bullion State. A nickname applied to the State of Missouri, from one 
of its senators, colonel Thomas H. Benton, having been himself nick- 
named " Old Bullion " on account of his exertions in favor of gold and 
silver currency, at the time when the question of paper versus gold and 
silver currency was to the front. 

. A large, powerfully-built negro. 
Cf. buck-nigger. 

Bull nose. A useless hard clam. . (Cape May Co. N. J. ) 

Bull nut (Carya tomentosa). A large kind of hickory nut of the Southern 

Bull plough. A large wooden plough used with oxen. 

Bullrag. To tease, to domineer over. (N. J.) 
Also, to bullyrag. 

Bull-tailing. A cowboy's term, on the Western prairies, and meaning, 
when chasing bulls, to seize them by the tails and turn them somersaults. 

Bull-tuekeP. A current word for a frog, among Philadelphia boys. 
Bull- Whack. A heavy whip used in the South- West, for driving cattle. 

Bull-whackeP. One who drives cattle with a bull-whack, and by 
extension a cowboy, or cattle-herder. 

Bully. (1) A weapon formed by tying a stone or a piece of lead in a 

(2) A sail-boat with two masts, used for fishing and carrying small 
cargoes. (Nfld.) 

(3) A current word used adjectively in sense of excellent, fine, capital, 
with a connotation of strenght or efficiency. 

Bully j or you, Avell done ! bravo ! 

Bully has now in England usually a disagreeable meaning, but Shakes- 
peare uses it once or twice as a term of endearment : " What says my 
bully rock?" (Merry Wives of Windsor) ; and it is probably the same 
word as the old Scotch " billie" or " billy, " a term, as Jamieson says, 
expressive of affection and familiarity. 

Bum. (1) In college slang : 1. A spree. 2. An unpretentious spread. 3. 
A frolic. Also used adjectively for bad, very poor. 
(2) A bummer (q. v. ). 

Bum (to). A verb much in vogue, during the War of Secession, in sense 
of to pilfer, to loot. 

Bum (on a). A slang expression meaning "on a drunk." 

Bumberell. A slang word for an umbrella. 
Also, bumbershoot. 



Bum-boat. Besides the English meaning of a shore boat supplying 
sailors with provisions, this word is also applied, in the United States, 
to a floating drink-shop or resort for toughs. 

Bummer (Ger. bummler, idler). (1) A loafer, tramp, or vagabond. An 
idle, worthless fellow, without any visible means of support. Also used 
as a general term of reproach, in the same way as rascal, blackleg, etc. 
are used in England. 

(2) During the war of Secession, the bummer was the usual army pest 
or follower, whose principal occupation was pilfering and looting ; and 
since the war the term has been extended to designate one who, having 
been formerly in the Quartermaster's or Commissary Department, now 
exclusively " supports " himself by lobbying. 

Bummerlsm. Character of a bummer ; bummers collectively regarded. 
Habits of loafing and petty stealing. 

BumpeP- In railway phraseology, what in England is known as a "buffer, " 
ana perhaps also the more appropriate term of the two. 

Bun. A term frequently applied, in the United States, to the squirrel, 
and recalling the old English ' ' bunn, " the familiar name of the rabbit 
in Halliwell's Dictionary. 

Bunch. (1) A mining term for an irregular mass of ore. 
(2) A group. "A bunch of buffaloes." 

Bunch (to.). To collect, to bring together, to corral. " The speaker 
bunched his lips ; the herds were bunched together, etc. 

Bunch-grass. A species of " festuca, " offering excellent feed for stock, 
and growing on the bleak mountain-sides of Nevada and neighboring 

BunCO (to. ). To rob, cheat, or swindle by means allied to what is called 
in England the confidence trick. 
Also, to bunko. 

Bunco-Case, Bunco-game. The action of practicing the confidence- 
trick, a swindle generally effected by inducing a greenhorn to play 

Bunco-man, Buneo-SteereP. A swindler who practices the bunco-game. 

Buncombe, Bunkum. Empty talk, pointless speech making, from the 
well-known answer of a member of Congress, from North Carolina, who, 
when asked why he persisted in delivering a long harangue when the 
members were all leaving the House to avoid it, replied : " Never mind; 
I'm talking to Buncombe ! " that being the county in which he lived. 
Buncombe was first applied to speeches made in Congress for the mere 
purpose of being published and sent home to gratify constituents, but it 


is now current all over the country to denote especially any hypocritical 
enthusiasm in speechifying, what is commonly called flap-doodle, gas, 
or bosh. 
Also sometimes used as an adjective. " A buncombe proclamation." 

Our people talk a great deal of noneence about emancipation, but they know 
it's all buncombe. 

(Sam Slick, in Human Nature.) 

Bundle (to.)- A term designating a custom, formerly practiced in New 
England, of men and women sleeping on the same bed with all their 
clothes on, when there was not house-room to provide better accom- 

Stopping occasionally in the villages to eat pumpkin pies, dance at 
country frolics, and hurdle with the Yankee lasses. 
(Irving, Knickerbocker History of New York.) 

The same practice is mentioned by Wright as having been customary 
in Wales. 

BungO. A Southern name for a species of small boat. 

Bung-Starter. A word said to be common, among the bartenders of the 
saloons of New York and vicinity, to designate an implement kept 
behind bars to help expelling the roughs and toughs. 

BunglOWn COppePS. A term once applied to counterfeit English half- 
pence, which were in circulation in N. Y. State in 1785-86, and after- 
wards extended to mean all spurious copper coins. 

Bungtown is from the slang-term " to bung," meaning to lie or de- 

Bunk. A contrivance on lumbermen's sleds, to sustain the end of heavy 
pieces of timber. 

Bunk (to). (1) To retire to rest, to retire to bed from " bunk," a berth 
or bed on board ship. 

(2) Among lumbermen, to so arrange lumber for inspection that a false 
impression is conveyed as to the cubic contents of any given pile or 

Bunker (Alosa menhaden). An abbreviation for mostbvnker, a species 
of fish of the herring kind, abounding in the waters of New England, 
and as far south as Chesapeake bay. 
See bony fish. 

Bunty. . (1) Short and stumpy, as in the case of an individual who is 
short of stature. (Ont. ) 
(2) A tailless fowl. (Pa.) 

Burden. In parts of New England, sometimes used for crop. " A good 
burden of grass." 


Bureau (Fr. ). A term commonly applied to an office, in the language 
of officialdom. " The Pension Bureau, the Bureau of Education, etc." 
The French form bureaux is also used for the plural. 

BureaUGPate (Fr. C.). A contemptuous term applied by the French 
Canadians, during the rebellion of 1837-38, to their countrymen who kept 
aloof from the insurrectionary movement. 

Burgall (Ctenolabrus cceruleus). A New York name for the cunner or 
blue perch, a small fish very abundant on the Atlantic coast, from New 
England to Delaware bay. 

Other names are choyset (Indian name), and nibbler. 

BUPgfOO- A feast akin to a barbecue, among hunters and fishermen in 
the South and South-West, fish, flesh and fowl being compounded into a 
vast stew. When the burgoo has a political character, speeches are 
made after the partaking of the meal. 

Burgoo is apparently a variant of ' ' burgood . " 

Bum. (1) A clearing in the woods made by burning the trees. 
Cf. brule. 

(2) A stick of wood for fuel. (Nfld. N. B. and N. S. ) 
See billet, breastner, turn.. 

BUPPites. A term applied to an independent and short-lived political 
party, organized and led by Aaron Burr in 1797. 

BUPPO, boor'-ro (Sp.). An ass, donkey, and esp. the Mexican jackass, 
used as a pack-wood carrier. Also, a saw-horse. (Texas and S. W.) 
Another name is cuddy. 

BUPP Oak (Quercus macrocarpa). A beautiful oak tree, laden with dark 
green foliage, and which abounds in the Middle and Western States. 
Also called overcup white oak, from the peculiar form of its acorn. 

BuPPOWingf OWl (Pholeoptynx cunicularia). A species of day owl, so 
called from its frequenting the forsaken burrows, in the "villages" of 
the prairie-dog. 

Bupyingf. Often used as a noun, in sense of funeral. 

Bupy the hatchet. A very picturesque phrase, borrowed from the 

famous Indian ceremony of making the burying of the war-hatchet the 

symbol of a compact of peace. Now applied to affairs of every day life, 

in sense of putting away all strife or enmity, ending a feud or difficulty. 

Similarly, to dig up the hatchet, to declare war, to open hostilities. 

Bush. A land covered with rank shrubbery. The primeval or virgin 
forest land. A thicket of trees. Uncultivated land covered with trees 
and undergrowth. 

In England, the term more especially applies to a single shrub or 


Bush-beans (Phaseolus vulgaris). A common name for beans that do 
not climb, i. e. string-beans. Also called snap-beans, or simply snaps. 
In England, called kidney-beans and French beans. 

Bushed. Whipped, tired out, as in the case of one^who gives up work 
from fatigue. " She was completely bushed." 

Bush-meeting 1 . A gathering in the woods, for religious purposes, and 
differing from the camp-meetiny in the fact of lasting only one day. Bush- 
meetings are at present mostly done away with, except among the 
negroes of the South, the occasion serving also as an excuse for a frolic. 

Bushwhacker. (1) One accustomed to beat about through bushes. Also, 
sometimes, and by extension, a raw country-man. 

(2) During the Civil War, the term lost its harmless meaning, having 
then served to designate a deserting soldier, or an unauthorized raider, 
from their habit of taking to the bush, to escape justice. A sort of irre- 
gular cavalry, analogous to the " Jayhawkers " (q v.), especially made 
the name of Bushwhackers famous at that time. 

(3) A scythe or other instrument used for cutting brush or bushes. 

(4) In politics, as in war, simply a " free-lance." 

Bushwhacking. (1) Travelling through bushes, by beating them down 
with a scythe or a cudgel. Also propelling a boat, by pulling the bushes 
on the edges of the stream. 

(2) Fighting in guerilla style, much in vogue at the South during the 
Civil War. 

Bussy. A sweetheart. (Tennessee mountains. ) 

Bust. (1) A failure in business, being the vulgar pronunciation of 
" burst." 

(2) In college slang, a failure in examination. 

(3) A frolic, generally accompanied by boisterous drunkenness. The 
figure is, of course, taken from the idea of enjoying a thing to bursting 
" To be on a,' bust," to indulge in a drinking bout, accompanied by free 
and easy practices of all kinds. 

The term bust is sometimes varied with buster, which, besides apply- 
ing to a spree, is also extended to mean any astonishing thing, person, 
or event, i. e. anything so large or unusual as to look like bursting. 

Now common in England, but of California!! origin. 

Bust (to). (1) To burst, and especially to fail in business. 
(2) In college slang, to fail in recitation or examination. 

Bust-head. A Western term for common whiskey, literally " burst- 

It may be interesting to note here how rich is the Western vernacular 
in terms for bad whiskey, the idea enshrined being mostly always brutal 



in its plain, outspoken cynicism. Of such terms are bald-face, railroad, 
forty -rod-lightning, stagger-juice, stone-fence, tingle-foot, turpentine. 

Mostly all those terms are especially figurative of the rapidity with 
which bad whiskey hurries men to the end of this life's journey. 

Butcher. In newspaper jargon, a term applied to the copy-reader, who 
uses mercilessly the blue-pencil in cutting short reporters' stories. 
Also called cutter. 

Butcher-bird. (Lanius septentrionalis). A small bird of the shrike kind 
(Collyris), almost songless, and of a dull slate color, which, in Canada 
and the Eastern States, is often confounded with the ' ' mocking-bird ' 
(Mimus polyglottus). 

Also known under the popular appellation of nine-killer, from the 
prevailing notion that the number of grasshoppers, which he impales and 
hangs up as a butcher does his meat, never exceeds the number of nine 
every day. 

Bute. An abbreviation standing for beauty. " He's a bute." 

Butt. Used in the West, as a contracted form of buttock. " I fell on my 

Provincial in West of England for a buttock of beef only. 

Butt (to). To oppose. (S. W.) 

Butte (Fr.). A detached hill or knob rising abruptly in the prairies of 
the Far West, and reaching somewhat higher than the ordinary hill or 
ridge, although never to such an elevation as would entitle it to be 
called a mountain. 

The buttes of the Rocky Mountains and Oregon are extremely pictu- 
resque as landmarks, a notably conspicuous one being the Butte au 
Chien, in the vicinity of the Red River. 

Butte (to). A verb used in California in sense of " to chop off with a 
dull axe," and, in the North West, for laying out or recognizing an 
established logging-camp. 

Butter. Fruit preserved by stewing down to a butter-like consistency. 

Butter-bread. Spread bread and butter. (Pa.) 

Butter fingered. Said of a person whose powers of retaining an article 
in his grasp are not great. (N. J. ) 

Butter-flsh (Stromateus triacanthus). A common slimy fish, so called 
from its slime which makes it very difficult to handle. 

Butterfly. A common name erroneously applied, in the United States, 
to the night-flying moths. 

BUT BY 89 

In England, the usual name is moth. 
See moth. 

Butternut. The fruit of a tree (Juglans cinerea), so called from the oil 
it contains. 
Also called oil nut. 
See long walnut, white walnut. 

Butternuts. (1) A term applied, during the Civil War, to the Confe- 
derate soldiers, from the color of their clothes, which, being home-spun, 
were dyed brown with the juice of the butternut. 

(2) A popular name, in parts of the West and South, for overalls of 
the common butternut brown. 

Button-bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis). A shrub growing in low- 
lying, swampy districts, and abounding in almost every part of the 
United States. So called from its globular flowers appearing at a 
distance like the balls, or buttons, of the sycamore tree. 
Also called Butter-bush, which is a corruption of the above. 

Buttoningf-up. A Wall street phrase, referring to the action of brokers 
who, having bought stock on speculation, find it cast upon their hands, 
and who, for any reason, prefer to keep the matter to themselves. 

ButtonwOOd (Platanus occidentalis). A New-England term for the 
sycamore-tree, so called from the curious ball-shaped seed vessels 
hanging on its branches in winter by long slender threads, and which 
do not drop till the following spring. 
Also called button tree. 

Buzzard. (1) A half-facetious, half-contemptuous term applied, in several 
mechanical professions, to a badly-spoiled piece of work. 

(2) The silver dollar, so called derisively from the buzzard-like eagle 
on the coin. 

Also, buzzard dollar. 

(3) A name applied to a vulture instead of to a hawk. 

Buzzards. A nickname of the inhabitants of Georgia, from a very strict 
law enacted in that State for the protection of the buzzards, as they act 
in the capacity of scavengers. 

Buzzer. A slang term for a pickpocket. 

Buzzing. (1) Confidential talk. 

(2) Searching or looking for. " What are you buzzing ? " 

Buzz-saw. A very characteristic and picturesque expression for a 
circular saw. 

By. (1) Used for "to" or "into." "Come by my house and stay all 
night." (Ga. and Fla.) 

(2) Used for "of." "I met a man by the name of Smith." 



By and again. A Southern adverbial phrase meaning occasionally, no 
and then. 

By and large- On the whole, speaking generally. 

To take it by and large is a slang phrase, equivalent to taking it all 
round, or after due thought. 

By-biddeP. An auctioneer's decoy who, by spurious bidding, runs up 

By SUn. Before sunset. (Ga. ) 

Byo. A cradle. Used in speaking to a child. Perhaps from by-lo, as in 
by-lo-land. (S. E. Pa.) 

Caballad, generally pronounced "cavy-yard" by Americans (Sp. cibal- 
lada). A bunch, or drove of horses or mules, carrying merchandise. 
(Texas and S. W.) 

Also, cavallad, cavallard. 

Cabbage. / don't boil my cabbage twice, a very common expression in the 
country towns of Pennsylvania, and signifying that the person uttering 
it does not intend to repeat an observation. Allusion to the cabbage 
which when boiled a second time, is not always palatable. 

Cabbage (to). To appropriate surreptitiously; to steal, in sense of theft 
of any kind. 

In England, " to cabbage " is confined to tailor's slang, and means 
the purloining of pieces of cloth by dishonest workmen. 

Cabbage-tree (Palma altissima). A well known palm-tree of Florida, 
from the pith of which sago is manufactured, and whose long straight 
stems are used as water-pipes. 

" Cabbage-tree " is also a generic name, in Florida, for all palms 
bearing an excellent shoot. 

Also called cabbage-palm or palm -cabbage. 

CabestPO, kah-bes'-tro (Sp.). A kind of lasso made of hair, and used for 
catching horses and cattle. (S. W.) 

The cabestro is also employed for fastening animals to stakes or pegs 
driven into the ground. 

Also, cabero. 

Cable, Cablegram. A message by sea cables. Now rapidly passing into 
general commercial use, wherever the English language is spoken. 
(2) A popular abbreviation for cable-tramway. 

Cable (to.). To send a message by sea cables. Of same coinage as " to 
wire. " 


CabOOile (the Whole). A pleonastic expression for the whole, the whole 
lot. Probably an enlarged form of " boodle," used in its primitive sense 
of bundle, estate, possession, crowd. Thus, in sense of mass or crowd, 
we find " buddle " so used by Markham as early as 1625. 

Caboose, CabOOSe ear. A guard's or conductor's car, at the rear of a 
freight train. 

In England, caboose (Dutch leombuis) is a nautical term for a ship's 
galley or kitchen, and the " caboose-car," like much of the American 
terminology connected with modes of land travel, has been borrowed 
from sea-life. 

Equivalent to the guard's van attached to a goods train in England. 

Also, simply a cab, by abbreviation. 

kah-bray (Fr. ). The French voyageurs' name of the pronyhorn 
(Antilocapre americana), a species of antelope found on the plains west 
of the Missouri river. 
See pronghorn. 

Caeaoui, kah-kah-we (Ind. cancanwi). Among the French Canadians, a 
word designating the long-tailed duck (Harelda glacialis) of the north 
shore of the St Lawrence, below Quebec. 

Cache (Fr. cacher, to hide, to conceal). A word dating back from the 
old " voyageurs," and meaning a hole dug in the ground, to conceal 
stores or provisions which it is inconvenient to carry. The term is only 
heard now in the remotest districts, but is still generally in use in the 
Canadian North West. 

Cache (to). To hide, to conceal stores or provisions in the ground. 

Cachupin, kah-tchoo-pin' (Sp.). A native Spaniard settled in America. 
Used opprobriously. (Texas and S. W.) 

Caek. In parts of New England, used playfully of a small child, and 
generally preceded by the adjective " little." Probably a metaphorical 
use of the shoemaker's word for an infant's shoe. 
Also, tacker. 

Cacomite (Mex. cacomitl). An edible bulbous root of a species of Tigridia, 
and from which a good flour is prepared. (Texas. ) 

Cad. A railway guard or conductor. 

In English slang, " cad " is a generic name for omnibus conductors, 
but the application of the term to railway officials is peculiarly American. 

Cagfeot (Fr. cage). A fisherman's term, in the region of the Gulf of St. 
Lawrence, for a structure used in making cod-liver oil. It is in the 
form of a sort of inverted cone, built of boards, with perforated bottom, 
over which the livers of the fish are heaped up. 


Cahoot- A favorite Western word in the phrase : " The whole cahoot,' 
i. e. the whole lot of them. 

CahOOtS (in). A slang expression meaning, in the South- West and the 
West, in company with or associated together. From the old English 
word cahoot, denoting a company or partnership. 

Men who live in the same house, those in partnership, or who act in 
concert, are said to be " in cahoots," just as, politically, the same 
expression is synonymous of alliance, analogous however, in this case, to 
a species of jobbery, i. e. an unholy alliance. 

CahOOt (to). To act in partnership. 

Cain (to Paise). Of Western origin, and meaning originally to raise a 
disturbance with homicidal intent. While still retaining this meaning, 
its more general signification is that of being merely disputatious or 

Also, to raise hate. 

A sarcastic variant is to raise merry cain. 

Cake (to take the). To be the best of a kind, to beat all records, to 
rank the highest. From the well known cake-walks in vogue among 
colored people, in which a cake is in the centre of a room, and the 
contestants promenade around it, the couple putting on most style 
winning the cake. 

Calabacilla, kah-lah-bah-sil'-ya (Sp.). In Texas, a gourd (Cucurbita 
foetidissima) with round fruit the color of an orange. 

Calabash (Sp. calabaza, a gourd). (1) The gourd (Cucurbita lagenaria), 
and, more generally, a drinking ustensil made from the bottle-shaped 
shell of that plant. 

(2) In a figurative sense, a jeering term applied to a weak-minded 
individual, that is, an "empty head." 

CalabOOSe (Sp. calabozo, dungeon). The common gaol or prison. (S. W. ) 
CalabOOSe (to). To imprison. 

Calash (Fr. caleche). (1) An old-fashioned kind of gig on two wheels, 
which is still in use in Canada, especially in city of Quebec, and 
immediate surroundings. 

(2) A term applied to that particular ladies' head-gear, formed 
of hoops, which in England is appropriately called an " ugly. " 

Calculate. Often used, especially in New England, in a similar way to 
the word " guess, " though not to so great an extent, that is, in the sense 
of to judge, to exerce his judgment, to esteem, to suppose, etc. 
To expect, to intend. 

Calculated. Adapted to, designed for 

CAL GAL . 93 

Calculation. Judgment. 

Calf -kill (Kalmia angustifolia). An absurd name, given in the North, to 
a beautiful flowering shrub of the laurel species, from 'the erroneous 
supposition that its leaves, if eaten by cattle, will prove fatal. 
Also called lamb-kill, kill-lamb, and sheep-laurel. 

CalibOgUS. A mixture of rum and spruce beer, already quoted by Grose, 
in 1792, as an American beverage. 

Calico. (1) A term applied exclusively, in the United States, to printed 
cotton cloth. 

In England, all white and unprinted cotton goods are now called 

(2) A slang term, especially among students, for a woman, individually 
as companion to a man, or collectively wherever sex plays a part in 
social life. By a further figure, the term is even extended to mean a 
flirtation, or love affair, of a more or less serious nature. 

Also used adjectively in sense of pertaining to women students. " A 
calico course, " a course frequented by women students. 

Calico-back (Strepsilas interpres). The brant-bird or turnstone, so 
called from the variegated plumage of its upper parts. 

CalifOPnia-widOW. The equiv. of grass- widow, i. e. a married woman 
whose husband is away from her for any extended period. 

This expression dates from the period of the Calif ornian gold fever, 
when so many men went West, leaving their wives and families behind 

Callithump. A factitious word meaning to produce hideous and discor- 
dant sounds, with tin kettles, bells, rattles, etc. 

Callithumpians. A name formerly assumed by students, in remote 
college towns, when out for a good time, and making all the noise and 
discord possible. Allusion has been made, for its etymology, to Calliope, 
one of the nine muses, and to the verb to thump. But we incline, how- 
ever, to believe that the word must be derived from the two Greek 
terms kalos, pleasant, and thumov, the soul, the more so because the 
students engaging in the sport, and who were wont to associate a good 
deal with the classics, were then of necessity " pleasant souls" or jolly 

From the colleges, the word spread to some cities, and, in Baltimore 
especially, a famous gang of rowdies once was called the Callithumpian 
band. The term has now fallen almost entirely into disuse, and only 
lingers, in some out-of-the-way districts, to mean a "charivari," or 
burlesque serenade, given on the occasion of an unpopular wedding. 

Calumet (Fr. ). An old word sprung into existence through the frequent 
intercourse between traders and Indians, and meaning, amongst the 


aboriginal tribes, a tobacco-pipe with a long reed and bowl of marble, 
usually used also as a symbol of peace and war. 

Camflre. A vulgar substitute for " camphor, " and not unfrequently 
found written as it is sounded. 

Camote, kah-mo'-tay (Sp. ). In Southern Texas, the sweet potato, o r 

Camp. Even though there be but one traveller, a camp is formed, in the 
Far West, whenever a halt on a journey is decided. 

Camp (half faced). A camp so formed that one side is opened for the 
free passage of the cattle and horses comprised in the train. (S. W.). 
Also, corral. 

Campaign. The period antecedent to an election, during which the 
candidates take the field. The word is applied alike to a presidential 
election, or to the canvass of the merest petty official. 

Campaign (to). To proceed upon a campaign, to exploit. 

Camp down (to). To form a camp. To spend the night in the open air 
on the plain, or under some sheltering tree. 
Also, to camp out. 

Camphene. A well known oil, used for lighting purposes. 

Camp-meetingf. A gathering in the wood or field for religious purposes, 
the assemblage "camping out " in tents, booths, and other improvised 
and temporary habitations. In many respects a camp-meeting often 
partakes of the character of a protracted picnic, the religious exercices 
being quaintly mixed up with games and amusements of all kinds. 

The " camp-meeting " was, primitively, associated with the Metho- 
dists, but now-a-days other denominations and associations also use the 
word, as applied to their own meetings. Among the Mormons, however, 
the term wood-meeting is almost exclusively employed. 

Campus. A student's word meaning the college grounds. Also, the athletic 

Camus-plant. See quamish. 

Can. Often incorrectly used for "may," when there is no question of ability. 
For instance, we could read on our postal cards the following absurd 
statement : " Nothing but the address can be placed on this side." The 
English newspaper wrappers have a similar notice, correctly worded : 
" This wrapper may only be used for newspapers." 

Can (to). To put up meats, fruits, vegetables, in air-tight cans. 

Canack, Canuck, Cunnuck. Familiar and colloquial slang appellations 
for a native of Canada, although, within the Canadian border, a canuck 
is almost solely understood to be a French-Canadian. 


Said to be derived from Connaught, which was a name given by the 
. French-Canadians to the Irish. 

Canada rice (Zizania aquatica). A plant abounding in the Northern 
States and Canada, and growing along the edges of pools and sluggish 

Also called water-oats and wild-rice. 

Canada thistle (Cnicus arvensis). A weed introduced from France into 
Canada, whence it has spread over the whole of North- America. 

Canaigre, kah-nay'-gray (Sp.). In Texas, a species of dock (Rumex 
hymenosepalus), the root of which is very rich in tannic acid. 

Canaille. Shorts, or low grades of flour. 

Canaoua. A factitious and derogatory term formerly much employed 
by the French Canadians, and applied to the Indians. 
Also, canamiache. 

Les canaouas vont 1'ecorcher comme une anguille. 
(De Gaspe\ Anciens Canadiens, II, 135.) 

Canard branchu (Fr. C. ). In the lower St. Lawrence region, a name 
applied to the wood-duck (Aix sponsa), from its being wont to perch 
upon the branches of trees. 

The term has been used by Charlevoix as early as 1744. 

Cancer-POOt. The name of several plants (species of Orobauche) very 
common throughout the United States, and so called because they supply 
a pretended remedy for cancer. 
See squaw-root. 

Candelia, can-del' -ya (Sp. ). In Texas, bad weather, especially cold 
weather, with rain and sleet, killing sheep and cattle. 

The word implies the notion of dying, and is probably related to the 
Spanish idiom " acabarse la candela," i. e. to be dying. 

Candidate (to). To be a candidate, to act as a candidate. To seek, or 
be proposed for office, etc. 

Candleberry (Myrica cerifera). The wax-myrtle, bearing a berry covered 
with a shining wax, from which candles are made. 

Candy. A name given, in the United States, to sweetmeats of all kinds. 
Also, candle*. 

Cane-brake. A name given, in the South, to thickets of canes, abound- 
ing in low lands from South Carolina to Louisiana. 
In the Caroliiias, cane- meadow. 

Cane-rush. In college slang, a contest for class supremacy, which* con- 
sists in trying to get and retain control, by force, of a stick or cane held 
at the start by members of each class. 
Also, cane-spree. 



Cane-trash. The leaves of the sugar-cane, when cut and stripped for 
grinding. Such trash usually serves as manure for the soil. 
Also, bagasse. 

Caney. An adjective still prevalent to designate places where cane is 
growing, or once grew in abundance. Hence, the " caney branch" of 
Kentucky and Tennessee. 

Where Chinese drive 

With sails and wind their 

cany waggons light. 


Canker lettuce. In New England, a name applied to the plant (Pyrola 
rotundifolia) said to be a cure for canker. 

Canker Pash. A familiar term for scarlatina fever. 

Canne-de-POChe (Fr. C.). A species of duck (Histrionicus torquatus) of 
the lower St. Lawrence region. 

Canned goods. Fruits, vegetables, etc. preserved in air-tight cans. In 
England, more generally known as "tinned" goods. 

Cannery. An establishment, where " canning " is going on. 

Canning- The process of preserving fresh fruits, vegetables, etc. in air- 
tight tin vessels. 

Canoe. A term generally applied to the birch canoe, from the bark of the 
" Betula papyracea," which, being glossy and pliant, is taken whole 
from the tree, then spread open, and fashioned into a graceful shape. It 
requires no mean skill and close attention to propell the exceedingly 
frail thing ; hence the slang phrase of "paddling one's own canoe" 
meaning, as the song says, to be skillful enough to succeed unaided. 
Hunters are also apt to speak briefly of birch canoes as birches. 

Canoe biPCh (Betula papyracea). Also called paper birch, the 
jt canot " of French Canada. 


Canon, Canyon, kan-yone (Sp.). A gorge or a ravine, worn by violent 
watercourses, and generally overhung by precipitous rocks, rising some- 
times, especially in the Rocky Mountains, to enormous heights which 
fill the beholder with feelings akin to awe. 

Diminutives of cziioii are catlada, and ca/loncito. 

CanoncitO, kan-yon-see'-to (Sp.). A diminutive of canon, and, more spe- 
cifically, in South- Western Texas, an opening in the chaparral or in the 
mbnfe (q. v. ). 

Can-OpeneP. A Llade.i instiument adapted for opening canned goods. 


Cant (to). A verb thoroughly colloquial in the United States, in sense of 
to turn about, to turn over, to roll over. For example, a person restless 
in bed " cants" over, when shifting the position of the body ; a log of 
wood is " canted" over, etc. 

In England, " to cant" is now rarely heard, and then its sense is 
rather that of unequal balancing, or a leaning to one side. 

Cantankerate. To produce strife, to make or become ill-humored. 
From the English cantankerous, meaning malicious or contentious. 

CanteP. To slope down. 

Cant-hOOk. A lever with hook, used in raising or moving heavy weights. 
From to cint, maaning to move or to incline to one side, to turn about. 
.This invention is Am erican in name and design. 

Also cin-hook, more especially used however in sense of a rope with 
an iron hook at each end, for hoisting casks. 

Canticoy (Ind. Algoiikin chintika, meaning an act of worship, with 
dancing). A word applied by the early Dutch of New Netherland to a 
merry-making, or social gathering, and still used in same sense by aged 
people in New York and on Long Island. 

The verb to canticoy has also formerly been used, applied to Indians 
holding a religious worship. 

Also, cantica, cantico. 

Cantina (Sp.). A frequent word, in Texas, for a bar-room. 

Canvasbaek (Anas valisneriana). A species of wild duck, highly 
esteemed for the delicacy of its flesh, and found chiefly in the Chesa- 
peake bay and tributaries. 
The pride of the American kitchen, so known from its color. 

Canvass. When used politically, to count officially the votes after an 
election, which meaning is somewhat different from that current in 
England, where it simply refers to the solicitation of voters prior to an 

Cape Cod tUPkey. A slang term for cod fish, in Massachusetts. 
Also, Marblehead turkey. 

Cape May goody. See lafayette. 

CapOPal (Sp. ). In Texas, an overseer who directs the work, but does not 
pay the laborers. 

Capper. (1) In thieves' and gamblers' parlance, a confederate, especially 
one who at cards mikes false bids, with the object of enticing a genuine 

(2) In auctioneer's slang, a man or woman acting as a dummy bidder. 

Cap sheaf. Figuratively used, in the United States, to denote pre- 



eminence, the highest degree, the summit. Derived from the well-known 
capping sheaf of straw used to decorate the top of a stack. 

Caption. Originally a legal term, and now applied, in newspaper parlance, 
to headings or titles of articles. 

Capul, kah-pool' (Sp. ). A tree or shrub of South- Western Texas, with 
small, blackish red or deep yellow edible berries, called cap>ule*. 

Car. A railroad or tramway carriage. 

In England, carriage, coach, or tramway. 

The American vehicles running upon rails bear various denominations: 
baggage-car, drawing-room or palace-car, frei ght-car, horse-car or street- 
car, mail-car, sleeping-car. 

(Sp.). In Texas, a sort of vulture (Polyboros cheriway), which 
is probably the typical Mexican eagle. 

Caramel (to). In Louisiana, to burn the cane juice by a careless applica- 
tion of heat. 

Caravan. An association of traders or pioneers, travelling between the 
old settlements and the new colonies, under the direction of an experienced 
guide. This institution now only survives in the South- West, and in 
some wild partions of the Rocky Mountains. 

In New Mexico, the caravan is called by its Spanish name conducta. 

Car-brake. The ordinary brake, used to diminish speed. 

Carcajou (Fr. C. ). (1) The American wolverene (Gulo luscus), or prairie 

(2) The American badger (Taxidea americana). Another scientific 
name is " Meles labradorica," which is certainly a misnomer, as the 
species of wild cat it refers to is not found in Labrador. 

(3) The cougar (Felis concolor). 
See otsitso. 

Cards (tO give). To give an advantage, a slang expression borrowed 
from the gaming table, and which is the equiv. of the English " to give 
points " derived from the billiard saloon. 

CaPf- A blaze or mark made on a tree destined to be felled. 

Carga (Sp. ). In Texas, a common name for a Mexican dry measure, 
equal to iour fanegcw, or 336 pounds. 

CaPgadOP (Sp. ). In Texas, the man in charge of the packs, in a pack 

See patron. 

Car-house. A covered shed, for protecting railway carriages. 

CaribOU (Fr. C. ). The American reindeer (Rangifer canadensis), found in 
the northernmost parts of this continent. Two varieties exist, the barren 


'ground caribou and the woodland'caribou, but some travellers tell us never- 
theless that these two names merely represent the same animal at diffe- 
rent seasons. 

CarlieueS. 1 Boyish tricks and capers. " To cut carlicues," i. e. to cut 
capers, to indulge in frolicsome mirth. 

2 Fantastic ornaments worn on a person or used in architecture. 

Also, curleycuex , curlycues. 

Evidently a fancifully-formed word, from curley and queue. 

Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus). The sweet scented shrub, 
whose bark and wood have a somewhat spicy flavor. 

Carolina pink (Spigelia marilandica). The pink root of Maryland is so 
called further South. It is a medicinal plant, bearing beautiful flowers, 
and well known as a purgative and vermifuge. 

Carolina potato (Convolvulus batata). A name applied, in the Eastern 
States, to the sweet potato of tropical America. 

Carouge eommandeur (Fr. C.). A French Canadian name applied to 
the red-winged starling (Agelceus phoeniceus). 
See officer bird. 

Carpet-bagger. (1) An opprobrious term applied in the South, after 
the Civil War, to unprincipled political adventurers, whose wordly pos- 
sessions were literal}' comprised within a " carpet-bag," and who were 
then seeking their fortunes in any deed of shame that was safe and pro- 

The term, as a party nickname, first came into existence in 1868, at 
the time of the meeting of the first Alabama convention, to frame a 
reconstructed constitution. The convention was in search of a name, 
and it so happened that, at a caucus of the opposition, one of the leaders, 
Colonel Reese, came to strike the imagination of his hearers in speaking 
of the large influx, into Washington, at the appointment of President 
Lincoln, of shabby office-seekers with carpet-bags. The next morning, 
the Montgomery Daily Mail applied the name of carpet-baggers to the 
strangers who had seized the government of the South, and the epithet 
has since been extended to include any unpopular person of Northern 
origin living in the South. 

(2) In the West, a carpet '--bagger was originally a " wildcat" banker, 
that is, one who had no local abiding place and could not be found when 

Carreta, car ray'-tah (Sp. ). In Texas, a common name for a primitive, 
two- wheeled car, the wheels of which are generally solid and held toge- 
ther by wooden pins. 

Carriage. A generic name, in the United States, for any vehicle 
having a top, and, more specifically, for what would be called in England 
a double-horse victoria. 

100 CAR CAS 

Carry. An equivalent of the ' ' portage- " in Maine. 

Carry (to). In Virginia and the Southern States, used in sense of to lead,. 
to escort, to accompany. " Mr. G. carried Miss M. to the ball." This use 
of the word is said to have been prevalent with the English novelists of 
the 18th century. 

In Virginia and the South we, even constantly hear: " To carry a 
horse to the stable, to the river," and, with respect to this curious en- 
tension, it is interesting to note here that, on the other hand, in some 
parts of England, notably Sheffield, they say, " to lead hay, corn, coals, 
etc. " and almost everything which elsewhere they carry or cart. 

Carry (to) Stock. A Wall street phrase, meaning to hold stock for a 
client's account. 

CaPPyal (Fr. C. carriole). The name of a four-wheeled pleasure carriage, 
common in the Northern States. 

The term has probably originated in Canada, where however it now 
only means a sleigh, or sledge. 

Also, carryall. 

CaPPy-lOg". A rough contrivance on wheels, used for transporting 

Casa (Sp. ). A country-house, in the formerly Spanish states. 
Originally applied to a house of any kind. 

cas'-car-ah (Sp.). In Texas, a common name for bark, and,, 
more specifically, the dry bark of trees which is used to kindle fires. 

Case (in). Said, in the Southern states, of tobacco when it is soft and 
pliant, or in a condition to be packed away in casks without loss. 

Cashaw (Ind.). An Algonkin name for pumpkin. In the West, kershaiv. 

Casket. A sort of coffin which resembles a casket, its shape, top and 
bottom, being that of a parallelogram, and its lid having hinges and a 
lock, instead of being screwed down. 

The word first appeared, in that sense, in the Webster supplement of 

CassaPeep (W. Ind. cassava). A sauce made from the juice of the bitter 
cassava-root, and which becomes a very highly flavored and pleasant 

Cast. In parts of New England, said for hue, or tinge. " Good flour has 
a yellow cast." 

Castanas, cas-tan'-yahs (Sp. ). The Spanish name for chestnuts, quite 
frequently given in Texas and the South-West to the edible fruit of the 
screw-pine (Pandanus), and tothe jack-fruit (Artocarpus integrifolia). 

Casten (Old Eng.) An old form for cast, past participle of to cast. 



The Old Eng. termination en, for past participles, has survived in many 
words until quite recently in Xevv England, and such forms as gotten, 
boughten, putten, etc. are even now not unfrequtently heard. 

Castor-tree (Magnolia glauca). See beaver-wood, beaver-tree. 

Castoria. Castor oil so prepared as to be inoffensive to the taste and 

Cat, Catfish, Catty. See bull -he-id. 

Cat (to). To fish for cat-fish. 

Catalpa (Ind.). An ornamental tree (Catalpa cordifolia), native of the 
Middle and Southern States, possessing broad, large leaves, and gorgeous 
clusters of flowers. 

Catamount (Felis concolor). The popular name of the feline species, as 
the cougar, the puma and the panther. 

Some etymologists maintain that we have here a derivation of the 
two Spanish words ga'.o, a cat, and monte, a mountain. Nevertheless 
.the word is more probably only a shortened form of the fuller and otder 
name cat-a-mountain, as used by Beaumont and Fletcher : 

Would any man of discretion venture such a gristle, 

To the rude claws of such a cat-a-mountain. 

Catan cah-tan' (Sp. ). In Texas, a fresh-water fish of the gar family, 
growing to a large size. 

Catawamptiously. A Western expletive derived from catamount, 
meaning with avidity, with fierce eagerness, and founded on the ferocity 
of the feline animals in attacking their prey. 

To be cataivamptiou-ily chawed up, an idiom signifying complete 

Catawba (Ind.). The indigenous grape of North America (Vitis labrusca), 
celebrated for its luscious qualities, the name being derived from the 
Catawba river, in the Carolines, where this variety of grape was first 

Cat-bird (Mimus carolinensis). A well-known oscine passerine bird, 
related to the mocking-bird, so called because its cry of alarm resembles 
the mewing of a cat. 

Catch On (to). To appreciate, to be alive to the situation. To catch on 
to a thing is to understand it, to grasp its meaning. 

Also enlarged to signify a capacity to quickly grasp an opportunity 
and turn it to advantage. 

Catch up (to). In the West, to harness or prepare the horses or mules , 
for a march across the prairies. 

Also used in the imperative tense, as a command to rouse from one's 
slumber and make ready for an early start. 

102 CAT CAV 

Catchup With (to). To discover, to find guilty. "They caught up' 
with him for stealing the horse." 

Catchy. Sometimes used in sense of impatient, irritable. 

Cat's claw. The name of a shrub with sharp pines; of Western Texas 
(Mimosa biuncifera). 

Catstick. Any unsplit stick of wood with the bark on, and small enough 
to be grasped by the hand. Also, small wood for burning. Probably 
still provincial in England, in those two senses, although the English 
catstick more commonly means a bat or cudgel for playing certain; 
games at ball. 

Catted Chimney. See stick-chimney. 

Cattle. Only designates, in the United States, beasts of the bovine- 
genus, whilst in England it is sometimes a generic term for all animals, 
serving for food or draught. 

Cattle mark. A proprietor's brand placed upon cattle. 

Cattle raiser. A grazier on a large scale. Also, when very rich, a 
cattle king. 

Cattle range. In Kentucky, a park, even when it is one attachedto a 
country residence. 

CailCUS. A preliminary meeting or gathering of partisans, to decide upon 
the action to be taken in an approaching election. The word has now 
crept into English parlance, but whereas in Great Britain it is only used 
in the sense of a private assembling of politicians before an election, its 
meaning has been extended in the United States to any party meeting, 
however large or small, held with reference to an election. 

Probably the first use of the word was among the ship-caulkers of 
Boston, who, when they were on strike, or had a grievance to complain' 
of, used to hold a meeting to discuss their affairs. Such a meeting wa& 
called a caucus, from catdkers', the word meeting being understood 1 . On 
the other hand, if we may believe Dr Trumbuil, of Hartford, the origin 
of the word is Indian and must be found in cau-cau-as-ic, meaning " one- 
who advises. " 

The word is said to have been used as early as 1724 (Gordon's Hist, of 
Am. Revolution). 

Cavalli, ka-val'-i (Sp. ). A fish of the genus " Caranx, " found in the- 
* Gulf of Mexico. (Texas.) 

Cave in (tO). To give up, to abandon, to collapse, to break down, from 
the caving in of an abandoned mine, or of a well or shaft. 

Cavendish. A well-known brand of tobacco,, sweetened with syrup, or- 

Also called negro-head. 


Cavern limestone. The carboniferous limestone of Kentucky, so called 
from the large number of caves or holes with which it abounds. 

CavOPt (to). (I) A term used, in horsemanship, in the sense of riding or 
running around in a heedless, purposeless manner, or simply to show off. 

(2) To prance about in a playful and purposeless way. 

(3) Figuratively, also used to designate any very extrayagant manner 
of speaking or acting, with an intention of ridiculing the action. 

To cavort is chiefly used in the Southern States. 

Cay, Kay, Key (Sp. cayo). A low, flat, rocky island, or ridge of rocks, 
in the West Indies and Florida. 

Key West, Fla. is said to be derived from the Spanish " Cayo Hueso," 
meaning Bone Island. 

Cayuse (Ind.). A name applied, in the West and South-West, to a com- 
mon Indian pony, a somewhat degenerated animal, but possessing 
remarkable powers of endurance. 

Also used figuratively in a depreciative sense, 'being then applied to 
any poor, broken-down jade. 

The " cayuse " is sometimes designated figuratively as the yatch of 
tfie prairie, on the same principle as the camel is the ship of the desert. 

CazagOt (Fr. C. ). A word said to be derived from the dialect of the 
Montagnais Indians, inhabiting the Lake St. John region, in Canada, 
and designating, among the French Canadians, a sort of cradle made 
of bark, which the sqxiaws tie over their shoulders and in which they 
carry their nurslings. 

Cedar. A name erroneously given, in the United States, to trees other 
than the genuine species : 

Red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), a juniper. 

White cedar (Cypressus thyoides), a cypress abounding in the famous 
cedar swamps of the South. 

Cedar-SWampS. In the South, low-lying grounds mainly under water, 
filled with cypresses. 
Also called cedar-brakes. 

Ceja, say '-hah (Sp.). In Texas, a long and narrow strip of chaparral 

(q- v.). 

Celestial. A nickname for a Chinaman. Also used adjectively. 

Cellar-ease. In parts of New England, an outside entrance to a cellar, 
with a sloping door. 
See hulkhead. 
In the West, cellar-iv <y is used in preference. 

CeneerrO, sen-ser'-ro (Sp.). In Texas, the leading mule in a pack train, 
wearing the bell. 
In Spain, a cencerro is a bell worn by the leading mule. 



CeniZO, say-nee'-so (Sp. ceniza, ashes). A shrub of southern Texas, 
bearing ash-colored leaves. 

Cent. A small copper coin worth the hundreth part of a dollar, and almost 
equivalent in value to the halfpenny of England. 

Centennial State. The State of Colorado, from its having been admitted 
in the Union, in the centennial yearot Independence (1876). 

Centrical. Still prevalent in Virginia, in sense of central. 

It is time to draw our party to a head, either at York, or some other 
centrical place. 

(SiR W. SCOTT, Ivanhoe.) 

In very little vogue in England, its use, colloquially, savoring some- 
what of pedantry. 

CentUPy-plant (Agave americana). A name given to the American aloe. 
See maguey. 

Cenzontle (Mex. centzontlatole, four hundred voices). A name applied, 
in Texas, to the mocking-bird. 

The forms censontle, chinchonte, and sinxonte, are also heard. 

Cerda, cer'-dah (Sp.). In Texas, horse or cow-hair. 

Certain. An adjective constantly used as an adverb, in sense of certainly. 
" He will do it certain. " 

It is also frequently strenghtened by the addition of for. " We shall 
be burnt out for certain. " 
Another form is certain sure. 

Certified. Certain. In Sam Slick's "Clockmaker" occurs the phrase : " I 
ain't quite certified we shan't have a tower [tour] in Europe yet. " 

Cesarism. In American politics, the doctrine of favoring the re-election, 
to the Presidency, for the third time, of one who has already held the 
office twice. 

Also, imperialism. 

CesariSt- A term of reproach applied to persons favoring the re-election, 
to the Presidency, of a candidate having held office more than twice, and 
even more than once, previously. 

Chacate, tchah-kah -tay (Prob. of Mex. origin). A small shrub (Krameria 
canescens) common iti Southern and Western Texas, the bark of which 
is used as a dyestuff. 

Chafaud, Chaffaut (Fr. C.). A stage on piles, half in the water, where 
the cod-fish is beheaded. (Gulf of St Lawrence. ) 

Chain-lightningf. The Western equivalent for forked lightning, often 
rendered more redundant by being changed into chained-lightning. 

Also constantly applied, figuratively, to inferior whiskey, from its 
terrible strength and stunning effect. 

CHA-CHA 105 

Chalk talk. A lecture illustrated by " lightning sketches " with the aid of 
a black-board and chalk. 
Similarly, a chalk-talker. 

Chance. Used in the South to express a certain amount, portion, or 
supply. " He lost a smart chance of blood. " 

Change. To alter, or correct anything written. " To change an invoice," 
i. e. to alter it. 

Change (to) One's base. A humorous way of admitting a defeat, or at 
least the necessity of trying once more in some other way, from the 
well-known phrase, during the war, of those Federal Commanders who 
never could admit, in their official reports, of having fallen back before 
Lee's forces, but simply professed to have changed their bases. 

Change (to meet With a). In religious, or camp-meeting parlance, to 
have change of heart, to experience religion, to be struck under con- 
viction, thereby implying that a change has come as regards the motive 
power regulating one's life conduct. 

Change Off (to). To move household goods. 
Chank. To chew noisily. (N. Eng. ) 

ChankingS. Parings of apples and other fruits, or the core and other 
rejected parts of an apple. (N. Eng. ) 

Chapa, tchah'-pah (Sp. ). In Texas, a thin metal plate or scutcheon, 
usually of some precious metal, worn as ornament on the Mexican 

ChaparagO, tchah-pah-rah'-ho (Sp.). See chaparros. 

ChappaPPal, tchah-par-ral' (Sp.). (1) Used in Texas and New Mexico for 
any thick tangle of bramble bushes or thorny shrubs in clumps. 

In Spain, a " chapparral " designates only a bush of a species of oak, 
from chapara, a dwarf evergreen oak, and al, a termination equal to 
" a place of." 

(2) Also the name of the chaparral cock, or road-runner (Geococcyx 

Chaparral berry. In the South-West, the fruit of a species of berberis 
(Berberis trifoliata). 

ChaparrOS, tchah-par'-ros (Sp. ). A familiar term, in the South-West, 
for trousers made of stout leather, and worn especially by cowboys to 
protect their legs from thorny bushes. 

Also, chaparajos, or simply chaps. 


Chapote, tchah-po'-tay (Mex. txapotl). In Texas, a shrub or tree of the 
ebony family (Diospyros Texana), otherwise called black persimmon. 
Also, sapote, zapote. 



Chaps. See chaparros. 

Chaqueta, tchah-ket'-ah (Sp. ). In Texas, a jacket, and, more specifically, 
a jacket made of leather or very heavy cloth, worn by cowboys as a 
protection against thorns of the chaparral. 

Chareo, tchar'-co (Sp.). In Texas, a word sometimes applied to a bold 
spring, generally gushing forth from a ledge of rocks. 

In Spain, the term means a pool of standing water, or small lake. 
See reventon. 

ChaPCOal blossom. In college slang, a young negress. 

Charley. Among American thieves, a gold watch. 

In old English slang a watchman, or beadle, and latterly a policeman. 

ChaPteP-Oak City. The City of Hartford, Connecticut. This singular 
cognomen is supposed to have been derived from a large oak, in the 
cavity of which the charter of the colony of Connecticut was concealed 
by the Legislature, when king James II, in 1698, having decided to 
withdraw the privileges conferred by that document, sent Sir Edmund 
Andros to demand its restitution. 

Chasse-gralePie. A popular superstition dating back to the days of the 
" coureurs des bois," under the French regime, and perpetuated among 
the "voyageurs" in the Canadian North- West. As the story goes, any- 
one may be carried through the air in a birch-canoe, in real lightning- 
express time, if he agrees to sell his soul to His Satanic Majesty in the 
event of not fulfilling certain conditions, the principal of which are 
that, during the time stipulated for his peregrinations, he will not strike 
a church steeple, nor invoke or even pronounce the name of God. 

The shantymen of a later date have taken up the tradition, and it is 
in the French settlements, bordering the St. Lawrence river, that the 
legends of the cha^se-galerie are specially well known at the present 
time. Mr. Honore Beaugrand, ex-mayor of Montreal, who wrote an 
interesting tale founded on this tradition (Century Magazine, Sept. 
1892), says he has met many an old voyageur who affirmed most 
positively that he had seen bark-canoes traveling in mid-air, full of men 
paddling and singing away, under the protection of Beelzebub, on their 
way from the timber camps of the Ottawa to pay a flying visit to thei r 
sweethearts at home. 

Chauffant (Fr. C.). In the region of the Seven Islands, in the Gulf of 
St. Lawrence, a sort of rude shed where cod-fish is left to dry. 

Chaw. A chew, i. e. a quid of tobacco. 

Chaw (to). Still prevalent for " to chew," especially in Virginia and the 
whole South, among the illiterate. Used by Spencer and Dryden, and 
noted in Johnson's Dictionary. 
So that I was forced to buy some roll-tobacco to smell and t_o chaw. 

(PEPY's DIAKV, June 7, 1665.) 

CHA CHE 107 

Chaw up. To utterly demolish or defeat. 

Chaw Up One's WOrdS. To eat one's words, to retract. 

Cheat (Bromus scalinus). A troublesome weed, not unlike oats, growing, 
up amongst wheat and other grain crops, and erroneously supposed 
to be degenerate wheat. Hence its name. 
Also called chess. 

ChebaCCO-boat. A peculiar craft formely much used in the cod-fisheries 
of Newfoundland, and so called from the fact that this class of boats 
was, at one time, largely built and fitted out at Chebacco, Mass. 

Also pinkxtern, tobacco boat, this last one, of course, by corruption, 
and pinky, a shortened form of pinkstern. 

Cheek, i A ticket. 

2 A counter at cards. 

3 A brass label fastened to a piece of baggage, and whose counterpart 
is given to the traveller. 

4 The name, in Pennsylvania, of an impromptu meal of cold provi" 

Cheek (to). In railway parlance, equiv. to the English " to book." 

Also, to give tallies or other receipts for personal " impedimenta '* 
left in cloak-rooms, etc. 

Cheek-Clerk. The clerk in charge of a cloak-room, or one employed in 
the office at hotels, to allot rooms to visitors. 

CheckePbCPPy (Gaultheria procumbens). A handsome little plant, the 
only species of its genus, and bearing a red-colored aromatic berry. 

Also, chequerberry , chickberry. 

Other names are partridge-berry, and, in New England and Canada, 
twin-berry, from the plant's uniformly double scarlet berry. 

Cheek Pail. In railroads, a contrivance at the crossing from one line of 
rails to another, or at a siding, for allowing trains to run on to or move 
into the other line or siding. 

Cheeks. Money, cash. A term derived from poker, where counters or 
" checks" are equivalent to current coin. 

Cheeks (to pass in one's). To adjust one's account at the end of a game 
of poker, by handing one's counters to the banker. 

Hence, also, a euphemism for dying, i. e. settling the final account of 
life. Especially so used in the West. 

Cheek-StPap. To put a ckeck-strap on an opponent, is to adopt such 
measures as will enforce the doing of what is desired. 

From the well-known phrase drawn from the training of horses, the. 
check-strap, amongst cowboys, controling the bit in the horse's mouth 

108 CHE CHI 

Cheek. Has retained in America the old English meaning of a dor-post, 
as quoted in the Craven Glossary. 

Little heard now in the United States, although still used in the same 
sense in the Craven dialect. 

Cheek (to). In college slang, "to cheek it" is to go into recitation 
unprepared as if prepared. 

Cheese bOX. A nickname applied by Confederates to gunboats of the 
Monitor type, from their cupolas or round towers, resembling huge 
cheese-boxes on rafts. 
See tindad*. 

Chestnut. An old story, a trite jest, an often repeated yarn. From the 
average chestnut of the " dago" fruit stand, which is often of doubtful 

The variants to which the word is applied may well be called legion. 
Thus we have chestnut songs, and if one attempts to foist a stale joke 
upon a company, somebody may jokingly implore him to spare the 
chestnut-tree, or again not to rustle the chestnut-leaves, or set the chestnut- 
bell a-ringing. Similarly, anything old or out of date is said to have a 
.chesnutty flavor. 

Although chestnut is commonly supposed to be of American origin, it 
may here properly be recalled that in the " Broken Sword, " a two-act 
melodrama by William Dimond, produced at Covent Garden Theatre, 
London, in 1825, the following passage occurs : 

Zavior Let me see ay ! It is exactly six years since that, peace being 
restored to Spain and my ship being' paid off, my kind brother offered uie a 
snug hammock, etc., etc. 

Pablo (jumping up) A chestnut, captain, a chestnut ! 

Zavior Bah, you booby ! 

Pablo And I swear, a chestnut, captain ! This is the 27th time I have heard 
you relate this story, and you invariably said a chestnut till now. 

Zavior Did I ? Well, a chestnut be it. 

ChetOWaik (Ind.). An Indian name for the plover. Used by Longfellow, 
in introduction to Hiawatha. 

Chew (to) One's Own meat. To attend to one's own business ; to do a 
thing oneself. 

Chewink (Pipilo erythrophthalmns). The ground robin, so called from 
its peculiar note, which in some parts of the Union is reproduced in its 
equally familiar name of towhee. 
Also called marsh-robin and yrasset. 

Chiben (Ind.). A name applied, among the French Canadians of the 
lower St. Lawrence region, to a species of sunflower (Helianthus tube- 
rosus), much esteemed for its sweet and farinaceous tuberous roots. 
Also, chibequi. 

Chicagoed. A Western equivalent for " beaten out of sight." 

CHI CHI 109 

A certain Chicago base-ball club having once met with phenomenal 
success, the other competing clubs were said to have been " Chicagoed." 

Chieharra, tche-tchai'-rah' (Sp.). In Texas, the harvest-fly (Cicada 

Chickadee (Parus atricapillus). The black-cap tit, so called from its 
peculiar note or cry. 

Also known as the hoary tit-mouse. 

Chickaree (Sciurus hudsonius). The red squirrel common in all the 
Northern States, so called in imitation of its cry. 

Chickasaw plum (Prunus chicasa). A red plum, pleasant to the taste, 
and abounding in the neighborhood of Red River, Arkansas, a favorite 
hunting-ground of the Chickasaw Indians. 

Chicken-fixings. In the West, a hash, stew, or fricassee of chicken. 

Also applied to any fare out of the common, and also to show of any 
kind, by opposition to meaning plain every-day fare, common doingt. 

Chicken-grape (Vitis riparia). The Southern name of the river-grap e, 
a sterile vine cultivated for its sweet-scented blossoms. 
Also, frost-grape. 

Chicken gumbo. A kind of chicken soup, in which "gumbo" enters 
as a component part. 

Chick Wit (Ind. ) An obsolete name of the squeteague or weakfish (Cynos- 
cion regalis), which is still, however, sometimes heard in Connecticut. 
Also, chickewit, chigivit. 

Chieote, tche-cot'-ay (Sp.). In Texas, a long whip with a wooden handle, 
used by cowboys in driving cattle. 
In Spain, means the end of a rope. 

Chigoe (Sp. chico). In the South, a minute and noxious acarus or tick 
(Pulex penetrans), abounding in the sand along the bays and rivers of 
Maryland and Virginia, which burrows in the skin and often produces very 
serious inconvenience. It is not, however, so noxious as the true tropical 
chico, which deposits its eggs under the skin of the feet, thereby often 
producing dreadful sores. 

Also, chigo, chigga, chiggre, jigger, need-tick. 

ChilaquilCS, tche-lah-ke'-les (Mex. chilaquilitf). In Texas, a name 
applied to a Mexican dish of vegetables seasoned with read peppers, or 
of pieces of fried " tortilla " in red pepper sauce. 

Chilehote, tchill-tehoh'-tay (Mex. chilchotl). In Texas, green peppers, 
or sweet peppers. 

Chile, tche'-lay (Sp.). The American red pepper. In the plural, it reft is 
to the pods or fruit of the capsicum. 

110 CHI CHI 

Also chile Colorado, in formerly Spanish States. 
Other forms are chili, chilli. 
See enchilada. 

Chill. A common expression for fever. 

Chills and feveP. Commonly used, in malarial sections, for fever and 

Chiltapin, tchill-tah-pin r (Mex. chiltecpin). In Texas, bird-pepper 
(Capsicum baccatum), a shrubby plant with yellowish or red berries, 
used as a condiment. 

Chimisal, tche-me'-sal (Sp. ). A Spanish name of the grease-wood, used in 
California, Texas, and all formerly Spanish States. 

Chimisal is derived from chamiza, a kind of a wild reed or cane. 

Chimley (Old Eng. ). An old English form for chimney. The fuller word 
chimbley is perhaps even more general in the United States. 

Agin the chimbly crooknecks hung. 

(J. R. LOWELL. Courtin'.) 

Chin (to). (1) To talk or act impudently, or with brazen effrontery. 

(2) In college slang, to buzz, to gossip. To talk to an instructor for 
the purpose of gaining favor. To get the advantage of in a joke. 

Chinaman. A slang term, in the West, for a cup of tea. 

Chinatown. The Chinese quarter, in a city. From the celebrated China- 
town of San Francisco. 

China wedding. The 20th anniversary of a wedding. 

Chineapin, Chinquapin (Ind,). (1) A diminutive species of chestnut 
(Castanea pumila), especially common in Virginia. The name is applied 
both to the shrub and to the fruit. 

They have a small fruit most like a very small acorn. This they call 


(Capt. JOHN SMITH, Virginia. J., p. 122.) 

(2) On the Pacific coast, a tree or shrub (Castanopsis chrysophylla) 
more nearly allied to the oak than to the chestnut, though the nut is 
inclosed in a similar spiny bur. 

Chinch, Chintz (Sp. chinche). The name given in the South to the bed- 

Also applied to an insect creating great havoc among grain crops. 
This insect is, however, more particularly called chinch-bug. 

Chink. To fill up chinks and interstices, between the roughly hewn 
timber of log cabins. The material used is chiefly mud or clay formed 
into a kind of plaster or cement. 

The same process is known in North of England as " filling and 

Also, chince, chime. 

CHI CHI 111 

Chinkers. In thieves' argot, handcuffs united by a chain. 

Chinkin. Boards, sticks, or clay used to fill spaces between logs in cabin 

Chinook (Ind.). (1) A conventional language of the Volapuk order, 
invented and used in Oregon and British Columbia, and dating back to 
the fur- traders of the last century. 

(2) A wind which blows at certain seasons, on the Pacific slope, and so 
called by the Indians of the Columbia River, because it comes to them 
from the direction of the country of the Chinooks. 

Chip. A disc of ivory or bone, used in playing cards. 

Chip (to). To put in money at cards ; to contribute. Also, to chip in. 
To join in an undertaking. 

Chip beef. See hung beef. 

Chip in (to). To stand one's share of expense when several have united 
to buy something. " We chipped in and bought some grapes. " 

Chipmonk (Tamias striatus). The popular name of the striped squirrel. 
Also chipmunk, chipmuk, chitmunk. 

Thought by some to be of Indian derivation, although it is also very 
possible that it may come from "chips," an old Eng. provincialism 
meaning lively, merry ; and, as every one knows, the " chipmonk" is an 
exceedingly lively little creature and a great chatterer. 
Also called hackee, in some of the Eastern States, 

Chipper. Said of a lively, cheerful person, from the English " to chip," 
to be merry. 

Chippy. A derogatory term for a young girl or woman of a questionable 

Chippy-Chaser. A well-dressed loafer, lying in wait for shop girls or 

Chips. To pass in one's chips was formerly more commonly used than 
now as a way of saying that one was dead. This, of course, was a 
gambling expression ; when a man had finished playing, he turned over 
the chips if any remaining in his possession, and received cash for 
them from the man running the game. A great number of phrases 
originating at the card table have found their way into common em- 
ployment, and occasionally are heard even in the pulpit. 

Chip-yard. A wood-cutting yard, a yard in which logs are chopped for 

Chirk. Still lingering in parts of New England for cheerful, lively, in 
good spirits, from the old English " to chirk," found in old writers in 
sense of chirp. 

112 CHI CHO 

Chirk (to). (1) To put in good spirits ; to become lively, cheerful. 
To chirk up, to cheer up. . 

(2) To make more comfortable. (Connecticut.) 

Chipp. Substituted in the United States for the English " crick." 

Chirp (to). To be merry, cheerful. Adapted from the chirping of birds, 

Still provincial in England. 

Chirpy. Cheerful, contented. 

Chisel (to). To cheat, to defraud, to swindle. Said to be a Western 

To go full chisel, equiv. to the phrases " full drive" and " full split," 
i. e. going with earnestness, with great speed, the metaphor being derived, 
from the quick glancing-off motion resulting from an ill-deli\ r ered chisel 

ChitlinS. A contraction of chitterlings, for rags, tatters. 
All to chitlim, all to pieces. 

Chitter. To call in question ones right to a thing, to stop to question 
one's right. 

Chivalry. A term often applied to Southern gentry and their peculiar 
social views. 

Claimed a* a proud title by Southerners, but always heard and used at 
the North with a shade of contempt. 

The abbreviated form chiv is also used to designate a Southerner. 

Chivaree (Fr. charivari). A terrific uproar produced by kettles, frying- 
pans and horns, accompanied by shouts and cries, and the singing of 
rather low songs under the windows of the newly married, especially if 
they are in advanced years or have been married before. Disapproval of 
unpopular persons is also expressed in the same way, and by extension 
the name is now applied to any tumultuous discord. 

The chivaree is especially prevalent in the rural communities, and its 
custom extends to nearly all over the United States, especially m the 
districts having a sprinkling of French population, as in Louisiana, Ala- 
bama, etc. In French Canada, the word charivari is still preserved. 

Also, shicaree. 

ChivarroS, tche-var'-ros (prob. Sp. chavari, a kind of cloth). In Texas, 
leggins made of strong cloth or leather. 
See sherryvallie*. 

Chock (to). Much use'l in America in sense of to fill up, to crowd to 

Still provincial in England. 

CHO CHO 113 

ChOCkfull, Chuekfull. Entirely full, an English provincialism quoted 
by Halliwell, and which is in general use in the United States. 

Chock up. Close, tight ; said oLa thing which fits closely to another. 

ChOgset (Ind. ). A common name, in New England, for a small fish 
(Ctenolabrus ceruleus) known in New York as the burqall, or blue fish, 
and blue perch. 

Other names are Conner, and nibbler, from the wicked delight it takes 
in nibbling off the fisherman's bait. 

Choke. The alluvial deposit which silts up at the mouths of rivers, etc. 

Choke-berry (Pyrus arbutifolia). A somewhat stunted apple-tree, the 
fruit of which is possessed of astringent qualities. 

Choke-ehePPy (Prunus Virginiana). A plant, so called from its astringent 

Choke Off. To forcibly obstruct or stop a person in the execution of a 
purpose. To interrupt, to frustrate. A slang and figurative expression, 
borrowed from the act of choking a dog to make him loose his hold. 

Chomp (corrupt, of champ). To chew loudly, and especially to eat or 
chew up greedily. 

Chomp is also a pronunciation commonly used, instead of cliamp, in 
North of England. 

Chompins. The masticated refuse of fruit. 
Also, champins. 

ChOOSe. Sometimes used, by the uneducated, with the peculiar meaning 
of "to choose not to take." For instance, " I don't choose any" would 
mean " I will not take any." 

Choque-lTlOPt (Fr. C.). A species of mullet abounding on the coast of 
Gaspe, province of Quebec. 
Elsewhere known as goget. 

ChOPe (to). To do odd jobs. 
ChOPe-boy. An errand-boy. 

ChOPCS (of same root as Eng. " charwoman," and pronounced "tshores "). 
A small job or work of a domestic character ; the miscellaneous 
duties of a barn-yard. Mainly used in the plural, as doing chores. 

The maid that milks 
And does the meanest chares. 

(SHAKESPEARE, Antony and Cleopatra.) 

" Char," in England, is used both as a noun and a verb in much the 
same sense. 


Chouse. (1) To cheat, to defraud. Now classed as slang in England, 
but looked upon as orthodox in America, where it is applied to all 
kinds of fraudulent dealing and deceit. 
(2) To put forcibly into. 
Also, to ch&wzle. 

Chowder (Fr. chaudidre). A corrupted French word designating a dish of 
fish, pork, onions and biscuit, invented by the Canadian ' ' voyageurs " 
perhaps aided in the task by recollections of the " bouillabaisse" and 
so named from the receptacle in which the savoury mess was compounded. 
Cider and champagne are sometimes added. 

Chowder excursion. A pic-nic by the sea, so called in that a chowder 
forms the " piece de resistance. " 

ChOWderhead. A dunce, or dunderhead. In Anglo-Chinese slang 
' ' chowder " stands for a fool, and k f ' chowder-head " may be derived 
therefrom, without its having any connection with the American 
" chowder. " 

Christian Scientists. A new sect, whose distinctive doctrine is that 
disease is all a matter of imagination, and that faith is the only healer. 

Chromo Civilization. An invention of the late J. R. Dennett, and a 
term admirably suited to the gilt and tinsel, so to say the surface polish, 
which characterizes the civilization of the present time. 

It is notorious that, in America, chromo lithographic prints are sent 
out in shoals, and are generally a sorry would-be substitute for the 
genuine article. 

Chub. ( 1 ) A local name, in Texas, for the tautaug or blackfish. 
(2) In Connecticut, a round squash. 

Chub-sucker (Erimyzon sucetta). An ungainly sea-fish, otherwise called 
the horned-wicker. 

Chuck. (1) In thieves' argot, refreshments, delicacies. 
Also, money. 
(2) A clipped form of wood-chuck. 

Chuck (to). In parts of Pennsylvania and Ohio, to strike, as " to chuck 
one a blow on the ear." 

In England, to chuck is sometimes used in sense of to throw, or impel, 
with a quick motion. 

Is but a ball chuck'd between France and Spain. 
His in whose hand she drops. 

(TENNYSON 7 , Queen Mary, iii. 1.) 

Chuek-a-Chuek. A gambling game played in the West with dice. 
Chueklehead. An idiot, a block-head. 
Chuck-hole. Mud-hole, slough. 

CHU CHU 115 

Chuek-WilPs-widOW (Caprimulgus Carolinensis). The common name, 
in the South, of a bird of the whip-poor-will family, so called from the 
peculiar notes of this bird resembling the sound " Chuck- will's- widow." 

Chum. In college slang, a room mate. 

Chump. In college slang, a queer or even stupid fellow, literally as 
unintelligent as a chump of wood. A butt for wit',' a blunderer. 

Chumpy. In college slang, foolish, stupid. Also, mean, contemptible. 

Chunk. (1) A short, stout piece of wood, or of any thing else. Still 
provincial in England. 

(2) In Southern and Western parlance, anything short and thick^ 
Hence a chunk of a pony for a cob. ' We even hear of a small chunk of 
sentiment or patriotism. 

Chunk (to). To throw sticks or chips at one. Used in South and South- 
West, especially in the alluvial region of the Mississipi, where there are 
no stones. Sometimes, in that region, to chunk will also be used in sense 
of throwing a 6lod of earth at some one or animal. 

Chunked. In the South-West, sense of impudent or bold. 
ChunkeP. In New Jersey, a coal boat used on the canal. 

Chunk-head. (Trigonocephalua contortrix). A name of the red-snake, 
or copper-head. 

Chunky. Short and thick, as applied to the stature of a person. Hence, 
a small-built man is chunky built. 
Also, stocky. 

Chunk-yard. A name 1 given by white traders to oblong four-square 
yards adjoining the high mounds and rotundas common in Florida, and 
supposed to have been built by the Seminole Indians. 
Also, chunkee-yard. 

This is doubtless an Indian term, chunkee having been once the Indian 
name of a game played, in an enclosure as above described, with a flat, 
round stone, and a pole about eight feet long. 

ChUPGh (to). Sometimes used in sense of to try or investigate before 
the church on the charge of some offense unbefitting a church member. 

ChUPCh house. A meeting house, or building used for religious services. 

ChUFeh-maul. A New-England vulgarism, equivalent to the English 
slang phrase "calling over the coals, " when the jurisdiction is one of 
an ecclesiastical character. 

Chute (Fr.). A cascade, a waterfall, or any place of a river where the 
waters rush through with great fury. Also, a [river which has been 
artificially^ontracted, in order to increase the depth of water. 

116 CID CIR 

(2) In the Mississipi region (esp. Louisiana), a bayou or narrow portion 
of a river. Also, an artificial conduit. 

(3) An inclined plane, for lowering wood and timber by sliding, 

(4) In the Far West, a rush, a stampede ; a hasty, confused migration, 
applied to men and animals in a body. 

Also, shoot, shute (q. v. ). 

CideP-Oil. A concentrated decoction of cider, to which honey is subse- 
quently added. 

Also, cider-royal, which was probably the original name. 

Cimarron, se-mar-rone' (Sp.). In Texas, used in sense of wild, as applied 
to plants. 

Also used as a noun for shy, bashful, children. 

Cinch (Sp. cincha, a girth). In the West and South-West a saddle- 
girth made of leather, canvas, or woven horsehair, and more specifically 
the girth nearer the shoulders of the horse. 

Figuratively, a sure thing. Also, in college slang, an easy or agreeable 
study or occupation, something obtained or done without difficulty. 

To have a cinch on a person, i. e. to have a bind or a dead-pull on 

To have a cinch on a thing, i. e. to have it tied up securely. 

An intensified form is a lead-pipe cinch, coming from the fact that 
stable boys have sometimes used lengths of half-inch lead pipe instead 
of rawhide as cinches to bind their saddles. 

Cinch (to). To put the cinch on a horse, to pull a saddle-girth tight. 

Figuratively, to have the grip on, to put the screw on. To make sure 
of anything, 

To be cinched, a Californian localism signifying to come out on the 
wrong side in mining speculations. 

Cincinnati OyStePS. Pigs' trotters, or pigs' feet. Many examples 
can be given of this strange perversion of names: Albany beef, Marble - 
head turkey, etc. 

Similarly, in England, a fish herring is called a Billingsgate pheasant, 
a Yarmouth bloater, a two-eyed steak, etc. 

Cipher Despatches. Allusion is often made to the celebrated Cipher 
Despatches which emanated from the Democratic headquarters in New 
York, during the contested Presidential campaign of 1876. Some of 
those despatches having come, after the election, into the possession of 
the New York Tribune, the key was most ingeniously discovered, thus 
throwing in full light corrupt dealings of the most flagrant nature in 
connection with the bribery of State-returning boards. 

Circle. A spiritualist's term for a gathering of people assembled for the 
purpose of holding communication with spirits. Originally restricted, in 

CIR CIT 117 

its meaning, to a gathering sitting around a table in a circle, for table 
tipping and rapping, but, later on, extended to include all meetings at 
which spirit communication is practiced. 

Circle-riding 1 . A cowboy's term, on the plains and ranches, applied to 
the riding of herdsmen on circles converging to a common centre, for 
the purpose of driving in all stray beasts they may come across. 

Circulate. Often used in sense of to travel, to move. Thus a gentleman, 
who travels on the American railways, will be said to circulate, as if he 
were a bank-note. 

Also, to circulate in good society, etc. 

Circumstance. Often used half-humourously, and almost always nega- 
tively, in sense of a trifle, a thing of no importance. " That was not a 
circumstance to what happened to me." 

See priming. 

To whip something into a circumstance, meaning that the thing whipped 
is thrown into the shade, or compares unfavorably with the object of 

CiSGOVet (Ind. siskivit). A beautiful fish (Salmo amethystus) of the trout 
family, but possessing a flesh much more delicate than the trout proper. 
Also called cisco. 

Citron. A species of candied fruit made from the melon, and so called 
from its resemblance to the fruit of the citron-tree. 

Citron-melon. The popular name of the variety of melon, employed in 
making the crystallized fruit called citron. 

City. Almost any collection of dwellings, large enough for its inhabitants 
to despise the name of village ; even sometimes a mere colllection of 
cabins, tents, and shanties, which in England would hardly be dignified 
with the name of hamlet. 

The settlers and miners of the West are no doubt the greatest sinners 
in this respect, as all their mining camps are called cities, but other 
parts of the country, and even New England, are far from being free 
from such an abuse of terms. 

City College. A cant term for the prison of the Tombs in New York 

City of baked beans. The city of Boston, from its supposed predilection 
for baked beans. 

City Of brick. The city of Pullman, in Illinois. 

City Of Brotherly Love. The city of Philadelphia, from the two 
Greek roots (philos, love ; adelphos, brother) forming its name. 
Also, Quaker City. 

118 CIT OLA 

City Of Churches. The city of Brooklyn, N. Y. from the number and 
beauty of its ecclesiastical edifices. 

City Of Colleges. The city of Toronto, in Canada, from its numerous 
educational establishments. 

City Of Elms. The city of New-Haven, in Connecticut, from the numerous 
elm-trees which adorn its public places. 
Also, Elm City. 

City Of the Golden Gate. The city of San Francisco, in California, 
from the celebrated Golden Gate forming the entrance to its port. 

Also called City of the Hundred Hills, Frisco (abb. of San Francisco), 
and Golden City. 

City Of Magnificent Distances. The city of Washington, D. C., from 
its many public buildings being isolated one from another, and built on 
carefully selected sites. 

Other names are Executive City and federal City: 

City Of Notions. The city of Boston. A sarcastic allusion, partly to 
the thousand and one articles of utility, forming one of the staples of 
trade of Boston, and partly to the assumption of intellectual superiority 
of its inhabitants. 

City Of Rocks. The city of Nashville, Tennessee, from its being built 
literally upon a rock, at a considerable elevation. 

City Of Soles. The city of Lynn, Massachusetts, from its numerous and 
extensive shoe factories. 

City Of Spindles. The city of Lowell, Massachusetts, from its being 
one of the largest centres of cotton manufacture in the United States. 

City Of the Straits. The city of Detroit, Michigan, from strait being a 
translation of the French d^troit, a name given by the French founders 
of the city, on account of its being situated upon a narrow neck of land, 
connecting Lake Erie with Lake St. Clair. 

City Of Witches. The city of Salem, Massachusetts, from the famous 
episodes in connection with the belief in witchcraft, which belong to 
the history of that town. 

Civil Service Reform. A system adopted under the Cleveland admi- 
nistration, which obviates to the removal of officers for partisan reasons, 
and also, in the same time, prevents appointments to offices as rewards 
for partisan services. 

Clabbek (Old Eng. ). A survival of old English usage, for thick milk, in 
Pennsylvania and the South. 

"Clubber " is still provincial in England. 

CLA CLA 119 

Clagfgy. In the South, often heard in sense of heavy, in speaking of 

Claim. Primarily, a piece of land, or the mining property, marked out 
by a settler or prospector. Hence, a piece of land allotted to one, and 
colloquially a dwelling or resting place. 

Claim (to). In the Northern States, to assert, to state as a fact, to 
Other forms are calculate, expect, guess, reckon. 

Claim-jumper. A land grabber, i. e. one who violently seizes another's 
claim. This practice was frequent in the early days of the country, but 
now-a-days the settler has to go through a regular routine when " locat- 
ing his claim." 

Claim-jumping. The taking by violence of another's.claim. 

ClaifeUP (Fr. C.). Among French Canadian lumbermen, one who goes 
about tramping down the snow, and removing the branches and remnants 
of trees from the path of the log-sleighs. 

Clam. The popular name of the common shell-fish, found in the sand of 
tidal rivers, and of which there exist two varieties: the hard clam 
(quahog), and the soft clam (mananosay). 

The shell-fish clam derives its English name very probably from its 
resemblance to a clamp, and this last word was even the only one used 
for a long while. 

You shall scarce find any bay where you may not take many clampses 

or lobsters 

(Capt. JOHN SMITH, Virginia. I,, p. 124.) 

Clam-bait. The soft clam, when salted for the fisheries. 

Clam-bake. (1) A dish of clams, baked in an impromptu stove of stones 
and weeds, in the primitive style of the Indians. 

Also called Indian bed. 

(2) A feast, or banquet, often having a political character, at which 
" clam-bakes" are freely indulged in. Especially a Rhode-Island insti- 

Clam-banks. Beds or banks, where clams abound. 

Clam-catehePS. A nickname applied to the inhabitants of New Jersey, 
clam catching being the principal occupation of many of the poorer 
classes of that State on the Raritan Bay shoals. 

Clamish. Happy, contented. 

Happy as a clam at high-water, a New-England proverb of widely 
extended usage, and eminently representative of contentment and 

120 CLA CLA 

Clam-shell. A slang expression for the lips, or mouth, which is common 
enough in New England, especially among the sea-coast people. 

ef you let your clamshells gape 

(LOWELL, Biglow Papers, II., 19.) 

Clam-shell padlock. De Vere mentions that even the Government of 
che United States condescends to allow its patent locks on mail-bags to 
be officially designated as clam-shells. 

Clankers. A cant word for silver, pitchers, and the like. 

Clapboard. A thin, narrow board, from three to four feet long, used in 
the construction of farm-houses. 

Considerable difference of opinion exists as to the derivation of the 
term. Dr. Elwyn, of Philadelphia, inclines to the opinion that the 
word is the same as the english provincialism ' ' clapboard " which, in the 
North of England, stands for a thin, smooth board on which a certain 
kind of bread is " clapped," called " clapbread." Bartletc, on the other 
hand, insists that the term was originally formed from " clove-board, " 
or board made by "cleaving." 

Also, shak& 

Clapboard (to). To cover with clapboards. 

Clape (Picus amatus). The common name of the golden-winged wood- 
pecker. Said to have been an old provincialism, introduced by the 
English colonists. 

Other names are flicker, high-hole, pigeon woodpecker, pique-bois jaune 
(Louisiana), wake-up, yellow-hammer, yiLcker. 

Milk jugs furnished with swinging covers to 
exclude flies. 

ClappeP-Pail. A name applied to a, salt-water bird of the Gulf of 

Also called marsh-hen (q. v. ). 

ClaPk. Stands for clerk in Virginia and some parts of the South, as at 
the time when the Old Dominion was settled. 

while his clarkes were feasting of it 

(PEPYS DIARY, July 30, 1662.) 

In the North, " clurk." 

Class-baby. In college slang, the first child born to a member of a 
class after graduation. Also, the youngest member of a class. 

ClaSS-day. In college parlance, a day of the commencement season 
devoted, by the graduating class, to exercises of a more or less formal 
nature, and even to social entertainements. 

CLA CLE 121 

Classic City. The city of Boston, from the famous classic learning of 
its inhabitants. 

ClatteraientS. Belongings, accoutrements. (Tennessee mountains.) 

ClattePWhaeking. A clatter, a racket, being a factitious compound 
of " to clatter," and " to whack." 

Clatty. Untidy, dishevelled. A similar meaning attaches to the word 
in Lowland Scotch. 

Claw Out. To make excuses. To get out of an embarrassment, and the 
like. " He'll claw out of it in some way. " 

Claybank. A Texas word for a color of a yellowish dun, approaching 
the color of a bank of clay. 

Clay-eatePS. A name given to the poor whites of some remote regions 
of the South, especially remote counties of South Carolina, who appease 
their craving for more substantial food by eating quantities of soft, 
white, aluminous clay, abounding everywhere. 

Also a nickname applied sometimes to natives of South Carolina. 

Clean CUt. Used adjectively in sense of sharp, crisp, to the point. 

Thus, the sermons of an American divine have been spoken of as. 
specimens of rare, clean cut preaching. 
See clear cut. 

Clean gone. In New England, used for entirely gone, out of sight. 

Of frequent occurrence in Shakespeare, especially in sense of out of 

Clean thing. A vulgarism, denoting propriety, or what is honorable. 
Thus, " to do the clean thing," is to do the thing that is morally right. 

Clean up. (1) In cowboy parlance, to clean up a herd is to separate 
from a mixed lot of cattle all the animals of same ranch or brand. 

(2) In gold-mining, the operation of separating the gold after the 
auriferous gravel has been for a certain length of time through the 

Also, substantively, the gold itself obtained at a given time by the 
above process. 

Clear. Often used to mean " undiluted, " in speaking of liquids. 
In England, neat or transparent. 

Clear-cut. Used adjectively for real, sterling, honest. Compare with 

Clear grit. A person of superior worth or genuineness, as distinguished 
from one inferior who is only " chaff." 
Decided, honest, unalloyed. 
Other forms are real grit, true, grit. 



Clear- grits. In Canadian politics, a name applied, in 1855, to a strong 
faction of the Liberal party of Upper Canada, who, under the guidance 
of George Brown, had then inaugurated a crusade against the French 
element of Lower Canada. 
See Orits. 

Clearing. A settler's tract of land, which has been " cleared " of wood, 
and is ready for cultivation, The word clearing obtains, irrespective of 
field or cabin being visible or not on the settler's place. 

Clear OUt. To disappear, to go away, to decamp. Also, to dig out, to 

Either borrowed from the custom-house, or from the Western usage of 
" clearing out " trees, in order to afford room for a settlement. 

Now common on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Clear SWing". To get a clear siting, i. e. to get ample scope or a good 
Also, full swing. 

Clear the Skirts. To vindicate the political character, to clear it from 

You do not in the least touch the question, nor do youclear the skirts of Gen 
Grant and of your party, for the basest treachery to the people. 

(Letter in New York Tribune.) 

Clear the track. A figure borrowed from railway parlance, and mean- 
ing to clear a way, either figuratively or literally, of all obstructions. 

In the imperative tense is a favorite admonition, when summoning 
persons to get out of one's way. 

Clearty. A Scotch word sometimes heard in sense of sticky, as of soil 
that sticks to the plough. 

Clearweed (Pilea pumila). A species of nettle, so called from its semi- 
transparent stems. 
Also, richwood. 

Clerk (to). To engage oneself as clerk in a store, to act as a clerk. 
Especially common in the West. 
Also, to clerk it. 

Clevel. In New England, a grain of corn. 
Also, devil. 

CleveP. Used in the United States in two senses : one implying a com- 
pound of good nature, honesty and obligingness ; the other, which is 
the accepted definition in England, implying an active, alert, adroit, 
ready use of means in the power of the user. That is to say, an Ame- 
rican clever man is one who adapts himself easily to the ways and 

OLE CLO 123 

wishes of those around him, while the clever Englishman would be 
more akin to one who is called here a " smart " man. 

Still provincial, in American sense, in several parts of England. 

It must also be remarked that the American clever is only heard 
colloquially, and is even then fast getting superseded by the English 
sense of the word. 

Cleverly. Sometimes heard, in New England, in sense of possibly, rea- 
sonably. " As soon as I cleverly can." 

Cleverness. Amiable disposition of mind, kindness. (New England.) 
Obligingness, good nature. 

Cling, Clingstone. A popular name for a v ariety of peaches in which 
the pulp adheres firmly to the stones. 
Those of which the reverse can be said are called free-stones. 

Clingjohn. A rye cake lightly baked. 

Clink. In New Jersey, used of two chairs w hich are tilted so as par- 
tially to support each other, each having two legs on the floor. 

Clinker-built. A variation of the English term "clincher- built," applied 
to a class of boats in which the lower edge of every plank overlays the 
next under it. 

Also used idiomatically to convey the idea of absolute certainty, or 
completeness in its way, thoroughness. 

Clip. A blow, or stroke with the hand. 

Still provincial in England. Bailey and Halliwell have a "clop" for 
a blow. 

Clip (to). To give a blow. 

ClippeP-Ship. A sailing-ship built expressly for speed, from to clip, 
i. e. to fly, to cut the air or waves. 

Though American in origin, the term has now ceased to be exclusive 
to the United States. 

The clipper-ships owed their origin to the eager competition for the 
new trade which sprang up between the Pacific coast and the Atlantic 
sea-ports, after California had been incorporated in the Union. 

ClOCkmutch (Dutch Uap-mut$, a night cap). A New- York provincialism 
designing a quaint, though" not unbecoming woman's cap, composed of 
three pieces, a straight centre one, from the forehead to the neck, with 
two side-pieces. The dockmutch is still worn by some old-fashioned 
ladies, and a fair representation of it is often seen in Gerard Dow's 

Also dapmatch, which besides being used in the above sense, is applied 
moreover to the designation of a certain kind of sealskin. 



Close. Scarce or difficult to obtain, in speaking of money. In England, 
" tight" is more generally used. 

Close-herding". A cowboy's term for the difficult art of keeping cattle 
together in a close body. 

By extension, to keep closely together, in speaking of persons, as 
when a sheriff, out West, will talk of close-herding several prisoners in 
his charge. 

Close one's peepers. To go to sleep. 

Close OUt. In trading parlance, to clear out, to dispose of without 

Clothier. A term applied both to the manufacturer of cloth, as well as 
to the merchant converting it into garments. 

ClOtten house. In Newfoundland, a poor one-story house, built of small 
hewn sticks, set vertically. 
Also called a tilt. 

Cloud. A large woollen knit wrap for the head. Now, as well known in 

The French - Canadians have literally translated the word into 
" image." 

Cloudburst. The climax of a storm. 

Cloud up. To become overcast, to grow cloudy, in speaking of the sky. 
" The sky is clouded up." 

Clove (Dutch Move, a cleft). Along the Hudson river, and especially in 
the Catskills, a narrow gap or valley, a ravine, a gorge. 
Somewhat analogous to the notch of New England. 

Club-tail. A common name applied to the shad, on the coast of Caro- 
lina, from the swollen aspect of the tail of this fish, at certain seasons, 
of the year, when fattened up. 

Cluckers. In Southern Jersey, a name applied to frozen oysters. 
See rattlers. 

Coach. In college slang, the director of any athletic team. Used gene- 
rally, as the foot-ball coach. 

Coaehwhip. A name applied to a harmless colubrine serpent of the 
genus " Masticophis," inhabiting southerly portions of the United 

Coal. The anthracite coal is tlms classified, according to the different 
sizes offered for sale : 

1. Furnace coal ; 2. Egg coal ; 3. Stove ; 4. Chestnut ; 5. Pea or 
nut ; 6. Coal dust. 

COA-COD 125 

Coast (on the). Near at hand, hard by. Said by DeVere to be peculiar 
to Nantucket fishermen. 

Coast (to). In boy's parlance, to slide down a frozen or snow-covered 
hill on a sled. (New York and New England.) 

Now used in England by cyclists in the sense of going down a hill. 

Coasting 1 . The amusement of sliding down hills in winter. 

Coat. Used in the South for " petticoat." This contraction is also pro- 
vincial in some paits of England. 

Cob. The stalk of maize or Indian corn. When the kernels are attached 
to it, it is called an ear. 

Probably from the old English word "cob," meaning the top or 

Cobbler. (1) A drink concocted of wine, sugar, lemon, and pounded ice, 
and imbibed through straws or other tubes. 

(2) A Western dish, consisting in a kind of open fruit pie, with a 
very thick layer of dough. 

Cocash (Ind. ). A plant (Erigeron canadense) much used by the Northern 
Indians for medical purposes. 

Also called squaw-iceed. 

Both names are also given to another medicinal plant (Senecio aureus) 
used for diseases of the skin. 

Cochranites. A rather notorious sect who, for some time, scandalized 
the communities of New England by public exhibitions of so gross a 
character, that the authorities were more than once compelled to 
intervene in behalf of public order and decency. Among other articles of 
faith, the " Cockranites " were claiming to have arrived at such a state 
of perfection that they had become angels or seraphs, and as such could 
appear in public in the traditional garb of our first parents. 

Coek Of the plains (Centrocercus urophasianus). A species of prairie- 
fowl, so called by Audubon, to signify his appreciation of the size and 
beauty of that bird. 

This fine grouse is however more commonly known at the sage-hen. 

Cocktail. A stimulating beverage, made of some liquor, mixed with 
bitters, sugar and a little water, or crushed ice. 

CoCO-gTaSS. A weedy plague of the South, much dreaded by planters, 
as, when once fairly rooted, it will speedily ruin any field. 

Cocum. See poke-berry. 

C. 0. D. Collect or cash on delivery. 

Letters put upon packages sent by express, and meaning that paymen . 
for same has to be made on delivery. 



Hence, also, the colloquial use of the initials C. 0. D. to signify 
regularity and frequency 

Codfish aristocracy. A name applied, especially in New England, to 
" parvenus " deficient in intelligence and good manners, from supposing 
that their money was made out of the fisheries. 

Co-ed (abb. of co-educate). In college slang, used adjectively of an 
institution educating both sexes. 

Coffee-tree (Gymnocladuscanadensis). An ornamental tree with valuable 
wood, and so called from its seeds being at times used as a substitute 
for coffee. This was especially the case during the Civil War. 
Also called Kentucky coffee-tree, and Kentucky locust. 

Cohees. A nickname given to certains communities of Western Pennsyl- 
vania, from their use of the archaic form quo' he, i. e. " quoth he. " 

Cohog (Ind.). A beautiful welk bearing the scientific name of "Venus 
mercenaria, " from its being a substitute among Indians for money. 
Also quahaug. 
See peac, seaioan, wampum. 

CohOSh (Ind. ). An Indian name for a well known medicinal herb ( Actsea 
racemosa), comprising several varieties, the best known of which are the 
blue, white, and black cohosh. 
See pappoose root. 


bran, etc. 

In parts of the South, a sack of heavy stuff for corn, 

Colcannon night. Almost universal in St John, Newfoundland, for 
Hallowe'en, and used by those who eat colcannon on that night. 

Cold. At game of poker, cold or a cold deck is a good hand or a packed 
hand, i. e. a good hand right at the very start, without the necessity of 
drawing fresh cards. 

(2) Certain, positive : cold cash. " I give it out cold that I will do it." 

(3) Stale. Gold bread is stale bread. 

(4) Distant. Said in New England of one whoj in play hunting to find 
a thing concealed, is remote from it. 

Cold flour. A back-woodman's dish, consisting of parched and pulve- 
rized maize mixed with sugar, and stirred into a paste with water. 
Also known as nocake (New England), and pinole (Spanish districts). 

Cold SCald. A double misfortune or trouble, the idea conveyed being 
that of getting frozen and scalded at one and the same time. 

Cold Shut. Among trappsrs, out West, a split ring, which can be 
fastened by hammering, and which is used to make fast a trap's chain 
to a log. 



Cold-Slaw (Dutch kool-slaa, cabbage salad). A salad consisting of 
cabbage leaves cut fine, and dressed with vinegar and oil, pepper and 
salt. The term, it may be remarked, is a very curious corruption of 
the original word, the prefix cold having been substituted to kool from 
an utter ignorance of the latter's foreign etymology, and simply through 
an innate desire to twist an unfamiliar word into a more pleasant shape. 
See hot-slaw. 

Colima, co-lee'-mah (Sp.). In Texas, a species of dwarf prickly ash 
(Xanthoxylum pterola). 

Collect (Dutch kolk, a pit, a lake). A depression in which rain water 
forms a temporary pond ; a large puddle. 

A portion of New York the neighborhood of the Tombs and Five 
Points was formerly, on that account, known as " The Collect." 

Collect (to). To receive money, without any connotation of gathering 
together. " To collect accounts." 

A contraction for " to collect payments." 

Collector. The principal officer, in a custom-house. Equivalent to the 
superintendent of the English service. 

Collide. A collision. 

Collide (to). To come in collision with. Formerly confined to railway 
phraseology, but now extended to mean any collision whatever, i. e. 
the violent meeting of vessels, persons, etc. 

The term is a good English word, which has simply fallen into disuse 
in England, but is now again making its way into popular favor. 

Collier. In New Jersey, used for a charcoal-burner. 

Colonel. A courtesy title of all work, whether one has served with the 
colors or not. 

A similar laxity is observable as regards professional titles, such as 
judge, professor, etc. Indeed, so numerous are colonels and judges in 
the United States as to lead one to suppose that the entire population 
has gathered unto itself the quintessence of the earth, as far as martial 
valor and legal learning are concerned. 

ColOF. In mining parlance, a " speck of gold." 

Colorado beetle. An insect pest about half-an-inch long, and, in color, 
yellow striped with black, whose name has especially become, unhappily, 
too familiar to growers of potatoes. 
Also called potato buy. 

Colored. A euphemism applied to negroes, and which was especially 
most rife during the period immediately succeeding the Civil War, when 
the Republicans were striving to enhance the importance of the black 

128 COM COM 

Other terms of contempt, sickly philanthropy, and humor, as the case 
may be, are contraband, niggers, freemen, and unbleached Americans. 

Also used adjectively, in sense of pertaining to the negroes. " The 
colored vote. " 

Comal (Mex. comalli). In Texas, a slightly hollow ustensil of stone or 
earthenware on which " tortillas " are cooked or baked. 

Combine. A combination of persons for a common object, as for instance 
a trade union. 

Used with same meaning as trust, but supposed not to be quite so 
distasteful to opponents of monopolies. 

Come (to). This verb is used in a variety of slang ways, many of which 
are, no doubt, of English origin, although it is very difficult to draw 
the line with any degree of precision. 

To come around, to entice, to lure, to prevail upon. 

To come down, to abate prices. Also, to furnish money, equiv. of 
" to stump it. " 

To come down from the walls, to abandon one's position, to retire. 

To come in with, to bring forth, to litter. (N. Eng. ) 

To come it over, to convince by argument, to get the advantage of one. 

To come it strong, to work vigorously, to act with force. 

To come off, to occur. 

To come out, (1) to make a profession of one's belief or religion. An 
expression used among certain religious enthusiasts. 

(2) To fare in an undertaking. ' ' How did you come out of it ? " 
Hence to come out of the little end of the horn, an allusion to the thin 

end of the horn of plenty, meaning " to fare badly. " 

(3) To make one's first appearance in society, in speaking especially 
of a youg maiden. 

To come up to the chalk, to come up to the mark, to fulfill one's pro- 
mises, to perform one's duty. Equiv. to the Eng. " coming up to the 
scratch. " 

To come upon the town, in New England, to be supported at the public 
charge, or in the poor-house. 

To come up smiling, to be impervious to rebuff or disaster ; to meet 
defeat without flinching. 

Come-alongS. Articles of twine or wire, used by policemen in lieu of 

Come-by-chance. Used, in parts of New England, in speaking of an 
illegitimate child. 

Come down. Used as a substantive in sense of a fall, whether of pride 
or worldly prospects. 

Come OUt. Used as a substantive in sense of something to admire, praise, 
or commend. " There is some come out in him after all." 

COM CON 129 

Come-OUterS. A cant term applied, especially in New England and the 
Northern States, to all those who have come out from the religious 
organizations with which they were previously connected, and who, 
holding aloof from any distinctive bodies, profess to be independent 
concerning matters of faith. 

Somewhat analogous to the " libres-penseurs " of France. 

Comical. Has in the South the meaning of strange, or extraordinary. 

The French-Canadians have also the word dr6le (funny) used in same 

Comltick (Ind.). A sort of sledge, drawn by dogs, in use in Labrador. 

Commencement. Among college students, the closing exercises of the 
college year, when the degrees are conferred, and the graduates go out 
to commence active life. 

Common-doings. Plain every day fare, in opposition to specially 
prepared dainties, or chicken-fixings. 

Of Western origin, and at first restricted to the above meaning, but 
now extended in its application to persons, actions, and things in general 
of an inferior kind. 

Commons. In college slang, board furnished to the students by purveyors 
on behalf of the college. Also, the dining rooms or buildings where the 
students partake of the college fare. 

Company. A name applied, in California, to an amalgamation of five 
societies, maintaining a sort of Chinese intelligence and assurance office 
on a large scale. 

Compass-plant (Silphium laciniatum). A plant, so called from its leaves 
being supposed to point north and south. 
Also called roxin-vxed. 

Complected. Complexioned, of a certain complexion. Usually, with the 
addition of another word, as light-complected, etc. 

Compliment. In the South- West, synonym with present. 

Comprador (Sp.). An agent, sub-contractor, or boss stevedore, in the 
formerly Spanish States. 

ConastOgaS. See con&itoya*. 

Conceit (to). To have in view, to think, to form an idea. Equiv. to 
reckon, guess, calculate. (Interior of Xe\v England.) 

Formerley colloquial in England in sense of to think, but now obsolete, 
although the substantive conceit still lingers in a somewhat similar 

Coneeity. Over particular . " He's too ccnccily about what h,- cats." 



Concern. A term much used in the mercantile world, as applying to a 
certain business without regard to size. 

Provincial in England and Ireland, where it denotes a small estate. 

Concession. In Canada, a subdivision of a township, bordered by a 
public road. 

Conch. (1) A name applied to the inhabitants of the Bahamas, and of 
the Keys of the Florida reef, from their extensive use of the flesh from 
concho as food. 

(2) A name applied, in Key West, to a wrecker. 

(3) A name applied to white inhabitants of parts of North Carolina. 
Also written conk, conck, konk. 

Conchas (Sp.). Silver ornaments attached to the spurs worn by cowboys 
and other plainsmen, on high days and holiday occasions. (S. W. ) 

Conduct (to). Frequently used, especially in New England, without the 
reflexive pronoun, that is, instead of "to conduct oneself." 

An offensive barbarism, which has also crept, <>i late, into the page s 
of several English writers. 

Conducta. con-dook-tah (Sp. ). The name of the "caravan," in New 
Mexico, and other formerly Spanish States. 

Conductor. A railway official, who has entire charge of a train, and 
whose functions, on the whole, somewhat resemble those of the "guard," 
in England. 

Also captain, a sobriquet drawn by analogy from water traffic. 

Conepate (Mex. conepatl). A term used to designate the skunk, in some 
of the Southern States. 

ConestOga hOPSe. A breed of large, strong, and heavily-built horses, 
which was originated in Pennsylvania, and was so named from the 
Coneetoga river. 

Conestogas. In the West, coarse, rough shoes or boots. 
Also, stogies. 

Conestoga-wagon. A covered wagon of a large capacity, specially 
built for the powerful Conestoga horses. 

Coney. Counterfeit money. 

Confectionery. In the South- West, and other parts of the West, a bar- 
room or saloon. 
Also, grocery. 

Confederate. A term applied, during the Civil War, to any person or 
anything connected with the Confederacy of the Southern States. 

CON CON 131 

In Texas, the word confederate, is sometimes used in a very singular 
sense, being then synonymous with the Yankee's " About East." Thus, 
when wishing to express the strongest possible approval of something, 
the Texan will be wont to exclaim : It's mighty confederate." 

Confederate States. A name assumed, in 1861, by the Southern States 
which seceded from the Union on the question of slavery. 

Congress. The American Legislature, consisting of a Senate and a 
House of Representatives. From 1774, until near the close of the 
Revolution, the Legislature was called the Continental Congress, and it 
was the Federal Congress which ruled the country from 1781 to 1789. 

Congressional. Pertaining to the Congress of the United States. 
Emanating from Congress. 

Congressman. A member of Congress, and especially a member of the 
House of Representatives. 

ConiackOP. A counterfeiter of coin. 

Conjecture (tO). Used in New England, with a kind of mental reserva- 
- tion, in same sense as calculate, guess, from the ingrained characteristic 
of the New-Englander of never venturing upon a direct statement 
when there is the slightest possibility of mistake. 

ConkePbill. In the Canadian Maritime provinces and Newfoundland, 
said of an icicle hanging from the eaves of a house or from a horse's nose. 

Connection (in this). A favorite New-England phrase, meaning " in 
connection with this subject." 

Connections. Persons related by marriage, as distinguished from those 
united by common descent, and who are called " relations." 

The English words kinsman and kinswoman are but rarely heard in 
the United States. 

Connections (tO make Close). Said when trains meet at junctions 
without causing delay to the traveller. 

Conniption fit. In New England and New York, often used as a 
synonym for hysteria, or a state of collapse. Also, an overwrought 
state of mind, or nervous excitement. 

Connubiate. To act in concert with, to act with. 

Considerable. Of frequent occurrence, as adverb or noun, especially in 
the North, in the sense of much, a good deal, or for emphasizing qualities 
and quantities as applied to men and things. " He is considerable of a 
doctor. I've heard considerable of him. " 

Consumpted (tO be). To have consumption of the lungs, to be a phtisic 



Contemplate. To propose, to intend, to have in view. 
An enlarged form is " to have in contemplation." 
The French-Canadians make a similar use of the Fr. verb ' 'contempler. " 

Continental. (1) Frequently used for colonial, in the early days of the 

First applied to the Congress of 1774 ; then to the army raised under 
its auspices ; and then to the money or scrip issued by it. 

(2) A trooper, or armed patriot, during the War of Independence. 

Continental dam. Not worth a continental dam, a curious slang phrase 
handed down from the times of the American Revolution, and which is 
almost universally applied to the utterly valueless " continental " paper- 
money of those days. 

The phrase is, however, traced back to a very different origin by 
Richard Grant White, who thinks it is only a mere modification of others 
of the same sort, as a tinker's, a trooper's damn, etc. A " continental's 
damn " was at first used, and afterwards the sign of the possession was 
gradually dropped. 

Continentals. The uniform of the Continental troops during the War of 
the Revolution. Used exactly as the term " regimentals " is now 

Continuance. Sometimes used in sense of remand. This sense has 
obviously come, by an easy transition, from that which signifies duration. 

Contraband. A term applied, during the Civil War, to the negro slaves 
in the South, who were then treated as " contraband of war. " General 
Butler, when first stationed at Fortress Monroe, is credited with the 
honour of having invtnted this jvery happy designation, although the 
term had previously been applied to negroes in Africa, as slaves or 
chattels, by captain Canot. 

During the Civil War, the negro slave of the South was also often 
designated, by newspaper correspondents, as the "intelligent contraband." 

Contraption. A factitious word meaning a contrivance, any new-fangled 

Contraptions. A genuine African vulgarism applied to any new-fangled, 
peculiar thing or idea, as for instance an extravagant form of dress, an 
unusual manner of speech, etc. 

Contrive. Noticed by W T itherspoon in the " Druid Letters, " in sense of to 
perform, to do anything by contrivance. 

Bartlett says the word can still be heard in remote parts of New 
England, but we incline to think that it has come to be now nearly 
altogether obsolete. 

Convenient. Has assumed, in the United States, the new meaning of near 
at hand, within easy reach. " Wood and water convenient to the house. " 

CON COO 133 

Convention. An assembly of delegates to accomplish a specific object, 
civil, political, or ecclesiastical. 

The most important conventions are those held, by the different 
political parties, for the purpose of nominating candidates for the 
Presidency. The delegates number many hundred, and the vote is 
recorded as the roll of States is called from the presiding officer's desk 

In former times, that is, before increased facilities for travel, in a country 
as large as the United States, had really made possible the assembling 
of National Conventions, it was in Washington that general nominations 
were made, the Congressmen representing the two great parties meeting 
in caucus for the purpose. 

Goodies. The name of a political party which originated, in 1814, in the 
State of New York. 

So called from Abimelek Goody, a fictitious name for Gulian C. 
Verplank, a distinguished writer, who under cover of the above signa- 
ture, was the originator of the party in a series of well-written articles 
published in a New York paper. 

A full account will be found in Hammond's Political History of 
New York. 

Coof. In Nantucket, Mass., a local term for all "off- islanders." 

Cookey (Dutch koekje, little cake). A little tit-bit ; a small, flat, sweet 

Also used for small cakes of various other forms, with or without 

See oly-cook. 

He's lost every hoof and hide, I'll bet a cookey ! 

(Bret Harte, Luck of Roaring Camp, p. 227.) 

Cook-house. (1) In the Southern States, a small detached building for 
cook's use. An out-door kitchen. 
(2) On board ship, the cook's galley. 

Cooler. (1) The calaboose, or police station. 

(2) A refreshing beverage, a drink of spirits. 

(3) In college slang, a sharp retort, or a treatment purposely rude. 

Cooling-board. A ghastly name given in Pennsylvania and Maryland 
to the board or slab upon which a dead body is laid out. 

CoolwOPt (Tiarella cordifolia). A medicinal herb, celebrated for its 
diuretic and tonic qualities, and which is one of the far-famed remedies 
of the Shakers. 

Coon. (1) A shortened and popular form of raccoon (q. v. ). 

(2) A common term for a negro. 

(3) A political nickname first applied, in 1840, to members of the 
Whig party, either because, as some claim, that party adopted the skin 

134 COO COP 

of the raccoon as a kind of badge, or as a derisive epithet suggestive of the 
known character of the animal, up to all manner of shifts in self -def ens . 

(4) A gone coon is said of a man who finds himself in a serious or 
hopeless difficulty. A forcible phrase drawn from the idea of a coon 
which has been " treed." 

See gone coon. 

Coon'S age. A common expression, in the South, for any long period of 

CooneP. A common term, at the South, for a canoe. 

CoonePy. Whiggery, from the word "coon" having been applied to 
members of the Whig party. Hence also perhaps, in the Southern 
States, the whimsical corruption of " chicanery," which they have 
travestied into " shecoonery," as though it were a sort of mild feminine 

Coon-OysteP. In New Jersey, a small oyster attached to the sedge, 
rather than to its usual solid supports. 

Coontie (Ind. ). An arrow-root indigenous in Florida (Tamia integrifolia), 
and from which is obtained a farina which is much esteemed. The root is-, 
however, in its crude state, very poisonous, and much care must be taken 
in extracting its deadly properties. 

Coop (to). In political slang, to coop voters is to collect and confine 
them, as it were in a coop or cage, so as to be sure of their services on 
election day. For obvious reasons, which need not be further explained, 
liquor dealers become the usual cooper* on such occasions. 

Coot. A small water-fowl (Fulica), living in marshes, and which differs 
considerably from its European namesake. 

By extension, often applied also to a stupid or weak-minded person, a 
simpleton. In this connection, Halliwell notices the old proverbial saying 
" As stupid as a coot, " which is still provincial in England. 

COOteP (Cistudo Carolina). A local name, in the South, for the common 

box-turtle of the United States. 

Copa (Sp.). In the formerly Spanish States, a land-mark, or any well- 
known tree or group of trees in the prairie by which travellers or cow- 
boys are guided. 

A diminutive form is capita. 

Copperhead. (1) A venomous and noisome serpent (Trigonocephalus con- 
tortrix), whose bite is considered as deadly as that of the rattlesnake, 
and which is so much more dangerous that it gives no warning of its 
approach or whereabouts. 

Other popular names are chunk-head, copper-belly, deaf adder, dumb 
rattlesnake, red adder, red eye, red viper. 

COP -COR 135 

(2) A term of transient currency applied, during the Civil War, to 
stay-at-home Northern men who sympathised with the South ; also to 
the Peace party, which was suspected of favouring the South. 

Equivalent to " secret foe, " the copperhead being wont to lye in 
ambush and strike without warning. 

Abbreviated into cap. 

(3) A term of contempt for the Indian or Redman, among the early 
Dutch colonists. 

Copperheadism. Policy of Copperheads during the Civil War ; sym- 
pathy of Northern men for the Confederates. 

Copse. An abbreviated form of " copsewood, " sometimes used for a 
small wood, or a low growth of shrubs and bushes. 

Coral-berry (Symphoricarpus vulgaris). The Indian currant of Missouri. 
Also, Indian currant. 

Corbigfeau, cor-bee-jo (Fr. C. ). The French-Canadian name of a species 
of curlew (Numenius hudsonius), of the Gulf of St Lawrence. 

This word is met in some relations of travels of the first years of the 
18th century. 

COPd. (1) A solid measure, equal to 128 cubic ft, used for wood or other 
. coarse material. (Old Eng. ) 

The French-Canadians similarly use the Fr. word " corde. " 

Wood thus sold is called cord-wood. 

(2) In the West, any indefinite and large quantity: "cords of money." 

The enlargement of the term is probably due to the plentiful supply 
of wood, once so common in those regions. 

Cordelle (Fr. ). A Western name for a tow-line. 

Also, to cordelle, to propel by means of a tow-line. 

Corder. In colonial times, a town officer who measured fuel by the cord. 
The term disappeared at the end of the 18th century. 

Corduroy. To make a corduroy road, over a swamp or marsh. 
The roads towards Corinth were corduroyed and new ones made. 

(U. S. Grant, Personal Memoirs, I. 372.) 

Corduroy road. In new " clearings, " a rough kind of a road, consisting 
of loose poles or logs laid across a swa;np, and so called in allusion to 
the ribbed appearance of the " corduroy " velvet. 

Similarly, a plank road; a road made with a flooring of planks laid 
across the tracks. 

Corn. A word universally appropriated to maize, in the United States, 
Also, Indian corn. 

In England, corn is a generic name for all cerean grain, as wheat, 
rye, oats, barley. It is also interesting hero to remark that most Teutonic 
peoples are in the habit of specializing the signification of the term, and 

136 COR COR 

denoting by it thier most important cereal. Thus, and although it 
sometimes includes other varieties, the word " corn " stands primarily for 
rye in Northern and Central Germany ; for spelt in Franconia, Swabia, 
and most of Switzerland ; for oats in Scotland ; for barley in Sweden 
and Ireland. 

See flint corn, pop-corn, she-corn. 

Corn balls. A sweet-meat made of pop-corn and molasses. 

Corn blade. The leaf of the maize. 

Corn bread. Maize meal bread which is unfermented with yeast. 

Corn brooms. Brooms made from the dried seedstalks of a species of 
maize called broom-corn. 

Corn COb. The spike on which the kernels of maize grow. 

Corn-cob-pipe, a pipe manufactured from the maize cob. 

Corn-cob-xheU, a weapon of offense much in vogue during the Civi 
War, made by taking the pith out of the cob of a full ear of corn and 
replacing it with powder. 

Corn-cracker. A sobriquet for a native of Kentucky. 

Also the name for a poor white in North and South Carolina, Georgia, 
Florida, and other Southern States. 

Corn-cracker State, the State of Kentucky. 

Corn crib. A sort of lattice-work structure, in which the dried ears of 
maize are kept. 

Corn dodger. A oake made of corn-meal and baked very hard. Also 
hoe-cake, Johny-cake, or simply dodyer. 

In Virginia and in the West, dodger has also the meaning of unleavened 

Cornel-tree (Cornus florida). The common dog-wood, a beautiful and 
useful tree, covered in early spring with large snowy-white flowers, 
which are replaced in the autumn by brilliant scarlet berries. 

Not to be confounded with the poison sumac, which also is popularly 
called dog-wood. ' 

Corner. (1) An artificial scarcity in any commodity, created for purposes 
of gain by brokers and dealers. " A corner in pork, etc." 

An operation in any article of speculation, by which the " shorts," 
not having the goods to deliver, are " cornered." 

(2) In the newly-settled districts of the West, a mark on a tree, 
standing for the boundary line on a claim or tract of land. For instance, 
surveyors will say, in speaking of a particular claimant, that they often 
meet with his corners. 

Also the tree itself so marked, which tree is besides called a corner- 
tree, a witness-tree. 

COR COR 137 

Corner (to). (1) To raise artificially the price of a stock or a commodity. 
(2) To get the advantage of another person in an argument. 

Corner on (to have a). (1) To have on hand a larger quantity of stock 
or other commodities than is really on the market. 

(2) Also used colloquially in the sense of having the command of, or 
taking first place in anything. 

Corner trees. In newly settled districts of the West, trees marking 
the corners of the boundary lines of a homestead, and which have been 
blazed in order that they might be .distinguished from others. 
Also called simply corners, and witness -trees. 

COPn-fleld SehOOl. The old-time school house of the South. 

Corn fodder. Maize sown broadcast, and left to take care of itself, 
after which it is used for cattle as fodder. 

Corn fritter. A fritter, in the batter of which green corn has been 
mingled, after being grated. 

Corn husk. The coarse outer leaves enclosing the ear of maize. 
Also, corn-shuck, corn-trash. 

Corn husking 1 . An assembling of young people, in the country, at a 
neighbor's house, to strip the husks from the year's crop of maize. 
Also husking frolic, or simply husking, and corn-shucking. 

Corn j Uiee. A Western term for whiskey. 

Corn meal. Maize meal. 

Corn oyster. A dish somewhat si milar to a corn-fritter, and supposed 
to taste like the oyster. 

Corn pone. A tin-baked maize-meal bread, enriched with milk and eggs. 
Corn popper. A sieve-like ustensil for making pop-corn. 

Corn-right. In the early days of settlement, in Virginia, the title 
under which land was acquired, it being then sufficient for a settler to 
plant an acre of corn to be entitled to one hundred acres of land. 

Corn-snake (Scotophis guttatus). A large harmless serpent which 
frequents the corn-fields of the South. 

Corn-Stalk. The stalk of the maize plant. 

Corn-Stalk fiddle. A child's play-thing, ma de by loosening the external 
fibre of a corn stalk and placing a fiddle b ridge under each extremity. 

Corn tassels. The graceful, feathery flowers of the maize plant. 

Cornwallis. The name of a mock-muster held annually in New England 
to commemorate the surrender at Yorktown. 

There is fun to a Cornwallis, I ain't agoin' to deny it. 

(J. R. LOWELL, Biglow Papers, I. p, 26 

138 COR COT 

COPOna, cor-on'-ah (Sp. ). Specifically, in the formerly Spanish States, 
the highly decorated piece of canvas used to put over each pack. 

COPpOPOSity. A Pennsylvania word used for referring to the living body, 
the human form. 

This corporosity touches the ground in a vain attempt to reach it. 

(J. C. XEAL, Charcoal Sketches.) 

COPPal (Sp. ). In the South-West, a circular enclosure, often tempo- 
rarily made with wagons, into which horses and cattle are driven for 
safety or other puposes. 

Evidently the same as the Dutch kraal, used in South Africa for 
same purposes. 

COTPal (to). In the South-West, to secure, to pen up horses or cattle in 
an enclosure, for the purpose of fending and feeding them. Also, to 
make up the enclosure itself. 

Now colloquially extended, all over the West, in the general sense 
of "to embarrass in anyway." For instance, a criminal will be 
corralled in prison, and a debtor is corralled with debts ; Indians will 
corral men on the plains, and a storm will corral tourists in the mountains. 

COPSe, cor-say' (Sp.). In the South-West, a ranchman's word for the 
cover of light leather used to protect the saddle in wet weather. 
Also, cource, course. 

Cossade (Fr. C.). Among the French-Canadians, a name applied to a 
sort of marshhawk or buzzard (Falco hudsonius), frequenting the shores 
of rivers, or low swampy lands. 

Cotbetty. A molly-coddle, a man who meddles with woman's special 
duties in a household. 

Probably a compound of " cot, " which English glossaries give as 
meaning an effeminate, troublesome man, and " betty, " used very much 
in the same sense. 

Cotton-bagging". A coarse hempen cloth, chiefly manufactured in 
Kentucky, and used as an outside wrapping for cotton bales. 
Also, simply bagging. 

Cottondom. The region of the South, where cotton is grown. 
Also called Cottonia. 

CottonmOUth (species of Trigonocephalus). A deadly snake found in 
Arkansas, and thought to be the same as the moccasin snake. So called 
from a white streak along the lips. 

Cotton-POek. A variety of magnesian lime-stone found in Missouri, 
very valuable for building purposes, and probably so called because, 
when first bared to the light, its color somewhat resembles fresh gathered 

COT COU 139 

Cotton-Seed Oil. The oil of the cotton-seed, a product mainly used for 
adulteration purposes, and which has given rise to quite a large industry . 

CottonWOOd. The name of several species of poplars, from the cotton- 
like substance in which the seeds are protected againt the cold. 

The common eastern specie is the " Populus monilifera," otherwise 
called alamo in the South and South-West. 

Couac, koo-ak. A species of heron (Nyctiardea grisea), frequenting the 
Gulf of St-Lawrence region, and so called from its peculiar cry. 

COU blanc (Fr. C. ). Among the French-Canadians, a name applied to 
the ring-necked plover (Tringa hiaticula). 

Coulee (Fr.). (1) In the West, a dried up creek or ravine ; a gully or 
narrow rocky valley of great depth. 

In Mexico and California, called arroyo. 

(2) In the Canadian North- West, a valley through which generally a 
stream runs. 
Also, cooley. 

Council flP6. The sacred fire kept burning, in the middle of an encamp 
ment, while Indians hold their council. 

Count. In Southern Jersey, a common name for a terrapin six inche 
across belly, fit for market. 

A six-inch female terrapin is called a cow. 

Count Clams. On the coast of New Jersey, quahaugs, 800 to the barrel. 

CounterbPand. In the prairie regions, a duplicate mark placed upon 
cattle when sold, and which annuls the original title. 

CountCPbPand (tO). To destroy a brand, on cattle, by branding on the 
opposite side. 

CountPy-j akes. In parts of the South, country-folk, people from the 
backwoods. Equiv. to the English " country -joskins " or " country- 

Count ties. To tramp a railroad, as when a tramp is compelled to walk 
on the ties of a railroad. 

Coup (Fr.). Among the Indian tribes of the Northern plains, a very 
curious custom exists which is as yet unexplained. When a foe has been 
struck down in a fight, the scalp belongs to him who shall first strike 
the body with knife or tomahawk. This is the coup, so called by the old 
French trappers, predecessors of the Hudson bay company. The conse- 
quence is that, when a foe falls, even in the hottest fight, the slayer 
must at once, in order to obtain proper recognition of his act, give up all 
thought of further killing, make or give his coup, and take the scalp. 

140 COU COW 

By extension, any special success or good stroke of fortune is often 
apt, in the West, to be called a coup, in which sense the word still also 
survives to this day among the French-Canadians. 

Couree. See corse. 

Court. In New England, the name of a legislative body composed of a 
House of Representatives and a Senate. " The General Court of Massa- 
chussetts. " 

Court-House. A curious usage, which applies however mainly to official 
documents, prevails in Virgina of designating the county towns as the 
Court-Houses, without regard to their proper names. Thus Providence, 
the county town of Halifax, is known as Fairfax Court- ffouse, and so 

The same custom has also existed, to some extent, in South Carolina 
and Maryland. 

Court Of Assistants. A court formerly in existence in New England, 
where a magistrate or an assistant presided. These courts were sub- 
sequently merged in the County Court. 

Cove. (1) A term taken from sea phraseology to indicate a strip of 
prairie running into the woodland. 

(2) A hollow, nook, or recess in a mountain. Used especially, in this 
sense, in parts of the Appalachian range. 

See dove and notch. 

Coverelip (genus Achius). The curious name by which the sole is 
known in the waters of New York. 
An equally curious appellation for the same fish is calico. 

(Viburnum lentago). A small, .shrivelled fruit, somewhat 
resembling the common cranberry, and found in the mountains of New 

Cow-bird (Icterus pecoris). A species of bobolink, so called from its 
habit of searching for food among the droppings of cattle. 
Also, cow -blackbird, coiupen-bird. 

Cow-boy. (1) A cattle herder, or drover, in the West and South- West. 
Also called a cow-puncher. 

(2) A contemptuous appellation applied, during the War of the Revo- 
lution, to the tory partisans of Westchester county, New York, and in 
1861 to semi-secessionnists in New England. At the time the term first 
came into usage in New York, the tories had obtained, in the eyes of 
their opponents, an unenviable reputation for their barbarous and 
ruffianly ways, and it is probable that the word was afterwards 
perpetuated as a name for cattle-herders, because descriptive of their 
real or alleged rough manners and customs. 

COW CRA 141 

Cowboyism. A general term tipifying the spirit and practices of the 

Cow-eateheP. A contrivance triangular in shape, fixed in front of a 
railway locomotive, to clear the line of cattle or other obstructions. 
In England, called plough. 

Cow-grass. A weed which constitutes one of the plagues of farming in 
the Southern States. 

Cow-hide. A whip of undressed leather, that is made of twisted strips 
of rawhide, and is principally in use amongst ranchmen and cowboys. 
Also, cow-skin, vaw-hide. 

Cow-hide (to). To chastise with the cow-hide. 

Cowlick. A slang term for a peculiar smooth arrangement of the hair, 
from its presenting the appearance of having been licked by a cow. 

Cow-paPSnip (Heraclum latanum). The popular name of one of the 
far-famed Shaker remedies, celebrated for its carminative and diuretic 

Cow-pease. A small black bean abounding in a wild state in Texas, and 
forming food for man and beast. 

Cow-pony. Among cowboys, a mustang before it is broken in. 

Cow-town. In the West, the local centres of the stock-raising industry 
are often so called. 

COW-whip. Among cowboys a very long lash with a very short stock, 
which is u^ed only in driving the herd. 

Coyote (Alex, coyotl). The common name of the prairie wolf (Canis 
latrans), abundant almost everywhere from the great plains to the 

Often improperly spelled cayote. 
See f/opher. 

Coyote (to). A California term meaning to sink, in the gold mines, 
small, shallow shafts resembling the burrow in which the prairie-wolf 

Also used substantively for the digging itself. 

CoyOtillO, co-yo-teel'-yo. A shrub of Western Texas (Karwinskia 
Humboldtiana), bearing blackish berries of which the coyote is particu- 
larly fond. Hence, its name. 

Crab-graSS (Agenus Digitaria). A species of grass, abounding in 
Louisiana and Texas, much to the detriment of growing crops, and yet 
makes excellent fodder. 


Crab lantern. 

turnover pie. 


In the South, the curious name for a small pasty or 

Crack (to). To forge bank-notes, cheques ; to utter worthless paper. 

Possibly an idiomatic extension of the Eng. slang phrase " to crack," 
i. e. to force, and " cracksman," a burglar. 

A person of remarkable ability. Applied especially to 



Cracker. (1) A small, hard biscuit. Still provincial in North of England. 

(2) A -small firework, what in England is called a "squib," which 
word is only heard here in political slang. 

(3) A nickname applied to the poor whites of Georgia and South 
Carolina, from cracked corn being their supposed chief article of diet. 

See Cracker State. 

(4) A lampoon, or "mot d'esprit, " what in England is termed a 
" squib. " 

boy. A boy attendant on "crackers," machines used for 
pulverizing anthracite coal. 

Cracker State. The State of Georgia is occasionally so designated, from 
the " crackers, " the lowest and most ignorant of its citizens before the 
abolition of slavery. 

Crackling-bread. Corn bread interspersed with cracklings. 

Crackling's. (1) A favorite dish of the South, consisting of the crisp 
residue of hog fat, after the lard is fried out. In England, " crackling " 
is the crisp rind of roast pork. 
Also called goody 'bread. 
(2) A Southern term for the cinders remaining of a wood-fire. 

Crack-loo. A game among bar-room loafers and others, which consists 
in pitching coins so that, after touching the ceiling, they shall descend 
as near as possible to a certain crack in the floor which has been previously 

Crack on (to). To put on, to apply with energy. A verb synonymous 
with prompt and energetic performance. " To crack on all hands," i. e. 
to employ all one's resources. 

Cracky. A small hybrid dog. (Nfld. N. B. and N. S.) 
Cracky-wagon. A one-horse wagon, without springs. 

Cradle. (1) A wire net basket, shaped like a child's cradle, and used to 
wash crushings at the gold fields. 

Also called a rocker. 

(2) A scythe, with a light frame work attached, used for cutting graiu. 
Quoted in Halliwell in that sense. 

Also, cradle scytle. 

CRA CRA 143 

Cradle (to). 

(1) To wash ore. 

(2) To cut grain with the cradle-scythe. 

Cradle-hole. A rut or slight depression in a road, and, more specifi- 
cally, a spot in a road from which the frost is melting. 

Cradle Of Liberty. The old Faneuil Hall of Boston is occasionally so 
called, from its having been, before the Revolution, the scene of meetings, 
the purpose of which was to rouse the American people to throw off the 
English yoke. 

Cram. In college slang, one who does much extra work before an exami- 
nation. Also, a course requiring hard study. 

Cram (tO). In college slang, to study hard, i. e. cramming the memory, 
without regard for assimilation. 

Cramp-bark (Viburnum oxycoccus). The popular name of a medicinal 
plant, having anti-spasmodic properties, and which bears a bright pinkish 
berry of a very acid taste. 

Also called, in New England, cranberry -tree. 
See pemhina. 

Crank. An enthusiast, a fanciful or eccentric person. A man supposed 
to attach undue importance to some particular scheme or notion. One 
who manifests a deep enthusiasm in any subject or thing. An erratic 
person, one of ill-balanced mind. 

Also used adjectively in sense of unsteady, capricious, obstinate, self- 
conceited. " You needn't be so crank about it." 

Crap (to). In the West, to raise a crop. 

To crat it on the sheers, to farm on rented land. 

Crapais, era-pa (Fr. C. ). Among the French-Canadians, a common name 
for the sun-fish (Pomotis vulgaris). 

Crap-house. A negro gambling den, where the game of " craps" ia 

Craps. A game played with dice by negroes, and of which they are 
passionately fond. 

Crawfish. A turn-coat, a backer-out, and especially a political renegade. 

Crawfish (tO). To back out, to retract one's statements, in speaking of 
members of a political party who suddenly back out of a position they 
have long maintained, from the well known habit of the crawfish of 
backing out erf his position under disturbing circumstances. Also, 

" To crawfish " is the exact equivalent of the English cant term " to 



Crawflshy. (1) Said of one who manifests a disposition to be a " craw- 
(2) A term applied to wet land, because inhabited by crawfish. 

Crawm. Im parts of New England, a pile of old straw or rubbish. 

Crazy. Synonymous with mad, or insane. 

This word is very seldom used, in the United States, in the English 
sense of unsteady, crooked, or shaky, except in such terms as crazy. 
work (in England, patch-work), crazy-quilt, etc. 

Crazy-bone. The funny bone, the point of the elbow, a blow on which 
causes a painful tingling. 

Crazy-quilt. A patch- work counterpane. 

Creamery. A dairy, a place where butter is sold, or where milk and 
cream are put up in cans for market. 

CPeam SOda. A favorite summer beverage, composed of ice cream mixed 
with soda water. 

Crease. In hunting, to shoot a horse or deer in the upper part of the 
neck, so that it falls stunned but is not killed. 
Special to the West. 

Creature. (1) A word generally applied, in the South, to a woman or 
child, and implying a certain amount of goodness, beauty, and love. 

Similarly, the French creature is of constant *ccurrence, among the 
French Canadians, as applying to women in general. 

(2) Also frequently used in the South for an animal, especially a 
horse, although a more common form would then be critter (q. v. ) 

Creek. Used extensively, except in most of New England, and as far up 
as Canada, to mean a running stream of fresh water, which in England 
is called a " brook," and in the Southern States becomes a " branch." 

Creek-bottom. Low land near a creek. 

Creep. In Pennsylvania, a stool. 

" Creepie" is quoted by Jamieson as a low stool, in his Scottish 

Creeper. In Now Kn.;la.i I, a shall 'iw frying-pan, a spider. 
Creepy. In Pennsylvania, a speckled kind of fowl. 

Creeter. In parts of New England, usjd in the general sense of the 
noun being. " We're all poor creeters." 
Also, creetur. 
See crea'.ure. 

ORE CR1 145 

Creole (Sp. criollo). This word, used both as a noun and an adjective, 
simply means " one of native birth," and is also applied, in the South 
and West Indies, to horses, cattle, and sheep, even to market produce 
of native growth. In the Southern States, however, the term Creole is 
never applied by residents to negroes or mulattoes, and in Louisiana 
(especially in New Orleans) the meaning of the word is restricted to a 
native of French descent. 

Creole French. A dialect or patois of Louisiana, now rapidly passing 
into disuse. 

Creole State. The State of Louisiana, so called from a great number of 
its inhabitants being descended from French and Spanish settlers. 

Cree-OwlS. A facetious adaptation of Creoles sometimes applied, as a 
nickname, to the inhabitants of Louisiana. 

Creosote plant (Larrea mexicana). A plant, characterized by its powerful 
resinous odor, and abounding in the sandy deserts of California and as 
far eastwards as Arkansas. It is particularly noxious to animals, and 
is employed externally in the treatment of rhumatism. 

Crescent City. The city of New Orleans, Louisiana, so called because 
built in the form of a crescent, on a bend of the Mississipi river. 

Crescent City Of the West. The city of Galena, Illinois. 

Crevasse (Fr.). In the Mississipi region, a breach in the embmknient 
or " levee " of a river, through the pressure of the waters. 
R. G. White mentions the word as used by Chaucer. 

Crib. (1) On the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers, a division of a raft of 
staves, containing a thousand staves. 

(2) A solid structure of timber or logs secured under water to serve as 
a wharf, jetty, or dike. 

(3) In Southern Jersey, horizontal sticks piled triangularly around the 
centre pole in a charcoal pit. 

(-1) In cjileg'j slang, a paper or book to be used unlawfully in, a 
recitation or examination, or in the preparation for the same. 

Crib (to). In college slang, to interline, to cheat in recitation or 
examination, to steal. 

Crimmy. In parts of New England, chilly, out of sorts, " under the 

Crisscross. A game played on a slate by children, and derived from the 
old-fashioned Primers, who almost uniformly began the alphabet with 
he s'^n of the Cross, called "Christ Cross." 

146 CRT CRO 

CritteP. Always associated, in the South, in speaking of a woman, and 
in opposition to creature, with some idea of inferiority, or even of 

Also, of constant occurrence, in the South, for an animal, especially 
a horse, while to other animals the term stock is applied. 

Croak. In college slang, to fliink ; to play the informer, to disclose 

Croaker. A name of various fishes, from the peculiar sound emitted by 
it, when taken out of the water. 

Croker. A species of water-fowl found in the Chesapeake and rivers of 

Cronker. A species of wild goose. 

Crook. A thief, a swindler, one whose ways society regards as not 

Crooked. Said of anything stolen. 
Crookedness. Rascality of every kind. 

Crooked-Stick. A cross-grained and perverse person, who does not suit 
society, from the well known " crooked stick " that will not fit into the 
pile of wood. 

Crooked Whiskey. Illicit whiskey, that upon which the government 
tax has not been paid. 

Crookneck. In New England, applied to several varieties of squash 
having a long recurved neck. 

Crop. In the language of the plains, an ear-mark on cattle, made by 
cutting the ear. 

Also used as a verb. 

Cropper. One who cultivates a farm for a share of the crop. 

Croppie. A local name for a species of green bass found in Lake Minne- 
tonka, near the Minnehaha falls. 

Cropping 1 . In the West and South, used to signify giving special attention 
to one kind of crop. 

The nearest approach of cropping to the above sense, in England, is 
to sow or plant land. 

Crosse iFr.). The implement used in the game of lacrosse. 

Cross-fox (Vulpes fulvus). A breed of fox, whose color is between the 
silver-gray and reddish-brown varieties, and which has usually a black 
cross marked upon its back. 

C ross-lots. See across lot*. 



CPOSS timbers. In the West, the name of a belt of forest several 
hundred miles long, extending in a south-westerly direction from the 
Arkansas river, and which marks the natural boundary between the 
cultivable lands and the desert regions. The trees -mostly post-oaks 
and black-jacks are very lofty, and disposed in such singular^' regular 
lines and cross-lines, that they seem to have been planted at some remote 
period by the hand of man. 

Timber, it must here be remarked, is a Western word for forest. 

CrOSS-Vine (Bignonia capreolata). In the South, a trailing plant, the 
stem of which, when stripped of its bark, divides, as if split cross-wise 
into quarters. 

CPOW (to eat). To take back what one has said. For instance, politicians 
are often compelled to eat considerable crow after an unsuccessful 

Again, a newspaper editor who becomes obliged by his party to 
advocate " principles," very different from those which he supported a 
short time before, is said " to eat boiled crow." 

CPOWd. Frequently used, in the South and West, for a company, an 
assemblage, a gathering of any kind, and of whatever size it may happen 
to be. 

Now also frequently heard in England. 

CPOWd (to). To squeeze in, to push, to crush, or simply to pass in 
without abnormal exertion. 

Cruel (Old Eng. ). An intensive expression, much affected by uneducated 
people, and used as a substitute for very, exceedingly. 

W. Batten denies all but is cruel mad. 

(Pepy's Diary, 21 Feb. 1636.) 

This use of the word was brought over from England in the early part 
of the 17th century, and is still common in the North of Ireland. 

Cruller (Dutch kruller, a curler). A strip of sweetened dou^h, which is 
boiled in lard, and then loops up (curls) at the two ends. 
Also, doughnut, olycook. 

Crummy. American slang for comely, pretty. 

In England, the word is only used when speaking of a plump, full- 
figured girl. 

CrunnOCks. Dry wood, used for kindlings. (Nfld., X. S. and X. L>. ) 
Crush. In college slang, a liking for a person. Also, a reception. 

CrUSh-hat. Any soft head-gear. ' 

In England, only applied to a collapsible opera hat. 

148 CRY CUR 

Cpy. To publish the banns of marriage, in church. Only 'heard 
nowadays in some remote districts, but was formerly, in colonial times, 
a meaning general throughout the whole of the New-England States. 

Cubby. In the charcoal pits of New Jersey, a term applied to a little 
hollow-square cabin. 

Cubbyhole. In New Jersey, a place in a garret where refuse is stored. 

In New England, still persistent in the old English sense of a snug, 
confined place. 

Cuekle-buttOTl. In parts of New England, the burr of the burdock, 
from which children make baskets. 

CueumbeP-tFee. (Magnolia acuminata). A tree, so called from the 
resemblance of its fruit, in its early stages, to small cucumbers. As it 
grows the likeness disappears, and the fruit becomes pinkish-red. 

Cuddy. The Mexican jackass, or burro. 

Cudweed (Gnaphalium). The popular name of a species of everlasting 

Cuffey, Cuffy. A generic name for a negro, akin to Sambo, or Quashee. 
Cull. In New Jersey, to assort, in speaking of oysters. 

CullinteenS. In New Jersey, bushel oysters. 
Cullins, poor oysters. 
Culls, the grade next to the poorest. 

Cully. A companion, a partner, either man or woman. 

From the old Eng. slang " cull, " which had the same signification. 

Gunner. (1) In New England, the name of a univalve shell of the genus 

(2) A popular name for the blue-perch. 

Cunning. (1) Pretty, small, pleasing, tiny. " A cunning little hat." 

Chiefly used by women in that sense. 

(2) Often applied to that sweet and innocent intelligence so delightful 
in children. Thus, a cunning child is what would be called in England 
a " knowing little thing." 

Curbstone broker. A Wall street term for an irregular speculator, 
who does his business on the sidewalk, and who does not belong to any 

CuriCUS (Old Eng.). Still persisting, especially among New- England 
farmers, in the old English sense of njce, excellent, particularly fine, of 
high quality. " These are curious apples." 



The same sense still attaches to curious, in the London tea-trade, to 
mark the degree of excellence next to choicest. One even sees " curio- 
choicest. " 

Curled-maple. A species of maple, the wood of which is peculiarly 
adapted for cabinet work. 

CUSS. A mean, worthless fellow, a scamp. For instance, a despicable 
person will be stigmatised as a mean cuss, an ugly cuss. 

Also employed in the West, although more rarely, where one wishes 
to express anything but a curse, often even affection. 

Authorities differ as to whether cuts is derived from a mis-pronun- 
ciation of "curse," or whether it is an abbreviation of "'customer," 
with the primary idea of what is frequently called a " bad " or an 
" ugly" customer. 

CussedneSS. Malice, spite, mischievousness. On the other hand, some 
instances exist in which the idea conveyed is resolution and courage. 

It may here also be noted that the Coventry Plays employ cursydnesse 
in the sense of sheer wickedness and malignity. 

CusS-WOPdS. Oaths, curses. 

CustaPd apple (Annona squamosa). A West-Indian shrub, which 
bears a greenish-colored fruit. 

Also called papaw, sugar-apple, sweet-sop. 

Custom-made. Said of clothing which is made to measure. 

Cut. (1) A reduction, as when speaking of a cut in freight rates for grain. 

(2) In Kentucky, a common word, among tobacco-raisers, for a portion 
of a tobacco field. 

(3) In college slang, self-imposed absence of a student from recitation. 

Cut (to). (1) In New England, to beat, in speaking of eggs. 
Also, to braid. 
(2) In college slang, to absent oneself from a college exercise. 

Cut a flg"UPe. To display, to do well, to show to advantage. 

Cut Gapers. To be frolicksome, the idea conveyed being one of boisterous 
fun, with or without wine and women. 

Also, to cut didoes, to cut shines. 

It is here obvious that some mischief, in fact some " cutting," must 
be mixed up with the proceedings, or there would be no fun at all. 

The derivation of " to cut didoes " has so far baffled all research, the 
nearest interpretation being that of Prof. Mahn, who sees in it some 
allusion to the cunning device by which the famous Queen Dido once 
received her magnificent " hide" of land. 



Cut dirt. To go fast, to run away in haste. Allusion to the rapid nntion 
of a horse on a muddy road, and to the fondness of Americans for fast 

Cut6. A common colloquialism, especially in New England, for acute, 
sharp, keen. " A cute child." 

Cute, for acute, has become in the United States, almost a distinct 
word, being stronger than the original in its peculiar meaning, and is 
one of the most expressive Americanisms of the day. 

Also employed with same meaning as cunning, in sense of pleasing, 
quaintly pretty, or amusingly odd. 

Cuteness. Acuteness, keenness. 

Cut grass (Leersia oryzoides). A species of grass, so called from the 
sharp edges of its leaves. 

Cut it fat. To overdo a thing, to indulge in extravagant flatteryr 
Synonymous with "going it too strong." 

Cut-off. (1) A word of common occurrence, in, the Mississipi region, 
applied to a channel which a river has formed for itself, by cutting 
through a bend. 

(2) A part of a steam-engine. 

Cut One's Stick. Used in England in sense of "to leave," but enlarged 
in its meaning by American vigor of speech, and often heard in the 
United States instead of "to die." 

Cut Out (to). A Western plainman's term for separating a particular 
animal from the rest of the herd. 

Cut round. To fly about, to make a display. 

Cut a SplUPge. To make a display in dress, to affect a swaggering 
pomposity in gait or dress. 

Also, to cut a swathe, evidently in allusion to the ambition of powerful, 
well-trained mowers to cut the widest swathe. 

Cutter. (1) A light one-horse sleigh. 

(2) In newspaper parlance, the city editor who cuts short a reporter's 
story, by a profuse use of his blue pencil. 
See butcJter. 

Cut-throat games. Games of chance which readily lend themselves to 
fatal quarrels. 

Cuttoe (Fr. couteau). A word still lingering in New England, and 
meaning a large knife, which was much used in olden times. 

Cut up (to). (1) To rudely break in upon conversation. 

(2) To act in a boisterous or riotous manner. To act mischievously, 
play antics. 



(3) To put to pain or to shame, to employ severe language towards a 
person. Chiefly used in a passive sense. 

" To be cut up " about anything, in the sense of being put to mental 
pain or anguish, is also well known as an English colloquialism. 

Cymblin. See simlin. 

Cypress (Taxodium disticha). A Southern tree, which is much in request 
for building purposes, and which is entirely distinct from the European 
variety. It often attains, in America, a very great height, sometimes 
as much as 120 feet. 

Cypress-brake. In the South, a low-lying tract of swampy ground, 
into which the superabundant waters of neighboring bayous find their 
way, and in which fallen cypresses abound. 
Also, cypress-swamp. 

Daddoek. An old English provincialism, sometimes heard, in New England 
and the West, in sense of a fallen tree which is showly rotting away 
and falling into mould. 

Daddyism. A recent word, made to represent slavish adulation of high 
parentage or noble birth. 

Daffa-dOWn-dilly. The old English enlargement of " daffodill," used 
by Spencer in his " Shepherd's Callendar, " which still maintains its 
vitality in Virginia. 

Daffa Down Dilly came up in the cold, 
Thro' the brown mould. 


Daft. Frequently heard in the South, for a fool, a lunatic. " Are you 
daft to do such a thing ? " 

From Chaucer's dajfe, and still provincial in North of England and 
parts of Scotland. 

DagO (Sp. San Diego, the patron Saint of the Spaniards). A common 
name for Italians, now popular all over the United States. The term 
originated in Louisiana, where it at first denoted people of Spanish birth 
or parentage, but was gradually extended so as to apply also to Italians 
and Portuguese, especially to those of the low class. 

In college slang, d'igo is a current word either for the Italian lan- 
guage, or a professor of Italian. 

Daisy. First-class, out of the common. Often used particularly when 
speaking of the physical attributes of a woman, and in that sense its 
affinity can be easily traced to the sweet, crimson-tipped flower of 



Damage. The pay, the cost, or, to put it precisely, the sum of extor- 
tion. Analogous to the English "bill", or the French " addition . 

Damaged. Intoxicated. 

A simile of little wit, but much point. 

Damiana, dah-me-ah'-nah (Sp.). In Western Texas, a small plant exha- 
ling a strong aromatic odor (Chrysactinia Mexicana), and bearing yellow 

Damson-plum (Chrysophyllum Cainite). A smooth-skinned West 
Indian fruit, of the size of a peach, with a soft pulp, and a number of 
glossy, brown seeds, 
Also called star-apple. 

Dander. Anger, passion. 

To get one's dander up, or raised, to get angry, to work oneself into a 

Possibly an English provincialism.' In " Phrase and Fable," Brewer 
quotes dander as a corruption of " Damned anger," and Halliwell gives 

dander (anger) as common to several English counties. 
Dandy. Something out of the common, first-class. 

Dandyfied. Dandyish, foppish. 

Dangerous. Used colloquially in sense of endangered, being in danger. 
Is a local provincialism in England, and is so quoted by Forbj^ in his 
Vocabulary of East 'Anglia. 

Dangle-berry (Gaylussacia). A species of the blue whortleberry. 
See bilberry. 

Danites. A name formerly applied to an organisation within the Mor- 
mon ranks for the purpose of putting out of the way obnoxious Gentiles 
and apostate Mormons. 

Also called Destroying Angels. 

The Danites exist no longer, at least for purposes of assassination. 

Dansy. Applied in Pennsylvania to persons whose faculties are failing 
them from old age. 

",'jDansy-headed" is quoted by Grose as a provincialism of Norfolk 
and'Suffolk, in sense of giddy or thoughtless. 

Dare. A New-Jersey and Pennsylvania provincialism, in localities settled 
by'Scotch-Irish, in sense of "to may. " Thus, the pupil will ask his 
teacher : " Dare we have a holiday." 

Also used substantively, in sense of permission. " May I have the 

dare to go out ? " 

rmiu . 

Dark and Bloody Ground. An expression formerly much used in 
allusion to Kentucky, and forcibly recalling suggestions of the fearful 
Indian wars of bygone days. 



Darkle, Darky. A popular appellation for a negro. 

Dark moon. In the West, the interval between full moon and new moon. 
Also, dark of the moon. 
Still provincial in England. 

DaubeP. A species of sand-wasp (Ammophila), so called from the manner 
in which it builds its nest, literally daubing it all over. 

Daubin. A corrupted from of " daubing," for mud used between the logs 
in a log house. 

Day-Clown. In parts of the South, sometimes heard for sunset, the end 
of the day. 

Daze. Often used to represent a state of utter bewilderment. " She 
sat, like one in a daze . . . ." 

To daze, a verb, was once the ancient form of to dazzle, and was so 
used by Spencer, Drayton, and others. 

Deacon. In New England, a new-born calf, or the skin of a very young 

Deacon (to). In New England, to deacon berries or apples, it to put 
the largest and best on top, when preparing for a sale. This curious 
expression owes no doubt its origin to the. Yankee proverb that " all 
deacons are good, but there is odds in deacons." 

To deacon a calf is to knock it in the head, or kill it, as soon as it is 
born. (New England. ) 

To deacon land is to extend one's fence, so as to include a portion of 
the highway. (New England.) 

Deacon Off (tO). To deacon off a hymn, at church, is to give it out line 
by line, the congregation singing each line as soon as read. This custom, 
which is still continued in some remote parts of New England, was wont 
to be the rule in former times when congregations were not generally 
supplied with hymn-books. 

Hence the signification of "to deacon off " now extended to mean to 
give the cue, to lead a debate. 

To funk right out o'p lit'cal strife ain't thought to be the thing, 
Without you deacon off the tune you want your folks should sing. 


Deacon seat. A lumberer's camp term for a plank of wood, forming a 
kind of settee, in the log cabin, in front of the fire. 

Probably in allusion to the pews formerly reserved for the deacons, 
in front of the pulpit, and which were considered the best seats. 

Deacon's hiding" places. In Boston slang, private curtained compart- 
ments in oyster saloons. 



Dead. Used, as in England, to intensify various expressions, of which 
the following may properly be regarded as peculiar to t'.is United 
States, the meaning conveyed being that of certainty ov ex'.ro-nlty. 

Dead-beat, one who sponges on others and pays nobody. One who is 
worn out, or has become good for nothing. Also, to ded-beat, to live 
on others. 

Dead-broke, utterly ruined, without any resources whatever. Also, 

Dead-duel;, anything which has depreciated in value, to the verge of 
worthlessness, i. e. which is " played out." 
In dead earnest, in very truth, without doubt. 

Dead-fall, a, huntsman's trap, so called because fie quarry h killed 
as well as caught by it. 

Dead gone, (1) infatuated, (2) utterly collapsed. 

Dead (jive-away, a betrayal, in varying shades. Also usarl as a 

Dead-head, (1) one who has free admission'to theatres, or rides freely 
on railroads; hence, dwdhism, and to dead-head. -(2) In Florida, a log 
so soaked with water, that it will not float. Opposite term is live log. 
Dead load, a great quantity of anything. 

Dead-must, in newspaper parlance, an article which requires abso- 
lutely to be published, i. e. which cannot be kept out of the -day's 
edition for any reason. See must. 

Dead to rights, certain, positive. For instance, policemen will say 
that they have a man " dead to rights, " when they have found absolute 
proofs of crime against him. 

To be dead-set against, to be strongly opposed to, to be animated with 
a violent antagonism. 

Dead unit, collective advocacy or, or opposition to a subject, prin- 
ciple, or line of action. 

To have the dead wood on anything, to have control or a firm hold 
(Western. ) 

Deaden. In newly-settled districts of the West, to prepare the way for 
anew clearing, by " girdling" the trees, thereby wounding them to 

Also extended, in political slang, in sense of lessening the chances of 
an opponent, by circumventing the peculiar dodges and tactics which 
play so prominent a part in elections. 

Deadening". (1) The process of wovinding trees to death by " girdling. : ' 
(2) A tract of land, the trees of which have been deadened by ' ' gird- 
ling. " 

Deaf. In Pennsylvania, nuts are said to be "deaf "when they are 
decayed or empty, which probably originated from the Low Scotish 
custom of calling soil or vegetables " deaf, " when they are sterile. 



Deaf-adder. The name of the hog-nosed snake, or " blauser, " in New 

Deal. A transaction of any kind. A term borrowed from the card table. 
Dearborn. A light four-wheeled carriage, named after its inventor. 

Death. Like dead, the word death is dragged in by slang to denote the 
last extremity in everything. 

To be death on anything, to be completely master of a subject, or at 
least to be a capital hand at it ; to be passionately fond of something. 

Also, to be dead on. 

To dress to death, to wear clothes so fashionable, that they may have 
a stunning or " killing" effect. 

Death Horses. The death watch. 

Deck. (1) In general use, especially in the Western States, for a pack of 
cards. This word occurs in Hoyle's famous Book of Games, but is now 
obsolete in England. 

But, whiles, he thought to steal the single ten, 
The king was slily fingered from the deck. 


(2) A variety of poker, also called " twenty-deck " poker, in which 
twenty cards are used. 

Declension. An archaic form for a refusal, the act of declining an 

Now very rarely used in England. 
Also, declination. 

Decoration Day. A public holiday, occurring generally towards the end 
of May, and set apart for the decoration of the graves of those who fell 
in the late Civil War. 

Also called Memorial Day. 

Deed- To convey, or transfer by deed or assignment, and generally by a 
deed of trust. " To deed one's property." 

Deedies. In the South, a common name for chickens or young fowls. 

Deef. A frequent form for " deaf ", which was the rule in England in 
olden times, and is still provincial in Westmoreland, Cumberland and 
other parts. 

Deef-meat. A generic term for venison, nollowing the usual American 
simplicity in designating flesh-food, as in bear-meat, sheep-meat, etc. 

Dehort. To exhort, to beg, to entreat. 
Now obsolete. 

Judge Sewall, in his diary (Ap. 1, 1718), dehorted Sam Hirst to 
eschew idle tricks. 

156 DEL DER 

Delta. A piece of land at Cambridge in the shape of a & belonging to 
Harvard, and used for recreation purposes. 

Demean. This verb, in sense of degrade or humiliate, has been justly 
stigmatised as " servant-girl English," as the term cannot be separated 
from the sense of demeanor or deportment. 

Webster too readily licences this vulgarism, in the sense of debase or 
lower, by a single quotation from Thackeray, of similar chatacter. At 
any rate, he mistakes the force of the word when he gives us Shakes- 
peare as follows ; 

Antipholus is mad. 
Else he would never so demean himself. 

Here it certainly means " behave" himself, and we do no think any 
old writer has ever used it otherwise. 

Democrats. Democratic- Republican is the full official designation of 
this great party. It was originally known, at least until 1828-30, as 
the Republican party, but affiliating at that time with the Democratic 
faction, it assumed the compound title which it still claims. The party 
overthrew the Federalists in 1800, electing Jefferson to the Presidency, 
and remained in power until 1848, when they were defeated by the 
Whigs and Free Soilers. (Magazine of Am. History, vol. 15, p. 614.) 

See Republicans. 

The Democratic party, in the United States, is that most nearly akin 
to the English Conservative party. 

See Lecompton Democrats, National Democrats. 

Dengue, den -gay (Sp. ). A malarial fever of the South, otherwise called 
break-bone fever. 

Department (Fr. ). A Government office at Washington, at the head of 
which is a Secretary. 

Most American official terms are of French derivation. 

Departmental. That which relates to the principal offices or "depart- 
ments " of State. 

Depot, dee po (Fr.). A railway station, or a railway terminus. 

There is no excuse whatever for the employ of this word, which, 
besides, is a blunder, as the French themselves only apply it to a store- 
house and never to a railway station. 

Similarly, the French-Canadians also say dep6t for a railway station, 
a meaning which they must of course have borrowed from their Yankee 

Derail. To throw a train off the track, or to be so thrown off. 

Derramadero, der-rah-mah-der'-o (Sp. derramar, to pour). In Texas 
a drain, or draining canal. 

The term is now obsolete in Spain. 



Derrick. A scaffold-like construction, to support a crane. Probably 
derived from Derrick, an English hangman who flourished early in the 
17th century. 

Desert (Fr. C. ). Among the French-Canadians, a patch of cultivated 
land in a clearing. Hence the Fr. verbs deserter andfaire le desert, in 
sense of to destroy the forest, to introduce cultivation. 

Desirable. In newspaper parlance, an article which comes next to a 
must, and which, for some reason, may be deferred. 

Desk. In New England, the pulpit in a church, and, figuratively, the 
clerical profession. Thus, when a father intends his son for the church, 
he speaks of sending him to the desk. 

Desperate. Often used intensively as awful and cruel, in sense of very, 

Also, desperately. 

Despisement. A new form for contempt, disdain. 

Dessert. A word often misapplied by Americans, as it is here generally 
understood to mean the puddings and pies, etc. following meats. 

Properly speaking, the term dessert should be restricted to mean the 
fruits, nuts,- and sweet meats which follow the regular courses of a 

Detail. Generally employed to signify a marking or telling off for any 
given purpose. 

The verb to detail is similarly used. 

Detrain. To empty a train of its passengers. Especially used when 

speaking of large bodies of people. Like derail, this is a verb which 

the exigencies of railway traffic have called into use. It is employed 
both transitively and intransitively. 

Devil-fish (Lophius americanus). One of the many popular names of 
the American Angler, a fish of hideous appearance. 

Other names are fellows-fish, fishing-frog, goose-fish, monk-fish, sea-devil. 

All those names may- however be considered as being erroneously 
applied, as the true devil-fish is the stingray of the Southern States. 

Devil'S-bit (Aletris farinosa). A popular medicinal plant. 

Devil- WOOd (Olea americana). A species of live-tree growing in the 
Southern States, and so called from the impossibility of spliting its 

DevisadePO, day-ve-sah-der'-o (Sp. denxar, to desory at a distance). In 
Texas, a commanding hill or eminence used by cowboys to look for their 
horses or cattle. 

158 DEW DIG 

Dewberry 1 (Rubus canadensis). A low- trailing species of blackberry 
whose fruits differ from the English variety in color, being black, and 
are utterly unlike dew-drops, which the En glish berries represent by a 
white, wax-like covering. 

In New England, called low blackberry. 

Dewlap. A ranchman's term for a brand used in marking cattle, and 
which is a cut in the lower part of the neck. 

Diamond State. The State of Delaware, so called through its small 
size but great importance. 

Dicker. A bargain, a trade. An article bartered. 

Dicker (to). To exchange, to barter, to bargain, and generally applied 
to trade in small articles. 

May probably be traced back to the old English noun dicker, repre- 
senting the mimber of ten. 

Dickey. In New England, a gentleman's shirt collar. 

In England, a dickey is a detachable shirt front, what would be called 
here an extra shirt bosom. 

DifflCUlted. A Lowland Scotch expression used in the South, especially 
Georgia, in sense of perplexed, embarrassed. 
Jamieson has the verb " to difficult" in his Scottish Dictionary. 

Dig. In college slang, a diligent and hard-working student, i. e. one who 
is supposed to dig deep into his books. Also, a thrust, a poke in the 

Dig (to). In college slang, to study constantly and diligently. 

Digger-pine (Pinus sabiniana). A species of pine of a bluish green 
foliage, and found mainly upon the foot-hills. 

Diggers. A name applied to a tribe of wretched Indians of California, 
who subsist chiefly from digging for roots, for their food. These 
degraded people have however now mostly all gone out of existence. 
Also, Digger Indians. 

Digging. (1) A college si ang word for the act of applying diligently to 
one's studies. 

(2) In the South, used adjectively in sense of dear, costly. "A mighty 
digging price." 

Diggings. A miner's term, in the West, to denote a place where the ore 
is dug. "Wet diggings" are near rivers or wet places, and "Dry 
diggings " are upon higher lands. 

By extension, the neighborhood of gold mines, or even any particular 
locality or region, or a place of abode. For instance : " Were you ever 



before in these diggings ? " is a phrase very often heard in the West, 
upon first introduction. In sense of lodgings or quarters, the word is 
as familiar in England as in America, having there come from Australia. 

Bight. In New England, often heard in sense of small portion. " A 
little dight of butter." Also, dite. Cf. doit, a trifle. 

Dig" Out (to). To elope, to depart. To decamp, or abscond suddenly. 

Dig" up the hatchet. To open up the hostilities, to make a declaration 
of war. From the well-known custom of the Indians of digging up the 
symbolical tomahawk or hatchet, every time a renewal of warfare has 
been decided. 

Dike. (1) In New England, a bank of earth, without reference to water. 
Perhaps a result of the Pilgrims' sojourn in Holland. 

A term applied to the full dress, or fine clothes, of a man. Also, 
sometimes, the man himself who is so dressed. 

To be out on a dike, to be carefully attired, to show one's finery in 

Dike (to). To attire oneself faultlessly for social purposes. 

Dicked out, to be dressed up, with connotation of being in one's best 

Not unlikelv that the word is merely a corruption of the Old English 
"dight " which meant "decked out." 

Dime. A silver coin of the U. S. worth ten cents, or the tenth of a dollar. 

Dime novels. Cheap, trashy novels, sold for a dime. Of same kind as 
those known in England as " penny dreadfuls." 

Dingbat. A bat of wood, or indeed anything that may be thrown (dinged) 
with force or dashed violent!}' at another object. 

Dingee, Dinky. In New England, a peculiar tub-like boat, elsewhere 
called dory. 

In England, called " dingy." 

Dingle. In Northern New England, a protecting weather-shed built 
around the entrance to a house. Also, among Maine lumbermen, a 
storm-door, built by standing spruce or fir poles close together in front 
of the camp-door. 

Dingling. Between two stools, tottering, insecure. 

Dining-POOm Servant. In the South, a male waiter, the equivalent of 
the butler of English households. 

Dip. (1) A pickpocket. 

(2) A stolen kiss. 

(3) In New Jersey, pudding-eause 



Dip (to). A mode of taking tobacco by women, chiefly in the South, 
and which consists in rubbing the gums with a split, brush-like stick, 
the end of which is wetted and dipped in snuff. These filthy practices are 
said to have originated in the use of snuff as a powder for cleansing the 
teeth. Also, to rub snuff. 

The stick above alluded to is called the rubbiny-Ktick or smif-nwab, 
and the person who indulges in the practice is called a dipper, or -imiff- 

Dipper. (1) A ladle-like ustensil, used to dip water or other liquids. 

(2) The constellation of the Great Bear, known in England as 
" Charle's Wain." 

(3) A small aquatic bird, also called water-witch or hell-diver. 

(4) In the South, one who dips snuff. 


Dipsy. In Pennsylvania, a sinker used in sea fishing. A corruption of 
" deap sea, " the dipsy or deep sea lead being used for soundings off- 
shore or in deep water. 

Dirt. Very commonly used for soil, earth, clay, and, in the mining regions, 
for any substance dug. Thus, a gardener will fill his flower-pots with 
dirt, and an unfloored cabin will be spoken of as having a dirt floor. 
See pay dirt. 

DlPt cart. A cart for removing street sweepings, what in England is 
called a "dust-cart." 

Dirt POad. An unpaved road. 

Discard. At game of poker, to taks. from one's hand the number of 
cards one intends to draw, and place them on the table, face upwards, 
near the next dealer. 

DisfellOWShip (to). (1) In religious circles, to dispossess of church 
membership. A threat equivalent to excommunication or any other 
major anathema. 

Also, to unfellowship. See fellowship. 

Disgruntled. Disappointed, disconcerted ; to have a spoke put in one's 

Also, in a contrary sense, vndisgruntled. 

. Still surviving, in South and West, in sense of to forget, 
to fail to remember. Esp. South and West. 

Now entirely obsolete in Great Britain, except in Ulster where it is. 
still a common vulgarism. 

Distressed. Sometimes heard for wretched, miserable. ' 

District (to). To apportion a State into electoral districts or counties. 
Oftei:f synonymous with (jerrymander. 



District courts. Courts for the administration of the Civil Law, also 
for Admiralty Cases, held in each of the thirty-five districts into which 
the United States are divided. 

District school. A public school within a district. 
District school-master. The teacher of a district school. 
Dite. See dight. 

Dittany (Cunila mariana). A plant, the leaves of which are used for 
herb tea. 

Ditty-bag. A sailor's "housewife," containing what is necessary for 
mending his clothes. 

Dive. A basement saloon, or low variety show. 

Divide. In the West, a long, low ridge of land which separates rivers 
flowing in different directions. 

DociOUS. A Southern survival, for docile, of an English provincialism. 

Doeity. Like decious, is a survival, in the South, of an English provin- 
cialism used negatively in sense of quick comprehension, aptness, 
quickness of wit. " He has no docity." 

Dock. The slip or space between two piers, for the reception of vessels. 

In England, sense is restricted to an enclosed basin. 

Various words are used for docks, according to particular regions. 
Thus, vessels go into ' ' docks " on their arrival at Philadelphia, but Into 
"slips " at Mobile; they are tied up to "wharves" at Boston, but to 
" piers" at Chicago. 

Dockmackie (Viburnum acerifolium). A medicinal plant for external 
application, probably named by the Dutch, and whose properties were 
well known to the Indians before settlement of the country. 

Dock- walloper. In New York, a loafer that hangs about the wharves. 

Also, dock-loafer. 

In addition to above sense, the term dock-walloper is applied also to 
the frequent crowds of unemployed emigrants, so often seen in every 
large seaport. 

A laborer on the wharves or docks. 

Dodger. A hard-baked cake of corn-meal, either made up with cold 
water into pones, or with lard or grease of some kind. 

In Virginia and the West, has also the meaning of unleavened corn- 

Dodgers. Small hand-bills, especially those distributed in advance of a, 




Dodunk. A stupid, simple person. (Northern New-England. ) 

Doe-bird (Numenius borealis). A New-England name for the Esqui- 
mau curlew. 

Dog. A cant term for an iron instrument used by burglars. 

Dog-fall. A fall in wrestling, in which neither party has the advantage. 

Dogfish (Amia calva). The mnclfish of lakes Erie and Ontario, so called 
from its ferocious looks and voracious habits. 

In other Western waters, bears the sarcastic name of lake-laivyer, 
evidently due to the same qualities that have procured for him the 
epithet of dogfish. 

. A mean grog-shop, a low public house, a basement saloon. 
(South and West. ) 
Is in particular often applied to a low dive, or unlicensed whiskey 

See groggery, rum-hole. 
Doggies. The commonest kind of marbles, generally colored brown. 

DoggOned. Used, in the South, as a substitute for strong language of a 
blasphemous character. 

A doggoned fixement is a Texan phrase applied to anything that is 
praiseworthy or acceptable. 

DogS. A name still given to andirons, from the frequent occurrence of 
dog's heads on their front part. (Virginia and New England.) 

Also, fire-dogs. 

Provincial in parts of England, and quoted in Brockett's Glossary of 
. North Country Words. 

Dog'S-age. A long time, an indefinite period. " To be gone a dog's- 

Dog-SOldierS. A name given, among the Cheyennes, to a sort of guild 
composed of all the hunters of a tribe, thus comprising in fact the 
whole working fores which protects and supplies the women and 

Dog-towns. In the West, the communities formed by the little marmot 
(Cynomus ludovicianus), miscalled the prairie-dog, whose dwellings 
consist of burrows thrown up like little conical huts. 
Also, d 

Dog watch. Among reporters attached to an evening paper, said of 
being on duty from nine until midnight. 

DogWOOd. See cornel-tree and pot.--on-Hiimac. 

DOI DON 163 

Doings (pron. doin's). A Western vulgarism for victuals, prepared food ; 
an entertainment. 
Also, fixings. 

Common doings, common daily fair. 

Great-doings, high feasting, or solemn ceremonies. See chicken fixirit. 
Hard doings, hard times, dark days of adversity. 

In New England, the question " How are the doin's ? " is an inquiry 
as to the state of the roads. 

Doless. Colloquial for inefficient, lacking in manly qualities; shiftless, 
good for nothing. 

Doless is a Scottism quoted by Jamieson. 

Dollar. The standard coin of the United States, of the approximate 
value, in English money, of 4s. 2d. 

Dollar Of the Fathers. The 412% grain silver dollar, used as a watch 
cry during the remonetization agitation of 1877, and which was claimed 
to be the coin favored by the fathers of the Republic. The opponents of 
the movement, on the other hand, called it dollar of the daddies, dollar 
of the dads. 

Domestics. Goods manufactured in the country especially cotton goods 
as distinguished from imported articles. 

Dominie. A name often applied to clergymen, especially of the Dutch 
reformed church, in portions of New York and New Jersey. 
From the Scotch dominie, meaning a school master. 
Also used adjectively. " A dominie lookin' feller." 

Donate. To bestow a grant, to contribute, to give as a donation. 

Donation-party. An occurrence in the rural districts, partaking of the 
nature of a jollification, and consisting in the presentation to the pastor 
of some articles of food or clothing, as a supplement to his meagre 

Also, giving-party, pound-parly, this last one being however specially 
used for a presentation of groseries, etc., put up in pound packages. 

Sometimes, also, those different parties are for the benefit of public 

Done. Often used adverbially, esp. in the South, as an intensitive, and in 
a way which is quite unique, as for instance in such phrases, and cons- 
tantly added to a past participle : " He's done gone, done dead, done 
come, ; ' etc. 

Done up.' Oft?n ln-ard, in Pennsylvania, in sense of all y;:)n:.' " Tho 
apples ar 



Donnoek, Donoek. In the West, and parts of New England, a stone 
or rock. More specifically, a large stone or boulder imbedded in the 
ground, but not a " tight-stone" or ledge. 

Also, dornick. 

Donoek and dornick are thought by some to be humorous corruptions 
of doughnut, while it is also very possible that they may have come 
down to us from the Gaelic " doirneag, " Irish " doirneog, " which 
means a stone of convenient size for throwing. 

Doodel. In parts of Pennsylvania settled by Germans, used in sense of 
sing or play,. especially when speaking of unskilful performers. " We 
heard them doodeling away inside." 

Doodle. In parts of Pennsylvania, said of a small pile of hay. " Throw 
the windrows up into doodles." 

Doodle-bugs. In the South, applied to a species of beetles which live 
in holes in the ground. 

Bartlett volunteers the information, in explanation of the derivation 
of the word, that by calling doodle several times near their holes, those 
bugs will make their appearance. 

Doom. In Massachusetts, to assess taxes on reasonable discretion. To 
tax by estimate, as on the failure of a taxpayer to make a statement of 
his taxable property. 

The law is of 1703, but the term is much older, as Massachusetts has 
always rated property and assessed taxes in proportion. 

Doomage. A penalty or fine for neglect, under the law of New Hampshire. 

Dooming-DOard. In Massachusetts, the combined assessors taxing 
property by estimate or at discretion. 

DoOP-rock. (1) In the West, the door-stone or step. 
(1) In the South, a slang term for a piece of money. 

Door-tender. A door-keeper, or hall-porter. 

DOPy. A kind of boat in use among fishermen. The term has reached up 
from the West-Indies as far up as Canada, and is especially much in use 
there among the Acadian fishermen of the Bay of Fundy and the Nova 
Scotia shore. 

Also, dorie. 

Dory has been inherited from the West Indies, and comes from 
" dorey, " the local name for a canoe hollowed out of a log of wood. 

Doted. Applied alike, in the South and West, to objects animate and 
inanimate, in sense of unserviceable, rotten, spoiled. 

In Newfoundland, and the Canadian Maritime provinces, often said 
of wood, especially fire-wood, which has become partly decayed and 

DO DOV 165 

Do tell. A senseless Yankee catch-phrase, lugged in every where in 
sense of really ! you don't say so ! is it possible ! 

Double endeP. During the late Civil War, a special build of gun-boat 
round at both ends. 

Double-horse (to do). (1) To do, or attempt to do two things at once. 
(2) To have a two-faced character or position. 

Double-ripper. Two sleds fastened by a plank, and used for sliding 
down hills. 
Also, doubter. 

Doug'h. Among college students, a slang term for money. 

Doughface. A contemptuous nickname applied, during slavery times, 
to those Northern politicians who, as abettors of slavery, were looked 
upon as trucklers to Southern policy. John Randolph, a senator from 
Virginia, appears to have been the first to use the term. 

By extension, a politician who is open to influence, personal or 

The term is evidently traced to the baker, meaning a man easily 
moved to change his opinion, in fact, as Lowell would say, " a contented 
and kneadable lickspittle " who can be moulded, like dough, to any 

Doughfaeism. Truckling to the slave power, in slavery times. A 
truckling policy. 

Dough-head. A soft-pated fellow, a fool. (Bartlett. ) 

Doughie. Among ranchmen, a name applied to young immigrant cattle. 

Doughnut. A popular delicacy, made of flour, eggs, sugar and milk, 
rolled into balls and fried in lard. 

The word donnut is quoted by Halliwell, as used in Hertshire, to 
denote a pankake made of dough instead of batter. 

See crullers, olycocks. 

Do-ups. In New Jersey, a current word for preserves. 

Dove. Tho old form of the past tense of dive, used in some parts of the 
United States, and also among the Anglo-Canadians. 

Dove is now creeping into use in England, and it may also here be 
remarked that the strong preterit (hung for hanged) is nowadays current 
in provincial English speech in the case of many verbs which are pro- 
perly of the weak conjugation. 

Plunged as if he were an otter, 
Dove as if he were a beaver. 

(LONGFELLOW, Hiawatha.) 

166 DOW DRA 

Down. A peculiar usage of down, unaccompanied by a preposition, 
prevails in New England, as, for example, down cellar, for down in the 

Similarly, up garret, for up in the garret. 

Down (to). An old word, now obsolete in England, and still preserved in 
America in sense of to humble, to humiliate, as an Sidney's " to down 
proud hearts." 

Down country. Used in the interior, to denote the region round and 
about the mouth of a river, or near the sea. 
Similarly, up-country, as meaning the interior. 

Down-east. Said in the West of the whole country extending eastward 
from the Mississipi, and particularly of the New-England States, which 
are the Yankee's Mecca, the only part of the States where alone a man 
can be born, live or die with any degree of credit to himself. 

Down-easteP. A New-Englander, although in parts of New England the 
term is more particularly applied to a native or resident of Maine. 

Down on Style. Out of the common. 
Down-town. The business portion of a city. 

Down to the ground. Entirely, completely. " That suits me down to 
the ground. " 

Down tO a point. To get anything down to a point, is to define its 
exact conditions and limitations. 
See boiled down to a point. 

Down upon (to be). To seize with avidity. Also, in reference to 
persons, to be influenced by dislike or enmity. " I'll be down upon 
you, '' i. e. I'll be even with you. 

Dozed, Dozy. Often said of timber already brittle, and which is begin- 
ning to decay. 

Drag". (1) A kind of stout sledge upon which heavy loads, especially 
stones, are dragged over the ground. 
In the West, often called stone-boat. 
(2) In college slang, one who tries to curry favor. 

Drag (to). In college slang, to curry favor with an instructor. 

Drag-driver. A cowboy's name for a herdsman who follows in the rear 
of a herd of cattle to drive up the stragglers. 

Dragged OUt. Used colloquially, like " fagged out," in sense of exhausted, 



Drag OUt. (1) A fight of a rough and tumble character, that is, which 
is carried to extremities. 

(2) In the South, a bully, a tearer. 

Drains. The tributaries of the larger rivers are sometimes so called, in 
the West. 

Dratted. An intensive epithet derived from drat, a peculiarly British 
form of objurgation. " This is a dratted piece of business." 

Draw. (1) The game of draw-poker. 

(2) In the West, a name often applied to a broad ravine. 

Draw (to). At game of poker, to receive from the dealer the same 
number of cards corresponding to those that have been discarded. 

Draw a Straight furPOW. A metaphor derived from the plough, 
signifying to go right about one's business, to be truthful and honest, 
and to indulge in no shams or false pretences. 

Draw the WOOl over the eyes. To impose upon one ; to hoodwink ; 
to throw dust in the eyes. 

Dreadful. Used adverbially, for the purpose of giving emphasis to an 
expression, in sense of very, greatly, exceedingly, excessively. " A 
dreadful good man, a dreadful nice gall, etc." 

Provincial in England, in the Westmoreland and Cumberland dialects. 

Dress. Generally used for gown, as a part of a lady's costume. 

To dress to death, to dress to kill, to dress to the nines, and, in the South, 
to dress up drunk, are women's phrases which signify to overdress, to be 
dressed in clothes cut in the very extreme of splendor or fashion. 

DreSS around. In parts of Pennsylvania, to change outer garments. " I 
must dress around before I go to town." 

Dressing. A term applied to the sauces, gravies, stuffings, and other 
condiments which accompany fish, flesh, and fowl. 

DreSS OUt. Often heard for undress, in Pennsylvania. 

Drink. A Western slang word to designate a river or a pond. The 
Mississipi river appears also quite frequently, in the South- West, as 
the Big Drink. 

Drink, for river, is certainly an interesting illustration of the assump- 
tion that the chief use of any fluid is for potation, but it is nevertheless 
curious to notice a similar use of the word by Shakespeare, when he 
says of Ophelia : 

Till that her garments, heavy with her drinkc, 
Pul'd the poor wretch .... 
To muddy death. 

Drinks. Spirituous liquors and wines served in bar-rooms. 



Drive. (1) In cattle districts, a gathering of herds for branding or other 

(2) The annual " round-up" of cattle, in the great plains of the West 
%nd South-West. 

(3) A mass of logs accumulated on a stream, and floated down to 
tide-water. (Esp. Maine and Canada.) 

Drive the PiveP. In Maine and Canada, an expression used by lum- 
bermen, and meaning to direct the passage of logs to navigable waters. 

Driver. (1) The universal name for the man who drives the horses, 
whether he be a coachman, a carman, or a ploughman. 

(2) In the South, an overseer of negroes on a plantation. The foreman 
of a gang of laborers. 

(3) Among lumbermen of Maine and Canada, the man who directs a 
drive of logs down a river to navigable waters. Also, river-driver. 

(4) A hustler, a hard taskmaster. 

Driveway. (1) A road set apart for driving, as distinguished from the 

(2) A covered approach to hotels, churches, etc. 

Driving-park. A race-course, a tract of ground appropriated to horse- 

Dr.Oger (Dutch draager, a carrier, a porter). A vessel of the barge type, 
with or without sails, built solely for transportation of heavy loads, and 
known as such all over the country among mariners. 
Also, drogher, drugger." 

Drop-game. A variety of the confidence trick, which consists in pre- 
tending to pick up a pocket-book full of notes, and inducing a greenhorn 
to part with ready money in exchange for the notes, which of course are 

This trick is also played with rings and other supposed valuables. 

Thence, also, pocket-book dropper, pocket-book dropping. 

Drop-letter. A letter dropped into the post-office, for a resident of the 
same place, and which therefore does not pass through the mails at all. 

Drudge. Raw whiskey. The term originated in the Eastern States. 
Drug-Store. What, in England, is called a " chemist's shop." 

Druggist. In England, a chemist. 
Also, pharmacist. 

Drummer. A mercantile word meaning a commercial traveller, and 
especially one soliciting the custom of country merchants. 

Drumming. The soliciting of customers, especially country merchants, 
by the aid of drum/triers. 

DRU DUD 169 

Drung. In Newfoundland, a narrow lane leading to a pasture. 
Drunk. A drinking-bout, a spree, a debauch. 

DPUthePS. In the South, often heard in sense of choice, preference. 
" To have one's druthers" i. e. to have what one had rather have. 

Dry. (1) Thirsty. So used in Micklleton's plays, and also in Skelton, and 
in the World (1754). 

(2) Prohibitionist, in favour of temperance. " The country will give 
a dry majority of several hundred votes." 

Similarly, a town is said to go dry when, on the question of local 
option, it declares for the shutting up of drinking saloons. Compare 
with wet. 

Dry creek. A Western expression applied to a stream which, judging 
by first apperance, is apt to promise comfort in times of drought, but 
nevertheless " dries up " entirely during the summer months. 
Also synonymous with a coulee. 

Dry-goods. Clothes, stuffs, laces, etc. that are offered for sale. 

Dry goods StOFe. An establishment for the sale*of the above, what in 
England would be called a draper's, or haberdasher's shop. 

Similarly, the French-Canadians have made marchandises seches. 

Drys. A nickname applied to the members of the Prohibition or total 
abstinence party. Their opponents are called the wets. 

Dry up (to). As the drying up of a river stops most agricultural opera- 
tions, to verb to dry up has become synonymous with to make amend* 
to quit, while dry up ! in the imperative tense, is a familiar slang term 
for the more considerate " hush ! " 

Dry up /no, I won't dry up. I'll have my rights, if I die for'em so you 

had better dry up yourself. 

(P. REEVES, The Student's Speaker, p. 79.) 

DubePSOme. In interior of New England, a common vulgarism for doubt- 
ful, dubious, uncertain. 

Dubersome is evidently derived from the English vulgarism duberous, 
but whereas this English term expresses only the doubtful fact, the 
American duberxome is very often applied besides to an uncertain state 
of mind. " He was a dubersome man, who always meant well, but 
always hesitated between two opinions." (Mrs. H. B. Stowe. ) 

Dud, Dude. What we might call a very convenient tailor's block. 
If not American by origin, it is certainly so by usage. 

Dud-Chest. A clothes' chest. 

Duds. A Low Scotch word, sometimes used in England for rags and old 

In the United States, wearing apparel of any kind, and indeed, some, 
times also, all movable property. 



Dug-OUt. (1) A boat or canoe hollowed or dug out of a large log. Also, 

dug-canoe, log-canoe, this last name being more specially used in Canada. 

(2) In the West, a house or cabin made by excavating the prairie, 

and throwing up the soil to form sides and a roof. Also, a cabin made 

by digging into a hill, or other elevated ground. 

Dully. An uncouth and needless form for stupidly. 

Dumm, Dummy (Scotch dummie). (1) A stupid or silent person, a 

(2) An absent partner at cards. 

In England, dummy is a slang word for deaf-mute. 

DummePhead (Ger. dummkopf). A blockhead, any stupid or silent 
person. (Pennsylvania and Western States inhabited by Germans. ) 
Also, simply dumm. 

Dump. (1) Any place or open lot where dirt or rubbish is unloaded. A 
low piece of ground will mostly thus be utilized, for the purpose of 
raising its level. 

(2) A place at the mouth of a coal pit, where the waste is deposited. 

Dump (to). To unload a cart by tilting it up, as when unloading wood, 
coal, etc. 

Provincial in Devonshire in sense of to knock heavily, to stump. 
Hence, perhaps, its American application, or it might be only an 
imitative term made from the heavy thud produced by the unloading of 
a cart. 

Dumpage. (1) The .privilege of dumping loads from carts, especially 
loads of refuse matter. 

(2) A fee paid for such a privilege. 

Dump-eart. A cart used for dumping, arid which usually tilts up in front. 
Dumping-ground. An open ground where rubbish in dumped. 

Dumpy. Quite common, in the West, in sense of heavy, sad, stupid, as 
of a chicken with some disease. 

Duneh. In Newfoundland, said of bread not properly baked. 

' Duney. A variant of duncish used in parts of Pennsylvania for stupid, 
sottish. " He's rather a duncy fellow." 

Dunfish. A superior kind of dried cod-fish, so called from the process 
of curing it, by which they acquire a dun color. The process itself is 
called dunning. 

Dungaree. A vessel used, in New-York and Connecticut waters for the 
transportation of dung. 

Dung-beetle. See tumble-lug. 



DunkeP. A member of a sect of German- American Baptists, so named 
from their manner of baptism, which is practised by triple immersion. 
Driven from Germany by persecution early in the 18th century, the 
Dunkers first took refuge in Pennsylvania, and thence extended into 
the neighboring States, especially Ohio. 
Also, Tunker. 

Dunky. Excessively thick, badly-proportioned, clumsily shaped. 

Durham boat- A large sharp-pointed, flat-bottomed boat, formerly in 
much us on the St Lawrence, Mohawk, Delaware, and other rivers, 
especially in the colonial period. 

Dupes. In printing-house parlance, the duplicate proofs, by which the 
amount of type set by a compositor is measured, the aggregate dupes 
forming his string. 

Durgfen. In New Jersey, said of a old horse, worn out by use. 
Durgen is still provincial in England in sense of a dwarf. 

Dusky-gTOUSe. A fine large bird, second only to the sage grouse, and 
affording a most delicious food, which is found almost everywhere in the 
mountainous regions of the great West, between an altitude of about 
6,000 feet and the snow line. 

Other names, according to different parts of the country, are black 
grouse, blue grouse, and mountain grouse,. 

Dust (to). In Texas, to depart rapidly, to. move about quickly, and even 
to castigate. 

Also, to get up and dust. 

DustCP. An outside coat, generally made of brown linen, and used when 
traveling to protect one's garments from dust. 

Dutch (Germ Deutch). A generic name applied to all persons or things 
of German origin, and said to have been in common English use two 
hundred years ago. 

It beats the Dutch. A common exclamation still common in all parts 
of the Union to indicate surprise, or applied to anything astonishing. 
Bartlett quotes it as early as 1775, in a Revolutionary song, and it pro- 
bably can be traced back to the time when the naval superiority of the 
Dutch had not altogether disappeared, and when Dutchmen, the world 
over, had obtained quite a renown for their sturdy hardihood. 

Dutch CUrse. The common, or ox-eyed daisy, so called, says Bartlett, 
from its annoyance to farmers. 
Also, Dutch cuss. 

Dutchman. (1) A generic name applied to members of the Dutch, 
German, or Scandinavian races. Also, by extension, any foreigner who 
speaks English brokenly or not at all. 



(2) In carpentry, a wooden block or wedge to fill a space left or made 
by mistake from careless work. 

Dutiable. Subject or liable to import duty. 

In England, specially applied to the tax levied on real estate or 
farmer's stock. 

Dwy. In Newfoundland, said of a sudden squall of wind, with rain or 

Dyed in the WOOl. Out-an-out; ingrained; thorough. Usually applied 
to unflinching partisanship. 

Dyspeptic. Has long lost its special meaning in the United States, and 
is now used to denote all the various forms of weakness of the digestive 


Eagle. A gold coin of the value of ten dollars, so called from the emblem 
of the republic which it bears. 

A double eagle is $20, a half eagle $5. 

Earth almond (Cyperus esculentus). A reed-like plant, indigenous to 
Southern Europe, which was introduced inco the Southern States by the 
Department of Agriculture, in 1854. 

Also known under its Spanish name of chufa. 

Earthnut (Arachnis hypogosa). The pea-nut of the South, so called from 
its peculiar habit of ripening its pods by burying them underground 
after flowering. 

Also, groundnut. 

In Florida, the negro name is pinder, while in Virginia and N. Carolina 
it is called goober. 

Easy. Gently, softly. " Talk easy, walk easy, etc. " 

Eat. A verb used transitively in the West, in the sense of "to supply 
with food. " Thus a Western steamboat is said to be able to eat two 
hundred passengers, and to sleep at least two hundred. 
" To egg, " and " to piece" are other verbs similarly formed. 

Eat dirt. To retract, to be penitent, the Yankee equiv. of "to eat one's 
words. " 

Editorial. Used elliptically, in newspaper parlance, instead of editorial 
article, in sense of English leader or leading article. 
Now also a common expression in England. 

EelS-pOUt. See pout. 



Eelskin. One of the many devious ways formerly in use, at the polls, to 
secure the election of some favored nominee on a ticket otherwise in 
the minority. An edskin was a thin slip of gummed paper, on one side 
of which was printed the favored politician's name, and which at the 
proper moment was deftly pasted on the ballot over the opponent's, name. 
Also called paster. 

Eel-spear. A sort of trident for catching eels. In England, " eel-shear." 

Egg (to). (1) To incite and push forward, to stir one up to strife. Also, 
to egg on. Still provincial in parts of England. In Pennsylvania, 
pronounced " to agg," which seems so much more exact that Grose gives 
agging from French agacer, to provoke. 
(2) To pelt with rotten eggs. 

Egg-nog. Eggs, ^cream, and brandy mixed together, and a favorite 
beverage all over the South, especially at Christmas time. 

Egypt. A sobriquet given to Southern Illinois, according to some on 
account of the fertility of the land, whilst others unkindly aver that it 
alludes to the mental darkness of the inhabitants of that region. 

EjidO, ay-hee'-doe (Sp,). In Spanish or Mexican settlements in Texas, 
land set apart to lay out a town. Mostly restricted to deeds, or other 
documents, either public or private. 

In Spain, the term means a common, or public space of land. 
See portion and suerte. 

Elegant. In frequent use for anything admirable, or of first rate quality 
" Elegant landscape, attire, food, etc." 

ElevatOP. (1) A mechanical contrivance for lifting grain, etc. to an upper 
floor (Bartlett). Also the building itself used for storing grain, and 
fitted with elevators. 

(2) What in England is called a " lift, "and used for carrying persons 
to the upper stories. 

Empire City. The city of New- York, so called from its wealth and 
population, and from its being the metropolis of the Empire State. 

Empire State. The State of New- York, as surpassing all other States in 
wealth and population, and thus forming an empire of its own. Also 

Excelsior State 

Emptins, Emptyings. In New England, the lees of beer, cider, etc. 
yeast, or anything by which bread is leavened. 

To run emptiiis, to show signs of not holding out well, as for instance 
a speech or an enterprise of any kind. Probably from 'analogy of a beer- 

Enchilada, en-tche-lah'-dah (Sp.). In Texas, the name of a Mexican 
dish, the principal ingredient of which is chile (q. v.). 



Engine (pron. ingine). A railroad locomotive, a fine-engine. 
Similarly, the French-Canadians have made engin. 

Engineer. An engine-driver, an engine-man. 

Similarly, the French-Canadians have made ingenieur. 

Engineer (to). Often used instead of to plan, to work out. 

Enthuse. ( 1 ) A newspaper barbarism meaning to fifl or to be filled with 
enthusiasm, to manifest delight or to become enthusiastic. 
(2) In a religious sense, to infuse divine spirit. 

Epinette (Fr. C. ). A generic name given, by the French Canadians, to 
several members of the fir and larch family, of which the following are 
especially well known : 

Epinette blanche (Albies alba), spruce ; . 

Epinette rouge (Larix americana), larch ; 

Epinette noire (Albies nigra), a species of fir. 

The word Epinette occurs in the works of La Hontan, and dates back 
to the 17th century. 

Esquire. A much abused title now applied, in the United States, with 
republican uniformity, to any one who is not already a colonel or a judge. 
Although now-a-days, in England, the same word is often used in a 
very inappropriate way, still John Bull always feels that he must draw 
a line somewhere ; and esquire with him usually stops at professional 
men and merchanls, among whom he does not include shop-keepers. 

Esquite, es-kee'-tay (Mex. izquitl). In Texas, a name applied to pop-corn 

Essence-peddler. A derisive name applied to the skunk, which every 
one fights shy of, as from a peddler. The name, we think, was first given 
by the poet Lowell. 

Eternal. An intensitivc of same type as almighty, awful, cruel, ever- 
lasting, which we owe to the terse and vigorous vernacular of the West. 
Thus, an eternal time is a long time. 

Eternal camping ground. A simile for a future state of existence, 
borrowed from the phraseology of backwoodsmen. 

Euchre. A game of cards, very much in vogue throughout the United 
States. The word is said to be of German origin, which ancestry seems 
so much more acceptable that the two highest cards are designated as 
riyht and left bower, evidently the German " bauer" or peasant. 

Euchre (to). (1) To defeat, to foil, to overcome in any Pc-hc-m; 1 , from 
euchred which, in the terminology of the game euchre, means to lose two 

(2) To defraud, or cheat. 

EUC EXP 175 

Euchred. To be beaten at euchre. 
Eulaehon. See hoolikan. 

Evacuation day. The anniversary of the day (Nov. 25, 1783) when the 
British troops evacuated the city of New York, and which was once 
kept as a public holiday. 

Evening. Applied in the South and West to the afternoon, the time 
after sunset being designated as 7iight. Thus, it is " evening " at 
Richmond, while " afternoon " still lingers a hundred miles due north at 

Everglades. A term applied, in the Southern States, to swampy grass- 
land. In Florida, however, the word is used to designate portions of land 
lower than the coast, and but little above the sea, covered with fresh- 

Everlasting. Often used in the same way as almighty, in sense of very, 
exceedingly. " What an everlasting great city this is. " (Mark Twain.) 
An intensitive of the same type as almighty, awful, cruel, eternal, etc. 

Everlasting (Gnaphalium). The American representative of the "Immor- 
telle " of Europe, so named from the endurance of its flowers when dried. 

Every Which way. Anyhow, anyway. 
Every way, in all directions. 

Evidence (to). To bear witness, to give evidence, in. of testimony. 

Excellency. A title given, by courtesy,, to governprs of States, and to 
representatives at foreign Courts. 

In Massachusetts, the title is given, by the constitution, to the 
Governor of the State. 

ExeelsiOP State. The State of New York, from the motto " Excelsior ' 
upon its coat of arms. 

Exchange. A euphemism for a drinking shop or saloon. 

Executive City. The city of Washington, I). C. from its being the 
official capital of the Union, and the seat of Government. 

Exereiees. A generic term for any public proceedings, especially those 
of a religious nature, and indeed for an}' portion of a religious service. 

Expect. To intend, to think, to suppose, toantiuipatc. .V Xe\v Knglamlism 
used in same sense as to guess, to reckon, to calcul * 

Experience. A. term having originated imong American ivvivalisi 

meaning what one has passcvl through in " jetting " religion. Thu.s. 
relating one's experience, is relating tho progress of one's mind in heromin" 
an ardent believer. 

To experience religion, to become converted, Also, to yet re!iyi>,i/. 



Expose. A corruption of exposure, which has become colloquial. 

Exposition. An exhibition. To put on exposition, i. e. to exhibit. 
Americans follow here closely the French word " exposition. " 

Express. A system in operation on all railways, for the rapid conveyance 
and delivery of packages and goods. 

Express-car, a railway carriage for the conveyance of express 
packages. Lightning express, a quick-transit train. Express-man, 
answers to the parcel-conveying agent of England. Express-office, where 
the business is transacted. 

Express (to). (1) To send or convey by express-train, or by a special 

(2) To send or convey through an express company. 

Eye-Open6P. ( 1 ) A startler, something which arouses one's surprise. 

(2) One of the many names for a morning pick-me-up, in American 

Face the music. To meet an emergency, to stand up against trouble. 
Said to have originated among actors, when nervously preparing, in the 
green-room, to go on the board and literally " face the music." 

Factory. Often heard for muslin. " Bleached factory." 

FaetOPy-COtton. Unbleached cotton made at home, in contrast with 
the imported one. 

Fag eend. A New-Jerseyism, meaning the end piece of anything. 

FaiP-maid. A popular name, on the Virginia coast, for a small fish 
elsewhere known as porgy, and scup. 

FaiP Off. To clear off, to clear up, in S3nse of denoting that the weather 
is clearing up slowly. Particularly current in the South and South- 

Also, to fair up. 

Fairy. In college slang, a pretty girl. 

Fairy tale. In newspaper parlance, a story whose authenticity is 

Also, ghost fitory. 

Faith-CUPistS. A name applied to those roligious enthusiasts who hold 
that all disease can be cured by faith and prayer alone. 

Fake. (1) A falsity, or swindling of any kind. 
(2) A story without foundation. 



In newspaper parlance, a story is called a fake, when the writer has 
invented the whole thing, or has depended on a too fertile imagination 
for his details. 

Fake (to). (1) To commit a swindling. 

(2) To draw solely upon one's imagination in relating a story. 
Especially current among newspaper men. 

Fakir. (1) An itinerant merchant, so called from the street corner 
peddlers, who used to draw attention to their wares by performing 
tricks. In India, as is well known, a fakir is an adept at sleight of 

Also, faker. 

(2) In newspaper parlance, a reporter who draws upon his imagina- 
tion for his facts. 

Fall. (1) The season of falling leaves, the autumn. 

This beautiful word, which corresponds so well to its opposite 
' ' spring, " can only be called an Americanism in that it is as generally 
employed here as " autumn " is in England. But the word itself, although 
it has become somewhat unfamiliar to English ears, has been used by 
every writer of mark from Dryden's time. 

(2) An apparatus used in hoisting and lowering goods in warehouses. 
Hence, fall-way, the line in which the fall works, i. e. the opening or 
well through which goods are raised or lowered by a, fall. 

(3) Used elliptically to designate a ' ' fall of rain. " 

Fall (to). Often used in sense of to fell, as to fall a tree instead of to 
fell a tree. 

Still provincial in some parts of England. 

Used by Shakespeare (Tempest) in sense of let fall : 

And when I rear my hand, do you the like, 
To fall it on Gonzalo. 

Falling weather. Used to designate rainy or snowy weather, and 
especially a damp, misty, or drizzling temperature. 

Falls City. The city of Louisville, Kentucky, from the falls of the same 
name on the Ohio river, 

Family. Often used to denote a man's wife and children, especially tho 

In England, a "man of family" almost exclusively denotes a man of 
good family, while in the United States it means a man who has a wife 
and children. 

Fandango (>Sp. ). In Texas and New Mexico, originally a certain dance 
brought over from Spain, but now extended to mean any dancing party 
or nocturnal jollification of low order. 



Fancies. In gambling parlance, stocks about which very little is known, 
and are accordingly fancied in preference to others by unscrupulous 
brokers, for their operations in fleecing speculating greenhorns. 

Fancy. (1) Anything fantastical or unusual. " Fancy prices." 

(2) Applied to things and persons more ornamental than useful. 
" Fancy people. " 

(3) Fictitious, imaginary. " Fancy stocks," such as exist only on 

Fanner. Often heard in Charleston, S. C. for an open basket dishing 
out from the bottom upward. 

Fan OUt. (1) To pass an examination with credit, to make a show at an 
examination. Probably from fan in the sense of winnow, and said to 
have originated at the Military Academy of West Point, where for 
many years it was local. 

(2) To strike out, as in baseball. 

Fantail. On the Western rivers, the stern paddle-wheel of a steamboat. 

FaPC6-COm6dy. A play in which the characters are taken by variety- 
show "artists, " who introduce their specialities, generally in the form 
of songs, dances, etc. 

In England, a farce-comedy would be more generally understood as a 
farcical comedy. 

Farina. A superior quality of wheaten flour. 

Fast runner (Tachydromus sexlineatus). A species of lizard of great 
beauty, so called from its swiftness of motion. 

Fat. Rich in resinous matter ; resinous. " Fat pine. " 

FattikOWS, FettiCUS (Dutch vettikost, meaning, by irony, something 
like rich fare). A local term, in New York City, for corn-salad, or 
lamb's lettuce (Valerianella). 

FaVGP. (1) Often used, especially of horses and other animals, when 
they limp slightly, sparing one foot. " The off horse favors his right 
foot. " 

Quoted by Grose with meaning of to ease, to spare. 

(2) To resemble, especially referring to family resemblance. 

FaVOPed. The combinations long-favored, square-favored, round -favored, 
etc., which are still current in America to describe a type of face, have 
now grown obsolete in England, but the foriiis -well-favored and ill- 
favored are still legitimate English terms. 

A good favour you have 

(Shakespeare, The Spectator.) 



Fay (Old Eng. ). An old word, curtailed from fadge, still lingering in 
New England with the meaning of to fit. " Your coat Jays well. " 
In use during the Augustan age of English literature. 

Faze. To disturb, ruffle, daunt. " You didn't faze him," i. e. you did not 
disturb him, did not even attract his attention. 
Also used of inanimate objects. 
See feaze. 

Fearful. (1) Still has, in the United States, the meaning it bore in 
Shakespeare's time, when it was invariably used in sense of timid, 
timorous, or afraid. 

"Romeo, come forth, come forth, thou fearful man, " as the Friar says 
to Romeo, who, after slaying Tybalt, is lying hidden in Friar Lawrence's 

So obsolete, however, has now the word become in England, in sense 
employed by the poet, that in most editions of Shakespeare a foot-note 
is appended to it, giving the definition as " timorous. " In America, the 
expression : " he is a fearful man, " is frequently applied to an individual 
of timid disposition, the meaning intended to be conveyed being precisely 
the opposite to that which in England would attach to the phrase, i. e. 
to inspire terror or awe. 

(2) Used by Pennsylvanians in same manner as awful, everlasting, 
etc. that is, in sense of much, great, strongly. 

Feast (Dutch vies). This word can hardly be said to exist any longer. 
Nevertheless, the phrase : " Tmjeast with it, " still lingers in New York, 
among the descendants of the Dutch, in the sense of " I'm disgusted 
with it. " 

Feather (tO). Used in New England to designate the rising of cream on 
the surface of a cup of tea or coffee. 

Feature. In newspaper parlance, often heard in sense of a special article, 
which is of interest from some other point of view than that of news. 

Feaze (Old Eng.). To be in a feaze, to be in a state of turmoil or 
excitement, is a good old English word which is still colloquial in several 
States, especially Virginia and other Southern parts. 

The form /ease is mentioned in Nail's Glossary of Yarmouth words. 

And thereat came a rage and such a vese. 

(Chaucer ) 

This expression is probably derived from the Anglo-Saxon " fysan," 
meaning the rapid and noisy movement of water, and from which we 
have received the modern '' fizz." 

Also, feeze, pheeze. 

Feaze (to). To vex, to bother, to knock out. In this last sense, especially, 
saying of somebody " that he cannot ba feazed, " it would be considered 
as a compliment. 

The iormfaze is also frequently heard. 



Federal- (1) Founded upon, or formed by a league, treaty, or compact 
between independent States. 

(2) Pertaining to the United States, as functionally considered. 

Federal City. The city of Washington. 

Federal currency. The legal currency of the United States. 

Federalize. To unite, or confederate for political purposes. 

Federalists. A term applied to the members of the political party who 
favored, in the origin, the adoption of the Constitution of the United 
States, in preference to remaining loyal to England. 

The Federalists grew out of a wing of the Colonial Whig party, with 
Washington as the acknowledged head, and their power was not broken 
until the Presidential election of 1800, when Thomas Jefferson and Aaron 
Burr were elected by the then Republicans, defeating the Federalist 
candidates John Adams and C. C. Pinckney. 

Federals. The Union men, during the war of the Rebellion. 
Also, Feds, by abbreviation. 

Feed. (1) A meal. " A square feed. " 

(2) Fodder, for sheep, cattle, etc. , in sense of pasture. 

(3) Grass. "Tall feed, " i. e. high grass. 

(4) A slang term for money. 

Feed (to). (1) To give as food, as to feed crumbs to the birds. 
(2) To take meals, board. " Where does he feed ? " 

Feel. Used colloquially in sense of to feel disposed, to feel inclined. " I 
do not feel like walking." 

To feel pole, i. e. to experience fright or sudden shock. 

Feelay. A Louisiana term applied to the leaves of the sassafras prepared 
by being dried and powdered. 

Feel One's oatS. Said of conceited or bumptious persons, who like to 
" put on airs," who are given to a display of self-importance. 

Obviously derived from the stable, where horses fed on oats exhibit 
far more spirit and mettle than would otherwise be the case. 

Feller (for fellow). A young woman's feller is the particular one who is 
paying her attention with possible matrimonial intention. 
Also, beau. 

FellOW. Holder of^a college fellowship- 
Fellowship. (1) Often used in religious writings or discourses, in sense 

of communion, i. e. union in religious worship, doctrine and discipline. 

In England, means especially companionship, consort, society. 

(2) In college parlance, a beneficiary foundation, the income of which 

is awarded to a talented student, to enable him to continue his studies. 



Fellowship (to). To hold communion with, to unite with in doctrine 
and discipline, in Puritan theological practice. Also, .dis-followship. 

Perhaps there is no one usage, which is more generally regarded as 
owing its existence to the religious life of New England, than the 
employ of fellowship as a verb ; none also, unquestionably, which has 
been more violently attacked. As a matter of fact, this vocable, 
inelegant and unnecessary as it may seem, is five hundred years old. 
Chaucer, in his translation of Boethius, says of thought, that she " joineth 
her ways with the sun, and fellowshipeth the way of the old, cold 
Saturn." Of wicked men, he points out " how great pain fellowshipeth 
and followeth them. " 

Female. A word applied indiscriminately, in the United States, to all 
members of the fair sex, from the first lady of the land to the lowest 

Shakespeare uses the term frequently, and often with all respects, 
whilst Hume, we are told, calls Joan of Arc a female, and the same 
occurs incessantly in Walter Scott. Indeed, female for woman, runs 
through the whole range of English literature since the Reformation. 
But the idiom has now become so offensive to English taste, while in 
the same time maintaining a firm hold in America, that it may still 
properly be classed as a pseudo-Americanism. 

Advanced female, an expression sneeringly applied to the " new 
woman," i. e. the woman claiming all the rights and privileges of men, 
in addition to those already willingly granted to her sex. The word 
was introduced at the commencement of the agitation in favor o 
woman suffrage. 

Female help, an expression applied to any kind of employment for 
women, whether it be that of a governess, a chamber-maid, or a cook. 

Fence. (1) A term applied, in the United States, to any kind of 
enclosure, even to what is called in England a " hoarding," or a wooden 

(2) A slang term to designate a house where stolen goods are received. 

(snake). A zig-zag fence built up of split rails, and common in 
new "clearings" where wood abounds. 

Also, Virginia fence, worm fence, this last word doubtless from such 
a fence harboring in its corners boundless supplies of vermin. 

Fence (to be On the). In political slang, the exact counterpart of the 
old english verb " to trim," i. e. to carry water on both shoulders, or 
waiting to see which way the cat is going to jump. 

Fence-man. As a man sitting astride his rail-fence can with equal ease 
jump down on either side, a fence-man, in political parlance, is one 
waiting to see on which side victory will declare itself, so as to join in 
the shouts of the winning party. 

Also, fence-politician, fence rider, nigyer-on-the-fence. 



Fenee-Piding. The practice of "sitting on the fence" in a political 
contest, a position understood at its best in America, where Brother 
Jonathan takes delight in sitting on the rail of a neighbor's fence, 
" whittling " for hours, to his own immense satisfaction. 

FePgfen. In New Jersey, the centre pole of a charcoal pit, forming the 
central part of the crib (q. v.). 

FePia, fer'-e-ah (Sp.). In Texas, a fair ; often synonymous withjiesta (q. v. ). 

FePPy flat. A flat-boat mainly used, in the Mississipi region, for 
ferrying purposes. 

Fetch. (1) Almost unknown, in the United States, in sense of " bringing, " 
but, on the other hand, often used for bringing up. " He has been 
fetched up for the work. " 

(2) Often heard, in the South, in the sense of to perform. "He 
fetches his blows quick and sure. " 

(3) To convince, as when some potent argument is necessary to 
influence strongly, or fetch a man. 

(4) To agree with. " You will all fetch with me. ..." 

Fetch away. To part, to separate. ' ' A fool and his money are soon 
fetched away. " 

Fetching 1 . Pretty, attractive, as a fetching bonnet, or even a fetching 

Evidently an extension of to fetch, use in sense of to convince. 

FeveP-bUSh (Benzoin odoriferum.) A name given in Massachusetts to 
the spice-bush or wild allspice, from its bark being much valued as a 

Fiee (Old Eng. ). In the South, especially Kentucky, a term applied to 
a small dog, a cur, a puppy. 

Also, fyse, phyce. 

In Pennsylvania, afiste (i as in mice). 

Now obsolete in England, and evidently the last small remnant of 
the old English foisting or fistiny hound, of which Nares gives the 
following gradual corruptions : foisty, foist, fyst, fyce. 

Fid. A small portion of tobacco ; a plug or a quid. Evidently from 
" fid," a bunch of oakum put into the touch-hole of a gun. 

FiddlCP. A small, lively, one-armed crab, which runs about side-ways as 
jerkinly and nimbly as a fiddler's bow, whence its familiar name. 

Field. In New Jersey, a deserted farm overgrown with pine, scrub oak 
and brambles. Somewhat equivalent to plantation. 



Field-driver. A New-England term for a civil officer, whose duty is to 
impound all cattle, hogs, etc., going at large on the public highways. 
In England, same officer is called " pound-keeper." 
See hoy-reeve. 

Field-martin (Tyrannus carolinensis). A Southern name for the common 
Also, sachem, scissor-tail. 

Fiend. In college slang, a hard student, one who gets high marks. Also, 
one who rides a hobby, who is addicted to a particular habit. 

In some colleges, the term is also applied to an instructor who makes 
his students work hard. 

FiCPPO, fe-er'-ro (Sp. ). In Texas, a brand or mark on cattle and horses. 
In Spain, fierro is an old form for " hierro," iron. 

Fiesta, fe-es'-tah (Sp. ). In the formerly Spanish States, any festivity, 
religious or national. 

In the plural form las fiestas, the word is synonymous with a fair, 
which lasts several days. 

FigUP6. (1) To count upon. " You may. figure upon getting an answer 

(2) A common colloquialism, in the West, is "to figure on that," 
used in sense of to consider, to think over. 

(3) To single out, to spot. 

Fike (Dutch fuik, a weel, a bow-net). A current word for a large bow- 
net, among fishermen in the bay of New York. 
Also, fyke. 

File. A cloth used for wiping a floor after scrubbing ; what is known to 
English servants as a " house-flannel." 
Hence, to file, to scrub with a file. 

File-pail. A wash-pail, or house-maid's pail. . 
Also, filing-pail. 

Filibuster. (1) An adventurer, engaged in a lawless pursuit and espe- 
cially one who, on the occasion of an insurrection, makes a practice of 
furnishing arms, ammunition, to the rebels, contrary to international 
laws, as was lately the case during the last war in Cuba. 

(2) In political parlance, a member of a Legislature who obstructs 

The word filibuster first came into general use in America, in 1847, 
after the Mexican war, when filibustering expeditions were talked of 
against the West Indies. 



Filibuster (to). (1) To pilfer, to acquire by freebooting. " Erery State 
in the Union has been filibustered from the Indians. " 

(2) To be, to act as a filibuster. 

(3) In political parlance, to obstruct legislation by purposeless long 
speeches, calling for divisions, etc. in order to gain time. It is thus seen 
that the parliamentary meaning of the word implies a disposition to 
override regular rules. 

Filibustering. (1) Freebooting, freebootery. 

(2) In legislation, the use of irregular means to defeat a proposed 
measure. The sharp manoeuvring of a party to get an advantage over its 

Also, filibusterism. 

Filling 1 . At game of poker, to match or strengthen the cards to which 
you draw. 

Fill the bin. A slang expression, evidently derived from the stable, and 
meaning to come up to the mark, to acknowledge the accuracy of a 

Find. A discovery. 

Now about as common in England as in America. 

Finding's. Shoemakers' supplies in general, excepting leather. In former 
times, shoemakers used to go to the homes of the country people to make 
their footwear, the customers supplying the leather, while the mechanic 
had to find tools, wax, etc. The Boston directory of 1827 contains the 
following advertisement : 

General Finding Store for boot and shoe makers keeps all kinds of tools 
and other articles used by shoemakers. 

Finding-Store. A shop vrhere shoemakers' tools, appliances, etc. , are 

In England, called a "grindery warehouse." 

Fine and Close. To get one downyme and close is to find out all about 
a man, to deliver a stinging blow, etc. 

Finger. A nip, a small quantity ; usually applied to spirituous liquors. 


Fip.^j In Pennsylvania, and several Southern States, the vulgar name for 
the Spanish half real or picayune, representing 1/16 of a dollar. 
Also, fippenny. 
Fippence, for five-pence, is provincial in England. 

Fire. To expel by force. To eject, dismiss, or expel forcibly or peremp- 
torily. Generally accompanied with "out." 

Fire-bug. An incendiary. 

FIR FIS 185 

Fire-eoppeP. A designation for a group of brands of whiskey, " because 
of their uniformity and cleanliness." 

Another large group is the " sour-mash" family. 

Fire-eatePS. A name originally applied, in political parlance, to the 
advocates of extreme Southern views, and now extended to those favoring 
war measures. 

This expression is of Irish origin, and may be found in Barrington's 

Equivalent to " Bourbon, " but probably of earlier origin. 

FiPe-hunt. A night hunt for game, with the aid of torches of various 

See shine. 

FiP6 in the WPOng flOCk. A metaphorical expression used in the West, 
to denote a mistake made in rashly attacking an adversary who " turns 
out a Tartar," thus corresponding to the English saying about taking 
" tke wrong sow by the ear." 

A variant is "to bark up the wrong tree." 

Fireman. A railway stoker. 

FiPC-WOPkS- A quaint substitute for matches, not unfrequently heard 
in New England. (De Vere.) 

Probably at no time anything more than a perversion of language. 

Piping-place. In New Jersey, a common name applied to a spot 
suitable for charcoal burning. 

Firstly. Colloquial, in the West, for prompt, hasty, violent, hot-headed. 
The transition from the legitimate meaning of the word is both easy 
and apparent. 

FiPSt-Pate and a half. An intensified form of " first-rate." 

First-chop, first-class, and first-rate have been, however, erroneously 
quoted as Americanisms, all these words being pure idiomatic English. 

Fish (to). In college slang, to curry favor with instructors. Also, 
sometimes used in sense of to copy from a fellow student. 

Fish-CPOW (Corvus ossifragus. ) A bird almost entirely confined to the 
maritime districts of the Southern States, where it is seen hovering in 
search of small fry or crabs. 

Fishepman-farmeP. On the sea-coast of Massachusetts, said of one 
who combines farming with fishing, according with the seasons of the year. 

Fish-flake. In New England, a kind of fagot-hurdle used for drying fish. 

Fish-fpy. A sort of picnic, where the fish are caught and cooked on the 



Fishing-frog" (Lophius piscatorius). The angler, or devil-fish, 

Fish-StOPy. An incredible narration ; a marvellous story aiming at 
taxing credulity ; the equivalent of what, in English newspaper slang, 
would be called a " big gooseberry " or a " sea-serpent yarn. " 

Fistieate. Proceeding from "fisticuff" and meaning to quarrel, to meddle, 
to fight. We read, in Capt. John Smith's " Account of Virginia " : 
There are so many flsticating tobacco-mungers in England. 

Fisty. Low, mean. Also, cross. 

Fits (to give). To punish a man severely by tongue, or pen, or cow-hide, 
or the bare fist, or to throw him into fits, i. e. into a paroxysm of rage 
and fear. 

But he must'n come fooling around my gal, or I'll give him Jits. 

(Bartlett, a Glance at New- York.) 

Also, to give Jessie. 

To give particular fits, or Jessie, is the comparative of the original 
positive, the " ne plus ultra " of chastisement, mental or physical. 

Fits (by) and Starts. By short and sudden intervals, from the suddenness 
and painful violence of a fit. 

Five-PointePS. A name given at one time to a band of New- York 
rowdies, from the notorious Five Points district. 

Fix. To do anything conceivable : to arrange, to unfix, to tighten, to 
loosen, etc. A man threatening vengeance, will even say to his adversary : 
" Til fix you. " 

Also, to fix up. 

To fix may be safely called the American word of words, silica there is 
probably no action whatever, performed by mind or body, which is not 
represented at some time or other by this universal term. A minister 
fixes his sermons, and a mechanic his work-bench ; a young lady, at her 
toilet, is fixing herself, and the waiter says " I'll fix you, " when, to the 
guest in doubt, he brings a varied and numerous assortment of dishes. 

In commercial circles, to fix a thing for the market often comes 
perilously near flagrant and dishonest dealing. 

Americans must have had an early liking for the word, as we read in 
Bradford's History of Plymouth, 1646: "Where they might fix their 
pieces " (muskets). 

Fix (in a). In difficulties, in a dilemma, in a predicament. 

An expression which in England is only slang, but is used in the 
United States in serious language. 

The following advertisement, taken from a Boston paper, will give an 
idea of the extent to which the word fix is worked in the United States : 

Affixed sum of money is desirable as an inheritance for your family. While 
you are fixing a sum of money we advise insurance, as many & fixer gets out 
of fix before the fixing is done. 



Fix (OUt Of). Out of health, out of humor, out of almost any normal 
condition of body or mind. 

Fixed. (1) A fixed fact is a certainty, or what is generally called a 
bottom fact. 

(2) Men who are ready for any emergency are said to be fixed, also 
those who, according to English slang, have been " squared." 

(3) At public meetings, or in political contests, those are fixed who 
are to be the candidates for office. 

Fixings. Fixings of all kinds abound in American speech, especially in 
the South and West, from the railroad fixings required for the equipment 
of a new railway, to chicken fixings, tea and fixings, in sense of garnishings, 
trimmings, accompaniments of a dish. 

Fix it. Any how you can fix it, no how you can fix it, slang phrases 
meaning not by any means, not in any way that you can arrange it. 

Fix one's flint. A phrase taken from backwoods' life and equivalent to 
the English slang " to dish " or " to do for." 

Fix OUt. Adornment, arrangement, outfit. 

Fix OUt (to). To adorn, to arrange, to fit out, te display. 

Fix Up. Ornament, supply, contrivance, device, arrangement. 

Fix up (to). Same as to fix out. Also, to mend, to repair, to contrive. 

Fizzle. In school and college slang, to make a poor recitation', and, more 
specifically, to fail in a recitation or an examination. 
Also, to fizzle out. 

Flag 1 . To signalize a train, in the day time, with the aid of a flag. Thus, 
a train is now said to have been flagged before a collision. 

Flag-PUSh. In college slang, a contest between two classes for a flag 
placed in some conspicuous position by one of them. 

Flag-Station. A station where passengers are put down or taken up, 
only by notice or signal. 

Flake (Old Eng.). A frame for drying fish. The word is a survival of 
English provincial usage. 

Flapdoodle. Nonsense, vain boasting, stuff they fed fools on, from a 
cock's flapping of wings and crowing. 

Flap-jack (Old Eng.). A flat griddle-cooked pankake. 

....and, moreo'er, puddings and flap-jacks 

(Shakespeare, Pericles.) 
Also, slap-jack. 



Flash. In newspaper parlance, an original device for beating time. When 
a set event is coming off in which there must be one of two results as, 
for instance, a big .prize fight papers are printed in advance with the 
names of both men in huge letters, and sent to the various distributing 
points. When the result of the fight reaches the office, orders are then 
telephoned to release the papers bearing the name of the winner. 

Flashy (Old Eng.). Still persisting in Virginia in sense of anything that 
is not sweet and fruitful. 

Else distilled books are like common distilled waters, flashy thing. 

(Bacon, Essay, of studies.) 

Flat. (1) Low alluvial land ; a river shoal, or bottom land. On the 
New-England coast, all the spaces, bays, inlets, etc., where the sea 
flows and ebbs. 

(2) A broad-brimmed and low-crowned hat, worn by women, similar 
to the large leghorn. 

(3) A species of flat-bottomed boat, used in the Mississipi region. 
Also, flat-boat, and Kentucky flat. 

. (4) A rejection, dismissal, or jilting, at the hands of a lover. 

Flat (adj.). (1) Often used in a sense approaching very closely to the 
meaning of thoroughness, completeness. " A flat contradiction, a flat 
denial. " 

(2) Low-spirited, dejected. " To ieelflat." 

Flat-broke, equiv. to dead-broke, i. e. completely ruined. 

Flat (to). A Western colloquialism, meaning to jilt or to reject a lorer. 

Flat-boatman. (1) A man employed 'on a flat-boat in the Mississipi 

(2) A nickname applied to Abraham Lincoln, from his having once 
served as a flat-boatman. 

Flat-fOOted. Downright, resolute, earnest, thorough. First originated 
in Western political slang, and, when applied politically, is the highest 
summum of praise that can be bestowed upon a man. Very charac- 
teristic of a man who, when driven to extremity, is ready to lay down 
his life in the attempt to accomplish his purpose. 

Flat-OUt. A Western colloquialism, which first saw the light in political 
meetings, and means a collapse, a fiasco, a fizzle. 

Similarly, the verb to flat out, meaning to prove a failure, to collapse. 
" The meeting flatted out." 

Flat top (Vernonia noveborocensis). In the North-Eastern States, the 
name of the iron-weed of Kentucky and Tennessee. 

Flax Pound. To beat ; to be energetic ; to move quickly. (New Eng.) 



Flea-bane (Erigeron canadense). One of the most hardy and common 
weeds, largely used as a medicinal herb, in the well known Shaker 
preparations, as an astringent and diuretic. 
The flea-bane of England is not the same plant. 

Flea bitten. A Texas term to describe the color of a horse or other 
animal dotted with minute specks of black and white, like pepper and 

Fleet. In fishing, a single line of one hundred hooks, so called when the 
bultow was introduced in Newfoundland, in 1846. 

Fleshy (Old Eng. ). Corpulent, stout. " You look quite fleshy, now." 

Her sides long, fleshy, smooth and white. 

(Chaucer, Troilus and Creseide, III.) 

But an if the woman be anything grcwse, fat, or fleshy, " etc. 

(Raynald, Birth of Mankynde, 1565.) 

Now making again its way into popular English speech, though still 
regarded as vulgar. 

Flicker (Colaptes auratus). The popular name of the golden-winged 

See highholder, yellow-hammer. 

Flicker (to). In parts of the South, to fail, to back out. 

Flint COPn. One of the many varieties of maize which, says Beverley, in 
his "History of Virginia," looks smooth and as full as the early ripe 

Flint in. To perform or act with energy, and without standing on ceremony. 
Applied to all kinds of actions, even to eating. 
Also merely employed as a variant of " chip in. " 

Flip (Ger. fiepp). A drink of brandy, beer and sugar made hot and 
foaming by means of a red-hot poker. 

Float. (1) In the charcoal-pits of New Jersey, a word designating the 
irregular sods laid on " four-foot lengths, " over which sand is placed. 

Generally used in the plural. 

(2) In New Jersey, a word applied to pens of boards placed in fresh 
water, upon which oysters fatten during one tide. 

See board-bank, and platform. 

FloateP. In political parlance, a candidate representing several counties, 
and therefore not considered directly responsible to any one of them. 

Also, a doubtful voter, an elector of uncertain principles, who may 
perchance be secured by the highest bidder. 
(2) A body found floating in the wattr. 

190 FLO FLU 

Floating batteries. A term applied in bitter irony by the Confederate 
soldiers, during the Civil War, to the army bread furnished by their 

Floor-walker. In England, shop-walker. 

Flop-up. A day's tramp. 
Flop-up time, bed-time. 

Flour City. The city of Rochester, N. Y. , from its being the centre of 
flour mills. 

Also, Flower City. 

Flour (to). To convert grain into flour. A word still used in those parts 
where there are mills for grinding wheat. 

Flouring-mill. A grist-mill, especially one in which flour is made from 
wheat. (Bartlett.) 

Flower City. The city of Rochester, N. Y. , from its large and important 
nursery trade. 

Fluke. In college slang, an utter failure. 

To go up the fluke, to fail in recitation or examination. 

Fluke (to). In college slang, to fail utterly. 

Fluken. A local name, in parts of North Carolina, for the scaly whitish 
soil dug from mica mines. 

To put thefluken on one, to get the advantage on him, to " do him up. " 

Flume. (1) In mining districts, a flume is a contrivance for conveying 

water, in order to wash out pay-dirt. 

To go up the flume, a miner's slang term meaning " to die." 

(2) A narrow passage confining water for the purpose of turning a 


The term is throughly good English, especially in second sense, but is 

far more largely colloquial in America. 

Flumma-daddle. A holiday mess of New-England fishermen, consisting 
of a number of ingredients baked in the o^en, the most important of 
which are stale bread, pork fat, molasses, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. 

Flummux. In college slang, a poor recitation, a failure. 

FlummilX (to). (1) To give in, to give up. " We regularly flummuxed" 
i. e. we dared not say a word. 

(2) To faint, to collapse, and even to die. 

To flummux is a slang term used in England, but then only transi- 
tively, and in the altogether different sense of to overcome, to over- 
whelm, to hinder, to bewilder, etc. 

FLU FLY 191 

Flunk (Old Eng. ). A failure, a back-down ; a backing out through fear. 
In current use, in Wall street parlance. 

In college phraseology, a complete failure in a recitation or an exami- 

The term is now obsolete in England. 

Flunk (to). To give up, to back out from fear. To fail utterly in a 
college examination. 
Also, to flunk out. 

Flunker. In college slang, one who fails in examination. 

Flunky. (1) In college parlance, one who backs out from examination 
for fear of failure. 

(2) In the slang of Wall street, an unlucky outsider who speculates in 
stocks without any knowledge of the market, or even of monetary 

Flush. One who has plenty of money, who is lavish in his expenditures. 

Flutter-Wheel. A small water-wheel, used mostly in saw-mills, and 
which, from the rapidity of its motion, makes a fluttering noise. 

Fly (Dutch vly). In New- York, a swamp, a marsh. The " Fly market " 
of New-York is well known. 

Fly (to). In constant use, even among careful writers, instead of to flee. 

Fly around. To make haste, to move about quickly. To be quick and 
active at some pressing work. 

FlyeP. (1) An outsider's venture or speculation, through the regular 
brokers of the Stock Exchange. " To try & flyer in stocks. " 
(2) In the slang of railway men, a fast train. 

Flying-brand. A brand used for cattle by the ranchmen of the Western 

Flying-fish (Prionotus lineatus.) Not the flying-fish of the tropics, the 
name in this case being simply an allusion to its peculiar mode of motion 
under water, its long outstretched fins then closely resembling the wings 
of a bird. 

Also called sea-rol>in and pig-juh, this last designation being on account 
of the grunting noise emitted by the flying-fish when caught. 

Fly light. To take things easily ; to make oneself comfortable. 

Fly Off the handle. A figurative phrase meaning to break a promise, 

and suggested by the disappointment which befalls a backwoodsman, 

when his axe-head suddenly flies off leaving the useless handle in his grasp. 

Hence also, by extension, to lose temper, to become unreasonably 

excite i to wrath. We have even heard of a poor man having sueoeeded 



to the fortune of a distant relative, " who went off" the handle in England 
rather unexpectedly. " Usually, however, in this last sense, the phrase 
runs " to slip off the handle. " 
Also, to go off the handle. 

Fog. In the Canadian Maritime Provinces, last year's grass standing in 
the fields through the winter. 
Also, fog-grass. 

FogfO- In parts of New England, sometimes heard in sense of ste'nch. 
The word is common enough among North of Ireland people. 

Fogy- An ultra-conservative in politics, i. e. a man "befogged" with 
regards to the demands of the present time. 

In England, a "fogey" is the old-fashioned person popularized by 
Thackeray, and in Scotland "fogie" applies to a dull and slow old man 
who is unable or unwilling to reconcile himself to new ideas. 

Folks. In New England, used very generally for people, especially 
neighbors and company. " How's the/o/s ?" 
Also, sense of immediate family. 
See white folks. 

Folle-avoine (Fr. ). A name applied to the wild rice of the lakes and 
rivers (Zizania aquatica). 

Also, riz du Canada, or Canadian rice. 

Follow in One's tracks. To follow one so immediately and closely, as. . 
to step into his footmarks. 

The phrase is of Western origin, and is now common all over the 

F6ol around. To hang about, implying an idea of resentment to the 
presence of the person spokeu of. 

Has also a signification akin to the verb to flirt, when applied to a 
man given to dangling about a woman's skirts. 

Fool-flsh (genus Monocanthus). The popular name of the file-fish, from 
its extremely odd manner of locomotion. 

Fool's gold. Bogus gold ; ore which, from its appearance, misleads the 
novice in mining. 

Foot-lOOSe. Free, not tied to business. 

Footy. (1) Poor, mean, small, insignificant, worthless, trashy. 
(2) A blunderer, a simpleton. 

FOP. Used for from. 

Some years before, he had named his two children, one for Her Majesty, 
and the other for Prince Albert (Hawthorne.) 

This use of for is pronounced, by F. Hall, to be an Americanism of the 
truest ring. 



Force. (1) A gang of laborers, as for instance those at work on a railway, 
or a plantation. 

(2) In slavery times, the slaves pertaining to a planter, and constituting 
his "working force. " 

Fore-day. A very expressive word often heard for the period of time 
immediately before sunrise. 

FOPefathePS'-day. A holiday formerly kept in New England, in 
commemoration of the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers, at Plymouth, on 
Dec. 22, 1620. 

Forehanded. Besides ordinary English meaning of early, timely, has 
in America the signification of well-off, well provided, comfortable in 
circumstances, and even economical, in which sense it is now very rarely 
heard in England. 

Fore-pay. Payment beforehand. 

Forest City. The city of Cleveland, Ohio, from its many thoroughfares 
adorned with trees. Portland, Maine, and Savannah, Georgia, are also 
similarly named. 

FOPg"e ahead. To advance, to move with alacrity ; to make rapid pro- 

FOP God's Sake. Thoroughly, effectively. This curious phrase, which 
is probably of Puritan derivation, is still sometimes heard when the 
meaning to be conveyed is that a thing is thoroughly, or well done. 

FOPk. One of two roads into which the main road divides, at a place 
which is called the/or&s. 

FOPkS. Where a road divides, or a river branches. 

FoPlt OUt. To hand over money, to pay up. " You will please fork out 
that money, and pay your bill." 

Also to fork over, to fork up. 

In England, to fork out is merely used, in thieves' parlance, in sense 
of picking pockets, from seizing their contents a3 with a fork with the 
stiff fingers. 

FOPnent (Low Scotch). Near by, alongside. Quite common, especially 
in Pennsylvania. 

FOPPaPd. A c jiTiiption of forward, use 1 in New England in sense of 
early, ahead of the season. " I've got someforrard apples." 

FOPty-nineP. Said of one who went to California in 1849, at the time 
of the great gold fever and general exodus to the gold mines. ' 




Forty POd lightning 1 . In the West, a common term for whiskey of the 
most villainous description. So called because humorously warranted 
to kill at forty rods. 

FosfOPO, fos'-for-o (Sp.). In Texas, a sulphur match, a match in general. 

Foteh, Fetched (Old Eng.). The old participle of to fetch, still continueing 
in use among low people in the South, especially among negroes. 

Foul-hand. At game of poker, a hand composed of more or less than 
five cards. 

Foul-tip. At game of base-ball, a ball touched by the bat, but which 
falls within the foul line. 

Foundation. In Montana, a legal notification of intent to take up a claim, 
consisting of four logs laid across each other so as to form a square. 

Four hundred. The "society " class of New York city, said to be limited 
to that number, and of which the late famous McAllister was the founder 
and " great priest. " 

Fox. (1) Used by shoemakers, when repairing boots, in sease of making 
a new foot to old uppers. 

(2) In parts of Canada, to play truant. 

Fox-fire. Rotten wood found in swampy places, and which, at night, 
presents a phosphorescent appearance. Hence, " that is allfox-fire, " i. e. 
of no consequence. 

Fox-grape (Vitis labrusca). A large grape, of a rank taste, commpn on 
the borders of streams. In the South, a kindred grape (Vitis vulpilia or 
vulpina) bears larger berries and is less acid than the former. 

Several explanations have been given for the name fox-grape, some 
etymologists pretending that it is either derived from the fox-smelling 
taste of the fruit, or the foxy pubescence characterizing the surface of 
the leaves, while others, having in sight the intoxicating qualities of the 
berries, maintain that they owe their appellation to the old English word 
"to foxe, " in sense of to intoxicate. 

Foxy. In college slang, scheming, deceitful. Also, bright, well-dressed. 

Fractional currency. The legal term by which the nickel and copper 
coins fractional parts of silver coins issued since the war are known. 

Fraggle. In Texas, to rob, to despoil. 

Frail. In Louisiana, especially New Orleans, often heard in sense of to 
whip, as a child. 

Frame house. A house made of timber. 

FRA FBE . 195 

Frat. A common abbreviation, in college slang, for a fraternity, or a 
member of a fraternity. 

Also, pertaining to a fraternity. 

Fraud. (1) A deceitful person, a cheat. 

(2) A disappointment, not necessarily with suggestion of bad faith, or 

Any person disappointing expectations, without the idea of attributing 
actual dishonesty to him. 

The nearest English equiv. is the slang use of the word " sell. " 

Freak. A very odd person. 

In college slang, a student who is exceptionally proficient in a given 
subject. Also, somebody or something of a peculiar appearance. 

Free. (1) Used, before the Civil war, a the antithesis of slavery. 

Free-cotton, cotton grown by free men, and not slaves. 

/Vee-labor, that performed by free men. 

Free- States, those States in which negro slavery did not exist. 

(2) Gratuitous, open to all. " Free lunch, " in drinking saloons. 

Free lunch fiend, in drinking saloons one who makes a meal off what is 
really provided as a snack. 

Free-flgfhter. A free lance, a guerilla soldier, during the Civil War. 

Free soil. In former years, lands owned by the United States, and yet 
free from slavery,' were called free-soil territory. 

Free-SOiler. An advocate of the exclusion of slavery, from the territories 
belonging to the United States. 

The early settlers of Kansas and Nebraska, who were opposed to 
slavery, were the first free-soilera, and the name still survives there with 
the passionate recollections of days of terrible and relentless warfare. 
The free-soilera were once a powerful party in politics, especially in 1852- 
56, but in 1860 they were finally merged into the Republican party. 

Free-SOllism. The principles and doctrines of the free-soilers. 

Freestone State. The State of Connecticut, from the valuable quarries 
of freestone to which the State is largely indebted for its revenue. 

Freeze. To wish ardently, to become possessed of an intense longing for 
anything. " I freeze to go back." 

Freeze (to). To adhere closely to a thing ; to attach oneself strongly, 
to cling to another person. 
Also, to freeze on to. 
Another variant is to cotton to. 

Freeze OUt. A variety of game of poker. 

196 FRE FRI 

Freeze OUt (to). Applied to persons, "to leave out in the cold," so as 
to compel them to do one's will, the idea conveyed being that of unfair 

Freezer. A refrigerator. 

Freight. (1) Conveyance of merchandise by inland carriage. 
(2) The charge made for such conveyance. 

In England, freight is a term almost exclusively confined to ocean 

Freightage. Charge for carriage of merchandise. 

Freight-Cap. A railway car for carrying merchandise. In England, a 
Is van. 

Freight-train. A railway train, for the carrying of merchandise. In 
England, a goods train. 

Frejoles, fray-ho'-lez (Sp. ). In Texas, a kind of long red bean, which is 
one of the standard articles of diet of the Mexicans. 

In Spain, the name applies to the common French bean. 
Also, frijoles. 

Fresh. (1) In the South, especially Maryland, a small tributary of a 
large river, or a stream distinct from the tide-water. 

Used by Milton and Bailey to denote a pool of fresh water, while 
Beverley writes : 

There are the Mawborn Hills in the freshes of James River. 

(Hist, of Virginia, p. 110,) 

(2) In college slang, an abbreviation for a freshman (q. v. ). Also, 

Fresh (adj.). Overbold, cheeky. Said of a man who thinks he knows 
everything, and who talks freely and pushes himself forward. 
Also, sense of unsophisticated. 

Freshet (Old Eng. ). An old English word, now mostly used in America, 
and designating an inundation or overflowing of a river. 

The word/re.^ is still used in the north of England and in Scotland, 
in precisely the same sense. 

Fried-Cake. In New England, a kind of cake fried in lard. 
' See liled-cake, doughnut. 

Friends. This word is used whei'e in England "relations" would be 

FrijollilO, fre-bde-et'-yo (Sp.). 'In Texas, a large, leguminous shrub, 
with bright red, very poisonous beans (Sophora secundiflora). 



Fpills. In the West, presumption, self-conceit. " I cannot bear his 
ways, it's all frills." 

A somewhat less offensive meaning is conveyed in other instances, 
when accomplishments such as music, French, German, etc., are called 

To put on frills, to make considerable show on small justification; to 
impose oneself with an assumption of style in which conceit and bump- 
tiousness play a considerable part. 

Frisco. A common abbreviation for San Francisco. 

Frog. In railway parlance, the iron plate where two lines of railways 

In England, a crossing plate. 

Frog'S-hair. In parts of New England, the plant " Eleocharis acicu- 
laris," and other allied species. 

Frolic. In the West, a pleasure party or social gathering. 

An American equiv. of the English " junketing. " 

Husking frolic, a gathering of young people, at a neighbor's house, to 
strip the husks from the year's crop of maize. 

Quilting frolic, a meeting of ladies for the purpose of making bed-quilts, 
generally for a charitable motive, and to which the young men are wont, 
to find their way, on the Irishman's following principle : 

If all the Young women was ducks in the water, 

It's thin the young men would jump in an swim a' ter. 

Fromety (Old Eng.). An old English delicacy described in Hallamshire 
Glossary as wheat boiled with milk, to which sugar and spice are added. 
Thefromety is especially well known in Maryland, where the word is, 
however, commonly pronounced furmety. 

Front name. Often used, in the West, for the Christian or first name. 
In New England, the form given name is used in preference. 

FrOSt-flsh (Morrhua pruinosa). A small fish, so called from its appearing 
off the coast in cold weather. 
Also familiarly called torn-cod. 

FrOSt-grape. The river-grape (Vitis riparia), in its wild state. 
Also, chicken -grape. 

Frost-Smoke. In Hudson's Bay region, a thick, black vapor, arising in 

Noted by Ellis in 1748. 

FrOStWOrt (Cistus canadensis). A medicinal herb, possessing astringent 
and tonic properties, and largely used in the " Shaker preparations. " 

So called from the crystals of ice which shoot from the bursting bark, 
during freezing weather in autumn. 



FrOUghty (Old Eng.). In New England, spongy, brittle, easily broken, 
of inferior quality. 

Still provincial in North of England, from "f rough, " used with same 

Frowehey (Dutch vrouwtje). In city of New York and vicinity, a term 
applied to an old woman, with bent shoulders, and deep-wrinkled, 
furbelowed face. A wellnigh desperate attempt to render, into English* 
the staid old greeting "Vrouwtje," so much in use amongst the good 
burgher's wives in Knickerbocker times. 

Frump (Old Eng.). Still lingering in New England in sense of to mock, 
to insult. 

Quoted by Bailey as meaning to frizzle up the nose as in contempt, 
and so used by Beaumont and Fletcher. 

The substantive form survives now-a-days in England, where people 
speak of a cross, ill-tempered person as an "old frump. " 

Fudge. In newspaper parlance, a news bulletin printed in red ink, as in 
the case of the evening editions of the World and Journal, in New York. 
The fudge is inserted in actual type in the plates, the presses being 
stopped for the purpose. 

Fudges. Chocolate bonbons, especially home-made. 

Full (Old Eng. ). An old participle often heard in the South for filled. 
Also, fulled. 

Full feather. Good trim, good condition, good form, in athletic par- 
lance. " To be in full feather." 

Fun (to). Often used for to joke. " I'm only funning." 

. To officiate at the religious ceremonies of an interment 
To bury. To conduct a funeral service for. 

Funeral-procession. Very common in Ontario, Canada, in sense of 
" cortege." 

Funked. In Kentuky, used in sense of rotten, as applied to tobacco. 

Fuste, foos'-tay (Sp. ). In California, a strong saddle-tree, made of wood, 
and covered with raw-hide, used for lassooing. 
Also, fusty. 

Fust OUt. To come to nothing, to end in smoke, to fizzle out. 

Fyke. A sort of a fish-net, distended by hoops, largely used in New 
York and Connecticut waters. 




Gab (originally, the mouth, in old Eng.). Used in the United States almost 
exclusively for idle chatter, gabble, prat, i. e. a great command of words 
without an over-abundance of ideas. In the South, the word is strengh- 
tened by being lengthened into gablement, but only in its lowest sense. 
We find the "gift of the gab, " in Grose, as meaning facility of speech, 
and Chaucer uses the verbal form in sense of "to talk idly." 

Gabbey. A foolish talker, one who has " the gift of the gab. " 
Gaby. A simpleton. 
Gachupln. See cachupin. 

Gad. A small whip, used to drive cows to pasture, and, more often, & 
whipstock without lash, made of a slender stick or rod of any kind. In 
this latter sense, still colloquial in England. 

GaffeP. A small boy. Also, a foreman in a machine shop. In this latter 
sense, still provincial in England, especially when meaning the foreman 
of a squad of navvies. 

Gait In the patter of the criminal classes, refers to one's walk in life, i. e. 
calling, trade, profession, manner of making a living. 

Gal-boy. Used occasionally, in New England, for the more familiar 

Gale. Often used to denote a state of pleasant excitement, especially 
among women and children. " The children were in such a gale, it took 
us nearly an hour to get them to bed. " 

Galena. Salt pork, so named from the city of Galena, Illinois, being 
one of the chief hog-raising and pork-packing centres of the country. 

Gall. (1) A generic name applied to the jelly-fishes, by New-York 

Stinging-galls, the medusoe, or sea-nettles (Discophora). 
Lightning -galls, ovoidal, phosphorescent jelly-fishes {Ctenophora) 

(2) Common slang for bumptiousness, conceit, effrontery, cheek, with 
connotation of audacity, pluck, courage of one's conviction under 

In England, the term has the meaning of rancour, and bitterness of 
mind or speech. 

(3) A kind of low land, consisting of a matted soil of vegetable fibre, 
produoing little that is worth harvesting. 

In Florida, such tracts of land are called bay-galls, and, were cypresses 
grow on them, cypress- galls. 



Gallantize. To show attention to ladies, to do the agreeable. To v.-ait 
upon ladies. 

Used both in the transitive and neutral forms. 

(1) A West Indian mosquito, well known for its voracity 
and powerful sting. 

Authorities vary with reference to derivation, some referring the 
word to gall and nip, while others would see at least the true source of 
the first syllable in the English provincialism " gallier, " to fight. 

(2) In parts of Ontario, Canada, a large reptile-insect, found under 
'stones and used as bait. 

Also, galnipper. 

GallOWS. A central core formed of several cornstalks interlaced diago- 
nally, to serve as a support for cut maize which is placed about it in 
forming a shock. (Century Diet. ) 

Galumph. To go " bumping along" in the manner that street- cars are 
apt to do, when driven at a high rate of speed on uneven metals. An 

Galvanized Yankee. A contemptuous epithet applied, during the Civil 
War, to those Confederate prisoners who, getting weary of confinement 
and privations, were at last enlisted in the United States Army. The 
word is probabiy derived from an indistinct association with worthless 
galvanized imitations of gold and silver. 

Gam. A sea-faring term, often used, on the Atlantic coast, in sense of a 
social visit, and especially of a long and merry chat among acquaintances. 
Originally applied to occasions when meeting friends or countrymen in 
a strange land, or where few opportunities exist for social intercourse. 

GanehO, gan'-tcho (Sp.). In Texas and the South- West, a crooked iron 
for branding horses. 

Also, a loop-eared horse. 

GandeP-paFty. A social gathering, or party, consisting of men only. 

Other forms are stag-party, and, in a less complimentary sense, gander- 
gang, or simply gang. 

GangfC (Sp. gancho, a hook, or crook), 
hook to a line or snell. 

In the South- West, to attach a 

Garden. A term almost exclusively applied, in the United States, to 
what in England would be called a market-garden, i. e. a place set apart 
for the cultivation of vegetables, market produce, etc. 

In England, garden means a place where fruits and flowers are culti- 
vated, besides vegetables and other plants. 

Garden Of the West. The State of Illinois. 

GAR GEN 201 

Garden State. The State of Kansas, from the beautiful appearance of 
rolling prairies which abound in that fertile region. 

Garden-truck. Market-garden produce. 

A name applied, in the West, not only to a military force 
occupying a post, but also to any fortified place, and even to old forts 
and posts long since abandoned. 

Garvey. The name of a small scow, in Barnegat region, N. J. 
Gas Idle boasting, brag, lots of talk. 

Gas (to). In political parlance, to deliver long speeches, merely to 
consume time. 

Gasparau. (Fr. C.). One of the many names of the alewife, a fish of the 
herring kind abounding in New England and in the Canadian Maritime 

Also, gasperau. 

Gat (Dutch). A term applied to several places in the vicinity of city of 
New York, and meaning a strait, a narrow passage at sea, as Barnegat 
Hell-Gate (formerly Dutch Helle-gat). 

Gate City. The city of Keokuk, Iowa, from its being the point at which 
the Mississipi becomes navigable. 

Gaum (Old Eng. ). A survival of Elisabethan English, still provincial in 
England, and which is colloquial in the United States in sense of to 
smear, to soil. " Don't let the child gaum herself all over." 

Gavel (Old Eng.). The amount of wheat cut by the reaping machine, and 
shaken out by one motion. 

Formerly a small heap of grain sufficient to make a sheaf, in which 
sense it is still provincial in the east of England, from Fr. javelle. 

GawnicUS. A fictitious enlargement of " gawk, " meaning a dolt, a fool, 
a simpleton. 

Gazon (Fr. ). The carpet grass of dry uplands. 

Gear-Up. Used in Pennsylvania in sense of to harness. Wright gives 
" gears " as horse-trappings. 

Gee. To serve a certain purpose. " That won't gee, " i. e. that will not do. 
Oee is English, in sense of a term employed in driving a wagon. 

Gee With. To agree with, to get on with. 

Gentiles. A contemptuous epithet applied by Mormons to all outsiders, 
i. e. those who are not of their faith. 



Gentle (Old Eng. ). A survival of Elizabethan English, meaning to ease, 
to soften, to soothe. Young, in his "Night Thoughts," has the line 
" To gentle life's descent. " 
By extension, to tame, to subdue a horse by kind treatment. 

Gentleman. A term possessing, in America, no distinctive meaning, and 
applied indiscriminately to men of every grade and every calling. 

Similarly, the word lady is used in the same way. . 

In England, both terms are specially reserved to people of education 
and good breeding. 

Gerrymander. In political parlance, to so divide and redistribute an 
electoral district, that its representation, in the Legislature, will go to 
the party having in fact the minority of votes in that district. 

The name originated during the governorship of Elbridge Gerry, in 
Massachusetts, that State having been then redistricted in an arbitrary 
manner (1811), and the termination "mander" is in humorous imitation 
of " salamander, " from a fancied resemblance to this animal of a map of 
one of the newly-formed districts. 

Also used substantively, in sense of any arbitrary arrangement of the 
political divisions of a State. 

Get. An imperative mood, meaning " go away." 

Also, get a move on, i. e. go away, move along. 

Get along. The American substitute for the English phrase " to get on." 

Get around. To overcome, to get the better of. Thus, to get around an 
opponent is to score an advantage over him. 
Also, to go round. 

Get back at. To satirize, to call to account. 

Get into the Short TOWS. To come to the end of a task, to have nearly 
finished, from the rapidly shortening rows at the end of a field which 
hoe off with surprising rapidity after the rest are done. 

Get OUtSlde a thing. To understand it, or, to use a common expression, 
to get to the windward of it. 

Get the dPOp On. Literally, to pull and fire a revolver, before one's 
opponent can get his own revolver in hand, and, generally speaking, to 
be in a position wherein one holds the life or honour of another in hand. 

Get the hang Of. To acquire the knack of doing anything ; to get well 
acquainted with something. 

Get there. To attain one's object, to be successful, as in the case, for 
instance, of a smart, intelligent fellow who displays great business 
aptitudes and meets with success. 

Also used substantively, as embodying the sum of qualities necessary 
to attain one's object. " The much esteemed get there quality." 

GET GIR 203 

Get there With both feet. A forcible extension of the above, meaning 
to achieve a great or wonderful success. 

Ghost dance. A war dance introduced among the Sioux of Dakota, in 
1891, the participants wearing long shirts of fantastic appearance. 

GhOSt Story. In newspaper parlance, a reporter's story which there is 
good ground to think has been invented in all its details. 

Gibe. To go well, when compared with another object. To be pleasing, 
or acceptable. 

This sense, as will be seen, is thus entirely antagonistic to the ordinary 
acceptation of the word. 

Gigging. Used in Virginia to denote night-fishing with a three-pronged 
spear, as it was done in the days of captain John Smith. 

Gila. (Heloderma suspectum). A venomous lizard about 18 inches long 
over all, with head of about 2 or 3 inches, striped with an orange hue, 
and presenting a somewhat hideous appearance. It derives its designa- 
tion from the Gila river, in Arizona, where it is mostly found. 

Gilded-POOSter. A person of importance, i. e. a big bug, from the gilded 
Booster on the top of a steeple. 

Gilly. An idiot, a soft pate. 

Gllly-flOWeP. A variety of apple, in New England. 

Gilt. Quite common, among farmers, for a sow with her first litter of pigs. 
Still provincial in England. 

Gilt-edged. First class, the best of its kind. Thus, a dairy-marl will 
speak of "gilt-edged" butter. 

Gimbal-jawed. Applied to a person whose lower jaw projects beyond 
the upper, thus appearing to be loose and out of joint. 

Derived from " gimbal," a mechanical contrivance, on board ship, for 
suspending anything freely, as the compass, etc. 

Also, corrupted into gimber -jawed. 

Gimpy. Sprightly, or active, as a gimpy horse. 

Gimp and gimpy are provincial in England, in sense of nice, spruce, etc. 

Gin-and-tidy. To be gin and tidy is to be spruce, neatly dressed, arrayed 
in one's best, what in England is known as " beat bib and tucker." 

Ginete, he-nay'-tay (Sp.). In Texas, a bronco buster, i. e. a man whose 
business is to break mustangs. 

GiPd (tO take a). Has in the North-West the peculiar meaning of to 
make an effort, to take a shot. 

Evidently a factitious extension of the verbal form to gird, as when 
one girds oneself to special endeavor. 



Girdle. In the West, a method of clearing forest-lands, consisting in 
making circular incisions through the bark of trees, the result of which 
is decay and death. 
Also, to bark, to belt. 

Girdling 1 . In the West, a place cleared of trees, or where the trees have 
been girdled. 

Gism (Dutch geest). Energy, spirit. " I knock'd all the gism out of him." 

Git. (1) A Western vulgarism for go, go ahead, move on. 

(2) A forcible injunction equivalent to " there's the door ; leave 
quickly. " This injunction is strenghtened into git out, you git, or git up 
and git, git up and dust, which are really emphatic notices to use the 
utmost expedition in departing. 

Git up and git. A substantive form used in various ways. For instance 
a thing that has no git up and git is a thing that is weak, vain, mean, 
slow, etc. 

Git to. Local in Pennsylvania in sense of to obtain leave, to be permitted. 
Also, to git to go. 

Give item. To signal information unfairly to a confederate, at card 

Given name. Represents, especially in New England, the Christian 
name, or first name given to a person. 

Probably a relic of the Puritan dislike to the many Saints' names given 
as Christian names. 

Givy. Pliable, yielding, liable to give way, as when a material " gives " 
a little. 

Especially appplied to tobacco leaves, in a certain condition of their 
preparation for market. 

Also, givey. 

Gizzard-Shad. (1) A North-Carolina term for the alewife. 

(2) A fish of the Ohio (Chatoessus ellipticus), common in Cincinnati, 
and so called because it possesses a muscular stomach resembling the 
gizzard of a gallinaceous fowl. 

Glade (Old Eng. primarily, a bright open spot in a wood). 

(1) In New England, a tract of smooth ice. 

(2) In the Southern States, a tract of land covered with water and 
grass. Evidently here a curtailment of everglade. 

See moongladt. 

Glakid (Lowland Scotch.) Used in Pennsylvania in sense of stupid. 
Jamieson gives the Low Scotch glaikit as unsteady, giddy, stupid. 

Glare-ice. Newly frozen ice, smooth and transparent ice. 

GLA GOB 205 

Glass (Old Eng.). Used in the South and West in sense of to glaze, as 
was done in England in the times of Boyle. " The windows are sashed 

Glaze. In the East, rime, or hoar-frost, when speaking of the state of 
the ground. 

The ground, when rimed by hoar-frost, is also said to be glazed. 

Gleet (Old Eng.). A large wooden wedge. So quoted by Halliwell. 

Gllbe. A term applied to writing generally, but more particularly to a 
written agreement. 

Glimpse. To discern, to get a glimpse of. " I barely glimpsed him." 

Glims. In the patter of criminal classes, a name especially given to the 

In England, among the same fraternity, a lamp, a light, or a pair of 

Glut (Old Eng.). Still persisting in New England, in sense, already 
quoted by Halliwell, of a large wooden wedge used in splitting blocks. 
See gleet. 

Gnarler. A generic name, among burglars, for a watch dog. 
Go. Success. ' ' Make a go of it. 

Go (to). (1) To taste. " Don*t that go good ?" 

(2) In political parlance, to vote. " The State will go Republican." 

Go ahead. Spirit of progress, progressiveness, in a sense of bold and 
fearless progress. 

Also, go aheadaticenets. 

Used adjectively, means rapidly advancing, progressive. Thus, the 
American people, by virtue of their restless, untiring activity, are said 
to be a go-ahead nation. 

Also, (jo aheaditi'oe. 

Go ahead (to). See ahead. 

Goat. A name applied, among fur-traders, to the prong-horn antelope 
(Antilocapre Americana). 

Goatee. A tuft of hair worn on the chin, similar to a goat's beard, hence 
its name. 

Gob. In parts of New England, a small quantity of any matter in a 
plastic state. A " <]db of mud." 

The word is more especially colloquial, in England, in sense of a 



GO back on. To abandon a friend, or an undertaking. To turn tail, to 
disappoint expectation. Also equivalent to " give away, "in sense of 

Go back On one's hash. In the racy vernacular of the West, to weaken 
in face of unexpected difficulties or hardships ; having put one's hand 
to the plough, to turn back. 

Gobbler. In the West, a turkey, and especially a turkey-cock. 

Gobble up. To carry off, to remove as by swallowing, to vanquish. 
Especially much used during the late civil war, in sense of " taking 
from the enemy," a meaning derived from the voracity which is gene, 
rally conveyed by gobbling. 

GO better. At game of poker, to make a higher bet than one's adversary, 
and, by extension, to do better than others, to excel others. 

GobstlckS. Silver forks and spoons, from " gob," English slang for mouth. 
Similarly, a bridle is called gobstrinq. 

GO by. In the South, to stop, to call at. " Will you go by and dine with 
me," i. e. will you go by (way of) my house, and stop and dine with 

Godet (Fr. C.). The penguin or razor-billed auk (Alca torda), of the 
lower St Lawrence region. 

Godfathers. A flash name for " gentlemen of the jury." 

Go-down. A word of squatter origin, designating a cutting in the hilly 
bank of a stream for enabling animals to cross it or to get to the water. 

Gofer (Fr. gaufre). A relic of the early Huguenot French, still in use 
among the negroes for a waffle. 

Go for. (1) To advocate, to be in favor of, to decide in favor of. Also, 
to go in for. 

(2) To attack, iu a sense akin to personal castigation. 

Going- Travelling. " The going is bad, owing to the deep snow. " 

Go it alone. At game of euchre, to play independent of one's partner, and, 
idiomatically) to engage in any undertaking without outside assistance. 

Go it bald-headed. To act on the spur of the moment, i. e. in s;reat 
haste, with eager impetuosity, as where one rushes out without his hat. 

Go it blind. To run all risks, to engage in an undertaking without 
forethought, an expression derived from game of poker, where the player 
has the privilege, before seeing his hand, of " blinding " a stake, i. e. 
betting on the chances. 



Go it Strong. To act energetically, to advocate vigorously, to live freely, 
and, in short, to do anything accentuated in character. 

Go large. To live extravagantly. 


Golden City. The city of San Francisco. 

Golden Circle. An organization formed among "Copperheads" during 
the Civil War, to aid in the rescue of confederate prisoners. 
Also one of the alleged names of the " Klu-Klux-Klan. " 

Golden eye (Bucephala americana). A large white and grey duck, other- 
wise known as the whistler or whistle-wing. 

Golden State. The State of California, from its rich gold mines. 
GO like. To imitate. 

GombO. A popular dish of the South, prepared with the pod of the Okra 
(Hibiscus esculentus). Also, the name of the plant itself. 
Also, gumbo. 

Gone beaveP. In the West, an invalid hunter who can no longer hunt 
for meat. 

Gone ease. 

or beaten. 

One who is altogether broken up, or who is completely lost 

Gone COOn. A man lost beyong recovery, one whose case is absolutely 

Other variants are gone gander, gone goose, gone gosling, goner, goney. 

All those expressions are varieties of a phrase that was first brought 
into popularity by the story of a certain Colonel Scott, a Western hunter, 
whose aim with rifle was so unerring that a raccoon upon a tree, at 
which he was going to fire, surrendered at discretion after a short parley: 

Are you colonel Scott ? 


The famous colonel Scott ? 

Yes, so people say. 

Don't fire, colonel, I give in, I'm a yone-coon. 

GonCP. (1) One who is lost or ruined in fortune and health. 

(2) A politician, a merchant, or even an official, who is " gone, " done 
for, finished. 

(3) In the West, a hopelessly bad debt, one that is gone beyond the 
chance of a recovery. 

Gone up. A slang phrase occasionally referring to death, but more 
frequently to the failure of any entreprise, great or small. 

Goney. A dull, stupid fellow. 

Provincial in Gloucestershire, England. 
Also, gony. 



Gonus. A latinized form of " goney, " used in colleges. 

GoObeP (Arachnis hypogoea). A Southern name for peanuts or earthnuts. 
Also, guber. 
By extension, an inhabitant of some Southern States. 

In the South, a nickname applied to an inhabitant 
of Georgia or Alabama, from the ' goober " being so common in those 

Good. As applied to food, used in sense of pleasant, agreeable ; and to 
health, is used where Englishmen would say " well. " 
To feel good, i. e. to feel well, comfortable. 

Good-WOOled. A man whose courage can be depended upon never to 
fail him. 

Goody. A New-Jersyism for the spot-fish of Virginia, a fish of peculiar 
delicacy and in great favor from Atlantic City to Cape May. 

Goody-bread. A negro delicacy, consisting of bread in which pieces of 
roast rind of pork have been baked. 

Goody-gOOdy. Often contemptuously applied to an over- fastidious person. 

Go-Off. Commencement, beginning. ' ' There may be a few blunders on> 
the go off, but ---- " 

Go Off half-COeked. A metaphor borrowed from sporting phraseology, 
and applied to a person who undertakes to do a thing without due 
preparation, thereby failing to attain what would be otherwise within 
his reach. 

Go Off OH his ear. To get violently angry, to go away angry. 
Also, to get on his ear. 

Go One's death. To lay one's life on something. 

Go One's pile. To expend one's fortune to the last penny, and, idioma- 
tically, to throw one's heart and soul into an undertaking. Allusion to 
the " pile" (of money) obtained in mining or trade. 

Go On With the procession. To continue ; to allow no break in the 
continuity of any act. 

A simile drawn from processions being quite a feature in American 
public life. 

Goose. Used by shoemakers in sense of making new bottoms to a pair of 
boots, and renewing them half way up. 

Probably adapted, for distinction's sake, from " to fox. " 

GOOSeberry-fOOl. An old time dish of gooseberries and eggs, eaten 
with cream. 

GOO GOT 209 

Goose-egg. In college slang, a nought or round O at any game. Also, 
zero, as in marks or other connection. 

Gopher (Fr. gaufreur, from gaufre, honeycomb, waffle). (1) A generic 
name applied to several animals of mining or burrowing habits. 

(2) In the Middle States, a species of mole, burrowing in the prairies, 
and more than twice the size of the common field mole. 

(3) In the South, especially Georgia, a species of land turtle. 

(4) In the South, the name of a rude wooden plough. 

(5) In police language, a young sneak-thief or associate of burglars, 
who is passed into a room through a transom or window. 

(6) A nickname for an inhabitant of Minnesota. 

Gprmy. In New England, often said of a horse that " gawks" in stable 
or harness. 

Gospel-Sharp. A Western term for a clergyman. 
Gossamer. In the East, a waterproof cloak. 

Gotham. A name given, by Washington Irving, to the city of New 
York, as a satirical acknowledgement of the superior wisdom of its 
inhabitants. The word comes, of course, from the well known story of 
the villagers of Gotham, in Lincolnshire, who once raked the pond to 
get the moon out. 

Gothamite. A citizen of the city of New York. 
In England, a simple or credulous fellow. 

Go the big figure. To do things in a magnificent manner, on a large scale. 
" Our senators go the big figure on oysters and whiskey-punch." 

Also, to (jo the whole figure, in sense of to go to the fullest extent in a 
speculation or entreprise. To embark upon an enterprise of magnitude. 

GO the entire animal. To do a thing out and out. To put everything 
on one chance. Equivalent to " go the whole hog," which we have 
borrowed from England. 

Also, to go the whole animal, to go the whole dog. 

Go through. (1) To complete, to finish. 

(2) To go directly, without change of car or train. 

(3) When applied to a man, used in sense of " turning him inside up," 
i. e. either holding him up and robbing him, or otherwise linking it 
generally unpleasant for him. 

Go through One's sweat. To accomplish one's task : to go thrmgh 
one's trouble or anxiety, with a connotation of nearing the end of it. 

Go through the mill. To gain experience, and especially to m<et with 
difficulties, losses, etc. 

210 GOT GRA 

Go to grace. Same sense as " Go to Halifax ! " 
Perhaps derived from " go to grass." 

Go to Halifax. Be off ! Get out ! Stop your nonsense ! A survival from 
Revolutionarj" times, which meant originally : " You are a Tory ; go 
where you belong ! " 

Go tO leather. A ranchman's term used when, in riding a plunging 
horse, a man grasps the saddle to avoid being thrown. 

Go to Smash. To be utterly ruined, or broken. 

Gotten (OldEng.). An old and soft form of the past participle of " to 
get," which is much more colloquial in the United States than the 
modern " got." 

Gouging. At the Naval Ac ademy of Annapolis, dishonesty in work, as 
for instance the copying as one's own of a theme written by another. 

GougOU. A terrible monster in the form of a gigantic woman, who, 
according to the myths of neighbouring Indians, resided on an island of 
the Baiedes Chaleurs. Samuel de Champlain gives a detailed account of 
the gougou, taken from the lips of the natives, some of whom were clai- 
ming that the monster was feeding on human beings, catching them and 
preserving them in pouches large enough to hold a ship, all the time 
also emitting horrible noises. 

Go Under. (A) To die, to perish, a metaphor evidently borrowed from 
the final disposal of the body. 

(2) To fail in business, to sink in the maelstrom of financial difficulties. 

Compare with German "untergehen," meaning to perish, to fall, to 
go to ruin. 

Go up. (1) To be used up, worn up. 

(2) To die, and especially to mount the gallows, to be hung. For 
instance, a victim of lynch law is liable to go up on the first tree that 
will be met. 

GO up the SpOUt. (1) To come to grief, to collapse, in speaking of an 
affair that does not succeed. 

(2) To mount the gallows, to be hung, to die. 

Go up a tree. To be in difficulties, like an opossum going up a tree 
when hunted. 

Go West. A favorite expression of Horace Greely, now often used as a 
mere catch-phrase in sense of quit, be off, let me alone. 

Grabble. In digging potatoes, to remove large ones without disturbing 
the small. Also, to steal potatoes without disturbing the hill. 
Another form is gravel. 

GRA GRA 211 

Grade. (1) A degree in rank or quality. 

(2) A step or degree in any ascending or descending series. 

(3) A gradient on a railroad. 

Grade (to). (1) To arrange in order of some sort, whence the two tenses 
graded and grading. (Old Eng. ) 

(2) On Western ranches, to improve cattle by mixing the breeds. 

(3) To change the level of a road. Is only used technically in that 
sense, in England, by surveyors. 

Graft- (1) A shoemaker's word used in sense of adding new soles to a 
pair of boots. 

(2) In thieves' parlance, to pick pockets. To help another to steal. 

Grain (Old Eng.). (1) The universal name for the produce of all cereals : 
wheat, barley, rye, oats, etc. the word "corn" being applied to maize 

The smell of grain, or tedded grass, or kine. 

(MiLTON, Par. Lost, IX. 445.) 
What it devours not, herb, or fruit, or graine. 

(MILTON, Par. Lost, XII, 184.) 

(2) A particle, a bit, a little. Also curiously applied to distance, in 
sense of "a little further," as when one is asked " to move a grain." 
If he say so, may his pernicious soul 
Rot half a grain a day. 

(SHAKESPEARE, Othello.) 

Grama-grass (Sp. grama). A species of grass (Chondrosium) much 
esteemed as cattle-food, and which grows especially to perfection in 

Grand. A much abused term, in sense of anything great or large, and 
even anything very good, excellent or pleasant. ' ' A grand day, a grand 
show, the sleighing is grand. " 

where should they 

Find this grand liquor that hath gilded 'em ? 

(SHAKESPEARE, Tempest.) 

Granger. A farmer. 

Grangers, A secret society of patrons of husbandry, extending throughout 
the United States, and which oftentimes has taken a hand in politics, 
with a view to promoting the interests of agriculture. 

Granite State. The State of Xew Hampshire, from its rich granite 

Grape-Vine telegraph. During the Civil War, exciting news of battles 
not fought and victories not won were said to be received by grape-vine 

Grasset (Fr. gras). The ground robin, so called in Louisiana, from its 

Other names are chewink and marth-robin. 



Grass-Widow. A widow by the grace of circumstances, i. e. a married 
^ woman living apart from her husband. 
Also applied to divorcees. 
In England, an unmarried woman who has had a child. 

Gravel. A Western equivalent of to go against the grain, to be unwilling. 
Shakespeare uses it in the seose of a quandary in "As you like it. " 

Graveyard. Possesses, in America, the sense of a melancholy and deserted 
place, as for instance a lonely piece of land, where soldiers slain in battle, 
or the dead from an epidemic, have been buried. 

For general purposes the word cemetery is preferred. 

Graveyard issues. A bold and gruesome metaphor, to describe what 
can only be carried by extreme measures. 

Gravy. Used in New England, for any liquid or juice accompanying 
certain dishes, as the gravy of an apple-pie, of a pudding, etc. 

Graysliek. Used on the coast of New England to designate a state of 
the sea when the water, unbroken by waves, assumes the familiar 
"glassy" appearance. Thus, fishermen will be heard to say that they 
have got into a <jrayslick. 
Also, slick. 

Grease. Money used for bribery, i. e. boodle. 

Greased lightning. A Western metaphor for a lightning express, or 
quick travelling train. 

Greaser. (1) A term first applied to Mexicans, during the war with 
Mexico, and having its explanation in the not over-cleanly appearance 
of certain classes of Mexicans. It was subsequently extended to all 
Spanish Americans generally. 

(2) In the West, a vagrant miner, who gambles off his wages as soon 
as he receives them. 

(3) On steamboats, an assistant *.o the fireman, one who oils the ma- 

Great. A survival of Elisabethan English, in sense of distinguished, 
excellent, admirable. 

Green. A generic name, in Connecticut, for any public square or common. 

Greenbacks. A term first applied to the United States notes, issued on 
the breaking out of the Civil War, and whose versos were printed in 
green ink, mainly.for the propose of preventing alterations and coun- 

Now often extended to mean all legal tender notes of the United 
States in general. 

ORE GRI 213 

GPeenbackeFS. (1) The supporters of paper currency. Also called 
Inflationixts, as they are opposed to the resumption of specie payments. 

(2) Those who, previous to resumption of specie payments for sums 
of less than a dollar, were opposed to any change whatever. 

(3) The advocates of an unlimited issue of paper money. 

Greenback LabOP Party. A party advocating a currency based in 
general terms upon the National Credit and authority, without the 
security of a specie reserve. 

. Counterfeit bills from greenbacks, and of which, if recent 
revelations are to be credited, a regular trade is carried on. 

Green-gOOdsmen. Counterfeiters of greenbacks. Those who utter 
spurious paper currency. Those who deal, or affect to deal in them. 

Greenhead. In New Jersey, the name of a fly common in the coast 

Green Mountain State. The State of Vermont (Fr. vert-mont). 
Greens. A common name, in the South, applied to vegetables. 
Griddles. Used elliptically for cakes baked on a griddle. * 

GPidlPOn. A nickname for the "Stars and Stripes," the flag of the 
United States. 

Gridiron and doughboys, a slang term, used among British sailors, for 
the flag of the United States. 

Griffln (Fr. griffon}. A Louisiana term applied to mulattoes, more espe- 
cially to women. 

Grig". To vex, to irritate. 

Still provincial in England in sense of to nip, to pinch. 

Grim. A skeleton, death itself being known under the name of Old Grim. 

Grind. (1) In newspaper parlance an uninteresting subject assigned to a 

(2) In college slang, a student who confines himself to persistent study. 
Also, an instructor who demands an excessive amount of work, or a- 
course requiring an unusual amount of study. 

Grip. A vulgar name for a satchel, chiefly heard in the West. 
Also, (jripsack. 

Grip (to be a). To be easy to get or steal. " The leather was a grip," 
i. e. the pocket-book was easy to steal. 

Grip (tO lose One's). (1) To lose control of anything. 
(2) To fail in business or other effort. 



Gripe-fist. A miser, or broker ; evidently a corruption of "grip- fist," 
meaning a hand that squeezes over much. 

Grist. A large number or quantity. " There was a whole grist of fellows 
there. " 

Grit. (1) Used figuratively for courage, pluck, spirit, etc. from the grind- 
stone which should combine hardness and firmness to make it service-i ble. 
(2) A member of the Liberal party, in Canada. 
See clear grit. 

Gritty. Courageous, spirited. 

Grizzly. Used elliptically for grizzly benr . De Vere says the term 
grizzly is nothing more than the old English "grisly," meaning ugly, 
from " grise" which once was a name of swine. 
Grizzly-meat, bear-flesh. 

Groaners. Among the thieving fraternity, those who carry out their 
depredations at funerals and other church gatherings. 

Grocery. (1) A place where groceries are sold. 
In England, grocery-store or grocery-shop. 

(2) In. the South- West, a frequent name for a bar-room or drinking- 

Groceries. (1) Used in the plural for the articles themselves, while 
English usage limits it to the singular as denoting a grocer's shop or the 
grocer's ware. 

(2) In the South-West, a freqiient word for liquors or ardent spirits. 

Groggery. A low drinking saloon or grog-shop. 

In the West a doggery, in New York and elsewhere a rum-hole, or 

(Serranus erythrogaster). A thick-set fish of Florida, covered 
with olive colored irregular spots, and having the gills and gullet of a 
bright red hue. 

Ground. In Virginia always used instead of land. ' ' Tobacco-ground*. " 

GPOUnd-bridge. The well known corduroy-road of the South, laid in 
the water at the bottom of a ford. 

Ground-Cherry (Physalis). An edible cherry, growing wild, and other- 
wise called winter-cherry. 

Grounder. At game of base-ball, a ball which is struck low, or flies near 
the ground. 

Ground-hog (Arctomys monax). The Southern name for the woodchuck 
of the North, a species of the marmot tribe very destructive to grass 
and growing-crops generally. 



GPOUnd-hOg day. Candlemas (Feb. 2) is often designated in the Middle 
and Western States as Ground-hog day, from the popular belief that 
the ground-hog then comes annually out of his hole, after a long winter 
nap, to look for his shadow. If he perceives it, he retires again to his 
burrow, which fact means a return of cold weather and a late spring. 
But if he does not see his shadow, he stays out, and then mild and agreeable 
weather will surely set in. 

Ground-nut (Arachuis hypogcea). The earth-nut, or pea-nut. Also, 
ground-pea. Much cultivated in the West Indies and Southern States. 

Ground-plum (Astragalus caryocarpus). A plant growing on dry soil 
of the Mississipi region, and so called from its plum-shaped pod. 

Ground-puppy. See man-eater. 

Ground-Sluicing 1 . Amongst miners, an expression used as a substitute 
for shovelling, and meaning the process of washing down the sides of 
banks by means of water. 

Ground-Squirrel (Spermophilus tredecimlineatus). A name sometimes 
erroneoiisly given to the striped prairie squirrel, mentioned elsewhere 
as gopher. The ground squirrel is really the chipmunk. 


small stones. 

In the Wesfc, a house built of coarse plaster containing 

Grouty. In the Northern States, used in sense of cross, ill-natured, 
troubled in spirit. Merely a metaphorical application of an old and 
widely diffused English word. Thus, in Halliwell, we see that thick, 
muddy liquor is "grouty." Quotations are also given of "grouted" 
for begrimed, and of "grouts" as dregs, lees. 

Growler. A common name for a jug, pail or can, brought by a customer 
for beer. 

To rush or work the growler, to buy beer in a growler. 
Growlering, the business of selling beer by measure. 

Grubby (Batrachus variegatus). A New-England name for the toad-fitsh, 
allied to the fishing-frog and resembling it in repulsive ugliness. Also, 
grubley, and grumpy. 

On the New- Jersey coast the same fish is called oynter-fsh, from its 
frequenting the oyster-beds. 

Grub-Stake. Food and other necessaries, furnished to prospectors in 
mining districts, by men who share in the profits of a mine. 

GrullO, grool'-lo (Sp. f/rulla, a crane). In Texas, smoke-colored, of isabel 
color, in spe iking of horses. 



GrunteP. (1) One of the popular names of a fish (genus Pogonias), found 
in Atlantic waters, south of New York. Other names are banded- drum, 
(2) A hog, a pig. 

Gubernatorial. (1) Pertaining t government. Gubeniaiorial Mansion, 
i. e. Government House. 

(2) Pertaining to the governor of a State. Relating to the office of 

The English word " governmental/' used in England in a similar 
sense, is almost unknown in America. 

GueSS (Old Eng. ). To judge, to suppose, to think, to surmise. 

To conjecture, to state an opinion not based on exhaustive evidence. 

To believe, to fancy, as an affirmation of certainty. 

Although English purists have unceasingly twitted Americana upon 
their indiscriminate use of the verb " to guess," still, in point of fact, it 
can be readily shown that the word has been already used in England 
in every sense in which it is now used in America. Shakespeare, Chaucer, 
Milton, Coleridge, Selden and Locke, among the great authors, cons- 
tantly employ it, and indeed so orthodox is the term, that it can only 
be counted an Americanism on the ground that special applications of it 
have lived on in America while they have died out in the Mother 

The American use pf " to guess " is grievously misunderstood by most 
English people. The American guesses quite correctly, in order to 
draw conclusions from imperfect evidence. Indeed, his use of the word 
has such an immediate reference to "conjecture" the legitimate 
English sense that he might as naturally substitute j" reckon " or 
" calculate. " Perhaps the only difference between the English and 
American use of the word is that the former always denotes a fair, 
candid guess, while the American is sometimes apt to guess when there 
should be no guessing at all, as when he affirms a statement which is 
known to be beyond a doubt. 

Guinea-COPn (Holeus sorghum). The millet of the Egyptians, a plant 
with a stalk of the size and appearance of maize. 

Guinea-grass (Panicum maximum). A West-Indian grass, mainly used 
for fodder, and only of late years introduced into the United States. 

Guinea-keet. See keet. 

Gulch (Old Eng.). An old English word, now obsolete in the Mother 
Country, and of frequent occurrence, in California and the South- West, to 
designate a deep ravine caused by the action of water, sometimes with 
a stream flowing through it. 

Gulch-diggingS. G old-bearing gravel found in abandoned water-courses 
or gulches. 

GUL GUM 217 

Gulch-mining. Mining in gulches, a method akin to that of placer- 
mining, consisting in ascertaining the existence of the gold-croppings 
which are washed down by heavy rains into the ravines or gulches. 

Gulf. In parts of New York, often said of a small gorge or ravine, 
usually narrow and having steep sides. 

Gulf-weatheP. Warm, moist, cloudy weather, attributed to the influence 
of the Gulf Stream. 

Gully. To wear a hollow channel in the earth, from the noun " gully, " 
a hollow channel. " The roads are much (julfied." 

Glim. (1) A name given to various trees throughout the Union. The 
Mact-gum of the North, and sour-gum of the South both belong to the 
Nyassa species, while the sweet-yum, often called gum-tree or simply 
gnm (Liquidambar styracitlua), is the very tree which has furnished the 
many ligurea of speech derived from its being a favorite haunt of the 
opossum or raccoon : to yum, yum-yame.. 

(2) In the South and West, a term originally applied to bee-hives made 
of the hollow trunks of gum-trees, and now extended not only to any 
kind of hive made of wood, but also to any casks or firkins for domestic 

(3) India-rubber, and, by extension, the plural form gums often ap- 
plied, especially in Philadelphia, to india-rubber shoes or overshoes. And 
thereby hangs a tale. It is said that a certain Philadelphian, arriving 
suddenly on a stormy night at the house of a friend in New- York, was 
asked wore his wife was, and replied that she was just outside, "wiping 
her yum* on the mat. " 

Gum (to). To punch out the teeth of a saw, by means of a gummer. 
Allusion to the growth of the teeth from the gums. 

Gumbo. In Kansas, Missouri, and the Indian Territory, a name given to a 
hard, tough soil, which underlies the good soil, and can scarcely be 
plowed through at all. 
Also called hard-pan. 

Gumbo-French. A curious dialect or patois of Louisiana, and some 
riparian counties on the Mississipi, consisting in the main of strangely 
disfigured French words, with an admixture of some English and a few 
genuine African terms. 

Mr. Van Name, of Yale college, has made quite a comprehensive study 
of Gumbo French. 

Also, Creole French. 

Gum-game. A trick, a dodge, a piece of humbug. The simile is drawn 
from the preference shown, by opossums, and raccoons, for the leafy 
retreat of the gum-trees, when hotly pursued. This is called "coming 



the gum-game " over the hunter, and the phrase is applied with great 
shrewdness and force to any case in life when one thinks there is danger 
of getting over- reached by concealment. 
Hence also, to gum, meaning to deceive, to impose upon. 

Gump, A foolish, stupid person ; an awkward creature. 
Also, yumpy. 

Gumptious. One who has understanding, discernment. One who has a 
good opinion of himself, who is intelligent and smart. 

Gumptious is derived from " gumption, " indigenous in England for 
comprehension, capacity. 

Gun. A frequent term, in the West, for a revolver. 

Gun (to). To gun a stock, in Wall street parlance, is to use every art to 
produce a " break," when it is known that a certain house is heavily 
supplied, and would be unable to resist an attack. 

Gunboats. A term used in derision, during the Civil War, for the heavy 
contract shoes served out to the men, and which were apt to be as 
clumsy and awkward as the famous gunboats of the time. 

GundalO (Old Eng.) In New England, and along the Atlantic coast, aflat- 
bottomed boat or scow, in which produce is carried to market. 

Also, gundelow. 

Not unknown in England, in sense of a peculiarly-shaped railroad 
car. " Gundelo" is in Hakluyt, and " gundello " in Booth's reprint of the 
Folio Shakespeare of 1683.' 

Gunning (tO go). Used in the Northern States, in sense of " to go out 
shooting." This form of gunning for shooting occurs in Drayten. 
Also used figurativelj 7 . 

Gun-Shop. A gun-smith's shop. 
Gun-Stick. A ramrod, in the West. 

GUPPy. (1) A fisherman's term for the slime and blood resulting from 
handling and curing fish. 

In all probability, an inheritance from the old English, though a 
connection with gory might, perhaps, be established. 

(2) Among fishermen and in commerce, the crude oil made from the 
livers of cod and other fish. 

Gush. A large quantity, a great abundance. " A gush of apples/' etc. 
GusheP. A flowing oil-well. 

GutteP-snipe. (1) A little ragamuffin who plays in the gutters of the 
poorest part of a town. 

HAB HAL 219 

(2) In Wall street parlance, and in a sense of derision and contempt, 
an. outside broker doing business chiefly on the sidewalk or in the street, 
and who is not a member of the Stock Exchange. 

Habitant (Fr. C.). Among the French-Canadians, a yeoman ; a small 
landed proprietor ; one engaged in agricultural pursuits. 

Hack (Old Eng.). A cab, or common carriage on hire. A survival of 
Old English usage. 

In England, a hack is now a horse used for riding. 

HackamOPe (8p. jaquima). In the South-West, a plaited bridle, made 
of horse-hair, and used on the plains for breaking in purposes. 

HackbePPy (Celtis occidentals). A small tree, having a sweet edible 
fruit, and which gives excellent wood for fuel. 
Also called sugar-berry, pompion-berry. 

Hackmatack (Ind). The old Indian name of the tamarack (Larix 
americana) of our day, a larch furnishing a hard, strong, and durable 

I wood, and largely found throughout British America and the North- 
Eastern States. 

Haily-OVeP. Same as Antony-over (q. v.). 

Haiqua (Ind.). The name of a variety of shells (Dentalium) known on the 
Pacific coast, and which the natives use mainly for ornaments, and, in 
some localities, employ after the manner of wampum (q. v. ). 

Half-a-hog". An English flash term applied, in Americi, to a five cent 

In England the term is used among thieves, to designate a six-permy- 

Half-bPeedS. A derisive nickname once applied to certain Republicans 
of New York, who wavered in their party allegiance during the tight 
over the United States Senatorship in 1881. 

Half-saved. In New England, often used in sense of half-witted, weak- 

Still provincial in England. 

Half-Way StPaineP. In parts of the South, said of one who tries to lire 
above his true station. 

Half-WidOW. A term applied, in New England and New York, to a 
woman whose husband is shiftless, and fails to provide properly for her. 



Ham. (1) Sporting slang for a loafer. 

(2) In theatrical parlance, a tenth-rate actor or variety performer. 
Also, hamfatter. 

HamfatteP. In the fashionable quarters of New York city, and more 
especially in that part known as the " Tenderloin, " a recent name applied 
to a second-rate dude or masher, or a low variety actor. 

Hammock. In the South, an undulating tract of country, thickly wooded 
with oak, hickory, and magnolia. 
Also, hommock, hummock. 

Handle. (1) To handle wines, hardware, etc. i. e. to do business in 
wines, etc. 

(2) A peculiar meaning attaches to this verb in Connecticut, that of 
"to trouble" or "to distress, " as when a troublesome cough handl&f a 
person badly. 

(3) To manage ; to overcome an opponent, particularly in wrestling. 

Hand-OUt. A cold lunch given to a tramp. 

Hand-round. A Western term for a social gathering or entertainment, 
where refreshments, instead of being served at a table, are simply handed 

Handsomely. Among American sailors, ussd in sence of carefully, or 

Hang around. To loiter about ; to loaf. 
In England, " to hang about." 

Hang OUt. To resida. Especially current in the West. 

Hang the landlady. To decamp without payment, a phrase applied 
to " moonshiiiing " practices of all descriptions. 
Another form is to stand off the tailor. 

Hang up. (1) To pawn. 

(2) To rob with violence on the street. 

(3) To quit work. " I reckon we'll have to hany lup for all day." 

Hang up one's flddle. To retire ; to give up or abandon an under- 

Hannahill (Centropristos nigricans). One of the popular names of the 
black sea-bass, one of the most savory and delicate of fishes. 
Also, black-harry. 

Hant. In the South, especially among negroes, often heard for a ghost. 
" There's Hants in this here house." 

Happen in. To happen to come in. To call at a house without any 
definite object ; to go or come in accidentally. 

HAP HAR 221 

Happening's. In newspaper slang, events, occurrences. 
Also, occurrings. 

Happen upon. To come across any one. 

Happy hunting grounds. A phrase now passed into popular language, 
and meaning the other world, the future state, according to the belief of 
the Indian, whose idea of heaven naturally pictures to him a place 
where he can have the unlimited enjoyment of his greatest pleasure, 
which is hunting. 

Hard. Often heard in sense of bad or undesirable, and then mostly used 
in combination with other words, as in a "hard case," meaning a 
worthless fellow, a tough. 

A favorite word applied universally to men or things, from " hard 
money, " for gold or silver, to " hard times, " for times of business 
depression, evil fortune. Similarly, a man will drink, eat, or sleep ' ' hard. " 

Hard cole, a cant term for silver or gold money. 

Hardware, in thieves' parlance, said of counterfeit coin. 

Hard Coal. Anthracite coal. 

The term soft coal is applied to bituminous coal. 

Hardhaek (Spiroea tomentosa). The familiar name, in New England, of 
a well known plant growing in low grounds, and celebrated for its 
astringent properties. 
Also, steeple-bush. 

Hard pan. (1) A iirm and solid foundation ; the bottom, a figure of 
speech from the same term designating, in geology, the hard stratum of 
earth that lies below the soil. 

(2) In parts of Connecticut, a mixture of clay and subsoil underlying 
the upper soil, and which is of a peculiarly hard consistance. 

See (jumbo. 

Hard pan (at). At the lowest possible point, in speaking of prices. 

Obviously drawn from the geologic term, designating the lowest 
stratum of earth. 

Hard pushed. To be " hard up, " to be in difficulties. 
Also, te be hard run. 

Hard tack. Slang for silver money, especially dollars. 

Hard Shells. Originally a nickname applied to some very strict and 
rigid Baptists, as opposed to Soft Shells, meaning those who were of a 
more liberal turn of mind, the simile being drawn from the crab in its 
different states of existence. 

Both terms, often also simply contracted into hards and xoftx, are 
now freely used in a variety of political connections, the earliest conspi- 



cuous instance of which was when the " Hunkers, " from the unswer- 
ving fidelity of their conduct, took the name of Hards, and their 
opponents, or " Barnburners, " that of Softs. 

Also used adjectively, as a hard or hard-shdl Baptist, a hard-shell 

HaPd-taek. Sea-bread, or dry biscuit, as opposed to -toft-tack or fresh 
bread. Originated during the late Civil War. 

HaPd-WOOd. A general term for all woods of solid texture, beech, ash, 
elm, maple, etc. as opposed to pine, or "light-wood. " 

Harm. A contraction of harmful used in the South, especially Georgia, 
in sense of unkind. " He never said a harm word to any one. " 

Harman (Old Eng.). This old word, now obsolete in England, still 
retains its hold, here, among the criminal classes, for a policeman, whilst 
a sheriff is also designated as a harman-beak. 

Hash-house. A slang word for a refreshment room. 
Hasty-pudding. See supawn. 

Hat. A generic term, among women, for any kind of head-gear, the 
" sun-bonnet" being the only bonnet known in America. 

Hatch. To ponder, to wonder, i. e. " hatching" thoughts and ideas. 
Also, tohetch. 

Hatchet. A cant name for the " grease " used in lubricating the palms 
of dishonest customs officials. 
See bone. 

Hate (Low Scotch haet). A bit. " There is not a hate of truth about 
the news." 

Hate OUt (to). A significant Western term given to a practice very much 
akin to bo3'cotting, and which commonly results in the banishment of 
the person against whom it is directed. 

Haul. A New Jerecyism used in sense of to pull up, as " to haul weeds." 

Have. (1) To cause, or, more accurately, to cause by influence, as 
" I will have the servant do it." 

Analogous, in that sense, to the French " faire faire quelque chose, " 
and still provincial, in England, in Essex and Suffolk counties. 

(2) To permit, to tolerate. 

Hawk. A swindler, and more especially one who works the confidence 



Hawk-Eye State. The State of Iowa, said to be so named after a 
famous Indian chief, who was once a terror to " voyageurs, " trappers, 
and pioneers. 

Similarly, hawk-eyes, meaning the inhabitants of Iowa. 

Hay-barrack (Dutch hooi-berg, hay-moutain). A somewhat ludicrous 
corruption used to designate, in New- York State, a sort of thatched 
roof, supported by four posts, under which the hay is stored. 

Hayseed. A generic name for a countryman, one not accustomed to the 
wiles of city life. 
Also, hay-pitcher. 

Hay-Ward (Old English). A township officer, whose duty it is to 
impound stray cattle and feed them until they are redeemed by their 
owners. Also, hay-warden. 

This old word is found in the old English records, and is closely 
allied to hedge-ward, fence-ward. 

Haze. (1) To frolic ; to play practical jokes, as, for instance, in speaking 
of the treatment which Freshmen often receive from Sophomores. 

(2) To indulge in a drunken spree. 

(3) Among sailors, to work at high pressure. 

He. In parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey, a woman 
speaks of her absent husband, not by name, but with the pronoun he 
or him. 

Likewise, the 3d person is used instead of the 2d by bashful, ignorant 
people. In talking with you, they will say: " Will he take a chair?" 

Head. In newspaper parlance, the title and sub-title of an article. 

Head-Cheese. The flesh of pig's head minced, cooked, and pressed into 
a kind of a cheese. 

Also, hor/3-liea.d cheese, and souse. 

Head Off. To turn from a purpose ; to put off ; to distract attention. 

Head-rights. Rights to certain of the public lands, whick every citizen, 
who is the head of a family, can claim of he desires to do so. 
These rights are also enjoyed by women, within certain limits. 

Head-Stall. A halter, and even sometimes a bridle. (Nfld. N. S. and 
N. B.) 

Heady. Sometimes heard, in Virginia, in sense of persist i: , tenacious. 

Hearn (Old Eng.). The old participle form of " heard, " still current in 
New England and Virginia. 

Or ever hearn to make your feelin's blue. 

(LOWELL, Biglow Paj crs, II, p. 161.) 

Heap tO. Give heed to. (New-Eng.) 

224 HEA HEL 

Heater-piece. In New England, as applied to land, a triangular or 
wedge-shaped piece of ground. 

Probably derived from the similarity of shape to the " heaters " of 
box irons used by housewives. 

Heathen Chinee. A popular sobriquet for a Chinaman, derived from 
Bret Harte's poem of " Truthful James." 

Heath-hen. See prairie-hen. 

Heavy-handed. In New England, often said of a cook who uses much 
salt. " She's heavy-handed with salt. " 

Heel. A cowboy's term, meaning to "lariat" or secure an animal by 
the hind leg. 

Heeled. Prepared for an undertaking ; well armed for any purpose. 

Meant originally, in the West, armed with deadly weapons, secure 
from attack, probably from the cock's spur, not unfrequently, as in 
England, supplied with a steel spur. 

HeelePS. (1) A contemptuous term applied to the followers or henchmen 
of a politician or party. 

(2) Loafers and idlers of every description, especially those frequenting 
drinking saloons and on the look out for " shady " work. 

(3) Among thieves, the heelers are those working the "pocket-book 
racket. " This consists in drawing a chosen victim's attention, by 

touching his heels, to a pocket-book containing connterfeit money which 
has been dropped by a companion, with the object of inducing the finder 
to part with genuine coin in dividing the spoils. 

Heel-fly. An insect pest which infests cattle on Western ranches. 

Heft (Old Eng. ). Weight. Also used as a verb, in sense of to estimate 
weight by lifting. 

Hefty. Weighty, and, by extension, important, forcible. "A hefty 

Heifer. Not uncommon in the West for " wife, '' and used with all 
kindness and respect. 

Equivalent of the "old woman" of the English lower classes. 

Heifers. A New Jerseyism, for young cow terrapins. 

HeiF (to). Common in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in sense of to 

Hell-bender (Menopoma Alleghaniensis). An aquatic reptile of the 
salamander type, growing sometimes to eighteen inches, and probably so 
called on account of its extraordinary hideousness. 



Hell-bOX. In printer's slang, the counterpart of the " batter-slipper" of 
the English printing offices. 
Also, baalam-box. 

Hell-hounds. During the Civil War, a name applied by the Confederates 
to the Northern gun- boats. 

Hellion. A term formerly much used in Massachusetts, in sence of a 
denizen of hell. The word, which is still common enough, has now lost 
all derogatory meaning, and simply applies to a " devil of a fellow." 

Hell-matteP. Among printers, broken and battered type, the destina- 
tion of which is the hell-box. 

Help. (1) A servant of any kind, and especially a domestic servant or 
hired hand, the term " servant " being seldom used in the United 
States. ' 

(2) An operative in a cotton or woollen factory. 

This use of help is 'only an extension of the original word from an 
instrument to a 'person, and originated in New England where perfect 
social equality was wont to be the rule, at least in olden times. 

The term has recently found some footing in England. 



The New-England name of a species of clam (Mactra 

Hen-hawk (Butes lineatus). Th popular name of the red-shouldered 
hawk of naturalists. 

Hen-hussy. In parts of New England, a man who meddles with women's 
affairs, especially one who concerns himself overmuch with household 

Hen party. A gathering consisting only of women. Compare with buck- 
party, stag -party. 

Hermit-thPUSh (Turdus palassi). A bird of passage with sweetly plain- 
tive notes, and so called because of its shy and mysterious habits. 

Herring pond. The Atlantic. 

Herring-salmon (Coregonus clupeiformis). A local name, in the lake 
Erie region, for the nhad salmon or white fish. 

Hessian. A political term for a mercenary person, from the fact that 
Hessian troops were employed by England during the war of Indepen- 

During the late Civil War the word was also used, at the South, as a 
term of reproach directed against the loyal U. S. citizens and soldiers. 



Hessian-fly (Cecidomyia destructor). A small iiisect, very destructive 
to young wheat, and which is said to owe its name to the popular 
notion that it was first imported into the United States in the straw 
beds of Hessian soldiars, enlisted during the War of the Revolution. 
On the other hand, many entomologists assert that it is strictly of 
American origin, although its existence has long been known in several 
European countries. 

Het. Often heard in sense of heated, i. e. a building all het up. 

Shakespeare and Chaucer both used the past tense " heat" instead of 
" heated." 

Hiekey. A degree or two short of being drunk. 

Hickory (Ind. pawcohiccora, as quoted by captain John Smith). A tree 

of the genus " Carya " producing a timber exceedingly tough and strong, 

. besides also flexible to an unusual degree, and bearing an edible nut 

sometimes called walnut, esp. in the North where the real walnut does 

not thrive. 

Hence also figuratively employed, as adjective, in speaking of a 
person, either in sense of flexible or yielding, or to indicate an unswer- 
ving fidelity to one's principles, as was the case, for instance, in 1828, 
during the Jackson campaign, when the "hickory tree "became the 
emblem of the Democratic party, and Gen. Jackson himself was nick- 
named Old Hickory, from his tough and unyielding disposition. 

Hickory-nut. The fruit of the hickory. These nuts are also erroneously 
called walnuts in the North, especially in New York. 

HiekOPy-ShiPt. A shirt much worn by laborers, made of heavy twilled 
coton, and so called from its strenght. 

Hieksites. A sect of Quakers who adopted the name of their first leader, 
M. Hicks, and are Socinians. 

'ttichard Grant White fv B the term has also been so used in England 
since the division in the Soc ety of Friends, of which it is a sign. 

Hifer. To loiter. (Northern Pennsylvania. ) 

Highbelia (Lobelia cardinalis). A plant of the Lobelia family, so called 
from being of greater size than the Lobelia proper (Lobelia inflat. ), 
and much in vogue among quack doctors for their decoctions. 

Highbinder. (1) A term applied, in San Francisco, to members of a 
Chinese secret society, who blackmail gamblers and prostitutes, and 
remove by knife orpistol those who incur the enmity of their organization. 
" Highbinder" is generally supposed to be of California origin, but 
this in an error, the word having been used in New York City, forty years 
ago, to denote a member of a gang. From there it]found its way to the 
Pacific coast. 



According to the Century Dictionary the " high" has the same force 
as in "high jinks," "hifalutin," etc. while "bender" or "binder" is 
one who goes on a " bender." 

() A rowdy, or roysterer. 

High-blackberry. A distinctive name, for the fruit of the " Rubus 
V T illosus." 

High-bloke. A judge, among American criminals. 

. A pugilistic phrase, synonymous with the free drawing 

of blood. 

High-dutehePS. Skates, the blade of which is curled up high in front, 
while those without those ornamental projections are called dumps. 

Highfalutin. High-flown language ; an exaggerated bombastic speech, 
with a good deal of " spread-eaglism " thrown in. 

The word can be obviously traced back to [a corruption of " high- 
flying, ', " high-flyghting, " or " high-floating. " 

Also used adjectively in sense of showy, stuck up, affected, high- 
sounding, bombastic. 

The term has now become naturalised in England. 

Also, highfaluten, highfaluting. 

High holder (Picus amatus). In New York, the popular name of the 
flicker, or yellow hammer, from the Old English " high-whele. " 

High -jinks. A thief's term for a petty gambler. 

High-minded Federalists. A derisive term applied, in 1820, to a few 
Federalists who supported Governor Clinton, and were laughed at for 
their frequent use of the phrase " high-minded. " 

High-muek-a-muek. Overbearing in presence ; possessed of inordinate 

self-esteem ; affecting great dignity. 
Also, high studded. 

High Old time. A Western equiv. for what in the East would be 

designated " as a good time. " 

High-POlleP. A fast liver ; one who gambles freely and for large sums. 
High-toned. Aristocratic, stylish, fashionable. 

Hike. (1) To hasten, to run away, to decamp. 

(2) To hitch. " The curtain hike*, " i. e. does not pull up smoothly. 

(3) Said of clothing which is uneven, i. e. does not " set well. " 

Hindoos. An allusive sobriquet given in 1856 to the Know-Nothings, 
from the president of that party, Daniel Ulman, being supposed to have 
been born in Calcutta, East Indies. 

See Know- Nothing*, Natire Americans, Sum*. 



Hindsight. (1) The " backsight ; ' of a gun, and figuratively the popular 
antithesis of foresight. "An ounce of foresight is worth a pound of 

Hinny. The game oi : leap-frog. (N. Y.) 

Hips (to have the). To be restless at night and unable to sleep. 
Hired-man. A man servant. Similarly, a hired-woman, fora servant-girl. 
Hi-spy. The name given by Ifttle girls to out-door hide-and-go-seek. 

Hitch. This word, originally meaning a substantial obstacle and its 
effects upon the gait of persons, is constantly applied in America to 
difficulties in business matters. 

Hitch (to). To marry, from hitching necessary for harness. 
Similarly, a couple not agreeing is said " not to hitch." 

HoaPSed up (tO be). To suffer from hoarseness produced by a severe cold. 

Hobble. On ranches, to secure horses or cattle, by fastening the two 
fore-feet together by a " lariat" or hobble. 
See sideline. 

Hobble-bush (Viburnum lantanoides). A shrub having long, straggling 
branches, which impede progress, whence also called tanyle-legs and 
wayfaring, or wayfaring-tree. 

HobO. A tramp. Originally Western, but wellnigh universal now. 

Hock. The last card remaining in the deal-box, at faro. 

The soda card is the top-card of the deck. Hence "from soda to hock.'' 
To be caught in hock, said of those who venture into the toils of card- 
sharpers, and get fleeced. 

To be in hock, among the gambling fraternity, to be where one can 
enjoy free board and lodging, i. e. to be in jail. 

Hoe-cake. A cake made of corn-ni3al unleavened, and baked in the 
ashes on the side of a hoe. 

Hoe-d'OWn. A negro dance. Same as break-down. 

Hoe One's POW. To do one's share of a work ; to attend to one's own 

.Similar to " paddle one's own canoe. " 

A hard row to hoe, a simile drawn from the cultivation of Indian corn, 
and synonymous with what is difficult of accomplishment. 

Hog". A pig. Pigs are always called hogs in America, even when named 

Takes almost exclusively the place of the English " swine/' which is 
rarely heard in the United States. 



Hog" (to). To behave greedily ; to appropriate greedily and selfishly. 

H03T and hominy, JF pork and corn. The standard dish of all early 
settlers. " To be bidden to a planter's hog and hominy, is to be presented 
with the full, free hospitality of his house." (T. 0. Richards, Rice 
Fields of the South.) 

A generic name, in the West, for all long, flat-ridged 

The use of this term is not unknown in England, although there 
strictly applied to particular localities, whereas in America it has 
become a generic name. 

Hog-Choke. In North Carolina, a species of flounder. 

Hog-fish (Etheostoma caprodes). A fish common in all the Western rivers. 

Hogg. Slang for a ten cent piece. 

In Old English cant a hog is a shilling. 

Hog-mind6F. A swine herd ; one who has charge of swine. 

Hog plum (Ximenia americana). A tall shrub of South Florida, bearing 
a fruit in size and shape like a plum, and pleasant to the taste. 
Also, pig-plum. 

Hog-Peeve. A title formerly given, in New England, to the local officer 
whose duty it was to impound stray pigs. 
Old Ens;. " reve," anofficer, a steward. 

Hog-tight. Said, in the South, esp. Maryland, of fences that are 
sufficient to restrain trespassing stock, and used in the same way that 
in England a thing would be said to be sound,' "lock, stock, and 

Hog-WallOW. A sink hole or mud spring on the prairies, presenting 
every appearance of having been formed by the wallowing of swine. In 
reality, however, hog-wallows are caused by hea'vy rains, which form a 
rapid succession of little hillocks and valleys, on land already parched 
and cracked by long drought. 

Holden (Old Eng.). The old participle form of to hold, still colloquial 
in many parts of the United States. 

We are holden to men by every sort of tie, by blood, by pride, etc. 

(R. W. Emerson, Friendship, p. 187.) 

Hold fOP. To hold for trial ; to detain in custody while awaiting trial. 
Hold OV6P. A place of detention, for prisoners awaiting trial. 

Hold OVeP (to). To have an advantage over one, in some way or other. 
A phrase probably derived from poker phraseology. 



Hold up (to). To stop and rob, as for instance when a railway train is 
" held up" by masked robbers, for the plundering of the express safes. 
Probably derived from the well known phrase " Hold up your hands " 
of Western brigands. 

Hold-ups. A generic term, in the West, for robbers or brigands who 
make a specialty of " holding up" travellers or trains. 

Holibut- In many parts of the United States, the familiar " halibut " 
recovers its original name ' ' holibut, " as quoted in Bailey's Dictionary. 
In his " World of Worlds, " Phillips also takes great pains to make us 
aware that the proper name of the fish is " Holy But. " 

HolleP. A common form of hollo, i. e. to call out, to shout. 
Holly-bay. See loblolly-bay. 

Holp, Holped, Holpen (Old Eng.). Old archaic preterites of "help," 
still sometimes heard, " holpen " being however the least frequently 
met with. 

De Vere says holpen is still often heard in Kentucky, while in Virginia 
and among the negroes of the South, holped is more frequent. 

Home. Often used in America where idea intended to be conveyed is 
that which an Englishman attaches to the word "almshouse. " 

Home-bringing 1 . In the North of New Jersey, the entertainment given 
at the house of the bride-groom after the marriage. 

Similarly, in Southern New Jersey, they will say home-coming. 
See infair. 

Homely. Unattractive, plain in appearance ; as nearly as possible, ugly. 
In England, used for homelike, whilst in the United States it serves 
mainly to express a want of comeliness. 

Homestead. An act passed in 1862, for the object of giving to every 
citizen of the United States a home farm of 160 acres, the sole condition 
being five year's residence upon the property, and some improvements 
by cultivation. A very important provision of this act is also the 
absolute exemption of the homestead from forced sale for debts contracted 
prior to the issuing of the patent, or free title. 
Also, Homestead Law. 

Hominy (Ind. ahuminea, for parched corn, -in Roger William's Key. 
Other forms are rockahominy, in Beverley, and the uatatahamen of the 
Powhatan dialect). 

An Indian dish eaten all over the Union, and consisting in a prepara- 
tion of corn, eather coarsely ground or broken, or the kernels merely 
hulled, and boiled with water. 
Also, homony. 



Hominy-beater. A snapping beetle (Elater, of Pennsylvania), so called 
from some fancied resemblance to a kernel hulled. > 

Hondou (Sp. honda, a sling for throwing stones). In Texas, the slip 
knot of a reata, or lariat (q. v. ). 

Honey. (1) A good fellow ; one who commands admiration and respect. 
Also a favorite word for all real and verbal sweetness. 
(2) A generic name for money. 

Honey (to). To cajole with soft words or promises. 

Honey-fOgle (to). In the West and South, to swindle, to cheat, to 

To allure by traps. 
Also, to honey-fuggle. 

Bartlett suggests that this curious word may come from "coney 
fogling, " a Lancashire term mentioned by Halliwell as meaning " to 
lay plots. " 

Honey-locust (Gleditschia triacanthus). A tree so called from its bearing 
a large pod containing a pulp of honey-like sweetness. 
Also known, in the West and South, as the thorny-locust. 

Honey-SUekle (Azalea viscosa). A name given in the South to a curious 
woody plant, the brilliant flowers of which are surrounded by a viscous 
secretion. This plant is, of course, far remote from kinship with the 
real English honey suckle. 

HoodlebUg . In Virginia, the larva of the ant-lion. 

Hoodlum. A general term for roughs, or toughs, having originated in 
San Francisco about 1868, as the designation of a company of young 

The word is now frequently met with, in political parlance. " The 
Hoodlum element in politics. " 

As the story goes, the origin of the name is ascribed to a newspaper- 
man of San Francisco, who in writing up the deviltry of a gang of 
young toughs, under the leadership of one Muldoon, called them the 
" noodlums, " that is, he simply reversed the name of the leader. The 
compositor read " h " for " n, " and set the word up " hoodlums. " 

Hence also, hoodlumwm. 

HoodOO. A negro term for a person who is bewitched, and has the power 
to bring bad luck. 

HoodOO (to). To bewitch. 

Hook (Dutch hoek, a corner, a cape). An old word designating certain 
corners and angular points in the Hudson and the East Rivers, as Sandy 
Hook, Kinderhook, etc. 

232 HOO-HOP 

Hookey (to play). To play truant, chiefly current in State of New 
York, among shool-boys. 

In England, " playing the wag. " 

lu New England, the form to hook Jack is used in preference. 

Hoollkan 'Ind. oidachan). A small salmonoid fish of the Pacific coast 
(Mallotus pacificus), which comes every spring in shoals as far south as 
the mouth of the Columbia river. 

Also called Eulachon. 

W. Irving reported the same fish as " about six inches long, " called 
by the natives the " Uthlecan. " 

Hoop-la (Fr. houp-la). An exclamation indicating jollification, and 
which Bartlett cites as a common stage-driver's ejaculation to his hor- 
ses, in California. We may be reminded of the French origin of the 
word by the following extract from : " Le Prisonnier de Hennes, a 
popular Breton " ronde " : 

Dans la ville de Rennes, 

Houp-la la la, houp-la, 

II y a t'un prisounier. 

Hoople (Dutch hoepel). A common term, amongst New- York boys, for a 
trundling hoop. 

HOOSieP. A native pf the State of Indiana. 

The most reasonable explanation of the word, is that, in the early 
days, the customary challenge or greeting, in that region, was " Who's 
here" (pron. hoosier). 

On the other hand, some people think it is simply a corruption of 
" husher," which was formerly a common term applied, in the Western 
settlements, to all " bullies " in general, and more especially to the 
boatmen of Indiana, from their primary capacity to " hush," i. e. to 
still their opponents. 

HoOSier cake- A coarse kind of gingerbread, so called because th< 
inhabitants of Indiana the Hoosier State are said to be very partial 
to it. 

HOOSieP State. The State of Indiana, from " hoosier," a nickname 
applied to a native of same State. 
Also, Hoosierdom. 

HooteP. A thing not worth a hooter, is a thing not worth an iota, of no 

Chiefly confined to New York, and probably only a corruption of 
the English "iota." 

Hopine. A name given to malt-liquor, which, for all practical purposes, 
is genuine beer, it being however so called to evade the provisions of 
the Prohibition Act. 

HOP HOR 233 

Hopping-John. In South Carolina, a dish of bacon and peas stewed 
with red pepper. 

Hopping mad. Exceedingly angry ; mad enough to mop about. 

Hop-tree (Ptelia trifoliata). A tall shrub of the Eastern States, so called 
from its seed clusters being used as a bitter tonic, somewhat like hops. 

Horn. (1) A measure for drink ; a drink of spirits. Probably from the 
old custom of drinking out of a horn. 

(2) In the Far West, the pommel of a saddle, from its horn-like shape. 

HOPn (in a). A slang phrase, analogous to the English " over the left," 
and which, when applied to any statement, means the reverse of words 
already spoken. 

HombUg. The stag-beetle (Lucanus) of England. 

HomsWOggle. A Western creation applied to any kind of chaff, foolery> 
non-sense, denoting groundless bragging for the purpose of getting the 
better of another. 

Also, shennnigan, skulduggery, this last word denoting however more 
particularly some kind of underhand plotting. 

Horns WOggle (to). To cheat. 

Horqueta, or-kay'-tah (Sp. dim. of horca, meaning a little fork). In 
Texas, a forked piece of wood tied to the leg of a horse to prevent his 
straying or running away. 

Horse. (1) The horse being " par excellence " the friend of man, and 
moreover a fine horse being one of the most beautiful objects on earth, 
this word is often used, as a term of endearment or admiration, as 
applied to a dear friend or old companion, or in speaking of men, and 
even women, whose traits of character command respect and homage. 

Amongst the ruder sort, the term affectionately becomes " Old hoss, 
and a man is apt to speak of himself as " this hor&e." 

(2) Still current in the Old English sense of a plank support or trestle. 

Horse and horse. Originally applied to horses which, in running a 
race, come in side by side, and then transfered to gamesters in sense of 

Also used, in throwing poker dice, when each player wins one throw ; 
the third horse decides the game, and then the loser is said to have a 
" horse on him." 

Horse-boat. A sort of ferry-boat, the propelling power of which is a 
horse, and especially common in Western waters. 
Also, horse-ferry. 

Horse-Cappers. Horse swindlers, whose trick is generally to dispose of 
a worthless animal at a price far above its value. 



aP. Tram-car, or tramway. 

Horse-fOOt (Limulus polyphemus). The popular name of the king-crab 
of England, from its closely resembling a horse's hoof. Also called 

Horse mackerel (Cybrum maculatum). In New England, a salt water 
fish of the mackerel kind, otherwise called Spanish mackerel. 

In same region, the name horse-mackerel is also given to the blue-fah 
(Temnodon saltator). 

Horse marine. An awkward person. 

Horse milliner (Old Eng. ). A saddler and harness maker. 

This old name has high and ancient authority for its use, dating back 
as far as the 16th century. Sir W. Scott, also, in his " Heart of Mid- 
Lothian," makes Bartoline Saddletree say : " Whereas, in my wretched 
occupation of a saddler, horse-milliner, and harness maker." 

Horse-mint (Monirda punctata). A large species of mint found from 
New York southward. 

Horse-nettle (Solanum carolinense). A low, troublesome weed, especialty 
aboundai t in the Southern States, and well known for its bright, yellow 
berries of poisonous properties. 

Horse-railroad. A tramwaj'. 

Horse sense. Good, sound, practical, common sense. 

Hose. The Western equivalent for ladies' stockings, which term is consi- 
dered very indelicate. 

Hot-Slaw. Minced cabbage, pickled in vinegar and made hot. So called 
to distinguish it from cold-slaw. 

Hounds. (1) In the old slavery days, men who hunted and caught run- 
away negroes. 

(2) A gang of ruffians, also stjding themselves Regulator*, who infested 
San Francisco in 1849. 

House-Car. A closed car ; a box-car. 

House-keep (tO). To keep house. 
See keep. 

Housen. Plural of " house, " heard in various parts of New England,. 
New York and New Jersey. 

House-raising 1 . A gathering of neighbors or friends, in country districts, 
for the purpose of building or re-building a house. Such events usually- 
wound up with feasting and merry making. 
Also called ramng-bee. 



Hove (Old Eng.)- This old preterite form of " to heave " is still in use, 
principally in New England and the South. 

HOW. A common New-Englandiam for what did you say? used when 
a remark is not dearly heard or understood. 

Analogous to the French " comment. " 

In using this word, Americans attach to it no meaning whatever of 
rudeness, it being simply part of the brevity which characterises them 
as a people, they having no time no lose, or, at any rate, acting as if the 
law of life was ceaseless hurry. 

HOW COme ? A Southern contraction meaning " How came it? How did 
it occur ? " 

HOW is that for high? What do you think of it ? 

This slang expression is of Western origin, and is borrowed from a 
low game, known as "Old Sledge, " where the " high" depends, not on 
the card itself, but on the adversary's hand. 

HOW you talk. A New-England exclamation which may mean surprise, 
approbation, or, indeed, any emotion whatsoever. 

Huajolote, oo-ah-ho-lo'-tay (Mex. huexolotl). In Texas, the wild turkey 
(Meleagris gallopavo Mexicana). 

Huarachos, oo-ah-rah'-tchos. In Texas, a kind of sandals worn by 
Indians and the lower classes generally. 
Also, huaracJies. 

Hub. A heap on a road ; a projection on a mountain. 

Hub Of the Universe. A grandiloquent title given by Oliver Wendell 
Holmes to the city of Boston, and meaning the great centre or chief 
city, like the hub of a wheel, to which the spokes are subservient. 

Hubbies. Rough pieces on a road, as humps or lumps, especially when 
a road is frozen after being cut into ruts. 
Also, ice formed on the surface of wter. 

Huckleberry (Gaylussacia). A kind of blackberry, resembling the 
whortleberry of England. Indeed, huckleberry might be said to be merely 
whortleberry, pronounced with the old English interchange of k and t. 

Huckleberry above the persimmons. A Southern phrase expressing 

that something apparently simple and easy is far above the ability of 
the person who makes the attempt. 

Huckster. To peddle. Especially current in Philadelphia. 

Huggerum-buff. In Newfoundland and the Canadian Maritime pro- 
vinces, a mixture of fish and potatoes ready to fry into fish-cakes. 



HuiSEChe, we-sah'-tchay (Mex. huaxin). In Texas, a small tree or shrub 
with very sweet smelling yellow flowers (Acacia Farnesiana). 

Hu 1 (1) The husk of corn, peas, etc. 

(2) At the South, the shell of oysters. 

(3) The green and stalk of strawberries. 

Hull (to). (1) To free from the husks, as in shelling peas, corn, etc. At the 
South, to hull oysters is to open them. 

(2) In New Jersey, to gad about, wander, roam. 

Hulled-corn. Indian corn, which is husked by being scalded, making 
afterwards a most palatable dish. 

fluly. In New England, noise, uproar. " To raise huly. " 

Hum around- To bring to account ; to call over the coals. 
See make things hum. 

Hum-bird. The popular name of the humming bird, chiefly the " tro- 
chilus colubris. " 
Also, hummer. 

Hum-bOX An auctioneer's desk, among thieves. 

In England, the same term, in thieve's parlance, has for a long time 
stood for a pulpit. 

Human (Old Eng. ). This word, used by Western backwoodsmen for 
human being, was known long ago in English literature of the highest 
order appearing notably again and again in Chapman's Homer, 1603 
and its resurrection on our Western frontier is an interesting illustra- 
tion of the way in which a word will crop out unexpectedly in one 
place in a language, after having disappeared from another. 

Although Bartlett designates human as being both Western and 
Eastern, it must be added, to avoid all misapprehension, that the word 
is never used in the East except jocosely and with a subaudition of 
reference to the frontiersman's use of it. 

Humility. The marbled godwit, a frequenter of the fens and river banks 
of New England. 

Hummer. (1) A lively, industrious worker ; one who does not let the 
grass grow under his feet. 

Other slang equivalents are hustler, lala, rustler. 
(2) In thieve's parlance, a big lie. 

Humphrey. A coat with false pockets, the better to facilitate thieving 

Hump Oneself. To make haste, to hasten, which may perhaps be old, 
seeing that " hump" is, etymologically, of same root as "hop. " 

Hump yourself is a frequent injunction for " be sharp ! " look alive ! " 

HUN ILL 237 

Hung-beef. Dried beef, so named from its being cured by hanging. 
Also, chip-beef. 

Hunk. (1) A large piece, or slice ; a big lump, or chunk. Probably only 
a variation of " hunch, " used in England in precisely the same manner. 
(2) A country fellow. " He is a country hunk." 

Hunk (Dutch honk, place, post, home). The goal, or home, in a child's 
game. Especially used by New- York boys. 

Hence, also, to be hunk, to be safe, i. e. to have reached the goal 
without being intercepted by one of the opposite party ; also hunky f 
hunkey, meaning very fine, tip-top, good, jolly, and to be hunky, or all 
hunky, to be all right. 

HunkePS. A local political term applied in New York, in 1844, to the 
Conservative Democrats, as opposed to the "Barnburners," from their 
supposed clinging to the homestead or home principles. 

Hence, also, hunkerism, the doctrine of the hunkers. 

The hunkers were also nicknamed hard-i, as opposed to the softs. 

See Hardshells. 

Hunting ShiPt. A blouse-like garment, generally made of deerskin, and 
in use amongst trappers and frontiersmen. 

HuPPy up the eakCS. An injunction to expeditious movement, equivalent 
to : be quick ! look alive ! from the well known phrase so often heard 
in restaurants, in conjunction with buckwheat and other hot cakes. 

Hussif. A contraction of " housewife," meaning a flannel book for needles. 

Hustle. To be active in movement, or quick in speech ; to be generally 
alive at all points. 
Used actively and passively. 

HuStlCP. An active, busy individual ; one who is energetic and pushing 
in business. 

lee-boat. A kind of yatch on skates, which furnishes an exhilirating 
winter pastime on the frozen rivers and lakes of the Northern regions. 

111. In the South-West, vicious, ill-tempered, and even immoral, as "an 
ill fellow, " meaning a man of bad habits, "an ill dog, " meaning one 
which would be rather given to bite. 

" 111' has been so used in England for centuries, in connection with 

. man, beast, or intentions. Thus, in the old ballad of the Widow of 
Watling street, we have it applied to the first and to the last : 

O husband, remember your sonne, she said, 
Although he hath beenc ill. 
For by his dayly practices, 
Which were both lew! and ill 



Illy (Old Kng.). Still persistent in sense of " ill. " 

So used by several old writers, notably by Southey and Strype. 

Immense. Excellent, and especially pre-excellent. 
Has now also gained some acceptance in England. 

Independence Day. The 4th of July, anniversary of the date of the 
declaration of independence of the American colonies, by Congress, in 

Indian bed. See tlam-bake. 

Indian bread. (1) See Boston bread. 

(2) In New Jersey, the tuckahoe or fungus found underground in the 
pine woods. 

Indian corn. Maize, so called by the first colonists because cultivated 
by the aborigines. 

Indian dab. A Pennsylvania batter-cake. 

Indian flg. (1) The prickly-pear (q. v.). 

(2) The barberry fig. 

(3) A large Cactus (Cereus giganteus), the fruit of which is not unlike 
the fig in taste. 

Indian file. A single file, a single trail, from the custom of the first 
aborigines of creeping along in "single file," when they were interested 
in preventing any estimate being formed of their number. 

Indian gift. A gift, a return for which is expected. This word is a sad 
commentary on the cupidity of the white man, whose so-called presents 
to the red-skins have nearly always involved returns wellnigh a hun- 
dredfold in value. 

Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum). A medicinal plant. 

Indian ladder. In the South a tree, the branches of which are trimmed 
to a few inches of the main stem, which thus form projecting substitiites 
for the rungs of a ladder. 

Indian liqilOP. Whiskey of the vilest description, from the well-known 
habit of traders and Government agents of supplying Indians with whis- 
key adulterated with all sorts of noxious condiments. 

Indian meal. Ground maize. 

Indian millet (Oryzopsis cuspidata). One of the most prominent of the 
native grasses, growing in the Rocky Mountains region from one to two 
feet high, or even higher in moist situations. 
See bunch -grass. 

Indian mortars. See pot-holes. 

IND INS 239 

Indian mounds. Originally, the burial-places of the Indians, but now 
frequently applied, in some parts of the country, to any unusua contours 
of rising ground. 

Indian OPChaPdS. In New York and Massachusetts, plantations of wild 
trees, the popular idea being that such places were originally planted by 

Indian peach. A species of wild peach. 
Indian physic. See bowmari 's-root. 

Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora). A wax-like plant, the head of which 
bends over before maturity. 
Also called wax-plant. 

Indian pudding. A pudding made of maize-meal and molasses. 

Indian reservations. Certain tracts of country throughout the Union, 
set apart by Congress for the special benefit and use of the Indians. 

Indian Pice (Zizania aquatica). Wild rice, so called from the fact of 
certain Indian tribes depending upon it as part of their food supply. 

Indian summer. The St Martin's Summer of Europe, said to have been 
so called by the early settlers because if afforded the Indians a last 
opportunity of making incursions into the settlements, before the reaj 
onset of winter. 

Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata). A plant, the leaves of which were 
sometimes used by the aborigines as a substitute for tobacco. 

Indian turnip. (1) A poisonous, acrid root (Arum triphyllum), also 

known as Jack in the pulpit (Rhode Island), and wake-robin (New Eng.). 

(2) A Western root (Psoralea esculenta), used as food by the Sioux 

Indians, and otherwise known as pomme-blanche and potnme-de-prairie. 

. A wedding reception, the housewarming given by a newly 
married couple. 

Still provincial in England and Scotland. 
Also, infair. 

Influence. Advantage, over another person, in sense of influence (pull) 
of politicians. 

A cant word for a horse cheat or swindler. 
Injunct. Legal slang, for " to issue an injunction, " to command. 

In newspaper parlance, any professional writer for the 
press, especially a reporter. The term is, however, now generally applied 
contemptuously to raw hands. 

Ins. Persons in office, those hoping to get in being the cu'*. 



Inside. A variant of bottom, often used adjectively in sense of reliable. 
" The inside facts," i. e. trustworthy facts. 

Inside Of. In common use for within, in less time than. ..." In-vde of 
three hours. " 

Inside track. To be on the inside track of an undertaking, is to be in a 
position to derive advantage therefrom, to be on the safe side. 

Institute. A convention, a meeting. Farmer's' institutes, lasting two 
or three days, with lectures and discussions, are especially very common 
at the West. 

Institution. A practice, or habit ; a permanent or essential part of any 
system. " Electrocuting is now an institution in the State of New York." 

Interment. A funeral, or burying. 

Intervale. In New England, a name given to low or alluvial lands 
enriched by overflowing rivers. 

In the West, same are known as bottoms, bottom-land*, or picer bottoms. 

Into. (1) Used for in. "There is good land into that farm. (New Jersey 
and New York. ) 

(2) With the exception of ; short of. ' ' A dollar into ten cents. Six 
miles into a quarter.'' A qualifying contraction used in Connecticut. 

Involvement. State of being involved ; entanglement. 

Inwardness. That which is beneath the surface ; the real interest or 

The real object aimed at ; its exact drift. 

Irish potato (Solanum tuberosum). The ,'popular name of the common 
potato, to distinguish it from the native " Sweet " or " Carolina " potato 
(Batatis edulis), akin to the " convolvulus. " 

So called because introduced by the Irish, and used in Morse Gazetteer, 
1797, s. v. Kentucky. 

Iron City. The city of Pittsburg, Pa., from its enormous iron manufac- 

Island. In the prairie regions, a grove or cluster of trees surrounded by 
prairie on every side, and so called from its resemblance to a wooden 
island in the sea. 

Issuance. The act of publication, sending out, or delivering. 

Istle (Mex. ichtli). In Texas, the strong fibre taken from the long leaves 
of the " Agave rigida, " and which serves to make sisal hemp. 
Not to be confused with iztle (q. v. ). 



Item. (1) In newspaper slang, a point of information for the press ; a, 
portion of news or literary matter. 

(2) A secret and unfair information at card playing. 
See give item. 

Itemize. (1) To make, or prepare for printing a report of an information. 
(2) Among business men, to divide a total into its constituent parts. 
To make a list of ; to collect ; to write an account of a transaction. 

. (1) A reporter; a penny-a-liner. 
(2) One who makes an abstract ; a precis-writer. 

IVOFy-nut (Phytelephas macrocarpa). The Corosso nut of commerce, 
from the ripe fruit of which exudes a fluid largely used in the manu- 
facture of vegetable ivory. 
Also, vegetable-ivory. 

Ivy. A uanfe erroneouslyygiven to the laurel, in the South. 
See American ivy. 

Ivy-bush. A hairy faced man ; one with thick hair, long and bushy 
beard arid moustache. 

Iztle (Mex. itztli). In Texas, a sort of obsidian used by the Indians to 
make arrow points, knives, etc. 

Jab. To strike, stab, or thrust ; to handle roughly. 
A Western term, popularized by pugilists. 

Jacal, hah'-cal (Mex. xacalli, a straw hut). A peculiar dwelling, com- 
mon in Texas and the formerly Spanish States, consisting of a rough hut 
built of stakes driven into the ground, and made weather-tight with 
fillings of clay. 

Jacana, ha-cah'-nah (Mex.). In Texas, a tropical bird of the genus 
" Parra," found along the north banks of the Rio Grande. 

Jack. An abbreviated form of jackass-rabbit. 

Jack (to). Amongst ranchmen, to brand an unmarked yearling or 

Jackuss-rabbit (Lepus callotis). A tiny rabbit of Texas and the Rocky 
Mountains region, so called from its very large ears and long, slender 

Also known as black-tailed hare, jac'k-rabbit, mule-rabbit and Texan* 

Jack-dandy. An impertinent fellow, who besides is short in stature. 

242 JAC JAQ 

Jaek-in-the pulpit (Ariscema triphyllum). The Indian turnip, whose 
root, boiled in milk, constitutes a valuable adjuvant in the case of 

In Connecticut, it is called the one-berry. 
See pomme blanche. 

Jack-leg". A black-leg, a lawyer whose record would not be regarded in 
a desirable light. 

Jack-Oak (Quercus uigra). The barren oak of botanists, otherwise called 

Jack-pot. Said at game of poker, when the game cannot be opened 
except by a player who holds a pair of jacks or better. 
Also, the accumulated bets in a game of poker. 

Jaeksonites. Said of the followers of general Andrew Jackson (1821-32). 
Their opponents were called Adamites. 

Jack Stones. The old English game of " dibbs, " played with five small 
stones, or with same number of bones taken from the knees of a sheep. 

Jade. A cant word for a long term of imprisonment, what in England is 
called a " stretch. " 

Jag". (1) A parcel, bundle, or load, among descendants of Puritans in the 
East, esp. lower New- Jersey and Long-Island. " A jag of hay or wood." 

So quoted by Halliwell, and still provincial in North and Middle of 
England, esp. Norfolk. 

(2) A decided and emphatic drunk, i. e. a load of drink, more than one 
can carry. 

Jagger-wagOn. In New Jersey, a light, open farm-wagon used on the 
road for light work. 

Jake. A rough, uncouth country fellow. 

Jalma, hal'-mah (Sp. ). In the formerly Spanish States, a pack saddle. 

JambOPee. A spree ; a noisy frolic, even sometimes bordering upon a 
disturbance of the peace. 

Jam-up. Beyond comparison ; capital, or prime ; the pink of perfection. 
Equivalents in English slang are " slap up " and " bang up. " 

Japanned. Said of one who is alleged to have been converted by a prison 

In English University slang, "to japan" is to ordain, the allusion 
being to the black garb Usually worn by the clergy. 

Jaquima, hah-ke'-mah (Sp. ). The head-stall of a halter, used in Texas 
and California for breaking wild horses. 



Jay. (1) A countryman or greenhorn ; an unsophisticated person. 

(2) A New York synonym for a dude or masher, the allusion being in 
this case to the plumage of the biped. 

Jay hawkePS. (1) A term applied, during the Kansas troubles of 1856, 
to bushrangers and guerillas, then perpetuated during the Civil War, 
and subsequently borne by political marauders and pillagers in general. 

The term is doubtless derived from " jayhawk " (a ferocious bird, 
delighting in killing from mere love of sport), and is said to have first 
come from Australia, where it was originally coined to mean a thief by 
nature, who could be also, according to occasion, a murderer and pillager. 

(2) A nickname given to the inhabitants of Kansas. 

Jeff Davis-boxes. A facetious name given by the Confederates, during 
the Civil War, to their creaking, ill-built army wagons. 
Also, musical boxes. 

Jell. To harden, as of jelly. " The jelly doesn't jell." 

Jerk (Sp. charqui, dried beef). (1) Meat dried in the open air. 

(2) Meat which has been cut in thin strips, and dried over a fire or in 
the sun. 

JePk (to). To dry meat in the open air. 

Jerks. A term applied to the convulsive paroxysms, which have been a 
marked feature at many monster gatherings of religionists. 
Also, jerking, or jerky exercise. 

Jerky. A roughly made vehicle, which is, as its name implies, a regular 
" bone-shaker." 

Jersey blue. The color of uniform wor,n by Jersey troops before the 
War of the Revolution. 

Jersey-tea (Ceanothus americana). A 
implied by the name, in New Jersey. 

herbal decoction, known, as 

Jet<6 (Fr. ). Among French-Canadian lumbermen, a place on the bank of 
a river where logs are heaped up upon the snow and ice until spring, 
time, when they are carried down by the waters. 

Jew (to). The earlier editions of " Webster's Dictionary" contained the 
verb " to jew," and defined it " to cheat," " to play with," etc. At the 
request of a number of influential Israelites the word was eliminated 
from the book. As a matter of fact, however, the word had no con- 
nection with or reference to the followers of the Mosaic faith. It was 
derived from the French jeu and jouir, which means " to play with, 
"to cheat," etc. ; but its orthography had become corrupted to "jew." 
It did not appear in subsequent editions of the work. 

Jibe. To agree with ; to harmonise ; to go well with. 



JiCOte, he-co'-tay (Mex. xicotl.i). In Texas, a ground bee, the sting of 
which is very painful. 
Jicotera (he-co-tay'-rah), the nest of ihejicote. 

Jig. A kind of spoon-bait ; an artificial squid for trolling. (New-Eng.) 
On river St Lawrence, a spoon-hook. 

Jig (to). To play truant from school. (Nfld. N. B. and N. S.) 

JiggGP. (1) One of the many names of the seed-tick, or chigre of 

(2) In New England, a small fishing vessel, so called, it is said, from 
its peculiar manner of moving through the water, closely resembling 
that of the ill-famed " jigger " or sand- flea. 

(3) A small measure used by bar-keepers. 

(4) The bridge, or rest used at billiards. 

(5) In Connecticut, gig, sulky. 

Jigger (to). To move uneasily ; to fidget. (South-West. ) 

Evidently an amplified form of "to jig, " meaning to dance in a lively 

Jiggered. In parts of New England, not sound minded, having a screw 
Also, jiygery, jigger-head. 

Jiggling-bOErd. A spring-board, such as is used for diving and athletics. 
From " jig, " in the sense of quick motion. 

Jilote, he-lo'-tay (Mex .xilotl). In Texas, an immature ear of corn. 

Jilt. A cant word for a woman accomplice of a thief, who entices the 
victim and occupies his attention whilst he is being robbed. 

JimbCPJaW. A protruding lower jaw. 
Also, ivhapper-jaw. 

Jim-jaiTlS. Delirium tremens. Said to have originated in Kentucky. 
Also applied, figuratively, to distorted views of men and things. 
The contracted form, jams, is also often used. 

Jim-slingeF. In parts of the South, a hard blow. 

JIm-SWingeP. A name sometimes given, in the West, to a long tailed 
coat, especially a " Prince Albert. " 

A wild, hawm-scarum kind of fellow. 

Jocoque, ho-oo'-kay (Mex. xococ). In Texas, butter-milk. 
Also, jocoqiti. 



Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum). A medicinal herb used by an 
Indian, called Joe-Pye, in the treatment of typhus fever. Known in 
Maine and surroundings. 

Jog, A projection, or deviation from a straight line or even surface. 

A contracted form of " joggle," meaning a piece of projecting stone 
introduced into a joint. 

John. A common name, in the United States, for a Chinaman. 
Also, John Chinaman, and Johny. 

John Collins. An iced drink, made of Old Tom gin, with a mixture of 
lemon, sugar and soda-water. 

Johnnies. In parts of the West, a popular name for violets. 

Johny. A nickname applied, during the late Civil War, to the Confe. 
derate soldiers by those of the Union armies. 
Also, Johny-Reb. 

Johny-eake. A cake made of unleavened Indian meal, mixed with milk 
or water. The real Johny cake should be baked on the earth. 

Johny-jump-up. The heart's-ease, or violet. 
Also, Johny -jumper. 

Joint (Sp. junta, a collection of persons). (1) An opium-smoking den or 

(2) Any resort of bad repute. 

JokeP, At game of euchre, an additional (53d) card, ranking as the 
highest trump. 

Jornada, hor-nah'-dah (Sp. ). A name given, in the South-West, to a 
land measure, i. e. as much land as may be ploughed in one day. Also, 
a dreary waste or arid tract of country. 

In Spain, Jornada means, more specifically, a day's journey. 

Jorra, hor'-rah. In Texas, any female domestic animal that is sterile. 

The name may come from horro, designating, in Cuba, tobacco 
which does not mature well. 

Josh. An inhabitant of Arkansas was thus known in the rebel army 
during the Civil War. 

Josh (to). To hoax, to chaff, to " roast " a person ; to make fun of him. 

JtlberoUS. In parts of the South, timid, timorous. Also, dubious, 

Judas tree (Cercis canadensis). A small ornamental tree, with peach 
like flowers. 

Also called red bud. 



Judges Of the plains. Men appointed, in cattle-raising districts, for 
the purpose of settling all disputes which may crop up at gatherings of 
cattle-men, or " round-ups. " 
The phrase is a literal translation of the Spanish " Jueces del Campo." 

Judy. A fool, a simpleton. " To make a Judy of oneself" is, to put it 
mildly, " making an ass of oneself. " 

Jug. A cant word for a bank. 

In English slang, a prison of any kind. 

Jug-bPeaking. Committing a burglary at a bank. 

Jugful. Not by a jugful, by no means ; not by a great deal. 
Equiv. in Eng. slang : " not by a long shot. n 

Jug money. To hide away, evidently the nearest approach to banking 
known to the majority of thieves. 

Jump. To abscond, to decamp surreptitiously. 
To jump bail, to abscond. 
To jump one's bill, to leave an hotel without payment. 

Jump a Claim. To occupy by force a land or mining claim, rightfully 
belonging to another. 

See claim-jumper, bounty-jumper. 

Jumper. (1) One who takes a squatter's claim. 
Also claim-jumper (q. v. ). 

(2) In the North and North-West, a rude kind of sleigh made of two 
elastic poles on which a box is fastened. 

Jumping-Off-plaee. (1) The destination of one's journey. 

(2) The end of a road or railroad. 

Also, jump-off". 

Jumping-off-places formerly designated the confines of civilization, 
the ever shifting termini of railways being thus for a while typically 

Jump the blind. In the West, to steal a ride on the platform of a 

Jump the cut. To cheat at cards ; to so manipulate cards when 
cutting that the result is to give an unfair advantage to the one cutting. 

Junk. (1) Old iron, rags, or other rag material. 

Hence, also, junk-dealer and jimk store, for what in England are 
known as marine stores and marine store dealers. 

(2) In New England, a substitute for "chunk," meaning a fragment 
of any solid substance. 

Junk-bottle. The common, dark bottle, used for beer and malt liquors 

KAK KEE 247 

Kakawl. See cacaoui. 

Kamas-TOOt (Camassia esculenta). A variety of the Indian ttirnipt 
called by the early French hunters pomme blanche or pomme des prairies, 
and very extensively used as food by the Digger Indians. 

Katey. A burglar's tool for picking locks. 

KatOOSe (Ger. getose). In New England, a din, a tumult, and in fact 
any unpleasant noise heard suddenly. 
Also, katowse. 

Katydid (Cyrtophyllum concavum). A species of grasshopper, ao called 
from the peculiar noise which the male makes in autumn towards 
evening, by means of the membranes of its wing-covers, and which is 
easily interpreted as meaning Katy did, the answer being, in children's 
views, Katy didn't. 

Kearnyites. Followers of Dennis Kearny, a Communist who once gained 
some notoriety at the time of, the Anti-Chinese agitation, in San Fran- 

Keel-boat. A long, slender boat, of graceful build, admirably adapted 
to pass over shallow places, and which was formerly often seen on the 
Mississipi and its tributaries. 

Keeler-tub. In New England, a pan or tub for washing dishes. 
Also, simply a keeler. 

Keel OV6P. Of nautical origin, and meaning to capsize, to upset. 
Also, figuratively, to collapse ; to succumb to sickness or old age. 

Keel up. Figuratively, to recover oneself ; to come back to one's senses, 
Keener. Said, in the West, of a shrewd, sharp man. " He's a keener. " 

Keeping-room. In New England, the living-room, or common sitting- 
room next to the parlor. 
Still provincial in England. 

Keep one's eyes peeled. To be on the alert, to have one's wits about 
one. We owe this phrase to the vigorous speech of the West, from the 
huntsman or pioneer, on the plains, having had once to depend largely, 
for success or safety, upon keenness of sight and untiring watchfulness. 

Also, to keep one's eyes skinned. 

To keep one's trigger eye on one, to keep close, and perhaps, suspicious 
watch of another. 

To keep tab, to keep tally or count ; to score. 



Keet. A name given in some localities to the guinea-fowl, simply from 
its peculiar and unpleasant note. 
Also, Ouinea-keet. 

KellOCk (Old Eng.). A small anchor in use on fishing smacks, and 
mentioned by Forby. 

Provincial in England, in some small sea-ports. 
Also, kellick, killock. 

Kennebunker. In Maine, a name given to the valise in which lumber- 
men store their clothes, when they go into camp for the winter. 

Keow. The common pronunciation for cow, in the New-England States. 
Still provincial in Essex, Norfolk, and Sussex counties, England. 

Ketch. The old English sound and spelling of to catch, still prevalent in 
New England and as far south as Virginia. 

That of the pens that he can muche and ket/jhe 

(Chaucer, Troilus and Cregida. 

Also, to kotch, especially in Virginia. 
Ketchy. In New Jersey, said of changeable weather. 

Kettereen (Old. Eng.). A two wheel chaise, such as were used in 
colonial times. 

Also, kittereen, kittern. 

Possibly the word ie the " cateran" of the New English Dictionary, 
which has the spelling " kettrin " for 1768. 

A two wheel chair, commonly call'd a kittern, compleat, made in London. 

(Boston News-Letter, Aug. 29, 1764.) 

Kettle. In New England, a tin-pail ; a dinner-pail. 

Sugar-kettle, the open boiling-pan of old, now entirely superseded. 

Key-Stone State- The State of Pennsylvania, from the fact that when 
the names of the original thirteen States were arranged archwise in their 
geographical order, Pennsylvania occupied the central position. 

The great importance of Pennsylvania, due to its extent, wealth, and 
immense manufacturing interests, makes the name Key-Stone also quite 
appropriate in a higher sense of the word. 

Kibbling^. Small fragments of fish used as bait on the banks of New- 

Among Gloucester fishermen same are called slivers, from to sliver, 
meaning to cut or rend lenghtwise. 

Kick. In the Southern States, the equivalent of the English to " jilt. " 
Also, to object, to protest. 

Kicker. Among politicians, one who revolts against party discipline. 



Kid. (1) A common name for a small boy or girl. 

(2) In New England, a large box, on fishing vessels, into which fish 
are thrown as fast as they are caught. 

Kill (Dutch kil, small stream, or creek). (1) A channel or arm of the sea. 
(2) A stream, equiv. to the brook of New England. 

Kaatskill Mountains, so called from a picturesque brook arising in 
their bosom. 

Kill van Kull, or simply the Kills, channel separating Staten Island 
from Bergen Neck. 

Schuylkill (hidden creek). 

Kill (to). (1) In political parlance, to neutralize votes, or to defeat a 
measure through counter- votes or opposition. 

Also used colloquially, with general meaning of to defeat, to nullify, 
to obstruct. 

(2) To do a thing thoroughly. " To dress, to dance to kill. " 

Killdee, Killdeer (Oxiechus vociferus). A small aquatic bird of the 
plover kind, so called from its very sharp and piercing note. 

Killhag (Ind.). A wooden trap used by the hunters of Maine, Canada, 
and the North- West. 

Killiek. In New Jersey, a small anchor. 

Killing-time. A Southern term for the early winter ; literally, the 
killing-time for swine, which in former days was a time of overflowing 
abundance and great rejoicing. 

Killy. A small fish of the genus Fundulus, especially abounding in the 
" kills." 
Also, killy-fih, mummachog. 

Kindle. To light, in sense of lighting a fire. 

In the United States, a fire is first built and then kindled, whilst in 
England it is laid and afterwards lighted. 

Kindlings. Broken wood used for lighting fires. 
Also, kindlerx. 
See light-wood. 
Kindlings is still provincial in Suffolk, England, for fire- wood. 

King. A large employer of capital and labor ; one who exercise? an 
undoubted preeminence in any particular trade or industry. " A cattle 
king, a railway king, " etc. 

King-beat. In newspaper parlance, exceedingly important news which 
have been obtained in advance of other papers. 

King-pin. The tallest pin at skittles or ten-pins. 

Hence also, by analogy, the chief or superior. s 



King's ex (abb. of King's excuse). A call used by children to stop a game 
for a moment. 

In playing base, when a boy falls down, and to keep from being caught, 
he usually says : " King's ex, " which serves him as a protection. 

Kinl-kinik (Ind. Alg. kinne-kanik, designating a "mixture," probably 
from the two Ojibway words nin kininifierji, meaning " I mix "). The inner 
bark of the " Cornus stolonifera, " or Red Osier, which is finely chopped 
and grated, and used as a mixture or substitute for tobacco. This bark, 
when dried and smoked, has very much the flavor of tobacco, but is more 
acrid. Although nearly limited to the Indians and voyageurs, the term 
is now occasionally used in English-speaking Canada, chiefly by traders, 
and also among Canadian children to whom the use of tobacco is 
interdicted. They then go to the swamp and make kini-icinik. 

The word also serves to designate a preparation of tobacco, sumac- 
leaves and willow.- twigs, two thirds tobacco and one of the latter, gathered 
when the leaves commence turning red. 

See red sumac. 

Kink. (1) A " hitch " in any undertaking. A metaphorical extension of 
a " kink " (accidental knot) in a rope or cord. 
Hence also, kinky, for troublesome, excentric. 
(2) A pain. "A kink in the back, " i. e. lumbago. 

Kinry. In the South, sometimes used for relatives, kindred. 

Kip (1) A bed. 

(2) A dull witted person. 

(3) In New Jersey, young chicken. 

Kiskitomas (Ind.). The peculiar Indian name often given to the nut of 
the hickory. Literally, it means a nut that may be cracked with the 
teeth, and Rasles gives, for the Abenaki, nesekouskadamen, i. e. " J'en 
casse avec les dents. " 

Descendants of the Dutch settlers who inhabit New Jersey, near city 
of New- York, have corrupted the word into Kinky- Thomas nut. 

Kite. Chief of a gang of thieves. 

Kite-flying. To lead a mob or party. 

Kiting (abb. into kitin'). Moving rapidly. " To go a-kitin. " 

Kitty-COPneP. To cut off a corner by going across lots. 
Kitty-cornered, diagonal, set diagonally. 

Knack. Familiarity, habit of staying near. 

Knee high tO a mosquito. Very small, very short. A phrase often 
used in speaking of a person whom one has known from infancy. 
Also, knee high to a duck, to a toad, to a grasshopper. 

KNI KNO 251 

Knickerbockers. Descendants of the old Dutch settlers in New York 
State and city. 
Also, a nickname for the inhabitants of city of New York. 

Knife (to). To stab ; and, metaphorically, to do some one harm ; to 
stab him in character if not in person. 

Knifing process. The cutting down of rates ; economization. 

Knights Of labOP. A powerful organization of working-men, having 

branches all over the Union, and connected with every known trade. 

Another large organization of the kind is the Knights of Pythias. 

Knob. Originally a term limited to certain peculiar round hills in Ken- 
tucky, formed by the weathering of the soft sandstones and shales 
composing them, but now meaning in the West any rising or hill. 

Knobby. Hilly, accidented. 

Knobite. A dweller in the knob formations of Kentucky. 

Knob-lick. A deposit of alum and other salts, at the base of a knob, to 
which animals resort. 

Knock down. To embezzle ; -to appropriate surreptitiously. 

Knock down and drag OUt. In pugilistic circles, a fight carried to 
extremities, as when one of the contestants has to be carried out of the 

Knocked-up. Sense of " enceinte, " and never used, as in England, to 
mean fatigued. 

A lady describing herself as " knocked up,," indelicately confesses to 
a condition sometimes affecting young married women, but not usually 
spoken of. 

Knock OUt the Wedges. To desert ; to leave in an embarrassed con- 

Prob. borrowed from the phraseology of building operatives, as, when 
the wedges being knocked out, a scaffolding loses all its strenght. 

KnOW-nothingS. A secret association, somewhat outlined after the 
manner of the Native Americans, and which, from 1852 to 56, cut a 
considerable figure in American politics. They finally ran their ship on 
Slavery Rock, and it foundered. 

The Know-nothings got their name from professing to know nothing 
when questioned as to the objects of their order. 

The following articles of the platform of the Know-nothings contain 
the gist of the Avhole : 

1 Repeal of all naturalization laws. 

2 None but native Americans for office. 

3 A pure American common school system. 

4 War to the hilt on Romanism. 



KnOW-nothinglsm. The doctrines of the Know-nothings. 
See Hindoos, Native American*, Sams. 

Knucks. A game at marbles in which the winner shoots at his adver 
sary's knuckles. 

Kone. Spurious money, either paper or specie. 
Koniaeker. A coiner of counterfeit money. 

KoOtOO- To bow ; to make courteous obeisance. 

The exact Chinese synonym of the Hindoo " salaam." 
Also, to kotow. 

Kooyah (Ind.). A name applied by the Indians of Oregon to the tobacco- 
root (Valeriana officinalis), and of which they make a bread called supale, 
after they have baked the root for two days in the ground to deprive it 
of its poisonous qualities. 
Also, kooyah root. 

KriSS-kPingle (Ger. Christ-kindel, the Child-Christ). A sadly mutilated 
form, for the Child Christ, on whom children are wont to rely for their 
gifts on the Christmas-tree. 

Ku-klux klan. Originally, a secret association of Southerners, organized 
in 1866 for the purpose of preserving order during the period of lawles- 
ness immediately following the war, but which afterwards outgrew the 
design of its founders, and often resorted to murder and the vilest 
outrages against negroes and settlers from the North. 

This curious name is an alliterative corruption of the Greek " kuklos " 
(a circle), the " klan " being added to enhance the strange jingle of 

Other names were The Invisible Empire, The Knights of the white 
Camellia, The Knights of the Golden Circle, " etc. 

Hence, also, Ku-kluxer. 

Labor, lah-bore' (Sp.). In Texas, any field of small size, not definite, and, 
more specifically, a land measure of 177 acres. 
See milpa. 

Labrador tea (Ledum palustre and latifolium). A substitute for tea in 
the North-West. 

Lace hOPSC. In Texas, a trig, smirk little horae. 

Ladles' tresses (Neotti atortillis). In the South, an herb, so called from 
its flowers bearing a supposed resemblance to curls. 



Ladino, lah-dee'-no (Sp. ) In Texas, used as a noun fora vicious, unmana- 
geable horse, full of cunning and tricks. 

In Spain, the word is only used adjectively in sense of cunning, crafty. 

Lady. A generic term applied, in the United States, to women of all 
stations, even to those acting in a menial or dependent capacity. 

The principle, underlying the misuse of this word, in America, is of 
course praiseworthy, as the causes are laid deep down in the roots of 
Democracy, but the results are none the less deplorable. 

See gentleman. 

Lafayette (Leistormus obliquus). A delicious sea-fish, so called from the 
fact, it is said, of having arrived in the waters of New- York bay preci- 
sely at the same time that General Lafayette paid his last visit to 

The Lafayette fish abounds mainly on the coast of New Jersey, where 
it is much relished. Hence, also, its other name of C:ipe May goody. 

LagTliappe (pron. lanny-yap). In New Orleans, a gratuity of the given- 
away-with-a-pound-of-tea kind ; the equiv. of the thirteenth roll in a, 
baker's dozen. 

" A nice, limber, expressive, handy word, " says Mark Twain. 

See pilon. 

LagOOn (Fr. lagum). In the Gulf region, a name given to the many bays, 
inlets, or channels, between the islands and the main coasts. 

In Texas, the Sp. word laguna (lah-goo'-nah) is used in preference. 

Lake-State. The State of Michigan, from its being surrounded by four 
of the large Northern lakes : Mfchigan, Huron, Superior, and Erie. 

Lam (Old Eng. ). To thrash, to beat, to drub, to maltreat. 

This word, partially colloquial in America and still provincial m 
Yorkshire, England, is of very old English parentage and has long had 
a recognized place in English literature. In a north-country ballad of 
the time of Edward VI, one line runs : " They lammed him and bammed 
him." The term may also be found in Marlowe, and we read in Beau- 
mont and Fetcher : 

One whose dull body will require a lamming. 

(A King and No King, Act. V, c. 3.) 

Lamantin, An herbivorous cetacean, otherwise called manatee or sea- 
cow, measuring some six or seven feet in length, and inhabiting the 
mouths of rivers opening on the Gulf of Mexico, and parts of South 

Lamas. In the slang of the gamingr table, chips and tokens representing 
in value about $25, $50, and $125 each. 



Lambaste. To thrash, to maltreat. An elaboration of to lam, " evidently 
combining" says DeVere, " the two effective agencies of lamming and 
basting into one formidable operation." 
Also, to lambaste. 

Lambasting. A beating, a thrashing. 

Lamb'S-quarter (Chenopodium album). A popular Southern name for 
a well-known herbage. 

Land-bPOker. A cant word for an undertaker. 

Land-grabber. An applicant for grants of public lands ; one who, under 
the forms of law, or in defiance of them, gets possession of the public 
domain or of the property of individuals. 

The great majority of land-grabbers well deserve their unenviable 
name, through the frequent impudence of their demands and the perti- 
nacity with which they pursue their end. 

Land-Office. The general office, at Washington, in which is vested the 
disposal and control of public lands. 

Land Of Steady habits. The State of Connecticut, from the alleged 
staid deportment and excellent morals of its inhabitants. 

Land warrants. Authorizations, issued by the General "Land Office" 
at Washington, entitling the possessors to take up new and uncultivated 

Lane. In the South, a common name given to all roads with fences on 
each side. 

Lang. In New Jersey, the coupling-pole of a wagon. 
Lap. In New Jersey, a " hank " of thread. 

Lap (to). To throw on one's lap. For instance, newsboys throwing prize- 
oandies and magazines in the cars, are said to lap them. 

Lap-tea. An informal afternoon meal, where sitting at table is dispensed 

Lariat (Sp. la reata). A lasso made of a horse-hair rope, or of a twisted 
or braided raw-hide, and used on the plains of the West for catching and 
tethering cattle and horses. 

Also, reata, which comes then very Bear being the original Spanish 
word, without the article. 

Lariat (to). To stake out, or tether with a lariat. 
Also, to lariat out, to stake. 

LarigO (lar-ee'-go (Sp.). In the South- West, a ring at each end of the 
" cinch " and forming part of the huge Mexican saddle. 

LAR LAY 255 

Larrigan. In the North, a kind of moccasin made of prepared oiled 
leather, and used chiefly by lumbermen. 

Larrup. In the West, molasses. 

Last Of pea-time. To look like the last of pea-time, to be hard up ; to 
have a forlorn or desolate appearance ; to be in the decline of years, 
when one's opportunities of usefulness are fast passing away. 

A most happy and picturesque phrase, as every one knows who has 
seen the draggled vines and sallow pods that hang forlorn upon the half- 
bare, ragged brush. 

Also, last of pea-picking. 

LatigO, lah'-te-go (Sp.). In the South- West, a strong strap or strip of 
leather used for tightening the "cinch" or girth in packing. 
Chiefly used in the plural form latigos. 

Lave (Fr. leve, imperative tense of ae lever, to get up). A familiar cry 
for " get up !" among mountaneers and hunters of the Far West, and 
with which the guide, or chief-hunter of a party, rouses his companions 
from their short slumbers. 

Law (to). To go to law. (Western. ) 

Law-day. In the thinly populated districts of the West, the day on 
which an itinerant magistrate administers the law. 

Lawyer. (1) The uniform name, in America, of the person who, in 
England, would either be called a solicitor or a barrister, as the case 
might be. 

(2) The black-necked stilt (Himantopus nigricollis), a small bird which 
has been thus wittily nicknamed, by New- Jersey people, " on account 
of its long bill. " 

Also called longshanks and tilt. 

(3) A fish of the Northern rivers (genus lota), so called, we are told 
by the fishermen there, " because he ain't of much use, and the slippe- 
riest fish that swims. " (J. Hammond, Wild Northern Scenes. ) 

The lake-lawyer (Amia) is the mud-fah of Western waters. 

Lay. (1) A sailor's word, meaning a share in any enterprise. For 
instance, whalers are generally paid " by the lay, " i. e. in proportion 
to the success of the voyage. 

(2) Terms or conditions of a bargain ; price. " He bought his goods 
at a good lay. " 

This sense of the word is quite in keeping with its etymological signi- 
fication, being akin to the meaning contained in the phrase " on this 
lay. " We cannot, moreover, agree with Bartlett, in regarding the 
word as being probably a contraction of " outlay, " the idea conveyed 
by it being more abstract than that of a sum of money expended. 



Lay One OUt. To defeat ; to secure an advantage; to get the better 
of one. 

Leader. The length of fine hair or gut, connecting a fishing line with. 
the hook. 

Also, a snell. 

Leaf. In Newfoundland, the brim of a hat. 

In Newfoundland, faint, weak. 

Leather. A cant word for a pocket-book. " 

Hence, to pull off leather, to steal pocket-books or purses. 

Leatherheads. A nickname given of old to policemen or watchmen. 

Leather-WOOd (Dirca palustris). A species of maple-tree, with flexible 
branches and a tough, leathery bark, growing in the Northern States. 

Also called moose-wood, from the fondness of the moose for its leaves,, 
and in New England wicopy. 

The leather-wood is the " bois-de-plomb " of the French-Canadians. 

LeCOmpton Democrats. A name applied, in 1857, to the members of 
the Democratic party who supported the pro-slaver}' constitution. 
adopted at Lecompton, Kansas. 

Legaderos, lay-gah-day'-ros (prob. Sp. leyadura, ligature). A Spanish- 
Mexican term for stirrup- straps, which, in the Mexican saddles, are 
veritable leg-guards. 

It has been also suggested that the word, instead of having a Spanish 
origin, is merely a corruption of the English " leg-guards." 

Leg-drama. A ballt. 

Leg-Shop. A theatre, where stage dancing forms a prominent feature 
of all entertainments. 

Leg-streteher. To take a leg-stretcher, to take a drink, to walk up to 
the refreshment bar. 

This phrase is said to have originated in the stage-coach days, when 
passengers were wont to plight, at inns or hotels on the road, with the 
professed purpose of stretching their legs, this innocent relaxation always 
invariably ending, so to say, by having a dram (drink) at the bar. 

Legua, lay'-goo-ah (Sp. ). In Texas, a league, or land measure of 4428 

Leg-WOrk- In newspaper parlance, a reporters' word to characterize a 
task in which there is more running than writing. 

Lena, lawe'-yah (Sp. ). In Texas, any kind of fire- wood or timber. 
Lenter. A corruption of <r lean-to, " meaning an addition to a house. 

LET -LIB 257 

Let Out. To commence ; to begin ; to make a statement or explanation. 

Let Slide. To let anything pass. 

Let it dide, let it go, don't trouble. An expressive archaism revived 
in the United States. 

Therefore " paucas pallabris ; " let the word slide : sessa ! 

(Shakespeare, Taming of the Shrew.). 

Let up. To release ; to let go. 

Hence, also, a let up, meaning a break, a relief, as when a stringency 
in the money-market disappears. 
Of pugilistic origin. 

Levee (Fr. lever, to rise). An old Creole word of Louisiana used to 
designate the vast earth-mounds raised on both sides of the Mississipi, 
to protect the rich alluvial lands which are on a lower level than the bed 
of the river. The term has been subsequently extended to all banks, 
used as wharves, like the famous levee of New-Orleans. 
Also, levy. 
Leveeing, constructing levees on a river bank. 

Level. Used in many phrases, the common origin of which is to be found 
in mining phraseology. 

To do one's level best, to go to the full extent of one's ability. 

To do thinys on a bro-<d level, to do things on a base of stability and 

To make an offer on a Itroad lere*f, to name the lowest price possible ; 
to propose the most reasonable terms or conditions. 

To be level-headed, to be practical, shrewd ; to have a well-balanced 

LevePWOrseht (Ger. leberumrst, liver sausage). In Pennsylvania, a 
pudding, so-called to distinguish it from the blootworscht or blood sausage, 

Levy. A contraction of elevenpence, and a local word formerly designa- 
ting, in some Southern States, a Spanish silver coin of the value of 12!4 

Both term and coin are now obsolete. 

Lewisites. A local New-York term applied to the supporters <>t (lov. 
Lewis, in 1804. The Lnoixitex were then the " swell" party of the day. 

Liberals. This term acquired a renewed significance from a movement 
headed by Carl Schurz in Missouri, in 1870, which resulted in a division 
of the local Republicans into Liberals and Radicals, the latter being 
equivalent to stalwart* as more recently used. (Farmer.) 
Also used in combination with other party names. 

358 LIC LI K 

Lick. (1) Effort, exertion, stroke. Hence, big lick*, used adverbially in 
senge of vigorously, as in the slang phrase : " To put in big licks," i. e. to 
make great exertions, to work hard. 

(2) A locality abounding in rock-salt and saline springs, so called lick 
from the fondness of both wild and domesticated cattle for salt. 

Also, salt-lick. 

Hifj bone lick, a locality in Kentucky, abounding in saline springs, 
where immense numbers of animal remains have been found. 

Lick (to). To chastise, to defeat, by beating or thrashing. This old 
word, perhaps anterior to the Tudor period, retains in the United 
States the full force it already had, under its 'quaint form of " tolycke,'.' 
in Thomas Harman's " Canting Dictionary, " published under Queen 
Elisabeth. The root, here, is evidently ' ' lictor, " the name of he 
official who carried around the " fasces " to thrash the rabble into a 
proper respect for the Roman magistracy. 

Liekity-Split. Very rapidly, at full speed. 
Also, Hckity-xiritch. 

Lie aPOUnd loose. To lounge ; to loaf ; to be out of place. 

The Americanism is, here, chiefly in the use of "around" for "about. " 

Lift. In newspaper parlance, the taking of a big exclusive story from 
another newspaper, and .printing enough of it " to save ourselves. " 

Lift hair. See to raixn hair. 

Light and Shut. In New England, said of the weather, when the sun 
peeps out at intervals. 

Light-bread. In the South and West, often heard for wheat bread, in 
distinction from " bread," which means corn-bread. 

Lightning bug. The fire-fly, that flits about so picturesquely in the hot 
summer evenings. 

Lightning-express. A through express ; a quick travelling train. 
A Western variant is grcaed*lightrung. 

Like all WPath. A Southern simile for vehemently, violently, angrily, 
generally employed to express great emphasis. 

Likely. Used adjectively in sense of respectable, worthy of esteem, 
sensible. A likely man, a man of good character or accomplishments. 

In England, the true English sense of the word is that relating to 
external appearance, i. e. handsome, well made, prepossessing, pleasing to 
the eye: A likely man, a likely woman, meaning a fine, healthy, proper 
man or woman, although not necessarily pretty or handsome in the face. 

LIM LIS 259 

Limbs. A euphemism for " legs" sometimes used by young ladies and 
ultra-refined people. Sensible persons, however, have little part in 
such prudery. 

This squeamishness may also be found on the pages of many British 

and the nice proportion of her arms prom ised the truest symmetry in 

her limbs. 

(FIELDING, TOM JONES, book IV, chap. II.) 

Their limbs are of great strength, but not their arms. 

(DR KNOX, Races of Men, p. 272.) 

Llmekill (Old Eng.). In New England, often heard for " limekiln. " 

So used by Gayton, in his " Festivous notes on Don Quixote, " and 
therefore a survival. 

Limit. At poker, a condition made at the beginning of a game, limiting 
the amount of any single bet or raise. 

Limonillo, lee-mo-nee'-yo (Sp. dim. of Union, lemon). In Texas, a low 
herb of the composite family (Actinella odorata), used as a perfume plant. 

Limpsy. In New England, limp, weak, flexible. 
Also, limsy, 

Linemen. A railway term designating the plate-layers. 

Line Tiding. A plainsman's term, for patrolling, in winter time, the 
lints or beats on which cattle are stationed. 

Lines. Reins. 

Handle the lines, equiv. of to handle the ribbons or reins. 

Lingua Franca. Often applied, in the United States, to the Chinook 
jargon of the North-West and the Pacific coast. 

In Europe, those two words designate the corrupt Italian employed as 
the language of common intercourse in the Mediterranean and the 

Lingllister (pron. linkister). In New England, a talkative busybody. 

Doubtless derived from the sailor's ^usage of the word, i. e. linguist, 

Linter. In Massachusetts, a cattle feeding-trough. 

List, Listing. Terms used in cotton cultivation, and signifying to make 
ready plots of lands. 
Also, to make beds or raised terraces. 

Lister. In Connecticut, one who schedules or makes out lists of cattle or 
other property. 



Little Giant. A nickname applied to Stephen A. Douglas, from being small 
of stature but of great intellect. At the time of his nomination for 
the Presidency, in 1859, campaign clubs, calling themselves " Little 
Giants, " were organized and uniformed after the manner of the Wide- 

Little Mac. The army nickname of Gen. George B. McCelland, which 
became especially conspicuous in 1864, when the general was the Demo- 
cratic candidate for the Presidency. 

Little Magician. The nickname of Martin Van Buren, eight president 
of the United States. 
Also, Young Hickory. 

Little-misery. At game of Boston, the loss of the whole twelve trick*, 
after having discarded a card which is not to be shown. 
Also, known under its French name petite misere. 

Little Rhody. The State of Rhode-Island, from itn being the smallest 
State in the Union. An appellation lovingly used, although it must be 
said that the compliment is somewhat marred when the term Gun-flints 
is applied to its inhabitants. 

Live. (1) Quick, active, energetic, lively, as a live dealer, meaning one 
who is alive to his business. 

(2) In activity, as a live wire, meaning a wire which is conveying an- 
electric current. 

In sense of ' ' lively " now very rarely heard in England, and mostly 
entirely superseded there by ' ' quick", 

Live-oak (Quercus virens). The evergreen oak. 

Live OUt (to). To be at service; to live as a domestic servant. 

Lizards. A nickname applied to the inhabitants of Alabama. 

Llano, lyah'-no (Sp. ). In the South-West, a Spanish-Mexican term, 
designating a treeless level steppe or plain. 

Loaf. To lounger here and there, to remain idle. To lead the life of & 
vagabond, or, idle lounger. 

Loafer. An idler, or dawdler. A vagabond, or idle lounger, the Ameri- 
can equivalent of the lazzarone of Naples. 

It has been suggested that loafer must be derived from the German 
laii/er, which in Germany means a man irregular or unsettled in life. 
But Mr. Richard Grant White, whose authority on all matters pertai- 
ning to Americanisms is wcllnigh uncontested, is of opinion that as 
" loafer " was not uncommon in the N. Y. newspapers of more than 
sixty yeari ago, the time of its birth is against its suggested German 
origin ; and the place is equally against its derivation, alleged by some 
other etymologists, from the Spanish " gallofero, : ' a wandering beggar- 

LOA LOC 261 

Mr. White believes that it is simply a corruption of " low feller, " 
which, becoming naturally in speech " low-f'er, " was, when it came to 
be written, spelled as naturally loafer. 

Loaferishly. In a way becoming the true loafer. 

Loan. To lend. 

In England, "loan " is a noun and not a verb ; it is the thing lent. 

" To loan" has been used by Chaucer, and Todd has also found the 
word in Huloet (1552) and Langley (1664), two little known English 
writers of the 16th and 17th centuries. These examples, however, ar 
merely of misuse, whilst the " Americanism" consists in the turning of 
the misuse into common usage. 

Lobby, Lobbyist. A person frequenting the approaches to legislative 
halls, and seeking to influence legislation by argument or bribery. 
Also, lobbyist. 

Lobby (to). To work among a legislative body ; to wait outside the 
chambers of legislatures, so as to use influence for passing of certain 

Loblolly-bay (Gordonia lasyanthus). An ornamental tree, with a 
luxuriant foliage, flourishing in the maritime parts of the Southern 
Also called holly -bay. 

Loblolly-pine (Pinus tieda). A variety of pine, whose timber is much 
used for building. 

Also known as white-pine (Virginia), and old-field-pine in the South. 

LobSCOUSe. In New Jersey, an awkward, hulking fellow. 

Local. In newspaper parlance, an article of local interest only. Often 
also the reporter whose special duty it is to collect local news. 
Hence, also, to localize, to prepare local news for the press. 

Locate. To place ; to settle in a particular spot or position. 
This verb has now also forced its way into England. 

Location. A plot of land, chosen for a dwelling. 

Locator. In American land law, one who sfelects places or settles in a 
particular spot. 

Lock, Stock and barrel. The whole of any important matter. A 
figurative expression borrowed from sportsmen, and which it is strange 
that our much-shooting cousins across the water have left for us to 

Lock-eye. The game of hide-and-seek. 



LoCO-fOCOS (Sp. loco, crazy ;foco, flash). A nickname of tansient currency 
and importance, first applied in 1835 to a numerous fraction of the 
Democratic party, and afterwards to the whole party itself. 

The political application of the term, which at the time had been 
coined as an advertising catch, by a New York dealer, for some newly 
invented friction-matches, came about in this wise. 

A division having arisen in the Democratic party aa to the nomination 
of a candidate, a grand row took place at Tammany Hall, during which 
the gas was put out. One of the sections the Equal Rights party had 
been provident enough to bring some " loco-focos " matches with them, 
and the room was relighted in a moment. They were dubbed, in 
consequence, Loco-focos, and the name was shortly afterwards affixed to 
the whole party. 

LOCO-Weed (Sp. loco, mad, crack-brained). A venenous plant of the West, 
which, in poisoning cattle, produces all the ordinary symptoms of 

Hence, to be locoed, i. e. showing signs of madness, a phrase at first 
only applied to cattle rendered insane by eating loco-weed, but now also 
extended to human beings. 

Lodge (Fr. loye, a hut). The family of the Indian, whenever not the 
" braves " only, but women and children are all included. 

Log (to). Literally, to fell trees and convert them into logs. 

Log-Cabin. A cabin, made of logs, generally unhewn. 

Log cabin and hard cider, a catch-phrase of the Presidential campaign 
of 1839, in allusion to the antecedents of the candidates. Miniature log 
cabins and cider barrels were then drawn in procession through the 

Log-Canoe. A canoe hollowed out of the trunk of a tree. 
Also, dii'j-out. 

Logger. A lumber-man, a wood-cutter. 

Logging-Camp. The place where trees are cut. 

Also the cabin or hut occupied by those engaged in logging operations. 

Logging SWamp. In thrf State of Maine, a generic term for any spot 
where pine-trees are being felled, from the finest pine-trees usually 
growing, in that State, in swampy places. 

Logie. (1) In the West Indies, eap. Demerara, an open shed for storing 
the refuse of the sugar cane. 

(2) Among cod-fishermen, fish of inferior quality. Mostly used in 
plural fogies. 


Log-POlling. (1) In the lumber regions, the rolling of the logs to the 
river, after they are felled and trimmed. It is then customary for the 
men of different logging-camps to assist each other in turn in this work, 
which is the hardest incident to their business. 

(2) A political term applied to the system of cooperation by which 
one member will vote for the pet measure of another, in return for a 
like service, after the manner of lumbermen assisting each other in. 
rolling their logs. 
See pipe-laying. 

Logy (Dutch log, prosy, dull). Heavy, slow, stupid. A term especially 
applied to men, and which comes very near the meaning of a " bore. " A 
lo'jy preacher, a logy talker, etc. 

Lolly. In Newfoundland and the Canadian Maritime provinces, a word 
designating soft ice along the shore. The term is especially well known 
in connection with the crossing of the ice boats to Prince Edward 

Loma (Sp.). On the Mexican frontier, and in the formerly Spanish States 
a term designating a flat-topped hill or ridge. 
Lomita is a diminutive of the above. 

Lone Star State. The State of Texas, from the flag of that State- 
bearing a single star in its centre. 

Long-bit. Formerly, a defaced twenty-cent piece. 

Long-Knives. An Indian term for white msn, in allusion to their swords, 
and dating from the bloody struggles of the middle of the eighteenth 

Long-niOSS (Tillandsia usneoides). A name given, in the South, to a 
phenoganeous plant, hanging down in festoons from the branches of live- 
oaks and cypresses, and closely resembling masses of moss. 

Long On (Old Eng.). A survival of old English usage, still heard in New 
England, and meaning "occasioned by. " 

Long sauce (Old Eng.). The old English usage of calling vegetables 
sauce, or more commonly raxv, is still preserved in the New-England 
States, where lonj xanre moans beets, parsnips, carrots, etc. and *hort 
sauce is used in speaking of turnips, onions, and other similar bulbs. 

Long SUgar. Molasses were formerly so called in North Carolina, from 
their ropiness. 

In New England, the same product was long known under the name of. 
long sweetening. 

Also, long sweetening. 

364 . LON LUG 

Long-Tom. An apparatus used by miners in the washing of gold. 

Long-Walnut. See white-walnut. 

Looed (to be). A simile derived from the card table, having same 
meaning as "euchred," i. e. defeated or " worsted" in an undertaking. 

Look-OUt. An assistant to the dealer at faro. An attendant who, at the 
gaming-table, is supposed to see that matters are conducted fairly, and 
that no mistakes are made. 
Also, looker-oid. 

Loon. (1) A foolish fellow. " Stupid as a loon." 

Evidently derived from the Scotch " loun, " or " lown, " given in 
Jamieson with above signification. 

Also, looney. 

(2) The common name of the Northern diver, or btack-mvimmer 
.(Colymbus torquatue). 

Aft straight as a loon'* (eg, a common simile, derived from the bird in 

Lop. In college slang, to curry favor. Used as both noun and verb. 

Lope. A long, easy gallop. 

Also, to lope, meaning to leap, to run. 

Botli terms, which, are mostly confined to the West, are probably only 
new adaptations of " lope " and " lopen," the old English forms of the 
preterite of " leap." 

Loper. In New Jersey, a worthless, intrusive fellow. 

Lop-lolly. Sometimes heard for careless, slouchy, as applied to one's 
gait and dress. 

Lot. A piece of land, in the sense of any piece, portion, or division of 
land. Thus city -lots, cemetery- lot x, hou^e-lots, etc. 
The equivalent, in England, is " plot." 

Louisiana TigePS. A nickname applied, during the Civil War, to a 
corps of Confederate sharpshooters. 

Lowbelia. A corruption of lobelia (lobelia inflata). 
See hiyhbe/ia. 

Low-dOWneP. In North Carolina, a wrecker. 

Lueivee (Fr. lotip-cerrifr}. A corrupted form standing for the wild-cat, 
or lynx of Maine (Lynx canadensis). 
Also, lucyvee, fucyfer. 

LugS. Ground leaves of tobacco, when prepared for market. 

LUM LYN 265 

Lumber. Timber sawed or split for sale. 

In England, lumber means cumbrous and refuse articles which are 
hindrances unless they are put away, ; whence all large dwelling-houses 
have a "lumber-room." In America, lumber meaning timber, is so 
rooted in our commercial speech that there is no hope of its displacement. 
Indeed the perversion of lumber has not only injured that word, but has 
almost driven timber out of use. 

Lumberer, Lumberman. . (1) A man employed in the timber trade. 
(2) A man employed felling trees in a " lumber " shanty. 

Lumber State. The State of Maine, from its extensive lumber-yards. 
Also, Pine-Tree State. 

The law associated with nicknames does not seem, for the inhabitants 
of Maine, to have yet resolved itself into a real sobriquet, but no doubt 
it will, in course oi time. 

Lummox. Colloquial in the United States for a heavy, stupid fellow. 
Provincial in the east of England. 
Also, lunk-head. 

Lumper. In parts of New England, a common, unskilled laborer. 

Lumper is still provincial in England for a dockhand, a stevedore. 

Lunch. Besides its legitimate sense of " mid-day meal, " the word lunch 
is often applied, in the United States, to an improvised meal eaten at 
any time, by day or night. In England, they would, in that case, perhaps 
say a " snack " or merely " something to eat. " The American use of the 
word is, however, found in Sterne's " Sentimental Journey. " 

Lunge. An abbreviated form of rmwkelunge (see maskinomje) used in 

Lyceum. A lecture hall, or literary association, often enriched with a 
library and various collections. 

Lynch. To inflict punishment, without the form of law. 

The origin of the term is wrapped in mystery, none of the explana- 
tions already put forward having proved thus far conclusire. 

Lyneher. One who " lynches, " i. e. inflicts punishment according to lynch 

Lynehing-bee. A gathering of lynchers, for the purpose of lynching a 

Lynch law. A kind of rough and ready justice, much in vogue in 
certain wild and lawless communities of the country. 



Machine. (1) A fire-engine. 

(2) A synjnym f jr any undertaking or e:it3rpris3. 

(3) A railway official's term for a locomotive. 

Machine politician. An opprobrious epithet applied to a politician 
who yields implicit obedience to the lead of his party. 

Mackinaw (Iiid. Alg. misi-makindk, or mikkiivik, meaning big turtle). 
A heavy blanket originally used in the Indian trade, the chief post of 
which was at Mackinac. 

Maereuse (Fr. C.). A species of wild duck of the Gulf of St Lawrence. 

Madam. (1) A title applied to women moving in respectable society, 
especially ladies of old age and high social position. 

(2) In accordance with an old English custom, a title given, especially 
in New England and Virginia, to mothers-in-law who have married 
daughters of their own name, so as to distinguish them from those 

Marm is a familar corruption of " madam, " peculiar to New England. 

(3) Among negroes, in slavery days, madam was alo a common name 
for a master's wife; the term is still in use, but slightly changed in 

Mad-dog (Scutellaria lateriflora). A once much renowned weed for the 
cure of hydrophobia. 

Also known as skullcap, from the shape of its flowers. 

MadPC, mah'-dray (Sp.). In the South- West, used adjectivly for prin- 
cipal, main. " Sierra madre, acequia madre, etc." 

Madrona, mah-dron'-ah (Sp. madrono, strawberry-plant). In Texas, a 
shrub of the heath family, bearing yellowish red berries, of a sub-acid 

Madstone. A round stone of dark color, to which, in the South, a 
superstition is attached that, if applied to the part bitten, it is a specific 
cure for hydrophobia. 

Maguey, mah-ghay'-e (Sp. ). In the South-West, a species of aloe (Agave 

Also called century i>lnnt . 

Mahala. In California, a vulgar name for an Indian squaw. 

MahonistS. The followers, in 1878, of general Mahone, of West Virginia,, 
who soceded from the ranks of the Biurbon Democrats. 



MahOUmet. In French-Canadian folk-lore, a name given, by the old 
" coureurs des bois, " to an evil genius having passed a secret agreement 
with an adoctd (q. v.). 

Maidenland. In Virginia, a plot of land forming the dower of a wife, 
and the right to which reverts at death to her family. 

Mail. (1) Letters and papers received from the post office or sent to it. 
(2) The train bearing the post. 

In England, mail properly means the bag in which letters and papers 
are carried, or, when signifying the letters and papers themselves, is 
always used with the connotation of ocean passage, same as freight' 
that is, an ocean'mail. 

Mail (to). To post letters or papers. 
Mailable. Suited for conveyance by post. 

Mail-Cap. A special car, provided for the conveyance of the mail or 

Mail-Stag"6. The stage or coach which carries the mail. 
In England, called a mail-coach. 

Maine law. An enactment, passed about the year 1844, in the State of 
Maine, which provided that no one, save an officially licensed agent, 
should engage in the sale of intoxicating liquors. 

Hence, also, Maine laicite, an advocate of the principle of Maine law. 

Main-g"Uy. The chief or leader of any organization. 

MajOPanO, mah-ho-rah'-no (Sp. mejorana, sweet marjoram). In Texas, a 
low shrub of the sage family, bearing small bluish or purple flowers. 

Make. In parts of Pennsylvania inhabited by Germans, and in conjunc- 
tion with other words, make is used in many senses, as follows : 
Make awake, to waken. " Make me awake at five. " 
Make hot, to become heated. Used impersonally. " We were talking 
politics, and it made hot. " 

Make one's xelf, to go. " Make yourself home at once. " 
Muke out, to extinguish. " Make the light out and go to bed. '" 
Make shut, to shut. " Make the door shut. " 
.Vake to, to close. " Make the window to. " 

Make a Shippy. To make a sheep's face. Said of a child who twists 
up his face when about to cry. 

Make Come. Amongst Western hunters and plainsmen, to bringdown 
game with the rifle; to make a dead shot. 

Make gOOd. At poker, to deposit in the pool an amount equal to any 
bet previously made. This is done previous to raising or calling a playor. 
and is sometimes called seeing a bet. 

268 MAK MAN 

Make meat. Among frontiersmen, to dry thin slices of animal flesh for 
future use. 

Make (On the). On the look-out for what one can get. 

Make one's Jack. To carry one's point. 

A phrase borrowed from poker, and used as an affirmation of success. 

Make the fur fly. To breed a disturbance ; to make a display of temper; 
to proceed to blows, etc. 

Make thing's hum. To look alive ; to make every thing alive about 
oneself ; to present a scene of untiring activity. 

From the humming of the bee, which insect is regarded as the emblem 
of restless industry. 

Make tracks. To change one's quarters, with the connotation of getting 
away in a hurry. 

Also, to pull up xtakex. 

Making-up. In newspaper parlance, the process of arranging the masses 
of type in the form. The result is also spoken of as a make-up. 

Male help. An expression applied indiscriminately to any kind of 
employment for men, whether it be that of a professor, a servant, or an 

Mammee apple (Mammea americana). A well-known West Indian 
fruit, with a yellow flesh, and which sometimes grows to the size of a 
man's head. 

Mammee sapota (Lucuma mammosa). A fruit, not so large a.s the 
mammee-apple, with reddish flesh and one large polished seed. 

See sapote. 

Mammy. In the South, an affectionate term given by children to negro 
nurses and old servants. 

Also sounded and written maumer. 

The old English sense of " mammy " is grand-mother, from the gypsy 
" mami." 

Manada, man-ah'-dah (Sp. ). In California, a word especially applied to 
breeding mares, whilst elsewhere it is generally used when speaking of 
a herd of cattle or drove of horses. 
See remudo. 

Mananosay (Ind. ). The soft-shell clam (Mya arenaria), especially abun- 
dant on the shores of Narragansett bay. 
In Maryland, called maninost. 

Man-eater. In Pennsylvania, and the Eastern States, a generic name 
for various species of salamanders, or lizard- shaped animals, with 
smooth, shiny, naked skins. 

MAN MAR 269 

Another name, in same regions, is spring -keeper, ^whilst in the West, 
all those species are known as ground-puppies, water-dogs and water- 

MangO. A green musk-melon, stuffed with various condiments, and then 

MangO humming bird (Trochitus colubris). The hum -bird or hummer. 

MangOSteen. A variety of the East Indian mango, which flourishes in 
the West Indies. 

Manifest destiny. As specially applied to American politics, this phrase 
originated with Mr. Webster, who asserted that God intended America 
should be a Republic. 

ManitOU (Ind. Alg. manito). A spirit, either good or bad, among the 
Indians. Also a fetish, a ghost, a symbol, and even sometimes a god. 
Indeed, the term can be made to stand for an infinity of meanings, as it 
is well known that the Indians have a mamtou for every cave, waterfall, 
or other commanding object in nature. 

The word is, in the United States, a descendant of the coast Algon- 
kin, represented by the old New England and Virginian dialects, 
although the same form, used in French Canada, is there also derived 
from the Indian without the intervention of English. 

Maple-honey. The molasses-like residuum, after boiling, of the sap of 
the sugar-maple tree. 

Also called maple-molasses, and maple-syrup. 

Maple-SUgar. A sugar obtained from the sugar-maple tree. 
Marabou (Fr. marabout). A negro cross between a mulatto and a griffe 
in the proportion of I black blood, and f white. 

Marble (to). To move off, to depart with alacrity the result of per 
suasive argument, moral or physical. (Pennsylvania.) 
Also, to marvel. 

MaPgOt (Fr. C. ). The gannet or solan goose of the Gulf of St. Lawrence 

In Cartier's relation there is mention of birds, which he says " we 
called " godets " and " margaulx." 

Mark. A cant word for the pit of the stomach. "To hit one in the 

Marmette (Fr. C.). The guillemot (Uria ringvia) of the Gulf of Saint 
Lawrence region. 

Marm school. A school kept by a woman, with a certain connotation of 

In England, and also in Connecticut, such schools were known formerly 
as " dame-schools." 



School-marm, the colloquial designation for a woman having charge of 
a marm- school. 

MaPOOning. In the South, to go on a picnic, on the shore or in the 
country, for several days at a stretch. 

Evidently derived from maroon, which is a universally accepted term , 
in all English speaking countries, for a runaway slave or negro. 

MaPSh hen (Rallus virginianus). The popular name of the Virginia-rail, 
or mud-hen. 

Also a name applied to the clapper-rail, a salt-water bird of the 
Gulf of Mexico. 

Marsh tOPtOise. See mud-tortoise. 

Marshy milk. In Charleston, S. C., a term applied to the milk of a cow 
feeding on the marsh grass, which gives the milk a peculiar marshy 

Maryland end. In Maryland and Virginia, the curious name given to 
the hock end of a ham, the thick part being called the Virginia end. 

Both terms are said to be derived from the supposed rough resem- 
blance, to a ham, of the contour lines of the States of Maryland and 

Mary Walkers, Women's trousers, made after a modified form of this 
article of male attire, which had been adopted by Dr Mary Walker. 

Masa, mas-'sah (Sp. ). In Texas, the cornmeal after it has been ground 
in the metate (q. v.). 

Mash (Old Eng. ). In the South, the common pronunciation for " marsh." 
For instance, the "mash-market" of Baltimore derives its name from 
the fact that it was built upon low, marshy ground. 

An old English form is "mas," and "mash" is found in various 
English dialects. 

Mash. A school girl's term for a street flirtation. 

Masher. A species of the " dude " variety, who rudely ogles women on 
public thoroughfares, in a belief, mostly always mistaken, that his 
charms are irresistible. 

Hence to mow/I, to ogle, or " to be spoons on" where the object of 
such attention is an unwilling victim. 

Maskeg (Ind.). A word of Cree origin designating, among the French- 
Canadians, a marsh or swamp. 

Maskinong6 (Ind. Alg. muskelunge, the ugly fish). Among the French- 
Canadians, the common name of the " Esox estor," the largest pike 
known in America, abounding in the Northern lakes and rivers, and 
sometimes reaching, in the upper lakes, a length of five feet and a 
weight of eighty pounds. 

MAS MAU 271 

In the Algonkin dialect of the Lake of Two Mountains, province of 
Quebec, the name of the fish Is mackinonge, and among the English- 
Canadians the forms mankinonye, maskalonge, muskalunge, and mutkelunge 
are heard. 

Maskouabina. See beir-berry, 

Mason and Dixon's line. The boundary line, following the 40th 
parallel of the North latitude, between Pennsylvania on the south and 
the adjoining States of Maryland and W. Virginia, and so called from 
its having been survej'ed, in 1763-66, by two Englishmen of the names 
of Mason and Dixon, in order to settle a dispute between the States in 

The phrase was especially often echoed through the country, at the 
time of the first controversies about the abolition of slavery, as far back 
as 1820, and it was afterwards, during a long period, looked upon as 
representing roughly the dividing line between the Free and Slave 

Massa. A negro vocative for any white man. 

In slavery times, a term especially used for " master. " 

Mast (Old Eng.). In the Middle region and in the South, used for nuts 
considered as food for swine, squirrels, etc. 
See xhac'k. 

Mataehias (Fr. C.). A word of Algonkin origin designating, among the 
French Canadians, ornaments of beads, feathers, etc. in use among the 

Also used in sense of tattooing. 

This word is very old, being quoted in Champla'n, Lescarbot, Sa- 
gard, etc. 

Match. In parts of New E igla-id, to kindle, or S3t fire .o, by the appli- 
cation of a match. " To match a fire, a candle, etc. " 

Materialize. To become visible ; to put in an appearance. 

The term, at first restricted to spiritualists, and meaning the act by 
which a spirit is supposed to make itself visible, became shortly after- 
wards associated in the public mind with putting in an appearance of 
any kind. Thus, a person failing to keep an appointment, or so on, 
would be said not to have materialized. 
Hence, also, materialization, 

Maul. To prepare ; to make. (Southern States. ) 

Probably derived from the " maul, " in England a woodcutter's tool 
or mallet for preparing wood. 

Maul and wedges. The equivalent of the " bag and baggage " of 



Maverick. In Texas, a name applied to an unbranded or unmarked 
yearling steer, from one Samuel Maverick, formery a rich cattle-raiser 
of San Antonio, who was notoriously negligent in attending to the- 
branding of his own cattle. Other persons put their own brands upoa 
them, and thus became their owners. 

May-apple. See swamp-honeysuckle. 

May blob. A New-England name for the cowslip. 

May-pop. A Southern name for the passion flower. 

MeadOW. (1) Damp grass land, with an implication of inferiority,, 
although in parts of New England it means land devoted to the hay 
crop, thus coming very near to the sense, as implied in England, of any 
land which can be mowed. 

(2) Along the coast of New Jersey, a word applied to a salt marshy- 
tract used for grazing and " shingling." 

MeadOW-gTasS. Inferior hay, in distinction from that which grows on. 
uplands, and which is called " English hay." 
Also, meadow-hay. 

MeamelOUC (Fr. mamduk}. A name given to the offspring of a white and 
a metis, containing 1;16 of black (negro) blood. 

The following grade is demi-meamelouc, the offspring of a white and 
meamelouc, with 1?32 of negro Mood. 

See mulatto. 

Mean. (1) A term of contempt applied to one who is bad-tempered, poor 
in character, or is doing something contemptible to the detriment of his 

In England, they would say " stingy " or " close, " and indeed, in 
the United States, the word always carries also with it a certain sense 
of stinginess. 

Mean enough to xteal acorn* from a blind hoy, the nee plus ultra of 
consummate meanness. 

(2) Worthless, bad, or poor in quality. 

Mean-White. A term applied in the South, in slavery times, anil 
especially by negroes, to a low-class white person who was too poor to. 
possess any slaves, and who lacked alike landed property. 

A more contemptuous term for this class of people is poor-whites, poor- 
white folk and even white traxh, and poor-white trash. 

Those wjiites, being generally intemperate and improvident, and 
eschewing labor of all kinds, have been during a long while, and are 
still more or less to-day, a stumbling block in the jjarduous task of 
" reconstruction " of the South. 

Meat. A general term for animal -food of all kinds : beef-meat, 
and even sheep-meat. 



Meat biscuits. Compounds of animal food (generally beef) and flour baked 
in the form of a biscuit. 

Meat Chamber. A refrigerating room on board ocean going steamers. 

Meat in the pot. A Texan term for a revolver or rifle, from its being 
often the only means by which a man can replenish his larder, literally 
put " meat in his pot. " 

Other variants are peace-maker, a sarcastic commentary on the proverb 
that "Short reckonings make long friends ;" pill-bottle, a dispenser of 
physic, warranted easy in action and sure in effect ; pill-box. 

Meat market. In England, a butcher's shop. 

Meat Victuals. In parts of New England, the meat course at dinner. 

Meaty. In newspaper's reporter's slang a meaty person is one who, when 
interviewed, can furnish a good amount of " copy. " 

Mecate, may-calv-tay (Mex. mecatl). In Texas, a word for a rope, made 
either of hair or the fibre of the agave or ' ' maguey. " 

Meehoaean (Convolvulus panduratus). The Indian name of a plant 
growing in sandy soil all over the United States, and whose large root 
possesses medicinal virtues. 

Also called man-of-the-earth and wild potato vine. 

Meeeh, Meeehing (Old Eng. ). This word, which is a true archaism of 
very respectable lineage, still survives in New York and New England, 
in sense of skulking, sly, sneaking, or underhand. 

Hamlet calls the murderer in the dumb-show "miching mallecho," 
and the other Elisabethans use it too, and all with one vague connotation 
of illicit love-making : 

Sure she has 

Some meeching rascal in her house. 

(BEAUMONT andJFLETCHER, Scornful Lady, v. 1 ) 

Such special connotation, however, was not " classical," and has not 
been preserved in the American use. The word is the middle English 
" michen," which has simply the sense of secret or underhand, and is 
so used in the " Romaunt of the Rose." 

To go meeching about, to go in a mean or underhand way. 

Meeting. An assembly for'divine worship, and often also the place of 
worship itself, it which sense it accords with English usage. 

Meeting-house. A place^of (worship of Methodists, Quakers, etc. in 
Puritan times. 

Meet With a Change. To be struck under conviction. 

See conviction. 

274 MEE MET 

Meet With the PUbbePS. Often heard in New England, in sense of to 
meet with misfortune, ill-luck. 
Also, pass through the rubbers. 

Melon-fruit (Cariea papaya). The papaw ; a West-Indian fruit which 
is also called the tree melon. 

Mend (on the). Often heard for convalescent, to be convalescent. 
Also, on the mending hand. 

Mend fences. Said of a politician elected to congress or other 
office, when he returns home occasionally to heal up differences among 
his supporters, and to prepare for a renomination. 

Menhaden. See bony fish. 

Merchandise (to). To engage in trade ; to enter into commerce ; to 
transact business of any kind. 

Bacon, in his Essay on Usury, uses the word several times : 

For were it not for this lazic trade of usury, money would in great 

part be employed upon merchandising. 

Also, sometimes, to merchant. 

Merchant. Anyone who engages in trade, from a wholesale dealer to a 
petty shopkeeper or hawker. 

Mesa, mes'-sah (Sp.). In the formerly Spanish States, a high plain "or 
table -land. 

A diminutive is mesilla, meaning a small table-land. 

MeSQUite, mes-kee'-tay (Mex. miaquitl), A tree of the locust family 
(Algarobia glandulosa), abounding in the South and South-West, and 
whose pods are much liked by cattle and horses. 
Also, mesquit, muskeet. 

Mesquit grass. A nutritious grass of great vigor and beautyj] (Stip* 
spata), which is found on the Western plains. 

Message. An official communication from the President to congress. 

Mestee (Sp. mestizo). The offspring of a quadroon and a white, the pro- 
portion being i black. 
Also, mustee, metis. 

Metate (Mex. metatl). In Texas, a hollow oblong stone, used by Mexican* 
for grinding purposes, especially for grinding corn. 

Also, sometimes, the instrument or pestle with which the grinding 
is done. 

Methy (Lota maculosa). The burbot, a fi*h called loche by the French- 



Metsel-SOUp (Gar. metzelsuppe, from -metzeln, to kill, to butcher). In 
Pennsylvania, and the Western States inhabited by Germans, a gift sent 
by farmers, in the killing season, to friends or near neighbors, and consis- 
ting of as much of the puddings and sausages they make, as is necessary 
for one meal. 

Mezeal (Mex. mexcafli). In Texas and other formerly Spanish States, a 
spirituous liquor distilled from the bulb of the " maguey" after it has 
been baked underground. 

MiehigOUen (Fr. C. ). A word of Montagnais origin designating, among 
the French Canadians, a variety of parsley possessing a flavor much 
superior to that of our domestic species. 

Micky. A sobriquet for a rowdy, a rough. 

Middlings. A technical term in the pork-packing trade for that portion 
of the animal between the hams and shoulders. (Farmer. ) 

Midget. The sand- fly. (Canada and North- West.) 

Milehy. In New Jersey, an adjective applied to oysters " in milk, " i. e. 
just before or during spawning. 

Mileage. An allowance made to members of Legislatures, for travelling 
'expenses, to and from the seat of government. 

Whenever such allowance is paid to members who are only supposed 
to have gone home, without having actually been absent, it is called 
constructive mileage. This is the case, for instance, when, one^Congress 
having expired on the 3rd of March, all the members who " hold over," 
until the next day, are supposed to have all gone home and come back 
to Washington within the twenty-four hours elapsed. 


of miles. 

A ticket entitling bearer to travel a certain number 

Milk-ranch. Sometimes heard for a dairy farm. 

Milk Sickness. A dangerous dissase peculiar to the saline districts of 
the West, and thought to arise from the detrimental effects of the soil 
and water of these regions. 

Mill. An imaginary coin, representing the tenth part of a cent, or the one 
thousandth part of a dollar. 

Mill (to). To cockle, in speaking of cloth. A weaver's term, in the mills. 

Miller. A large white moth or worm, infesting tobacco plantations, and 
exceedingly destructive in its ravages. 

Miller boy Of the Slashes. A nickname applied to Henry Clay, from 
his having, in his youth, tended a mill m a region known as " the 
Slashes, " near his birth-place. 



Milpa (Sp. ). In Arizona and New Mexico, a land measure of 177 acres. 
See labor. 

Mind OUt. Sometimes heard in sense of to take care, to look out. 

Mink (Putorius viaon). A species of the weasel kind, that burrows in the 
earth near water, and the fur of which is much esteemed. 
Also, minx. 

Mint-julep. A concoction made of brandy, sugar, and pounded ice, 
flavored with mint. 

Mint-Stick. A peppermint sweetmeat, or stick of candy flavored with 

Minute-men. Militia men, or country troops, during the Revolution, 
whose engagement was that they should always be ready to march at 
a minute's notice. 

The word originated in Worcester, in 1774. 

Misery. Often heard in the South in sense of pain, especially among 
negroes, to whose minds the term represents any feeling which they 
cannot definitely describe. 

Miss a figure* To make a vital mistake; to so act that unchangeable 
results accrue therefrom. 

Mission School. The American term for what the English call " a 
ragged school." 

MiSS lick. A stroke wide of the mark ; the false blow of an axe. A Western 
backwood's term. 

Missouri compromise. A name given, in 1820, to an Act of Congress, 
intended as a compromise between the two great sections which were 
then struggling, in Missouri, one to promote, the other to hinder the 
extension of slavery. By the terms of that act, Missouri was admitted 
into the Union as a slave-holding State, but with the provision that 
slavery would be prohibited in any State thenceforth to be admitted 
lying north of latitude 36 3(X . 

Mitasse (Fr. C. ). A word of Indian origin in use for legging, among the 
French Canadians. 

Mitten (to get the). To be rejected or discarded by one's sweetheart. 

De Vere says the word ought to be "mittens," as the phrase is 

derived from the same use jnade of the French " mitaines, " i. e. mittens 

which had to be accepted by the unsuccessful lover instead of the hand 

after which he aspired. 

Mitten (to). To reject or discard a lover. 

Mix. Not uncommon, in New England, in sense of muss, disorder, or 
what is called " mess " in colloquial English. 

MIX MOL '277 

Mixed ticket. In politics, a "ticket" combining the nominees of 
different parties. 

Mizzy. In Louisiana, a negro expression for the stomach-ache. 

MobtOWn. A name formerly often applied to the city of Baltimore, 
from its having been long notorious for the gangs of roughs and rowdies 
which infested its streets. 

MocasSOn-flsh. In Maryland, a species of sun-fish. 

Moccasin (Ind. Powhattan mockassin, mohkisson. Baraga gives the 
Otchipwe makkisin, and Cuoq the Algonkin form makisin). 

A shoe made of a strong and soft leather without a stiff sole, and 
frequently ornamented more or less richly. In French Canada the same 
word exists in the same sense, and is absolutely engrafted there on the 
French language. 

Moccasin Snake (Toxicophis piscivorus). -A poisonous snake, brown 
with black bars faintly marked, like the black marks of wear and tear 
on the buff leather. (De Vere.) 

MOCCaSOned. Said figuratively, in the South, for drunk, intoxicated, 
that is, " bitten by the snake." 

Mocker-nut (Juglans tomentosa). The white heart hickory. 

Mocking-bird (Mimus polyglottus). A native bird, so called from the 
inimitable mimic qualities with which it is endowed. 

In some parts of the country, the butter-bird or nine-killer is con- 
founded with the true mocking-bird. 

Mock-OPange (Prunus caroliniana). A small evergreen, bearing a 
resemblance to the cherry -laurel of Europe. 

In England, mock orange is a name applied to the syringa. 

MoCUCk (Ind. ). A large and peculiarly shaped cake of sugar. 

MogOte, mo-got'-ay (Sp. ). In Texas, a thicket or bush, with heavy 
undergrowth, where wild cattle is wont to take refuge. 

In Spain, the word means principally an insulated rock at sea. Also, 
an isolated mountain. 

Moke. In parts of the South, a negro, and, more specifically, a negro 

Mokok (Ind.). An Acadian word designating a marsh, a swamp, in the 
Maritime provinces of Canada. 

Molasses. A product of the sugar cane, what in England is called treacle 
or golden syrup. 



Molly-COtton-tail. A common name, in Virginia, for a rabbit. 

Molly-MaguireS. A secret society which, for a long period, prior to 
1877, terrorized the coal regions of Pennsylvania, and which derived its 
name from the circumstance that in the accomplishment of their designs 
or murders the men were dressed as women. 

Momiek. In Pennsylvania, a bad carver. Obviously derived from " to 
momick, " which is provincial in various parts of England in sense of 
to cut or handle anything awkwardly. 

Moniac (Fr. C. ). A sort of eider-duck (Somateria mollissima) of the 
Gulf of St- Lawrence region. 
Also, mouniac, moyac. 

Monitor. A name applied to war vessels with a revolving turret, from 
the first iron-clad vessel of similar construction so called by Captain 
Ericsson, a distinguished naval engineer. 

Monkey (tO). To play about; to toy with anything; to play malicious 

Also, monkey around. 

Monkey-business. Tricks, such as those of boys at play; proceedings 
at once farcical and reprehensible. (Bartlett.) 
Also, monkey-shines. 

Monkey-Spoon. An old Americanism which, according to l)e Vere, 
appears to be the name of a spoon, bearing the figure of an ape carved 
in soKd silver on the extremity of the handle, and given at the funerals 
of great people in the State of New York to the pall-bearers. 

Compare with the old custom of presenting apostle spoons at christen- 
ings, and the modern practice of presenting ordinary gold or silver 
spoons, etc. on like occasions. 

Monkey-WPeneh-distPiet. The 3rd congressional district of Iowa was 
so called in 1890, from its resemblance in shape to a monkey-wrench. It 
has often been cited, by Democrats, as a flagrant case of Republican 

Monongahela (a river of Pennsylvania). A generic name for American 
whiskey, analogous to Usquebaugh and Inishowen, designating Scotch 
and Irish brands. 

Monte. A Spanish-Mexican card game of pure chance. 

Also often used, in Texas, as an equivalent of chaparral (q. v.). 

Monumental City. The city of Baltimore, from the several fine monu- 
ments it contains ; also from the fact of its having had alone, for a long 
time, monuments in his squares, before other cities had followed her 



Mooley. A common name, especially in New England, for a cow. In 
Connecticut, it is distinctly a hornless cow. 
Quoted in Halliwell as provincial in England. 
Also, muley. 

Moondown. The Lime of setting of the moon, a word formed in the 
same way as sundown. 

Similarly, moonrixe, the time of rising of the moon. 

Mooneye (Hyodon tergisus). A fish of the herring kind, being called in 
some parts the "lake and river herring." 

Moon-gflade. A track of moon-light on the water ; the soft and silvery 
track which moon-light traces on the water. 

Moonshiner. A term applied, in the West, to makers of illicit whiskey, 
from they being supposed to carry on their operations under cover of 
the night. 

A "moonshiner" is also one who evades the payment of excise on 
whiskey, and, similarly, any illicit whiskey is apt to be called moonshine 
whiskey or simply moonshine. 

Moose (Ind. moosivah, meaning the "stripper" or "smoother" in the 
Abenaki dialect). A deer of immense size ( Alces Americanus), Aveighing 
sometimes as much as 1200 pounds, and which is mostly found in the 
extreme north of New England and in the wilds of Canada. The name 
of "stripper," given to it by the Abenakis, comes from the animal's 
manner of feeding by stripping the young bark and the twigs from the 
lower branches of the trees. f 

Moose-bird (Ganulus canadensis). The Canada jay, a native of Maine. 
Also called ivhiskey jack. 

Moose fly. A venomous fly of a rusty brown c olor, which is especially 
common in Maine. 

Moose-WOOd (Dirca palustris). A species of maple-tree, with a tough, 
leathern bark, so called from its being t favorite wood with the moose. 

MOOSe-yaPd. That part of a forest occupied by a special herd or family 
of mooses. 

Mop-board. In New England, the wash-board which extends around 
the floor of rooms. 

In England, base-board. 

MOPg"an-horse. A name given to a " strain " of horses, of great renown 
in sporting circles, from one Justin Morgan, of Randolph, Vermont, 
who was a famous breeder of the beginning of the present century. 

. A slang word for a saloon where all li quors are sold for 5 cents. 



Mormons. A politico-religious sect, whose most characteristic tenet is 
polygamy. The Mormon people also term themselves Latter-day Saints, 
and derive the word Mormon from the name of the pretended author of 
the "Book of Mormon," from the Gaelic and Egyptian languages, 
alleging it to be compounded of " mor," great, and "mon, " good, or 
great good. 

Hence, also, Mormondom, Mormonixm, Mormonites. 

Mosey. To leave suddenly, generally under doubt or suspicion. 

This mysterious word, about which many etymologists have exercised 
their wits, is probably nothing more than a mere variety of vamose (q. v. ) 
with the final vowel sounded and the first syllable lost. 

To mosey along with any one, to agree with. 

Mosey SUgar. In Pennsylvania, a sweetmeat much liked by children. 
Moshay. A Florida term for a keeper of bloodhounds. 

Moskoui (Ind. ). An Acadian word taken from the Micmac Indians, and 
' designating the bark of which birch-canoes are made. 

Mosquito (Culex mosquito). A well-known insect pest, with an insatiable 
appetite for blood. 

MosquitO-bar. A net, placed round a bed, to. protect a sleeper from the 
attacks of mosquitoes. 
Also, moftquito-net. 

MosquitO-kawk. In Louisiana, a name for the dragon-fly. 
MOSS. A cant name for money. 

Mossbacks. A term applied, at the origin, to a subdivision of the 
Democratic party in Ohio, supposed to comprise all the old " fogies, " as 
opposed to the " kids " or younger element, and now extended to mean 
old-time politicians and people behind the age. 

A vivid allusion to the " moss-back, " which is an alligator turtle, with 
a growth of moss-like alga> 011 its back. 
Also, rock-rooted. 

Mossybank. (1) A variation of mossbanker. 

(2) At the time of the Civil War, a name given to men who, to 
avoid conscription, fled to the woods and swamps. 

Mote, In parts of New Pjnglajid, a sort of little pond or puddle in an old 
river bed. 

Moth (genus Tinea). A name strictly confined, in the United States, 
to the well-known domestic pest, destroyer of woollen fabrics, furs, etc. 
all night-flying kinds being popularly and erroneoiisly called butterflies* 
Also, moth-miller. 

MOT MUD 281 

MotheP Of States. The State of Virginia. 
See Old Dominion. 

Motte (Fr.). A grove or clump of trees, in the prairies. 

Also called an island, by the contrast of its thick boughs with the 
vast ocean of waving grass surrounding it on all sides. 

Nought (Old Eng. ). The old preterite form of " may, " now obsolete in 
England, is frequently heard in the South. 

Yet mould with death, then chastise, tho' he mought. 


Mound. A barrow or tumulus supposed to have been used, mainly for 
sepulchral purposes, by the early inhabitants of the country. 

Mound-buildePS. A name given to the race who built the mounds 
found in large numbers in the valleys of the Mississipi and Ohio 
rivers, Mexico, Yucatan, etc. 

Mound City. The city of St Louis, Missouri, from its being built upon 
the site of many artificial mounds, believed to have been Indian burial- 

Mountain-lamb. In parts of New England, especially New-Hampshire, 
a common term for deer killed out of season. 

Mouse (to). A variation of to mosey (q. v.), with a connotation of aimless 
or fruitless motion or action. 

Movey StaP (Fr. mauvaiaea terres, bad lands). An amusing corruption 
of the Fr. expression, meaning " bad lands. " 

The designation of " mauvaises terres " was first given by the early 
French settlers, in the districts w-est of the Missouri, to the jagged, 
sterile, alkali hills abounding in that region, and Movey Star still 
lingers in some of those localities. 

Mr Speaker. In Texas, a revolver. A speaker, against whose rulings 
there is usually no appeal. 

Much. Often used, in New England, as a synonym of good qualities, 
either in men or things. " Much of a man, of an idea, etc." 

Muck. In mining phraseology, the top of the soil, over the gold-bearing 

MuekeP. In college slang, a youthful inhabitant of the vicinity not 
belonging to the college, i. e. a " towney. " 

Muckrakes. A slang political epithet applied to place-mongers, i. e. 
those who seek the " small change " of office. 

Mud-Cat. A species of cat-fish, of a muddy flavor, which attains an 
enormous size, and abounds in the waters of the Mississipi river. 



Mud-eat State. The State of Mississipi, from the mud-cat, abounding 
in the waters of the Mississipi river. 

The inhabitants are sometimes, also, humorously designated mud-cat*. 

Mud-llbbleP. A small fresh-water lish. 

Mill-IB /H. I'n the West, a spacies of salamander, possasaing many other 
" aliases." 

Mud-flsh (Melanura pygmuea). A mud-burrowing fish of small size, 
found on the Atlantic coat. 

Mud-Head. A native of the State of Tennessee. 

Mud-hen. In "bucket-shop" phraseology, a woman who dabbles in 

Mud-lumps. The mud banks which form at the mouth of the Mississipi. 

Mud-poke (dims cinerea). A species of crane, so called from its habit of 
resting on the mud, at the sides of streams, whilst engaged in catching 

Mud-Scoop. A water-dredging machine. 

Mudsill. Often used, figuratively, to designate the laboring classes, or 
substratum of society, from the " mudsill" originally denoting a timber 
laid down to form a foundation for a railway-track. 

The word was also much used, formerly, by Southern poople to expr. SB 
their contempt for Northerners, who were such "base mechanics" as 
to work for a living. It is now, however, very seldom heard in t'.at 

Mudsill clubs, a name given, in 1858, in California, to associations of 
miners and working-men. 

Mud turtle (Sternothuerus odorata). A species of reptile, common 
throughout the States. 

Other names are mar,ih-tortoi*e, and mud-terrapin. 

Mud-wallop. To soil one's self with mud. To play in the mud when 

Mugwump (Ind. Alg. mnkijuornp). An independent politician, and espe- 
cially a deserter from his party. One who sets himself up to be better 
than his fellows, i. e. a Pharisee. 

Mugwump was used as early as 1872, and the Indian " mukquornp " 
occurs in Eliot's Indian Bible to translate such titles as lord, chief, 
leader, duke, etc. 

Mulada, moo-lah'-dah (Sp. mula, a mule, and suffix ada, expressing 
aggregation). In Texas, a drove or herd of mules. 



Mulatto (Sp. ). The offspring of black and white parents, although the 
term is more loosely applied, in the United States, to any one of those 
offsprings who has white blood in him. 

Generally speaking, all persons with a " touch of the tar brush" are, 
in. the States, called mulattoes. 

Mule-WhackeP. A teamster in charge of mules. 

Muley saw (Grer. mi'Men-sage, mill-saw). A saw which is not hung in 
the gate. 
Also spelled mulay, motley, muliley. 

Mull. In New England, to stir, to bustle, or to fume. A metaphor 
probably derived from " mulling" wine. 
To mull along, to move sluggishly. 

Mumblety peg. A game played with knives. 
Alo, mummelty peg. 

Murnmaehog 1 (Ind.). In Long Island Sound region, the popular name of 
the barred killy, or killifish (genus Fundulus). 

Mummick. In Pennsylvania, to eat awkwardly and with distaste. 
Also, to soil, as one's clothing. 
Still provincial in England. 

Mung (Old Eng. ). This word, which is the preterite of the old English 
verb " ming, " to mix whence " mingle " has been preserved here 
in all its purity and power, as in mung news, meaning confused (not 
false) or contradictory statements. 

The original sense of " ming " is still retained, in Scotland, in the 
noun " mung " which means a porridge of two kinds of meal. 

MunPOe Doctrine. A doctrine originated by Mr. Munroe, the fifth 
President of the United States, and which may be briefly described as a 
theory that the American continent is no longer open to any attempt, 
on the part of European powers, to extend their jurisdiction. On the 
same principle, the United States also decline to meddle in the affairs 
of the Eastern Hemisphere. 

Mush. A kind of hasty pudding or porridge made of Indian meal boiled 
in water, and eaten either with milk or molasses. 

In Hallamshire, England, " to mush " means to crush or pound very 
small, and from this our substantive may have originated. 

Music. Fun ; frolic ; amusement. 

Hence, also, musical, meaning amusing, and especially frequently 
heard in New-England. " I can't say it's musical. " 

Musical-bOX. A Confederate's term, for a creaking army wagon fn use 
during the Civil War. 
Also, Je/ Davis' box. 



Muskeg (Ind. Otchipwe mwkek, or mashkig). A term in use among the 
English-speaking settlers of the North-West, especially in Canada, and 
designating a marih, a swamp. The French-Canadian form, transmitted 
from the early voyageurs, is maskeg. 

Muskelunge. See mastkinongt. 

Musk-OX (Ovibos moschatus). An animal inhabiting the hilly, barren 
grounds between the Welcome and Copper mountains, from the 63d or 
64th parallel to the Arctic Sea, and so called from its flesh being tainted 
with a strong flavor of musk. 

Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus). A water rat, closely allied to the beaver, 
and smelling strongly of musk. The muskrat is especially hunted for 
its fur, which is valuable. 

MuskpatS. A nickname applied to the inhabitants of the State of 

Muslin. In some States, this word is synonymous with longcloth or calico^ 
shirting, whilst in others, especially at the North, it is used for all 
thin, clear fabrics. 

Musquash POOt (Cicuta maculata). A poisonous plant growing in 

MUSS (Old Eng. ). A state of confusion; a noisy squabble; a row. 

This old English term is defined in Nare's fllossary as " a scramble, 
when any small objects are thrown to be taken by those who can seize 
them, " and it lias moreover been used by several English writers of the 
16th and 17th centuries, in a sense very much akin to the American 

Like boys into a muss, kings would start forth, 
And cry, Your will. 

(SHAKESPEARE, Antony and Cleopatra.) 

Havvblo and cap no sooner are thrown down, 
But ther's a muss of more than half the town. 

(DRYDKN, Prologue to Shad well's True Widow.) 

MUSS (to). To disarrange ; to cast into disorder ; to rumple, to crumple. 

Also, to 

Mussy. Disarranged ; disordered ; tumbled. 

Mussy (Dutch morxig). Smeary, dirty, nasty. For instance a mother, 
washing her child's dirty little hands, will say of them : " Too musxy in 
all conscience." 

Must. In newspaper parlance, an article which requires to be published 
promptly is spoken of as a muni. Evidently the sole relic of some sen- 
tence like : " This must go in to-night." 

An intensive form is dead muxt, i. e. an article which cannot be kept 
out of the paper, on any pretext whatever. 



MllStaflna. A person in whom the proportion of black blood is one 

Mustang (Sp. mexteno). The wild horse of the prairies, especially that 
of South- Western Texas. The mustang, which is very hard to subdue, 
is of Spanish and Indian breed, being descended from the stock intro- 
duced into America by the first Spanish colonists. 

When young arid untrained the mustang is also called a cow-poney. 

See broncho, and cay use. 

MustangCPS. Men who catch and train mustangs. 

Mustang-grape (Vitis rotundiflora). A grape, indigenous to Texas, 
carrying small bunches, and from which is made a wine somewhat 
similar to Burgundy. 

Mutton-head. A stupid, or dull-witted person ; a chowder -head. 
MUX. In parts of New Jersey, a synonym for disorder, confusion 
Provincial, in West of England, for dirt. 


NahoO (Ulmus alata). A common species of elm, of peculiar beauty of 
form and foliage. 

Nagane (Fr. C. ). A word of Indian origin, designating, among the 
French-Canadians, a sort of primitive cradle which squaws tie over their 
back, and in which they carry their nurslings. 

Naked. In Newfoundland and the Canadian Maritime provinces, often 
heard for pure, undiluted, as of tea without milk or sugar. 

Naked possessor. In the South-West, the occupant of a plot of land 
during a long period, without a title. 

NamayCUSh (Salmo namaycush). The well-known trout of the Northern 

NaPPagansett paeCP. A breed of horses once ver}' famous for their 
speed and other good points, and so called from the region of Narra- 
gansett bay, R. I., which was the principal breeding centre. 

NaPPOW gauge mule. An animal of no, or little account. 

Napy. As an emphatic negative, nary may be classed a.s a genuine 
Americanism. As a contraction of "ne' er a one, " it is, however, quite 
as much English as American. 

NasebePPy (Achras sapota). A variety of sapodilla. 
Also, nisberry. 



Nasty. Always denotes, in the United States, something disgusting in 
point of smell, taste, or even moral character, and is never heard, as in 
P^ngland when they will say, for instance, " nasty weather" merelv 
in sense of ill-tempered or cross-grained. 

Natlck Cobbler. A nickname applied (1872-76) to Henry Wilson, 
vice-president of the United States, from his having learned in boyhood 
the shoemaker's trade in Natick, Mass. 

National Democrats. A section of the Democrats who, professing to 
entertain no sectional preference, deal with American affairs upon a 
national basis, and not from the standpoint of any one State or group- 
of States. 

Native Americans. See Know- Nothings. 

Nativism. The principles advocated by the Native American party,, 
otherwise Know-Nothings. 

Natural. (1) Fierce, savage, prone to anger, cruel in disposition. 

Often said of one whose actions and impulses are dominated by his- 
lower or animal nature, as suggested in the words : " The natural man 
receiveth not the things of the spirit of God." (I. Corinthians ii. 14.) 
Also applied to animals. " A natural horse." 

(2) Also employed instead of " native." Thus, a natural born Ame- 
rican is one who is born within the precincts of the United States, and 
the word, in that case, would have no reference to the question of 

It must be said that natural, for native, has old English usage to 
excuse it, for an old book, printed in 1536, has this title: "The 
Complayntof Roderyck More. . . .unto the parliament howse of Ingland,. 
his natural, country." 

(3) Not given to squeamishness. 

(4) Clever ; quick-witted ; generously inclined. 

In England, the thieving fraternity would mean, on the contrary, by 
a wttural fellow, a dull, stupid, or chowder-head fellow. 

Neap. lu some parts of New England, the tongue or pole of a cart or wagon. 

In Bailey's Dictionary, " neap" is a prop for staying up the tongue 
or pole. 

Neck. In old colony days, a strip of land between rivers. 

Neck Of the WOOds. In the South-West, any settlement or plantation 
situated in woodland districts. 

Neck-tie sociable. In the; West, a Vigilance Committee's execution 
carried out by hanging. 

Ned. A cant word for a ten dollar gold piece. 
Tn Knglish s"an_j, a guinea. 



NegPO Cloth. A light fabric of cotton and wood, manufactured exclusively 
for negro use. 

NegTO-COPn. In the West Indies, the Indian millet or durra. 

Negro fellow. An opprobrious term for a black man, supposed to carry 
intensive contempt with it. 

Negro-head. (1) A well-known brand of tobacco, prepared by softening 
in molasses, and pressing into hard cakes. 
Also called Cavendish. 
(2) A clump of roots of trees or ferns in the swamps of the South. 

NegTOism. (1) A negro peculiarity -of speech. 

(2) Pro-slaveryism ; opinions favorable to slavery, or negroes. . 

Neighborhood. Often used, or more properly misused, to signify 
approximation to a given quantity. 

" In the neighborhood of twenty miles." 

In England, the meaning ^of that word, i. e. near by, in the vicinity 
of, is more strictly confined to places. 

NePVy. (1) Robust; pithy; vigorous; having strong nerves. 
(2) Pungent; spirited; as applied to style of writing. 

Netop (Ind. ). An Indian word (Narragansett) for friend, crony, now obsolete, 
and formerly in use in some towns of the interior of Massachusetts. 

New-EnglandeP. An inhabitant of New England. 

New-Engfander was used by Increase Mather in 1689. In 1646, the 
Cobler of Agawam said : " Unfriendly reports of us New English." 

New-Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus). The leaves of a plant used 
during the Revolution, after the Boston tea riots, as a poor substitute 
for imported tea. 
See red-root. 

New-Lights. A name given, in 1801, to an offshoot of the Presbyterian 
Church, composed of ministers who, after having renounced the West- 
minster Confession of Faith and church discipline, professed to take 
the New Testament for their sole church discipline. 

New Netherlands. The State of New York, through a grateful remem- 
brance of its obligations to the Dutch. 

New-Orleans moss. A mossy parasite of trees, in Louisiana and Texas. 

Also known as old-man 'ft-beard. 

Newsy. Abounding in news ; racy, bold, and sparkling, in newspaper 

Niassy. Occasionally heard, especially in the Wefit, in sense of odd or 
excentric, as in the case of a person who will do or say the m'ost unex- 
pected things. 



Probably derived from " nias " (Fr. niais), which in England means 
a ninny, a simpleton. 

Nick (abb. of nickel, to distinguish from 5c piece). A cent piece. These 
coins were formerly made of nickel. 

Nickel. A fice-cent piece. 

NickeP. At game of marbles, the marble to be knocked out of the ring. 

Nieklehawk. Often heard, in New York, in sense of a triangular rent 
- or tear in cloth. A variant of ivinklehawk (q. v. ). 

. A facetious name given by General Hardee, of the 
Confederate Army, to the monster cannon balls hurled into Charleston, 
during its siege by General Gilmore. 

Not less wanting in sarcastic allusion was the qualification of xwamp 
anqel, bestowed on the gun from which these huge projectiles were 

Nigger-head. (1) A tuft of grass, or clump of fern-roots appearing above 
the waters of a swamp, and so called from its fancied resemblance to a 
negro's woolly head. 

(2) An opprobrious epithet applied, during the Civil War, by the 
Copperheads (q. v.) to the Union men who were inclined to violent 
measures in dealing with the slavery question. 

Also, nigger worshipper. 

(3) A kind of heavy navy-blue cloth. 

NiggeP-heads. Nuts resembling small chestnuts, found in South Carolina. 

NiggeP-head Stone. A hard, heavy, black stone, abounding in the 
neighborhood of Baltimore, and much used for metalling roads. 

Nigger-luck. A slang expression, synonymous of extraordinary good 
luck. Obviously from the fact that whenever good fortune comes to a 
negro, it is, generally speaking, without the slightest effort on his part. 

Nigger-night. A New-England term applied by white young people to 
Saturday night courting. 

Nigger-OUt. To nigger-out land, to exhaust land by improvident working, 
in allusion to the disastrous methods of negro tillage in the South. 

Night. In Pennsylvania and some of the border States, commonly used 
for the hours of the afternoon. 

After night, after night-fall, in the evening. 

Night-key. A latch-key. 

NigOg (Ind.). In the Gulf of St. Lawrence region, a sort of spear for eel 
or salmon fishing. 
The francisized form nigoyue is also used. 



Nimshi. A foolish fellow, a nincompoop. The use of this word is confined 
to New England, especially Connecticut, or to speakers of New-England 
origin, among whom it is recognized religious cant. 

Nimshi, as we are told in the Hebrew chronicles of the Bible, was the 
grand-father of Jehu, who revolted against Jehoram and became king 
of Israel. But why the name of the grand- father of this successful rebel 
has now become a synonym for a fool, is surely one of those things that 
cannot be found out. 

Nine-bark (Spircea opulifolia). A dwarf-growing shrub, so called from its 
old bark peeling off rapidly, the word " nine, " however, bearing no 
actual relation to the number of layers. 

Ninepence. Formerly used in New England and Virginia for 12% cents. 

Nip and tUGk. Neck and neck ; on an equality. An even chance, a 
narrow escape. 

Also, nip and frizzle. 

Nippent. In Cape Breton, nighty, meny. 

NippeP. A dram ; a small quantity of liquor. 
Hence, also, nipperkin, a tumbler. 

NippePS. (1) Handcuffs. 

(2) A burglar's instrument, mainly utilized by hotel thieves, for 
turning an inside key on the outside of a door. 
Also called American tweezer*. 

Nocake (Ind.). Parched Indian meal. Now obsolete, but ones familiar in 
New England. 
See rokeaye. 

No faiP. An expression often used, when a player acts contrary to the 
rules of a game. 

Nogada, no-gah'-dah (Sp. ). In Southern Texas, pecan candy. 

Nogal (Sp. ). In Texas, a oomnion name for the pecan tree (Carya olivse 
formis. ) 

In Spain, nogal is properly the walnut tree. 

Noggin (Old Eng.). A small quantity of drink. An old English survival. 

Noodlehead (Ger. nudeln). A term of reproach, which has originated 
in the fact that " nudaln " are apt to be considered, in Germany, the 
favorite food of fools. 

Noodlejees (Dutch). A term hardly known outside of New York city, 
and designating strips of dough cut like vermicelli, and used in dump- 
lings and in soup. 



Noodles (Ger. nuddn}. A kind of vermicelli, differing from the Italian 
only in the addition of eggs. 

Nooning. (1) The middle of the day. 

('2) Dinner-time in the hayfield ; an interval for rest and refreshment 
at midday. 

Also, nooning-time. 

Nopal (Mex. nopalli). In the formerly Spanish States, a common name 
for all cactaceous plants of the " Opuntia" tribe, and, more specifically, 
the " Opuntia coccinellifera." 

NOPther. A north wind of extreme violence, blowing at certain seasons 
in the Gulf of Mexico. 

No-see-ums (Simulium nocivum. ). A nidge or sand-fly. 

Notch. A gorge or narrow passage through mountains, as the " Crawford 
Notch " of the White Mountains. 
Also, cove and gap. 

Not for Joseph. An exclamation of dissent, equivalent to "not if I 
know myself." 
Also, not for Joe. 

Notice. An announcement of a claim being taken up. 

We liked the appearance of the place, and so we claimed some three hundred 
aero.? of it, and stuck our notices on a tree. 

(MARK TWAIN, Roughing it.) 

Ijotify. To give information or notice to a person. In England they 
notify a thing to a person, but they do not generally notify a person 
of a thing, thereby being in accordance with the French use of the verb 
" notifier." 

Not in it. One of the many expressions of Shakespeare which have drifted 
into modern speech and slang usage. For instance, we read in scene 3,. 
act 4, of "The Winter's Tale," where the servant brings the rustics 
clothed as satyrs to Polixenis : 

And they have a dance, which the wenches say is a gallimaufry of gambols, 
because thev are not in it. " 

Indeed, there would seem to be few phrases of human thought or 
speech in which the immortal bard was not himself in it. 

Notional. Fanciful or whimsical. A New-England term, which, in the 
West, takes sometimes the form of notionate. 

Notions. Such small wares as needles, buttons, pins, threads, etc. often 
carried by peddlers, and which have come to be regarded so exclusively 
the specialty of the New-England States that they are advertised in 
shops and newspapers as Yankee notion*. 



The word is not new, and even so grave and didactic a poet as Young 
used it over a hundred and fifty years ago exactly in the sense in which 
it is now used in New England : 

And other worlds send odours, sauce, and song. 
And robes, and notions framed in foreign looms. 

(Night Thoughts, Night II.) 

Nubbins. Imperfectly formed ears of Indian corn. 

Thought to be a corruption of " nuffiii, " a negro pronounciation of 
" nothing. " 

Nunny-bag". In Newfoundland, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence region, a 
lunch bag, usually made of a piece of sealskin. 

Nut-Cake. In New England, a doughnut. 
Nutmeg". A muskmeloii, in south of New Jersey. 

Nutmeg State. The State of Connecticut, from the famous speculation 
in wooden nutmegs, immortalized by Sam Slick. 

Wooden Nutmeijs, a name sometimes applied to the inhabitants of 

0- Apt, in many States, to get an unnecessary r attached to it : dorlls, 
parasorls, etc. 

Oak. Used adjectively for strong, rich, of good reputation. 
Obviously drawn from the notable qualities of the tree. 

Oak-barrens. Clusters of scrub-oak timber on the prairies, where the 
soil is very poor. 

Oak-opening's. Groups of short, thinly scattered oak-trees, growing on 
the rich undulating plains of the North-West. 

Also, simply openiiu^, so called to distinguish them from the forests 
which are thickly wooded. 

Oatmeal-mush. Porridge, made of oat meal. 
Also, simply oatmeal. 

Obeya-man. Among negroes, a sorcerer of a particular kind. 
Also, obeya-woman. 

From " obeah, " a secret species of witchcraft practised by the 
negroes in the West Indies. 

Occasion. A Maryland term, signifying to go round seeking for employ- 
ment, i. e. looking for persons who might have " occasion " to employ 



Occupying Claimant. A settler who bases his title to land upon the fact 
of occupation. 

OcClirringS. Incidents, occurrences, in newspaper slang. Compare with 

Ocelot (Mex. ocehtl). The tiger-cat of Texas (Felix pardalis). The 
ocelot is a beautiful and savage animal, somewhat cat-like, but with 
also the appearance of a small leopard, whose species has now reached 
us as far north as Texas from various parts of South America. 

OcotillO, o-co-til'-yo (Sp.). In Texas, a name applied to a shrub of the 
tamarisk family (Fouquiera splendens), bearing bright scarlet flowers. 

OctOPOOn. The offspring of white and quadroon parents, the proportion 
being 4 black. 

Another name is mestee. 

Offal. This word, which in England means " refuse meat, " resumes in 
America its ancient signification of those parts of a butchered animal 
which are small in size and not worth salting, as the liver and lights, 
the head, etc. 

In New Jersey the word is commonly pronounced with accent on last 
syllable, and in the plural ' off- falls. " This, indeed, may be also the 
original form, the word being compounded of " off" and " fall. " 

Office. In the South, a common name for a small house or hut of one or 
two rooms, built to accommodate overflow of large family. 

Officer-bird. A common name, especially in Canada and the Northern 

States, for the red- winged starling (Agekeus phceniceus). . 

Off-OX. An unmanageable, cross-grained fellow. 

So quoted by Lowell, in his introduction to the second series of the 
" Biglow Papers. " 

Offset. (1) In comparison of quantities, the equivalent of the English 
" set-off, " on debit or credit side of an account. 

(2) Formerly colloquial, in New England, for a terrace laid out on the 
side of a hill or on rising ground. 

Offset (to). To settle accounts by contra ; to set or compare one sum or 
quantity against or with another. 

Oildom. The oil-producing districts of Pennsylvania, the principal centre 
of this industry. 

DjO, o-ho (Sp. for eye). In the arid plains of the South-West, a spring 
of water, or a tuft of rank grass giving promise of a spring. 
See pozo. 

0. K. OLD 


0. K. An alleged condensation of " oil korrect, " a mis-spelling of " all 
correct," which has now become a common catch- word for " all right." 
Hence, to o. k. an account, in business circles, is to initial it in 
evidence of its correctness. 

Okra (Hibisctis esculentus). A 
largely used in gumbo-soup. 

tropical plant, the pods of which are 

Old Bullion. A nickname applied to Hon. T. H. Benton, senator from 
Missouri (1821-51), for his strenuous efforts in congress and through the 
press to introduce a gold currency. 

Old Colony. The name of the first Plymouth settlement, in Massachusetts, 
bay, and perhaps the oldest historical name of locality yet surviving in 
the United States. 

Old COOn. A sharp, shrewd man, from the alleged reputation of a raccoon 
of some experience, as a Avily, cunning animal. 
Also, a political manager or boss. 

Old Country. At first, applied solely to England, but now meaning the 
Old World generally, and of course more especially Europe. 

Thence also, old country-man, meaning a person who was born in 

Old Dominion. The State of Virginia, from having been once the 
original name for all the English colonies in America, and from the 
State's loyalty in times of great peril to her legitimate sovereign 
Charles II. 

Old driver. The devil. 

Also old poger, old scratch, old split-foot, old toast or toaster. 
Old Glory. The flag of the United States ; the Stars and Stripes itself. 

Old Hickory. The military and political nickname of Gen. Andrew- 
Jackson, presumably from his moral and physical toughness and strength. 
See hickory. 

Old Line State. The State of Maryland, from the "Old Line" regiments 
contributed by Maryland during the War of the Revolution, she being 
then the only State that had regular troop.s of " the line." 

Old North State. The State of North Carolina. 

Old Planters. The oldest and most distinguished families among the 
early settlers in Xew England. 

Old Probabilities. A nickname for the weather clerk, or chief of the 
Signal Service of Washington. 
Also, Old Probs. 



Old Put. A familiar name given to the Revolutionary hero Israel Putnam, 
of Connecticut. 

Old Sledge. In the South and West, the card game of All Fours. 

Old SOldieP (prou. old sojer). A quid of tobacco'. Also, a common name 
for the ends of cigars collected in the streets. 

Old squaw. A New-England name for the brown duck known to science 
as " Harelda glacialis." 

Also called ofd-wife, thia last name being moreover applied along the 
coast of South Carolina to a species of sea-gull. 

Olla ol'-lyah (Sp.). In the South-West, a large earthenware' pofc for 
holding and cooling drinking-water. 

OlycOOk (Dutch oly-coek, oil-cake). A cake fried in lard, or, as W. 
Irving describes it, "a ball of sweetened dough fried in hog's fat." The 
term is particular to JTew York, although the delicacy itself is pretty 
generally well known as a dougnut, or a cruller. 

On. (1) This preposition is employed, instead of "in, " in what at first 
seem to an Englishman very odd meanings, although yet in many cases 
very appropriate, as " living on such and such a street, coming to Europe 
on a steamer, writing on newspapers, etc. " 

Curiously enough, Thomas Carlyle uses the same expression in hie 
translation of Wilhelm Meister : 

Thoir soft, sweet dreams were broken in upon by a noise which arose on 

the street 

(Book I, chap. III.) 
On the street, he heard the cry of fire. 

(Book V, chap. XIII.) 

(2) On it for of it, as in Shakespeare, is -common enough. Also, often 
used redundantly with verbs and present participles. " What ye 
duin' an? 

Onee (Ger. einmil). In parts of Pennsylvania settled by Germans, used 
as an expletive : " Sit down once, " i. e. once for all. 

Ondatra. The Indian Iroquois name of the musk-rat. 

One-eyed SePibe. A Texan term for a revolver, whose argument is 
generally of a persuasive, and even oftentimes also of an unanswerable 

One-hOPSe. Applied adjectively, in the West, to anything strikingly 
mean or insignificant in character, whether it be man, a church, a bank, 
or a town. Obviously the outcome of the intense love of horses so 
characteristic of the Yankee. 

A variant is one-yoat, with a spice of suggestive meaning somewhat 
different, in a pejorative sense, from that attached to one-horse. 



The popularity of one horse led to the coinage of team and whole team, 
to describe anything great or magnificent. For instance, the New York 
Herald had the following, at the time of the first candidacy of Gen. 
Grant for the Presidence : 

Let us have no one-horse candidate for the Presidency. Gen. Grant is the 
man. He is a whole team, and a horse extra, and a dog under the waggon. 

Here, as anybody can see, the " ne plus ultra" of recommendation is 
graphically conveyed by a charming completeness of the original figure 
of speech. 

'On end. To be on end is to be filled with anger or astonishment. 

Probably a corruption of the old saying "to have one's hair stand on 
end. " 

Also, on eend. 

On hand. At hand, present, in speaking of persons who are present, or 
of objects which are at hand. 

On hand, in England, is more strictly limited to objects. 

On herd. A cowboy's term for being " on duty. " 
Similarly, off herd, for "off duty. " 

Onhitch. In New England, sometimes heard in sense of to pull the 
trigger of a gun; to fire. 

The Spaniards have, in same sense, the verb " disparar. " 

On it. To be on it. To be about a thing. Also, to be ready for a fight or 

Onto (Old Eng. ). Still retained in the United States in sense of " on, " 
it bearing then the same relation to " on " as " into " does to " in." 
Now obsolete in England. 

On to One. To be on to one, to be able to give blow for blow, to retucn tit 
for tat. 

Oodles. A Tennessee expression signifying abundance, plenty, as in 
" oodles of money." 

OodlinS. In Tennessee and Kentucky, used in sense of abundance, a 
large quantity. 

Dead oodlinn, a very great quantity. 

Operate. To manage, to conduct any piece of business. " To operate. 
in stocks. To operate in sewing-machines." 

Also used transitively, as " operating a pool-room or a saloon. 

Opinuated. A Southern form for conceited, opinionative, and some- 
times, especially among negroes, meaning obstinate and tricky, as an 
opinuated mule. 



Opossum (Ind. opasscm). A marsupial mammal of nocturnal habits 
(Didelphys virginiana), with a white and palatable flesh and a coarfe 
but much esteemed pelage. 
Also abbreviated in possum. 

An opassom hath a head like a swine, and a taile like a rat, and is of the 
bignesss of a cat... 

(SMITH'S General! Historic of Virginia.) 

Order. A thing is ordered done, in America, with the auxiliary " to be" 

Ordinary. (1) Ill-looking, worthless, shabby. (Connecticut.) 
(2) Mean, insignificant. (West.) 
Generally contracted into or'nery. 

Original hand. At game of poker, the first five cards dealt to any 

(Fr. C.). Among the French-Canadians, the common name of the 
moose (Alces canadensis). 

Ortolan (Fr. ). In the lower St. Lawrence region, a common name for 
the shore-lark. 

In France, the word in more specially limited to the "Emberyza." 

OrtS. Fodder left in crib. (Nfld. N. S. and X. B.) 

OswegO-tea (Monarda didyma). A medicinal plant, prepared by the 
Shakers for its aromatic and stomachic properties. 

OtsitSO. In French-Canadian folk-lore, a name given to a kind of hobgo- 
blin, who was especially wont to play tricks to the " courgurs des bois." 

Ouananiehe (Ind. Montagnais wanan&iuhou, salmon). The name of an 
exceedingly combative fresh water salmon (Salmo amethystus), which 
abounds in the Lake St-John region, province of Quebec. 
Also, wananiche, ivananish. 

Ouaouaron. See wawaron. 

Ouch. A Southern exclamation of pain, disgust, or annoj'ance, which 
appears to be a survival, for it is quoted in ancient glossaries. 

Ouragane. A word of Indian origin designating, among the French 
Canadians, a vessel or dish of birch-bark. 

Out. (1) Used in Massachusetts and Connecticut for outward, meaning 
coming from the sea, as " the wind r'.v out. " 

(2) Among politicians, a term applied to a member of a political party 
not in power. These are collectively called the ontft, the opposite side 
being the in#. 

Out (to). To put out, as " out the fire. " (South.) 



OutCPy (Old Eng.). Until recently this old Saxon synonym for "public 
Auction " was current in some of the remoter districts. 

Outfit. (1) A comprehensive term applied to everything belonging to any 
particular pursuit. " A shooting outfit. An agent's outfit." 

Also, to outfit, to fit out for any purpose whatsoever. 

(5) Allowance to a public minister of the United States, on going to a 
foreign country, which cannot exceed a year's salary. (Worcester.) 

Outiko (Ind. Alg. uindiko). In the Indian mythology of Canada, a name 
applied to a particularly ferocious giant and man-eater. 

Outlandish. The name " Uitlanders, " which the citizens of the Transvaal 
have given to the immigrants and foreigners in the republic has exactly 
the same derivation and signification as the word " outlandishmeii, " so 
commonly in use in the country towns in Maine. The Oxford county 
farmer for instance, may not be able to distinguish by his speech a 
Swede from an Italian ; he calls him an " outlandishman, " and refers to 
manners and customs as " outlandish. " 

Out Of fox. Out of order ; not fitting ; unsettled. 
Off the level ; out of sorts. 
Also, out of kilter. 

Similarly, in Virginia, machinery out of repair is said to be " out of 
whack. " 

Out Of Fide. Said, in the South, of a river that is unfordable on horse- 

See riding rock, and riding icay. 

Olltquash. A superlative form of " to quash, " in the sense of to upset. 

Outside. A vulgarism for beside or except, which is even frequently 
applied to persons. 

To get outside a thing, is to understand it. 

OveP. (1) Used in a very appropriate manner, as "to write a letter over 
one's signature. " 

(2) Used adverbially, for over again. " A dress made over, " i. e. re- 
made, or made over again. 

Overly. Sense of very, and generally used negatively, as " not overly 

Overslaugh (Dutch overxlag, a bar). A sand-bar interrupting the free 
navigation of rivers. This word still survives in a few local names, and 
we may especially mention here the famous overslaugh in the Hudson, 
below Albany, which has been so long the dread of all skippers. 
Also, by extension, a skipping over. 



Overslaugh (tO) (Dutch orerslaan, to skip over). To skip, to pretermit. 
This term is almost entirely limited, as a verb, to political language, 
and means the act of rewarding an outsider at the expense of the proper 
person entitled by right of seniority to the office. " There is no dariger 
that General Grant can be overslaughed," said the New York Tribune 
of Jan. 19, 1871, whilst then at the approach of a presidential election. 

Over the bay. Drunk, intoxicated. 

OysteP-fish. See toad-fish 

Oyster-grass. In New Jersey, kelp found in oyster-beds. 

OysteP-knOCkePS. In New Jersey, culling tools used to separate 
bunches of oysters. 

OysteP-plant. The salsify. 
Also called vegetable oyvter. 

Paas (Duth Potash). Still lingering for Easter in many families of New 
York city. 

Similarly, the common yellow Daffodill, or Easter flower (Narcissus 
pseudo-narcissus) is still called in New York and along the Hudson 
Paas-blummachee, and Paas-eggs are the bright-color-ed Easter eggs 
which New- York children are so fond of cracking against each other on 
Easter Day. 

Pack. In parts of the West and South, nsed in sense of to transport in 
packs or packages, as things are carried through the woods or over 
rough roads. 

Hence, also, simply to carry, to transport. 

Packing". Said of snow that can be made into snowballs. " It's good 

Paddle. A wooden instrument, shaped like a paddle, and used to punish 
boys and negroes. 

Hence, also, to paMle, meaning to thrash, to punish. 

Paddle One's Own canoe. To make one's way in life, to go it alone as 
a canoeist does. 

ALso, to bail one'* own boat. 

Pail (to). Sometimes heard in sense of to milk. " Pail the cow." 

Paint. In the South and South-West, used as a noun for a horse or other 
animal which is spotted. 

PA I PAN 299 

Paint the town red. To go on an drunken spree, and generally " to 
act the fool." 

Pair-Off. Said of two members of different parties, in a legislature or 
other body, who agree to absent themselves from voting, the one thus 
neutralizing the other. 

Palm (pron. paum). In New England, to smear, blot, or smudge with 
the hands. 

Palmetto City. The city of Augusta, South Carolina, from the arms of 
that State which contain a palmetto. 

Palmetto State. The State of South CaroKna, from the palmetto-tree 
growing abundantly on her shores, and hence furnishing the emblem on 
her coat of arms. 

Palmilla (Sp. ). The soap-plant, or amole (Chlorogalum pomeridianum), 
of California and New- Mexico. 

Palmilla, as & Spanish word, is a sort of bluish cloth. 

Panel-game. A game worked by a thief in connection with a woman, 
who lures en to a prepared room, the thief entering by a concealed 
door or a moveable panel. 

Hence, also, & panel-crib, & panel -den, or panel-house, meaning a house 
of prostitution and theft combined, and a panel-thief, or panel-worker, 
to designate the operator in that infamous game. 

Other variants, for a " panel-house ", are badger-crib, shake-down, 

Panhandle. (1) A district of West Virginia, so called from its running 
up in a strip affecting the form of a pan-handle, between Pennsylvania 
and Ohio. 

(2) A similar division of Texas and Nevada. 

(3) A railroad of same name. 

Panhandler. Along the Pacific coast, an undeserving beggar, and, more 
specifically, any tough character who is out of a job, and is ready to go 
into the " holdup " business. 

It is as a rule an easy matter to trace the origin of the slang terms 
used by tramps, actors of the variety stages, circus employees and 
criminals, but the expression " panhandler, " as applied to the worthless 
and undeserving beggar and chronic borrower of small sums which are 
never repaid, is surrounded in mystery. 

The term was not born among the railroad tramps, who travel over the 

" Panhandle Route, " for the hardy wandering Willie has a great 

contempt for the vagrant who lives by fall pretences. The term as 

certainly did not originate in the " Pan Handle " of Texas, for the gentry 

of "panhandlers " would meet but short shrift in that section. 



An industrious member of the newspaper fraternity has ventured that 
the idea of panhandling, or getting contributions of money with little 
labor, was taken from these long-handled arrangements shaped like a 
frying pan, which they push at you in churches. This explanation is 
perhaps as good as any. 

Pankake. A common name for the various kinds of hot cakes prepared 
on a griddle. 

Pan-mill. A miner's apparatus used in separating gold from the alloy of 
earth, with which it is found mingled. (Farmer.) 

Hence, to pan out, to pan, meaning the process by which, the "pay- 
dirt" with water being put in a pan and then shook, it becomes possible 
to ascertain the out-turn of gold or other mining products. 

Pansage, pan-sah-'-hay (Sp.). In Texas, a feast or " barbecue" for men 
exclusively, in which the " pauza, " or body of the animal is barbecued- 

Panther. The popular name of the cougar, or puma. 

A familiar corruption of the term ie Painter, or Pctnter. 

Pants. An abbreviation of "pantaloons," universally used for trousers. 

Papabotte. A delicious specimen of the plover family, which visits the 
Western prairies in large numbers. 

Papaw (Ind.). A wild and fair-sized shrub of the Annona family 
(Asimiua troloba), with a sweet, edible fruit in the shape of long, fleshy 
pods, and so called from its fancied resemblance to the genuine papaw- 
tree of the tropics (Carica papaya). 

PapawS. A term, current in Missouri, for politi*l " frea lances, " and 
equivalent to "bushwhackers," from the fact that bushwhackers are 
supposed to subsist on " papaws. " 

Paper City. Literall}' " a city on paper, " i. e. a city in embryo so des- 
cribed on paper, by unprincipled adventurers, that emigrants and settlers 
will repair thither in large numbers, only to find sometimes that the 
thriving city of their dreams contains nothing but " castles in Spain, " 
and has not even a log shanty to boast of. 

PappOOSe. A sort of pidgin-English attempt at " babies, " as " Yengees" 
was the best the Indians could do at pronouncing the word English. 
Now applied by the whites to Indian infants in general. 

Pappoose-root. See blue cohosh. 

Parish. In Louisiana, synonymous with county. 

PaPlOP. (1) Uniformly used, in the United Stai-es, for the English 
" drawing-room. " 

(2) A reception-room of any kind affected to several trades. " A 
dentist's parlor, a manicure's, etc. " 

PAR PAT 301 

Parole (to). To release or remand on bail. 

Obvioush' an extension of the military usage of liberating a prisoner, 
on his giving his " parole d'honneur. " 

Parquet. The American equivalent for the " pit " of English theatres, 
or play-houses. 

PartieularistS. A name applied, shortly after the Revolution, to an 
offshoot of the Whig party, whose distinctive platform was the advocacy 
of States' Rights, as opposed to the Whigs favoring the doctrine of the 
supremacy of Federal interests. 

The Partieularibts were also subsequently known as the A nfi- Federal*. 

Partida, par-tee'-dah (Sp. ). In Texas and New Mexico, a drove of 

Partridge-berry (Mitchella repens and Gaultheria procumbens). A 
name applied to both species, from the scarlet fruits of both being 
similar in appearance. The resemblance, however, ends there, for while 
the berries of the former are tasteless, those of the latter are highly 
flavored and pleasant to the palate. 

Also called checkerberry, chickberry, twinlerry, and in New England 

Pass. At game of draw poker, to throw up one's hand and retire from 
the game. 

Hence, also, to decline an offer, to refuse. 

Passageway. A passage, asile, or gangway. 

Patented. An article patented is one for whose manufacture a legal 
monopoly is scoured. 

In England, an article patent. 


Patent OUtSldes. Partly printed newspapers, supplied wholesale to 
country editors, and whose blank sides or spaces are subsequently filled 
with local matter. 

Pat hand. At game of draw poker, one which is satisfactory to the 
holder from the first, such as full straight, flush, or pairs. 

To x'niid jiat is to keep such a hand without drawing or discarding. 

Path-finder. A nickname applied to general John C. Fremont, from 
having been one of the first pioneers and discoverers in the Far West. 

Patrolman. A police constable. 

Patron, pah-tro-ne (Sp. ). In Texas and New Mexico, the man in charge 
of the pack train. 
See cargador. 



PatFQOn (Dutch). A grantee of land to be settled, under the old Dutoh 
governments of New York and New Jersey. 

PatrOOnship. Under the old Dutch regime of New York and New Jersey, 
a landed aristocracy somewhat similar to that of the " Seigneurs " of 
French Canada. 

Also, the office of a patroon. 

Paugie. Seepogyy. 

Pauhagen (Ind. ). A variant for menhad^n or bonyfoth in Massachusetts 
and Rhode Island. 
Also, powhas/en. 

Paunch. A plainman's term, meaning to shoot a refractory steer through 
the " paunch, " producing a temporary quietude. 

Pawky. Sometimes heard in sense of in poor health. 

Pay dirt. In mining phraseology, earth which yields sufficient of the 
precious metals to pay the miner for his trouble. 

Similarly, miners will talk of poor dirt, rich dirt and top dirt. 

Hence, also, on top of dirt,, i. e. this side of the grave ; below dirt, the 
last resting place. 

Pay rock. In mining parlance, the quartz or other rock that will pay 
for mining. 

Also, paying-rock, pay-ntreak. 

PeabUg. The small beetle which lives and feeds upon pease. 

Peae (Ind. ). A variety of Indian shell specie. 
Also, peage, peak. 
See cohog, s&awan, wampum. 

Peach-butter. Stewed peaches. 
Compare with apple-butter. 

Peaeh-leatheP. Peaches treated in the same way as apples in the 
production of apple leather. 

Pealer. A dashing, energetic, go-ahead individual. 
Other variants are hummer, router, ruttler. 

Pea-nut (Araehnii hypognea). The common name of the ground-nut or 

Among negroes, in Florida, called pinder, and in Texas and Louisiana 
goober and </oober-pea. 

Pea-nut politics. A familiar phrase for underhand or secret politics, an 
allusion to the paculiar habit of th<> pea-nut of burying its pods under 
ground after flowering. 

PEA PEM 303 

Pearl-tapioca. A substitute for the tapioca of commerce, made from 

Peean-nut (pron. pecawn). A variety of hickory (Carya olivaeformis), 

the fruit of which, long and olive-shaped, is a great favorite throughout 
the Union, whilst the tree itself has a superb appearance and produces a 
timber very useful for building. 

So called from the French " pacane," and often so written. 

Peccary. The native American hog, common in South and Central 
America, and found as far north as New Mexico and Texas. Its chief 
peculiarity is in the secretion of a fluid of very offensive smell which, 
when enraged, it expels. 

Peckish. In Virginia, often heard in sense of easily offended. 

Peddle. To sell anything in small quantities. 

Hence also, the subst. peddler. 

Peddle is re-derived from pedlar, which latter word, in sympathy, is 
now usually written peddler, one who peddles. Mr. Lowell spells it 
pedler. There is, however, a certain sanction for peddle in the long 
obsolete English verb, although, oddly enough, the American word has 
been independently coined. 

Peert (Old Eng.). Brisk, lively. "As peert as a lizard .... The wind 
blows quite peert." 

Also, peart, peark. 

This old word, already used by Chaucer in the American sense, ia 
now nearly obsolete in England, although we must say that we have 
seen it given as "lively" in that thoroughly English romance called 
" Lorna Doone. " The Welsh have also the form " pert," for smart, 
fine, or pretty. 

Pickering quotes "perk " as being an archaic form known to him at 
the time he wrote his dictionary. 

Also occasionally used in the modified sense of " healthy." 

Pegged OUt. Ruined, or used up. Said of both men and things. 

Pelican State. The State of Louisiana, from the pelican having been 
chosen as the emblem of its coat of arms. 

PeltCP. In parts of New England, an old, worn-out horse. 

PelU (Fr. C.). Among the old French traders and trappers, in the Canadian 
North-West and Hudson Bay region', a pelu was a beaver-skin, with 
the hair on, and was considered as the money unit of the country. 

Pembina (Ind. Cree nipimina, watery berries, from iiijn, water, and 
mina, berries, fruits). A French-Canadian term for the Viburnum edule, 
thought by some to be a variety of the cranberry -tree (Viburnum 
opulus), or cramp-bark of Maine and Canada. 
Also, pimbina. 



(Ind. Cree pimikkdn, the ultimate root of which is pimiy, 
meaning grease, oil, tallow). A far-famed provender of hunters, voyageurs, 
and Arctic explorers, consisting of choice meat well pounded and dried, 
and next put into bags mixed up with melted fat. 

Pena, pay'-nah (Sp.). In Texas and New Mexico, a common name for a 
rock or cliff. 

Pencil-pusher. In newspaper slang, a reporter. 
Also, pencil-shover. 

Pennsylvania Dutch. A South German patois composed of dialects of 
Franconia, the Rhenish Palatinate, and Swabiau and Allemanian districts, 
more or less interspersed with Germanised English words, according to 
the locality of settlement. (Farmer. ) 

Penny. A cent, the hundreth part of a dollar. 

Pennyroyal (Hedeoma pulegioides). A common weed, which is nearly 
alike, in color and taste, to the true English pennyroyal or mint. 

Pennyroyal. In the West, used adjectively to describe inferior stock. 
" A. penny royal steer or bull." 

Pentway. A semi-public road, generally kept closed, although open to 
foot passengers. 

These ways have now almost entirely disappeared from New England, 
where once they were frequently met with. 

Peon-dog. In Texas, a name sometimes given to the hairless Mexican 

People. He is great people, is used in a commendatory sense of anyone. 

" I know that you are the people, " as Job said of his friends who gave 
him so much good advice. 

Pepperidge (Nyssa multiflora). The popular name, in the South and 
West, for the black or sour gum, otherwise called tupelo. 

Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana). A tree growing as high as a 
palmeta, and producing a plum of a decided vinous taste, and, when 
ripe, very sweet and luscious. 

Persimmon beer, a beverage made from the plum of the persimmon, 
and dearly loved by negroes. 

To rake up the persimmons, a frequent expression for " pocketing the 
stakes. " 

Huckleberry above the persimmons, a Southern phrase expressing that 
something apparently simple and easy is far above the ability of the 
person who makes the attempt. 

Persuasion. Jocularly adapted from religious use, for class, category, as 
in " persons of same persuasion, " meaning name religious belief. 



(Fr. pirogue). In New Jersey, a name formerly applied to a 
kind of oyster-boat. 

Pervade. To pass through. Thus, travellers pervade a town when making 
a temporary, stay. 

Peter Funk. A decoy, at a mock auction, employed as a "by-bidder" 
or " puffer," in order to raise the price of the article offered for sale. 

As the story goes, Peter Funk was once the name of a person who 
got to be quite famous, through his skill in inciting buyers to part with 
their money, and paying inflated prices, at auction sales. On the other 
hand, the term is perhaps also a simple manufacture. 

Hence, to peter, to run up prices at auction sales. 

Peter (to) OUt. To exhaust, or be exhausted ; to run or dribble out ; to 

Petouane (Ind.). A French-Canadian term applied to the " Aster 
macrophyllus," a shrub of the Composite order bearing particularly 
rough and thick leaves. 

Pettieoat-tPOUSePS. In Massachusetts, wide, baggy trousers worn by 

Pettifog. Used transitively, in newspaper parlance, in sense of to 
advocate in a mean, paltry manner, or to take up petty cases. "He 
pettifogs his client's cause." 

Pewit (Sayornis fuscus). A familiar name for the fly-catcher, from the 
peculiar cry of that bird. 

Also, pe-wee and Phoebe-bird. 

In England, pewit is the common name of the lapwing, which is not 
at all known in America. 

Peyote. A term of Mexican origin, and designating, in Texas, a plant of 
the cactus family, otherwise called " dry whiskey, " as it is said to 
produce intoxication when chewed. 

Pheasant. The popular 'name, in some States, for the ruffled grouse. 

Pieaeho (Sp.). An augmentative of the Spanish pico (a peak), applied in 
New Mexico arid Arizona to a peak or summit of a mountain standing 
out abruptly. 

Picayune. Formerly long used, in the Southern States, especially Loui- 
siana and Florida, at first for the Spanish half-real, and afterwards the 
American sixpence, which no longer exist in currency. 

The term is now used, adjectively, of anything small, mean, or insig- 
nificant, obviously from the comparatively insignificant value of the 
coin in question. Also, picayunitth. 

Picayune was originally a Carib word, which has come down through 
the French " pecune. " 

See pifitareen. 



Pick. A gauge of measurement in the cotton trade, a pick being a thread 
Cotton cloth has so many picks to the inch. 

Pick (to). When used in reference to the banjo or guitar, to pick 
means " to play," in the South. 

Similarly, the French have "pincer." 

Pickaninny (Sp. peqneno nino, little child). A term applied in the 
Southern States to the offspring of colored parents. 

A diminutive form of the above is pickney, especially current in Soutoh 

Also frequently used, in the North and throughout the West Indies, 
for any young child. 

Pickerel-Weed (Pontideria cordata). A common wayside and ditch plant 
of the North and Middle States, which bears a spike of blue flowers. 


Pick-me-up. A tonic ; a restorative ; a drink of a spirituous kind taken 
after a debauch. 

Pick Off. To kill by shooting. 
Pick On. To disturb ; to nag. 

Pick-up. An impromptu meal of an " olla podrida " description, i. e. 
made up of such fragments as have been left by others. 
Also, pick-up dinner. 

Pick Up (to). In New England, to put in order, as when picking up a 

Piece. In New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, an addition to the regular 
meals, prepared at short notice in time of harvest, and sent out to the 
fields generally at ten o'clock, and again at three. A " piece " 
ordinarily consists of hot coffee, bread and butter, cold meat, and what- 
ever a generous talent for providing may furnih. 

Hence, to piece, to take an irregular snack between meals. 

Pie-plant. A curious name often applied to the rhubarb. 

PiCP. See dock. 

Pig-nut (Carya glabra or porcina). A small species of bitter hickory nut. 

Pig-plum. See hog-plum. 

Pig-Weed. A rank weed, so 1 called from its being generally found near 

Pig- wick. A species of duck, with red eyes.^found in the coves and rivers 
of Maryland. 



Pike. (1) A Californian name for a poor white from the Southern States, 
said to have originated from the supposition that the first of the class 
came from Pike county, Missouri. 

(2) In the lumber region of Canada, a shaft of wood armed with an 
iron prong, used by river-drivers to move or guide logs. 

Pike (to). In gambling parlance, to play cautiously and for small 
amounts, never advancing the value of the stake. 

In old Eng. cant, to run away, which is, indeed, among thieves, 
. exercising caution. 

Hence, also, piker, for a cautious gambler. 

Pile. (1) One's stock of money; one's fortune. A term first used at the 
gaming table, signifying one's actual " pile" of coins, but soon extended 
to mean a man's available means, his fortune. 

Hence, to mike one'* pile, to make hie fortune, to accumulate money. 
Also, to <jo one'* pile, to spend the same. 

To pile in, to make a beginning. 

(2) A word still retained for an arrow by boys, in New York city, 
from Dutch pyl. 

Pile OH the agony. In newspaper slang, to intensify the effect of a 
sensational article by exaggerated or blood curdling details. 
To put all the pile on, is said of anything very much fancied. 

Pilgrim. A traveller; a new arrival ; especially a greenhorn, about equiv. 
to a tenderfoot. 

Pilgrims. A cattle breeders term for cattle on the march. 

Pill. (1) A bore ; a conceited coxcomb. 

(2) At Yale college, a silly, disagreeable fellow. 

Pilon, pe-lone' (Sp.). In southern Texas, the gratuity given by mer- 
chants to customers, whenever accounts are settled. Somewhat equivalent 
to Ingniappe (q. v.). 

In Spain, pUon is a small loai of sugar formed in a mould. 

Pimbina. A word of Indian origin applied, among the French-Canadians, 

to the fruit of the " Viburnum edule. '' 

Pimping. In remote parts of New England, often heard in sense of 
small, pretty, mean. 

Still provincial in England. 

Pinch. In gambling parlance, to " ring the changes," i. e. to substitute bad 
money for good, on pretence of changing coins of a high denomination. 

Pinch (in a). In a tight place ; hard up for money. 

Pinch (on a). In an emergency. 

Pinch-bug. An insect pest, otherwise called petz-kefer in Pennsylvania. 



PineheP. A curious name applied, in political slang, to a bill calculated 
to secure a pecuniary reward from those who are interested in its 

Pine-barrens. In the South, poor tracts of land covered with pine trees 
of a wretchedty stunted growth. (Farmer. ) 

Also piney-woods, a name more especially applied to large tracks 
covered with pines, in the low country. 

Pine-knots. Knotty chips or chunks of the pitch-pine tree (Pinua rigida) 
which, when burning, give a very brilliant light. These torches are still 
much used by negroes and the poorer classes in the South. 

Pine-needles. Fir cones. 

Pine-nut (Pinus edulis). The edible nut of the pinion, a variety of pine- 

PinCPS. In New Jersey, a name applied to those living in the Jersey 
pines, which are the " ridge " sections of that State. 

. Unlike the pine-barren, & pinery is a forest^ 9f pines, in the North 
and North- West, which contain the pick of timber used in the country. 

Pine-StPaw. The annual castings of pine-trees. The fallen leaves of all 
the evergreen trees. 
Also, pine-tags. 

Pine-top. A Maryland name for common whiskey, obviously from its 
resemblance to turpentine. 

Pine-tPee money. Money coined in Massachusetts in the 17th century, 
and so called from its bearing a figure resembling a pine-tree. (Webster. ) 

Pine-tPee State. The State of Maine, from the extensive pine-forests 
which cover its central and northern parts, and from the pine-tree being 
one of the symbols on the State Seal. 

Pinion (Sp. pinon). A species of pine-tree (Pinus edulis), found in 
Arkansas, New-Mexico, the Rocky Mountains, etc. the nuts of which 
are sweet and palatable. 

Pink (Dutch Pinkster, Whitsuntide). In New York city, a flower owing 
its name to the season of its blooming, i. e. Whitsuntide. 

Pink tea. Whiskey of any kind, good, bad, or indifferent. 

Pinky (Dutch pink). A familiar term, among New York boys, to 
designate the little finger. 

Pinole (Mex. pinolli). In Texas and New Mexico, a preparation of 
parched corn-meal, sugar and spice. 
Also, cold flour. 

PIN PIR 309 

Pinto (Sp.). In Texas and New-Mexico, spotted, stained, mottled, AS of 

PinxteP (Dutch Pinkster). A familiar name for Whitsuntide in the States 
of New York and New Jersey, where Pinxter Monday is specially well 
known as a day of great rejoicings. 

Several Whitsuntide flowers, and especially the early azalea of our 
woods (Azalea nudiflora) are similarly called Pinxter blummachees, or* 

PiOU-piou (pron. pew-pew). Among the French-Canadians,a name applied 
to the tawny-thrush (Turdus Wilsonii), from its peculiar cry. 

Pipe. (1) In the language of the old French " voyageurs," a pipe meant 
two leagues, i. e. the time of smoking a pipe. 

Still in use, among the French-Canadians, to mean a good distance. 

(2) In newspaper parlance, an assignment which a reporter knows 
will fail. 

An intensified form is a pipe dream, which gives the slang phrase in 
its completeness. 

Pipe (to). To follow ; to watch ; to waylay ; to intercept. 
Also, to pipe off. 

Pipe-laying 1 . In a general sense, pipe laying is making arrangements 
for a political success, without much consideration as to the means 
employed. But the phrase is, howewer, more especially applied to the 
practice of procuring fraudulent votes, towards the close of a popular 
election, in sufficient number to turn the scale. 

Pipe-laying is derived from a fraudulent scheme, once concocted by 
unscrupulous politicians, to bring illegal voters from Philadelphia to 
New York, under the concealment of a form of contract for the laying 
of water-pipes for the Croton aqueduct. 
Hence, pipe-layer, a politician trickster. 

Pipi (pron. pee-pee). A name given by the French-Canadians to the 
titlark (Anthus spinoletta), from its peculiar cry. 

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata). An Indian simple, and a popular 
domestic remedy whose medicinal qualities are much esteemed. 
Also known as prince's pride and wintergreen. 

Pique-bois jaune (Fr.). The common name, in Louisiana, of the golden- 
winged wood-pecker (Picus amatus), the most beautiful American bird 
of the genus. 
See dape. 

Pirate. To infringe an invention or a copyright ; to appropriate withou 
making acknowledgement or payment. 



Pirogue (Fr.). A generic name for a small boat or canoe. Primarily, a 
canoe formed out of a single large tree. 

The word is in Littre and Scheler, and occurs often in the old writers: 
"Pirogues ou canots de bois" (Hennepin, Descript. de la Louisiane, 
p. 122). The derivation is English and French from Spanish, which in 
its turn is from the Carib dialect. 

Pisque (pron. pisk). A name given, by the French-Canadians, to the 
golden-eye duck (Bucephala clangula), frequenting the lower St. Lawrence 

Also applied to the Bucephala Islandica. 

Pissybed. Often heard for the dandelion. 
Also, pies-abed. 

Pistareen. A silver coin (the Spanish "peseta Sevillana") formerly 
current, and now out of use, of the value of one fifth of a dollar. 

Now synonymous, like picayune or one-horse, with small-minded> 
mean, depreciated, of little value, etc. 

Pit. A New York term for the hard kernel of a fruit, as of a cherry 
or a peaeh. From Dutch pit, a kernel. 

Pita, pee -tah (Sp.). In Texas and New Mexico, the name of an agave 
furnishing a fine fibre utilized for sewing and kindred purposes. 

Pitahaya (Sp. ). A gigantic cactus of New Mexico (Cereus giganteus), 
which bears the luscious fruit called Indian fig. 

Pitch. To pitch it rtrong, to make a strong effort; to apply oneself 
strenuously to a task; to talk exaggeratingly or boastingly. 

Other forms are to pitch too strong and to pitch it wild, this last one 
cap. in relation to a narrative or story which passes all legitimate 

Of Western origin. 

PivaPt (pron. pee-var). A name applied, by the French-Canadians, to 
the golden-winged wood-pecker (Colaptes auratus). 

Pivotal State. A State, the vote of which in any election is of great 
importance, being likely to turn the scale one way or the other. 

Place (to). When applied to a person, this means to remember or call to 
mind the place of his birth. 

A name formerly given, in the South, to the colored mistress of 
a white man. (Maitland.) 

Placer, plah -ser (Sp. ). A word first applied, by Hispano- Americans, to 
deposits of drift-sand in which gold was found, and subsequently 
extended to mean, not only rich mines of minerals, but also the disco- 
veries of any good things promising large rewards. 



P'acer-digyings, localities where gold is found scattered in the surface 

Placer-mining, mining operations carried on in ravines or gulches. 

Plain-folks. A negro term for white men or women, as opposed to 
colored people. 

Also, plain people. 

In England, ' ' plain people " would mean persons lacking in personal 

Planehment. In parts of New England, often heard for ceiling. 

Planing-maehine. A plane worked by steam or other power, for 
smoothing boards. 

Plank. One of the principles of which a political " platform " is cons- 
tructed, the divisions of a plank being sometimes in their turn split up 
into splinters. 

Plank (to). To lay down, to pay out money. 
Also, to plank down, to plank up. 

Planked Shad. A shad fastened to a plank and roasted, a mode of 
cooking said to be much esteemed by epicures. 

Plantain (Sp. platano). A-well-known West-Indian substitute for ordinary 
bread (Musa paradisiaca), which is paeled and roasted in hot ashes. 

Plantain-patch. See potato-grant. 

Plantation. (1) At first a term primarily associated, in the West-Indies 
and Southern States, with properties upon which slave labor was used, 
and afterwards given to estates or large farms appropriated to the 
production of staple crops. 

(2) In Newfoundland, ground with buMdings and improvements for 
fishing purposes. 

Planter. (1) I" the West Indies and Southern States, the proprietor of 
an estate for the cultivation of staple crops. In the case of absentees, 
the manager or overseer. 

(2) In Newfoundland, a person engaged in the fishery business. 

(3) At the origin of the first settlements, a name given to the founders 
of the colony of Massachusetts, to distinguish them from the Pilgrim 
Fathers of Plymouth Colony. 

Plat (to). To divide into plats ; to lay-out in sections or plots. 

Platform. (1) A metaphorical termrembodying the principles on which 

a public man takes his stand. A declaration of principles each of which 

is described as a "plank " by a political party, convention, or candidate. 

The word platform, as applied'to ecclesiastical constitutions or plans 

for the government of churches, is however by no means an Americanism. 



Lord Bacon speaks of "the Exemplar or Platform of God," while 
Hooker mentions views " comformable to the platform of Geneva. " " A 
Platform of Church Discipline " is also the title of a book printed in 
London as early as 1653. 

(2) Along the New-Jersey coast, a planked floor where oysters are 

Playa, plah'-yah (Sp.). In the South-West a name applied to the vast 
level plains of a saline surface, -which are prominent features of the 
topography of that region. Further North, same are called salt or water- 

Playa is also said of the dried-up bed of some shallow lake or lagoon. 

In Spain, the term means a sea-shore or beach. 

Played OUt (tO be). A slang phrase taken from the gambler's language, 
and meaning to be without resource, as when one's last card has been 
played and failed. 

To be exhausted, to be used up. 

Playing up. In newspaper parlance, said of the presentation of news in 
general. ' ' To play up the exclusive news " 

Play Off. To make a start. 

Borrowed from the card-table. 

Play OH velvet. Among gamblers, to stake the money won from the 

Play pOSSUm. To act a part, to deceive. 

The equivalent of the old London trick, among thieves, of "shamming 
Abraham," or pretending to be dead, as the opossum does when escape 
seems impossible. 

Also, simply, to possum. 

Play Spell. A time for recreation or amusement. 

Play the sovereign. In Pennsylvania, a candidate for office is said to 
be playing the sovereign when, a short time before an election, he 
puts on shabby clothes, drinks whiskey with everybody, and shakes 
hands with everyone. 

Pleurisy-Foot (Asclepias tuberosa). A root used as a mild tonic and 

Pluck. The heart, liver, lungs, etc. of a slaughtered animal. 

Plug. (1) A tall silk hat. Also, plug-hat. 

An old worthless horse. Also, a plug-horse. 

(2) A poor hand at telegraphy. Also an operator at a small " plug " 
station. In those two senses, the term is of course restricted to tele- 
graphic operators. 

(3) A local accommodation train. 



Plugger. (1) One who plays in a gambling house, to induce the belief 
that a game is going on. 

(2) In college slang, a hard student. 

Plug-ugly. A term assumed by a gang of rowdies in Baltimore, and 
originally belonging to certain fire companies. 

Plum. A generic name, in New England, for all berries, being thus used 
for the brilliant berries of the " Diaccena borealis, " the partridge- 
berries, the mountain cranberries, and some other species. 
To go plumming, to go huckleberrying. 

Plum, Plumb. Often used as an adjective, with the meaning of quite, 
exactly, directly, in which case it is an Old Eng. survival. " He 
ought to be here plum soon. " 

Plumb-Centre. A peculiar Western phrase, expressive of a crack shot 
at a shooting match, being thus equivalent to making a bull's eye. 

Plumed knights. An appellation applied, during the Presidential 
campaign of 1884, to the Republican electioneering organization which 
was " booming " the candidacy of Mr. Elaine. The phrase arose of 
Mr. Elaine having himself been termed " The Plumed Knight " by 
Robert Ingersoll. 

Plum-muSS. Boiled and mashed plums, which are rolled out into layers 
and then dried. 

Plunder (Old Eng.). Often heard in the South and South-West for 
luggage, i. e. personal effects packed for carrying ; goods ; furniture. 

The elder D'Israeli, in his "Curiosities of Literature," says that 
plunder, in sense of baggage, is an old word long known and used in 
England ; and the fact is that the term is a Dutch or Flemish word 
(meaning property of any kind) brought home by the English troops 
which fought under the banner of the great Swedish King, Gustavus 

Cf. with the French " butin," still used in Canada in same sense. 

Poach. Said, in New England, especially of cattle who tread soft ground, 
or snow and water, and churn up mud by repeated passing to and fro. 
Also, to podge. 

Pocket. (1) In mining parlance, a small deposit of the precious metal, 
the word not applying however to a true fissure vein. 

(2) The extreme Southern part of the State of Indiana is called " The 
Pocket," from the form and position of said part. 

Poeket-bOOk. A general term for a purse. 

POGOSOn (Ind. pocaxan). A term particular to North Carolina and 
further South, to denote a low-wooded swamp, generally dry in summer, 
and filled with water during the winter and spring months. 



A very near equivalent of the word exists in the North in the pokeloken 
of Maine and the North- West. 
Also, poquonon. 

Poggy (Pagrus argyrops). The New- York name of a fish of the gilt-head 
kind, which is much esteemed for its flavor. Also called paugie or 

In Rhode-Island, ftcup. 

The entire Indian name Mishewuppaug (Narragansett, for " large- 
scaled") is still common enough, according to Bartlett, in many parts 
of New England. 

Point. (1) A hint ; a piece of practical information. 

(2) A private information about stocks, 

(3) A " unit of change " in the market rate of any given commodity, 
whether gold or cotton. 

(4) A special characteristic, as the point* of a horse. 
Hence, to give anyone point*, to be superior to any one. 

Pointer. (1) An item of general information. More generally colloquial 
than point, in that sense. 

(2) Among ranchmen, a herdsman who rides at the head of a straggling 
herd of cattle when on the march. 

Poke. (1) In New England, a contrivance to prevent unruly beasts from 
leaping fences, consisting of a yoke with a pole inserted pointing forward) 
thus naturally suggesting the meaning of the verb " to poke. " 

(2) A stupid person, a bore, generally in the sense of lazyness and 
dawdling, and probably on the plea that " a slow poke " annoys us 
continually, as if we were "poked" at by a thorn in the side. 

Hence, to poke, to dawdle, to travel slowly ; and poky, dull, stupid t 

Poke-berry (Phytolacca decandra). One of the most useful plants of 
the South, the roots possessing valuable emetic properties, whilst the 
young shoots are eaten like asparagus, and the berries afford a rich 
purple dye, and a favorite food for caged birds. 

Ali-o, poke-weed, or simply poke. 

Other variants are pocan (Virginia), the Indian name from which 
poke is derived ; and cocum, garget, and pigeon-berry (Northern States 
and New England). 

Pokeloken (Ind.). A term in use among lumbermen of Maine, and their 
kinsmen in the North- West, to denote a marshy ground extending 
inland from a stream or lake. 
The form popelognn is also used. 

Poker. The American equivalent, for popularity, of the game of whist of 
England, although it must be conceded that this last one is now making 
great strides in trying to supplant its rival. 



'PokeP. This old Danish name (pokker) for the devil still retains its use 
in America, although here more as a child's word for any frightful 
object, esp. in the dark ; a hobgoblin ; a bugbear. 

Hence, also, pokerish, gruesome, frightful, causing fear, especially to 

Policy (to). To gamble with the numbers of lottery tickets, two numbers 
being called a " saddle, " three numbers a " gig, " and four numbers a 
" horse." 

Political capital. The sum of events, in the career of a candidate for 
election, which can be used either in furthering or opposing his candi- 

Now also current in the political slang of England. 

Political Union. Said, in Canada, of the absorption of the Dominion by 
the United States. A less offensive term than annexation. 

Politieate. To make a trade of politics. 

Pollack (Merlangus purpereus). The popular name, in New England, of 
an important food-fish abounding in the waters of Massachusetts and 

.Polt, Polter (Old Eng. ). This word, now quite obsolete in England, and 
which dates back from the first English settlers in Virginia, is still often 
heard in New England and the South in the sense of a blow, a thump. 
" Give him a polt." 

Similarly, to polt, to beat, to knock, to deal blows. 

Oh, whack ! Cupid's a mannikin, 
Smack on my heart he hit me a polter. 

GEORGE COLEM-AN, The Review, act II, s. I. ) 

blanche (Fr. ). The Indian turnip (Psoralea esculenta), a native 
of the prairies and mountains. Also called pomme de prairie. 
Other names are Jack-in-the pulpit, kamas-root, one-berry. 

Pompano (Sp.). A fish of the herring family found in the Gulf of Mexico. 
Pompion. And old form for pumpkin. 

Pond. A sheet of water, in the interior, smaller than a lake, also some- 
times of considerable size, and the nearest approach to what, in England, 
would be called a " mere, " a word almost unknown in the United 

Hence, also, to pond, to accumulate water in a pond, or so as to form 
a pond. 

In England, the word pond is generally applied to small pieces of 
water by the roadside, in a field, or other restricted space. 

.Pone (Ind. Powhatan apohn). In Virginia and further South, a maize- 
cake, or bread of corn-meal. 



Ponhaws. A Pennsylvania German term designating a dish made of 
buckwheat flour, cornmeal and scraps of pork, all boiled together, then 
cut into slices and fried. 

Pony. (1) In college slang, a literal translation used unfairly in the prepa- 
ration of lessons. Also, a key to mathematical problems. 
Hence, to pony, to translate with the help of a pony. 
(2) A small glass or draught of beer. 

Pony-purse. An impromptu subscription or collection, especially one 
collected upon the spot. 

Pony-PideP. An agent of the Pony-Express of the Far West, before 
the advent of railways. 

Pony up (to). To pay money ; to settle accounts, by the payment of 
money due. 

Pony was formerly an old flash term, for money, in England, and in 
sporting slang is still used to signify 15. 

Pool (to). To join forces ; to act in unison ; to combine with another for 
commercial purposes ; to agree on a common tariff. 

In Wall street slang, to form a combination of speculators, for the 
purpose of buying up any particular stock 

Hence, to pool one's issues, to come to an understanding for mutual 

Pool holes. In New Jersey, holes two to six feet deep, full of " mucky " 
water, found on meadows. 
Also, spool holes. 

Pooquaw (Ind. poquauhock). The round or hard clam (Venus mercenaria), 
so called in Nantucket. 
See quahaurj. 

POOP (Old Eng. ). A favorite term, in the South, in the sense of lean, 
and so quoted in Middleton's plays. 

Modern Eng. usage rather restricts the employment of this word, n 
the case of meat, to an article of indifferent quality, whilst in America 
the term poor, when so used, merely implies leanness. 

PoOP-folksy. A common phrase, used adjectively in the South, whenever 
an idea of poverty needs to be conveyed. " A poor-folksy arrangement," 
i. e. an arrangement after the fashion of poor people. 

PoOP-will. A Western variation of " whip-poor-will," from a supposed 
curtailment in the note of the species found on the plains. 

Poose-back. Pig-a-back. Said of carrying a child on the back. Probably 
from "pappoose." 

POQSteP about. To get up in the night and walk around. 



Pop-Corn. (1) A variety of Indian corn of a dark color, with small 
grains, and so called because those grains easily pop or burst open, 
when held in a wire-gauze over a brisk fire. 

Hence, to pop corn, to parch or roast " pop corp " tills it bursts open. 

(2) The dish itself of pop-corn, being the grains which have been burst 
open over a brisk fire. A very popular dainty, eaten with salt or sugar. 

Pop-eyed. A Southern term for a person with protruding or prominent 


Poplar. See tulip-tree. 

PopOCPat. In the campaign of 1896, an adherent of the Chicago, or free 
silver, wing of the Democratic party. 

Pop Open. In Charleston, S. C. used of the rending, or tearing, or 
wearing through of a dress. 

Poppy-eOCk. A term of contemptuous incredulity applied to bombast ; 
false representation ; gasconade. "Oh ! that's all poppy-cock. " 

Pop-Squirt. A jackanapes ; an insignificant, but pretentious fellow. 

Popular. (1) In New England, has the sense of conceited, fussy, aris- 
cratic. Thus, the Yankee simile : " Aspop'lar as a hen with one chicken." 
Compare with cunning, clever, etc. 
(2) In parts of the South, sense of stylish. 

Porcion, por-see-on (Sp.). In Texas and New Mexico, a certain tract 
of land, and, more specifically, a quantity of land apportioned to 
primitive settlers when organizing new towns. 

The primary meaning of the word is a portion or share. 

Porkopolis. The city of Cincinnati, Ohio, from its be'ing a large centre 
of the pork-packing industry. 

Portaal (Dutch). An ante-room, lobby, or passage. Restricted to settle- 
ments of Dutch descent, in New Jersey and New York. 

Portage (Fr.). A strip of land between rapids or water-falls, or between 
two navigable rivers, over which canoes, stores, and " impedimenta " 
have to be carried on the men's backs. 

A word dating back from the first " voyageurs. " 

Hence, also, to portage, to carry or convey boats and outfit overland. 

Porterhouse Steak. A beefsteak consisting of a choice cut of the beef 
between the sirloin and the tenderloin, the latter being the under cut. 
The origin of the term is said to be as follows. In the old coaching 
days there was a tavern in New York, kept by a man named Porter, 
famous for its steaks ; to which house one Saturday night there arrived 
a traveller who called for a steak. Not one was left; but the hungry 
traveller called and called again for a steak. Finally the innkeeper, in 



his distress, took from his larder a large piece of sirloin put there for 
roasting, and cut from it a piece to broil. It was found so delicious 
that the same piece was often called for after that, and was christened 
after the house and its proprietor, " Porter House Steak." Up to that 
time this piece of meat had been used for roasting only, and the 
discovery of its virtues for broiling may be said to have been quite 

Posey-yard. A flower-garden attached to a dwelling-house, " posey " 
being of course the old English term for a bouquet or bunch of flowers^ 
and " yard" being, in reality, derived from the same root as garden. 

Postal. An abb. of postal card, which is the usual American term for 

Postal Currency. Postage stamps in circulation as currency, during the 
early part of the Civil War. 

POSt-and-ralling (pron. post-an-railin'). A kind of fence, consisting 
mainly of posts and rails. 

Posted. Well informed. 
Also, potted up. 
Now current in England. 

Post-note. In commerce, a bill of exchange drawn to order. 

Post-Oak (Qwercus obtusitoba). A variety of oak found in the Middle 
States, and furnishing a wood much used in ship-building. 

Pot. The accumulated bets in a game of poker. 

Potato-grant. In the West Indies, a patch of land for growing vege- 
tables, allotted to resident laborers on estates. 
Also, plantain pitch. 

Pot-holes. Naturally formed depressions in rock, due to the action of 
water, and which, from being circular in shape, were at one time 
thought to have been made by the early aborigines, for grinding and 
pounding corn in. 

Also called Indian Mortars. 

Pot-pie. A rough and ready sort of meat pie, made by spreading the crust 
over the bottom and sides of a pot, and filling up the inside with meat 

Potty-bakeP (Dutch pott-bakker). A term still cjmmon in New York to 
designate a potter. 

Pot-walloper. Also a dish-washer. A 'scullion, or a slovenly person. 
A figure evidently taken from the manner in which such an unfortunate 
being would be apt to knock the kitchen-pots about. 

The Eng. word " pot- walloper " denotes a householder qualified for 
voting, literally a "pot-boiler." 

In Pennsylvania, they use pot-wrestler. 



PouliS, poo-lee (Fr. C. ). In the lower St. Lawrence region, a name applied 
to the Labrador herring. 

Pourcil, poor-sill (Fr. C.). In the lower St. Lawrence region, a name 
applied to a species of dolphin (Phocera communis), which has been also 
called the dolphin of the American seas. 

Pout. The popular New England name of the catfish (Pimelodus), eel- 
pout being the common name of the Lota Maculosa of the lakes. 

Poverty-grass (Hudsonia tormentosa). A poor sort of herbage, almost 
approaching the nature of a moss, which is common in New England and 
grows in scanty bunches on soil that refuses to produce anything else. 

Powder-post. Worm-eaten, i. e. eaten by a worm which leaves its 
holes full of powder, as is generally the case in sapwood and hickory. 

POW-WOW (Ind. poican, a pi-ophet, a conjuror, in the New England 
dialects). A term originally adopted by the early settlers to designate 
any great assembly among the Indians, and now extended to the political 
world in the sense of a public meeting where much parley is indulged in. 

POW-WOW (to). To perform a ceremony, among the Indians, with 
conjurations, dances. To cure by exorcising evil spirits. " She had the 
doctor pow-ivow her arm, and it got well. " 

The pow-wow doctor, more often a woman, is a person of importance 
among ignorant farming people, in Pennsylvania German communities. 
She mutters words over the afflicted spot, makes the sign of the cross, 
and often gives the patient relief. 

To pow-wow is also extended in the sense of to hold a political meeting. 

POZO (Sp.). A word current on the frontier of Mexico, for a spring or 
well, generally issuing from a hole in the ground. 

Prairie (Fr. ). An extensive tract of land, level or rolling, covered with 
coarse grass, and generally characterized by a rich soil of great depth. 

Prairie-bitters. A mixture of buffalo gall and water, to which great 
medicinal powers are ascribed by hunters and border-settlers. 

Prairie dog 1 (Cynomus ludovicianus). A variety of the marmot, so called 
from the supposed similarity between its warning cry and the short, 
sharp bark of a small dog. 

Also called (jophtr, in the .West. 

Prairie-hen (Tetrao pratensis). A beautiful game-bird, whose flight 
somewhat resembles that of the pheasant or partridge, and is especially 
seen in great numbers in the prairies of Missouri and Illinois. 

Also called heath-hen and pinnated (jroune (West), partridrje (North), 
pheasant (Delaware). 

Prairie-itch. A skin eruption, caused by the fine red dust of the prairies, 
in summer. 



Prairie-Schooner. A huge covered waggon, used in crossing the plains 
before the Pacific railway was completed. 

These vehicles are by no means extinct, as the railroad, even at the 
present time, only taps but a small portion of the Great West. 

Prairie-State. The State of Illinois. 
Prairie-WOlf. See coyote. 

Prawehey (Dutch praatje). A painful corruption of the original, and 
designating a gossip, in the sense of a pleasant neighborly talk. This 
word now retains only an antiquarian interest, being at present almost 
entirely extinct. 

Preach. A preaching, a sermon. 

Preaeher'S-stand. A Western word for a pulpit, and especially much 
used at camp meetings and similar gatherings. 

Precinct. In electoral matters, a subdivision of a county or city ; a 
ward ; a district. 

Pre-empt. To secure land, by being the first settler or occupant of it, 
according to a legal form set out in the " Pre-emption Law " of 1841. 

This enactment has since been somewhat modified by the " Homestead 
Act " of 1862. 

Hence, also, colloquially, to pre-empt, to take possession, to qualify 

Pre-emption right. The right which an original settler or squatter has 
to pre-empt or secure a title to Government lands. 

Pre-emptor. One who has the right to pre-empt. 

Prekel (Ger. ). In Pennsylvania, a small, flat, sugar-coated cake. 

Presidio (Sp.). In the former provinces of Mexico, now within the 
Union, a village which is built on the site of an old Mexican military 
post, formerly called a "presidio." 

Also, a military post proper, and, more specifically, a place of confi. 
nement for convicts. 

Pretty. In North Carolina, and parts of Virginia and Pennsylvania, this 
word is often heard in conjunction with weather, in sense of pleasant 

Pretzel (Ger.). A kind of biscuit, which has an incrustation of salt, and 
is supposed to excite thirst. 
Also, pretzel-bread. 

Prickly-pear (Opuntia vulgaris). A sort of flat, jointed cactus, with an 
insipid fruit, which grows along the Atlantic coast, from Massachusetts 
southward, in sandy fields and about dry rocks. 
One variety is also called Indian-fig. 



Primary meeting". A preliminary meeting held by the voters of a 
district, usually for the purpose of making nominations or electing 
delegates to nominating conventions. 

Priminary. In the South, a predicament, a dilemma, a difficulty. 
Provincial in North of England. 

Priming. A T o< a priming to, of no account ; not lo be compared to. 
See circumstance. 

A backwood's term, in allusion to the old fashioned " priming," 
before the days of the breech-loaders. 

PHmp. A woman's word meaning to linger over one's toilet ; to seek to 
enhance one's personal appearance by various little arts and devices. 

Hence, primpy, meaning a woman given to the adornment of her 
person, by dress, jewels, cosmetic*, etc. 

Prince-Albert. What is known, in England, ae a frock-coat. 

Prink (Old Eng. ). Still persisting, in the Eastern States, in sense of to 
ornament, to adorn. 

This word is found in Spencer, and other writers of the Elisabethan 

Probate. A legist's word, meaning to prove (with regard to wills). 

Procession (to). In colonial times, to go about in order to settle the 
boundaries of, as land. The word is still used in North Carolina and 

Produce. A generic name for crops. 

Professor. (1) Applied indiscriminately to any one who makes a pro- 
fession of anything. 

(2) One who has made a public profession of a religion, and has been 
admitted to membership in the form peculiar to each church, wherever 
such a rite prevails instead of confirmation. 

In this sense, professor is a usage of the 17th century, if indeed it does 
not belong to an earlier period, as it can be found with the above 
meaning, besides other places, in the greatest of Milton's prose treatises. 

Progress. To move forward ; to advance. 

This old form, now obsolete in England, was long used in Devonshire, 
from which county came a great number of the early settlers of the 

In New. Jersey, to search for anything imbedded in the mud, 
as clams, terrapins, etc. by means of a sounding rod. 

Prohibition. The prohibition, by law, of the sale of intoxicating liquors ; 
the political doctrine which would forbid, by law, the sale of alcoolic 

Hence, also, & prohibitionist, meaning one in favor of such prohibition. 



Pronghorn. A species of antelope (Antilocapre americana) found on the 
plains west of the Missouri river, and so called from the fact that each 
horn has a prong jutting out of it. 
See cabrie. 

Pronounce. To turn out ; to prove. A curious usage, current in Nan- 
tucket, where a horse, for instance, when being put through his paces, 
will pronounce well or ill, as the case may be. 

Proper. In parts of the South, especially North Carolina, often heard in 
sense of handsome. 

PropiO, pro-'pe-o (Sp. ). In the formerly Spanish States, a word applied 
to a common or land owned by a municipality, and reserved, under the 
Spanish American law, for the benefit of the community at large, such 
as the erection of public buildings, markets, etc. 

Prospect. In mining phraseology, the out-turn of the first panful of earth 
washed. Upon its result, the miner decides whether it is good or bad 
prospect, and governs himself accordingly. 

PPOVen. This old participle, originally a Scotticism, still survives' amongst 
most American writers. 

Provider. A husband ; a mate. A very sarcastic allusion, indeed, to the 
dull submission of the average American husband, whose sole object 
must be to provide for all the wishes of his wife. 

Provineialist. In Canada, an upholder of State's rights. 

Provincials. A name given in Canada, in 1775, to the American insur- 
gents in active campaign against the authority of England. 

The American armies, at the outbreak of the War of the Revolu- 
tion, were also called, in Canada, Provincial troops. 

Prox. Formerly used in Rhode Island and Connecticut, in electoral con- 
tests, but now obsolete or nearly so. The meaning of prox was a list of 
candidates, or a ticket, handed to the voter. 

Hence, proxy, meaning the day of election itself. 

Pry. A large lever employed to raise or move heavy substances. (Wor- 
cester. ) 

Also, to pry, to force open with a tool used as a lever ; to move or 
raise by means of a large lever. 

Still provincial in some parts of England. 

Publishment. In New England, publication, especially of banns of 

Puck. In the North, often heard for a blow. 



Pueblo (Sp. ). (1) A town or village, in the formerly Spanish States, espe- 
cially New Mexico. Also, a village of the semi-civilized Catholic 
Indians of New Mexico, whence their name of Pueblo Indians. 

(2) A name applied, in New Mexico and Arizona, to some very pecu- 
liar ruins pertaining to the early aborigines, who are said to have been 
the legitimate descendants of the ancient Astecs, the former rulers of 
the country. These ruins, or Pueblo remains, are especially numerous 
in the region between the Uio Grande, Colorado, and Gila rivers. 

Puff- WOPkePS. In newspaper slang, reporters who make a business of 
writing paragraphs puffing theatrical performers. 

Pukes. (1) Nausea, attack of vomiting. " The_baby has the pukes." 
(2) A nickname applied to the inhabitants of Missouri. 

Pull. (1) A profit, in business or industry. 

(2) An advantage held over another person. 

(3) Influence or favor with anyone, especially in politics. 

Pull (to). (1) To fire on any one, i. e. to pull trigger. 

(2) To arrest ; to raid a gambling-house or house of ill-fame. 

Pull-baek-dreSS. A woman's gown tightly draped in front, which first 
came in vogue about 1876 or 1877, and was so called from all the fulness 
of it being taken to the back. 

Pull-doo (Fr. poule (feau, water-hen). A small black duck found in the 
bays and inlets of the Gulf of Mexico. 

Pullikins. A Kentucky word for a dentist's forceps. 

Pullman. A drawing-room, or sleeping-car, so called from the name of 
the first constructor of these luxurious vehicles. 

Now, also, a name thoroughly naturalized in England. 

Pull out. To abandon ; to withdraw. 

Pull up Stakes. To remove ; to change one's quarters ; to pack up one's 
furniture or baggage, preparatory to a removal. 

The allusion, of course, is to pulling up the stakes of a tent, and is a 
vivid reminiscence of a nomad life amid the pathless wildernesses of the 
Far West. 

Pulque, pool'-kay (Sp.). In the South- West, a well known intoxicating 
beverage, prepared from the sap of the maguey~(Agave americana). 

Pumpkins. See some pumpkins. 

Puncheons. In Georgia, and adjoining States, rough-hewn logs, which 
being smoothed on one side are laid upon sleepers as flooring. 

Punish. To hurt or annoy. " My sore punished me all day." 

Also used, intransitively, in sense of suffering for lack of something. 
More especially current in Pennsylvania jind Kentucky. 


Punk. In Canada and New England, rotten-wood, or touchwood, used as 

Punk (to). To push, or strike with the fist. Probably, a corruption of to 
punch, with which it is identical in meaning. 

Punk-pudding. In the Adirondacks, a name applied to the bittern. 

Also, stake-driver. 

Punky (Ind. ponk). An almost invisible but fierce little gnat that bedevils 
all travelers in Northern woods, and whose bite is much like the 
stinging of a spark of fire. 

Punt. In Maryland, Virginia, and other States, a canoe-like boat, hol- 
lowed out of a large tree. 

In England, & punt is a flat- bottomed boat. 

PupelO. A whilom term for cider-brandy, formerly manufactured to a 
great extent in New England. 

Push. The latest addition to current slang is the use of the word "push," 
in the sense that " the fancy" and " the talent " have been employed 
to designate the followers or admirers of some form of sport. How long 
the term has been thus used orally it is impossible to say ; its first 
appearance in print, however, was synchronal with the big cycle shows 
of a few years ago in Chicago, New York and Boston, when it was 
applied to the army of. agents, advertisers and others engaged in pushing 
the sales of the various makes of wheels. 

From that restricted application its scope was gradually broadened to 
include all devotees of the bicycle, and now it is in quite common use 
to characterize the followers of racing, base ball, rowing, athletics, etc. 

Push-buggy. Baby-carriage. 

Push-cart. A truck or barrow, pushed by hand. 

Pussy. In New England, often heard for fat, corpulent. 

Pussy-WillOW (Salix discolor). The swamp- willow, so called from the 
softness of its expanding cat-kins in early spring. 

Put- To start, or go away, to be off. 

Hence, the common imperative put, used for Begone ! 
Also, to put off', to put out. 

Put a head On One. To punch or assault another, and figuratively to 
silence, or shut up another. 

Put down One's fOOt. To be very decided, very determined in a course 
of action. 

President Lincoln was continually represented, by the Northern 
papers, as putting his foot down for the removal of Gen. McClellan or 
Gen. Hooker, or some other object, popular at the time. 

PUT QUA 325 

Put it in Strong. To speak or act with emphasis ; to express oneself 
strongly, or in strong language. 

Put it OH ice. To charge it up. 

Put On Style. To give oneself airs ; to make a boastful or showy parade, 
. specially referring to singularity in one's speech, dress, or habit. 

Putten (Old Eng.). The old participle of to put, still surviving in parts 
of New P^ngland arid New York. 

Putter. To needlessly engage in fussy work of no special benefit to 
any one. 

In England, "to potter" means to trifle, to busy or perplex oneself 
about trifles^ 

PuttO (Fr. potean, a stake). A familiar term, among South- Western 
settlers, for a stake firmly set in the ground, to which horses and cattle 
are fastened. 

Put up. A forcible injunction to silence, somewhat equivalent to "shut 
up ! " 

Quackle. To suffocate, to choke. . 

Still provincial in England. 

Quadroon (Sp. cuarteron.). The offspring of a mulatto and a white 

Quahaug (Ind. ). The popular name of the hard clam in New England, 
New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. 

The name ' ' Venus Mercenaria " was applied to the quahaug on 
account of its having been once in general use as currency, among the 

Also, quahor/. 

Quaker. An imitation gun made of wood or other material, and so 
called from its inoffensive character. 
Also, quaker gun. 

Quaker City. The city of Philadelphia, from association with William 
Penn, a Quaker, and settlement of Quakers. 

Quamish (Phalangium esculentum). A variety of kamas root (q. v. ) 
much relished by Indians, in the West. 
Also, camus plant. 

Quarter. A twenty-five cent piece, or a quarter of a dollar. 



QuaPteP-hOPSe. A horse that runs the first quarter better than the rest 
of the race. 

Hence, also, figuratively, a person that begins well, but has little- 
staying power. 

QuaPtePS. In the South, a name formerly applied to the negro-huts on a 
plantation, and still surviving in some places to designate the houses of 
black people. 

Quashee. A nickname for a negro. 

Quate. A common name for a quoit. 

Quawk. In parts of New England, the night-heron. 

Quebrada, kay-brah'-dah (Sp. quebrar, to break). In Texas and New- 
Mexico, a strip of broken country, cut up by ravines. 

QueeP. Mildly insane, with a connotation of ludicrousness. 

In England, queer serves to express the sensation of being a little- 
" out of sorts, " as when one does not feel very well. 

In Old English, " queer" or " quier" was a common prefix, meaning 
bad or wicked. 

QuemadO, kay-mah'-doh (Sp. quemar, to burn). In Texas, a burnt 
district. Compare with Fr. briitt. 

Quick-hatch. In the Hudson's Bay region, a name applied to the- 
wolverine, being a corruption of the Cree Indian name of that animal. 
Noted by Ellis in 1748. 

Quiddling. Uncertain; unsteady. 

QuileP. A New-Jerseyism for a holdback strap. 
See side-strap. 

QuiliOU, pron. kee-lee-oo (Ind. Ojibway kiniou, or Jciliiw, the great or war- 
eagle). A word used by the voyageurs to designate the eagle, and 
especially the great or war-eagle. The eagle called pwkiniou by the 
Ojibways of Lake Superior, is named by the French voyageurs " quiliou 
batard, " or bastard quiliou. 

Quiode, kee-odd (Fr. C. ). A species of dish, prepared with the heads of 
the cod-fish, and of which the fishermen of Gaspe, in the Gulf of St 
Lawrence, are particularly fond. 

Quiote, ke -oh'-tay (Mex. qniotf). In Texas and New Mexico, the fruit of 
the maguey, which is always baked before being eaten. 

QulPt (Sp. cuarfa). In Texas and New Mexico, a riding-whip, made of 
raw hide and leather plaited together, with a piece of iron in the handle.. 
Hence, to quirt, to break in wild horse.s. 



R. The pure Yankee curiously misplaces his " r's ", and even omits them 
when they ought to be heard, as in ater, arter, for after. With him this 
letter is subjected to as many indignities as the letter " h" is among 
uneducated people in England. 

RababOU (Fr. C. ). Among the old voyageurs, a name formerly applied 
to a concoction of flour and pemican. 

RacCOOn (Ind. Alg. aroughcun, meaning scratcher). A well-known fur 
bearing animal allied to the opossum (Procyon lotor), and found in nearly 
all over North America. In folk-speech, generally cut down to coon. 

Aroughcun to spell it in the form used by captain John Smith 
(1624) -had already got down to rackoon in, the writings of Roger 
Williams (1643), though at a later period we find it called arouyhena. It 
is, afterwards, rottcone, roacoon, racoune. It appears as raccon in 
" Josselyn " (1675), and at last as raccoon in Beverly's Virginia (1705). 

In view of such overwhelming evidence for the aboriginal origin of the 
word, it must seem strange that so austere an etymologer as Mr. Skeat, 
in England, and even Worcester and Webster, on this side of the ocean, 
should have fallen into the error of considering raccoon as merely a sin- 
gular corruption of the French raton. Indeed, all we can afford here to 
give to those scholars is the benefit of the spelling ratoon, found in 
Wilson's " Account of Carolina " (1682), and which suggests that a mis- 
take in its etymology may have been made very earl}'. 

Rackabones. Applied either to a wreck of a horse, or to an emaciated 
human being. 

In England, " racks " is the name given by horse-copers to the bones 
of a dead horse. 

Radicals. A name given, at the time of the anti-slavery crisis, to the 
most advanced among the Republicans, who were willing to sacrifice 
every constitutional right, rather than give up the Union. 
Also, contemptuously shortened to Rads. 

Raft. (1) A float of wood, boards, or logs, often of a gigantic size, which 
is floated down from the interior to the tide-waters. 

In no sense, however, distinctively American, except so far as size is 
concerned. The log rafts formed in the head-waters, flowing into the 
Mississipi, are especially of almost incredible dimensiqns. 

Hence, also, to raft, to transport on a raft ; rafting, the business of 
constructing and floating rafts ; r ift-imcin, one who follows the business 
of rafting. 



(2) The accumulation of timber or fallen trees which, floating down 
the great rivers of the West, are arrested by flats or shallow places, 
sometimes forming a formidable obstacle to navigation. 

(3) A vulgar expression for a host, a large number or quantity, from 
the immense size of some rafts of timber or logs. " A whole raft of 

Rag. (1) A cant term for a dollar. 

Similarly, rag money, meaning paper money. 

(2) In the South, a common term for any piece of linen or cotton- 
cloth. Also, a towel, a sheet, and even, vulgarly, a pocket-handker- 

A similar divergence exists in respect to rocks, for stones ; dirt, for 
earth, etc. 

Rag" Carpet. A carpet of home manufacture, made from strips of cloth 
knitted or sewn together. 

In England, a " scrap hearthrug." 

Raid. A predatory incursion, and especially a warlike invasion on horse- 
back into the enemy's country. 

" Raid, " derived from the verb to ride, is an old Scotch word, well 
known to all readers of Scott's poems, from the lines : 

Widow and Saxon maid 
Long shall lament our raid, 

(Lady of the Lake.) 

Hence, also, to raid, to roust out, to make legal search. 

Rail. A piece of timber, used in fencing, whether cleft, hewn or sawn. 
In England, the word means necessarily a round piece. 

Rail (to). To travel by railway. 

Rail-riding 1 . A savage punishment, which consists, when popular 
resentment against a person is fairly aroused, in placing the culprit upon 
the sharp edge of a rail, to be carried through the streets, the finals 
being generally reached in a ducking, or tarring and feathering. 

Railroad. The modern method of transportation by rail, though first 
introduced in England, was so speedily adopted and so widely used in 
the United States, that a different/ terminology seems to have arisen at 
once in the two countries, and to have maintained itself since. It may 
also be remarked that whilst the English railway was a development of 
the old stage-coach, the American railroad was a substitute for a 
steamboat, a fact which may account, in a certain measure, for the 
striking difference of the technicalities, in vise on both sides of the ocean. 
The following list comprises the more important variations ; 



Luggage van. 




Check rails. 
Cow-catcher, or plot. 
Freight train. 
Switching off. 
Ticket office. 
Track, or roadbed. 
Trucks (under the cars). 



Guard rails. 




Driver, or engine-driver. 


Goods train. 

Crossing plate. 





Booking office. 




Railroad (to). (1) As an intransitive verb, to work on a railroad, to be 
attached to a railroad. 

Hence, railroader, an employ^ on a railway. 

(2) Transitively, to do a thing hastily ; to push through at a rapi^ 
pace. " He was railroaded to the penitentiary." 

Railroad City. The city of Indianapolis, Indiana, from its being a centre 
for many lines of railway. 

Rail-SplitteP. One of the many nicknames applied to Abraham Lincoln. 
Raineloak. In the West, a waterproof cloak. 

Raise. (1) To grow crops. To bring up, to rear from childhood. This 
use of the word is legitimate English of the 17th century, as witness the 
following sentence, from the Memoirs of Lord Hertbert of Chertbury, 
written about 1645 : 

My grandfather's power was so great, that divers ancestors were 

his servants, and raised by him. 

Also applied, in the Southern States, to the breeding of negroes. 

(2) To breed cattle, horses, etc. 

(3) To fraudulently increase the amount of a cheque or bank-bill. 

(4) To stake a higher amount than one's opponent, at cards. " To 
raise, a bet," same as to go better (q. v. ). 

(5) To procure, or obtain, with a connotation of difficulty or discredi- 
table manner. " To raise money. " 

Also to make a raise, i. e. to make a haul, to raise the wind. 

(6) To make up, fabricate, invent, as when a tale is rained against 



(7) To build, to erect, as when neighbors assemble at a raising, or 
raising bee, to help erecting a house, a barn, etc. in sense of setting up 
the frame of a building. 

Raise Cain. To have a " high old time." 
Also, to raise a racket. 

To make a disturbance or 

Raise hail. To cause a disturbance ; to kick up a row. Used in a some- 
what milder sense than " to raise Cain," which expression indicates more 
heat and passion. 

Raise haiP. To scalp, in the vernacular of trappers and frontiersmen, 
and hence, idiomatically, to defeat, to overwhelm, as when one is said 
of having succeeded in " raising his opponent's hair." 
Afso, to lift hair. 

Raise one's Ebenezer. A phrase of Puritan origin, meaning to put 
oneself in evidence, that is, in Biblical parlance, to set one's light on top 
of a hill. 

Raise Sand. To get furiously angry. 

Raising 1 (Old Eng. ). A favorite term still surviving, in New England, 
for yeast. This old word, which is a literal translation of the French 
" levain, " was thus used by Gayton in his " Festivous Notes on Don 
Quixote. " 

Rake up the persimmons. To pocket the stakes or spoils. The equi- 
valent of the English slang " to pull in the pieces. " 

Rampiek. Any dead tree, and, more especially, a trunk of a dead tree 
standing after the top has fallen. (Nfld. N. B. and N. S.) 
Also, rampike, rampole. 

Ranch (Sp. rancho). In the West, and on the Pacific coast, a term which 
has become very popular for an estate, a farm, and especially a cattle 
station, comprising the industry itself, with its outfit. 

In Northern Mexico, a rancho is a rude hut of posts and boughs of 
trees, in which vaqueros or herdsmen seek shelter, and a collection of 
which fdrm a village. 

Hence, to ranch, to engage in the cattle -raising industry ; rancher, 
ranchman, a cattle-raiser ; ranchero, one who keeps a ranch, or lives in 
a ranch ; also, in the extreme South- West, a peasant. 

Randy. In Newfoundland and parts of the Canadian Maritime provinces, 
ussd both as a noun and verb for the amusement of coasting, or sliding 
down hill, as in the phrases : " Give us a randy. The boys are randying" 
To raise randi/ to create a disturbance. 



Range. In the South- West, a cattleman's term, for the ground or prairie 
over which cattle are allowed to pasture. 

A distinct word from ranch. 

Hence, colloquially, to go over the range, to die, a simile drawn from 
the fact that, originally, the phrase was at first applied to beasts which, 
having strayed from the main herd, were apt to meet with fatal mishap. 

Rangy. (1) Roomy, commodious ; having or permitting range or scope. 
(2) In stock-breeding, used in sense of a roving character, adapted 
for ranging or running about. Also said of an animal which is large, or 
loosely built. 

RantankerOUS. Given to quarrelsomeness. 

Probably derived from "rantan" which, in Old English, signified a 
drunken row, or else it may be only a variant of cantankerous. 

Rapper. A contemptuous term for a spiritualist. 

Rare. An epithet applied to half-couked meat, and employed here so 
generally that, as contrasted with " underdone, " the corresponding 
expression in modern England, its use may be looked upon, under 
ordinary circumstances, as a test of nationality. 

Rare has never been common in the literary language ; but its use has 
been widely spread in the dialects of the North of England, and in those 
of the Eastern counties. Dryden speaks of new-laid eggs : 

Turned by a gentle fire and roasted rare. 

The word is not derived, as commonly stated, from the Anglo-Saxon 
" hrere, " meaning raw or crude, but from the old Eng. " rear " of which 
Grose says : " Rear, " early, soon. Meat under-roasted is said to be 
" rear, " from being taken too soon from the fire. " 

Rat. (1) Among trade unions, a " blackleg" or "turncoat, " i. e. a work- 
man deserting the common cause. Also, a workman who works under 

Hence, to rat, to work under price. 

(2) In the South, a contemptuous epithet once applied to those who, 
haying fled during the war, dared not return for fear of consequences. 

Rating. The estimated \vealth or credit of a person, as stated on the lists 
of a Commercial Agency. 

RatOOns (Sp. retono, a sprout or shoot). The cuttings of sugar-cane ot 
the second and third year's growth, which serve for planting now fields. 
Hence, also, to ratoon. 

Rats. An ejaculation, expressive of contemptuous sarcasm or indifference. 
Rat-thieving. Sneak-thieving ; petty pilfering from carriages, etc. 



Rattled. Confused ; nervous ; perplexed. 

From the ordinary signification of "rattle," to shake. 

(2) In California, said of horses sick from eating ra.ttlewe.ed. 

Rattlers. In New Jersey, said of the poorest kind of oysters, because 
they rattle in their shells. 

Ravage (Fr. C. ). The destruction of leaves and young shrubs, made by 
the orignal when feeding. 

Rawhide. A whip made of raw cowhide, and mainly used by cowboys 
and plainsmen on the cattle ranges of the West. 

Reach. In the tide-water district of New Jersey, said of a stretch of a 
circuitous creek between two sharp bends. Such reaches are from 200 
feet to a mile or more in length. 

Ready (to). An old Scotch idiom still surviving in our speech, and mean- 
ing to make ready, to set to rights or in order. 

The term is, however, mainly used in its original form of redd, of 
which Grose says : Redd, to untangle or separate. " To red up a room '' 
is a marked provincialism in Pennsylvania, from whence it has passed 
into Ohio, and the well-known following old proverb may fitfully here 
be recalled : 

A seamstress that sews and would make her work redde, 
Must use a long needle -and a short thread. 

Real. In general use for very. " I'm real glad to see you. " 

Real estate. A common phrase for land, house property, and the like. 
In England, '' real estate" is strictly restricted to the technical pro- 
vince of law. 

a mere big sounding, vulgar phrase for houses and land, and so used is 

a marked and unjustifiable Americanism. 

(R. G. WHITE, Words and their Uses.) 

ReboSO, ray-boh'-so (Sp. ). In formerly Spanish States a long veil worn 
by women over the head and shoulders. 

Reciprocity. Among Canadian politicians, that which lies between free 
trade and " commercial union. " 
A variant is unrestricted reciprocity. 

Reckon (Old Eng.). To calculate ; to conjecture ; to form a judgment. 

The Southern equivalent of the Northern "guess," and the New- 
England " calculate. " 

This word, which is still provincial in some counties of the North of 
England, in sense of to think, to believe, etc. is a survival of an old 
English usage : 

For I reckon that the sufferings of this time 

(St Paul, Romans, VIII, 18.) 



Recommend. An abbreviated form of recommendation, current in New 
England in sense of a commendatory notice. 

Reconstruction. At the close of the Civil War, a term applied by 
Northern statesmen to the building up anew of the shattered edifice of 
the South. 

Record. (1) Any higher success, in any particular pursuit, than has 
previously been authenticated. 

(2) The aggregate of actions and doings in the past of a man, which 
can furnish arguments for or against him, as the case may be. 

Red (to). See ready. 

Red brush. The part of Kentucky between the mountains and the Ohio 
river. Also, an inhabitant of that region. 

Red cent. The smallest copper coin, the equivalent of the English " copper 
farthing. " 

" Not a red cent, " out of money. 

Also, simply, red. " He is not worth a red. " 

Red eye. In the West, a well-known term for whiskey of a raw and 
fiery nature. 

Red-head (Fuligula ferina). A species of duck much esteemed for its 
flesh, and so called from the color of its head. 

Red-hOPSe. (1) A species of sucker (Catostomus duquesnii), found in the 
Ohio and its tributaries, and so called from its red color and large size. 
(2) A nickname applied to an inhabitant of Kentucky. 

Red-hot. A common intensitive. " A red-hot time, a red-hot temper, etc. 

Red-POOt. A shrub of the Far West, in the Rocky Mountains, produ- 
cing a tea not unlike the genuine article. 
See New Jersey tea. 

Red Sumac. A tree, the leaves of which are largely used, by Indians and 
trappers, as a substitute for tobacco. See kini-kinik. 
Also, red-willow. 

Red tape. Official routine, from color of string tying official papers. 

RedemptionePS. In the early colony days, a name given, in Virginia, 
to emigrants from Europe who had agreed to sell this services for a given 
time, in order to pay or "redeem" their passage-money and other 

Reformists. In^Canadian history, the name of the political party, formed 
by Papineau in 1820, on the basis of the reform of the constitution, and 
which was the chief factor in bringing the insurrection of 1837-3S. 


Regent. In the State of New York, a member of the governing body which 
is invested with the superintendence of all colleges, academies, and 
schools in the State. 

Regret. A note of apology declining an invitation. 

Regular. In newspaper parlance, a general news dispatch, i. e. one 
coming from one of the usual news or press associations. 

Regulators. In those States where Lynch law reigns supreme, a name 
applied to those self-constituted guardians of public virtue and morality, 
who form " Vigilance Committees " and join in lynching parties. 

ReligiOUS. In the West, often said of a horse who is free from vice. 

Remonta (Sp. ). A Spanish word in use on the plains of the South-West, 
to signify a group of saddle-horses. 

Remuda, ray-moo'-dah (Sp.). In Texas, a" bunch" of horses, about a 
score. Usually applied to geldings only. 

In Spain, remuda is more especially applied to a change or relay of 

Renverse' (Fr. C.). Among the French-Canadians, a tract of forest 
covered with trees blown down by storms. 
Compare with brute. . 

RepapadePO, ray-par-ah-der'-o (Sp. ). In Texas, a part of a pasture 
fenced in, into which herders run cattle or horses. 

Repeater. A voter who registers his vote more than once at an election. 
RepOPtOPial. Pertaining to the duties or functions of a reporter. 

Republicans. One of the two great political parties of the United 
States, and a party name which has been several times adopted in the 
history of American politics. 

The name Democratic Republicans was first suggested, in 1793, as a 
desirable substitute for Anti-Federalists, but in 1805 the appellation 
Democratic was dropped, a marked distinction being thenceforward 
observable between Republicans and Democrats. The name subsequently 
fell into disuetude, but was permanently revived, in 1856, as a political 
cognomen, through the opposition of the Republicans to the extension of 
slavery. Four years later the party came into power, and after having 
abolished slavery and subdued the rebellion, enjoyed an uninterrupted 
lease of power until 1884, on the election of G rover. Cleveland. 

Reservation. Land set apart or reserved for some public use, as for 
schools, the Indians, etc. 
Also, reserve. 



A resolution ; a determination. Generally used in sense of a 
legal or official determination, and in connection with the transactions 
of public bodies. 

RestitutionistS. A religious sect of Massachusetts, whose chief article 
of faith is a belief in an immediate return of all things to their original 
form and purity. 

RestPictionist. In Canada, an advocate of a Protective Tariff. 

Result. In New England, the decision or determination of a council or 
deliberative assembly. (Webster. ) 

Resurrect. To engage in body-snatching, and, figuratively, to revive or 
bring to light a second time. 
Also, to resurrectionize. 

(1) Retirement. 
(2) A competency, on which a man may retire. 

Retirement. Withdrawal ; removal. " The retirement of the resolutions 
from the Senate. " 

Revamp. To mend ; to repair ; to patch up. Originally an exclusively 
shoemaker's term, derived from " to wamp," which meant to put new 
upper leather to shoes. 

Reventon, ray-ven-tone', (Sp. reventar, to burst). 
Mexico, a spring bursting forth from the earth. 
See charco. 

In Texas and New 

Reverent. In Georgia, and adjoining States, used in sense of strong, 

potent, as reverent whiskey. 
Rewrite man. In newspaper parlance, an experienced reporter who has 

the gift of unerringly seeing what is valuable in a story, and rewriting 

it into terse and picturesque style, so that it stands out. This is a 

development of the last two years. 

Rice-birds. A nickname for the inhabitants of ( South Carolina, from their 
alleged fondness for boiled rice. 

Rich-Weed. See stone-root. 

Ride. To carry ; to transport ; to convey by cart. Often heard espe- 
cially in city of New York. " To ride a box or a bale of goods." 

RideP. In legislative practice, a bill added to another bill, so that the 
two may be passed together as one bill, as when, for instance, a measure 
which would be vetoed if presented by itself, is attached to some impor- 
tant appropriation bill. 

In common speech, a rider is the top-rail of a zig-zag fence. 



Ride up. Said of a collar. " Your collar rides up behind." 

Ridiculous. Often heard, especially in remote parts of New England^ 
in sense of detestable, abominable, scandalous. 

Riding-roek. In the South, a conspicuous rock or land-mark in the 
middle of a stream which is used to show the depth of the water, and as 
an indication that the river is fordable or not. 

Riding-way. A ford. 

See out of ride. 

RifflB. (1) An old corruption of " ripple " primarily applied, in Penn- 
sylvania, to the rocky obstructions of the Susquehanna river, and after- 
wards extended to any obstruction, or obstacle, and metaphorically to 
any misunderstanding or quarrel. 

(2) A rapid, or place in a stream where a swift current, striking upon 
rocks, produces a boiling motion in the water. 

Riffles. In mining, parallel strips at the bottom of a sluice, so arranged 
that they can be easily taken out when the time comes to " clean up." 
These riffles cause the separation of the gold from the lighter pebbles by 
setting up little cross currents in the sluice stream, in the eddies of 
which the grains of precious metal are dropped, only to be recovered by 
the use of quicksilver during the clean-up. 

Riffs. People of the slums, the " riff-raff." Especially current in New 
York city. 

Rig. A common wood for a horse and wagon, i. e. a team. 

Right. Fully, well. " I couldn't hear him right. I don't like it right." 

Right along. Without cessation, continuously. 

Right away. Directly, immediately. 

Right here. Here, at this spot, at this time. 

Right now. Immediately. 

Right Smart, Many, a great quantity. " We raised right smart of 
potatoes this year." 

Rile. To render a liquid turbid by stirring up the sediment, and meta- 
phorically to make angry, to stir up anger. 

It riled me so, that I just steps up to him intending to kick him down 


(Sum Slick, Human Nature.) 

Now nearly obsolete in England, its use being restricted to some 
country people in Norfolk and Essex, but said to be current in New 
England, to which region it was probably transported, in early colonial 
times, in the person of some East Anglican thiefs. 



Hence, rily, or riley, turbid, excited to resentment, vexed. This form 
is exclusively confined to the New World. 

Ring 1 . A combination of politicians, speculators, etc. who play into each 
other's hands for mutual advantage ; a coterie of men banded together 
for their own advantage, pecuniary or otherwise ; a combination of 
merchants or manufacturers to raise prices, or to secure other advan- 

Curiously enough, the origin of the word is not to be found in the 
usual sense of "ring, " as given by the dictionaries, but is said to be as 
follows. Fifty years ago a New York druggist, who was a member of the 
board of aldermen, formed what would now be called a "boodling 
combine, " which created no little scandal' at the time, but has long 
since been forgotten. His name was Charles H. Ring, and thus originated 
the use of the word " ring " as applied to a syndicate of political spoilsmen. 

Ringer. (1) A member of a riny. 

(2) A name given to a horse entered in a race with others far below his 
class in speed, by a ring of dishonest turfmen. 

Ring-snake. A species of black snake once common in New England, 
and which was so called from a yellow ring around its neck. 

Rip. To go at a great pace. " Let her rip. " 

Rip OUt. To utter with vehemence. An energetic slang phrase, rarely 
ever used except with the addition of an oath. " To rip out an oath ". 

(1) An active, brisk, or lively person. 
Also, rip-roaring. 

(2) A new and ingenious implement of burglars, used in opening safes 
or vaults with iron surfaces. 

Rip-Pap (to). In river embankments, to throw down stone for foundations, 
allowing it to find its own level. 

Rip-roaring 1 . A commonly colloquial intensitive for brisk, lively, in 
sense of an active, dashing individual or thing ; a tearer, or driver. 
Also, rip-morter, rip-snorting, rip-staver. 
See ripper, roarer. 

Ripsnorter. A tearing, driving fellow. 

Rip tail Snorter. One who creates a sensation, who attracts much 

Rising. Exceeding ; more than ; upwards of. " There were rising five 
thousand bushels.' 
Also, rixiiirj of. 

In some parts of the South, they use the phrase and the rise to mean 
and more, more than that. 

338 RIZ ROC 

Riz bread. In New Jersey, said of yeast bread, i. e. not raised with soda. 

Roach. A cockroach. 

Roach (to). Denotes the trimming or cutting of horses' manes, what in 
England is called " to hog." 

A figure probably taken from the peculiar curve in some square sails, 
which, in nautical language, is called a roach. " 

Road-beat. In Canada and the north of New York State, said of the part 
of a highway under the control of a single path-master. 

Roanoke. A Virginian generic name for Indian shell-money. 
See sewan and wampum. 

A noisy self-assertive individual. 
Other intensive variants are ring-tailed roarer, ringclipper. 

Roasting-eaPS. A popular name, in the South and West, for half -ripe 
Indian corn, either raw or roasted before a fire or in hot ashes. 

Robber. Any kind of thief. 

In England, the word has always a connotation of violence. 

Robe (Fr. ). The dressed skin of a buffalo, among trappers and hunters, 
a pack of robes being ten skins tied in a pack. This term is especially 
limited to the skin of the buffalo, those of other animals being simply 
called skins. 

Buffalo robe, a skin ornamented and lined, and used as a covering in 
a sleigh. 

Robin. (Turdus migratorius). A species of^ thrush, destroying incredible 
numbers of grubs, and which bears only a slight resemblanca to the robin 
redbreast of England. 

ROCk. (1) Often heard, especially in the South and West, in sense of 

Door rock, in the West, the door-stone or step. 

(2) In the South, a slang term for a piece of money. 

Hence, to rock, to throw stones at. 

Rockaway. A light one-horse vehicle, which originally was probably a 
" Rockaway wagon, " so called from the famous Rockaway beach, near 
New York city. 

Rock bed. A foundation, and metaphorically the root of a matter, the 
gist of a question. 



Also, rock-bottom, which, in sense of " lowest, " is often used in speak- 
ing of prices, as rock-bottom prices. 
See bed-rock, and bottom-rock. 

Roek-eod. In Massachusetts, a red colored variety of cod-fish. 

(1) A rocking-chair. 

(2) A miner's contrivance for washing gold, being a box set upon 
rockers, and divided into two spaces, separated by a mesh. The gravel 
is thrown into the upper, the apparatus is rocked gently back and forth, 
the finer particles, sand and gold, pass through the netting and are 
caught below in a cloth. The separation is then completed by panning, 
and the gold is recovered by amalgamation with quick-silver. 

See cradle. 

Rock fence. Often heard for stone wall. 

Rock-POOted. A qualification applied to the Democratic party, fondly 
by its members, and in derision by its foes. 

Rockeage. Parched and pulverized Indian corn, mixed with sugar. 
Also, yokeage. 
See nocake. 

Rocky. Shaky, either financially and physically. 

Rodeo, ro-day'-o (Sp.). In Texas, a term for a round-up (q.- v.). 

Rogne. (Fr.). In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and on the fishing-banks of 
Newfoundland, a word applied to the eggs of the cod, used in France as 
baits for sardines. The same word as our English " roe," which was 
formerly spelled "roan." 

Rollejees. (Dutch rolletje, little roll). And old and favorite dish of the 
descendants of the Dutch, in New York and New Jersey, made up 
of small sausages stuffed with mince meat, which are cut into slices and 
Also, rullichies. 

Rolling 1 . Has in the West the peculiar meaning of undulating. Hence, 
rolling country, rolling lands, rotting prairies, for a country, lands, etc. 
which present to the eye a succession of elevations and depressions. 

Rolling POadS. Public roads, in Maryland and Virginia, so called from 
the old custom of rolling tobacco to market in hogsheads. 

Rolling-weed. See tumble-weed. 

Roll OUt. In the South-West, to begin a journey, or commence an under- 
taking, from the fact that for many years the ox-wagon was^ the only 
means of transportation in Texan. 

340 ROL ROT 

Roly-poly. A game played with a rubber ball and small holes dug in 
the ground. 

RoneheF. A generic name closely associated with any thing of great size 
or superlativeness. Thus an overwhelming calamity, or a blow of great 
force, would be apt to be called a rancher. 
See sockdolager 

Rookepy. In California, said of a school of seals. 

Room (to). To lodge ; to occupy a room, either single or with another. 
Hence, roomer, a lodger, one who lives in a room. 

Roomkeeping*. Living in a room. 

ROOPbaek. A falsehood ; a bogus newspaper article ; especially a false 
allegation issued for political purposes, and now a general term for any 
political forgery or fiction. 

The word was derived from the fact that, in 1844, a Whig newspaper, 
the "Ithaca ( N. Y. ) Chronicle, " published for political purposes alleged 
extracts from the Travels of Baron Roorback, which were proved almost 
on their appearance to have been a set up scheme to deceive the public. 
Thereafter, it was easy to reply to every charge preferred against the 
Democratic candidate, by pronouncing it another roorback. 

ROOSteP. A male fowl ; a cock. 

Rope (to). To catch and secure an animal by means of a lasso, or lariat, 
and, figuratively, to swindle, to induce one to enter a scheme in which 
there is strong probability that he will be cheated. 

It may be here interesting to note that Shakespeare has already used 
" ropery " for " roguery." 

Also, to rope in. 

RopeP, RopeP in. One who ropes in, in either sense of the word. 

Also, a decoy or "capper," for a gambling-house or for any other 

Rose-apple (Jambosa vulgaris). A West-Indian fruit, which derives its 
name from its perfume. 

ROSS. In New England and the Middle States, applied to the parasitic 
scaly excrescence found on trees. 
Still provincial in England. 

Rote. In New England and the Canadian Maritime provinces, said of the 
noise of waves on the shore. More particularly, the sound of surf before 
a storm. 
Also, rut. 



Rot-gut. In the West, a word often applied to particularly bad and fiery 

This word is an Old English term, used as far back as in Hey wood's 
" English Traveller " for a poor kind of drink, and still often heard in 
England in speaking of small beer. 

Roughness. In the South, a term primarily applied to cornhusks used as 
fodder, from the roughness of the serrated blades, but now denoting any 
kind of coarse fodder as distinguished from grain. 

Roundabout. In parts of the West, a boy's jacket re iching only to the 

Rounder. A New York slang term for a man given to the company of 
the " demi-monde. " 

One who is well acquainted with the town, especially the shady side 
of it. 

Roundhead. In the North-West, frequently said of a Swede. 

Round snOW. Hard, hail-like snow which falls when a snow-storm is 
just turning to rain. 

Round-up. On the cattle ranges of the West and South- West, the 
periodical stock-taking or collection of cattle for the purpose of branding. 
Hence, to round-up, to collect, bring together. 

Round- WOOd. A Maine term for the " Mountain ash. " 

Rouser. ( 1 ) Anything startling or abnormal, as a startling piece of news, 
or an exciting sermon. 

(2) A dissipated man ; a great talker, especially one who talks very 
loud and occasionally yells 

Roustabout. A dock laborer, or a steamboat hand in the Mississipi 
region. Somewhat equivalent to rough, although the roustabout, who is 
generally noisy, is not necessarily a rowdy. 

Evidently derived from the old Eng. " roust, " quoted by Jamieson as 
meaning to disturb. 

Rovers. A nickname applied to the inhabitants of Colorado. 

Rowdy. A street loafer and thumper ; a species of blackguard disagree- 
ably prevalent in large cities. 

Derived from " row," in which the rowdy loves so much to engage. 

ROW Up. To rebuke ; to punish or scold severely. 

An essentially Western phrase, dating back to the days when slaves, 
who had been delinquent in their work or disrespectful in their manners, 
were ordered to row up against the current the heavy keel-boats of 
early navigation on the Western rivers. 

342 ROW RUN 

ROW up Salt river. To court political defeat, discomfiture, obliviom 
A simile drawn from the fact that Salt River a small tributary of 
the Ohio, in Kentucky is especially difficult and painful to row up, 
from its tortuous channel, and from the abundance of its shallows and 
bars. A congressman from Kentucky having once made a happy allusion 
to the hardships connected with the navigation of Salt River, the word 
took the fancy of his audience and soon became very popular. 

To be rowed up Salt river, to be politically defeated, whilst, if the 
defeat is very overwhelming, the unsuccessful party is said to be rowed 
up to the very head-waters of Salt river. 

Rubbed OUt. Killed, or dead. A word akin to iviped out, whose signi- 
fication is extended from the English slang use of the same term, 
meaning the fashion of rubbing out the names of friends on a slate or 
visiting list. 
See wiped out. 

Rubber ICC. Thin ice that bends when skated upon. 

Rubber neck. (1) A word of teasing repeated several times by one 
child to another, whom he has duped. Also, a person looking in vain 
for some one or something may be saluted, humorously, with Rubber 

(2( One who turns and stares or gazes with attention. Used with & 
certain connotation of contempt. 

Rubbers. India-rubber over-shoes. 

Rudder-flsh (Palinurus perciformis)* A beautiful fish, abounding in the 
Southern waters, along the Atlantic coast. 

Rum. A generic name for all kinds of spirits, or strong intoxicants, from 
the fact that, formerly, rum was the favorite liquor. 

Rum-bud. A pimpy eruption on the face, caused by excessive tippling. 

Rum-hole. A low drinking shop, or groggery. 
Also, rum-mill. 

Rum-SUeker. An habitual toper. 

Run. (1) In the South, a brook or small stream. 

The word is, of course, akin to the verb to run, and corresponds, in 
this sense, to the Scottish " runnock," a drain or small stream. 

(2) In railway parlance, the distance which an engine or a train has. 
run in a given time. 

Run (to). Used transitively in the sense of to have charge ; to conduct, 
to manage a business or concern, from the government of a country to a 
newspaper or shop of any kind. It may even be said of a minister 
that he " runs" his church in such or such a way. 

Also, intransitively, in sense of to stand for election to any elective 
office ; to seek an appointment ; to contend for a situation or position* 

RUN RUT 343 

Runagate. In parts of the West, said of a woman who neglects her 
household affairs to go gossiping about the neighborhood. 

Run into the gTOUnd. To overdo a thing, to go to excess, a metaphor 
borrowed from forcing burrowing animals to seek refuge underground, 
and well expressive of constant and close persecution, ending in 

To mar a cause, action, or speech by overdoing it. 

Runner. ( 1 1 A person whose business it is to solicit passengers for steam- 
boats and railroads. 

(2) A ticket scalper. 

(3) An engine driver. 

Run One's face. To get goods on credit ; to swindle, on the strenght of 
one's personal appearance, and plausible address. 
Also, to run one's shape. 

Runt. Very generally applied to cattle or to men inferior in size, and, 
by extension, to any contemptible or miser ible creature. "Every family 
has its runt " is a familiar Yankee proverb arising from the fact that in 
every litter of pigs there is, almost invariably, one diminutive in size, 
what in England is called the " titman pig. " 

In England, "runt" is rarely used except among farmers, butchers, 
and like people. 

Run upon. To make fun of ; to quiz. 

RushePS. A miner's term for persons proceeding to the gold diggings, 
from the rush which generally takes place when a profitable " find" is 

Rusticrat. A newly-coined word applied, in summer resorts, to a visitor 
of the richer class. 

Rustle. (1) To be active, quick, expeditious. 

(2) To grapple with circumstances ; to rise superior to all contingencies. 
A simile borrowed from the fact that cattle, in winter, will " rustle " 
for food, by " nosing " through the snow to the dried grass beneath. 

RustleP. An active, busy individual, and especially one who never 
succumbs to circumstances. 

Formerly, a ranchman's term for a cook, on a ranch, from the fact 
that the work incumbent to it requires considerable activity and energy. 

Has lately, also, got to mean a thief , or swindler, from the abuse of the 
powers of activity and craft necessary to succeed in that " profession." 

Rusty-dab (Platessa ferruginea). The popular name of one of the flat- 
fishes of the coast of Massachusetts and New York. 
Also, rusty flat-folk. 

Rut. See rote. 

344 RYE SAD 

Rye. A curtailed form, for whiskey distilled from rye. 

Rye-and-Indian. In New England, brown bread made of Indian-and- 
rye meal. 

Sabane (Fr. C.). A word of Indian origin designating, among the French- 
Canadians, a species of dish made of flour, molasses, and the guts of 
partridges or hares. 

Sabbaday. A corruption of " Sabbath-day" occasionally heard in rural 
districts of New England. 

Sabbaday-houses. Formerly, when population was scarce, houses near 
a church or meeting-houses, used as places of recess by worshipper 
coming from long distances. 

Sabe (Sp. interrogative form, from saber, to know). In Texas, and the 
South-West, said of^shrewdness, thoughtful care, common sense ; what 
in colloquial English is called gumption. 

Also used as a verb, interrogatively, in sense of do you know ? do you 
understand ? do you see ? 

Sacate, sah-cah'-tay (Mex. zacatl). In Texas and New-Mexico, grass, 

Also, zacate. 

(Ind. Algonkin sakakomin). Among the French-Canadians, a 
plant or shrub commonly called the bear-berry (Arctostaphylos uva 
ursi), the leaves of which are used to mix with tobacco, for smoking. 
Also, sagakomi. 

Sachem. (1) A chief or a king, among the Indians. The term has also 
become prominent as the name of the presiding officer of the celebrated 
fraction of the Democratic party, called the Tammany. 

See sagamore. 

(2) A bird of passage (Tyrannus carolinensis), also known in the South 
under the name oi f eld-martin. 

Sack. A coat, a jacket. 

Also, a tack-coat. 

In Roderick Random we read of a "divine creature dressed in a sack 
of white satin, " an expression which every American will understand, 
though an Englishman would require to be told that she was arrayed in 
a "jacket. " 

Sad. In Maryland and New Jersey, heavy as applied to bread. 

SAF SAL 345 

Safe. A box or cupboard in which provisions are kept. 
In England, a " larder. " 

Sag 1 . (1) To bend ; to yield ; to hang down. Used especially of a door 
which drags its hinges out of place. 
(2) To swerve ; to warp ; to sink. 
(3) To fall in price (a trade word). 

Shall never tag with doubt, nor shake with fear. 

(Shakespeare, Macbeth.) 

Sagamite\ sah-gah-mee-tay (Ind. Cree kisdgamitew). Among the French- 
Canadians, a name applied to a sort of porridge made of corn-meal, some- 
times mixed up with meat. 

Sagamore (Ind. sakemo or sakima, a chief). A chief or a king, among 
the Indians, the original term having originated among the New-England 

Another form is sachem, which, often considered a distinct term, 
means in reality the same thing as sagamore. 

Sage-brush. A hardy plant of the mountains and regions of the Far 
West, with a foliage of a grayish green, and furnishing a sound, hard 
wood, very like oak. 

Sage-hens. A nickname applied to the inhabitants of Nevada. 

SagniehtS (Ger. literally, say-nothings). A derisive political term applied 
by Germans, with a fine instinct of irony, to the" Knmc-Nothings or 
Native Americans. 

Salamander. (1) In Florida and Georgia, a species of pouched-rat 
(Geomys pinetia). 

(2) An animal with a broad, flattened head (Menopoma alleghaniensis), 
allied to the salamander proper, found in the Ohio and some of the 
Southern rivers. 

Salea, sah-lay'-ah (Sp.). In Texas, said of a sheep or goatskin, curried 
and stained or dyed. 

Saloon. A bar-room ; a public-house or drinking-place. 
Also, sample-room. 

Salt-bottom. Bottom land of a saline nature. 
See salt lick. 

Salt-grass. Grass or hay from salt marshes. 

Salt-holes. Pool holes of small size filled with salt water, and frequent 
in marshes along the coast. 

Salt-horse. A slang term, for the salted beef, supplied in the rations 
of the United States army. 

346 SAL SAN 

Salt-meadow. A kind of boggy grass-land, on some parts of the New- 
England coast. 

Saltwater tailOP (Temnodon saltator). The Blue fish of the lower 
Potomac, tailor being a contemptuous term for a small shad of inferior 
See tailor. 

Sambo (Sp. zambo, bandy-legged). A term first applied to the offspring 
of a negro and a mulatto, and afterwards, in the South American colo- 
nies, to the child of a negro and an Indian woman, but now simply a 
generic name for all colored persons. 
Variants are cuffy, quashie, etc. 

Sammy. Often heard in sense of soft, as of leather soaked till soft 
enough to make into soles. 

Sams. At one time the sobriquet of the Native Americans or Know- 
Nothinys, the allusion being to Uncle Sam, from the Know-Nothings 
claiming that, in the United States, only the real Americans or native- 
born citizens should possess and exercice privileges and power. 

Sand. Grit, courage. 

Hence, also, sandy, meaning plucky, determined. 

Sand-auger. A miniature cyclone or rotary storm to which the wide 
plains of the West and South- West are subject, and in which the wind^ 
keeping close to the ground, sweeps with terrific force, driving before it 
thick clouds of dust and sand. 

Sand-bag". A weapon used by highwaymen, and consisting in a cloth 
bag in which some sand has been packed. 

Sand-bag (to). To strike with a sand-bag ; to commit robbery with 
violence, the victim being first stunned with a blow from a sand-bag. 
Also, metaphorically, to blackmail. 

Sand-bagger. A highwayman who stuns his victim with a blow from 
behind with a sand-bag. 
Also, a blackmailer. 

Sand-eheiTy (Cerasus pumila). A reclining shrub of the North and 
West, growing on sandy soil, and bearing a black fruit of a disagreeable 

Sand-hillers. White people of the lowest class, in the South, especially 
Georgia and South Carolina, mainly found in the " pine barrens, " where 
they live an idle and wretched existence. 
Also, a nickname applied to the inhabitants of South Carolina. 

Sand-plum (Prunus maritima). A wild plum growing in sandy localities. 



Sang (Panax quinquefolium). A curtailed form of the Chinese gen-seng, 
or gin-seng, designating a valuable herb much esteemed for its medicinal 
virtues, and which abounds in Virginia and North Carolina. 

Hence, to go a sanging, to gather sang, and sang-hoe, an implement 
employed by gatherers of sang. 

Santa-Fe tea. In Texas, New Mexico, and adjoining territories, a subs- 
titute for the real tea, made of the leaves of the " Alstonia theaformis," 
which is a shrub closely resembling the tea plant of commerce. 

Sapinette (Fr. C.). See tpinette. 

In St. Pierre and Miquelon, off Newfoundland, sapinette, which, in 
French, should signify " little fir, " is there a common word, by a curious 
turn of the linguistic instinct, for " spruce beer. " 

Sapsueker (Picus varius, etc.). A bird of the woodpecker tribe., so 
called from an absurd belief that it feeds on the sap of trees, thus 
causing them to die. 

Saratoga trunk. A commodious and colossal trunk, in which ladies' 
dresses find ample room for expansion, and so called from the celebrated 
watering-place of that name. 
Also, simply, Saratoga. 

Sarcophagus. A leaden coffin, or metallic burying-case, and a striking 
instance of the American tendency to high-sounding terms, however 
inappropriate they may be. 

Sardine. (1) A jocular term for a sailor. 

(2) A term of reproach, signifying a dullard. 

SasS. In New England, stewed or preserved fruit. 
Also, figuratively, effrontery, impertinence. 

Sass-tea. Sassafras tea, a decoction made of the tender shoots and the 
roots of a laurel (Sassafras officinale). 

Sauce (pron. sass.). Vegetables, especially those eaten with flesh meat, 
are sometimes called sauce in New England. 

Also sometimes used in sense of preserved or stewed fruits. 

This word is an undoubted survival of Old Eng. usage, and is so 
quoted in Forby and other glossaries, as meaning vegetables eaten with 
flesh meat. 

In the Southern States, sauce, for vegetables, is almost unknown, its 
place being supplied by greens. 

Beaumont and Fletcher use " green sauce " for vegetables. 

Long hauce : carrots, parsnips, etc. 

Short .taiice : potatoes, turnips. 

Sauce-man, a greengrocer or other dealer in market produce. 

Sauce-marketer, a market gardener. 



Sault, pron. soo (Fr. saut, a leap, a jumping). A name now venerable 
with old age, since it dates from the first French missionaries and 
" voyageurs " of the West, but which still firmly adheres to the rivers 
of Canada and those connecting the Upper Lakes, in order to designate 
their low waterfalls or " rapids." 

Savage as a meat axe. (1) Very angry and violent ; ferociously 

(2) Exceedingly hungry. 

It riled me so, that I just steps up to him, as savage as a meat axe: 

(Sam Slick, Human Nature.) 

Savane (Fr.). Among the French-Canadians, this word signifies a swamp 
rather than a meadow or plain, as in French and Spanish. 

Savannah. In Nova-Scotia, often said of a stretch of bog or moorland. 

Save. A Western metaphor of former times, meaning to shoot, to kill. 
In early times, on the frontier, when ammunition was scare*, even a 
single load of powder and shot was important, and so it was common 
for a hunter to say of a deer he had shot, that he had saved it, and 
hence, also, the Red Men he had killed, he naturally boasted of having 

SaVOyane (Fr. C.). A word of Indian origin applied, among the French- 
Canadians, to a species of hellebore (Coptis trifoliata), possessing medi- 
cinal properties. 
Also, savouillane, 

Saw. To play a joke, to hoax. Also, to scold. 

Saw-horse. In New England, the frame or stand on which wood is sawed 
for fuel. 
See buck. 

SaW-lOgf. A log of wood cut to suitable dimensions for sawing into planks. 

Saw-Whet (Ulula acadia). A small owl, so named from the resemblance 
of its cry to the sharp rasping or grinding of a saw. 

Sawyer. In the Mississipi region, a tree washed away by the current, and 
becoming so embedded in the river bottom as to move in a " sawing " 

Compare with snag. 

Say. One's turn, at game of poker, either to bet or pass. 

Scab. A workman who does not belong to a trades-union or similar 

Scads. In parts of the West, said for a great quantity, 
of money." 

He has scads 



Scallawag 1 . A very pithy designation for one who is a loafer, vagabond, 
and scamp combined. 

SeallyhOOt. A Texas word for to be off, to skedaddle. 

Scalp. (1) To remove the hair and scalp of a fallen foe, and. by extension, 
to capture, to defeat, to annihilate. 

(2) To drive a hard bargain. 

(3) To speculate in unused railway tickets. 

Scalp lock. The long tuft of hair worn by Indians. 

Scalper. (1) A railway ticket broker. 

(2) An operator on the Board of Trade or Stock Exchange, who deals 
in small lots and in an irregular way. 

Scaly ice. Ice through which the skate cuts. 

Scare. (1) A fight. 

(2) In the West, a stampede of cattle or horses. 

(3) In newspaper parlance, a heading in large type, to announce some 
important news. 

Scare up. To hunt for, to find, to pick up. A word adopted from the 
hunter's vocabulary. 

Scart. A not uncommon form of " scared," inherited from Old English 

Scary. Frightened, timid, easily scared. 
Also, skeery. 

Scat. An abbreviation of scatter, used as an energetic variant of Be off ! 
Be gone ! 

Scatter-gun. A double bore rifle is called a " two pipe scatter-gun. " 

Schedule. In newspaper parlance, a list of topics with estimate of 
quantity, which a correspondent sends to his paper in advance. 

School, pron. like shoal. A school of fish. This word, only provincial in 
England, but universally used in the United States, belongs to the Dutch 
language when designating a large quantity or number of fishes swimming 

Schooner. A large glass, holding a pint, used for drinking beer. 
Scions. In New Jersey, a name given to young growth of oak timber. 

Scoat. To leave suddenly. 
Also, to scoot, to skeet. 

Seoldenore. A water-fowl, on the coast of Maine. 

350 SCO SCR 

SeOOCh. To crouch. " To scooch down in the corner. " 
Also, to scrooch. 

Scoop. Much used especially amongst the newspaper fraternity in sense 
of an advantage, a good thing, i. e. some extraordinary event or occur- 
rence furnishing plenty " copy. " 

Somewhat equiv. to the English slang " rise. " 

Hence, also, to scoop, meaning to obtain an advantage, to defeat 

SeOOt. In parts of New England, to move or run swiftly. To slide or 
glide ; to dart. No idea of running away, and by no means limited to 

Also used as a noun and adjective. 

Other forms are skoot, skute. 

Evidently connected with to skeat, or to skeet, which are old forms 
still preserved in the South for " to skate. " 

ScOOt train. An express train ; one that omits stopping at a particular 

Scopet (Sp. escopeta). In Texas, and the South-West, a short musket or 
Compare with Fr. escopette. 

Scorch. In bicycle parlance, to ride very rapidly 
Scorcher. A bicyclist who rides very rapidly. 

Scorpion. In Virginia and the Southern States, almost all active wood- 
lizards are called scorpions, the name being especially applied to the 
species " Agama undulata." 

SCOW (Dutch schouw). A large flat-bottomed boat, quite familiar in the 
harbors of great cities, and used as a ferry-boat, a dredger, or a lighter. 
In the Northern Lakes, the scow is also often rigged up so as to become 
a tolerably fast sailer. 

Scranny. A woman's word for thin, lean, or bony ; low in flesh, scraggy. 

The term, which is the " scrannel " of Milton, is still provincial in 

Also, scrawny. 

In Somerset, England, they have the word " scrawv'lin, " for poor 
and mean. 

Sbrap. Of frequent use in Charleston, S. C. , in sense of small portion. 

Scrape. A technical term for the inferior turpentine gathered from the 
surface of the pine, a superior product being obtained by incisions in 
the bark. 



'Scrape (to). "To scrape cotton, " to hoe the growing plants. A Southern 

Scrapple. A favorite Philadelphia dish, consisting of bacon chopped up 
and mixed with cornmeal, and fried in cakes. 

'Scratch. In political parlance, to strike a man's name from the printed 
ticket of the " regular nomination. " 

Scratched ticket. An election ticket with one or more names of can- 
didates erased. 

Scratching 1 . An electioneering dodge, which consists in distributing 
narrow slips of paper gummed on the back, and bearing printed names 
of candidates, BO that voters may readily re-arrange the ballots to suit 
their own preferences. 

Scrawl. In New England, brushwood, or ragged, broken branches of * 

Evidently connected with scroll. 

Screamer. (1) A bouncing fellow or girl ; a fine strapping man or 
woman with connotation of tallness. A word of Western origin, equi- 
valent to " roarer." 

Also, scrouger. 

(2) A humorous story. 

Screw-bean (Strombocarpus pubescens). A tree of the locust family, 
common in Texas and the West, and ao called from its pods being 
twisted like a screw. 

SePOOf. To live with a friend at the latter's expense. 

SCPOUge. In New England, to drive a hard bargain, to overreach one 
in trade. 

Also used as a noun. 

In Tennessee and Kentucky, to scrouge means to crowd. " Don't 
scrouge me so," i. e. give me more room. 

Scrub oak. In New Jersey, a name applied to a low-growing species, 

usually the first timber growth on a burned district. 

Scud-grass. A Florida grass, growing to a height of nearly three feet. 
Otherwise, Scots' grass. 

Scuff. In New-England a light shoe, or slipper, without a heel, or 
without quarters, turned down. 

Sculduggery. A Western opprobrious political term, ignifying pro- 
ficiency in the art of " wire-pulling." 

Scullion. Small onion, or leek.^ Also used, especially in the plural, to 
designate poor onions that grownup to stalk, with no bulbs. 

352 SCU SEC 

Scunner. Sometimes heard for aversion. " To have a scunner towards 

De Vere suggests a corruption of " scorner " as a possible etymology. 

Scup (Dutch schoppen). A boy's term, in New- York, generally used for 
" to swing." 
Also, a scup, the swing proper. 

Sea-bass (Contropristes nigricans). An excellent fish, of the perch variety, 
abounding in the Atlantic. 

Sea-island COttOn. A once celebrated variety of cotton, grown along 
the sea shore in the South, and which has now been replaced by what 
is known as upland-cotton. 

Sealer. In New England, an official appointed to test and stamp weights 
and measures ; also leather. 

Sealing". The ceremony of spiritual marriage amongst polygamous Mor- 
mons, each succeeding wife being supposed to enjoy the same rights and 
privileges to the man who has "sealed" her to himself, as the first 
lawfully married wife. (Farmer. ) 
Also, scaling. 

Searcher. In New England, an instrument used in testing butter. 
Sea-Side grape. A West-Indian name for the " Cocoloba uvifera." 

Season. In the South, often employed for weather, and, by extension, 
for a spell of rain, a usage probably attributable to the fact of rain, in 
its proper season, being indispensable to agricultural operations, espe- 
cially for setting out tobacco. 

Seawan, Sewant (Ind. Alg. ). A variety of specie formerly in use 
amongst the Indians of North America. 
Other varieties are cohog, wampum. 

Secessiondom. A once familiar appellation for'the Confederate States. 

SeeeSSlOneP, Secessionist. Applied to those who, in the South, favored 
secession from the Union. 

Secondary. Often said, in the Eastern States, of the [second formation 
of a storm, especially one of the blizzard- type, off the Atlantic coast. 

Second Christmas. Day after Christmas, often a holiday too. 
Similarly, Second New Years, January 2. 

SeCOlld-day-wedding". A reception given by newly- married couples on 
their return from the honeymoon. 

Second last. Next to last. " They live on the second last house on the 
street. " Particularly heard in parts of Pennsylvania. 

SEC SEL 353 

Section. A horrible Americanism, says R. G. White, in " Words and 
their Uses," for neighborhood, vicinity, quarter, region ; a distinct part 
of a city, town, country, or people. 

This word is the result of the division of the unoccupied lands in the 
West, for purposes of sale, into sections (640 acres) based upon parallels 
of latitude and longitude. 

Sectional, SeCtionary. Pertaining to a section or portion of a country; 

Also frequently employed as the antithesis of "national." 

Sectionalism. The acts, practices, means, and results of those who 
favor the claims of one portion of the country in preference to those of 
the nation at large. 

Sectionize. To survey land and map it out inso sections of 640 acres, 
which is done before they are offered for sale. 
See Homestead Act. 

See the elephant. A slang phrase meaning to see the world, to gain 
knowledge by experience, generally at some cost to the investigator. 

To "do the town," to see the sights, especially those of an immoral 

" To see the elephant " is of course taken from wandering menageries, 
in which the elephant generally closes the exhibition or show. 

Seem. The New-Englander often puts this verb to strange uses, as 
when he says : '" I can't seem to be suited. I couldn't seem to know 

Seep Used in New England to signify the process of straining, or 
running through fine pores, as when coffee is run through muslin to 
clear it. 

Hence, also, fseepy, meaning undrained, wet. "Land is xeepy.'' 
Evidently but an altered form of " sipe," as quoted by Grose with 
same meaning. 

Seigneurs (Fr.). Formerly, in Canada, the feudal landowners. 

Seigniories. Formerly, in Canada, the feudal townships of the province 
of Quebec. 

Seine (Fr.). In Louisiana and Quebec, a net, a fishing-net. 
Seldom. Often used adjectively in sense of rare. 

Selectman. An abbreviation of " Select Townsman " applied, in New- 
England towns and villages, to those performing the duties of coun- 
cilors, i. e. managing the affairs and government of a town. 

354 SEL SHA 

Selva (Sp.). In Southern Texas, a shrub used in infusion as a substitute 
for tea. 

Send-Off. In newspaper parlance a notice, an item of news. 
Also, send-off notice. 

Send up Green RiveP. Among the mountaineers of wild parts of the 
South-West, to kill a man is "to send him up Green River." This 
curious phrase had its origin in a once famous factory on Green River, 
celebrated for a superior kind of large knives, which had engraved on 
their blades the words "Green River Works." Hence, despatching an 
adversary with one of those knifes, meant literally to send his blood up 
Green River. 

Sense. Common, in New England, in sense of to comprehend, to graps 

Serape, ser-ah'-pay (Sp.). In the formerly Spanish States, especially 
Texas, a kind of blanket, with stripes of variegated colors, worn by 
men as a cloak, and thrown across the shoulders. 

Set-back. A reverse ; a discomfiture a simile taken from the reflux of 
water made by a counter-current. 

Set-offs. Ir. New Jersey, said of sugar and cream in coffee, i. e. " trim- 

Set plate. In parts of Pennsylvania, used in sense of to make prepa- 
rations for Christmas. It means the same as to hang up one's stocking, 
but in certain neighborhoods, instead of hanging up stockings, children 
place a plate to receive gifts. 

Setting-pole. A punting pole, the end of which is shod with iron. 

Set up. To pay for the drinks. 

Set up (to be). To be conceited ; to give oneself airs. 

Seven-Up. The game of "all fours," from the number of points that 
have to be made to win. 

Shack. (1) A log cabin, usually comprising but one room, the whole 
being roofed with earth supported by poles. 
Hence, to tihack, to live in a shack. 

(2) A loafer, beggar, or vagabond. In this sense, used as a slang word 
in England. " He's a poor shack of a fellow. " 

(3) Among people of New England derivation, often heard for nuts 
considered as food for swine, squirrels, etc. 

See mast. 

In provincial English, shack means the waste of grain " shaken " upon 
the ground. 

(4) In college slang, a small boy employed to attend tennis players 
and retrieve stray balls. 

Hence, to shack, to gather tennis balls as above. 



Shaeklin'. In New Jersey, shiftless, lazy, going from one job to another. 
Shaekly. Ricketty ; shaky. Still provincial in England. 

Shad-bellies. A nickname given to the Quakers, from the old style 
" shad-belly coat ; ' having been associated during a long while as the 
most popular article of dress among the Quakers. 

Shad-belly COat. A morning coat, sloping gradually from the front to 
the tails, and so called from its alleged resemblance to the contour of 
the shad. 

The old style shad-belly coat was similar in character to that of the 
dress- coat. 

Shadow. To watch, after the manner of a detective. 

To be shadowed : to be followed by detectives ; to be subject to police 

Shag-bark (Carya alba). A variety of hickory, furnishing a valuable 
timber, and so called from the roughness of its bark. 
Also called shell-bark, 

Shake. (1) See clapboard. 

(2) A fair shake, a fair trade, a satisfactory bargain. 
" To give one a fair shake,'' i. e. to use him properly, to give him a 
fair chance. 

Shake (to). (1) To abandon; to discard; to turn one's back upon. 
Originally, mfning slang. 
(2) Elliptically, for to shake hands. 

(3} To jilt, as in sense of discarding a lover. " She shook him, " i. o. 
she gave him the shake. 

Shakers. A religious sect, very different to the body of people of same 
name in England, and which derives its distinctive appellation from the 
importance it attaches to the sacred or "shaking" dance, which is 
attributed to spiritual influence. 

The Shakers are an offshoot of the Quakers, from whom they seceded 
in 1770. They practice celibacy, live in communities, and apart from 
their peculiar doctrines, are much esteemed. 

Shaker yarbS. Well-known medicines prepared by the Shakers from 

Shakes. (1) The ague, or fever and ague. 
Also, vhakiivj ague. 

(2) An earthquake. 

(3) In the West, long undressed shingles cut from the upper branches 
of a tree, and used as roofing tiles. 

Shake the cross. In thieve's argot, to quit stealing. 

356 SHA SHA 

Shake the elbOW. To gamble with dice. 

Shaking prairie. A low, level, treeless tract of delta land, having a 
top soil of vegetable mould overlying immense beds of quicksand. 
Otherwise, trembling prairie, from the Fr. " prairie tremblante. " 

Sham-leggeFS. Men who work the confidence game by pretending to 
sell smuggled goods. 

ShamOGPat, A factitious word, designating one who pretends to be 
possessed of wealth, influence, rank, or indeed any quality, which is 
only conspicuous by its absence. 

Shanghai. An old term for a tall, lanky dude ; a swell ; a masher. 
Shangai fowls were a long-legged variety introduced from China. 
Originally applied to dandies who wore the fashionable plaid shawl, 
wrapped about the upper part of the person, leaving the legs unprotected. 


Shangai (to). To drug a sailor, and convey him on board a vessel about 
to sail, thus pressing him into service unwillingly. 

The practice is said to have originated and been extensively carried 
out at Shangai. 

Shank. (1) A Virginia expression, meaning the remainder, the rest. 

(2) In the South,' the negroes will often say : " The shank of the 
evening, " for late in the afternoon, what in New England would be 
called " just the edge of the evening. " 

Shanty (Fr. C. chantier, a lumbering-camp). 

(1) A rude hut or shed. 

(2) A wooden hut inhabited by railway laborers, and similar classes 
of men. 

Hence, to shanty, to dwell in a " shanty, " or temporary hut. 

Shanty-boat. A temporary hut on a boat, erected on the immense rafts 
of logs frequently met. with on all American waterways. 

Shantying-ground. The place where shanties are erected. 

Shape. In sporting parlance, what the English call form. " To be in 
good shape." 

Shark. In the West, a lean, hungry hog, from its voracity. 

Shark (tO). To fish for this sea monster, and, idiomatically, to prey 
upon others. 

Sharpset. Generally applied to the appetite, and signifying very 



Sharpsin. Applied to value or quantity. 

Not a sharpsin, i. e. a value or measure reduced almost to vanishing 

ShatS. In parts of the South, said of dry pine leaves or needles. 

Shave. To extort an illegal interest, in discounting a security ; to prac- 
tice usury ; and, metaphorically, to fleece, to defraud, or be otherwise 
unfair in bargains. 

Hence, shaver, an usurious money-lender or discounter, and, by 
extension, a sharp dealer, one who is close or fraudulent in bargaining ; 
shaving-shop, a money lender's establishment. 

Shay. A corruption of "chaise" used in the United States for a two- 
wheeled vehicle drawn by one horse. Hence, a " one horse shay," made 
famous by 0. W. Holmes as'applying to anything small and insignificant. 
In England, "shay" meang a post-chaise. 

Sheave. In Newfoundland, to hold water with the oar, so as to stop the 
boat or turn more quickly. 

Shebang 1 . (1) Any low establishment, or place. 
(2) A room ; a shop ; a hut ; a tent ; a cabin. 

Probably derived from the Irish " shebeen, " meaning a grog shop, 
although some etymologists assert that it is merely a corruption of the 
Fr. "cabane. " 

She-COPn. A variety of maize considered the most prolific for planting. 

SheddeP-erab. A crab, when " shedding " its shell is so named. 
Also, soft crab, soft-shell crab, or simply shedder. 

Sheep's head (Sparus ovia). A highly esteemed salt-water fish, so called 
from the resemblance of its head to that of a sheep. 

Sheer. Thin ; clear ; diaphonous ; esp. applied to fabrics of cotton or silk. 

Shell. To take the corn ouf of the husk, by analogy with the shelling of 
peas ; that is, removing the shell. 
See shuck. 

Shell bed. In parts of New Jersey, said of a collection of oyster shells 
or dried bivalves for food. 

ShellePS. In New Jersey, those who open clams for market. 

Shell-game. A swindling game played with walnut-shells and a pea, 
analogous to thimble-rigging. 

Hence, shell -worker, one who works the shell-game, and by extension, 
a swindler, a confidence man. 

Shenanigan. A curious factitious word for bounce ; chaff ; nonsense. 
Also, fooling or playfulness. 

358 SHE SHI 

ShenkbeeP (Ger. schenkbier). A variety of beer of exceedingly weak 

ShePPyvallieS (Fr. chevaliers). An amusing corruption of the old 
voyageur's chevaliers, or horseman's overalls, by which travellers, in 
former days, were wont to protect their trousers against mud and 
thorny bushes on long journeys on horseback. 

Shift. When a boxer purposely falls to escape a knock-down blow, he ia 
said to make a shift. 

Shilling. Still frequently heard for 12% cents. Also called York shilling. 
Another denomination is a long or Yankee shilling, of the value of 
IGij cents. 

In central New York, a quarter eagle is almost invariably spoken of 
as a "twenty shilling gold piece. 

Shim. In stone-working, said, in parts of New England, of small, flat, 
wedge-shaped stones used in levelling up a sill on a wall. 

Shimmey (Fr. chemise, a shirt). A woman's undergarment, as Bartlett 
calls it, in his Dictionary, through a kind of prudery. 

Shin. Primarily to walk quickly, to hustle, but now specially used, in 
mercantile phraseology, in speaking of a man who, finding himself short 
of funds to meet his engagements, goes round to his friends to borrow 
what he requires. 

Hence, a shinner, meaning one who runs hither and thither to borrow 
money in an emergency. 

Shin around. To gad about ; to hustle ; to move about briskly. 

To shin up, to climb a tree by using the hands and feet only, a process 
which is apt to endanger the safety of one's shins. 

Shin-dig 1 . A Western term for a ball or dance. 

Bartlett thinks the word is only another form of "shindy, " meaning 
a row or disturbance. 

Shindy. Besides English meaning of row or disturbance, shindy 
answers to : 

(1) A ball game, generally called "bandy ;" 

(2) A liking or fancy, as in the case of people taking a great shindy to 

Similarly, to take a shine to, meaning to take a liking to. Also, to take 
a shot to one. 

Shine. In the South and West, a method of still-hunting by means of & 
pan with fire, which " shines " in the eyes of the deer and holds it spell- 

See fire-hunt. 

SHI-SHO 359 

Shiner. A name given to several fishes of glittering appearance. The 
dace, however, is usually understood by the term. 

Shingle. (1) A wooden tile, used for roofing. 

To be short of a shingle, to be cranky ; silly ; in fact, as the English 
would say, to have a tile loose. 

(2) A plank, and often a signboard. Hence, " to swing, to hang out 
one's shingle, " to put up a sign, and, metaphorically, to start in business, 
to commence operations. 

Shingle (to). (1) To whip ; to chastise ; presumably from shingles being 
often employed in ehaslising children. 
(2) To crop the hair close in imitation of a shingle-roof. 

Shingle-oak (Quercu unbricaria). A species of oak found in the Middle 
States, and so called from the special use to which its timber is put. 

Shingle-WeaveP. One who prepares and dresses shingles. 

Shinny. (1) A game generally played on ice, with sticks and a ball, by 
a large party. The aim is to knock the ball into the enemy's camp. 
Still used in the North of England for the game "hurl" or "hockey." 
(2) Used adjectively for intoxicated, drunk. 
So quoted in Halliwell. 

Shinplaster. Formerly a slang term for all paper-money, but now mostly 
applied to small notes of less value than a dollar. 

Shinplaster is said to be an allusion to the utter worthlessness of the 
continental currency after the Avar of the Revolution. 

Shirt-tail dash. In newspaper offices, a kind of dash or manusorip sign 
specially used to separate a news paragraph from explanatory matter 
added to it. 

Also, by extension, the explanatory matter itself, with the result that 
the novice will be astonished by having a dispatch thrust at him with 
the injunction : " Put a shirt-tail to that. " 

Shock. (1) A dialectal variant of shuck (q. v. ). 

(2) A group of stalks of Indian corn, placed singly, and bound together 
at the top in a conical form. 

Shoddy. Applied to an inferior kind of cloth, made from old stuff 
worked over; also, to anything at once pretentious and inferior. 
Derived from " shreddy", as made up of rotten shreds. 

The term was first applied to bad clothing furnished by Government 

Shoddyocracy. People who have become rich by making contracts for 
shoddy goods, or in any other disreputable way. 

360 SHO SHO 

ShOOt. (1) A shooting match, or rifle practice at fixed targets. " A 
pigeon shoot. " 

(2) A passage-way, by which logs, coal, grain, etc. are shot down the 
hill sides or overboard from a ship. 

(3) A river-fall or rapid, especially one over which timber is floated, 
or through which boats or canoes can shoot. 

Hence, to shoot, to go over a waterfall in a boat, and, figuratively, to 
successfully encounter a difficulty. 

(4) An artificial contraction of the channel of a stream, in order to 
increase the depth of the water. 

(5) In the West, said metaphorically for ardent pursuit of any object, 
or thorough enthusiasm in the performance of any action. For instance, a 
man passionately in love is said " to take a shoot after the object of his 
affections. " Allusion is no doubt to the exhilirating spice of excitement 
in "shooting" rapids. 

Shooter. A revolver, or gun of any kind. Of Western origin. Also, 

Shootist. A marksman ; an adept in shooting. 

ShOOt One's grandmother. To make a great mistake ; to be much 
disappointed ; to do what one does not intend. 

Equivalent to the English phrase " to find a mare's nest." 

Shoots. In New Jersey, said of spaces between concentric rings of 
oyster shells, showing years of growth. 

Shop. A term confined, in the United States, to a workshop, the 
ordinary English shop being called a store. 

Shop (to). In railroad parlance, a car turned or sent to the repair-shop 
is said to be shopped. 

Short. A shortage ; a deficit. 

Short-hairs. A descriptive term for low-grade politicians and ward 

Its opposite is swallow-tails (q. v.). 

Short-metre. A brief spell of study, work, etc. A New-England idiom 
derived from the psalm-singing propensities fostered in the Puritan 
communities of that region. (Farmer.) 

And if it warn't for wakin' snakes, I'd be home again short- metre. 
(J. R. LOWELL, Biglow Papers.) 

Similarly, to do a thing in short metre is to it quickly, or without 

Shorts. Breeches ; a variation of small-clothes. 

Shot-bush (Aralia spinosa). A prickly tree shrub, also humorously 
called tear-coat. A Southern term. 

Shot-gun. A smooth bore gun, as distinguished from a rifle. 


ShOUtin' member. A member of a religious body, who takes an active 
part in church exercices. 
A Shoutin' Mtthodist is a phrase especially frequently heard. 

Shove. (1) The stalk of hemp. 

(2) On the St Lawrence river, the piling up of the ice through expan. 

Shoveller (Anas clypeata). A species of duck found in the Rocky 
Mountains and Texas. 

Show. An opportunity, or a chance to exhibit one's powers. "Give 
him a show. " 

Shuck. The outer covering, or husk, as of a walnut or an ear of corn. 

The word is well known in England, although shell is more frequently 

Not worth shucks, worthless, of no value. 

An even greater depth of worthlessness is represented by shuckless, 
meaning without even a shuck. 

Shuck (to). (1) To strip off the husks which envelope ears of corn. See 

(2) In New Jersey, to open oysters. 

Shuck-bottom. A chair seat made up of the outer shell or shuck of the 
maize ear. , 

ShysteP. A shady legal practitioner, i. e. a low-class lawyer who makes 
a specialty of shady cases. 

Also, by extension, any kind of scheming rogue of bad repute. 

De Vere suggests that the term may be attributed to the fact that a 
shyster sometimes finds it advisable to fight shy of his clients. But this 
definition is, we venture, plainly inadequate, and it is quite easy, besides, 
to suggest a derivation looking more probable, at least in the admitted 
absence of any direct evidence. Why should not shyster be really chiche- 
ster (Anglo-Saxon chiche, stingy ;, a suffix having a sinister sense) ? 
" Chiche" occurs at least twice in Wycliffe's Bible, and also in the 
" Romaunt of the Rose, " and the suffix " ster " is also very old and had 
a sinister sense, as "gamester" in Skeat, Merry Wives. It must then 
be seen that chiche-ster is at least as suggestive of the euphonious term 
[ shyster, as the vague notion of a rogue shyly stirring from the neigh- 
borhood of his victims. 

Sie-a-nine-ten. An outdoor game very similar to hi-spy, but some- 
what more complicated. 

362 SIC SIL 

Sick. (1) III, afflicted with disease, without connotation of nausea. 
This usage of sick is found in the English liturgy, and is also sanctioned 
by the best Old English writers. 

In England, sick is now only applied to express sickness of the 
stomach or nausea, whilst in the United States a person in bad health 
is always sick, even if his trouble arises from a broken leg. 

To feel sick, to be disgusted with one's self. 

(2) Used contemptuously in sense of very indifferent, contemptible : 
" He's a sick fellow at best." In that case, in England, they would say 
" a sorry fellow." 

Sidehill. A common expression for hillside ; the slope of a hill ; sloping 

Sideline. (1) In Canada, a by-road running at right angles to the main 
or concession roads. 

(2) Among plainsmen, horses are hobbled by means of sidelines. 
Hence, to sideline. 

Side-Strap. In Connecticut, a holdback strap, 

Side-tPaek. To divert the attention ; to turn from one's purpose ; or to 
precede others in the battle of life. 

Side up. To clean up, put in order, as a room. (Nfld. N. B. and N. S.) 
Sidewalk. In England, a footpath or pavement. 
Side- WheeleP. A pacing horse. 

Side-winder. A New- York term for a violent blow with the fist. 
In the South, they say side-wipe 

Sight. Amount, and, more specifically, a large amount. "It has done 
him a sight of good." 

Sightly. Said of a place which affords a fine view (from the place). 
Sight Unseen. Blind swap, i. e. without seeing articles beforehand. 

Sign. (1) A trapper's term for a spoor or trail, i. e. traces of the recent 
presence of men or animals. A buffalo-sign, a bear-sign, an Indian- 
sign, etc." 

(2) A signboard. 

Signalize. In addition to ordinary use, often means " to make signals." 

Silk-grass (Yuca filamentosa). A lilaceous plant, so called from the 
silky filaments that appear on the edges of its leaves. 

Cartier's word " chanure" (old time spelling of "chanvre") was 
without doubt the product noted by nearly all the early travellers and 
called by them in English silk-grass. On Dec. 23, 1640, Thomas Gorges 



wrote to John Winthrop for " some of that stuffe that with us supplies 
the want of hempe. Our Indyans make theyr Snow Shoes, nets and 
bags of it. Also of a bigger stalke called Silke-grass, which makes very 
fine hempe." Francis Higginson refers to it in 1630, and we also read of 
it in the "True Relation Concerning the State of New England, 1634. " 
In the Boston News Letter, May, 23, 1727, we read " Good Silk Grass, 
suitable for cordwainers. " Again, on Dec. 26, 1728, " Very good Silk 
Grass, for shoemakers.^" Both cordwainers and braziers had it for sale 
in Boston and, as very one knows, it needs a very tough cord to make 
net-work for snow-shoes. 

Silk-StoekingS. The moneyed class, commonly accredited with wearing 
silken hose. 
Also a phrase applied to a section of the Democratic party. 

Silver fOX (Canis argentatus). A rare black fox, much esteemed for its 
fur, and so called from its being mottled with white. 

Silver Grays. A name applied, some forty years ago, to the Conservative 
wing of the Whig party. The term originated in the State of New York, 
and was in allu sion to the white hair of some dissidents who, at a poli- 
tical convention, " bolted the ticket " of their party, and at once with- 
drew. As those dissidents were leaving the hall, it was observed that 
the majority of them were men well advanced in years, which drew 
forth the remark from a bystander, ' ' there go the silver grays. " 

Silver thaw. 

andN. S.) 

A sleet storm leaving tress coated with ice. (Nfld. N. B. 

Silver tip. A name given, in the Canadian North West and Alaska, to 
a black bear having a white breast. 

Silver wedding. The 25th anniversary of a wedding. 

Simball. In parts of New England, a name given to a variety of 

Simlin. In the South, a variety of squash having a rjund flattish head 
with a scalloped edge. 

The word comes from " cymnel," the name of a lenten-cake of oval 
form, like a squash, used primarily in the offices of the Catholic church. 
Lenten simnels are to this day quite common in many parts of England, 
and " simblin " is even now the local pronunciation in Lancashire, the b 
having crept between m and n as into " chimbley " and all words of 
that sort. 

Singing sand. A name given, in New Jersey, to sand found on Long 
Beach, Ocean county, which emits a peculiar musical tone when the 
wind passes over it rapidly. 

364 SIN SKE 

Singlebob. A mark used in branding cattle, meaning a slit ear dropping 

Sing-Sing (Ind. Alg. asingsing, a place of stones). The celebrated 
penitentiary of New York, recalling its Indian origin with all the 
greater force that it is now, as Artemus Ward rightly says, " the resi- 
dence of gentlemen who spend their days in poundin' stun." 

Sink-hole. A depression or hole in limestone formations, in which 
streams sink and are lost. 

Common in Kentucky, and in the Middle and Western States. 

Also, simply sink. 

Sink-holes are low depressions in the surface, from which powerful 
springs gush forth, often forming large ponds on the spot, or flowing off 
in the shape of broad rivers, capable of turning mills and driving 
machinery. (De Vere.) 

SiPPee. An emphatic assent or negative. 
Yes, sir ! first form. 
Yes, sirree ! more emphatic. 
Yes, sirree, Bob ! most emphatic of all. 

Sisal hemp. The prepared fibre of an agave, very common on the 
Florida Keys, from Sisal, the Indian name of a town in Yucatan. 

SitiO, see'-te-o (Sp.). A Spanish superficial measure, equal to a square 
league of land (4,428 acres), still in use in formerly Spanish States. 

Size up. To form an opinion concerning a person or thing. 
The equiv. of to take one's measure. 

Sizzle (Old Eng. ). To hiss from the action of fire ; to make a hissing 
sound ; to shrivel up with a hissing sound. 

Also, to sizz. 

An old English word, quoted by Forby, which is now almost forgotten 
in England. 

Skanes. Iron plates, for reducing friction upon axle-trees. 
In England, called " clouts. " 

Skate. In parts of New England, said of a worn-out horse. 

Skedaddle. To depart hurriedly ; to run away. 

This very inelegant word, which has set in a kind of interlingual 
competition for its paternity, has already been the subject of a succession 
of learned theories. The word has been in use for many years in the 
West of Scotland and North of England, in sense of to spill or to scatter,, 



as " to skedaddle the milk," and on the other hand Irishmen have reasons 
to claim it as their own, deriving it from their "sgedad-ol," a term 
occurring in an old Irish Bible, and meaning " scattered all." 

The word is said to have first appeared in print, in the United States, 
after the battle of Bull's Run, and, wherever it may originally come 
from, is sure to be retained, at least in the American sense, because of 
its odd and eminently descriptive sound. 

SkeeziX (prob. of Dutch origin). Slang about New York city, in sense of 
an idle, me in, or contemptible fellow ; a ne'er-do-weel ; a good-for- 
nothing ; a paltry little fellow. One not to be trusted, with a connota- 
tion of uncouth. 

Also, skeezicks, skesicks. 

Skimpy. In New England, often applied to a stingy or parcimonious 

Skin. (1) A sharper ; a blackleg. 
(2) A purse ; a pocket-book. 

Skin (to). (1) To get the best of ; to impose upon ; to cheat; to extort ; 
to rob one of his very skin. 

In sense of to extort, i. e. of illtreating and pressing a man " to his 
skin," the term is not unknown in England, as is shown by the word 
" skinflint '' 

(2) To ill-treat ; to press any one to his skin. 

(3) In college parlance, to use a translation or crib. 

Skin-game. Fraud ; chicanery. 

Skin one's own Skunk. To do one's own dirty work, a phrase of pungent 
meaning equivalent to " washing one's own dirty linen at home." 

Skin Out. To depart secreetly and hastily, as when pursued by an enemy. 

Skip. A popular exclamation for Begone ! equiv. to Git ! skedadle ! 
light-out ! etc. 

Skip-jack (Sarda pelamys). A popular name in Boston for the bonito 
or blue-fish. 

Also applied to the species " Scomberesox scutellatus " of Lesueur. 
Other variants are saury, and xkipper. 

Skipper. The cheese-mite. In England, cheese-hopper. 
Hence, skippery, abounding in cheese-mites. 

Skite. To go running about ; to move about energetically. 

Skive (to). In New-England, to pare leather or skin, so as to leave a 
bevelled edge. 

Hence, sldvings, parings or waste pieces of leather. 



SkOOt away. To disappear suddenly. 

Skunk (Ind. Abenaki seganku). A small mammifer, allied to the weasel 
and badger (Mephitis mephitica), and which, when irritated, emits a 
very fetid secretion. 

Metaphorically, a mean, despicable fellow. 

Hence, to skunk, used in political and college slang, in sense of to act 
dishonestly or with disgraceful deceit. Also, to utterly defeat, to beat 
out of sight, as at cards or other games, when the player failg to reach 
a certain point. 

To skunk one's bills, to leave college without settling up. 

Skunk-bear (Gulo luscus). A Western name for the wolverine or 

Skunk-blackbird. A popular name, in Canada, New- York and New 
England, for the common marsh-bird. 

So called from its colouring Hack mixed with white which remotely 
resembles that of the ill-smelling animal. 

Skunk-cabbage (Symplocarpus fcetidus). The well known strong- 
scented and early growing plant of New England. Of medecinal value 
in asthma and other disorders. 

Skunk-head (Anas labradora). A popular name, on the sea-coast, for 
the Pied Duck of ornithologists. 

Skwy. In parts of New England, said for askew. " The picture hangs 
*kwy. " 

Also, skwywise. 

Sky-serapeP. Especially applied to a very tall building of the kind 
now in vogue in lower Broadway, New- York city. 

Also, one who reaches high, one who is exalted in his own estimation. 
' Sky-scraping, tall, literally touching the sky. 

Slab. The outside of logs of wood, which is generally cast aside as useless, 
and idiomatically a shaky or worthless character. 

Hence, to slab off", to cast on one side as useless, like the outside piece 
of a log, or slab. 

Slab (to). To make roads round the sides of mountains. 

Slab-bridged. A contemptuous epithet applied to a fellow of worthless 

Slab-Sided. Wall-sided ; having perpendicular sides. Often applied, 
especially, to men and women of angular appearance. 

Slack. Lazy ; shiftless. 

Hence, slack-twisted, used in parts of the South in sense of mentally 
weak, shiftles;. 



Slack- Water navigation. An arrangement of dams -and locks for 
keeping a sufficient supply of water in a river not otherwise navigable 
at all seasons. (Farmer.) 

Almost all the larger rivers, in the Eastern States, are thus made 
navigable high above their original limits. 

Slang- whangeP. A long- winded speaker, and especially a noisy political 
talker. Derived from slang, and to whang, to beat. 

Slang-whanger is said to be not unknown as a provincial word in 
England, though it attracted much attention there, when W. Irving 
first used it in his early writings to designate a noisy politician. 

Slank. In New Jersey, a low place at side of river, bay or cove, filled 
with water at freshet. 

Slap-dab. In parts of New York state, used for violently or awkwardly, 
Slash. In parts of New Jersey, a swale filled with water. 

Slashes. In several parts of the Union, especially in the South and the 
West, low swampy grounds overgrown witb bushes. 
Also, openings in the woods. 

Slash ground. In New York, ground on which the brushwood has been 
cut and left lying. 

Slate. In political parlance, a programme, or list of appointments ; a 
list of people recommended to office by a political party, as a reward for 
political services, real or imaginary. 

Hence, slated, placed on a list, as one who is slated for a special 

Slate Smasher. A President or high official who will not give place to 
the nominees of a party. 

Let Gen. Grant be encouraged to smash the slate. He is a great xlate- 

(Cincinnati Enquirer, March 1869.) 

SlathePS. A large quantity ; a lot. "Slathers of money." 

Sleep. Used transitively in the sense of giving, or affording sleeping 
accommodation. Thus a sleeping-car, on a railway, sleepy so many 

To accommodate, to supply with a bed, or berth. 

Sleeper. A sleeping-car, on a railway. 

In England, a "sleeper" is what we call here a "crosstie." 

SleepePS. (1) One of the nicknames assumed by, or given to the Molly 

(2) Drunken men in the gutter. "Laying for sleepers" is the occupa- 
tion of street thieves. 

368 SLE SLI 

Sleuth. A detective ; a professional thief-catcher. 

Slice. In New England, New- York and Canada, a large fire-shovel. 
Still provincial in England. 

Slick. In New England, a smooth place in the water, where fish abound. 
See gray dick. 

Also used, adjeetively, in sense of dexterous, acute, quick, with conno- 
tation of unprincipled. "He is a slick fellow." 

Slick is somewhat prevalent in the West of England, esp. in Kent, but 
only in the sense of sleek, i. e. smooth, glosiy. 

Slicker. On the plains and in the West, a water-proof oil coat, a 

Slick Off. To turn out quickly ; to execute with ease. 

Slick up. To make sleek ; to make fine. "The house was all slicked up 
as neat as a pin." 

Also, to smooth ; to render glossy and sleek. Here, it will be remarked, 
the original meaning is retained. 

Slide. In the Northern States and Canada, a passage down which the 
water glides in a dam, used for the descent of timber, logs, etc. 

Slide (to). To go away ; to be off. 

To slide out. To depart stealthily ; to shirk responsibility or labor. 

Slim. Besides original meaning of "thin," also used of a person poor in 
health, thin in face or figure ; also, idiomatically, for one of indifferent 
standing in the community, either as regards social position, morals, or 
politics. (Farmer. ) 

Slimsy. Flimsy in texture ; sligthly made ; frail in build. (Farmer.) 
Frequently applied to cotton or other cloth. 

Sling. A drink composed of soda-water, ice, lemon and sugar, with the 
addition of either gin, whiskey, or brandy. Gin- slings are more com 
monly drunk. 

Sling (to). To wield, or use, with a connotation of ease and rapidity of 


Said generally in a semi-contemptuous way : Leg-slinging, for 

dancing ; ink-slinging, for writing, in newspaper slang. 

Slink. A sneak ; one who acts in an underhand manner ; a sneaking 

Slinky. Thin ; lanky. 

Slip. In phrase "to give the slip : to jilt one 



Slipe. (1) A piece or slice. "A slipe of bacon." 

(2) A distance. "Well, I've got a long slipe off ray steamboat." 
(Crockett, Tour, p. 145.) 

SlippeP-down. In parts of Connecticut, a vulgar name for hasty- 

Slippery-elm. A name applied to the inner bark of the elm. 
Also, the name of a dwarf species of elm. 

Slipping. Sometimes used for sleighing. "The dipping is pretty good." 

Slippy-noose. In Connecticut, a running knot ; a slip knot. 

Slob. In Newfoundland, said of soft snow or ice. 

SlOOnly. Badly attired ; slovenly dressed. " He's sloonly." 

Slop Over. To miss one's mark ; to make a blunder, particularly froii 
excess of emotion. 

Slosh. Slush, i. e. snow in a soft state . 

Slosh about. In the West, to wander aimlessly from place to place; 
generally getting more and more intoxicated, and becoming more and 
more objectionable. 
Also, to slosh around. 

SlOUgh. In parts of the West and South, a swamp, a bog. 
Slough grass. A coarse grass growing in sloughs or wet places. 
Sloven. A low truck wagon. (Nfld. N. B. and N. S.) 

Slug. (1) A name applied, in the beginnings of California, to a conven- 
tional gold piece or counter, haying a value of about forty dollars. 
(2) In New Jersey, a slang term for a big drink of whiskey. 

Slug (to). An alternative form of to slog, to beat ; as also is slugger, o 
slogger, a prize-fighter. 

Sluice. In mining districts, a trough used in washing earth for gold. 

Ground-sluice, a trough in the ground. 

Tail-sluice, a trough below other ones, through which the earth and 
water passes. 

Sluice-box, a box placed at the lower end of the sluice to catch tha 

Sluice (to). To separate gold from earth, by the aid of a sluiae. 
Hence, to sluice off, to divert, to lay aside. 

Slum. Mean, dirty, as in a xlum trick. Especially common in Philadel- 
phia, and probably owing its origin to the .i 



Slummock. In New Jersey, said of a dirty, untidy woman. 

Slump (Old Eng. ). In New England, to fall or sink through ice or mud. 

Slump Off. To veer ; to move away from ; and idiomatically, to fall in 
value, in speaking of stocks and shares. (Farmer. ) 

Slumpy. In New England and Canada, applied to wet, loose snow. 
Quoted in Jamieson, for swampy, marshy. 

Slung-Shot. A weapon of oS'ense, made by placing a stone or piece of 
lead in a bag. 

Also called sling-shot. 

Slunk (Old Eng.). Said of the young of an animal which is prematurely 
brought forth. " A slunk calf." 

Still provincial in Eastern counties of England. 

Slunk (to). " To slunk school," to play truant. (Nfld. N. B. and N. S. 
Slush. A newspaper's term for reporter's copy. 

Small potatoes. A contemptuous epithet applied to persons or things, 
in sense of petty, mean, or contemptible. 

Smart. Shrewd, clever, active, quick, intelligent. 

In England, apirt from its application to dress (elegant in dress, 
dressy), used in the sense of superficial showiness of character, or ability, 
continued with more or less wit. In short, in England, a smart man is 
generally only showy or witty, whilst in America a smart man's smart- 
ness, especially in the course of business, will always be looked upon 
with more or less apprehension. 

Hence, smartness, for shrewdness, keenness. 

Smart Chance. (1) A fair chance ; a good opportunity. 

(2) In the South and West, a good deal, a considerable quantity of 
anything. " We have just had a smart chance of snow." 

Other variants are right smart, right smart chance, and mighty smart 

(Dutch smeer-kaas). A preparation of curds spread on a flat 
surface to make into cheese. Otherwise known as cottage-cheese. In New 
York city, also called pot-cheese. 

Smell-lemon (Cucurbita ovifera). A beautiful plant, so called in some 
States from its fragrant and yellow-striped orange-like fruit. 

Smelling 1 committee. An investigating committee where the matter to 
be inquired into is in the form of unpopular, or unsavoury details which 
are expected to be brought to light. (Farmer. ) 

The phrase originated in the examination of a convent, in Massa- 
chusetts, by legislation order. 



Smile. A nip ; dram ;' or small glass of spirits. 
Hence, to smile, to take a drink, to tipple. 

One of the oddest conversions of terms imaginable, though the process 
of transition is sufficiently obvious. 

Smit. In New England, to crock, rub off (of dye-stuff). 
Smiteh. A very small quantity. 

Smoke. To befool one ; to make game of. Figuratively, to so becloud one 
with clouds of smoke that he cannot detect the game which is played 
upon him. 

In English detective slang, to smoke is to detect or penetrate an 

Smoke-Staek. A chimney ; a funnel of a steamer. 

Smoky City. The city of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, from its being the 
American Birmingham, the centre of the iron and hardware industries. 

SmoUCh. (1) In Pennsylvania, to steal a kiss, to take a kiss by stealth. 
From smouch, or smoucher, which are Old English forms for a loud, 
sounding kiss. 

(2) To steal ; to crib ; to plagiarize, in which sense it was used by 

SmoilZS. In Ohio, to demolish, as with a blow ; to make a clean sweep of. 

Smudge. A heap of damp combustibles, or smothered fire, used by back- 
woodsmen for the purpose of keeping off flies and mosquitoes. 

Provincial in north of England, and already used by Gray, an old 
English writer, in a somewhat similar sense. 

Smut-mill. Among farmers, a contrivance for dealing with "smutty" 

Also, smut-machine. 

Snab. In college slang, a good-looking, stylish man or woman. 
Hence, xnabby, stylish, tasteful, good-looking. 

Snaeked. Drunk ; intoxicated. A Southern equiv. of the more common 
snapped. (Farmer. ) 

Snaek-hCUSe. A 'slang term for a restaurant. 

Snag 1 (Old Eng. ). In the Jlississipi region, a partly sunken tree in the 
bed of a river. 

The word, although American in the above application,' has never- 
lost currency in England, it having been defined by Halliwull as a 
"tooth standing alone," and by Johnson as a " jag, or sharp protu- 

H'_n:e, to .tnai/, to' strike a snag, to run against a sunken tree, and 
figuratively to meet with an obstacle of any sort. 

372 . SNA SNA 

Snag-boat. A steamer fitted up with a contrivance for removing snags. 

" To snaggle on to a thing," to comprehend it, to catch on. 
Especially common in Philadelphia. 

Snake. Used, in the plural form, in connection with several phrases, of 
which the following are among the most characteristic : 

To have the snakes in one's boots, to be fidgetty, uneasy, and, more 
forcibly, to have delirium tremens. 

To see snakes, to have the horrors, as in delirium tremens. 

To wake snakes : (1) to get oneself into trouble, the eq*uiv. of to rouse 
sleeping dogs ; (2) to make a rousing noise, and hence to rouse up, get 
into action ; (3) to run with alacrity, to bolt away, from the alleged 
speed with which one is apt to run away from a snake. 

Snake (to). In the West, to crawl or creep along on the stomach after 
the manner of snakes, and idiomatically to proceed stealthily, to act 
deceitfully. Also, and especially in political parlance, to use secret or 
underhand methods in striving to gain an advantage. 
Another form is to snake along. 

(2) In the South, to beat or flog ; to give a drubbing. 

(3) To proceed quickly from place to place, as when a snake is disturbed 
and has been put to flight. 

Snake-doctor. A common term, in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and the South- 
West, for the dragon-fly. 
Also, snake-feeder. 

Snake-head. Formerly an upturned broken rail, on a railroad, which 
was apt to pierce through the bottom of a car and often caused serious 

Snake OUt. To drag or haul out, as stumps of trees dragged out. 
Snake-rail. On the early railways, a rail occasioning snake-heads. 

Snake-POOt. A name applied to various Indian remedies for smake 

Snake-StOPy. An incredible or improbable narration of the sea-serpent 

Snake-SUPe. Quite sure ; certain ; without doubt. 

Snap. (1) Applied to weather, a period, a spell, as in a cold snap. 

(2) Anything good. " A soft snap," an easy and well paying job. 

(3) Energy, smartness ; an idiomatic extension of the legitimate 
meaning of " to break short," as when crisp. 

Also used adjectively for rapid, quick, offhand. " A snap bargain, a 
snap vote." 

Snap-neck. A New- Jersey name for apple-brandy. 



SnappeP. A spscies of tortoise, common throughout the Union, and sa 
called from its pugnacious habits. 
Also, snapping turtle. 

Snarl. (1) A quarrel ; an angry disputation. 
Provincial in England. 
(2) A " tight place," as regards money matters. 

Snatched. In the South-West, said of being flurried, put out of counte- 

Sneak-thief. A pilferer ; a petty cowardly thief. 
In England, same is called a " sneaksman." 

Sneezer. A dashing, out-and-out, thorough going man. Allusion to a 
horse's snorting. 

Snifter. A drink, or dram of liquor ; a nip of something neat. 

Snip. Often used contemptuously, in speaking of a young person. " I 
don't care what the little snip does." 

Snipe. In Wall Street parlance, a bucket-shop man, or cu "bstone broker. 

Snippy. Overdressed ; foppish ; finical ; gaily attired. From snip, an 
English slang term for a tailor. 

Another form is sniptious, especially used in the South. 

Snips. Often heard for shears, especially among tinners and hardware 

SnitS (Ger. Mchnitzel). A Pennsylvania German contraction for quartered 
fruit, usually dried. " We made apple snits yesterday." 
Also, snitz. 

Snob (Old Eng. ). A journeyman shoemaker. An old English usage still 
prevalent in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. 

Snoop (Dutch ynoepen). (1) In New- York, to eat by stealth ; to pilfer 
delicacies after the manner of some domestics. 

Hence, to snoop along, to put in an appearance, generally by stealth. 
(2) In New Jersey, to pry into another's affairs ; to sneak. 

SnOOSCP. A thief, whose specialty is committing depredations in hotels 
among boarders 

SnOOt. A vulgar word, for the human face or nose, apparently the same 
word as snout. "Hit him on the snoot." 

Snore (Dutch xnoer, a string). In New- York State, a boy's word for a 
top string. 

374 SXO-80C 

Snort. Used in low language in sense of to laugh derisively ; to pooh ! 
pooh ! 

Snorter. In the West, a man of a wild disposition, as a rip-roaring 
snorter, and, idiomatically, anybody or anything out of the common, 
from a dashing riotous fellow to a gale of wind. 

Snot-rag 1 . A vulgar word for a handkerchief, common among school 

Snub up. To tie up, to secure. 

Hence, xnultbiny post, a post to which horses and cattle are secured, 
or a post around which rope of boat is fastened in lock. 

Snug*. To conceal from the owner ; to hide from view. 
In England, boys use the word smug in the same sense. 

Soak. In college slang : (1) A very hard task ; (2) A drunken fellow ; 
(3) An unpopular fellow ; (4) An instructor hard to work under. 

Soak (to). In college slang: (1) to inflict hard Work upon ; ($) to over- 
charge ; (3) to hit or to strike ; (4) to drink to excess. 

Hence, to get soaked, to be asked a hard question, to get drunk. 

Soap. Used by the Republicans, as a telegraphic cipher for money, 
during the Presidential campaign of 1880. 

In 1884, employed by the Democrats as a derisive party-cry, aimed 
at their opponents. 

Soap-b6PPy (Sapindos marginatus). A tree common in the South and 
South-West, bearing hard black nuts, which are strung for beads and 
various kinds of knick-nacks. 

Soap-loek. A lock of hair plastered over the temple. 

A lock of hair made to keep in place by soaping it, what in England 
is called a "bow-catcher" or kiss-curl. 

The feminine counterpart is called a spit-curl. 

Hence, soap-locks, a name formerly applied to a gang of New-York 
rowdies, from their being addicted to the peculiarity in their appearance 
above described. 

Socdolag'er. (1) A conclusive argument ; a winding up ; in a fight, a 
heavy blow, a final knock-down. 

This strange word is supposed to have been humorously corrupted 
from doxology, a stanza sung at the close of religious services as a 
signal for dismissal. 

(2) A fish-hook, having two hooks which close upon each other with 
a spring, after the fish has swallowed it. 

Social. A social function of any sort. 



Sociable. (1) A church festival. 

(2) In New England, a party, a gathering of people for sociable pur- 

Society. In parts of New England, a congregation, or small assembly 
for worship. 

Sock. Generally used to emphasize an opinion or action. " To sock an 
argument," to state it conclusively, to drive it to the hilt. 

In another sense, to charge a high price for any article ; or, in a nar- 
ration, to exaggerate, to "pile on the agony." 

In a strike, the strikers who have given in and have returned to work, 
are said to sock it to the others. 

In ^England, to sock is a provincialism, signifying to strike a hard 

SOCker. Something of great size. " That fish was an old socker." 
Hence, socking, in sense of very. " That was a socking big fish." 

Soda. A corrupted form of " zodiac " used, among gamblers, for the top 
card in the box at faro. 

Soda prairie. A vast arid plain covered with a deposit of natron or soda. 
These plains, often of great extent, are especially found in New- 
Mexico, Texas, and Arizona. 

So fashion. An old form, still common, espscially in New England, in 
sence of so, in that way. 

Soft-ba,ek (Trionyx ferox). A tortoise, large in size, and of considerable 

Soft-Crab. See shedder. 

Soft-COPn. Overt and perceptible flattery. 
Also, soft-sawder, sq/t-soap. 
Hence, to soft-yaivder, to soft-soap, to flatter, to blarney. 

Soft money. In the contest of 1876, for the resumption of specie 
payments, paper money was so called, whilst the term " hard money " 
was applied to the issues of gold and silver. 

Soft thing". An easy time ; a stroke of luck. 

Soft woodlands. In British North America, pine forests. 

SoldieP (to). Common throughout New England in sens3 of to loiter, 
lounge, shirk work, waste time. 

Also, to HO'jer, which of course is only a corrupted form of the above. 

To play old soldier is still a common phrase in England in sense of to 
shirk work, to sham illness or other disability. 

376 SOL SOS 

Solicitor. A canvasser ; one who solicit? orders. 
In England, a solicitor is a lawyer. 

Solid. (1) Often used in a sense of thoroughness, or complete agreement 
with. Thus, electors get solid with a candidate when they plump in, 
voting for him. 

(2) Responsible ; wealthy. " All the solid men of the community." 

Solid-colored. All of the same color. Common among cattle-breeders 
and dry-goods dealers. 

SO long. Ooocl bye ! 

An English provincialism, common in Louisiana. 

Sombrero, aom-bray'-ro (Sp. ). In Texas and New Mexico, more specifi- 
cally a Mexican hat with high tapering crown and wide brim, either of 
felt or straw, and often profusely adorned with silver bands, medals and 

Some. Somewhat, or something. " Jones is some on shooting. The 
storm hurt us some," 

(2) Used emphatically for a good deal ; very much ; notable ; famous. 

Some pumpkins (usually pronounced "punkins"). A current phrase, 
in -New England, expressive of high appreciation, or denoting some- 
thing great and important, from the alleged attachment of New-En- 
glanders to the pumpkin. 

The equivalent of the English " no small beer." 

The antithesis is small potatoes. 

Franklin was a poor printer-boy and Washington a land-surveyor, yet they 
growed to be some pumpkins. (Sam Slick.) 

Soon. (1) A Southern substitute for early. " We'll have a soon supper." 
(2) Also heard in sense of shrewd. " He is a soon man." 

SophePS. A nickname applied to the inhabitants of Arkansas. 

Sophomore. In college parlance, a regular college student, candidate 
for a literary degree, in the second year of a four years' course. 
An abbreviated form is soph. 

Sora (Rallus carolinus). The Carolina rail, much esteemed for its plump- 
ness and flavor. 
Also, soree. 

SOPPel-tPCe (Andromeda arbcrea). A beautiful tree, otherwise called 
sour-wood from the acidity of its sap. 

SOSSle. (1) To lounge about. 

Derived from the obsolete English verb to soss, used by Swift in the 
sense of sitting in a lazy, careless manner 



(2) To splash, or spill, in speaking of water spilt for want of attention. 
Also, to sozzle. 

Sot. Vulgarly used as past tense of to set, or to sit. 

Sotole, so'- toe-lay (Sp.). A species of cactus found in Texas. Also, a 
species of yucca, found in same State, and from which a vile liquor is 

In Arizona, the name applies to soap weed. 

See tequila. 

SotS. Yeast is so called, in Virginia and Pennsylvania. 
Sot- Weed. A former term for tobacco in Maryland. 

Souffl6 (Fr. Can.). A French-Canadian name applied to the Sable Island 

Sound. A contracted form, for sound asleep, used in parts of New 
England. " The child is sound." 

Soupane (Ind. suppawn}. A word in use among the French-Canadians to 
designate a sort of corn-mean porridge, eaten with rnilk or molasses. 

SOUP. Used for pickles in parts of Pennsylvania. "Pass the sour." 

SoUPCPOUt (Ger. siuerkraut). A dish consisting of cabbage, cut fine., 
pressed into casks, and allowed to ferment. 

SOUP On. The American fondness of sweet things has led to the curious 
expression of sourinr/ on an unpleasant task or occupation. As the 
English swain is said to be sweet on his lady-love, so the Texas youth 
or.s' on the beauty that will not listen to his addresses, and the man 
who abandons his plantations to take up some other business, is said to 
have soured on planting. (De Vere. ) 

SOUP-SOp (Anoira muricata). A West Indian fruit, whose name is said 
to be a corruption of the Indian word " Suirsaak." 

Sovereigns Of Industry. An organization of the laboring classes, who 
by co-operation seek to obtain a more equal division of the fruits of 
labor than is possible when a middleman stands between a capitalist 
and the real producers of wea4th. (Farmer.) 

Sowbelly. A soldier's name for salt pork, which largely consisted of 
back and belly pieces. 

Sozzle. In parts of New England, a lazy, slatternly woman. 

Space-gTclbbeP. In newspaper parlance, a reporter, from his alleged 
ambition to enhance his weekly bill by every variety of device that 
will give him " copy." 



Span (Dutch). More properly a yoke, but mostly used in the United 
States when speaking of a pair of horses who match in color and 

Hence, to span, to agree in color, or in color and size. 

The word may also have come to us from the German " gespann." 

Spaneel. (1) To hobble an animal by its hind legs, particularly a cow 
when milking. 

Still provincial in that sense in England. 

(2) To spancel a crab is to prevent it from biting by sticking one of 
its legs into each of its movable claws. 

Spandy. In parts of New England, clean, spick-span, in speaking of 

Spanish-bayonet (Yucca treculiana). In Texas, New Mexico, and Ari- 
zona, a common name for a variety of yucca with sharp-pointed leaves, 
and producing an edible fruit resembling the papaw. 

Spark. In the Northern States, to court, probably in allusion to the 
spick and span appearance of a lover under such circumstances. " What 
girl were you xparkin' last Sunday ? " 
In England, tpark is a sweetheart. 

Spat. A petty quarrel, as one between lovers. Derived from the use of 
the word for a slap or blow. 
Hence, also, to spat. 

Special. In newspaper parlance, an article sent by mail, express or tele- 
graph to a newspaper by one of its own writers. 

Speck (Ger.). In parts of Pennsylvania, a generic name for fat meat, 
usually pork. 

Speedway. A public way for driving faster than is proper on general 

Spiee-bePPy. A variety of hack-berry (q. v.). 
Spice-bush. See fever-biuh. 

Spice-tea. A beverage made from the leaves of the spice-bush and 
valuable as a febrifuge. 

Spider. A cast-iron frying-pan standing on three long legs. 

Spike. A casual ward. 

Hence, to spike, to go to or frequent the same. 

Spike team. A team of three horses, or of two oxen and a horse, the 
latter leading the oxen or span of horses. 

Spike tail. A dress-coat, or swallow-tail. 



'Spiritual Wile. A Mormon trm for all wives other than the first one. 
These concubines are also called xea'td ones, while the jocosely inclined 
call them fixin's. 

Splurge. To make a great display ; to swagger pompously ; to indulge 
in noisy demonstration. 

Also, to cut or make a splurge. 

Spoils system. That under which the successful party, at an election, 
fills all the offices with men of its own political faith. The spoils system 
was first used, in American politics, by Wm. S. Marcy, of New York, 
in the U. S. Senate in 1832. 

As a matter of fact, this particular application of the doctrine of 
" Va3 victis " is not particular to any country, and may be said to be the 
watchword of all politicians, the world over. 

Spook (Ger. xpuck). A ghost, a hobgoblin. The fact that spooks mostly 
prevail where German settlers abound, as in some parts of Virginia and 
in the North-West, would seem to indicate that the word might perhaps 
be derived from the German spuck, meaning a phantom or a vision. 

Oddly enough this word is now knocking at the door of the English 
language from two sides, from America and from South Africa, as all 
readers of Mr. Rider Haggard's stirring tales with remember. 

Spool holes. See pool-holes. 

SpOOm. On the coast of New Jersey, used in sense of to run before the 

SpOOpS. In New England, a silly fellow ; a nincompoop. 

Sport. A gambler, a betting man. One addicted to sports. 

In England, the form " sporting man" is used in preference. 

SpOSh. Slush, or half-melted snow and mud. 

Spots (in). A curious Western phrase meaning by intervals ; by snatches 
by fits and starts. 

Spotter. (1) A private detective employed to spy on and report the 
shortcomings of employees on railroads, etc. 

(2) A spy, in temperance towns, who seeks to become an informant 

Sprawl. In parts of New England, use in sense of animation, vigor, 
energy. ''I haven't any xprmrl to-day. " 

Spread-eagle. Used adjectively, in sense of bombastic, extravagant. 
" Spread-eagle rhetoric. 

Spread-Eagleism. Flamboyant rhetoric ; exaggerate bombast ; exal- 
.tation of the great American bird and the land of freedom. 

380 SPR SQU 

Spread Oneself. To assume airs ; to make ostentatious show of oneself. 

Sprightly. In New England, used for tart, high-flavored. " A spriyhtly 
apple. " 

Spring-bag (to). A New-Eng. farmer's term used of the filling udders 
of cows when about to calve. (Farmer. ) 

Springers. In New Jersey, said of cows about to calve. 

Sppitz. In parts of Pennsylvania, inhabited by people of German descent, 
used for sprinkle, squirt water on. "Look out, or I'll xpritz you. " 

SpPOUtS. A bunch of twigs. 

Hence, " to put one through a course of sprouts," to thrash, to give 
him a good drubbing. 

Spry. Nimble, active, quick. 

Spuds. Often heard for potatoes, in Newfoundland and the Canadian 
Maritime Provinces. 

Spung. In the tide- water district of New-Jersey, said of a piece of low 
ground at the head of a stream. 

Hence, spuiujy, the land between a swamp and hard ground. 

Spunk. Still preserved,, in America, with the Old Eng. meaning of spirit,, 
fire, mettle, coiirage, with connotation of manly. This usage is still also 
current in Scotland. 

Hence, spunky, mettlesome, spirited, vivacious, and even angry, 
irritated ; also, to spunk up, to show pluck and spirit. 

Squall. In parts of New England, to throw stones at, and more parti- 
cularly, to throw an object so that it skims along the ground. 
This is a survival of " squoil, " an Old English term for a similar action. 
Also to squale. 

Squantlim. (1) Among the Naumkeag Indians of Massachusetts, a 
name for an evil spirit. 

(2) Among Nantucket folks, and parts of Rhode Island, a fr e and 
easy jollification, where the food generally consists of chowder and baked 
clams and in which everyone says and does as he pleases without 

Square. (1) Honourable, upright : a square man. 
(2) Hearty ; vigorous ; fair : a square meal. 

This use of square in both the above meanings, dates back for several 
hundred years, as witness the following : 

By heavens square eaters 
More meat I say. 

(Beaumont and Fletcher's tragedy of Bondina, II, iii.) 



Square (to). This word has now ill-sorted. For instance to act square, 
or to do the square thing are evidently right and proper. But when a 
man is squared it often means that he has been " seen " or ' made 
right ; " that is that he has accepted a bribe to connive at some illegal or 
immoral action. (Maitland. ) 

Squares. Often used as unit of distance in cities, like " blocks " in New 
York and elsewhere. 

Squash (Ind. Alg. axquaxh, signifying green). (1) A culinary vegetable 
of the genus Cucurbita, similar to vegetable marrow. 
(2) A name formerly applied to the skunk on stinkard. 

Squash-bug (Coreus tristis). A small yellow insect pest infesting vines, 
squashes, melons, and cucumbers. 

In Connecticut, called stink-bug, from its peculiar odor, akin to that 
of an over-ripe pear. 

Squat. (To settle upon land without possessing a title. 

(2) In parts of New England, common in sense of to squeeze, crush, 
or pinch. " I squat my finger in the door." 

Squatter. One who settles on land to which he has no title. 

SquatteP sovereignty. A political phrase signifying the right of actual 
settlers of territories in the United States to make their own laws, 
without reference to the common weal. The phrase was especially 
much used, about 1856, by Stephen A. Douglas and his followers. 

Squatter State. The State of Kansas, from its having been the battle- 
ground of one of the severest fights in connection with the doctrine of 

squatter sovereignty. 

Squaw. An Indian woman. 

This word came into the language of English America at a very early 
period, and is probably derived from " sequa " or "esqua" which, in 
the Algonkin languages, is a common termination of words implying the 
female gender. 

Squawk. To squeak, but with a deeper tone. Still provincial in England. 

Squaw-man. A white man married to an Indian woman, and sharinsj 
tribal rights and privileges. 

Squawmish. In parts of New England, said for queasy. 

'Squaw-root (Conapholis amerieana). A medicinal plant possessing nar- 
cotic properties, and much recommended for correcting the secretions. 
Also called cancer-root. 

-Squeaky. In New England and the West, used for creaky. 



Squeal. To inform, or tell tales ; to betray. A term well known to the 

Squealer. An informer ; a betrayer. The word especially came into 
notoriety during the whisky ring exposures. 

Squeeze. In New England, fret, whimper. 
Hence, squeezy, fretful. 

Squeeze (to). A St^ck Exchange term, meaning to embarrass. 

Squeezers. Playing cards, whose peculiarities are rounded corners, and 
a smaller and handlier size. 

Squelch. Th crush. Now nearly obsolete in England, where its place has 
been taken by squash. 

Squeteague (Labrus squeteague). An Indian Narragansett name for a 
fish common in the waters of Long Island sound and adjacent bays. 

Also, ftqiietee. 

In New- York, called weak fish, from its feeble exertion and resistance 
in being drawn in by a hook. 

Squiggle. To writhe ; to squirm ; to move about like an eel ; and, idio- 
matically, used in speaking of a shifty, unreliable man, who seeks to 
evade responsibility, as an eel eludes the grasp. 

Forby's Glossary of Norfolk quotes the word in the sense of "to 
shake a fluid about the mouth. " 

Squire. In New England, a title given particularly to justices of the 
peace and judges, and in Pennsylvania to justices of the peace only. 

In England, squire is a title customarily given to a man of property, 
living on his own estate. 

Squirm (Old Eng.). To writhe or wriggle like an eel. . 

This verb, which has only lately been revived in England, is a good 
Old English word which Grose, in 1825, reported obsolete. 
Hence ttquirmy, crooked, having a squirming shape. 

Squirt. A fop ; a dandy ; a contemptible puppy. 
Hence, squirtin/i, dandified. 

SquittePS. The diarrhoea. 
Provincial in England. 

Stab (to) the law. To rail against any duly authorized authority, or 
the "powers that be." (Farmer.) 

StaddlQ. An old English word still usel in New E.iglancl and New- York 
for a sapling or young tree. 

STA STA 383 

Staddle. In the Eastern States, applied to the stakes upon which 
hayricks are set. 

Also, the name for a young tree or sapling. Staddle is an old English 
term which was once applied, in England, to the bottom of a haystack. 

Stag. (1) A technical name, in the New- York law courts, for a man 
who is always ready, for the sake of a consideration, to aid in proving 
an "alibi." 

(2) A bullock, in which sense the word is still provincial in England. 
In Louisiana, more especially applied to an ox that has been castrated 
late in life, after running as a bull for a while. 

Stag-dance. A dance performed by men only. 
Similarly, ttag-party, a party composed entirely of men. 

Stake. In New England, used for balk, balky. Especially said of a 
horse that jibs, when in harness. 
Also, staky. 

Stake (to). To mark out the limits of one's holding, as in the case of a 
new settler. 

To move or pull up one's stakes, to abandon a position. 
To stick one's stakes, to take up a position. 
To stake out, to picket or to lariat (q. v. ) 

Stake and rider. A species of fence higher and stronger than a ' ' worm 

Stake-driver. In the Adirondacks, the bittern, so called from its 

Also called punh-puddi wj. 

Stake-POpe. A lasso, or lariat. 

Stale. In parts of New England, used to designate the handle of a tool, 
as in rake-*tale. Less common in fork -stale, \vhilepipe-vtale is very rare. 

Stall. To stick fast in mire or snow. 
Still provincial in England. 
In New England, to set is used in the same sense. 

Stalwarts. A certain section of the Republican party who hold to the 
doctrine that " the king (their party) can do no wrong," and who stick 
to it through thick and thin. 

The term acquired its special significance, among Republicans, in 
1878-79, under Roscoe Conkling's leadership. 

Stamping 1 ground. The scone of OHD'S exploits ; a favorite place of 
resort. South and South-West. 

384 STA STA 

Stand. (1) A locality, or situation. 

(2) Among sugar planters, growing canes are spoken of as a stand of 

Standee. Standing place at a theatre, concert, etc. 
A standing bed-place in a steamer. 

Stand in hand. Often heard for behoove, beseem. "It stands you r 
hand to be careful," 

Standing 1 full. In parts of Pennsylvania, used in sense of full of upright 
objects. " The hall was standing full of people." 

Standoff. To hold at a distance. " To stand off one's creditors." 

Originally, the term was first used in sense of keeping an enemy at a 

distance with a rifle. 
Stand up to the rack. To be up to the mark or point ; to do what is 

expected of one, or what one has promised. 

Starigan. A small green fir or spruce tree, cut for firewood. (Nfld. 
N. B. andN. S.) 

Star-routes. In the United States Postal Guide, certain non-remunera- 
. tive routes are designated by an asterisk or star. Hence their name of 


It will be remembered that grave scandals arose jin connection with 

these star-routes from 1876 to 1884. 

Stars. A name given, in New-York city, to the officers of the police, 
from these wearing a brass badge in the shape of a star. 

StaPS and baPS. A name applied, during the Civil War, to the flag of 
the Confederate States. 

Stars and Stripes. The flag of the United States, adopted by act of 
Congress on the 14th June 1777. 

It is held, by some authorities, that general Washington's escutcheon, 
which contained three bars and three five-pointed stars, suggested the 
National Standard of the United States. 

Also, Star Spangled Banner, a name first applied to the American 
flag by Francis S. Key, in the beautiful song which has now become the 
National Anthem. As a matter of fact, however, the melody itself 
was an old convivial song, familiar in England and America before Key 
was born. 

Start Out. To start, to send off, to dispatch. 

State House. The legislative meeting-place of a State. 

State's rights. The individual powers of each State, as opposed to the 
authority of the Federal government. 



State-room. The cabin of a passenger steamer ; the private room of a 

State ticket. The list of candidates agreed upon by the leaders of a 
part}- for State's offices. 
The committee chosiug such candidates are called State fixers. 

Staver. A go-ahead, dashing, active person or thing. Equivalent to 
rustler, rouser, etc. 

Staving. Great ; strong. Also, very. " That is a staving fine horse. " 

Stay with. In the United States, lovers are said to stay with one another. 
To be stayed with, to be courted. 

This curious phrase may be compared with to sit upwith, and the equally 
curious English to " walk out with. " 

Steamboat. In the West, said metaphorically of a dashing, go-ahead 

Steamboat (tO). To work upon a steamer. A term confined to the hands 
employed on board river-boats. 

Steamboaling, the business of working on board a steamboat. 

Steep. (1) A slang equivalent of almost every adjective of superlative 
degree, as great, magnificent, extravagant. 

(2) High in price. 

(3) Difficult to believe. 

Steeple. Universally used instead of spire. 

Steer. Among gamblers, to steer one against a game is to induce him to 
play or speculate by false pretenses. 

SteePeP. ( 1 ) A tout ; an outside salesman ; a doctor's tout. 

(2) A gambler's decoy ; one who lays in wait for " suckers," and 
shows them where they can find a little game in which he has an interest. 

Steering committee. A committee appointed to take charge of a, 
political campaign. 

SteePS. The universal name, in Texas, for cattle. There are lead-xteers,. 
swing-steers, and wheel-st- 

Steeve. To pass through the hands of a stevedore, in loading or unload- 
ing vessels. 

StemmePy. In Kentucky and Missouri, a place where tobacco is stem- 
med ; that is, where the leaves are stripped by being stemmed. 

Stem-windCP. A keyless watch. 



Stent (Old Eng. ) In New England, an allotted task or portion, and so 
used by Shakespeare. 

The idea still partially survives in England in the verb "to stint." 

Stepmother. A slang term, in New Jersey, for a ragged nail or a 
roughness of the skin. 

Step Out. To die ; a Western idiom which is graphically descriptive, 
death being, indeed, but a stepping, as it were, from one room to another. 

Stepping". Sometimes heard for stair carpeting. 

Stem-Wheeler. On the Ohio and Mississipi rivers, a small steamboat 
with only one paddle-wheel placed at the rear. 

Hence, the adjective stern-wheel, applied to anything small, mean, or 

Stiek-Chimney. In newly settled districts, a temporary contrivance for 
conveying smoke out of a log hut, or other roughly-made building. 
In Massachusetts, formerly called catted chimney. 

Stick OUt. To hold on to the end ; to endure unflinchingly. 

Stiek-up. In the oyster district of New Jersey, said of a long, thin 
oyster, so called from the fact that it " sticknps, " as oystermen say, in 
the mud. 

Stick-Wagon. In parts of Pennsylvania, a carriage with open bed. 
Also called road-wagon, and spindie-wayon. 

Stiddiment. Sometimes heard for steadiness. 

.Stiff. (1) A metaphorical expression for a corpse. More especially, a 
body for dissection. 

(2) A lie ; a fake. 

(3) A worthless fellow. " An old stiff. " 

(4) A person whose manners or opinions are stiff and rigid ; or one 
who is obstinate or lacking in social qualities. 

(5) A bore, one whose company is undesirable. 

Stiffen. A sporting word, signifying to tamper with. 

Still. In parts of Pennsylvania inhabited by people of Gar man descent, 
often used redundantly, as in the following phrases: "I have been 
there .it ill. I want you to stop still. " 
Of. the use of the Ger. schon, noch, doch. 

Still-hunter. A Western term for a stalker of game. 

Still-hunting. Originally a Western sporting term, signifying walking 
or crawling noiselessly through the woods or prairie herbs, in search of 

STI STO 387 

Now a well known political phrase applied to secret or under-handed 
political methods. 

Stinkard A former New- England name for the skunk. 

Stink-Stone. A variety of limestone, so called from the unpleasant 
smell it emits when broken. 
Also called swine-stone. 

Stitch. In New England, to form land into ridges. 

StiveP. To decamp ; to move on. A low word used in the Northern 

Stock. Domesticated, or half-tamed cattle. Now also common in England. 
Stock dealer, a cattle dealer. 
Stock raiser, a cattle farmer. 
Stock train, a cattle train. 

Stock (to). At card playing, to stock cards is to arrange them for 
cheating purposes. 

Stocky. (1) Firm, tough, in speaking of cloth. 

(2) Short and stoutly built. In this sense, still provincial in England. 

StOgieS. In parts of the West, said of coarse, rough shoes or boots. 
Also, cheap cigars. 

Stone-boat. See dray. 
StOne-hOPSe. Often used for' stallion. 

Stone-POOt (Collihsonia canadensis). A medicinil root, having diuretic 
and stomachic properties. 
Also called rich-weed. 

StOOp (Dutch xtoep). A porch, a piazza. Also, the steps at the entrance 
of a house, or any open porch with seats. On account of the uniform 
style of building, the term has spread all over the country, even as far 
north as the back-woods of Canada. 

In the West, the word is occasionally written stowp, and in Canada as 

Store. A shop of any kind, for the sale of goods. Thus, there are book 
stores, clothing stores, dry-goods stores, drug stores, vegetable stores 
(vegetables and fruits), but strangely enough, however, a butcher keeps 
a meat market. 
Hence, storekeeper, for shopkeeper. 

StOP3-ClotheS. Store goods of any kind, as opposed to those which are 
See bouyhten. 



StOFe-pay. Payment in kind instead of cash. 
StOPe-SUgaP. Cane sugar, as distinguished from maple-sugar. 

Store-tea. A term often applied to the real article from China, as 
distinct from herb-teas. 

StOPy. In newspaper parlance, a generic term used to designate any- 
thing published in the news columns. 
See beat. 

StOUt. In New England, often used for strong, in speaking of muscle. 

Straddle. A stock-broker's term which has found its way into the poli- 
tical vocabulary. In 1884, " the straddle in the platform " designated 
measures taken to meet any contingency, whether as regards contrary 
voters or opposition tactics. (Farmer.) 

Straight. (1) Unmixed, undiluted, as applied to liquors. " A straight 
drink, a whisky straight." In England they would say " neat" whisky. 

(2) Honest, fair. " A straight victory," a victory gained in fair 

(3) A fixed price, without connotation of a possible rebate. " 10 cents 

(4) Even, or uniform- in quality. " 100 barrels of Rochester flour, 

(5) At game of poker; a sequence of five cards. 

Thus, it appears that all the above connections may easily be traced 
to the primary meaning of the word, i. e. not deviating nor crooked. 

Straight ticket. The ticket nominated by a political party, caucus, or 
convention, and voted as a whole without scratching. 

Straight up and down. Plain and fair in dealing ; honest to the 

Stram. In New England, used in two ways : 

(1) To flourish the limbs. " To go dramming along the street." 

(2) To flounder, kick about. "To stram about in bed." 

Strand WOOd. In parts of the South, especially Florida, pine wood cut 
into lengths of about 32 inches for burning in locomotives. 

Strapped. Tightly pushed for money ; hard up. 

Strap railroad. A railroad in which the tracks are made by fastening 
a " strap " of iron to a board. 

Straw. In North Carolina, used for pine needles; the foliage of the 

Straw-bail. Worthless bail ; one offerad by men of no standing. 
Similarly, straw bid a not intended to be taken up. 



StFeak. A miner's term for a vein of ore, and, idiomatically, a mental 

Streak (tO). To run away ; to decamp ; to " make tracks" with the 
utmost expedition. 

Streaky. Full of apprehension ; alarmed ; anxious. 

Street-ear. A tramway. 

Stricken (Old Eng.). An old preterite form, still generally colloquial. 

Strike. (1) In the West Indies, a strike of sugar is the quantity dealt 
with at one boiling. 

(2) An instrument with a straight edge for levelling a measure, as in 
selling grain, salt, or the like. 

(3) A stroke of luck ; an achievement ; a success. From the game of 
nine pins, where, to make a strike is to knock down all the pins with 
one ball. 

Strike (tO). To meet or to find. "Be sure to strike Main street, and 
you will be in the right way." 

Striker. (1) A bruiser ; a ruffian ; especially the tout or bully of a 
gambling den. 

(2) An apprentice engineer on a Mississipi steamboat. 

(3) Among politicians, a ward striker is a man who possesses some 
political influence in his neighborhood, and uses it for all it is worth in 
" striking" his candidate for money. (Maitland. ) 

Strike Oil. To make a hit, to be successful. To make a successful 
yenture, especially one that brings much money in its wakfe. A meta- 
phor from the vast wealth of some "oil kings" in Pennsylvania, who 
suddenly became rich through striking oil on their otherwise sterile lands. 
Also, to strike it, to strike luck, or to strike it rich. 

String 1 . (1) An impeachment of some kind. For instance, an offer, pro- 
mise, or donation, ' with a string to it, " is one made contingent on 
something else being done, or subject to recall. 

(2) In newspaper parlance, the aggregate of the articles written or put 
in type, either by reporters or compositors, for a given period, and 
which are pasted together end to end. 

Stripe. Pattern ; kind ; sort. ' ' A man of the right stripe, " i. e. of the 
right kind. " Two men of the same stripe, " i. e. resembling each other 
in character. 

" Every stripe of absurdity " occurs in Emerson's Essay on Beha- 
viour, and there is no questioning the word to be an Americanism of the 
truest ring. 



Striped-bass (Labrax lineatus). An Atlantic fish, highly esteemed for 
its delicacy, and deriving its name from being beautifully marked with 
seven or eight black lines on a silver-bright ground. 
Also called rock-fish or simply rock, and streaked bass. 

A Pennsylvania name for a cow which has nearly run dry of 
milk. (Farmer.) 

StPippePS. Among the gambling fraternity, cards cut at the sides to 
allow of easy swindling. 

Struck under conviction. Convinced of sin, impressed with a sense 
of personal sinfulness. 

This and many similar phrases, as to experience religion, to meet with a 
change, are the outcome of the plain and simple phraseology which at 
first, in America, characterized all religious life. 

Stub (Ger. stubben). To knock one's toes against an obstacle. 
Stud. Sometimes heard, in the North, for stallion. 

Stuff. Of frequent use, in newspaper offices, generally in allusion to 
completed work ; as, for example, a- man might say : " That was pretty 
good stuff" meaning that the writing was of some value. 

Stuffening. A Western variant of stuffing, in sense of seasoning. 

Stuffy. (1) Close and sultry, like a " Gulf weather " day. 

(2) In parts of New England, angry, sulky, obstinate, ill-humored. 

Stump. To go on the stump, to take the stump, a political electioneering 
phrase, meaning to deliver speeches in various places during an electoral 

Public meetings are often held in the open air in newly-cleared 
districts, and the stumps of felled trees offer convenient platforms or 
rostrums for the speakers. 

Hence, stump xpeech, an election address ; stump speaker, stump 
orator, atump oratory, all of obvious meaning ; stump prayer, an extem- 
poraneous prayer. 

Stumpage. In Maine, a fee paid for the right of felling trees. 

Stump-tail currency. Before the war of secession, a term applied, in 
the West, to bank-notes of doubtful value, or depreciated paper cur- 

Stunts. To do stunts, used in New- York City by boys, in the sense of 
performing some feat in rivalry, a long jump for instance, one boy 
" stumping " or challenging another. 

Subs. In newspaper offices, an abbreviated form for " suburban news.' 

SUC SUN 391 

Succotash (Ind. Narragansett mesiccwotash). A preparation of green 
corn and beans boiled together, and to which experts add, in true Indian 
style, a small allowance of venison. 

SuekCP. (1) A common name for a dupe ; a victim of sharpers ; a green- 

(2) A hard drinker ; a drunkard. Hence, -suckerdom, for inebriates 
and drunkards taken collectively. 

(3) A tube used for imbibing " long drinks." 

(4) A despicable person, and especially a sponger, i. e. one who lives on 

(5) A n.itive of Illinois, where, in the West, the people are said not 
to be overbright. 

SuekeP State. A nickname applied, in the West, to the State of Illinois. 

SlldaderO, soo-dah-der'o (Sp. ). In Texas and New Mexico, a fissure in 
a well or water-tank, from which the water is flowing. 

Suerte, soo-er'-tay (Sp. ). Originally applied, in Texas, to a specifiea 
quantity of land (27 acres), for which the settlers drew lots,, but now 
said of any small lot of land. 

Sugar. Xugar bush, sugar camp, sugar orchard, various names applied 
to a group a sugar-making-trees. Sugar camp is more restricted to the 

Sugar-game. Among boys, the deciding game at marbles. 

Sugaring time. The season of the year (March or April) when maple- 
sugar is made. 

SugaP-liekS. In New England, the gatherings of young people in the 
maple groves, to eat warm sugar. 

SugaP maple (Acer saccharinum). The variety of maple, from the sap 
of which is obtained the maple sugar of commerce. 

Also, sugar-tree, and even, in parts of the West, simply sugar. 

Sugar Off. To approach granulation, in making maple sugar. Also, to 
eat maple sugar poured on snow in a heated state. 

SugaP-tit. Sugar tied a piece of cotton cloth for the fretful child 
to suck. 

Sulky. A two-wheeled carriage for a single person. In French, a " deso- 

Sundown. Sunset. A survival of old English usage still very common. 
Sunflsh (to). Among cowboys and plainsmen, said of the broncho, when 



he brings first one shoulder down almost to the ground and then the 

Sun-Shower. A shower occurring while the sun continues to shine. 

Sun-Squall. On the coast of New England, a term applied to the 
Medusae or Sea- Nettles. 

Sun-Up. A form especially current in the South for sunrise or early 

Supawn (Ind. asapahn, a Lenape or Delaware name for "boiled Indian 
meal "). A preparation of Indian meal stirred into a thick batter, and 
eaten with milk and sugar, or molasses. (N. Eng. N. Y. and other 
northern States.) 

Also known under the familiar name of hasty pudding. 

In Pennsylvania, and other States, called mush. 

Probably also the samp mentioned by Roger Williams, and the saga- 
mity of Father Marquette. 

See soupane. 

Sure-enOUgh. Used adjectively, in the South and West, in sense of 
real, genuine, or fair. " A sure-enough man or investment." 

SUPface-washCP. A term of opprobrium, among the '49 miners of Cali- 
fornia, for an indole.nt'or lazy man, from the preference of some miners 
for trudging about in search of surface gold, rather than delving down 
to bottom rock to find the true deposit. 

A party of friends descending unexpectedly upon the 
house of a mutual friend, each bringing some contribution toward a 

In the South, there are surprise parties of a more disagreeable kind, as 
when a knot of people visit a negro who has had the audacity to make 
love to or insult a white girl, for the purpose of ' tarring and feathering, 
or driving him out of the town, with the menace of death, if he dare to 
return to it. 

SuspendeFS. The American substitute for the English braces, and a 
delicate improvement upon the old word gallowses, which used to be 
common in New England. 

In England, suspenders are only used by women and children to 
secure the stockings. 

Suspicion (t3). Common in the South for to suspect. Once also cur- 
rent in England. 

Swad (Old Eng.). A lump; amass; a crowd. An Old English collo- 
quialism frequently heard in New England. 



Swag 1 . A depression caused by shrinking or settling down, as of earth, 

Hence, to swag, to shrink or collapse. 

Swale. A valley, a tract of low land. Applied especially to low land 
between sand ridges on the coast beaches. 

Provincial in Norfolk, England, with a connotation of shade, in oppo- 
sition to sunshine. 

SwallOW-tailS. A nickname applied, during the campaign of 1876, to a 
considerable number of Democrats, who moved in fashionable New- York 

Their opponents were called .short-hairs. 

Swamp-apple. An excrescence of the swamp honeysuckle, and so 
named from a similarity of taste between it and the well-known fruit. 

Swamp-honeysuekle (Azalea nudiflora). A plant flowering in April 
and May, and growing in the swamps from Massachusetts to Virginia. 
Also called May-apple, Pinxter blummachy, and swamp-pink. 

SwampePS. In State of Maine, said of men who make roads for lum- 
berers to convey logs to the water's edge. 

Swankey. A favorite beverage with the fishermen of Newfoundland, 
which is a compound of molasses, vinegar and water. 

Swash. In the Southern States, a name given to a narrow sound or 
channel of water lying within a sand bank, or between that and the 
shore. (Webster. ) 
Also, swash. 

Swat- A low word, meaning to deliver a blow, to strike. 
Also, to swot. 

Swatch. In Newfoundland, a hole in the ice, through which seals come 

Hence, to swatch, to watch for seals at the holes in order to shoot 

Swear Off. To renounce ; to give up ; to abandon, and, particularly, to 
abandon drinking. 

Sweat-hOUSe. (1) Among the aboriginal tribes of California, a super- 
heated vault also used as a sort of religious temple, where the braves 
were kept sweltering all night, thence to plunge into an ice-cold river. 
(2) A cell in which suspected persons are confined, and subjected to 
examination, for the purpose of extorting confessions from them. 

Swip. Among Canadian lumbermen, the great oar of a barge. 



Swipe (to). Used in college parlance, in a variety of ways : (1) to steal ; 

(2) to take without permission, not necessarily with intent to steal ; 

(3) to strike ; (4) to strike the ball hard, as in baseball. 

Switch. A movable rail, by which process of shunting is effected. 
In England, " points." 

Switch (to). To turn cars from one line of rails to another. 
In England, to " shunt. " 

Switchel. A New- England beverage of m classes, water, and ginger, 
with or without molasses. 

Swoils. In Newfoundland, applied to seals. 
Hence, to go swotting. 

Sword, In South Jersey, the coupling-pole of a wagon. 

Tabagane. See tobogan. 

Tabby-eat. (1) Female cat ; (2) cat of yellow or yellow-striped color ; 
(3) general word, like " pussy-cat," with no special significance. 

Table-spread. A table cloth. 

Table-Stakes. At game of poker, stakes placed where they may be 
seen. Each player cannot then be raised more than he has upon the 

Table-ware. The appointments of a dinner table. 

Taeker. A small child. The adjective " little " generally precedes the 

Tackey. In the South, a jade of a horse ; a sorry beast ; and idioma- 
tically a man neglectful of personal appearance, one who is slorenly, 

Hence, tacky parties, where the guests are dressed in the commonest 
and most unfashionable costumes. 

Tad. A human being. ''Little tads " are small boys, and " old tads '' 
are old men. 

Cf. " little toad" as a term of endearment. 

Taffy. A common corruption of toffy for candy ; also, idiomatically, 



Tag. (1) A slight touch. 

(2) The name of a boy's game. 

(3) A ticket. 

Tags. The foliage of a pine-tree. A shortened form of pine-tags. 

Tail (to). Among cowboys, to hold a steer down by the tail after it is 
lassoed and heeled. 

Tailings. Among miners, a term applied to refuse ore. 

TailOP (Pomoolbus mediocris). The popular name of a small-sized shad 
of inferior flavor, peculiar to the Mississipi. 
See salt-water-tailor. 

TajO, tah'-ho (Sp.). In Texas and New-Mexico, a deep cut or trench to 
collect water in time of drought. 

Take. In newspaper parlance, a reporter's assignment (q. v. ). There are 
fat-takes and lean takes, i. e. those by which good pay is easily obtained 
and those which cost much labor and give small returns. 

Take (tO). In Canada, said of water when it freezes. 

last night. " 

The river took 

Take a walk. To be dismissed ; to receive one's walking papers. 
Take Off. To endure from. " I would'nt take that q/fhim. " 

Take the bun. Said of a tall fish story, or of anything superlative. 

Also, take the cake, take the bakery. 

To " take the cake " is a phrase of great antiquity. The idea of a 
cake being given as a prize seems so obvious that it is perhaps lost labor 
to trace it back in literature. Athenaeus, in his " Deipnosophistae " 
(book 14, chap. 56) speaks of a certain kind of cake which was given as 
a prize at the " all-night " festivals to whomsoever kept awake through 
the solemnities. So the expression " hemeteros ho puramous " " we 
take the cake " would seem to have become proverbial. It occurs in 
two passages in Aristophanes (" Thesm. " 94, and " Eq." 277). 

Take the Pag Off the bUSh. To bear away the palm ; to outvie ; to 
outdo. From the fact that, not unfrequently, at shooting matches, in 
the West, a target is improvised with a rag hung on a bush. 
Also, simply, to take the rag off". 

Take the StaPCh OUt Of One. To take the style and stiffness out of one ; 
to humble ;' to snub. Westerners of the far-off States are especially 
apt to indulge in that enjoyment at the expense of newcomers or 

396 TAK TAM 

Take up. (1) In the language of the prairies, to saddle or harness a horse, 
or an ox team, at the beginning of a day's journey. 
(2) In the South, to put up at an inn. 

Take Water. To back down ; to make off ; to run away. 

Talk. Among Indians, a conference, negotiation, or official communication. 

Talking-iron. A comical name for a gun or rifle. 
Also, shooting -iron, 

Talk to. In parts of the South, said in sense of to court. "Judge 
Jackson's son has been talkiri 1 to my daughter nigh on a year." 

Talk round a five-eornered stump. To indulge in loquacious talk, 

of a more or less exaggerated character. To engage in metaphysical 
reasoni.-ig of a very abstract nature. 

Another variant is to talk the hind leg of a cow. 

Talk turkey. To indulge in grandiloquent periods ; to use high-sounding 
words. An allusion to the manner in which the male bird spreads and 
plumes itself. (Farmer.) 

Tall. An intensitive, synonym of great, fine, exceedingly, etc. " Tall 
whiskey, " excellent or splendid whiskey. " Tall talk, " bombastic 
and high-sounding folk. " 

This word was formerly the recognised slang for the talk of a braggart 
or a liar, but may be applied in every case where inordinateness, exces- 
siveness, and great magnitude enter into the idea of the speaker. " He 
is the greatest pedestrian mentioned in the annals of tall walks. " 

Talqual. In Newfoundland, said of fish sold without sorting, i. e. just 
as they come. 

The variant all quails is also said, substantively, of fish bought 
without culling. 

Tamal (Mex. tamaili). A preparation of maize, common in Spanish 
America, as far north as Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. 

The tamal is made of maize crushed on the " metate, " mixed with 
minced meat and a liberal quantity of red pepper. The mass is then 
rolled in pieces of corn shucks, and after being dipped in oil is cooked 
in the steam of water. 

Tamarae. In the Northern States, an Indian Algonkin word sometimes 
heard for the species of spruce, otherwise called in French " epinette 
rouge " (Larix americana). 

Tammany. Said to come from Tammenund, a famous chief of the Lenni- 
Lenape or Delaware Indians, who flourished about the middle of the 
17th century. Cooper has introduced him in " The Last of the Mohi- 

TAN TAR 397 

cans, " chap. 28-29, where he presides at a council of his nation. Owing 
to his many virtues, he was facetiously canonized as the tutelary saint of 
the new American Republic, which fact led to a benevolent society, 
started in New- York in 1789, being called after his name. The new 
Society soon developed into a political club of powerful influence, and 
St. Tammany degenerated in a few years from the patronage of the 
Republic to that of a mere wing of the Democratic party, which position 
he has held since. 

Tangenty. Erratic ; capricious ; crotchety in temper ; i. e. apt to fly 

off at a tangent. 
Also, tangential. 

Tan-toasteP. The singular name, at the Isles of Shoals, Maine, for a 
great gale or storm. 

TapadePO, tah-pah-der'-o (Sp.). In the formerly Spanish States, a 
leather covering for the protection of the feet, and, more specifically, the 
" toe-fender " of the Mexican stirrup. 
Also used for reboso (q. v.). 

TapalO, tah'-pal-o (Sp. ). In the formerly Spanish States, a coarse piece 
of cloth which serves as a substitute among the lower classes for the finer 
and costlier reboso. 

Taps. A military term for the evening bugle-call. 

Taps. To be on onc'e taps, to be on the alert ; ready for action. Literally, 
to be on one's soles, a metaphor borrowed from the shoemaker. 

TapUJO, tah-poo'-ho (Sp. ). In Texas and New Mexico, applied to the 
blinders used on mules in pack trains. 

Tarheels. A name given in derision by Mississipians to a brigade of 
North Carolinians, who, in one of the great battles of the Civil War, 
failed to hold their position on a certain hill. They were then taunted 
with having forgotten to tar their heels that morning, and hence the 
cant name. (Farmer. ) 

TaP kiln. In New Jersey, applied to a place where tar is tried out of 
pine knots. 

TaPPify. To exercise undue pressure. A Southern colloquialism, used 
in reference to coercive measures instituted by the authorities. 

TaPPy (Old Eng.). Time of tarrying. 

TaPPy (to). To delay ; to remain ; to stay. 
This verb is now nearly obsolete in England. 

398 TAR TEN 

TaPVe. A turn ; bend ; or curve. 

Hence, to tarve, to turn to the right or left. " The road tarves ojfto 
the eastward. " 

In Old English, "torve" signified twisted, from the latin "torvus. " 

Tautaug 1 (Tautoga Americana). The name of the Black-fish caught in 
the waters of Rhod* Island. The word belongs to the Algonkin language, 
and may be found in Roger William's Key to the Indian language. 

Tax. In New England, to charge, in the sense of charging a price. 
" What will you tax me a yard for this cloth ? " 

TaX-eateP. One who holds political office, elective or appointive ; a 
feeder at the public crib. 

Team. (1) A term first adopted in sporting or athletic parlance, and 

meaning an assemblage of people for any object : " A base-ball team. " 

(2) An array of people or things ; and idiomatically applied as the 

sincerest and highest form of praise. " He's a whole team, " meaning a 

man whose energy and pluck can be depended on. 

Tea-pomp. Among the old colonists, a term applied to a pump whose 
water had stood the test of making good tea. 

Tear. A jollification, with connotation of noisy boisterousness produced 
by intoxication. 
Also, tear-round. 
On a tear, on a spree, or debauch. 

Tear (to) round. To make a fuss : to create a disturbance. 

Tea-Squall. A tea-party. An American slang equivalent of the Er glish 

Teeolote (Mex. tecolotl). In Texas, the name of a species of owl. (Bubo 
Virginianus subarcticus.) 

TeetCP. In New England, to see-saw, oscillate up and down. Used of 
the children's sport with plank and fulcrum. 

TeetSOOk. A saddle-bag, made of buffalo hide, from which the hair has 
been removed. In use on the plains. 

Tell. A witty story or saying ; a compliment. 
The equiv. of the French " bon-mot." 

Tell gOOd bye. In the South, to bid farewell or good-bye. 
Tempest. Often heard, in New England, for thunder storm 

Tend. (1) To attend. " To tend a convantion." 
Tend, for attend, is good Old English. 
(2) To kesp " To tend a shop, a store. " 



Tenderfoot. In the wild regions of the Far West, a new comer fresh 
from civilization ; one who has not been long enough on the tramp to 
be hardened. 

Tend OUt On. In parts of New England, used for attend, attend to. 
One tends out on church, or tends out on the public library for the first 
opportunity to take the new magazines. Indeed, any one on the alert 
for any purpose whatever, is said to be tending out. 

Tenement. A lodging, or flat, in a tenement house. 
Tenement-hOUSe. A house, let out in rooms or flats to families. 

Ten-Strike. A successful stroke ; a fortunate occurrence ; a thorough 
piece of work. From game of ten-pins, where it means to knock down 
all the balls at one throw. 

Tepee. An Indian tent, or wigwam, in the far West. 

Tepocate (Mex. tepocatl). A peculiar, small, black fish, found in the 
pools and lagunas of southwestern Texas. 

Tequila, tay-kee'-lah (Sp.). In Texas, the name of a Mexican alcoolic 
drink, made from the " sotole," and so called from a small city in 
Mexico, where that liquor is principally distilled. 

Terawehey (Dutch te-ratje). A familiar word still lingering in New York 
nurseries, and the equivalent for the " creep-mouse. " This word, as 
will be seen, is made up exactly like prawchty, from praatje. 

TePPapin (Palustris). A species of salt-water turtle, abounding south of 
New York, whose flesh is considered a great delicacy. 

The word is clearly a corrupt form of the Algonkin name, which is 
quoted by Rasles as " toarebe, tortue. " 

TePPBS folles (Fr.). The district on the south shore of Lake Superior. 
TePPCS jaunes (Fr.). The yellow stone country of Missouri. 

TePPes tFemblanteS (Fr. ). In the Canadian North-West, savanes made 
of shakey ground. 

TePPet. In New England, the guiding ring for the reins of the harness 
of a horse. 

Bailey, in his Dictionary, gives " Tyerets" ornaments for horses. 

Tesquite (Mex. tequezquitl). The alkaline efflorescence or incrustation 
found on the alkali deserts of New Mexico, California and Arizona. 

Test-papeP. In Pennsylvania law courts, a document shown to a jury 
as evidence. 

400 TET TIC 

Tetchy (Old Eng.). Irritable ; fractious ; touchy, when speaking of 

This word may be found in Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet) and is 
still current in the western counties of England. 

Tetes-de-femmes (Fr.). A name given, by the half-breeds of the Cana- 
dian North- West, to the little clumps of moss on the prairies. 

Tew. To fume ; to fuss ; to fret. 

To tew round, to make a pretence of work without performing any- 
thing. .Generally applied to a busybody in household affairs. 
In the north of England, " tew " means to labor, to work hard. 

Texas. The upper deck of a Mississipi river steamboat. 

Texas tender, waiter on the texas or upper deck of a Mississipi steam- 

Thank ye ma'ams. Hollows or depressions in a road which cause 
vehicles to bump up and down. A young man driving his sweetheart 
in a sleigh, is then permitted to take a kiss at each of these. 

Thatch. A long, coarse grass, growing in the salt marshes on the New 
Hampshire and Massachusetts seacoast. 

Hence, thatchy, said of milk. The milk tastes thatchy when the cows 
have eaten thatch. 

Thimble-berry (Rubus occidentals). The wild black raspberry, so called 
from its naked receptacle having the shape of a thimble. 

Thimble-weed (Rudbeckia). A medicinal plant, having diuretic and 
tonic properties, and so called from its receptacle resembling a thimble. 

- Thirds (Old Eng. ). Commonly colloquial in sense of dower. 
So used in Middleton's plays. 

Thoroughfare. In the South, a low gap in a range of hills, or between 

Three-Square. A kind of grass found on the South Jersey meadows. 

Through. In Kentucky, the number of rows worked by a set of hands 
through a tobacco field. 

Throw up. A euphemism used for to vomit. 

Throw up one's SOC/T.S, or one's boots, to vomit vehemently and copiously. 

Thumper. A rough ; a bully ; a pugilist. 

Thunder-heads. Heavy cumulus clouds piled above the black mass of 
a storm. 

Thwart. On the New-England coast, sometimes heard for a rower's 
seat, in a boat. 

Ticker. In stock-broking circles, a "tape. " 



Ticket. A list of candidates for election, as prepared by the party 
leaders, or by caucus or convention. 

Mixed ticket, one combining the nominees of different parties. 

Scratch ticket, one from which one or more names have been erased. 

Split ticket, one representing different divisions of a party. 

Straight ticket, one containing the "regular nomination" without 

Tickler. (1) A cash-balance book ; also, a memorandum in which a 
register of debts and payments is kept. 

(2) A pocket flask, in which to carry liquor. 

Tidy. An ornamental cover for a sofa or chair. 

From the Old English word " tide, " meaning time as eventide, from 
which " tidy," in sense of timely or seasonable. 

" To tie away the boat." 

Tie away. Sometimes heard for to untie. 
Of. lock open. 

Tiger. ( 1 ) The ordinary faro game is generally veiled under the term 
of "Ye Tiger," a curious name quite adequate to express the destructive 
and voracious nature of the game. 

To buck, or fiyht the tiger, to gamble, and, more particularly, to play faro. 

(2) A final cheer, or yell of a particularly great volume. 

After the usual three cheers at a convivial or other party, when in 
England there would be a call for the Kentish fire, or one cheer more 
there is in America a call for the tiger, a growl, like that of a wild 
animal, in which all the company take part. The tiger is very effective 
for its purpose. 

Tilpah (Ind. ). A plain's term for a parti-colored rug, woven and dyed 
by the Navajo Indians, and used under the saddle and over the true 
saddle blanket. 

Tilt. In Newfoundland, a poor one-story house, built of small hewn 
sticks, set vertically. 
Also, clotten hou*< . 

TimbeP. A generic name, in the South and West, for woodland, forests. 
Timbered lands, land covered with woods. 

Timberheels. A slouching, slovenly walker. 

Time. A good time may mean anything, from simple, innocent enjoyment 
to a drunken spree or debauch. 

Has been used by sundry Old English writers, and is still a favourite 
with the good folks of many English villages, only not exactly in the 
American sense. 

A high old time, a spree or debauch of the first class. 

All the time, always. 

In time, at the exact hour or time. 

To make time, to be punctual. 

4>2 TIM TOA 

Timothy (Phleum pratense). The popular name of the Herd's Grass, said 
to be derived from Timothy Hanson, who first introduced it into 

Tinaja, te-nah'-hah (Sp.). Primarily a large earthenware vessel, but 
now applied on the Mexican frontier to holes or cavities in rocks forming 
receptacles for water. 

, te-nah-her'-ah (Sp. ). On the Mexican frontier, the stand upon 
which the tinaja is kept, usually the three-pronged fork of a tree. Also 
a weed, not identified, covering miles of country in Southern Texas, 
whose leaves are used as a substitute for tea. 

TineladS. A facetious name given by the Confederates, during the Civft 
War, to their own war cruisers. The Northern men-of-war they called 
cheese boxes. 

Tinker, A New-England name for a small mackerel. 

Tinner. A tin-plate worker. 

Tin-Wedding 1 . Celebration of the 10th anniversary of a marriage. 

Tippeeanoe. A nickname given to Wm. Henry Harrison, ninth pre- 
sident of the United States, because of his victory over- the Indians of 
the North-West, under Tecumseh, in 1811. 

Tipple. A drink of liquor, and especially a " fancy drink." 
To tipple is familiar enough in England for to drink. 

TippybobS. A term of utmost contempt designating the iipper or wealth}' 

Tipteei 5 . To walk in a mincing manner. 

Tisanne (Fr. ). In French Canada, a decoction of spruce-tops supposed, 
like sarsaparilla, to be a blood purifier. 

Tithing-man. In New England, a parish officer appointed to preserve 
order at public worship, and enforce the proper observance of the 
Sabbath. (Worcester.) 

TlaCO (Mex. f/acona/oni). In Texas, a copper coin, about the size of 
an old style United States copper cent. Two tlarox are equivalent to 
two and a quarter cents of our money. 
Other forms are tlac, thfack. 

Toad-fish (Batnehtu variegatus). An ugly fish, and fisherman's pest, 
otherwise called ymMy and oy.iter-jixh. 
Also, toid-grwtter, from the noise it makes. 

Toad-StickeP. A soldier's term for a sword, which was almost universal 
during the Civil War. 



Tobagan (Ind. Alg. tubagun, a sld. In tke dialect of the Crees, otoba- 
nask). A sleigh or sledge, drawn by dogs in the extreme north of Canada, 
and used for travelling over snow. This sledge is made of thin wood, bent 
upward at one end, and without runners. 

Also, a pleasure sled used in sliding on the snow from great heights. 

Other forms are tobagin, tobagan, tabagane-(Fer\&nd, Hist, du Canada, 
p. 113), tabaganne (Leclercq, Relation de la Gaspesie, 1691, p. 70), tabo- 
gine (Lemoine, Monographies et Esquisses, p. 70). 

Toboganing, sliding down hill on the snow on a tobogan. 

Toboganifit, one who indulges in the sport of toboganing. 

Tole. In parts of Pennsylvania, said of a drain or ditch. 

Tole (to). An Old English form still persisting in sense of to allure, to 
draw or cause to follow. Only used, however, in connection with 

Toloache (Mex. toloatzin). In Texas, the name of a plant bearing 
purple, sweet scented flowers. This plant is a strong narcotic, and the 
Mexicans even think it has the property of developing gradual and per- 
manent insanity. 

Tomahawk (Ind. Powhattan tomahack, or tamohake. In the Algonkin 
dialect, otamaha-eyan, whence the contracted form tahrnahyan, meaning 
literally a " beating-thing. " Lacombe gives the Cree otamahuk). A 
common name for every form of Indian war club, generally a hatchet- 
with a hollow handle, so that it can serve also as a pipe. 

Tom-dog". In some parts of the West, a dog as distinguished from a 

This usage follows, with regard to dogs, that usually connected with* 1 
cats only in England. 

Tommy COd. The popular name, in Canada, of a small fish much esteemed 
for its dclicac}', and which is caught in great quantities in winter, espe- 
cially in the St Lawrence river. Fishing through the ice for tommy 
i'od is an old time Canadian sport, which is now more popular than ever. 
On the St Charles river, near the city of Quebec, fishing parties leasa 
" cabanes" on the ice and enjoy the sport for several days and nights* 

Toney. High-toned ; possessing good style ; fancy; swellisb. 
Tongue. The pole of a waggon or omnibus. 

Toot (Ger. date). In Eastern Pennsylvania, a conical pa-por bag used! 
among grocers. 

Toot (on a). On a drunken spree. 

Toothache-bush (Xanthoxylum fraxineum). The prickly ash, so calle<5 
from its being a specific for toothache. 



ToOthaehe-gPaSS (Monocera aromatica). A singular kind of grass 
growing in Florida, whose root affects the salivary glands, and is said to 
be a specific for toothache. 

Tooth-picks. A nickname applied to the inhabitants of Arkansas. 

ToOZeP. A boy's term for a marble. 
Also, twozer. 

Top (to). In Pennsylvania, to snuff (a candle). 
TOPmentation. In New England, torment, pain, trouble. 
Tormented. In New England, a euphemism for damned. 

TOPnillO, tor-neel'-lyo (Sp.). In Texas, the name of a tree or large 
shrub closely related to the mesquite, and bearing beans which are used 
as food by men and animals. 

TOPtienee. In parts of New England, some old people call the youngest 
child or pet of a family a tortience. 

TOPtilla, tor-til'-lyah (Sp.). In Mexico, and the formerly Spanish States, a 
pankake made of Indian meal, mashed and baked on an earthen pan. 

TOPy. A royalist sympathiser during the war of the Revolution, in 
opposition to whig. Subsequently the term dropped out of popular 
usage, save as a contemptuous word synonym with retrograde. 

Tote. Much used in the South, in sense of to carry a load. There seems 
also to be a general use of the word among the Maine lumbermen, in 
.the sense of haul (with team). 

Tote load, as much as one can carry. 

'Tote-team, team used in hauling. 

'Toting up, going from one place to another. 

Totem (Ind. Alg. Baraga has the word from ni totem, ni}' parent, my 
relation). A tribal mark or badge, among the Indians, represented by 
a device of some animal on his breast, and which is drawn in paint, or 
engraved in the skin of his body. 

Hence totemic, relating or belonging to the totem. 

Tottlish. Shaking ; vacillating ; unsteadly. From " totter, " to reel, to 

Sir Walter Scott used the word ' ' totty " in the same manner ; 

I was somewhat totty when I received the good knight's blow 

(Ivanhoe, ch. XXXIII ) 

Touch. (1) To obtain money from one. For instance, a political worker 
will touch a candidate for anything, from a dollar up. 
(2) A cant word, synonym of to steal. 



Touching 1 committee. A self-appointed gang of politicians and ward- 
workers who " bleed " candidates for office. 

Tough. A street loafer and bar-room bully. 

Also used adjectively in sense of strong, healthy. 

Tough it Out. To endure to the end. Much used among the uneducated. 

Touladi. An Indian word designating a species of trout particular to the 
lakes of the north of the province of Quebec. 

Toulibi (Fr. Can. ). Among the French-Canadian?, the name of a species 
of fish (Coregoiius quadrilateralis) found in the lower St. Lawrence 

TOW. That which is towed, as a boat or scow. 
Tow-boat. A freight boat ; a barge or canal boat. 

Tow-head. (1) In the Mississipi region, a small tuft-like island, formed 
by the silting up of mud round sunken trees and through other causes. 
(2) A Western term for a man of dandified appearance. 

Town. (1) In New England, a small territorial district or township, 
whether densely or thinly inhabited. Miss Leslie says it will explain 
Jonathan's perplexity ; 

He said he couldn't see the town, 
There were so many houses. 

(2) In New England, one of the portions into which every county is 
divided, and generally containing a village to which the surrounding 
farmers come to do their trading. This meaning is closely allied to its 
use in Wycliffe's time, who evidently regards the "town"'' as the agri- 
cultural district outside'the village, when he translates Luke XVI. 15 : 
" He sent him into his " toune " to feed swine. " 

(3) In New England, a body of voters within a township, district, or 

Town-house. (1) A house where the public business of the town is trans- 
acted. This house has the same relation to a township, as a " town hall" 
has to an English borough. 
(2) In Connecticut, an almshouse. 

Township. (1) The district or territory of a town, comprising from five 
to ten miles square, and subordinate to the county. 

(2) In the province of Quebec (Canada) the district or parts that 
were exempt from feudal laws, at the time of the "seigniories," are 
still called townships. 

TOW-POW. A shindy ; a noise ; a racket. 

Tow-tail. Among the mill operatives, in New England, the name of a 
coarse kind of cloth. 

406 TRA TRA 

Track. The spoor, or foot-marks of a man, or any animal. 

The " permanent way " of a railroad. 

To dear the track, the Am. equiv. of the English " to clear the deck." 

To get off the track, to derail. 

To have the inside track, to be in possession of all available influence 
on a given subject, to be in a commanding position. 

To cover up one's tracks, to adopt measures of concealment. 

To make tracks, to run away. 

In one's tracks, immediately. Lowell says this expression is an 
importation from the Latin " e vestigio," or the Norman French " enes 
les pas." 

Trade. A commercial transaction, and especially an exchange of any kind. 
In England, trade is applied exclusively to an avocation. 

Trade (to). To sell ; to barter ; to exchange ; to dicker. The equiv. of 
the English " to shop." 

This use of the word is good old legitimate English, as in Ezek> xxvii. 
13, where we read : " They traded the persons of men and vessels of 
brass in thy market." 

Trade-last. In college parlance, an exchange of compliments, or a 
quoted compliment. 
Also used as a verb, in sense of to exchange compliments. 

Trader. In Newfoundland, a stranger who comes to barter. 

Trail- The spoor, or foot-marks of any animal. 

A path ; the track left by men or animals. 

On the trail, said of cattle while being driven from one range to another, 
or to a shipping point for beef. 

To blind a trail, in the days of Indian warfare, to obliterate the traces 
of a trail ; and hence, figuratively, to remove the traces of one's actions. 

To camp on the trail, to follow in close pursuit. 

Trailer. The street car on the cable lines which is drawn by the " grip." 

Train. In New England, to carry on, to act wild. Almost peculiar to 
girls. " She's an awful one to train." 
Also used substantively for frolic, romp. 

Traine (Fr.). Among the French-Canadians, a peculiar low sleigh used 
for the transport of merchandise, wood, etc. 

Trainers. In New England, militia when in training. Also, a general 
word for soldiers. 

Training-day. The day when the militia are called out to be reviewed. 



Tramp. A travelling or strolling vagabond who works when he must, 
steals when he can, and begs at all times. 
Quoted in Halliwell. 
In England, a tramp is now a foot traveller. 

Transient. In hotel and boarding-house parlance, a temporary visitor, 
as distinguished from a permanent boarder. 

Trap-door. In New England, a triangular rent in cloth. 
Also, trappatch. 
See winklekaivk. 

Trash. (1) In the West Indies and Louisiana, the leaves when stripped 
from the sugar-cane, in order to allow it to ripen more readily. 
Hence, to trash, to strip the leaves from the sugar-cane. 

(2) The leaves, sticks, and compact foam which accumulate by the 
side of a stream. 

(3) A contemptuous term applied by the negroes, in the South, to 
poor white people. 

Trash-basket. Waste-paper basket. 

Tree. As an intransitive verb, to take refuge in a tree, in speaking of a 
wild animal, and figuratively to get out of harm's way. 

In a transitive sense, to corner, to have at one's mercy, in speaking of 
game which has taken refuge in a tree. Hence a coon is " treed" when 
compelled to seek refuge in a tree. 

To tree, oneself, to hide behind a tree, as in hunting or fighting. 
Up a tree, in difficulties, the allusion being to the uncomfortable posi- 
tion in which the racoon or opossum sometimes finds himself, with his 
enemies looking out for him at the bottom of a tree. 

Tree-molasses. In the West, molasses and sugar which are the pro- 
ducts of the sugar maple. 
Also, tree-sugar. 

Tree-primrose. (CEnothera fructicosa). A beautiful and fleeting flower, 
having a brilliant yellow hue. 

Trick. In parts of the South, a small object or chattel. 

Tricksy (Old Eng. ). Still surviving, in the South and West, for trickish, 
practicing tricks. " A tricksy horse " is especially a common expression. 

Trig" (Old Eng.). Trim, neat, smart. An old form still surviving in Vir- 
ginia, related to " trick," in the sense of " tricked out," decorated. 

TrignesS (Old Eng.). Smart appearance. Still often heard in Virginia. 

Trimmings. ( 1 ) The accessories of any clish, such as flavorings, sauces, etc . 
(2) A woman's frills and furbelows ; the trappings of a horse ; the 
decorations of a house. 

408 TRI TRU 

Tri-Mountain City. A name applied to the city of Boston, Mass. , from 
the three hills on which it was originally built. 

Tri-tPi. A name applied, in Canada, to the King-bird (Tyrannus caroli- 
nensis), from its peculiar cry. 

TrOCha. tro'-tchah (Sp.). Now used, figuratively, in the sense ^f a barrier, 
an obstacle, from the famous trocha imagined by general Weyler, in 
Cuba, to keep off the insurgents. 

Trolley. An electric street car. 

TrompillO, trom-peel -yo (Sp. ). A common weed of the nightshad 
family in southern and western Texas. 

Trot. In college parlance, a translation. 

TFOt (to). In college parlance, to make use of a translation. To use a 
pony or similar means in studying. 

TPOUt. A name generally given to the " gamest " fish, according to the 
section of the country. 

Thus, in parts of the South, the " trout " is the black perch ; in 
Texas, Indian Territory, and as far up as Canada, a bass ressembling the 
striped sea bass is so called ; and in the Rio Azul of New-Mexico, and 
other pure streams, the " trout " is a dace. 

TPUCk. (1) Primarily meaning " stuff, " but now applied to vegetables of 
the kind specified as market produce. 

Truck patch, a plot of ground devoted to the raising of vegetables. 
(2) A cart for transporting merchandise. 

TPUCk (to). To barter or to trade. 
Truckage. Cartage. 
Truckman. Cart-man. 

An old word, derived from the Dutch, and still lingering in 
New York city and surroundings in sense of a round tin box used for 
cake or bread. 

TPUmpeter-SWan (Cygnus buccinator). A magnificent bird, as white as 
snow, measuring about seven feet from tip of tip of wing, and whose 
range is chiefly from the Mississipi valley, extending northward as far 
as the Pacific. So named from the trumpet tones of its call, when 
calling to one another. 

TPUSt. A combination of merchants or manufacturers in same line of 
business, for controlling the manufacture and sale of various articles of 



TllCkahoe (an Indian name said to designate bread). A tuberous root 
(Sclerotium giganteum) of the traffic variety, growing in Virginia, and, 
like the truffle of Europe, sought bor by dogs and hogs trained for the 
purpose. The Indians can manage it so as, in case of necessity, to make 
bread of it. Hence the name of Indian bread or Indian loaf, under 
which it is also known. 
Another form is tockwogh. 

Tuckahoe is also a nickname given to the inhabitants of the lower 
Virginia, whose poverty might drive them to eat tuckahoe. Thus it was 
also often heard diiring the Ciril War, of a peculiarly sad looking cons- 
cript coming from the Lower James, that "he was nothing but a poor 
Tuekahoe. " 

Tuckered OUt. Wearied ; tired out. 
Tucket. The young green ear of Indian corn. 

Tule, too-lay (Mex. tollin). A reed-like grass or bulrush (Scirpus lacus- 
tris), covering immense areas in the South-Western States, especially 
Texas and California. 

In Texas, the name is also applied to several species of yucca, and te 
certain kinds of reeds not identified. 

Tulip-tree (Liriodendron tulipifera). A large tree, bearing tulip-shaped 

Also called white-wood, and in the South poplar. 

Tumble. In Connecticut, a hay-cock, a heap. 

Tumble-bug (Canthon lolvis). A common insect, otherwise known as 
the dung beetle. In England called the " straddle bob. " Akin to the 
sacred scaraboeus of the Egyptians, who so industriously rolls his balls 
dung on dusty roads and lonely paths. 

Tumble-weed. One of the globular perennials of the plains, which, 
when dead, is pulled up by the wind, and goes rolling over the plains at 
the mercy of the blast. (Farmer. ) 
Also called rotting -weed. 

Tump. In Maine, to drag home game. 

Tumpline. In Maine, a peculiar contrivance consisting of a strap so 
placed across the forehead as to assist in carrying a pack upon the back. 

Tuna, too'nah(Sp.). The Spanish name of the prickly pear cactus (Cactus 
opuntia) or Indian fig, bearing a purplish pear-shaped fruit which, in 
Southern countries, is considered very luscious. 

Also the name of the pleasant beverage made from the fruit of the 

Tunk. In New England, a stroke, a blow with the fist. 
Still provincial in England. 



Tupelo. The Indian name of the pepperidge (q.v.), a word especially 
well known in New England. 

Turkey-blizzard (Cathartes aura). Ah American species of vulture, so 
called from its distant resemblance to a turkey, and which is remarkable 
for its graceful flight in the higher regions of the air. 

Turn. (1) In Newfoundland, a stick of wood for fuel. 

Curiously enough, a turn of wood is heard of from Louisiana in sense 
of an arm-load or a cart-load of wood, or indeed of any other quantity 
that can be transported at one return. 

See billet, breastner, burn. 

(2) In Tennessee, the quantity of corn sent at one time to the mill is 
termed a " turn of meal. " 

Turner (Ger. ). A gymnast, belonging to a club of gymnastics. 
Turnerfeste (Ger.). The annual festival of a club of gymnastics. 

Turning-row. In Kentucky, a row unplanted in a corn or tobacco 
field, where the horses turn around in plowing. 

Turn-verelne (Ger. ). A club, or society, who makes gymnastics a sub- 
ject of pleasure as well as of health. 

Turpentine State. The state of North Carolina, from its extensive 

Twistieal. A factitious word meaning unfair, perverse, with connotation 
of oblique moral vision. 

Twitch. Among Maine lumber-men, to drag timber by means of a chain. 

Two-forty pace. With great speed, the allusion being to the 2.40 gait 
for a trotting horse, which, not long ago, was 'considered very good. 

Two-pipe Scatter gun. A double barrelled-rifle, or fowling-piece. 
Also, two-shoot scatter gun. 

Tyke. In Maryland, a term of reproach applied to an ugly or noisy 

Typo. A printer's abbreviation of typographer. 
The Eng. equivalent is "comp." 


Umbrella-tree (Magnolia tripelata). A Southern tree, so called from 
its resemblance to an umbrella, the leaves radiating from the ends of 
the branches to a distance of three feet in diameter. 

UNC UPP 411 

Uncle Sam. The tutelary geniue of the United States. A nickname 
given to the American people as a whole, or to the United States 
government as representing the American nation. 

The nickname " Uncle Sam, " as applied to the United States 
government, is said to have originated as follows. Samuel Wilson, 
commonly called " Uncle Sam, " was a government inspector of beef 
and pork at Troy, New York, about 1812. A contractor, Elbert Ander- 
sou, purchased a quantity of provisions, and the barrels were marked 
"E. A., Anderson's initials, and U. S.," for United States. The latter 
initials were not familiar to Wilson's workmen, who required what they 
meant. A facetious fellow answered : " I don't know, unless they 
mean "Uncle Sam." A vast amount of property afterward passed 
through Wilson's hands marked in the same manner, and he was often 
joked upon the extent of his possessions. The joke spread through all 
the departments of the government, and before long the United States 
was popularly referred to as " Uncle Sam." 

Under-coat. In North Carolina, a petticoat. Compare with coat. 

Underground railroad. At the time of the agitation for the abolition 
of slavery, a name applied to a very energetic organization for enabling 
fugitive slaves to escape to the free States and Canada. 

Under-hatches. A simile from sea-faring life, and meaning, in thieve's 
parlance, in trouble or in distress. 

UnhOUSe. To render homeless, as in the case of a cyclone which destroys 

Union. The Confederacy of States known as the United States of 

Union men. Those who, at the time of the Civil War, stood out against 

Unlaundered. Undressed, as applied, for example, to shirts. 

Up and dust. Hurry up ! move fast ! look alive ! make the dust fly ! 

Up Country. The interior, or backwoods (q. v.) as opposed to the sea- 

Also u?ed adjectively, as an up-country man, and with connotation of 
a certain inferiority to the seaboard population. 

Up-dump. Sometimes heard for tip over. " Be careful or you'll updump 
the boat. 

Upheader. A horse that holds its head high. Also applied, figura- 
tively, to men. 

Upper house. The Senate, either National or State, as distinct from the 
House of Representatives, which is called Lower House. 

412 UPP VEX 

UppePtendom. The fashionable world ; the aristocracy. 

Use. To live, make one's house. " These chickens uses round the place." 

U. S. plate. Among thieves, said of fetters or hand-cuffs. 

V. Often prononunced like w, especially by the older people. " Weal 
and winegar are good wittles to take aboard a wessel." 

Vaeher(Fr.). A herdsman, or cattle-keeper; a cowboy. The Spanish 
equivalent of vacher, vaquero, is also sometimes used. 

Valedictorian. In American colleges, the student who pronounces the 
valedictory oration at the annual commencement. 

Valentine. In college parlance, an official written communication from 
secretary of faculty, generally of warning or dismissal. 

Vamose (Sp. vamos, let us go). A curious grammatical perversion of tha 
above Spanish imperative, used chiefly in the South-West in sense of to 
be off, to decamp, to sneak away. 

Vamose (to) the ranch, a familiar phrase on the western frontier, and 
in the South-West, meaning to leave the house, to quit the spot. 

VaqUBPO, vah-ker'-o (Sp.) (1) A herdsman, or cattle-tender. The 
equivalent of the French vacher. 

(2) A man who has charge of cattle, horses, aud mules ; a horseman. 

Vara (Sp.). A word still heard in California, and other formerly Spanish 
States, and designating a lineal measure equal to 39 inches. 
In Texas, the .vara is still the only measure in use. 

Often heard in the West and South West for wild animals. 
" He lay out among the varmints." 

Vendue (Fr.). (1) Still heard occasionally, in some States, and the West 
Indies, in sense of an auction sale. Vendue-crier is especially in cons- 
tant use in Pennsylvania, where it began to be current as early as 1754 
(see Mitttelberger's Travels, p. 22), 

(2) In political parlance, a shameless assignment of offices to th 
highest bidders. 

Vertical saw. An outrageous joke ; a dangerous piece of horse-play 
A serious, and even perhaps dangerous joke. 

Vexed. Sorry, disappointed. " I'm terribly vexed about the boy." 



Vigilance committee. A self-appointed body of persons for the pur- 
pose of punishing, and especially of lynching, who have gone unwhipped 
of justice. 

The name originated in California, and was in all probability derived 
from the familiar Spanish term *' vigilante." The French " vigilance" 
is of course the same word, but the connection with the custom is not so 

Vim. Spirit ; activity ; energy. 

Virgalieu (Fr. ). A New- York name for a much esteemed species of pear. 
It is the " Doyenne" Blanc" of French authors. 

A ludicrous corruption of the above is " Burgaloo," which is the name 
under which the " Virgalieu " is known in other parts of the country. 

Virgin-dip. In North Carolina, the flow of turpentine from pine-trees, 
during the first year of cutting. 

Virginia-poke. At game of cards, to push one card out of the middle of 
the pack, and put it at the back, which is done, in a superstitious way, 
for the sake of trying to change one's bad luck. 

Virginia-Peel. A common name for the old English " country-dance " 
(Fr. contre-danse). 

VoodOUlSm. A kind of negro-witchcraft, in Louisiana, Hayti and San 
Domingo, said to be accompanied, in some places, by barbarous rites, 
and even by human sacrifices. 

Voyageur (Fr. ). The old " coureur-des-bois" and trader of New France, 
so often spoken of by Parkman, and other historians. 

Wabash (tO.) To cheat, to defraud; a term still common enough, in 
that sense, in Indiana and the West generally, although it is difficult to 
comprehend how the inoffensive ouabache of old (Wabash, a tributary 
of the Ohio) should have come to receive such a stigma. 

Wabble. In the West, to clatter with the tongue ; to be given to excessive 
talking ; to be a ready speaker. > 

Wad. A slang term for a roll of bank notes. 

Wagged OUt. A Massachusetts term for tired out, exhausted. 

Waggletail. The larva of the mosquito. 
Also called a wiyglcr. 

Wagon. To convey or transport by wagon. 



Wain (Old Eng. ). An old and obsolete word still used for wagon in parts 
of the United States. 

We read, in Tennyson's May Queen, " Charles' Wain" for the cons- 
tellation of the Great Bear. 

Waist. The upper portion of a lady's gown. 
In England, bodice. 

Wait-a-bit trees. A facetious name given to a sort of jungle or thicket 
almost impenetrable from the innumerable thorns of its branches. 

Wait upon. To court; to pay attention to a lady with a view to matrimony. 

Wake up the WPOng- passenger. To be mistaken in a man, that is 
" to catch a Tartar ; " to interfere with a man who is capable of making 
an effective resistance. 

A phrase borrowed from railroad thieving, as also from frequent mis- 
takes made at hotels in waking up passengers who are to start early in 
the morning. 

A variant is to yet the wron/j pig by the vail, the Yankee equivalent of 
the Eng. to get the wrong sow by the ear. 

Walking 1 papers. Letters of dismissal, generally employed with a 
political bearing, as if in derisive allusion to the liberty granted to an 
official to walk out of office. 

Walk OUt. Among trades'unions, a walk out is a strike. 

Walk Spanish. To strut ; and, idiomatically, to be unsteady in gait. 
In New England, a boy is said to walk Spanish when he is lifted from 
behind by the seat of his trousers, so that he has to walk on his toes. 
Another form is to ivalk turkey. 

Walk upon one's Shoe Strings. An idiom indicative of poverty and 
destitution ; a variant of the English "down at heels." 

Wall Street. The financial centre of the United States. The name of 
Wall street, in New York city, which dates back to 1653, is derived from 
the wall or the fence erected at that time by the Dutch to protect 
themselves against the inroads of the Indians. 

Wallop. This word was a subject of discussion lately when a woman of 
refinement as hostess asked her guest to have another "wallop" of tea. 
The woman who was addressed had always associated the word with a 
vulgar expression meaning to punish, and was naturally a bit startled. 
Her hostess explained the word as meaning "a little bit." But no such 
significance is given in the Century dictionary. The first meaning there 
given is "to boil with a continued bubbling," and the noun, "a quick 
motion with agitation." There appears to be no authority for a " wal- 
lop of tea" unless, possibly, it be used to signify a bubble one of those 
precious bubbles which, if you can catch it, is said to be a talisman of 
wealth and good fortune. 



WallOWS. On some of the Western prairies, the ground has every 
appearance of having been rooted or torn up by bears, buffalos, or hogs. 
Hence, bear, buffalo, or hog ivalllowx. These wallows are, however, 
purely natural phenomenas. 

In Texas, hog-iuallows are particularly abundant. 

Walt. Lop-sided ; said of ships with a list. 
ply a ivalt ship. 

A wait-sided ship, or sim- 

Waltzing-giantS. A Nevada term for the great cylinders of sand, 
which, during what is called a sand-storm, go rearing across the desert 
with a kind of whirling and waltzing motion. 

Wamble-CFOpped. A curious New-England expression meaning sick at 
the stomach ; and, figuratively, humiliated, crest-fallen. 

Wampum (Ind. wompam, meaning "white" in the New-England dialects, 
says Roger Williams, white being the color of the shells most frequent 
in wampum belts). An inferior shell currency, formerly in use among 
the aborigines, consisting of strings of shells, which were also frequently 
united into a broad belt, worn as an ornament or a girdle. 
See cohof], xetvan. 

Wananish (Ind. Montagnais wananouvhou, salmon). A species of land- 
locked salmon, which abounds in the Lake St. John region of the Pro- 
vince of Quebec. ' 

(Ind.). A peculiar kind of boat used in the lumbering districts 
of Maine to carry tools and provisions. 

WapatOO (Ind.). A name given by the Indians, in Oregon, to the bulb 
" Sagittaria vayiabilis," which is used as an article of food. 

Wapiti (Ind. Cree wapitew, grayish or pale. Also, wapit, Ind. Shoshone 
or Utah, meaning yellowish). The elk or stag of America (Cervus cana- 
densis). The yellowish or grayish color of the wapit* being quite pecu- 
liar, the Shoshone wapit stands a good chance of being the original term, 
and this presumption is the more strengthened that the wapiti is very 
common in the Shoshone country, and of great importance to its inha- 

Warni COOtai (Somateria spectabilis). A species of eider-duck, formerly 
very abundant in the region of the Oulf of St. Lawrence, but which is 
now only found in the north of Labrador. 

WarOU. A hobgoblin, in the mythology of some Indian tribes of Canada. 

War-path. A march to battle. An expression borrowed from the Indians. 
On the war-path, ready for a tight ; in fighting mood. 



WaP-hOPSe. (1) Among politicians, a term applied to any energetic 
(2) A nickname applied to general Longstreet, of the Confederate army. 

Washoe-zephyP. A peculiar wind blowing regularly in the summer 
time, in Nevada, and so called from Washoe being a pet nickname for 
that State. 

Washout. A flood, especially one when a roadway, bridge, or railroad 
embankment is carried away. 

Watap (Ind. Alg.). The root of pine or tamarack, used to ROW bark 
canoes and the like. 

Watch One's COPnePS. To keep a sharp look out, to be shrewdly atten- 
tive. The expression comes in this way : when a man is ploughing and 
reaches the corners of his land, he must be careful in turning his team 
and plough, or he will not break up the land thoroughly at the corners. 

Watch out. 


In Pennsylvania, to look out. " To ivatch out for the 

Water. To create fictitious stock, without its being a representative 
of industry expended, or work done. 

The issue of fictitious railroad stock, for speculative or gambling pur- 
poses, is known as " watering the stock," a term derived from the prac- 
tice of Daniel Drew when a boy, who sold cattle by weight, and gave 
them salt to eat to induce thirst, and then let them drink copiously just 
before they were sold by live weight. 

WatCP-hOPSe. In Newfoundland, after the fish has been salted long 
enough it is washed to remove superfluous salt and dirt. This is the 
water-horse, and fish so washed arid spread on the flakes to dry is called 
water-horse fish. 

WateP-lot. A building lot over which water has already taken a heavy 

A building lot which is swamp or morass, and half the year under 

The advantage of a water-fall for driving water- 
wheels, or a place affording such advantage. 

WatOPSpOUt, On the high plains of the West, a name applied to the 
terrific rain-storms prevalent in those regions. 

Water-Witch. A diviner of the presence of water, in subterranean wells, 
by means of the divining rod. 

WawaPOn. The bull-frog. Also called by that name in French Canada. 
The word is from the Indian ouiraon or ouaovaron. Sagard translates 
" crapeau vert " into Huron by ouaraon. 



Wax. To overcome another ; to surmount difficulties ; to obtain an 
advantage by diplomatic measures. 

Wax-myrtle. A shrub bearing a berry covered with a shining wax. 

Also called candle-berry myrtle, candles being made from the wax it 

Weaken. To grow weak ; to giro way ; to abandon an undertaking. 
Weak Sister. An unreliable person. 
Wearables. Clothes ; wearing apparel. 
Wear OUt. To beat, to chastise. 

Wear the collar. To be subject to authority, such control not being 
altogether to one's taste. 

The antithesis of sense contained in "to wear the breeches." 

In political parlance, to be directed by another in political matters. 

Weasels. A nickname applied to the inhabitants of South Carolina. 
Weather-StPipS. Sandbags ; draught excluders. 
WeddinOPS. The bride and groom, with the wedding party. 

Weeding. In thieve's parlance, taking a part and leaving the balance 
in such a manner as not to excite suspicion. 

Similarly, when a thief abstracts a portion from the plunder without 
the knowledge of his pals, and then receives an equal proportion of the 
remainder, it is called weeding the swag. (Farmer. ) 

Weeny. In parts of New England, said of board or timbers, not of full 
width throughout, because the saw in cutting ran out into the bark. 

Well. Used adjectively in sense of healthy, as for instance : " He is 
now a well man." 

Wench. A negro woman. 

Provincial in England for a young girl or servant-man. 

WendigO . A hobgoblin, among the Northern Indians. 
Werowance. A chief of the Indian tribes ofVirginia and Maryland. 
West Pointer. A cadet at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point. 
Whale away. To talk vehemently, or without hindrance. 

Whaler. A big, strapping fellow. 

Primarily a sailor's word, from the huge size of a whale. 

Wha!) over. In New England, to knock over ; to overturn with violence. 


418 WHA WHI 

Whapper-JaW. A protruding under-jaw. 
The adjective whapper- jawed is also used. 
See jimber-jaw. 

Wharf-boat. A rectangular float, on the Western rivers, for the recep- 
tion of goods, or for a dram-shop, which is generally moored to the 
shoreside to take the place of a regular fixed wharf. 

Wharf up. In New England, to embank, to pile up earth. 

Wheal. To swell ; to pout. An obvious relation exists between this 
idiom and the weals or swellings raised by beating. (Farmer. ) 

Wheat and Indian. A mixture of wheaten flour and maize meal. 

Wheel-hOPSe. (1) In the West, one's crony or best friend. 

(2) A leading man ; a political ^der ; a political party's main prop 
and support. 

Whelk. A wale ; a sore ; a swelling ; a pustule. 

Whiffet. A small insignificant man ; a whipper-snapper. (Farmer. ) 

Whiffle-tPOe. The bar to which the traces of a leader or dragging horse 
are attached. 

In England, a whipple-tree. 

(Ind. Abenaki awikhigan, something written). A term 
sprung into existence among hunters of Maine, Canada and the North 
West and designating the written permit to hunt, which has to be 
obtained from the local authorities, often represented by Indian chiefs. 

During the revolutionary period, the Whigs were those favoring 
independence, while the Tories remained loyal to the Crown. After 
independence was achieved, the Whigs divided, on the then young State- 
rights question, into "Particularists" and "Strong Government Whigs,' 
or, as they were subsequently called, "Federalists." The Whig name 
then temporarily disappeared, to be revived in 1820, when it again com- 
manded a considerable following ; but it was, nevertheless, only in 1848, 
that it could achieve success when it elected general Zachary Taylor to 
the presidency, defeating the Democrats for the first time in nearly half 
a century. The last appearance of the Whigs, on the political battle- 
field, was in 1852. 

Whip. To beat, without connotation of instrumental assistance ; to 

defeat, to surpass, to outvie in any respect. " That whips all creation " 

is a well known phrase. 
Whip-poor-will (Antrostomus vociferus) geuerally pronounced " Whip- 

perwill." A common Southern bird with many names, amongst which 

may be mentioned chuck-will's-widow and bull-bat. 
Other species sometimes also receive these names. 

WHI WHI 419 

Whipstock. In parts of New England, often heard for whip-sooket. 

Whip-Sawing. The acceptance of fess or bribes from two opposing 
persons or parties. 

The word is said to have originated in the N. Y. State Assembly, and 
is evidently derived from the whip-saw of mechanics, which cuts both 

Hence, whipsiwed, left in the lurch. 

Whip the devil aPOUnd the Stump. To enjoy the sweets of wicked- 
ness, and yet escape the penalty. 

To make false excuses to one's self and others for doing what one 

Whiskey-bloat. A confirmed whiskey tippler. 

Whiskey -jack (Garrulus cristatus). The Blue Jay. (Canada and 
parts of N. Eng. ) 

The name is a corruption of the Indian oui&hcatchan. 
See moose-lird. 

Whiskey-mill. A grog-shop, in the West. 

Whiskey plant. A cactus growing in Southern Texas, on the range of 
sand-hills bordering on the Rio-Grande, and known to the Indians as 
"' Picoke. " The Indians dig up the root, and take great delight in 
chewing it, the juice possessing a powerful- intoxicating effect. 
Also called whiskey -root. 

Whiskey-ringf. A ring of whiskey dealers who, through the connivance 
of Government officials, were enabled to evade the revenue laws, and 
amass large fortunes. The ring was temporarily broken up in 1875. 

Whiskey-Skin. A concocted drink of whiskey, sugar, crushed ice, and 

Otherwise called whiskey -smash. 

White. Often heard for good, with connotation of straightness, in a man 
or thing. 

This usage is doubtless derived from the " white" of an archery-butt, 
which was the bull's eye. Thus, a white man would be a man who 
always shot straight, and, figuratively, a straightforward man. 

White-caps. A sort of Northern Ku-Klux organization, who take it 
upon themselves to regulate public morals, and to administer justice to 
offenders independent of th law. 

White folks. In Virginia and the South, a common name given to the 
whites by the negroes, who even also use the derivative adjective 

White-frOSt. The mniversal term when speaking of hoar-frost. 



White league. A military organization formed in New Orleans in 1874, 
ostensibly for a purpose of protection against armed uprisings of negroes 
but in reality to chock the growth of political power among the blacks. 

White Lineps. 


A political party, in Louisiana, opposed to negro domi- 

White-man'S-fly. An Indian name for the honey-bee, which insect is 
not indigenous to America and was imported by the early settlers. 

White-Oak -Cheese. Tough, hard cheese made from skimmed milk. 

White-Walnut (Inglaua cinerea). A beautiful tree with wide-spreading 
branches, and so called from tke color of the wood. The juice of the 
fruit, rich in oil, serves as a dye, and hence its popular name of butter- 
nut (q. v.). 
Also called long wa'.nut. 

Whole cloth. Used with an idea of thoroughness, as a lie or a truth made 
out of whole cloth. 

WhOle-fOOted. Sound ; hearty. 

Whole-SOUled. Noble minded ; possessing a noble heart. 

Wicopy (Ind. wighebi, quoted by Rasles as Abenaki for bass-wood). In 
New England, the name of the leather- wood or moose-wood (Dirca palus- 

Wide-awake. A kind of broad-brimmed soft hat. In England, a billy- 

Wide-awakes. A political organization, largely composed of machinery 
clubs, and so named from the slouch hats worn by its members. 

This organization, which has been a prominent factor in Republican 
politics, was formed in 1859, with the object of promoting the election 
of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency. 

The name wide-awake was, however, as early as 1853, applied to the 
Know-Nothings, and the light-colored soft felt hats, which they were 
supposed to wear, were termed wide-awake hats. 

Wiggle (to). To bend the body rapidly from side to side ; to wriggle. 

Wigwam (Ind. ). An Indian cabin or hut, usually made of skins. 

The Tammany Society of Philadelphia called its place of meeting a 
wigwam as early as 1789, and during the Harrison campaign log cabins 
were used under the same name as campaign meeting places. In 1859-60, 
huge buildings of rough boards, known as wigwams, were erected for 
political purposes in large towns, and the practice has been kept up ever 

WIL WIP 421 

Wild-Cat. During many years, in Michigan and surrounding States, all 
irresponsible banks and country bank-notes of doubtful reputation were 
called wild-cat banks and wild-cat bills or simply wild-c its. The term 
arose from an insolvent bank of Michigan having had represented on its 
notes the vignette of a panther, familiarly called a wild-cat. 

Subsequently, the term was also applied to all bogus and swindling 
concerns, such as wild-cat mines, wild-cat whiskey, etc. 

Wild-eat train. A train not scheduled on the time-table. 
Also simply wild train. 

Wild Cattle. A strange breed of cattle found in the hills skirting the 
Umpqua valley, Oregon, and whose chief peculiarity consists in their 
eyes and horns being jet black. 

Wild-land. A Western term for unsettled land, or land which has never 
been cultivated. 

Land not yet appropriated, i. e. not owned by special grant or actual 
occupancy, though generally meaning the forest, by preference. 

Wilmot-proviso. An anti-slavery measure introduced into Congress, in 
1846, by David Wilmot, of Pennsylvania, which led to a great deal of 
agitation, and finally culminated in the formation of the Fret Soil Party 

Wind breaker. In New Jersey, a screen or the like used to break the 
force of the wind. 

Winder. In college parlance, a "crib" constructed of a long strip of 
paper rolled on two pencils for convenient manipulation. 

Winders. On the New Jersey coast, an instrument used on the oyster 
boats for winding the dredge line. 

WindigO. See wendigo. 

Wind up. To give a quietus to an antagonist. Also, intransitively, to 
stop business, to close up a place of business. In this last sense, it is 
especially an Americanism. 

Winklehawk. A triangular tear in cloth. 

Winkum. In parts of New England, used for cider brandy. 

Wind up One's worsted. To give the last turn of which an under- 
taking is capable. 

Winter-killed. Killed by winter frosts. 

A verb made for the sake of brevity and convenience. 

Wipe Off. To wipe. Thus, to wipe off a table is simply to wipe it, 
without necessarily removing anything from it. 

Wipe Out. To kill ; to destroy ; to annihilate. Borrowed from hunter's life. 



Wipe up the gPOUnd. " To wipe up the ground with one " is a ruf- 
fian's way of saying he will knock a person down. 

Wire-puller. A political " worker" who sets up plans for the election 
of candidates, and the passage or defeat of legislative measures. 

Hence, wire-pulling, or working, political managing or manipulation. 

Wire-pulling, of course, is not an American custom exclusively, as 
this figure of speech is as old as the " marionnettes " of Italy and France, 
on whose miniature stage the actors were set in motion by wires, which 
the exhibitor pulled from above. 

Wolverine State. The State of Michigan, so called because of the vast 
number of wolves which once abounded within its limits. 

Hence, wolverines, a nickname applied to the inhabitants of Michigan. 

Wood Up. To load a steamboat with wood for fuel. A term connected 
with the Mississipi river traffic. 

Also, figuratively, to take a drink. 

Hence, wooding -place, a station where the steamers take in supplies of 

Wood Skin. The bark from which a canoe is made, and, by extension, 
the canoe itself. 

Wooden Nutmegs. A current slang phrase, esp. among politicians, for 
any cunning deception, forged telegrams, political tricks, and falsified 
election-returns, from the well-known story of Sam Slick about the 
wooden nutmegs manufactured in Connecticut. 

Worpiment. Worry ; trouble ; anxiety. 
Made after the manner of wonderment. 

Worrisome. Worrying ; annoying. 

WOPSt Way. In parts of Pennsylvania, used for very strongly, as in the 
following : " He wants to see you the worat way." 

Wrench. Common for " rinse, " in the neighborhood of Philadelphia. 
" Wrench your mouth out." 

Evidently the same word as the New-England rense for rinse. 

Wudge. A little bunch. 

Wung Out. Said for wing-and-wing, as of a schooner before the wind. 

Yafful. In the Northern States and the Canadian Maritime provinces, 
often heard for armful. 

Still provincial in England. 

YAM YEL 423 

Yam (West Ind. Ihime). A large and palatable root or tuber (Dioscorea 
alba), common in the Southern States. 

Yang, Hurry. " To be in a great yany." 

Yank. In New England, a jerk. 

Hence to yank, to yerk ; to snatch away unexpectedly. 
An attempt has been made to find in this slang term an allusion to the 
energy and ingenuity with which the Yank, or Yankee, overcomes all 

Yankee. In New England, a glass of whiskey sweetened with molasses ; 
a common beverage in the country. 

Yankees. A name particularly applied, in the States, to the citizens of 
New England. The term originated with the Massachusetts Indians 
who, in their imperfect efforts to name the first English colonists, could 
not get any nearer to the sound of " English" than by saying Yengees, 
or perhaps also Yenkees. The term is also often used in a disparaging 
sense by political or personal antagonists of the bold pioneers and puri- 
tans of old. 

Yanks. The universal designation of federal soldiers, during the war, in 
the Southern Confederacy. 

Yankee (galvanized). A Confederate soldier having enlisted in the 
United States Army. 

Yankeedom. New England. 

Yap. In college parlance : (1) a contemptible person ; (2) the mouth ; 
(3) a countryman. 

Yard. In New England, the garden attached to a house, whether in front 
. or behind. 

Yarry. In Newfoundland, smart, quick. " You'll have to be pretty 
yarry to catch up with him." 

Yearling". The young of a cow. Applied often indiscriminately whether 
the animal be two days old or three years. 

YellOW COV6P. A slang term for a note of dismissal from Government 
employ. In the public offices yellow-tinted envelopes are largely used. 

YellOW Jack. The popular name for yellow fever. 

YellOW Journalism. Consists principally of huge head-lines of a 
startling nature, big and striking illustrations, and heavily leaded type 
in which the facts are presented in the most interesting style. 



YonkePS. The old Dutch word yonker ( a cadet) still survives in the 
name of the town of Yonkers, which has grown up around the old manor- 
house of the Phillipse family, standing in Westchester on the Hudson. 
Before the Revolution, Mr. Phillipse was always spoken of, by his 
tenantry, as the Yonker, that is the gentleman by excellence, he being 
then the only person of social rank in that part of the country. 

Young Hickory. Martin Van Buren, eighth president of the United 
States, so called because the political mantle of " Old Hickory '' 
(Jackson) was said to have fallen upon his shoulders. 

Zenith City Of the Unsalted Seas. The city of Duluth, Minnesota, so 
christened by the great humorist hon. Proctor Knott, late governor of 

Zit. An onomatopoetic verb, frequently heard in the West, to describe 
vocally the peculiar hissing of bullets when striking water. 

Zopilote (Mex. tzopilotl). In Texas, a name applied to a species of turkey 
buzzard, black vulture (Cathartes atratus). 

Foreign words, either used in their original integrity, or 

derived from foreign languages, which may be 

classed as Americanisms 

























































Maskeg, Muskeg 





























































Black -harry 






Bois barr 


Bois blanc 




Bois de fer 




Bois pourri 













Black bass 











Canard bcanchu 


















Cou blanc 


































Movey star 





Pique-bois jaune 






Pomme blanche. 























Torres folles, jaunes, etc. 









Apple jees 



Blick, Blickey 
























Noodle jeea 

































Muley saw 
























































' Amargoso 




































































































Lariat , 













































Ra toons 

















Tinaja .... era 




Tortilla . 






















































I. Buildings, Building materials, etc. 
II. Geography, Landscape, Topography, etc. 

III. Household Furniture, Uetensils, etc. 

IV. Instruments, Tools, Weapons. 

V. Outdoor life : Farming, Navigation, Fishing, Hunting and 
Trapping, Cowboys and Ranches, Pioneers, Lumbering, 

VI. Clothes, Dresses, Ornaments, etc. 
VII. Horses, Mules, Vehicles, Harness. 

VIII. Animal kingdom : Quadrupeds, Birds, Fishes, Amphibious 
animals and Reptiles, Insects. 

IX. Vegetable kingdom : Trees, Shrubs, Medicinal Plants, Fruits, 
Nuts, Flowers, Vegetables. 

X. Food, Provisions, Meals. 
XI. Coins, Money, Measures. 
XII. Meteorology, Time, Duration. 


XIII. Functions, Titles. 
XIV. Amusements, Gatherings, Games, etc. 
XV. Diseases, Infirmities. 
XVI. Legend, Folklore. 
XVII. Archaisms and Provincialisms. 
XVIII. The Church. 
XIX. Congress and Legislatures. 
XX. The Court House. 
XXL History, Politics. 
XXII. Colleges. 

XXIII. Words due to relations with the Indians. 
XXIV. Negroisms. Words relating to slavery and negroes. 
XXV. Onomatopies. 
XXVI. Newspapers, Printing, etc. 
XXVII. Railways. 
XXVIII. Banking, Finance, Trade. 

XXIX. Miscellaneous Industries : Charcoal, Cotton, Oysters, Sugar, 

XXX. Miscellaneous appellations. 
XXXI. Bar-rooms. 
XXXII. Thieves' slang. 



Bird's eye 







Bulkhead, Cellar-case 










Best room 














Frame house 

Grout house 











Bay-gall Renvers(5 

Bush Soft woodlands 

Cedar swamp Tar kiln 




Timbered lands 




















Hog backs 




Indian mounds 

Buffalo wallows 

Indian mortars, Pot holes 













Shaking prairie 


Soda prairie 
















Branch water 




Creek, Dry creek 












Mud lumps 



Pool-holes, Spool-holes 




















Alkali flats 
Arid belt 
Back country 
Back woods 
Bad lands 
Barren grounds 
Bone- pits 



Down country 

Down east 



Indian Reservations 

Movey star 




Red brush 



Alluvions, Bottom-lands 




Bois-brule", Burn, Quemado 


Cattle range 















Hard pan 

Heater piece 

Indian orchards. 




Maskeg, Muskeg 










Rolling roads 











Terres folles 

Terres jaunea 

Terres tremblantes 

Thank ye ma'ams 












Saratoga trunk 








Buck -saw 









Night key 


















Muley saw 











Arkansas toothpick 

One-eyed scribe 



Black -eyed Susan 


Blue Lightning 









Shot gun 





Meat in the pot 


Mr. Speaker 




















Bull plough 





Granger.. . .ers 






Hay -bar rack 













































Durham boat 

Fan tail 

Ferry flat 


Flat -boatman 








Log- canoe 








Rote, Rut 





Slack-water navigation 









Wharf boat 

Wood skin 






Block-Island turkey 






































Cold shut 
Gone beaver 

Moose -yard 




Still hunter . . ing 







Black snake 

Blazing star 

Bodewash, Buffalojchips 






Broncho buster 








Cattle mark 

Cattle raiser 

















Mustang . . ers 

























Judges of the plains 




Line riding 










Corduroy road 

Corner, Corner trees 





Land warrants 



Naked possessor 


Occupying claimant 

Paper city 




Pre-emption right 











Mi&s lick 





Deacon seat 







Shantying ground 







Logging camp 


Logging swamp 


Log rolling 





Bucking iron 

Bar diggings 


Barren gravel 



Clean up 



Block coal 



Cracker boy 







Fool's gold 



Gulch digging 

Gulch mining 

Hard coal 

Long Tom 




Pay dirt 

Pay rock 
















Bald-face shirt 






Best-bib and tucker 

Biled shirt 



Blanket co&t 

Blick, Bliokey 

















Coat Negro-cloth 

Conchas Nicklehawk 

Conestogas Nigger-head 

Cowlick Pants 

Crazy-quilt Petticoat-trousers 

Crush-hat Plug 

Dickey Prince-Albert 

Dike Pull-back dress 

Dress Rag 

Duds Rag carpet 

Duster Raincloak 

Factory Reboso 

Factory-cotton Roundabout 
Fix-out Rubbers 

Flat Sack 

Goatee Salea 

Gossamer Scuff 

Gums Serape 

Hat Shad-belly coat 

Hickory-shirt Sherryvallies 

Hose Shimmey 

Huarachos Shoddy 

Humphrey Shorts 

Jim -s winger Slicker 

Junk Snot-rag 

Larrigan Soap -lock 

Mary-Walkers Sombrero 

Matachias Spike tail 

Mitasse Stogies 

Moccasin Suspenders 

Muslin Table-dress 




















Cow pony 

Creature, Critter 


Lace horse 





Narragansett .pacer 







Spike -team 

Stone -hone 



Durgen Rackabones 

Narrow gauge mule Skate 

Pelter Tackey 













Dirt car 











Stone -boat 








Tote -team 













































Barren ground reindeer 

Black-tailed hare 
. Bob-cat 
Boss- cow 










Peon dog 


Prairie dog 










Silver fox 


Silver tip 


2. BlKDS. 





Baltimore oriole 





Carouge commandeur 

Black head 


Black swimmer 


Blue stocking 










Brown thrasher 

Cock of the plaina 



Burrowing owl 







Cou blanc 













Old squaw 







Fish crow 






Golden eye 



Pique-bois jaune 

Guinea keet 








High holder 




















Mango humming bird 






















Albany beef 




Alligator gar 








Banded garfish 




Barred killy 






Blue cat 


Blue fish 


Bony fish 





Eels- pout 













Cape Cod turkey 


Cape May goody 


Cat, Cat-fish, Catty 













Herring salmon 








Horse mackerel 





Saltwater tailor 




Sheep's head 






Souffle 1 




























Alligator tortoise 





Hill- bender 








Moccasin snake 














Shedder- crab- 

Deaf -adder 



Soft back 


Soft crab 













Colorado beetle 

Buck fly 


Buffalo gnat 

Doodle bugs 









Hessian fly 









Moose fly 















White man's- fly 



Adam and Eve 


Albany hemp 









American ivy 





Apple Peru 






Atamasco lily 

Balm of Gilead 


Balsam fir 


Balsam poplar 


Bamboo briar 

Broom corn 


Broom sage 


















Burr oak 


Bird's eye 




Black grass 


Black gum 


Black jack 







Canada rice 

Blue curls 


Blue grass 




Blue weed 




Bois barr4 

Canker lettuce 


Canoe birch 

Bois de fer 


Bone set 

Carolina allspice: 

Bowman's root 

Carolina pink 






Cat's claw 



Century plant 












Clear weed 








Cool wort 










Creosote plant 

Cross- vine 



Curled maple 

Custard apple 

Cut grass 




Devil's bit 







Dutch curse 

Earth almond 







Frog's hair 
















Hog plum 








Indian bread 

Indian fig 

Indian hemp 

Indian ladder 

Indian millet 

Indian pipe 

Indian rice 

Indian tobacco 

Indian turnip 



Jack oak 
Joe-Pye weed 




Labrador tea 

Ladies' tresses 

Lamb's quarter 





Long- moss 









Mesquit grass 





Musquash root 





New- Orleans moss 






Oak -barrens 
















Pappoose root 


Partridge berry 































Sea-island cotton 


Sea-side grape 







Pleurisy root 










Slippery elm 

Slough grass 

Smell lemon 





Spanish bayonet 


Squaw- root 





















Wait-a-bit trees 



Wax- myrtle 

Whiskey plant J 



Wood skin 




Alligator pear 
Auchovy pear 
Bull nut 

Chaparral berry 
Chickasaw plum 
Chicken grape 




Citron- melon 


Cling, Clingstone 



Mustang grape 



























Indian peach 


Ivory nut 




Mammee apple 


Mammee sapota 
























Beans (Turkish) 


Carolina potato 





Irish potato 

Jack-in the pulpit 




Pomme blanche 


















Batter- cake 





Belly- wax 



Bird's nest 


Bloated eels 

Blood worscht 



Boston bread 




Brown bread 


Butter bread 



Canned goods 




Chicken fixings 

Chicken gumbo 





Chip beef 



Cincinnati oysters 






Cold flour 




Corn halls 

Corn bread 






Cotton-seed oil 




















Indian dab . . . meal 


Indian pudding. . . 




Jersey- tea 




Johny cake 





Fried cake 









Marshy milk 

Goody bread 

Maryland end 






Meat biscuits 


Meat victuals 



' Hard tack 


Hasty pudding 






Hog and hominy 

Mesey sugar 



Hooeier cake 





Noodle jees 

Huggerum buff 


Hulled corn 




Indian bed . . . bread 










Santa-Fe tea 













Planked shad 










Pop- corn 


Porterhouse steak 
















Riz bread 


Roasting ears 



Wheat and Indian 















Bottom dollar 


Bungtown coppers 











Pine-tree money 



Dollar of the Fathers 

Postal currency 



Federal currency 


Fractional currency 

Red cent 









Hard tack 







Soft money 


Stump-tail currency 


Tlac, tlaco 









































Falling weather 









Indian summer 


Last of pea-time 

Light and shut 






Round snow 


Rubber ice 




Scaly ice . 










Silver thaw 










Coon's age 


Dog's age 

















Aunt, Aunty 

California widow 


Canack, Canuck 

Backwoods man 





Chore- boy 





Hay- ward 




Hired- man 




Judges of the plains 



Dining-room servant 




Door- tender 


























Arbor Day 
Basket meeting 


Bobbing club 


Break down 

Buck party 



Chalk talk 

China wedding 


Chowder excursion 




Colcannon night 

Corn husking 


Decoration Day 

Donation party 


Evacuation day 





Forefather's day 

Full feather 
Ground-hog day 
Hen party 
High old time 







Leg drama . . . shop 



Pan sage 

Pinxter (Pinkster) 

Play spell 







Silver wedding 





















Ante, Anti 





Blind poker 






Chuck -a-chuck 









Dumm, Dummy 












Jack pot 

Jack stones 



King's ex 





Lock eye 



Mumblety pegs 


No fair 

Old sledge 

Original hand 


Pat hand 










Sugar game 

Virginia poke 


Ager, Ague, Aguy, Agy 




Brash, water-brash 

Break bone 

Bronze John 

Buck ague, Buck fever 

Canker rash 


Chill and fever 

Conniption fit 







Milk sickness 



Prairie itch 







Yellow Jack 





















Anan, anend 










Bail " 



























































Polt, Polter 

Holp, Holpen 
















Long- sauce 






Maul and wedges 


Meech ing 













Basket meeting 

Anxious bench 

Bible Christians 

Anxious meeting 

Big meeting 

Anxious mourner 

Bush meeting 

Backwoods preacher 

Camp meeting 


Christian Scientists 


Church house 







Preacher's stand 












Shoutin' member 

Hard Shells 





Spiritual wife 
















Court of Assistants 




District courts 

State House 


Upper House 


Yellow cover 









Advice and consent 


Allotment certificate 






Black Code 












God fathers 





















New-Jersey tea 












Copperhead, Copperheadism 

Double ender 



Free fighter 

Galvanised Yankee 

Golden Circle 

{^rape-vine telegraph 





Jeff Davis-boxes 

Johny .... Rbb 


Louisiana Tigers 

Mossy bank 

Musical box 




Secessioner, 1st 

Stars and bars 




Yankee (galvanized) 


Addition, Division and Silence 
'Albany regency 
American Party 
Amnesty oath 



A. P. A. 







Ballot-box stuffing 





Black 'Republicans 

Copperhead .... ism 

Bloody shirters 


Bobolition, Bobolitionists 



Doughface, .... ism 





Border ruffians 


Boss, Bossism 


Bounty- Jumper 








Buckshot War 











Graveyard issues 




Greenback Labor party 






Hard Shells 



Cipher dispatches 


Civil Service Reform 

High minded Federalists 

Clear grits 




Confederate States 






Coon, Coonery 


Know-nothings .... ism 

Lecompton Democrats 







Manifest desting 

Mason and Dixon's line 

Missouri compromise 

Mixed ticket 




Munroe Doctrine 

National Democrats 

Native Americans 





Pea-nut politics 




Plumed Knights 

Political capital 

Political Union 





Primary meeting 

Provincialist . 












Salt river 



Scratched ticket 





Silver Grays 


Slate smaskers 


Spoils system 

Spread eagle . . . ism 

Squatter Sovereignty 


State's rights 

State ticket 

Steering committee 



Straight ticket 







Touching committee 








White league 

White liners 
















Blue stocking 













Charcoal blossom 












































Blanket Indian 











Council fire 



Happy hunting ground 
Indian file 

Indian gift. . . .liquor 
Indian mounds 

Indian orchards 

Indian reservations 

Indian summer 

Lingua Franca 















Scalp lock 


Sea wan 








War path 






Bull nigger 














Mason and Dixon's line 




















t Sambo 

Underground railroad 







Chuck-will's- widow 



Pi pi 



.Accumulati ves 


Adjective jerker 


Uaalam box 








.Dog watch 



.Fairy tale 






Ghost story 


















Shirt-tail dash 



Patent outsides 


Pencil pusher 




Playing up 


Puff workers 




Rewrite man 





Yellow Journalism 


Accommodation train 

Baggage car 

Baggage check 











Car- house 


Check rail 








Flag station 





Greased lightning 



Jumping-off place 




Mail .... car 











Snake- head 



Strap railroad 



Wild-cat train 



Bank shaving Deal 

Bill Dicker 
Bindery ' Domestics 

Brotus Drummer 

By-bidder Drumming 

Cable Dry-goods store 

Cannery . Fakir 

Capper Finding-store 

C. 0. D. Fore-pay 

Combine Freight age 

Corner Glibe 

Cut Goner 

Dead-duck House-milliner 







M erchant 






Peter Funk 













Walk out 



Sight unseen 




Bogus boys 






Buttoning up 


Curb-stone broker 























Oyster grass 












Shell bed 

Count clams 








4. SUGAR. 





Barring out 



Sugar bush, camp, orchard 


Sugaring time 


Sugar licks 


Sugar maple 



Maple- sugar 














Old soldier 

Sot- weed 











Blue Bellies 


Blue Hen Chickens 


Blue Lights 


Blue Noses 




Blue skins 


Bois-brule" . 


Boys in blue 


Brother Jonathan 













Heathen Chinee 














Little Giant 


Little Mac 


Little Magician 




Miller boy of the Slashes 






Natick Cobbler 


Old Bullion 


Old Driver 


Old Hickory 


Old Planters 

Uncle Sam 

Old Probabilities 


Old Put 



Young Hickory 


Badger State 
Bayou State 
Bay State 
Bear State 
Big drink 
Blue Grass State 
Blue Hen State 
Blue Law State 

Buckeye State 

Bullion State 

Centennial State 

Cracker State 

Creole State 

Dark and Blocdy Ground 

Diamond State 




Empire State 

Mud-cat State 

Excelsior State 

New Netherlands 

Freestone State 

Nutmeg State 

Garden of the West 

Old Colony 

Garden State 

Old Country 

Golden State 

Old Dominion 

Granite State 

Old Line State 

Green Mountain State 

Old North State 

Hawk-Eye State 

Palmetto State 

Hoosier State 

Pelican State 

Key-stone State 

Pine-tree State 

Lake State 

Pivotal State 

Land of steady habits 


Little Rhody 

Prairie State 

Lone Star State 

Sucker State 

Lumber State 

Turpentine State 

Monkey-wrench district 

Wolverine State 

Mother of States 



Athens of America 

City of Soles 

Bluff City 

City of Spindles 

Brass City 

City of the Straits 

Charter-Oak City 

City of Witches 

City of Brotherly Love 

Classic City 

City of Churches 

Cradle of Liberty 

City of Colleges 

Crescent City 

City of Elms 

Crescent City of the West 

City of the Golden State 

Empire City 

City of Magnificent Distances 

Executive City 

City of Notions 

Falls City 

City of Rocks 

Federal City 



Flour City 

Flower City 

Forest City 


Gate City 

Golden City 


Hub of the Universe 

Iron City 


Monumental City 
Mound City 
Palmetto City 
Quaker City 
Railroad City 
Smoky City 
Tri-Mountain City 
Zenith City 


Boys in blue 

Cod-fish aristocracy 



Four hundred 

Golden Circle 



Knights of Labour 

Ku-Klux Klan 




Mudsill clubs 



Sovereigns of Industry 



Vigilance committee 

White caps 










Dumm, Dummy 









Horse marine 

























Old coon 



Bottom fact 




Bull (prefix) 


Cap sheaf 






Come out 






Gilded rooster 




Go ahead 





Some pumpkins 






Two-forty pace 




Back talk 

Bluff er 










Half-way strainer 

High falutin 











Spread-eagle .... ism 











Cuss, Cussednes