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Full text of "The slang dictionary; or, The vulgar words, street phrases, and "fast" expressions of high and low society. Many with their etymology, and a few with their history traced"

I 



BEQUEST OF 

REV. CANON SCADDING, P. D 

TORONTO, WOT 






THE 

SLANG DIOTIONAEY; 

OR, 

THE VULGAR WORDS, STREET PHRASES, 

AND "EAST" EXPRESSIONS OF 

HIGH AND LOW 

SOCIETY. 



MANY -WITH THEIR ETYMOLOGY, 
AND A FE'W WITH THEIR HISTORY TRACED. 







The "WiDoi" and the " Wooden Spoon."— S«J>. 273. 



LONDON: 
JOHN CAMDEN HOTTEN, PICCADILLY. 

1865. 






Copies of this work, interleaved with finely -ruled paper, for the use of those 
who desire to collect such Slang and colloquial words as may start into exist- 
ence from time to time, can h-. obtained from the publisher, price gs. 6d, 



ELEVENTH THOUSAXD. 



FRniTED BY JOHN CAMDEN HOTTEN. PICCADILLY, LONDON, 



P K E F A C E. 



With this work is incorporated The Dictionary of Modern 
Slang, Cant, and Vulgar TfbrcZs, issued by "a London 
Antiquary" in 1859. The first edition of that work con- 
tained about 3000 words ; the second, issued twelve months 
later, gave upwards of 5000. Both editions were reviewed 
by the critical press with an approval seldom accorded to 
small works of the kind. During the four years that have 
elapsed, the compiler has gone over the field of unrecog- 
nised English once more. The entire subject has been re- 
surveyed, out-lying terms and phrases have been brought 
in, new street-words have been added, and better illustra- 
tions of old colloquial expressions given. The result is 
the volume before the reader, which offers, for his amuse- 
ment or instruction, nearly 10,000 words and phrases com- 
monly deemed " vulgar," but which are used by the highest 
and lowest, the best, the wisest, as well as the worst and 
most ignorant of society. 

Any apology for an inquiry like the present is believed 
to be unnecessary. The philologist and the historian 
usually find in such material the best evidences of a 
people's progress or decline It may not be out of place 
to say here — and I am sure he would not have objected — - 



VI PREFACE. 

that the late Mr Buckle took the greatest interest in the 
subject, and that in a few instances I am indebted to that 
gentleman for the probable etymologies of some of the 
terms given in the Dictionary. "Many of these words 
and phrases," he used to say, " are but serving their 
apprenticeship, and will eventually become the active 
strength of our language." 

The widespread interest taken in the subject of Eng- 
lish vulgar speech has surprised me. From almost every 
capital in Europe I have received communications asking 
further particulars, or informing me that scraps of their lan- 
guage have become mixed with our street-talk ; and from 
India, China, the Cape, Australia, and North and South 
America I have received letters of advice or inquiry upon 
the subject. In German magazines numerous articles have 
appeared upon my former book ; and, at Turin, Professor 
Ascoli has published a lengthy work upon the Lingua 
Eranca words in the speech of our lower orders, which the 
Dictionary of Modern Slmig was the first to detect and 
make known. The Professor looks to the Lombard mer- 
chants, who flocked to London in the days of Elizabeth and 
James L, as the source from whence we derive this curious 
element in our vulgar speech. I am sorry to inform him 
that we have to thank the less dignified organ-grinders, 
as they are termed, for the introduction of this Italian 
peculiarity in our street-language. 



PREFACE. VU 

The short history of Cant and Slang, which precedes the 
Dictionary, was first published in 1859, ^^^ ^^^ ^lot since 
been re-written, although the Dictionary, which follows, 
has been more than trebled in size, and consequently con- 
tains many more illustrations of the different classes of 
colloquial speech than are given in the introduction. For 
the general style and aim of this preliminary performance, 
the compiler feels it necessary to offer some apology. 

The more vulgar and less known Cant or secret terms of 
the London thieves are given in the Dictionary at the foot 
of each page. The compiler scarcely knew what to do with 
some of the more repulsive of these words — those explana- 
tory of thieving, &c., and which continually occur in the 
language of low Iffe. Their very existence is a lamentable 
fact ; and the dry, unpoetic way they explain criminal in- 
tentions and actions is miserable in the extreme. Crime 
is an awkward thing to deal with, and, as in the case of 
our own Legislature, when trying successfully to regulate 
the punishment, and at the same time provide for the 
reformation of criminal offenders, he found the matter a 
singularly difficult one to manage. Slang is generally 
pithy and amusing, whereas Cant, like our lower orders in 
their thoughts and actions, is unrelieved by any feeling 
approaching to the poetic or the refined. 

A few Slang and Cant words wUl be observed in the 
plural. The compiler endeavoured, as far as possible, to 



VIU PREFACE. 

give the singular number ; but in the case of some of the 
terms he found this impossible, as he never heard them 
used in any other form than the plural. 

The reader will please bear in mind that this is a Dic- 
tionary of modern Slang, — a list of colloquial words and 
phrases in present use, — whether of ancient or modern 
formation. Whenever Ancient or Ancient English is ap- 
pended to a Slang or Cant word, it is meant to signify 
that the expression was in respectable use in or previous 
to the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Ancient Cant indicates 
that tlie term was used as a Cant word in or previous 
to the same reign. Old or Old English, affixed to a 
vulgar word, signifies that it was in general use as a 
proper expression in or previous to the reign of Charles 
II. Old Cant indicates that the term was in use as a 
Cant word during or before the same reign. 

Obsolete Slang terms are not given ; no notice, therefore, 
has been taken of the numerous expressions that occur in 
tire play-books and other popular literature of the past 
three hundred years, which have served their day, and 
now form no part of our tongue. Only the living language 
of the time has been dealt with. 

Not long since the compiler purchased Tlie History of 
a Manchester Cadger: Narrated in his own Language, 
price I d. He was certainly somewhat surprised on open- 
ing the pamphlet to find that it consisted of eight pages 



PREFACE. ix 

of liis own little book, reprinted with a few errors, and 
without any acknowledgment of the source from whence 
it was taken. He could from his heart recommend the 
Manchester Cadger to reprint the Ten Commandments, 
and study one of them, now that he has somewhat im- 
proved his fortime by the first pilfer. It is said that 
40,000 copies have been sold of the History. H.I.H. 
the Prince Lucien Bonaparte very recently discovered 
one of his privately-printed little books. The Song of 
Solomon, in the Lancashire Dialect, being hawked around 
the same city in the form of a twopenny edition. 

The compiler will be thankful for any corrections, 
additional examples, or words omitted. He has occupied 
many spare hours in the formation of this Dictionary of 
unrecognised English, and he wishes in future editions to 
make it as perfect as possible. 

Based upon the present performance, a work of a 
similar but more extended character is in progress. It 
will give an appropriate extract from books, serials, 
broadsheets, or any other source which may afford 
material illustrative of the actual employment of the 
several Slang, Cant, and Vulgar terms in English printed 
literature. It is believed that the work will be of con- 
siderable value to the philologist. Further particulars 
may be obtained of the publisher, who will also receive 
subscribers' names. 



X PREFACE. 

In conclusion, the compiler begs to express his obliga- 
tions to those correspondents who have from time to time 
assisted him with their valuable suggestions. 

J. C. H. 
Piccadilly, ist June 1864- 



*5^* The Prefaces to the compilers previous ivorh are 
added, as it is believed that they will not prove uninterest- 
ing to the reader. 



PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION 



DICTIONARY OF MODERN SLANG, ETC. 



If any gentleman of a studious turn of mind, who may 
liave acquired the habit of carrying pencils and note- 
books, would for one year reside in Monmouth Court, 
Seven Dials ; six months in Orchard Street, Westminster ; 
three months in Mint Street, Borough; and consent to 
undergo another three months on the extremely popular 
but veiy much disHked treadmill, (vulgo the " Everlasting 
Staircase,") finishing, I will propose, by a six months' 
tramp, in the character of a cadger and beggar, over Eng- 
land, I have not the least doubt but that he would be able 
to write an interesting work on the languages, secret and 
vulgar, of the lower orders. 

In the matter of Slang, our studious friend would have 
'to divide his time betwixt observation and research. Con- 
versations on the outsides of omnibuses, on steamboat 
piers, or at railway termini, would demand his most atten- 
tive hearing; so would the knots of semi-decayed cabmen, 
standing about in bundles of worn-out great coats and 
haybands, betwixt watering-pails, and conversing in a 



Xll PREFACE. 

dialect every third word of whicli is without home or 
respectable relations. He would also have to station him- 
self for hours near gatherings of ragged boys playing or 
fighting, but ever and anon contributing to the note-book 
a pure street-term. He would have to "hang about" 
lobbies, mark the refined word-droppings of magniloquent 
flimkeys, " run after " all the popular preachers, go to the 
Inns of Court, be up all night and about all day — in fact, 
be a ubiquitarian, with a note-book and pencil in hand. 

As for research, he would have to turn over each page 
of our popular literature, wander through all the weekly 
serials, wade through the newspapers, fashionable and 
unfashionable, and subscribe to Mudie's, and scour the 
novels. This done, and if he has been an observant man, 
I will engage to say that he has made a choice gathering, 
and that we may reasonably expect an interesting little 
book. 

I give this outline of preparatory study to shew the 
reason the task has never been undertaken before. People 
in the present chase after respectability don't care to turn 
blackguards, and exchange cards with the Wliitechapel 
Pecker, or the Sharp's-alley Chicken, for the sake of a few 
vulgar, although curious words ; and we may rest assured 
that it is quite impossible to write any account of vulgar 
or low language, and remain seated on damask in one's 
own drawing-room. But a fortunate circumstance attended 



PREFACE. xlii 

the compiler of the present work, and he has neither been 
required to reside in Seven Dials, visit the treadmill, nor 
wander over the country in the character of a vagabond or 
a cadger. 

In collecting old ballads, penny histories, and other 
printed street narratives, as materials for a History of 
Cheap or Popular Literature, he frequently had occasion 
to purchase in Seven Dials and the Borough a few old 
songs or dying speeches, from the chaunters and patterers 
who abound in those neighbourhoods. With some of these 
men (their names would not in the least interest the 
reader, and would only serve the purpose of making this 
Preface look like a vulgar page from the London Directory) 
an arrangement was made that they should collect the 
Cant and Slang words used by the different wandering tribes 
of London and the country. Some of these chaunters are 
men of respectable education, (although filling a vao-a- 
bond's calling,) and can write good hands, and express 
themselves fluently, if not with orthographical correctness. 
To prevent deception and mistakes, the words and phrases 
sent in were checked off by other chaunters and tramps. 
Assistance was also sought and obtained, through an in- 
telligent printer in Seven Dials, from the costermongers in 
London, and the pedlars and hucksters who traverse the 
country. In this manner the greater number of Cant 
words were procured, very valuable help being continually 



XIV PREFACE. 

derived from Mayhem's London Labour and the London 
Poor, a work which had gone over much of the same 
ground. The Slang and vulgar expressions were gleaned 
from every source which appeared to offer any materials ; 
indeed the references attached to words in the Dictionary 
frequently indicate the channels which afforded them. 

Although in the Introduction I have divided Cant from 
Slang, and treated the subjects separately, yet in the 
Dictionary I have only, in a few instances, pointed out 
wliich are Slang, or which are Cant terms. The task would 
have been a difficult one. Many words which were once 
Cant are Slang now. The words peig and cove are in- 
stances in point. Once Cant and secret terms, they are 
now only street vulgarisms. 

The etymologies attempted are only given as contribu- 
tions to the subject, and the derivation of no vulgar term 
is guaranteed. The origin of many street-words will, per- 
haps, never be discovered, having commenced with a knot 
of illiterate persons, and spread amongst a public that 
cared not a fig for the history of the word, so long as it 
came to their tongues to give a vulgar piquancy to a joke, 
or relish to an exceedingly familiar conversation. The 
references and authorities given in italics frequently shew 
only the direction or probable source of the etymology. 
The author, to avoid tedious verbiage, was obliged, in so 
small a work, to be curt in his notes and suggestions. 



PREFACE. XV 

He lias to explain also that a few words will probaWy 
be noticed in the Slang and Cant Dictionary that are ques- 
tionable as coming under either of those designations* 
These have been admitted because they were originally 
either vulgar terms, or the compiler had something novel 
to say concerning them. The makers of our large diction- 
aries have been exceedingly crotchety in their choice of 
what they considered respectable words. It is amusing to 
know that Eichardson used the word humbug to explain 
the sense of other words, but omitted it in the alphabetical 
arrangement as not sufficiently respectable and ancient. 
Tlie word Slang, too, he served in the same way. 

Filthy and obscene words have been carefully excluded, 
although street-talk, unlicensed and unwritten, abounds in 
these. 

" Immodest words admit of no defence, 
For want of decency is want of sense." 

It appears from the calculations of philologists, that there 
are 38,000 words in the English language, including deri- 
vations. I believe I have, for the first time, in consecutive 
order, added at least 3000 words to the previous stock, — • 
vulgar and often very objectionable, but still terms in every- 
day use, and employed by thousands. It is not generally 
known, that the polite Lord Chesterfield once desired Dr 
Johnson to compile a Slang Dictionary; indeed, it was 
Chesterfield, some say, who first used the word humbug. 



XVI PREFACE, 

Words, like peculiar styles of dress, get into public favour, 
and come and go in fashion. Wlien great favourites and 
universal tliey truly become " household words," although 
generally considered Slang, when their origin or ante- 
cedents are inquired into. 

A few errors of the press, I am sorry to say, may be 
noticed ; but, considering the novelty of the subject, and 
the fact that no fixed orthography of vulgar speech exists, 
it will, I hope, be deemed a not uninteresting essay on a 
new and very singular branch of human inquiry; for, as 
Mayhew remarks, " the whole subject of Cant and Slang 
is, to the philologist, replete with interest of the most pro- 
foxmd character." 

The compilee will be much obliged by the receipt of 
any cant, slang, oe vulgae woeds not mentioned in the 

DICTIONARY. ThE PEOBABLE OEIGIN, OE ETYMOLOGY, OF ANY 
FASHIONABLE OE UNFASHIONABLE VULGARISM, WILL ALSO BE 
RECEIVED BY HIM WITH THANKS. 

TiccADiLLT, June 30, 1859, 



PKEFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION 



DICTIONAEY OF MODERN SLANG, ETC. 



The First Edition of tliis work had a rapid sale, and within 
a few weeks after it was published, the entire issue passed 
from the publisher's shelves into the hands of the public. 
A Second Edition, although urgently called for, was not 
immediately attempted. The First had been foimd incom- 
plete, and faulty in many respects, and the author deter- 
mined thoroughly to revise and recast before again going 
to press. The present Edition, therefore, will be found 
much more complete than the First; indeed, I may say 
that it has been entirely re- written, and that, whereas the 
First contained but 3000 words, this gives nearly 5000, 
with a mass of fresh illustrations, and extended articles on 
the more important Slang terms — humbug, for instance. 
The notices of a Lingua Franca element in the language 
of London vagabonds are peculiar to this Edition. 

My best thanks are due to several correspondents for 
valuable hints and suggestions as to the probable etymo- 
logies of various colloquial expressions. 

h 



Xviii PREFACE. 

One literary journal of high repute recommended a 
division of Cant from Slang; but the annoyance of two 
indices in a small work appeared to me to more than coun- 
terbalance the benefit of a stricter philological classification, 
so I have for the present adhered to the old arrangement ; 
indeed, to separate Cant from Slang would be almost im- 
possible. 

PrccADiLLT, March 15, iS6a 



CONTENTS. 



THE HISTORY OF CANT, OR THE SECRET LANGUAGE 
OF VAGABONDS. 

Black and Coloured Vagabonds — Vagabonds all over Exirope — Vaga- 
bonds Universal, . ..... 

Etymology of Cant— Cant used in old times— Difference between 
Cant and Slang, ..... 



3-5 



The Gipsies — Gipsies taught English Vagabonds — The Gipsy- 
Vagabond alliance — The Origin of Cant — Vulgar words from 
the Gipsy — Gipsy element in the English language — The 
poet Moore on the origin of Cant — Borrow on the Gipsy lan- 
guage — The inventor of Canting not hanged, . . 5-11 

Old Cant words still used— Old Cant words with modern meanings 
— The words "Rum" and " Qiceer" explamed — Old Cant words 
entirely obsolete, . . . . . .11-14 

The Oldest " Rogue's Dictionary," .... 14-20 

" Jaw-breakers," or hard words, used as Cant — Were Highwaymen 
educated men?— Vagabonds used Foreign words as Cant — The 
Lingua Franca, or Bastard Italian — Cant derived from Jews and 
Showmen — Classic words used as English Cant — Old English 
words used as Cant — Old English words not fashionable now — 
Our old Authors very vulgar persons — Was Shakspeare a pugi- 
list? — Old Dramatists used Cant words — Curious systems of 
Cant, •.....,. 20-26 

ACCOUNT OF THE HIEROGLYPHICS USED BY 
VAGABONDS. 

Mendicant Feeemasonrt— Hieroglyphics of Vagabonds— Maps 
used by Beggars— Account of a Cadger's Map— Explanation of 
the Hieroglyphics— Did the Gipsies invent them ?— The Mur- 
derer's Signal on the Gallows, . . . .2 7-32 



XX 



CONTENTS. 



A SHORT HISTORY OF SLANG, OR THE VULGAR LAN- 
GUAGE OF FAST LIFE. 

Slang at Babylon and Nineveh— Old English Slang — Slang in the 
time of Cromwell, and in the Court of Charles II. — Swift and 
Arbuthnot fond of Slang— The origin of " Callage"— '"The 
Real Simon Pure" — Tom Brown and Ned Ward — Did Dr 
Johnson compile a Slang Dictionary ? — John Bee's absurd ety- 
mology of Slang — The true origin of the term — Derived from 
the Gipsies — Burns and his fat friend, Grose — Slang used by 
all classes. High and Low— Slang in Parliament, and amongst 
our friends — New words not so reprehensible as old words bur- 
dened with strange meanings— The poor Foreigner's perplexity 
— Long and windy Slang words — Vulgar corruptions, 

Fashionable Slang, 

Parliamentary Slang, 

Military and Dandy Slang, 

University Slang, 

Religious Slang, . 

Legal Slang, or Slang amongst the Lawyers, 

Literary Slang — Punch on "Slang and Sanscrit, 

Theatrical Slang, or Slang both before and behind the curtain, 

Civic Slang, ....... 

Slang Terms for Money— Her Majesty's coin is insulted by one 
hundred and thirty distinct Slang terms — Old Slang terms for 
money — The classical origin of Slang money-terms — The terms 
used by the Ancient Romans vulgarisms in the Nineteenth 
Century, ....... 

Shopkeepers' Slang, ...... 

Workmen's Slang, or Slang in the workshop — Many Slang terms for 
money derived from operatives, .... 

Slang Apologies for Oaths, or sham exclamations for passion and 
temper — Slang swearing, ..... 

Slang Terms for Drunkenness, and the graduated scale of fuddle- 
ment and 5.>atoxicatiort, . . . • 



33-42 
42 

45 
47 
48 

49 

52 
S3 
56 
57 



58-61 
61 



62 

64 



CONTENTS. Xxi 

DICTIONARY OF MODERN SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR ^'^''^ 
WORDS; many with their etymologies traced, together with 
illustrations, and references to authorities, . . . 6^-274 

Some Account of the Back Slang, the secret language of Coster- 
mongers— The principle of the Back Slang— Boys and girla 
soon acquire it— The Back Slang unknown to the Police— 
Costermongers' terms for money— Arithmetic amongst the 
Costermongers, ••.... 27i?-2"Q 

Glossary of the Back Slang, ..... 280-284 

Some Account of the Rhyming Slang, the secret language of 
Chaunters and Patterers— The origin of the Rhyming Slang 
—Spoken principally by Vagabond Poets, Patterers, and 
Cheap Jacks— Patterers " well up " in Street Slang— Curious 
Slang Letter from a Chaunter, .... 28i;-288 
Glossary of the Rhyming Slang, .... 289-202 
The Bibliography of Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Language, or 
a list of the books which have been consulted in the com- 
pilation of this work, comprising nearly every known treatise 
upon the subject, ...... 20^ -^oC 



THE SLANG DICTIONAKY. 



THE HISTORY OF CANT, 

OB 

THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF VAGABONDS. 



Cant and Slang are universal and world-wide. 

Nearly every nation on the face of the globe, polite and bar- 
barous, may be divided into two portions, the stationary and the 
wandering, the civilised and the uncivilised, the respectable and 
the scoundrel, — those who have fixed abodes and avail themselves 
of the refinements of civilisation, and those who go from place to 
place picking up a precarious livelihood by petty sales, begging, 
or theft. This peculiarity is to be observed amongst the heathen 
tribes of the southern hemisphere, as well as in the oldest and 
most refined countries of Europe. As Mayhew very pertinently 
remarks, " It would appear, that not only are all races divisible 
into wanderers and settlers, but that each civilised or settled 
tribe has generally some wandering horde intermingled with and 
in a measure preying upon it." In South Africa, the naked and 
miserable Hottentots are pestered by the still more abject Son- 
quas; and it may be some satisfaction for us to know that our 
old enemies at the Cape, the Kaffirs, are troubled with a tribe of 
rascals called Fingoes, — the former term, we are informed by 
travellers, siguifpng beggars, and the latter wanderers and out- 
casts. In South America, and among the islands of the Pacific, 
matters are pretty much the same. Sleek and fat rascals, Avith 
not much inclination towards honesty, fatten, or rather fasten, 
like body insects, upon other rascals, who would be equally sleek 
and fat but for their vagabond dependents. Luckily for respect- 
able persons, however, vagabonds, both at home and abroad, 
shew certain outward peculiarities which distinguish them from 

A 



2 VAGABONDS ALL OVER EUROPE. 

the great mass of lawful people off whom they feed and fatten. 
Personal observation, and a little research into books, enable me 
to mark these external traits. The wandering races are remark- 
able for the development of the bones of the face, as the jaws, 
cheek-bones, &c., high-crowned, stubborn-shaped heads, quick, 
restless eyes,* and hands nervously itching to be doing ; t for 
their love of gambling, — staldng their very existence upon a 
single cast ; for sensuality of all kinds ; and for their use of a 
CANT language with which to conceal their designs and 2^lunder- 
ings. 

The secret jargon, or rude speech, of the vagabonds who hang 
upon the Hottentots is termed Cuze-cat. In Finland, the fellows 
who steal seal-skins, pick the pockets of bear-skin overcoats, and 
talk Cant, are termed Lappes. In France, the secret language of 
highwaymen, housebreakers, and pickpockets is named Argot. 
The brigands and more romantic rascals of Spain term their 
private tongue Germania,t or Eobbers' Language. Eothwalsch,§ 
or foreign-beggar-tall?:, is synonymous with Cant and thieves' 
talk in Germany. The vulgar dialect of Malta, and the Scala 
towns of the Levant — imported into this country and incorporated 
with English cant — is known as the Lingua Franca, or bastard 
Italian. And the crowds of lazy beggars that infest the streets 
of Naples and Rome, and the brigands that Albert Smith used 
to describe near Pompeii — stopping a railway train, and deliber- 
ately rifling the pockets and baggage of the passengers — their 

* " Swarms of vagabonds, wliose eyes were so sliarp as Lynx." — Bullein's Simple's 
and Surgery, 1562. 

t Mayhew has a curious idea upon the habitual restlessness of the nomadic tribes — 
i.e., "Whether it be that in the mere act of wandering there is a greater determina- 
tion of blood to the surface of the body, and, consequently, a less quantity sent to the 
brain." — London Labour, vol. i., p. 2. 

t Qermania. probably from the Gipsies, who were supposed to come from Germany 
into Sixain. 

§ Rolhwdlsch, from Roter, beggar, vagabond, and waUch, foreign. See Dictionary of 
Gipsy language in Pott's Zigeuner in Europa ^ind Asieii, vol. ii., Halle, 1S44. Tne 
Italian cant i«! called Fourbesque, and the Portuguese, O^ao. Sec Francisque-Michd, 
Diciionnaire d'Anjot. Paris, 1S56. 



ETYMOLOGY OF CANT. 3 

secret language is termed Gergo. In England, as we all know, it 
is called Cant — often improperly Slang. 

Most nations, then, may boast, or ratlier lament, a vulgar 
tongue — formed principally from the national language — the 
hereditary property of thieves, tramps, and beggars, — the pests 
of civilised communities. The formation of these secret tongues 
vary, of course, with the circumstances surrounding the speakers. 
A writer in Notes and Queries'^ has well remarked, that "the 
investigation of the origin and principles of Cant and Slang 
language opens a curious field of inquiry, replete with consider- 
able interest to the pliilologist and the philosopher. It affords a 
remarkable instance of lingual contrivance, which, without the 
Introduction of much arbitrary matter, has developed a system of 
communicating ideas, having all the advantages of a foreign 
language." 

An inquiry into the etymology of foreign vulgar secret tongues, 
and their analogy with that spoken in England, would be curious 
and interesting in the extreme; but neither present space nor 
personal acquirements permit of the task, and therefore the 
writer confines himself to a short account of the origin of English 
Cant. 

The terms Cant and Canting were doubtless derived from 
cliaunt or chaunting, — the " whining tone, or modulation of voice 
adopted by beggars, Avith intent to coax, wheedle, or cajole by 
pretensions of wretchedness." f For the origin of the other 
application of the word Cant, pulpit hypocrisy, we are indebted 
to a pleasant page in the Spectator, (No. 147 :) — " Cant is by 
some people derived from one Andrew Cant, who, they say, was 
a Presbyterian minister in some illiterate part of Scotland, who, 
by exercise and use, had obtained the faculty, alias gift, of 
talking in the pulpit in such a dialect that 'tis said he was 

* Mr Thos. Lawrence, who promised an Etymological Cant and Slang Dictionary. 
Where is the book? t Richardson's Dictionary. 



4 DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CANT AND SLANG. 

understood by none but bis own congregation, — and not by all of 
tbem. Since Master Cant's time it has been understood in a 
larger sense, and signifies all exclamations, -wliinings, unusual 
tones, and, in fine, all praying and preaching like the unlearned 
of the Presbyterians." This anecdote is curious, if it is not cor- 
rect. It was the custom in Addison's time to have a fling at the 
true-blue Presbyterians, and the mention made by Whitelocke of 
Andrew Cant, a fanatical Scotch preacher, and the squib upon 
the same worthy, in Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence Displayed, 
may probably have started the whimsical etymology. As far as 
we are concerned, however, in the present inquiry. Cant was 
derived from chaunt, a beggar's whine; chaunting being the 
recognised term amongst beggars to this day for begging orations 
and street whinings ; and chaunteb, a street talker and tramp, 
the very term still used by strollers and patterers. The use of the 
word Cant, amongst beggars, must certainly have commenced 
at a very early date, for we find "to cante, to speake," in 
Harman's list of Eogues' Words in the year 1566 ; and Harrison 
about the same time,* in speaking of beggars and Gipsies, says, 
"they have devised a language among themselves which they 
name Canting, but others Pedlars' Frenche." 

Now the word Cant in its old sense, and SLANGt in its modern 
application, although used by good writers and persons of educa- 
tion as synonymes, are in reality quite distinct and separate 
terms. Cant, apart from rehgious hypocrisy, refers to the old 
secret language, by allegory or distinct terms, of Gipsies, thieves, 
tramps, and beggars. Slang represents that evanescent, vulgar 
language, ever changing with fashion and taste, which has princi- 

* Description of England, prefixed to HoUnsked's Chronicle. 

t The word Slang, as will be seen in the chapter upon that subject, is purely a 
Gipsy term, although now-a-days it refers to low cr vulgar language of any kind, 
other than cant. Slang and Gibberish in the Gipsy language are synonymous ; but, 
as English adoptions, have meanings very different from that given to tnem in their 
original. 



THE GIPSIES. 5 

pally come into vogue during the last seventy or eighty years, 
spoken by persons in every grade of life, rich and poor, honest 
and dishonest* Cant is old ; Slang is always modern and 
changing. To illustrate the difference : a thief in Cant language 
would term a horse a prancer or a prad ; while in Slang, a man 
of fashion would speak of it as a bit of blood, or a spanker, or 
a neat tit. a handkerchief, too, would be a billy, a fogle, or 
a KENT EAG, in the secret language of low characters ; whilst 
amongst vulgar persons, or those who aped their speech, it would 
be called a bag, a "wipe, or a clout. Cant was formed for 
purposes of secrecy. Slang is indulged in from a desire to 
appear familiar with life, gaiety, town-humour, and with the 
transient nicknames and street jokes of the day. Both Cant and 
Slang, I am aware, are often huddled together as synonymes ; 
but they are distinct terms, and as such should be used. 

To the Gipsies beggars and thieves are undoubtedly indebted 
for their Cant language. The Gipsies landed in this country 
early in the reign of Henry VIII. They were at first treated as 
conjurors and magicians, — indeed, they were hailed by the popu- 
lace with as much applause as a company of English theatricals 
usually receive on arriving in a distant colony. They came here 
with all their old Eastern arts of palmistry, fortune - telling, 
doubling money by incantation and burial, — shreds of pagan 
idolatry; and they brought with them, also, the dishonesty 
(if the lower caste of Asiatics, and the vagabondism they had 
acquired since leaving their ancient dweUing-places in the East 
many centuries before. They possessed, also, a language quite 
distinct from anything that had been heard in England, and they 
claimed the title of Egyptians, and as such, when their thievish 
wandering propensities became a public nuisance, were cautioned 

* " The vulgar tongue consists of two parts: the first is the Cakt Language; the 
second, those burlesque phrases, quaint allusions, and nicknames for persons, things, 
and places, which, from long uninterrupted usage, are made classical by prescription." 
—Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, ist edition, 1783. 



6 THE OIPSY-VAOABOND ALLIANCE. 

and proscribed in a royal proclamation by Henry VIII.* The 
Gipsies were not long in the country before they found native 
imitators. Vagabondism is peculiarly catching. The idle, the 
vagrant, and the criminal outcasts of society, caught an idea 
from the so-called Egyptians — soon corrupted to Gipsies. They 
learned from them how to tramp, sleep under hedges and trees, 
to tell fortunes, and find stolen property for a consideration — 
frequently, as the saying runs, before it was lost. They also 
learned the value and application of a secret tongue; indeed, aU 
the accompaniments of maunding and imposture, except thieving 
and begging, which were well known in this country long before 
the Gipsies paid it a visit, — perhaps the only negative good that 
can be said in their favour. 

Harman, in 1566, v^rote a singular, not to say droll, book, 
entitled, A Caveat for commen Cvrsetors, vulgarly called Vaga- 
hones, neivly augmented and inlarged, wherein the history and 
various descriptions of rogues and vagabonds are given, together 
with their canting tongue. This book, the earliest of the kind, 
gives the singular fact that within a dozen years after the landing 
of the Gipsies, companies of English vagrants were formed, places 
of meeting appointed, districts for plunder and begging operations 
marked out, and rules agreed to for their common management 
In some cases Gipsies joined the English gangs; in others, 
English vagrants joined the Gipsies. The fellowship was found 
convenient and profitable, as both parties were aliens to the laws 
and customs of the country, living in a great measure in the open 
air, apart from the lawful public, and often meeting each other 
on the same by-path, or in the same retired valley ; — but seldom 
intermarrying, or entirely adopting each other's habits. The 
common people, too, soon began to consider them as of one 
family, — all rogues, and from Egypt. The secret language 
spoken by the Gipsies, principally Hindoo, and extremely bar- 

* " Outlandish people calling tlieniselves Egyptians." 1530. 



THE ORIGIN OF CANT. 



barous to English ears, was found incompreliensible and very- 
difficult to learn. The Gipsies, also, found the same difficulty 
with the Enghsh language. A rude, rough, and most singular 
compromise was made, and a mixture of Gipsy, Old English, 
newly-coined words, and cribbings from any foreign, and there- 
fore secret language, mixed and jumbled together, formed what 
has ever since been known as the canting language, or ped- 
LAKs' FRENCH ; or, during the past century, st Giles's gkeek. 

Such was the origin of Cant ; and in illustration of its blend- 
ing with the Gipsy or Cingari tongue, dusky and Oriental from 
the sunny plains of Central Asia, I am enabled to give the 
accompanying list of Gipsy, and often Hindoo, words, with, in 
many instances, their English adoptions : — 



Gipsij. 

BAMBOOZLE, to perplex or mis- 
lead by hiding. Modern Gipsy. 

BOSH, rubbish, nonsense, ofFal. 
Gipsy and Persian. 

CHEESE, thing or article, " That 's 
the CHEESE," or thing. Gipsy and 
Hindoo. 

CHIVE, the tongue. Gipsy. 

CUTA, a gold coin. Danubian 
Gipsy. 

DADE, or Dadi, a father. Gipsy. 

DISTARABIiSr, a prison. Gipsy. 

GAD, or Gabsi, a wife, Gipsy. 



GIBBERISH, the language of Gip- 
sies, synonymous with Slang. 
Gipsy. 



English. 

BAMBOOZLE, to delude, cheat, or 
make a fool of any one. 

BOSH, stupidity, foolishness. 

CHEESE, or cheesy, a iirst-rate or 
very good article. 

CHIVE, or CHIVET, a shout, or loud- 
tongued. 

COUTER, a sovereign, twenty shil- 
lings. 

DADDY, nursery term for father.* 

STURABIN, a prison. 

GAD, a female scold ; a woman who 
tramps over the country with a 
beggar or hawker. 

GIBBERISH, rapid and unmeaning 
s^Jeech. 



* In those instances, indicated by a *, it is impossible to say whether or not we are 
indebted to the Gipsies for the terms. Dad, in Welsh, also signifies a father. Cur is 
stated to be a mere term of reproach, like "Dog," which in all European languages 
has been applied in an abusive sease. Objections may also be raised against Gad and 
Maund. 



8 



VULGAR WORDS FROM THE GIPST. 



Gipsy. 

ISCHUR, ScHUR, or Chur, a thief. 

Gipsy and Hindoo. 
LAB, a word. Gipsy. 
LOWE, or LowR, money. Gipsy 

and Wallachian. 
MAMI, a grandmother. Gipsy. 

MANG, or Maung, to beg. Gipisy 

and Hindoo. 
MORT, a free woman^ — one for 

common use amongst the male 

Gipsies, so appointed by Gipsy 

custom. Gipsy. 
MU, the mouth. Gipsy and Hindoo. 
MULL, to spoil or destroy. Gipsy. 
PAL, a brother. Gipsy. 
PANE, water. Gipsy. Hindoo, 

PAWNEE. 

RIG, a performance. Gipsy. 
ROMANY, speech or language. 

Spanish Gipsy. 
ROME, or RoMM, a man. Gipsy 

and Coptic. 

ROMEE, a woman. Gipsy. 
SLANG, the language spoken by 

Gipsies. Gipsy. 
TAWNO, little. Gipsy. 
TSCHIB, or Jibb, the tongue. 

Gipsy and Hindoo. 



English. 
CUR, a mean or dishonest man. 

LOBS, words. 

LOWRE, money. Ancient Cant. 

MAMMY, or Mamma, a mother, 
formerly sometimes used for 
grandmother. 

MAUND, to beg. 

MORT, or MoTT, a prostitute. 



MOO, or MuN, the mouth. 
MULL, to spoil, or bungle. 
PAL, a partner, or relation. 
PARNEY, rain. 

RIG, a frolic, or "spree." 
ROMANY, the Gipsy language. 

RUM, a good man, or thing. In the 
Robbers' language of Spain, (partly 
Gipsy,) RUM signifies a harlot. 

RUMY, a good woman or girl. 

SLANG, low, vulgar, vmauthorised 
language. 

TANNY, Teeny, little. 

JIBB, the tongue ; Jabber,* quick- 
tougued, or fast talk. 



Here, then, we have the remarkable fact of several words of 
pure Gipsy and Asiatic origin going the round of Europe, passing 
into this country before the Eeformation, and coming down to 
us through numerous generations purely in the mouths of the 
people. They have seldom been written or used in books, and 
simply as vulgarisms have they reached our time. Only a few 

* Jabber, I am reminded, may be only another form of gabber, gab, veiy common 
lu Did English, from the Anglo-Sxcon, CEbban. 



VULGAR WORDS FROM THE GIPSY. 9 

are now Cant, and some are houseLold words. The word jockey, 
as applied to a dealer or rider of horses, came from the Gips}-, 
and means in that language a whip. Our standard dictionaries 
give, of course, none but conjectural etymologies. Another word, 
BAMBOOZLE, has been a sore difficulty with lexicograjjhers. It is 
not in the old dictionaries, although extensively used in familiar 
or popular lang-uage for the last two centuries ; in fact, the very- 
word that Swift, Butler, L'Estrange, and Arbuthnot would pick 
out at once as a telling and most serviceable terra. It is, as we 
have seen, from the Gipsy ; and here I must state that it was 
Boucher who first drew attention to the fact, although in his 
remarks on the dusky tongue he has made a ridiculous mistake 
by concluding it to be identical with its offspring, Cant. Other 
parallel instances, with but slight variations from the old Gipsy 
meanings, could be mentioned ; but sufficient examples have 
been adduced to shew that Marsden, the great Oriental scholar 
in the last century, when he declared before the Society of Anti- 
quaries that the Cant of English thieves and beggars had nothing 
to do with the language spoken by the despised Gipsies, was in 
error. Had the Gipsy tongue been analysed and committed to 
waiting three centmies ago, there is every probability that many 
scores of words now in common use could be at once traced to its 
source. Instances continually occur now-a-days of street vulgar- 
isms ascending to the drawing-rooms of respectable society. Why, 
then, may not the Gipsy-vagabond alliance three centuries ago 
ha-ce contributed its quota of common words to popular speech 1 

I feel confident there is a Gipsy element in the English lan- 
guage hitherto unrecognised ; slender it may be, but not, there- 
fore, unimportant. 

"Indeed," says Moore the poet, in a humorous little book, 
Tom Crib's Memorial to Congress, 1819, "the Gipsy language, 
with the exception of such terms as relate to their own peculiar 
customs, differs but little from the regular Flash or Cant Ian- 



lO BORROW ON THE GIPSY LANGUAGE. 

guage." But tliis was magnifying tlie importance of the alliance. 
Moore knew nothing of the Gipsy tongue other than the few Cant 
words put into the mouths of the beggars in Beaumont and 
Fletcher's Comedy of the Beggarh Bush, and Ben Jonson's Ifasque 
of the Gipsies Metamorphosed, — hence his confounding Cant with 
Gipsy speech, and appealing to the Glossary of Cant for so-called 
" Gipsy" words at the end of the Life of Bamfylde Moore Carew, 
to bear him out in his assertion. Still his remark bears much 
truth, and proof would have been found long ago if any scholar 
had taken the trouble to examine the " barbarous jargon of Cant," 
and to have compared it with Gipsy speech. As George Borrow, 
in his Account of the Gipsies in Spain, eloquently concludes his 
second volume, speaking of the connexion of the Gipsies with 
Europeans : — " Yet from this temporary association were pro- 
duced two results : European fraud became sharpened by coming 
into contact with Asiatic craft ; whilst European tongues, by im- 
perceptible degrees, became recruited wdth various words, (some 
of them wonderfully expressive.) many of which have long been 
stumbling-blocks to the philologist, who, whilst stigmatising them 
as words of mere vulgar invention, or of unknown origin, has 
been far from dreaming that a little more research or reflection 
would have proved their affinity to the Sclavonic, Persian, or 
Komaic, or perhaps to the mysterious object of his veneration, 
the Sanscrit, the sacred tongue of the palm-covered regions of 
Ind; words originally introduced into Europe by objects too 
miserable to occupy for a moment his lettered attention, — the 
despised denizens of the tents of Roma." 

But the Gipsies, their speech, their character — bad enough, as 
all the world testifies — their history, and their religious belief, 
have been totally disregarded, and their poor persons buffeted and 
jostled about until it is a wonder that any trace of origin or na- 
tional speech exists in them. On the Continent they received 
better attention at the hands of learned men. Their language 



THE INVENTOR OF CANTING NOT HANGED. I I 

was taken down, their history traced, and their extraordinary 
customs and practice of living in the open air, and eating raw 
or putrid meat, explained. They ate reptiles and told fortunes 
because they had learnt to do so through their forefathers centu- 
ries back in Hindostan ; and they devoured carrion because the 
Hindoo proverb — " That ivhich God Jcills is better than that hilled 
by man"* — was still in their remembrance. Grellman, a learned 
German, was their principal historian, and to him we are almost 
entirely indebted for the little we know of their languagcf The 
first European settlement of the Gipsies was in the provinces ad- 
joining the Danube, Moldau and Theiss, where M. Cogalniceano, 
in his Essai sur les Cigains de la Moldo- Valachie, estimates them 
at 200,000. Not a few of our ancient and modern Cant and 
Slang terms are Wallacliian and Greek words, brought in by these 
wanderers from the East. See Couter, Deum, Boung, (Harman,) 
Lo"WR, &c. 

Gipsy, then, started, and partially merged into Cant ; and the 
old story told by Harrison and others, that the first inventor of 
canting was hanged for his pains, would seem to be a fable, for 
jargon as it is, it was, doubtless, of gradual formation, like all 
other languages or systems of speech. The Gipsies at the pres- 
ent day all know the old Cant words, as well as their own tongue, 
— or rather what remains of it. As Borrow states, " The dialect 
of the English Gipsies is mixed with English words.":}: Those 
of the tribe who frequent fairs, and mix with English tramps, 
readily learn the new words, as they are adopted by what Har- 
man calls " the fraternity of vagabonds." Indeed, the old Cant 
is a common language to vagrants of aU descriptions and origin 
scattered over the British Isles. 

* This very proverb was mentioned by a young Gipsy to Crahh, a few years ago. — 
Gipsies' Advocate, p. 14. 

+ I except, of course, the numerous winters who have followed Grellman, and based 
their researches upon his labours. 

X Gipsies in Spain, 'vol. i., p. 18. 



I 2 OLD CANT WORDS STILL USED. 

Ancient English oant has considerably altered since the first 
dictionary was compiled by Harman in 1566. A great many 
words are unknown in the present tramps' and thieves' vernacular. 
Some of them, however, bear still their old definitions, while 
others have adopted fresh meanings, — to escape detection, I sup- 
pose. " Abraham-man" is yet seen in our modern sham Abra- 
ham, or PLAY THE OLD SOLDIER — i. €., to feign sickuBSs or dis- 
tress. " Autum" is still a church or chapel amongst Gipsies; and 
" BECK," a constable, is our modern Cant and Slang beek, a police- 
man or magistrate. " Bene," or bone, stands for good in Seven 
Dials and the back streets of Westminster; and "bowse" is our 
modern booze, to drink or fuddle. A " bowsing ken " was the 
old Cant term for a public-house ; and boozing ken, in modern 
Cant, has precisely the same meaning. " Bufe " was then the 
term for a dog, now it is buffer, — frequently applied to men. 
"Cassan" is both old and modern Cant for cheese; the same 
may be said of " chattes " or chatts, the gallows. " Cofe," or 
cove, is still the vulgar synonyme for a man. " Drawers " was 
hose, or " hosen," — now applied to the lining for trousers. 
" Dudes " was Cant for clothes ; we now say dudds. " Flag " 
is still a fourpenny-piece ; and " fylche" means to rob. " Ken" 
is a house, and "lick" means to thrash; "prancer" is yet 
known amongst rogues as a horse ; and " to prig," amongst 
high and low, is to steal. Three centuries ago, if one beggar 
said anything disagreeable to another, the person annoyed would 
say, " STOW you," or hold your peace ; low people now say, stow 
IT, equivalent to " be quiet." " Trine" is still to hang; " WYx" 
yet stands for a penny. And many other words, as will be seen 
in the Dictionary, still retain their ancient meaning. 

As specimens of those words which have altered their original 
Cant signification, I may instance " chete," now written cheat. 
Chete was in ancient cant what chop is in the Canton-Chinese, 
— au almost inseparable adjunct. Everything was termed a 



CHANGES IN MEANINGS OF OLD CANT WORDS. 1 3 

CHETE, and qualified by a substantive-adjective, wbicb sliewed 
what kind of a chete was meant ; for instance, " crashing- 
CHETEs" were teetli; a " moffling-chete," a napkin ; a " geunt- 
ING-CHETE," a pig, (fcc, &c. Cheat now-a-days means to defraud 
or swindle, and lexicographers have tortured etymology for an 
original — but without success. Escheats and escheatours have 
been named, but with great doubts; indeed, Stevens, the learned 
commentator on Shakspeare, acknowledged that he " did not 
recollect to have met with the word cheat in our ancient writers."' * 
Cheat, to defraud, then, is no other than an old Cant term some- 
what altered in its meaning, t and as such it should be described 
in the next etymological dictionary. Another instance of a 
change in the meaning of the old Cant, but the retention of the 
word, is seen in " cly," formerly to take or steal, now a pocket ; 
— remembering a certain class of low characters, a curious con- 
nexion between the two meanings will be discovered. " Make '' 
was a halfpenny ; v/e now say mag, — make being modern Cant 
for appropriating, — " convey the wise it call." " Milling" stood 
for stealing, it is now a pugilistic term for fighting or beating. 
" Nab" was a head, — low people now say kob, the former mean- 
ing, in modern Cant, to steal or seize. " Pek" was meat, — we 
still say peckish, when hungry. " Peygges, dronhen Tinkers or 
heastly 2)eople" as old Harman wrote, would scarcely be under- 
stood now; a prig, in the 19th century, is a pickpocket or thief. 
" QuiER," or QUEER, like cheat, was a very common prefix, and 
meant bad or wicked, — it now means odd, curious, or strange ; 
but to the ancient Cant we are indebted for the word, which 
etymologists should remember.;}: " PtOME," or rum, formerly 

* Shaks. Henry IV., part ii., act ii., scene 4. 

t It is easy to see how cheat became synonymous with "fraud," when we remember 
that it was one of the most common words of the greatest class of cheats in the 
country. 

I I am reminded by an eminent philologist that the origin of queer is seen in the 
German qier, crooked,— hence "odd." I agree with this etymoligy, but still have 
reason to believe that the word was first used in this country in a Cant sense. Is it 



14 OLD CANT WORDS ENTIRELY OBSOLETE. 

meant good, or of the first quality, and was extensively used like 
cheat and queer, — indeed as an adjective it was tlie opposite of 
the latter. Rum now means ciirious, and is synonymous with 
queer; thus, — a " rummy old fellow," or a " queer old man." 
Here again we see the origin of an every-day word, scouted by 
lexicographers and snubbed by respectable persons, but still a 
word of frequent and popular use. " Yannam" meant bread ; 
PANNUM is the word now. Other instances could be pointed out, 
but they will be observed in the Dictionary. 

Several words are entirely obsolete. " Alybbeg " no longer 
means a bed, nor "askew" a cup. " Booget,"* now-a-days, 
would not be understood for a basket ; neither would " gan " 
pass current for mouth. " Fullams" was the old Cant term for 
false or loaded dice, and although used by Shakspeare in this 
sense, is now unknown and obsolete. Indeed, as Tom Moore 
somewhere remarks, the present Greeks of St Giles's, themselves, 
would be thoroughly puzzled by many of the ancient canting 
songs, — taking, for example, the first verse of an old favourite — 

" Bing out, bien Morts, and toure and toure, 
Bing out, bien Morts, and toure ; 
For all your duds are bing'd awast ; 
The bien cove hath the loure." + 

But I think I cannot do better than present to the reader at 
once an entire copy of the first Canting Dictionary ever compiled. 
A.S before mentioned, it was the work of one Thomas Harman, 
a gentleman who lived in the days of Queen EHzabeth. Some 

mentioned anywhere as a respectable term before 1500? If not, it had a vulgar or Cant 
introduction into this country. 

* Booget properly signifies a leathern wallet, and is probably derived from the low 
Latin BDLGA. A tinker's budget is from the same source. 
t Which, literally translated, means — 

" Go out, good girls, and look and see, 
Go out, good girls, and see ; 
For all your clothes are can-ied away. 
And the goofl luaii has the money." 



THE OLDEST ''ROGUES' DICTIONARY.'' 15 

writers Lave remarked that Decker * was tlie first to compile a 
Dictionary of tlie vagabonds' tongue; whilst Borrow, f and 
Thomas Moore, the poet, stated that Eichard Head performed 
that service in his Life of an English Rogue, published in the 
year 1680. All these statements are equally incorrect, for the 
first attempt was made more than a centuiy before the latter 
work was issued. The quaint spelling and old-fashioned phrase- 
ology are preserved, and the reader will quickly detect many 
vulgar street words, old acquaintances, dressed in antique garb. + 

ABRAHAM-MEN be those that fayn tbemselves to have beene mad, 

and have bene kept either in Bethelem, or in some other pryson a 

good time. 
ALYBBEG,a.hQMe. 
ASKEW, a enppe. 
A VTEM, a churche. 

A TJTEM MORTES, married women as chaste as a cowe. 
BAUDYE BASKETS bee women who goe with baskets and capcases on 

their amies, wherein they liave laces, pinnes, uedles, whyte inkel, and 

round sylke gyrdels of all colours. 
BECK, [Beek,] a constable. 
BELLY-CHETE, apron. 
BENE, good. Benar, better. 
BENSHIP, very good. 
BLETING CHETE, a calfe or sheepe. 
BOOGET, a travelling tinker's baskete. 
BORDE, a shilling. 
BOVNG,a,^Mrse. [i^Hmc, pong; WallacMan, -^wng^; see note, page 11 .] 

The oldest form of this word is in Ulphilas, puggs ; it exists also in 

the Greek, irovyyr]. 
BOWSE, drink. 
BOWSING-KEN, an alehouse. 
BUFE, [buffer, a man,] a dogge. 
BYNGE A WASTE, go you hence. 

* Who wrote about the year 1610. 

t Gipsies in Spain, vol. i., p. i8. Borrow further commits h!m=elf by remarking 
that " Head's Vocabulary has always been accepted as the speech of the English 
Gipsies." Nothing of the kind. Head professed to have lived with tbe Gipsies, but 
in reality filched his words from Decker and Brome. 

J The modern meanings of a few of the old Caut words are given within brackets. 



1 6 THE OLDEST ''ROGUES' DICTIONARY." 

CACKLING-CHETE, a coke, [cock,] or capon. 

CASS AN, [cassam,] cheese. 

CASTERS, a cloake. 

CATETR, "the vpright Cofe catetJi to the Roge," [probably a shortening 

or misprint of Canteth.'\ 
CHATTES, the gallowes. 

CHETE, [see what has been previously said about this word.] 
CL Y, [a pocket,] to take, receive, or have. 
COFE, [cove,] a person. 
COMMISSION, [mish,] a shirt. 
COUNTERFET CRANK E, these that do counterfet the Cranke be yong 

knaves and yonge harlots, that deeply dissemble the falling sickness. 

CRANKE, [cranky, foolish,] falling evil, [or wasting sickness.] 
CRASHING-CHETES, teeth. 

CUFFEN, a manne. [A cidf in Northumberland and Scotland signifies a 

lout or awkward fellow.] 
DARKEMANS, the night. 
DELL, a yonge wench. 
DEWSE-A-VYLE, th&coxxntvej. 
DOCK, to deflower. 
DOXES, harlots. 
DRA WERS, hosen. 
DUDES, [or dudds,] clothes. 
F AMBLES, handes. 

FAMBLING-CHETE, a ring on one's hand. 
FLAGG, a groat. 
F RATER, a beggar wyth a false paper. 

FRESHE-WATER-MARINERS, these kind of caterpillers counterfet 
great losses on the sea : — their shippes were drowned in the playne 
of Salisbury. 

FYLCIIE, to robbe : Fylch-man, [a robber.] 

GAGE, a quart pot. 

GAN, a mouth. 

GENTRY COFE, a noble or gentle man. 

GENTRY-COFES-KEN, a noble or gentle man's house. 

GENTRY MORT, a noble or gentle woman. 

GERRY, excrement. 

GLASYERS, eyes. 

GLYMMAR, fyer. 

GRANNAM, corns. 



THE OLDEST "ROGUES' DICTIONARY:' 1 7 

GRUNTING-CEETE, a pygge. 

GYB, a writing. 

GYGER, [jigger,] a dore. 

HEARING-CHETES, eares. 

JARKE, a seale. 

JARKEMAN, one who make writings and set seales for [counterfeit] 

licences and passports. 
KEN, a house. 
KYNCHEN CO, [or cove,'] a young boye trained up like a " Kynching 

Morte." [Frona the German diminutive Kindschen.'] 

KYNCHING MORTE, is a little gyrle, carried at their mothers' backe 

in a slate, or sheete, who brings them up sauagely. 
LAG, water. 

LAG OF DUDES a bucke [or basket] of clothes. 
LAQE, to washe. 
LAP, butter, mylke, or whey. 
LIGHTMANS, the day. 
LOWING-CHETE, a cowe. 

LOWRE, money. [From the WallacMan Gipsy word lowe, coined money. 
See M. Cogalniceano's Essai sur les Cigains de la Moldo-Valachiei] 

LUBBARES, — "sturdy Luhbares," country bumpkins, or men of a low 

degi-ee. 
LYB-BEG,a.hed. 
L YOKE, [lick,] to beate. 
LYP, to lie down. 
LYPKEN, a house to lye in. 
MAKE, [mag,] a halfpenny. 
MARGERI PRATER, a hen. 

MILLING, to steale, [by sending a child in at a window.] 
MOFFLING-CHETE, a napkin. 
MORTES, [motts,] harlots. 
MYLL, to robbe. 
MYNT, gold. 
NA B, [nob,] a heade. • 
NABCHET, a hat or cap. 
NASE, dronken. 
NOSEGENT, a nunne. 
PALLYARD, a borne beggar, [who counterfeits sickness, or incurable 

sores. They are mostly Welshmen, Harman says.] 
PARAM, mylke. 

B 



1 8 THE OLDEST "ROGUES' DICTIONARY:' 

PAT RICO, a priest. 

PATRICOS KINCHEN, a pygge, [a satirical hit at the church, Patrico 

meaning a parson or priest, and Kinchen his little boy or girl.] 
PUK, [peckish,] meat. 
POPPELARS, porrage. 
PRAT, a buttocke. 
PRATLING-CEETE, a toung. 
PRA UNCER, a horse. 

PRIGGER OF PRA UNCERS be horse-stealers, for to prigge slgnifieth in 
their language to steale, and a Prauncer is a horse, so being put 
together, the matter was playn. [Thus writes old Thomas Harman, 
who concludes his description of this order of " pryggers," by very 
quietly saying, " I had the best gelding stolen out of my pasture, that 
I had amongst others, whyle this book was first a printing."] 
PRYGGES, dronken Tinkers, or beastly people. 
QUACKING-CHETE, a drake or duck. 
QUAROMES, a body. 

QUIER, [queer,] badde. [See what has been previously said about this word.] 
QUYER CRAMPRINGES, boltes or fetters. 
QUIER CUFFIN, the iustice of peace. 
QUYER-KYN, a pryson house. 
RED SHANKE, a drake or ducke. 
ROGER, a goose. 
ROME, goode, [now curious, noted, or remarkable in any way. Rum is the 

modern orthography.] 
ROME BOUSE, [rum booze,] wyne. 
ROME MORT, the Queene, [Elizabeth.] 
ROME VYLE, [or Eum-ville,] Loudon. 

RUFF PECK, baken, [short bread, common in old times at farm-houses.] 
RUFFMANS, the woods or bushes. 
SALOMON, an alter or masse. 
SKYPPER, a barne. 
SLA TE, a sheete or shetes. 
SMELLING-CHETE, a nose. 
SMELLING-CHETE, a garden or orchard. 

SNOWT FA YRE, [said of a woman who has a pretty face or is comely.] 
STALL, [to initiate a beggar or rogue into the rights and privileges of the 
canting order. Harman relates that when an upright man, or initiated 
first-class rogue, " mete any beggar, whether he be sturdy or impotent, 
he will demand of him whether ever he was ' stalled to the roge' or no. 
If he say he was, he will know of whom, and his name yt stalled him. 
And if he be not learnedly able to shew him the whole circumstance 



THE OLDEST ''ROGUES' DICTIONARY:' 19 

thereof, he will spoyle him of his money, either of his best garment, if 
it be worth any money, and haue him to the bowsing-ken : which is, 
to some typpling-house next adjoyninge, and layth there to gage the 
best thing that he hath for twenty pence or two shillings : this man 
obeyeth for feare of beatinge. Then dooth this upright man call for a 
gage of bowse, which is a quarte potte of drink, and powres the same 
vpon his peld pate, adding these words, — I, G. P., do stalle thee, W. T., 
to the Roge, and that from henceforth it shall be lawful! for thee to 
cant, that is, to aske or begge for thi lining in al places. " Something 
like this treatment is the popular idea of freemasonry, and what 
schoolboys term "freeing,"] 

STAMPES, legges. 

STAMPERS, shoes. 

STA ULING-KEN, a house that will receyue stoUen wares. 

ST A WLINGE-KENS, tippling-houses. 

STOW YOU, [stow it,] hold your peace. 

STRIKE, to steale. 

STROMMELL, strawe. 

SWADDER, or Pedler, [a man who hawks goods.] 

THE HIGH PAD, the highway. 

THE RUFFIAN CLY THEE, the devil take thee. 

TOGEMANS, [togg,] a cloake. 

TOGMAN, a coate. 

TO BOWSE, to drinke. 

TO CANTE, to speake. 

TO CLY THE GERKE, to be whipped. 

TO COUCH A HOGSHEAD, to lie down and slepe. 

TO CUTTE, to say. [Cut it, cut it short, &c., are modern slang phrases.] 

TO CUT BENE WHY DDES, to speake or give good words. 

TO CUTTE QUYER WHY DDES, to giue eoil words or euil language. 

TO CUT BENLE, to speak gentle. 

TO DUP YE GYGER, [jigger,] to open the dore. 

TO FYLCHE, to robbe. 

TO HEUE A BOUGH, to robbe or rifle a boweth, [booth.] 

TO MA UNDE, to aske or require. 

TO MILL A KEN, to robbe a house. 

TO NYGLE, [coition.] 

TO NYP A BOUNG, [nip, to steal,] to cut a purse. 

TO SKOWER THE CRAMPRINGES, to weare boltes or fetters. 

TO STALL, to make or ordain. 

TO THE RUFFIAN, to the Devil 



20 ''JAWBREAKERS" USED IN CANT» 

TO TOW RE, to see. 

TRYNING, [trme,]h3Mg\ng. 

TYB OF TUE BUTERY, a goose, 

WALKING MORTE, womenej [who pass for widows.] 

WAP PING [coition.] 

WHYDDES, wordes. 

WYN, a penny. [A correspondent of Notes and Queries suggests tlie con- 
nexion of this word with the Welch gwyn, white — i. e., the white 
silver penny. See other examples under Bldnt, in the Dictionary ; 
of. also the Armorican, "gwennek," a penny.] 

YANNA3I, bread. 

Turning our attention more to the Cant of modern times, in 
connexion witli the old, we find that words have been drawn 
into the thieves' vocabulary from every conceivable source. Hard 
or infrequent words, vulgarly termed crack-jaw, or jaw-hrealcers, 
were very often used and considered as Cant terms. And here it 
should be mentioned that at the present day the most inconsistent 
and far-fetched terms are often used for secret purposes, when 
they are known to be caviare to the million. It is really laugh- 
able to know that such words as incongruous, insipid, interloper, 
intriguing, indecorum, forestall, equip, hush, grapple, &c., &c., were 
current Cant words a century and a half ago ; but such was the 
case, as any one may see in the Dictionary of Canting Words 
at the end of Bacchus and Venus,* 1737. They are inserted not 
as jokes or squibs, but as selections from the veritable pocket 
dictionaries of the Jack Sheppards and Dick Turpins of the day. 
If they were safely used as unknown and cabalistic terms amongst 
the commonalty, the fact would form a very curious illustration 
of the ignorance of our poor ancestors. One piece of information 
is conveyed to us — i.e., that the ''knights" or "gentlemen of the 
road," using these polite words in those days of highwaymen, 
were really well-educated men, — which heretofore has always 

* This is a curious volume, and is worth from one to two guine<as. The Canting 
Dictionary was afterwards reprinted, word for word, with the title of The Scoundrel's 
Dictionary, in 1751. It was originally published, without date, about the year 1710 by 
B, E., under the title of a Dictionary o/the Canting Crew. 



VAGABONDS USED FOREIGN WORDS AS CANT. 21 

been a hard point of belief, notwithstanding old novels and 
operas. 

Amongst those Cant words which have either altered their 
meaning, or have become extinct, I may cite lady, formerly the 
Cant for "a very crooked, deformed, and ill-shapen woman;"* 
and HAEMAN, " a pair of stocks, or a constable." The former is 
a pleasant piece of satire, whilst the latter indicates a singular 
method of revenge. Harman was the first author who specially 
wrote against English vagabonds, and for his trouble his name 
became synonymous with a pair of stocks, or a policeman of the 
olden time. 

Apart from the Gipsy element, we find that Cant abounds in 
terms from foreign languages, and that it exhibits the growth of 
most recognised and completely-formed tongues, — the gathering 
of words from foreign sources. In the reign of Elizabeth and of 
King James I., several Dutch, Spanish, and Flemish words were 
introduced by soldiers who had served in the Low Countries, and 
sailors who had returned from the Spanish Main, who, like " mine 
ancient Pistol," were fond of garnishing their speech with out- 
landish phrases. Many of these were soon picked up and adopted 
by vagabonds and tramps in their Cant language. The Anglo- 
Norman and the Anglo-Saxon, the Scotch, the French, the 
Italian, and even the classic languages of ancient Italy and 
Greece, have contributed to its list of words, besides the various 
provincial dialects of England. Indeed, as Mayhew remarks, 
English Cant seems to be formed on the same basis as the Argot 
of the French and the Roth-Sproec of the Germans, — partly meta- 
phorical, and partly by the introduction of such corrupted foreign 
terms as are likely to be unknown to the society amid which the 
Cant speakers exist. Argot is the London thieves' word for 
their secret language ; it is, of course, from the French, but that 
matters not so long as it is incomprehensible to the police and 

* Bacchus and Venus. 1737. 



2 2 THE LINGUA FRANCA, OR BASTARD ITALIAN. 

the mob. Booze, or bouse, I am reminded by a friendly corre- 
spondent, comes from the Dutch buysen. Domine, a parson, is 
from the Spanish. Donna and feeles, a woman and children, 
is from the Latin; and don, a clever fellow, has been filched 
from the Lingua Franca, or bastard Italian, although it sounds 
like an odd mixture of Spanish and French ; whilst dudds, the 
vulgar term for clothes, may have been pilfered either from the 
Gaelic or the Dutch. Feele, a daughter, from the French ; and 
FROW, a girl or wife, from the German — are common tramps' 
terms. So are gent, silver,' from the French Argent; and vial, 
a country town, also from the French. Horrid-horn, a fool, is 
believed to be from the Erse ; and gloak, a man, from the Scotch. 
As stated before, the Dictionary will supply numerous other 
instances. 

The Celtic languages have contributed many Cant and vulgar 
words to our popular vocabulary. These have come to us through 
the Gaelic or Irish languages, so closely allied in their material 
as to be merely dialects of a primitive common tongue. This 
element may be from the Celtic population, which, from its ancient 
position as slaves or servants to the Anglo-Saxon conquerors, has 
contributed so largely to the lowest class of our population, and 
therefore to our Slang, provincial, or colloquial words ; or it may 
be an importation from Irish immigrants, who have undoubtedly 
contributed very largely to our criminal population. 

There is one source, however, of secret street terms, which in 
the first edition of this work was entirely overlooked, — indeed, 
it was unknown to the editor until pointed out by a friendly 
correspondent; — the Lingua Franca, or bastard Italian, spoken 
at Genoa, Trieste, Malta, Constantinople, Smyrna, Alexandria, 
and aU Mediterranean seaport towns. The ingredients of this 
imported Cant are many. Its foundation is Italian, with a mix- 
ture of modern Greek, German, (from the Austrian ports,) Spanish, 
Turkish, and FrencL It has been introduced to the notice of 



CANT DERIVED FROM VARIOUS SOURCES. 23 

the London wandering tribes by tbe sailors, foreign and English, 
who trade to and from the ^lediterranean seaports, by the swarms 
of organ-players from all parts of Italy, and by the makers 
of images from Kome and Florence, — all of whom, in dense 
thoroughfares, mingle with our lower orders. It would occupy 
too much space here to give a list of these words. They are all 
noted in the Dictionary. 

"There are several Hebrew terms in our Cant language, 
obtained, it would appear, from the intercourse of the thieves 
with the Jevrfejices, (receivers of stolen goods ;) many of the Cant 
terms, again, are Sanscrit, got from the Gipsies ; many Latin, got 
by the beggars from the Catholic prayers before the Reformation ; 
and many, again, Italian, got from the wandering musicians and 
others ; indeed, the showmen have but lately introduced a 
number of Italian phrases into their Cant language."* The 
Hindostanee also contributes several words, and these have 
been introduced by the Lascar sailors, who come over here in the 
East Indiamen, and lodge during their stay in the low tramps' 
lodging-houses at the east end of London. Speaking of the 
learned tongues, I may mention that, precarious and abandoned 
as the vagabond's existence is, many persons of classical or refined 
education have from time to time joined the ranks, — occasionally 
from inclination, as in the popular instance of Bamfylde Moore 
Carew, but generally through indiscretion and loss of character.f 
This will in some measure account for numerous classical and 
learned words figuring as Cant terms in the vulgar Dictionary. 

In the early part of the last century, when highwaymen were 
by all accounts so plentiful, a great many new words were added 
to the canting vocabulary, whilst several old terms fell into disuse. 

* Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor, vol. lii., No. 43, Oct. 4, 1831. 

t Mayhew (vol. i., p. 217) speaks of a low lodging-house "in which there were at 
one time five university men, three surgeons, and several sorts of broken-down 
clerks." But old Harman's saying, that "a wylde Roge is he that is borne a roge," 
will perhaps explain this seeming anomaly. 



24 OLD ENGLISH WORDS USED AS CANT. 

Cant, for instance, as applied to thieves' talk, was supplanted by 
the word flash. In the North of England, the Cant employed by 
tramps and thieves is known as "the gammy." It is mainly 
from the old Gipsy corrupted. In the large towns of Ireland 
and Scotland this secret language is also spoken. All those 
words derived from " the gammy " are inserted in the Dictionary 
as from the " North Country." 

A singular feature, however, in vulgar language, is the reten- 
tion and the revival of sterling old English words, long since 
laid up in ancient maniiscripts, or the subject of dispute among 
learned antiquaries. Disraeli somewhere says, "The purest 
source of neology is in the revival of old tvords'" — 

"Words that wise Bacon or brave Rawleigh spake;" 

and Dr Latham honours our subject by remarking that " the 
thieves of London are the conservators of Anglo-Saxonisms." May- 
hew, too, in his interesting work, London Labour and the London 
Poor, admits that many Cant and Slang phrases are merely old 
English terms which have become obsolete through the caprices 
of fashion. And the reader who looks into the Dictionary of the 
vagabond's lingo, will see at a glance that these gentlemen were 
quite correct, and that we are compelled to acknowledge the 
singular truth that a great many old words, once respectable, and 
in the mouths of kings and fine ladies, are now only so many 
signals for shrugs and shudders amongst exceedingly polite 
people. A young gentleman from Bclgravia, who had lost his 
watch or his pocket-handkerchief, would scarcely remark to his 
mamma that it had been boned — yet bone, in old times, meant, 
amongst high and low, to steal. And a young lady living in the 
precincts of dingy but aristocratic Llay-Fair, although enraptured 
with a Jenny Lind or a Kistori, would hardly think of turning 
back in the box to inform papa that she (Ristori or Lind) " made 
no BONES of it" — yet the phrase Avas most respectable and well- 



OLD ENGLISH WORDS NOT FASHIONABLE NO \V. 25 

to-do before it met with a change of circumstances. " A ceack 
article," however first-rate, would, as far as speech is concerned, 
have greatly displeased Dr Johnson and Mr Walker — yet both 
CEACK, in the sense of excellent, and crack up, to boast or 
praise, were not considered vulgarisms in the time of Henry 
VIII. Dodge, a cunning trick, is from the Anglo-Saxon ; and 
ancient nobles used to "get each other's dander up" before 
ajipealing to their swords, — quite flabeegasting (also a respect- 
able old word) the half score of lookers-on with the thumps and 
cuts of their heavy weapons. Gallav anting, waiting upon the 
ladies, was as polite in expression as in action ; whilst a clergy- 
man at Paule's Crosse thought nothing of bidding a noisy hearer 
" hold his gab," or " shut up his gob." Gadding, roaming about 
in an idle and trapesing manner, was used in an old trans- 
lation of the Bible ; and " to do anything gingerly" was to do 
it with great care. Persons of modern tastes wUl be shocked to 
know that the great Lord Bacon spoke of the lower part of a 
man's face as his gills. 

Shakspeare, or, as the French say, " the divine William," also 
used many words which are now counted as dreadfully vulgar. 
"Clean gone," in the sense of out of sight, or entirely away; 
" you took me aU a-mort," or confounded me ; "it won't eadge," 
or suit, are phrases taken at random from the great dramatist's 
works. A London costermonger, or inhabitant of the streets, 
instead of saying, "I'll make him yield," or "give in," in a 
fight or contest, would say, "I'U make him buckle under." 
Shakspeare, in his Henri/ the Fourth, (Part ii., act i., scene i,) has 
the word; and Mr HaUiweU, one of the greatest and most indus- 
trious of living antiquaries, informs us that " the commentators 
do not supply another example." How strange, then, that the 
Bard of Avon and the Cockney costermongers should be joint 
partners and sole proprietors of the vulgarism ! If Shakspeare 
was not a pugilist, he certainly anticipated the terms of the prize 



26 CURIOUS SYSTEMS OF CANT. 

ring — or they were respectable words before tlie prize ring was 
thought of — for he has pay, to beat or thrash, and pepper, with 
a similar meaning ; also fancy, in the sense of pets and favourites, 
— pugilists are often termed the fancy. The cant word prig, 
from the Saxon, priccan, to filch, is also Shakspearian ; so indeed 
is piece, a contemptuous term for a young woman. Shakspeare 
was not the only vulgar dramatist of his time. Ben Jonson, 
Beaumont and Fletcher, Brome, and other play-writers, occa- 
sionally put Cant words into the mouths of their low characters, 
or employed old words which have since degenerated into 
vulgarisms. Crusty, poor tempered ; " two of a kidkey," two 
of a sort ; lark, a piece of fun ; lug, to pull : bung, to give or 
pass ; pickle, a sad plight j frump, to mock, are a few specimens 
casually picked from the works of the old histrionic writers. 

One old English mode of canting, simple and effective when 
familiarised by practice, was the inserting a consonant betwixt 
each syllable: thus, taking g, "How do you do?" would be 
" How^ do^ you^- do^' 1" The name very properly given to this 
disagreeable nonsense, we are informed by Grose, was Gibberish. 

Another Cant has recently* been attempted by transposing the 
initial letters of words, so that a mutton chop becomes a cutton 
mop, a pint of stout a stint of ^out ; but it is satisfactory to 
know that it has gained no ground. This is called Marroiv- 
shying, or Medical Gi-eeh, from its use by medical students at the 
hospitals. Albert Smith terms it the Gower Street Dialect. 

The Language of Ziph, I may add, is another rude mode of 
disguising English, in use among the students at Winchester 
College. Some notices of this method of conveying secret infor- 
mation, with an extensive Glossary of the Words, Phrases, Customs, 
&c., peculiar to the College, may be found in Mr Mansfield's 
recently-published School Life at Winchester College. 

* " Before 1848," a correspondent writes. 



ACCOUNT 



HIEROGLYPHICS USED BY VAGABONDS. 



One of the most singular chapters iii a History of Vagabondism 
would certainly be " An Account of the Hieroglyphic Signs used 
by Tramps and Thieves." The reader may be startled to know 
that, in addition to a sacred language, the wandering tribes of 
this country have private marks and symbolic signs with which 
to score their successes, failures, and advice to succeeding beggars ; 
in fact, that the country is really dotted over with beggars' finger- 
posts and guide-stones. The assertion, however strange it may 
appear, is no fiction. The subject was not long since brought 
under the attention of the Government by Mr Kawlinson.* " There 
is," he says in his report, " a sort of blackguards' literature, and 
the initiated understand each other by Slang [Cant] terms, by pan- 
tomimic signs, and hy hieroglyphics. The vagrant's rfiarh may 
he seen in Havant, on corners of streets, on door-posts, on house-steps. 
Simple as these chalk-lines apiyear, they inform the succeeding va- 
grants of all they require to Tcnoio ; and a few white scratches may 
say, ' Be importunate,' or ' Pass on.' " 

Another very curious account was taken from a provincial 
newspaper, published in 1849, and forwarded to Notes and 
Queries.-^- under the head of Mendicant Freemasonry. " Per- 
sons," remarks the writer, " indiscreet enough to open their 
purses to the relief of the beggar tribe, would do well to take a 
readily-learned lesson as to the folly of that misguided bene- 

* Mr Rcmlinson's Report to the General Board of Health, Parish of Havant, Hamp' 
Shire. t Vol. v., p. 210. 



28 HIEROGLYPHICS OF VAGABONDS. 

volence wliicli encourages and perpetuates vagabondism. Every 
door or passage is pregnant with instruction as to tiie error com- 
mitted by the patron of beggars; as the beggar-marks shew that 
a system of freemasonry is followed, by which a beggar knows 
whether it will be worth his whUe to call into a passage or knock 
at a door. Let any one examine the entrances to the passages in 
any town, and there he will find chalk marks, unintelligible to 
him, but significant enough to beggars. If a thousand towns 
are examined, the same marks wdll be found at every passage 
entrance. The passage mark is a cypher with a twisted tail : in 
some cases the tail projects into the passage, in others out- 
wardly ; thus seeming to indicate whether the houses down the 
passage are worth calling at or not. Almost every door has its 
marks : these are varied. In some cases there is a cross on the 
brick work, in others a cypher : the figures i, 2, 3, are also used. 
Every person may for himself test the accuracy of these state- 
ments by the examination of the brick-work near his own door- 
way — thus demonstrating that mendicity is a regular trade, 
carried out upon a system calculated to save time, and realise the 
largest profits." These remarks refer mainly to provincial towns, 
London being looked upon as the tramps' home, and therefore 
too FLY, or experienced, to be duped by such means. 

The only other notice of the hieroglyphics of vagabonds that I 
have met with is in Mayhew's London Labour and the London 
Poor* Mayhew obtained his information from two tramj^s, who 
stated that hawkers employ these signs as well as beggars. One 
tramp thus described the method of woRKiNGt a small town. 
" Two hawkers (pals+) go together, but separate when they 
enter a village, one taking one side of the road, and selhng 
different things ; and so as to inform each other as to the 
character of the people at whose houses they call, they chalk ce)iain 
marks on their door-posts." Another informant stated that " if 

* Vol. L, pp. 218 and 247. t See Dictionarr. 



ACCOUNT OF A CADGER'S MAP. 29 

a PATTEEER * has been ceabbed (that is, offended) at any of the 
CKIBS, (houses,) he mostly chalks a signal at or near the door," 

Another use is also made of these hieroglyphics. Charts of 
successful begging neighbourhoods are rudely drawn, and sym- 
bolical signs attached to each house to shew whether benevolent 
or adverse.f " In many cases there is over the kitchen mantel 
piece " of a tramps' lodging-house " a map of the district, dotted 
here and there with memorandums of failure or success.";}: A 
correct facsimile of one of these singular maps has been placed as 
a frontispiece. It was obtained from the patterers and tramps 
who supplied a great many words for this work, and who have 
been employed by me for some time in collecting Old Ballads, 
Christmas Carols, Dying Speeches, and Last Lamentations, as 
materials for a History of Popular Literature. The reader will 
no doubt be amused with the drawing. The locality depicted is 
near Maidstone, in Kent; and I am informed that it was prob- 
ably sketched by a wandering scree ver§ in payment for a 
night's lodging. The English practice of marking everything, 
and scratching names on public property, extends i-tself to the 
tribe of vagabonds. On the map, as may be seen in the left- 
hand corner, some traveller § has drawn a favourite or noted 
female, singularly nicknamed Three-quarter Sarah. What were 

* See Dictionary. 

t Sometimes, as appears from the following, the names of persons and houses are 
written instead. "In almost every one of the padding-kens, or low lodging-houses 
in the coimtry, there is a list of walks pasted up over the kitchen mantel-piece. Now 

at St Albans, for instance, at the , and at other places, there is a paper stuck 

up in each of the kitchens. This paper is headed ' Walks out of this Town,' and 
underneath it is set down the names of the villages in the neighbourhood at which a 
beggar may call when out on his walk, and they are so arranged as to allow the cadger 
to make a round of about six miles each day, and return the same night. In many 
of these papers there are sometimes twenty walks set down. No villages that are in 
any way "gammy" [bad] are ever mentioned in these papers, and the cadger, if he 
feels inclined to stop for a few days in the town, will be told by the lodging-house 
keeper, or the other cadgers that he may meet tliere, what gentlemen's seats or 
private houses are of any account on the walk that he means to take. The names of 
the good houses are not set do^Ti in the paper fur fear of the police."— J/a?//ieK;, voL 
i., p. 418. X Mayhew, vol. i., p. 218. § See Dictionary. 



30 EXPLANATION OF THE HIEROGLYPHICS. 

the peculiar accomplisliments of this lady to demand so uncom- 
mon a name, the reader wUl be at a loss to discover ; but a 
patterer says it probably refers to a shuffling dance of that name, 
common in tramps' lodging-houses, and in which " f Sarah" 
may have been a proficient. Above her, three beggars or hawk- 
ers have reckoned their day's earnings, amounting to 13s.; and 
on the right a tolerably correct sketch of a low hawker, or coster- 
monger, is drawn. "To Dover, the nigh way," is the exact 
phraseology; and "hup here," a fair specimen of the self- 
acquired education of the tribe of cadgers. No key or explana- 
tion to the hieroglyphics was given in the original, because it would 
have been superfluous, when every inmate of the lodging-house 
knew the marks from their cradle — or rather their mother's back. 
Should there be no map, in most lodging-houses there is an 
old naan who is guide to every " walk" in the vicinity, and who 
can teU on every round each house that is "good for a cold 
tatur." The hieroglyphics that are used are : — 



^ KO GOOD ; too poor, and know too much. 

)P, — If you have what t 
pretty "fly," (knowing.) 



^^ STOP, — If you have what they want, they will buy. They are 



-V GO IN THIS DIRECTION, it is better than the other road. 

—■^ Nothing that way. 

/\ BONE, (good.) Safe for a "cold tatur," if for nothing else. 
^ " Cheese your fatter " (don't talk much) here. 

\/ COOPEKD, (spoilt,) by too many tramps calling there. 

□ GAMMY (unfavourable,) like to have you takeu up. Mind the 
dog. 

^O FLUMMUXED, (dangerous,) sure of a month in "quod," (prison.) 
^ RELIGIOUS, but tidy on the whole. 

AVhere did these signs come from, and when were they first 
used ] are questions which I have asked myself again and again, 
whilst endeavouring to discover their history. Knowing the 



DID THE GIPSIES INVENT THEM? 31 

character of the Gipsies, and ascertaining from a tramp that they 
are well acquainted with the hieroglyphics, " and have been as 
long ago as ever he could remember," I have little hesitation in 
ascribing the invention to them. And strange it would be if 
some modern Belzoni, or Champollion, discovered in these 
beggars' marks fragments of ancient Egyptian or Hindoo hiero- 
glyphical writing ! But this, of course, is a simple vagary of the 
imagination. 

That the Gipsies were in the habit of leaving memorials of the 
road they had taken, and the successes that had befallen them, 
there can be no doubt. In an old book, The Triumph of Wit, 
1724, there is a passage which appears to have been copied from 
some older work, and it runs thus : — " The Gipsies set out twice 
a year, and scatter all over England, each parcel having their 
appointed stages, that they may not interfere, nor hinder each 
other ; and for that purpose, when they set forward in the 
country, the}/ stich up houghs in the way of divers kinds, according 
as it is agreed among them, that one company may hioio which 
ivay another is gone, and so take another road." The works of 
Hoyland and Borrow supply other instances, 

I cannot close this subject without drawing attention to the 
extraordinary fact, that actually on the threshold of the gibbet 
the sign of the vagabond is to be met with ! " The murderer's 
signal is even exhibited from the gallows ; as a red hand- 
kerchief held in the hand of the felon about to be executed 
is a token that he dies without having betrayed any professional 
secrets,"* 

Since the first edition of this work was published, the author 
has received from various parts of England numerous evidences 
of the still active use of beggars' marks and mendicant hiero- 
glyi^hics. One gentleman writes from Great Yarmouth to say 

* Mr Rawlinsori's Report to the General Board of Health, Parish of Havant, Hamp- 
shire. 



32 BOW A CLERGYMAN EVADED BEGGARS. 

that only a short time since, whilst residing in ISTorwich, he used 
frequently to see them on the houses and street corners in the 
suburbs. From another gentleman, a clergyman, I learn that he 
has so far made himself acquainted with the meanings of the 
signs employed, that by himself marking the characters Q] 
{Gammy) and (Flummuxed) on the gate posts of his parson- 
age, he enjoys a singular immunity from alms- seekers and cadgers 
on the tramp. 

In a popular constable's Guide, giving the practice of justices 
in petty sessions, I have recently met with the following inter- 
esting paragraph, corroborating what has just been said on the 
hieroglyphics used by vagabonds : — 

" Gipsies follow their brethren by numerous marks, sucli as strewing 
handf uls of grass in the day time at a four lane or cross roads ; the grass 
being strewn down the road the gang have taken; also, by a cross being 
made on the ground with a stick or knife — the longest end of the cross de- 
notes the route taken. In the night time a cleft stick is placed in the 
fence at the cross roads, with an arm pointing down the road their com- 
rades have taken. The marks are always placed on the left-hand side, so 
that the stragglers can easily and readily find them." * 

From the cleft stick here alluded to, we learn the origin and 
use of 3"> ^^^ third hieroglyphic in the vagabond's private list. 

* Snowden's Magistrate's Assistant, 1852, p. 444. 



"All ridiculous words maJce their first entry into a langiuige hy familiar 
phrases ; I dare not answer for these that they tdll not in time he looked 
upon as apart of our tongue." — Addison's Spectator. 



A SHOKT HISTORY OF SLANG, 



THE VULGAR LANGUAGE OF FAST LIFE. 



Slang is tlie language of street humour, of fast, liigli, and low 
life. Cant, as was stated in the chapter upon that subject, is 
the vulgar language of secrecy. They are both universal and 
ancient, and appear to have been the peculiar concomitants of 
gay, vulgar, or worthless persons in every part of the world at 
every period of time. Indeed, if we are to believe implicitly the 
saying of the wise man, that " there is nothing new under the 
sun," the "fast" men of buried Nineveh, with their knotty and 
door-matty-looking beards, may have cracked Slang jokes on the 
steps of Sennacherib's palace ; and the stocks and stones of 
ancient Egypt, and the bricks of venerable and used-up Babylon, 
may, for aught we know, be covered Avith Slang hieroglyphics, un- 
known to modern antiquaries, which have long been stumbling- 
blocks to the philologist ; so impossible is it at this day to say 
what was then authorised^ or what viilgar language. Slang is as 
old as speech and the congregating together of people in cities. 
It is the result of crowding, and excitement, and artificial life. 
Even to the Classics it was not unknown, as witness the pages of 
Aristophanes and Plautus, Terence and AthenjEus. Martial, the 
epigrammatist, is full of Slang. When an uninvited guest 

c 



34 OLD ENGLISH SLANG. 

accompanied Ms friend, tlie Slang of the day styled him his 
UMBRA ; when a man was trussed, neck and heels, it called him 
jocosely quadrupus. 

Old English Slang was coarser, and depended more upon 
downright vulgarity than our modern Slang. It was a jesting 
speech, or humorous indulgence for the thoughtless moment, or 
the drunken hour, and it acted as a vent-peg for a fit of temper 
or irritability ; but it did not interlard and permeate every de- 
scription of conversation as now. It was confined to nicknames 
and improper subjects, and encroached but to a very small extent 
upon the domain of authorised speech. Indeed, it was exceed- 
ingly limited when compared with the vast territory of Slang in such 
general favour and complete circulation at the present day. StiU, 
although not an alarming encumbrance, as in our time, Slang 
certainly did exist in this country centuries ago, as we may see 
if we look down the page of any respectable History of England. 
CromweU was familiarly called old noll, — just the same as 
Bonaparte was termed boney, and Wellington conkey, or 
NOSEY, only a few years ago. His Legislature, too, was spoken 
of in a high-flavoured way as the baeebones, or eump ParHa- 
ment, and his followers were nicknamed roundheads, and the 
peculiar religious sects of his protectorate were styled puritans 
and QUAKERS.* The Civil- War pamphlets, and the satirical hits 
of the Cavaliers and the Commonwealth men, originated numer- 
ous Slang words and vulgar similes in full use at the present 
moment. Here is a field of inquiry for the Philological Society, 
indeed I may say a territory, for there are thirty thousand of 
these partisan tracts. Later still, in the court of Charles II., 
the naughty ladies and the gay lords, with Kochester at their 
head, talked Slang ; and very naughty Slang it was too ! Fops, 
in those days, when "over head and ears" in debt, and in 

* This term, with a singular literal downrightness, which would be remarkable ia 
any other people tiian the I'reuch, is translated by them as the sect of TremOleurs. 



SWIFT AND ARBUTHNOT FOND OF SLANG. 35 

continual fear of arrest, termed their enemies, the bailiffs, 
PHILISTINES* or MOABiTES. At a later period, when collars were 
worn detached from shirts, in order to save the expense of 
washing — an object it would seem with needy " swells" in all 
ages — they obtained the name of Jacobites. One half of the 
coarse wit in Butler's Hudibras lurks in the vulgar words and 
phrases which he was so fond of emplojrLng. They were more 
homely and forcible than the mild and elegant sentences of 
Cowley, and the people, therefore, hurrahed them, and pronounced 
Butler one of themselves, — or, as we should say, in a joyful 
moment, " a jolly good fellow." Orator Henley preached and 
prayed in Slang, and first charmed and then swayed the dirty 
mobs in Lincolu's-Inn- Fields by vulgarisms. Burly Grose men- 
tions Henley, with the remark that we owe a great many Slang 
phrases to him. Swift, and old Sir Roger L'Estrange, and 
Arbuthnot, were all fond of vulgar or Slang language ; indeed, 
we may see from a Slang word used by the latter how curious is 
the gradual adoption of vulgar terms in our standard dictionaries. 
The worthy doctor, in order to annihilate (or, as we should say, 
with a fitting respect to the subject under consideration, smash) 
an opponent, thought proper on an occasion to use the word 
CABBAGE, not in the ancient and esculentary sense of a fl^atulent 
vegetable of the kitchen garden, but in the at once Slang sense of 
purloining or cribbing. Johnson soon met with the word, looked 
at it, examined it, weighed it, and shook his head, but out of 
respect to a brother doctor inserted it in his dictionary, labelling 
it, however, prominently ^'Cant;" whilst Walker and Webster, 
years after, when to cabbage was to pilfer all over England, 
placed the term in their dictionaries as an ancient and very 
respectable word. Another Slang term, gull, to cheat, or delude, 
sometimes varied to gully, is stated to be connected with the 
Dean of St Patrick's. Gull, a dupe, or a fool, is often used by 

* Swift alludes to this term in his Art of Polite Conveisatim', p. 14. 1738. 



36 THE REAL SIMON PURE. 

our old dramatists, and is generally believed to liave given rise to 
the verb ; but a curious little edition of Bamfylde Moore Carew, 
published in 1S27, says that to gull, or gully, is derived from 
the well-known Gulliver, the hero of the famous Travels. How 
crammed with Slang are the dramatic works of the last century ! 
The writers of the comedies and farces in those days must have 
lived in the streets, and written their plays in the public-houses, 
so filled are they with vulgarisms and unauthorised words. The 
popular phrases, " I owe you one," " That 's one for his nob," and 
" Keep moving, dad," arose in this way.* The second of these 
sayings was, doubtless, taken from the card-table, for at cribbage 
the player who holds the knave of the suit turned up counts " one 
for his nob," and the dealer who turns up a knave counts " two 
for his heels." 

In Mrs Centlivre's admirable comedy of A Bold Stroke for a 
Wife, we see the origin of that popular street phrase, the real 
SIMON PURE. Simon Pure is the Quaker name adopted by 
Colonel Feignwell as a trick to obtain the hand of Mistress Anne 
Lovely in marriage. The veritable Quaker, the "real Simon 
Pure," recommended by Aminadab Holdfast, of Bristol, as a fit 
sojourner with Obadiah Prim, arrives at last, to the discomfiture 
of the Colonel, who, to maintain his position and gain time, con- 
cocts a letter in which the real Quaker is spoken of as a house- 
breaker who had travelled in the "leather conveniency" from 
Bristol, and adopted the garb and name of the western Quaker 
in order to pass off as the " real simon pure," but only for the 
purpose of robbing the house and cutting the throat of the per- 
plexed ObadJah. The scene in which the two Simon Pures, the 
real and the counterfeit, meet, is one of the best in the comedy. 

Tom Brown, of " facetious memory," as his friends were wont 
to say, and Ned Ward, who wrote humorous books, and when 
tired drew beer for his customers at his alehouse in Long 

* See Sotes and Queries, vol. i., p. 185. 1850. 



WAS DR JOHNSON WELL ''UP'' IN SLANG? 37 

Acre,* were both great producers of Slang in the last century, 
and to them we owe many popular current phrases and house- 
hold words. 

Written Slang was checked, rather than advanced, by the pens 
of Addison, Johnson, and Goldsmith; although John Bee, the 
bottle-holder and historiographer of the pugilistic band of brothers 
in the youthful days of flat-nosed Tom Crib, has gravely stated 
that Johnson, when young and rakish, contributed to an early 
volume of the Genii evian's Magazine a few pages, by way of speci- 
men, of a Slang dictionary, the result, Mr Bee says, " of his mid- 
night ramblings !"t And Goldsmith, I must not forget to re- 
mark, certainly coined a few words, although, as a rule, his pen 
was pure and graceful, and adverse to neologisms. The word 
FUDGE, it has been stated, was first used by him in literary com- 
position, J although it originated with one Captain Fudge, a 
notorious fibber, nearly a century before. Street phrases, nick- 
names, and vulgar words Avere continually being added to the 
great stock of popular Slang up to the commencement of the 
present century, when it received numerous additions from pugil- 
ism, horse-racing, and " fast " life generally, which suddenly came 
into great public favour, and was at its height when the Prince 
Regent was in his rakish minority. Slang in those days was 
generally termed flash language. So popular was it with the 
" bloods" of high life, that it constituted the best paying literary 
capital for certain authors and dramatists. Pierce Egan issued 
Boxiana, and Life in London j six portly octavo volumes, crammed 
with Slang ; and Moncrieff wrote the most popular farce of the 
day, Tom and Jerry, (adapted from the latter work,) which, to 
use newspaper Slang, " took the town by storm," and, with its 
then fashionable vulgarisms, made the fortune of the old Adelphi 

* He afterwards kept a tavern at Wapping, mentioned by Pope in the Dunciad. 
t Sportsman's Dictionary, 1825, p. 15. I have searched the venerable magazine in 
vain for this Slang glossary. 
X This is incorrect. See under Fudge in the Dictionary. 



38 WHERE DID THE WORD "SLANO" COME FROM? 

Theatre, and was, witliout exception, the most wonderful instance 
of a continuous theatrical run in ancient or modern times. This, 
also, was brimful of Slang. Other authors helped to popularise 
and extend Slang down to our own time, when it has taken a 
somewhat different turn, dropping many of the Cant and old 
vulgar words, and assuming a certain quaint and fashionable 
phraseology — Frenchy, familiar, utilitarian, and jovial There 
can be no doubt but that common speech is greatly influenced 
by fashion, fresh manners, and that general change of ideas which 
steals over a people once in a generation. But before I proceed 
further into the region of Slang, it will be well to say something 
on the etymology of the word. 

The word Slang is only mentioned by two lexicographers — 
Webster and Ogilvie.* Johnson, Walker, and the older compilers 
of dictionaries, give slang the preterite of sling, but not a word 
about Slang in the sense of low, vulgar, or unrecognised lan- 
guage. The origin of the word has often been asked for in lite- 
rary journals and books, but only one man, as far as I can learn, 
has ever hazarded an etymology — Jonathan Bee, the vulgar 
chronicler of the prize-ring.f With a recklessness peculiar to 
pugilism, Bee stated that Slang was derived from " the slangs 
or fetters worn by prisoners, having acquired that name from the 
manner in which they were worn, as they required a sling of 
string to keep them off the ground." Bee had just been nettled 
at Pierce Egan producing a new edition of Grose's Dictionary of 
the Vulgar Tongue, and was determined to excel him in a vulgar 
dictionary of his own, which should be more racy, more pugilistic, 
and more original. How far he succeeded in this latter particular, 
his ridiculous etymology of Slang will shew. Slang is not an 
English word ; it is the Gipsy term for their secret language, and 

* This introduction was written in 1859, before the new edition of Worcester, and 
Nuttall's recent work were published. 

t Introduction to Bee's SpoHsman'i Dictionary, 1825. 



SLANG USED BY ALL CLASSES. 39 

its synonyme is gibberish — another word which was believed to 
have had no distinct origin.* Grose — stout and burly Captain 
Grose — whom we may characterise as the greatest antiquary, 
joker, and porter-drinker of his day, was the first lexicographer to 
recognise the word Slang, It occurs in his Classical Dictionary 
of the Vulgar Tongue, of 1785, with the signification that it im- 
plies " Cant or vulgar language." Grose, I may remark in pass- 
ing, was a great favourite with the poet Burns, and so pleased 
him by his extensive powers of story-telling and grog-imbibing, 
that the companionable and humour-loving Scotch bard wrote for 
his fat friend — or, to use his own words, " the fine, fat, fodgel 
wight" — the immortal poem of " Tam O'Shanter." 

Without troubling the reader with a long account of the trans- 
formation into an English term of the word Slang, I may remark 
in passing that it is easily seen how we obtained it from the 
Gipsies. Hucksters and beggars on tramp, or at fairs and races, 
associate and frequently join in any rough enterprise with the 
Gipsies.f The word would be continually heard by them, and 
would in this manner soon become Cant;;}: and, when carried by 
" fast" or vulgar fashionables from the society of thieves and low 
characters to their own di'awing-rooms, would as quickly become 
Slang, and the representative term for all vulgar or Slang lan- 
guage. 

* The Gipsies use the word Slang as the Anglican synonyme for Romany, the con- 
tinental (or rather Spanish) term for the Cingari or Gipsy tongue. Grabb. who wrote 
the Gipsies' Advocate in 1S31, thus mentions the word: — "This language [Gipsy] ca/icii 
by themselves Slang, or Gibbkrish, invented, as they think, by their forefathers for 
secret purposes, is not merely the language of one or a few of these wandering tribes, 
which are found in the European nations, but is adopted by the vast numbers who 
inhabit the earth." 

t See what the Druid says, in Silk and Scarlet, Post and Paddock, and his other 
sporting works, about the card-sellers, booth-men, horse-holders, cockshy-men, and 
other well-known frequenters of race-courses. 

{ The word Slang assumed various meanings amongst costermongers, beggars, and 
vagabonds of all orders. It was, and is still, used to express " cheating by false 
weights," "a raree show," " retiring by a back door," "a watcli-chain," their " secret 
language," etc. 



40 SLANG UNIVERSAL. 

Any sudden excitement, peculiar circumstance, or poptilar lite- 
rary production, is quite sufficient to originate and set agoing a 
score of Slang words. Nearly every election or public agitation 
throws out offshoots of the excitement, or scintillations of the 
humour in the shape of Slang terms — vulgar at first, but at length 
adopted as semi-respectable from the force of habit and custom. 
There is scarcely a condition or calling in life that does not possess 
its own peculiar Slang. The professions, legal and medical, have 
each familiar and unauthorised terms for peculiar circumstances 
and things, and I am quite certain that the clerical calling, or 
" the cloth" is not entirely free from this peculiarity. Every 
workshop, warehouse, factory, and mill throughout the country 
lias its Slang, and so have the public schools of Eton, Harrow, and 
"Westminster, and the great Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. 
Sea Slang constitutes the principal charm of a sailor's "yarn;" 
and our soldiers and officers have each their peculiar nicknames 
and terms for things and subjects proper and improper. A writer 
in Household Words (ISTo. 183) has gone so far as to remark, that 
a person " shall not read one single parliamentary debate, as re- 
ported in a first-class newspaper, without meeting scores of Slang 
words;" and "that from Mr Speaker in his chair, to the Cabinet 
Ministers whispering behind it — ^from mover to seconder, from 
true-blue Protectionist to extremest Eadical — Mr Barry's New- 
House echoes and re-echoes with Slang." Really it seems as if 
our boasted English tongue were a very paltry and ill-provided 
contrivance after all ; or can it be that we are the most vulgar 
of people 1 

The universality of Slang is extraordinary. Let any person 
for a short time narrowly examine the conversation of their 
dearest and nearest friends, ay, censor-like, even slice and ana- 
lyse their own supposed correct talk, and they shall be amazed 
at the numerous unauthorised, and what we can only call vulgar, 
words they continually employ. It is not the number of new 



THE POOR FOREIGNERS PERPLEXITY. 41 

words tliat we are ever introducing that is so reprehensible, there 
is not so much harm in this practice (frequently termed in books 
"the licence of expression") if neologisms are really required, but 
it is the continually encumbering of old words with fresh and 
strange meanings. Look at those simple and useful verbs, do, 
cat, go, and tahe, and see how they are hampered and overloaded, 
and then let us ask ourselves how is it possible for a French or 
German gentleman, be he ever so well educated, to avoid con- 
tinually blundering and floundering amongst our little words 
when trying to make himself understood in an ordinary conver- 
sation? He may have studied our language the required time, 
and have gone through the usual amount of " grinding," and 
practised the common allotment of patience, but all to no pur- 
pose as far as accuracy is concerned. I am aware that most new 
words are generally regarded as Slang, although afterwards they 
may become useiid and respectable additions to our standard 
dictionaries. Jabber and hoax were Slang and Cant terms in 
Swift's time ; so indeed were mob and sham.* Words directly 
from the Latin and Greek, and Carlyleisms, are allowed by an 
indulgent public to pass and take their places in books. Sound 
contributes many Slang words — a source tiiat etymologists too fre- 
quently overlook. Nothing pleases an ignorant person so much as 
a high-sounding term " full of fury." How melodious and drum- 
like are those vulgar coruscations eumbitmptious, slantingdicu- 
lar, SPLENDirEROUS,t RUMBUSTIOUS, and FERRICADOUZER. What 

a " puir' the sharp-nosed lodging-house-keeper thinks she has 
over her victims if she can but hurl such testimonies of a liberal 

* North, in his Examen, p. 574, says, "I may note that the rabble first changed 
their title, and were called the mob in the assemblies of this [Green Ribbon] club. It 
was their beasts of burden, and called Qvst mobile vulgus, but fell naturally into tlia 
contraction of one syllable, and ever since is become proper English." In the same 
work, p. 231, the disgraceful origin of sham is given. 

t It is somewhat singular that Drayton, the poet of Queen Elizabeth's time, should 
have coined a similar word, Splendidious. The LatiJi, Spicadidus, however, was 
probably what he meant to employ. 



42 VULGAR CORRUPTIONS. 

education at tlicm when tliey are disputing her charges, and 
threatening to absquatulate ! In the United States the 
vulgar-genteel even excel the poor " stuck-up" Cockneys in their 
formation of a native fashionable language. How charming to a 
refined ear are abskize, catawampously, exflunctify, ob- 

SCUTE, KESLOSH, KESOUSE, KESWOLLOP, and KEWHOLLUX ! Vnl- 

gar words representing action and brisk movement often owe 
their origin to sound. Mispronunciation, too, is another great 
source of vulgar or Slang words — kamshackle, siiackly, naey- 
ONE for neither or neither one, ottomy or atomy for anatomy, 
RENCH for rinse, are specimens. The commonalty dislike fre- 
quently-occurring words difficult of pronunciation, and so we 
have the street abridgments of bibieby for by and by, caze for 
because, gin for given, hankerchkr for handkerchief, rumatiz 
for rheumatism, backy for tobacco, and many others, not perhaps 
Slang, but certainly all vulgarisms. Archbishop Whately, in his 
interesting Remains of Bisliop Copleston, has inserted a leaf from 
the Bishop's note-book on the popular corruption of names, men- 
tioning among others kickshaws, as from the French, quelques 
choses ; beefeater, the lubberly guardian of royalty in a pro- 
cession, and the supposed devourer of enormous beefsteaks, as 
but a vulgar pronimciation of the French, huffetier ; and georoe 
and CANNON, the sign of a public-house, as nothing but a 
corruption (although so soon !) of the popular premier of 
the last generation, George Canning. Literature has its Slang 
terms ; and the desire on the part of writers to say funny and 
startling things in a novel and curious way (the late Ilousehold 
Words* for instance) contributes many unauthorised words to 
the great stock of Slang. 

Fashionable or Upper-class Slang is of several varieties. There 
is the Belgravian, military and naval, parliamentary, dandy, and 

* It is rather singular that this popular journal should have contained a long 
article on Slang a short time ..yo. 



FASHIONABLE SLANG. 43 

the reunion and visiting Slang. English officers, civilians, and 
their families, who have resided long in India, have contributed 
many terms from tlic Ilindostanee to our language. Several of 
these, such as chit, a letter, or tiffin, lunch, are fast losing 
their Slang character, and becoming regularly-recognised English 
words. Jungle, as a term for a forest or wilderness, is now an 
English phrase ; a few years past, however, it was merely the 
Ilindostanee junkul. The extension of trade in China, and the 
English settlement at Ilong Kong, have introduced among us 
several examples of Canton Jargon, that exceedingly curious 
Anglo-Chinese dialect spoken in the seaports of the Celestial 
Empire. While these words have been carried as it were into 
the families of the upper and middle classes, persons in a hum- 
bler rank of life, through the sailors, soldiers, Lascar and Chinese 
beggars that haunt the metropolis, have also adopted many 
Anglo-Indian and Anglo-Chinese phrases. As this Dictionary 
would have been incomplete without them, they are oil carefully 
recorded in its columns. Concerning the Slang of the fashion- 
able world, a writer in Household Words curiously, but not alto- 
gether truthfully, remarks, that it is mostly imported from 
France ; and that an unmeaning gibberish of Gallicisms runs 
through English fashionable conversation, and fashionable novels, 
and accounts of fashionable parties in the fashionable newspapers. 
Yet, ludicrously enough, immediately the fashionable magnates 
of England seize on any French idiom, the French themselves 
not only universally abandon it to us, but positively repudiate 
it altogether from their idiomatic vocabulary. If you were to 
tell a well-bred Frenchman that such and such an aristocratic 
marriage was on the tapis, he would stare with astonishment, and 
look down on the carpet in the startled endeavour to find a mar- 
riage in so unusual a place. If you were to talk to him of the 
heau monde, he would imagine you meant the world which God 
made, not half-a-dozen streets and squares between Hyde Park 



44 FASHIONABLE SLA NO. 

Corner and Chelsea Bun House. The the dansante* would be 
completely inexplicable to him. If you were to point out to him 
the Dowager Lady Grimgriffin acting as chainron to Lady Amanda 
Creamville, he would imagine you were referring to the 'petit 
Chaperon rouge — to little Red-Riding Hood. He might just 
understand what was meant by vis-a-vis, entremets, and some 
others of the flying horde of frivolous little foreign slangisms 
hovering about fashionable cookery and fashionable furniture ; 
but three-fourths of them would seem to him as barbarous 
French provincialisms, or, at best, but as antiquated and obso- 
lete expressions, picked out of the letters of Mademoiselle 
Scuderi, or the tales of CrebUlon the " younger." Servants, too, 
appropriate the scraps of French conversation which fall from 
their masters' guests at the dinner table, and forthwith in the 
world of flunkeydom the word " know" is disused, and the lady's- 
maid, in doubt on a particular point, asks John whether or no he 
SAVEYS it ?* What, too, can be more abominable than that 
heartless piece of fashionable newspaper Slang, regularly em- 
ployed when speaking of the successful courtship of young people 
in the fashionable world : — 

MARRIAGE IN HIGH LIFE.— "We understand that a marriage ia 
AEEANGED (!) betwixt the Lady, &c. &c., and the Honourable, 
&c. &c. 

Arranged ! Is that cold-blooded Smithfield or Mark-Lane term 
for a sale or a purchase the proper word to express the hopeful, 
joyous, golden union of young and trustful hearts? Which is 
the proper way to pronounce the names of great people, and 
what the correct authority ? Lord Cowper, we are often assured, 
is Lord Cooper — on this principle Lord Cowley would certainly 
be Lord Cooley — and Mr Carew, we are told, should be Mr 

* The writer is quite coirect in instancing this piece of fashionable twaddle. The 
mongrel formation is exceedingly amusing to a polite Parisian, 
t Savez-vous cela? 



PARLIAMENTARY SLANG. 45 

Carey, Ponsonby should be Punsunhy, Eyre should, be Aire, 
Cholmondeley should be Chumley, St John Singen, Majoribanks 
Marshhanhs, and Powell should always be Poel. I don't know 
that these lofty persons have as much cause to complain of the 
illiberality of fate in giving them disagreeable names as did the 
celebrated Psyche, (as she was termed by Tom Moore,) whose 
original name, through her husband, was Teague, but which was 
afterwards altered to Tighe. The pronunciation of proper names 
has long been an anomaly in the conversation of the upper classes 
of this country. Hodge and Podge, the clodhoppers of Shaks- 
peare's time, talked in their mug-houses of the great Lords 
Darbie, Barl-elie, and Bartie. In Pall ]\Iall and May Fair 
these personages are spoken of in exactly the same manner at 
the present day, whilst in the City, and amongst the middle 
classes, we only hear of Derby, Berkley, &c., — the correct 
pronunciations, if the spelling is worth aught. A costermonger 
is ignorant of such a place as Birmingham, but understands you 
in a moment if you talk of Brummagem. Why do not Pall Mall 
join with the costermongers in this pronunciation % It is the 
ancient one.* 

Parliamentary Slang, excepting a few peculiar terms connected 
with "the House," (scarcely Slang, I suppose,) is mainly com- 
posed of fashionable, literary, and learned Slang. When mem- 
bers, however, get excited, and wish to be forcible, they are often 
not very particular which of the street terms they select, pro- 
viding it carries, as good old Dr South said, plenty of " wild-fire " 
in it. Sir Hugh Cairns very lately spoke of " that homely but 
expressive phrase, dodge." Out of " the House," several Slang 
terms are used in connexion with Parliament or members of 
Parliament. If Lord Palmerston is known by name to the 

* At page 24 of a curious old Civil- War tract, entitled, The Oxonian Antippodex, by 
I. B,, Gent., 1644, the town is called Brummidoham, and this was the general render- 
ing in the printed literature of the seventeenth century. 



46 PARLIAMENTARY SLANG. 

tribes of the Caucasus and Asia Minor as a great foreign diplo- 
matist, wlien the name of our Queen Victoria is an unknown 
title to the inhabitants of those parts — as was stated in the 
Times a short time ago — I have only to remark that amongst 
the costers and the wild inhabitants of the streets he is better 
known as pam. I have often heard the cabmen on the " ranks " 
in Piccadilly remark of the late Chancellor of the "Exchequer, 
when he has been going from his residence at Grosvenor Gate to 
Derby House in St James's Square, " Hollo, there ! de yer see 
old DIZZY doing a stump 1 " A plumper is a single vote at an 
election — not a split-ticket ; and electors who have occupied a 
house, no matter how small, and boiled a pot in it, thus qualify- 
ing themselves for voting, are termed pot-wallopers, A quiet 
"WALK OVER is a re-election without opposition and much cost. 
A CATJCUS meeting refers to the private assembling of politicians 
before an election, when candidates are chosen, and measures of 
action agreed upon. The term comes from America. A job, in 
political phraseology, is a government office or contract obtained 
by secret influence or favouritism. Only the other day the Times 
sj)oke of " the patriotic member of Parliament potted out in a 
dusty little lodging somewhere about Bury Street." The term 
QUOCKERWODGER, although referring to a wooden toy figure 
which jerks its limbs about when pulled by a string, has been, 
supplemented with a political meaning. A pseudo-poUtician, 
one whose strings of action are pulled by somebody else, is now 
often termed a quockerwodger. The term eat, too, in allusion 
to rats deserting vessels about to sink, has long been employed 
towards those turncoat politicians who change their party for 
interest. Who that occasionally passes near the Houses of 
Parliament has not often noticed stout or careful M.P.s walk 
briskly through the Hall, and on the curb-stone in front, wdth 
umbrella or walking cane uplifted, shout to the cabmen on the 
rank, four- wheeler ! The term is a useful one, but I am afraid 



MILITARY AND DANDY SLANG. 47 

we must consider it Slang, until it is stamped with the mint 
mark of lexicographical authority * 

Military, or Officers' Slang, is on a par, and of a character, 
with Dandy Slang. Inconvenient friends, or elderly and lectur- 
ing relatives, are pronounced dreadful bores. Four-wheeled 
cabs are called bounders ; and a member of the Four-in-hand 
Club, driving to Epsom on the Derby Day, would, using fashion- 
able phraseology, speak of it as tooling his drag down to the 
DERBY. A vehicle, if not a drag (or dwag) is a trap, or a cask ; 
and if the turn out happens to be in other than a trim condi- 
tion, it is pronounced at once as not down the road. Your 
City swell would say it is not up to the mark ; whilst the 
costermonger would call it wery dickey. In the army a 
barrack or military station is known as a lobster-box ; to 
"cram" for an examination is to mug-up; to reject from the 
examination is to spin ; and that part of the barrack occupied 
by subalterns is frequently spoken of as the rookery. In dandy 
or swell Slang, any celebrity, from Paul Bedford, to the Pope of 
Home, is a swell. Wrinkled-faced old professors, who hold 
dress and fashionable tailors in abhorrence, are called awful 
swells, — if they happen to be very learned or clever. I may 
remark that in this upper-class Slang, a title is termed a handle; 
trousers, inexpressibles ; or, when of a large pattern, or the 
inflated Zouave cut, howling bags ; a superior appearance, 
extensive ; a four-wheeled cab, a birdcage ; a dance, a hop ; 
dining at another man's table, "sitting under his mahogany;" 
anything flashy or showy, loud ; the peculiar make or cut of a 
coat, its BUILD ; full dress, full-fig ; wearing clothes which re- 

* From au early period politics and partyism have attracted unto themselves quaint 
Slang terms. Horace Walpole quotes a party nickname of Februaiy 1742, as a Slang 
word of the day : — " The Tories declare against any further prosecution, if Tories 
tliere are, for now one licars of nothing but the broad-bottom ; it is the reigning Cant 
word, and means the taking all parties and people, indifferently, into the Ministry." 
Thus BROAD-BOTTOM in tUose days was Slang for coalition. 



48 UNIVERSITY SLANG. 

present tLe very extreme of fasHon, "dressing to death;" a 
reunion, a spkead ; a friend, (or a " good fellow,") a trump ; a 
difficulty, a screw loose; and everything that is unpleasant, 
" from bad sherry to a writ from a tailor," jeuced infernal. 
The military phrase, " to send a man to Coventry," or permit 
no person to speak to him, although an ancient saying, must still 
be considered Slang. 

The Universities of Oxford and Camhndge, and the great 
public schools, are the hotbeds of fashionable Slang. Growing 
boys and high-spirited young fellows detest restraint of all kinds, 
and prefer making a dash at life in a Slang phraseology of their 
own, to all the set forms and syntactical rules of Alma Mater. 
Many of the most expressive words in a common chit-chat, or 
free-and-easy conversation, are old university vulgarisms. Cut, 
in the sense of dropping an acquaintance, was originally a Cam- 
bridge form of speech ; and hoax, to deceive or ridicule, we are 
informed by Grose, was many years since an Oxford term. 
Among the words that fast society has borrowed from our great 
scholastic (I was going to say establishments, but I remember the 
linen-drapers' horrid and habitual use of the word) institutions, 
I find CRIB, a house or apartments; dead-men, empty wine 
bottles ; drawing teeth,* wrenching off knockers ; fizzing, 
first-rate, or splendid; governor, or relieving -officer, the 
general term for a male parent ; plucked, defeated or turned 
back ; quiz, to scrutinise, or a prying old fellow ; and row, a 
noisy disturbance. The Slang words in use at Oxford and Cam- 
bridge would alone fill a volume. As examples I may instance 
scout, which at Oxford refers to an undergraduate's valet, whilst 
the same menial at Cambridge is termed a gyp, — popularly 
derived by the Cantabs from the Greek, gyps, (yv-^,) a vulture ; 
scull, the head, or master of a college ; battles, the Oxford 

* This is more especially an amusement with medical students, and is comparatively 
unknown out of London, 



RELIGIOUS SLANG. 49 

term for rations, changed at Cambridge into commons. The 
term dickey, a half shirt, I am told, originated with the students 
of Trinity College, Dublin, who at first styled it a tommy, from 
the Greek, ro!J.r\, a section. Ceib, a literal translation, is now 
universal ; grind refers to " working up " for an examination, 
also, to a walk, or "constitutional ;" hivite is a student of St 
Begh's (St Bee's) College, Cumberland ; to japan, in this Slang 
speech, is to ordain ; mortar-board is a square college cap ; siM, 
a student of a Methodistical turn — in allusion to the Rev. Charles 
Simeon ; sloggees, at Cambridge, refers to the second division of 
race boats, known at Oxford as torpids ; sport is to shew or 
exhibit ; trotter is the jocose term for a tailor's man who goes 
round for orders ; and tufts are wealthy students who dine with 
the DONS, and are distinguished by golden tufts, or tassels, in 
their caps. There are many terms in use at Oxford not known 
at Cambridge ; and such Slang names as coach, gulf, harry- 
SOPH, poker, or POST-MORTEM, commou enough at Cambridge, 
are seldom or never heard at the great sister university. For 
numerous other examples of college Slang the reader is referred 
to the Dictionary. 

Religious Slang, strange as the compound may appear, exists 
with other descriptions of vulgar speech at the present day. 
Punch, a short time since, in one of those half-humorous, half- 
serious articles in Avhich he is so fond of lecturing any national 
abuse or popular folly, remarked that Slang had "long since 
penetrated into the Forum, and now we meet it in the Senate, 
and even the jmlpit itself is no longer free from, its intrusion." 
I would not, for one moment, wish to infer that the practice is 
general. On the contrary, and in justice to the clergy, it must 
be said that the principal disseminators of pure English through- 
out the country are the ministers of our Established Church. 
Yet it cannot be denied but that a great deal of Slang j^hrase- 
ology and disagreeable vulgarism have gradually crept into the 

D 



50 RELIGIOUS SLANG. 

very pulpits which should give forth as pure speech as doc- 
trine. 

Dean Conybeare, in his able Essai/ on Church Parties* has 
noticed this wretched addition to our pulpit speech. As stated 
in his Essay, the practice appears to confine itself mainly to the 
exaggerated forms of the High and Low Church — the Tractarians 
and the " Recordites." t By way of illustration, the Dean cites 
the evening parties, or social meetings, common amongst the 
wealthier lay members of the Recordite (exaggerated Evangelical) 
Churches, where the principal topics discussed — one or more 
favourite clergymen being present in a quasi-official manner — 
are " the merits and demerits of different preachers, the approach- 
ing restoration of the Jews, the date of the Millennium, the 
progress of the ' Tractarian heresy,' and the anticipated ' perver- 
sion ' of High-Church neighbours." These subjects are can- 
vassed in a dialect differing considerably from common English. 
The words faithful, tainted, acceptable, decided, legal, 
and many others, are used in a technical sense. We hear that Mr 
A. has been more owned than Mr B. ; and that Mr G. has more 
SEALS X than Mr D. Again, the word gracious is invested with 
a meaning as extensive as that attached by young ladies to nice. 
Thus, we hear of a " gracious sermon," a " gracious meeting," 
a "gracious child," and even a " gracious whipping." The word 
DARK has also a new and peculiar usage. It is applied to every 
person, book, or place, not impregnated with Recordite principles. 
We once were witnesses of a ludicrous misunderstanding result- 
ing from this phraseology. " What did you mean," said A. to B., 

" by telling me that was such a very dark village 1 I rode 

over there to-day, and found the street particularly broad and 

* Edinburgh Review, October 1853. 

t A term derived from the Record Newspaper, the exponent of this singular section 
of the Low, or so-called Evangelical Church. 

t A preacher is said, in this phraseology, to be owned when he makes many con- 
verts, and his converts are called his seals. 



RELIGIOUS SLANG. 5 I 

cheerful, and there is not a tree in the place." " The gospel is 
not preached there" was B.'s laconic reply. The conclusion of 
one of these singular evening parties is generally marked by an 
^^ exposition" — an unseasonable sermon of nearly one hour's 
duration, circumscribed by no text, and delivered from the table 
by one of the clerical visitors with a view to " improve the 
occasion." In the same Essay, the religious Slang terms for the 
two great divisions of the Established Church receive some 
explanation. The old-fashioned High-Church party — rich and 
" stagnant," noted for its " sluggish mediocrity, hatred of zeal, 
dread of innovation, abuse of Dissent, blundering and languid 
utterance" — is called the high and dry; whilst the corresponding 
division, known as the Low Church — equally stagnant with the 
former, but poorer, and more lazily inclined (from absence of edu- 
cation) to Dissent — receives the nickname of the low and slow. 
Already have these terms become so familiar that they are short- 
ened, in ordinary conversation, to the dry and the slow. The 
so-called " Broad Church," I should remark, is often spoken of 
as the BROAD and shallow. 

What can be more objectionable than the irreverent and 
offensive manner in which many of the Dissenting ministers 
continually pronounce the names of the Deity — God and Lord 1 
God, instead of pronouncing in the plain and beautiful simple 
old English way, g-o-d, they drawl out into gorde or gaude ; 
and Lord, instead of speaking in the proper way, they desecrate 
into loard or loerd, — lingering on the ii, or the r, as the case 
may be, until an honest hearer feels disgusted, and almost in- 
clined to run the gantlet of beadles and deacons, and pull the 
vulgar preacher from his pulpit. I have observed that many 
young preachers strive hard to acquire this peculiar pronuncia- 
tion, in imitation of the older ministers. What can more 
properly, then, be called Slang, or, indeed, the most objectionable 
of Slang, than this studious endeavour to pronounce the most 



52 SLANG AMONGST THE LAWYERS. 

sacred names in a uniformly vulgar and unbecoming manner? 
If the old- fashioned preacher whistled Cant through his nose, the 
modern vulgar reverend whines Slang from the more natural 
organ. These vagaries of speech will, perhaps, by an apologist, 
be termed " pulpit peculiarities," and the writer dared to inter- 
meddle with a subject that is or should be removed from his 
criticisms. The terms used by the mob towards the Church, 
however illiberal and satirically vulgar, are within his province 
in such an inquiry as the present. A clergyman, in vulgar 
language, is spoken of as a choker, a cushion - thumper, a 

DOMINIE, an EARWIG, a GOSPEL-GRINDER, a GRAY-COAT PARSON ; 

if he is a lessee of the great tithes, one in ten, padre ; if 
spoken of by an Anglo-Indian, a rook, a spouter, a white- 
choker, or a w^arming-pan rector, if he only holds the living 
2W0 tempo7'e, or is simply keeping the place warm for his succes- 
sor. If a Tractarian, his outer garment is rudely spoken of as a 
pygostole, or m.b. (mark op the beast) coat. His profession 
is termed the cloth, and his practice tub-thumping. Should 
he belong to the Dissenting body, he is probably styled a pan- 
tiler, or a psalm-smiter, or, perhaps, a swaddler. His chapel, 
too, is spoken of as a schism shop. A Eoman Catholic, I may 
remark, is coarsely named a brisket-beater. 

Particular as lawyers generally are about the meaning of words, ^ 
they have not prevented an unauthorised phraseology from arising, 
which we may term Legal Slang. So forcibly did this truth 
impress a late writer, that he wrote in a popular journal, " You 
may hear Slang every day in term from barristers in their robes, 
at every mess-table, at every bar-mess, at every college commons, 
and in every club dining-room." Swift, in his Art of Polite 
Conversation, (p. 15,) published a century and a half ago, states 
that VARDi was the Slang in his time for " verdict." A few of 
the most common and well-known terms used out of doors, with 
reference to legal matters, are cook, to hash or make up a bal- 



LITERARY SLANG. 53 

ance-sheet ; dipped, mortgaged ; dun, to solicit payment ; ful- 
LIED, to be "fully committed for trial;" lai^id-shark, a sailor's 
definition of a lawyer ; limb of the law, a milder term for the 
same " professional ;" monkey with a long tail, a mortgage — 
phrase used in the well-known case for libel. Smith v. Jones ; 
MOUTHPIECE, the coster's term for his counsel ; " to go through 
the RING," to take advantage of the Insolvency Act ; smash, to 
become bankrupt ; snipe, an attorney with a long bill ; and 
whitewashed, said of any debtor who has taken the benefit of 
the Insolvent Act. Lawyers, from their connexion with the 
police courts, and transactions with persons in every grade of 
society, have ample opportunities for acquiring street Slang, 
which, in cross-questioning and wrangling, they frequently avail 
themselves of. 

It has been said there exists a Literary Slang, or " the Slang 
of Criticism- — dramatic, artistic, and scientific. Such words as 
'sesthetic/ 'transcendental,' the 'harmonies,' the 'unities,' a 
' myth : ' such phrases as ' an exquisite morceau on the big 
drum,' a 'scholarlike rendering of John the Baptist's great toe,' 
' keeping harmony,' ' middle distance,' ' aerial perspective,' ' deli- 
cate handling,' ' nervous chiaroscuro,' and the like." More than 
one literary journal that I could name are fond of employing 
such terms in their art-criticisms ; but it is questionable, after 
aU, whether they are not allowable as the generous inflections 
and bendings of a bountiful language, for the purpose of express- 
ing fi-esh phases of thought, and ideas not yet provided with 
representative words.* The well-known and ever-acceptable 
Punch, with his fresh and choice little pictorial bits by Leech, 
often employs a Slang term to give point to a joke, or humour to a 

* "All our newspapers contain more or less colloquial -words ; in fact, there seems 
no other way of expressing certain ideas connected with passing events of every-day 
life with the requisite force and piquancy. In the English newspapers the same 
thing is observable, and certain of them contain more of the class denominated Slang 
words than our own."— £artle«'« Aimricanism.s, p. 10, 1859. 



54 ''PUNCH'' ON SLANG AND SANSCRIT. 

line of satire. A sliort time since (4th. May 1859) lie gave an 
original etymology of the schoolboy-ism slog. Slog, said the 
classical and studious Punch, is derived from the Greek word 
SLOGO, to baste, to wallop, to slaughter. And it was not long 
ago that he amused his readers with two columns on Slang and 
Sanscrit : — 

"The allegory whicli pervades the conversation of all Eastern nations," 
remarked the philosophical Punch, "is the foundation of Western Slang; 
and the increased number of students of the Oriental languages, especially 
since Sanscrit and Arabic have been made subjects for the Indian Civil Service 
examinations, may have contributed to suj)ply the English language with a 
large portion of its new dialect. While, however, the spirit of allegory 
comes from the East, there is so great a difference between the brevity of 
Western expression and the more cumbrous diction of the Oriental, that 
the origin of a phrase becomes difficult to trace. Thus, for instance, whilst 
the Turkish merchant might address his friend somewhat as follows — 
' That which seems good to my father is to his servant as the perfumed 
breath of the west wind in the calm night of the Arabian summer;' the 
Western negotiator observes more briefly, 'all serene !'" 

But the vulgar term, beick, Punch remarks, in illustration, 

" must be allowed to be an exception, its Greek derivation being universally 
admitted, corresponding so exactly as it does in its rectangular form and 
compactness to the perfection of manhood, according to the views of Plato 
and Simonides ; but any deviation from the simple expression, in which 
locality is indicated, — as, for instance, 'a. genuine Bath,' — decidedly breathes 
the Oriental spirit." 

It is singular that what Punch says unwittingly and in 
humour respecting the Skxng expression, bosh, should be quite 
true. Bosh, remarks Punch, after speaking of it as belonging to 
the stock of words pilfered from the Turks, " is one whose innate 
force and beauty the slangographer is reluctantly compelled to 
admit. It is the only word which seems a proper appellation for 
a great deal which we are obliged to hear and to read every day 
of our life." Bosh, nonsense or stupidity, is derived from the 



LITERARY SLANG. 55 

Gipsy and the Persian. The universality of Slang, I may here 
remark, is proved by its continual use in the pages of Punch. 
Whoever thinks, unless belonging to a past generation, of asking 
a friend to explain the stray vulgar words employed by the 
London Charivari ? 

The Athena^icm, the most learned and censor-like of aU the 
" "weeklies," often indulges in a Slang word, when force of expres- 
sion or a little humour is desired, or when the writer wishes to 
say something which is better said in Slang, or so-called vulgar 
speech, than in the authorised language of Dr Johnson or Lindley 
Murray. It was but the other day that a writer in its pages 
emjDloyed an old and favourite word, used always when we were 
highly pleased with any article at school — stunning. Bartlett, 
the compiler of the Dictionary of Americanisms, continually cites 
i\iQ Athenceum as using Slang and vulgar expressions; but the 
magazine the American refers to is not the excellent literary 
journal which is so esteemed at the present day — it was a smaller, 
and now defunct "weekly." Many other highly respectable 
journals often use Slang words and phrases. The Times (or, in 
Slang, the thundeker) frequently employs unauthorised terms ; 
and, following a " leader " * of the purest and most eloquent com- 
position, may sometimes be seen another " article " * on a totally 
different subject, containing, perhaps, a score or more of exceed- 
ingly questionable words. Among the words and phrases whicJi 
may be included under the head of Literary Slang are, Balaam, 
matter kept constantly in type about monstrous productions of 
nature, to 1511 up sj)aces in newspapers ; balaam-box, the term 
given in Blaclcivood to the repositoiy for rejected articles ; and 
SLATE, to pelt with abuse, or cut up in a re-vdew. The Slang 
names given to newspapers are curious ; — thus, the Morning 

* The terms leader and article can scarcely be called Slang, yet it would be desirable 
to know upon what authority they were first employed in their present peculiar 
sense. 



5 6 THEATRICAL SLANG. 

Advertiser is known as tlie tap-tub, the tizee, and tlie gin and 
GOSPEL GAZETTE. The Moming Post has obtained the suggestive 
sobriquet of jeames ; whilst the Morning Herald has long been 
caricatured as MRS Harris, and the Standard as mrs gamp.* 

The Stage, of course, has its Slang — " both before and behind 
the curtain," as a journalist remarks. The stage-manager is 
familiarly termed daddy ; and an actor by profession, or a " pro- 
fessional," is called a pro. A man who is occasionally hired at 
a trifling remuneration to come upon the stage as one of a 
crowd, or when a number of actors are wanted to give effect, 
is named a sup,— an abbreviation of " supernumerary." A surf 
is a third-rate actor who frequently pursues another calling ; and 
the band, or orchestra between the pit and the stage, is generally 
spoken of as the menagery. A ben is a benefit : and sal is the 
Slang abbreviation of "salary." Should no wages be forthcom- 
ing on the Saturday night, it is said that the ghost doesn't 
WALK. The travelling or provincial theatricals, who perform in 
any large room that can be rented in a country village, are called 
BARN-STORMERS. A LENGTH is forty-two lines of any dramatic 
composition ; and a run is the good or bad success of a per- 
formance. A SADDLE is the additional charge made by a manager 
to an actor or actress upon their benefit night. To mug up is to 
paint one's face, or arrange the person to represent a particular 
character ; to corpse, or to stick, is to balk, or put the other 
actors out in their parts by forgetting yours. A performance is 
spoken of as either a gooser or a screamer, should it be a 
failure or a great success ; — if the latter, it is not infrequently 
termed a hit. To star it is to perform as the centre of attrac- 
tion with none but subordinates and indifferent actors in tlie 
same performance. The expressive term clap-trap, high-sound- 
ino- nonsense, is nothing but an ancient theatrical terra, and 

* For some account of the origin of these nicknames see under Mrs Harris in the 
Dictionary. 



CIVIC SLANG. 57 

signified a trap to catch a clap by way of applause. " Up 
amongst the gods," refers to being among the spectators in the 
gallery, — termed in French Slang paeadis. 

There exists, too, in the great territory of vulgar speech what 
may not inappropriately be termed Civic Slang. It consists of 
mercantile and Stock-Exchange terms, and the Slang of good 
living and wealth. A turkey hung with sausages is facetiously 
styled AN ALDEKMAN IN CHAINS ; and a half-crown, perhaps 
from its rotundity, is often termed an alderman. A bear is a 
speculator on the Exchange ; and a bull, although of another 
order, follows a like profession. There is something very hi;mor- 
ous and applicable in the Slang term lame duck, a defaulter 
in stock-jobbing speculations. The allusion to his "waddling out 
of the Alley,'' as they say, is excellent. Breaking shins, in 
City Slang, is borrowing money ; a rotten or unsound scheme is 
spoken of as fishy ; " rigging the market " means playing tricks 
with it ; and stag was a common term during the railway mania 
for a speculator without capital, a seller of " scrip " in " Diddlesex 
Junction" and other equally safe lines. In Lombard Street a 
MONKEY is £500, a plum £100,000, and a marygold is one 
million sterling. But before I proceed further in a sketch of the 
different kinds of Slang, I cannot do better than speak here of 
the extraordinary number of Cant and Slang terms in use to 
represent money — from farthings to bank-notes the value of 
fortunes. Hei' Majesty's coin, collectively or in the piece, is in- 
sulted hy no less than one hundred and thirty distinct Slang 
words, from the humble brown (a halfpenny) to flimsies, or 
LONG-TAILED ONES, (bauk-notes.) 

" Money," it has been well remarked, " the bare, simple word 
itself, has a sonorous, significant ring in its sound," and might 
have sufficed, one would have imagined, for all ordinary purposes. 
But a vulgar or "fast" society has thought differently, and so we 
have the Slang synonymes — beans, blunt, (i. e., specie, — not stif 



58 SLANG TERMS FOR MONEY. 

or ro.gs, bank-notes,) beads, brass, bustle, coppers, (copper 
money, or mixed pence,) chink, chinkers, chips, corks, dibbs, 
DiNARLY, DIMMOCK, DUST, FEATHERS, GENT, (silver, — from argent,) 
HADDOCK, (a purse of money,) hoese nails, loaver, lour, (the 
oldest Cant term for money,) mopusses, needful, nobbings, 
(money collected in a liat by street-performers,) ochre, (gold,) 

PEWTER, PALM OIL, POSH, QUEEN 's PICTURES, QUIDS, RAGS, (bank- 
notes,) READY, or READY GILT, REDGE, (gold,) RHINO, ROWDY, 

SHINERS, (sovereigns,) skin, (a purse of money,) stiff, (paper, or 
bill of acceptance,) stuff, stumpy, tin, (silver,) wedge, (silver,) 
and yellow-boys, (sovereigns ;) — ^just forty -tliree vulgar equiva- 
lents for the simple word money. So attentive is Slang speech, to 
financial matters, that there are seven terms for bad, or " bogus" 
coin, (as our friends, the Americans, call it :) a case is a coun- 
terfeit five-shilling piece ; half a case represents half that sum ; 
GRAYS are halfpence made double for gambling purposes ; queer- 
soft is counterfeit or lead coin ; schofel refers to coated or 
spurious coin ; sheen is bad money of any description ; and 
SINKERS bears the same and not inappropriate meaning. Flying 
THE KITE, or obtaining money on bills and promissory-notes, is 
closely connected with the allegorical expression of raising the 
WIND, wliich is a well-known phrase for procuring money by 
immediate sale, pledging, or by a forced loan. In winter or in 
summer any elderly gentleman who may have prospered in life is 
pronounced warm ; whilst an equivalent is immediately at hand 
in the phrase " his pockets are well lined." Each separate piece 
of money has its own Slang term, and often half a score of 
synonymes. To begin with that extremely humble coin, a 
farthing: first we have fadge, then fiddler, then gig, and 
lastly quaetereen. A halfpenny is a brown or a madza 
saltee, (Cant,) or a mag, or a posh, or a rap, — whence the 
popular phrase, " I don't care a rap." The iiseful and universal 
penny has for Slang equivalents a copper, a saltek, (Cant,) and 



SLANG TERMS FOR MONEY. 59 

a WINN. Twopence is a deuce, and threepence is eitlier a 
THRUMS or a THKUPS. Fourpence, or a groat, may in vulgar 
speech be termed a bit, a flag, or a joey. Sixpeiice is well repre- 
sented in street talk, and some of the slangisms are very comical 
— for instance, bandy, bender, cripple, and dov/ner; then we 
have fye-buck, half a hog, kick, (thus " two and a kick," or 
2s. 6d.,) lord of the manor, pig, pot, (the price of a pot of beer 
— thus a half-a-crown is a " five pot piece,") snid, sprat, sow's 
baby, tanner, tester, tizzy, — sixteen vulgar words to one coin. 
Sevenpence being an uncommon amount has only one Slang 
synonyme, setter. The same remark applies to eightpence and 
ninepence, the former being only represented by ottek, and the 
latter by the Cant phrase nobba-saltee. Tenpence is dacha- 
saltee, and elevenpence dacha-one, — both Cant expressions. 
One shilling boasts eleven Slang equivalents ; thus we have 
beong, bob, breaky-leg, deaner, gen, (either from argent, 
silver, or the back Slang,) hog, levy, peg, stag, teviss, and 
TWELVER. One shilling and sixpence is a ky-bosh. Half-a- 
croivn is known as an alderman, half a bull, half a tushe- 
ROON, and a madza caroon ; whilst a crown piece, or five shil- 
lings,maj be called either a bull, or a caroon, or a cartwheel, or 
a coachwheel, or a thick-un, or a tusheroon. The next advance 
in Slang money is ten shillings, or half-a-sovereign, which may be 
either pronounced as half a bean, half a couter, a madza 
POONA, or half a quid, a sovereign, or twenty shillings, is a 

BEAN, CANARY, COUTER, FOONT, GOLDFINCH, JAMES, POONA, POR- 
TRAIT, QUID, a THICK-UN, Or a YELLOW-BOY. Guineas are nearly 
obsolete, yet the terms neds, and half neds, are still in use. 
Bank-notes are flimsies, long-tailed ones, or soft. A finup 
is a five-pound note. One hundred pounds, (or any other " round 
sum,") quietly handed over as payment for services performed, is 
curiously termed "a cool hundred." Thus ends, with several 
omissions, this long list of Slang terms for the coins of the realm^ 



6o CLASSICAL ORIGIN OF TERMS FOR MONEY. 

wLicli for copiousness, I will engage to say, is not equalled by 
any other vulgar or unauthorised language in Europe. 

The antiquity of many of these Slang names is remarkable. 
Winn was the vulgar term for a penny in the days of Queen 
Elizabeth; and tester, a sixpence, (formerly a shilling,) was the 
correct name in the days of Henry VIII. The reader, too, 
will have remarked the frequency of animals' names as Slang 
terms for money. Little, as a modern writer has remarked, do 
the persons using these phrases know of their remote and some- 
what classical origin, which may, indeed, be traced to the period 
antecedent to that when monarchs monopolised the surface of 
coined money with their ot\ti image and superscriptions. They 
are identical with the very name of money among the early 
Romans, which was jyscunia, from pecus, a flock. The collections 
of coin-dealers amply shew that the figure of a hog was anciently 
placed on a small silver coin ; and that that of a bull decorated 
larger ones of the same metal. These coins were frequently 
deeply crossed on the reverse ; this was for the convenience of easily 
breaking them into two or more pieces, should the bargain for 
which they were employed require it, and the parties making it 
had no smaller change handy to complete the transaction. Thus 
we find that the half bull of the itinerant street-seller, or 
" traveller/'* so far from being a phrase of modern invention, as 
is generally supposed, is in point of fact referable to an era 
extremely remote. We may learn from Erizzo, in his Discorso, a 
further illustration of the proverb "that there is nothing new 
under the sun ;" for he says that the Roman boys at the time of 
Hadrian tossed up their coppers and cried, "Head or ship;" of 
which tradition our "heads or tails" and " man or woman" is 
certainly a less-refined version. We thence gather, however, that 
the prow of a vessel would appear to have been the more ordinary 
device of the reverse of the brass coin of that ancient period. 

* See Dictiouary. 



SHOPKEEPERS' SLANG. 6 1 

There are many otlier Cant words directly from a classic source, 
as will be seen in the Dictionary. 

Shopkeepers' Slang is perhaps the most offensive of all Slang. 
It is not a casual eyesore, as newspaper Slang, neither is it an 
occasional discomfort to the ear, as in the case of some vuh-ar 
byword of the street ; but it is a perpetual nuisance, and stares 
you in the face on tradesmen's invoices, on labels in the shop- 
windows, and placards on the hoardings, in posters against the 
house next to your own door — if it happens to be empty for a 
few weeks — and in bills thrust into your hand, as you peaceably 
walk through the streets. Under your door, and down your 
area, Slang hand-bills are dropped by some pushing tradesman ; 
and for the thousandth time you are called upon to learn that 
an ALARMING SACRIFICE is taking place m the next street; that 
prices are down again ; that, in consequence of some other 
tradesman not driving a roaring trade, being, in fact, sold 
UP, and for the time being a resident in burdon's hotel, 
(Whitecross- Street Prison,) the pushing tradesman wishes to 
sell out at awfully low prices, "to the kind patrons, and 
numerous customers," &c. &c., "that have on every occasion," 
&c. &c. In this Slang any occupation or calling is termed a 
LINE,— thus, the " building line." A tailor usurps to himself 
a good deal of Slang. Amongst operatives he is called a snip, or 
a STEEL-BAR DRIVER ; by the world, a ninth part of a man ; 
and by the young collegian, or " fast" man, a sufferer. If he 
takes army contracts, it is sank work ; if he is a slop taUor, he 
is a SPRINGER UP, and his garments are blown together. Per- 
quisites with him are spiffs, and remnants of cloth peaking, or 
CABBAGE. The per-centage he allows to his assistants (or counter 
jumpers) on the sale of old-fashioned articles is termed tinge. 
If he pays his workmen in goods, or gives them tickets upon 
other tradesmen, with whom he shares the profit, he is soon 
known as a tommy master. If his business succeeds, it takes ; 



62 SLANG IN THE WORKSHOP. 

if neglected, it becomes shaky, and goes to pot ; if lie is deceived 
by a creditor, (a not by any means unusual circumstance,) lie is 
LET IN, or, as it is sometimes varied, taken in. I need scarcely 
remark that any credit lie may give is termed tick. 

Operatives or Worhnen's Slang, in quality, is but sligbtly 
removed from tradesmen's Slang. When belonging to the same 
shop or factory, they graft there, and are brother chips. They 
generally dine at slap-bang shops, and are often paid at tommy 
shops. At the nearest pub, or public-house, they generally have 
a SCORE CHALKED UP agaiust them, which has to be wiped off 
regularly on the Saturday night. When out of work, they borrow 
a word from the flunkey vocabulary, and describe themselves as 
being out of collar. They term each other flints and dungs, 
if they are "society" or "non-society" men. Their salary is a 
screw, and to be discharged is to get the sacel When they 
quit work, they knock off ; and when out of employ, they ask 
if any hands are wanted. Fat is the vulgar synonyme for per- 
quisites ; elbow-grease signifies labour ; and saint Monday is 
the favourite day of the week. Names of animals figure plenti- 
fully in the workman's vocabulary ; thus we have goose, a 
tailor's smoothing-iron ; sheep's-foot, an iron hammer ; sow, a 
receptacle for molten iron, whUst the metal poured from it is 
termed pig. I have often thought that many of the Slang terms 
for money originally came from the worshop, thus — brads, from 
the ironmonger ; chips, from the carpenter ; dust, from the 
goldsmith ; feathers, from the ^ipholsterer ; horse-nails, from 
the farrier; haddock, from the fishmonger; and tanner, from 
the leather-dresser. The subject is curious. Allow me to call 
the attention of numismatists to it. 

There yet remain several distinct divisions of Slang to be 
examined : — the Slang of the stable, or jockey Slang ; the Slang 
of the prize ring ; the Slang of servitude, or flunkey donn ; 
vulgar, or street Slang; the Slang of softened oaths; and the 



SLANG APOLOGIES FOR OATHS. 63 

Slang of intoxication. I shall only examine the last two. If 
society, as has been remarked, is a sham, from the vulgar 
foundation of commonalty to the crowning summit of royalty, 
especially do Ave perceive the justness of the remark in the 
Slang makeshifts for oaths, and sham exclamations for passion 
and temper. These apologies for feeling are a disgrace to our 
vernacular, although it is some satisfaction to know that they 
serve the purpose of reducing the stock of national profanity. 
" You BE BLOWED," or " I '11 BE BLOWED IF," (fec, Is an exclama- 
tion often heard in the streets. Blazes, or " like blazes," came 
probably from the army. Blast, too, although in general vulgar 
use, may have had a like origin ; so may the phrase, " I wish I 
may be shot, if," <fc:c. Blow me tight, is a very windy and 
common exclamation. The same may be said of strike me 
LUCKY, never trust ME, and so help me DAVY ; the latter 
derived from the truer old phrase, i 'll take my davy on 't — i. e., 
my affidavit, davy being a corruption of that word. By golly, 
GOL DARN IT, and so help me bob, are evident shams for profane 
oaths. Nation is but a softening of damnation; and OD, whether 
used in OD drat it, or od's blood, is but an apology for the 
name of the Deity. Marry, a term of asseveration in common 
use, was originally, in Popish times, a mode of swearing by the 
Virgin Mary; q. d., hy Mary. — So also marrow-bones, for the 
knees. I '11 bring him down upon his marrow-bo7ies — i. e., I '11 
make him bend his knees as he does to the Virgin Mary. The 
Irish phrase, bad scran to yer ! is equivalent to wishing a 
person bad food. " I 'm sniggered if you wUl," and " I 'm 
jiggered," are other stupid forms of mild swearing, — fearful of 
committing an open profanity, yet slily nibbling at the sin. 
Both deuce and dickens are vulgar old synonymes for the 
devil ; and zounds is an abbreviation of god's wounds, — a very 
ancient Catholic oath. 

In a casual survey of the territory of Slang, it is curious to 



64 SLANG TERMS FOR DRUNKENNESS. 

observe how well represented are the familiar wants and failings 
of life. First, there is money, with one hundred and twenty- 
Slang terms and synonymes ; then comes drink, from small beer 
to champagne ; and next, as a very natural sequence, intoxication, 
and fuddlement generally, with some half a hundred AOilgar terms, 
graduating the scale of drunkenness from a slight inebriation, to 
the soaky state of gutterdom and stretcherdom, — I pray the 
reader to forgive the expressions. The Slang synonymes for mild 
intoxication are certainly very choice, — they are beeev, bemused, 

BOOZY, BOSKY, BUFFY, COilNED, FOGGY, FOU, FRESH, HAZY, ELE- 
VATED, KISKY, LUSHY, MOONY, MUGGY, MUZZY, ON, SCREWED, 

STEWED, TIGHT, and wiNEY. A higher or more intense state of 
beastliness is represented by the expressions, podgy, beargered, 

BLUED, CUT, PRIMED, LUMPY, PLOUGHED, MUDDLED, OBFUSCATED, 
SWIPEY, THREE SHEETS IN THE WIND, and TOP-HEAVY. But the 

climax of fuddlement is only obtained when the disguised indi- 
\4dual can't see a hole in a ladder, or when he is all mops 

AND BROOMS, Or OFF HIS NUT, Or with Ms MAIN-BRACE WELL 

spliced, or with the sun in his eyes, or when he has lapped 
THE gutter, and got the gravel rash, or on the ran-tan, or 
on the RE-RAW, or when he is sewed up, or regularly scammered, 
— then, and not till then, is he entitled, in vulgar society, to the 
title of lushington, or recommended to put in the pin. 



SLANG DERIVATIONS. 



Slang derivations are generally indirect, turning upon metaphor and fanciful 
allusions, and other than direct etymological connexion. Such allusions 
and fancies are essentially temporary or local; they rapidly pass out of 
the public mind : the word remains, ivhile the hey to its origin is lost. 



A DICTIONARY 

OF 

MODERN SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR 
WORDS; 

MANY WITH THEIR ETYMOLOGIES TRACED. 



A I, first-rate, the very best ; " she's a prime girl, she is ; she is A I." — 
Sam SlicJc. The highest classification of ships at Lloyd's ; common 
term in the United States ; also at- Liverpool and other English sear 
ports. Another, even more intensitive, form is, " first-class, letter A, 
No. I. 
ABIGAIL, a lady's-maid; derived from old comedies. 
ABOUT RIGHT, " to do the thing about eight," i.e., to do it properly, 
soundly, correctly ; " he guv it 'im about eight," i.e., he beat him 
severely. 
ABRAM-MAN, a vagabond, such as were driven to beg aboiit the country 
after the dissolution of the monasteries. — See BESS o' bedlam, infra. 
They are well described under the title of Bedlam Beggars. — Shak- 
spear es K. Lear ii. 3. 

" And these, what name or title e'er they bear, 
Jarkman, or Patrico, Cranke, or Clapper-dudgeon, 
Prater, or abram-man ; I speak to all 
That stand in fair election for the title 
Of king of beggars." — Beaumont and Fletcher's Bcgg. Bush. iL i. 

It appears to have been the practice in former days to allow certain 
inmates of Bethlehem Hospital to have fixed days " to go begging ; " 
hence impostors were said to " sham abuaham " (the Abraham Ward 
in Bedlam having for its inmates these mendicant lunatics) when they 
pretended they were licensed beggars in behalf of the hospital. — See 
review of 2d edition of this work in The Bookseller, May 26, i860. 

Abandannad, " an abandannad (abandoned) boy," is one who picks 
pockets of bandanna handkerchiefs. — Westminster. 



66 A DICTIONARY OF MODERIT 

ABRAM-SHAM, or sham Abraham, to feign sickness or distress. From 
ABRAM-MAN, the aficlcnt Cant term for a begging impostor, or one who 
pretended to have been mad. — Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, vol. 
i. p. 560. When Abraham Newland was Cashier of the Bank of Eng- 
land, and signed their notes, it was sung : — 
" I have heard people say 
That SHAM ABR.1.HAM you may, 
But you mustn't sham abkaham iNewlaud." 

ABSQUATULATE, to run away, or abscond ; a hybrid American expres- 
sion, from the Latin ah, and " squat," to settle. 

ACRES, a coward. 

ADAM'S ALE, water. — English. The Scotch term is adau's wine. 

"ADMIRAL OF THE RED," a person whose very red face evinces a 
fondness for strong potations. 

AFFYGRAPHY. " It fits to an afftorapht," i.e., to a nicety — to a T. 

AFTERNOON FARMER, one who wastes his best opportunity, and 
drives oflf the large end of his work to the little end of his time. 

AGGERAWATOR, (corruption of Aggravator,) the greasy lock of hair in 
vogue among costermongers and other street folk, worn twisted from 
the temple back towai-ds the ear. They are also, from a supposed 
resemblance in form, termed Newgate knockers, which see. — Sala's 
Gaslight, &c. 

AKEYBO, a slang phrase used in the following manner : — " He beats 
AKETBO^ and AKEYBO beat the devil." 

ALBERTOPOLIS, a facetious appellation given by the Londoners to the 
Kensington Gore district. 

ALDERMAN, a half-crown — possibly from its rotundity. 

ALDERMAN, a tm-key; "alderman in chains," a turkey hung with 
sausages. 

ALL, equal, a term used in various games; thus, if both parties have 
scoi-ed six points each, the marker cries, " Six all!" 

" ALL OF A HUGH ! " all on one side ; falling with a thump ; the word 
HUGH being pronounced with a grunt. — Suffolk. 

" ALL MY EYE," answer of astonishment to an improbable story; "all 
MY EYE AND BETTY MARTIN," a vulgar phrase with smiilar meaning, 
said to be the commencement of a Popish prayer to St Martin, " Oh, 
mihi, beate Martine," and fallen into discredit at the Reformation. 

ALL OUT, " by far ; "— " he was all out the best of the lot." Old— 
frequently used by Burton in his Anatomy of Melancholy. 

ALL-OVERISH, neither sick nor well, the premonitory symptoms of 
illness. 

ALL-ROUNDER, the fashionable shirt collar of the present time worn 

meeting in front. 
ALL SERENE, an ejaculation of acquiescence.— /See serene. 
ALLS, tap-droppings, refuse spirits sold at a cheap rate in gin-palaces. — 

See LOVEAGE. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. S'] 

ALL THERE, in strict fashion, first-rate, " up to the mark ; " a vulgar 
person would speak of a spruce, showily-dressed female as being all- 
there. An artisan would use the same phrase to express the capa- 
bilities of a skilful fellow-workman. Sometimes all the way there. 
A modern song has — 

" Says little Tom Sayers, ' If the blues do not stay us, 
I '11 lead liim a dance for the Island ; 
He shall see how we fight here in my land I 
We're all the way there in the Island. 

Althouafh he's so tall, he 

Shall yet feel my mawley 
Ere I give up the " Belt " of the Island.' " 

"ALL TO PIECES," utterly, excessively; "he beat him all to pieces," 

i.e., excelled or surpassed him exceedingly. 
" ALL TO SMASH," or " gone to pieces," bankrupt, or smashed to pieces. 

— Somersetshire. 
ALMIGHTY DOLLAR, an American expression for the "power of 

money," first introduced by Washington Irving in 1837.* 
AMINADAB, a quaker; from old comedies. 
ANDREW MILLAR, a ship of war.— .Sca. 

AN'T, or ain't, the vulgar abbreviation of " am not," or "are not." 
ANOINTED, used in a bad sense, to express eminent rascality in any one ; 

" an ANOINTED scoundrel," as if he were the king of scoundrels. — Irish. 
ANOINTING, a good beating. 

ANONYMA, a lady of the demi-monde — or worse — a pretty horse-breaker. 

— Times. Incognita was the term at first. 
ANY HOW, in any way, or at any rate, bad; "he went on any how," 

i.e., badly or indifferently. 
ANTISCRIPTURAL, oaths, foul language. 

" APARTMENTS TO LET," said of one who has a somewhat empty 
head. 

APOSTLE'S GROVE, the London district known as St John's Wood. 

APOSTLES, The Twelve, the last twelve names on the Poll, or 
" Ordinary Degi-ee " List at the Cambridge Examinations, when it was 
arranged in order of merit, and not alphabetically, and in classes, as at 
present ; so called from there being ^Mst alies, after the others.-f — See 

POLL. 

* The idea of this phrase, at any rate, is far older than the time of Irving. Ben 
Jonsoii's Epistle to Elizabeth, Countess of RiUlatid, commences thus : — 

" Whilst that for which all virtue now is sold, 
And almost every vice, almigktie gold." 

t The last of all was called St Paul, (or Saint Poll,) as being the least of the apostles, 
and " not meet to be called an apostle," (see I Cor. xv. 9.) As in the " Honour" list, 
{see Gulf,) students who had faOed only slightly in one or more subjects were occasion- 
ally allowed their degrees, and these were termed elegant extracts.— Ca)Ji&. Univ. 
Slang. 



08 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

APPLE-PIE BED, a trick played at schools on new comers, or on any 
boy disliked by the rest. One of the sheets is removed, and the other 
is doubled in the middle, so that both edges are brought to the top, 
and look as if both sheets were there ; but the unhappy occupant is 
prevented getting more than half way down, and his night's rest is in 
all probability spoiled. 

APPLE-CART, " down with his apple-cakt," i.e., upset him. — North. 

APPLE-PIE ORDER, in exact or very nice order. 

ARTICLE, derisive term for a weak specimen of humanity. 

ARY, corruption of " ever a," " e'er a ; " art one, i.e., e'er a one. 

" AS YOU WERE," a military phrase in drilling; used in a Slang sense to 
one who is going on too fast in his assertions, and wants recalling to 
moderation. 

ATOMY, a diminutive or deformed person. From anatomy. 

ATTACK, to carve, or commence operations on; "attack that beef, and 
oblige ! " 

ATTIC, the head; "queer in the attic," intoxicated. — Pugilistic. 

AUNT SALLY, a favourite game on race-courses and at fairs, consisting of 
a wooden head mounted on a stick, firmly fixed in the ground ; in the 
nose of which, or rather in that part of the facial arrangement of 
aunt sally which is generally considered incomplete without a nasal 
projection, a tobacco pipe is inserted. The fun consists in standing at 
a distance and demolishing aunt sally's pipe-clay projection with 
short bludgeons, very similar to the half of a broom-handle. The 
Duke of Beaufort is a "crack hand" at smashing pipe noses; and his 
performances a few years ago on Brighton race-course are yet fresh 
in remembrance. Aunt Sally proprietors are indebted to the noble 
duke for having brought the game into fashionable notoriety. 

AVAST, a sailor's phrase for stop, shut up, go away, — apparently connected 
with the old Cant, bynge a waste ; or from the Italian, basta, hold ! 
enough, 

AWAKE, or fly, knowing, thoroughly understanding, not ignorant of. The 
phrase wide awake carries the same meaning in ordinary conversation. 

AWFUL, (or, with the Cockneys, oeful,) a senseless expletive, used to in- 
tensify a description of anything good or bad ; " what an awful fine 
woman !" i.e., how handsome, or showy! 

Area-sneak, a boy thief who commits depredations upon kitchens and 
cellars. — See crow. 

Argot, a term used amongst London thieves for their secret or Cant lan- 
guage. French term for Slang. 

Autumn, a Slang term for an execution by hanging. When the drop was 
introduced instead of the old gallows, cart, and ladder, and a man was 
for the first time " turned-ofi'" in the present fashion, the mob were 
BO pleased with the invention that they spoke of the operation as at 
autumn, or the fall of the leap, (sc, the drop,) with the man about 
to be hanged. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 69 

AXE, to ask. — Saxon, acsian. 

AYAH, a lady's-maid or nurse. — Anglo-Indian. 

BABES, the lowest order of knock-outs, (whicli see,) who are prevailed 
upon not to give opposing biddings at auctions, in consideration of 
their receiving a small sum, (from one shilling to half-a-crown,) and a 
certain quantity of beer. Babes exist in Baltimore, U.S., where they 
are known as blackguards and " rowdies." 

BACK, to support, or "lay" money on a particular horse in a race. The 
term is very generally used in the " ring," as well as on the " turf." 

BACK OUT, to retreat from a difficulty ; the reverse of GO ahead. Meta- 
phor borrowed from the stables. 

" BACK SLANG IT," to go out the back way. 

BACK-HANDER, a blow on the face with the back of the hand, a back- 
handed tip. Also a drink out of turn, as when a greedy person delays 
the decanter to get a second glass. 

BACKER, one who bets, or "lays" his money, on a favourite horse; a one- 
sided supporter in a contest. Sporting, and very general. 

BACON, " to save one's bacon," to escape. 

BAD, " to go to the bad," to deteriorate in character, be ruined. Virgil 
has an exactly similar phrase, in pejus mere. 

BADMINTON, blood, — properly a peculiar kind of claret-cup invented at 
the Duke of Beaufort's seat of that name. Badminton proper is made 
of claret, sugar, spice, and cucumber peel iced, and is used by the 
Prize Ring as a synouyme for blood out of compliment to a well-known 
patron. 

BAFFATY, calico. Used in the drapery trade. 

BAGMAN, a commercial traveller. 

BAGS, trousers. Trousers of an extensive pattern, or exaggerated fashion- 
able cut, have lately been termed howling-bags, but only when the 
style has been very " loud." The word is probably an abbreviation for 
b-mbags. " To have the bags off," to be of age and one's own master, 
to have plenty of money. " Bags of mystery" is another phrase in 
frequent use. 

BAKE, " he's only half baked," i.e., soft, inexperienced. 

BAKER'S DOZEN. This consists of thirteen or fourteen; the surplus 
number, called the inhread, being thrown in for fear of incurring the 
penalty for short weight. To " give a man a baker's dozen," in a 
Slang sense, means to give him an extra good beating or pummelling. 

BALAAM, printers' Slang for matter kept in type about monstrous pro- 
ductions of nature, &c., to fill up spaces in newspapers that would 
otherwise be vacant. The term balaam-box has long been used in 
Blackwood as the name of the depository for rejected articles. Evi- 
dently from Numbers xxii. 30, and denoting the " speech of an ass," 
or any story difficult of deglutition, not contained in Scripture. 

Back Jump, a back window. — Prison term. 



70 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

BALD-FACED STAG, a term of derision applied to a person with a bald 
head. Also, still more coarsely, " bladder-OF-LARD." Another name 
is " Marquis of Granby," which see. 

BALE UP ! the Australian bushrangers' " Stand and deliver ! " now im- 
ported into the streets of London as a synonyme for " Stop ! " 

BALLAMBANGJANG. The Straits of Ballajebangjang, though unno- 
ticed by geographers, are frequently mentioned in sailors' yarns as 
being so narrow, and the rocks on each side so crowded with trees 
inhabited by monkeys, that the ship's yards cannot be squared, on 
account of the monkeys' tails getting jammed into, and choking up, 
the brace blocks. — Sea. 

BALMY, insane. 

BALMY, sleep; "have a dose of the balmy " — go to sleep. 

BAMBOOING, a beating — from the instrument employed. 

BAMBOOZLE, to deceive, make fun of, or cheat a person ; abbreviated to 
BAM, which is used also as a substantive — a deception, a sham, a " sell." 
Swift says bamboozle was invented by a nobleman in the reign of 
Charles II. ; but this I conceive to be an error. The probability is 
that a nobleman first used it in polite society. The term is derived 
from the Gipsies. 

BANDED, hungry, 

BANDY, or cripple, a sixpence, so called from this coin being generally 
bent or crooked; old term for flimsy or bad cloth, temp. Q. Elizabeth. 

BANG, to excel or surpass ; banging, great or thumping. 

BANG-UP, first-rate. 

BANK, to put in a place of safety. " Bank the rag," i.e., secure the note. 

BANTLING, a child; stated in Bacchus and Venus, 1737, and by Grose, to 
be a Cant term. 

BANYAN-DAY, a day on which no meat is served out for rations ; prob- 
ably derived from the banians, a Hindoo caste, who abstain from 
animal food. — Sea. 

BAR, or BARRING, excepting ; in common use in the betting-ring ; " I bet 
against the field bar two." The Irish use of barrin' is very similar. 

BARBER'S CAT, said of a half-starved, sickly -looking person, in connexion 
with an expression too coarse to print. 

BARKER, a man employed to cry at the doors of " gaffs," shows, and 
puffing shops, to entice people inside. 

BARNACLES, a pair of spectacles; corruption of binocull Derived 
by some from the barnacle,* a kind of conical shell adhering to 
ships' bottoms. Hence a marine term for goggles, which they resemble 
in shape, and for which they are used by sailors in case of ophthalmic 
derangement. 

* Lfpas Anatifira. 

Ball, prison allowance, viz., six ounces of meat. 
Barking-Iron, a pistol. Term used by footpads. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGaR WORDS. 7 1 

BARNEY, a lark, spree, rough enjoyment ; " get up a barney," to have 
a '* lark." Also, a deception, a " cross." 

BARNEY, a mob, a crowd. 

BARN-STORMERS, theatrical performers who travel the country and act 

in bams, selecting short and frantic pieces to suit the rustic taste. — 

Theatrical. 

BARRIKIN, jargon, speech, or discourse; "we can't tumble to that 
BARRIKIN," i.e., we don't understand what he says. Miege calls it '"' a 
sort of stuff; " Old French, baeacan. 

BASH, to beat, thrash ; "bashing a donna," beating a woman; originally 
a provincial word, and chiefly applied to the practice of beating walnut 
trees, when in bud, with long poles, to increase their productiveness. 
Hence the West country i^roverb — 

" A woman, a whelp, and a walnut tree, 
The more you bash 'em, the better they be." 

BASTE, to beat, properly to pour gravy on roasting meat to keep it from 
burning. Also, a sewing term. 

BASTILE, the workhouse. General name for " the Union " amongst the 
lower orders of the North. Formerly used to denote a prison, or 
"lock-up;" but its abbreviated form, steel, is now the favourite 
expression with the lower orders. 

BAT, " on his own bat," on his own account. — See hook« 

BATS, a pair of bad boots. 

BATTER, wear and tear ; " can't stand the batter," i.e., not equal to the 

task; "on the batter," literally "on the streets," or given up to 

roistering and debauchery. 

BATTLES, the students' term at Oxford for rations. At Cambridge, 
COMMONS. Qy. Battells. 

BATTY, wages, perquisites. Derived from eatta, an extra pay given to 
soldiers while serving in India. 

BATTY-FANG, to beat; battt-fanging, a beating; also batter-fang. 
Used metaphorically as early as 1630. 

" So batter-fanged and belabonr'd with tongue mettle, that he was weary of his 
life."— Taylor's Works, 1630. 

BAZAAR, a shop or counter. Gipsy and Hindoo, a market. 

BEACH-C01\IBER, a fellow who prowls about the sea-shore to plunder 
wrecks, and pick up waifs and strays of any kind. — Sea. 

BEAK, a magistrate, judge, or policeman; "to baffle the beak," to get re- 
manded. Ancient Cant, beck. Saxon, beag, a necklace or gold col- 
lar — emblem of authority. Sir John Fielding was called the BLIND- 
BEAk in the last century. Query, if connected with the Italian 3ECC0, 
which means a (bird's) beak, and also a blockhead? See, however, 
under walker ! for another derivation. 

Beaker-Hunter, a stealer of poultry. 



72 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

BEANS, money; "a haddock of beans," a purse of money; formerly, 
BEAN meant a guinea ; French, biens, property ; also used as a sync- 
nyme for brick, which see. 
BEAR, one who contracts to deliver or sell a certain quantity of stock in 
the public funds on a forthcoming day at a stated place, but who does 
not possess it, trusting to a decline in public securities to enable him 
to fulfil the agreement and realise a profit. — See bull. Both words 
are Slang terms on the Stock Exchange, and are frequently used in the 
business columns of newspapers. 

" He wbo sells that of which he is not possessed is proverbially said to sell the 
skin before he has caught the bear. It was the practice of stock-jobbers, 
in the year 1720, to enter into a contract for transferring South Sea stock 
at a future time for a certain price; but he who contracted to sell had fre- 
quently no stock to transfer, nor did he who bought intend to receive any 
in consequence of his bargain; the seller was, therefore, called a BtAS, in 
allusion to the proverb, and the buyer a bdll, perhaps only as a similar dis- 
tinction. The contract was merely a wager, to be determined by the rise 
or fall of stock ; if it rose, the seller paid the difference to the buyer, pro- 
portioned to the sum determined by the same computation to the seller."— 
Dr Warton on Pope. 

BEAEGERED, to be drimk. 

BEAT, the allotted range traversed by a policeman on duty. 

BEAT, or beat-hollow, to surpass or excel ; also " beat into fits." 

BEAT, "dead-beat," wholly worn out, done for. 

BEATER-CASES, boots. Nearly obsolete. 

BEAVER, old street term for a hat ; Goss is the modern word, beater, 

except in the country, having fallen into disuse. 
BE-BLOWED, a windy exclamation equivalent to an oath. — See blow-me. 
BED-POST, " in the twinkling of a bed-post," in a moment, or very quickly. 

Originally bed-staff, a stick placed vertically in the frame of a bed to 

keep the bedding in its T^\a.ce.—ShadwelV s Virtuoso, 1676, act i., scene i. 

This was used sometimes as a defensive weapon. 
BED-FAGOT, a contemptuous term for a bed-fellow. — See fagot. 
BEDFORDSHIRE, bed; when a person says, "I'm off for bedfoedshibe," 

he means that he is going to bed. 
BEE, " to have a bee in one's bonnet," i.e., to be not exactly sane. 
BEEBEE, a ladj.—Anglo-Itidian. 
BEEF-HEADED, stupid. 
BEEFY, unduly thick or fat, commonly said of women's ancles. — See 

MULLINGAR. 

BEERY, intoxicated, or fuddled with beer. 

BEESWAX, poor soft cheese. 

BEETLE-CRUSHER, or squasher, a large flat foot. The expression waa 

first used in one of Mr Leech's caricatures in Punch. 
BEGGAR'S VELVET, downy particles which accumulate under furniture 

from the negligence of house-maids. Otherwise called SLUT's-WOOL. 
BELCHER, a handkerchief .—-See under billy for description. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 'J 1, 

BELL, a song. Tramps' term. 

BELLOWS, the lungs. Bellowser, a blow in the " wind," or pit of the 

stomach ; taking one's breath away. 
" BELLOAVS TO MEND," said of a person out of breath. 
BELLY-TIMBER, food, or "grub." 

BELLY-VENGEANCE, small sour beer, apt to cause gastralgia. 
BEMUSE, to fuddle one's-self with drink, " bemusing himself with beer," 

&c. — Sala's Gaslight and Daylight, p. 308. 
BEN, a benefit. — Theatrical. 
BEND, "that's above my bend," i.e., beyond my power, too expensive, or 

too difficult for me to perform. 
BENDER, a sixpence, — from its liability to bend. 

BENDER, the arm ; " over the bender," synonymous with " over the 
left." — See over. Also an ironical exclamation similar to walker ! 

BENDIGO, a rough fur cap worn in the midland counties, named after a 

noted pugilist of that name. 
BENE, good. — Ancient Cant; benar was the comparative. — See bone, 

Latin. 
BENEDICT, a married man, 
BENJAMIN, a coat. Formerly termed a Joseph, in allusion, perhaps, to 

Joseph's coat of many colours.— /See upper-benjahin. 
BEN JOLTRAM, brown bread and skimmed milk; a Norfolk term for a 

ploughboy's breakfast. 
BENJY, a waistcoat, — the diminutive of benjamin, 
BEONG, a shilling. — See saltee. — Lingua Franca. 
BESS. — See bbown-bess. 

BESS-O'-BEDLAM, a lunatic vagrant.— iVV/oZL 
BEST, to get the better or "best" of a man in any way — not necessarily to 

cheat — to have the best of a bargain. Bested, taken in, or defrauded. 

Bester, a low betting cheat, 
BETTER, more ; " how far is it to town ? " " Oh, better 'n a mile," — 

Saxon and Old English, now a vulgarism. 
BETTING ROUND. See book, and book-making, 
B. FLATS, bugs. — Compare f. sharps. 
BIBLE-CARRIER, a person who sells songs without singing them. — Seven 

Dials. 
BIG, "to look BIG," to assume an inflated address, or manner; "to talk 

BIG," i.e., boastingly, or with an " extensive " air. 
" BIG-BIRD, to get the," i.e., to be hissed, as actors occasionally are by 

the " gods." — Theat. Slang. 

BellowseDj or lagged, transported. 

Ben Cull, a friend, or " pal." — Millhanh Penitentiary. 

Betty, a skeleton key, or picklock. — Old Prison Cant. 



74 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 



BIG-HOUSE, the work-house,— a phrase used by the very poor. 
BIG-WIG, a person in authority or office. 

BILBO, a sword; ahbrev. of "bii.boa blade." Spanish swords were an- 
ciently very celebrated, especially those of Toledo, Bilboa, &c. 
BILK, a cheat, or a swindler. Formerly in general use, now confined to 

the streets, where it is very common. Gothic, bilaican. 
BILK, to defraud, or obtain goods, &c., without paying for them; "to 
BILK the schoolmaster," to get information or experience without pay- 
ing for it. 
BILLINGSGATE, (when applied to speech,) foul and coarse language. 
Not many years since, one of the London notorieties was to hear the 
fishwomen at Billingsgate abuse each other. The anecdote of Dr 
Johnson and the Billingsgate virago is well known. 
BILLY, a silk pocket-handkerchief.— -S'cofc/^.—5'ee wipe. 

*^* A list of the Slang terms descriptive of the various patterns of 
handkerchiefs, pocket and neck, is here subjoined : — 

Belcher, darkish blue ground, large round white spots, with a 
spot in the centre of darker blue than the ground. This was 
adopted by Jim Belcher, the pugilist, and soon became popu- 
lar amongst " the fancy." 
Bird's-eye wipe, same as preceding. 
. Blood-red fancy, red. 
Blue billy, blue ground with white spots. 
Cream fancy, any pattern on a white ground. 
Green king's man, any pattern on a green ground. 
EandaX's man, green, with white spots; named after Jack Eandal, 

pugilist. 
Water's man, sky coloured. 
Yellow fancy, yellow, with white spots. 
Yellow man, all yellow. 
BILLY-BARLOW, a street clown; sometimes termed a JiM crow, or. 
"SALfiMBANCO,— so called from the hero of a Slang soTag.—Bulwer'sPavl 
Clifford. — Billy was a real person, semi-idiotic, and, though in dirt and 
rags, fancied himself a swell of the first water. Occasionally he came 
out with real witticisms. He was a well-known street character about 
the east end of London, and died in Whitechapel Workhouse.— (P.) 
BILLY-COCK, a hat of the Jim Crow or "wide-awake " description, prin- 
cipally worn by carters. 
BINGY, a term largely used in the butter trade to denote bad ropy butter; 

nearly equivalent to vinnied. 
BINGO, hvxnAj.—Bidioer's Paid Clifford. 
BIRD-CAGE, a fou r-wheeled cab. 

BiLLT, a policeman's staff. 

Billy, stolen metal of any kind. 

Billy-hunting, buying old metal— -See billt-fenceb. 

Billy-fencer, a marine-store dealer. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 75 

EIT, fourpence ; in America 12^ cents are called a bit, and a defaced 20 
cent piece is termed a long bit. A bit is the smallest coin in Jamaica, 
equal to 6d. 

BIT, money. Charles Bannister, the witty singer and actor, one day meet- 
ing a Bow -Street runner with a man in custody, asked what the 
prisoner had done ; and being told that he had stolen a bridle, and 
had been detected in the act of selling it, said, " Ala ! then, he wanted 
to touch the bit." 

BITCH, tea; "a bitch party," a tea-drinting. — Oxford. 

BITE, a cheat ; " a Yorkshire bite," a cheating fellow from that county. 
— North; also old Slang — used by Pojpe. Swift says it originated with 
a nobleman in his day. 

BITE, to cheat; "to be bitten," to be taken in or imposed upon. Origin- 
ally a Gipsy term.* — See Bacchus and Venus. 

BITTEKS, "to do bitters," to drink heer.— Oxford. 

BiTTOCK, a distance of very undecided length. If a north countryman 
be asked the distance to a place, he will most probably reply, " a mile 
and a bittock; " and the latter may be considered any distance from 
one hundred yards to ten miles ! 

B. K. S. Military officers in vinfti, when out on a spree, and not wishing 
their profession to be known, speak of their barracks as the B. K. S. 

BIVVY, or GATTER, beer; " shant of bivvy," a pot or quart of beer. In 
Suffolk, the afternoon refreshment of reapers is called bever. It is 
also an old English term. 

"He is none of those same ordinary eaters, that will devour three breakfasts, 
and as many dinners, without any prejudice to tlieir severs, drinkings, or 
suppers." — Beaumont and Fletcher's IVovian Hater, i. 3. 
Both words are probably from the Italian, SEVERE, BERE. Latin, 
bibere. English, beverage. 
"BLACK AND WHITE," handwriting, or print. 
BLACK-A-VISED, having a very dark complexion. 
BLACKBIRD-CATCHING, sea Slang for the slave-trade. 
BLACK DIAMONDS, coals; talented persons of dingy or unpolished ex- 
terior; rough jewels. 

BLACK-LEG, a rascal, swindler, or card cheat. The derivation of this 
term was solemnly argued before the full court of Queen's Bench, 
upon a motion for a new trial for libel, but was not decided by the 
learned tribunal. Probably it is from the custom of sjjorting and turf 
men wearing black tojy-boots. Hence black-leg came to be the phrase 
for a professional sporting man. 

• Cross-biter, for a cheat, continually occurs in writers of the sixteenth century. 
N. Bailey has cross-bite, a disappointment, probably tlie primary sense ; and bite is 
very probably a contraction of this, — See Nares's Glossary, s. v. 

Bit, a purse, or any sum of money. — Prison Cant. 
Bit-faker, or turner out, a coiner of bad money. 
Blackberry-swagger, a person who hawks tapes, boot-laces, &c. 



76 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 



BLACK-SHEEP, a "bad lot," "mauvak sujet;" also a workman who re- 
fuses to join in a strike. 

BLACKSTRAP, port wine. 

BLACKGUARD, a low, or dirty fellow. 

"A Cant Word amongst the vulgar, by which is implied a dirty fellow of the 
meanest kind, Dr Johnson says, and he cites culy the modern authority 
of Swilt. But the introduction of this word into our language belongs not 
to the vulgar, and is more than a century prior to the time of Swift. Mr 
Malone agrees with me in exhibiting the two first of the following ex- 
amples : — The black-rjuard is evidently designed to imply a fit attendant on 
the devil. Mr Gifford, however, in his late edition of Ben Jonson's works, 
assigns an origin of the name different from what the old examples which 
I have cited seem to countenance. It has been formed, he says, from those 
•mean and dirty dependants, in great houses, who were selected to carry 
coals to the kitchen, halls, &c. To this smutty regiment, who attended 
the progi-esses, and rode in the carts with the pots and kettles, which, 
with every other article of furniture, were then moved from palace to palace, 
the people, in derision, gave the name of black guards; a term since become 
sufficiently familiar, and never properly explained.' — Ben Jonson, ii. 169, 
Vii. 250." — Todd's Johnson's Dictionary. 

BLADE, a man — in ancient times the term for a soldier; "knowing blade," 
a wide-awake, sharp, or cunning man. 

BLADDER-OF-LARD, a coarse, satirical nickname for a bald-headed 
person. 

BLARNEY, flattery, exaggeration. A castle in the county of Cork. It i? 

said that whoever kisses a certain stool in this castle will be able to 
persuade others of whatever he or she pleases. The name of the castle 
is derived from BLAdh, a blossom, i.e., the flowery or fertile demesne. 
Bladh is also flattery; hence the connexion. — Irish. 

BLAST, to curse. Originally a Military expression. 

BLAZES, a low synonyme for the infernal regions. Also as applied to the 
brilhant habiliments of flunkeys. — See Pickwick Pcqiers. 

BLEST, a vow; "blest if I'll do it," i.e., I am determined not to do it; 
euphemism for cdkst. 

BLEED, to victimise, or extract money from a person, to sponge on, to 
make suffer vindictively. 

BLEW, or BLOW, to inform, or peach. 

BLEWED, got rid of, disposed of, spent ; " I slewed all my bkmt last 
night," I spent all my money. 

BLIND, a pretence, or make-believe. 

BLIND -HALF -HUNDRED, the fiftieth regiment of foot; so called 

through their great suff'erings from ophthalmia, when serving in 

Egypt. 
BLIND-HOOKEY, a gambling game at cards; called also wilfdl murder. 
BLIND-MAN'S-HOLIDAY, night, darkness. 
BLINKER, a blackened eye. — Norwich Slang. Blinkers, spectacles. 

Blink-fencer, a person who sells spectacles. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. "JJ 

BLOAK, or bloke, a man ; " the bloak with a jasey," the man with a wig, 
i.e., the Judge. Gipsy and Hindoo, loke. North, bloacher, any 
large animal. 

BLOATER.— ^See mild. 

BLOCK, the head. "To block a hat," is to knock a man's hat down over 
his eyes. — See boknet. 

BLOCK ORNAMENTS, the small dark-colonred pieces of meat exposed 
on the cheap butchers' blocks or counters, — debateable points to all 
the sharp-visaged argumentative old women in low neighbourhoods. 

BLOOD, a fast or high-mettled man. Nearly obsolete in the sense in 
which it was used in George the Fourth's time. 

BLOOD-RED FANCY, a particular kind of handkerchief worn by pugi- 
lists and frequenters of prize fights. — See billy. 
BLOODY-JEMMY, an uncooked sheep's head. — See sanguinary james. 
" BLOW A CLOUD," to smoke a cigar or pipe — a phrase in use two cen- 
turies ago. 
BLOW ME, or blow me tight, a vow, a ridiculous and unmeaning ejacula- 
tion, inferring an appeal to the ejaculator ; " I 'm blowed if you will" 
is a common expression among the lower orders ; " blow me up " was 
the term a century ago. — See Parker s Adventures, 1781. — The expres- 
sion be-blowed is now more general. Tom Hood used to tell a 
story : — 
"I was once asked to conti-ibute to a new journal, not exactly gratuitously, but 
at a very small advance upon nothing — and avowedly because the work had 
been planned according to that estimate. However, I accepted the terms 
conditionally — that is to say, provided tlie principle could be properly carried 
out. Accordingly, I wrote to my butcher, baker, and other tradesmen, in- 
foi-ming them that it was necessary, for the sake of cheap literature and 
the interest of the reading public, that they should furnish me with their 
several commodities at a very trifling per-centage above cost price. It will 
be sufficient to quote the answer of the butcher : — ' Sir, — Respectin' your 
note. Cheap literater be blowkd! Butchers must live as well as other pepel 
— and if so be you or the readin' publick wants to have meat at prime cost, 
you must buy your own beastesses, and kill yourselves. — I remane, etc., 

'"John Stok.es.'" 

BLOW OUT, or tuce in, a feast. 

BLOW UP, to make a noise, or scold ; formerly a Cant expression used 

amongst thieves, now a recognised and respectable phrase. Blowing 

UP, a jobaticMi, a scolding. 

Blob, (from blab,) to talk. Beggars are of two kinds, — those who 
SCKEEVE, (introduce themselves with a fakement, or false document,) 
and those who BLOB, or state their case in their own truly " unvar- 
nished" language. 

Blow, to expose, or inform ; " blow the gaff," to inform against a person, 

" 'As for tliat,' s.ays Will, 'I could tell it well enough, if I had it, but I must 
not be seen anywhere among my old acquaintances, for I am blown, and 
they will all betray me.' " — History of Colond Jach, 1723. 

In America, "to blow" is Slang for to taunt. 

Blower, a girl ; a contemptuous name in opposition to jomeb." 



78 



A DICTIONAEY OF MODERN 



BLOWEN", a showy or flaunting female. In Wilts, a blowen is a blossom. 
Germ. BLUHEN, to bloom. In German, also, buhlen is to court, and 
BUHLE, a sweetheart. 

" O du hluhende Madclien viel schone 'Willkoinm ! " — German Song. 

Possibly, however, the street term blowen may mean one whose re- 
putation has been blown upon, or damaged. 

BLUBBER, to cry in a childish manner. — Ancient. A correspondent says, 
"probably from hanging the lip." 

BLUE, said of talk that is smutty or indecent. When the conversation 
has assumed an entirely opposite character, it is then said to be 
brown, or Quakerish. 

BLUE, a policeman; "disguised in blue and liquor." — Boots at the Swan. 

" The gentleman in blue and white" — i.e., a policeman — was frequently 
called tipon for a song at the pleasant camp-fire meetings on Wimbledon 
Common, during the volunteer encampment there in 1863. 

BLUE, or BLEW, to pawn or pledge. 

BLUE, confounded or surprised ; " to look blue," to be astonished or disap- 
pointed. 

BLUE BILLY, the handkerchief (blue ground with white spots) worn and 
used at prize fights. Before a " SET to," it is common to take it from 
the neck and tie it round the leg as a garter, or round the waist, to 
"keep in the wind." Also, the refuse ammoniacal lime from gas 
factories. 

BLUE-BLANKET, a rough overcoat made of coarse pilot cloth. 

BLUE-BOTTLE, a policeman. It is singular that this well-known Slang 
term for a London constable should have been used by Sltalcspeare. 
In Part ii. of King Henry IV., act v., scene 4, Doll Tearsheet calls the 
beadle, who is dragging her in, a " thin man in a censer, a blue-bottle 
rogue." 

BLUED, or slewed, tipsy, or drunk. 

BLUE DEVILS, the ai^paritions supposed to be seen by habitual drunkards. 

BLUE MOON, an unlimited period. 

BLUE MURDER, a desperate or alarming cry. — French, moetbleu. 

BLUE RUIN, gin. 

BLUES, a fit of despondency. — See blub devils. 

BLUFF, an excuse ; more frequently used as an adjective, in the sense of 
rough, coarse, plain-spoken. 

BLUFF, to turn aside, stop, or excuse, 

Bludger, a low thief, who does not hesitate to use violence. — Prison Cant. 

Blue-pigeon-flyer, a journeyman plumber, glazier, or other workman, 
who, imder the plea of repairing houses, strips off the lead, and 
makes away with it. Sometimes they get off with it by wrapping it 
round their bodies. 

Bluet, lead. — German, blei. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 79 

BLUNT, money. It has been said that this term is from the French blond, 
sandy or golden colour, and that a parallel may be found in brown or 
BROWNS, the slang for halfpence. Far-fetched as this etymology may 
be, it is doubtless correct, as it is borne out by the analogy of similar 
expressions. Cf. BLAnquillo, a word used in Morocco and Southern 
Spain for a small Moorish coin. The "asper" (asTrpa-v) of Constan- 
tinople is called by the Turks akcheh, i.e., " little white." ^ee also 
Winn, (Harman,) above, p. 20. 

BLURT OUT, to speak from impulse, and without reflection. — Shalspeare. 

BOARD-OF-GREEN-CLOTH, a facetious synonyme for a card-table. 

BOB, a shilling. Formerly bobstick, which may have been the original. 
BoB-A-NOB, a shilling a-head. Query, if connected with Sir Rob. 
Walpole, as Joey is with Joseph Hume ? 

BOB, " s' help my bob," a street oath, equivalent to " so help me God." 
Other words are used in street language for a similarly evasive purpose, 
i.e., CAT, GREENS, TATUR, &c., all equally profane and disgusting. 

BOB IT, drop it, give it up. 

BOBBERY, a squabble, tumult. — Anglo-Indian. 

BOBBISH, very well, clever, spruce. " How are you doing ? " " Oh ! pretty 
bobbish."— OM. 

BOBBY, a policeman. Both bobby and feeler were nicknames given to 
the new police, in allusion to the Chi-istian and surnames of the late 
Sir Robert Peel, who was the prime mover in effecting their introduction 
and improvement. The term bobby is, however, older than the 
Saturday Reviewer imagines. The official square-keeper, who is always 
armed with a cane to drive away idle and disorderly urchins, has, time 
out of mind, been called by the said urchins, bobby the Beadle. Bobby 
is also, I may remark, an old English word for striking or hitting, a 
quality not unknown to poUcemen. — See HalliweWs Dictionary. 

BODKIN, a small, or young person, sitting in the centre, between two 
others, in a carriage, is said "to ride bodkin." Amongst sporting 
men, applied to a person who takes his turn between the sheets on 
alternate nights, when the hotel has twice as many visitors as it can 
comfortably lodge. 

BODY-SNATCHER, a bailifl" or runner : snatch, the trick by which the 
bailiff captures the delinquent, 

BODY-SNATCHEK, a cat-stealer. 

BOG-ORANGES, potatoes. 

BOG, or bog-house, a privy as distinguished from a water-closet. — School 
term. In the Inns of Court, I am informed, the term is very common. 

BOG-TROTTER, satirical name for an Irishman. — Miegc. Camden, how- 
ever, speaking of the " debateable land " on the borders of England 
and Scotland, says, " both these dales breed notable bog-trottebs." 

BOLUS, an apothecary. 

BOILERS, or Brompton boilers, the Slang name given to the New Ken- 
sington Museum and School of Art, in allusion to the peculiar form 



8o A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

of the buildings, and the fact of their being mainly composed of, and 
covered with, sheet iron. — See pepper-boxes. 

BOLT, to run away, decamp, or abscond. 

BOLT, to swallow without chewing. 

BOMBAY DUCKS; in the East India Company's army the Bombay regi- 
ments were so designated. The name is now given to a dried fish, 
(bummelow,) much eaten by natives and Europeans in Western India. 
— Anglo-Indian. 

BONE, to steal or appropriate what does not belong to you. Boned, seized 
apprehended. — Old. 

BONE-PICKER, a footman. 

BONES, TO RATTLE THE BONES, to play at dice ; also called ST Hugh's bones. 

BONES, " he made no bones of it," he did not hesitate, i.e., vmdertook and 

finished the work without difficulty, "found no bones in the jelly." — 

Ancient, vide Cotgrave. 

BONIFACE, landlord of a tavern or inn. 

BONNET, a gambling cheat. " A man who sits at a gaming-table, and 
appears to be playing against the table ; when a stranger enters, the 
bonnet generally wins." — Times, Nov. 17, 1856. Also, a pretence, or 
make-believe, a sham bidder at auctions, one who metaphorically blinds 
or bonnets others. — See the following. 

BONNET, to strike a man's cap or hat over his eyes. 

BONNETER, one who induces another to gamble. 

BOOBY-TRAP, a favourite amusement of boys at school. It consists in 
placing a pitcher of water on the top of a door set ajar for the pur- 
pose ; the person whom they wish to drench is then enticed to pass 
through the door, and receives the pitcher and its contents on his un- 
lucky head. Books are sometimes used. 

BOOK, an arrangement of bets for and against, chronicled in a pocket-book 
made for that purpose; " making a book upon it," a common phrase to 
denote the general arrangement of a person's bets on a race. " That 
does not suit my book," i.e., does not accord with my other arrange- 
mentfl. The principle of making a book, or betting round, as it is 
sometimes termed, is to lay out a previously-determined sum against 
every horse in the race, or as many as possible ; and should the book- 
maker get bound, i.e., succeed in laying against as many horses as 
will more than balance the odds laid, he is certain to be a winner. — 
See Hedge. 

BOOKED, caught, fixed, disposed of. — Term in Book-Jcceping. 

Bone, good, excellent. (), the vagabond's hieroglyphic for bone, or good, 
chalked by them on houses and street corners, as a hint to succeeding 
beggars. French, bon. 

Bone-grubber, a person who hunts dust-holes, gutters, and all likely spots 
for refuse bones, which he sells at the rag-shops, or to the bone- 
grinders. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 8 1 

BOOKS, a pack of cards. Term used by professional card-players. — See 
Devil's Books. 

BOOK-HOLDER, a prompter —r/ieafnca?. 

BOOM, "to top one's boom off," to be off, or start in a certain direction. — 
Sea. 

BOOM-PASSENGER, a sailor's Slang term for a convict on board ship. — Sea. 

BOOZE, drink. Ancient Cant, bowse. Booze, or suck-casa, a public-house. 

BOOZE, to drink, or more properly, to use another Slang term, to "lush," 
viz., to di'ink continually, until drunk, or nearly so. The term is an 
old one. Ilarman, in Queen Elizabeth's days, speaks of " bousing (or 
boozing) and belly-cheere." The term was good English in the four- 
teenth century, and came from the Latch, buyzen, to tipple. 

BOOZING-KEN, a beer-shop, a low public-house. — Ancient. 

BOOZY, intoxicated or fuddled. 

BORE, a troublesome friend or acquaintance, a nuisance, anything which 
wearies or annoys, so called from his unvaried and pertinacious push- 
ing. The Gradus ad Cantahrigiam suggests the derivation of bore 
from the Greeh Bupos, a burden. Shakspeare uses it, Khig Henry VIIL 
i. 1— 

" at this instant 

Ho BORES me with some trick." 

Grose speaks of this woid as being much in fashion about the year 
1780-81, and states that it vanished of a sudden, without leaving a 
trace behind. Not so, burly Grose, the term is still in favour, and is 
as piquant and expressive as ever. Of the modern sense of the word 
BOEE, the Prince Consort made an amusing and effective use in his 
masterly address to the British Association, at Aberdeen, Septembex 
14, 1859. He said, (as reported by the Times :) — 

"I will not weary you by further examples, with which most of you are better 
acquainted than I am myself, but merely exi>ress my satisfaction that there 
should exist bodies of men wlio will bring the well-c^msidered and under- 
stood wants of science before the public ;ind the Government, who will even 
hand rovmd the begging-box, and expose themselves to refusals and rebuffs, 
to which all beggars all liable, with the certainty besides of being considered 
great bores. Please to recollect that this species of " bore " is a most useful 
animal, well adapted for the ends fa- which nature intended him. He alone, 
by constantly returning to the charge, and repeating the same truths and 
the same requests, succeeds in awakening attention to the cause which he 
advocates, and obtains that hearing which is granted him at last for self- 
protection, as the minor evil compared to his importunity, but which is 
requisite to make his cause understood." 

BORE, {Pugilistic,) to press a man to the ropes of the ring by superior weight. 

BOSH, nonsense, stupidity. — Gipsy and Persian. Also pure Turkish, bosh 
LAKERDI, empty talk. A person, in the Saturday Review, has stated 
that bosh is coeval with Morier's novel, Hadji Babi, which was pub- 
lished in 1828 ; but this is a blunder. The term was used in this 
country as early as 1760, and may be found in the Student, vol. ii., p. 
21 7. A correspondent asserts that this colloquial expression is from 
the German bosh, or bossch, answering to our word '* B*vipes." 

F 



82 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

BOSKY, mehri^ieA.— Household Words, No. 183. 

BOSS-EYED, a person with one eye, or rather with one eye injured. 

BOTANY BAY, Worcester Coll. Oxon, so called from its remote situation. 

BOTHER, (from the Hibernicism pother,) trouble, or annoyance. Grose has 
a singular derivation, bother, or both-eared, from two persons talking 
at the same time, or to both ears. Blother, an old word, signifying 
to chatter idly. — See Halllwell. 

BOTHER, to teaze, to annoy. 

BOTHERATION! trouble, annoyance; " botheration to it," " confound 
it," or " deuce take it " — an exclamation when irritated. 

BOTTLE-HOLDER, an assistant to a "Second," {Pugilidic ;) an abettor; 
also, the bridegroom's man at a wedding. Slang term for Lord Pal- 
merston, derived from a speech he made some years ago when foreign 
secretarjr, in which he described himself as acting the part of a judicious 
"bottle-holder" among the foreign powers. A lately-invented in- 
strument to hold a bottle has thus received the name of a palmerston. 

BOTTOM, stamina in a horse or man. Power to stand fatigue ; endurance 
to receive a good beating, and still fight on. " A fellow of pluck, 
sound WIND, and good bottom is fit to fight anything." 

BOTTS, the colic or bellyache. — Stable Slang. Burns uses it. See Death 
and Dr Hornbooh. 

BOTTY, conceited, swaggering. — Stable. 

BOUNCE, impudence. A showy swindler. 

BOUNCE, to boast, cheat, or bully. — Old Cant. Also to lie. 

BOUNCEABLE, prone to bouncing or boasting. 

BOUNCING-BEN, a learned man. 

BOUNDER, a four-wheeled cab. Lucus a non lucendo? Also a University 
term for a trap. 
" The man who drives has a well-appointed ' bounder ' of his own, to the 
splashboard of which is affixed a mysterious box, containing chimps and 
cords, straps and bucliles, with a view to breakages and other acci.tents." 

— Hints to Fnshman, 1842. 

BOW-CATCHER, or kiss-curl, a small curl twisted on the cheeks or 
temples of young— and often old — girls, adhering to the face as if 
gummed or pasted. Evidently a corruption of beau-catcher. In 
old times this was called a lovelock, when it was the mark at which all 
the Puritan and ranting preachers levelled their pulpit pop-guns, 
loaded with sharp and virulent abuse. Hall and Prynne looked upon 

Bosh, a fiddle. Bosh-faker, a vioHn-player. Terms only used by the 

lower orders. 
Bos-ken, a farm-house. Ancient. — See ken. 
BoSMAN, a farmer ; " faking a bosman on the main toby," robbing a farmer 

on the highway. Boss, a master. — American. Both terms from the 

Dutch, bosch-man, one who lives in the woods ; otherwise Boschjeman, 

or Bushman. 
Bouncer, a person who steals whilst bargaining with a tradesman ; a lie. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 83 

all women as strumpets who dared to let the hair depart from a straight 
line upon their cheeks. The French prettily term them accroche- 
cosurs, whilst in the United States they are plainly and unpleasantly 
called SPIT-CURLS. Bartlett says : — " Spit-curl, a detached lock of 
hair curled upon the temple ; probably from having been at first plas- 
tered into shape by the saliva. It is now understood that the muci- 
lage of quince seed is used by the ladies for this purpose." 

" You may prate of your lips, and your teetli of pearl, 
And your eyes so brightly flushing ; 
My song shall be of that saliva curl 
Which threatens my heart to smash in." 

— Boston Transcript, October 30, 1858. 

When men twist the hair on each side of their faces into ropes they are 
sometimes called bell-ropes, as being wherewith to chaw the belles. 
Whether bell-ropes or bow-catchers, it is singular they should form 
part of the prisoner's paraphernalia, and that a jauty little kiss-me- 
quick curl should, of all things in the world, ornament a jail dock ; yet 
such was formerly the case. Hunt, " the accomplice after the fact and 
king's evidence against" the murderer of Weare, on his trial, we are 
informed by the Athenceum, appeared at the bar with a highly poma- 
tumed love-lock sticking tight to his forehead. Young ladies, think of 
this ! 

BOWL OUT, to put out of the game, to remove out of one's way, to 
detect. — Cricketing term. 

BOWLAS, round tarts made of sugar, apple, and bread, sold in the streets. 

BOWLES, shoes. 

BOX-HARRY, a term with bagmen or commercial travellers, implying 
dinner and tea at one meal ; also dining with " Duke Humphrey," i.e., 
going without. — Lincolnshire. 

BOX-OF-MINUTES, a watch, or watchmaker's shop. 

" BOX THE COMPASS," to repeat the thirty -two points of the compass 
either in succession or irregularly. The method used at sea to learn 
boys the points of the mariner's compass. — Sea. 

BRADS, money. Properly a small kind of nails used by cobblers. — Compare 

HORSE NAILS. 

BRAIN-PAN, the skull. 

BRAIN-CANISTER, the he3.d.— Pugilistic. 

BRAMBLE-GELDER, a derisive appellation for an agriculturist. — Suffolk. 

Brace up, to pawn stolen goods. 

Bracelets, handcuffs. 

Brad-faking, playing at cards. Probably from broads. 

Braggadocio, three months' imprisonment as a reputed thief or old offen- 
der, — sometimes termed a dose, or a dollop. — Household Words, vol. 
i-. P- 579- 



84 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 



BRANDY PAWNEE, brandy and water. — Anglo-Indian. 

BRAN-NEW quite new. Properly, Brent, brand, or Fire-new, i.e., fresh 
from the anvil. 

BRASS, money, 

BRASS, impudence. In 1803 some artillery-men stationed at Norwich 
were directed to prove some brass ordnance belonging to the city. To 
the report delivered to the corporation was appended this note : — 
" N.B. — It is customary for the corporal to have the old metal when 
any of the pieces burst." Ansiver. — " The corporation is of opinion 
that the corporal does not want BRASS." 

BRAZEN-FACED, impudent, shameless. See brass. Such a person is 
said " to have rubbed his face with a brass candlestick." 

BRAZIL, a hard red wood ; " hard as Brazil," a common expression. 

QiMrles in his Emblems says : — 

" Thou know'st my brittle temper's prone to break. 
Are my bones brazil or my flesh of oak ? " 

BREAD-BAGS, a nickname given in the army and navy to any one con- 
nected with the victualling department, as a purser, or purveyor in the 
Commissariat. 

BREAD-BASKET, dumpling-depot, victualling-office, &c., are terms 
given by the " Fancy" to the digestive organ. 

BREAK-DOWN, a noisy dance, and violent enough to break the floor 
down ; a jovial, social gathering, a flare up; in Ireland, a wedding — 
{Qy. American ?) 

"BREAK ONE'S BACK," a figurative expression, implying bankruptcy, 
or the crippling of a person's means. 

" A story is cuiTent of a fashionable author answering a late and rather violent 
knock at his door one evening. A coal-heaver wanted to know if the gtnile- 
man would like a cheap ton of coals; he was sorry for troubUng him S) 
late, but 'the party as had a-ordered the two ton and a-half couldn't be 
found,' although he had driven his ' waggon for six blessed hours up and 
down the neighbourhood. Five-and- twenty is the price, but yer shall have 
them for 20s.' Our author was not to be tempted, he had heard of the 
trick before ; so bidding tlie man go away from his house, he shut the door. 
The man, however, lingered there, expatiating on the quality of his coals — 
' Acterly givin 'era away, and the gent won't have 'em,' said he, addressing 
tlie neighbourliood in a loud voice ; and tlie last that was heard of him was 
his anything but sweet voice whistling through the key-hole, ' Will eighteen 

bob BREAK YKR BACK?' " 

BREAK SHINS, to borrow money. 

BREAK UP, the conclusion of a performance of any kind — originally a 

school term. 
BREAKY-LEG, a shiUing. 

EREAKY-LEG, strong drink ; " he 's been to Bungay fair, and broke both 
UI3 LEGS," i.e., got drunk. In the ancient Egyptian language the 

— ^- — ^ 1 determinative character in the hieroglj^jhic ve: b 

•'flL^jJVjjJi " to be drunk," has the significant form of the 
ia^rjr^--XI I jgg q£ ^ jj^g^jj being amputated. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 85 

BREECHED, or to have the bags off, to have plenty of money ; " to be 
well BREECHED," to be in good circumstances. 

BREECHES, "to wear the breeches," said of a wife who usurps the 
husband's prerogative. 

BREEF, probably identical with brief, q. v., a plan of cheating at cards ; 
thus described in an old book of games of about 1 720 : — 

" Take a pack of cards and open them, then take out all the honours . . . and 
cut a little from the edges of the rest all alike, so as to make the honours 
broader than the rest, so that when your adversary cuts to you, you are 
certain of an honour. When you cut to your adversary cut at the ends, and 
then it is a chance if you cut him an honour, because the cards at the ends 
are all of a length. Thus you may make breefs end-ways, as well as side- 
ways." 

BREEKS, breeches. — Scotch, now common. 

BRICK, a " jolly good feUow ;" " a regular brick," a staunch feUow. 
" I bonneted Whewell when we gave the Rads their gruel. 
And taught them to eschew all their a^idresses to the Queen. 
If again they try it on, why to floor them I'll make one, 
Spite of Peeler or of Don, like a brick and a Bean." 

— The Jolly Bachelors, Cambridge, 1840. 

Said to be derived from an expression of Aristotle's — Terpaycofos dvrjp. 
A recently current story informs us that Lillywhite, the cricketer, 
was originally a brickmaker, and that from him a " stumping bowl " 
acquired the name of a " regular brick." 

BRIDGE, a cheating trick at cards, by which any particular card is cut by 
previously curving it by the pressure of the hand. Used in France as 
well as in England, and termed in the Parisian Argot faire le pont. 
BRIEF, a pawnbroker's duplicate. Derived from the following : — 
BRIEFS, cards constructed on a cheating principle. See bridge, concaves 
and convexes, longs and shorts, reflectors, &c. From the German, 
BRIEFE, which Baron Heinecken says was the name given to the cards 
manufactured at Ulm. Brief is also the synonyme for a card in the 
German Rothwalsch dialect, and briefen to play at cards. " Item — 
beware of the Joners, (gamblers,) who practise Beseflery with the 
BRIEF, (cheating at cards,) who deal falsely and cut one for the other, 
cheat with Boglein and spies, pick one brief from the ground, and 
another from a cupboard," &c. — Liber Yagatorum, ed. by Martin 
Luther, in 1 5 29. Enghsh translation, by J. C. Hotten, i860, p. 47. 

See BREEF. 

BRIM, a violent irascible woman, as inflammable and unpleasant as brim- 
stone, from which the word is contracted. 

BRINEY, the sea. 

BRITT, the street shortening for the Britannia Theatre. 

BRISKET-BEATER, a Roman Catholic. 

BROAD - COOPER, a person employed by brewers to negotiate with 
publicans. 

BROADS, cards. Beoadsman, a card-sharper. 



S6 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

"BROAD AND SHALLOW," an epithet applied to the so-called "Broad 
Church," in contradistinction to the " High " and " Low " Churches. 

See HIGH AND DRY. 

BROAD-FENCER, card-seller at races. 

BROSIER, a bankrupt. — Cheshire. Brosier-mt-dame, school term, imply- 
ing a clearing of the housekeeper's larder of provisions, in revenge for 
stinginess. — Eton. 

BROTHER-CHIP, fellow carpenter. Also, brother-whip, a fellow coach- 
man ; and brother-blade, of the same occupation or calling— originally 
a fellow-soldier. 

BROWN, a halfpenny.— ^ee blunt. 

BROWN, "to do brown," to do well or completely, (in allusion to roasting;) 
"doing it BROWN," prolonging the frolic, or exceeding sober bounds; 
"done BROWN," taken in, deceived, or surprised. 

BROWN BESS, the old Government regulation musket; a musket with a 
browned barrel ; also black bess. A suggestion has been made that 
BESS may be from the German busche, or bosche, a barrel. 

BROWN SALVE ! an exclamation of surprise at what is heard, and at the 
same time means, "I understand you." 

BROWN-STUDY, a reverie. Very common even in educated society, biit 
hardly admissible in writing, and therefore considered a vulgarism. It 
is derived, by a writer in Notes and Queries, from brow study, and he 
cites the old German braun, or aug-braun, an eye-brow. — Ben Jonson. 

BROWN TALK, conversation of an exceedingly proper character, Quaker- 
ish. Compare blue. 

BROWN-TO, to understand, to comprehend. — Amencan. 

BRUISER, a fighting man, a pugilist. — Pugilistic. ShaJcspeare uses the 
word bruising in a similar sense. 

BRUSH, a fox's tail, a house-painter. 

BRUSH, or brush-off, to run away, or move on. — Old Cant, 

BUB, drink of any kind.— ^ee grub. Middleton, the dramatist, mentions 

BUBBEr, a great drinker. 
BUB, a teat, woman's breast, plural bubbies ; no doubt from blbe. Also 

the preceding. 
BUBBLE, to over-reach, deceive. — Old. {Acta Regia, ii. 248, 1726.) 
BUBBLE-AND-SQUEAK, a dish composed of pieces of cold boiled meat 

and greens, and afterwards fried, which have thus first bubbled in the 

j)ot, and then squeaked or hissed in the pan. 
BUBBLE-COMPANY, a swindling association. 

Brown papermen, low gambkrs. 

Brum, a counterfeit coin. Nearly obsolete. Corruption of Brummagem, 

(Bromwicham,) the ancient name of Birmingham, tne great emporium 

for plated goods and imitation jewellery. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 87 

BUCK, a gay or smart man ; also an unlicensed cabman. 

BUCKHORSE, a smart blow or box on the ear; derived from the name of 
a celebrated " bruiser " of that name. 

BUCKLE, to bend; "I can't buckle to that," I don't understand it; to 
yield or give in to a person. Shakspeare uses the word in the latter 
sense, Henry IV., i. I ; and Halliwdl says that "the commentators do 
not supply another example." How strange that in our own streets 
the term should be used every day ! Stop the first costermonger, and 
he vill soon inform you of the various meanings of BUCKLE. — See Notes 
and Quenes, vols, vii., viii., ix. 

BUCKLE-BEGGAR, a couple-beggar, which see. 

BUCKL3Y, "Who struck Buckley ? " a common phrase used to iiTitate 
Irishmen. 

BUCKLE-TO, to bend to one's work, to begin at once, and with great 
energj — from buckling on one's armour before a combat. 

BUCKRA, a white man. — West Indian Negro. 

BUCKSHISH, a present of money. Over all India, and the East generally, 
the natives lose no opportunity of asking for buckshlsh. The usage 
is such a complete nuisance, that the word is sometimes answered 
with a bow ; this is termed bamboo buckshish. 

BUDGE, to nove, to inform, to split, or tell tales. 

BUFF, the b;re skin; "stripped to the buff." 

BUFF, to sw^ar to, or accuse; to split, or peach upon. — Old word for 
boasting, ^582. 

BUFFER, a mvy term for a boatswain's mate, part of whose duties is to 
administei the " cat." 

BUFFER, a f:miliar expression for a jolly acquaintance, probably from 
the i^?-enc^ BOUFFARn, a fool or clown; a "jolly old buffer," said of a 
good-humcured or liberal old man. In 1737, a buffer was a "rogue 
that killed good sovmd horses for the sake of their skins, by running 
a long win into them." — Bacchus and Vemis. The term was once 
applied to ihose who took false oaths for a consideration. 

BUFFLE-HEAD, a stupid or obtuse person. — Miege. German, buffel- 
HAUPT, bufalo-headed. Occurs in Plautus' Comedies made English, 
1694. 

BUFFS, the thi-d regiment of foot in the British army. 

BUFFY, intoxiated.— ifoKse/ioM Words, No. 183. 

BUGGY, a gig, tr light chaise. Common term in America and in India. 

BUG-WALK, a ;oarse term for a bed. 

Bubblet-JOCK, aturkey, or silly boasting fellow ; a prig. — Scottish. In the 
north of England the bird is called a bobble-cock. Both names no 
doubt from ts cry. 

Budge, strong Irink; budgt, drimk; budging-ken, a public-house; 
" cove of ths budgingken," the landlord. Probably a corruption of 
BOOZE. — Nuth. 



88 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 



BUILD, applied in fashionable Slang to the make or style of di'ess, fee. ; 
" it 's a tidy build, who made it ? " 

BULGER, large ; synonymous with bvster. 

BULL, one who agrees to purchase stock at a future day, at a stated price, 
but who does not possess money to pay for it, trusting to a rise in 
public securities to render the transaction a profitable one. Should 
stocks fall, the BULL is then called upon to pay the difference. See 
BEAR, who is the opposite of a bull, the former selling, the latJer pur- 
chasing — the one operating for a fall or a pull down, whilst tie other 
operates for a rise or toss up. 

BULL, a crown-piece, formerly bull's eye. See " work the bulls." 

BULL-BEEF, a term of contempt; "as ugly as bull-beef," "go to the 
billy-fencer and sell yourself for BULL-BEEF." 

" BULL THE CASK," to pour hot water into an empty rum puncheon, 
and let it stand until it extracts the spirit from the wood. iThe result 
is drunk by sailors in default of something stronger. — Sea.j 

BULLFINCH, a hunting term for a large, thick, quickset hec^e, difficult 
alike to " top " or burst through. Query, corruption of bi/lefence ? 

BULLY, a braggart ; but in the language of the streets, a maii of the most 
degraded morals, who protects fallen females, and lives oi their miser- 
able earnings. — Sliakspeare, Midsummer Nir/Ju's Dream.,, iii. i: iv. 2. 
This epithet is often applied in a commendable sense acong the vul- 
gar ; thus — a 'good fellow or a good horse will be teraed "a bully 
fellow," " a BULLY horse ; " and "a bully woman " signifies a right, 
good, motherly old soul. 

I5ULLYRAG, to abuse or scold vehemently ; to swindle oni out of money 
by intimidation and sheer abuse, as alleged in a late (jb case, (Evans 
V. Robinson.) i 

BUM, the part on which we sit. — ShaJcspeare. Bumbags, trousers; Gael. 
and Fr., bun, a base or bottom; Welsh, bon, the lowe)t or worst part 
of anything. 

BUM-BAILIFF, a sherifF's-officer, — a term, some say, di-ived from the 
proximity which this gentleman generally maintains|to his victims 
Blackstone says it is a corruption of " bound bailiff." 

BUMBLE, to mufHe. Bumble-footed, club-footed, 

BUMBLES, coverings for the eyes of horses apt to shy inliarness. 

BUMBLE, a beadle. Adopted from Dickens's character n Oliver Twist. 
This and " bumbledom " are now common. 



Buffer, a dog. Their skins were formerly in great rediest — hence the 
term buff meaning in old English to shin. It is stilljised in the ring, 
buffed meaning stripped to the skin. In Irish C^t, buffer is 
boxer. The buffer of a railway carriage doubtless [eceived its very 
appropriate name from the old pugilistic application a this term. 

Bug-hunter, a low wretch who plunders drunken men. 

Bull, term amongst prisoners for the meat served to thei] in jail. 

Bulky, a constable. — North. 



SLAXG, CAKT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 89 

BUMBLE-PUPPY, a game played in public-houses on a large stone, 
placed in a slanting direction, on the lower end of which holes are ex- 
cavated, and numbered like the holes in a bagatelle-table. The player 
rolls a stone ball from the higher end, and according to the number of 
the hole it falls into the game is counted. It is undoubtedly the very 
ancient game of Troule-in-madame. 

8UM-B0AT, a shore boat which supplies ships with provisions, and serves 
as means of communication between the sailors and the shore. 

BUM-CURTAIN, an old name for an academical gown when they were 
worn scant and short, especially those of the students of St John's 
College. —C'amb. Univ. 

BUMMAREE. This term is given to a class of speculating salesmen at 
Billingsgate market, not recognised as such by the trade, but who get 
a living by buying large quantities of fish from the salesmen and re-sell- 
ing them to smaller buyers. The word ha:s been used in the statutes 
and bye-laws of the market for upwards of 200 years. It has been 
variously dei-ived. Some persons think it may be from the French 
BONNE MAREE, good frcsh fish ! " Maree signifie toute sorte de poisson 
de mer que n'est pas sale; bonne maree — maree fraiche, vendeur de 
mar^e." — Diet, de I'Acad. Franc. The bummarees are accused of 
many trade tricks. One of them is to blow up cod-tish with a pipe until 
they look double their actual size. Of course when the fish come to table 
they are flabby, sunken, and half dwindled away. In Norwich, to BUM- 
MAREE ONE is to pun up a score at a public-house just open, and is 
equivalent to " running into debt with one." One of the advertise- 
ments issued by Hy. Robinson's " OrriCE," over against Threadneedle 
Street, was this : — 

"Touching Advice from the OFFICE, you are desired to give and take notice 
as followeth ; — 
" fXF Monies to be taken up, or delivered on BoUo-maria, commonly called 

\J Bomarie. 
" r\F money to be put out or taken upon interest," &c. 

— The Publick Intelligencer, numb. 17, 25th Jun»i66o. 

BUMPER, according to Johnson from "bump," but probably from Fieii^h 
BON-PERE, the fixed toast in monastic life of old, now used for "full 
measure." A match at quoits, bowls, &c., may end in a "bumper game," 
if the play and score be all on one side. 

BUMPTIOUS, arrogant, self-sufficient. 

BUNCH-OF-FIVES, the hand, or fist. 

BUNDLE, "to bundle a person ofif," i.e., to pack him ofl", send him flying. 

BUNDLING, a custom in Wales, and now frequently in America, of men 
and women Bleeping, where the divisions of the house will not permit 
of better or more decent accommodation, with all their clothes ou. 

BUNG, the landlord of a public-house. 

BUNG, to give, pass, hand over, drink, or indeed to perform any action. 
Bung up, to close up. — PugiliMic. " Bung over the rag," hand over the 
money. — Old, used by Beaumont and Fletcher, and Shaksj>care. Als^, 
to deceive one by a lie, to cram, which see. 



90 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN' 

BUNKER, beer. 

EUNKUM, American importation, denoting false sentiments in speaking, 
pretended enthusiasm, &c. The expression arose from a speech made 
by a North Carolina Senator. 

BUNTS, costermongers' perquisites ; the money obtained by giving light 
weight, &c. ; costermongers' goods sold by boys on commission. Prob- 
ably a corruption of bonus, bone, being the Slang for good. BuNCE, 
Grose gives as the Cant vrord for money. 

BURDON'S HOTEL, Whitecross Street Prison, of which the Governor is 
or was a Mr Burdon. Every prison has a nickname of this kind, either 
from the name of the Governor, or from some local circumstance. The 
Queen's Bench has also an immense number of names — spike park, 
&c. ; and every Chief -Justice stands godfather to it. 

BURKE, to kill, to murder, secretly and without noise, by means of 
strangulation. Fi'om Burke, the notorious Edinburgh murderer, who, 
with an accomplice named Hare, used to decoy people into the den he 
inhabited, kill them, and sell their bodies for dissection. The wretches 
having been apprehended and tried, Burke was executed, while Hare, 
having turned king's evidence, was released. Bishop was their London 
imitator. The term burke is now usually applied to any project that 
is quietly stopped or stifled — as " the question has been burked." A 
book suppressed before publication is said to be burked. 

BURRAH, great; as burra saib, a gi-eat man; burra khanah, a great 
dinner. — Anglo-Indian. 

BUS or buss, abbrevation of " omnibus," a public carriage. Also, a kiss^ 
abbrev. of Fr. baiser. A Mr Shillibeer started the first bus in Loudon. 
Why is Temple Bar like a lady's veil? Because it veants to be removed to make 
way for the busses. 

BUS, business (of which it is a contraction) or action, on the stage. — 
Theatrical. 

BUST, or burst, to tell tales, to split, to inform. Busting, informing 
against accomplices when in custody. 

BUSTER, (burster,) a small new loaf; " twopenny buster," a twopenny 
loaf. " A pennorth o' bees-wax (cheese) and a penny buster," a com- 
mon snack at beershops. 

BUSTER, an extra size ; " what a buster," i.e., what a large one ; " in for 
a buster," determined on an extensive frolic or spree. Scotch, BUS- 
Tuous ; Icelandic, bostra. 

BUSY-SACK, a carpet-bag. 

BUTCHA, a Hindoo word in use among Englishmen for the young of any 

Bunk, to decamp. " Bunk it ! " i.e., be off. 

BuRERK, a lady, a showily-dressed woman. 

" Burt a Moll," to run away from a mistress. 

Busker, a man who sings or performs in a public-house. — Scotch. 

Busk, (or busking.) to sell obscene songs and books at the bars and in the 

tap-rooms of public-houses. Sometimes implies selling any articles. 
Bustle, (money;) " to draw the bustle." 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 9 1 

animal. In England we ask after the children ; in India the health of 
the BOTCHAS is tenderly inquired for. 
BUTCHER, the king in playing-cards. 

BUTCHER'S MOURNING, a white hat with a black mourning hat-band. 
This meaning is given on the authority of Mr George Cruikshank. 

BUTTER, or batter, praise or flattery. To butter, to flatter, cajole. 
Punch defines flattery as " the milk of human kindness churned into 

BUTTER." 

BUTTER-FINGERED, apt to let things fall. 

BUTTON, a decoy, sham purchaser, &c. At any mock or sham auction 
seedy specimens may be seen. Probably from the connexion of hut- 
tons with Brummagem, which is often used as a synonyme for a sham. 

— See BONNET. 

BUTTONER, a man who entices another to play. See bonneter. 

BUTTONS, a page, — from the rows of gilt buttons which adorn his jacket. 

BUTTONS, "not to have aU one's buttons ;" to be deficient in intellect. 

BUTTY, a word itsed in the mining districts to denote a kind of overseer. 
(2.) Also used by the Royal Marines in the sense of comrade ; a pohce- 
man's assistant, one of the staff in a melee. 

BUZ, to share {equally the last of a bottle of wine, when there is not 
enough for a full glass to each of the party. 

BUZ, a well-known flash game, played as follows : — The chairman com- 
mences saying " one," the next on the left hand " two," the next 
" three," and so on to seven, when " buz " must be said. Every seven 
and multiple of 7, as I4, 17, 21, 27, 28, &c., must not be mentioned, 
but "buz" instead. Whoever breaks the rule pays a fine, which is 
thrown on the table, and the accumulation expended in drink for the 
company. See " snooks and walker " for more complicated varieties 
of a similar game. 

BY GEORGE, an exclamation similar to by jove. The term is older than 
is frequently imagined — vide Bacchus and Venus, (p. 1 1 7,) 1 737. " 'Fore 
(or by) GEORGE, I 'd knock him down." A street compliment to Saint 

Buz, to pick pockets ; buz-faking, robbing. 

Buz-iiAN, an informer. 

Buzzer, a pickpocket. Orose gives buz-cove and buz-gloak; the latter 
is very ancient Cant. 

Buz-Bloak, a pickpocket, who principally confines his attention to purses 
and loose cash. Grose gives buz-gloak, (or cloak ?) an ancient Cant 
word. BUZ-NAPPER, a young pickpocket. 

Buz-napper's Academy, a school in which yoimg thieves are trained. 
Figures are dressed up, and experienced tutors stand in various diSi- 
cult attitudes for the boys to practise upon. When clever enough 
they are sent on the streets. It is reported that a house of this nature 
is situated in a court near Hatton Garden. The system is well ex- 
plained in Diclcens's Oliver Tivist. Also bcz-knacker. 



92 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 



George, the patron Saint of England, or possibly to the House of 
Hanover. 
BY GOLLY, an ejaculation, or oath; a compromise for "by God." Br 
GUM, is another oblique oath. In the United States, small boys are 
permitted by their guardians to say GOL darn anything, but they are 
on no account allowed to commit the profanity of G — d d -g any- 
thing. An effective ejaculation and moral waste-pipe for interior pas- 
sion or wrath is seen in the exclamation— BY the ever-living jumping- 
MOSES — a harmless phrase, that from its length expends a considerable 
quantity of fiery anger, 
CAB, in statutory language, "a hackney carriage drawn by one horse." 
Abbreviated from cabriolet, French ; originally meaning " a light, 
low chaise." The wags of Paris playing upon the word (quasi cahri au 
lait) used to call a superior turn-out of the kind a cahri au crSme. Our 
abbreviation, which certainly smacks of Slang, has been stamped with 
the authority of "George, Ranger!' See the notices affixed to the 
carriage entrances of St James's Park. 
CAB, to stick together, to muck, or tumble up. — Devonshire. 
CABBAGE, pieces of cloth said to be purloined by tailors. 
CABBAGE, to pilfer or purloin. Termed by Johnson a " Cant word," but 
adopted by later lexicographers as a respectable term. Said to have 
been first used in the above sense by Arhuthnot. 
CABBAGE-HEAD, a soft-headed person. 
CABOBBLE, to confuse.— -Sm/oZ^-. 
CABBY, the driver of a cab. 

CACKLING-COVE, an actor. Also called a iiUiiMERT-covE. Theat. 
CACKLE-TUB, a pulpit. 

CAD, or CADGER, (from which it is shortened,) a mean or vulgar fellow ; a 
beggar ; one who would rather live on other people than work for him- 
self ; a man who tries to worm something out of another, either 
money or information. Johnson uses the word, and gives huckster as 
the meaning, but I never heard it used in this sense. Apparently 
from CAGER, or gager, the old Cant term for a man. The exclusives 
at the English Universities apply the term cad to all non-members. 
CAD, an omnibus conductor. 
CADGE, to beg in an artful wheedling manner. — North. In Scotland 

to CADGE is to wander, to go astray. See under codger. 
CADGING, begging with an eye to pilfering when an opportunity occurs. 
CAG, to irritate, affront, anger. 

CAG-MAG, bad food, scraps, odds and ends ; or that which no one could 
relish. Grose gives cagg Maggs, old and tough Lincolnshire geese, 
sent to London to feast the poor cockneys. Gael, French, and Welsh, 
CAC, and MAGN. A correspondent at Trinity College, Dublin, con- 
siders this as originally a University Slang term for a bad cook, kukos 
finyeipos. There is also a Latin word used by Pliny, magma, denoting 
(b-egs or dross. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 93 

CAGE, a minor kind of prison. — STiakspeare, Part ii. Henry IV., iv. 4. 

CAKE, a " flat; " a soft or doughy person, a fool. 

" CALL A GO," in street " patter," is to remove to another spot, or address 

the public in different vein. Also to give in, yield, at any game or 

business. 
CALEB QUOTEM, a parish clerk; a jack of all trades, 
CAL., an abbreviation for " Calcraft," the common hangman. 
CALABOOSE, a prison. — Sea Slang, from the Spanish. 
CALIFORNIA, money. Derivation very obvious. 
CAMERONIANS, The, the Twenty-sixth Regiment of Foot in the British 

Army. 
CAMESA, shirt or chemise. — Span. See its abbreviated form, mish, from 

the ancient Cant, commission. Probably reintroduced by the remains 

of De Lacy Evans's Spanish Legion on their return. See Somerville's 

account of the Span. Leg., for the curious facility with which the lower 

classes in England adopt foreign words as Slang and Cant terms. 

Italian, camicia. 
CAMISTER, a preacher, clergyman, or master, 
CANARY, a sovereign. This is stated by a correspondent to be a Norwich 

term, that city being famous for its breed of those birds. 
CANISTER, the head.— Pugilistic. 
CANISTER-CAP, a hat.— Pugilistic. 
CANNIBALS, the training boats for the Cambridge freshmen, i.e., " Can- 

NOT-pnLLS." The term is applied both to boats and rowers. — See 

SLOGGEKS. 

CANNIKEN, a small can, similar to pannikin. — Shalspeare. 

CANT, a blow or toss; " a cant over the kisser," a blow ou the mouth. — 
Kentish. 

CANTAB, a student at Cambridge. 

'■ CANT OF TOGS," a gift of clothes. 

CANTANKEROUS, litigious, bad-tempered. An American corruption pro- 
bably of contentious. A reviewer, however, of this book in the Book- 
seller of May 26 derives it from the Anglo-Norman contek,* litigation 
or strife. Another correspondent suggests " cankerous " as the origin. 

CANVASSEENS, sailors' canvas trousers. 

CAP, a false cover to a tossing coin. — See covee-down. 

CAPER-MERCHANT, a dancing-master. 

CAPERS, dancing, frolicking; "to cut caper-sauce," si.e., to dance upon 
nothing — be hanged, very coarse. 

CAPPER-CLAWING, female encounter, where caps are torn, and nails 
freely used. Sometimes it is pronounced clapper-claw. The word 
occurs in ShaJcspeare. — Troilus and Cressida, v., 4. 

* Bailey has conteke, contention, as a Spenserian word, and the O.E., contekohs, 
quarrelsome persons. 

Cakey-pannum-fencer, a man who sells street pastry. 



94 ^ DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

CARAYAN, a railway train. 

CAEAVANSERA, a railway station, A "tip" for the late pugilistic con- 
test between King and Heenan was given in these words: — "The 
SCRATCH must be toed at sharp five. The caravan starting at that 
hour from the caravansera," i.e., London Bridge. 
CARBOY, a general term in most parts of the world for a very large glass 

or earthenware bottle. 
CARD, a character. " A queer card," i.e., an odd fish. 
, CARDINAL, a lady's cloak. This, I am assured, is the Seren Dials Cant 
term for a lady's garment ; but, curiously enough, the same name is 
given to the most fashionable patterns of the article by Regent Street 
drapers. A cloak with this name was in fashion in the year 1760. It 
received its title from its similarity in shape to one of the vestments 
of a cardinal. 
CARPET, " upon the carpet," any subject or matter that is uppermost 
for discussion or conversation. Frequently quoted as sur le tapis, but 
it does not seem to be a correct Parisian phrase. Also seiranfs' Slang. 
When a domestic is summoned by the master or mistress to receive a 
warning or reprimand, he or she is said to be carpeted. The corre- 
sponding term in commercial establishments is a wigging, which see. 
CARNEY, s., soft hypocritical language. Also, v., to flatter, wheedle, or 

insinuate one's-self. — Prov. 
CARNISH, meat, from the Ital. carne, flesh ; a Lingua Franca importa- 
tion; CARNisH-KEN, a thieves' eating-house; "cove of the carnish-ken," 
the keeper thereof. — North Country Cant. 
CAROON, five shillings. French, codeonne; Gipsy coukna; Spanish 

COURNA, half-a-crown. 
CARROT. " Take a carrot ! " a vulgar insulting phrase. 
CARROTS, the coarse and satirical term for red hair. An epigram gives 
an illustration of the use of this term : — 

«' Why scorn red hair? The Greeks, we know, 
(I note it here in charity) 
Had taste in beauty, and with them 
The graces were all Xaptrat 1 " 

CARRIER-PIGEON, a swindler, one who formerly used to cheat lottery 
office keepers. Nearly obsolete. 

"CARRY ME OUT!" a pretended exclamation of astonishment on hearing 
news too good to be true, or a story too marvellous to be believed. 
Sometimes varied by " Let me die," i.e., I can't survive that. Pro- 
fanely derived from the Nunc cUmittis, (Luke xi. 29.) The Irish say, 
" CARRY ME OUT, and bury me decently." 

CARRY-ON, to joke a person to excess, to "carry on" a "spree" too far; 
" how we CARRIED ON, to be sure ! " i.e., what fun we had. Nautical 
ierm— from carrying on sail. 

CARRIWITCHET, a hoaxing, puzzling question, not admitting of a satis- 
factory answer, as—" How far is it from the first of July to London 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 95 

Bridge ? " " If a bushel of apples cost ten shillings, how long will it 
take for an oyster to eat its way through a barrel of soap ? " 

CART, a race-course. Query, if a corruption of, or connected with, the 
well-known "correct card" of Dorling, and other clerks of the racing 
course ? 

<i;ARTS, a pair of shoes. In N"orfolk the carapace of a crab is called a crab 
cart ; hence carts would be synonymous with crab shells, which see. 

CART-WHEEL, a five-shilling piece. 

CA-SA, a writ of capias ad satisfaciendam.— ZegraZ Slang. 

CASA, or CASE, a house, respectable or otherwise. Probably from the 
Italian casa. — Old Cant. The Dutch use the word kast in a vulgar 
sense for a house, i.e., mottekast, a brothel. Case sometimes means 
a water-closet. 

CASCADE, to vomit. 

CASE. A few years ago the term case was applied generally to persons 
or things; ""what a case he is," i.e., what a curious person ; "a rum 
case that," or, " you are a case," both synonymous with the phrase 
" odd fish," common half-a-century ago. This would seem to have been 
originally a "case" for the police-court; drunkenness, &c. Among 
young ladies at boarding-schools a case means a love affair. 

CASK, fashionable Slang for a brougham, or other private carriage. — 

Household Words, No. 183. 
CASSAM, cheese— not caffan, which Egan, in his edition of Grose, has 
ridiculously inserted. — Ancient Cant. Latin, caseus. Gael, and Irish 

CAISE. 

" CAST UP ONE'S ACCOUNTS," to Yomit.— Old. 

CASTOR, a hat. Castor was once the ancient word for the animal com- 
monly known as the beaver ; and, strange to add, beaver was the 
Slang for CASTOE, or hat, thirty years ago, before gossamer came into 
fashion. 

CAT, to vomit like a cat. Perhaps from cataract ; but see SHOOT the cat. 

CAT — CAT 0' NINE TAILS, a whip with that number of lashes used to 
punish refractory sailors. — Sea. 

CAT-FACED, a vulgar and very common expression of contempt in the 
North of England. 

CATAMARAN, a disagreeable old woman. — Thacl:eray. 

CATARACT, a black satin scarf arranged for the display of jewellery, 
much in vogue among "commercial gents." 

CATCH-'EM- ALIVE, a trap ; also a small-tooth comb. 

Case, a bad crown-piece. Half-a-case, a counterfeit half-crown. There 
are two sources, either of which may have contributed this Slang term. 
Caser is the Hebrew word for a crown ; and silver coin is frequently 
counterfeited by coating or casing pewter or iron imitations with 
silver. 

Cat, a lady's muff; " to fi-ee a cat," i.e., steal a muff. 



96 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

CATCHY, (similar formation to touchy,) inclined to take an undue advantage. 

CATERWAULING, applied derisively to inharmonious singing; also love- 
making, from the noise of cats similarly engaged — in both cases. 

GATE VER, a queer, or singular affiiir ; anything poor, or very bad. From 
the Lingua Franca, and Italian, CATTivo, bad. Variously spelled by 
the lower orders. — See kerteyeb. 

CATGUT-SCRAPER, a fiddler. 

CAT-LAP, a contemptuous expression for weak drink. 

CAT'S-MEAT, a coarse term for the lungs — the "lights" or lungs of 
animals being usually sold to feed cats. 

CAT'S-WATER, " old Tom," or Gin. 

CATCH-PENNY, any temporary contrivance to obtain money from the 
public ; penny shows, or cheap exhibitions. 

CAT -IN -THE -PAN, a traitor, a turn-coat — derived by some from the 
Greek, Karairav, altogether ; or from cahe in pan, a pan-cake, which is 
frequently turned from side to side. 

CAUCUS, a private meeting held for the purpose of concerting measures, 
agreeing upon candidates for office before an election, &c. This is an 
American term, and a corruption of caulker's meeting, being derived 
from an association of the shipping interest at Boston, previous to the 
War of Independence, who were very active in getting up opposition 
to England. — See Pickering's Vocabulary. 

CAULK, to take a surreptitious nap, sleep generally from the ordinary 
meaning of the term ; stopping leaks, repaii-ing damages, so as to come 
out as good as new. — Sea term. 

CAULKER, a dram. — Nodes Ambrosiance. 

CAULKER, a too marvellous story, a lie. Choker has the same sense. 

CA VAULTING, a vulgar phrase equivalent to "horsing." The Italian 
CAVALLiNO, signifies a rake or debauchee. — Lingua Franca, cavolta. 

CAVE, or cave in, to submit, shut up. — American. Metaphor taken from 
the sinking of an abandoned mining shaft. 

CA-VE ! Latin, beware ! used by school-boys to give warning of the ap- 
proach of the master. — See nix. 

CAVE - OF - HARMONY, the cider cellars, or Evans's singing saloon. — 
Thackei-ay. 

CHAFF, to gammon, joke, quiz, or praise ironically. CHAFF-bone, the jaw- 
bone. — Yorkshire. Chaff, jesting. In Anglo-Saxon, ceaf is chaff; 
and ceafl, bill, beak, or jaw. In the Ancren Rixvle, aJ). 1221, CEAFLE 
is used in the sense of idle discourse. 

CHAFFER, the mouth ; " moisten your chaffer," i.e., take something to 
drink. 

" Cat ANn Kitten Sneaking," stealing pint and quart pots from public- 
houses. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 97 

CHALK OUT, or chalk down, to mark out a line of conduct or action; to 
make a rule or order. Phrase derived from the Workshop. 

CHALK UP, to credit, make entry in account books of indebtedness ; " I 
can't pay you now, but you can chalk it up," i.e., charge me with the 
article in your day-book. From the old practice of chalking one's 
score for drink behind the bar doors of public-houses. 

CHALKS, " to walk one's chalks," to move off, or run away. An ordeal 
for drunkenness used on board ship, to see whether the suspected 
person can walk on a chalked line without overstepping it on either 
side. — See the following. 

CHALKS, degrees, marks ; so called from being made by a piece of chalk ; 
" to beat by long chalks," i.e, to be superior by many degrees. 

CHANCERY, " to get a man's head into chancery," i.e., to get an op- 
ponent's head firmly under one's arm, where it can be pummelled with 
immense power, and without any possibility of immediate extrication. 
— Pugilistic term. 

CHANGE, small money. The overplus returned after paying for a thing 
in a round sum. Hence a Slang expression used when a person receives 
a " settler " in the shape either of a repartee or a blow — " Take your 
change out of that ! " 

CHAP, a fellow, a boy ; " a low chap," a low fellow — abbreviation of chap- 
man, a huckster. Used by Byron in his Critical Remarks. 

CHAPEL, a printer's assembly, held for the purpose of discussing differ- 
ences between employer and workmen, trade regulations, &c. The 
term is scarcely Slang, but some compos, ask its insertion in this work. 

CHAPEL-OF-EASE. French, cabinet d'aisance, a house of office. 

CHARLEY, a watchman, a beadle. 

CHATTER-BASKET, common term for a prattling child amongst nurses. 

CHATTER-BOX, an incessant talker or chatterer. 

CHATTS, lice, or body vermin. Prov., any small things of the same kind. 

CHATTY, a filthy person, one whose clothes are not free from vermin; 
chatty doss, a lousy bed. 

CHAUNTER-CULLS, a singixlar body of men who used to haunt certain 
well-known public-houses, and write satirical or libellous ballads en 
any person, or body of persons, for a consideration. 7s. 6d. was the 
usual fee, and in three hours the ballad might be heard in St Paul's 
Churchyard, or other public spot. As strange as it may appear, there 
are actually two men in London at the present day who gain their living 
in this way. Very recently they were singing before the establishment 
of a fashionable tailor in Regent Street ; and not long since they were 
bawling their doggerel rhymes outside the mansion of a Norfolk M.P. 
in Belgravia. 

Chariot-buzzing, picking pockets in an omnibus. 
Charley-pitcher, a low, cheating gambler. 
Chattrt-feeder, a spoon.— Millbanh Prison. 
ChattS; dice, — formerly the gallows ; a bunch of seals. 

O 



98 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 



CHAUNTERS, those street sellers of ballads, last copies of verses, and 
other broadsheets, who sing or bawl the contents of their papers. 
They often term themselves paper workers. — See horse-chaunters. 

CHAUNT, to sing the contents of any paper in the streets. Cant, as ap- 
plied to vulgar language, was, in all probability, derived from CHAUNT. 
— See Introduction for origin of the term. 

CHAW, to chew; chaw up, to get the better of one, finish him up; 
CHAWED UP, utterly done for. 

CHAW OVER, to repeat one's words with a view to ridicule ; chaw-bacon 
a rustic. 

CHEAP, "doing it on the cheap," living economically, or keeping up a 
showy appearance with very little means. 

CHEAP JACKS, or johns, oratorical hucksters and patterers of hardware, 
&c., at fairs and races. They put an article vip at a high price, and 
then cheapen it by degrees, indulging all the time in vollies of coarse 
wit, vmtil it becomes to all appearance a bargain, and as such it is 
bought by one of the crowd. The popular idea is that the inverse 
method of auctioneering saves them paying for the auction licence. — 

See DUTCH AUCTION. 

CHEE-CHEE, this word is used in a rather offensive manner to denote 
Eurasians, or children by an English father and native mother. It 
takes its origin in a very common expression of these half-caste females, 
"Chee-chee," equivalent to our Oh, fie ! — Nonsense ! — For shame ! — 
Anglo-Indian. 

CHEEK, share or portion; " where 's my cheek?" where is my allowance? 
CHEEK, impudence, assurance; cheeky, saucy or forward. 
CHEEK, to irritate by impudence, to accuse. — Lincolnshire. 

" CHEEK BY JOWL," side by side — said often of persons in such close 
confabulation as almost to have their faces touch. 

CHEEKS ! a jeering and insulting exclamation, believed to be of Scotch' 
origin. 

CHEESE, anything good, first-rate in quality, genuine, pleasant, or ad- 
vantageous, is termed the cheese. Mayheio thinks cheese, in this 
sense, is from the Saxon ceosan, to choose, and quotes Chaucer, who 
uses chese in the sense of choice. The London Guide, 1818, says it 
was from some young fellows translating " c'est une autre chose " into 
" that is another cheese." But the expression cheese may be found 
in the Gipsy vocabulary, and in the Hindostanee and Persian languages. 
In the last CHIZ means a thing. — See under STILTON ; also p. 7 Introd. 

CHEESE, or cheese it, (evidently a corruption of cease,) leave off, or have 
done ; " cheese your barrikin," hold your noise. 

CHEESY, fine or showy. 

C haunt, " to CHAUNT the play," to explain the tricks and manoeuvres of 
thieves. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 99 

^CHERRY-BUMS, or cherdbims, a nickname given, to the 11th Hussars, 
(Prince Albert's Own,) from their crimson overalls. 

CHERRY-COLOUR, a term used in a cheating trick at cards. When the 
cards are being dealt, a knowing one offers to bet that he will tell the 
colour of the tum-up card. " Done ! " says Mr Green. The sum being 
named, Mr Sharp affirms that it will be cherry-colotir ; and as cherries 
are either black or red, he wins, leaving his victim a wiser man, it is 
to be hoped, and not a ietter for the future. 

CHERRY-MERRY, a present of money. Cherrt-merrt-bamboo, a beat- 
ing. — Anglo-Indian. 

CHERUBS, or cherubims, the chorister boys who chaunt in the services 
at the abbeys. 

CHESHIRE CAT, "to grin like a CHEsnraE cat," to display the teeth 
and gums when laughing. Formerly the phrase was "to grin like a 
CHESHIRE CAT eating cheese." a hardly satisfactory explanation has 
been given of this phrase — that Cheshire is a county palatine, and the 
cats, when they think of it, are so tickled with the notion that they 
can't help grinning. 

CHICKEN, a term applied to anjiihing young, small, or insignificant; 
CHICKEN STAKES ; " she 's no CHICKEN," Said of an old maid. 

CHICKEN-HEARTED, cowardly, fearful. 

CHI-IKE, a hurrah ; a good word, or hearty praise ; term used by the 
Costermongers, who assist the sale of each other's goods by a little 
friendly although noisy commendation. 

CHILDREN'S SHOES, to make, to be made naught oi.—See shoes. 

CHIMNEY-SWEEPER, the aperient mixture commonly called a blaci: dose. 

CHINCHIN, a salutation, a compliment. — Anglo-Chinese. 

CHINK, money. — Ancient. — See elorio. 

CHINKERS, money. 

CHIN-WAG, officious impertinence. 

"CHIP OF THE OLD BLOCK," a child who resembles its father. 
Brother chip, one of the same trade or profession. 

CHIPS, money ; also a nickname for a carpenter. — Sea. 

CHIRP, to give information, " peach." 

CHISEL, to cheat, to take a slice off anything. 

CHIT, a letter; corruption of a Hindoo word. — Anglo-Indian. 

CHITTERLINGS, the shirt frills worn still by ancient beaux ; properly 
the entrails of a pig, to which they are supposed to bear some resem- 
blance. Belgian, schtterlingh. 

CHIVE, or CHiVET, a shout, a halloo, or cheer; loud tongued. From 
chevy-chase, a boy's game, in which the word chevy is bawled aloud; 
or from the Gij^sy I — 8ee Introduction. 

CHIVE-FENCER, a street hawker of cutlery. 

CHIVEY, to chase round, or hunt about. Apparently from chivet-chase. 

CHOAKEE, the black hole. — Militai'y — Anglo-Indian, 



lOO ^ DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

CHOCK-FULL, full till the scale comes down with a &h.ock.—Fmxh, choc. 

A correspondent suggests choked-fdll. 
CHOKE OFF, to get rid of. Bull-dogs can only be made to loose their 

hold by choking them. 
CHOKEPt, a cravat, a neckerchief. White-choker, the white neckerchief 
worn by mutes at a funeral, and waiters at a tavern. Clergymen are 
frequently termed white-chokers. 
CHOKER, or wind-stopper, a garotter. 
CHONKEYS, a kind of mince-meat baked in a crust, and sold in the 

streets. 
CHOOPS, a corruption of chooprao, keep silence. — Anglo-Indian. 
CHOOTAH, small, insignificant. — Anglo-Indian. 

CHOP, in the Canton jargon of Anglo-Chinese, this word has several signi- 
fications. It means an official seal, a permit, a boat-load of teas. 
First chop signifies first quality ; and chop-chop, to make haste, 
CHOP, to exchange, to "swop." — Old. 
CHOPS, properly chaps, the mouth, or cheeks ; " down in the chops," or 

" down in the mouth," i.e., sad or melancholy. 
CHOUSE, to cheat out of one's share or portion. Hackluyt, chaus ; Mas- 
sint'er, chiaus. From the Turkish, in which language it signifies an 
interpreter. Gifford gives a curious story as to its origin : — 
"In the year 1609 there was attached to the Turkish embassy in England an 
interpreter, or chiaous, who, by dunning, aided by his official position, 
managed to cheat the Turkish and Persian merchants, then in London, out 
of the large sum of ;,f4ooo, then deemed an enormous amount. From the 
notoriety which attendci the fraud, and the magnitude of the swindle, any 
one who cheated or defrauded was said to chiaous, or chause, or chouse ; 
to do, that is, as this Chiaous had done."— See Trench, Eng. Past and Present, 
p. 87. 
Chiaus, according to Sandys, {Travels, p. 48,) is "one who goes 
on embassies, executes commandments," &c. The particular Chiaus 
in question is alluded to in Ben Jonson's Alchymist, 16 10. 
"Z). What do you think of me? 
That I am a chiaus ? 
Facf. What 's that ? 

D. The Turk [who] was here. 

As one would say, do y..>u think I am a Turk ? " 

CHOUT, an entertainment. — East end of London. 

CHOVEY, a shop. — Costermonger. 

CHOW-CHOW, a mixture, food of any kind. — Anglo-Chinese. 

CHUBBY, round-faced, plump. 



Chivalry, coition. Probably a corruption from the Lingioa Franca. 
Chive, a knife ; a sharp tool of any kind.— Old Cant. This term is 

especially applied to the tin knives used in gaols. 
Chive, to cut, saw, or file. — Prison. 
Christening, erasing the name of the maker from a stolen watch, and in- 

sertmg a fictitious one in its place. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. lOI 

CHUCK, a schoolboy's tre^t.— Westminster School Pood, provision for an 
eutertainment. — Norwieh. 

CHUCK, to throw or pitcli. 

CHUCK IN, to challenge — from the pngilistic custom of throwing a hat 
into the ring; a modern version of " throwing down the gauntlet." 

" CHUCKING A JOLLY," when a costermonger praises the inferior 
article his mate or partner is trying to sell. -S'ee CHI-IKE. 

CHUCKLE-HEAD, much the same as "buffle-head," "cabbage-head," 
" chowder-head," " cods-head,"— all signifying that large abnormal form 
of skull always supposed to accompany stupidity and weakness of in- 
tellect ; as the Scotch proverb, " muckle head and little wit." — Devon- 
shire. 

CHUCK UP, to surrender, give in — from the custom of throwing up the 
sponge at a prize fight in token of yielding. 

CHUCKS ! Schoolboy's signal on the master's approach. 

CHUFF IT, i.e., be off, or take it away, in answer to a street seller who is 
importuning you to purchase, Halliicell mentions chuff as a " term 
of reproach," siu-ly, &c. 

CHULL, make haste. An abbreviation of the Hindostanee chullo, signi- 
fying " go along." Chdll is very commonly used to accelerate the 
motions of a servant, driver, or palanquin-bearer. 

CHUM, an acquaintance. A recognised term, but in such frequent use 
with the lower orders that it demanded a place in this glossary. 
Stated to be from the Gad. Caomh, a friend. 

CHUM, to occupy a joint lodging with another person. Latin, cum. 

CHUMMING-UP, an old custom amongst prisoners when a fresh culprit is 
admitted to their number, consisting of a noisy welcome — rough 
music made with pokers, tongs, sticks, and saucepans. For this ova- 
tion the initiated prisoner has to pay, or FOEK over, half a crown — or 
submit to a loss of coat and waistcoat. The practice is ancient. 

CHUMMY, a chimney-sweep — probably connected with chimney; also a 
low-crowned felt hat. 

CHUMP, the head or face. 

CHUNK, a thick or dumpy piece of any substance. — Kentish. 

CHURCHWARDEN, a long pipe, "a yard op clay;" probably so called 
from the long pipes which are usually placed before those function- 
aries as marks of respect when they honour the parlours of public- 
houses with their company. 

CINDER, any liquor used in connexion with soda water, as to "take a 
soda with a cinder in it." The cinder may be sherry, brandy, or any 
other liquor. 

" Chuck a Stall," where one rogue walks in front of a person while another 
picks his pockets. 

" Church a Yack," (or watch,) to take the works of a watch from its ori- 
ginal case and put them into another one, to avoid detection. — See 
CHBISTEN. 



I02 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

CIRCUMBENDIBUS, a round-about way, or story. 

CLACK-BOX, a garrulous person, so called from the rattle formerly used 
by vagrants to make a rattling noise and attract attention. — Norfolk. 

%* A common proverb in this county is, " your tongue goes like A 
baker's clap-dish," which is evidently a modern corruption of beggars' 
CLAP or CLACK DISH mentioned in Shahspeare's Measure for Measure, iii. 
2. It was a wooden dish with a movable cover. 

CLAGGUM, boiled treacle in a hardened state, Hardbake. — See cliggy. 

CLAP, to place ; " do you think you can clap your hand on him ? " i.e., 
find him out. 

CLAPPER, the tongue. 

CLAP- TRAP, high-sounding nonsense. An ancient Theatrical term for a 
" TRAP to catch a clap by way of applause from the spectators at a 
play." — Bailey's Dictionary. 

CLARET, blood. — Pugilistic. Said to have originated at Badminton. 

CLASHY, a low fellow, a labourer. — Anglo-Indian. 

CLEAN, quite, or entirely ; " clean gone," entirely out of sight, or away. 
— Old, see Cotgrave. — Shakespeare. Clean contrary, quite different, 
opposite. 

CLEAN OUT, to thrash, or beat; to ruin, or bankrupt any one ; to take 
all they have got, by purchase or force. De Quincey, in his article on 
Richard Bcntley, speaking of the lawsuit between that great scholar 
and Dr Colbatch, remarks that the latter " must have been pretty well 
cleaned out." 

CLICK, a knock, or blow. Click-handed, left-handed. — Cornish. 

CLICK, to snatch, to pull away something that belongs to another. 

CLICKER, a female touter at the bonnet shops in Cranbourn Alley. In 
Northamptonshire, the cutter out in a shoemaking establishment.* 

CLIGGY, or clidqy, sticky. — Anglo-Saxon, cl^g, clay. — See claggum. 

CLINCHER, that which rivets or confirms an argument, an incontrovert- ' 
ible position. Also a lie which cannot be surpassed, a stopper-up, 
said to be derived as follows : — Two notorious liars were backed to out- 
lie each other. " I drove a nail through the moon once," said the 
first. "Right," said the other ; " I recollect the circumstance well, for 
I went round to the back part of the moon and clinched it" — hence 
clincher. 

CLIPPING, excellent, very good. Clipper, anything showy or first-rate. 

* In the Dictionary of the Terms, Ancient and Modern, of the Canting Crew, Lond. 
n. d. (but prior to 1700,) the clicker is described as " the shoemaker's journeyman or 
servant, that cutts out all the work, and stands at or walks before the door, and 
saies— ' What d'ye lack, sir? what d'ye buy, madam ! ' " 

Clift, to steal. 

Clinch, to get the, to be locked up in jail. 

Cling-rig, stealing tankards from public-houses, &c. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 103 

CLOCK. " to know what's o'clock," a definition of knowingness in general. 

See TIME o' DAT. 

CLODHOPPER, a country clown. 

" CLOUD, TO BE UNDER A," to be in disgrace, or disrepute. 

CLOUD, TO BLOW A, to smoke a pipe. 

CLOUT, or RAG, a cotton pocket-handkerchief. — Old Cant. 

CLOUT, a blow, or intentional strike. — Ancient. 

CLOVER, happiness, luck, a delightful position — from the supposed hap- 
piness which attends cattle when they suddenly find then- quai'ters 
changed from a barren field to a meadow of clover. 

CLUMP, to strike, to beat.— Prot;. 

CLY, a pocket. — Old Cant for to steal. A correspondent derives this word 
from the Old English cletes, claws ; Anglo-Saxon clea. This pro- 
nunciation is still retained in Norfolk ; thus, to clt would mean to 
pounce upon, snatch. — See frisk. Gael, cliah, (pronounced clee,) a 
basket. 

COACH, a Cambridge term for a private tutor, termed a rural coach 
when he is not connected with a college. 

COACH-WHEEL, or tusheroon, a crown-piece, or five shillings. 

COALS, " to haul (or pull) over the coals," to take to task, to scold. Sup- 
posed by Jamieson to refer to the ordeal hy fire. 

COAL, money ; " post the coal," put down the money. The phrase was 
used by Mr Buckstone at the Theatrical Fund Dinner of 1863. From 
this is derived the theatrical term coaling, profitable, very good, which 
an actor will use if his part is full of good and telling speeches — thus, 
" my part is full of coaling lines." 

COBBING, a punishment inflicted by sailors and soldiers among them- 
selves. See Grose, and Captain Marryat's novels. A hand-saw is the 
general instrument of punishment. 

COCK, a familiar term of address ; " jolly old cock," a jovial fellow, " how 
are you, old cock ? " Frequently rendered now-a-days, cocke-e, a vul- 
gar street salutation — corruption of cock-ETE. The latter is frequently 
heard as a shout or street cry after a man or boy. 

COCK, a smoking term ; " cocking a Brosely," i.e., smoking a pipe. 
Broseley in Staffordshire is famous for " churchwardens." 

COCK-A-HOP, in high spirits. 

COCK-A-WAX, an amplification of the simple term cock, sometimes 
" Lad of wax" in S. S. 

" COCK AND A BULL STORY," a long, rambling anecdote.— *See Notes 
and Queries, vol. iv., p. 313. 

COCK-AND-HEN-CLUB, a free and easy gathering, where females are 
admitted as well as men. 

Cly-faker, a pickpocket. 



I04 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 



COCK- AND-PINCH, the old-fashioned beaver hat, affected by ''swells" 
and "sporting gents" forty years ago — COCKED back and front, and 
PINCHED up at the sides. 

COCKER, "it is all right, accordingto Cocker," meaningthat everythinghas 
been done en regie. The phrase refers to the celebrated writing-master 
of Charles II.'s time, whose Arithmetic, Dictionary, &c., were long the 
standard authorities. The Arithmetic, probably the work referred to, 
was first published in 1677-8, and though it reached more than sixty 
editions, is considered a very scarce book.* A curious fact may here 
be mentioned in connexion with this saying. It has been stated, and 
very well proved, that many words popular in Shakspeare's time, and 
now obsolete in this country, are still in every-day use in the older 
English settlements of North America. The editor of this work was 
surprised, when travelling through Western Canada, to find that in- 
stead of the renowned Cocker the people appealed to another and more 
learned authority. "According to Guntek," is a phrase in continual 
Transatlantic use. This scientific worthy invented the sector in 1606; 
and in 1623, about the time of the great Puritan exodus to North 
America, he brought out his famous Rule of Proportion. This was 
popularly known as Gunter's Proportion, or "Gunters Line," and the 
term soon became a vulgar standard of appeal in cases of doubt or dis- 
pute. 

COCK-EYE, one that squints. 

COCKED-HAT-CLUB, the principal clique amongst the members of the 
Society of Antiquaries, who virtually decide whether any person pro- 
posed shall be admitted or not. The term comes from the " cocked- 
hat" placed before the president at the sittings. 

COCKLES, " to rejoice the cockles of one's heart," a vulgar phrase imply- 
ing great pleasure. — See Pluck. 

COCKNEY, a native of London. Originally, a spoilt or effeminate boy, 
derived from cockering, or foolishly petting a person, rendering them 
of soft or luxurious manners. Halliwdl states, in his admirable essay, 
upon the word, that " some writers trace the word with much probabi- 
lity to the imaginary land of cockatgne, the lubber land of the olden 
times." Grose gives JMinsheu's absurd but comical derivation : — A 
citizen of London being in the country, and hearing a horse neigh, 
exclaimed, " Lord ! Jioio that horse laughs!" A bystander informed him 
that that noise was called neighing. The next morning, when the 
cock crowed, the citizen, to shew that he had not forgotten what was 
told him, cried out, " do you hear how the cock neighs ? " 

* Cocker. Professor de Morgan {Kates and Quei-ies, Jan. 27, 1855) says that the 
main goodness of Cocker's Tutor consists in his adopting the abbreviated system of 
division ; and suggests that it became a proverbial representative of arithmetic from 
Murphy's farce of 7'he Apprentice, 1756, in which the strong point of the old merchant, 
Wingate, is his extreme reverence for Cocker and his arithmetic. 

Cockchafer, the treadmill. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 105 

"COCK OF THE WALK," a master spirit, head of a party. Places 
where poultry are fed are culled walks, and the barn-door cocks in- 
variably fight for the supremacy till one has obtained it. 

COCKS, fictitious narratives, in verse or prose, of murders, fires, and ter- 
rible accidents, sold in the streets as true accounts. The man who 
hawks them, a patterer, often changes the scene of the awful event to 
suit the taste of the neighbourhood he is trying to delude. Possibly 
a corruption of cooh, a cooked statement, or, as a correspondent sug- 
gests, the COCK LANE ghost may have given rise to the term. This 
had a great run, and was a rich harvest to the running stationers, 

" COCK ONE'S TOES," to die. 

COCK-ROBIN" SHOP, a small printer's office, where low wages are paid 
to journeymen who have never served a regular apprenticeship. 

COCKSHY, a game at fairs and races, where trinkets are set upon sticks, 
and for one penny three throws at them are accorded, the thrower 
keeping whatever he knocks off. From the ancient game of throwing 
or " shying " at live cocks. 

COCKSURE, certain. 

COCKY, pert, saucy, 

COCKYOLY BIRD, a little bird, frequently called "a dickey bird."— 
Kingsley's I'lco Years Ago. 

COCK, " to COCK your eye," to shut or wink one eye. 

COCUM, advantage, luck, resources; "Jack's got COCUM, he's safe to get 
on, he is," — viz., he starts under favourable circumstances. See the fol- 
lowing. 

COCUM, cunning, sly, "to fight cocum," to be wily and cautious. Allied 
perhaps to the Scottish keek. German, GUCKEN, to peep or pry into. 

COD, to hoax, take a " rise " out of one. 

CODDS, the "poor brethren" of the Charter House. At p. 133 of the 
Newcomes, Mr Thackeray writes, "The Cistercian lads call these 
old gentlemen codds, I know not wherefore." An abbreviation of 
codger. 

CODDAM, a low public-house game, much affected by medical students 
and cabmen, three on each side. The game is " simplicity itself," but 
requires a great amount of low cunning, and pecuHar mental ingenuity, 

CODGER, or cogeb, an old man; "a rum old codger," a curious old fel- 
low. _ Codger is sometimes used as synonymous with cadger, and then 
signifies a person who gets his living in a questionable manner. 
" COGERS," the name of a debating society, formerly held in Bride 
Court, Fleet Street, and stiU in existence. The term is probably a 
corruption of COGITAtors. 

COFFEE-SHOP, a water-closet, or house of office. 

COG, to cheat at dice. — Shakspeare. Also, to agree with, as one cog-wheel 
does with another. 

COLD BLOOD, a house licensed for the sale of beer "not to be drunk on 
the premises," 



I06 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN' 

COLD COFFEE, misfortune ; sometimes varied to cold gruel. — Sea. 

COLD COFFEE, an Oxford synonyme for a " Sell," which see. 

COLD COOK, an undertaker. 

COLD MEAT, a corpse. Cold meat box, a coffin. 

COLD SHOULDER, "to shew or give anyone the cold shoulder," to 
assume a distant manner towards them, to evince a desire to cease 
acquaintanceship. Sometimes it is termed "cold shoulder of mutton." 

COLFABIAS, a Latinised Irish phrase signifying the closet of decency, 
applied as a Slang term to a place of resort in Trinity College, Dublin. 

COLLAR, "out of collar," i.e., out of place, no work. Probably a varia- 
tion of the metaphorical expressions "in, or out of harness," i.e., in or 
out of work — the horse being in collar when harnessed for his work. 

COLLAR, to seize, to lay hold of. Thieves' Slang, i.e., to steal. 

" COLLAR AND ELBOW," a term for a peculiar throw in wrestling. 

COLLOGUE, to conspire, talk mysteriously together in low tones, plot 
mischief. More connected with " colloquy " than " colleague." — £ast 
coast. 

COLLY-WOBBLES, the stomach ache, a person's bowels, — supposed by 
many of the lower orders to be the seat of feeling and nutrition ; an idea 
either borrowed from, or transmitted by, the ancients. — Devonshire. 

COLOUR, complexion, tint ; " I 've not seen the colour of his money," i.e., 
he has never paid me any. In fortune-telling by cards, a diamond 
colour is the fairest ; heart-colour, fair, but not so fair as the last ; cluh 
colour, rather swarthy; spade colour, an extremely dark complexion. 

COLT, a murderous weapon, formed by slinging a small shot to the end of 
a rather stiff piece of rope. It is the original of the mis-named " Hfe- 
preserver." 

COLT, a person who sits as juryman for the first time. 

COLT, to fine a new juryman a sum to be spent in drink, by way of "wet- 
ting " his office. 

COLT, to make a person free of a new place, which is done by his standing 
treat, and submitting to be struck on the sole of the foot with a piece 
of board. — Prov. 

COLT'S TOOTH, elderly persons of juvenile tastes are said to have a 
colt's tooth, i.e., a desire to shed their teeth once more, to see life 
over again. 

COMB-CUT, mortified, disgraced, " down on one's luck." — See cut. 

COME, a Slang verb used in many phrases ; " an't he coming it ? " i.e., is 
he not proceeding at a great rate ? " Don't come tricks here," " don't 
COME the old soldier over me," i.e., we are aware of your practices, 
and " twig " your manoeuvre. Coming it strong, exaggerating, going 
a-bead, the opposite of " drawing it mild." Coming it also means in- 
forming or disclosing. 

COME DOWN, to pay down. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 107 

COMMISSION, a shirt. — Ancient Cant. Italian, camicia 
" As from our beds, we doe oft cast our eyes, 
Cleane linnen yeelds a shirt before we rise, 
Which is a garment ski/ting in condition ; 
And in the canting tongue, is a coMMissioisr. 
In weale or woe, in joy or dangerous drifts, 
A shirt will put a man unto his shifts." 

— Taylor's Works, 1630. 

COMMISTER, a chaplain or clergyman.— Originally Old Cant. 
COMMON SEWER, a drain,— vulgar equivalent for a drink. 
COMMONS, rations, because eaten in common. — University. Short com 

MONS, (derived from the University Slaug term,) a scanty meal, a 

scarcity. 
COMPRADOR, a purveyor. — Anglo-Cldnese. 

CONCAVES AND CONVEXES, a pack of cards con- \77^ \~~^^ 

trived for cheating, by cutting all the cards from the L — _ — i L 1 

two to the seven concave, and all from the eight to the king convex. 
Then by cutting the pack breadth-wise a convex card is cut, and by 
cutting it length-wise a concave is secured. — See Longs and Shorts. 
CONJEE, a kind of gruel made of rice. — Anglo-Indian. 
CONK, a nose. Possibly, from the Latin concha, a shell. Greek, Koyxn— 
hence anything hollow. Somewhat of a parallel may be found in the 
Latin testa, an earthenware pot, a shell, (Cicero,) and in later Latin, 
a scidl, (Anson;) from whence the French teste, or tete, head. 
CONKY, having a projecting or remarkable nose. The Duke of Welling- 
ton was frequently termed " Old conky " in satirical papers and carica- 
tures. 
CONNAUGHT RANGERS, the Eighty-eighth Regiment of Foot in the 

British Army. 
CONSHUN'S PRICE, fair terms, without extortion. — Anglo-Chinese. 
CONSUMAH, a hvAleT.— Anglo-Indian. 
CONSTABLE, " to overrun the constable," to exceed one's income, get 

deep in debt. 
CONTANGO, among stock-brokers and jobbers, is a certain sum paid for 
accommodating a buyer or seller, by carrying the engagement to pay 
money or deliver shares over to the next account day. 
COOEY, the Australian bush-call, now not unfrequently heard in the 

streets of London. 
COOK, a term well known in the Bankruptcy Courts, referring to accounts 
that have been meddled with, or cooked, by the bankrupt ; also the 
forming a balance-sheet from general trade inferences; stated by a 
correspondent to have been first used in reference to the celebrated 
alteration of the accounts of the Eastern Counties Railway, by George 
Hudson, the Railway King. 

CoNTEY, to steal; " convey, the wise it call." 

Conveyancer, a pickpocket. Shahspeare uses the Cant expression con* 
VEYEB, a thief. The same term is also French Slang. 



108 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

" COOK ONE'S GOOSE," to kill or ruin a person.— iVor^^i. 

COOLER, a glass of porter as a wind up, after drinking spirits and water. 

COOLIE, a soldier, in allusion to the Hindoo coolies, or day labourers. 

COON, abbreviation of racoon. — American. A gone coon — ditto, one in 
an awful fix, past praying for. This expression is said to have origi- 
nated in the American war with a spy, who dressed himself in a 
racoon skin, and ensconced himself in a tree. An English rifleman 
taking him for a veritable coon, levelled his piece at him, upon which 
he exclaimed, " Don't shoot, I '11 come down of myself, I know I 'm a 
gone coon." The Yankees say the Britisher was so flummuxed, that 
he flung down his rifle and " made tracks " for home. The phrase is 
pretty usual in England. 

COOPER, stout " HALF-AND-HAXF," i.e., half stout and half porter. De- 
rived from the coopers at breweries being allowed so much stout and 
so much porter a day, which they have mixed sooner than drink the 
porter after the stout. 

COOPER, to destroy, spoil, settle or finish. Coopered, spoilt, " done up," 
synonymous with the Americanism caved in, fallen in, ruined. The 
vagabonds' hieroglyphic V) chalked by them on gate posts and houses, 
signifies that the place has been spoilt by too many tramps calling there. 

COOTER, " a sovereign." — See couter. Gipsy, cuta. 

COP, to seize or lay hold of anything unpleasant; used in a similar sense 
to catch in the phrase "to cop (or catch) a beating," " to get coPT," &c. 

COP, beware, take care. A contraction of coprador. — Anglo-Indian. 

COPER, properly horse-couper, a Scotch horse-dealer, — used to denote a 
dishonest one. 

COPPER, a policeman, i.e., one who cops, which see. 

COPPER, a halfpenny. Coppers, mixed pence. 

COPUS, a Cambridge drink, consisting of ale combined with spices, and 
varied by spirits, wines, &c. Corruption of HIPPOCRAS. 

CORINTHIANISM, a term derived from the classics, much in vogue some 
years ago, implying pugilism, high life, " sprees," roistering, &c. — 
Shakspeare, I Hen. IV., ii. 4. The immorality of Corinth was proverbial 
in Greece. Kopivdta^ eadai, to Corinthianise, indulge in the company 
of courtesans, was a Go-eeJc Slang expression. Hence the proverb — 

Oil iravTos dv8pus els Kopivdov eaff 6 ttXovs : 
and Horace, Epist. lib. i, xvii. 36 — 

",Non cuivis homini contingit adire Corinth um," 

in allusion to the spoliation practised by the " hetserse " on those who 

visited them. 
CORK, " to draw a cork," to give a bloody nose — Pugilistic. 
CORKED, said of wine which tastes of cork, from being badly decanted. 

Cooper, to forge, or imitate in writing ; " cooper a moneker," to forge a 
signature. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 09 

CORKER, "that's a corker," i.e., that settles the question, or closes the 

discussion. 
CORKS, a butler. 
CORKS, money ; "how are you off for corks?" a soldier's terra of a very 

expressive kind, denoting the means of " keeping afloat." Cork is also 

used in connexion with money when persons at a hotel provide their 

own wine — sixpence being charged for each " cork " drawn. 
CORNED, drunk or intoxicated. Possibly from soaking or pickling one's- 

self like corned beef. 
CORNER, "the corner," Tattersall's famous horse repository and betting 

rooms, so called from the fact of its situation, which is at Hyde-Park 

Corner. 

CORNERED, hemmed in a corner, placed in a position from which there 
is no escape. — American. 

CORNER-MAN, the end singer of a corps of Ethiopian or nigger minstrels. 
In a theatrical advertisement in the Era there was, " Wanted a good 
CORNER-MAN Tambo, who can dance." A particularly clever man is 
required for the corner station, and in this case he was required to play 
on the tambourine as well. We insert it as a specimen of Theat. Slang, 

CORPORATION, the protuberant front of an obese person. 

CORPSE, to confuse, or put out the actors by making a mistake. — Theat. 

COSSACK, a policeman. 

COSTERMONGER, a street seller of fish, fruit, vegetables, poultry, &c. 
The London costermongers number more than 30,000. They form a 
distinct class, occupying whole neighbourhoods, and are cut off from 
the rest of metropolitan society by their low habits, general improvi- 
dence, pugnacity, love of gambling, total want of education, disregard 
for lawful marriage ceremonies, and their use of a Cant (or so-called 
hacJc Slang) language. Costermonger aliter costardmonger, i.e., an 
apple-seller. In Nares's Glossary (Ed. H. & W.) they are said to have 
been frequently Irish. So, Ben Jonson — 

" Her father was an Irish costar-mongek." 

— Alchym., iv. 1. 

" In England, Sir, troth I ever laiigh when I think on 't. 

Why, sir, tiiere all the coster-mongers arc Irisli." 

—2 P. Hen. IV., 0. PL iii. 375. 

Their noisy manners are alluded to in Beaumont and Fletcher's Scorns 
ful Lady, iv. i. 

" And then he'll rail like a rude coster-monger 

Th;;,t school-boys had couzeued of his apples. 

As loud aud senseless." 

COSTER, the short and Slang rendering of " costermonger," or " co-stard- 
monger," who was originally an apple-seller. Costering, i.e., coster- 
mongering, acting as a costermonger would. 

COTTON, to like, adhere to, or agree with any person; "to COTTON on to 
a man," to attach yourself to him, or fancy him, literally, to stick to 



no A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

him as cotton would. Vide Bwtletf,- who claims it as an Americanism, 
andi/aWtwcZ^, who terms it an Archaism; also Bacchus and Venus, 1737. 

" Her heart's as hard as taxes, and as bad ; 
She does not even cotton to her dad." 

— Halliday and Lawrance, Kenilworth Burlesque. 

COTTON LORD, a Manchester manufacturer. 

COUNCIL-OF-TEN", the toes of a man who turns his feet inward. 

COUNTER, to hit back, exchange blows. — Pugilistic term. 

COUNTER-JUMPER, a shopman, a draper's assistant. 

COUNTRY-SHIP, a ship belonging to the East Indies, and trading from 

port to port in that country. 
COUNTRY-CAPTAIN", a spatch-cocked fowl, sprinkled with curry-powder. 

A favourite breakfast dish with the captains of COUNTRT-ships. 
COUPLE-BEGGAR, a degraded person, who officiated as a clergyman in 

performing marriages in the Fleet Prison. 

COUTER, a sovereign. Half-a-couter, half-a-sovereign. From the Danu- 
Man-gipsy word cuta, a gold coin. 

COVE, or COVET, a boy or man of any age or station. A term generally 
preceded by an expressive adjective, thus a "flash cove," a "rimi 
COVE," a " downy COVE," &c. The feminine, covess, was once popular, 
but it has fallen into disuse. Ancient Cant, originally (temp. Henry 
VII.) COFE, or CUFFIN, altered in Decker's time to cove. See Witts' 
Recreations, 1654; "there's a gentry-co\'E. here," i.e., a gentleman. 
Probably connected with cuiF, which, in the North of England, signi- 
fies a lout or awkward fellow. Amongst Negroes, cuffee. 

COVENTRY, " to send a man to Coventry," not to speak to or notice him. 
Coventry was one of those towns in which the privilege of practising 
most trades was anciently confined to certain privileged persons, as the 
freemen, &c. Hence a stranger stood little chance of custom, or coun- 
tenance, and " to send a man to COVENTRY " came to be equivalent to 
putting him out of the pale of society. 

COVER-DOWN, a tossing coin with a false cover, enabling either head or 
tail to be shown, according as the cover is left on or taken off. The 
cover is more generally called a cap. 

COW-COW, to be very angry, to scold or reprimand violently. — Anglo- 
Chinese. 

COWAN, a sneak, an inquisitive or prying person. Greek, Kvav, a dog. 
Term given by Freemasons to all uninitiated persons. Used in 
Anderson's Constitutions, edit. 1769, p. 97. If derived from Kvav, 
its use was probably suggested by such passages in the N. T. as Matt, 
vii. 6, and Phil. iii. 2. The Moslems apply dog in a similar manner. 
It is probably Oriental. Other authorities say it is from cowan, or 
KIRWAN, a Scottish word signifying a man who builds rough stone walls 
without mortar — a man who, though he builds, is not a practical mason. 

County-crop, {i.e., county-prison crop,) hair cut close and round, as if 
guided by a basin — an indication of having been in prison. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 1 r 

COWS GREASE, butter. 

COW-LICK, the term given to the lock of hair which costermongers and 
tramps usually twist forward from the ear ; a large greasy curl upon 
the cheek, seemingly licked into shape. The opposite of newgate- 
KNOCKER, which see. 

COXY-LOXT, good-tempered, Arnxik.— Norfolk. 

CRAB, or GRAB, a disagreeable old person. Name of a wild and sour fruit. 

CRAB, "to catch a crab," to fall backwards by missing a stroke in rowing. 
An allusion, of course, to fishing for crabs. 

CRAB, to offend, or insult; to expose or defeat a robbery, to inform 
against. Crab, in the sense of " to offend," is Old English. 

" If I think one thing and speak another, 
I will both CRAB Christ and our Ladie His mother." 

— Packman's Paternoster. 

CRABSHELLS, or trotting cases, shoes. — See carts. 

CRACK, the favourite horse in a race. 

CRACK, first-rate, excellent; "a crack hand," an adept; a "crack 
article," a good one. — Old. 

CRACK, dry firewood. — Modern Gipsy. 

CRACK, " in a crack (of the finger and thumb)," in a moment. 

" CRACK A BOTTLE," to drink. Shakspeare uses crush in the same Slang 
sense. 

CRACK UP, to boast or praise. — Ancient English. 

CRACKED-UP, penniless, or ruined. 

CRACKLE, the scored rind on a roast leg of pork ; hence applied to the 
velvet bars on the gowns of the students at St John's College, Cam- 
bridge, long called " Hogs," and the covered bridge which connects one 
of the courts with the grounds. Isthmus of Suez, (suis, Lat. sus, a 
swine.) 

CRAM, to lie or deceive, implying to fill up or cram a person with false 
stories ; to impart or acquire learning quickly, to "grind " or prepare 
for an examination. 

CRAMMER, one skilled in rapidly preparing others for an examination. 

CRAMMER, a lie; or a person who commits a falsehood. 

CRANKY, foolish, idiotic, rickety, capricious, not confined to persons. 
Ancient Cant, cranke, simulated sickness. German, krank, sickly. 

CRAPPING CASE, or ken, the closet of decency. 

CRAWLY-MAWLY, in an ailing, weakly, or sickly state. 

CRAW-THUMPER, a Roman Catholic. Compare brisket-beater. 

Crack, to break into a house ; " crack a crib," to commit burglary. 
Crack- fencer, a man who sells nuts. 
Cracksman, a burglar. 
Crapped, hanged. 



112 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN' 

" CREAM OF THE VALLEY/' gin. 

CRIB, house, public or otherwise; lodgings, apartments; a situation. 
Very general iu the latter sense. 

CRIB, to steal or purloin; to appropriate small things. 

CRIB, a literal translation of a classic author. — University. 

CRIB-BITER, an inveterate grumbler ; properly said of a horse which has 
this habit, a sign of its bad digestion. 

CRIBBAGE-FACED, marked with the small-pox, full of holes like a crib- 
bage board. 

CRIKEY, profane exclamation of astonishment ; " Oh, crikey, you don't 
say so ! " corruption of " Christ." 

CRIPPLE, a bent sixpence. 

CROAK, to die — from the gurgling sound a person makes when the breath 
of life is departing. — Oxon. 

CROAKER, one who takes a desponding view of everything ; an alarmist. 
From the croaking of a raven. — Ben Jonson. 

CROAKER, a beggar. 

CROAKER, a dying person beyond hope ; a corpse. 

CROAKS, last dying speeches, and murderers' confessions. 

CROCODILES' TEARS, the tears of a hypocrite. An ancient phrase, 
introduced into this couutiy by MandeviUe, or other early English tra- 
veller. — Othello, iv., I. 

CRONY, a termagant or malicious old woman ; an intimate friend. John- 
son calls it Cant. 

CROOKY, to hang on to, to lead, to walk arm-in-arm ; to court or pay 
addresses to a girl. 

CROPPER, " to go a cropper," i.e., fail or fall. 

CROSS, a deception — two persons pretending hostility or indifference to 
each other, being all the while in concert for the purpose of deceiving 
a third. 

CROSS-BUTTOCK, an unexpected fling down or repulse ; from a peculiar 
throw practised by wrestlers. 

Crocus, or croakus, a quack or travelling doctor; ceocus-chovet, a 
chemist's shop. 

Crooked, a term used among dog-stealers, and the "fancy" generally, to 
denote anything stolen. 

Croppie, a person who has had his hair cut, or cropped, in prison. 

Cropped, hanged. 

Cross, a general term amongst thieves expressive of their plundering pro- 
fession, the opposite of square. " To get anything on the cross " ia 
to obtain it surreptitiously. " Cross-fanning in a crowd," robbing 
persons of their scarf-pins. Crossman, a thief, or one who lives by 
dishonest practices. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. I I 3 

CROSSED, prohibited from taking food from the "Bu.ttei-j." —University. 
CROW, or COCK-CROW, to exult over another's abasement, as a fighting-cock 

does over his vanquished adversary. 
CROW, "a regiilar CEOW," a success, a stroke of luck, — equivalent to a 

FLUKE. 

CROW, " I have a CEOW to'pick with you," i.e., an explanation to demand, 

a disagreeable matter to settle. 
CRUG, food.— Household Words, No. 183. Peculiar to the Christ's Hos- 
pital boys, who apply it only to bread. 
CRUMBS, " to pick up one's crumbs," to begin to have an appetite after 

an illness; to improve in health, circumstances, &c., after a loss 

thereof. 
CRUMMY, fat, plump.— iVo?-;:^. 
CRUMMY-DOSS, a lousy or filthy bed. 
CRUNCH, to crush. Corruption; or, perhaps from the soimd of teeth 

grinding against each other. 
CRUSH, to run, decamp rapidly. Crush down sides, run to a place of 

safety, or the a.ppointed rendezvous.— iV'orfA Country Cant. 
CRUSHER, a policeman. 
CRUSHING, excellent, first-rate. 
CRUSTY, ill-tempered, petulant, vaovose.—Old, said to be a corruption of 

the AngloNorman CORUSEUX. 
CUB, a mannerless, uncouth lout. — See unlicked. 
CUBITOPOLIS, an appellation given by Londoners to the Warwick and 

Eccleston Square districts. Another name for it is Mesopotamia. 
CUE, properly the last word spoken by one actor, it being the cue for the 

other to reply. 
CULL, a man or boy. — Old Cant. Rum cull, the manager of a theatre. 
CULLET, broken glass. French, cueillette, a gathering or collection. 
CULLY GORGER, a companion, a brother actor. Theatrical. See GORGEB. 
CULVER-HEADED, weak and stupid. 
CUMSHAW, a present or bribe. — Anglo- Chinese. 
CUPBOARD-HEADED, an expressive designation of one whose head is 

both wooden and hollow. — Norfolk. 

CUPBOARD-LOVE, affection arising from interested motives. 

" A cuPBOAKD LOVE is Seldom true ; 
A love sincere is found in few." — Poor Robin. 



Cross Cove and Mollisher, a man and woman who live by thieving. 

Cross-Crib, a house frequented by thieves. 

Crow, one who watches whilst another commits a theft, a confederate in a 

robbery. The crow looks to see that the way is clear, whilst the 

sneak, his partner, commits the depredation, 
Cule, thieves' term. Abbreviation of Reticule. 
Culling, or culing, stealing from the carriages on race-courses. 

II 



1 14 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

CUP-TOSSER, a person who professes to tell fortunes by examining the 
grounds in tea or coffee cups. A cup or goblet, however, is the old 
mystic symbol of a juggler. French, joueub dk gobelet. 

CURE, an odd person ; a contemptuous term, abridged from CURIOSITT, 
which was formerly the favourite expression. — Compare stipe. A 
correspondent objects to this definition as insufficient and erroneous. 
A CURE, according to him, is an exceedingly cunning, clever chaffer, 
who does not vulgarly insult like the old chaffers, but keeps the person 
he is chaffing in an alternate state of anger and complaisance. The 
CURE is impertinent, but by his submissive manners, and the turns he 
gives the conversation, CURES the wounds as soon as he inflicts them. 

CURIOS, a corruption of "curiosities;" any articles of virtu brought 
from abroad. Used by naval and miUtary travellers and others. — See 

CURE. 

CURRENCY, a person born in Australia is there termed currency, while 
natives of England are termed sterling. The allusion is to the differ- 
ence between colonial and imperial money. 

CURSE, anything worthless. Corruption of the Old English word kerse, a 
small sour wild cherry; French, cerise; German, kirsch. Vision oj 
Piers Ploughman : — 

" Wisdom and witt nowe is nnt worth a kerse, 
But if it be carded with cootis as clotliers 
Kembe theii- woole." 

The expression "not worth a curse," used frequently now-a-days, is 
therefore not properly profane, though it is frequently intensified by a 
still more profane expletive. Home Toohe says from kerse, or cress. 

CURSE -OF -SCOTLAND, the Nine of Diamonds. Various hypotheses 
have been set up as to this appellation — that it was the card on which 
the "Butcher Duke" wrote a cruel order with respect to the rebels 
after the battle of Culloden ; * that the diamonds are the nine lozenges 
in the arms of Dalrymple, Earl of Stair, detested for his share in the 
Massacre of Glencoe ; that it is a corruption of Cross of Scotland, the 
nine diamonds being arranged somewhat after the fashion of a St 
Andrew's Cross; but the most probable explanation is, that in the 
game of Pope Joan the nine of diamonds is the POPE, of whom the 
Scotch have an especial horror. 

CURTAIL, to cut off. Originally a Cant word — vide Hudihras, and Bacchus 
and Venus, 1737. 

CUSHION, to hide or conceal, 

CUSHION - SMITER, polite rendering of tub-thumper, a clergyman, a 
preacher. 

* The first supposition 5s evidently erroneous, for in Dr Houstoun's Memoirs of his 
own Lifetime, 1747, p. 92, the Jacobite ladies are stated to have nicknamed the Nine of 
Diamonds "the Justice-Clerk," after the rebellion of 1715, in allusion to the Lord 
Justice-Clerk Ormistone, who, for his severity in suppressing it, was called the Curse 
of Scotland. Gules a cross of lozenges are also the arms of Colonel Packer, who at- 
tended Charles I. on the scaffold, and commauded in Scotland afier^rards with great 
severity. — See Chaito on the Origin and History 0/ Playing Cards, p. 267. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. I 15 

CUSHMAWAUNEE, never mind. Sailors and soldiers who have been in 
India frequently say — 

" CuSHMAWAaNEE, 

If we oanuot get arrack, 

We must drink pawnee." ' 

— Anglo-Indian. 

CUSTOMER, synonymous with chap, a fellow ; " a rum cu.stomer," i.e., 
a man likely to turn the tables on any one who attacked him, and 
therefore better be let alone, or very warily proceeded with; an "odd 
fish," or curious person. — Shakspeare. 

CUSTOMHOUSE-OFFICER, an aperient piU. 

CUT, to run away, move off quickly ; to cease doing anything ; out and 
RUN, to quit work, or occupation, and start off at once — Sea phrase, 
" CUT the cable, and RUN before the wind ; " to CUT didoes, synony- 
mous with to CUT CAPERS ; CUT A DASH, make a show ; cut a caper, to 
dance or shew off in a strange manner ; cut a figure, to make either 
a good or bad appearance; cut it, desist, be quiet, go away, leave 
what you are doing and run ; cut it short, cease being prolix, " make 
short work" of what you have in hand; cut out, to excel, thus in 
affairs of gallantry one Adonis is said to "cut the other out" in the af- 
fections of the wishedfor lady — Sea phrase, from cutting out a ship 
from the enemy's port. Cut that ! be quiet, or stop ; cut out of, 
done out of; cut op one's jib, the expression or cast of his counte- 
nance, [see JIB ;] to cut one's comb, to take down a conceited person, 
from the practice of cutting the combs of capons, [see comb cut ;] cut 
and come again, plenty, if one cut does not suffice, plenty remains to 
"come again;" CUT UP, to mortify, to criticise severely, or expose; CUT 
UP shines, to play tricks ; CUT one's stick, to be off quickly, i.e., to be 
in readiness for a journey, further elaborated into amputate tour maho- 
gany, [see stick;] cut it fat, to exaggerate or shew off in an extensive 
manner ; to cut up fat, to die, leaving a large property ; cut under, 
to undersell ; cut your lucky, to run off ; cut one's cart, to expose 
their tricks; CUT an acquaintance, to cease friendly intercourse with 
them ; " cut up rough," to become obstreperous and dangerous ; TO 
have cut one's EYE-TEETH, i.e., to be wide awake, knowing; to draw 
CUTS, to cast lots with papers of unequal lengths — See Comedy of 
Errors, act v. scene I. — Cambridge. Old; cutte, to say. 

CUT, in theatrical language, means to strike out portions of a dramatic 
piece, so as to render it shorter for representation. A late treasurer 
of one of the so-called Patent Theatres, when asked his opinion of a 
new play, always gave utterance to the brief, but safe piece of criti- 
cism, "wants CUTTING." 

CUT, ti-psj.— Household Words, No. 183. 

CUT, to compete in business ; " a cutting trade," one conducted on com- 
petitive principles, where the profits are very closely shaved. 

CUT-THROAT, a butcher, a cattle-slaughterer; a ruffian. 

CUTE, sharp, cunning. Abbreviation of acute. 



1 16 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

CUTTER, a ruffian, a cut-purse. Of Robin Hood it was said — 

" So being outlaw'd, (as 'tis told,) 
He with a crew went forth 
Of lusty CUTTERS, bold and strong, 
And robbed in the north." 

Cutter, a swaslibuckler — ialaffreux, taillebras fendeur de naseaux. — • 
Cotgrave. 

" He 's out of cash, and thou know'st by cutter's law, 
We are bound to relieve one another." 
(N. H. W.) —Match at Midn. 0. PL, vii. 553. 

This ancient Cant word now survives in the phrase, "to swear like a 

CUTTER." 

CUTTING-SHOP, a place where cheap rough goods are sold. 

CUTTY PIPE, a short clay pipe. Scotch, cutty, short. 

CUTTY-SARK, a short chemise. — Scotch. A scantily-draped lady is so 

called by Bums. 
DAB, or dabster, an expert person. Most probably derived from the 

Latin adeptas. 
DAB, a bed. Probably Baclc-Slang. 
DAB, street term for a flat fish of any kind. — Old. 
DACHA-SALTEE, tenpence. Probably from the Lingua Franca. Modem 

Grech, 8eKa ; Italian, DiECi soldi, tenpence ; Gipsy, DIK, ten. So also 

DACHA-ONE, i.e., died uno, elevenpence. — See saltee. 
D ADDLE, the hand; "tip us your daddle," i.e., shake hands. 
DADDY, the stage manager. — Tlieatrical. Also the person who gives 

away the bride at a wedding. 
DAFFY, gin. A term with monthly nurses, who are always extolling the 

virtues of Daffy's Elixir, and who occasionally comfort themselves with 

a stronger medicine under Daify's name, 
DAGS, feat or performance; " I '11 do your dags," i.e., I will do something 

that you cannot do. 
DAISY-CUTTER, a horse that trots or gallops without lifting its feet 

much from the ground. 
DAISY-KICKER, the name hostlers at large inns used to give each other, 

now nearly obsolete. Daist-kicker, or grogham, was likewise the 

Cant term for a horse. 

The DAIST-KICKERS were sad rogues in the old posting days ; fre- 
quently the landlords rented the stables to them, as the only plan to 

make them return a profit. 
DAMAGE, in the sense of recompense ; " what 's the damage ? " i.e., what 

is to pay ? 

Daddy; at mock rafHes, lotteries, &c., the daddy is an accomplice, most 
commonly the getter up of the swindle, and in all cases the person 
that has been previously arranged to win the prize. 

Damper, a shop till ; to draw a damper, i.e., rob a till. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 1 7 

" DANCE UPON NOTHING," to be hanged. 

DANDO, a great eater, who cheats hotels, eating shops, oyster-cellars, &c. ; 

from a person of that name. 
DANDER, passion, or temper ; " to get one's dander up," to rouse his 

passion. — Old. 
DANDY, a fop, or fashionable nondescript. This word, in the sense of a 
fop, is of modern origin. Erjan says it was first used in 1820, and Bee 
in I Si 6. Johnson does not mention it, although it is to be found in 
all late dictionaries. Dandies wore stays, studied feminity, and tried 
to undo their manhood. Lord Petersham headed them. At the pres- 
ent day dandies of this stamp are fast disappearing. The feminine of 
DANDY was dandizette, but the term only lived for a short season. 
DANDY, a small glass of whisky.— /risA. " Dimidium, cyathi vero apud 
Metropolitanos Hibernicos dicitur dandy." — Father Tom and the Pope, 
Blackwood's Marjazhiefor May 1838. 
DANDY, a hoa,tms.u.— Anglo-Indian. 

DANDYPRAT, a funny little fellow, a mannikin; originally a half- 
farthing. 
DANNA, human ordure ; danna drag, a nightman's or dustman's cart ; 

hence dunny-ken, which see. 
DARBLE, the devil. — French, diable. 

DARK, " keep it dark," i.e., secret. Dark horse, in racing phraseology, 
a horse whose chance of success is unknown, and whose capabilities 
have not been made the subject of comment. 
DARKEY, twilight ; also a negro. Darkmans, the night. 

DARN, vulgar corruption of d n.— American. 

DASHING, showy, fast. 

DAUB, in low language, an artist. 

DAVID'S SOW, " as drunk as david's sow," i.e., beastly drunk.— -See origin 

of the phrase in Groses Dictionary. 
DAVY " on my davy," on my a.%.davit, of which it is a vulgar corruption. 
Latterly DAVY has become synonymous in street language with the 
name of the Deity ; " so help me davy," Slang rendering of the con- 
clusion of the oath usually exacted of witnesses. 

Dancers, stairs. — Old Cant. 

Dancer, or dancing-master, a thief who prowls about the roofs of houses, 

and effects an entrance by attic windows, &c. Called also a Garreter. 
Darbies, handcuffs.— OZcZ Cant.See johny darbies. _ Sir Walter Scott 

mentions these, in the sense of fetters, in his Feveril of the Peak— 
"'Hark ye! Jem Clink will fetch you the darbies.' 'Derby!' interrupted 
Julian, ' has the Earl or Countess ' " 

Had Sir Walter known of any connexion between them and this family 

he would undoubtedly have mentioned it. The mistake of the speaker 

is corrected in the next paragraph. 



Il8 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

DAVY'S LOCKER, or davt jones' -locker, the sea, the common recep- 
tacle for all things thrown overboard ; — a nautical phrase for death, 
the other world. — See ddfft. 

DAWDLE, to loiter, or fritter away time. 

DAWK, the post. — Anglo-Indian. 

DAYLIGHTS, eyes; "to darken his daylights," to give a person black 
eyes. Also the spaces left in glasses between the liquor and the brim, 
— not allowed when bumpers are drunk. The toast-master in such 
cases cries, " no daylights or heeltaps ! " 

DAZE, to confound or bewilder; an ancient form of dazzle used by Spenser, 
Drayton, &o. 

DEAD-ALIVE, stupid, dull. 

DEAD- AMISS, said of a horse that from illness is utterly unable to win 

a race. 
DEAD-BEAT, utterly exhausted. 

DEAD-HEAT, when two horses run in so exactly equal that the judge 
cannot place one before the other ; consequently a DEAD-heat has to 
be run over again. — See neck and neck. 

DEAD HORSE, " to draw the dead horse ; " dead-horse work — working 
for wages already paid ; also any thankless or unassisted service. 

DEAD-LETTER, an action of no value or weight ; an article, owing to 
some mistake in its production, rendered utterly valueless, — often ap- 
plied to any instrument in writing which, by some apparently trivial 
omission, becomes useless. Term derived from the Post-Office. 

DEAD-MAN, a baker. Properly speaking, it is an extra loaf smuggled into 
the basket by the man who carries it out, to the loss of the master. 
Sometimes the dead man is charged to a customer, but never de- 
livered. 

DEAD-MEN, the term for wine bottles after they are emptied of their 
contents. — Old. — See marines. 

DEAD-MEN'S SHOES, expectation of property after decease. "To wait 
for a pair of dead man's shoes," is considered a wearisome affair. It 
is used by Fletcher : — • 

" And 'tis a general shrift, that most men use, 
But yet 'tis tedious waiting dead men's shoes." 

— Fletcher's Poems, p. 256. 

DEAD-SET, a pointed attack on a person. 

DEANER, a shilling. Provincial Gipsy, deanee, a pound. Probably an- 
other form of dinarly, or it may be the TurJcisli word introduced by 
the Wallachian Gipsies. 

DEATH, " to dress to death," i.e., to the very extreme of fashion, perhaps 

so as to be KILLING. 

DEATH-HUNTER, a running patterer, who vends last dying speeches 
and confessions. 

Dkad-lurk, entering a dwelling-house during divine service. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. II9 

DECK,* a pack of cards. — Old. Used by Bulwer as a Cant term. General 

in the United States. 
DECOMPOSITION EOW, Rotten Row, the equestrian promenade in 

Hyde Park. — West-end Slang. — Lit. Gaz. April 12, 1862. 
DEMIREP, (or rip,) a courtesan. Contraction of demireputation. — Grose. 
DERRICK, an apparatus for raising sunken ships, &c. The term is curi- 

ou.sly derived from a hangman of that name frequently mentioned in 

Old Plays, as in the Bellman of London, 1616. 

" He rides circuit with the devil, and Derrick must be his host, and Tybome the 
inn at which he will light." 

DESPATCHERS, false " dice with two sides, double four, double five, and 

double six." — Times, 27th November 1856. 
DEUCE, the devil. — Old. Stated by Junius and others to be from deus. 
DEUCE, twopence ; deuce at cards or dice, one with two pips or holes. 
DEVIL, a printer's youngest apprentice, an errand-boy, 
DEVIL-DODGER, a clergyman ; also a person who goes sometimes to 

church and sometimes to meeting. 
DEVIL'S-BED-POST, the four of clubs.— ;§££ Capt. Chamicr's novel of 

The Arethusa. 
DEVIL'S BOOKS, a pack of playing-cards; a phrase of Presbyterian 

origin, used in contradistinction to kings' BOOKS. — See FOUR kings. 

DEVIL'S DUNG, the fetid drug, asafostida. 

DEVIL'S DUST, a term used in the manufacturing districts of Yorkshire 
to denote shreds of old cloth torn up to re-manufacture ; f also called 
8HODDT. 

DEVIL'S LIVERY, black and yellow. 

DEVIL-MAY-CARE, reckless, rash. 

DEVIL-SCOLDER, a clergyman. 

DEVIL'S TEETH, dice. 

DEVOTIONAL HABITS, horses weak in the knees and apt to stumble 
and fall are said to have these. — Stable. 

DEW-BEATERS, feet; "hold out your dew-beatees till I take off the 
darbies." — Peveril of the PeaJc. Forhy says the word is used in Nor- 
folk for heavy shoes to resist wet. 

DEW-DRINK, a morning draught, such as is served out to labourers in 
harvest-time before commencing work. 

DEWSKITCH, a good thrashing, perhaps from catching one's due. 

* Used by ShaJcspeare, 3 K. Hen. VI. v. i. 

t Mr Ferrand, in his speech in the House, March 4, 1842, produced a piece of cloth 
made chiefly from devil's dttst, and tore it into shreds to prove its worthlessness.^ 
See Hansard's Parliamentary Debates, third series, vol. Ixi. p. 140. 

Dee, a pocket-book, term used by tramps. — Gipsjj. 
Delicate, a false subscription book carried by a lurker. 



I20 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

DIBBS, money; so called from the buckle bones of sbeep, wbieb have 

been used from the earliest times for gambling purposes, being 

thrown up five at a time and caught on the back of the hand like 

halfpence. 
DICKEY, bad, sorry, or foolish; food or lodging is pronounced dickey 

when of a poor description; "it's all dickey with him," i.e., all over 

with him. 
DICKEY, formerly the Cant for a worn-out shirt, but means, now-a-days, 

a front or half-shirt. DiCKEY was originally tommy, (from the Greek, 

to/xt;, a section,) a name which I understand was formerly used in 

Trinity College, Dublin. The students are said to have invented the 

terra, and the Gyps changed it to dickey, in which dress it is supposed 

to have been imported into England. 
DICKEY, a donkey.— iVor/o/^-. 
DICKEY SAM, a native of Liverpool. 

DICK, a riding whip ; gold-headed DICK, one so ornamented. 
DICK, abbreviation of " Dictionary," but often euphemistically rendered 

" Eichard," — fiue language, long words. — School. 
DICKENS, synonymous with devil; "what the dickens are you after?" 

what the d 1 are you doing ? Used by Shalcspeare in the Merry 

Wives of Windsor. 
DIDOES, pranks or capers; "to cut up didoes," to make pranks 
DIG, a hard blow. 

DIGGERS, spurs; also the spades on cards; 
DIGGINGS, lodgings, apartments, residence; an expression probably 

imported from California, or Australia, with reference to the gold 

diggings. 
DILLY DALLY, to trifle. 

DIMBER, neat or pretty. — Worcestershire, but old Cant. 
DIMBER D AMBER, very pretty; a clever rogue who excels his feUaws; 

chief of a gang. Old Cant in the latter sense. — English Rogue. 
DIMMOCK, money; "how are you off for dimmock ? " diminutive of dime. 

a small foreign silver coin, in the United States 10 cents. 
DINARLY, money; "nantee dinaely," I have no money, corrupted from 

the Lingua Franca, "niente dinaro," not a penny. Turkish, dinaei; 

SiMnish, DiNERO ; Latin, denarius. 

Dick ; " look ! the bulky is DicKiNa," i.e., the constable has his eye on you. 

— North Country Cant. 
Diddle, old Cant word for geneva, or gin. 
Diddle, to cheat, or defraud. — Old. In German, dudeln is to play on 

the bagpipe ; and the ideas of piping and cheating seem to have been 

much connected. " Do you think I am easier played on than a pipe ? " 

occurs in Hamlet. 
Diddler, or JEREMY DiDDLER, an artful swindler. 
Dies, last dying speeches, and criminal trials. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 121 

DING, to strike ; to throw away, or get rid of anything ; to pass to a con- 
federate. Old, used in old plays. 

" The butcher's axe (like great Alcides' bat) 

Dings deadly downe teu thousand thousand flat." 

—TuiiUr's Worlcs, 1630. 

DINGY, a small ho3i.t.— Anglo-Indian. 

DIPPED, mortgaged.— ^owseAoW Words, No. 183. 

DIRT, TO EAT, an expression derived from the East, nearly equivalent 

"to eat humble {Umhle) pie," to put up with a mortification or insult, 
DIRTY-SHIRT CLUB, the "Parthenon," in Regent Street, so called 

from the great unwashed who congregate there. 
DISGUISED, laio^csXeA.— Household Words, No. 183. 

" Some say drinking does disguise men." 

—Old Song. 
" The saylers and the shipmen all, 
Through fnule excesse of wine, 
Were so disguised that at the sea 
They shew'd themselves like swine." 

— Thos. Ddoney's Strange Eistories, p. 14. 

DISH, to stop, to do away with, to suppress; dished, done for, floored, 
beaten, or silenced. A correspondent suggests that meat is usually 
done brown before being dished, and conceives that the latter term 
may have arisen as the natural sequence of the former. 

DISHABBILIjY, the ridiculous corruption of the French deshabill^;, 
amongst fashionably affected, but ignorant " stuck-up " people. 

DITHERS, nervous or cold shiverings; "it gave me the dithers." 

DITTOES, A SUIT op, coat, waistcoat, and trousers of the same material. 
— Tailor's term. 

DITTY-BAG, the bug or huswife in which sailors keep needles, thread, 
buttons, &c., for mending their clothes. 

DO, this useful and industrious verb has for many years done service as a 
Slang term. To DO a person is to cheat him. Sometimes another 
tense is employed, such as " I done him," meaning I cheated or "paid 
him out;" done brown, cheated thoroughly, befooled; done over, 
upset, cheated, knocked down, ruined ; done up, used up, finished, or 
quieted. Done also means convicted, or sentenced ; so does done-fob. 
To DO a person in pugilism is to excel him in fisticuffs. Humphreys, 
who fought ]\Ieudoza, a Jew, wrote this laconic note to his supporter 
— " Sir^ — I liave done the Jew, and am in good health. Rich. Hum- 
phreys." Tourists use the expression, " I have done France and Italy," 
meaning I have completely explored those countries. 

DCBIE, an Indian washerman; and though women wash clothes in this 
country, Anglo-Indians speak of a washerwoman as a dobie. — Anglo- 
Indian. 



Dive, to pick pockets. 

Diver, a pickpocket. Also applied to fingers, no doubt from a similar rea- 



122 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

DOCTOR, to adulterate or drug liquor; to poison, to hocus; also to fal- 
sify accounts. On board ship the cook is always termed " the doctor." 
— See COOK. 

DODDY, a term applied in Norfolk to any person of low stature. Some- 
times HODMANDOD and " HODDY-DODDT, all head and no body." DoDMAN 
in the same dialect denotes a garden snail. 

DODGE, a cunning trick. "Dodge, that homely but expressive phrase." 
— Sir Hugh Cairns on the Reform Bill, 2d March 1859. Anglo-Saxon 
DEOGIAN, to colour, to conceal. The tidy dodge, as it is called by 
street-folk, consists in dressing up a family clean and tidy, and parad- 
ing the streets to excite compassion and obtain alms. A correspond- 
ent suggests that the verb dodge may have been formed (like wench 
from ivinh) from dog, i.e., to double quickly and unexpectedly, as in 
coursing. 

DOGBERRY, a foolish constable. 

DOG-IN-A-BLANKET, a kind of pudding, made of preserved fruit 
spread on thin dough, and then rolled up and boiled. 

DOGGERY, nonsense, transparent attempts to cheat. 

DOGS, to go to the, to be commercially or socially ruined. Originally a 
stable term applied to old or worthless horses, sold to feed hounds. 

DOG'S BODY, a kind of pease pudding. — Sea. 

DODGER, a tricky person, or one who, to use the popular phrase, "knows 
too much." — See devil-dodgeb. 

DODGER, a dram. In Kent, a dodger signifies a nightcap ; which name is 
often given to the last dram at night. 

DOG, to follow in one's footsteps on the sly, to track. 

DOG-CHEAP, or dog-foolish, very or singularly cheap, or foolish* 
Latham, in his English Language, says : — " This has nothing to do 
with dogs. The first syllable is goA—good transposed, and the second, 
the ch — p, is chapman, merchant: compare eastcheap." — Old term. 

DOG-LATIN, barbarous Latin, such as was formerly used by lawyers in 
their pleadings. 

"DOG ON IT," a form of mild swearing used by boys. — Back-Slang, 

DOGSNOSE, gin and beer, so called from the mixture being cold, like a 
dog's nose. 

DOLDRUMS, difficulties, low spirits, dumps. — Sea. 

DOLLOP, a lump or portion. — Norfolk. Anglo-Saxon dale, dole. 

DOLLOP, to dole up, give up a share. — Tbid. 

DOLLYMOP, a tawdrily-dressed maid-servant, a street-walker. 

DOLLY SHOP, an illegal pawnshop, — where goods, or stolen property, not 
good enough for the pawnbroker, are received, and charged at so much 
per day. If not redeemed the third day the goods are forfeited. 
Anglo-Saxon, dael, a part, — to dole l^See nix. A correspondent 
thinks it may have been derived from the black doll, the usual sign of 
a rag shop. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. I 23 

DOMINE, a parson. 

DOMINO, a common ejaculation of soldiers and sailors when they receive 
the last lash of a flogging. The allusion may be understood from the 
game of domino. 

DOMINOS, the teeth. 

DON, a clever fellow, the opposite of a muff; a person of distinction in 
his line or walk. At the English Universities, the Masters and Fel- 
lows are the dons. Don is also used as an adjective, " a don hand at 
a knife and fork," i.e., a first-rate feeder at a dinner table. — Spanish. 

DON PEDRO, a low game at cards. It is a compound of All Fours, and 
the Irish game variously termed All Fives, Five and Ten, Fifteen, 
Forty-five, &c. It was, no doubt, invented by the mixed English and 
Irish rabble who fought in Portugal in 1832-3. 

DONE ! the expression used when a bet is accepted. — See also DO, 

DONE UP, an equivalent expression to " dead beat." 

DONKEY, " three more and iip goes the donkey," a vulgar street phrase 
for extracting as much money as possible before performing any task. 
The phrase had its origin with a travelling showman, the finale of 
whose performance was the hoisting of a donkey on a pole or ladder ; 
but this consummation was never arrived at unless the required num- 
ber of "browns" was first paid up, and "three more" was generally 
the unfortunate deficit. 

DONKEY. I am unable to explain the phrase, but any one wearing a 
white hat, whether in town or country, is shouted after invariably by 
the street urchins, " Who stole the donkey?" to which another in the 
gang replies, " The man in the white hat," and they then disperse. 

DONNA and FEELES, a woman and children. Italian or Lingua Franca, 

DONNE E FIGLIE. 

DOOKIN, fortune -telling. Gipsy, dukkeein. 

DOSS, a bed. — North. Probably from doze. Mayhew thinks it is from 

the Norman, dossel, a hanging or bed canopy. 
DOSS, to sleep, formerly spelt DORSE. Perhaps from the phrase to lie on 

one's dorsum, back. Gael, dosal, slumber. 
DOSS-KEN, a lodging house. 
DOUBLE, " to tip (or give) the double," to run away from any person ; 

to double back, turn short round upon one's pursuers, and so escape 

as a hare does. — Sporting. 

DOUBLE-UP, to pair off, or "chum" with another man ; to beat severely. 
DOUBLE-SHUFFLE, a low, shufiiing, noisy dance, common amongst cos- 

termongers.— (See flip-flaps. 
DOUOHEY, a sufficiently obvious nickname for a baker. 
DOUSE, to put out; " douse that glim," put out that candle. In Norfolk 

" Done for a Ramp," convicted for thieving. 

Dose, three months' imprisonment as a known thief. — See braggadocio. 



I 24 ^ DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

this expression is dout, which is clearly for do out — variations prob- 
ably of the same word. — Sea. Also to knock down. 
DOVER COURT, a noisy assemblage ; " all talkers and no hearers, like Dover 
COUET." At Dover Court in Essex, a court is annually held ; and as 
the members principally consist of rude fishermen, the irregularity 
noticed in the proverbial saying frequently prevails. Bramston in his 
Art of Politics says : — 

" Those who would captivate the well-bred throng 

Should not too often speak, nor speak too long ; 

Church, nor church matters, ever turn to sport. 

Nor make St Stephen's Chapel Dover Court." 

DOWD, a woman's nightcap. — Devonshire; aiso 3m American term; pos- 
sibly from DOWDY, a slatternly woman. 

DOWLAS, a linen-draper. 

DOWN, to be aware of, or awake to, any move— in this meaning, synony- 
mous with DP; "down upon one's luck," tmfortunate; " down in the 
mouth," disconsolate; "to be DOWN on one," to treat him harshly or 
suspiciously, to pounce upon him, or detect his tricks. 

DOWNER, a sixpence ; apparently the Gipsy word tawno, " little one," 
in course of metamorphosis into the more usual " tanner." 

DOWNY, knowing or cunning ; " a downy cove," a knowing or experienced 
sharper. In Norfolk, however, it means low-spirited. 

'• DOWN THE DOLLY," a favourite gambling contrivance, often seen in 
the tap-rooms of public-houses, at race courses, and fairs, consisting of 
a round board and the figure of an old inan or " doll," down which is 
a spiral hole. A marble is dropped " down the dolly," and stops in 
one of the small holes or pits (numbered) on the board. The bet is 
decided according as the marble stops on a high or low figure. 

DOWN-THE-ROAD, stylish, showy, after the fashion. 

DOWRY, a lot, a- great deal ; " dowry of paruy," lot of rain or water. — See 
PARNY. Probably from the Gipsy. 

DOXY, the female companion of a tramp or beggar. In the West of Eng- 
land, the women frequently call their httle ghls doxies, in a famihar 
or endearing sense. A learned divine once described orthodoxy as 
being a man's own doxy, and heterodoxy another man's doxy. — 
Ancient Cant. 

DRAB, a vulgar, or low woman. — ShaJcspeare. 

DRAG, a cart of any kind, a coach ; gentlemen drive to the races in drags. 

DRAG, a street, or road ; back-drag, back street. 

DRAGGING-TIME, the evening of a coimtry fan- day, when the young 
fellows begin pulling the wenches about. 

Downs, TothiU Fields' Prison. 
Drag, or three moon, three months in prison. 
Dragging, robbing carts, &c. 

Dragsmen, fellows wbo cut trunks from the backs of carriages. They 
sometimes have alight cart, and " drop " behind the plundered vehicle. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 25 

DRAIN, a drink ; " to do a drain," to take a friendly drink — " do a wet ; " 
sometimes called a common sewer. 

DRAW, used in several senses : — 1, of a theatre, new piece or exhibition, 
when it attracts the public and succeeds ; 2, to induce — as " draw him 
on;" 3, of pocket-picking — as "draw his wipe," " draw his ticker." 
In sporting parlance it is used with an ellipsis of " trigger," " I drew 
on it as it rose before me." " Come, draw it mild ! " i.e., don't exag- 
gerate ; opposite of " come it strong," from the phraseology of the bar 
(of a PUBLIC,) where customers desire the beer to be drawn mild. 

DRAW-BOY, a cunning device used by puffing tradesmen. A really good 
article is advertised or ticketed and exposed for sale in the shop win- 
dow at a very low price, with a view of drawing in customers to pur- 
chase other and inferior articles at high prices. 

DRAWERS, formerly the ancient Cant name for very long stockings, now 
a hosier's term. 

DRAWING TEETH, wrenching off 'knockers.— Medical Student Slang. 

DRAWLATCH, a loiterer. 

DRAW-OFF, to throw back the body to give impetus to a blow; "he 
DREW off, and delivered on the left drum." — Pugilistic. A sailor would 
say, " he HAULED off and SLIPPED in." 

DRIPPING, a cook. 

DRIVE, a term used by tradesmen in speaking of business ; " he's driving 
a roaring trade," i.e., a very good one ; hence, to succeed in a bargain, 
" I DROVE a good bargain," i.e., got the best end of it. To let drive 
at one, to strike out. 

DRIVE AT, to aim at ; " what is he drivinq at ? " " what does he intend 
to imply ? " a phrase often used when a circuitous line of argument is 
adopted by a barrister, or a strange set of questions asked, the purpose 
of which is not very evident. 

DRIZ, lace. In a low lodging house this singular autograph inscription 

and then drive off in an opposite direction with the booty. — Old Cant. 
The Slang meaning is the drivers of drags. 
Dress a Hat, to — a system of robbery very difficult of detection. It is 
managed by two or more servants or shopmen of different employers, 
exchanging their master's goods — as, for instance, a shoemaker's shop- 
man receives shirts or other articles from a hosier's, in return for a pair 
of boots. Another very ingenious method may be witnessed about 
eleven o'clock in the forenoon in any of the suburban districts of 
London. A butcher's boy, with a bit of steak filched from his master's 
shop, or from a customer, falls in with a neighbouring baker's man, 
who has a loaf obtained in a similar manner. Their mutual friend, 
the pot-boy, in full expectation of their visit, has the tap-room fire 
bright and clear, and not only cooks the steak but " stands a SHAnt of 
Gatter" as his share. So a capital luncheon is improvised for the 
three, without the necessity of paying for it ; and this practical com- 
munistic operation is styled dressing a hat. 



126 ^ DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

appeared over the mantelpiece, " Scotch Mary, with deiz, (lace,) bound 
to Dover and back, please God." 

DRIZ FENCER, a person who sells lace. 

DROP, to quit, go off, or turn aside; "DBOPthe main Toby," go off the 
main road. 

DROP, " to DROP a man," to knock him down ; " to drop into a person," 
to give him a thrashing. See slip and WALK. " To DROP ON to a man," 
to accuse or rebuke him suddenly. 

DRUM, a house, a lodging, a street; hazard-drum, a gambling -house; 
FLASH-DRUM, a house of iU-fame, 

DRUM, the ear. — Pugilistic. An example of Slang synecdoche. 

DRUM, as applied to the road, is doubtless from the WallacUan Gipsy 
word " DEUMEi," derived from the Greeh, tpofios. — See note on this 
source of words, p. 1 1. 

DRUMSTICKS, legs; drumstick cases, trousers. 

DRYASDUST, an antiquary, 

DRY-NURSE, when an inferior officer on board ship carries on the duty, 
on account of the captain's ignorance of seamanship, the junior officer 
is said to dry-nurse his captain. Majors and adjutants in the army 
also not unfrequentiy det-nurse the colonels of their regiments in a 
similar manner. 

DUB, to pay or give ; " Dus UP," pay up. 

DUBASH, a general agent. — Anglo-Indian. 

DUBBER, the mouth ; " mum your dubbeb," hold your tongue. 

DUBLIN PACKET, to turn a corner; to "take the Dublin packet," viz., 
run round the corner,- — probably a pun on doubling a corner. 

DUCATS, money.— Theatrical Slang. 

DUCK, a bundle of bits of the " stickings " of beef sold for food to the 
London poor. — See fagot, 

DUCKS, trousers. — Sea term. The expression most in use on land is' 
"white ducks," i.e., white pantaloons or trousers. 

" DUCKS AND DRAKES, " to make ducks and drakes of one's money," 
to throw it away childishly, — derived from children " shying " flat 
stones on the surface of a pool, which they caU DUCKS and drakes, 
according to the number of skips they make. 

DUDDER, or dudsmah', a person who formerly travelled the country as a 
pedlar, selling gown-pieces, silk waistcoats, &c., to countrymen. In 
selling a waistcoat-piece for thirty shillings or two pounds, which cost 
him perhaps five shillings, he would shew great fear of the revenue- 
officer, and beg of the purchasing clodhopper to kneel down in a puddle 



Drummer, a robber who first makes his victims insensible by drugs or 

violence, and then plunders them. 
Dubs, a bunch of keys. Nearly obaolete, 
DuBSMAN, or screw, a turnkey. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. I 27 

of water, crook his arm, and swear that it mir/ht never iecome straight if 
he told an exciseman, or even his own %oife. The term and practice are 
nearly obsolete. In Liverpool, however, and at the east end of Lon- 
don, men dressed up as sailors, with pretended silk handkerchiefs and 
cigars " only just smuggled from the Indies," are still to be plentifully 
found. 

DUDDS, clothes, or personal property. Gaelic, dud ; Ancient Cant ; also 
Dutch. 

DUFF, pudding ; vulgar pronunciation of dough. — Sea. 

DUFFER, a hawker of "Brummagem" or sham jewellery; a sham of any 
kind; a fool, a worthless person. So Arthur Smith, in his Summer 

Idyll .— 

"But Robinson, a thorough dcffer he, 
Troll'd out some feeble song about King Cole." 

Duffer was formerly synonymous with duddek, and was a general 
term given to pedlars. It is mentioned in the Frauds of London 
(1760) as a word in frequent use in the last century to express cheats 
of all kinds. From the German, DUEFEN, to want? 

DUFFING, false, counterfeit, worthless. 

DUFFY, a term for a ghost or spirit among the West India negroes. In 
all probability the davy JONES of sailors. 

DUKE, gin, a term amongst livery servants. — Household Words, No. 183. 

DUMBFOUND, to perplex, to beat soundly till not able to speak. Ori- 
ginally a Cant word. Johnson cites the Spectator for the earliest use. 

Scotch, DUMFOUNDER. 

DUMMACEIER, a knowing or acute person. 

DUMMIES, empty bottles, and drawers in an apothecary's shop, labelled 

so as to give the idea of an extensive stock. 
DUMMY, in three-handed whist the person who holds two hands plays 

DUMMY. 

DUMPY, short and stout. 

DUMPISH, sullen, or glummy. 

DUN, to solicit payment. — Old Cant, from the French donnez, give; or 

from JOE DIN, the famous bailiff of Lincoln ; or simply a corruption of 

DIN, from the Anglo-Saxon dunan, to clamoiu: ? 
DUNDERHEAD, a blockhead. 
DUNDREARY, an empty swell. 
DUNG, an operative who works for an employer who does not give full or 

" society " wages. 

Dummy, a pocket-book. In this word, as in the two preceding, {see dummy 
and DUMMIES,) the idea is connected with dumb, i.e., that which gives 
no sign. As a thieves' term for a pocket-book, it is peculiarly ap- 
plicable, for the contents of pocket-books, bank-notes, and papers make 
no noise, while the money in a purse betrays its presence by chinking. 

Dump-Fencer, a man who sells buttons. 

DuNAKER, a stealer of cows or calves. Nearly obsolete. 



128 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

DUNGAREE, low, common, Yn\ga,v.— inglo- Indian. Don«aeee is tli*; 
name of a disreputable suburb of iJombay, and also of a coarse, blue 
cloth, worn by sailors. 

" As smart a ynung fellow as ever you 'd see. 
In jacket and trousers of blue Dunoakee." 

DUNKHORNED, sneaking, shabby. Dunkhorn in Norfolk is the short, 
blunt horn of a beast, and the adjective is applied to a cuckold who 
has not spirit to resist his disgrace. 

DUNNAGE, baggage, clothes. Also, a Sea term for wood or loose fagots 
laid at the bottom of ships, upon which is placed the cargo. 

DUNNY-KEN, a water-closet. — From danna and ken, which see. 

DUST, money ; " down with the dust," put down the money. — Ajncient. 
Dean Swift once took for his text, " He who giveth to the poor lendeth 
to the Lord." His sermon was short. " Now, my brethren," said he, 
" if you are satisfied with the security, down with the dust." 

DUST, a disturbance, or noise, " to raise a dust," to make a row, 

DUST, to beat; " dust one's jacket," i.e., give him a beating. 

DUSTY, a phrase used in answering a question where one expects appro- 
bation. "What do you think of this?" " Well, it's not so DUSTY," 
i.e., not so bad; sometimes varied to " none so dusty." 

DUST-HOLE, Sidney Sussex College at Cambridge. — Univ. Slang. 

DUST-HOLE, the Queen's Theatre, Tottenham Court Road.— 2%ea«. Slang. 

DUSTOORIE, commission, doceur, bribe. — Anglo-Indian. 

DUTCH AUCTION, a method of selling goods, adopted by " cheap Johns," 
to evade the jDenalties for selling without a licence. The article is offered 
all round at a high price, which is then dropped till it is taken. 

DUTCH CONSOLATION, "thank God it is no worse." 

DUTCH CONCERT, where each performer plays a different tune. 

DUTCH COURAGE, false courage, generally excited by drink, — pot- 
valour. 

DUTCH FEAST, where the host gets drunk before his guest. 

DUTCH UNCLE, a personage often introduced in conversation, but 
exceedingly difficult to describe ; " I '11 talk to him like a DUTCH 
uncle ! '" conveys the notion of anything but a desirable relation.— 
A mericanism. 

DUTCH, or double dutch, gibberish, or any foreign tongue. 

EARL-OFCORK, the ace of diamonds. — Hihernicism, 

" 'What do you mean by the Earl of Cork?' asked Mr Squander. 'The ace of 
diamonds, your honour. It's the worst ace, and the poorest card in the 
pack, and is cidled the earl of cork, because he's the poorest nobleman in 
Ireland.'" — Carleion's Traits and Stories ofthelrish Peasantry. 

EARWIG, a clergyman, also one who prompts another maliciously. 

EARWIGGING, a rebuke in private ; a wigging is more public. 

DuRRYNACKiNG, offering lace or any other article as an introduction to 
fortune-telling ; generally pursued by women. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 129 

EAVES-DROPPER, a listener. The name is derived from the punish- 
ment which, according to Oliver, was directed in the Lectures, at the 
revival of Masonry in 1 71 7, to be inflicted on a detected Cowan, [g. v.J 
and which was 

"To be placed under the eaves of the house in rainy weather, till the water 
runs in at hia shoulders and out at his heels." 

— Mackey's Lexicon of Freemasonry. 

EFF, the vulgar abbreviation of effingham saloon, a favourite music hall 
at the east end of London. 

EGG, or EGG on, to excite, stimulate, or provoke one person to quarrel 
with another, &c. Corruption of edge, or edge on. — Ancient. 

ELBOW, "to shake one's elbow," to play at cards. 

ELBOW GREASE, labour, or industry.— &e palm oil. 

ELEGANT EXTRACTS, a Cambridge University title for those students 
who, having vmfortunately failed only slightly in some one subject, 
and being "plucked" accordingly, were allowed their degrees. This ap- 
plied to the "Poll" List, as the " Gulf" did to the " Honours." 

ELEPHANT, "to have seen the elephant," to be "up to the latest 
move," or " doicn to the last new trick ; " to be knowing, and not 
"green," &c. Possibly a metaphor taken from the travelling menage- 
ries, where the elephant is the finale of the exhibition. — Originally 
&xi Americanism. Bartlett gives conflicting examples. General now, 
however. 

ENEMY, time, a'clock, the ruthless enemy and tell-tale of idleness ; " what 
says the enemy ? " i.e., how goes the time ? 

ENTIRE ANIMAL.— &s hog. 

ESSEX STILE, a ditch. 

ESSEX LION, a calf. 

EVAPORATE, to go, or run away. 

EXES, expenses; written thus — e x s. 

EXTENSIVE, frequently applied in a Slang sense to a person's appear- 
ance or talk; "rather extensive that ! " intimating that the person 
alluded to is shewing off, or " cutting it fat." 

EXTRACTED, placed on the list of " elegant exteacts."— Camh. Univ. 

EYE-WATER, gin, 

FACE, credit at a public-house, impudence, confidence, brass; thus a 
BRAZEN face. " To run one's face," is to obtain credit in a bounceable 
manner. 



Ease, to rob; "easing a bloak," robbing a man. 

Efter, a thief who frequents theatres. 

Everlasting staircase, the treadmill. Sometimes called "Colonel 
Chesterton's everlasting staircase," from the gallant inventor or 
improver. 

I 



T30 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

FACER, a tumbler of whisky-punch. 

" Cyathi dicti sunt faceres." 

— Father Tom and the Pope. 

FACER, a blow on the face. In Ireland, a dram. 

FAD, a hobby, a favourite pursuit, 

FADGE, a farthing. 

FADGE, a fiat loat— North. 

FADGE, to suit or fit ; " it won't fadge," it will not do. Used by Shals- 
peare, but now heard only in the streets. 

FADGER, a glazier's frame. 

FAG, a schoolboy who performs a servant's oflSces to a superior school- 
mate. Probably from F. A G., the fifth problem of Euclid. &rose 
thinks FAGGED OUT is derived from this. 

FAG, to beat. 

FAGGOT, a bundle of bits of the " stickings " (hence probably its name) 
sold for food to the London poor. It is sometimes called a DUCK. In 
appearance it resembles a Scotch " haggis." FaG-END of a thing, the 
inferior or remaining part, the refuse. 

FAGOT, a term of opprobrium used by low people to children and women ; 
"you little fagot, you ! " Fagot was originally a tei-m of contempt 
for a dry, shrivelled old woman, whose bones were like a bundle of 
sticks, only fit to burn. — Compare the French expression for a heretic, 
sentir le fagot. 

FAKE ; " fake the rubber," i.e., stand treat. 

FAL-LALS, trumpery ornaments, gew-gaws. Forhj suggests as a deriva- 
tion the Latin, phaler^, horse trappings. 

FAMBLES, or famms, the hands. — Ancient Cant. German, fangen. 

FAN, a waistcoat. — Houndsditch term. 

FANCY, the favourite sports, pets, or pastime of a person, the ton of low 
life. Pugilists are sometimes termed the fancy. Skakspeare uses . 
the word in the sense of a favourite, or pet ; and the paramour of a 
prostitute is still called her fancy-man. 

FANCY-BLOAK, a fancy or sporting man. 

Fake, to cheat, or swindle; to do anything; to go on, or continue; to make 
or construct ; to steal, or rob, — a verb variously used. Faked, done, 
or done for ; " fake away, there 's no down ; " go on, there is nobody 
looking. Mayheiv says it is from the Latin, facimentum. Gaelic, faigh, 
to get, acquire, reach. 

Fakement, a false begging petition, any act of robbery, swindling, or de. 
ception. 

Fakement chaeley, the owner's private marl* 

Faker, one who makes or fakes anything. 

" Fake a cly," to pick a pocket. 

Family men, or people, thieves, or burglars. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 131 

FANNING, a beating. 

FAN-QUI, a European; literally, foreign devil. — Anglo- Chinese. 

FANTADLINS, pastry. 

FAN-TAIL, a dustman's hat, 

FARMER. In Suffolk this term is applied to the eldest son of the occupier 
of the farm. In London it is used derisively of a countryman, and 
denotes a farm-labourer, clodpole. Both senses are different from the 
general acceptation. 

FAST, gay, spreeish, unsteady, thoughtless, — an Americanism that has of 
late ascended from the streets to the drawing-room. The word has 
certainly now a distinct meaning, which it had not thirty years ago. 
Quick is the synonyme for fast, but a quick man would not convey 
the meaning of a fast man, — a person who, by late hours, gaiety, and 
continual rounds of pleasure, lives too fast, and wears himself out. In 
polite society a fast young lady is one who affects mannish habits, or 
makes herself conspicuous by some unferainine accomplishment, — 
talks Slang, drives about in London, smokes cigai-ettes, is knowing in 
dogs, horses, &c. An amusing anecdote is told of a fast young lady, 
the daughter of a right reverend prelate, who was an adept in /lor.se- 
Jlcsh. Being desirous of ascertaining the opinion of a candidate for 
ordination, who had the look of a bird of the same feather, as to the 
merits of some cattle just brought to her father's palace for her to 
select from, she was assured by him they were utterly unfit for a lady's 
use. With a knowing look at the horses' points, she gave her decision 
in these choice words, " Well, I agree with you ; they are a rum lot, 
as the devil said of the ten commandments." Charles Dickens, in the 
Christmas number of All the Year Round for 1859, ^^J^ ^^^^ "fast," 
when applied to a young man, is only another word for loose, as he 
understands the term; and the Saturday Rerieio for July 28, i860, 
defines a fast girl as a woman who has lost her respect for men, and 
for whom men have lost their respect also. 

FAST, embarrassed, wanting money, tied up. Synonymous with -hakd up. 

— Yorkshire. 
FAT, a printer's term signifying the void spaces on a page, for which he is 

paid at the same rate as f uU or unbroken pages. This work afforded 

much FAT for the printers. 
FAT, rich, abundant, &c. ; " a fat lot ; " " to cut it fat," to exaggerate, to 

show off in an extensive or grand manner, to assume undue importance ; 

" cut up PAT," see under cut. As a Theatrical term, a part with plenty 

of fat in it is one which affords the actor an opportunity of effective 

display. 

FAVOURITE, the horse that has the lowest odds laid against it in the 
betting list. When the favourite wins, the public generally are the 
gainers. When an outsider wins, the ring, that is to say, the persons 
who make a business of betting, are generally the gainers. 

Father, or fence, a buyer of stolen property. 



Fawney, a finger ring. Irish, fainee, a ring. 



132 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

FEATHERS, money, wealth ; " in full feather," rich. 

FEED, a meal, generally a dinner. — Stable Slang. 

FEEDER, a spoon.— 0?d Cant. 

FEELE, a daughter, or child. — Corrupted French. 

FELLOW-COMMONER, uncomplimentary epithet used at Cambridge for 

an empty bottle. 
FELT, a hat. — Old term, in use in the sixteenth century. 
FEN-NIGHTINGALES, toads and frogs, from their continued croaking 

at night. 
FERINGEE, a European. — Anglo-Indian. 
FERRICADOUZER, a knock-down blow, a good thrashing. Probably 

derived, through the Lingua Franca, from the Italian, far' cader' 

MORTO, to knock down dead. 
FEW, used in a Slang sense thus : — " Don't you call this considerably jolly ?" 

" I believe you, my bo-ooy, A FEW." Another expression of the same 

kind is rather, which see. 
FIB, to beat, or strike. — Old Cant. 
FIBBING, a series of blows dehvered quickly, and at a short distance. — 

f'ugilistic. 
FIDDLE, a whip. 
FIDDLE, "to play second fiddle," to act subordinately, or succumb to 

another. 
FIDDLE-FACE, a person with a wizened countenance. 
FIDDLE-FADDLE, twaddle, or trifling discourse.— 0/cZ Cant. 
FIDDLER, or fadge, a farthing. 

Fawnet bodn.ING, selling rings for a wager. This practice is founded 
upon the old tale of a gentleman laying a wager that if he were to offer 
"real gold sovereigns" at a penny a-piece at the foot of London 
Bridge, the English public would be too incredulous to buy. The 
story states that the gentleman stationed himself with sovereigns on 
a tea tray, and sold only two within the hour, — winning the bet. 
This tale the fawnet bouncers tell the public, only offering brass, 
double gilt-rings, instead of sovereigns. 

Fawnet, or fawnet rig, ring-dropping. A few years ago, this practice, 
or RIG, was very common. A fellow purposely di-upped a ring, or a 
pocket-book with some little articles of jev/ellery, &c., in it, and when 
he saw any person pick it vip, ran to claim half. The ring found, the 
question of how the booty was to be divided had then to be decided. 
The FAWNET says, " If you will give me eight or nine shillings for my 
share, the things are yours." This the flat thinks very fair. The 
ring of course is valueless, and the swallower of the bait discovers the 
trick too late. 

Fence, or fencer, a purchaser or receiver of stolen goods ; fence, the shop 
or warehouse of a fencer. — Old Cant. 

Fence, to sell or pawn stolen property to a fencer. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 133 

FIDDLER, a sixpence. — Household Words, No. 183, 

FIDDLER, a sharper, a cheat; also one who dawdles over little matters, 
and neglects great ones. 

FIDDLERS' GREEN, the place where sailors go to when they die. It is 
a place of fiddling, dancing, rum, and tobacco, and is undoubtedly the 
LAND OF COCAIGNE, mentioned in medieval manuscripts. 

FIDDLERS' MONEY, a lot of sixpences; 6d. was the remiineration to 
fiddlers from each of the company in old times. 

FIDDLE STICKS ! an exclamation signifying nonsense. 

FIDDLING, doing any odd jobs in the streets, holding horses, carrying 
parcels, &c., for a living. Among the middle classes, fiddling means 
idling away time, or trifling; and amongst sharpers, it means gam- 
bling. 

FID FAD, a game similar to chequers, or drafts, plaj^ed in the West of 
England. 

FIELD-LANE DUCK, a baked sheep's-head. Field Lane is a low 
London thoroughfare, leading from the foot of Holborn Hill to the 
purlieus of ClerkenweU. It was formerly the market for stolen 
pocket-handkerchiefs. 

FIERA-FACIAS, a red-faced man is often jocularly said to have been served 
with a writ of fieri-facias. 

FI-FA, a writ of Fiera-Facias. — Legal. 

FI-FI, Mr Thackeray's term for Paul de Kock's novels, and similar modern 
French literature. 

FIG, "in full FIG," i.e., full-dress costume, "extensively got up." Possibly 
an allusion to th^ primeval dress of our first parents, or else an abbre- 
viation oi figure, in the references to plates in books of fashions. 

FIG, " to FIG a horse," to play improper tricks with one in order to make 
him lively, 

FIGARO, a barber. 

FIGURE, " to cut a good or bad figure," to make a good or indifferent 
appearance; "what's the figure?" how much is to pay? Figure- 
head, a person's face. — Sea term. 

FILCH, to steal, or purloin. Originally a Cant word, derived from the 
FILCHES, or hooks, thieves used to carry, to hook clothes, or any 
portable articles from open windows. — Vide Decker. It was con- 
sidered a Cant or Gipsy term up to the beginning of the last century. 
Harman has " fylche, to robbe." 

FILE, a deep or artful man, a jocose name for a cunning person. Origin- 
ally a term for a pickpocket, when to file was to cheat or rob. 
File, an artful man, was used in the thirteenth and fourteenth cen- 
turies. 

FILLIBRUSH, to flatter, praise ironically. 

FIMBLE-FAMBLE, a lame, prevaricating excuse. — Scandinavian. 

FiDLUM BEN, thieves who take anything they can lay their hands upon. 



134 ^ DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

FIN, a hand ; " come, tip us your fin," viz., let us shake hands. — Sea. 

FINUF, a five-pound note. Double finuf, a ten-pound note. — German, 
FUNF, five. 

FIRE-EATER, a " swell " of any kind, a braggadocio or turbulent person 
who is always ready to fight. 

FISH, a person ; " a queer fish," " a loose fish," &c. 

FISHF, doubtful, unsound, rotten — a term used to denote a suspicion of a 
" screw being loose," or " something rotten in the state of Denmark," 
in alluding to an unsafe speculation. 

FIVES, " bunch of fives," the fist. 

FIVE FINGERS, the five of trumps, at the game of Five-cards, or Don. 

FIX, a predicament, dilemma ; " an awful fix," a terrible position ; " to 
FIX one's flint for him," i.e., to " settle his hash," " put a spoke in his 
wheel." 

FIZ, champagne, wine. 

FIZZING, first-rate, very good, excellent ; synonymous with stunning. 

FLABERGAST, or flabberghast, to astonish, or strike with wonder. — 
Old. 

FLAG, a groat, or 4d. — Ancient Cant. 

FLAG, an apron. 

FLAG-OF-DISTRESS, poverty; when the end of a person's shirt pro- 
trudes through his trousers. — Seven Dials wit. 

FLAM, nonsense, blarney, a lie. — Kentish ; Anglo-Saxon. 

FLAME, a sweetheart. 

FLANNEL, or hot flannel, the old term for gin and beer, drunk hot, 
with nutmeg, sugar, &c. Also caUed FLIP. There is au anecdote told 
of Goldsmith helping to drink a quart of flannel in a night house, 
in company with George Parker, Ned Shuter, and a demure, grave- 
looking gentleman, who continually introduced the words crap, 
stretch, scrag, and swing. Upon the Doctor's asking who this strange 
person might be, and being told his profession, he rushed from the 
place in a frenzy, exclaiming, " Good God ! and have I been sitting all 
this while with a hangman ? " 

FLARE UP, a jovial social gathering, a " break down," a " row." 

FLASH, showy, smart, knowing; a word with various meanings. A person is 
said to be dressed flash when his garb is showy, and after a fashion, 
but without taste. A person is said to be flash when he apes 
the appearance or manners of his betters, or when he is trying to 
be superior to his friends and relations. Flash also means " fast," 
roguish, and sometimes infers counterfeit or deceptive, — and this, per- 
haps, is its general signification. " Flash, my young friend, or Slang, 
as others call it, is the classical language of the Holy Land ; in other 

Finder, one who finds bacon and meat at the market before they are lost, 

i.e.,- steals them. 
Flam, a ring. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 135 

words, St Giles's Greek." — Tom and Jerry, hy Moncreiff. Viilgar lan- 
guage was first termed FLASH in the j'ear 1718, by Hitchin, author of 
" The Regulator of Thieves, Sfc, with account of flash words." 

FLASH IT, show it — said when any bargain is offered. 

FLASH-0' -LIGHTNING, the gold band on an officer's cap.— &a. 

FLAT, a fool, a silly or " soft" person, the opposite of sharp. The terms 
appear to be shortenings for " sharp-witted " and " flat-witted." 
" Oh, Messrs Tyler, Donelson, and the rest, what FLATS you are ! " 
— Times, 5th September 1847. 

FLATS, playing cards. Also called broads. 

FLATTY, a rustic, or uninitiated person. 

FLAT-FEET, the battalion companies in the Foot Guards. 

FLEMISH ACCOUNT.— OW. Still used by saQors for a tangled and 
unsatisfactory account or reckoning. 

FLESH-AND-BLOOD, brandy and port in equal quantities. 

FLESH-BAG, a shirt. 

FLICK, or OLD flick, a comical old chap or fellow. 

FLICK, or FLIG, to whip by striking, and drawing the lash back at the 
same time, which causes a stinging blow. 

FLIES, trickery, nonsense. " There are no flies about me, sir." Con- 
nected with fly, wide-awake, &c. 

FLIM-FLAM, an idle story. — Beaumont and Fletcher. 

FLIMSY, a bank-note. See the following. 

FLIMSY, the thin prepared copying-paper used by newspaper reporters 
and "penny-a-liners" for making several copies at once, thus ena- 
bling them to supply different papers with the same article without 
loss of time. — Printer s term. 

FLINT, an operative who works for a "society" master, i.e., for fuU wages. 

FLIP, corruption of fillip, a light blow. 

FLIPPER, the hand ; " give us your flipper," give me your hand. — Sea. 
Metaphor taken from the flipper or paddle of a turtle. 

FLOATER, a small suet dumpling put into soup. — Whitechapel. 

FLOG, to whip. Cited both by Grose and the author of Bacchus and Venus 
as a Cant word. It would be curious to ascertain the earliest use ; 
Richardson cites Lord Chesterfield. — Latin. 



Flatty-ken, a public-house, the landlord of which is ignorant of the 
practices of the thieves and tramps who frequent it. 

Flimp, to hustle, or rob. 

Flip-flaps, a peculiar rollicking dance indulged in by costermongers 
when merry or excited— better described, perhaps, as the double 
shuffle, danced with an air of extreme abandon. Originally a kind 
of somersault, in which the performer throws himself over on his 
hands and feet alternately. — Showman's Slang. 

Floating Academy, the hulks. 



136 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

FLOGGER, a whip. — Almost obsolete: 
FLOOR, to knock down. — Pugilistic. 
FLOORED, when a picture is hung on the lowest row at the Exhibition of 

the Royal Academy, it is in artistic Slang said to be FLOORED, in con- 

tra-distiuction to skted, which see. 
FLOORER, a blow sufficiently strong to knock a man down. 
FLOP, plump ; " to go flop down," to fall suddenly, and with violence and 

noise. 
FLOWERY, lodging, or house entertainment; "square the omee for 

the flowery," pay the master for the lodging. — Lingua Franca. 
FLUE-FAKER, a chimney-sweep ; also applied to low sporting characters, 

who are so termed from their chiefly betting on the Great Sweeps. 
FLUFF IT, a term of disapprobation, implying " take it away, I don't 

want it." 
FLUKE, at billiards, playing for one thing and getting another. Hence, 

generally what one gets accidentally, an unexpected advantage, " more 

by luck than wit." 
FLUMMERY, flattery, gammon, genteel nonsense. 
FLUMMUX, to perplex, hinder ; flummuxed, stopped, used up. 
FLUNKEY, a footman, servant. — Scotch. 

FLUSH, the opposite of hard dp, in possession of money, not poverty- 
stricken. — Shakspeare. 
FLUSH, to whip ; " flushed on the horse," to be privately whipped in 

jail. 
FLY, knowing, wide-awake, fuUy understanding another's meaning. 
FLY, to lift, toss, or raise ; " fly the mags," i.e., toss up the halfpence ; 

" to FLY a window," i.e., to lift one for the purpose of stealing. 
"FLY THE KITE," or "raise the wind," to obtain money on bills, 

whether good or bad, alluding to tossing paper about as children do 

a kite. 
" FLY THE KITE," to evacuate from a window, — term used in padding- 
kens, or low lodging-houses. 
FLYING-MARE, a throw in wrestling. 
FLYING-MESS, " to be in flying mess " is a soldier's phrase for being 

huugi-y and having to mess where he can. — Military. 
FLYING STATIONER, a paper-worker, hawker of penny ballads; 

" Printed for the Flying Stationers " is the imprimatur on hundreds 

of penny histories and sheet songs of the last and present centuries. 

Flummuxed, done up, sure of a month in quod, or prison. In mendicant 
freemasonry, the sign chalked by rogues and tramps upon a gate-post 
or house corner, to express to succeeding vagabonds that it is unsafe 
for them to call there, is known as ©> oi" flummuxed, which signifies 
that the only thing they would be likely to get upon applying for 
relief would be a " mouth in QUOD." — See quod. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. l ^y 

FLYMY, knowing, cunning, roguish. — Seven Dials and Low Life. 

FOALED, " thrown from a horse." — Hunting term. — See purled and spilt. 

FOGEY, or old fogey, a dullard, an old-fashioned or singular person. 
Grose says it is a nickname for an invalid soldier, from the French, 
FOURGEAUX, fierce or fiery, but it has lost this signification now. 
FoGGER, old word for a huckster or servant. 

FOGGY, tipsy. 

FOGLE, a silk handkerchief — not a clout, which is of cotton. It has been 
hinted that this may have come from the German, vogel, a bird, from the 
bird's-eye spots on some handkerchiefs, [see bird's-eye-wipe under billy,] 
but a more probable derivation is the Italian Slang (Fourbesque), foglia, 
a pocket, or purse ; or from the French Argot, fouille, also a pocket. 

FOGUS, tobacco. — Ancient Cant. FoGO, old word for stench. 

FOONT, a sovereign, or 20s. 

FOOTING, " to pay footing." — See shoe. 

FORAKERS, the closet of decency, or house of office. — Term used by the 
boys at Winchester school. 

FORK OUT, to bring out one's money, to pay the bill, to " stand for " or 
treat a friend ; to hand over what does not belong to you. — Old Cant 
term for picking pockets, and very curious it is to trace its origin. In 
the early part of the last century, a little book was published on pur- 
loining, and of course it had to give the latest modes. Forking was 
the newest mode, and it consisted in thrusting the fingers stiff and 
open into the pocket, and then quickly closing them and extracting 
any article thus caught. 

FORKS, or grappllng-ieons, fingers. 

FORTY-FOOT, a derisive appellation for a very short person. 

FORTY-GUTS, vulgar term for a fat man. 

FORTY-TWA, the common place of i-etirement on a well-known French 
plan at Edinburgh, so called from its accommodating that number of 
persons at once. 

FORTY WINKS, a short sleep or nap. 
FOU, slightly intoxicated. — Scotch. 

FOUR-AND-NINE, or four-and-ntnepenny gos.s, a cheap hat, so called 
from 4s. gd., the price at which a noted advertismg hat-maker sold 



his hats 



" Whene'er to slumber you incline, 
Take a short nap at 4 and 9. " — 184 



" FOUR KINGS,_ HISTORY of the," an old name for a pack of playing 
cards. See Sir Thomas Urquhart's Translation of Rabelais. In Argot 

LIVRE DES QUATRE ROIS. ' 

FOUNTY, water, — from " fountain," probably. — North. 

FOURTH, or fourth court, the court appropriated to the water-closets 
at Cambridge ; from its really being No. 4 at Trinity College. A man 
leaving his room to go to this fourth court, writes on his door, ia 



138 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

algebraic notation, gone*, which expresses the Cambridge Slang phrase, 

" gone to the fourth." 
FOX, to cheat or rob. — Eton College. 
FOXED, a term used by print and book collectors to denote the brown 

spotted appearance produced by damp on paper. 
FOXING, when one actor criticises another's performance. — Theatrical. 
FOX'S SLEEP, or foxing, purposely assumed indifference to what is 

going on. A fox is said to sleep with one eye open. 
FOXY, rank, tainted, from the odour of the animal. — Lincolnshire. 
FOXY, said also of a red-haired person. 
FRAPPING, a beating. French frapper. 

FREE-AND-EASY, a club held at most public-houses, the members of 
which meet in the tap-room or parlour for the purpose of drinking, 
smoking, and hearing each other sing and " talk politics." The name 
indicates the character of the proceedings. 

FREEMAN'S QUAY, "drinking at freeman's quay," i.e., at another's 
cost. This quay was formerly a celebrated wharf near London 
Bridge, and the saying arose from the beer which was given gratis to 
porters and carmen who went there on business. 

FRENCH CREAM, brandy. 

FRENCH LEAVE, to leave or depart slyly, without saying anything. 

FRESH, said of a person slightly intoxicated. 

FRESHMAN, a University man during his first year. The official appel- 
lation for the students until they have passed the Previous or First 
University Examination, otherwise called the Smalls or Little Go, is 
Junior Sophs or Sophisters. After this they are Senior Sophs until 
their last term, when they are Questionists, or preparing " ad respon- 
dendum qucestioni." 

FRIZZLE, champagne. 

FROG, a policeman. 

FRONTISPIECE, the face. 

FROW, a girl, or wife. German, frau ; Dutch, VROUW. 

FRUMMAGEMMED, annihilated, strangled, garroted, or spoilt. — Old Cant. 

FRUMP, a slatternly woman, a gossip. — Ancient. 

FRUMP, to mock or insult. — Beaumont and Fletcher. 
/. 1^^ __^F SHARPS, fleas. Compare B flats. 

FUDGE, nonsense, stupidity. Todd and Richardson only trace the word 
to Goldsmith. Disraeli, however, gives the origin to a Captain Fudge, 

Fox, to watch in the streets for any occurrence which may be turned to a 

profitable account. — See mooching. 
Free, to steal — generally applied to horses. 

Frisk, to search ; frisked, searched by a constable or other officer. 
" Frisk a cly," to empty a pocket. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. I 39 

a great fibber, who told monstrous stories, which made his crew say in 
answer to any improbability, " you fudge it ! " — See Remarks on the 
Navy, 1700. At page 87 of A Collection of some papers of William 
Crouch, (8vo, 17 12,) the Quaker, we find a mention of this Captain, 
Degory Marshall informed Crouch that — 

"lu the year 1664 we were sentenced for banishment to Jamaica by Judges 
Hyde and Twi»den, and ovir uiuuber was 55. We were put en board tlie 
ship Black Eagle ; the mastex-'s name was Fudge, by some called Lying 

F0DGE." 

A correspondent asserts that, in his belief, the word comes from the 

Gaelic, ffug, deception. 
FUGGIES, hot ToWs.— School. 

FULLAMS, false dice, which always turn up high. — ShaTcspeare. 
FULLY, " to be ftjllied," to be committed for trial. From the Slang of 

the penny-a-liner, " the prisoner was fully committed for trial." 

FUNK, trepidation, nervousness, cowardice. To funk, to be afraid or 

nervous. 
FUNK, to smoke out. — North. 

" FUNKING THE COBBLER," a schoolboy's trick, performed with asa- 
fcetida and cotton stuffed into a hollow tube or cow's horn. The cot- 
ton being lighted, the smoke is blown in through the keyhole of a 
door, or the crannies of a cobbler's stall. 

FUNNY-BONE, the extremity of the elbow — or rather, the muscle which 
passes round it between the two bones, a blow on which causes pain- 
ful tingling in the fingers. Facetiously derived, from its being the ex- 
tremity of the huvierus, (humorous.) 

FYE-BUCK, a sixpence. — Nearly obsolete. 

GAB, GABBER, or GABBLE, talk; "gift of the gab," loquacity, or natural 

talent for speech-making. — AngloNorman ; gab is also found in the 

Danish and Old Norse. 
GAD, a trapesing, slatternly woman. — Gipsy. Anglo-Saxon, g^deling. 
" GADDING THE HOOF," going without shoes. Gadding, roaming about, 

although used in an old translation of the Bible, is now only heard 

amongst the lower orders. 
GAFF, a fair, or penny play-house. — See penny gaff. 
GAFFER, a master, or employer; term used by "navvies," and general in 

Lancashire and North of England. Early English for an old man. 

See " BLOW the gaff." 
GAFFING, tossing halfpence, or counters — North, where it means tossing 

up three pennies. 
GAG, language introduced by an actor into his part. In certain pieces this 

is allowed by custom, and these are called gag-pieces. The Critic, 

or a Tragedy Rehearsed, is one of these. Many actors, however, take 

French leave in this respect with most pieces. — Theatrical Slang. 

Mr Robson at Belfast. — We {Northern IF/u^r) suspected a little bit of what is 
professionally termed "gag" iu Mr Kobson's baddy Hardacre last night. 



I40 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

He had occasion to say that one of the characters in the piece " understands 
me well enough," to which he added — "I wish some other people did the 
same," with an expressive glance at the pit; which we interpreted as hav- 
ing special reterence to those appreciative persons in the audience whom 
we have already mentioned, who think it absolutely needful to roar with 
laughter at every sentence Mr Robson utters, without the least regard to 
whether it be humorous or pathetic — only because Mr Robson has fame as 
a comic actor. — Jan. 1863, 

GAG, to hoax, " take a rise " out of one ; to cod. 

GAGE, a small quantity of anything ; as " a gage of tobacco/' meaning a 
pipeful ; " a gage of gin," a glassful, 

GALEN Y, old Cant term for a fowl of any kind; now a respectable word 
in the West of England, signifying a Guinea fowl. — Vide Grose. Latins 

GALLINA. 

GALLAVANT, to wait upon the ladies.— OZc?. 

GALLIMAUFRY, a kind of stew made up of scraps of various kinds, 

GALLIPOT, an apothecary. 

GALLOWS, very, or exceedingly — a disgusting exclamation ; " gallows 
poor," very poor. 

GALORE, abundance. Irish, GO LEOR, in plenty, 

GAME, a leg. Still used as a heraldic term, as well as by thieves, who 

probably get it from the Lingua Franca. Italian, gamba; French, 

JAMBE, a leg. 

GAME, a term variously applied; "are you game?" have you courage 
enough? "what's your little game?" what are you going to do? 
" come, none of your games," be quiet, don't annoy me ; " on the 
game," out thieving. 

GAME LEG, a lame or wounded leg. 

GAMMON, deceit, humbug, a false and ridiculous story. Anglo-Saxon, 
gamen, game, sport, 

GAMMON, to hoax, to deceive merrily, to laugh at a person, to tell an im- 
true but plausible story, to make game of, or, in the provincial dialect, 
to make game on ; " who 's thou makin' thy gam' ON ? " i.e., who are 
you making a fool of? — Yorkshire. 

GAMMY, bad, unfavourable, poor tempered. Those householders who are 
known enemies to the street folk and tramps are pronounced by them 
to be GAMMY. Gammy sometimes means forged, as " gammy-moneker," 
a forged signature ; gammy stuff, spurious medicine ; gammy lowr, 
counterfeit coin. Hants, gamy, dirty. The hieroglyphic used by 
beggars and cadgers to intimate to those of the tribe coming after that 
things are not very favourable is known as □, or gammy. Gaelic, 
Welsh, and Irish, cam, (gam,) crooked, bad. 

GANDER MONTH, the period when the monthly nurse is in the ascend- 
ant, and the husband has to shift for himself. 

Gag, a lie ; " a gag he told to the beak." — Thieves Cant. 
Gammy-vial, (Ville,) a town where the police will not let persons hawk. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 141 

GANGEK, the person who superintends the work of a gang, or a number 

of navigators. 
GAPE-SEED, sometliing to look at ; a lazy fellow, unmindful of his work, 

is said to be "looking for gape-seed." 
GAR, euphuistic rendering of the title of the Deity ; " be gar, you don't 

say so ! " — Franco-English. 
GARDEN, among tradesmen signifies Covent Garden Market ; among thea- 
trical performers, Covent Garden Theatre. 
GARDENER, an awkward coachman ; an insinuation that he is both coach- 
man and gardener, and understands the latter branch of service better 
than the first; "get on, gardener," is a most insulting expression 
from a cabby to a real coachman. 
GARGLE, medical-student Slang for drinkables. 

GARNISH, the douceur or fee which, before the time of Howard the phil- 
anthropist, was exacted by the keepers of gaols from their unfortunate 
prisoners for extra comforts. 
GARNISH, footing-money. — Yorhsldre. 
GARRET, the head. 
GARROTING, a mode of cheating practised amongst card-sharpers, by 

concealing certain cards at the back of the neck. 
GAS, " to give a person GAS," to scold him or give him a good beating. 

Synonymous with " to give him Jessie." 
GASSY, or gaseous, liable to " flare up " at any offence. 
GATE, THE, Bilingsgate. 

GATE-RACE, among pedestrians a mock race, got up not so much for the 
best runner to win, but for the money taken from spectators at the 
gate. 
GATTER, beer ; " shant of gatter," a pot of beer. A curious Slang street 
melody, known in Seven Dials as Bet, the Coaley's Daughter, thus men- 
tions the word in a favourite verse : — 

" But when I strove my flame to tell, 
Says sbe, ' Come, stoiv that patter, 
If you're a cove wot likes a gal, 

Vy don't you stand some gatter ? * 
Jn course I instantly complierl — 

Two 'brimming quarts of porter, 
'With four cioes of gin beside, 
Drain'd Bet the Coaley's daughter." 

GAWF, a cheap red-skinned apple, a favourite fruit with costermongers, 

who rub them well with a piece of cloth, and find ready purchasers. 
GAWKY, a lanky, or awkward person; a fool. Saxon, geac; Scotch, 

GOWK. 

GAY, loose, dissipated; " gat woman," a kept mistress or prostitute. 

Garreter, a thief who crawls over the tops of houses and enters garret- 
windows. Called also a dancer, or dancing-master. 
Garret, the fob pocket. — Prison term. 



14-2 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

GAY-TYKE-BOY, a dog-fancier. 

GEE, to agree with, or be congenial to a person. 

GEELOOT, a recruit, or awkward soldier. 

GEN, a shilling. Also, gent, silver. Abbreviation of the French, ARGENT. 

GENT, a contraction of " gentleman," — in more senses than one. A 
dressy, showy, foppish man, with a little mind, who vulgarises the 
prevailing fashion. 

GENT, silver. From the French, argent, 

"GENTLEMAN OF FOUR OUTS;" in Ireland when a vulgar, bluster- 
ing fellow asserts that he is a gentleman, the retort generally is, 
" Yes, a GENTLEMAN OF FOUR OUTS — that is, without wit, without 
money, without credit, and without manners." 

" GENTLEMAN OF THREE INNS "—that is, in debt, in danger, and in 
poverty. 

GEORDIE, general term in Northumberland and Durham for a pitman, or 
coal-miner. Origin not known ; the term has been in use more than a 
century. 

GERMAN DUCK, a sheep's-head stewed with onions ; a favourite dish 
among the German sugar-bakers in the East End of London. 

GERMAN DUCKS, l>ugs..— Yorl:sUre. 

GET-UP, a person's appearance, or general arrangements. Probably de- 
rived from the decorations of a play. 

" There 's so much getting u " to please the town, 
It takes a precious deal of coming down," 

— Plancke's Mr Buckstone's Ascent of Parnassus. 

GHOST, "the ghost doesn't walk," i.e., the manager is too poor to pay 
salaries as yet. — Theatrical; Household Words, No. 183. 

GIB-FACE, properly the lower lip of a horse ; " TO hang one's GIB," to 
pout the lower lip, be angry or sullen. 

GIBBERISH, unmeaning jargon ; the language of the Gipsies, synonymous 
with SLANG, another Gipsy word. Somner says, " French, gabber ; 
Dutch, GABBEREN ; and our own gab, gabber ; hence also, I take it, 
our GIBBERISH, a kind of canting language used by a sort of rogues we 
vulgarly call Gipsies, a gibble gabble understood only among them- 
selves." — Gipsy. See Introduction. The gibberish of schoolboys is 
formed by jjlacing a consonant between each syllable of a word, and is 
called the gibberish of the letter inserted. Thus, if F were the letter, 
it would be termed the F gibberish ; if L, the L gibberish — as in 
the sentence, " How do you do? — Howl dol youl dol." A gibberish 
is sometimes formed by adding vis to each word, in which the previous 
sentence would be — " Houwisdovis youvis dovis ?" Schoolboys in France 
form a gibberish, in a somewhat similar manner, by elongating their 
words two syllables, in the first of which an r, in the second a g, predo- 
minates. Thus the words vous Stcs un fou are spoken, vousdregue 
esdregue undregue foudregue. Fast persons in Paris, of both sexes, 
frequently adopt terminations of this kind, from some popular song, 
Rctor, exhibition, or political event. In 1830, the favourite termina- 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 43 

tinn was mar, saying epicemar for epicier, cafemar for cafe. In 1823, 
when the diorama created a sensation in Paris, the people spoke in 
rania (on parlait en rania.) In Balzac's beautiful tale, Le Pere Goriot, 
the young painter at the boarding-house dinner-table mystifies the 
landlady by saying, " what a beautiful soupeaurama I " To which the 
old woman replies, to the great laughter of the company, " I beg your 
pardon, sir, it is une soupe a choux." 

GIFFLE-GAFFLE, nonsense. See chaff. Icelandic, gafla. 

GIG, a farthing. Formerly guig. 

GIG, fun, frolic, a spree. Old French, gigue, a jig, a romp. 

" In search otlark, or some delicious gig, 
Tiie mind delights on, when 'tis in prime ticiri." 

— Randall's Diary, 1820. 
" No heirs have I," said mournful Matt ; 
But Tom, still fond of gig, 
Cried out, " No liairs ? don't fret at that, 
When you can buy a wig." 

GIGLAMPS, spectacles. In my first edition I stated this to be a Univer- 
sity term. Mr C'uihbert Bede, however, in a communication to Notes 
and Quenes, of which I have availed myself in the present edition, 
says — " If the compiler has taken this epithet from Verdant Green, I 
can only say that I consider the word not to be a ' University' word in 
general, but as only due to the inventive genius of Mr Bouncer in par- 
ticular." The term, however, has been adopted, and is now in general 
use. 

GILL, a homely woman; " Jack and gill," &c. — Ben Jonson. 

GILLS, the lower part of the face. — Bacon. " To grease one's gills," 
" to have a good feed," or make a hearty meal. 

GILLS, a shirt collar. 

GILT, money. German, gfxd; Dutch, gelt. 

GIMCRACK, a bijou, a slim piece of mechanism. Old Slang for " a spruce 
wench." — Ne^o Bailey. 

"GIN-AND-GOSPEL GAZETTE," the Blorning Advertiser, so called 
from its being the organ of the Dissenting party, and of the Licensed 
Victuallers' Association. Sometimes termed the TAP-TUB, or the 'tizer. 

GINGER, a showy, fast horse — as if he bad been figged with ginger 
under his tail. 

GINGERLY, to do anything with great care. — Cotgrave. 

GINGER HACKLED, having flaxen light yellow hair.— ^ce hackle. 

GINGUMBOB, a bauble. 

" GIRNIGO-GABY THE CAT'S COUSIN," a reproachful expression said 
to a crying child. 

GIVE, to strike, to scold ; " I 'U give it to you," i.e., I will thrash you. 

GLADSTONE, cheap claret, since that popular Chancellor of the Exchequer 
has reduced the duty on French wines. 

Gift, any article which has been stolen, and afterwards sold at a low price. 



144 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

GLASGOW MAGISTRATE, a salt herring.—- S'coi-cA. 

GLAZE, glass ; generally applied to windows. 

GLIB, a tongue ; " slacken your glib," i.e., " loosen your tongue." 

GLIM, a light, a lamp; "dowse the glim," put out the candle. — Sea and 
Old Cant. Glims, spectacles. Gaelic, glinn, light. German, (pro- 
vincial,) GLiMM, a spark. 

GLOAK, a man. — Scotch. 

GLUM, sulky, stern ; " to look GLru," to appear annoyed or disconcerted. 

GLUMP, to sulk. 

GLUMPISH, of a stubborn, sulky temper. 

GNOSTIC, a knowing one, or " sharper." — Nearly obsolete in this vulgar 
sense. 

GO, a GO of gin, a quartern of that liquor. (This word, as applied to a mea- 
sure of liquor, is stated by a correspondent to have arisen from the 
following circumstance : — Two well known actors once met at the bar 
of a tavern to have a " wet " together. " One more glass and then 
we '11 GO " was repeated so often on either hand, that in the end go 
was out of the question with both of them, and so the word passed 
into a saying;) go is also synonymous with circumstance or occur- 
rence ; "a rummy go," and " a great GO," signify curious and remark- 
able occurrences; "no go," no good; "here's a pretty GO ! " here's a 
trouble ; go, a term in the game of cribbage ; "to go the jump," to 
enter a house by the window ; " all the go," in fashion. — See little 
go ; also call-a-go. 

" Gemmen (says lie,) you all well know 
The joy there is whene'er we meet ; 
It 's what I call the primest go, 
And rightly named, 'tis — ' quite a treat.'" 

— Jack Randall's Diary, 1820. 

" GO DUE NORTH," to become bankrupt, to go to Whitecross Street. 
GOB, the mouth; mucus, or saliva. — North. Sometimes used for gab, 
talk— 

" There was a man called Job, 
Dwelt in the land of Uz ; 
He had a good gift of the gob ; 
The same case happen ns." 

Zach. Boyd. 
Gaelic — GAB and gob, a mouth. See gab. 

GOB, a portion, 

" GOD BLESS THE DUKE OF ARGYLE ! " a Scottish insinuation made 
when one shrugs his shoulders, of its being caused by parasites or 
cutaneous affections. — See scotch fiddle, scotch greys. It is said to 
have been originally the thankful exclamation of the Glasgow folks, at 
finding a certain row of iron posts, erected by his grace in that city to 
mark the division of his property, very convenient to rub against. 

Glim Lurk, a begging paper, giving a certified account of a dreadful fire 

— which never happened. 
Go-along, a thief. — Household Words, No. 183. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 45 

GODS, the people in the upper gallery of a theatre; "up amongst the 
GODS," a seat amongst the low persons in the gallery — so named from 
the high position of the gallery, and the blue sky generally painted on 
the ceiling of the theatre ; termed by the French, paradis. 

GODS, the quadrats used by printers in throwing on the imposing stone, 
similar to the movement in casting dice. — Printer s term. 

GO IT, a term of encouragement, implying, "keep it up!" Sometimes 
amplified to go it, ye cripples ; said to have been a facetious render- 
ing of the last line of Virgil's Eclogues — 

" Ite domum Saturae, Venit Hesperus, He ccipellce; " 
or, " GO IT, TE CRIPPLES, CRUTCHES ARE CHEAP." 

GOLDFINCH, a sovereign. 

GOLGOTHA, a hat, "place of a skull." Hence the "Don's gallery," at 
St Mary's, Cambridge. — Vide SKULL. 

GOL-MOL, noise, commotion. — Anglo-Indian. 

GOLOPSHUS, sjDlendid, delicious, luscious. — Norwich. 

GONNOF, or gun, a fool, a bungler, an amateur pickpocket. A corre- 
spondent thinks this may be a corruption of gone off, on the analogy of 
GO-ALONG ; but the term is really as old as Chaucer's time. During 
Rett's rebellion in Norfolk, in the reign of Edward VL, a song was 
Bung by the insurgents in which the term occurs : — 

" The country gnoffes. Hob, Dick, and Hick, 
With clubbes and clouted sboon. 
Shall fill up Dussyn dale 

With slaughtei-'d bodies soone." 

GOOD-WOMAN, a not uncommon public-house sign, representing a woman 

without a head, — the uugallant allusion is that she cannot scold. The 

HONEST LAWYER, another sign, is depicted in the same manner. 
GOOSE, a tailor's pressing iron. — Originally a Slang term, but now in 

most dictionaries. 
GOOSE ; " Paddy's goose," i.e., the white swan. 
GOOSE, "to cook his goose," to kill him; the same as "to give him his 

GRUEL," or "settle his hash." 
GOOSE, " to get the goose," " to be goosed," signifies to be hissed while 
^ on the stage. The big-bird, the terror of actors. — See big-bird. — 

Theatrical. 
GOOSE, to ruin, or spoil; to hiss a play. — Theatrical. 
GOOSEBERRY, to "play up old gooseberry" with any one, to defeat or 

silence a person in a quick or summary manner. 
GOOSECAP, a booby, or noodle, — Devonshire. 
GOOSER, a settler, or finishing blow. 

GO-OVER, in clerical Slang, signifies to join the Church oi Rome. 
GORMED, a Norfolk corruption of a profane oath. So used by Mr Peg- 

gotty, one of Dickens's characters. 
GORGER, a swell, a well-dressed, or gorgeous man — probably derived from 

K 



146 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 



that word. Sometimes employed in the sense of an employer, or prin- 
cipal, as the manager of a theatre. 

GOSPEL-GRINDER, a city missionary, or tract-distributor. 

GOSS, a hat — from the gossamer silk with which modern hats are made. 

GOSS, "to give a man Goss," to requite for an injury, to beat, or kill him. 

GOUROCK HAM, salt herrings. Gourock, on the Clyde, about twenty- 
five miles from Glasgow, was formerly a great fishing village. — Scotch. 

GOVERNMENT SIGN-POST, the gallows. 

GOVERNOR, a father, a master or superior person, an elder; "which way, 
guv'ner, to Cheapside '! " 

GOWLER, a dog. — North Country Cant. Query, growler. 

GOWNSMAN, a student at one of the universities. A person of the town, 
not connected with the college, would be termed a snob. 

" GOWN AND TOWN ROW," a fight between the students and townsmen 
at Cambridge. 

GRAB, to clutch, or seize ; grabbed, caught, apprehended. 

GRABBER, the hand. 

GRACE-CARD, the six of hearts, so termed in Ireland. A Kilkenny 
gentleman, named Grace, being solicited, with promises of royal favour, 
to espouse the cause of William III., gave the following answer, writ- 
ten on the back of the six of hearts, to an emissary of Marshal Schom- 
berg's, who had been commissioned to make the proposal to him : — 
" Tell your master I despise his offer ; and that honour and conscience 
are dearer to a gentleman than all the wealth and titles a prince can 
bestow." 

GRAFT, to work; "where are you grafting?" i.e., where do you live, or 
work ? 

GRANNY, importance, knowledge, pride; "take the granny off them as 
has white hands," viz., remove their self-conceit. — Mayhew,vo\.i.,\}.'T,6^. 

GRANNY, a knot which will not hold, from its being wrongly and clumsily 
tied. — Sea. 

GRANNY, to know, or recognise; "do ye granny the bloke?" do you 
know the man ? 

GRAPPLING IRONS, fingers.— Sea. 

GRASS, "gone to grass," dead, — a coarse allusion to burial; absconded, 
or disappeared suddenly ; " oh, go to grass," a common answer to a 
troublesome or inquisitive person, — possibly a corruption of "go to 
grace," meaning, of course, a directly opposite fate. 

GRASS-COMBER, a country fellow, a haymaker. 

GRASS-WIDOW, an unmarried mother ; a deserted mistress. In the 
United States, during the gold fever in California, it was common for 
an adventurer to put both his wife (termed in his absence a gkass- 
wiDOw) and hLs children to school during his absence. 

GRAVEL, to confound, to bother; "I'm gravelled," i.e., perplexed or 
confused. — Old. Also, to prostrate, beat to the ground. 



SLANG, CAXT, AXD VULGAR WORDS. 147 

GRAVEL-RASH, a scratched face,— telling its tale of a drunken fall. A 
person subject to this is called a GEAYEL-GRmDEB. 

GRAVESEND SWEETMEATS, shrimps. 

GRAY-COAT PARSO]Sr, a lay impropriator, or lessee of great tithes. 

GRAYS, or scotch geats, lice. — Scotch. 

GRAY, a halfpenny, with either two " heads " or two " tails " — both sides 
alike. Loic gamblers use geats. They cost from 2d. to 6d. each. 

GREASE-SPOT, a minute remnant, the only distinguishable remains of an 
antagonist after a terrific contest. 

GREASING a man is bribing ; soapdcg is flattering him. 

GREEKS, the low Irish. St Giles's geeek, Slang or Cant language. Cot- 
grave gives meeeie greek as a definition for a roistering feUow, a 
drunkard. The Greeks have always been regarded as a joUy, luxurious 
race; so much so, that the Latins employed the verb Grcecari (lit. to 
2jlay the greek) to designate fine living and free potations, a sense in 
which Horace frequently uses it; while Shakspeare often mentions the 
MEEBT geeeks; and "as merry as a geig" (or greek) was long a 
favourite allusion in old English authors. — See medical geeek. 

GREENWICH GOOSE, a pensioner of the Naval Hospital. 

GREEN, ignorant, not wide-awake, inexperienced. — Shakspeare. " Do you 
see any geeen' in my eye ? " ironical question in a dispute. 

GREEN-HORN, a fresh, simple, or uninitiated person. 

GREENLANDER, an inexperienced person, a spoon. 

GRIDDLER, a person who sings in the streets without a printed copy of 
the words. — Seven Dials. 

GRIDIRON, a County Co\irt summons. 

"GRIDIRON AND DODGH-BOYS," the flag of the United States, in 
allusion to the stars and stripes. — Sea. 

GRIEF, " to come to geief," to meet with an accident, be ruined. 

GRIFFIN, in India, a newly-arrived cadet ; general for an inexperienced 
youngster. " Fast " young men in London frequently term an um- 
brella a griffin. 

GRIND, "to take a GEI^^)," i.e., a walk, or constitutional — Unirersity. 

GRIND, to work up for an examination, to cram with a grikdee, or pri- 
vate tutor. — Medical, but commencing to be general. 

GRINDER, a tooth. 

GRINDOFF, a miUer. 

GRIPES, the stomach-ache. — See tripes. 

GROGGY, tipsy ; when a prize-fighter becomes " weak on his pins," and 
nearly beaten, he is said to be geoggt. — PugiU^tic. The same term 
is applied to horses in a similar condition. Old English, aggroggtd 
■weighed down, oppressed. — Promp>t. Parvulorum. Or it may only 
mean that unsteadiness of gait consequent on imbibing too much 
grog. 



148 



A DICTION AE Y OF MODE FN 



GROG-BLOSSOMS, pimples on the face, caused by hard drinking. Of 
Buch a person it is often said, " He bears his blushing honours thick 
upon him." 

GROG-FIGHT, a drinking pa,rtj.—3Iilitary. 

GRUB, meat or victuals of any kind, — grub signifying food, and bub, 
drink. 

GRUBBING-KEN, or spinikin, a workhouse ; a cook-shop. 

GRUBBY, musty, or old-fashioned. — Devonshire. 

GRUEL, " to give a person his gruel," to kill him. An expression in all 
probability derived from the report of a trial for poisoning. Compare 
"to settle his hash," and "cook his goose." 

GULFED, a University term, denoting that a man is unable to enter for 
the classical examination from having failed in the mathematical.* 
Candidates for classical honours were compelled to go in for both exa- 
minations. From the alteration of the arrangements, the term is now 
obsolete. — Cambridge. 

GULL, to cheat, deceive ; also, one easily cheated. 

GULPIN, a weak, creduloiis fellow, who will gulp down anything, 

GUMMY, thick, fat — generally applied to a woman's ankles, or to a man 
whose flabby person betokens him a drunkard. 

GUMPTION, or RDMGUMPTION, comprehension, capacity. From gaum, to 
comprehend ; " I canna gauge it, and I canna gaum it," as a Yorkshire 
exciseman said of a hedgehog. 

GUNNER'S DAUGHTER, a term facetiously apphed to the method of 
punishing boys in the Royal Navy by tying them securely to the 
breech of a cannon, so as to present the proper part convenient for the 
cat, and flogging them. This is called " marrying " or " kissing the 
gunner's daughter." 

GUP, gossip. — Anglo-Indian. 

GURRAWAUN, a coachman, a native Indian corruption of the English 
word coachman. For another curious corruption of a similar kind, 
see siUKiv.— Anglo-Indian. 

GUT-SCRAPER, a fiddler. 

GUTTER BLOOD, a low or vulgar ma,n.— Scotch. 

GUTTER LANE, the throat. 

GUY, a fright, a dowdy, an ill-dressed person. Derived from the effigy of 
Guy Fawkes carried about by boys on Nov. 5. 

* These men's names appeared in the list of "Degrees Allowed." The name 
*' Gulf" for this list is said to have arisen from the boast of a former "wooden 
spoon." " I would have you to know there is a great gulf between me and the cap- 
tain of the poll." 



GuLLY-RAKERS, Cattle thieves in Australia, the cattle being stolen out of 

almost inaccessible valleys, there termed GULLIES. 
GuRRELL, a fob. — Westminster Slums. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 49 

GYP, an undergraduate's valet at Cambridge. Corruption of gypsy joe, 
{Saturday Review ;) popularly derived by Cantabs from the Greek, 
GYPS, {yv^,) a vulture, from their dishonest rapacity. At Oxford they 
are called SCOUTS. 

HACKLE, " to show hackle," to be willing to fight. Hackles are the 
long feathers on the back of a cock's neck, which he erects when 
angry, — hence the metaphor. 

HACKSLAVER, to stammer in one's speech, like a dunce at his lesson. 

HADDOCK, a purse. — See beans. 

HAKIM, a medical man. — Anglo-hidian. 

HALF-A-BEAN, half-a-sovereign. 

HALF-A-BULL, two shillings and sixpence. 

HALF-A-COUTEU, half-a-sovereign. 

HALF-A-HOG, sixpence ; sometimes termed halp-a-grunter. 

HALF-A-TUSHEROON, half-a-crown. 

HALF-AND-HALF, a mixture of ale and porter, much affected by 
medical students ; occasionally Latinised into dimidium dimidiumque. 
— See cooper. 

HALF-BAKED, soft, doughy, half-witted, silly. Half-rocked has a simi- 
lar meaning. 

HALF-FOOLISH, ridiculous ; means often wholly foolish. 

HALF-JACK— ^ee jacks. 

HALF-MOURNING, to have a black eye from a blow. 

HALF-ROCKED, siUy, half-witted. — Compare half-baked. 

HALF-SEAS-OVER, reeling drunk.— &a. Used by Swift. 

HALL, the Leadenhall Market ; the same as " the garden " refers to 
Covent Garden, 

HAND, a workman, or helper, a person, " A COOL hand," explained by 
Sir Thomas Overbury to be " one who accounts bashfulness the 
wickedest thing in the world, and therefore studies impudence." 

HANDER, a second, or assistant, in a prize fight. 

HANDICAP. Handicapping, in racing affairs, now signifies the adjudg- 
ment of various weights to horses differing in age, power, and speed, 
to place them as much as possible on an equality, and thereby enable 
one or all to have a fair chance of winning the race. 

The old game of handicap (hand i' the cap) is a very different 
affair ; and as it is now almost obsolete, being only played by gen- 
tlemen in Ireland, after hunting and racing dinners, when the wine 
has circulated pretty freely, merits a description here. It is played 
bj' three persons, in the following manner : — A wishes to obtain some 
article belonging to B, say a horse; and offers to "challenge" his 
watch against it. B agrees ; and C is chosen as handicapper to " make 
the award'' — that is, to name the sum of money that the owner of the 
article of lesser value shall give with it, in exchange for the more 

Half-a-stretch, six months in prison. 



150 A DICTIONARY OF MODE EN 

valuable one. The three parties, A, B, and C, put down a certain 
stake each, and then the handicapper makes his award. If A and B 
are both satisfied with the award, the exchange is made between the 
horse and watch, and the handicapper wins, and takes up the stakes. 
Or if neither be satisfied with the award, the handicapper takes th« 
stakes ; but if A be satisfied and B not, or vice versa, the party who 
declares himself satisfied gets the stakes. It is consequentlj' the ob- 
ject of the handicapper to make such award as will cause the chal- 
lenger and challenged to be of the same mind ; and considerable in- 
genuity is required and exhibited on his part. The challenge having 
been made, as stated, between A's watch and B's horse, each party 
puts his HAND into a cap or hat [or into his pocket] while C makes 
the award, which he purposely does in as rapid and complex a man- 
ner as possible. Thus, after humorously exaggerating the various 
excellences of the articles, he may say — " The owner of the superior 
gold lever watch shall give to the owner of the beautiful thorough- 
bred bay horse, called Flyaway, the watch and fifteen half-crowns, 
seven crowns, eighteen half-guineas, one hundred and forty groats, 
thirteen sovereigns, fifty-nine pence, seventeen shillings and sixty- 
three farthings. Draw, gentlemen ! " A and B must instantly then 
draw out and open their hands. If money appears in both, they are 
agreed, and the award stands good; if money be in neither hand, they 
are also agreed, but the award is rejected. If money be only in one 
hand, they are not agreed, the award is off, and the stakes go as 
already stated. Very frequently, neither A nor B are sufficiently 
quick in their mental calculations to fallow the handicapper, and not 
knowing on the instant the total of the various sums in the award, 
prefer being "off," and "draw" no money. As in this event the 
handicapper gets the stakes, the reason for the complex nature of his 
award is obvious. 

When handicapping has once commenced in a convivial party, it is 
considered unsportsmanlike to refuse a challenge. So when the small 
hours draw on, and the fun becomes fast and furious, coats, boots, 
waistcoats, even shirts are challenged, handicapped, and exchanged, 
amidst an almost indescribable scene of good-humoured jovialty and 
stentorian laughter. This is the true handicap. The application of 
the term to horse-racing has arisen from one or more persons being 
chosen to make the award between persons, who put down equal 
sums of money, on entering horses unequal in power and speed for 
the same race. 

HANDLE, a nose ; the title appended to a person's name ; also a term in 
boxing, " to HANDLE one's fists," to use them against an adversary. 

HANDLING, a method of concealing certain cards in the palm of the 
hand, one of the many modes of cheating practised by sharpers. 

HAND-SAW, or " chive-fencee," a man who sells razors and knives in the 

streets. 
HANDSELLER, or cheap jack, a street or open-air seller, a man who 

carries goods to his customers, instead of waiting for his customers to 

visit him. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 151 

HANG OUT, to reside, — in allusion to the ancient custom of hanging out 



HANGMAN'S WAGES, thirteenpence halfpenny.— OZt/. I7<A century. 

" 'Sfoot, what a witty rogue was this to leave this fair thirteenpence halfpenny, 
and this old halter," intimating aptly— 

" Had the hangman met us there, by these presages 
Here had been his work, and here his vjages." 

— Match at Midnight. Old Plays, vii, 337. 

HANNAH, "that's the man as married hannah," a Salopian phrase to 

express a matter begun. 
HANSEL, or handsale, the luchj money, or first money taken in the 
morning by a pedlar. — Cocker's Dictionary, 1724. " Legs of mutton 
(street term for sheep's trotters, or feet) two for a penny ; who '11 give 
me a hansel ? who '11 give me a hansel ? " — Ci-y at Cloth Fair at the 
present day. Hence, earnest money, first fruits, &c. In Norfolk, han- 
selling a thiug is using it for the first time, as wearing a new coat, 
taking seizin of it, as it were. — Anglo-Saxon. Nich. Bailey. 
" HA'PURTH 0' COPPERS," Habeas Cor-pua.— Legal Slang. 
" HA'PURTH 0' LIVELINESS," the music at a low concert, or theatre. 
HARAMZADEH, a very general Indian term of contempt, signifying base- 
born. — A nglo-Indian. 
HARD LINES, hardship, difficulty. — Soldier's term for hard duty on the 
lines in front of the enemy. The editor of Notes and Queries proves 
Lines to have been formerly synonymous with Lots, from Ps. xvi. 6. — 
Bible version — "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places;" 
Prayer-Booh do. — " The lot is fallen unto me in a fair ground." — Vol. 
xii., p. 287. 
HARDY, a stone.— iVbr«A, 
HARD-UP, in distress, poverty stricken. — Sea. 

HARD-UP, a cigar-end finder, who collects the refuse pieces of smoked 
cigars from the gutter, and having dried them, sells them as tobacco 
to the very poor. 
HARRY, or old harry, {i.e., Old Hairy?) the Devil; "to play old 

harry with one," i.e., ruin or annoy him. 
HARRY-SOPH, {ipLao(pos, very wise indeed,) a student of law or physic 
at Cambridge, who being of the same standing as the students in arts 
in his year, is allowed to wear a full-sleeved gown when they 
assume their B.A. gowns, though he does not obtam his actual degree 
so soon. An undergraduate in his last year is a Senior Soph, in his 
last term, a Qucstionist. Vide Cambridge University Calendar for 18^,2, 
p. 38. — Cambridge. 
HARUM-SCARUM, wild, dissipated, reckless ; four horses driven in a line. 

This is also called suicide. See tandem, randeji, unicorn, &c. 
HASH, a mess, confusion ; " a pretty hash he made of it ; " to hash up, to 
jumble together without order or regularity. The term also occurs 
in the phrase " to settle his hash," which is equivalent to " give him 
his GRUEL," or " cook his goose," i.e., kill him. 
HATCHET, "to throw the hatchet," to tell lies. 



152 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

HATCHET, "to sling the hatchet," to skulk.— ;&a. 

HAWBUCK, a vulgar, ignorant, country fellow. 

HAWSE HOLES, the apertures in a ship's bows through which the cables 
pass; "he has crept in through the hawse-holes," said of an officer 
who has risen from the grade of an ordinary seaman. — Navy. 

HAY BAG, a woman. 

HAZE, to confuse and annoy a subordinate by contradictory, unnecessary, 
and perplexing orders. 

HAZY, intoxicated. — Household Words, No. 183. 

HEAD-BEETLER, the bully of the workshop, who lords it over his fellow- 
workmen by reason of superior strength, skill in fighting, &c. Some- 
times applied to the foreman. 

HEADER, a plunge head foremost into water, or a fall in the same pos- 
ture from accident. Also a recently-adopted theatrical expression for 
the daring jump of the hero or heroine in sensational dramas. See 
newspaper reviews of the " Colleen Bawn." 

" HEAD OR TAIL," " I can't make head or tail of it," i.e., cannot make 
it out. Originally a betting phrase. 

HEAD-RAILS, the teeth.— .Sea. 

HEAD-SERAG, a master; from serang, a boatswain. — Bengalee, andfS'ea. 

HEAP, " a heap of people," a crowd ; " struck all of a heap," suddenly 
astonished. 

HEAT, a bout, or turn, in horse-racing ; the gainer of two heats winning 
the race. 

HEAVY DRAGOONS, bugs, in contradistinction to fleas, which are light 
INFANTRY. — Oxford Unimrdty. 

HEAVY WET, porter and beer, — because the more a man drinks of it, the 
heavier and more stupid he becomes. 

HEDGE, to secure a doubtful bet by making others. — Turf. Hedging, as 
a system of betting, is quite different from bookmaking. and may be 
explained as follows : — The hedger, from information or good judg- 
ment, selects, say, three horses, A, B, and C, likely to advance in the 
betting, and takes 50 to i — say £1000 to £20 — against each of them. 
As the race-day approaches the horse A may fall out of the betting, 
from accident or other cause, and have to be written off as a dead loss 
of £20. But the other two horses, as anticipated, improve in public 
favour, and the hedger succeeds in laying 5 to I — say £500 to £100 
— against B, and 3 to I— say £500 to £250 — against C. The account 
then stands thus — A is a certain loss of £20; but if B wins, the 
hedger will receive £1000 and f)ay £5cx>; balance in favour, £500. 
If B loses, the hedger will receive £100 and pay £20; balance in fa- 
vour, £80. If C wins, the hedger will receive £1000 and pay £500 ; 
balance in favour, £500. If C loses, the hedger will receive £250 
and pay £20 ; balance in favour, £230. Deducting, then, the loss of 
£20 on A, the hedger's winnings will be considerable ; and he cannot 
lose, providing his information or judgment lead to the required result, 
which, in two cases out of three, may be considered a certainty. But it 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 53 

must never be forgotten that however well Turf speculations may look 
on paper, they are subject to the contingency of the bets being honour- 
ably paid on settling-day. " The Druid " in Post and Paddock 
remarks : — 

"The term hedgino has been quite superseded by "laytno off;" and we 
had, iu fact, quite forgotten it till we saw it stated in tlie papers lately, by 
a clergyman, who did not answer a question on doctrine as the Bishop of 
Exeter exactly liked, that his lordship addi-essed him to this eflfect : ' You 
are HEDGING, sir ; you are hedging ! ' " 

See BOOK and bookmaking, 
HEDGE-POPPING, shooting small birds about the hedges, as boys do; 

unsportsmanlike kind of shooting. 
HEEL-TAP, the small quantity of wine or other beverage left in the 

bottom of a glass, considered as a sign that the liquor is not liked, and 

therefore unfriendly and unsocial to the host and the company. See 

DAT-LIGHT. 

HEIGH-HO ! a Cant term for stolen yarn, from the expression used to 
apprise the dishonest manufacturer that the speaker had stolen yarn 
to sell. — Norwich Cant 

HELL, a fashionable gambling-house. In printing-offices, the term is 
generally applied to the old tin box in which is thrown the broken or 
spoilt type, purchased by the founders for re-casting. Nearly obsolete. 

" HELL AND TOMMY," utter destruction. 

HEN-PECKED, said of one whose wife "wears the breeches." 

HERRING-POND, the sea; "to be sent across the herring-pond," to be 
transported. 

HIDING, a thrashing. Webster gives this word, but not its root, hide, 
to beat, flay by whipping. 

HIGGLEDY-PIGGLEDY, all together,— as hogs and pigs lie. 

HIGH CHURCH, in contradistinction to low church. See the following. 

"HIGH AND DRY," an epithet applied to the soi-clisant " orthodox " clergy 
of the last century, for whom, while ill-paid curates did the work, the 
comforts of the establishment were its greatest charms. 

"Wlierein are various ranks, and due degrees. 
The Bench fur honour, and the StaU for ease." 

Though often confounded with, they are utterly dissimilar to, the 
modern High Church or Anglo-Catholic party. Their equally unin- 
teresting opponents deserved the corresponding appellation of " low 
AND slow;" while the so-called " Broad Church" is defined with equal 
felicity as the " broad and shallow." 

HIGH-FLY, " on the high-fly," on the begging or cadging system. 

HIGH JINKS, " ON THE high jinks," taking up an arrogant position, as- 
suming an undue superiority. Scott explains this game in his Gui/ 
Mannering. 

" Hen and chickens," large and small pewter pots. 
High-flter, a genteel beggar or swindler. 



154 ^ DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

HIGH-FLYER, a large swing, in frames, at fairs and races. 

HIGH-LOWS, laced boats reaching a trifle higher than ankle-jacks. 

HIGHFALUTEN, showy, affected, tinselled, afi'ecting certain pompous or 
fashionable airs, stuck up ; " come, none of yer highfaluten games," 
i.e., you must not show off or imitate the swell here. — American Slang, 
now common in Liverpool and the East End of London, from the Dutch, 
VEELOOTEN. Used recently by the Times in the sense of fustian, high- 
sounding, unmeaning eloquence, bombast. 

HIGH-STRIKES, corruption of Hysterics. 

HIP INSIDE, inside coat pocket. 

HIP OUTSIDE, outside coat pocket. 

HIPPED, piqued, offended, crossed, &c. 

HITTITE, a facetious Sporting term for a prize-fighter. 

HIVITE, a student of St Begh's College, Cumberland ; pronounced ST 
bee's. — University. 

HOAX, to deceive, or ridicule, — Grose says was originally a University 
Cant word. Corruption of HOCUS, to cheat. 

HOBBLED, committed for trial ; properly said of animals fed by the way- 
side, with their forelegs fastened together. 

HOB COLLINGWOOD, according to Brockett, a North Country term for 
the four of hearts, considered an unlucky card. 

HOBSON'S CHOICE, "this or none." Hobson was a carrier at Cam- 
bridge, and also a letter out of horses for hire, and is said to have 
always compelled his customers to take either the horse that stood in 
the stall next the stable door or none at all. He was a benefactor to 
the town, and Hohson's Conduit still stands as a memorial of him. 

" HOB AND NOB," to act in concert with another ; to " lay heads to- 
gether;" to touch glasses in drinking; to fraternise in a convivial 
meeting or merry-making. 

HOCKS, the feet ; curby hocks, round or clumsy feet. 

HOCK-DOCKIES, shoes. 

HOCUS, to drug a person, and then rob him. The hocus generally con- 
sists of snuff and beer. 

HOCUS POCUS, Gipsy words of magic, similar to the modern "presto 
fly." The Gipsies pronounce " Habeas Corpus," hawcus paccus, {see 
Crabb's Gipsies' Advocate, p. l8 ;) can this have anything to do with the 
origin of hocus focus ? Turner gives OCHUS bochus, an old demon. 
Pegge, however, states that it is a burlesque rendering of the words of 
the unreformed church service at the delivery of the host, HOC EST 
CORPUS, which the early Protestants considered as a species of conjur- 
ing, and ridiculed accordingly. 

HODGE, a countryman or provincial clown. I don't know that it has 
been elsewhere remarked, but most country districts in England have 
one or more families of the name of hodge; indeed, giles and hodge 
a^ipear to be the favourite hobnail nomenclature. Hodge is said to be 
eimply an abbreviation of Roger. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. I 55 

HOG, a shilling.— OM Cant, 

HOG, " to go the whole hog;" " the whole hog or none," to do anything with 
a person's entire strength, not " by halves ; " realised by the phrase " in 
for a penny in for a pound." Bartlctt claims this to be a pure American 
phrase; whilst Ker, of course, gives it a Dutch origin. — Old. " To GO 
THE WHOLE hog" is frequently altered into going the entiee animal, or 

THE complete SWINE ! 

HOGA, do. "That won't hoga," i.e., that won't do, is one of the very 
commonest of the Anglo-Indian Slang phrases. — Anglo-Indian. 

HOLLOW, " to beat hollow," to excel. 

HOLY LAND, Seven Dials, — where the St Giles's Greek is spoken. 

HOMO, a man. Lingua Franca j but see Omee, the more usual Cockney 
pronunciation. 

HONDEY, a Manchester name for an omnibus, and the abbreviation of 
hondeybush, the Lancashire pronunciation of the word. 

HOOK, an expression at Oxford, implying doubt, either connected with 
Hookey Walker or with a note of interrogation (?) " Yes, with a 
hook at the end of it! " i.e., with some reservation. 

HOOK, to steal or rob. — See the following. 

" HOOK OR BY CROOK," by fair means or foul — in allusion to the hook 
which footpads used to carry to steal from open windows, &c., and from 
which hook, to take or steal, has been derived. Mentioned in Hudi- 
iras as a Cant term. 

HOOK IT, " get out of the way," or "be off about your business;" "to 
hook it," to run away, to decamp ; "on one's own hook," dependant 
upon one's own exertions. — See the preceding for derivation. 

HOOKS, " dropped off the hooks," said of a deceased person — derived 
from the ancient practice of siispending on hooks the quarters of a 
traitor or felon sentenced by the old law to be hung, drawn, and 
quartered, and which dropped off the hooks as they decayed. 

HOOKEY WALKER ! ejaculation of incredulity, usually shortened to 
■walker ! — which see. A correspondent thinks HOOKEY walker may 
have been a certain Hugh K. Walker. 

"HOOK UM SNIVEY," (formerly "hook and snivey,") a low expression, 
meaning to cheat by feigning sickness or other means. Also a piece 
of thick iron wire crooked at one end, and fastened into a wooden 
handle, for the purpose of undoing from the outside the wooden bolt 
of a door. 

HOP, a dance. — Fashionable Slang. 

" HOP THE TWIG," to run away ; also a flippant expression for to die. 
Many similar phrases are used by the thoughtless and jocose, as to 

" LAY DOWN one's KNIFE AND FORK," " PIGGING OUT," " SNUFFING IT." 

—Old. 
HOP-MERCHANT, a dancing-master. 

Hoisting, shoplifting. 



156 A DICTIONARY OF MODE EN 

HOPPING GILES, a cripple. St ^gidius or Giles, himself similarly- 
afflicted, was their patron saint. The ancient lazar houses were dedi- 
cated to him. 

HOPPO, custom-house officer, or custom-house. Almost anything connected 
with custom-house business. — Anglo-Chinese. 

HORRID HORN", term of reproach amongst the street Irish, meaning a 
fool, or half-witted fellow. From the Brse, OMAdhaiin, a brainless 
fellow. A correspoudent suggests hereidan, a miserable old woman. 

HORNSWOGGLE, nonsense, humbug. Believed to be of American 
origin. 

HORRORS, the low spirits, or " blue devils," which follow intoxication. 

HORSE, contraction of Horsemonger-Lane Gaol. 

HORSE, a Slang term for a five-pound note. 

HORSE-CHAUNTER, a dealer who takes worthless horses to country 
fairs and disposes of them by artifice. He is generally an unprincipled 
fellow, and will put in a glass eye, or perform other tricks. — See 

COPER. 

HORSE-NAILS, money. — Compare brads. 

HORSE-NAILS. At the game of cribbage, when a player finds it his 
policy to keep his antagonist back, rather than push himself forward, 
and plays accordingly, he is said " to feed his opponent on horse-nails." 

HORSE MARINE, an awkward person. In ancient times the " jollies," 
or Royal Marines, were the butts of the sailors, from their ignorance 
of seamanship. "Tell that to the marines, the blue jackets won't 
believe it!" was a common rejoinder to a "stiff yarn." Now-a- 
days they are deservedly appreciated as the finest regiment in the ser- 
vice. A HORSE marine (an impossibility) was used to denote one 
more awkward still. 

HOT COPPERS, the feverish sensations experienced next morning by 
those who have been drunk over night. 

HOT TIGER, an Oxford mixture of hot-spiced ale and sherry. 

" HOUSE OF COMMONS," a humorous term for the closet of decency. 

HOUSES ; " safe as houses," an expression to satisfy a doubting person ; 
" Oh ! it's as safe as houses," i.e., perfectly safe, apparently in allu- 
sion to the paying character of house property as an investment. 

HOW MUCH ? A facetious way of asking for an explanation of any 
pedantic expression. " Why don't you cook your potatoes in an anhy- 
drohepsaterion ? " A waggish listener might be excused for asking, 
An anhydro — how much ? 

" HOW CAME YOU SO ?" intoxicated. 

HOXTER, an inside pocket. — Old English, oxter. 

HUBBLE-BUBBLE, the Indian pipe termed a hoohah is thus designated 
by sailors. — Sea. 

HUEY, a town or village. — Tramps' term. 

Horse's Nightcap, a halter ; " to die in a horse's nightcap," to be hanged. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 57 

HUFF, a dodge or trick ; " don't try that huff on me," or " that huff 
won't do." — Norivich, 

HUFF, to vex, or offend ; a poor temper. Huffy, easily offended. 

HUGGER-MUGGER, underhand, sneaking. 

HULK, to hang about in hopes of an invitation. — See mooch, 

HULKY, extra-sized. — Shropshire. 

HUM-BOX, a pulpit, 

" HUM AND HAW," to hesitate, raise objections. — Old English. 

HUMBLE PIE, to " eat humble pie," to knock under, be submissive. 
The UMBLES, or entrails of a deer, were anciently made into a dish for 
servants, while their masters feasted off the haunch. 

HUMBUG, an imposition, or a person who imposes upon others. A 
very expressive but Slang word, synonymous at one time with hum 
AND HAW. Lexicographers have fought shy at adopting this term. 
Michardson uses it frequently to express the meaning of other words, 
but, strauge to say, omits it in the alphabetical arrangement as un- 
worthy of recognition! In the first edition of this work, 1785 was 
given as the earliest date at which the word could be found in a printed 
book. Since then I have traced humbug half a century farther back, 
on the title-page of a singular old jest-book — "The Universal Jester ; 
or a pocket companion for the Wits : being a choice collection of 
merry conceits, facetious drolleries, &c., clenchers, closers, closures, 
bon-mots, and humbugs," by Ferdinando Killigrew. London, about 

1735-40. 

1 have also ascertained that the famous Orator Henley was known 
to the mob as Orator Humbug. The fact may be leai-ned from an 
illustration in that excedlngly curious little collection of Caricatures, 
published in 1757, many of which were sketched by Lord Bolingbroke 
— Horace Walpole filling in the names and explanations. Halliwell 
describes humbug as " a person who hums," and cites Dean Milles's 
MS., which was written about 1760. In the last century, the game 
now known as double-dummy was termed humbug. Lookup, a 
notorious gambler, was struck down by apoplexy when playing at 
this game. On the circumstance being reported to Foote, the wit 
said — "Ah, I always thought he would be humbugged out of the 
woi'ld at last ! " It has been stated that the word is a corruption of 
Hamburgh, from which town so many false bulletins and reports came 
during the war in the last century. " Oh, that is Hamburgh [or hum- 
bug,"] was the answer to any fresh piece of news which smacked of 
improbability. Grose mentions it in his Dictionary, 1785; and in a 
little printed squib, published in 1S08, entitled Bath Characters, by T. 
Goosequill, humbug is thus mentioned in a comical couplet on the title- 
page :— 

" Wee Thre Bath Deities bee, 
Humbug, FoUie, ami Varietee." 

Gradually from this time the word began to assume a place in periodi- 
cal literature, and in novels not written by over-precise authors. In 
the preface to a fat, and, I fear, unprofitable poem, entitled, The Reign 



158 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 



of HUMBUG, a Satire, 8vo., 1S36, the author thus apologises for the use 
of the word — " I have used the term humbug to designate this principle, 
[wretched sophistry of life generally,] considering that it is now 
adopted into our language as much as the words dunce, jockey, cheat, 
swindler, &c., which were formerly only colloquial terms." A corre- 
spondent, who in a late number of Adersaria ingeniously traced horn- 
bast to the inflated Doctor Paracelsus Bombast, considers that HUMBUG 
may, in like manner, be derived from Homberg, the distinguished 
chemist of the court of the Duke of Orleans, who, according to the 
following passage from Bishop BerTtelcifs Siris, was an ardent and 
successful seeker after the philosopher's stone ! 

"§ 194. — Of this there cannot be abetter proof than the experimeot of Mon- 
sieur HombLTg, WHO MADE GOLD OF MERCURY BY INTRODUCING LIGHT INTO 

ITS POKES, but at sucli trouble and expense, tliat, I sujipose, nobody will 
try the experiroent for profit. By this injunction of li;^lit and mercury, 
both bodies became fixed, and produced a third diiferent to eitlier, to wit, 
real gold. For the truth of wliich fact I refer to the memoirs of the 
French Academy of Sciences." — Berkeley's Works, vol. ii., p. 366, (Wright's 
edition.) 

Another derivation suggested (see The Boohseller for May 26, i860) 
is AMBAGE, a Latin word adopted into the English language temp. 
Charles I., {see May's translation of Lucan's Pharsalia,) and meaning 
conduct the reverse of straightforwardness. Again, in the (burlesque) 
Loves of Hero and Leander, (date 1642,) we find " Mum-bug, quoth he, 
'twas known of yore," a Cant expression, no doubt, command- 
ing a person to "shut up," or hold his tongue, and evidently de- 
rived from the game of mum-'budgct or silence, upon which Halliwell 
{Diet. Arch.) has descanted. 

Ambage is also used in the sense of "circumlocution." "Without any long 
studie or tedious ambage." — PuUenham. Art of Poesie. 

" Umh ! y' are full of ambage " — Decker's Whore of Babylon, 1607. 

" Thus from her cell Cuma;an Sibyl sings 
Ambiguous ambages, the cloj'ster rings 
With the shrill sound thereof, iu most dark strains." 

— Vicar's Virgil, 1632. 

De Quincey thus discourses upon the word : — 

" The word humbug, for instance, rests upon a rich and comprehensive basis ; 
it cannot be rendered adequately eitlier by German or by Greek, the two 
richest of human languages ; and without this expressive word we should all 
be disarmed for one great case, rontinually recurrent, of social enormity. 
A vast mass of villany, that cannot otherwise be reached by legal penalties, 
or brougiit within the rhetoric of bcorn, woidd go at large with absolute 
impunity were it not through the stern Rhn damanthean aid of this virtuous 
and inexorable word." — ArlicLe on " Language." 

Since these notes were penned, I purchased the collection of essays 
known as the Connoisseur, from the late Mr Thackeray's library. At 
the end of vol. i. I found a memorandum in the great humorist's 
handwriting — " p. I08, ' humbug,' a new-coined expression." On re- 
ferring to that page, I note this paragraph : — 

"The same conduct of keeping close to their ranks was observed at table, 
where the ladies seated themselves together. Their conversation was here 
also confined wholly to themselves, and seemed like the mysteries of the 
Bona Bea, in which men were forbidden to have any share. It was a con- 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 59 

tinued laugh and whisper from the beginning to the end of dinner. A 
whole sentence was scarce ever spolien aloud. Single words, indeed, now 
and tlien broke forth ; such as odious, korrible, detestable, shocking, humbug. 
This last new-coined expression, which is onlj- to be found in the nonsen- 
sical vocabulary, sounds absurd and disagreeable whenever it is pro- 
niiunced ; but from the mouth of a lady it is ' shocking,' ' detestable,' ' hor- 
rible,' and ' odious.' " — From the third edition, 1757. 

The universal use of this term is remarkable ; in California there is a 
town called Humbug Flat — a name which gives a significant hint of 
the acuteness of the first settler. 

HUM-DRUM, tedious, tiresome, boring; "a, society of gentlemen who 
used to meet near the Charter House, and at the King's Head, St 
John's Street, Clerkenwell. They were characterised by less mystery 
and more pleasantry than the Freemasons." — Bacchus and Venus, 1737. 
In the West the term applies to a low cart. 

HUMP, to botch, or spoil. 

HUMP UP, " to have one's hump up," to be cross or ill-tempered — like a 
cat with its back set up. — See monkey. 

HUMPTY-DUMPTY, short and thick. 

HUNCH, to shove, or jostle. 

HURKAPtU, a messenger. — Anglo-Indian. 

HUNTER PITCHING, the game of cockshies— three throws a penny.— 
See COCKSHY. 

" HUNT THE SQUIRREL," when hackney and stage coachmen try to 
upset each other's vehicles on the public roads. — Nearly obsolete. 

HURDY-GURDY, a droning musical instrument shaped like a large fiddle, 
and turned by a crank, used by Savoyards and itinerant foreign musi- 
cians in England, now nearly superseded by the hand-organ. A corre- 
spondent suggests that the name is derived from being girded on the 
HURDiES, loins, or buttocks. — Scotch; Tarn 0' Shanter, In Ital^ the 
instrument is called viola. 

HUSH-MONEY, a sum given to quash a prosecution or evidence. 

HUSH-SHOP, or crib, a shop where beer or spirits is sold " on the quiet " 
— no licence being paid. 

HYPS, or HYPO, the blue devils. From Hypochondriasis. — Swift. 

HY-YAW ! an inter jectional exclamation of astonishment. — Anglo-Chinese. 

INFANTRY, children; light infantry, fleas. 

IN, " to be IN with a person," to be even with, or up to him ; also, to be 
on intimate terms with him. 

" IN FOR IT," in trouble or difficulty of any kind. 

INEXPRESSIBLES, unutterables, unwhisperables, or sit-upons, 
trousers, the nether garments. 

Ikey, a Jew " fence." Corruption of Isaac, a common Hebrew name. 

" In for patter," waiting for trial, referring to the speeches of counsel, 
the statements of witnesses, the summing up of the judge, &c. The 
fuss of all which the prisoner sets down as " so much patter." 



l6o A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

INNINGS, earnings, money coming in ; " he 's had long INNINGS," i.e., a 
good run of luck, plenty of cash flowing in. 

INSIDE LINING, dinner, &c. 

INTERESTING, " to be in an interesting situation," applied to females 
when enceinte. 

INTO, "hold my hat, Jim, I '11 be into him," i.e., I will fight him. In this 
sense equivalent to pitch into, or slip into. 

INVITE, an invitation — a corruption used by stuck-up people of mush- 
room origin. 

IPSAL DIXAL, Cockney corruption of ipse dixit — said of one's simple un- 
corroborated assertion. 

IRISH APRICOTS, potatoes. 

IRISH THEATRE, the temporary prison, guard-room, or lock-up in a 
barracks. The fond fancy of the soldier supplies it with other figura- 
tive appellations, as "the mill," "the jigger," "the house that jack 
BUILT." In Edinbvirgh Castle it is termed " the dryroom." 

" ISTHMUS OF SUEZ," the covered bridge at St John's College, Cam- 
bridge, which connects the college with its grounds on the other side 
of the river. — See crackle. 

IVORIES, teeth; "a box" or "cage of ivories," a set of teeth, the 
mouth ; " wash your ivories," i.e., " drink." The word is also used to 
denote dice. 

JABBER, to talk, or chatter. A Cant word in Swift's time. 

JACKED-UP, ruined, done for. 

JACK KETCH, the pubUc hangman. — See ketch. 

JACK NASTY-FACE, a sailor.— 5^ea. 

JACK SPRAT, a diminutive boy or man. 

JACK TAR, a sailor. 

JACK-AT-A-PINCH, one whose assistance is only sought on an emer- 
gency; JACK in-the-water, an attendant at the waterman's stairs on 
the river and sea-port towns, who does not mind wetting his feet for a 
customer's convenience, in consideration of a douceur. 

JACK, HALE JACK, a card counter, resembling in size and appearance a 
sovereign and a half-sovereign, for which it is occasionally passed to 
simple persons. In large gambling establishments the " heaps of gold" 
are frequently composed of jacks. 

JACK, the knave of trumps, at the game of all-fours. 

JACKETING, a thrashing. Similar term to leathering, cowhiding, &c. 

JACKET, gin. — Seven Dials originally. 

JACOB, a ladder. Grrose says from Jacob's dream. — Old Cant. 

" It 's good on the star," it 's easy to open. 

JiCK-iN-A-BOX, a small but powerful kind of screw, used by burglars to 
break open safes. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. i6l 

JAGGER, a gentleman. German, jager, a sportsman. 

JAIL-BIRD, a prisoner, one who has been in jail, 

JAMES, a sovereign, or twenty shillings. 

JANNOCK, sociable, fair dealing. — Norfolk. 

JAPxlN, to ordain. — University. 

JARK, a "safe-conduct" pass. — O.rford. Old Cant for a seal. 

JARVEY, the driver of a hackney-coach; jauvey's upper benjamin, a 

coachman's over-coat. 
JAW, speech, or talk ; " hold your jaw," don't speak any more ; " what 

are you jawing about ? " i.e., what are you making a noise about ? 

JAWBONE, credit. 

" We have a few persons whose pockets are to let — men who have more com- 
plaints than dollars — individuals who, in digger's parlance, live on jawbone, 
(credit.) and are always to be found at saloons; a class of men who, when 
they are here, wish themselves yonder, and when yonder, wish themselves 
back " — Times' Correspondent, tian Francisco, Oct. 21, 1862. 

JAW-BREAKER, a hard or many-syUabled word. 

JAZEY, a wig. A corruption of jekset, the name for flax prepared in a 
peculiar manner, and of which common wigs were formerly made; 
" the cove with the Jazey," i.e., the judge. 

JEAMES, (a generic for "flunkeys,") the Morning Post newspaper — the 
organ of Belgravia and the " Haristocracy." 

JEHU, old Slang term for a coachman, or one fond of driving. 

JEMINY-0 ! a vulgar expression of surprise. 

JEMMY, a sheep's-head.— 5ee sanguinary james. 

JEMMY-DUCKS, the man whose business it is to look after the poultry 

on board a ship. — Sea. 
JEMMY JESSAMY, a dandy. 
JEMMY-JOHN, a jar for holding liquor ; probably a corruption of demi- 

gallon. 
JEREMIAD, a lament; derived, of course, from the Book of Lamentations, 

written by the prophet Jeremiah. 
JEREMY DIDDLER, an adept at raising the wind. 
JERRY, a beer-house. 

JERRY, a chamber utensU ; abbreviation of jeroboam. — Swift. 
JERRY, a fog. 
JERRY-GO-NIMBLE, the diarrhoea. 

JERRY SNEAK, a hen-pecked husband, — a character in the Mayor of 

Garret. 
JERUSALEM PONY, a donkey. 
JESSIE, " to give a person jessie," to beat him soundly. — See gas. 

Jemmy, a crowbar. — Prison term. 
Jark, a seal, or watch ornament. — Ancient Cant. 

L 



1 62 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

JEW'S EYE, a popular simile for anything valuable. Probably a corrup- 
tion of the Italian, gioje ; French, joaille, a jewel. In ancient 
times, when a king was short of cash, he generally issued orders for so 
many Jnvs eyes, or equivalent sums of money. The Jews preferred 
paying the ransom, although often very heavy. This explanation has 
been given of the origin of jew's eye. Used by Shahspeare. 

JEW-FENCER, a Jew street salesman. 

JEZEBEL, a showily-dressed woman of suspected respectability ; de- 
rived, of course, from 2 Kings ix. 30, but applied in this sense from 
the time of the Puritans. 

JIB, a first-year man. — Dublin University. 

JIB, the face, or a person's expression ; "the cut of his JIB," i.e., his pecu- 
liar appearance. The sail of a ship, which in position and shape cor- 
responds to the nose on a person's face. — Sea. A vessel is known by 
the cut of the jib sail ; hence the popular phrase, " to know a man by 
the cut op his jib." 

JIB, or jibber, a horse that starts or shrinks. ShaJcspeare uses it in the 
sense of a worn-out horse. 

JIBB, the tongue. — Gipsy and Hindoo. (Tramps' term.) 

JIFFY, " in a jiffy," in a moment. 

JIGGER, a secret still, illicit spirits. — Scotch. 

JIGGER, a door ; " dub the jigger," shut the door. A ncient Cant, GTGER. 
In billiards, the bridr/e on the table is often termed the jigger. Also, 
the curtain of a theatre. 

JIGGER, " I 'm jiggered if you will," a common form of mild swearing. — 
See snigger. 

JINGO, " by JINGO," a common form of oath, said to be a corruption of St 
Gingoulph. — Vide Halliwell. 

JOB, a short piece of work, a prospect of employment. Johnson describes 
JOB as a low word, without etymology. It is, and was, however, a 
Cant word, and a job, two centuries ago, was an arranged robbery. 
Even at the present day it is mainly confined to the streets, in the 
sense of employment for a short time. Amongst undertakers a job 
signifies a funeral ; " to do a job," conduct any one's funeral ; " by the 
JOB," i.e., J)^ece-work, as opposed to Zime-work. A job in political 
phraseology is a Government office or contract, obtained by secret in- 
fluence or favouritism. 

JOB, " a JOB lot," otherwise called a " sporting lot," any miscellaneous goods 
purchased at a cheap rate, or to be sold a bargain. Frequentlj'^ used 
to conceal the fact of their being stolen, or otherwise dishonestly 
obtained. 

JOB'S COMFORT, reproof instead of consolation. 

JOB'S COMFORTER, one who brings news of additional misfortunes. 



Jigger-DUBBER, a term applied to a jailor or turnkey. 
Jilt, a crowbar or house-breaking implement. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 63 

JOB'S TURKEY, " as poor as job's tueket," as thin and as badly fed as 

that ill-conditioned bird. 
JOE, a too marvellous tale, a lie, or a stale joke. Abbreviated from " Joe 
Miller." The full name is occasionally used, as in the phrase " I don't 
see the joe miller of it," i.e., I don't perceive the wit you intend. 
JOEY, a fourpenny piece. The term is derived (like bobbt from Sir 
Robert Peel) from Joseph Hume, the late respected M.P. The expla- 
nation is thus given in Hawkins's Bistory of the Silver Coinage of 
England : — 
"These pieces are said to have owed their existence to the pressing instance of 
Mr Hume, from whence they, for some time, bore the nickname of joeys. 
As they were verv convenimt to pay sliort cab fares, the Hon. M.P. was 
extremely unpopular with the drivers, who frequently received only a groat 
where otherwise they would have received a sixpence without any demand 
for change." 
The term originated with the London cabmen, who have invented 
many others. 
JOG-TROT, a slow but regular trot, or pace. 
JOGUL, to play up, at cards or other game. Spanish, jcg.vr. 
JOHNNY, half-a-glass of whisky. — L-^i^h. 
JOHN-THOMAS, a generic for " flunkeys,"— more especially footmen 

with large calves and fine bushy whiskers. 
JOHNNY-DARBIES, a nickname for policemen, an evident corruption of 
the French gensdaemes. Also, a term applied to handcufls. — See 

DAEBIES. 

JOHN ORDERLY, the signal to shorten the performance at a show. 
Whenever the master, who remains on the platform outside to take 
the money and regulate the performance, desires to refill the booth, 
he pokes his head inside and shouts, " Is JOHN oederlt there ?" The 
actors instantly cut the piece short, the curtain falls, and the specta- 
tors are bundled out at the back, to make room for the fresh audience. 
According to tradition, John Orderly was a noted showman, who 
taught this move to the no less noted Richardson. 

JOLLY, a word of praise, or favourable notice ; " chuck Harry a jollt- 
Bili," i.e., go and praise up his goods, or buy of him, and speak well of 
the 'article, that the crowd standing around his stall may think it a 
good opportunity to lay out their money. This is also called jollying. 
" Chuck a JOLLY," Ht. translated, is " throw a shout" or "good word." 

JOLLY, a Royal Marme.— &e hoese maeine. 

JOMER, a sweetheart, or favourite girl. — See blower. 

JOSKIN, a countryman. 

JOW, be off, be gone immediately. If the word jehanum be added, it 
forms a peremptory order to go to the place unmentionable to ears 
polite. Our word " Jericho," to go to, is probably derived from JEHA- 
' KUM. — Anglo-Indian. 

JUDAS, a deceitful person ; judas-haired, re d-haired, deceitful. 

" Joe BLAKE THE BABTLEMY," to vislt a low woman. 



1 64 ^ DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

JUNIPER, gm.— Household Words, No. 183. 

JUNK, salt beef.— .S'ee old horse. 

JUWAUB, literally, in Hindostanee, an answer; but in Anglo-Indian 
Slang signifying a refusal. If an officer asks for leave and is refused, he 
is said to be juwaubed ; if a gentleman unsuccessfully proposes for 
the hand of a lady, he is said to have got the juwaub. — Anglo-Indian. 

KARIBAT, food, literally rice and cuiry ; the staple dish of both natives 
and Europeans in India. — Anglo-Indian. 

KEEL-HAULING, a good thrashing or mauling, rough treatment,— from 
the old nautical custom of punishing oflenders by throwing them over- 
board with a rope attached, and hauling them up from under the 
ship's keel. 

" KEEP IT UP," to prolong a debauch, or the occasion of a rejoicing — a 
metaphor drawn from the game of shuttle-cock. — Grose. 

KELTER, coin, money, 

KEN, a house. — Ancient Cant. Khan, Gipsy and Oriental. 

%* All Slang and Cant words which end in kex, such as SPIELKEN, 

SPINIKEN, or BOOZiNGKEN, refer to houses, and are mainly of Gipsy 

origin. 
KENNEDY, a poker, also to strike or kill with a poker. A St Giles's term, 

so given from a man of that name being killed by a poker. Frequently 

shortened to neddt. 
KENT RAG, or clout, a cotton handkerchief. 
KERTEVER CARTZO, the disease known as the morho gallico. From 

the Lingua Franca, cattivo, bad, and CAZZO. 
KETCH, or jack ketch, the popular name for a public hangman ; derived 

from a person of that name who officiated in the reign of Charles II. 

— See Macaulays Hisio^-y of England, p. 626. 
KIBOSH, nonsense, stuff, humbug; "it's all kibosh," i.e., palaver or non- 
sense ; " to put on the kibosh," to run down, slander, degrade, &c. 

— See bosh. Kibosh also means one shilling and sixpence. 
KICK, a moment; "I'll be there in a kick," i.e., in a minute. 
KICK, a sixpence ; " two and a kick," two shillings and sixpence. 
KICK, a pocket; Gaelic, cuach, a bowl, a nest; Scotch, guaigh. 
KICKERABOO, dead. A West Indian negro's phrase.— -See kick the 

bucket, of which phrase it is a corruption. 
KICK THE BUCKET, to die.— Norfolk. According to Forhy, a metaphor 

taken from the descent of a well or mine, which is of course absurd. 

The Rev. E. S. Taylor supplies me with the following note from his 

MS. additions to the work of the East-Anglian lexicographer :— 



Jug, a prison, or jail. 

Jump, to seize, or rob ; "to jump a man," to pounce upon him, and either 

rob or maltreat him ; " to JUMP a house," to rob it. — See go. 
Ken-cracker, a housebreaker. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. IO5 

"The allusion is tr> the way in which a slaughtered pig is hung up,— viz., by 
passing the ends of a bent piece of wood behind the tendons of the hind 
legs, and so suspending it to a hook in a beam above. This piece of wood 
is locally termed a bucket, and .«o by a coarse metaphor the phrase came 
to signify to die. Compai-e the Norfolk phrase, ' as wrong as a bucket.'" 

Another correspondent says the real signification of this phrase is to 
commit suicide by hanging, from a method planned and carried out 
by an ostler at an inn on the Great North Road. Standing on a 
bucket, he tied himself up to a beam in the stable ; he then KICKED 
THE BUCKET away from under his feet, and in a few seconds was dead. 
The natives of the West Indies have converted the expression into 

KICKERABOO. 

KICK UP, a noise or disturbance. 
KICK UP, "to KICK UP a row" to create a tumult. 

KICKSHAWS, trifles ; made, or French dishes— not English, or substan- 
tial. Corruption of the French, quelques choses. 

KICKSIES, trousers. 

KICKS Y, troublesome, disagreeable. German, keck, bold. 

KID, an infant, or child. 

KID, to joke, to quiz, to hoax anybody. 

KID-ON, to entice or incite a person to the perpetration of an act. 

KIDDIER, a pork-butcher. 

KIDDILY, fashionably or showily ; " kiddilt togg'd," showily dressed. 

KIDDLEYWINK, a small shop where they retail the commodities of a 

village store. Also, a woman of unsteady habits. 
KIDDY, a man or boy. Formerly a low thief. 
KIDDYISH, frolicsome, jovial. 

"Think on the kiddyish spree we had on such a day." 

— Randall's Diary, 1820. 

KIDNA, how much ? — Anglo-Indian. 

KIDNAPPER, one who steals children or adults. From kid, a child, and 

NAB, (corrupted to NAP,) to steal, or seize. 
KIDNEY, " of that kidnet," of such a stamp : " strange kidney," odd 

humour ; " two of a kidney," two persons of a sort, or as like as two 

peas, i.e., resembling each other like two kidneys in a bunch. — Old. 

" Attempt to put their hair out of kidney." — Terrw Films, 1763. 

Kidden, or kidken, a low lodging-house for boys. 

IviD-BiG, cheating children in the streets sent on errands, or intrusted with 
packages. — Nearly obsolete. 

Kidment, a pocket-handkerchief fastened to the pocket, and partially hung 
out, to entrap thieves ; hence any inducement to dishonesty or crime. 
Also, a fictitious story or written statement got up to deceive the un- 
wary. A begging letter ; long rigmarole of any kind. 
Kidsman, one who trains boys to thieve and pick pockets successfully. 



1 66 A DICTIONARY OF AIODERN 

KILKENNY CAT, a popular simile for a voracious or desperate animal or 
person, from the story of the two cats in that county, who are said to 
have fought and bitten each other until a small portion of the tail of 
one of them alone remained. 

KILLING, bewitching, fascinating. The term is akin to the phrase 
" dressing to death." 

KIMBO, or A-KIMBO, holding the arms in a bent position from the body, 
and resting the hands upon the hips, in a bullying attitude. Said to 
be from a schembo, Italian ; but more probably from kimbaw, the 
old Cant for beating, or bullying. — See Grose. Celtic, cam, crooked. 

KINCHIN, a child. — Old Cant. From the German diminutive, kindchen, 
a baby 

KINCOB, uniform, fine clothes, rich embroidered dresses. — Anglo-Indian. 

KINGSMAN, the favourite coloured neckerchief of the costermongers. 
The women wear them thrown over their shoulders. With both 
sexes they are more valued than any other article of clothing. A 
coster's caste, or position, is at stake, he imagines, if his KINGsjlvn is 
not of the most approved pattern. When he fights, his KraasMAN is 
tied either around his waist as a belt, or as a garter around his leg. 
This very singular partiality for a peculiar-coloured neckcloth was 
doubtless derived from the Gipsies, and probably refers to an 
Oriental taste or custom long forgotten by these vagabonds. A 
strange similarity of taste for certain colours exists amongst the Hin- 
doos, Gipsies, and London costermongers. Red and yellow (or orange) 
are the great favourites, and in these hues the Hindoo selects his tur- 
ban and his robe ; the Gipsy his breeches, and his wife her shawl or 
gown ; and the costermonger, his plush waistcoat and favourite kings- 
man. Among either class, when a fight takes place, the greatest re- 
gard is paid to the favourite coloured article of dress. The Hindoo 
lays aside his turban, the Gipsy folds up his scarlet breeches or coat, 
whilst the pugilistic costermonger of Covent Garden or Billingsgate, 
as we have just seen, removes his favourite neckerchief to a part of his 
body, by the rules of the "ring," comparatively out of danger. 
Amongst the various patterns of kerchiefs worn by the wandering 
tribes of London, red and yellow are the oldest and most in fashion. 
Blue, intermixed with spots, is a late importation, probably from the 
Navy, through sporting characters. 

KING'S PICTURES, (now, of course, queen's pictures,) money. 

KISKY, drunk, fuddled. 

KISSER, the mouth. — Pugilistic term. 

KISS-CURL, a small curl twisted on the temple. — See bowcatcher. 

KISS-ME-QUICK, the name given to the very small bonnets worn by 
females since 1850. 

Kinchin cove, a man who robs children ; a little man. — Ancient Cant. 
Kirk, a church or chapel; " crack a kirk," i.e., to break into a church. — 
Prison Cant. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 67 

KIT, a person's baggage. Also, a collection of anything, " the whole kit of 
'em," the entire lot. Anglo-Saxon, ktth. — North. 

KITE, see FLY THE KITE. 

KITMEGUIl, an under-butler, a footman. — Anglo-Indian. 

KNACKER, an old horse ; a horse-slaughterer. — Gloucestershire. 

KNAP, to receive, to take ; " oh, my ! won't he just knap it when he can !" 

i.e., won't he take anything if he gets a chance. 
KNAP, i.q., NAP, to break. — Old English, hut nearly olsolete. See Ps. 

xlvi. 9, {Prayerhooh version,) " He breaketh the bow, and knappeth 

the spear in sunder ; " probably sibilated into SNAP. 
KNAPPING- JIGGER, a turnpike gate ; " to dub at the knapping-jigger," 

to pay money at the turnpike. 
KNARK, a hard-hearted or savage person. 
KNIFE, "to KNIFE a person," to stab; an un-English, but now-a-days a 

very common expression. 

KNIFE IT, " cut it," cease, stop, don't proceed. 

KNIFE-BOARD, the seat running along the roof of an omnibus. 

. . . . " On 'busses' knifeboakds stretch'd, 
Tlie City clerks all tongue-protruded lay." 

— A Summer Idyll, by Arthur Smith. 

KNIGHT, a common and ironical prefix to a man's calling, — thus " knight 
of the whip," a coachman; " knight of the thimble," a tailor. 

" KNOCK ABOUT THE BUB," to hand or pass about the drink. 

KNCCK-DOWN, or knock-me down, strong ale. 

KNOCK-'EM-DOWNS, a public-house game. 

KNOC!K OFF, to give over, or abandon. A saying used by workmen 
about dinner, or other meal times, for upwards of two centuries. 

KNOCKED UP, tired, jaded, used up, done for. In the United States, 
amongst females, the phrase is equivalent to being enceinte, so that 
Englishmen often unconsciously commit themselves when amongst 
oir Yankee cousins. 

KNOCKER, " up to the knocker," finely or showily dressed, the height 
of fashion ; proficient, equal to the task. 

KNOCKIN, the game of loo. 

KNOCK-OUTS, or knock-ins, disreputable persons who visit auction 
rooms and unite to purchase the articles at their own prices. One of 
their number is instructed to buy for the rest, and after a few small 
bids as blinds to the auctioneer and bystanders, the lot is knocked 
down to the KNOCK-OUT bidders, at a nominal price — the competition 
to result from an auction being thus frustrated and set aside. At the 
conclusion of the sale the goods are paid for, and carried to a neigh- 
bouring public-house, where they are re-sold or knocked-OUT, and the 
difi'erence between the first purchase and the second — or tap-room 
KNOCK-ODT — is divided amongst the gang. As generally happens with 

Knap, to steak — Fnson Cant. 



1 68 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

ill-gotten gains, the money soon finds its way to the landlord's pocket, 
and the knock-out is rewai-ded with a red nose and a bloated face. 
Cunning tradesmen join the knock-outs when an opportunity for 
money-making presents itself. The lowest description of knock-outs, 
fellows with more tongue than capital, are termed babes, — which see. 
KNOWING, a Slang term for sharpness; "knowing codger," or "a 
knowing blade," one who can take you in, or cheat you, in any trans- 
action you may have with him. It implies also deep cmming and 
foresight, and generally signifies dishonesty. 

" Who, on a spree with black-eyed Sal, his blowen. 
So swell, so prime, so nutty and so knowing." — Don Juan. 

Know, in this sense, enters into several Slang phrases. " I know a trick 
worth two of that," expresses that I am not to be taken in by such a 
shallow device. " He knows a thing or two," i.e., a cunning fellow. 

KNOWLEDGE-BOX, the he^A.— Pugilistic. 

KNUCKLE-DUSTER, an iron instrument contrived to cover the knuckles 
so as to protect them from injury when striking a blow, adding force 
to it at the same time, and with nobs or points projecting, so as to 
mutilate and disfigure the person struck. This brutal invention is 
American, but has been made too familiar here in the police cases 
between the officers and sailors of American vessels. 

KNUCKLE TO, or knuckle under, to yield or submit. 

KNULLER, old term for a chimney-sweep, who solicited jobs by ringing a 
bell. From the Saxon, cnyllan, to kneU, or sound a bell.— <S'ee 

QUERIER. 

KOOTEE, a house. — Anglo-Indian. 

KOTOOING, misapplied ^SiiterY.— Illustrated London Neus, 7th January 
i860. From a Chinese ceremony. 

KUBBER, news. — Anglo-Indian. 

KUDOS, praise; kudized, praised. Greelc, Kvdos. — University. 

KYPSEY, a basket. 

LA ! a euphuistic rendering of LORD, common amongst females and very 
precise persons ; imagined by many to be a corruption of look ! but 
this is a mistake. Sometimes pronounced law, or lawks. 

LAC, one hundred thousand. — Anglo-Indian. 

LACING, a beating. From the phrase " I '11 lace your jacket." — L'Edrange. 
Perhaps to give a beating with a lace or lash. 

LADDER, " can't see a hole in a ladder," said of any one who is intoxi- 
cated. 

LADDLE, a lady. Term with chimney-sweeps on the 1st of May. A 
correspondent suggests that the term may come from the bras ladles 
for collecting money, always carried by the sweeps' ladies. 

Knuckle, to pick pockets after the most approved method. 

Knucklek, a pickpocket. 

Lag, a returned transport, or ticket-of-leave convict. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 69 

LAG, to void urine. — Ancient Cant. 

LAGGER, a sailor. 

LAMBASTING, a beating. — See lamming. 

LAME DUCK, a stockjobber who si^eculates beyond his capital, and can- 
not pay his losses. Upon retiring from the Exchange he is said to 
" waddle out of the Alley." 

LAMMING, a beating.- — OJd English, LAM ; used by Beaumont and Fletcher. 
Not, as Sir W. Scott supposed, fi-om one Dr Lamb, but the Old Norse, 
LAM, the hand ; also, Gaelic. 

LAMMY, a blanket. 

LAND-LUBBER, sea term for "a landsman." — See loafer. 

LAND-SHARK, a sailor's definition of a lawyer. 

LANE, a familiar term for Drury Lane Theatre, just as Covent Garden 
Theatre is constantly spoken of as " the garden." 

LAP, liquor, drink. 

" LAP THE GUTTER," to get drunk. 

LARK, fun, a joke ; " let 's have a jolly good lark," let us have a piece of 
fun. Mayheio calls it " a convenient word covering much mischief." 
— Anglo-Saxon, LAC, sport; but more probably from the nautical term 
SKYLARKING, i.e., mounting to the highest yards and sliding down the 
ropes for amusement, which is allowed on certain occasions. 

LARRUP, to beat, or thrash. 

LARRUPING, a good beating or hiding. — Irish. 

LATCHPAN, the lower lip — properly a dripping-pan ; " to hang one's 
LATCHPAN," to pout, be &\i&.j.— Norfolk. 

LAVENDER, " to be laid up in lavender," in pawn ; or, when a person 
is out of the way for an especial purpose, — Old. 

LAW, " to give law to an animal " is a sporting term signifying to give 
the hare or stag a chance of escaping, by not setting on the hounds 
till it has run some distance. Also, figuratively used for giving anj' 
one a chance of succeeding in a difiicult undertaking. 

LAY, some, a piece. " Tip me a lay of pannum," i.e., give me a slice of 
bread. — North. 

LAY, to watch; "on the lay," on the look-out. — Shakspeare. 

" LAY DOWN THE KNIFE AND FORK," to die.— ^S'ee " pigging-out," 
and " HOPPING THE TWIG," for similar flippancies. 

" LAY THEM DOWN," to play at cards. 

LEAF, the drop on which executions take place, which are defined as the 
" fall of the leaf" by the ribald spectators. — See autumn. 

Lagged, imprisoned, apprehended, or transported for a crime. From the 

Old Norse, lagda, " laid," laid by the leg. 
Leary, flash, or knowing. 
Leary, to look, or be watchful ; shy. — Old Cant. 



y 



170 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

LEATHER, to beat or thrash. From the leather belt worn by soldiers 
and policemen, often used as a weapon in street rows. 

LEATHERN-CONVENIENCY, a carriage. A Quaker being reprimanded 
by the Society of Friends for keeping a carriage, " contrary to the 
ancient testimonies," said, " it is not a carriage I keep, but merely a 
LEATHERN-CONVENIENCY." — See under SIMON PURE, in the Introduction. 

LEAVING SHOP, an unlicensed house where goods are taken into pawn 
at exorbitant rates of interest. — Daily Telegraph, 1st August 1859. 

LED CAPTAIN, a fashionable spunger, a " swell " who by artifice ingra- 
tiates himself into the good graces of the master of the house, and 
lives at his table. 

LEEF, " I'd as leep do it as not," i.e., I have no objection to do it. — Cor- 
ruption of LIEF, or LEAVE. Old English, lief, inclined to, 

LEER, empty. — Oxfordshire. Pure German, as is nearly so the next word. 

LEER, print, newspaper. German, lehren, to instruct ; hence Old Eng- 
lish, LERE, " spelt in the leer." — See spell. — Old Cant. 

LEG, a part of a game. He who gains two legs, wius the game or rub. 

LEG, or blackleg, a disreputable sporting character, and racecourse 
habitue. 

LEG-ANDLEG, the state of a game when each player has won a leg. 
In Ireland a leg is termed a horse, leg-and-leg being there termed 

HORSE- AND-HORSE. 

LEG IT, to run ; " to give a leg," to assist, as when one mounts a horse ; 
"making a leg," a countryman's bow, — projecting the leg from be- 
hind as a balance to the head bent ior\\a.rd..—Sha]cspeare. 

LEG-OF-MUTTON, inflated street term for a sheep's trotter, or foot. 

LENGTH, forty-two lines of a dramatic composition. — Theatrical. 

LET DRIVE, to strike or attack with vigour. 

LET IN, to cheat or victimise. 

LET ON, to give an intimation of having some knowledge of a subject. 
Ramsay employs the phrase in the Gentle Shepherd. Common in 
Scotland. 

LETTY, a bed. Italian, letto. — Lingua Franca. 

LEVANTER, a card-sharper, or defaulting gambler, A correspondent 

<K» states that it was formerly the custom to give out to the creditors, 

when a person was in pecuniary difficulties, and it was convenient for 

him to keep away, tliat he was gone to the East, or the levant; 

hence, when one loses a bet, and decamps without settling, he is said 

to LEVANT. 

LEVY, a shilling. — Liverpool 

Leart bloak, a person who dresses showily. 

Leg bail, (to give,) to escape from prison or arrest. 

Legged, a prisoner in irons. 

Length, six months' imprisonment. — See stretch. 



SLANG, CANT, AKD VULGAR WORDS. 171 

LICK, a blow ; lickixg, a beating ; " to put in big licks," a curious and 
common phrase meaning that great exertions are being made. — Dry- 
den ; North. 

LICK, to excel, or overcome ; "if you ain't sharp he '11 lick you," i.e., be 
finished first. Signifies, also, to whip, chastise, or conquer. Ancient 
Cant. LTCKE. Welsh, llachio, to strike. 

LICKSPITTLE, a coarse term for a parasite, who puts up with indigni- 
ties for the sake of advantages. 

LIG, a lie, a falsehood. — Lancashire. In old ballads the word " lie" is often 
spelt " LIG." 

LIGHT, " to be able to get a light at a house " is to get credit. 

LIGHTS, a worthless piece of meat, applied metaphorically to a fool, a 
soft or stupid person. 

LIGHTS, the eyes. Also, the lungs ; animals' lungs are always so called. 

LIGHT BOB, a light infantry soldier.— Military. 

LIGHT FEEDER, a silver spoon. 

LIGHTNING, gin ; " flash 0' lightning," a glass of gin. 

LIL, a book, a pocket-book. — Gipsy. 

LILY-BENJAMIN, a white great-coat. — See benjamin. 

LIMBO, a prison, from LiiiBUS or limbus patrum, a mediaeval theological 
term for purgatory. 

LIMB-OF-THE-LAW, a lawyer, or clerk articled to that profession. 

LINE, calling, trade, profession , " what line are you in ? " " the bmlding 

LINE." 

LINGO, talk, or language. Slang is termed lingo, amongst the lower 
orders. Italian, lingua. — Lingua Franca. 

LINT-SCRAPER, a young surgeon. Tliaclceray, in Lovel the Widower, 
uses the phrase, and gives, also, the words ^scula-pius, Pestle-grinder, 
and Vaccinator, for the same character. 

LIONS, notabilities, either persons or sights worthy of inspection ; an ex- 
pression dating from the times when the royal lions at the Tower,* be- 
fore the existence of Zoological Gardens and travelling menageries, 
were a London wonder, to visit which country cousins and strangers of 
eminence were constantly taken. 

* The origin of the Tower collection was the three leopards sent by the Emperor 
Frederic to Henry III., as a living illustration of the royal arms of England. In the 
roll of John de Cravebeadell, constable of the Tower, B. JI. Top. CoUecti' ns, iii. p. 153, 
is a charge of 3d. per day " in support of the leopard of our lord the king." Edward 
III., when Prince of Wales, appears to have taken great interest in the animals ; and 

LiFEE, a convict who is sentenced to transportation for life. 

Lift, to steal, pick pockets ; " there 's a clock been lifted," said when a 
watch has been stolen. The word is as old as the Border forays, and 
is used by Shakspeare. Shoplifter is a recognised term. Old Gothic, 
LLiFAN, to steal; Lower Rhenish, loften. 



172 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

LIONISE, to condnct a stranger round the principal objects of attraction 
in a place ; to act as cicerone. 

LIP, bounce, impudence ; " come, none 0' yer lip ! " 

LIP, to sing ; " lip us a chant," sing a song. 

LIQUOR, or liquor up, to drink drams. — Americanism. In liquor, tipsy, 
or drunk. 

LITTLE GO, the " Previous Examination," at Cambridge the first Uni- 
versity examination for undergraduates in their second year of matricu- 
lation. At Oxford, the corresponding term is THE SMALLS. 

LIVE-STOCK, vermin of the insect kind. 

LIVERPUDLIN,- a native of Liverpool. 

LOAFER, a lazy vagabond. Generally considered &!! Americanism. Loper, 
or LOAFER, however, was in general use as a Cant term in the early 
part of the last century. Landloper was a vagabond who begged in 
the attire of a sailor ; and the sea phrase, land-lubber was doubtless 
synonymous.— (See the Times, 3d November 1859, for a reference to 

LOAFER. 

LOAVER, money. — See lour. — Lingua Franca. 

LOB, a till, or money-drawer. 

LOBB, the head. — Pugilistic. 

LOBLOLLY, gruel. — Old ; used by Martham as a sea term for grit gruel, 

or hasty pudding. 
LOBLOLLY BOY, a derisive term for a surgeon's mate in the navy. 

" Loh-lolhj-boy is a person, who on board of a man-of-war attends the surgeon 
aad his mates, and one who knows just as much of the business of a sea- 
man as the author of this poem." — The Patent, a Poem, 4to, 1776. 

LOBS ! schoolboys' signal on the master's approach. Compare cave ! 

CHUCKS ! Also, an assistant watcher, an under gamekeeper. 
LOBS, words, talk. — Gipsy. 

LOBSCOUSE, a dish made of potatoes, meat, and biscuits, boiled together. 
LOBSTER, a soldier. A policeman,ivom the colour of his coat, is styled an 

unboiled, or raw lobster. 
LOBSTER-BOX, a barrack, or military station. 
LOGGERHEADS, " to come to loggerheads," to come to blows. 
LOGIE, theatrical jewellery, made mostly of zinc. 
LOLLY, the head. — See lobb. — Pugilistic. 

after he became king, there was not only the old leopard, but "one lion, one lioness, 
and two cat-lior.s," says Stowe, "in tlie said Tower, committed to the custody of 
Robert, son of Jolm Bowre." The menagerie was only abolished in 1834, and the 
practice was to allow any person to enter gratis who brought with him a little dog 
to be thrown to the lions ! — Dr Doran's Princes of Wales, p. 120. 

Little Snakes-man, a little thief, who is generally passed through a small 
aperture to open any door to let in the rest of the gang. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. I 73 

LONDON-ORDINARY, the beach at Brighton, where the " eight-hours-at 

the-sea-side " excursionists dine in the open-air. 
LONDRIX, London. Probably from the French, londres. 
LONG-BOW, " to draw," or " shoot with the long-bow," to exaggerate. 
LONG-GHOST, a taU, awkward person. 

LONG-ODDS, in a bet this means staliing the greater proportion against 
the smaller. — See odds. 

LONG-TAILED-ONE, a bank-note or flimsy for a large amount. 

LONGS-AND-SHORTS, cards made for cheating. 

LONG-TAILS, among shooters, are pheasants ; among coursers and dog- 
fanciera they are greyhounds. 

LONG-SHORE BUTCHER, a coast-guardsman.— &a. 

LONG-TAILED BEGGAR, a cat. The tale that hangs thereby runs 
thus : — A boy, during his first, and a very short voyage, to sea, had be- 
come so entirely a seaman, that on his return he had forgotten the 
name of the cat, and was obliged, pointing to puss, to ask his mother 
" what she called that 'ere long-tailed beggar ? " Accordingly, 
sailors, when they hear a freshwater tar discoursing too largely on 
nautical matters, are very apt to say, " But how, mate, about that 'ere 
long-tailed beggar ? " 

LOOF-FAKER, a chimney-sweep. — See flue-faker. 

LOOKING-GLASS, a facetious synonyme for a pot de chambre. — Grose. 
See the story of Father Tom and the Pope in Dlachcood^s Magazine, by 
Marja, May 1843. In ancient times this utensil was the object of 
very frequent examination by the medical fraternity. 

LOOSE. — See on the loose. 

LOOSE-BOX, a brougham or other vehicle kept for the use of a dame de 
compagnie. A more vulgar appellation for one is mot-cart, the con- 
temptuous sobriquet applied by the envious mob to a one-horse 
covered carriage. 

LOOT, swag, or plunder. — Hindoo. 

LOPE, this old form of leap is often heard in the streets. 

LOP-SIDED, uneven, one side larger than the other. — Old. 

LORD, " drunk as a lord," a common saying, probably referring to the 
facilities a man of fortune has for such a gratification ; perhaps a sly 
sarcasm at the supposed habits of the " haristocracy. " 

LORD, a hump-backed man. — See MY lord. 

LORD-MAYOR'S-FOOL, a personage who likes everything that is good, 
and plenty of it. 

LORDOF-THE-MANOR, a sixpence. 

LOTHARIO, a gay deceiver. 

LOUD, flashy, showy, as applied to dress or manner. — See bags. 

LOUR, or LOWR, money; "gammy lowr," bad money. From the Walla- 
chian Gipsy word, lowe, coined money. — See note, supra, p. 11. — Old 
French, lower, revenue, wages.— J /icieni Canti and Gipsy. 



174 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

LOUSE-TRAP, a small-tooth comb. — Old Cant. — See catch-'em-alive. 
LOVAGE, an old-fashioned cordial made from the carminative herb of 
that name, [Ligusticum Scoticum, linn,] and sold in gin-shops. 

LOVE, at billiards " five to none " would be " five love," — a LOVE being 
the same as when one player does not score at all. The term is also 
used at whist, "six love," "four love" when one of the parties has 
marked up six, four, or any other number, and the other none. A 
writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, for July 1 780, derives it either 
from luff, an old Scotch word for the hand, or from the Dutch, loef, 
the LOOF, weather-gauge, {Sewell's Dutch Dictionary, 4to, 1754;) but it 
more probably, from the sense of the next word, denotes something 
done without reciprocity. — Sea. 

LOVE, " to do a thing for love," i.e., for nothing. A man is said to marry 
for love when he gets nothing with his wife ; and an L'ishnian, with 
the bitterest animosity against his antagonist, will fight him for love, 
i.e., for the mere satisfaction of beating him, and not for a stake. 

LOVEAGE, tap droppings, a mixture of spirits, sweetened and sold to 
habitual dram-drinkers, principally females. Called also alls. 

LOW CHURCHMAK He has been defined by the Times as one " who 

loves a Jew and hates the Pope." 
LOW- WATER, but little money in pocket, when the finances are at a low 

ebb 
LUBBER, a clown, or fool. — Ancient Cant, lubbaee. 
LUBBER'S HOLE, an aperture in the maintop of a ship, by which a timid 

climber may avoid the difficulties of the " futtock shrouds; " hence, a 

sea term for any cowardly way of evading duty. 
LUCK, " down on one's luck," wanting money, or in difficulty. 
LUCKY, " to cut one's lucky," to go away quickly. — See strike. 
LUDLAM'S DOG, an indolent, inactive person is often said to be "as lazy 

as ludlam's dog, which leaned its head against the wall to bark." 

Sailors say as lazy as Joe the Marine, who laid down his musket to 

sneeze. 
LUG, " my togs are in lug," i.e., in pawn. 
LUG, the ear. — Scotch. 
LUG, to pull, or slake thirst. — Old. 
LUG CHOVEY, a pawnbroker's shop. 
LUKE, nothing. — North Country Cant. 
LUMBER, to pawn or pledge. — Household Words, No. 183. 
LUMMY, jolly, first-rate. 
LUMPER, a contractor. On the river, more especially a person who con 

tracts to deliver a ship laden with timber. 

IjUllt prigger, a rogue who steals wet clothes hung on lines to dry. 
LuLLT, a shirt. 
Lumbered, imprisoned. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. I 75 

LUMP IT, to dislike it ; "if you don't like it you may lump it; " some- 
times varied to "if you don't like it you may do the other thing." 

" LUMP THE LIGHTER," to be transported. 

LUMP-WORK, work contracted for, or taken by the lump. 

LUMPY, intoxicated. 

LUNAN, a girl. — Gipsp. 

LURCH, a term at the game of cribbage. A. is said to lurch B. when 
tlie former attains the end, or sixty-first hole of the board before the 
latter has pegged his thirty-first hole; or, in more familiar words, 
before B. has turned the corner. A lurch counts as a double game 
or rub. 

LUSH, intoxicating drinks of all kinds, but generally used for beer. The 

Globe, 8th September 1859, says "lush and its derivatives claim 

Lushington, the brewer, as sponsor." 
LUSH, to di'ink, or get drunk. 
LUSH-CRIB, a public-house. 
LUSHINGTON, a drunkard, or one who continually soaks himself with 

drams and pints of beer. Some years since thei-e was a " lushington 

Club " in Bow Street, Covent Garden. 
LUSHY, intoxicated. Johnson says " opposite to pale," so red with drink. 
LYLO, come hither. — Anglo-Chinese. 
LYMPS, the Olympic Theatre. — See lane. 
MAB, a cab, or hackney-coach. 

MAC TURK, a Scotch duellist, from a character in St Ronan's Well. 
MADZA, half. Italian, mezza. This word enters into combination with 

various Cant phrases, mainly taken from the Lingua Fjxmca, as madza 

CAROON, half-a-crown, two-and-sixpence ; madza saltee, a halfpenny, 

[seeSALTEE;] madza poona, half-a-sovereign ; madza round the bull, 

half a pound of steak, &c. 
MAG, a halfpenny. — Ancient Cant, MjVKE. Megs were formerly guineas. — 

B. M. Carew. JSIake, the old form, is still used by schoolboys in 

Scotland. 

MAG, " not a blessed mag ! " would be the phrase of a cadger down on 

his luck to express his penniless state. 
MAG, to talk. A variation of nag. — Old ; hence magpie. 

Lumper, a low thief who haunts wharves and docks, and robs vessels ; also 
a person who sells old goods for new. 

Lurk, a sham, swindle, or representation of feigned distress. 

LuRKER, an impostor who travels the country with false certificates of fires, 
shipwrecks, &c. Also, termed a silver beggar, which see. 

Mace, a dressy swindler who victimises tradesmen. 

Mace, to spunge, swindle, or beg, in a polite way ; " give it him (a shop- 
keeper) on the MACE," i.e., obtain goods on credit and never pay for 
them; also termed "striking the mace." 



176 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 



MAGGOTY, fanciful, fidgety. Whims and fancies were formerly terirT^d 
MAGGOTS, from the popular belief that a maggot in the brain was the 
cause of any odd notion or caprice a person might exhibit. 

MAHCHEEN, a merchant. Chinese pronunciation of the English word. 
— A nylo- Chin ese. 

MAHOGANY FLAT, a bug. 

MAHOGANY ; " to have one's feet under another man's mahogany," to 
sit at his table, be supported on other than one's own resources; "am- 
putate your MAHOGANY," i.e., go away, or "cut your stick." 

MAIL, to post a letter; "this screeve is mailed by a sure hand." 

MAKE-UP, personal appearance. — Theatrical. 

MALAPROPISM, an ignorant, vulgar, misapplication of language, so 
named from Mrs Malaprop, a character in Sheridan's unrivalled 
comedy of the Rivals. Mrs Partington has lately succeeded to the 
mantle of Mrs Malaprop ; but the phrase Partingtonism is as yet 
uncoined. 

MALLEY, a gardener. — Anglo-Indian. 

MANABLINS, broken victuals. 

MANDOZY, a term of endearment; probably from the valiant fighter 
named Mendoza. 

MANG, to iaXk.—Scoteh. 

MAN-HANDLE, to use a person roughly, as to take him prisoner, turn 
him out of a room, give him a beating. 

MARBLES, furniture, movables; "money and marbles," cash and per- 
sonal eifects. 

MARCHIONESS, a maid-of-all-work ; a title now in regular use — hwt de- 
rived from the nickname of a character in Charles Dickens s Old Curi- 
osity Shop. 

MARE'S NEST, a Cockney discovery of marvels, which turn out no mar- 
vels at all. An old preacher in Cornwall up to very lately employed 
a different version — viz., ''a cow calving up in a tree." j 

MARINE, or mardte recruit, an empty bottle. This expression having 
once been used in the presence of an officer of marines, he was at first 
inclined to take it as an insult, until some one adroitly appeased his 
wrath by remarking that no offence could be meant, as all that it could 
possibly imply was, " one who had done his duty, and was ready to do 
it again." — See horse marine. — A''aval. 

MARPLOT, an officious bvmgler, who spoils everything he interferes with. 

Magsman, a street swindler, who watches for countrymen and "gullible" 

persons. 
Main-toby, the highway, or the main road. 
Make, a successful theft, or swindle. 
Make, to steal. 
Marinated, transported; from the salt pickling fish undergo in Cornwall. 

—Old Cant. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. I 77 

MARRIAGE LINES, a marriage certificate. — Provincial. 

MARROW, a mate, a fellow-workman, a pitman who works in a "shift" 
with another. — Northumberland and Durham. 

MARROW-BONES, the knees ; " I '11 bring him down upon his marrow- 
bones," i.e., I'll make him bend his knees as he does to the Virgin 
Mary. 

MARROWSKYING.— ^e medical greek. 

MARRY, a term of asseveration in common use, was originally (in Popish 
times) a mode of swearing by the Virgin Mary ; q.d., " by maky." 

MARTINGALE, a gambling term. To double the stake every time you 
lose. 

MARYGOLD, one million sterUng. — See plum. 

MASKEE, never mind, no consequence. — Anglo-Chinese. 

"MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS," when the leader of the House of 
Commons goes through the doleful operation of devoting to extinction 
a number of useful measures at the end of the session, for want of 
time to pass them. — Vide Times, 20th July 1859: Mr C. Foster, on 
altering the time of the legislative sessions. — Parliamentary Slang. 

"MASTER OF THE ROLLS," a baker. 

" MASTER OF THE MINT," a gardener. 

MATE, the term a coster or low person applies to a friend, partner, or com- 
panion; "me and my mate did so and so," is a common phrase with a 
low Londoner. — Originally a Sea term. 

MATEY, a labourer in one of her Majesty's dockyards. 

MAULEY, a signature, from maulet, a fist ; " put your fist to it," is 
sometimes said by a low tradesman when desiring a fellow-trader to 
put his signature to a bill or note. 

MAULEY, a fist, that with which one strikes as with a mall. — Pugilistic. 

MAUND, to beg; "maundering on the fly," begging of people in the 
streets. — Old Cant. Maung, to beg, is a term in use amongst the 
Gipsies, and may also be found in the Hindoo Vocabulary. Maund, 
however, is pure Anglo-Saxon, from mand, a basket. Compare " beg," 
which is derived from bag, a curious parallel. 

MAW, the mouth ; " hold your maw," cease talking. 

MAWWORM, a hypocrite. 

MAX, gin ; max upon tick, gin obtained upon credit. 

MAZARINE, the platform beneath the stage in large theatres. Probably 
corruption of Italian, mezzanino. 

M. B. COAT, i.e., MarJc of the Beast, a name given to the long surtout worn 
by the clergy, — a modern Puritan form of abuse, said to have been 
accidentally disclosed to a Tractarian customer by a tailor's orders to 
his foreman. 

MEALY-MOUTHED, plausible, deceitful. 

MEASLEY, mean, miserable-looking, "seedy;" "what a MEASLEY-looking 
man ! " i.e., what o. wretched, unhappy look he has. 

M 



I 78 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

MEDICAL GREEK, the Slang used by medical students at the hospitals. 
At the London University they have a way of disguising English, 
described by Albert Smith as the Gower Street Dialect, which consists 
in transposing the initials of words, e.g., " 2wke a smipe" — smoke a 
pipe ; "fiutter-hy " — butterfly, &c. This disagreeable nonsense is often 
termed marrowskying. — See greek, St Giles' greek, or the "JEgidiac " 
dialect. Language of ziph, &c. 

MEISENSANG, a missionary, Chinese pronunciation of the English word. 
— Anglo-Chinese. 

MENAGERY, the orchestra of a theatre. — Theatrical. 

MENAVELINGS, odd money remaining after the daily accounts are made 
up at a railway booking-office, — usually divided among the clerks. 
— See OVERS and shorts. 

" MERRY DUN OF DOVER," a large ship figuring in sailors' yarns. She 
was so large that when passing through the Straits of Dover her flying 
jib-boom knocked down Calais steeple ; while, at the same time, the 
fly of her ensign swept a flock of sheep off Dover cliffs. She was so 
lofty that a boy who attempted to go to her mast-head found him- 
self a gray old man when he reached the deck again. This yarn is 
founded on a story in the Scandinavian Mythology. 

MESOPOTAMIA, a name given to a district in London.— -See cubitopolis. 
— Fashionable Slang. 

METAL, sweetmeats. — Anglo-Indian. 

MIDDY, abbreviation of midshipman. — Naval. 

MIDGE NET, a lady's veil. 

MIKE, to loiter ; or, as a costermonger defined it, to " lazy about." The 
term probably originated at St Giles's, which used to be thronged with 
Irish labourers, (Mike being so common a term with them as to be- 
come a generic appellation for Irishmen with the vulgar,) who used to 
loiter about the Pound, and lean against the public-houses in the 
" Dials " waiting for hire. A correspondent objects to this explana- 
tion, and says that the term is Old English, MICHE, to skulk, to loiter ; 
Old Norse, mak, leisure, idleness. 

" Shall the blessed sun of heaven prove a micher ? " 

— Shahspeare's Hen. IV., ii. 4. 

MILD, second-rate, inferior.— .See draw it mild. Also feeble, inefficient, 
as "a mild attempt." Weak young men who keep bull-dogs, and 
dress in a " loud " stable style, from a belief that it is very becoming, 
are sometimes called mild bloaters. 

MILK, a term used in connexion with racing ; when a horse is entered 
for a race which his owner does not intend him to win, and bets 
against him, the animal is said to "be milked." — See milking. 

MILKING, a turf operation, described in the Times as "keeping a horse 
a favourite, at short odds, for a race in which he has no chance what- 
ever, only to lay against him." 

Milky ones, white linen rags. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 179 

JIILL, a fight, or set to. Ancient Cant, mtll, to rob. 
MILL, to fight or beat. 

MILL, the Insolvent Debtors' Court. To go through the mill is equivalent 
to being whitewashed. 

MILLER, to GIVE THE MILLER, is to engage a person in conversation of an 
apparently friendly character, when all at once the bystanders surround 
and pelt him vi'ith flour, grease, and filth of various kinds, flour pre- 
dominating. This mode of punishing spies, informers, and other ob- 
noxious individuals, is used by cabmen, omnibus conductors, et hoc 
genus omne. 

5IILLER, this word is frequently called out when a person relates a stale 
joke. — See joe. 

MILVADER, to beat. 

MISH, a shirt, or chemise. From commission, the Ancient Cant for a 
shirt, afterwards shortened to k'mish or SMISH, and then to mish. 
French, chemise ; Italian, camicia. 

" With his 8no\vy camese and his shaggy capote."— i?^cow. 

MITEY, a cheesemonger. 

MITTEN, the &st.— Pugilistic. 

MIZZLE, a frequentative form of " mist " in both senses ; as applied to 
weather, it is used hj John Gadhury in hia Ephemeris in 1695 — "misty 
and MIZZLING " — to come down as mist ; while the other sense may be 
expressed as to fade away like a mist, vanish into thin air, like the 
conclusion of the prayer of Ai-uns in the ^neid, lib. xi. 794 : — 

"Audiit, et voti Phoabus succedcre partem 
Wente dedit ; purtem volucres dispersit in auras." 

MIZZLE, to run away, or decamp ; to disappear as in a mist. From 
mizzle, a drizzling rain ; a Scotch mist. 

" And theu one mizzling Michaelmas night, 
The Count he mizzleo too." — Hood. 

MIZZLER, or eum-mizzler, a person who is clever at effecting an escape, 
or getting out of a difiiculty. 

MOAB, a name applied to the turban-shaped hat fashionable among ladies, 
and ladylike swells of the other sex, in 185S 9. From the Scripture 
phrase, " _Moab is my washpot," (Ps. Ix. 8,) which article the hat in 
question is supposed to resemble. — University. 

MOB. Swift informs us, in his Art of Polite Conversation, that mob was, 
in his time, the Slang abbreviation of Mohility, just as nob is of No- 
bility at the present day. — See school. 

" It is perhaps this liumour of speaking no more words than we needs must 
which has so miserably curtailed si.me of our words, thut hi familiar writ- 
ings and conversation they often lose all but their first syllables, as in mob., 
rod., pos., incog., and the l\]^e."~ Addison's Spectator. 



JIiLL, the tread-MiLL, prison,. 

Mill-tog, a shirt ; most likely the prison garment. 



l8o A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

MOBILITY, the populace; or, according to Burhe, the "great unwashed." 
Johnson calls it a Cant term, although Swift notices it as a proper ex- 
pression. 

MODEST QUENCHER, a glass of gin and water. 

" MOISTEN YOUR CHAFFER," a Slang phrase equivalent to " take some- 
thing to drink." 

MOKE, a donkey. — Gipsy. 

MOKO, a name given by sportsmen to pheasants killed by mistake in par- 
tridge-shooting during September, before the pheasant-shooting comes 
in. They pull out their tails, and roundly assert that they are no 
pheasants at aU, but MOKOS. 

MOLL, a girl ; nickname for Mary. — Old Cant. 

MOLL'D, followed, or accompanied by a woman. 

MOLLISHER, a low girl or woman ; generally a female cohabiting with a 
man, who jointly get their living by thieving. 

MOLLSACK, a reticule, or market basket. 

" MOLL THOMSON'S MARK, that is, M. T.— empty ; as " take away this 
bottle, it has MOLL Thomson's mauk on it." — See m. t. 

MOLLYCODDLE, an effeminate man; one who caudles amongst the 
women, or does their work. 

MOLLYGRUBS, or mulligrubs, stomach-ache, or sorrow — which to the 
costermonger is much the same, as he believes, like the ancients, that 
the viscera is the seat of all feeling. 

MOLRO WING, " out on the spree," in company with so-called " gay 
women." In allusion to the amatory serenadiugs of the London cats. 

MONK, a term of contempt ; probably an abbreviation of monkey. 

MONKEY, spirit, or ill temper ; " to get one's monkey up," to rouse his 
passion. A man is said to have his monkey up, or the monkey on his 
back, when he is " riled," or out of temper; also to have his back or . 
hump up. 

MONKEY, the instrument which drives a rocket. — Army, 

MONKEY, £iOO.— Civic Slang. 

MONKEY-BOARD, the place or step attached to an omnibus, on which 
the conductor stands. 

MONKEY-BOAT, a peculiar, long, narrow, canal boat, 

" MONKEY WITH A LONG TAIL," a mortg3.ge.— Legal. 

MONKEY'S ALLOWANCE, to get blows instead of alms, more kicks 
than halfpence. 

MONKERY, the country, or rural districts. Originally an old word for a 
quiet or monastic life. — Ilcdl. 

Mob, a companion ; mobsman, a dressy swindler, 
MoLL-TOOLER, a female pickpocket. 

MoNEKEER, a person's name or signature. — Tramps' Cant. 
Monkey, a padlock. — Prison Cant. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. l8l 

MOOCH, to spunge ; to obtrude one's-self upon friends just when they are 
about to sit down to dinner, or other lucky time — of course quite ac- 
cidentally. — Compare hulk. To slink away, and allow your friend to 
pay for the entertainment. In Wiltshire, ON the moutch is to shufHe. 
— See the following. 

MOOCHING, or on the mooch, on the look-out for any articles or circum- 
stances which may be turned to a profitable account ; watching in the 
streets for odd jobs, horses to hold, &c. ; also, scraps of food, old 
clothes, &c. 

MOOE, the mouth. — Gipsy and Hindoo. Shalspeare has moe, to make 
mouths. 

MOONEY, intoxicated. — Household Words, No. 183. 

MOONLIGHT, or moonshine, smuggled gin. 

MOON-RAKER, a native of Wiltshire ; because it is said that some men 
of that county, seeing the reflection of the moon in a pond, took it to 
be a cheese, and endeavoured to pull it out with a i-ake. 

MOONSHEE, a learned man, professor, or teacher. — Anglo-Indian. 

MOONSHINE, palaver, deception, humbug. 

MOP, a hiring place (or fair) for servants. Steps are being taken to put 
down these assemblies, which have been proved to be greatly detri- 
mental to the morality of the poor. 

MOP UP, to drink, or empty a glass. — Old Sea term. 

"MOPS AND BROOMS," intoxicated.— 7/oMseAoM Words, No. 183. 

MOPUSSES, money; " mopusses ran taper," money ran short. 

MORE-ISH, when there is scarcely enough of an eatable or drinkable it is 
said to taste more-ish ; as " this wine is very good, but it has a slight 
MORE-ISH flavour." 

MORRIS, to decamp, be ofiF. Probably from the ancient moeesco, or 
MORRIS dance. 

MORTAR-BOARD, the term given by the vulgar to the square college 
caps. 

MORTGAGE-DEED, a pawnbroker's duplicate. 

MOTT, a girl of indifferent character. Formerly Mort. Dutch, mott-kast, 

a harlotry. MoTT-CART, see loose-box. 
MOUCHEY, a Jew. 

MOULDY, gray-headed. Servants wearing hair-powder are usually termed 
mouldt-pates by street boys. 

MOULDY-GRUBS, travelling showmen, mountebanks who perform in the 
open air without tent or covering. Doing this is called "mouldy- 
grubbing." 



Moon, a month — generally used to express the length of time a person has 
been sentenced by the magistrate; thus "one moon" is one month. 
—See DRAG. It is a curious fact that the Indians of America and the 
roaming vagabonds of England should both calculate time by tha 

MO UN. 



1 8 2 A DICTION A RY OF MODERN 

MOUNTAIN-DEW, whisky, advertised as from the Highlands. 

MOUNTAIN-PECKER, a sheep's-head.— ^See jemmy. 

MOURNING, "a full suit of mourning," <wo black eyes; half-mourning, 
one black eye. 

MOUSE, a black eye. 

MOUTH, a common expression of contempt, equivalent to muff; "you 
are a mouth, and you will die a lip," is a vulgar form of abuse. 

MOUTH-ALMIGHTY, a superlative form of the former expression, ap- 
plied to a noisy, talkative person. 

MOUTHPIECE, a lawyer, or counsel. 

MOVE, a "dodge," or cunning trick ; "up to a move or two," acquainted 
with tricks. Probably derived from the game of chess. 

M.P., member of the police, one of the Slang titles of the force. 

MRS JONES, the house of office, a water-closet. 

MRS HARRIS and MRS GAMP, nicknames of the Morning Herald and 
Standard newspapers, while united under the proprietorship of Mr 
Baldwin. Mrs Gamp, a monthly nurse, was a character in Mr Charles 
Dicl-ens's popular novel of Martin Chuzzlewit, who continually quoted 
an imaginary 3Irs Harris in attestation of the superiority of her quali- 
fications, and the infallibility of her opinions; and thus afforded a 
parallel to the two newspapers, which appealed to each other as inde- 
pendent authorities, being all the while the production of the same 
editorial staff. 

M. T., railway Slang used by porters and pointsmen for empties, or empty 
carriages. — See moll Thomson's mark. 

" MUCH OF A MUCHNESS," alike, very much the same thing. 

MUCK, to beat, or excel; "it's no use, luck's set in him; he'd muck a 
thousand."— l/ayAeio, vol. i., p. 1 8. To run a muck, or go a mucker, 
to rush headlong into certain ruin. From a certain religious phrenzy, 
which is common among the Malays, causing one of them, kreese in 
hand, to dash into a crowd and devote every one to death he meets 
with, until he is himself killed, or falls from exhaustion. — Malay, 
AMOK, slaughter. 

MUCK-OUT, to clean out ; often applied to one utterly ruining an adver- 
sary in gambling. 

MUCK-SNIPE, one who has been " mucked out," or beggared, at gambling. 
— See muck. 

MUCKENDER, or muckenger, a pocket-handkerchief.— 0?d Cf. snot- 
tinger. The original name of the "neckingek" in Bermondsey was 
the "devil's neck-handkerchief." See a review of this work in The 
BooJcseller, May 26, i860. This is the name of a locality. There is 
still a "neckinger road;" and Messrs Bevington & Sons' tannery in 
Bermondsey bears the name of the " neckinger mills." 

Mounter, a false swearer. Derived from the borrowed clothes men 
used to MOUNT, or dress in, when going to swear for a consideration. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 83 

MUDFOG, "The British Association for the Promotion of Science."— 
University. 

MUD-LARK, a man or woman who, with clothes tucked above knee, 
grovels through the mud on the banks of the Thames, when the tide 
is low, for silver spoons, old bottles, pieces of iron, coal, or any articles 
of the least value, deposited by the retiring tide, either from passing 
ships or the sewers. Occasionally applied to those men who cleanse 
the sewers, with great boots and sou' wester hats. Those who are 
employed in banks and counting-houses, in collecting and other out- 
door duties, have also this appellation. 

MUD-STUDENT, a farming pupil. The name given to the students at 
the Agricultural College, Cirencester. 

MUFF, a silly, or weak-minded person ; mcff has been defined to be " a 
soft thing that holds a lady's hand without squeezing it." 

MUFFIN-WORRY, an old ladies' tea party. 

MUFTI, the civilian dress of a naval or military officer when off duty. — 
Anfjlo-Indian. From an Eastern word signifying a clergyman or priest. 

MUG, the mouth, or face. — Old. 

" 'Goblet and mug.' — Tojiera should bear in mind that what they quaff from 
tlie goblet afterwards appears in the siuo." 

MUG, to strike in the face, or fight. Also, to rob by the garrote. Gaelic, 
MCiG, to suffocate, oppress; Irish, mugaim, to kill, destroy. 

MUG, "to MUG one's-self," to get tipsy. 

MUGGING, a thrashing, — synonymous with SLOGGING, both terms of the 
" ring," and frequently used by fighting men. 

MUGGY, drunk. 

MUG-UP, to paint one's face. — Theatrical. To " cram " for an examina- 
tion. — Army. 

MULL, " to make a mull of it," to spoil anything, or make a fool of one's- 
self. — Gipsy. 

MULLIGRUBS.— Ftc?e molltgeubs. 

MULLINGAR HEIFER, a girl with thick ankles.— 7m^. The story goes 
that a traveller, passing through Mullingar, was so struck with this 
local peculiarity in the women, that he determined to accost the first 
he met next. " May I ask," said he, " if you wear hay in your shoes ?" 
" Faith an' I do," said the girl, " and what then ? " " Because," says 
the traveller, " that accounts for the calves of your legs coming down 
to feed on it." 

MULTEE KERTEVER, very bad. Italian, molto cattivo. — Lingua, 
Franca. 

MUMMER, a performer at a travelling theatre. — Ancient. Rustic per- 
formers at Christmas in the West of England, 

MUMPER, a beggar. — Gipsy. P/ssibly a corruption of mummer. 

MUNDUNGUS, trashy tobacco. Spanish, mondongo, black pudding. — See 
the Gentleman's Magazine for 1821, vol. xxv. p. 137. 

MU^NGARLY, bread, food. Mung is an old word for mixed food, but 



1 84 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 



MUNGARLT is doubtless derived from the Lingua Franca, mangiar, to 
eat. — See the following. 
MUNfxARLY CASA, a baker's shop; evidently a corruption of some 
Lingua Franca phrase for an eating-house. The well-known "Nix 
mangiare " stairs at Malta derive their name from the endless beggars 
who lie there and shout nix mangiare, i.e., "nothing to eat," to excite 
the compassion of the English who land there, — an expression which 
exhibits remarkably the mongrel composition of the Lingua Franca, 
MANGIARE being Italian, and Nix an evident importation from Trieste, 
or other Austrian seaport. 
MUNGING, or " mohnging," whining, begging, muttering. — North. 
MUNS, the mouth. German, mund. — Old Cant. 
MURERK, the mistress of the house. — ^ee burerk. 

MURKARKER, a monkey, — vulgar Cockney pronunciation of macauco, a 
species of monkey. Jackey Macauco was the name of a famous fight- 
ing monkey, which used about thirty years ago to display his prowess 
at the Westminster pit, where, after having killed many dogs, he was 
at last " chawed up " by a bull terrier. 
MURPHY, a potato. Probably from the Irish national liking for potatoes, 
MURPHY being a common surname amongst the Irish. See mike. Mur- 
phies {edible) are sometimes called Donovans. 
MURPHY, "in the arms of murphy," i.e., fast asleep. Corruption of Mor- 
pheus. 
MUSH, an' umbrella. Contraction of mushroom. 

MUSH— (or mushroom) — FAKER, an itinerant mender of umbrellas. 
MUSHROOM, an inelegant round hat worn by demure ladies. 
MUSLIN, a woman or girl; "he picked up a bit of muslin." 
MUST A, or muster, a pattern, one of a sort. Anglo-Indian term used in 
describing the make or pattern of anything, from the cut of a coat to 
the plan of a palace. A sample of any kind of merchandise. This 
word is very generally used in commercial transactions all over the 
world. 
MUTTON, a contemptuous term for a woman of bad character, sometimes 
varied to laced mutton. The expression was used as a Cant term for 
a "wild duck" in the reign of James I. As a Slang term it was em- 
ployed by Ben Jonson in his masque of Neptune s Triumph, which was 
written for display at Court on Twelfth Night, 1623 ; "a fine laced 
MUTTON or two," are the words applied to two wantons. Shahspeare 
has the term. In that class of English society which does not lay any 
claim to refinement, a fond lover is often spoken of as being " fond of 

his MUTTON." 

MUTTON-CHOPS, a sheep's-head. 

MUTTON-FIST, an uncomplimentary title for any one having a large 
coarse red hand. 

MUTTON-WALK, the saloon at Drury Lane Theatre. A vulgar appella- 
tion applied to this place early in the last century, still in use in the 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 85 

neiglibourhood of Covent Garden, which was formerly the great resort 
for the gay and giddy of both sexes. 

MUZZLE, the mouth. 

MUZZLE, to fight or thrash ; to throttle or garrote. 

MUZZY, intoxicated.— ^oMseAoM Words, No. 183. 

MY AUNT, the closet of decency, or house of office. 

MY LORD, a nickname given to a hunchback. 

MY NABS, myself; in contradistinction to tour nibs, which see. 

MY TULIP, a term of endearment used by the lower orders to persons and 
animals; "kim up, my tulip," as the coster said to his donkey when 
thrashing him with an ash stick. 

MY UNCLE, the pawnbroker, — generally used when any person questions 
the whereabouts of a domestic article. " Oh ! only at MY uncle's'' is 
the reply. Up the spout has the same meaning. It is worthy of 
remark that the French call this useful relative ma TANTE, " my aunt." 

NAB, to catch, to seize ; " nab the rust," to take offence. — Ancient, four- 
teenth century.— >See nap. 

NABS, self; my nabs, myself; HIS NABS, himself. — North Country Cant. 

NAB THE RUST, to take offence. 

NABOB, an Eastern prince, a retired Indian official, — hence a Slang terra 
for a capitalist. 

NAIL, to steal, or capture ; " paid on the nail," i.e., ready money; nailed, 
taken up, or caught — probably in allusion to the practice of nailinu 
bad money to the counter. We say "as dead as a DOOR-Nail;" — 
why ? Shalcspeare has the expression in Henry IV. — 

" Falstaff. What ! is the old kiiig dead? 
Pistol. As NAIL in door. " 

A correspondent thinks the expression is only alliterative humour, 
and compares as " flat as a flounder," " straight as a soldier," &c. 

" NAIL IN ONE'S COFFIN," a dram, " a drop o' sumat' short," a jocular, 
but disrespectful phrase, used by the lower orders to each other at the 
moment of lifting a glass of spirits to their lips. " Well, good luck ! 
here's another nail in MY coffin." Another phrase with old topers 

is " SHEDDING A TEAR," also " WIPING AN EYE." 

NAM, a policeman. Evidently Bach Slang. 

NAMBY PAMBY, particular, over-nice, effeminate. This, I think, was of 
Pope's invention, and first applied by him to the affected, short-lined 
verses addressed by Ambrose Phillips to Lord Carteret's infant child- 
ren. — See Johnson's Life of Pope. 

NAMUS, or namous, some one, i.e., "be off, somebody is coming." — Bach 
Slang, but general. — See vamos. 

NANNY-SHOP, a disreputable house. 

NANTEE, not any, or "I have none." Italian, niente, nothing. — Sci 
DINARLY. — Lingua Franca. 



1 86 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

NANTEE PALAVER, no conversation, i.e., hold your iougne.— Lingua 

Franca. — See palaver. 
NAP, or NAB, to take, steal, or receive ; " you '11 nap it," i.e., you will catch 

a beating. — North ; also Old Cant. JBulwer's Paul Clifford. 
NAP, to break, or rap with a hammer. — See knap. — North. 
NAP, or NAPPER, a hat. From nab, a hat, cap, or head. — Old Cant. 
NAP NIX, a person who works at his trade, and occasionally goes on the 

stage to act minor parts without receiving any pay. The derivation is 

obvious. — See nap and nix, i.e., nichts. 
" NAP ONE'S BIB," to cry, shed tears, or carry one's point. 
NATIONAL EXHIBITION, an execution at the Old Bailey ; a term of 

the late Douglas Jerrold's, but now usual. 
NARK, a person in the pay of the police ; a common informer ; one who 

gets his living by laying traps for publicans, &c. 
NARK, to watch, or look after; " nabk the titter;" watch the girl. 
NARP, a shirt.— Scotch. 

NARY ONE, provincial for ne'er a one, neither. 
NASTY, ill-tempered, cross-grained. 

NATION, very, or exceedingly. Corruption of damnation. 
NATTY, pretty, neat, tidy.— OW. 
NATURAL, an idiot, a simpleton. 

NAVVY, an excavator employed in making railways, canals, &c. Origi- 
nally Slang, but now a recognised term. 
N. C, " enough said," being the initials of nuf ced. A certain manager, 

it is said, spells in this style. — Theatrical. 
NEARDY, a person in authority over another ; master, parent, or foreman. 

—North. 
" NECK AND CROP," entirely, completely ; " he chuck'd him neck and 

CROP out of window." 
NECKINGER, a cravat.— fi'cc muckenger. 
NEDDY, a considerable quantity, as "a neddy of fruit," "a neddy of 

fish," &c. — J)'ish Slang. 
NECK, to swaUow. Neck-oil, drink of any kind. 
" NECK AND NECK," horses run neck and neck in a race when they 

are so perfectly equal that one cannot be said to be before the other. 
"NECK OR NOTHING," desperate.— ^aci«5^ ^j/ij-ase. 
NEDDY, a life preserver. — Contraction of Kennedy, the name of the first 

man, it is said in St Giles's, who had his head broken by a poker. — 
Vide Mornings at Bow Street. 
NEDDY, a donkey. 
NED, a guinea. Halp-ned, half-a-guinea. 

" Nap the kegdlars," to divide the booty. 

" Nap the teaze," to be privately whipped in prison. 






SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 87 

NED STOKES, the four of spades. — North Hants. — See Gentleman's Maga- 
zine for 1791, p. 141. 

NEEDFUL, money, cash ; the " one thing needful," for the accomplish- 
ment of most pet designs. 

" NEVER TRUST ME," an ordinary phrase with low Londoners, and 
common in Shakspeare's time, vide Twelfth Night. It is generally 
used instead of an oath, calling vengeance on the asseverator, if such 
and such does not come to pass. 

NEWMARKET, in tossing halfpence, when the game is "two out of 
three," that is, he who gains the first two tosses wins. When the first 
toss is decisive, the game is termed sudden death. 

NIB-COVE, a gentleman. Nibsoiiest cribs, best or gentlemen's houses. 
— Beggar's Cant. 

NIB-LIKE, gentlemanly. 

NIBS, the master, or chief person ; a man with no means but high pre- 
tensions, — a " shabby genteel." 

NICK, or OLD NICK, the evil spirit. — Scandinavian, knickar, one of the 
names of Odin, as the destroying or evil principle. 

NICK, to hit the mark; " he 's nicked it,"i .e., won his point. 

NICK-KNACK, a trifle.— Originally Cant. 

NIGGLING, trifling, or idUng; taking short steps in walking. — North. 

NIL, half ; half profits, &c, 

NILLY-WILLY, i.e , Nill ye, will ye, whether you will or no, a familiar 
version of the Latin, NOLENS tolens. 

NIMMING, stealing. Immediately from the German, nehmen. Mother- 
u-ell, the Scotch poet, thought the old word nim (to snatch or pick up) 
was derived from nam, nam, the tiny words or cries of an infant, when 
eating anything which pleases its little palate. A negro proverb has 
the word : — 

" Buckra man nam crab, 
Crab nam buckra man." 

Or, in the buckra man's language — 

" White man eat [or steal] the crab. 
And the crab eats the white man." 

Needy, a nightly lodger, or tramp. 

Needy Mizzler, a shabby person ; a tramp who runs away without paying 
for his lodging. 

Newgate Fringe, or frill, the collar of beard worn under the chin ; so 
called from its occupying the position of the rope when Jack Ketch 
operates. Another name for it is a tybubn collar. 

Newgate Knocker, the term given to the lock of hair which coster- 
mongers and thieves usually twist back towards the ear. The shape 
is supposed to resemble the knocker on the prisoners' door at Newgate 
— a resemblance that carries a rather unpleasant suggestion to the 
wearer. Sometimes termed a cobbler's knot, or cow-lick, which see 

Nibble, to take, or steaL Nibbler, a petty thief. 



1 88 ' A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

NINCOMPOOP, a fool, a hen-pecked husband, a "Jerry Sneak." — Cor- 
ruption of non compos mentis. 

NINE CORNS, a pipeful of tobacco. 

NINES, " dressed up to the nines," in a showy or recherche manner. 

NINEPENCE, " right as ninepence," all right, right to a nicety. A cor- 
respondent says : — " This most undoubtedly should be nine-pins. For 
at the game of that name, in fairness to both parties, the nine pins must 
always be set up, with great accuracy, in this form ,•*•, There is no 
nicety in ninepence ! " *•* 

NINE SHILLINGS, cool audacity ; most probably derived from the French 

NONCHALANCE. 

NING-NANG, horse-coupers' term for a worthless thorough-bred. 

NINNYHAMMER, a foolish ignorant person. — Yorkshire. 

NIPPER, a small boy. Old Cant for a boy cut-purse. 

NIX, nothing ; " nix my doll," synonymous with nix. German, nichtsj 

nothing. — See mdngakly. 
NIX ! the signal word of school-boys to each other that the master, or 

other person in authority, is approaching. 
" NIX MY DOLLY," once a very popular Slang song, beginning — 
" In the box of a stone jug I was born, 

Of a hempen widow and a kid forlorn ; 
And my noble father, as I have heard say, 
Was a famous mei'chant of capers gay ; 
Nix my dolly, pals, fake away!" 

NIZ-PRIZ, a writ of nisi-prius. — Legal. 

NIZZIE, a fool, a coxcomb. — Old Cant, vide Triumph of Wit. 

NOAH'S ARK, a long closely-buttoned overcoat, recently in fashion. So 

named by Punch from the similarity which it exhibits to the figure of 

Noah and his sous in children's toy arks. 
NOB, the head — Pugilistic; "bob a nob," a shilling a head. Ancient Cant, 

NEB. Nob is an early English word, and is iised in the romance of 

Kynge Alisaundcr (thirteenth century) for a head; originally, no 

doubt, the same as knoh. 
NOB, a person of high position, a "swell," a noWeman, — of which word it 

may be an abbreviation. — See snob. 
NOB, the knave of trumps, when turned up at the game of cribbage. 
NOBBA, nine. Italian, "SOVE,; Spanish, nova, — the b and ■;; being inter- ■ 

changeable, as Se/^astopol and Serastopol. Slang introduced by the 

" organ-grinders " from Italy. 
NOBBA SALTEE, ninepence. Lingua Franca, nove soldi. 
NOBBING, collecting money; '' what nobbings?" i.e., how much have you 

got or collected from the crowd ? 
NOBBLE, to cheat, to overreach ; to discover. 
NOBBLER, a blow on the nob, a finishing stroke ; " that 's a nobbler 

for him," i.e., a settler. — Pugilistic. 

Nip, to steal, take up quickly. — See nap and NiB. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 89 

NOBBLER, a confederate of tliirable-rigs, who plays earnestly as if a 
stranger to the " rig," and thus draws unsuspecting persons into a 
game. — In north of England, a low, cunning lawyer. 

NOBBY, or nobbish, fine or showy ; nobbily, showily. — See snob for 
derivation. 

NOLI-ME-TANGERE, the Scotch fiddle, or other contagious disease. 

NOMMUS, be off. — See namus. Probably Bach Slang. 

NON-COM, a non-commissioned officer in the army. 

NO ODDS, no matter, of no consequence. — Latimer's Sermon before Ed- 
ward VL 

NORFOLK-HOWARDS, bugs ; a person named Bug having lately adopted 
the more aristocratic appellation of NORFOLK Howard. 

NORTH, cunning. The inhabitants of Yorkshire and the northern coun- 
ties are supposed, like the canny Scots, to get the better of other peo- 
ple in dealing ; hence the jshrase " he 's too far north for me," i.e., too 
cunning for me to deal with. 

NORWICHER, more than one's share; said of a person who leaves less 
than half the contents of a tankard for his companion. In what way 
the term originated, or why Norwich was selected before any other 
city, I have not been able to discover. 

NOSE, "to pay through the nose," to pay an extravagant price. 

NOSE-BAG, a visitor at a watering-place, or house of refreshment, who 
carries his own victuals. — Term applied by icaiters. 

" NOSE OUT OF JOINT, to put one's"; to supplant, supersede, or mortify 
a person by excelling him. 

NOSE EM, or FOGUS, tobacco. 

NOSER, a bloody or contused nose. — Pugilistic. 

NOT MEANT, said of a horse the owner of which, for interested reasons, 
does not intend that it shall win the race. 

NOUSE, comprehension, perception. — Old, apparently from the GreeJc, vovs. 

Gaelic and Irish, NOS ; knowledge, perception. 
NO WHERE, the horses not placed in a race, that are neither first, second, 

nor third, are said to be nowhere. 
NUB, a husband. 
NUDDIKIN, the head. 
" NUMBER OF HIS MESS," when a man dies in the army or navy, he ia 

said to " lose the number of his mess." 
FOR CANT NUMERALS, SEE UNDER saltee. 
NURSE, a curious term lately applied to competition in omnibuses. Two 

omnibuses are placed on the road to nurse, or oppose, each opposition 

" bu.ss," one before, the other behind. Of course the central or 

Nose, a thief who turns informer, or Queen's evidence ; a spy or watch ; 
" on the nose," on the look-out. 



IQO 



A DICTIONARY OF MODE EN 



NURSED buss has very little chance, unless it happens to be a favourite 
with the public. Nurse, to cheat, or swindle; trustees are said to 
NURSE property, i.e., gradually eat it up themselves. 
NUT, the head, in Pugilistic Slang. Used as an exclamation at a fight, it 
means strike him on the head. In tossing it is a direction to hide the 
head; to be "off one's nut," to be in liquor, or "all wops and 

BROOMS." 

NUTS, to be nuts upon anything or person is to be pleased with or fond 
of it ; a self-satisfied man is said to be nuts upon himself. Nutted, 
taken in by a man who professed to be nuts upon you. 

NUT-CUT, roguish, mischievous. A good-natured term of reproach. 
— A nglo-In dian. 

" OH, BE JOYFUL," a bottle of ram.— Sea. 
OAK, the outer door of college 
rooms; to "sport one's oak," 
to be " not at home" to visi- 
tors. — See sport. — University. 
OAR, " to put in an oar," to in- 
terfere. 
" I put my OAR in no man's boat." 
— Thackeray. 

OATSTEALER, an ostler. 

OBFUSCATED, intoxicated. 

OBSTROPOLOUS, Cockney cor- 
ruption of obstreperous. 

OCHRE, money, generally applied 
to gold, for a very obvious 
reason. 

O'CLOCK, or a'clock, "like one o'clock," a favourite comparison with 
the lower orders, implying briskness ; "to know what o'clock it is," 
to be wide-awake, sharp, and experienced. 

ODDS, a phrase used equivalent to "consequence;" "what's the ODDS," 
i.e., what is the expected result? " It's no odds," i.e., of no conse- 
quence. Odds, in sporting phraseology, refers to the proportions or 
differences of a bet. Thus, a " bookmaker " will lay " six to one " 
against such a horse getting " a place," whilst another " turfite," more 
speculative, or in the receipt of a first-rate " tip," (information about 
the horse in question,) will lay " eight," or even " ten to one." This 
latter would be termed the " LONG odds." 

ODD MAN, a street or public-house game at tossing. The number of 
players is three. Each to.sses up a coin, and if two come down head, 
and one tail, or vice versa, the last is odd man, and loses or wins, as 
may have been agreed upon. Frequently used to victimise a " flat." 
If all three be alike, then the toss goes for nothing, and the coppers 
are again "skied." 




A " Sporting Door," or " Oak." 



Nux, the "plant," or object in view; " stoU up to the Nux?' 
fully comprehend what is wanted ? — North Country Cant. 



Do you 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. IQT 

" OD DRAT IT," OD rabbit, (Colman's Broad Grins,) od's blood, and all 

other exclamations commencing with OD, are nothing but softened or 

suppressed oaths. Od is a corruption of god, and drat of rot — 

— Shakspeare. 
" OFF AND ON," vacillating ; " an off and on kind of a chap," one who 

is always undecided. 
" OFF AT THE HEAD," crazy.— OxfordsJdre. 
"OFF ONE'S FEED," real or pretended want of appetite. — Originally 

Stable Slang. 
OFFISH, distant, not familiar. 
OFFICE, " to give the office," to give a hint dishonestly to a confederate, 

thereby enabling him to win a game or bet, the profits being shared. 
OGLE, to look, or reconnoitre. 
OGLES, eyes. — Old Cant. French, ceil. 
" OIL OF PALMS," or palm oil, money. 
OINTMENT, medical student Slang for butter. 
0. K., a matter to be o. K., (oLL korrect, i.e., all correct,) must be on the 

" square," and all things done in order. 
OLDBUCK, an antiquary, from Scott's amusing novel. 
OLD DOG, a knowing blade, an experienced person. Butler uses the 

j)hrase, Hudibras, part ii., canto iii., 208, where it was said of Sidrophel, 

" And was old dog at physiology." The Irish proverb says, " old 

DOG for hard road," meaning that it requires an experienced person to 

execute a difficult undertaking. 
OLD GENTLEMAN, the d — 1. Also, a card almost imperceptibly longer 

than the rest of the pack, used by sharpers for the purpose of cheating. 
OLD GOOSEBERRY {see gooseberry), old harry (query, Old Hairey ?), 

OLD SCRATCH, all synonymes for the devil. 
OLD GOWN, smuggled tea. 
OLD HORSE, salt junk, or heei.—Sea. 
OLD MAN, in American merchant ships signifies the master. The phrase 

is becoming common in English ships. 
OLD SALT, a thorough sailor. 
OLD TOM, gin; sometimes termed cat's water. 
OLIVER, the moon ; " Oliver don't widdle," i.e., the moon does not shine. 

Nearly obsolete. — Bulwer's Paul Clifford. 

OLLAPOD, a country apothecary. 

OMEE, a master or landlord; "the omee of the cassey's a nark on the 
pitch," the master of the house will not let us perform. Italian, UOMO, 
a man ; " uoMO della casa," the master of the house. Latin, HOMO. 
— Lingua Franca. 

ON, "to be ON," in public-house or vulgar parlance, is synonymous with 
getting " tight," or tipsy ; " it 's Saint Monday with him, I see he 's on 
again," i.e., drunk as usual, or on the road to it. "I'm on" also ex- 



192 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

presses a person's acceptance of an offered bet. To get on a horse or 
a man is to make bets on him. " Try it on," a defiant challenge to a 
person to dare to attempt anything. 

" ON THE LOOSE," obtaining a living by prostitution, in reality on the 

str3ets. The term is applied to females only, excepting in the case of 

SPREES, when men carousing are sometimes said to be on the loose. 

" Christmas Day is a veiy specific sort of festival. The man who does not 

spend it at home or at the hou?-e of his nearest <i kin, is in a very poor 

plight. He can hardly go on the loose if he would : he seems to have no 

choice between innocent pleasure and the misery of hopeless solitude." 

Morning Star, 29th March 1S64. 

" ON THE NOSE," on the watch or look-out.— 5'ee nose. 

" ON THE TILES," out all night "on the spree," or carousing,— in allu- 
sion to the London cats on their amatory excursions. 

" ONE IN TEN," a j^arson. In allusion to the tithing system. 

ONE-ER, that which stands for one, a blow that requires no more. In 
Dickens's amusing work, the " Marchioness " teUs Dick Swiveller that 
" her missus is a one-er at cards." 

ONION, a watch-seal. 

"OPEN THE BALL," to lead oS &ra.ce.— Sporting. 

" Romeo opened the ball by getting away in advance, Thomastown lying se- 
cond, followed by Medora, Arbui-y," &.C.— Times. Nov. 20, 1862. 

ORACLE, "to work the oracle," to plan, manoeuvre, to succeed by a wily 

stratagem. 

O'TRIGGER, an Irish duellist, from a character in the Rivals. 

OTTER, eightpence. — Italian, otto, eight. — Lingua Franca. 

OTTOMY, a thin man, a skeleton, a dwarf. Vulgar pronunciation of 

" Anatomy." Shahspeare has 'atomt. 
OUT, a dram glass. A haUtue of a gin-shop, desirous of treating a brace 

of friends, calls for a quartern of gin and three outs, by which he 

means three glasses which will exactly contain the quartern. 
OUT, in round games, where several play, and there can be but one loser, 

the winners in succession stand out, while the others plat off. 
"OUT AND OUT," prime, excellent, of the first quality. Out-and- 

OUTER, " one v,-ho is of an out-and-out description," up to anything. 
An ancient MS. has this couplet, which shews the antiquity of the 

phrase — 

"The Kyng was good alio aboute. 
And she was wycked cute and cute." 

OUTCRY, an auction. — Anglo-Indian. 

" OUT OF COLLAR," out of place, — in allusion to servants. When in 
place, the term is collared up. — Theatrical and general. 

" On the fly," getting one's living by thieving or other illegitimate means; 

the phrase is applied to men the same as ON the loose is to women. 
" On the shelf," to be transported. With old maids it has another and 

very different meaning. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 93 

"OUT ON THE LOOSE," "on the spree," in search of adventures.— aScc 

ON THE LOOSE. 

" OUT ON THE PICKAROON." Picarone is Spanish for a thief, but 

this phrase does not necessarily mean anything dishonest, but ready 

for anything in the way of excitement to turn up ; also, to be in 

search of anything profitable. 

OUTSIDER, a person who does not habitually bet, or is not admitted to 

the "Ring." Also, a horse whose name does not appear among the 

" favourites." — Sporting. 

OVER ! or over the left, i.e., the left shoulder — a common exclamation 

of disbelief in what is being narrated, — implying that the results of a 

proposed plan will be "over THE LEFT," i.e., in the wrong direction, 

less instead of gain. 

OVER, generally used in connexion with come, as "he came it rather 

strong over me," i.e., tried to intimidate or compel me. The same 

phrase would also be used to imply that an excess of flattery or praise 

was being employed for a similar purpose, but that the adulation was 

being " laid on a little too thick " to be considered genuine. The 

term is also used in connexion with a proper noun, as " he came Tom 

Sayers over me," i.e., pummelled me into submission or acquiescence. 

" Is it in Nature," writes a visitor to Charlecnte Hall, near Stratford-ou-A'von, 

" to walk among open book-shelves covered with some of the rarest old 

works of the highest importance in art and English social history, and not 

feel inclined (not to steal, oh no !) to come the Shakspeare over one or two 

of the dear books?" — Morning Star, April 28, 1864. 

OVERS, the odd money remaining after the daily accounts are made up at 
a banking house, — usually divided amongst the clerks. — See menavel- 

INGS and SHORTS. 

OWNED, a Slang expression used by the ultra-Evangelicals when a popu- 
lar preacher makes many converts. The converts themselves are called 
his " seals." 

P's AND Q's, particular points, precise behaviour; "mind your p's and 
q's," be very careful. Originating, according to some, from the simil- 
arity of p's and q's in the hornbook alphabet, and therefore the warn- 
ing of an old dame to her pupils ; or, according to others, of a French 
dancing master to his piipils, to mind their pieds (feet) and queues 
(wigs) when making a bow. 

PACK, to go away ; " now, then, pack off there," i.e., be oflF, don't stop 
here any longer. Old, " Make speede to flee, be PACKING and awaie." 
— Buret's Alveao'ie, 1580. 

PACKETS, hoaxing lies. Sometimes used as an exclamation of incredulity. 
— North. 

PAD, " to stand pad," to beg with a small piece of paper pinned on the 
breast, insei-ibed, " I 'm starving." 

"PAD THE HOOF," to walk, not ride; "padding the hoof on the high 
toby," tramping or walking on the high road. 

"Trudge, plod away o' the hoof." — Merry Wives, i. 3. 

Pad. thf> highway ; a tramp. — Lincolnshire. 



194 ^- DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

PADDING, the light articles in the monthly magazines, of which the 
serial stories are the main attraction. — See an article on this in the 
Saturday Review, Jan. 19, 1861. 

PADDLE, to go or run away. — Household Words, No. 183. 

PADDY, PAT, or paddy whack, an Irishman. 

" I'm PADDY WHACK, from Ballyhack, 
Not long ago turn'd soldier ; 
In storm and sack, in front attack, 
None other can be boulder." 
Irish Song. 

PADDY'S GOOSE, the sign of the White Swan, a noted flash public-house 
in the east of London. 

PADDY'S LAND, "ould" Ireland. 

PADRE, a clergyman. — Anglo-Indian. 

PAL, a partner, acquaintance, friend, an accomplice. Gipsy, a brother. 

PALAMPO, a quilt or bed-cover. Probably from palanpore, a town in 
India, renowned for its manufacture of chintz counterpanes. — Anglo- 
Indian. 

PALAVER, to ask, or talk, — not deceitfully, as the term usually signifies ; 
" PALAVER to the nibs for a shant of bivvy," ask the master for a quart 
of beer. In this sense used by iram^s. — Derived from the French, 

PARLER. 

PALL, to stop ; " pall that," spoken authoritatively, means cease what you 
are doing. From pall, a .small instrument which is used to stop the 
windlass or capstan at sea. When a man says " I am palled," he 
means he cannot or dare not say any more. A sailor, on receiving any 
extraordinary intelligence, will say, " you pall me," i.e., you confound 
me. 

PALMER, a beggar who visits shops under the pretence of collecting harp 
halfpence. To induce shopkeepers to search for them, he offers 
thirteenpence for one shilliug's-worth, when many persons are silly 
enough to empty a large quantity of copper on their counter. The 
PALMER is a proficient with his fingers, and generally contrives to con- 
ceal a certain number before he leaves the shop. Since the bronze 
pence and halfpence have been introduced, the palmer has been un- 
able to follow this branch of his profession. 

PALM OIL, or palm soap, money ; also, a bribe. 

Paddingken, or crib, tramps' and boys' lodging-house. 

Pall, to detect. 

P.alming. robbing shops by pairs, — one thief bargaining with apparent 
intent to purchase, whilst the other watches his opportunity to steal. 
An amusing example of palming came off some time since. A man 
entered a " ready-made " boot and shoe shop and desired to be shewn 
a pair of boots, — his companion staying outside and amusing himself 
by looking in at the window. The one who required to be fresh shod 
was apparently of a humble and deferential turn, for he placed his hat 
on the floor directly he stepped into the sho^\ Boot after boot waa 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 195 

PAM, the knave of clubs at the game of loo ; or, in street phraseology, 

Lord Palmerston. 
PANNAM, food, bread. — Lingua Franca, fai^inen ; Latin, fa'SHS ; Ancient 

Cant, TANNAM. 

PANNAM-BOUND, to stop the prison food or rations to a prisoner. Pan- 
NAM-STRDCK, Very hungry. 

PANNIKIN, a small pan, 

PANTILE, a hat. The term pantile is properly applied to the mould 
into which the sugar is poured which is afterwards known as " loaf 
sugar." Thus, pantile, from whence comes the phrase, "a sugar-loaf 
hat," originally signified a tall, conical hat, in shape similar to that 
usually represented as the head gear of a bandit. From pantile, the 
more modern Slang term tile has been derived. Halliwell gives pan- 
tile SHOP, a meeting-house. Pantile also means a flat cake with jam 
on it, given to boys at boarding-schools instead of pudding. 

PANTILER, a dissenting preacher. Probably from the practice of the 
Quakers, and many Dissenters, of not removing the hat in a place of 
worship. Another derivation is from the earthen tiles, technically 
PANTILES, (tiles hollowed in the middle, as distinguished from "pin- 
tiles," the older sort, which are flat, smaller, and pinned or nailed to 
the rafters,) with which meeting-houses of Dissenters are usually 
covered ; hence the meeting-house came to be called a pantile, and 
its frequenters pantilees. 

PAPER-MAKER, a rag-gatherer, or gutter-raker — similar to the chiffonnier 
of Paris. Also a man who tramps through the country, and coUecta 
rags on the pretence that he is an agent to a paper mill. 

PAPER-WORKER, a wandering vendor of street literature ; one who sells 
ballads, dying speeches, and confessions, sometimes termed a running 
stationer. 

PARACHUTE, a parasol. 

PARADISE, French Slang for the gallery of a theatre, "up amongst thfe 
GODS," which see. 

PARISH LANTERN, the moon. 

tried on until at last a fit was obtained, — when lo, forth came a man, 
snatched up the customer's hat left near the door, and down the street 
he ran as fast as his legs could carry him. Away went the customer 
after his hat, and Crispin, standing at the door, clapped his hands, and 
shouted, "go it, you '11 catch him," — little thinking that it was a con- 
certed trick, and that neither his boots nor the customer would ever 
return. Palming sometimes refers to secreting money or rings in the 
hand; also, bribing, bribery. 

Panny, a house — public or otherwise; "flash pannt," a public-house used 
by thieves ; panny-men, housebreakers. Panny in thieves' Cant also 
signifies a burglary. 

Parachute, a thief's word for a parasol or umbrella. 

Parish prig, or parish bull, a parson. — Thieves' Cant, 



196 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 



PARNEY, rain; "dowry of parney," a quantity of rain. Anglo-Indian 
Slang from the Hindoo, PANl, water; Gipsy, pane. Old Indian officers 
always call braudy-and-water " brandy pawnee." 

PARSON TRULLIBER, a rude, vulgar country clergyman ; the race is 
most probably now extinct. 

PARSON'S NOSE, the hind part of a goose, — a savoury mouthful. 

PART, to pay, restore, give up ; " he 's a right un, he is ; I know'd he 'd 
FART," i.e., he is a liberal (or punctual) person, and pays his debts, or 
bestows gratuities. The term is in general use in Sporting circles, and 
is very commonly employed when speaking of the settlement of bets 
after a race or a " mill." It is probably derived from the very com- 
mon colloquialism applied to stingy people as not " liking to part with 
their money." 

PARTER, a free, liberal person. 

PARTY, a person, — a generic in very general use, similar in application to 
the German pronoun, SOJait, a person, people ; " where 's the party as 
'ad a' orter be lookin' arter this 'ere 'oss?" policeman's inquiry of the 
wrong cabman ; " old party," an elderly person. The term is said to 
have arisen in our old justice courts, where, to save "his worship" 
and the clerk of court any trouble in exercising their memories with 
the names of the different plaintiffs, defendants, and witnesses, the 
word party was generally employed. Dean Alford remarks : — 

" The word party for a man is especially offensive. Strange to say, the use is 
not alt"gether modern. It occurs in the English version of the Apocryphal 
bonk of Tcibit, vi. 7. ' If an evil spirit trouble any, one must make a smoke 
thereof before the man or the woman, and the party shall be no more 
vexed.' " 

In ShaJcspeare we find the term : — 

"Stephana. How now shall this be compassed? Canst thou bring mc to the 
PARTY?" — Tempest, iii. 2. 

"I once heard," says the Dean just quoted, "a venerable dignitary 
pointed out by a railway porter as an old party in a shovel." The 
last word is the vulgar term applied to the twisted hat worn by cleri- 
cal dignitaries. 

PASH, to strike ; now corrupted to bash, which see. — ShaJcspeare. 

PASTEBOARD, a visiting card; "to pasteboard a person," to drop a card 
at an absent person's house. 

PASTE-HORN, the nose. Shoemakers nickname any shopmate with a 
large nose " old paste-horn," from the horn in which they keep their 
paste. 

PASTY, a bookbinder. 

PATCH. This Old English term of reproach, long obsolete in polite lan- 
guage, may yet occasionally be heard in sentences like these : — " Why, 
he 's not a patch upon him," i.e., he is not to be compared with him; 
" one 's not a patch to the other," &c. Shakspeare uses the word in 
the sense of a paltry fellow : — 

"What a pied ninny's this? thou scurvy patch 1" 



SLA NO, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 197 

PATENT COAT, a coat with the pockets inside the skirts, — termed patent 
from the difficulty of picking them. 

PATTER, a speech or discourse, a pompous street oration, a judge's sum- 
ming up, a trial. Ancient word for muttering. Probably from the 
Latin, Pater-noster, or Lord's Prayer. This was said, before the 
Reformation, in a low voice by the priest, until he came to, " and lead 
us not into temptation," to which the choir responded, " but deliver 
us from evil." In our reformed Prayer-Book this was altered, and 
the Lord's Prayer directed to be said " with a loud voice." Dr Pusey 
takes this view of the derivation in his Letter to the Bishop of London, 
p. 78, 185 1. Scott uses the word twice in Ivanhoe and the Bride of 
Lammermoor. 

PATTER, to talk. Patter flash, to speak the language of thieves, talk 
Cant. 

PATTERER, a man who cries last dying speeches, &c., in the streets ; ap- 
plied also to those who help off their wares by long harangues in the 
public thoroughfares. These men, to use their own term, "are the 
haristocracy of the street sellers," and despise the costermongers 
for their ignorance, boasting that they live by their intellect. The 
public, they say, do not expect to receive from them an equivalent 
for their money — they pay to hear them talk. — Mayhew. Patterers 
were formerly termed " mountebanks." 

PATTERN, a common vulgar phrase for " patent." 

PAUL PRY, an inquisitive person. From the well-known comedy. 

PAV., the Pavilion Theatre, — sometimes called the P. V., i.e., pe-ve. 

PAW, the hand. Paw-cases, gloves. 

PAY, to beat a person, or " serve him out." Originally a nautical term, 
meaning to stop the seams of a vessel with pitch, {French, poix;) 
"here's the d 1 to pay, and no pitch hot," said when any catas- 
trophe occurs which there is no means of averting; "to pat over face 
and eyes, as the cat did the monkey ; " " to pay through the nose," to 
give a ridiculous price, — whence the origin ? Shakspeare uses PAY in 
the sense of to beat, or thrash. 

PAY, to deliver. " Pay that letter to Mr So-and-So " is a very common 
dhection to a Chinese servant. — Anglo-Chinese. 

PAY- AW AY, " go on with your story, or discourse." From the nautical 
phrase Payaway, meaning to allow a rope to run out of the vessel. 
When the hearer considers the story quite long enough, he, carrying 
out the same metaphor, exclaims HOLD on. 

PEACH, an informer against omnibus conductors and drivers, one especi- 
ally hired by the proprietors to count passengers and stoppages. The 
term is in frequent use amongst omnibus-men. 

PEACH, to inform against or betray. Webster states that impeach is now 
the modification mostly used, and that peach is confined principally 
to the conversation of thieves and the lower orders. 



Patter-crib, a flash house. 



198 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERIT 



PEACOCK HORSE, amongst undertakers, is one with a showy tail and 
mane, and holds its head up well, — che va favor-reggiando, &c., Italian. 

PEAKING, remnants of cloth. Term amongst drapers and cloth ware- 
housemen. 

PEC, a term used by the Eton boys for money, an abbreviation, of course, 
of the Latin, pecunia. 

PECK, food ; " peck and booze," meat and drink. — Lincolnshire. Ancient 
Cant, PEK, meat. 

PECK-ALLEY, the throat. 

PECKER, "keep j'onr pecker up," i.e., don't get down-hearted, — literally, 
keep your beak or head well up, " never say die ! " 

PECKHAM, a facetious meaning of the name of this district, implying a 
dinner; " all holiday at peckham," i.e., nothing to eat. 

PECKISH, hungry. Old Cant, peckidge, meat. 

PECKSNIFF, a hypocritical rascal. From Dickens's Martin Chuzzlewit. 

PEEL, to strip, or disrobe. — Pugilistic. 

PEELER, a policeman ; so called from Sir Robert Peel, (see bobby;) pro- 
perly applied to the Irish constabulary rather than the City police, the 
former force having been established by Sir Robert Peel. 

PEEPERS, eyes ; " painted peepers," eyes bruised or blackened from a 
blow. — Pugilistic. 

PEERY, suspicious, or inquisitive. 

PEG, brandy-and-soda-water. 

PEG, a shilling. — Scotch. 

PEG, " to PEG away," to strike, run, or drive away ; " peg a hack," to drive 
a cab ; " take down a peg or two," to check an arrogant or conceited 
person, — derived from the use of peg tankards. — See pin. 

PEG-TOPS, the loose trousers recently in fashion, small at the ankle and 
swelling upwards, in imitation of the Zouave costume. 

PENANG-LAWYER, the long cane, now carried by footmen, though 
formerly by gentlemen. — Anglo-Indian. 

PENNY GAFF, a shop turned into a temporary theatre, (admission one 
penny,) at which danciug and singing take place every night. Rude 
pictures of the performers are arranged outside to give the front a 
gaudy and attractive look, and at niglit-time coloured lamps and trans- 
parencies are displayed to draw an audience. 

PENNY-A-LINER, a contributor of local news, accidents, fires, scandal, 
political and fashionable gossip, club jokes, and anecdotes, to a news- 
paper ; not regularly " on the paper ; " one who is popularly believed 
to be paid for each contribution at the rate of a jjchw?/ a line, and 
whose interest is, therefore, that his article should be stufi'ed with 
fine words and long sentences. 

PENNY STARVER, a penny roll.— -See buster. 

Peninsular, or moll tooler, a female pickpocket. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 1 99 

PENSIONER, a man of the most degraded morals who lives off the miser- 
able earnings of a- prostitute. 

PEPPER, to thrash, or strike. — Pugilistic, but used by Sliakspeare. — East- 
ern Counties. 
PEPPER-BOXES, the buildings of the Royal Academy and National 
Gallery in Trafalgar Square. The name was first given by a wag, in 
allusion to the cupolas erected by Wilkins, the architect, upon the 
roof, and which, from their form and awkward appearance, at a dis- 
tance suggest to the stranger the fact of their being enlarged pepper- 
boxes. — See BOILERS. 
PERCH, or BOOST, a resting-place; "I'm off to perch," i.e., I am going to 
bed. 

" Nor yet a single perch, for which my hicky stars to thank, 
Except the perch I've taken on this damp rheumatic; bank." 

The Lay of the Unsuccessful Angler, by Arthur Smith. 

PERKINS, beer. Dandy or affected shortening of the more widely-known 
Slang phrase, Barclay and pebkins. 

PERSUADERS, spurs. 

PESKY, an intensitive expression, implying annoyance ; a pesky, trouble- 
some fellow. Corruption of pestilent ; or, Irish, peasgach, rough, 
rugged. 

PETER, a partridge. — Poacher's term. 

PETER, a bundle, or valise. — Bulwer's Paul Clifford. Also, a cash-box. 

PETER, to run short, or give out. 

PETTICOAT, a woman. 

PEWTER, money, like tin, used generally to signify silver; also a pewter- 
pot. " Let me have my beer in the pewter," is a common request to 
waiters, made by " City " men, and others who affect habits of rude 
health. 

PHILADELPHIA-LAWYER, this transatlantic limb of the law is con- 
sidered to be the very acme of acuteness. Sailors relate many stories 
of his artful abilities, none, however, short enough to find a place 
here. 

PHILISTINE, a policeman. The German students call all townspeople 
not of their body philister, as ours say cads. The departing student 
says, mournfully, in one of the Burschenlieder — 
" Muss selber nun philister seyn I" 
i.e., " I must now myself Philistine be ! " 

PHYSOG, or phiz, the face. Sivift uses the latter. Corruption of "phy- 
siognomy." 

Peteber, or Peterman, one who follows hackney and stage coaches, and 

cuts off the portmanteaus and trunks from behind. — Nearly obsolete. 

Ancient term for a fisherman, still used at Graveseud. 
Philliper, a thief's accomplice, one who stands by and looks out for 

the police while the others commit the robbery. — Times, 5th September 

i860. 



200 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

PIC, the Piccadilly Saloon. The earlier abbreviation was dillt. Very fast 
men were wout (it is now " used up ") to call it " the sanguinary 
DOUBLES, from the fact of its being situated at No. 222 in Piccadilly. 

PICCADILLY BUTCHERS, a satirical name applied by the crowd to the 
regiment of Life Guards, known as the " Royal Blues," from their 
eavage onslaught upon the crowd on the occasion of the arrest of Sir 
Francis Burdett at his house in Piccadilly, by order of the Speaker of 
the House of Commons. 

PICK, " to PICK one's-self up," to recover after a beating or illness, some- 
times varied to "pick up one's crumbs;" "to pick a man up," "to 
do," or cheat him. 

PICKANINNY, a young child is thus styled by the West Indian negroes. 
The word is now completely naturalised among sailors and water-side 
people in England. 

PICKERS, the h&nds.—Shalcspeare. 

PICKLE, a miserable or comical position ; " he is in a sad pickle," said of 
any one who has fallen into the gutter, or got besmeared. " A pickle 
herring," a comical fellow, a merry-audrew. — Old. Also, a mischie- 
vous boy ; " what a pickle he is to be sure ! " 

PICKLES ! gammon; also a jeering and insulting exclamation. 

PIDGEON, business, simply the Chinese pronunciation of the English 
word. — Anglo-Chinese. 

PIECE, a contemptuous term for a woman ; a strumpet. — ShaJcspeare. 

PIG, or sow's BABY, a sixpence. 

PIG, a mass of metal, — so called from its being poured in a fluid state 
from a sow, which see. — Workmen's term. 

" PIG AND TINDER-BOX," the vulgar rendering of the well-known 
tavern sign, " Elephant and Castle." 

PIGEON, a gullible or soft person. The French Cant, or Argot, has the 
word pigeon, dupe — " pechon, peschon DE ruby, apprenti gueux, 
enfant, (sans doute derob^.)" The vagabonds and brigands of Spain 
also used the word in their Germania, or Rubbers' Language, palomo, 
(pigeon,) ignoi-ant, simple. 

PIGEON'S MILK, boys are frequently sent, on the ist of April, to " buy 
a pennyworth of pigeon's milk." 

PIG-HEADED, obstinate. 

PIG'S EYE, the ace of diamonds in cards. 

PIG'S WHISPER, a low or inaudible whisper; also a short space of time, 
synonymous with cockstride, i. e. , cock's tread. 

PIKE, a turnpike ; " to bilk a pike," to cheat the keeper of the toll-gate. 

" No riKE I 've seen, tbe only one w.as that unpleasant wicket, 
Where threepence I was forced to pay, and now I have lost the ticket !" 

The Lay of the Unsuccessful Avghr, by Arthur Smith. 



Pigeon, or bluet cracking, breaking into empty houses and stealing lead. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULOAR WORDS. 20I 

PIKE, to run, to be off with speed ; " pike it " is said as a hasty and con- 
temptuous, if not angry dismissal ; " if you don't like it, take a short 
stick and pike it." 

" Joe quickly his sand had sold, sir. 
And Bess got a basket of rags ; 
Then up to St Giles's they roU'd, sir; 

To every bunter Bess biags. 
Then unto the gin-shop they pike it, 
And Bess was admitted, we hear ; 
For none of the crew dare but liUe it. 
As Joey, her kiddy, was there." 

The Sand-man's Wedding, a Cantata. 
'"Twas not our fault, dear Jack; we saw the watch going into the hou«e 
the moment we came there, and we thought it proper to pike off." — The 
Prison Breaker, a Farce. 

PILL, a doctor. — ililitary. Pill-driver, a peddling apothecary, 

PILL-BOX, a doctor's carriage. 

PIN, " to put in the pin," to refrain from drinking. From the ancient 
peg tankard, which was furnished with a row of pins, or pegs, to regu- 
late the amount which each person was to drink. A correspondent 
gives a different explanation. " When an Irishman makes a vow or 
promise to abstain from drinking for a time, he puts a PiN in the right- 
hand cuff of his coat. So that, in case he shovild ever forget his pro- 
mise, he will see the pin, like an accusing augel. when lifting the glass 
to his mouth." A merry pin, a roisterer. — See peg. 

PINCHBECK, inferior, deteriorated. 

"Where, in these pinchbeck days, can we hope to find the old agricultural 
virtue in all its purity?" — Framley Parsonage. 

Pinchbeck was an inferior metal, compounded of copper and zinc, to 
resemble gold. It was very fashionable in the last century, and derived 
its name from a Mr Pinchbeck, a well-known London tradesman, who 
manufactured watches, buckles, and other articles out of it. Pinch- 
beck first obtained his notoriety by the invention of an ingenious 
candle-snuffers, which the author of The Heroic Epistle to Sir William 
Chambers made the vehicle of a facetious Ode that went through eight 
editions. The title of this jeu d' esprit ran thus : — 

" Ode to Mr Pinchbeck, upon hii Newly-invented Candlt-Snvffer$, by Malcolm 
M'Gregor, Esq., 1776. 

" Illustrious pinchbeck! condescend, 
Thou well-beloved, and best king's friend. 
These lyric lines to view ; 
Oh may they prompt thee, e'er too late. 
To snuff the candle of the State, 
That burns a little blue !" 

Pinchbeck published a poetical reply, and the two pamphlets were 

for a long time the talk of town. 
PINDAKIO HEIGHTS, studying the odes of VindnT.—Ou-ford. 
PINK, the acme of perfection. — Shakspeare. 
PINK, to stab, or pierce. 

Pin, to catch, apprehend. Also, to steal rapidly. 
Pinch, to steal, or cheat ; also, to catch, or apprehend. 



202 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

PINNER-UP, a seller of old songs, pinned against a wall or framed can- 
vass. Formerly many of these street salesmen carried on their little 
" paper trade " in London; now they are rarely seen. 
PINS, legs. 

PIPE, to follow or dog a person. Term tised by detectives. 
PIPE, to shed tears, or bewail ; " pipe one's eye." — Sea term. 
" He first began to eye his pipe, 
And then to pipe his eve." — Old Song. 

Metaphor from the boatswain's pipe, which calls to duty. 

PIPE, " to put one's pipe out," to traverse his plans, " to take a rise " 
out of him. 

PIPER, a person employed by an omnibus proprietor to act as a spy on 
the conductor. 

PIPKIN, the stomach, — properly, an earthen round-bottomed pot. — 
Noricich. 

PIT, a breast pocket. 

PITCH, a fixed locality where a patterer can hold forth to a gaping multi- 
tude for at least some few minutes continuously ; " to do a pitch in 
the drag," to perform in the street. 

PITCH INTO, to fight ; " pitch into him, Bill," i.e., give him a thrashing. 

" PITCH THE FORK," to tell a pitiful tale. 

" PITCH THE NOB," prick the garter, which see. 

PLANT, a dodge, a preconcerted swindle ; a position in the street to sell 
from. Plant, a swindle, may be thus described : a coster will join a 
party of gambling costers that he never saw before, and commence 
tossing. When sufficient time has elapsed to remove all suspicions of 
companionship, his mate will come up and commence betting on each 
of his pal's throws with those standing around. By a curious quick- 
ness of hand, a coster can make the toss tell favourably for his wager- 
ing friend, who meets him in the evening after the play is over and 
shares the spoil. 

PLANT, to mark a person ont for plunder or robbery, to conceal, or place. 
—Old Cant. In the sense of conceal, there is a similar word in Argot, 

PLANQUER. 

PLEBS, a term used to stigmatise a tradesman's son at Westminster 

School. Latin, plebs, the vulgar. 
PLOUGHED, drunk. — Household Words,'Sio. 183. Also a University term 

equivalent to plucked. 
PLUCK, the heart, liver, and lungs of an animal, — all that is plucked 

away in connexion with the windpipe, from the chest of a sheep or 

hoc- ; among low persons, courage, valour, and a stout heart. — See 

MOLLTGRUBS. 

PLUCK'D-'UN, a stout or brave fellow; "he's a rare pluck'd-'un," i.e., 
dares face anything. 

During the Crimean war, PLUCKT, signifying courageous, seerned 
likely to become a favourite term in May-Fair, even among the ladies. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 203 

An eminent critic, however, who had been bred a butcher, having in- 
formed the fashionable world that in his native town the sheep's head 
always went witWthe pluck, the term has been gradually falling into 
discredit at the West End. 

It has been said that a brave soldier is pltjckt in attack, and game 
when wounded. Women are more game than pltjckt. 
PLUCKED, turned back at an examination. — University. A correspondent 
says that " in ancient times it was the University practice of pulling 
(or plucking) the sleeve — by the proctor, if I recollect aright — of 
those whose degrees were refused." 

PLUM, £100,000, usually applied to the dowry of a rich heiress, or a 

legacy. — Civic Slang. 
PLUM-CASH, prime cost. — Anr/lo-Chincse. 

PLUMMY, round, sleek, jolly, or fat ; excellent, very good, first rate. 
PLUMPER, a single vote at an election, not a " split ticket." 
PLUNDER, a common word in the horse trade to express profit. Also au 

American term for baggage, luggage. 
PLUNGER, a cavalry-man. — Military Slang. 
POCKET-PISTOL, a dram-flask. 
PODGY, drunk ; dumpy, short, and fat. 
POGRAM, a Dissenter, a fanatic, formalist, or humbug. So called from a 

well-known dissenting minister of this name. 
POKE, a bag, or sack; "to buy a pig in a poke," to purchase anything 

without seeing it. — Saxon. 

POKE, a Slang word for booty or plunder. — Times, Nov. 29, i860. 
POKE, "come, none of your poking fun at me," i.e., you must not laugh 
at me. 

POKER, " by the holy poker and the tumbling Tom ! " an Irish oath. 
POKERS, the Cambridge Slang term for the Esquire Bedels, who carry 
the silver maces (also called pokers) before the Vice-Chancellor. 
" Around, around, call, all around, 
On seats with velvet lined. 
Sat Heads of Houses in a row, 
And Deans, and College Dons below, 
With a POKER or two behind." 

Rime of the New-Made Baccatere, 1841. 
POKY, confined or cramped ; " that corner is POKT and narrow." — Times 
article, 21st July 1859. Saxon, poke, a sack. 

POLE-AXE, vulgar rendering of the word "police." 

POLICEMAN, a fly — more especially the earlier kind known as "blue 

bottles. " 

POLISH OFF. to finish off anything quickly — a dinner for instance ; also 
to finish off an adversary. — Pugilistic. 

Poll, or polling, one thief robbing another of part of the booty. In use 
in ancient times, vide Hall's Union, 1548. 



204 ^ DICTIONARY OF MODERN' 

POLL, the " ordinary degree " candidates for the B. A. Examination, who 
do not aspire to the " Honours " list. From the Greek, ol ttoXXoi, 
"the many." Some years ago, at Cambridge, Mr Hopkins being the 
most celebrated " honour coacli," or private tutor for the wranglers, 
and Mr Potts the principal " crammer " of the non-honour men, the 
latter was facetiously termed the " pollt hopkins " by the under- 
graduates. 

POLL, a female of unsteady character ; " polled up," living with a woman 
in a state of unmarried impropriety. 

POLONY, Cockney shortening and vulgar pronunciation of a Bologna 
sausage. 

POMPADOURS, the Fifty-sixth Regiment of Foot m the British army. 

POND, or HERRING-POND, the sea ; so called by those who are sent 
across it at the national expense. 

PONGE, or PONGELOW, beer, half-and-half ; the term is also used as a verb, 
as in the Cockney phrase, " let 's PONGELOW, shall we ? " 

PONY, twenty-five pounds. — Sporting. 

POONA, a sovereign. — Corruption of " pound ; " or from the Lingua 
Franca. 

POP, to pawn or pledge ; "to POP up the spout," to pledge at the pawn- 
broker's, — an allusion to the spout up which the brokers send the 
ticketed articles until such times as they shall be redeemed. The 
spout runs from the ground-floor to the wareroom at the top of the 
house. 

POPE'S NOSE, the extremity of the rump of a roast fowl, devilled as a 
dainty for epicures. 

POPS, pocket-pistols. 

PORTRAIT, a sovereign, or twenty shillings. 

POSA, a treasurer. A corruption of " purser," the name given to the 
treasurer in the large Anglo-Chinese mercantile establishments. — 
Anglo-Ckincse. 

POSH, a halfpenny, or trifling coin. Also a generic term for money. 

POST, to pay down ; " POST the pony " signifies to place the stakes played 
for on the table. 

POST-HORN, the nose.— &e paste-horn. 

POST-MORTEM, at Cambridge, the second examination which men who 
have been " plucked " have to undergo. — University, 

POSTBOYS, THREE JOLLY, a method of tossing. 

POSTERIORS, a correspondent insists that the vulgar sense of this word 
is undoubtedly Slang ; (Swift, I believe, first applied it as such,) and 
remarks that it is curious the word anterior has not been so abused. 

POSTED UP, well acquainted with the subject in question, " up to the 
mark," — metaphor drawn from the counting-house. 

POT, a sixpence, i.e., the price of a pot or quart of half-and-half. A half- 
crown, in medical student Slang, is a five-pot piece. 



SLANG. CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 205 

POT, " to GO TO POT," to die ; from the classic custom of putting the ashes 
of the dead in an urn ; also, to be niined, or broken up, — often applied 
to tradesmen who fail in business. Go to pot ! i.e., go and hang your- 
self, shut up and be quiet. L Estrange, to put the pot on, to over- 
charge, or exaggerate. A correspondent, however, prefers looking to 
the refiner's shop for the origin of the expression, where refuse metal 
and worn-out plate are daily condemned " to go to pot." 

POT, to finish ; " don't pot me," term used at billiards, when a player 
holes his adversary's ball — generally considered shabby play. This 
word was much used by our soldiers in the Crimea, for firing at the 
enemy from a hole or ambush. These were called pot-shots. 

POT-HUNTER, a sportsman who shoots anything he conies across, having 
more regard to filling his bag than to the rules which regulate the 
sport. 

POT LUCK, just as it comes; to take pot luck, i.e., one's chance of a 
dinner,— a hearty term used to signify whatever the pot contains the 
visitor is welcome to. 

POT-WALLOPER, an elector in certain boroughs before the passing of the 
Reform Bill, whose qualification consisted in being a housekeeper, — 
to establish which it was only necessary to boil a pot within the limits 
of the borough, by the aid of any temporary erection. This implied 
that he was able to provide for himself, and not necessitated to apply 
for parochial relief. Honiton, Tregoney, Ilchester, Old Sarum, &c., 
had this privilege before the passing of the Reform Bill. — See Gentle- 
man's Magazine for June 1852. Wallop, a word of Anglo-Saxon 
derivation, from the same root as well. 

POTATO-TRAP, the mouth.— Originally a Eihernicism. 

POTEEN, whisky made in an illicit still, once a favourite drink in Ireland, 
now almost unattainable. 

POTTED, or potted out, cabined, confined; "the patriotic member of 
Parliament potted out in a dusty little lodging somewhere about 
Bury Street." — Times article, 21st July 1859. Also applied to burial, 
— a gardening allusion. 

POTTY, indifferent, bad looking, — said of a rotten or unsound scheme. 

POWER, a large quantity ; " a POWEE of money." — Especially Insh, but 
now general. Deriv. POER, Old French or Norman, large resources; 
also an army. 

P. P., in Turf Slang a contraction of "plat or pat;" that is, the money 

must be paid whether the horse runs or not, 
PRANCER, a horse. — Ancient Cant. 

PRECIOUS, used in a Slang sense like very or exceeding; "a precious 
little of that," i.e., a very little indeed ; a precious humbug, rascal, 
&c., i e., an eminent one. 

Prad, a horse. 
Prad-napping, horse-stealing. 



206 A DICTIONARY OF MODE EN 

PRETTY HORSE-BREAKER, a phrase of recent adoption, applied to the 
ladies of the deiui-monde by tlie Times and other newspapers. It is 
said that the livery stable-keepers of the West End find it to their 
advantage to provide horses and " tra^JS " for these pkettt horse- 
breakers to display. 

PRIAL, a corruption of pair-royal, a term at the game of cribbage, mean- 
ing three cards of a similar description. Often used metaphorically 
for three persons or things of a kind. Double-prial, a corruption of 
DOUBLE PAIR-ROYAL, means four persons or things of a similar descrip- 
tion. 

" PRICK THE GARTER," or " pitch the nob," a gambling and cheating 
game common at fairs, and generally practised by thimble-riggers. It 
consists of a " garter " or a piece of list doubled, and then folded up 
tight. The bet is made upon your asserting that you can, with a pin, 
" prick " the point at which tlie garter is doubled. The garter is then 
unfolded, and nine times out of ten you will find that you have been 
deceived, and that one of the false folds has been pricked. The 
owner of the garter, I should state, holds the ends tightly with one 
hand. This was, doubtless, originally a Gipsy game, and we are in- 
formed by Brand that it was much practised by the Gipsies in the 
time of ShaJcspeare. In those days it was termed pricking at the 

belt, or FAST AND LOOSE. 

PRIG, a thief. Used by ^ c^cZtsow in the sense of a coxcomb. Ancient Cant, 
probably from the Saxon, pricc-an, to filch, &c. — ShaJcspeare. Prig, 
to steal, or rob. Prigging, thieving. In Scotland the term prig is 
used in a different sense from what it is in England. In Glasgow, or 
at Aberdeen, " to prig a salmon " would be to cheapen it, or seek for 
an abatement in the price. A story is told of two Scotchmen, visitors 
to London, who got into sad trouble a few years ago by announcing 
their intention of " prigging a hat " which they had espied in a 
fashionable manufacturer's window, and which one of them thought 
he would like to possess. 

PRIG, a conceited, stuckup person, and contemptible withal ; one who ap 
propriates or adopts a manner or costume not suited to him. 

PRIGGISH, conceited. 

PRIMED, said of a person in that state of incipient intoxication that if he 
takes more drink it will become evident. 

PRO, a professional. — Theatrical. 

PROG, meat, food, &c. Johnson calls it " a low word." 

PROP, a blow, the upper cut. 

PROPS, crutches. 

PROPS, stage properties. — Theatrical. 

Prime Plant, a good subject for plunder. — See plant. 
Prop, a gold scarf pin. 

Prop-nailer, a man who steals, or rather snatches, pins from gentlemen's 
scarfs. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 20/ 

PROPER, very, exceedingly, sometimes ironically; "you are a proper 

nice fellow," meaning a great scamp. 
PROS, a water-closet. Abbreviated form of irpos riva tottov. — Oxford 

University. 

PROSS, to break in or instruct a stage-infatuated youth. Also, to 
" sponge " upon a comrade or stranger for drink. 

PSALM-SMITER, a " Ranter," one who sings at a conventicle. — See brisket- 
beater. 

PUB, or PUBLIC, a public-house ; "what pub do you use ?" i.e., which inn 
or public-house do you frequent ? 

PUCKER, poor temper, difficulty, deshabille. Pucker up, to get in a poor 
temper. 

PUCKERING, talking privately. 

PUCKEROW, to seize, to take hold of. From the Hindostanee, puckeena, 
— Angln- Indian. 

PUFF, to blow up, swell with praise ; declared by a writer in the Weeldij 
Register, as far back as 1732, to be illegitimate. 

" Puff has become a Cant word, signifying the applause set forth by writers, 
&c., to increase the reputation and sale of a book, and is an excellent strata- 
gem to excite the curiosity of gentle readers." 

Lord Bacon, however, used the word in a similar sense a century be- 
fore. 

PUG, abbreviation of " pugilist." Sayers and Heenan would speak fami- 
liarly of themselves as " brother pugs." 

PULL, an advantage, or hold upon another ; " I 've the PULL over you," 
i.e., you are in my power — perhaps an oblique allusion to the judicial 
sense. — See the following . 

PULL, to have one apprehended ; " to be pulled iip," to be taken before 
a magistrate. 

PULL, to drink ; " come, take a pull at it," i.e., drink up. 

PULLET, a young girl. 

PUMMEL, to thrash, — from pommel. 

PUMP, to extract information by roundabout questioning. 

PUNDIT, a person who assumes to be very grave and learned. — Anglo- 
Indian. 

PUNKAH, a fan. — Anglo-Indian. 

PUNT, to gamble; punting-shop, a gambling-house. Common in ancient 

writers, but now disused. The word seems confined to playing for 

" chicken stakes." 

Public Patterers, swell mobites who pretend to be dissenting preachers, 
and harangue in the open air to attract a crowd for their confederates 
to rob. 

Pudding-Snammek, one who robs a cook-shop. 

PxjLLEr, a confederate thief, — generally a woman. 



208 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

PUP AND RINGER, i.e., the " Dog and Bell," the sign of a flash public- 
house. 

PURDAH, a curtain. — Anglo-Indian. 

PURL, hunting term for a fall, synonymous with foaled, or spilt ; " he '11 
get PURLED at the rails." 

PURL, a mixture of hot ale and sugar, with wormwood infused in it, a 
favourite morning drink to produce an appetite ; sometimes with gin 
aud spice added : — 

" Two penn'orth o' purl — 
Good ' early purl,' 
'Gin all the world 
To put your hair into a curl, 
When you feel yourself queer of a momin'." 

PUSH, a crowd.— OM Cant. 

PUSSEY-CATS, corruption of Puseyites, a name constantly, but impro- 
perly, given to the " Tractarian " party in the Church, from the 
Oxford Regius Professor of Hebrew, who by no means approved of 
the Romanising tendencies of some of its leaders. 

PUT, a game at cards. 

" PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT," said of a blow or repar- 
tee, and equivalent to "take that and profit by it," i.e., let it be a 
warning to you. 

" PUT THE POT ON," to bet too much upon one horse.— Sportinrf. 

PUT UP, to suggest, to incite, " he put me up to it ; " to have done with ; 
PUT IT UP, is a vulgar answer often heard in the streets. Put up, to 
stop at a hotel or tavern for entertainment. 

PUT UPON, cheated, victimised, oppressed. 

PUTTUN, regiment. — Anglo-Indian. 

PYAH, weak, useless, paltry. This word, much in use among sailors, is 
evidently derived from the Indian term pariah, signifying the lowest 
caste of Hindoos. Thus the Pariah dogs in India are termed ptah 
dogs ; and the Pariah descendants of the old Portuguese settlers are 
called PYAH PORTUGUESE. Sailors term the natives of St Helena, — 
a wretched-looking set of individuals, — PYAh englishmen. 

PYGOSTOLE, the least irreverent of names for the peculiar " M.-B." coats 
worn by Tractarian curates : — 

" It is true that the wicked make sport 
Of our PVGOSTOLES, as we go by ; 
And one gownsman, in Trinity Court, 
Went so far as to call me a ' Guy.' " 
See MB. 
PYJANDS, a kind of drawers or loose pantaloons. — Anglo-Indian. 
QUAD. See quod. 
QL^AKER, an unlawful sir reverence. 
QUALITY, gentry, high life. 

Pure Finders, street-coUectoi-s of dogs' dung. 



\ 



aJU. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 209 

^ QUANDARY, described in the dictionaries as a "low word," may fittingly 
be given here. It illustrates, like Hoccs pocus, and other compound 
colloquialisms, the singular origin of Slang expressions. Quandary, 
a dilemma, a doubt, a difficulty, is from the French, qu'en dirai-je ? 
— Skinner. 
QUARTEREEN, a farthing. — Gibraltar term. Italian, quattrino. 
QUAVER, a musician. 

QUEEN BESS, the Queen of Clubs, — perhaps because that queen, history 
says, was of a swarthy complexion. — North Bants. — See Gentleman's 
Magazine for 1 791, p. 141. 
QUEER, an old Cant word, once in continual use as a prefix, signifying 
base, roguish, or worthless, — the opposite of RUM, which signified good 
and genuine. Queer, in all probability, is immediately derived from 
the Cant language. It has been mooted that it came into use from a 
qucere (?) being set before a niau's name ; but it is more than probable 
that it was brought iuto this country by the Gipsies from Germany, 
where QDER signifies "c7-oss," or "crooked." At all events it is be- 
lieved to have been first used in England as a Cant word. 
QUEER, " to QUEER a flat," to puzzle or confound a " gull " or silly fellow. 

" Who in a row like Tom could lead the van, 
Booze in the ke7i, or at the spell/cen hustle? 
Who QUEER a flat," &c. 

— Don Juan, canto si. 19. 

QUEER BAIL, worthless persons who for a consideration formerly stood 
bail for any one in court. Insolvent Jews generally performed this 
office, which gave rise to the term jew-bail. — See mounters : both 
nearly obsolete. 

QUEER STREET, " in queer street," m difficulty or in want. 

QUEER CUFFEN, a justice of the peace, or magistrate — a very ancient 

term, mentioned in the earliest Slang dictionary. 
QUERIER, a chimney-sweep who calls from house to house soliciting 

employment — formerly termed knuller, which see. 
QUI-HI, an English resident at Calcutta. — Anglo-Indian. 
QUICK STICKS, in a hurry, rapidly ; " to cut quick sticks," to start off 

hurriedly, or without more ado. — See CUT one's stick. 
QUID, or THICK UN, a sovereign; "half a quid," half a sovereign; QUIDS, 

money generally ; " quid for a quod," one good turn for another. The 

word is used by Old French writers : — 

" Des testamens qu'on dit le maistre 
De mon faic u'aura quid ne quod." 

— Grand Testament de Villon. 

QUID, a small piece of tobacco — one mouthful. Quid est hoc ? asked one, 
tapping the swelled cheek of another ; hoc est quid, promptly replied 

Quean, {not queen,) a strumpet. Sa.xon, cwean, a barren old cow. 
Queer-bit-makers, coiners. 
QuEEK-sOFT, bad money. 

O 



2IO A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

the other, exhibiting at the same time " a chaw " of the weed. Cud 

is probably a corruption. Derivation, 0. F., or Norman, quider, to 

ruminate. 
QUID-NUNC, an inquisitive person, always seeking for news. The words 

translated simply signify " What now ? " 
QUIET, " on the quiet," clandestinely, so as to avoid observation, "under 

the rose." 
QUILL-DRIVER, a scrivener, a clerk, — satirical phrase similar to steel 

BAR-DRIVER, a tailor. 
QUILLER, a parasite, a person who sucks neatly through a quill. — See 

SUCK UP. 

QUILT, to thrash, or beat. 

QUISBY, bankrupt, poverty-stricken. — ffovsehold Woi-ds, No. 183. 

QUISI, roguish, low, obscene. — Anglo-Chinese. 

QUI-TAM, a solicitor. It properly means " who so," and is the title given 
to an action in the nature of an information on a penal suit. 

QUIZ, a prying person, an odd fellow. Oxford Slang; lately admitted 
into the dictionaries. Not noticed by Johnson. 

QUIZ, to pry, or joke ; to hoax. 

QUIZZICAL, jocose, humorous. 

QUIZZING-GLASS, an eye-glass. 

QUOCKERWODGER, a wooden toy figure, which, when pulled by a 
string, jerks its limbs about. The term is used in a Slang sense to 
signify a pseudo-politician, one whose strings of action are pulled by 
somebody else. — West. 

QUOD, a prison, or lock-up ; quodded, put in prison. A Slang expression 
used by Mr Hughes, in Tom Brown's Schooldays, {Macmillan's Maga- 
zine, January I860,) throws some light upon the origin of this now 
very common street term : — " Flogged or whipped in quad," says the 
delhieator of student life, in allusion to chastisement inflicted within 
the Quadrangle of a college. Quadrangle is the term given to the 
prison enclosure within which culprits are allowed to walk, and where 
whippings were formerly inflicted. Quadiangle also represents a 
building of four sides ; and to be " within four walls," or prison, is 
the frequent Slang lamentation of unlucky vagabonds. 

"Breakfast was done, white tie put on, 
Wearily did we ))lod ; 
Past Balliol, past Trinity, 
Into tlie great-go quod." 

— Tlie Rtme oftlie New-Made Baccalere, Oxford, 1S41. 

QUODGER, a contraction, or corruption rather, of the Latin law phrase, 

QUO JURE, by what law. — Legal. 
RABBIT, when a person gets the worst of a bargain, he is said " to have 

bought the rabbit." 
RACKET, a dodge, manoeuvre, exhibition ; a disturbance. 
RACKETY, wild or noisy. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 2 1 1 

RACKS, the bones of a dead horse. Term used by horse-slaughterers. 

RACLAN, a married woman. — Originally Gipsy, but now a term with 
English tramps. 

RAFE, or ralph, a pawnbroker's duplicate. — Norwich. 

RAG, to divide or share ; " let 's BAG IT," or " go BAGS," i.e., share it equally 
between us. — Noi-wich. 

RAGAMUFFIN, an ill-clad vagabond, a tatterdemalion. 

RAG SPLAWGER, a rich man. 

RAG, a bank-note. 

RAG-SHOP, a bank. 

RAIN NAPPER, an umbrella. 

"RAISE THE WIND," to obtain credit, or money, — generally by pawn- 
ing or selling property. Sometimes varied to "whistle up the 

BREEZE." 

RAMSHACKLE, to shatter as with a battering ram; hamshackled, 
knocked about, as standing corn is after a high wind. Corrupted 
from ram-shatter, or possibly from ransack. 

RANCHO, originally a Spanish-American word, signifying a hunting-lodge, 
or cattle-station, in a wood or desert far from the haunts of men. A 
hunting or fishing station in the Highlands or elsewhere. In Wash- 
ington, with their accustomed ingenuity in corrupting words and 
meanings, the Americans use the ajjpellation for a place of evil report. 

RANDALS-MAN.— &e billy. 

RANDAN, a boat impelled by three rowers, using four oars ; the mid- 
ship rower having two sculls, the bowman and strokesman one oar 
each. 

RANDOM, three horses driven in line. — See tandem, sudden death, 

HARUM-SCARUM. 

RANDY, rampant, violent, warm. — North, randy-beggar, a Gipsy tinker. 

RANK, to cheat. 

RAN-TAN, "on the ran-tan," drunk. — Household Words, No. 183. 

R ANTIPOLE, a noisy rude girl, a "mad-cap." 

RAP, a halfpenny ; frequently used generically for money, thus : — I haven't 
a BAP," i.e., I have no money whatever; "I don't care a bap," &c. 
Originally a species of counterfeit coin used for small change in Ire- 
land, against the use of which a proclamation was issued, 5th May 
1 73 7, Small copper or base metal coins are still called happen in the 
Swiss cantons. Irish robbers were formerly termed EAPPAREES. 

RAP, to utter; "he rapped out a volley of oaths." 

RAPPING, enormous ; " a rapping big lie." 

RAPSCALLION, a low tattered wretch — not worth a bap. 



Ramp, to thieve or rob with violence. 

Rampsma?.-^ a highway robber who uses violence when necessary. 



212 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

RAT, a sneak, an iufoniier, a turncoat, one who changes his party for in 
terest. The late Sir Robert Peel was calk'd the hat, or the tamwouth 
RATCATCHER, for altering his views on the Roman Catholic question. 
From rats deserting vessels about to sink. The term is often used 
amongst printers to denote one who works under price. Old Cant for 
a clergyman. 

RAT, TO SMELL A, to suspect something, guess that there is something 
amiss. 

RATHER! a ridiculous street exclamation synonymous with yes; "do 
you like fried chickens ?" " hatiier ! " " are you going out of town V 
" rather !" Very often pronounced rayther ! 

"RATnp:R OF THE RATHEREST," a phrase applied to anything 
slightly in excess or defect. 

RATTLECAP, an unsteady, volatile person. Generally applied to girls. 

RATTLER, a cab, coach, or cart.— OM Cant. 

RATTLERS, a railway ; " on the rattlers to the stretchers," i.e., going 
to the races by railway. 

RAAV, a tender point, or foible; "to touch a man upon the raw" is to 
irritate one by alluding to, or joking him on, anything on which he is 
peculiarly susceptible or " thin-skinned.'' — Originally Stable Slamj. 
" Ijiver and bacon, kidneys, ten pounds one ! 
Me thiuks me raw. / think I 'm rather done." 

— Phantom Barbtr. 

RAW, uninitiated; a novice.— Old. Frequently "johnny raw." 
READY, or ready gilt, (properly gelt,) money. Used by Arbuthnnf,— 

" Lord Strut was not very flush in ready." 
READY-RECKONERS, the Highland regiments of the British army. 
RECENT INCISION, the busy thoroughfare on the Surrey side of the 

Thames, known by sober people as the new cut. 
REDGE, gold. 
RED HERRING, a soldier, 
RED LANE, the throat. 

RED LINER, an officer of the Mendicity Society. 
RED RAG, the tongue. 

RELIEVING OFFICER, a significant term for a iaiher.— University. 
RENAGE, to revoke, a word used in Ireland at the game of five card. 

Rasping-gang, the mob of roughs and thieves who attend prize-fights. 
Reader, a pocket-book ; " give it him for his reader," i.e., rob him of his 

pocket book. — Old Cant. 
Ream, good or genuine. P'rom the Old Cant, rum. 
Ream-bloak, a good man. 
Redding, a gold watch, probably red 'un. 
Reguijvrs, a thief's sliare of the plunder. " They were quarrelling about 

the regulars." — Time», 8th January 1856. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 213 

RENCH, vulgar pronunciation of einse. " Wrench your mouth out," said 

a fashionable dentist one day. — North. 
RE-RAW, "on the re-raw," tipsy or drunk. — Household Words, No. 183. 
RESURRECTION PIE, a school phrase, to denote a Saturday dish, made 

of the scraps and leavings of meat that have appeared before. 

RHINO, ready money. — Old. 

" Some as I know, 
Have parted with theh- ri^ady ring." 

— TheStaman's Adieu, Old Ballad, 1670 

" Travelling forms a man ; but it at the same time forms a very large hole in 
his finances. In Switzerland it is pleasant to run up hills, but the wanderer 
must sunultaneously run uphills; and no Englishman can see the Rhine 
who does not possess the RHrao." — Morning Star, Aug. 21, 1863. 

RHINOCERAL, rich, wealthy, abounding in rhino. 
RIB, a wiie.— North. 

RIBBON, gin, or other spirits. — Servants' term. — See satin. 
RIBBONS, the reins. — Middlesex. 

RIBROAST, to beat till the ribs are sore.— OW / but still in use : — 
" And he departs, not meanly bo.astinsr 
Of his maj^nificent ribroasting." — Hadibras. 

RICH, Bpicy; also used in the sense of "too much of a good thing;" 
" a RICH idea," one too absurd or unreasonable to be adopted. 

RICHARD, a dictionary.— -See dick. 

RIDE, " to ride the high horse," or ride rough-shod over one, to be 
overbearing or oppressive ; to EXDE the black donkey, to be in au 
ill humour. 

RIDER, in a University examination, a problem or question appended to 
another, as directly arising from or dependent on it; — beginning to 
be generally used for any corollary or position which naturally arises 
from any previous statement or evidence. 

RIFF-RAFF, low, vulgar rabble. 

RIG, or trick, "spree," or performance; "run a rig," to play a trick. — 
'Oipsy. " Rig the market," in reality to play tricks with it,— a mer- 
cantile Slang phrase often used in the newspapers. 

RIGGED, "well rigged," well di-essed.— OW Sla^ig, in use iJ^S.—See 
Bailey's Dictionary. — Sea. 

"RIGHT AS NINEPENCE," (corruption of hine-pins,) quite right, 
exactly right. — See ninepence. 

*' RIGHT YOU ARE ! " a phrase implying entire acquiescence in what 
has been said or done. The expression is singularly frequent and 
general amongst the lower and middle classes of the metropolis. 

RIGHTS, " to have one TO rights," to be even with him, to serve him 

out. 
RIGMAROLE, a prolix story. 

RILE, to offend, to render very cross, irritated, or vexed. Properly, to 
render liquor turbid. — Norfolk. 



214 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 



EING, to change; "ringing castors," changing bats; "to ring the 
changes," in low life means to change bad money for good ; in respect- 
able society the phrase is sometimes employed to denote that the 
aggressor has been paid back in his own coin, as in practical joking, 
when the laugh is turned against the jester. The expression origin- 
ally came from the belfry. 

RING, a generic term given to horse-racing and pugilism, — the latter is 
sometimes termed the prize-ring. From the practice of forming the 
crowd into a ring around the combatants, or outside the race course. 

RING, " to go through the ring," to take advantage of the Insolvency 
Act, or be "whitewashed." 

EIP, a rake : " an old rip," an old libertine, or debauchee. Corruption of 
'"Reprobate." A person reading the letters R. I. R {Requiescat in 
Pace,) on the top of a tombstone as one word, said, soliloquising, 
" Rip ! well, he was an old rip, and no mistake." — Cuthbert Bede. 

RIPPER, a first-rate man or article.— Provincial. 

RIPPING, excellent, very good. 

RISE, " to take a rise out of a person." A metaphor from fly-fishing, 
the silly fish rising to be caught by an artificial fly ; to mortify, out- 
wit, or cheat him, by superior cunning. 
"There is only one thin£r, unfortunately, of wbich Oxford men are economical, 
and thiit is their University experience. Tliey not oiJy tliiuk it fair that 
freshmen should go through their ordeal unaided, but many have a sweet 
satisfaction in their distresses, and even busy themselves in obtaining 
elevations, or, as it is vulgarly termed, in getting rises ' out of them.' " — 
Hints to Freshmen, Oxford, 1843. 

RISE (or raise) A BARNEY, to collect a mob ; term used by patterers, 
and " schwassle-box " (Punch and Judy) men. 

ROARER, a broken-winded horse ; or, in the more polite speech of the 
stable, "a high blower." Roaring, as applied to horses, is often 
termed " talking " by " turf-men." 

ROARING TRADE, a very successful hus'mess.—Shopl-ecpers' Slang. 

ROAST, to expose a person to a running fire of jokes at his expense 
from a whole company. Quizzing is done by a single person only. 

ROCK-A-LOW, an overcoat. Corruption of the French boquelaure. 

ROCKED, " he's only half-rocked," i.e., half-witted. 

ROGUE'S YARN, a thread of red or blue worsted, worked into the ropes 
manufactured in the Government dockyards, to identify them if stolen. 
Also a blue thread worked into canvas, for the same purpose. 

ROMANY, a Gipsy, or the Gipsy language ; the speech of the Roma or 
ZmcaA.— Spanish Gipsy. " Can you patter ROMANY ?" i.e., can you talk 
" black," or Gipsy Hugo ? 

ROOK, a cheat, or tricky gambler ; the opposite of pigeon. — CM. 

Ring-dropping, see fawnet. 

" Roll of Snow," a piece of Irish linen.— Prison term. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. ' 215 

ROOK, a clergyman, not only from his black attire, but also, perhaps, 
from the old nursery favourite, the History of Cock Robin. 

" I, says the rook. 
With my little book, 
I '11 be the parson." 

ROOKERY, a low neighbourhood inhabited by dirty Irish and thieves — 
as ST Giles's rookert. — Old. In Military Slang that part of the bar- 
racks occupied by subalterns, often by no means a pattern of good 
order. 
ROOKY, rascally, rakish, scampish. 

ROOST, synonymous with perch, which see. 

ROOTER, anything good, or of a prime quality ; " that is a rooter," i.e., 
a first-rate one of the sort. 

ROPER, Mistress, "to marry mrs roper "is to enlist in the Royal 
Marines. 

ROPING, the act of pulling or restraining a horse, by its rider, to prevent 
it winning a race — a trick not unfrequently practised on the turf. 

ROSE, an orange. 

ROSE, "under the rose" (frequently used in its Latin form, sub rosd,] 
i.e., under the obligation of silence and secrecy, of which the rose was 
anciently an emblem, perhaps, as Sir Thomas Browne remarks, from 
the closeness with which its petals are enfolded in the bud. The Rose 
of Venus was given, says the classic legend, to Harpocrates, the God 
of Silence, by Cupid, as a bribe not to " peach " about the Goddess's 
amours. It was commonly sculptured on the ceilings of banqueting 
rooms, as a sign that what was said in free conversation there was not 
afterwards to be divulged; and about 1526 was placed over the Roman 
confessionals as an emblem of secrecy. The White Rose was also an 
emblem of the Pretender, whose health, as king, his secret adherents 
used to ch-iuk "under the rose." 

ROSIN", beer or other drink given to musicians at a dancing party. 

ROSIN-THE-BOW, a fiddler. 

ROT, nonsense, anything bad, disagreeable, or useless. 

ROT-GUT, bad small beer,— in America, cheap whisky. 

ROUGH, bad ; " rough fish," bad or stinking &sh..— Billingsgate. 

ROQGH-IT, to put up with chance entertainment, to take pot luck, and 
what accommodation " turns up," without sighing for better. " Rough- 
ing IT in the Bush " is the title of an interesting work on Backwoods 
life. 

ROUGHS, coarse, or vulgar men. 

ROULEAU, a packet of sovereigns. — Gaming. 

ROUND, to tell tales, to " split," which see ; " to round on a man," to 
swear to him as being the person, &c. Synonymous with " BUFF," 
which see. ShaJcspeare has bounding, whispering. 

ROUND, "round dealing," honest trading; "round sum," a large sum. 
Synonymous also in a Slang sense with square, which see. 



2l6 J DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

ROUNDEM, a button. 

ROUNDS, shirt collars — apparently a mere shortening of " All Rounds," or 

" All Rounders," names of fashionable collars. 
ROUND, (in the language of the street,) the beat or usual walk of the cos- 
termonger to sell his stock. A term used by street folk generally. 
" Watchmen, sometimes they made their sallies, 
And walk'd their rounds through streets and allies." 

— Ned Ward's Valgus BHiannicus, 1710. 

ROUND ROBIN', a petition, or paper of remonstrance, with the signatures 
written in a circle, — to prevent the first signer, or ringleader, from 
being discovered. 

ROUNDABOUT, a large swing with four compartments, each the size, and 
very much the shape, of the body of a cart, capable of seating six or 
eight boys and girls, erected in a high frame, and turned round by 
men at a windlass. Fairs and merry-makings generally abound with 
these swings. The frames take to pieces, and are carried in vans from 
fair to fair by miserable horses. 

ROW, "the ROW," i.e., Paternoster Row. The notorious Holywell Street 
is now called by its denizens " Bookseller's Row ! " 

ROW, a noisy disturbance, tumult, or trouble. Originally Cambridge, now 
universal. Seventy years ago it was written roue, which would in- 
dicate a French origin from roue, a profligate or disturber of the 
peace. — Vide George Parser's Life's Painter, 17S9, p. 122. 

ROWDY, money. In America, a ruffian, a brawler, a "rough." 

ROWDY-DOW, low, vulgar; "not the cheese," or thing. 

RUB, a quarrel or impediment; " there 's the EDB," i.e., that is the diffi- 
culty. — ShaJcspeare and V Esti-ange. 

RUBBED OUT, dead, — a melancholy expression, of late frequently used 
in fashionable novels. 

RUBBER, a term at whist, &c., two games out of three. — Old, 1677. 

RUCK, the undistinguished crowd; "to come in with the ruck," to arrive 
at the winning-post among the non-winning horses. — Racing term. 

RUGGY, fusty, frowsy. 

RUM, like its opposite, queer, was formerly a much-used prefix, signify- 
ing fine, good, gallant, or valuable, perhaps in some way connected 
with ROJiE. Now-a-days it means indiiferent, bad, or questionable, 
and we often hear even persons in polite society use such a phrase as 
" what a RDM fellow he is, to be sure," in speaking of a man of sin- 
gular habits or appearance. The term, from its frequent use, long 
since claimed a place in our dictionaries ; but, with the exception of 
Johnson, who says RUM, a Cant word for a clergyman (?), no lexico- 
grapher has deigned to notice it. 

" Thus RiiMLY floor'd, the kind Acestes ran. 
And pityins^, raised from eaith the game old man" 

— Virgil's JEiieid, book, v., Translation by Thomas Moore. 

RUMBOWLING, anything inferior or adulterated. — Sea. 
RLTMBUMPTIOUS, haughty, pugilistic. 



SLAXG, CAN'T, AND VULGAR WORDS. 2 I J 

RUMBUSTIOUS, or rumbustical, pompous, haughty, boisterous, careless 
of the comfoi-t of others. 

RUMBLER, a four-wheeled cab. Not so common as bounder. 

RUM CULL, the manager of a theatre.— yrare^Zm^r Theatre. 

RUMGUMPTION, or gumption, knowledge, capacity, capability, — hence, 
RUMGUJIPTIOUS, knowing, wide-awake, forward, positive, pert, blunt. 

RUM-MIZZLER, the Seven Dials' Cant for a person who is clever at mak- 
ing his escape, or getting out of a difficulty. 

RUMPUS, a noise, disturbance, a " row." 

RUM-SLIM, rum punch. 

RUMY, a good woman, or girl. — Gipsy Cant. In the continental Gipsy, 
ROMi, a woman, a wife, is the feminine of uo, a man. 

RUN, (good or bad,) the success of a performance. — Theatrical. 

RUN, to comprehend, &e. ; " I don't run to it," i.e., I can't do it, I don't 
understand, or I have not money enough. — North. 

RUN, "to get the run upon any person," to have the upper hand, or be 
able to laugh at them. Run down, to abuse or backbite any one ; 
to "lord it," or "drive over" them. Originally Stable Slang. 

RUNNING PATTERER, a street seller who runs or moves briskly along, 
calling aloud his wares. 

RUNNING STATIONER, a hawker of books, ballads, dying speeches, 
and newspapers. Persons of this class formerly used to run with 
newspapers, blowing a horn, when th -y were sometimes termed fly- 
ing STATIONERS. Now-a-days, in the event of any political or social 
disturbance, the miserable relics of these peripatetic newsmen bawl 
the heads of the telegram or information in quiet London thorough- 
fares, to the disturbance of the residents. 

RUSH, " doing it on the rush," running away, or making oif. 

RUST, "to nab the RUST," to take offence. Rusty, cross, ill-tempered, 
morose ; one who cannot go through life like a person of easy and 
"polished" maunei's. 

RUSTY GUTS, a blunt, rough, old fellow. Corruption of rusticus. 

SACK, to " get the s.^CK," to be discharged by an employer. Varied in 
the north of England to "get the bag." In London it is sometimes 
spoken of as "getting the empty." 

SADDLE, an additional charge made by the manager to a performer upon 
his benefit night. — Theatrical. 

SAD DOG, a merry fellow, a joker, a gay or "fast" man. 

SAILS, the sail-maker on board ship. 

SAINT MONDAY, a holiday most religiously observed by journeymen 
shoemakers, and other mechanics. An Irishman observed that this 
saint's anniversary happened every week. — North, where it is termed 

cobblers' MONDAY. 

SAL, a salary. — Theatrical. 



2 I 8 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

SALAAM, a compliment or salutation. — Anglo-Indian. 

SALAMANDER, a street acrobat, and juggler who eats fire. 

SALOOP, SALEP, or Salop, a greasy-looking beverage, formerly sold on 
stalls at early morning, prepared from a powder made of tlie root of 
the Orchis mascula, or Red-handed Orchis. Within a few years coffee- 
stands have superseded Saloop stalls; but Charles Lamb, in one of 
his papers, has left some account of this drinkable, which he says 
was of all preparations the most grateful to the stomachs of young 
chimney-sweeps. 

SALT, " it 's rather too salt," said of an extravagant hotel bill. Also, a 
sort of black mail or tribute levied on visitors or travellers by the 
Eton boys, at their triennial festival called the "Montem," by ancient 
custom and privileges. It is now abolished. A periodical published 
at Eton many years ago for circulation amongst the boys was called 
" The salt-Sox." When a person about to sell a business connexion 
makes fictitious entries in the books of accounts, to simulate that a 
much more profitable trade is carried on than there really is, he is 
said to SALT the books — salting and cooking being somewhat similar 
operations. At the gold diggings of Australia, miners sometimes salt 
an unproductive hole by sprinkling a few grains of gold dust over it, 
and thus obtain a good price from a " green hand." Unpromising 
speculations are frequently thus salted to entrap the unwary, the 
wildest ideas being rendered palatable, cum, grano salis. And though 
old birds are not readily caught by chaff, the ef&cacy of SALT in bird- 
catching is equally as proverbial. 

SALTEE, a penny. Pence, &c., are thus reckoned : — 

Oney SALTEE, a penny, from the Italian, uno soldo. 
Doge saltee, twopence, . . due soldi. 

Trat saltee, threepence, 

QtJARTEREB SALTEE, fourpenCC, 

Chinker SALTEE, fivepence, 
Say SALTEE, sixpence. 

Say ONEY SALTEE, Or SETTER SALTEE, 

sevenpence, .... 

Say DOGE SALTEE, Or OTTER SALTEE, 

eightpence, .... 

Say tray saltee, or nobba saltee, 

ninepence, .... 

Say quarterer saltee, or dacha 

SALTEE, tenpence. 
Say chinker saltee, or dacha one 

SALTEE, elevenpence 
Oney beong, one shilling. 
A beong say saltee, one shilling and sixpence. 
Doge beong say saltee, or madza caroon, half-a-crown, or two 

shillings and sixpence. 

Salt-bos, the condemned cell in Newgate. 



TRE soldi, 
quattro soldi, 
cinque soldi, 
sei soldi. 

SETTE SOLDI. 
OTTO SOLDI, 
NOVE SOLDI. 
DIECI SOLDI. 
DIECI UNO SOLDI, &C. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 219 

•^* This curious list of numerals in use among the London street 
folk is, strange as it may seem, deiived from the Lingua Franca, or 
bastard Italian, of the Mediterranean seaports, of which other ex- 
amples may be found in the pages of this Dictionary. Saltee, the 
Caut terra used by the costermongers and others for a penny, is no 
other than the Italian, soldo, (plural, soldi,) and the numerals — as 
may be seen by the Italian equivalents — are a tolerably close imita- 
tion of the originals. After the number Six, a curious variation 
occurs, which is peculiar to the London Cant, seven being reckoned as 
SAY ONET, six-one, SAY DOOE, six-two = 8, and so on. IJacha, I may 
remark, is perhaps from the Greek, DEKA, (fieVa,) ten, which, in the 
Constantinopolitan Lingua, Franca, is likely enough to have been 
substituted for the Italian. Madza is clearly the Italian MEZZA. 
The origin of beonq I have not been so fortunate as to discover, 
imless it be the French, bien, the application of which to a shilling 
is not so evident ; but amongst costermongers and other street folk 
it is quite immaterial what foreign tongue contributes to their secret 
language. Providing the terms are unknown to the police and the 
public generally, they care not a rush whether the polite French, the 
gay Spaniards, or the cloudy Germans help to swell their vocabulary. 
The numbers of low foreigners, however, dragging out a miserable ex- 
istence in our crowded neighbourhoods, organ grinders and image 
sellers, foreign seamen from the vessels in the river, and our own 
connexion with Malta and the Ionian Isles, may explain, to a certain 
extent, the phenomenon of these Southern phrases in the mouths of 
costers and tramps. Professor Ascoli, in his Studj Critici, absurdly 
enough derives these words from the ancient commercial importance 
of Italian settlers in England, when they gave a name to Lombard 
Street! ! 

SALT JUNK, navy salt beef.— ^S'ee old horse. 

SALVE, praise, flattery, chaff. 

SAM, i.e., DICKY-SAM, a native of Liverpool. 

SAM, to "stand SAM," to pay for refreshment or drink, to stand paymaster 
for anything. An Americanism, originating in the letters U.S. on the 
knaps;icks of the United States soldiers, which letters were jocularly 
said to be the initials of Uncle Sam, (the Government,) who pays for 
all. In use in this country as early as 1827. 

SAMPAN, a small boat. — Anglo-Chinese. 

SAMSHOO, a fiery, noxious spirit, distilled from rioe. Spirits generally. 
— Anglo-Chinese. 

SANDWICH, a human advertising medium, placed between two boards 
strapped over his shoulder. A " toad in the hole " is the term ap- 
plied to the same individual when his person is confined by a four- 
sided box. 

SANGUINARY JAMES, a raw sheep's-head. — See bloody jEMirY. 

BANK WORK, making soldiers' clothes. Mayhew says from the Norman, 
SANC, blood, — in allusion either to the soldiers calling, or the colour 
of his coat. 



2 20 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

SAP, or SAPSCULL, a poor green simpleton, with no heart for work. 

SATIN, gin ; " a yard of satin," a glass of gin. Terra used by females 
on malie-believe errands, when the real object of their departure from 
home is to replenish the private bottle. With servants the words 
TAPE and RIBBON are more common, the purchase of these feminine 
requirements being the general excuse for asking to " run out for a 
little while." — See white satin. 

SAUCEBOX, a pert young person. In low life it also signifies the mouth. 

SAVELOY, a sausage of bread and chopped beef smoked, a minor kind of 
POLONY, which see. 

SAYEY, to know; "do you savet that?" — French, savez-vous cela ? 
In the nigger and Anglo-Chhicse patois, this is sabby, " me no sabby." 
It is a general word among the lower classes all over the world. It 
also means acuteness or cleverness ; as " that fellow has plenty of 

SAVEY." 

SAW, a term at whist. A SAW is established when two partners alter- 
nately trump a suit, plaj'ed to each other for the express purpose. 

" SAW YOUR TIMBER," " be off ! " equivalent to cut ymr atlck. Occa- 
sionally varied with mock refinement, to amputate your mahogany. 
— See CUT. 

SAWBONES, a surgeon. 

SAWNEY, or sandy, a Scotchman. Corruption of Alexander. 

SAWNEY, a simpleton; a gaping, awkward lout. 

SCAB, a worthless person. — Old. Shalspeare uses scald in a similar sense. 

SCABBY-NECK, a native of Denmark.— &a. 

SCAB-RAISER, a drummer in the army, so called from one of the duties 
pertaining to that office, viz., inflicting corporal punishment on the 
soldiers. — Military. 

SCABBY-SHEEP, epithet applied by the vulgar to a person who has been 
in questionable society, or under unholy influence, and become tainted. 

SCALY, shabb;,, or mean. Perhaps anything which betokens the presence 
of the " Old Serpent," or it may be a variation on " fishy." Shaks- 
peare uses scald, an old word of reproach. 

SCAMANDER, to wander about without a settled purpose ; — possibly in 
allusion to the winding course of the Homeric river of that name. 

SCAMMERED, drunk. 

SCAMP, a graceless fellow, a rascal ; formerly the Cant term for plunder- 
ing and thieving. A royal-scamp was a highwayman, whilst a foot- 
scamp was an ordinary thief with nothing but his legs to trust to in 
case of an attempt at capture. Some have derived scamp from qui 
ex campo exit, viz., one who leaves the field, a deserter. 

Sawney, bacon. Sawney hunter, one who steals bacon. 

ScALDRUM Dodge, burning the body with a mixture of acids and gun- 
powder, so as to suit the hues and complexions of the accident to be 
deplored. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 221 

SCAMP, to give short measure or quantity ; applied to dishonest contrac- 
tors. Probably the same as skimp and sciump. 

SCANDAL-WATER, tea; from old maids' tea-parties being generally a 
focus for scandal. 

SCARAMOUCH, properly a tumbler, or SAiTiMBANCO. 

SCARCE, TO MAKE one's-selp; to be off; decamp. 

SCARLET-TOWN, Reading, in Berkshire. As the name of this place is 
pronounced Redding, scaklet-town is probably a rude pun upon it. 

SCARBOROUGH-WARNING, a warning too shortly given to be taken 
advantage of. When a person is driven over, and then told to keep 
out of the way, he receives Scarborough-warning. Fulhr says the 
proverb alludes to an event, which happened at that ])lace in 1557, 
when Thomas Stafford seized upon Scarborough castle before the 
townsmen had the least notice of his approach. 

SCARPER, to run away. — Spanish, escapar, to escape, make off; Italian, 
SCAPPARE. " Scarper with the feele of the donna of the cassey," to 
run away with the daughter of the landlady of the house ; almost 
pure Italian, " scappare colla figlia della donna della casa.' 
— Seven Dials and Prison Cant, from the Lingua Franca. 

SCHISM-SHOP, a Dissenters' meeting-house. — University. 

SCHROFF, a banker, treasurer, or confidential clerk. — Anglo-Indian. 

SCHWASSLE BOX, the street performance of Punch and Judy. — Ilouse- 
hold Words, No. 183. — See swatchel-cove. 

SCONCE, the head; judgment, sense. — Dutch. 

SCORE, " to run up a score at a public-house," to obtain credit there 
until pay-day, or a fixed time, when the debt must be wiped off. 
From the old practice of scoring a tippler's indebtedness on the inside 
of a public-house door. 

SCORE, to eat voraciously. 

SCOT, a quantity of anything, a lot, a share. — Anglo-Saxon, sceat, pro- 
nounced shot. 

SCOT, temper, or passion, — from the irascible temperament of that nation ; 
" oh ! what a scot he was in," i.e., what temper he shewed, — especi- 
ally if you allude to the following : — 

SCOTCH-FIDDLE, the itch; '-'to play the scotch fiddle," to work the 
index finger of the r;ght hand like a fiddlestick between the index 
and middle finger of the left. This provokes a Scotchman in the 
highest degree, it implying that he is afflicted with the itch. 

SCOTCH GRAYS, lice. Our northern neighbours are calumniously re- 
ported, from their living on oatmeal, to be pecuUarly liable to cutane- 
ous eruptions and parasites. 

SCOTCH-COFFEE, biscuits toasted and boiled in water.— &a. 

Schofel, bad money. — See show-full. 

School, or mob, two or more " patterers " working together in the streets. 

Schooling, a low gambling party. 



222 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

SCOTCHES, the legs ; also synonymous with notches. 

SCOUT, a college valet, or waiter. — Oxford. — See gyp. 

SCRAG, the neck. — Old Cant. Scotch, ceatg. Still used by butchers. 
Hence, scrag, to hang by the neck, and scragging, an execution, — 
also Old Cant. 

SCRAN, pieces of meat, broken victuals. Formerly the reckoning at a 
public-house. Scranning, or " out on the scran," begging for broken 
victuals. Also, an /7-i«/t malediction of a mild sort, " Bad scran to 
yer ! " 

SCRAISTBAG, a soldier's haversack. — Military Slang. 

SCRAPE, a difficulty ; scrape, low wit for a shave. 

SCRAPE, cheap butter ; " bread and scrape," the bread and butter issued 
to school-boys— so called from the butter being laid on, and then 
scraped oS again, for economy's sake. 

SCRAPING CASTLE, a water-closet. 

SCRATCH, a fight, contest, point in dispute ; " coming up to the 
scratch," going or preparing to fight — in reality, approaching the 
line usually chalked on the ground to divide the ring. According to 
the rules of the prize ring, the toe must be placed at the scratch, so 
the phrase often is toeing. 

SCRATCH, " no great scratch," of little worth. 

SCRATCH, to strike a horse's name out of the list of runners in a par- 
ticular race. " Tomboy was scratched for the Derby, at 10 a.m., on 
Wednesday," from which period all bets made in reference to him 
(with one exception) are void. — See P.P. — Turf. One of Jioz's 
characters asks whether horses are " really made more lively by 
being scratched." 

SCRATCH-RACE, (on the Turf) a race where any horse, aged, winner, or 
loser, can run with any weights ; in fact, a race without restrictions. 
At Cambridge a boat-race, where the crews are drawn by lot. 

SCREAMING, first-rate, splendid. Believed to have been first used in the 
Adelphi play-bills ; " a screaming farce," one calculated to make the 
audience scream with laughter. Now a general expression. 

Screen, a bank-note; queer screen, a forged bank-note. 

ScREEVE, a letter, a begging petition. 

ScREEVE, to write, or devise; "to SCREEVE a fakement," to concoct, or 
write, a begging letter, or other impostor's documents. From the 
Dutch, schryven ; German, scheeiben; French, eceivant, (old form,) 
to write. 

ScEEEVER, a man who draws with coloured chalks on the pavement figures 
of our Saviour ci-owned with thorns, specimens of elaborate writing, 
thunderstorms, ships on fire, &e. The men who attend these pave- 
ment chalkings, and receive halfpence and sixpences from the admirers 
of street art, are not always the draughtsmen. The artist or screeveb 
draws, perhaps, in half-a-dozen places in the course of the morning, 
and rents the spots out to as many cadaverous-looking men. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 223 

SCREW, an unsound, or broken-down horse, that requires both whip and 
spur to get him along. 

SCREW, a mean or stingy person. 

SCREW, salary or wages. 

SCREW, " to put on the screw," to limit one's credit, to be more exact 
and precise ; " to put under the SCREW; " to compel, to coerce, to in- 
fluence by strong pressure. 

SCREW LOOSE, when friends become cold and distant towards each other, 
it is said there is a screw loose betwixt them; the same phrase is 
also used when anything goes wrong with a person's credit or reputa- 
tion. 

SCREAV, a small packet of tobacco.— A " twist " of the " weed." 
SCREWED, intoxicated or drunk. 

SCRIMMAGE, or scrummage, a disturbance or rovr .—Ancient. Corrup- 
tion of skirmish ? 

SCRIMSHAW ; anything made by sailors for themselves in their leisure 
hours at sea, is termed scrimshaw-work. 

SCROUGE, to crowd or squeeze. — Wiltshire. 

SCRUFF, the back part of the neck seized by the adversary in an encounter. 

SCRUMPTIOUS, nice, particular, beautiful. 

SCUFTER, a policeman. — North Countri/. 

SCULL, or SKULL, the head, or master of a college. — University, but nearly 
obsolete ; the gallery, however, in St Mary's, (the University church,) 
where the " Heads of Houses " sit in solemn state, is still nicknamed 
the GOLGOTHA by the under-graduates. 

SCURF, a mean feUow. 

SEA-CONNIE, the steersman of an Indian ship. By the insurance laws 
he must be either a pyah Portuguese, a European, or a Manilla man — 
Lascars not being allowed to be helmsmen. ' 

SEA-COOK, " son of a sea-cook," an opprobrious phrase used on board 
ship, equivalent to " son op a gun," and other more vulgar expletives. 

SEALS, a religious Slang term for converts. — See owned. 
SEE. ^ Like "go" and "do," this useful verb has long been supplemented 
with a Slang or unauthorised meaning. In street parlance, "to see" 
is to know or believe ; " I don't see that," i.e., " I don't put faith in 
what you offer, or I know what you say to be untrue." 
SEEDY, worn-out, poverty-stricken, used-up, shabby. Metaphorical ex- 
pression from the appearance of flowers when off bloom and running 
to seed; hence said of one who wears clothes until they crack and 
become shabby; " how seedy he looks," said of any man whose clothes 
are worn threadbare, with greasy facings, and hat brightened up by 

Screw, a key — skeleton, or otherwise. 

Screw, a turnkey. 

Scroby, " to get SCECBY," to be whipped in prison before the justices. 



2 24 ^ DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

l)erspiration and continual polishing and wetting. When a man's 
coat begins tolook worn-out and shabby he is said to look seedy and 
ready for cuttinr/. This term has been "on tlie streets'' for nearly 
two centuries, and latterly has found its way into most dictionaries. 
Formerly Slang, it is now a recognised word, and one of the most 
expressive in the English language. The French are always amused 
with it, they having no similar term. 

" Oh, let my hat be e'er sae brown. 
My coat be e'er sae seedy, O ! 
Wy wliole tum-out scarce wortli a crown, 
Like gents well-bred, but needy, O !" 

— Fishei'i Garland for J 835. 
SEIL, a deception, disappointment; also a lying joke. 
SELL, to deceive, swindle, or play a practical joke upon a person. A sham 
is a SELL in street parlance. " Sold again, and got the money," a cos- 
termonger cries after having successfully deceived somebody. Shaks- 
peare uses selling in a similar sense, viz., blinding or deceiving. 
SENSATION, a quartern of gin. 

SERENE, all right; "it's all serene," a street phrase of very modern 
adoption, the burden of a song. Serene, all serene! from the 
Spanish sereno, equivalent to the English "all's well," a counter- 
sign of sentinels, supposed to have been acquired by some filibusters 
who were imprisoned in Cuba, and liberated by the intercession of 
the British ambassador. 

SERGEANT KITE, a recruiting sergeant. Sergeant snap has a like 
meaning. 

SERVE OUT, to punish, or be revenged on any one. 
SETTER, sevenpence. Italian, sette. — See saltee. — Lingua Franca. 
SETTER, a person employed by the vendor at an auction to run the 
biddings up; to bid against bond-fide bidders. 

SETTLE, to kill, ruin, or effectually quiet a person. 

SET TO, a sparring match, a fight; " a dead set," a determined stand, iu • 

argument or iu movement. 
SEWED-UP, done-up, used-up, intoxicated. Dutch, SEteuwT, sick, 
SHACK, a " chevalier d'industrie." A scamp, a blackguard. — Nottingham. 
SHACKLY, loose, rickety. — Devonshire. 
SEVENDIBLE, a very curious word, used only in the north of Ireland, to 

denote something particularly severe, strong, or sound. It is no doubt 

derived from seven-double, — that is, seven-fold, — and is applied to linen 

cloth, a beating, a reprimand, &c. 

SEVEN-SIDED-ANIMAL, a one-eyed man, as lie has an inside, outside, 
left side, right side, foreside, backside, and a blind side. 

SEVEN-UP, the game of All fours, when played for seven chalks, — that is, 
when seven points or chalks have to be made to win the game. 

Sectled, transported; sometimes spoken of as winded-settled. 
Seven-i-ennorih, transportation for seven years. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 225 

SHACK-PER-SWAW, every one for himself,— a phrase in use amongst 
the lower orders at the east end of London, derived apparently from 
the French, chacun pour soi. 

SHADY, an expression implying decadence. On " the shady side of forty" 
implies that a person is considerably older. Shady also means inferi- 
ority in other senses. A shady tkick is either a shabby one, mean or 
trumpery, or else it is one contemptible from the want of ability dis- 
played. 

SHAKE, a disreputable man or woman.— iVor^A. 

SHAKE, or shakes, a bad bargain is said to be "no great shakes;" 
"pretty fair shakes" is anything good or favourable.— %raw. In 
America, a fair shake is a fair trade or a good bargain. 

SHAKE DOWN, an impromptu bed. 

SHAKER, a shirt. 

SHAKES ; " in a brace of shakes," i.e., in an instant. 

SHAKESTER, or shickster, a female. Amongst costermongers this term 
is invariably applied to ladies, or the wives of tradesmen and females, 
generally of the classes immediately above them. 

" SHAKE THE ELBOW," to, a roundabout expression for dice-playing. 

SHAKY, said of a person of questionable health, integrity, or solvency; 
at the University, of one not likely to pass his examination. 

SHALER, a girl. Corrupt form of Gaelic, caille, a young woman. 

SHALLOW, a flat basket used by costers. 

SHALLOW, a weak-minded country justice of the peace. 

SHAM ABRAHAM, to feign sickness.— ^e Abraham, 

SHANDY-GAFF, ale and gingerbeer ; perhaps sang de goff, the favour- 
ite mixture of one GOFF, a blacksmith, 

SHANKS, legs. 

SHANKS' NAG, " to ride shanks' nag," to go on foot. 

SHANT, a pot or quart ; " shant of bivvy," a quart of beer. 

Shake, to take away, to steal, or run off with anything; "what shakes, 

Bill ? " " None," i.e., no chance of committing a robbery. — See under 

shake, above. 
Shake-lurk, a false paper carried by an impostor, giving an account of a 

" dreadful shipwreck." 
Shallows, " to go on the shallows," to go half naked. 
Shallow-cove, a begging rascal who goes about the country half naked, 

with the most limited amount of rags upon his person, wearing neither 

shoes, stockings, nor hat. 
Shallow-mot, a ragged woman, — the frequent companion of the shallow- 

lOVE. 

Shallow-screever, a man who sketches and draws on the pavement. —See 
screever. 

P 



2 26 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

SHANTY, a rude, temporary habitation. The -word is principally em- 
ployed to designate the huts inhabited by navigators, when construct- 
ing large lines of railway far distant from towns. It is derived from 
the French, chantieb, used by the Canadians for a log hut, and has 
travelled from thence, by way of the United States, to England. 

SHAPES, " to cut up " or " shew shapes," to exhibit pranks, or flightiness. 

SHARK, a sharper, a swindler. Bow-Street term in 1785, now in most 
dictionaries. — Friesic and Danish, schukk. — See land-shark. 

SHARP, or shaeper, a cunning cheat, a rogue, — the opposite of flat. 

SHARP, a similar expression to "two pun' ten," (which see,) used by as- 
sistants in shops to signify that a customer of suspected honesty is 
amongst them. The shopman in this case would ask one of the as- 
sistants, in a voice loud enough to be generally heard, " has Mr sharp 
come in yet?" "No," would probably be the reply; "but he is 
expected every minute." The signal is at once understood, and a 
general look-out kept upon the suspected party. 

SHARP'S-ALLEY BLOOD-WORMS, beef sausages and black puddings. 
Sharp's Alley was very recently a noted slaughteiing-place near Smith- 
field. 

SHAVE, a false alarm, a hoax, a sell. This was much used in the Crimea 
during the Russian campaign. 

SHAVE, a narrow escape. At Cambridge, " just shaving through," or 
" making a shave," is just escaping a " pluck " by coming out at the 
bottom of the list. 

" My terms are anything but dear, 
Then read with me, and never fear; 
The examiners we're sure to queer, 
And get through, if you make a shave on't." 

The Private Tutor. 

SHAVE ; " to shave a customer," charge him more for an article than the 
marked price. Used in the drapery trade. When the master sees an 
opportunity of doing this, he strokes his chin, as a signal to his assist- 
ant who is serving the customer. 

SHAVER, a sharp fellow; "a young" or " old shaver," a boy or man. 
— Sea. 

" SHED A TEAR," to take a dram, or glass of neat spirits ; jocular phrase 
used, with a sort of grim earnestness, by old topers to each other. " Now 
then, old fellow, come and shed a tear ! " an invitation to take 
'■ summat short." The origin may have been that ardent spirits, taken 
neat by younger persons, usually brings water to their eyes. With 
confirmed drinkei-s, however, the phrase is used with an air of mingled 
humour and regret at their own position. A still more pathetic phrase 
is — " putting a nail in one's coffin," which see. 

SHEEBEEN, an unlicensed place where spirituous liquors are illegally sold. 

SHEEN, bad money, --Scotch. 



Sharping-omee, a policeman. Partly Lh'^ua Franca. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 227 

SHEEP'S EYES, " to make sheep's eyes at a person," to cast amorous 
glances towards one on the slj'. 

" But he, the beast, was casting sheep's eyes at her 
Out of his bullock head." 

— Colman, Broad Grins, p. 57. 

SHELF, "on the shelf," not yet disposed of ; young ladies are said to be 

so situated when they cannot meet with a husband. " On the SHELF " 

also means pawned, or laid by in trust. 
SHELL OUT, to pay or count out money. 
SHICE, nothing ; " to do anything for SHiCE," tc get no payment. The 

term was first used by the Jews in the last century. Grose gives the 

phrase chice-am-a-trice, which has a synonymous meaning. Spanish, 

CHico, little; Anglo-Saxon, chiche, niggardly. 
SHICER, a mean man, a humbug, a " duffer," — a worthless person, one 

who win not work. 
SHICKERY, shabby, bad. 
SHICKSTER, a " gay " lady. — See shakester. 
SHICKSTER-CRABS, ladies' shoea.— Tramps' term. 
SHIGS, money, silver. — East London. 
SHIKARI, a hunter, a sportsman. — Anijlo-Tndia. An English sportsman 

who has seen many ups and downs in the jungles of the East styles 

himself " the old shekary." — Anglo-Indian. 
SHILLY SHALLY, to trifle or fritter away time ; irresolute. Corruption 

of " Shall I, shall I ? " 
SHINDY, a row, or noise. 
SHINE, a row, or disturbance. 

SHINE, " to take the shine out of a person," to surpass or excel him. 
SHINER, a looking-glass. — East London. 
SHINERS, sovereigns, or money. 
SHINEY RAG, " to win the shiney rag," to be riiined, — said in gambling, 

when any one continues betting after " luck has set in against him." 
SHIN-PLASTER, a bank-note. Originally an Americanism. 
SHINS, "to BREAK one's shins," figurative expression meaning to borrow 

money. 
SHIP-SHAPE, proper, in good order; sometimes the phrase is varied to 

" ship-shape and Bristol fasliion." — Sea. 
SHIRTY, ill-tempered, or cross. "NATien one person makes another in an 

ill humour he is said to have " got his shirt out." 
SHITTEN-SATURDAY, (corruption of shut-in-satdrday,) the Saturday 

between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, when our Lord's body was 

enclosed in the tomb. — School and Provincial. 
SHIVERING-JEMMY, the name given by street-folk to any cadger who 

exposes himself, half naked, on a cold day, to obtain alms. The 

" game " is unpleasant but exceedingly lucrative. 
SHODDY, old cloth worked up into new ; made from soldiers' and police- 
men's coats. The old cloth is pulled to pieces, the yarn unravelled 



2 28 A DIOTIOJSTAEY OF MODERN 

and carded over again. This produces shoddy, which is very short in 
the fibre, and from it are produced, on again twisting and weaving, 
the finest of cloth fabrics, used for ladies' mantles, &c. Also, a term 
of derision applied to workmen in woollen factories. — Yorkshire. 

SHOE, to free or initiate a person, — a practice common in most trades to 
a new-comer. The shoeing consists in paying for beer, or other 
drink, which is drunk b)^ the older hands. The cans emptied, and the 
bill paid, the stranger is considered properly SHOD. 

SHOES, " to die in one's shoes," to be hanged. 

"SHOES, CHILDREN'S, TO MAKE," to suffer one's-self to be made 
sport of, or depreciated. Commonly used in Norfolk. — Cf. Mrs Behn's 
comedy, The Soundheads. 

Hews. "Who, pox! shall we stand making children's shoes all the year? No ; 
let's begin to settle the nation, I say, and go through-stitch with our work." 

SHOLL, to bonnet one, or crush a person's hat over his eyes. — North. 
SHOOL, to saunter idly, become a vagabond, beg rather than work. — 

Smollett's Roderick Random, vol. i., p. 262. 
SHOP, the House of Commons. The only instance we have met with of 
the use of this word in literature occurs in Mr Trollojae's Framley 
Farsonar/e : — • 
" ' If we ai e merely to do as we are bid, and have no voice of our own, I don't 
see what's the good of o\ir going to the shop at all,' said Mr Sowerby." 

SHOP, to discharge a shopman. In Military Slang, to shop an ofiicer, is 

to put him under arrest in the guard-room. 
SHOP-WALKER, a person employed to walk up and down a shop, to hand 

seats to customers, and see that they are properly served. Contracted 

also to " WALKER." 

SHOPPING, purchasing at shops. Termed by Todd a Slang word, but 
used by Coicper and Byron. 

SHOPPY, to be full of nothing but one's own calling or prof ession ; "to 
talk SHOP," to converse of nothing but professional subjects. 

" SHOOT THE CAT," to vomit. 

"SHOOT THE MOON," to remove furniture from a house in the night 
without paying the landlord. 

" SHOOT WITH THE LONG BOW," to tell lies, to exaggerate. Synony- 
mous with THROWING THE HATCHET. 

SHORT, when spirit is drunk without any admixture of water, it is said to 
betaken "short;" " summat short," a dram. A similar phrase is 
used at the counters of banks ; upon presenting a cheque, the clerk asks, 

Shoe Leather! a thief's warning cry when he hears footsteps. This 
exclamation is used in the same spirit as Bruoe's friend, who, when 
he suspected treachery towards hiin at King Edward's court, in 1306, 
sent him a purse and a pair of spurs, as a sign that he should use 
them in making his escape. 

SnoPBOUNCER, or shop-lifter, a person generally respectably attired, who, 
while being served with a small article at a shop, steals one of more 
value. Shakspeare has the word lifter, a thief. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 229 

" liow will you take it ?" i.e., in gold, or in notes ? Should it be desired 
to receive it iu as small a compass as possible, the answer is, " short." 

SHORT, a conductor of an omnibus, or any other servant, is said to be 
SHORT, when he does not give all the money he receives to his master. 

SHORT COMMONS, short allowance of food.— -See commons. 

SHORTER, one who makes a dishonest profit by reducing the coin of the 
realm by clipping and filing. From a crown-piece a Shorter could 
gain 5d. Another way was by chemical means : a guinea laid in aqua- 
fortis would, in twelve houi-s, precipitate 9d.-worth of sediment ; in 
twenty-four, Is. 6d. -worth. — Rommany Rye. 

SHOT, from the modern sense of the word to SHOOT, — a guess, a random 
conjecture; " to make a bad shot," to expose one's ignorance by mak- 
ing a wrong guess, or random answer, without knowing whether it is 
right or wrong. 

SHOT, from the once English, but now provincial word, to shoot, to sub- 
scribe, contribute in fair proportion; — a share, the same as SCOT, both 
being from the Anglo-Saxon word, SCEAT ; "to pay one's SHOT," i.e., 
share of the reckoning, &c. 

"Yet still while I have got 
Enough to pay the shot 
Of Bouiface, both grufl" and greedy O ! " 

— Fisher's Garland for 1835. 

SHOT, " I wish I may be shot, if," &c., a common form of mild swearing. 

" SHOT IN THE LOCKER," money in pocket, or the having a resource 
of any kind in store. — Navy. 

" SHOVE IN THE MOUTH," a glass of spirits. 

SHOVEL, a term appled by the vulgar crowd to the inelegant twisted hata 
worn by the dignitaries of the Church. Dean Alford says, " I once 
heard a venerable dignitary pointed out by a railway porter as " an old 
party in a shovel." — Queens English, p. 228. 

SHOWFULL, or schofell, a Hansom cab. This favourite carriage was 
the invention of a Mr Hansom, afterwards connected with the Builder 
newspaper. It has been asserted that the term showfull was derived 
from " shovel," the earliest Slang term applied to Hansoms by other 
cab-drivers, who conceived their shape to be after the fashion of a 
scoop or shovel. 

SHOW-FULL, or schoful, bad money. Mayhew thinks this word is from 
the Danish, SKUFFe, to shove, to deceive, cheat; Saxon, scdfan, — 
whence the English, shove. The term, however, is possibly one of the 
many street words from the Hebrew, (tlirough the low Jews;) SHEPHEL, 
in that language, signifying a low or debased estate. C/iaMee, shaphal. 
— See Psalm cxxxvi. 23, "in our low estate." A correspondent suggests 
another very probable derivation, from the German, schofel, trash, 
rubbish, — the German adjective, SCHOFELIG, being the nearest possible 
translation of our shabby. Also, mock jewellery. 

Shoulder, when a servant embezzles his master's money, he is said to 

shoulder his employer. 
Shove-halfpenny, a gambling pot-house game, played on a table. 



230 A DICTIONARY 0F3I0DERN 

SHOWFULL PULLET, a " gay " or unsteady woman. 

SHRIMP, a diminutive person. — Chaucer. 

SHUNT, to throw, or turn aside. — Raihvay term. 

SHUT OF, or shot of, i.e., rid of. A very common expression amongst 
the London lower orders. One costermonger will say to another: — 
" Well, Ike, did yer get SHUT 0' them there gawfs [apples] ? " i.e., did 
you sell them all ? 

SHUT UP ! be quiet, don't make a noise ; to stop short, to make cease in 
a summary manner, to silence effectually. " Only the other day we 
heard of a preacher who, speaking of the scene with the doctors in the 
Temple, remarked that the Divine disputant completely shut them 
UP ! " — Athen. 30th July 1S59. Shut up, utterly exhausted, done for. 

SHY, a throw. — See the following : — ■ 

SHY, to fling; cock-shy, a game at fairs, consisting of throwing short 
sticks at trinkets set upon other sticks, — both name and practice de- 
rived from the old game of throwing or shying at live cocks. 

SHY, " to fight shy of a person," to avoid his society either from dislike, 
fear, or other reason. SuY has also the sense of flighty, unsteady, un- 
trustworthy. 

SICES, or siZKS, a throw of sixes at dice. 

" SICK AS A HORSE," popular simile, — curious, because a horse nevet 
vomits. 

SICKNER, or sickener, a dose too much of anything. 

SIDE-BOARDS, or stick-ups. shirt collars. Name applied ten or fifteen 
years ago, before the " all -rounders " and " turn-downs " came into 
fashion. 

SIGHT, " to take a sight at a person," a vulgar action employed by street 
boys to denote incredulity, or contempt for authority, by placing the 
thumb against the nose and closing all the fingers except the little one, 
which is agitated in token of derision. — See walker. 

SIM, one of a Methodistical turn in religion ; a Low Churchman ; originally 
a follower of the late Rev. Charles Simeon. — Camhndge. 

SIMON, a sixpenny-piece. 

SIMON, or SIMPLE SIMON, a credulous gullible person. A character in a 
song, but now common. 

Showfull-pitcher, a passer of counterfeit money. 

Showpull-pitchinq, passing bad money. 

Side, an affirmative expression in the Cant language of the northern towns. 
" Do you stoU the Gammy ? " (Do you understand Cant ?) An- 
swer, SIDE, Cove, (yes, mate.) 

Sift, the same meaning as shoulder. The man having sifted the money 
and kept the larger pieces, that did not readily pass through the sieve ! 

Silver Beggar, or lurker, a vagabond who travels through the country 
with " briefs " containing false statements of losses by fire, shipwrecks, 
accidents, &c. Forged documents are exhibited with signatures of 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDiy- 23 1 

SIMON PURE, "the real simon pure," the genuine article. Those who 
have witnessed Mr C. Mathews's performance in Mrs Ccntlivre's ad- 
mirable comedy of A Bold Stroke for a Wife, and the laughable cool- 
ness with which he, the false SiMON pure, assuming the Quaker dress 
and character of the real one, elbowed that worthy out of his ex- 
pected entertainment, wiU at once perceive the origin of this phrase. 
— See act v., scene i. 

SIMPKIN, or siMKiN, champagne. — Anglo-Indian. Derived from the 
manner in which native servants pronounce champa'jne. 

SING OUT, to call aloud.— -Sea. 

SING SMALL, to lessen one's boasting, and turn arrogance into humility. 

SING-SONG, a choral meeting at a pot-hou.se, which then not unfrequently 
receives the name of " the Cave of Harmony." 

SINKERS, bad money, — affording a man but little assistance in " keeping 
afloat." 

SINKS, a throw of fives at dice. French, cinqs. 

SI QUIS, a candidate for "orders." From the notification commencing 
SI QUIS — if any one. 

SIR-HARRY, a close stool. 

SIR-REVERENCE, a corruption of the old phrase save tour reverence, 
a sort of apology for alluding to anything likely to shock one's sense 
of decency. Latin, salva reverentia. Shakspeare's Romeo and Juliet 
act i., scene iv., from this it came to mean the thing itself — human 
ordure generally, but sometimes other indecencies. 

SISERARA, a hard blow. — Suffolk. Moor derives it from the story of 
Sisera in the Old Testament, but it is more probably a corruption of 
certiorari, a Chancery writ reciting a complaint of hard usage. 

SIT UNDER, a term employed in Dissenters' meeting-houses, to denote 
attendance on the ministry of any particular preacher. 

SIT-UPON, to overcome or rebuke, to express contempt for a man in a 
marked manner. 

SIT-UPONS, trousers. — See mEXPRESSiBLES. 

SIVVY, '* 'pon my sivvT," i.e., upon my soul or honour. Corruption of 
asseveration, like Davy, which is an abridgment of affidavit. 

SIXES AND SEVENS, articles in confusion are said to be aU sixes and 
SEVENS. The Deity is mentioned in the Towneley Mysteries as He 
that " sett all on seven," i.e., set or appointed everything in seven 
days. A similar phrase at this early date implied confusion and dis- 
order, and from these, Halliioell thinks, has been derived the phrase 
"to be at SIXES and sevens." A Scotch correspondent, however, 
states that the phrase probably came from the workshop, and that 
amongst needle-makers, when the points and eyes are " heads and 

magistrates and clergymen. Accompanying these are sham sub- 
scription-books. The former, in beggar parlance, is termed " a SHAM," 
whilst the latter is denominated " a delicate." 
SiTTixG-FAD, sitting on the pavement in a begging position. 



232 A DICTION A RY OF MODERN 

tails," ("heeds and thraws,") or in confusion, they are said to be 
SIXES AND SEVENS, because those numbers are the sizes most generally 
used, and in the course of manufacture have fi-equently to be distin- 
guished. 

SIXTY, " to go along like sixty," i.e., at a good rate, briskly. 

SIXTY-PER-CENT, a bill-discounter. 

SIZE, to order extras over and above the usual commons at the dinner in 
college halls. Soup, pastry, &c., are sizings, and are paid for at a 
certain specified rate per size, or portion, to the college cook. — Peculiar 
to Camhridge. Mhisheu says, " size, a farthing which schoUers in 
Cambridge have at the buttery, noted with the letter s." 

SIZERS, or SIZARS, are certain poor scholars at Cambridge, annually 
elected, who get their dinners (including sizings) from what is left at 
the upper, or Fellows' table, free, or nearly so. They pay rent of 
rooms, and some other fees, on a lower scale than the " Pensioners" 
or ordinary students, and answer to the "battlers" and "servitors" 
at Oxford. 

SIZINGS.— <S'ee size. 

SKEDADDLE. The American war has introduced a new and amusing 
word. A Northerner who retreats " retires upon his supports," but a 
Southerner is said to " skedaddle." The Times remarked on the word, 
and Lord Hill wrote to prove that it was excellent Scotch. The 
Americans only misapply the word, which means, in Dumfries, " to 
spill "^ — milkmaids, for example, saying, you are "skedaddling" all 
that milk. The Times and Lord Hill are both wrong, for the word is 
neither new nor in any way misapplied. The word is very fair Greek, 
the root being that of " skedannumi," to disperse, to " retire tumultu- 
ously," and it was probably set afloat by some professor at Harvard. 

SKID, a sovereign. Fashionable Slang. Occasionally skiv. 

SKIE, or SKY, to throw upwards, to toss " coppers." — See odd man. 

SKILLIGOLEE, prison gruel. Also sailors' soup of many ingredients. 
The term is occasionally used in London workhouses. 

SKIN, a purse. 

SKIN, to abate, or lower the value of anything ; " thin SKINNED," sensitive, 
touchy, liable to be raw on certain subjects. 

SKINFLINT, an old popular simile for a "close-fisted," stingy person. 
Sternberg, in his Northamptonshire Glossary, says the Eastern languages 
have the same expression. Abdul-Malek, one of the Ommeyade Kha- 
liphs, noted for his extreme avarice, was surnamed RASCHAl-hegiarah, 
literally, " the skinner of a flint." 

SKIN-THE-LAMB, a game at cards, a very expressive corruption of the 
term lansquenet, also a racing term. When a non-favourite wins a race, 

Skates-lurk, a begging impostor dressed as a sailor. 

Skilly, broth served on board the hulks to convicts. — Lincolnshire. Ab- 
breviation of SKILLIGOLEE. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 2T,T, 

" bookmakers " are said to " skin the lamb," under the supposition 
that they win all their bets, no person having backed the winner. 

SKIPPER, the master of a vessel. Dutch, schiffer, from schiff, a ship ; 
sometimes used as synonymous with "governor." 

SKIPPER, a barn. — Ancient Cant. From the Welsh, TSGUBOR, pronounced 
SCTBOR, or SCiBOR, the proper word in that language for a barn. 

SKIPPER-BIRDS, or keyhole-whistlers, persons who sleep in barns or 
outhouses in preference to lodging-houses. 

SKIPPER-IT, to sleep in the open air, or in a rough way. 

SKIT, a joke, a squib. 

SKITTLES, a game similar to Ten Pins, which, when interdicted by the 
Government, was altered to Nin Pins, or skittles. They are set up 
in an alley, and are thromi at (not bowled) with a round piece of hard 
wood, shaped like a small flat cheese. The costers consider them- 
selves the best players in London. 

SKOW-BANKER, a fellow who loiters about the premises of any one 
willing to support him without the necessity of working for his living ; 
a rogue, a rascal. Common at Melbourne, Australia. 

SKROUGE, to push or squeeze. — North. 

SKULL-THATCHER, a straw-bonnet-maker, — sometimes called " a bon- 

Uet-BUILDER." 

SKY, a disagreeable person, an enemy. — Westminster School. 

SKY, to^toss up towards the sky. Term used in tossing with halfpence; 

"it's all right, Jiro SKTED the browns," i.e., threw them up. 
SKY-BLUE, London milk much diluted with water, or from which the 
cream has been too closely skimmed. 

" Hence, Suffolk dairy wives run mad for cream, 
And leave their milk with nothing but the name; 
Its name derision and reproach pursue. 
And strangers tell of three times-skimm'd — sky-blue." 

— Bloomjield's Farmer's Boy. 
Sky-blue formerly meant gin. 

SKYED, artists say that a picture is SKYED when it is hung on the upper 

line at the Exhibition of the Royal Academy. — See floored. 
SKY-LARK.— /See under lark, 
SKY-PARLOUR, the garret, 

SKY-SCRAPER, a tall man; "are you cold up there, old sky-scraper?" 
Properly a sea term ; the light sails, which some adventurous skippers 
set above the royals in calm latitudes, are termed sky-scrapers and 

MOON-BAKERS. 

SKY-WANNOCKING, unsteady, frolicking.— iVo»/oa. 
SLACK, " to hold on the slack," to skulk ; a slack rope not requiring ?b 
be held. — Sea. 

SLAM, a term at the game of whist. When two partners gain the whole 
thirteen tricks, they win a slam, which is considered equal to a rubber. 
SLAMMOCK, a slattern or awkward person. — West, and Norfolk. 



234 



A DICTIONABY OF MODERN 



SLANG, low, vulgar, unwritten, or unauthorised language. Gip^y, Slang, 
the secret language of the Gipsies, synonymous with gibberish, 
another Gipsy word. The word is only to be found in the Diction- 
aries of Webster and Ogilvie. It is given, however, by Grose, in his 
Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1785. Slang, since it has been 
adopted as an English word, generally implies vulgar language not 
known or recognised as Cant ; and latterly, when applied to speech, 
has superseded the word flash. The earliest instance of the use of 
the word that we can iind, is the following : — 

"Let proper Nurses be assiErned to take care of these Babes of Grace, [younor 
thieves,] . . . the Master who teaches them should be a man well 
versed ha the Cant Language commonly called the Slang Patter, in which 
they sliould by all means exceL" — Jonathan Wild's Advice to his Successor. 
London, J. Scott, 1758. 

SLANG, a travelling show. 

SLANG, to cheat, to abuse in foul language. 

SLANG WHANGER, a long-winded s^peaker.— Parliamentary. 

SLANGY, flashy, vulgar; loud in dress, manner, and conversation. 

SLANTINGDICULAR, oblique, awry,— as opposed to perpendicular. 

Originally an Americanism, now a part of the vocabulary of Loudon 

" high life below stairs." 
SLAP, paint for the face, rouge. 

SLAP, exactly, precisely; " slap in the wind's eye," i.e., exactly to wind- 
ward. 
SLAP-BANG, suddenly, violently. From the strike of a ball being felt 

before the report reaches the ear, — the slap first, the bang afterwards. 
SLAP-BANG-SHOPS, low eating-houses, where you have to pay down 

the ready money with a slap-bang. — (?rose. 
SLAP-DASH, immediately, or quickly.— -See slap-bang. 
SLAP-UP, first-rate, excellent, very good. 
SLASH, a pocket in an overcoat. 

SLASHER, a powerful roisterer, a pugilist; "the tipton slasher." 
SLASHERS, the Twenty-eighth Regiment of Foot in the British army. 
SLATE, " he has a slate loose," i.e., he is slightly crazy. 
SLATE, to pelt with abuse, to beat, to " lick ; " or, in the language of the 

reviewers, to " cut up." 
SLATE, to knock the hat over one's eyes, to bonnet. — North. 
SLAVEY, a maid-servant, 
SLAWMINEYEUX, a Dutchman. Probably a corruption of the Dutch, 

ja mynheer; or German, ja mein Herr. — Sea. 

Slang, counterfeit or short weights and measures. A slang quart is a 
pint and a half. Slang measures are lent out at 2d. per day to street 
•salesmen. The term is used principally by costermongers. 
Slang, a watch-chain. — Westminster. 
Slang, " out on the slang," i.e., to travel with a hawker's licence. 



SLAXG, CAXT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 235 

SLEEPLESS-HATS, those of a napless character, better known as wide- 
awakes. 

SLENDER, a simple country gentleman. 

SLEWED, drunk, or intoxicated.; — Sea term. When a vessel changes the 
tack she, as it were, staggers, the sails flap, she gradually heels over, 
and the wind catching the waiting canvas, she glides off at another 
angle. The course pursued by an intoxicated, or slewed man, is sup- 
posed to be analogous to that of the ship. 

SLICK, an Americanisin, very prevalent in England since the piiblication 
of Judge Haliburton's facetious stories. As an adjective, SLiCK 
means rapidly, effectually, utterly ; as a verb, it has the force of " to 
despatch rapidly," turn off, get done with a thing. 

SLING, to pass from one person to another. 

SLIP, " to give the slip," to run away, or elude pursuit. Shalspcare has 
" you gave me the counterfeit," in Rovico and Juliet. Giving the slip, 
however, is a Sea phrase, and refers to fastening an anchor and chain 
cable to a floating buoy, or water-cask, until such a time arrives that 
is convenient to return and take them on board. In fastening the 
cable, the home end is dipped through the hawse pipe. Weighing 
anchor is a noisy task, so that giving it the slip infers to leave it iu 
quietness. 

SLIP, or LET slip; "to slip into a man," to give him a sound beating ; 
" to LET SLIP at a cove," to rush violently upon him, and assault with 
vigour. 

SLIPPING, a trick of card-sharpers, in performance of which, by dex- 
terous manipulation, they place the cut card on the top, instead of at 
the bottom of the pack. It is the faire sauter la coupe of the French. 

SLOG, or SLOGGER, (its original form,) to beat, baste, or wallop. German, 
SCHLAGEN ; or, perhaps a vulgar corruption of slaughter. The pre- 
tended Greek derivation from aXoym, which Punch puts in the 
mouth of the schoolboy, in his impression of 4th May 1859, is of 
course only intended to mystify grandmamma, there being no such 
word in the language. 

SLOGGERS, i.e., slow-goees, the second division of race-boats at Cam- 
hridge. At O.rford they are called torpids. — University. A hard 
hitter at cricket is termed a slogger. 

SLOGGING, a good beating. 

SLOP, a policeman. Probably at first hach Slang, but now general. 

SIjOP, cheap, or ready made, as applied to clothing, is generally supposed 
to be a modern appropriation; but it was used in this sense in 1691, 
by Maydman, in his Naval Speculations; and by Chaucer two centuries 
before that. Slops properly signify sailors' working clothes, which 
are of a very cheap or unexpensive character. 

SLOPE, to decamp, to run, or rather slip away. Originally from LOPE, to 
make off; the s probably became affixed as a portion of the preceding 

Slick-a-dee, a pocket-book. 



236 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

word, as in the case of "let's lope," let us run. — Americanism. A 
correspondent says that Tennyson is decidedly partial to Slang, and 
instances amongst other proofs a passage from the laureate's famous 
Locksley Hall: — 

"Many a night, from yonder ivied casement, ere I went to rest. 
Did I look oil great Orion sloping slowly to the west." 

SLOPS, chests or packages of tea; " he shook a slum of SLOPS," i.e., stole a 
chest of tea. 

SLOUR'D buttoned up ; slour'd hoxter, an inside pocket buttoned iip. 

SLUBBERDEGULLION, a paltry, dirty, sorry wretch. 

"Quoth she, although thou hast deserved, 
Base sLtJBBRiiDEGULLioN, to be served 
As thou didst vow to deal with me, 
If thou hadst got the victory." 

— Iludibras. 

SLUICERY, a gin-shop or public-house. 
"SLUICING ONE'S BOLT," drinking. 
SLUM, a chest, or package. — See slops. 
SLUM, an insinuation, a discreditable inuendo. 
SLUM, gammon, " up to slum," wide awake, knowing 
" And this, without more slum began, 

Over a flowing Pot-house can. 

To settle, without botheration, 

The rigs of this here tip- top nation. 

— Jack RandaU's Diary, 1820. 

SLUM, or BACK slum, a dark retreat, low neighbourhood; " the Westmin- 
ster SLUMS," favourite haunts for thieves. 

SLUM, to saunter about, with a suspicion, perhaps, of immoral pursuits 
— Cambiidge University Slang. 

" SLUM THE GORGER," to cheat on the sly, to be an eye-servant. Slum 

in this sense is Old Cant. 
SLUSH, the grease obtained from boiling the salt pork eaten by seamen, 

and generally the cook's perquisite. 
SLUSHY, a ship's cook. 
SLUTER, butter.— iVort/i,. 

SMACK SMOOTH, even, level with the surface, quickly. 
SMALL-BEER; "he doesn't think small-beer of himself," i.e., he has a 

great opinion of his own importance. Small coals is also used in the 

same sense. 
SMALL HOURS, the early hours after midnight. 
SMALLS, a University term for the first general examination of the stu- 

Slour, to lock, or fasten. — Prison Cant. 
Slowed, to be locked up — in prison. 
Slum, a letter. — Prison Cant. 
Slumming, passing bad money. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 237 

dents. It is used at Cambridge, but properly belongs to Oxford. The 

Cambridge term is little go. 
SMASH, to become bankrupt, or worthless ; " to go all to SMASH," to break, 

" go to the dogs," to fall in pieces. 
SMASH, to pass counterfeit money. 
SMASHER, one who passes bad coin, or forged notes. 
SMASHFEEDER, a Britannia-metal spoon, — the best imitation shillings 

are made from this metal. 
SMASH-MAN-GEORDIE, a pitman's oath. — Durham and Northumher- 

land. — See geordie. 
SMELLER, a blow on the nose, or "a nosee." 
SMIFF-BOX, the nose. — Pugilistic term. 
SMISH, a shirt, or chemise. Corruption of the Spanish COMMISSION. — Sec 

MISH. 

SMITHERS, or smithereens; "all to smithereens," all to smash. 

Smither, is a Lincolnshire word for a fragment. 
SMOKE, London. Country-people when going to the metropolis frequently 

say, they are on their way to the smoke ; and Londoners when leaving 

for the countiy say, they are going out of the smoke. 
SMOKE, to detect, or penetrate an artifice. Common term with London 

detectives. 
SMUDGE, to smear, obliterate, daub. Corruption of smutch. Times, 

loth August 1S59. 
SMUG, smuggling. — Anglo-Chinese. 
SMUG, extremely neat, after the fashion, in order. 
SMUG, to snatch another's property and run. 
SMUGGINGS, snatchings, or purloinings, — shouted out by boys, when 

snatching the tops, or small play property, of other lads, and then 

running off at full speed. 

" Tops are in ; spin 'em .agin. 
Tops are out ; smugging about." 

SMUT, a copper boiler. Also, the " blacks " from a furnace. 

SMUTTY, obscene, — ^vulgar as applied to conversation. 

SNACK, booty, or share. Also, a light repast. — Old Cant and Gipsy term. 

SNAFFLE, conversation on professional or private subjects which the rest 

of the company cannot appreciate. In East Anglia, to snaffle is to 

talk foolishly. 
SNAGGLE TEETH, those that are uneven, and unpleasant looking. — West. 

Snags, {Americanism^ ends of sunken drift-wood sticking out of the 

water, on which river steamers are often wrecked. 

Smiggins, soup served to convicts on board the hulks. 
Snaffled, arrested, " pulled up," — so termed from a kind of horse's bit, 
called a snaffle. 



238 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

SNAGGLING, angling after geese with a hook and line, the bait being a 
worm or snail. The goose swallows the bait, and is quietly landed and 



SNAGGY, cross, crotchety, malicious. 

SNAM, to snatch, or rob from the person. 

SNAPPS, share, portion; any articles or circumstances out of which 
money may be made ; " looking out for SNapps," waiting for windfalls, 
or odd jobs. — Old. Scotch, chits, — term also used for " coppers," or 
halfpence. 

SNAPPS, Hollands gin. — Dutch, schnapps. 

SNEEZER, a snuflf-box ; a pocket-handkerchief. 

SNICK-A-SNEE, a knife. — Sea. Thackeray uses the term in his humour- 
ous ballad of the Boy-Billie. 

SNICKER, a drinking-cup. A hobn-snickeb, a drinking-horn. 

SNID, a sixpence. — Scotch. 

SNIGGER, " I 'm sniggered if you will," a mild form of swearing. An- 
other form of this is jiggered. 

SNIGGERING, laughing to one's-self.— ^as<. 

SNIP, a tailor, — apparently from snipes, a pair of scissors. 

SNIPE, a long bill or account ; also a term for attorneys, — a race remark- 
able for their propensity to long bills. 

SNIPES, " a pair of snipes," a pair of scissors. They are occasionally 
made in the form of that bird. 

SNOB, a low, vulgar, or affected person. Supposed to be from the nick- 
name usually appUed to Crispin, a maker of shoes ; but believed by a 
writer in Notes and Queries to be a contraction of the Latin, sine 
OBOLO. A more probable derivation, however, has just been forwarded 
by an ingenious correspondent. He supposes that NOBS, i.e., Nobiles, 
was appended in lists to the names of persons of gentle birth, whilst 
those who had not that distinction were marked down as S. nob., i.e., 
sine nobilitate, without marks of gentility, — thus reversiug its mean- 
ing. Another " word-twister " remarks that, as at college sons of 
noblemen wrote after their names in the admission lists, ^Z nob., son of 
a lord, and hence all young noblemen were called nobs, and what they 
did nobby, so those who imitated them would be called quasi-nobs, 
" like a nob," which by a process of contraction would be shortened to 
si-nob, and then snob, one who pretends to be what he is not, and 
apes his betters. The short and expressive terms which many think 
fitly represent the three great estates of the realm, nob, snob, and 
mob, were all originallj- Slang woixIb. The last has safely passed through 
the vulgar ordeal of the street*', and found respectable quarters in the 
standard dictionaries. 

Sneaksman, a shoplifter; a petty, cowardly thief. 

Sneeze-lurkeb, a thief who thi'ows snuff in a person's face, and then robs 
him. 

Snitchers, persons who turn Queen's evidence, or who tell tales. In Scot- 
land, snitchers signify handcuffs. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 239 

SNOBBISH, stuck up, proud, make believe. 

SNOB-STICK, a workman who refuses to join in strikes, or trade unions. 
Query, properly nob-stick. 

SNOOKS, an imaginary personage often brought forward as the answer to 
an idle question, or as the perpetrator of a senseless joke. Said to be 
simply a shortening or abbreviation of " Sevenoaks," the Kentish village. 

SNOOKS -AND -WALKER, a game resembling buz, but more compli- 
cated. Every three and multiple of three must be termed snooks, 
and every five and multiple of five, walker; thus — One, two, 
snooks; four, walker-snooks; seven, eight, snooks-walker; eleven, 
SNOOKS-SNOOKS; fourteen, snooks-walkek, the last being a multiple 
of both three and five. — See buz. 

SNOOZE, or snoodge, (vulgar prommciation,) to sleep or doze. 

SNOOZE-CASE, a pillow-slip. 

SNOT, a term of reproach applied to persons by the vulgar when vexed or 
annoyed. In a Westminster school vocabulary for boys, published 
in the last century, the term is curiously applied. Its jjroper mean- 
ing is the glandular mucus discharged through the nose. 

SNOT, a small bream, a slimy kind of flat fish. — Norwich. 

SNOTTINGER, a coarse word for a pocket-handkerchief. The German 
sclinupftach is, however, nearly as plain. A handkerchief was also 
anciently called a mucktxger, or mucivENDER. 

SNOW, wet linen. — Prison term and Old Cant. 

SNUFF, "up to SNUFF," knowing and sharp; "to take snuff," to be 
ofi'ended. Shakspeare uses snuff in the sense of auger, or passion. 

SNUFF OUT, to die ; a flippant expression, similar to " laying down 

one's knife and fork," " HOPPING THE TWIG," &C. 

SNUFFY, tipsy, drunk. 

SNYDER, a tailor. German, Schneider. 

SOAP, flattery. — See soft soap. 

SOCIAL EVIL, a name beginning to be applied to street-walkers in con- 
sequence of the articles in the newspapers being so headed, which 
treat on the evils of prostitution. A good story is told in the Saturday 
RevieivioT July 28, 1S60. " A well-known divine and philanthropist 
was walking in a crowded street at night in order to distribute tracts 
to promising subjects. A young woman was walking up and down, 
and he accosted her. He pointed out to her the error of her ways, 
emplored her to reform, and tendered her a tract with fervent en- 
treaties to go home and read it. The girl stared at him for a moment 
or two in sheer bewilderment ; at last it dawned on her what he meant, 
and for what he took her, and looking up with simple amazement in 
his face, she exclaimed, "Lor' bless you, sir, I ain't a social evil; 
I 'm waitin' for the 'bus ! " 

Snotter, or wipe-h.auler, a pickpocket who commits great depredations 

upon gentlemen's pocket-handkerchiefs. — North. 
Snow-gatherer, or snow-dropper, a rogue who steals linen from hedges 

and drying-grounds. 



240 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

SOCK, the Eton-College term for a treat, synonymous with chuck used at 
Westminster and other schools. Believed to be derived from the 
monkish word soke. An old writer speaks of a pious man " who did 
not SOKE for three days," meaning he fasted. A correspondent informs 
me that the word is still used by the boys of Heriot's Hospital School 
at Edinburgh, and signifies a sweetmeat ; being derived from the 
same source as sugar, suck, SUCKE, &c. 

" SOCK INTO HIM," i.e., give him a good drubbing; " give him sock," i.e., 
thrash him well. 

SOCKET-MONEY, money extorted by threats of exposure. 

SOFT, foolish, inexperienced. An old term for bank-notes. 

SOFT-HORN, a simpleton, a donkey, whose ears, the substitutes of horns, 
are soft. 

SOFT-SAWDER, flattery easily laid on, or received. Probably intro- 
duced by Sam Slick. 

SOFT-SOAP, or soft-sawder, flattery, ironical praise. 

SOFT-TACK, bread.— AS-ea. 

SOFT-TOMMY, loaf-bread, in contradistinction to hard biscuit. 

SOLD, " SOLD again ! and the money taken," gulled, deceived. — Vide sell. 

SOLD UP, or OUT, broken down, bankrupt. 

SOLDIER, a red herring. Common term in seaport towns. 

SOMETHING DAMP, a dram, a drink. 

" SON OF A GUN," a contemptuous title for a man. In the army it is 
sometimes applied to an artilleryman. 

SOOR, an abusive term. Eindostanee, a pig. — Anglo-Indian. 

SOOT-BAG, a reticule. 

SOP, a soft or foolish man. Abbreviation of milksop. 

SOPH, (abbreviation of sophisteb,) a title peculiar to the University of 
Cambridge. Undergraduates are junior sophs before passing their 
" Little Go,^' or first University examination, — senior sophs after that. 

SORT, used in a Slang sense thus — " That's your sort," as a term of ap- 
probation. Pitch it into him, that 's your sort, i.e., that is the proper 
kind of plan to adopt. 

SOUND, to pump, or draw information from a person in an artful manner. 

SOW, the receptacle into which the liquid iron is poured in a gun-foundry. 
The melted metal poured from it is termed pig. — Workmen's terms. 

SOW'S BABY, a pig; sixpence. 

SPANK, a smack, or hard slap. 

SPANK, to move along quickly; hence a fast horse or vessel is said to be 
" a spanker to go." 

SPANKING, large, fine, or strong; e.g., a spanking pace, a spanking 

breeze, a spaniqng fellow. 
SPECKS, damaged oranges. — Costermonc/er's term. 



/ 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 24 1 

SPECIALTY, any one's peculiar forte or weakness. From the French, 
spficiALiTi;. 

SPELL, a turn of work, an interval of time. " Take a spell at the cap- 
stern." — Sea. "He took a long SPELL at that tankard." "After a long 

SPELL." 

SPELL, " to SPELL for a thing," hanker after it, intimate a desire to pos- 
sess it. 

SPELL, to advertise, to put into print. " Spelt in the leer," i.e., adver- 
tised in the newspaper. 

SPELLKEN, or speelken, a playhouse. German, spielen. — See ken. — 
Don Juan. 

SPICK AND SPAN", applied to anything that is quite new and fresh. — 
Iladibras. 

SPIDIREEN, the name of an imaginary ship, sometimes mentioned by 
sailors. If a sailor be asked what ship he belongs to, and does not 
wish to tell, he will most probably reply — " The spidireen frigate, 
with nine decks, and ne'er a bottom." 

SPIFFED, slightly intoxicated.— ^co^cA Slang. 

SPIFFS, the per-centage allowed by drapers to their young men when they 
efi'ect a sale of old-fashioned or undesirable stock. 

SPIFFY, spruce, well-dressed, tout a la mode. 

SPIFLICATE, to confound, silence, annihilate, or stifle, A corruption of 
the last word, or of " suffocate." 

SPILL, to throw from a horse or chase. — ^e purl. 

SPIN, to reject from an examination. — Army. 

SPINDLESHANKS, a nickname for any one who has thin legs. 

SPIN-'EM ROUNDS, a street game consisting of a piece of brass, wood, 
or iron, balanced on a pin, and turned quickly round on a board, when 
the point, arrow-shajied, stops at a number, and decides the bet one 
way or the other. The contrivance very much resembles a sea com- 
pass, and was formerly the gambling accompaniment of London pie- 
men. The apparatus then was erected on the tin lids of their pie-cans, 
and the bets were ostensibly for pies, but more frequently for " cop- 
• pers," when no policemen frowned upon the scene, and when two or 
three apprentices or porters happened to meet. 

SPINIKEN, St Giles's Workhouse, Lump, Marylebone do. Pan, St 
Pancras. 

SPIRT, or SPURT, " to put on a spiet," to make an increased exertion for 

Speel, to run away, make off; " speel the di-um," to go off with stolen 

property. — North. 
Spell, contracted from spellken. " Precious rum squeeze at the spell," 

i.e., a good evening's work at the theatre, would be the remark of a 

successful pickpocket ! 
Spike Park, the Queen's-Bench prison. — See burdon's hotel 

Q 



242 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

a brief space, to attain one's end ; a nervous effort. Abbreviation or 

shortening of spirit. — Old. 
" So here for a man to run well for a spuet, and then to give over, 

is enougli to annul all his former proceedings, and to make him in no better 
estate then if he had never set foot into the good waies of God." — Gataker's 
Spirituall Watch, 4to, i6ig, p. 10. 

SPITALFIELDS' BREAKFAST. At the East end of London this is 
understood as consisting of a tight neclitie and a short pipe. Amongst 
■workmen it is usual, I understand, to tighten the ajiron string when 
no dinner is at hand. 

SPITFIRE, a passionate person. 

SPLASH, complexion powder used by ladies to whiten their necks and 
faces. The finest rice flour, termed in France, jioudre de riz, is gene- 
rally employed. — See slap. 

SPLENDIFEROUS, sumptuous, first-rate. Splendacious, sometimes 
used with similar meanings. 

SPLICE, to marry; "and the two shall become one flesh." — Sea. Also, a wife. 

'' SPLICE THE MAIN BRACE," to take a drink.— Sea. 

SPLIT, to inform against one's companions, to tell tales. " To split with 
a person," to cease acquaintanceship, to quarrel. 

SPLODGER, a lout, an awkward countryman. 

SPOFFY, a bustling busybody is said to be spofft. 

SPONGE, "to throw up the sponge," to submit, give over the struggle, — 
from the practice of throwing up the sponge used to cleanse the com- 
batants' faces at a prize fight, as a signal that the " mill " is concluded. 

SPOON, synonymous with spooney. A spoon has been defined to be " a 
thing that touches a lady's lips without kissing them." 

SPOONEY, a weak-minded and foolish person, effeminate or fond ; " to be 
SPOONEY on a girl," to be foolishly attached to one. 

SPOONS, " when I was spoons with you," i.e., when young, and in our 
courting days before marriage. — Charles Matheivs, in the farce of 
Everybody's Friend. 

SPOONS, a method of designating large sums of money, disclosed at the 
Bankruptcy Court dui-ing the examination of the great leather failures 
of Streatfield & Laurence in 1S60-61. The origin of the phrase was 
stated to be the reply of the bankrupt Laurence to an offer of accom- 
modating him with ;i^5O0O, — " Oh, you are feeding me with a tea- 
spoon." Hence ;,{!^5000 came to be known in the firm, as a tea-spoon, 
;^io,ooo, a dessert-spoon; ;^i5,ooo, a table-spoon ; and ;^20,ooo, as 
a gravy-spoon. The public were amiised at this tea-spoon phrase- 
ology, but were disgusted that such levity should cover a gigantic 
swindle of the kind. It came out in evidence, however, that it was 
eot the ordinary Slang of the discount world, but it may not improb- 
ably become so. 

SPORT, to exhibit, to wear, &c., — a word which is made to do duty in a 
variety of senses, especially at the University. — See the Gradus ad 
Cantabrigiam. " To sport a new tile; " " to sport an jEgrotat" {i.e., 
a permission from the "Dons" to abstain from lectures &c., on ac- 



•~ i\i J^iA^\^t,C^ ffxjt' 



^U a>^\c<, .,-.-../ gfS*;^^' 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 243 

count of illness;) " to sport one's oak," to shut the outer door and 
exclude the public, — especially duns, and boring acquaintances. 
Common also, in the Inns of Court. — See Notes and Queries, 2d series, 
Yol. viii., p. 492, and Gentleman's Magazine, December 1794. 

SPORTING DOOR, the outer door of chambers, also called the oak. — See 
under sport. — University. 

SPOUT, " up the SPOUT," at the pawnbroker's ; spouting, pawning. — See 
POP for origin. 

SPOUT, to preach, or make speeches ; spoutee, a preacher or lecturer. 

SPRAT, sixpence. 

SPREAD, butter. Term with workmen and schoolboys. 

SPREAD, a lady's shawl. Spread, at the East end of London, a feast, or 
a TIGHTENER ; at the West end a fashionable re-union, an entertain- 
ment, display of good things. 

SPREE, a boisterous piece of merriment ; " going on the spree," starting 
out with intent to have a frolic. French, esprit. In the Batch 
language, SFPtEEUW is a jester. 

SPRINGER-UP, a tailor who sells low-priced ready-made clothing, and 
gives starvation wages to the poor men and women who "makeup" 
for him. The clothes are said to be sprdng-up, or " blown together." 

SPRY, active, strong, manly. — Oriyinally an Americanism. 

SPUDDY, a seller of bad potatoes. In Scotland, a spud is a raw potato; 
and roasted SPUDS are those cooked in the cinders with their jackets on. 

SPUN, when a man has failed in his examination at Woolwich, he is said 
to be SPUN ; as at the Universities he is said to be plucked. 

SPUNGING-HOUSE, the sheriff's officer's house, where prisoners, when 
arrested for debt, are sometimes taken. As extortionate charges are 
made there for accommodation, the name is far from inappropriate. 

SPUNK, spirit, fire, courage, mettle. 

" In that snug room, where any man of spunk 
■Would find it a hard matter to get drunk." 

— Peter Pindar, i., 245. 

Common in America. For derivation see the following : — 

SPUNKS, lucifer-matches. — Herefordshire; Scotland. Spunk, says Urry, 
in his MS. notes to Ray, " is the excrescency of some tree, of which 
they make a sort of tinder to light their pipes with." 

SPUNK-FENCER, a lucifer-match seller. 

SFURT.— Old.— See spirt. 

SQUABBY, flat, short and thick. 

SQUARE, honest; "on the square," i.e., fair and strictly honest; "to 
turn square," to reform, and get one's living in an honest manner, — 
the opposite of cross. The expression is, in all probability, derived 
from the well-known masonic emblem the "sqiuire," the symbol of 
evenness and rectitude. 
"You must keep within the compass, and act upon tlie square with all man- 

Spotted, to be known or marked by the poUce. 



244 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 



kind ; for your masonry is but a dead letter if you do not habitually per- 
forni its reiterated injuuctions."— OiJ2;er's Lectures on Signs and Symbols, 
p. 190. 
SQUARE, " to be square with a man," to be even with him, or to be 
revenged; "to square up to a man," to offer to fight him, Shak- 
speare uses square in the sense of to quarrel, 
SQUARE RIGGED, well dressed.— &a. 
SQUARUM, a cobbler's lapstone. 
SQUASH, to crush; "to go squash," to collapse. 
SQUEAL, to inform, peach. A north country variation of squeak; s. s. 

squealer, an informer, also an illegitimate baby. 
SQUIB, a temporary jew d esprit, which, like the firework of that denomi- 
nation, sparkles, bounces, stinks, and vanishes. — Grose. 
SQUIBS, paint-brushes. 

SQUINNY-EYED, said of one given to &o^ma.img.—Shakspeare. 
SQUIRT, a doctor, or chemist. 
"STAB YOURSELF AND PASS THE DAGGER," help yourself and pass the 

holile.— Theatrical Slang. 
STAB, " on the stab," i.e., on the establishment, of which word it is an 

abridgment. — Printer^s term. 
STAB-RAG, a regimental tailor. — Military Slang. 
STAFF-NAKED, gin, 
STAG, a shilling. 

STAG, a term applied during the railway mania to a speculator without 
capital, who took "scrip" in " Diddlesex Junction," and other lines, 
ejus et sui generis, got the shares up to a premium, and then sold out. 
Punch represented the house of Hudson, "the Railway King," at 
Albert Gate, with a stag on it, in allusion to this term. 
STAG, to see, discover, or watch,— like a stag at gaze ; " stag the push," 

look at the crowd. Also, to dun, or demand payment. 
STAGE-WHISPER, one loud enough to be heard. 

STAGGERING-BOB, an animal to whom the knife only just anticipates 
death from natural disease or accident,— said of meat on that account 
unfit for human food. 
STALL, to lodge, or put up at a public house. Also, to act a part.— 
Theatrical. 

Square Cove, an honest man. 

Square Moll, an honest woman. 

" Squaring his Nibs," givmg a policeman money. 

" Squeak on a person," to inform against, peach. 

Squeeze, silk ; also, by a very significant figure, a thief s term for the nech 

Stag, to demand money, to " cadge." 

Stagger, one who looks out, or watches. 

Stall, or stall off, a dodge, a blind, an excuse. Stall is ancient Cant. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 245 

" STALL YOUR MUG," go away ; spoken sharply by any one who wishes 

to get rid of a troublesome or inconvenient person. 
STALKING-HORSE, originally a horse covered with loose trappings, 

under which the medieval sportsman concealed himself with his bow, 

so as to approach his game unobserved. Subsequently a canvas figure, 

made light, so as to be easily moved with one hand. 
STAMPERS, shoes.— Ancient Cant. 
STAND, "to STAND treat," to pay for a friend's entertainment; to bear 

expense ; to put up with treatment, good or ill ; " this house STOOD me 

in ^1000," i.e., cost that sum, (a correspondent queries the Latin 

CONSTAT, it cost me j) "to stand pad," to beg on the curb with a 

small piece of paper pinned on the breast, inscribed, "I'm, starving." 
STAND IN, to make one of a party in a bet or other speculation ; to take 

a side in a dispute. 
STANDING, the position at a street corner, or on the curb of a market 

street, regularly occupied by a costermonger, or street seller. 
STANDING BATTERERS, men who take a stand on the curb of a public 

thoroughfare, and deliver prepared speeches to effect a sale of any 

articles they have to vend. — See patterer. 
STANGEY, a tailor ; a person under petticoat government, — derived from 

the custom of " inding the stang," mentioned in Hudibras : — 
"It is a custom used of course 
Where the gray mare is the better horse." 

STAR, a common abbreviation of the name of the well-known " Star and 

Garter" Inn at Richmond. 
STARCHY, stuck-up, high-notioned, showily dressed, stiff and unbending 

in demeanour. 
STARK-NAKED, (originally strip-me-naked, vide Randall's Diary, 1820,) 

raw gin. — Bulwer's Paul Clifford. 
STAR IT, to perform as the centre of attraction, with inferior subordinates 

to set off one's abilities. — Theatrical. 
START, "the start," London, — the gi-eat starting point for beggars and 

tramps. 
START, a proceeding of any kind; a "rum start," an odd circumstance; 

" to get the START of a person," to anticipate him, overreach him. 
STARVE 'EM, ROB 'EM, and CHEAT 'EM, the adjoining towns of Stroud, 

Rochester, and Chatham are so designated by soldiers and sailors ; prob- 
ably not without reason. 

Stall off, to bhnd, excuse, hide, to screen a robbery during the perpetra- 
tion of it by an accomplice. 

Stallsman, an accomplice. 

" Star the glaze," to break the window or show-glass of a jeweller or other 
tradesman, and take any valuable articles, and run away. Sometimes 
the glass is cut with a diamond, and a strip of leather fastened to the 
piece of glass cut out to keep it from falling in and making a noise. 
Another j)lan is to cut the sash. 



246 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

STASH, to cease doing anything, to refrain, be quiet, leave off; " stash it, 
there, you sir !" i.e., be quiet, sir; to give over a lewd or intemperate 
course of life is termed stashing it. 

STEAM-ENGINE, potato-pie at Manchester is so termed. 

STEEL-BAR-DRIVERS, or flingers, journeymen tailors. 

STEMS, the legs. 

STEP IT, to run away, or make oiE 

STICK, a derogatory expression for a person ; " a rum " or " odd stick," a 
curious man. More generally a "poor stick." — Provincial. 

STICK, " cut your stick," be off, or go away ; either simply equivalent to 
a recommendation to prepare a walking staff in readiness for a journey 
— in allusion to the Eastern custom of cutting a stick before setting 
out — or from the ancient mode of reckoning by notches or tallies on a 
stick. In Cornwall the peasantry tally sheaves of corn by cuts in a 
stick, reckoning by the score. Cut tode stick in this sense may mean 
to make your mark and pass on — and so realise the meaning of the 
phrase "in the nick (or notch) OF time." Sir J. Emerson Tennent, in 
Notes and Queries, (December 1859,) considers the phrase equivalent 
to " cutting the connexion," and suggests a possible origin in the pro- 
phet's breaking the staves of "Beauty" and "Bands," — vide Zech. xi. 
10, 14. 

STICK, to cheat ; " he got stuck," he was taken in ; I 'm stuck, a common 
phrase to express that the speaker has spent or lost all his money, and 
can neither play nor pay any longer; stick, to forget one's part in a 
performance — Theatrical; stick UP, to place in an account ; " stick it 
UP TO ME," i.e., give me credit for it; stick on, to overcharge or de- 
fraud; stick up for, to defend a person, especially when slandered in 
his absence ; stick up to, to persevere in courting or attacking, whe- 
ther in fisty-cuffs or argument; "to stick in one's gizzard," to rankle 
in one's heart; "to stick to a person," to adhere to one, be his friend 
through adverse circumstances, — to cotton to him. 

STICKS, furniture, or household chattels ; " pick up your sticks and cut! " 
summary advice to a person to take himself and furniture away. — 
Cumberland. 

STICK-UPS, or gills, shirt collars. 

STICKINGS, bruised or damaged meat sold to sausage-makers and penny 
pie shops. — North. 

STICKY, wax. 

STIFF, paper, a bill of acceptance, &c. ; " how did you get it, stiff or 
hard ? " i.e., did he pay you cash or give a bill ? Stiff, " to do a bit 
of STIFF," to accept a bill. — See kite. 

STIFF-FENCER, a street-seller of writing paper, 

STIFF 'UN, a corpse. — Term used by undertakers. 

Steel, the house of correction in London, formerly named the Bastile, but 

since shortened to steel. — See bastile. 
Sticks, pistols. — Nearly obsolete. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 247 

STILLS, the undertaker's Slang term for still-born children. The fee 
paid by nurses and others is usually 2s. 6d. A separate cofSn is never 
given ; the stills are quietly introduced into one containing an adult 
about to be buried. Stills are allowed to accumulate at the under- 
taker's until they sometimes number as many as a dozen. 

STILTOISr, "that's the stilton," or "it is not the stilton," i.e., that is 
quite the thing, or that is not quite the thing ; — polite rendering of 
■' that is not the cheese," which see. 

STIFGO, strong liquor. — Yorkshire. 

STIKK, a disagreeable exposure. 

STINKOMALEE, a name given to the then New London University by 
Theodore Hook. Some question about Trincomalce was agitated at 
the same time. It is still applied by the students of the old Universi- 
ties, who regard it with disfavour from its admitting all denominations. 

STIPE, a stipendiary magistrate. — Provincial. 

STIR-UP SUNDAY, the Sunday next before Advent, the collect for 
that day commencing with the words " Stir up." School-boys, growing 
excited at the prospect of the vacation, irreverently commemorate it 
by stirring up — pushing and poking each other. Crib crust Monday 
and tug-button Tuesday are distinguished by similar tricks ; while on 
PAY-OFF WEDNESDAY they retaliate small grudges in a playful facetious 
way. Forby says good housewives in Norfolk consider themselves 
reminded by the name to mix the ingredients for their Christmas 
mince-pies. 

STOCK; "to STOCK cards" is to arrange cards in a certain manner for 
cheating purposes. 

STOCK, " to take stock of one," to scrutinise narrowly one whom you have 
reason to suspect ; taken from the tradesmen's term for the annual 
examination and valuation of their stock of goods. 

STOCKDOLAGER, a heavy blow, a "finisher." Italian, stoccado, a fen- 
cing term. Also (in a general sense) a disastrous event. — Americanism. 

STODGE, to surfeit, gorge, or clog with food. 

STOLL, to understand. — North Country Cant. 

STORY, a falsehood, — the soft synonyme for a lie, allowed in family circles 
and boarding-schools. A Puritanism that came into fashion with the 
tirade against romances, all novels and stories being considered as 
dangerous and false. 

STOT, a young bullock. In Northumberland the term STOT means to re- 
bound. 

Stib, a prison, a lock -tip; "in stir," in jail. Anglo-Saxon, styb, correc- 
tion, punishment. 
Stone-jug, a prison. 
Stook, a pocket-handkerchief. 

Stook-haulek, or buzzer, a thief who takes pocket-handkerchiefs. 
Stop, a detective policeman. 



248 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 



STOTOR, a heavy blow, a settler.— OW Cant. ■ 

STOW, to leave off, or have done ; " stow it, the gorger 's leary," leave off. 
the person is looking. — See stash, with which it is synonymous. — 
Ancient Cant. 

STOW FAKING ! leave off there, be quiet ! faking iroplying anything 
that may be going on. 

STRAP, a barber. 

STRAW. Married ladies are said to be "in the straw" at their accouche- 
ments. The phrase is a coarse allusion to farm-yard animals in a 
similar condition. 

STRAWING, selling straws in the streets, (generally for a penny,) and 
giving the purchaser a paper (indecent or political) or a gold (!) ring, — 
neither of which, the patterer states, he is allowed by Act of Parlia- 
ment to sell. 

STREAK, to decamp, run away. — Saxon. In America the phrase is "to 
make streaks," or " make tracks." 

STREAKY, irritated, ill-tempered. 

STREET-PITCHERS, negro minstrels, ballad singers, long-song men, men 
" working a board " on which have been painted various exciting 
scenes in some terrible drama, the details of which the street-pitchkr 
is bawling out, and selling in a little book or broadsheet (price one 
penny ;) or any persons who make a stand in the streets, and sell 
articles for their living. 

STRETCH, a v/alk.— University. 

STRETCHER, a falsehood. 

STRETCHER, a contrivance with handles, used by the police to carry off 
persons who are violent or drunk. 

STRETCHER-FENCER, one who seUs braces. 

" STRIKE ME LUCKY ! " an expression used by the lower orders when 
making a bargain, derived from the old custom of striking hands to- 
gether, leaving in that of the seller a luck penny as an earnest that 
the bargain is concluded. In Ireland, at cattle markets, &c., a penny, 
or other small coin, is always given by the buyer to the seller to ratify 
the bargain. — Hudihras. Anciently this was called a god's penny. 

"Witb that he cast him a God's penny." — Heir of Linne. 
The origin of the phrase being lost sight of, like that of many others, 
it is often corrupted now-a-days into strike me silly. 

Stretch, abbreviation of " stretch one's neck," to hang, be executed as a 

malefactor. — Bulwer's Paul Clifford. 
Stretch, twelve months, — generally used to intimate the time any one has 

been sentenced by the judge or magistrate. One stretch is to be 

imprisoned twelve months, TWO stretch is two years, THREE STRETCH 

is three years, and so on. 
Stretching match, an execution. — See stretch. 
" Strike a jigger," to pick a lock, or break open a door. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 249 

STRILLS, cheating lies. — North Country Cant. 

STROKE, a companion in a rowing boat who times his oar with yours. — 
University. 

"He [the man who rows] looks round at a wine-party to see if his ' stroke' be 
present, and, descrying him not, cannot see how a few glasses of wine, and 
a plate or so of ice, can possibly interfere with his training." — Hints to 
Freshmen, 1847. 

STROMMEL, straw. — Ancient Cant. Halliwell says that in Norfolk strum- 
MEL is a name for hair. 

STRONG, " to come it strong." — See come. 

STUCK, moneyless. — See stick. 

STUCK-UP, "purse-proud" — a form of snobbishness very common in 
those who have risen in the world. Mr Albert Smith has written 
some amusing papers on the Natural History of stuck-up People. 

STUFF, money. 

STUFF, to make false but plausible statements, to praise ironically, to 
make game of a person, — literally, to stuff or CRAM him with gam- 
mon or falsehood. 

STUMP, to go on foot. 

STUMPED, bowled out, done for, bankrupt, poverty-stricken. — CricTceting 
term. 

STUMPS, legs, or feet. 

STUMPY, money. 

STUMP UP, to give one's share, to pay the reckoning, to bring forth the 
money reluctantly. 

STUN, to astonish, 

STUNNER, a first-rate person or article. 

STUNNERS, feelings of great astonishment; "it put the stujvmbks on 
me," i.e., it confounded me. 

STUNNING, first-rate, very good. " Stunning pears," shouts the coster, 
"only eight a penny." — Vide Athenaeum, 26th March 1859. Some- 
times amplified to stunning joe banks ! when the expression is sup- 
posed to be in its most intense form. Joe Banks was a noted 
character in the last generation. He was the proprietor of a public- 
house in Dyott Street, Seven Dials, and afterwards, on the demolition 
of the Rookery, of another in Cranbourne Alley. His houses became 
well-known from their being the resort of the worst characters, at 
the same time that the strictest decorum was always maintained in 
them. Joe Banks also acquired a remarkable notoriety by acting as 
a medium betwixt thieves and their victims. Upon the jjroper pay- 
ment to Joe, a watch or a snuff-box would at any time be restored to 
its lawful owner — "no questions in any case being asked." The most 
darnig depredators in London placed the fullest confidence in Joe, and 
it is believed (althoiigh the Biofjraphie Unlrerselle is quiet upon this 
point) that he never, in any instance, "sold" them. He was of the 
middle height, stout, and strongly made, and was always noted for a 

Strip-bush, a fellow who steals clothes put out to dry after washing. 



250 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

showy pin, and a remarkably stunning nech-tk. It was this peculi- 
arity in the costume of Mr Banks, coupled with those true and tried 
qualities as a friend, for which, as I have just remarked, he was 
famous, that led his customers to proclaim him as stunning joe 
BANKS ! The Marquis of Douro, Colonel Chatterley, and men of their 
stamp, were accustomed to resort to a private room at his house, when 
too late or too early to gain admittance to the clubs or more aristo- 
cratic establishments. 

SUB, a subaltern officer iu the army. 

SUB, all. — Anglo-Indian. 

SUBLIME RASCAL, a lawyer. 

SUCK, a parasite, flatterer of the "nobs." — University. 

SUCK, to pump, or draw information from a person. 

SUCK-CASA, a public-house. — Lingua Franca. 

" SUCK THE MONKEY," to rob a cask of liquor by inserting a straw 
through a gimlet hole, and sucking a portion of the contents. Captain 
Marryatt, however, describes this as rum inserted into cocoa nuts, in 
place of the milk, for the private use of the sailors. — See tap -the- 

ADMIRAL. 

SUCK UP, " to SUCK UP to a person," to insinuate one's-self into his good 

graces. 
SUDDEN DEATH, the first toss in a bet, to be decided by skying a 

copper. 
SUFFERER, a tailor; the loser at any game. 
SUGAR, money. 

SUICIDE, four horses driven in a line. — See iiauum-scarum. 
SUIT, a watch and seals. 

SULKY, a one-horse chaise, having only room for one person. 
SUMSY, an action of assumpsit. — Legal Slang. 
"SUN IN THE EYES," to have too much drink.— BicJcens. 
SUP, abbreviation of " supernumerary." — Theatrical. 

SURAT, an adulterated article of inferior quality. This word affords a 
remarkable instance of the manner in which Slang phrases are coined. 
In the report of an action for libel in the Times, May 8, 1863, it is 
stated "that, since the American civil war, it has been not unusual for 
manufacturers to mix American cotton with Surat, and, the latter 
being an inferior article, the people in Lancashire have begun to apply 
the term surat to any article of inferior or adulterated quality. The 
plaintiffs were brewers, and the action was brought to recover special 
damages resulting from the publication of an advei'tisement in these 

"Stunned on Skilly," to be sent to prison and compelled to eat skilly, 

or SKILLIGOLEE. 

Sturaban, a prison. Gipsy, distarabin. 

Super, a watch; super-screwing, stealing watches. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 25 I 

words : — ' All in want of beerhouses must beware of Beaumont & 
White, the surat brewers.' " 

SURF, an actor who frequently pursues another calling. — Theatrical. 

SWAB, an epaulet. — Sea. 

SWACK-UP, a falsehood. 

SWADDLER, a Wesleyan Methodist; a name originally given to members 
of that body by the Irish mob ; said to have originated with an 
ignorant Romanist, to whom the words of the English Bible were a 
novelty, and who, hearing one of John Wesley's preachers mention the 
swaddling clotlies of the Holy Infant, in a sermon on Christmas-day 
at Dabhn, shouted out in derision, " A SWAddlkr ! a swaddler!" as 
if the whole story were the preacher's invention. — Southet/'s Life of 
Wesley, vol. ii., p. 109. 

SWADDY, or coolie, a soldier. The former was originally applied to a 
discharged soldier, and perhaps came from shoddy, which is made 
from soldiers' and worn-out policemen's coats. — See that term. 

SWAG, a lot or plenty of anything, a portion or division of property. In 
Australia the term is used for the luggage carried by diggers. Scotch, 
SWEG, or SWACK ; German, Sweig, a flock. Old Cant for a shop. 

SWAG-SHOP, a warehouse where "Brummagem" and geQeral wares are 
sold, fancy trinkets, plated goods, &c. Jews are the general pro- 
prietors, and the goods are very low-priced, trashy, and showy. Swag- 
6HOPS were formerly plunder depots. — Old Cant. 

SWANKEY, cheap beer.— PTesC. 

SWAP, to exchange. Grose says it is Irish Cant, but the term is now in- 
cluded in most dictionaries as an allowed vulgarism. 

SWATCHEL-COVE, the master of a Punch-and-Judy exhibition who 
" fakes the slum," and does the necessary squeak for the amusement of 
the bystanders. — See Schwassle box. The orthography of many of 
these colloquial expressions differs. It was thought best to give the 
various renderings as collected. 

SWEAT, to extract money from a person, to "bleed." Also, to squander 
riches . — Bui iver. 

SWEATER, common term for a "cutting" or "grinding" employer, — one 
who SWEATS his work-people. 

SWEEP, a contemptuous term for a low or shabby man. 

SWEET, loving or fond; "how sweet he was upon the moll," i.e., what 
marked attention he paid the girl. 

SWEETENER, a person who runs up the prices of articles at an auction. 

See JOLLYING, BONNET, &C. 

SWELL, a man of importance; a person with a showy, jaunty exterior, 
"a rank swell," a very "flashy" dressed person, a man who by 
excessive dress apes a higher position than he actually occupies. 

Swag, booty, or plundered property ; " collar the swag," seize th« booty. 
SwAGSMAN, one who carries the booty after a burglary. 



252 A DICTIONARY OF MODERiT 

Anything is said to be swell or swellish that looks showy, or is 
many coloured, or is of a desirable quality. Dickens and Wilkie 
Collins are termed great swells in literature ; so indeed are the first 
persons in the learned professions. 

SWELL-FENCER, a street salesman of needles. 

" SWELL HUNG IN CHAINS," said of a showy man in the habit of 
wearing much jewellery. 

SWELL STREET, the West end of London. 

SWIG, a hearty drink. 

SWIG, to drink. Saxon, swigan. 

SWILL, to drink. Swill, hog-wash. — NorfolTc. 

SWINDLER, although a recognised word in standard dictionaries, com- 
menced service as a Slang term. It was used as such by the poor 
Londoners against the German Jews who set up in London about the 
year 1762, also by our soldiers in the German war about that time. 
ScHWiNDEL, in German, signifies to cheat. 

SWING, to be hanged ; " if you don't accede to my desires, I'll swing for 
you," i.e., take your life — a common threat in low neighbourhoods. 

SWINGING, large, huge. 

SWIPES, sour or small beer. Swipe, to drink. — Sea. 

SWIPEY, (from swipes,) intoxicated. 

SWISH, to flog, derived no doubt from the sound. 

SWISHED, or Switched, married. 

SWIVEL-EYE, a squint. 

SWIZZLE, small beer, drink. 

SWOT, mathematics; also a mathematician ; as a verb, to work hard for 
an examination, to be diligent in one's studies. — Army. 

This word originated at the great Slang manufactory for the army, 
the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, in the broad Scotch pronuncia- 
tion of Dr Wallace, one of the Professors, of the word sweat. — See 
Notes and Queries, vol. i., p. 369. 

SYCE, a groom. — Anglo-Indian. 

T, " to suit to a T," to fit to a nicety. — Old. Perhaps from the T-square 
of carpenters, by which the accuracy of work is tested. 

TABOOED, forbidden. This word, now very common, is derived from a 
custom of the South-Sea Islanders, first noticed in " Cook's Voyages." 

TACK, a taste foreign to what was intended ; a barrel may get a tack 
upon it, either permanently mouldy, sour, or otherwise. 

TACKLE, clothes. — Sea. Also to encounter a person in argument. 

Swim, " a good swim," a good run of luck, a long time out of the police- 
man's clutches. — Thieves' term. A correspondent says this is really a 
piscatorial term — "a good swim" is a good pitch for a part where fish 
are plentiful. Tlius one who is in luck, or doing a good business, is 
said to be in a good swim. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 253 

TAFFY, (corruption of David,) a Welshman. Compare sawney, (from 
Alexander,) a Scotchman, 

TAG, an actor. 

TAG-RAG-AND-BOBTAIL, a mixed crowd of low people, mobility. 

TAIL-BLOCK, a watch.— &a. 

TAKE, to succeed, or be patronised ; " do you think the new opera will 
TAKE?" "No, because the same company took so badly under the 
old management;" "to take on," to grieve; Shahspecire uses the 
word TAKING in this sense. To " take up for any one," to protect or 
defend a person ; " to take off," to mimic ; " to take heart," to have 
courage; "to take down a peg or two," to humiliate, or tame; "to 
take up," to reprove; "to take after," to resemble; "to take in," 
to cheat or defraud, from the lodging house-keepers' advertisements, 
" single men taken in and done FOR,"~an engagement which is as 
frequently performed in a bad as a good sense ; " to take the field," 
when said of a General, to commence operations against the enemy; 
when a racing man takes the field he stakes his money against the 
favourite. 

TAKE BEEF, to run away. 

TAKE IN, a cheating or swindling transaction, — sometimes termed "a 
dead take in." Shukspeare has take in in the sense of conquering. 
To be had, or to be spoken to, were formerly synonymous phi-ases 
with to be taken in. 

TALKING, a stable term, of a milder kind, applied to those horses which 

are addicted to eoaeing. — Sec the latter expression. 
TALL, extensive, exaggerated, — generally applied to conversation, as loud 

is to dress, or personal appearance; "tall talk that," i.e., conversation 

too boastful or high-flown to be true. 
TALLY, five dozen bunches of turnips. — Costermongers' term. 
TALLY, "to Hve tally," to live in a state of unmarried impropriety; 

" tally- wife," a woman who cohabits with a man to whom she is not 

married; a ''tallyman" is an accommodating salesman who takes 

payment by instalments to suit the convenience of the purchaser. 
TAN, to beat or thrash; " I'll tan your hide," i.e., give you a good beating. 
TAN, an order to pull. — Anglo-Indian. 

TANNER, a sixpence. Gipsy, tawno, little, or Latin, tener, slender ? 
TANNY, or teeny, little. Gipsy, tawno, little, 
TANTREMS, pranks, capers, frolicking; from the Tarantula dance.— &e 

account of the involuntary frenzy and motions caused by the bite 

of the tarantula in Italy.— Penn?/ Cyclopmdia. 
TAPE, gin,— term with female servants. Also, a military term used in 

barracks when no spirits are allowed. — See ribbon. 
TAPER, to give over gradually, to run short. 

" TAP THE ADMIRAL," to suck liquor from a cask by means of a straw, 
Tailbuzzer, a thief who picks coat pockets. 



2 54 ^ DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

said to have been first done with the rum-cask in which Lord Nelson's 
body was brought to England, to such an extent as to leave the gallant 
Admiral high and dry. 
TAP-TUB, the Mornivg Adi-ertiser, — so called by vulgar people from the 
fact that this daily newspaper is the principal organ of the London 
brewers and publicans, yometimes termed the gin and gospel 

GAZETTE. 

TARADIDDLE, a falsehood. 

TAR-BRUSH, a person, whose complexion indicates a mixture of Negro 
blood, is said to have had a lick of the tar-brush. 

TAR OUT, to punish, to serve out. 

TARPAULIN, a sailor. 

TART. My old servant, "Jim the Patterer," (one of the collectors of 
Seven Dials' terms for the first edition of this work,) whose unfor- 
tunate habit for contracting small loans induced me at length to lend 
him a whole half-crown at once, in the hope that he might not pay, 
and thus not trouble me again, has recently sent me some words from 
Birmingham, where he says he is doing well with " a schwassle box, 
having learnt the squeak." Amongst them is the following, given in 
Mr Jim's own words : — 

"Tart, a term of approval applied by the London lower orders to a young 
woman for whom some affection is felt. The expression is not generally 
employed by the yi'ung men, unless the female is in 'her best,' with a 
coloured gown, red or blvie shawl, and plenty of ribbons in her bonnet — in 
fact, made pretty all over, like tlie jam tarts in the swell bakers' shops."* 

TARTAR, a savage feUow, an " ugly customer." Catching a tartar. 

TAT-BOX, a dice-box. 

TATER, "s'elp my tater," another street evasion of a profane oath, some- 
times varied by " s'elp my greens." 

TATS, dice. 

TATS, old rags ; milky tats, white rags. 

TATTING, gathering old rags. 

TATTOO, a pony. — Anglo-Indian. 

TAW, a large or principal marble ; " I '11 be one on your TAW," I will pay 
you out, or be even with you, — a simile taken from boys aiming always 
at winning the taw when playing at marbles. 

TEAGUELAND, Ireland. 

TEA-FIGHT, an evening party, alias a muffin-worry. 

TEA-SPOON, five thousand pounds.— &e spoons. 

TEETH, " he has cut his eye teeth," i.e., is old and 'cute enough. 

TEETH-DRAWING, wrenching off knockers. — Medical Students' term. 

• The language used by Mr Jim is certainly far above his position in life. This 
evidence of e iucation existing amongst certain persons of the tramping fraternity 
has been alluded to at page 23. 

Tatler, a watch; "nimming a tatler," stealing a watch. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 255 

TEETOTALLER, a total abstainer from alcoholic drinks. 

TEETOTALLY, amplification of totally. 

TE-HE, to titter, " Upon this I te-he'd;" Madame d'Arhlay. As an inter- 
jection it is as old as Chaucer. — See Miller's Tale " — " te-he, quod she, 
and clapt the window to." 

TELL ON, to tell about, to talk of. 

TEN COMMANDMENTS, a virago's fingers, or naHs. Often heard in a 
female street disturbance. 

" TENPENCE TO THE SHILLING," a vulgar phrase denoting a defi- 
ciency in intellect. 

TESTER, sixpence. From testone, a shilling in the reign of Henry VIII., 
but a sixpence in the time of Queen Elizabeth. — Shalcspeare. French, 
teste, or t^te, the head of the monarch on the coin. 

TEVISS, a shilling. — Costermonger and Tramps' term, 

THICK, intimate, familiar. Scotch, chief; "the two are very chief now," 
i.e., friendly. 

THICK ; " to lay it on thick," to flatter unduly, to surfeit with praise or 
adulation. 

THICK-UN, a sovereign ; a crown piece, or five shillings. 

THIMBLE-RIG, a noted cheating game played at fairs and places of great 
public thronging, consisting of two or three thimbles rapidly and dex- 
terously placed over a pea, when the THIMBLE-eigger, suddenly ceas- 
ing, asks you under which thimble the pea is to be found. If you are 
not a practised hand you will lose nine times out of ten any bet you 
may happen to make with him. The pea is sometimes concealed 
under his nail. 

THINGUMY, THINGUMBOB, expressions used for the name of a thing 
which cannot be recollected at the instant. 

THINSKINNED, over nice, petulant, apt to get a raw. — See that term. 

THREE-CORNERED-SCRAPER, a cocked hat.— Sea. 

"THREE SHEETS IN THE WIND," unsteady from drink.— -Sea. 

THREE-UP, a gambling game played by costers. Three halfpennies are 
thrown up, and when they fall all " heads," or aU " tails," it is a mark ; 
and the man who gets the greatest number of marks out of a given 
amount — three, five, or more — wins. The costers are veiy quick and 
skilful at this game, and play fairly at it amongst themselves ; but 
should a stranger join in they invariably unite to cheat him. 

THRUMMER, a threepenny bit. 

Tench, the Penitentiary, of which it is a contraction. — See steel. 
Theatre, a police court ; a place for acting, or assuming a part which is 

not natural to the performer. 
Thimble, or tack, a watch. — Prison Cant. 
Thimble-twisteks, thieves who rob persons of their watches. 



256 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 



THRUMS, threepence, 

THRUPS, threepence. — See the preceding. 

THUMPING, large, fine, or strong. 

THUNDERER, the Times newspaper, sometimes termed " the Thunderer 

of Printing-House Square," from the locality where it is printed, 
THUNDERING, large, extra sized, 

TIB'S EVE, "neither before Christmas nor after," an indefinite period; 
like the Greek Kalends, tie's eve has a future application ; an indefi- 
nite period of past time is sometimes said to be " when Adam was 
an oakum-boy in Chatham dockyard." 
TIBBING OUT, going out of hounds.— Charterhouse. 

TICK, credit, trust, Johnson says it is a corruption of t'lchet, — tradesmen's 

bills being formerly written on tickets or cards. On tick, therefore, is 

equivalent to on ticket, or on trust. In use in 1668, Cuthbert Bede, 

in Notes and Queries, supplies me with an earher date, from the Gra- 

dus ad Cantabrigiam. 

" No matter upnn landing whether you have money or nn — yon may swim in 

tweutie of their boats over the river dpok ticket." — Decker's Gulls' Hornbook, 

1609. 

TICKER, a watch. Formerly Cant, now street Slang, 

TICKET, "that's the ticket," i.e., what was wanted, or what is best. 
Corruption of " that is not etiquette," by adding, in vulgar pronuncia- 
tion, th to the first e of " etiquette ; " or, perhaps, from ticket, a bill 
or invoice. This phrase is sometimes extended into "that's the 
TICKET FOR SOUP," in allusion to the card given to beggars for imme- 
diate relief at soup kitchens. — See tick, 

TIDY, tolerably, or pretty weU; "how did you get on to-day?" — "Oh, 
TIDY." — Saxon. 

TIDDLYWINK, slim, puny ; sometimes tilltwink, 

TIED UP, given over, finished ; also married, in allusion to the hymeneal 
knot, unless a jocose allusion be intended to the halter, (altar,) 

TIFF, a pet, a fit of ill humour, 

TIFFIN, a breakfast, dejeuner a la fourchette. — Anglo-Indian Slang. 

TIFFY, easily offended, apt to be annoyed. 

TIGER, a parasite ; also a term for a ferocious woman. 

TIGER, a boy employed to wait on gentlemen ; one who waits on ladies is 
a page. 

TIGHT, close, stingy ; hard up, short of cash ; tight, spruce, strong, active; 
" a TIGHT lad," a smart, active young fellow ; tight, drunk, or nearly 
so; " TiGHT-laced," puritanical, over-precise. Money is said to be 
TIGHT, when the public, from want of confidence in the aspect of 
affliirs, are not inclined to speculate. 

TIGHTNER, a dinner, or hearty meal. — See spitalfields' breakfast. 
Tike, or buffer-lurking, dog-steahng. — See gay tikeboy. 



SLANO, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 257 

TILE, a hat; a covering for the head. 

" I 'm a gent, I 'm a gent, 

In the Regent-Street style, — 
Examine my vest. 
And look at my tile." — Popular Song. 
Sometimes used in another sense, " having a tile loose," i.e., being 
slightly crazy. — See paa'Tile. 

TIMBER MERCHANT, or spunk fencer, a lucifer-match seller. 

TIME 0' DAY, a dodge, the latest aspect of affairs ; " that 's your time o' 
DAT," i.e., Euge, well done; to put a person up to the time o' day, 
let him know what is o' clock, — to instruct him in the knowledge 
needful for him. 

TIME, cabman's Slang for money. If they wish to express 9s. gd. they 
say that " it is a quarter to ten ; " if 3s. 6d., half -past three ; if i is, gd.j 
a quarter to twelve. Cab drivers exultingly say the police cannot com* 
prehend the system. 

TIN, money, — generally applied to silver. 

TINGE, the per-centage allowed by drapers and clothiers to their assistants, 
upon the sale of old-fashioned articles. — See spiffs. 

TIN-POT, " he plays a tin-pot game," i.e., a low or shabby one. In the 
Contes d'Eutrapel, a French officer at the siege of Chatillon is ridicu- 
lously spoken of as Captain tix-pot — Capitaine du. Pot d'Etain. — 
Billiards. 
TIP, advice or information respecting a horse-race, so that the person tip- 
ped may know how to bet to the best advantage. Notice when and 
where a prize-fight is to come off. Private information of any kind. — 
See TIPSTER. 
TIP, a douceur ; " a good TIP," a piece likely to be set in an Addiscombe 
or Sandhurst examination, hence, "that's the tip," i.e., that's the 
proper thing to do. " To miss one's tip," to fail in a scheme. — Old Cant. 
TIP, to give, lend, or hand over anything to another person ; " come, TIP 
up the tin," i.e., hand up the money; "tip the wink," to inform by 
winking; " tip us your fin," i.e., give me your hand; " TIP one's boom 
off," to make off, depart. — Sea. 
TIPPER, a kind of ale brewed at Brighton. 

TIPSTER, a " tout," or " turf " agent who collects early information of 
the condition and racing capabilities of horses in the training districts, 
and posts the same to his subscribers to guide their betting. 
"The racing tipsters have much less patronage than formerly, before "Geof- 
frey Greenhorn" laid a trap for them, and pablished the tips he received in 
The Life. Professor Ingledue, M. A., the mesmerist, is silent; and if their 
subscribers, ' for whose interests I have collected my old and able staff, with 
many additional ones, who are already at work in the training districts,' 
could only get a sight of the ' old and able staff,' they would find it consist- 
ing of a man and a boy, ' at work ' in the back room of a London public- 
house, and sending different winners for every race to their subscribers."— 
Post and Paddock, by the Druid. 

TiLL-BOY, an apprentice or shopman who makes free with the cash in hia 
master's till 



258 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 



" TIP THE DOUBLE," to "bolt," or run away from a creditor or officer. 
Sometimes tip the double to sherry, i.e., to the sheriff. 

TIP-TOP, first-rate, of the best kind. 

TIP-TOPPER, a " swell," or dressy man, a " Gorger." 

TIT, a favourite name for a horse. 

TIT FOR TAT, an equivalent. 

TITIVATE, to put in order, or dress up. 

TITLEY, drink, generally applied to intoxicating beverages. 

TITTER, a girl ; " nark the titter," i.e., look at the girl. — Tramps' term. 

'TIZER, the Morning Advertiser. — See tap tub. 

TIZZY, a sixpence. Corruption of tester. 

TOAD-IN-THE HOLE, a kind of pudding, consisting of a piece of meat 
surrounded with batter, and baked. Also, a term applied to advertis- 
ing mediums. — See sandwich, 

TOASTING-FORK, a regulation sword, indicative of the general useless- 
uess of that weapon. 

TODDLE, to walk as a child. 

TO-DO, (pronounced quickly, and as one word,) a disturbance, trouble ; 
" here's a prettj' TO-DO," here is an unpleasant difficulty. This exactly 
tallies with the French word affaire (d faire). — See Forhy's Vocabu- 
lary of Fast Anglia. 

TOFF, a dandy, a swell of rank. Corruption probably of tuft. — See toft. 

TOFFER, a well-dressed " gay " woman. 

TOFFICKY, dressy, showy. 

TOFT, a showy individual, a swell, a person who, in a Yorkshireman's 
vocabulary, would be termed uppish. — See tuft. 

TOG, a coat. Latin, toga. — Ancient Cant. 

TOG, to dress, or equip with an outfit; " togged out to the nines," dressed 
in the first style. 

TOGGERY, clothes, harness, domestic paraphernalia of any kind. 

TOGS, clothes ; " Sunday togs," best clothes. One of the oldest Cant 
words — in use in the time of Henry VIII. — See cant. 

TOKE, dry bread. 

TOL-LOL, or tol-lollish, tolerable, or tolerably. 

TOLL-SHOP, a Yorkshire correspondent gives this word as denoting in 
that county a prison, and also the following verse of a song, popular 
at fairs in the East Riding : — 

" Bvit if ivver he get out agean. 
And can but i-aise a fniid, 
Oh ! the divel may tak' TfiLL SHOP, 
At Beverley town-end !" 

Toby Consarn, a highway expedition. Toby is Old Cant. 
Toby, a road; "high toby,' the turnpike road. " High TOBY spice," rob- 
bery on horseback. — Don Juan, canto xi., 19. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 259 

TOM AND JERRY, a low drinking shop. Probably some allusion to 
Pierce Egan's famous characters in his Life in London. 

TOMBSTONE, a pawnticket — " In memory of," &c., a well-known Slang 
expression with those Londoners who are in the habit of following 
" My Uncle." 

TOM-FOOL'S COLOURS, scarlet and yellow, the ancient motley. Occa- 
sionally as a rhyme, 

" Red and yellow, 
Tom fool's colour." 

A proposition is said to be TOM rooL when it is too ridiculous to be 

entertained or discussed. 
TOMMY.— &e dickey. 
TOMMY, bread, — generally a penny roll. Sometimes applied by workmen 

to the supply of food which they carry in a handkerchief as then- daily 

allowance. 
TOMMY, a truck, barter, the exchange of labour for goods, not money. 

Both term and practice general among English operatives for half-a- 

century. 

TOMMY DODD, in tossing when the odd man goes out. A phrase in 
frequent use at the London Music Halls. Origin not known. 

TOMMY-MASTER, one who pays his workmen in goods, or gives them 
tickets upon tradesmen, with whom he shares the profit. 

TOMMY-SHOP, where wages are generally paid to mechanics or others, 
who are expected to " take out " a portion of the money in goods. 

TOM-TOM, a street instrument, a kind of small drum beaten with the 
fingers, somewhat like the ancient tabor ; a performer on this instru- 
ment. It was imported, doubtless, with the Nigger melodies, tom- 
toms being a favourite instrument with the " darkies." 

TOM TOPPER, a waterman, from a popular song, entitled, " Overheard he 
verity 

TOM TUG, a waterman. 

TONGUE, " to TONGUE a person," i.e., talk him down. Tongued, talkative. 

TONY LUMPKIN, a young, clownish country fellow. 

TOOL, " a poor tool," a bad hand at anything. 

TOOL, to drive a mail coach, or any other vehicle. 

TOOTH, " he has cut his eye tooth," i.e., he is sharp enough, or old 
enough, to do so ; " up in the tooth," far advanced in age, — said 
often of old maids. Stable term for aged horses which have lost the 
distinguishing mark in their teeth. 

TOOTSIES, feet, those of ladies and children in particular. In married 

Tool, to pick pockets. 

Tool, a very little boy employed by burglars to put in at small apertures, 

so as to open a door for the larger thieves outside. 
Tooler, a pickpocket. Moll-tooler, a female pickpocket. 



26o A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

life it is said the husband uses this expression for the first six months, 
after that he terms them HOOFS. 

TOOZLE, to roxa^.— Scotch. 

TOr, the signal among tailors and seamstresses for snuffing the candle ; 
one cries top, and all the others foUow, he who last pronounces the 
word has to snuff the candle. 

TOP-HEAVY, drunk. 

TOPPER, anything or person above the ordinary. 

TOPPER, a blow on the head ; " give him a topper and chance it," " let 
him have a topper for luck." — Pugilistic Slang. 

TOP-SAWYER, the principal of a party, or profession. " A top-SAWTER 
signifies a man that is a master genius in any profession. It is a piece 
of Norfolk Slang, and took its rise from Norfolk being a great timber 
county, where the top sawyers get double the wages of those beneath 
them." — Randal's Diary, 1820. 

TOPSY-TURVY, the bottom upwards. Grose gives an ingenious ety- 
mology of this once Cant term, viz., " tojy-side turf-ways," — turf being 
always laid the wrong side upwards. 

TO-RIGHTS, excellent, very well, or good. 

TORMENTORS, the large iron flesh-forks used by cooks at sea. — Sea. 

TORPIDS, the second-class race-boats at Oxford, answering to the Cam- 
bridge SLOGGERS. 

TOSS, a measure of sprats. — Billingsgate and Costermonger. 

TOT, a small glass; a " tot o' whisky " is the smallest quantity sold. 

TOUCH, a slang expression in common use in phrases which express the 
extent to which a person is interested or affected as " a fourpenny 
TOUCH," i.e., costing that amount. — See an example in Mr, afterwards 
Sir Erasmus, Philipp's Diary, at Oxford, in 1 720. (Notes and Queries, 
2d series, p. 365.) 

Sept. 22. " At night went to the ball at the Angel, A Guinea Touch." 
It is also used at Eton in the sense of a " tip," or present of money. 

TOUCHED, slightly intoxicated ; also said of a consumptive person. 

TOUCHER, " as near as a toucher," as near as possible without actually 
touching. — Coaching term. The old jarveys, to shew their skill, used 
to drive against things so close as absolutely to touch, yet without 
injury. This they called a toucher, or, touch and go, which was 
hence applied to anything whicli was within an ace of ruin. 

TOUCHY, peevish, irritable. Johnson terms it a low word. 

TOUT, in sporting phraseology a tout signifies an agent m the training 
districts, on the look-out for information as to the condition and 
capabilities of those horses entered for a coming race. — See tipster. 

TOUT, to look out, or watch. — Old Cant. 

Topped, hanged, or executed. 

Tops, dying speeches and gallows' broadsides. 

Toshers, uif-n who steal copper from ships' bottoms in the Thames. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 26 1 

TOUTER, a looker out, one who watches for customers, a hotel runner. 
A term in general use, derived from the old Cant word. 

TOWEL, to beat or whip. In WarwiclcsJiire an oaken stick is termed a 

TOWEL — whence, perhaps, the vulgar verb. 
TOWELLING, a rubbing down with an oalcen towel, a beating. 
TOWN-LOUT, a derogatory title at Rugby School for those pupils who 

reside with their parents in the town, in contradistinction to those 

who live in the boarding-houses. 
TOW-POWS, grenadiers. 

TRACKS, " to make tracks," to run away. — See streak. 
TRANSLATOR, a man who deals in old shoes or clothes, and refits them 

for cheap wear. 
TRANSLATORS, second-hand boots mended and polished, and sold at a 

low price. Monmouth Street, Seven Dials, is a great market for 

translators. 
TRANSMOGRIPHY, to alter or change. 
TRAP, a "fast" term for a carriage of any kind. Traps, goods and 

chattels of any kind, but especially luggage and personal effects ; in 

Australia, swag. 
TRAP, " up to TRAP," knowing, wide awake, — synonymous with " up to 

SNUFF." 

TRAP, a sheriff's officer. 

TRAPESING, gadding or gossiping about in a slatternly way. — North. 
Generally applied to girls and women in low neighbourhoods whose 
clothes are carelessly fastened, causing them to traU on the ground. 

TREE, " up a tree," in temporary difficulties, — out of the way. American 
expression, derived from raccoon or bear-hdnting. When Bruin is 
treed, or is forced up a tree by the dogs, it means that then the tug 
of war begins. — See 'coON. Hence when an opponent is fairly run to 
bay, and can by no evasion get off, he is said to be treed. These 
expressions originated with Colonel Crockett, of Backwoods' celebrity. 
In Scotland the phrase is " up a close," i.e., a passage out of the usual 
track, or removed from observation. 

TRIANGLES, a Slang term for delirium tremens, during a fit of which 
everything appears out of the square. 

TRIMMINGS, the necessary adjuncts to a cooked leg of mutton, as turnips' 
bread, beer, salt, &c. Bets are frequently made for a leg of mutton 
and trimmings. Or one person will forfeit the mutton if another will 
"stand the trimmings." It is generally a supper feast, held in a 
public house, and the rule is for the landlord to charge as trimmings 
everything, except the mutton, placed on the table previous to the 
removal of the cloth. 

Traveller, name given by one tramp to another. " A traveller at her 

Majesty's expense," i.e., a transported felon, a convict. 
Trine, to hang. — Ancient Cant. 



262 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

TRIPES, the bowels. 

" Next morning Miss Dolly complained of her tripes, 
Drinking cold water had given her the gripes." 

TROLLING, sauntering or idling, hence teoll and trollocks, an idle 
slut, a MOLL, which see. 

TROLLY, or trolly-carts, term given by costermongers to a species of 
narrow cart, which can either be drawn by a donkey, or driven by hand. 

TROT, to "run up," to oppose, to bid against at an auction. Private 
buyers at auctions know from experience how general is the opposition 
against them from dealers, " knock-outs," and other habitues of sales, 
who regard the rooms as their own peculiar domain ; " we TROTTED 
him up nicely, didn't we?" i.e., we made him (the private buyer) pay 
dearly for what he bought. 

TROTTER, a tailor's man who goes round for orders. — University. 

TROTTER CASES, shoes. 

TROTTERS, feet. Sheep's trotters, boiled sheep's feet, a favourite street 

delicacy. 
TRUCK, a hat — from the cap on the extremity of a mast. — Sea. 
TRUCK, to exchange or barter. 
TRUCK-GUTTED, pot-bellied, corpulent.— 5'ea. 
TRUCKS, trousers. 
TRUMP, a good fellow ; " a regular TRUMP," a jolly or good-natured person, 

— in allusion to a trump card; "trumps may turn up," i.e., fortune 

may yet favour me. 

TRUNKS, tronsers— Theatrical. 

TUBS, a butterman. 

TUB-THUMPING, preaching or speech-making, from the old Puritan 

fashion of " holding forth " from a tub, or beer barrel, as a mark of 

their contempt for decorated pulpits. 
TUCK, a schoolboy's term for fruit, pastry, &c. Tuck in, or tuck out, a 

good meal. 
TUFTS, feUow-commoners, i.e., students at the University, generally the 

sons of noblemen, who pay higher fees, dine with the Dons, and are 

distinguished by golden tufts, or tassels, in their caps. 
TUFT-HUNTER, a hanger on to persons of quality or wealth — one who 

seeks the society of wealthy students. Originally University Slang, 

but now general. — See preceding. 
TUMBLE, to comprehend or understand. A coster was asked what he 

thought of Macbeth, — " the witches and the fighting was all very well, 

but the other moves I couldn't tumble to exactly ; few on us can 

TUMBLE to the jaw-breakers; they licks us, they do." 

Truff, to steal. — North Country Cant. 

TuCK-UP-FAiR, the gallows. The notion of tucking up in connexion with 

hanging is derived from tucking up the bedclothes before going to 

sleep — the last preparation. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 26 



o 



"TUNE THE OLD COW DIED OF," an epithet for any ill-played or dis- 
cordant piece of music. Originally the name of an old ballad, alluded 
to in the dramatists of Shakspeare's time. 

TUP, a young bullock. Smithfield, and drovers' term. 

TURF, horse-racing, and betting thereon ; " on the turf," one who occu- 
pies himself with race-course business; said also of a street-walker, 
nymph of the pave. 

TURKEY MERCHANTS, dealers in plundered or contraband silk. Poul- 
terers ai-e sometimes termed turkey merchants in remembrance of 
Home Tooke's answer to the boys at Eton, who wished in an aristo- 
cratic way to know who his father was : a turkey merchant, replied 
Tooke — his father was a poulterer. Turkey merchant, also, was 
formerly Slang for a driver of turkeys or geese to market. 

TURNIP, an old-fashioned watch, so called from its thickness. 

TURN OUT, personal show or appearance ; a man with a showy carriage 
and horses is said to have a good turn out. 

TURN-OVER, an apprentice who finishes with a second master the inden- 
tures he commenced with the first. 

TURNPIKE SAILORS, beggars who go about dressed as sailors. 

TURN UP, a street fight ; a sudden leaving, or making off. 

TURN UP, to appear unexpectedly. 

TURN UP, to quit, change, abscond, or abandon ; " Ned has turned up," 
i.e., run away; "I intend turning it up," i.e., leaving my present 
abode, or altering my course of life. Also to happen; "let's wait, and 
see what will turn up." 

TUSHEROON, a crown piece, five shillings. 

TUSSLE, a pull, struggle, fight, or argument. Johnson and Webster call it 
a vulgar word. 

TUSSLE, to struggle, or argue. 

TWELVER, a shilling. 

TWICE-LAID, a dish made out of cold fish and potatoes. — Sea. Compare 
bubble and squeak and resurrection pie. 

TWIG, style, d la mode ; " get your strummel faked in twig," i.e., have 
your hair dressed in style ; PRIME TWIG, in good order and high spirits. 
— Pugilistic. 

TWIG, "to hop the twig," to decamp, "cut one's stick," to die. 

Turned up, to be stopjped and searched by the police. 

Turned over, remanded by the magistrate or judge for want of evidence. 

Turner out, a coiner of bad money. 

Twelve Godfathers, a jury, because they give a name to the crime 
the prisoner before them has been guilty of ; whether murder or man- 
Biaughter, felony or misdemeanour. Consequently it is a vulgar taunt 
to say, " You will be christened by twelve godfathers some day 
before long." 



264 



A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 



TWIG, to understand, detect, or observe. 

TWIST, brandy and gin mixed. 

TWIST, capacity for eating, appetite; " Will's got a capital twist.** 

TWITCHETY, nervous, fidgety. 

TWITTER, " all in a twitter," in a fright or fidgety state. 

TWO-FISTED, expert at fisticuffs. 

TWO-HANDED, awkward, a singular reversing of meaning. 

TWOPENNY, the head; "tuck in your twopenny," bend down your 
head. 

TWOPENNY-HALFPENNY, paltry, insignificant. A twopenny-half- 
penny fellow, a not micommon expression of contempt. 

TWOPENNY-HOPS, low dancing rooms, the price of admission to which 
was formerly — and not infrequently now — twopence. The clog horn- 
pipe, the pipe dance, flash jigs, and hornpipes in fetters, a la Jack 
Sheppard, are the favourite movements, all entered into with great 
spirit and "joyous, laborious capering." — Mayhew. 

" TWO UPON TEN," or " two pun' ten," an expression used by assistants 
to each other, in shops, when a customer of suspected honesty makes 
his appearance. The phrase refers to "two eyes upon ten fingers," 
shortened as a money term to "two pon' ten." When a supposed 
thief is present, one shopman asks the other if that two pun' (pound) 
TEN matter was ever settled. The man knows at once what is meant, 
and keeps a careful vpatch upon the person being served. If it is not 
convenient to speak, a piece of paper is handed to the same assistant, 
bearing the to him very significant amount of 



^£ : '/O- : (/ 



— Compare Sharp, John Orderly. 

TYBURNIA, the Portman and Grosvenor Square districts. It is facetiously 
divided by the Londoners into tyburnia Felix, tyburnia deserta, 
and TYBURNIA snobbica. The old gallows at Tyburn stood near the 
N.E. corner of Hyde Park, at the angle formed by the Edgware Road 
and the top of Oxford Street. In 1778 this was two miles out of 
London. 

TYE, or TIE, a neckerchief. Proper hosier's term now, but Slang thirty 
years ago, and as early as 1718. Called also squeeze. 

TYKE, a clownish Yorkshireman. 

TYPO, a printer. 

UNBLEACHED AMERICAN, the new Yankee term for coloured natives 
of the United States, the word nigger being now voted low. 

UNCLE, the pawnbroker. — See my uncle. 

Tyburn collar, the fringe of beard worn under the chin. — See newgate 

collar. 
Unbetty, to unlock. — See bettt. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 265 

"UNDER THE ROSE."— -S-ee rose. 

UNICORN, a style of driving with two wheelers abreast and one leader — 
termed in the United States a spike team. Tandem is one wheeler 
and one leader. Random, three horses in line. — See harum-scarum. 

UNLICKED, ill-trained, uncouth, rude, and rough ; an unlicked cub is a 
loutish youth who has never been taught manners ; from the tradition 
that a bear's cub, when brought into the world, has no shape or sym- 
metry until its dam licks it into form with her tongue. 

UNUTTERABLES, or UNWHISPERABLES, trousers.— &e inexpres- 
sibles. 

UP, " to be UP to a thing or two," to be knowing, or understanding ; " to 
put a man up to a move," to teach him a trick ; " it's all up with him," 
i.e., it is all over with him, often pronounced U.P., naming the two 
letters separately ; " UP a tree,"— see tree; "up to trap," "uPtoSNUFP," 
wide awake, acquainted with the last new move ; " UP to one's gossip," 
to be a match for one who is trying to take you in ; " UP to slum," 
proficient in roguery, capable of committing a theft successfully; so 
also, " what 's up ? " i.e., what is the matter ? what is the news ? 

U. P., United Presbyterian. — Scotch clencal Slang. 

UPPER BENJAMIN, or benjt, a great coat. 

UPPER STORY, or upper loft, a person's head; "bis upper story is 
unfurnished," i.e., he does not know very much. 

UPPISH, proud, arrogant. — Yorkshire. 

USED UP, broken-hearted, bankrupt, fatigued, vanquished. 

VAKEEL, a barrister. — Anglo-Indian. 

VAMOS, vamous, or vamoosh, to go, or be off. Spanish, vamos, " let U3 
go ! " Probably namus, or namous, the costermonger's word, was from 
this, although it is generally considered back Slang. 

VAMP, to spout, to leave in pawn. 

VAMPS, old stockings. From vamp, to piece. 

VARDO, to look ; " vardo the cassey," look at the house. Vardo formerly 
was Old Cant for a waggon. 

VARDY, verdict, vulgarly used as opinion, thus, " My vardy on the matter 
is the same as yourn." 

VARMENT, " you young varment, you ! " you bad, or naughty boy. Cor- 
ruption of vermin. 

VELVET, the tongue. 

VERTICAL CARE-GRINDER, a Slang term for the treadmill. 

Vampers, fellows who frequent public-houses and pick quarrels with the 
wearers of rings and watches, in hopes of getting up a fight, and so 
enabling their " pals " to steal the articles. 

" Under the screw," to be in prison. 

Uptdcker, the hangman, Jack Ketch. — See tuck-up. 

Varnisheb, an utterer of false sovereigns. 



266 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

VIC, the Victoria Tlieatre, London, — patronised principally by coster- 
mongers and low people ; also the street abbreviation of the Christian 
name of her Majesty the Queen. 

VILLAGE, or the village, i.e., London. — Sporting. Also a Cambridge 
term for a disreputable suburb of that town, viz., BarnweU, generally 
styled " the village." 

VILLE, or VILE, a town or village — pronounced phial, or vial. — French. 

VINNIED, mildewed, or sour. — Devonshire. 

VOKER, to talk ; " can you voker Romany ? " can you speak the canting 
language ? — Latin, vocare ; Spanish, vocear. 

VOWEL, "to VOWEL a debt" is to pay with an I U. 

WABBLE, to move from side to side, to roll about. Johnson terms it a 
" low, barbarous word." — See the following. 

WABLER, a foot soldier, a term of contempt used by a cavalryman. 

WALKER, a letter-carrier or postman. 

WALKER ! or hookey walker ! an ejaculation of incredulity, said when 
a person is telling a story which you know to be all gammon, or false. 
The Saturday Reviewer's explanation of the phrase is this: — "Years 
ago there was a person named Walker, an aquiline-nosed Jew, who 
exhibited an orrery, which he called by the erudite name of Fidouror 
nion. He was also a popular lecturer on astronomy, and often invited 
his pupils, telescope in hand, to take a sight at the moon and stars. 
The lecturer's phrase struck his school-boy auditory, who frequently 
' took a sight ' with that gesture of outstretched arm and adjustment 
to nose and eye which was the first garnish of the popular saying. 
The next step was to assume phrase and gesture as the outward and 
visible mode of knowingness in general." A correspondent, however, 
denies this, and states that HOOKEY walker was a magistrate of dreaded 
acuteness and incredulity, whose hooked nose gave the title of beak to 
all his successors ; and, moreover, that the gesture of applying the 
thumb to the nose and agitating the little finger, as an expression of 
" Don't you wish you may get it ?" is considerably older than the story 
in the Saturday Revieiv would seem to indicate. There is a third ex- 
planation of HOOKEY WALKER iu Notes and Queries, iv., 425. 

"WALKING THE PEGS," a method of cheating at the game of cribbage, 
by a species of legerdemain, the sharper either moving his own pegs 
forward, or those of his antagonist backward, according to the state 
of the game. 

WALK INTO, to overcome, to demolish ; " I '11 walk into his affections," 
i.e., I will scold or thrash him. The word drive (which see) is used 
in an equally curious sense in Slang speech. Walk into also means 
to get into the debt of any one, as, " he walked into THE affections 
of all the tradesmen in the neighbourhood." 

WALK OVER, a re-election without opposition. — Parliamentary, but de- 
rived from the Turf, where a horse which has no rivals entered walks 
OVER the course, and wins without exertion. 

" Walk the barber," to lead a girl astray. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 267 

" WALK YOUR CHALKS," be off, or run away, — spoken sharply by any 
one who wishes to get rid of a troublesome person, — See chalks. 

WALL-FLOWER, a person who goes to a ball, and looks on without dan- 
cing, either from choice or not being able to obtain a partner. 

WALL-FLOWERS, left-off and " regenerated " clothes exposed for sale on 

the bunks and shop-boards of Monmouth Street. 
WALLOP, to beat, or thrash. Mr John Gough Nichols derives this word 

from an ancestor of the Earl of Portsmouth's, one Sir John Wallop, 

Knight of the Garter, who in King Henry VIIL's time distinguished 

himself by walloping the French ; but it is more probably connected 

with WEAL, a livid swelling in the skin after a blow. — See pot- walloper. 
WALLOPING, a beating or thrashing; sometimes used in an adjective 

sense, as big, or very large. 
WAPPING, or WHOPPING, of a large size, great. 
WARM, rich, or well off. 
WAR]\I, to thrash, or beat ; " I '11 warm your jacket." To warm the wax 

of one's ear is to give a severe blow on the side of the head. 
WARMING-PAN, a large old-fashioned watch. A person placed in an 

office to hold it for another. — See W. P. 
WAR PAINT, military uniform. 
WASH, " it won't wash," i.e., will not stand investigation, will not " bear 

the rub," is not genuine, can't be believed. 
WATCH AND SEALS, a sheep's head and pluck. 
WATER-BEWITCHED, very weak tea, the third brew, (or the first at some 

houses ; ) grog much diluted. 
WATER-DOGS, Norfolk dumplings. 
WATER OF LIFE, gin. Apparently from eau de vie. 
WATERMAN, a light blue silk handkerchief. The Oxford and Cambridge 

boats' crews always wear these — light blue for Cambridge, and a 

darker shade for Oxford. 
"WATER THE DRAGON," "water one's nag," hints for retiring. 
WATTLES, ears. 
WAXY, cross, ill-tempered. 
WEATHER-HEADED, so written by Sir Walter Scott in his Peveril of 

the Peat;, but it is more probably wether-headed, as applied to a 

person having a "sheepish" look. 
WEAVING, a notorious card-sharping trick, done by keeping certain cards 

on the knee, or between the knee and the underside of the table, and 

using them when required by changing them for the cards held in 

the hand. 
" WEAVING LEATHERN APRONS." When a knowing blade is asked 

what he has been doing lately, and does not choose to tell, his reply 

is, that he has been very busy weaving leathern aprons. — (See news- 

Watohmaker, a pickpocket or stealer of watches. 



268 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

paper reports of the trial for the gold robberies on the Southwestern 
Railway.) Other similar replies, " I have been making a trundle fob 
A goose's eye," or "a whim-wham to buidle a goose." 

WEDGE, silwer.— Old Cant. 

WEDGE-FEEDER, a silver spoon. 

WEED, a cigar ; the weed, tobacco generally. 

WEED, a hat-band 

WEJEE, a chimney-pot. Often applied to any clever invention, as "that's 
a regular wejee." 

WELCHER, a person who makes a bet without the remotest chance of 
being able to pay, and, losing it, absconds, or " makes himself scarce." 
In the betting ring a welcher is often very severely handled upon his 
swindling practices being discovered. The Catterick " Clerk of the 
Course," once provided some stout labourers and a tarbarrel for the 
special benefit of the WELCHERS who might visit that neighbourhood. 
The word is modern, but the practice is ancient. 

"One Moore, ttie unworthy incumbent of the 'Suffolk Curacv,' dedicated a 
book to 'Diike Humpbrej',' and was then entirely lost sight of by his old 
college friends, till one of them espied him slung- up in 'the basket,' for 
not paying his bets at a cock-pit."— Pos« and Paddock. 

WELL, to pocket, or place as in a well. 

WEST CENTRAL, a water-closet, the initials being the same as those of 
the London Postal District. It is said that for this reason very delicate 
people refuse to obey Rowland Hill's instructions in this particular. 
An old maid, who lived in this district, was particularly shocked at 
having w.c. marked on all her letters, and informed the letter-carrier 
that she could not think of submitting to such an indecent fashion. 
On being informed that the letters would not be forwarded without 
the obnoxious initials, she remarked that she would have them left at 
the Post-Office. " Then, marm,' ' said the fellow, with a grin, '• they will 
put P.O. on them, which wiU be more ' ondacenter than the tother.' " 

WET, a drink, a " drain." 

WET, to drink. Low people generally ask an acquaintance to wet any ■ 
recently-purchased article, i.e., to stand treat on the occasion; "wet 
your whistle," i.e., take a drink; " wet the other eye," i.e., take another 
glass. — See SHED a tear. 

WET QUAKER, a drunkard of that sect ; a man who pretends to be re- 
ligious, and is a dram-drinker on the sly. 

WET 'UN, a diseased cow, unfit for human food, but nevertheless sold to 
make into sausages. — Compare staggering-bob. 

WHACK, a share or lot; "give me my whack," give me my sha,re.—Scolch, 

SWEG, or SWACK. 

WHACK, or whacking, a blow, or a thrashing, 
WHACK, to beat. 
WHACKING, large, fine, or strong. 

WHALE, " very like a whale in a teacup," said of anything that is very 
improbable ; taken from a speech of Polonius's in Hamlet. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 269 

"WHAT D'YE CALL 'EM, a similar expression to thingumt. 
WHEEDLE, to entice by soft words. " Tliis word cannot be found to 

derive itself from any other, and is therefore looked upon as wholly 

invented by the cantees." — Triumi:)h of Wit, 1 705. 

WHERRET, or woerit, to scold, trouble, or annoy. — Old Emjlish. 

WHID, a word.— OW Gipsrj Cant. 

WHID, a fib, a falsehood, a word too much. — Modern Slang from the 
Ancient Cant. 

WHIDDLE, to enter into a parley, or hesitate with many words, &c. ; to 
inform, or discover. — See wheedle. 

WHIM-WHAM, an alliterative term, synonymous with fiddle-eaddle, 
RIFF-RAFF, &c., denoting nonsense, rubbish, &c. 

WHIP, after the usual allowance of wine is drunk at mess, those who wish 
for more put a shilling each into a glass handed round to procure a 
further supply. — Naval and Military. 

WHIP, to "whip anything up," to take it up quickly; from the method of 
hoisting heavy goods or horses on board ship by a whip, or running 
tackle, from the yard-arm. Generally used to express anything dis- 
honestly taken. — L' Estrange and Johnson. 

WHIP JACK, a sham shipwrecked sailor, called also a turnpike sailor. 

" WHIP THE CAT," when an operative works at a private house by the 
day. Term used amongst tailors and carpenters. 

WHIPPER-IN, the member of the House of Commons whose duty it is to 
collect and keep together his party to vote at divisions. To give him 
greater influence, the ministerial whipper-in holds, or is supposed to 
hold, the minor patronage of the Treasury. — See wooden spoon. 

WHIPPER-SNAPPER, a waspish, diminutive person. 

WHISKER. There is a curious Slang phrase connected with this word. 
When an improbable story is told, the remark is, " the mother of that 
was a whisker," meaning it is a lie. 

WHISTLE, "as clean as a whistle," neatly, or "slickly done," as an 
American would say ; " to wet one's whistle," to take a drink. This 
last is a very old expression. Chaucer says of the Miller of Trumping- 
ton's wife {Canterbury Tales, 4153) — 

" So washir joly whistal well y-wet ;" 
" to whistle for anything," to stand small chance of getting it, from 
the nautical custom of whistling for a wind in a calm, which of 
course comes none the sooner for it. 

WHITECHAPEL, or Westminster brougham, a costermonger's donkey- 
barrow. 
WHITECHAPEL, the "upper-cut," ov &ixnke.— Pugilistic. 
WHITECHAPEL, in tossing, two out of three wins. — See sudden death. 
WHITECHAPEL FORTUNE, a clean gown and a pair of pattena. 



270 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN 

WHITE FEATHER, " to shew the white feather," to evince cowardice. 
In times when great attention was paid to the breeding of game-cocks, 
a white feather in the tail was considered a proof of cross-breeding. 

"WHITE LIE, a harmless lie, one told to reconcile people at variance; 
" mistress is not at home, sir," is a white lie often told by servants 

WHITE-LIVERED, or liver-faced, cowardly, much afraid, very mean. 

WHITE PROP, a diamond ^m.—East London. 

WHITE SATIN, gin, — term amongst women. — See satin. 

WHITE SERJEANT, a man's superior officer in the person of his better- 
half, 

WHITE TAPE, gin,— term used principally by female servants.— &e 

RIBBON. 

WHITEWASH, when a person has taken the benefit of the Insolvent Act 

he is said to have been whitewashed. 
WHITEWASH, a glass of sherry as a finale, after driaking port and claret. 
WHITE WINE, the fashionable term for gin. 
"Jack Randall then impatient rose, 

And said, 'Tom's speecli were just as fine 
If be would call that first of go's 
By that genteeler name — white wine." 

Randall's Diary, 1820. 

WHOP, to beat, or hide. Corruption of whip; sometimes spelled wap. 

WHOP-STRAW, Cant name for a countryman ; Johnny whop-straw, in 
allusion to threshing 

WHOPPER, a big one, a lie. 

WIDDLE, to shine. — See OLIVER, 

WIDE-AWAKE, a broad-brimmed felt, or stuff hat, — so called because it 
never had a nap, and never wants one. 

WIDO, wide awake, no fool. 

WIFFLE-WOFFLES, in the dumps, sorrow, stomach ache. 

WIG, move off, go away. — North Country Cant. 

WIGGING, a rebuke before comrades. If the head of a firm calls a clerk 
into the parlour, and rebukes him, it is an earwioging; if done before 
the other clerks, it is a wigging. 

WILD, a village. — Tramps' term. — See vile. 

WILD, vexed, cross, passionate, — said to be from willed (self-willed) 
in ojiposition to " tamed " or " subdued." In the United States the 
word mad is supplemented with a vulgar meaning similar to our 
Cockneyism wild ; and to make a man mad on the other side of the 
Atlantic is to vex him, or " rile " his temper — not to render him a 
raving maniac, or a fit subject for Bedlam. 

WILD OATS, youthful pranks, 

WILLIAM, a bill. The derivation is obvious. 

Wife, a fetter fixed to one leg. — Prison. 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 27 1 

WIND, " to raise the wind," to procure money ; " to slip one's wind," 
coarse expression meaning to die. — See raise. 

WIND, " I'll WIND your cotton," i.e., I will give you some trouble. The 
Byzantine General, Narses, used the same kind of threat to the Greek 
Empress, — " I will spin such a thread that they shall not he able to 
unravel." 

WINDOWS, the eyes, or "peepers." 

WINEY, intoxicated. 

WINKIN, " he went off like winkin," i.e., very quickly. Probably con- 
nected with wink, to shut the eye quickly. 

WINKS, periwinkles. 

WINN, a penny. — Ancient Cant. — See ante, page 20. 

WIPE, a pocket-handkerchief. — Old Cant. 

WIPE, a blow. Frequently sibilated to swipe, a cricket term. 

WIPE, to strike ; " he fetcht me a wipe over the knuckles," he struck me 
on the knuckles ; " to wipe a person down,'' to flatter or pacify ; to 
WIPE off a score, to pay one's debts, in allusion to the slate or chalk 
methods of account-keeping ; " to wipe a person's eye," to shoot game 
which he has missed — Sporting term ; hence to obtain an advantage 
by superior activity. With old topers " wiping one's eye," is equi- 
valent to giving or taking another drink. 

WIRE-IN, a London street phrase in general use at the present time, the 
meaning of which I have not been able to discover. 

WOBBLE-SHOP, where beer is sold without a licence. 

WOODEN SPOON, the last junior optime who takes a University degree ; 
denoting one who is only fit to stay at home, and stir porridge. — 
Cambridge. The expression is also Parliamentary Slang. — See the 
following : — 

"Wooden Spoon. — We have said that a rigorous acconnt is kept of all the divi- 
sions, and that every vote of every member of the Government is posted. 
We will now teil our readers what is doue with this list. Every year at the 
close of the session, as our readers know, the Ministers dine together at the 
Trafalgar. Well, after dinner, the cliief whip produces his account and 
reads it aloud ; and it is said that the man whose name appears in the 
division-list the smallest number of times has a wooden spoon presented to 
him. When the Derbyites were in power last, Sir Jolm Pakington, it is 
asserted, was the successful candidate for the spoon, Mr Whiteside presenting 
it to the right honourable Baronet with infinite humour and fun. Why a 
wooden spoon is used we cannot tell. Perhaps in ancient times the poor 
man got tluit and nothing else. If any of our readers should be curious to 
know what is really symbolised by this ceremony, let them understand that 
we cannot help them. We refer them to the editor of Holes and Queries." 
— Illustrated Times. 

WOODEN SURTOUT, a coffin, generally spoken of as a wooden surtout 
with nails for buttons. 

Winded-settled, transported for life. 

Wire, a thief with long fingers, expert at picking ladies' pockets 




272 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN" 

WOODEN WEDGE, the last name in tbe classical honours list at Cam- 
bridge. The last in mathematical honours 
had long been known as the wooden spoon ; 
but when the classical Tripos was instituted, 
in 1824, it was debated among the under- 
gi-aduates what sobriquet should be given to 
the last on the examination hst. Curiously 
enough, the name that year which happened ^ 
to be last was wedgewood (a distinguished 
Wrangler.) Hence the title. 

WOOLBIRD, a lamb; "wing of a WOOLBIRD," The"Wed«e"and the-Spoon." 

a shoulder of lamb. 

WOOL-GATHERING, said of any person's wits when they are wandering, 
or in a reverie. — Florio. 

WOOL- HOLE, the workhouse, 

WOOLLY, out of temper. 

WOOLLY, a blanket. 

WORK, to plan, or lay down and execute any course of action, to perform 
anything; "to work the bulls," i.e., to get rid of false crown pieces; 
" to WORK the ORACLE," to succeed by manoeuvring, to concert a wily 
plan, to victimise, — a possible reference to the stratagems and bribes 
used to corrupt the Delphic oracle, and cause it to deliver a favourable 
response. " To work a street or neighbourhood," trying at each house 
to sell all one can, or so bawling that every housewife may know what 
you have to sell. The general plan is to drive a donkey barrow a short 
distance, and then stop and cry. The term implies thoroughness; to 
" WORK a street well " is a common saying with a coster, 

WORM.— 5ee pump. 

WORM, the latest Slang term for a policeman. 

WORMING, removing the beard of an oyster or muscle. 

W. P., or WARMING-PAN, a clergyman who holds a living pro tempore, 
under a bond of resignation, is styled a w. p., or warming-pan rector, 
because he keeps the place warm for his successor. — Clerical Slang. 

WRINKLE, an idea, or fancy; an additional piece of knowledge which is 
supposed to be made by a wrinkle d posteriori, 

WRITE, " to write one's name on a joint," to have the first cut at any- 
thing; leaving sensible traces of one's presence on it. 

WYLO, be off. — Anglo-Chinese. 

Wool, courage, pluck ; " you are not half-wooLED," term of reproach from 
one thief to another. 

X, letter X, a method of arrest used by policemen with desperate ruffians, 
— by getting a firm grasp on the collar, and drawing the captive's hand 
over the holding arm, and pressing the fingers down in a peculiar way 
— the captured person's arm in this way can be more easily broken 
than extricated 



SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR WORDS. 273 

YAFFLE, to eat.— OW English. 

YAM, to eat. This word is used by the lowest class all over the world ; 
by the Wapping sailor, West India negro, or Chinese coolie. When 
the fort, called the Dutch Folly, near Canton, was in course of erection 
by the Hollanders, under the pretence of being intended for an 
hospital, the Chinese observed a box containing muskets among the 
alleged hospital stores. " Hy-a\v ! " exclaimed John Chinaman, " how 
can sick man yam gun?" The Dutch were surprised and massacred 
the same night. 

" YARD OF CLAY," a long, old-fashioned tobacco pipe, also called a 

CHURCH-WARDEN. 

YARMOUTH CAPON, a bloater, or red herring.— OZd. — Rajfs Proverbs. 

YARMOUTH MITTENS, bruised hands.— ^ea. 

YARN, a long story, or tale ; " a tough tarn," a tale hard to be believed ; 
" spin a YARN," tell a tale. — Sea. 

YAY-NAY, " a poor yay-nay " fellow, one who has no conversational 
power, and can only answer yea or nay to a question. 

YELLOW-BELLY, a native of the Fens of Lincolnshire, or the Isle of 
Ely, — in allusion to the frogs and a yellow-bellied eel caught there ; 
they are also said to be web-footed. 

YELLOW-BOY, a sovereign, or any gold coin. 

YELLOW-GLOAK, a jealous man. 

YELLOW-JACK, the yellow fever prevalent in the West Indies. 

YELLOW-MAN, a yellow silk handkerchief. — Pugilistic and Sporting. 

YOKEL, a countryman. — West. 

YOKUFF, a chest, or large box. 

YORKSHIRE, "to Yorkshire," or "come Yorkshire over any person," 
to cheat or bite them. — North. The proverbial overreaching of the 
rustics of this county has given rise to this phrase, which is some- 
times pronounced yorshar. " Yorshar, to put Yorkshire to a man, 
is to trick or deceive him." — Lancashire Dialect, 1757' 

YORKSHIRE COMPLIMENT, a gift of something of no manner of use 
to the giver. 

YORKSHIRE ESTATES ; " I will do it when I come mto my Yorkshire 
estates," — meaning if I ever have the money or the means. The 
phrase is said to have originated with Dr Johnson. 

YORKSHIRE, Yorkshire reckoning, where every one pays his own. 

YOUNKER, in street language, a lad or a boy. Term in general use 
amongst costermongers, cabmen, and old-fashioned people. Barne- 
Jield's Affectionate Shepherd, 1594, has the phrase, "a seemelie 
YOUNKER. " Danish and Friesic, jonker. In the Navy, a naval cadet 
is usually termed a tounker. 

YOUR NIBS, yourself. 

Yack, a watch ; to " church a tack," to take it out of its case to avoid 
detection. 



^L_^o - ) '- n£ '^^ ^'j ' c «^ ^ ^, .- >.^^/ . 



274 A DICTIONARY OF MODERN SLANG, ETC. 

ZIPH, LANGUAGE OF, a way of disguising English in use among the students 
at Wiyichester College. Compare medical greek. De Quincey, in his 
Autobiographic Sketches, (Edin. 1853, p. 209,) says that he acquired 
this language as a boy, from a Dr Mapleton, who had three sons at 
Winchester who had imported it from thence as their sole accomplish- 
ment, and that after the lapse of fifty years he could, and did with 
Lord Westport, converse in it with ease and rapidity. It was com- 
municated at Winchester to new-comers for a fixed fee of half a 
guinea. The secret is this, — repeat the vowel or diphthong of every 
syllable, prefixing to the vowel so repeated the letter G, and placing 
the accent on the mtercalated syllable. Thus, for example, " Shall 
we go away in an hour?" " Shagall wege gogo agawagat igin 
HOUGOUR?" "Three hours we have already staid," " Threegee 

HOUGOURS WEGE HAGAVE AGALREAGEADTGY STAGAID." Evidently any 

consonant will answer the purpose, F or L would be softer and so far 
better. — See gibberish. A correspondent says this system is not con- 
fined to Winchester College, and has much the appearance of a bequest 
of ancient times. It is recorded and accurately described amongst 
many other modes of cryptical communication, oral and visual, spoken, 
written, and symbolic, in an " Essay towards a Real Character and a 
Philosophic Language," (founded on or suggested by a treatise pub- 
lished just before, by Geo. Dalgarne,) by John Wilkins, Bishop of 
Chester, published by order of the Koyal Society, fol. 1668, and as the 
bishop does not speak of it as a recent invention, it may probably at 
that time have been regarded as an antique device for conducting a 
conversation in secrecy amongst bystanders. 
ZOUNDS ! a sudden exclamation — abbreviation of God's wounds. 

YoxTER, a convict returned from transportation before his time. 
ZiFF, a juvenile thiol 



SOME ACCOUNT 

OF 

THE BACK SLANG, 

THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF COSTERMONGEES. 



The costermongers of London number between thirty and forty 
thousand. Like other low tribes, they boast a language, or 
secret tongue, in which they hide their earnings, movements, and 
other private affairs. This costers' speech offers no new fact, or 
approach to a fact, for philologists ; it is not very remarkable for 
originality of construction ; neither is it spiced with low humour, 
as other Cant. But the costermongers boast that it is known only 
to themselves; that it is far beyond the Irish, and puzzles the 
Jews. 

The main principle of this language is spelling the words hack- 
wards, — or rather, pronouncing them rudely backwards. Some- 
times, for the sake of harmony, an extra syllable is prefixed or 
annexed ; and occasionally the word is given quite a different 
turn in rendering it backwards, to what an uninitiated person 
would have expected. One coster told Mayhew that he often 
gave the end of a word "a new turn, just as if he chorused it 
with a tol-de-rol." Besides, the coster has his own idea of the 
proper way of speUing words, and is not to be convinced but by 
an overwhelming show of learning, — and frequently not then, for 
he is a very headstrong feUow. By the time a coster has spelt 
an ordinary word of two or three syllables in the proper way, and 
then spelt it backwards, it has become a tangled knot that no 
etymologist could unravel. The word generalise, for instance, 



276 BOYS AND GIRLS SOON ACQUIRE IT. 

is considered to be "sliUling" spelt backwards. Sometimes 
Slang and Cant words are introduced, and even these, when 
imagined to be tolerably well known, are pronounced backwards. 
Other terms, such as GEisr, a shilling, and flatch, a halfpenny, 
help to confuse the outsider. 

After a time, this back language, or Back Slang, as it is called 
by the costermongers themselves, comes to be regarded by the 
rising generation of street-sellers as a distinct and regular mode 
of speech. They never refer words, by inverting them, to their 
originals ; and the yeneps, esclops, and namows, are looked 
upon as proper, but secret terms. " But it is a curious fact, that 
lads who become costermongers' boys, without previous associa- 
tion with the class, acquire a very ready command of the language, 
and this though they are not only unable to spell, but ' don't 
know a letter in a book. ' " * They soon obtain a considerable 
stock vocabulary, so that they converse rather from the memory 
than the understanding. Amongst the senior costermongers, and 
those who pride themselves on their proficiency in Back Slang, 
a conversation is often sustained for a whole evening, especially 
if any " flatties" are present whom they wish to astonish or con- 
fuse. The women use it sparingly, but the girls are generally 
well acquainted with it. 

The addition of an s, I should state, always forms the plural, so 
that this is another source of complication. For instance, woman 
in the Back Slang is namow, and namus, or namows, is women, 
not NEMOW. The explorer, then, in undoing the Back Slang, 
and turning the word namus once more into English, would have 
suman, — a novel and very extraordinary rendering of women. 
Where a word is refractory in submitting to a back rendering, as 
in the case of pound, letters are made to change positions for the 
sake of harmony ; thus, we have dunop, a pound, instead of 
dmiop, which nobody could pleasantly pronounce. This will 
remind the reader of the Jews' " old do'! old do'!" instead of old 

* Mayhew, vol. i., p. 24. 



BACK SLANG U^^K^'OWN TO THE POLICE. 277 

clothes, old clothes, whicli would tire even the patience of a Jew to 
repeat all day. 

This singular Back tongue has been in vogue about twenty- 
five years. It is, as before stated, soon acquired, and is princi- 
pally used by the costermongers (as the specimen Glossary will 
shew) for communicating the secrets of their street tradings, the 
cost and profit of the goods, and for keeping their natural enemies, 
the police, in the dark. Cool the esclop (look at the police) is 
often said among them, when one of the constabulary makes his 
appearance. 

Perhaps on no subject is the costermonger so silent as on his 
money affairs. All costs and profits, he thinks, should be kept 
profoundly secret. The Back Slang, therefore, gives tlie various 
small amounts very minutely : — 

FLATCH, halfpenny. 

YENEP, penny. 

OWT-YENEPS, twopence. 

ERTH-YENEPS, threepence. 

ROUF-YENEPS, fourpence. 

EVIF, or EWIF-YENEPS, fivepence. 

EXIS-YENEPS, sixpence. 

NEVIS-YENEPS, sevenpence. 

TEAICH, or THEG-YENEPS, eightpenco. 

ENIN-YENEPS, ninepence. 

NET-YENEPS, tenpence. 

NEVELE-YENEPS, elevenpence. 

EVL^NET-YENEPS, twelvepence. 

GEN, or GENERALISE, one shilling, or twelvepence. 

YENEP-FLATCH, three halfpence. 

OWT-YENEP-FLATCH, twopence halfpenny. 

&c. &c. &c. 
GEN, or ENO-GEN, one shilling. 
OWT-GENS, two shillings. 
ERTH-GENS, three shillings. 

The GENS continue in the same sequence as the yeneps 
above, excepting theg-gens, 8s., which is usually rendered 



278 THE COSTERMONGERS' TERMS FOR MONET. 

THEG-GUY, — a deviation with ample precedents in all civilised 
tongues. 

YENORK, a crown piece, or five shillings. 
FLATCH-YEXORK, lialf-a-crown. 

Beyond tMs amount the costermonger reckons after an intricate 
and complicated mode. Fifteen shillings would be eeth-evif- 
GENS, or, literally, three times 5 s. ; seventeen shillings would be 
EETH-YENORK-FLATCH, or three crowns and a half ; or, by another 
mode of reckoning, eeth-evif-gens flatch-yenokk, i.e., three 
times 5 s., and half-a-crown. 

DUNOP, a pound. 

Further than which the costermonger seldom goes in money 
reckoning. 

In the following Glossary only those words are given which 
costermongers continually use, — the terms connected with street 
traffic, the names of the different coins, vegetables, fruit, and 
fish, technicalities of police courts, &c. 

The reader might naturally think that a system of speech so 
simple as the Back Slang would require no Glossary; but he 
will quickly perceive, from the specimens given, that a great 
many words in frequent use in a Back sense, have become so 
twisted as to require a little glossarial explanation. 

This kind of Slang, formed by reversing and transposing the 
letters of a word, is not peculiar to the London costermongers. 
Instances of an exactly similar secret dialect are found in the 
Spanish Germania and French Aegot. Thus : — 



Spanish. 
Plato. 
Demia. 


Germania. 
Taplo. 
Media. 


English. 
Plate. 
Stockings. 


French. 

F'OL. 
LORCEFE. 


Argot. 

LOFPE. 

• La Force. 


EnglisJi. 
Foolish. 

La Force, the prison 
of that name. 



INDIAN BACK SLANG. 279 

The Bazeegars, a wandering tribe of jugglers in India, form a 
Back Slang, on the basis of the Hindustanee, in the following 
manner : — 



"industanee. 


Bazeegar. 


EnglUh. 


Ag. 


Ga. 


Fire. 


Lamba. 


Balum. 


Long. 


Dual 


Mrou.- 


BllEATH. 



GLOSSARY OF THE BACK SLANG. 



BIRK, a " crib," — house. 

COOL, to look. 

COOL HIM, look at him. A phrase frequently used when one coster- 
monger warns another of the approach of a policeman. 

DAB, bad. Also, a bed, pronounced " bad." 

DABHENO, one bad, or a bad market. — See doogheno. 

DAB TROS, a bad sort. 

DA-ERB, bread. 

DEB, or DAB, a bed ; " I 'm on to the deb," I 'm going to bed. 

DILLO NAMO, an old woman. 

DLOG, gold. 

DOOG, good. 

DOOGHENO, literally "one good," or "good-one," but implying gene- 
rally a good market. 

DOOGHENO HIT, one good hit. A coster remarks to a "mate," "Jack 
made a doogheno hit this morning," implying that he did well at 
market, or sold out with good profit. 

DUNOP, a pound. 

ERTH, three. 

EARTH * GENS, three shillings. 

EARTH SITH-NOMS, three months. 

EARTH YANNOPS, or teneps, threepence. 

EDGABAC, cabbage. 

EDGENARO, an orange. 

E-FINK, knife. 

EKAME, a " make," or swindle. 

EKOM, a " moke," or donkey. 

ELRIG, a girl. 

ENIF, fine. 

ENIN GENS, nine shillings. 

ENIN YENEP, ninepence, 

ENIN YANNOPS, or teneps, ninepence. 

ENO, one. 

ERIE, fire. 

ERTH GENS, three shillings. 

• My informant preferred earth to erth, — for the reason, he said, " that it loolsed 
more sensible ! ' 



GLOSSARY OF THE BACK SLANG. 28 1 

ERTH-PU, three-iip, a street game. 

ERTH SITH-NOMS, three months, — a term of imprisonment unfortu- 
nately very familiar to the lower orders. 
ERTH-YENEPS, threepence. 
ESCLOP, the police. 
ES-ROPH, or es-koch, a horse. 
EVIF-YENEPS, fivepence. 
EVLENET-GENS, twelve shillings. 
EVLENET SITH-NOMS, twelve months. 
EWIF-GENS, a crown, or five shillings. 
EWIF-YENEPS, fivepence. 
EXIS GENS, six shillings. 
EXIS-EWIF-GENS, six times five shillings, i.e., 30s. All moneys may be 

reckoned in this manner, either with teneps or gens. 
EXIS-EVIF YENEPS, elevenpence, — literally, "sixpence and fivepence 
= elevenpence." This mode of reckoning, distinct from the preced- 
ing, is also common amongst those who Txse the Back Slang. 
EXIS SITH-NOMS, sixth months. 
EXIS-YENEPS, sixpence. 
FI-HEATH, a thief. 

FLATCH, a half, or halfpenny. 

FLATCH KEN-NURD, half drunk. 

FLATCH YENEP, a halfpenny. 

FLATCH-YENORK, half-a-crown. 

GEN, twelvepence, or one shilling. Possibly an abbreviation of argent, 
Cant term for silver. — See following. 

GENERALISE, a shiUing, generally shortened to gen. 

GEN-NET, or net gens, ten shillinga, 

HEL-BAT, a table. 

HELPA, an apple. 

KENNETSEENO, stinking. 

KENNURD, drunk. 

KEW, a week. 

KEWS, or SKEW, weeks. 

KIRB, a brick. 

KOOL, to look. 

LAWT, tall. 

LEVEN, in Back Slang, is sometimes allowed to stand for eleven, for the 
reason that it is a number which seldom occurs. An article is either 
lod. or IS. 

LUR-AC-HAM, mackerel. 



282 GLOSSARY OF THE BACK SLANG. 

MOTTAB, bottom, 

MUR, rum. 

NALE, or nael, lean. 

NAM, a man. 

NAMESCLOP, a policeman. — See esclop. 

NAMOW, a woman J dilo namow, an old womnn. 

NEERGS, greens. 

NETENIN GENS, nineteen shillings. 

NEETEWIF GENS, fifteen shiUings. 

NEETEXIS, or netexis gens, sixteen shillings. 

NETNEVIS GENS, seventeen shillings. 

NET-THEG GENS, eighteen shillings. 

NEETRITH GENS, thirteen shilUngs. 

NEETROUF GENS, fourteen shillings. 

NET-GEN, ten shillings, or half a sovereign. 

NET-YENEPS, tenpence. 

NEVELE GENS, eleven shillings. 

NEVELE YENEPS, elevenpence,— generally LEVEN TENEP3. 

NEVIS GENS, seven shillings. 

NEVIS STRETCH, seven years' transportation, or imprisonment. — See 

stretch, in the Slang Dictionary. 
NEVIS YENEPS, sevenpence. 
NIRE, rain. 
NIG, gin. 

NI-OG OT TAKRAM, going to market. 
NITRAPH, a farthing. 
NOL, long. 
NOOM, the moon. 
NOS-RAP, a parson. 

OCCABOT, tobacco ; " tib of occabot," bit of tobacco. 
ON, no. 

ON DOOG, no good. 
OWT GENS, two shillings. 
OWT YENEPS, twopence. 
PAG, a cap. 

PINURT POTS, turnip tops. 
POT, top. 
RAPE, a pear. 
REEB, beer. 
REV-LIS, silver. 



GLOSSARY OF THE BACK SLANG. 28 



J 



ROUF-EFIL, for life, — sentence of punishment, 

ROUF-GENS, four shillings. 

ROUF-YENEPS, fourpence. 

RUTAT, or eattat, a " tatur," or potato. 

SAY, yes. 

SEE-0, shoes. 

SELOPAS, apples. 

SHIP, fish. 

SIR-ETCH, cherries. 

SITH-NOM, a month. 

SLAOC, coals. 

SLOP, a policeman. — See iinder this term in the Dictionary of Slang and 

Cant Words. 
SiSTEERG, greens. 
SOUSH, a house. 
SPINSRAP, parsnips. 
SRES-WORT, trousers. 
STARPS, sprats. 
STOOB, boots. 
STORRAC, carrots. 
STUN, nuts. 
STUNLAWS, walnuta. 
S^VRET-SIO, oysters. 
TACH, a hat. 
TAF, or TAFFY, fat. 

THEG, or teaich gens, eight shillings. 
TEAICH-GUY, eight shillings, — a slight deviation from the numerical 

arrangement of gens. 
TENIP, a pint. 
THEG YENEPS, eightpence. 
TIB, a bit, or piece. 
TOAC, or TOG, a coat. Too is the Old Cant term.— ^ee the Dictionary 

of Slang, &c. 
TOAC-TISAW, a waistcoat. 
TOL, lot, stock, or share. 
TOP 0' REEB, a pot of beer. 
TOP-YOB, a pot-boy. 
TORRAC, a carrot. 
TRACK, (or trag,) a quart. 
TROSSENO, literally, " one sort," but the costermongers use it to imply 

anything that is bad. 



284 GLOSSARY OF THE BACK SLANG. 

WAR-RAB, a barrow. 
WEDGE, a Jew. 
YAD, a day; tads, days. 
YADNAB, brandy. 
YENEP, a penny. 

YENEP-A-TIME, penny each time, — tirm in betting. 
YENEP-FLATCH, three halfpence, — all the halfpence and pennies con- 
tinue in the same sequence. 
YAP-POO, pay up. 
YEKNOD, or jerk-nod, a donkey. 
YENORK, a crown. 
YOB, a boy. 
7^EB, be;-t 



SOME ACCOUNT 



THE KHYMING SLANG, 

THE SECEET LANGUAGE OE CHAUNTERS AND 
PATTERERS. 



There exists in London a singular tribe of men, known amongst 
the " fraternity of vagabonds" as cbaunters and patterers. Both 
classes are great talkers. The first sing or chaunt through the 
public thoroughfares ballads — political and humorous — carols, 
dying speeches, and the various other kinds of gallows and street 
literature. The second deliver street orations on grease-removing 
compounds, plating powders, high -polishing blacking, and the 
thousand- and- one wonderful pennyworths that are retailed to 
gaping mobs from a London kerb-stone. 

They are quite a distinct tribe from the costermongers ; indeed, 
amongst tramps, they term themselves the " harristocrats of the 
streets," and boast that they live by their intellects. Like the 
costermongers, however, they have a secret tongue or Cant 
speech known only to each other. This Cant, which has nothing 
to do with that spoken by the costermongers, is known in Seven 
Dials and elsewhere as the Ehyming Slang, or the substitution of 
words and sentences which rhyme with other words intended to he 
kept secret. The chaunter's Cant, therefore, partakes of his call- 
ing, and he transforms and uses up into a rough speech the various 
odds and ends of old songs, ballads, and street nick-names, which 
are found suitable to his purpose. Unlike nearly all other 
systems of Cant, the Rhyming Slang is not founded upon alle- 



2 86 THE OBI GIN OF THE RHYMING SLANG. 

gory; unless we except a few rude similes, thus — i'm afloat is 
the Rhyming Cant for " boat," sokeowful tale is equivalent to 
"three months in jaU," artful dodger signifies a "lodger," 
and a snake in the grass stands for a "looking-glass" — a 
meaning that would delight a fat Chinaman, or a collector of 
Oriental proverbs. But, as in the case of the costers' speech and 
the old gipsy- vagabond Cant, the chaunters and patterers so 
interlard this "Rhyming Slang" with their general remarks, 
while their ordinary language is so smothered and subdued, 
that, unless when they are professionally engaged, and talking of 
their wares, they might almost pass for foreigners. 

From the inquiries I have made of various patterers and 
" paper-workers," I learn that the Rhyming Slang was introduced 
about twelve or fifteen years ago.* Numbering this class of ora- 
torical and bawling wanderers at twenty thousand, scattered over 
Great Britain, including London and the large provincial towns, 
we thus see the number of English vagabonds who converse in 
rhyme and talk poetry, although their habitations and mode of 
life constitute a very unpleasant Arcadia. These nomadic poets, 
like the other talkers of Cant or secret languages, are stamped 
with the vagabond's mark, and are continually on the move. 
The married men mostly have lodgings in London, and come and 
go as occasion may require. A few never quit London streets, 
but the greater number tramp to all the large provincial fairs, 
and prefer the monkery (country) to town life. Some transact 
their business in a systematic way, sending a post-ofiice order to 
the Seven Dials printer, for a fresh supply of ballads or penny 
books, or to the swag shop, as the case may be, for trinkets and 
gewgaws, to be sent on by rail to a given town by the time they 
shall arrive there. 

When any dreadful murder, colliery explosion, or frightful rail- 
way accident has happened in a country district, three or four 
chaunters are generally on the spot in a day or two after the 

• This was written in 1858. 



PATTEEERS AND CHEAP JACKS. 287 

occurrence, vending and bawling "A True and Fait! if ul Account,'' 
&c., wMch "true and faithful account" was concocted purely in 
the imaginations of the successors of Catnach and Tommy Pitts * 
behind the counters of their printing shops in Seven Dials. And 
but few fairs are held in any part of England without the 
patterer being punctually at his post, with his nostrums, or real 
gold rings, (with the story of the wager laid by the gentleman — 
see FAWNEY-BOUNCiNO, in the Dictionary,) or save-alls for candle- 
sticks, or paste which, when applied to the strop, makes the dullest 
razor keen enough to hack broom handles and sticks, and after 
that to have quite enough sharpness left for splitting hairs, or 
shaving them off the back of one of the hands of a clodhopper, 
looking on in amazement. And cheap john, too, with his coarse 
jokes, and no end of six-bladed knives, and pocket-books, con- 
taining information for everybody, with pockets to hold money, 
and a pencil to write with into the bargain, and a van stuffed with 
the cheap productions of Sheffield and " Brummagem," — he, too, 
is a patterer of the highest order, and visits fairs, and can hold a 
conversation in the Rhyming Slang. 

Such is a rough description of the men who speak this jargon ; 
and simple and ridiculous as the vulgar scheme of a Rhyming 
Slang may appear, it must always be regarded as a curious fact 
in linguistic history. Li order that the reader's patience may not 
be too much taxed, only a selection of rhyming words has been 
given in the Glossary, — and these for the most part, as in the 
case of the Back Slang, are the terms of every-day life, as used by 
this order of tramps and hucksters. 

It must not be supposed, however, that the chaunter or patterer 
confines himself entirely to this Slang when conveying secret in- 
telligence. On the contrary, although he speaks not a " leash of 
languages," yet is he master of the beggars' Cant, and is thoroughly 
« up" in street Slang. The following letter, written by a chaunter 

* The famous printers and publishers of sheet songs and last dying speeches thirty 
years ago. 



288 CURIOUS LETTER FROM A CHAUNTER. 

to a gentleman who took an interest in his welfare, will shew his 
capabilities in this line : — 

Dear Friend,* 

Excuse the liberty, since i saw you last i have not 
earned a thickun, we have had such a Dowry of Parny that it 
completely Stumped or Coopered Drory the Bossman's Patter 
therefore i am broke up and not having another friend but you 
i wish to know if you would lend me the price of 2 Gross of 
Tops, Dies, or Croaks, which is 7 shillings, of the above-men- 
tioned worthy and Sarah Chesham the Essex Burick for the 
Poisoning job, they are both to be topped at Springfield Stura- 
ban on Tuesday next, i hope you will oblige me if you can for 
it wUl be the means of putting a Quid or a James in my Clye. 
i will call at your Carser on Sunday Evening next for an answer, 
for i want a Speel on the Drum as soon as possible, hoping you 
and the family are All Square, 

I remain Your obedient Servant, 



The numerous allusions in the Glossary to well-known places in 
London, shew that this rude speech was mainly concocted in the 
metropolis. The police have made themselves partially ac- 
quainted with the Back Slang, but they are still profoundly 
ignorant of the Pthyming Slang. 

* The writer, a street chaunter of ballads and last dying speeches, alludes in his 
letter to two celebrated criminals— Tbos. Drory, the murderer of Jael Denny, and 
Sarah Chesham, who poisoned her husband, accounts of whose trials and "hon-id 
deeds" he had been selling. I give a glossary of the Cant words : — 



Thickun, a crown-piece. 
Dowry </ Parny, a lot of rain. 
Stumped, bankrupt, 
Coopered, spoilt. 
Bossman, a farmer. 

*,* Drory was a farmer. 
Patter, trial. 

Tops, last dying speeches. 
Dies, ib. 

Croaks, ib. 



Burick, a woman. 

Topped, hung. 

Sturaban, a prison. 

Quid, a sovereign. 

James, ib. 

Clye, a pocket. 

Carser, a house or residence. 

Speel on the Drum, to be off to the 

cotmtry. 
All Square, all right, or quite well. 



GLOSSARY OF THE EHYMING SLANG. 



ABRAHAM'S WILLING, a shilling. 

ALACOMPAIN, rain. 

ALL AFLOAT, a coat. 

ANY RACKET, a penny faggot. 

APPLES AND PEARS, stairs. 

ARTFUL DODGER, a lodger. 

ARTICHOKE RIPE, smoke a pipe. 

BABY PAPS, caps. 

BARNET FAIR, hair. 

BATTLE OF THE NILE, a tile— vulgar term for a hat. 

BEN FLAKE, a steak. 

BILLY BUTTON, mutton. 

BIRCH BROOM, a room. 

BIRD-LIME, time. 

BOB, MY PAL, a gal, — vulgar pronunciation of girl. 

BONNETS SO BLUE, Irish stew. 

BOTTLE OF SPRUCE, a deuce,— Slang for twopence. 

BOWL THE HOOP, soup. 

BRIAN O'LINN, gin. 

BROWN BESS, yes— the affirmative. 

BROWN JOE, no — the negative. 

BULL AND COW, a row. 

BUSHY PARK, a lark 

BUTTER FLAP, a cap. 

CAIN AND ABEL, a table. 

CAMDEN TOWN, a brown, — vulgar term for a halfpenny, 

CASTLE RAG, a flag,— Cant term for fourpence. 

CAT AND MOUSE, a house. 

CHALK FARM, the arm. 

CHARING CROSS, a horse. 

CHARLEY LANCASTER, a handkercher,— vulgar pronunciation of 

handkerchief. 
CHARLEY PRESCOTT, waistcoat. 
CHERRY RIPE, a pipe. 
CHEVY CHASE, the face. 
CHUMP (or chunk) OF WOOD, no good. 
COW AND CALF, to laugh. 

T 



290 GLOSSARY OF THE RHYMING SLANG. 

COVENT GARDEN", a farden,— Cockney pronunciation of farthing. 
COWS AND KISSES, mistress or missus— referring to the ladies. 
CURRANTS AND PLUMS, thrums,— Slang for threepence. 
DAISY RECROOTS, (so spelt by my informant of Seven Dials; he 

means, doubtless, recruits,) a pair of boots 
DAN TUCKER, butter. 
DING DONG, a song. 
DRY LAND, you understand. 
DUKE OF YORK, take a walk. 
EAST AND SOUTH, the mouth. 

EAT A FIG, to "crack a crib," to break into a house, or commit a bur- 
glary. 
EGYPTIAN HALL, a ball. 
ELEPHANT'S TRUNK, drunk. 
EPSOM RACES, a pair of braces. 
EVERTON TOFFEE, coffee. 
FANNY BLAIR, the hair. 

FILLET OF VEAL, the treadwheel, house of correction. 

FINGER AND THUMB, rum. 

FLAG UNFURLED, a man of the world. 

FLEA AND LOUSE, a bad house. 

FLOUNDER AND DAB, (two kinds of flat fish,) a cab. 

FLY MY KITE, a light. 

FROG AND TOAD, the main road. 

GARDEN GATE, a magistrate. 

GERMAN FLUTES, a pair of boots. 

GIRL AND BOY, a saveloy, — a penny sausage. 

GLORIOUS SINNER, a dinner. 

GODDESS DIANA, (pronounced dianee,) a tanner,— sixpence. 

GOOSEBERRY PUDDING, {vulgo pddden,) a woman. 

HANG BLUFF, snuff. 

HOD OF MORTAR, a pot of porter. 

HOUNSLOW HEATH, teeth. 

I DESIRE, a fire. 

I 'M AFLOAT, a boat. 

ISLE OF FRANCE, a dance. 

ISABELLER, (vulgar pronunciation of Isabella,) an umbrella. 

I SUPPOSE, the nose. 

JACK DANDY, brandy. 

JACK RANDALL, (a noted pugilist,) a candle. 

JENNY LINDER, a winder,— vulgar pronunciation of wmdow. 



GLOSSARY OF THE RHYMINO SLANG. 29 1 

JOE SAVAGE, a cabbage. 

LATH AND PLASTER, a master 

LEAN AND LURCH, a chiucL 

LEAN AND FAT, a hat. 

LINENDRAPER, paper. 

LIVE EELS, fields. 

LOAD OF HAY, a day. 

LONG ACRE, a baker. 

LONG ACRE, a newspaper. — See the preceding. 

LORD JOHN RUSSELL, a bustle. 

LORD LOVEL, a shovel. 

LUMP OF COKE, a bloak,— vulgar term for a man, 

LUMP OF LEAD, the head. 

MACARONI, a pony. 

MAIDS A DAWNING, (I suppose my informant means maids adorning,) 

the morning. 

MAIDSTONE JAILOR, a tailor. 

MINCE PIES, the eyes. 

MOTHER AND DARTER, (daughter,) water, 

MUFFIN BAKER, a Quaker, — an unlawful sir-reverence. 

NAVIGATORS, taturs, — vulgar pronunciation of potatoes 

NAVIGATOR SCOT, baked potatoes all hot. 

NEEDLE AND THREAD, bread. 

NEVER FEAR, a pint of beer. 

NIGHT AND DAY, go to the play. 

NOSE AND CHIN, a winn,— ancient Cant for a penny. 

NOSE-MY, backy, — vulgar pronunciation of tobacco, 

OATS AND BARLEY, Charley, 

OATS AND CHAFF, a footpath. 

ORINOKO, (pronounced orinoker,) a poker. 

OVER THE STILE, sent for trial. 

PADDY QUICK, thick; or, a stick. 

PEN AND INK, a stink. 

PITCH AND FILL, Bill,— vulgar shortening for William, 

PLATE OF MEAT, a street, 

PLOUGH THE DEEP, to go to sleep, 

PUDDINGS AND PIES, the eyes. 

READ OF TRIPE, (?) transported for life, 

READ AND WRITE, to fight. 

READ AND WRITE, flight.— ;5ee preceding. 



292 GLOSSARY OF THE RHYMING SLANG. 

EIVER LEA, tea. 

ROGUE AND VILLAIN, a shillin, — common pronunciation of shilling. 

EORY O'MORE, the floor. 

ROUND THE HOUSES, trouses,— vulgar pronunciation of trousers. 

SALMON TROUT, the mouth. 

SCOTCH PEG, a leg. 

SHIP IN FULL SAIL, a pot of ale. 

SIR WALTER SCOTT, a pot,— of beer 

SLOOP OF WAR, a whore. 

SNAKE IN THE GRASS, a looking-glas3. 

SORROWFUL TALE, three mouths in jail, 

SPLIT ASUNDER, a costermonger. 

SPLIT PEA, tea. 

SPORT AND WIN, Jim. 

STEAM-PACKET, a jacket. 

ST MARTINS-LE-GRAND, the hand. 

STOP THIEF, beef. 

SUGAR AND HONEY, money. 

SUGAR-CANDY, brandy. 

TAKE A FRIGHT, night. 

THREE-QUARTERS OF A PECK, the neck,— in writing, expressed'by 

the simple "f." 
THROW ME IN THE DIRT, a shirt. 
TOMMY O'RANN, scran,— vulgar term for food. 
TOM TRIPE, a pipe. 
TOM RIGHT, night. 

TOP JINT, (vulgar pronunciation of joint,) a pint, — of beer. 
TOP OF ROME, home. 
TURTLE DOVES, a pair of gloves. 
TWO-FOOT RULE, a fool, 
WIND DO TWIRL, a fine girl. 



THE BIBLIOGRAPHY 

OF 

SLANG, CANT, AND VULGAR LANGUAGE; 

OR, 

A LIST OF THE BOOKS WHICH HAVE BEEN CONSULTED 
IN COMPILING THIS WORK, 

COMPRISING NEARLY EVERY KNOWN TREATISE UPON THE SUBJECT. 



Slang has a literary history, the same as authorised language. 
More than one hundred works have treated upon the subject in 
one form or other, — a few devoting but a chapter, whilst many 
have given up their entire pages to expounding its history and 
use. Old Harman, a worthy man, who interested himself in 
suppressing and exposing vagabondism in the days of good 
Queen Bess, was the first to write upon the subject. Decker 
followed fifty years afterwards, but helped himself, evidently, to 
his predecessor's labours. Shakspeare, Beaumont and Fletcher, 
Ben Jonson, and Brome, each employed beggars' Cant as part of 
the machinery of their plays. Then came Head (who wrote The 
English Rogue, in 1680) with a glossary of Cant words "used 
by the Gipsies." But it was only a reprint of what Decker had 
given sixty years before. About this time authorised dictionaries 
began to insert vulgar words. labelUng them " Cant." The Jack 
Sheppards and Dick Turpins of the early and middle part of the 
last century made Cant popular, and many small works were 
published upon the subject. But it was Grose, burly, facetious 
Grose, who, in the year 1785, collected the scattered glossaries of 
Cant and secret words, and formed one large work, adding to it 
all the vulgar words and Slang terms used in his own day. I 
am aware that the indehcacy and extreme vulgarity of the work 



294 BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SLANG AND CANT. 

renders it a disgrace to its compiler, still we must admit that it 
is by far the most important work which has ever appeared on 
street or popular language ; indeed, from its pages every succeed- 
ing work has, up to the present time, drawn its contents. The 
great fault of Grose's book consists in the author not contenting 
himself with Slang and Cant terms, but inserting every "smutty" 
and offensive word that could be raked out of the gutters of the 
streets. However, Harman and Grose are, after all, the only 
authors who have as yet treated the subject in an original 
manner, or have written on it from personal inquiry. 

AINSWORTH'S (WiUiam Harrison) Novels and Ballads. London, v. D. 

Some of this author's novels, such as Rnokwnod anrl Jack Sheppard, abound 
in Cant words, placed in tlie mouths of the highwaymen. The author's 
ballads (especially "Nix my doUy, pals, fake away") have long been 
popular favourites. 

ANDREWS' (George) Dictionary of the Slang and Cant Languages, An- 
cient and Modern, i2mo. London, 1809. 

A sixpenny pamphlet, with a coloured frontispiece representing a beggai-'s 
carnival. 

A NEW DICTIONARY OF THE JAUNTING CREW, i2mo. n. d. 

Mentioned by John Bee in the Introduction to his Sportsman's Slang Dic- 
tionary. 

ASH'S (John, LL.D.) New and Complete Dictionary of the English Lan- 
guage, 2 vols. 8vo. I775' 
Contains a great number of Cant words and phrases. 

BACCHUS AND VENUS ; or, A Select Collection of near Two Hundred 
of the most Witty and Diverting Songs and Catches in Love and 
Gallantry, with Songs in the Canting Dialect, with a Dictionakt, 
explaining all Burlesque and Canting Terms, i2mo. ^73^- 

Prefixed is a curious woodcut frontispiece of a Boozing-Ken. This work is 
scarce, and much prized by collectors. The Canting Dictionary appeared 
before, about 1710, with the initials B. E. on the title. It also came out 
afterwards, in the year 1751, under the title of the Scoundrel's Dictionary, 
■ — a mere reprint of the two former impressions. 

BAILEY'S (Nath.) Etymological English Dictionary, 2 vols. 8vo. 1737. 

Contains a great many Cant and Vulgar words ; — indeed, Bailey does not 
appear to have been very particular what words he inserted, so long as 
they were actually in use. A Collection of Ancient and Modern Cant Words 
appears as an appendix to vol. il. of this edition, (thii'd.) 

BANG-UP DICTIONARY ; or, The Lounger and Sportsman's Vade Mecum, 
containing a copious and correct Glossary o? the Language of the 



BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SLANG AND CANT. 295 

Whips, illustrated by a great variety of original and curious Anec- 
dotes, 8vo. 1812. 

A vulgar performance, consisting of pilferings from Grose, and made-up 
■words with meanings of a degraded character. 

BARTLETT'S Dictionary of Americanisms; a Glossary of Words and 
Phrases colloquially used in the United States, 8vo. New Torlc, 1859 

It is a curious fact connected with Slang that a great number of vulgar words 
common in England are equally common in the United States ; and when 
■we remember that America began to people t-wo centuries ago, and that 
these colIoquiaUsms must have crossed tlie sea with the first emigrants, 
■we can form some idea of ttie antiquity of popular or street language. 
Many words, owing to the caprices of fashirm or society, have wholly 
disappeared in the parent country, -whilst in the colonies they are yet 
heard. The -words skimk, to serve drink in company, and the old term 
MiCHiNO or MEECHINO, skulking or playing truant, for instance, are still 
in use in the United States, although nearly, if not quite, obsolete here. 

BEAUMONT and FLETCHER'S Comedy of The Beggar's Bush, 4to, 
1661, or any edition. 

Contains numerous Cant words. 

BEES (Jon.) Dictionary of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, the Pit, the 
Bon Ton, and the Varieties of Life, forming the completest and most 
authentic Lexicon Balatronicum hitherto offered to the notice of the 
Sporting World, by John Bee, [i.e., John Badcock,] Esq., Editor of 
the Fancy, Fancy Gazette, Living Picture of London, and the like of 
that, i2mo. 1823. 

This author published books on Stable Economy under the name of Hinds. 
He -was the sporting rival of Pierce Egan. Professor Wilson, in an amus- 
ing article in Blackwood's Magazine, reviewed this work. 

BEE'S (Jon.) Living Picture of London for 1828, and Stranger's Guide 
through the Streets of the Metropolis ; shewing the Frauds, the Arts, 
Snares, and Wiles of all descriptions of Rogues that everywhere 
abound, i2mo. 1828. 

Professes to be a guide to society, high and low, in London, and to give an 
insight into the language of the streets. 

BEE'S (Jon.) Sportsman's Slang; a New Dictionary of Terms used in the 
Affairs of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, and the Cockpit ; with those 
of Bon Ton and the Varieties Of Life, forming a Lexicon Balatronicum 
et Macaronicum, etc., i2mo, 2:ilate. For the Author, 1S25. 

The same as the preceding, only ■with an altered title. Both wretched per- 
formances, filled with miserable attempts at wit. 

BLACKGUARDIANA; or, Dictionary of Rogues, Bawds, &c., 8vo, with 
PORTRAITS, [by James Cauljielcl.] i ygc. 

This work, with a lon^ and very vulgar title, is nothing but a reprint of Grose, 
with a few anecdotes of pirates, odd persons, (fee, and some curious por- 
traits inserted. It was concocted by Caulfield as a speculation, and pub- 
lished at ovie puinea per copy; and, owing to the remarkable title, and 
the notification at the bottom that "only a few copies were printed," 
soon became scarce. For philological purposes it is not worth so ranch 
as anj- edition of Grose. 



296 BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SLANG AND CANT. 

BOOK OF VAGABONDS.— See under Libee Vagatorum. 

BOXIANA; or, Sketches of Modern Pugilism, by Pierce Egan, (an ac- 
count of the prize-ring,) 3 vols. 8vo. 1820. 

Gives more particularly the Cant terms of pugilism, but contains nuaierous 
(what were then styled) " flash" words. 

BRANDON. Poverty, Mendicity, and Crime; or, The Facts, Examina- 
tions, &c., upon which the Report was founded, presented to the 
House of Lords by W. A. Miles, Esq., to which is added a Dictionary 
of the Flash or Cant Language, known to every Thief and Beggar, edited 
by H. Brandon, Esq., Svo. 1S39. 

A very wretched performance. 

BROME'S (Rich.) Joviall Crew; or, The Merry Beggars. Presented in a 
Comedie at the Cockpit, in Drury Lane, in the Year (4to) 1652. 

Contains many Cant words similar to those given by Decker, — from whose 
works they were doubtless obtained. 

BROWN'S (Rev. Hugh Stowell) Lecture on Manliness, i2mo. 1857. 

Contains a few modern Slang words. 

BRYDGES' (Sir Egerton) British Bibliographer, 4 vols. Svo. 1810-14. 

Vol. ii., p. 521, gives a list of Cant words, 

BULWER'S (Sir Edward Lytton) Paid CHfford. V. D. 

Contains numerous Cant words, 

BULWER'S (Sir Edward Lytton) Pelham. V. i). 

Contains a few Cant terms. 

BUTLER'S Hudibras, with Dr Grey's Annotations, 3 vols. Svo. 1819. 

Abounding in colloquial terms and phrases. 

CAMBRIDGE, Gradus ad Cantabrigiam ; or, A Dictionary of Terms, 
Academical and Colloquial, or Cant, which are used at the LTniversity, 
with Illustrations, l2mo. Camh., 1S03. 

CANTING ACADEMY ; or, Villanies Discovered, wherein are shewn the 

Mysterious and Villanous Practices of that Wicked Crew — Hectors, 

Trapanners, Gilts, &c., with several new Catches and Sougs ; also 

Compleat Canting Dictionary, izmOj frontispiece. 1674. 

Compiled by Eichard Head. 

CANTING : a Poem, interspersed with Tales and Additional Scraps, post 
Svo. 1 814, 

A few street words may be gleaned from this rather dull poem. 

CANTING DICTIONARY; comprehending all the Terms, Antient and 
Modern, used in the several Tribes of Gypsies, Beggars, Shojilifters, 
Highwaymen, Foot-Pads, and all other Clans of Cheats and Villains, 
with Proverbs, Phrases, Figurative Speeches, &c., to which is added a 
complete Collection of Sougs in the Canting Dialect, l2mo. 1725. 

The title is by far the most interesting part of the work. A mere miike-up 
of i;arlier attempts. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SLANG AND CANT. 297 

CAREW. Life and Arlventures of Bamfylde Moore Carew, the King of 
the Beggars, with Canting Dictionary, 'portrait, 8vo. I79i- 

There are numerous editions of this singular biography. The Canting Dic- 
tionary is nothing more than a filch from earlier books. 

CHARACTERISMS, or tlie Modern Age Displayed; being an Attempt to 
Expose the Pretended Virtues of Both Sexes, l2mo, (part i.. Ladies; 
part ii.. Gentlemen,) E. Owen. i750- 

An anonymous work, from which some curious matter may be obtained. 

CONYBEAEE'S (Dean) Essay on Church Parties, reprinted from the 
Edinburgh Review, No. CC, October 1S53, l2mo. 1858. 

Several curious instances of religious or pulpit Slang are given in this ex- 
ceedingly interesting little volume. 

CORCORON, (Peter.) The Fancy, a Poem, i2mo. 182-. 

Abounding in Slansr words and the terms of the prize-ring. Written in imi- 
tation of Moores Tom Crib's Manorial, by one of the authors of The 
Rejected Addresses. 

COTTON'S (Charles) Gentiine Poetical Works, i2mo. 1771. 

" Scarronides, or Virgil Travestie, being the first and fourth Books of Virgil's 
Jineis, in English burlesque," Svo, 1672, and other works by this autlior, 
contain numerous vulgar words now known as Slang. 

DECKER'S (Thomas) The Bellman of London ; bringing to light the most 
notorious villanies that are now practised in the Kingdom, 4to, Hatk 
iittet. London, 1608. 

Watt says this is the first book which professes to give an account of the 
Canting language of thieves and vagabonds. But this is wrone-, as will 
have been seen from the remarks on Harman, who collected the words 
of the vagabond crew half a century before. 

DECKER'S (Thomas) Lanthorne and Candle-light, or the Bellman's Second 
Night's Walke, in which he brings to light a brood of more strange 
villanies than ever were to this year discovered, 4to. London, 1608-9. 

This is a continuation of the former work, and contains the Canter's Diction- 
ary, and has a frontispiece of the London Watchman with his staff broken. 

DECKER'S (Thomas) Gulls' Hornbook, 4to. 1609. 

" This work affords a greater insight into the fashionable follies and vulgar 
habits of Queen Elizabeth's day than perhaps any other extant." 

DECKER'S (Thomas) per se 0, or a new Cryer of Lanthorne and 
Ciiiidle-light, an Addition of the Bellman's Second Night's Walke, 4to, 
iinc'k lEmr. 1612. 

A lively description of London. Contains a Canter's Dictionai-y, every word 
in which aiipears to have been taken from^ Harman without acknowledg- 
ment. This is the first work that gives the Canting Song, a verse of 
which is msei ted at page 20 of the Introduction. This Canting Song has 
since been inserted in nearly all Dictiouaries of Cant. 

DECKER'S (Thomas) Villanies discovered by Lanthorne and Candle-light, 
and the Helpe of a new Cryer called per se 0, 4to. 1616. 

" With Canting Songs never before printed." 



298 BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SLANG AND CANT. 

DECKER'S (Thomas) English Villanies, eight several times prest to Death 
by the Printers, but still reviving again, are now the eighth time (as 
at the first) discovered by Lanthorne and Candle-light, &c., 4to. 1648. 
The eighth edition of the "Lanthorne and Candle-UgM." 

DICTIONARY of all the Cant and Flash Languages, both Ancient and 
Modern, iSmo. Bailey, 1790. 

DICTIONARY of all the Cant and Flash Languages, i2mo. London, 1797. 

DICTIONARY of the Canting Crew, (Ancient and Modern,) of Gypsies, 
Beggars, Thieves, &c., i2mo. N. D. [1700.] 

DICTIONNAIRE des Halle, i2mo. Bnixelles, 1696. 

This curious Slang Dictionary sold in the Stanley sale for £^, i6s. 

DUCANGE ANGLICUS.— The Vulgar Tongue: comprising Two Glos- 
saries of Slang, Cant, and Flash Words and Phrases used in London 
at the present day, 1 2 mo. 1857. 

A silly and childish prcformance, full of blunders and contradictions A 
second edition ajarisared during the past year. 

DUNCOMBE'S Flash Dictionary of the Cant Words, Queer Sayings, and 
Crack Terms now in use iu Flash Cribb Society, 32mo, coloured print. 

1 820. 
DUNTON'S Ladies' Dictionary, 8vo. London, 1694, 

Contains a few Cant and vulgar words. 

EGAN. Grose's Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, with the 
addition of numerous Slang Phrases, edited by Pierce Egan, 8vo. 1823. 

The best edition of Grose, with many additions, including a Life of this cele- 
brated antiquary. 

EGAN'S (Pierce) Life in London, 2 vols, thick Svo, with coloured plates hy 
Geo. Cruikshank, representing high and low life. 18 — . 

Contains numerous Cant, Slang, sportins, and vnlgar words, supposed by the 
author to form the basis of conversation in life, high and low, in London. 

ELWYN'S (Alfred L.) Glossary of supposed Americanisms — Vulgar and 
Slang Words used in the United States, small Svo. 1S59. 

GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE, Svo. n. d. 

" In a very early volume of this parent magazine were given a few pages, by 
way of sample, of a Slang Vocabulary, then termed Cant. If, as we 
suspect, this part of the Magazine fell to the shave of Dr Johnson, who 
was tlieu its editor, we have to lament that be did not proceed with the 
design " — John Bee, in the Introduction to hu Slang Dictionary, 1825. 

GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE, vol. xcii., p. 520. 

Mention made of Slang. 
GLOSSARIES of County Dialects. V. D. 

Many of these will repay examination, as they contain Cant and Slang words, 
wronglj- inserted as provincial or old terms. 

GOLDEN CABINET (The) of Secrets opened for Youth's delightful Pas- 
time, in 7 parts, the last being the " City and Country Jester;" with 
a Canting Dictionary, by Dr Surman, i2mo. London, N. D. (1730.) 
Contains some curious woodcuts. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SLANG AND CANT. 299 

GREENE'S (Robert) Notable Discovery of Coosnage, now daily practised 
by sundry lewd persons called Conie-catchers and Crosse -biters. 
Plainly laying open those pernitious sleights that hath brought many 
ignorant men to confusion. Written for the general benefit of all 
Gentlemen, Citizens, Apprentices, Country Farmers, and Yeomen, 
that may hap to fall into the company of such coosening companions. 
With a delightful discourse of the coosnage of Colliers, 4to, icilh wood- 
cuts. Printed by John Wolfe, 1591. 
The first edition. A copy of another edition, supposed to be unique, is dated 
1592. It was sold at the Heber sale. 

GREENE'S (Robert) Groundworke of Conny-Catching, the manner of their 
PEDLERs' FRENCH, and the meanes to understand the same, with the 
cunning sleights of the Conterfeit Cranke. Done by a Justice of the 
Peace of great Authoritie, 4to, with woodcuts. IS9'2- 

Usually enumerated among Greene's works, but it is only a reprint, with 
variations, of Harman's Cavat, and of which Rowland complains in his 
Martin Markall. The second and third parts of this curious work were 
published in the same year. Two other very rare volumes by Greene 
were published — The Deftnce of Cony-Caldting, 4to, iu 1592, and The 
Black Bookes MeoSenger, in 1595. They both treat on the same sub- 
jects. 

GROSE'S (Francis, generally styled Captain) Classical Dictionary of the 
Vulgar Tongue, 8vo. 178-. 

The much-sought-after First Edition, but containing nothing, as far as I 
have examined, which is not to be found in the second and third editions. 
As respects indecency, I find all the editions equally disgraceful. The 
Museum copy of the First Edition is, I suspect, Grose's own copy, as it 
contains numerous manuscript additions which afterwards went to form 
the second edition. Excepting the obscenities, it is really an extra- 
ordinary book, and displays great industry, if we cannot speak much of 
its morality. It is the well from wiiicii all the other authors — Dunooinbe, 
Caulfield, Clarke, Egan, <tc. &c. — drew theh* vulgar outpourings, without 
in the least purifying what they had stolen. 

HAGGART. Life of David Haggart, alias John Wilson, alias Barney 
M'Coul, written by himself while under sentence of Death, cunous 
frontispiece of the Prisoner in Irons, intermixed with all the Slang and 
Cant Words of the Day, to which is added a Glossary of the same, 
i2mo. 1821. 

HALL'S (B. H.) Collection of College Words and Customs, i2mo. 

Cambridge, {U. S.,) 1856. 
Very complete. The illustrative examples are excellent. 

HALLIWELL'S Archaic Dictionary, 2 vols. 8vo. 1855. 

An invaluable work, giving the Cant words used by Decker, Brome, and a few 
of those mentioned by Grose. 

HARLEQUIN Jack Shepherd, with a Night Scene in Grotesque Charac- 
ters, Svo. {About 1736.) 
Contains Songs in the Canting dialect 

HARMAN'S (Thomas, Esq.) Caveat or Warening for Common Cursetors, 
vulgarly called Vagabones, set forth for the utilitie and profit of his 
naturall countrey, auguiented and iularged by the first author thereof; 



300 BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SLANG AND CANT. 

whereunto is added the tale of the second taking of the counterfeit 
Crank, with the true report of his behaviour and also his punishment 
for his so dissembling, most marvellous to the hearer or reader thereof, 
newly imprinted, 4to. Imprinted at London, by H. Middleton, 1573. 
Contains the earliest Dictionary of the Cant language. Four editions were 
printed — William Griffith, 1566 

1567 

1567 

Henry Middleton, 1573 
What Grose's Dictionari/ of the Vulgar Tongue was to the authors of the 
earlier part of the present century, Harman's was to the Deckers, and 
Bromes, and Heads of the seventeenth. 

HARRISON'S (William) Description of the Island of Britain, (prefixed to 

Holinshed's Chronicle,) 2 vols, folio. 15 77- 

Contains an account of English vagabonds. 

HAZLITT'S (William) Table Talk, i2mo, (vol. ii. contains a chapter on 

Familiar Style, with a notice on Slang Terms.) V. d. 

HEAD'S (Richard) English Rogue, described in the Life of Meriton 

Latroon, a Witty Extravagant, 4 vols. l2mo. 

Frans. Kirhman, 1671 -So. 
Contains a list of Cant words, evidently copied from Decker. 
HELL UPON EARTH, or the most pleasant and delectable History of 
Whittington's Colledge, otherwise vulgarly called Newgate, l2mo. 

1703- 
HENLEY'S (John, better known as oeator henley) Various Sermons and 
Orations. 1 7 19-53- 

Contains numerous vulgarisms and Slang phrases. 
[HITCHING'S (Charles, formerly City Marshal, noio a Prisoner in Neurjate)] 
Regulator ; or, a Discovery of the Thieves, Thief-Takers, and Locks, 
alias Receivers of Stolen Goods in and about the City of London, also 
an Account of all the flash words noiv in vogue amongst the Thieves, 
dx., 8vo., VERY RARE, with a curious tvoodcut. 1 7 1 8. 

A violent attack upon Jonathan WUd. 
HOUSEHOLD WORDS, No. 183, September 24. 

Gives an interesting but badly-digested article on Slang ; many of the ex- 
amples are wrong. 
JOHNSON'S (Dr Samuel) Dictionary, (the earlier editions.) v. d. 

Contains a great number of words italicised as Cant, low, or barbarous. 

JONSON'S (Ben.) Bartholomew Fair, ii., 6. 

Several Cant words are placed in the mouths of the characters. 
JONSON'S (Ben.) Masque of the Gipsies Metamorphosed, 4to. 16—. 

Contains numerous Cant words. 
KENT'S (E.) Modern Flash Dictionary, containing all the Cant Words, 
Slang Terms, and Flash Phrases now in Vogue, l8mo, coloured frontis- 
piece. Io-j> 
L'ESTRANGE'S (Sir Roger) Works, (principally translations.) V. D. 
Abound in vulgar and Slang plirases. 



BIBLIOORAPHY OF SLANG AND CANT. 3OI 

LEXICOX Balatronicnm ; a Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, 

and Pickpocket Eloquence, by a Member of the Whip Club, assisted by 

Hell-fire Dick, 8 vo. 181 1. 

One of the many reprints of Grose's second edition, put forth under a fresh, 

au'i what was then considered a mnre attractive title. It was given out 

in advertisements, <tc., as a piece of puff, tliat it was edited by a Dr H. 

Clarke, but it contains scarcely a line more than Grose. 

LIBER VAGATORUM : Der Betler Orden, 4to. Recently translated : 
The Book of Vagabonds and Beggars, (Liber Vagatorum : Der Betler 
Orden,) with a vocabulary of their Language, {Rotwehche Sprach;) 
edited, with preface, by Martin Luther, in the year 1528. Now first 
Translated into English, with Notes, by John Camden Hotten ; 4to, 
icitk ^coodcuts. 1859. 

The first edition of this book appears to have been printed at Augsburg, by 
Eihard Oglin, or Ocellus, about 1514, — a small quarto of twelve leaves. It 
was frequently reprinted at other places in Germany; and in 1528 there 
appeared an edition at Wirtemberg, with a preface by Martin Luther, 
who says that the "R.itwelsche Sprach," the Cant Laignage of the beg- 
gars, comes from tbe Jews, as it contains many Hebrew words, as any one 
who understands that language may peixeive. This book is divided into 
three parts, or sections; the first gives a special account of tbe several 
orders of the " Fraternity of Vagabonds : " the second, sundry "notabilia" 
relating to the different classes of beggars previously described ; and the 
third consists of a "Rotwelsche Viicabulary," or "Canting Dictionary." 
There is a long notice of the " Liber Vagatorum " in the " Wiemarisches 
Jahrbuch," lote. Band, 1856. Mayhew, in his London Labour, states 
that many of our Cant words are derived from the Jew fences. It is 
singidar that a similar statement should have been made by Martta 
Luther more than three centuries before. 

LIFE IN ST GEORGE'S FIELDS ; or, The Rambles and Adventures ot 
Disconsolate William. Esq., and his Surrey Friend, Flash Dick, with 
Songs and a flash dictionary, 8vo. 1 821. 

MAGINN (Dr.,) wrote Slang Songs in Blackwood's Magazine. 1827. 

MAYHEW S (Henry) London Labour and the London Poor, 4 vols. 

1851-61. 
An invaluable work to the inquirer into popular or street language. 

MAYHEW'S (Henry) Great World of London, 8vo. 1857. 

An unfinished work, but containing several examples of the use and applica- 
tion of Cant and Slang words. 

MIDDLETON (Thomas) and DECKER'S (Thomas) Roaring Girl ; or Moll 
Cut Purse, 4to. 1611. 

The converation in cr.e scene is entirely in the so-called Pedlar's French. It 
is given in DodsUy's Old Plays. 

MODERN FLASH DICTIONARY, 48mo. 1S25. 

The smallest Slang Dictionary ever printed; intended for the waistcoat- 
pockets of the " bloods" of the Prince Regent's time. 

MONCEIEFF'S Tom and Jerry, or Life in London, a Farce in Three Acts, 
l2mo. 1820. 

An excellent exponent of the false and forced " high life " which was so popu- 
lar during the minority of George IV. The f irce had a run of a hundred 
nights, or more, and was a general favourite for years. It abounds in 
Cant, and the language of " gig," as it was then often termed. 



302 BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SLANG AND CANT. 

MOKNINGS AT BOW STREET, by T. Wright, l2mo, with Illustra- 
tions by George Ci'uilcskank. Tegg, 1838. 
In this work a few etymologies of Slang words are attemptedi 

NEW CANTING DICTIONARY, i2mo. n. d. 

A copy of this work is described in Rodd's Catalogue of Elegant Literature, 1845, 
part iv., No. 2128, with manuscript notes and additions in the autograph 
of Isaac Reed, price £\, 8s. 

NEW DICTIONARY of the Terms, Ancient and Modern, of the Canting 
Crew in its several tribes of Gypsies, Beggars, Thieves, Cheats, &c., 
with an addition of some Proverbs, Phrases, Figurative Speeches, tfcc, 
by B. E., Gent., i2mo. n. d. [1710.] 

Afterwards issued under the title of Bacchus and Venus, XTiJ, and in 1754 as 
the ScoundrtV s Duiionari/. 

NEW DICTIONARY of all the Cant and Flash Languages used by every 
class of offenders, from a Lully Prigger to a High Tober Gloak, small 
8vo., pp. 62. 1 79 — . 

Mentioned by John Bee. 

NOTES AND QUERIES. The invaluable Index to this most useful 
periodical may be consulted with advantage by the seeker after ety- 
mologies of Slang and Cant words. 
PARKER. High and Low Life, A View of Society in, being the Adven- 
tures in England, Ireland, &c., of Mr G. Parker, a Stage Itinerant, 2 
vols, in I, thick l2mo. Printed for the Author, 17S1. 

A curious work, containing many Cant words, with 100 orders of rogues and 
swindlers. 

PARKER'S (Geo.) Life's Painter of Variegated Characters, with a Diction- 
ary of Cant Language and Flash Songs, to which is added a Disserta- 
tion on Freemasonry, portrait, Svo. 1 789- 

PEGGE'S (Samuel) Anecdotes of the English Language, chiefly regarding 
the Local Dialect of London and Environs, Svo. 1803-41. 

PERRY'S (William) London Guide and Stranger's Safeguard, against. 
Cheats, Swindlers, and Pickpockets, by a Gentleman who has made 
the Police of the Metropolis an object of inquiry twenty -two years, 
(no wonder when the author was in prison a good portion of that time i) 

1818. 
Contains a dictionary of Slang and Cant words. 

PHILLIPS New World of Words, folio. 1696. 

PICKERING'S (F.) Vocabulary, or Collection of Words and Phrases which 
have been supposed to be peculiar to the United States of America, 
to which is prefixed an Essay on the present state of the English 
Language in the United States, 8vo. Boston, 1 81 6. 

The remark made upon Bartlelt's Americanisms applies equally to this work. 

PICTURE OF THE FANCY, i2mo. 18—. 

Contains numerous Slang terms. 

POTTER'S (H. T., of Cla\j, Worcestershire) New Dictionary of all the Cant 
and Flash Languages, both ancient and modern, Svo., pp. 62. 1 790. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SLANG AND CANT. i>o^ 

POULTER. The Discoveries of John Poulter, alias Baxter, 8vo, 48 pages. 

(1770?) 

At pages 42, 43, there is an explanation of the " Language of Thieves, com- 
monly Culled Cant." 

PRISON-BREAKER, The, or the Adventures of John Shepherd, a Farce, 

^vo- London, 1725. 

Contains a Canting song, &o. 

PUNCH, or the London Charivari, 

Of .en points ont Slang, vulgar, or abused words. It also, occasionally, em- 
ploys them in jokes, or sketches of character. 

QUARTERLY REVIEW, vol. x., p. 528. 

Gives a paper on Americanisms and Slang phrases. 

RANDALL'S (Jack, the Pugilist, formerly of the "Hole in the Wall," 
Chancery Lane) Diary of Proceedings at the House of Call for Genius, 
edited by Mr Breakwindow, to which are added several of Mr B.'s 
minor pieces, 12 mo. 1 820. 

Believed to have been written by Thomas Moore. The verses are mostly paro- 
dies of popular authors, and abound in the Slang of pugilism, and the 
phraseology of the fast hfe of the period. 

RANDALL (Jack) a Few Selections from his Scrap Book ; to which are 
added Poems on the late Fight for the Championship, i2mo. 1822. 
Frequently quoted by Moore in Tom Crib's Memorial. 

SCOUNDREL'S DICTIONARY, or an Explanation of the Cant Words 
used by Thieves, Housebreakers, Street-robbers, and Pickpockets about 
Town, with some curious dissertations on the Art of Wheedling, &c., 
the whole printed from a copy taken on one of their ffang, in the late 
scuffle between the watchman and a party of them on Clerkenwell green, 
Svo. 1754' 

A reprint of Bacchus and Venus, 1737. 

SHARP (Jeremy) The Life of an English Rogue, i2mo. 1740. 

Includes a " Vocabulary of the Gypsies' Cant." 

SHERWOOD'S Gazetteer of Georgia, U.S., Svo. 

Contains a glossary of words. Slang and vulgar, peculiar to the Southern 
States. 

SMITH'S (Capt.) Compleat History of the Lives and Robberies of the 

most Notorious Highwaymen, Foot-pads, Shop-lifters, and Cheats, of 

both Sexes, in and about London and Westminster, l2mo, vol. i. 1 ji 9. 

This volume contains "The Thieves' New CAirriNG Dictiovakt of the 

WoKD.s, Proverbs, &c., ised by TuiEvts." 

SMITH (Capt. Alexander) The Thieves' Grammar, i2mo., p. 28. 17—. 

A copy of this work is in the collection formed by Prince Lucien Bonaparte. 

SMITH'S (Capt.) Thieves' Dictionary, i2mo, 1724. 

SNOWDEN'S Magistrate's Assistant, and Constable's Guide, thick small 

Svo. ^ 1852. 

Gives a description of the various orders of cadgers, beggars, and swindlers 

together with a Glossary of the Flash Language. ' 



304 BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SLANG AND CANT. 

SPORTMAN'S DICTION AEY, 4to. 17—. 

By an anonymous author. Contains some low sporting terms. 

STANLEY'S Remedy, or the Way how to Reform Wandring Beggars, 

Thieves, &c., wherein is shewed that Sodonies Sin of Idleness is the 

Poverty and the Misery of this Kingdome, 4to. 1 646. 

This work has an engraving on wood wliich is said to be the veritable original 

of Jim Crow. 

SWIFT'S coarser pieces abound in Vulgarities and Slang expressions. 

THE TRIUMPH OF WIT, or Ingenuity displayed in its Perfection, be- 
ing the Newest and most Useful Academy, Songs, Art of Love, and 
the Alystery and Art of Canting, with Poems, Songs, <tc., in the Cant- 
ing Language, i6mo. /. Clarke, 1735. 
What is generally termed a shilling Chap Book. 

THE TRIUMPH OF WIT, or the Canting Dictionary, being the Newest 
and most Useful Academy, containing the Mystery and Art of Cant- 
ing, with the original and present management thereof, and the ends 
to which it serves and is employed, illustrated with Poems, Songs, and 
various Intrigues in the Canting Language, with the Explanations, &c., 
i2mo. Dublin, N. D. 

A Chap Book of 32 pages, circa 1760. 
THOMAS (I.) My Thought Book, 8vo. 1825. 

Contains a chapter on Slang. 
THE WHOLE ART OF THIEVING and Defrauding Discovered: being 
a Caution to all Housekeepers, Shopkeepers, Salesmen, and others, to 
guard against Robbers of both Sexes, and the best Methods to pre- 
vent their Villanies ; to which is added an Explanation of most of the 
Cant terms in the Thieving Language, Svo, pp. 46. 1786. 

TOM CRIB'S Memorial to Congress, with a Preface, Notes, and Appendix 
by one of the Fancy [Tom Moore, the poet,] i2mo. 1819. 

A humorous poem, abounding in Slang and pugilistic terms, with a burlesque 
essay on the clastic origin uf Slang. 

VACABONDES, the Fraternatye of, as well of ruflyng Vacabones, as of 
beggerly, of Women as of Men, of Gyrles as of Boyes, with their pi-o- 
per Names and Qualities, with a Description of the Crafty Company 
of Cousoners and Shifters, also the XXV. Orders of Knaves ; other- 
wyse called a Quartern of Knaves, confirmed by Cocke Lorell, Svo. 
Imprinted at London by John Awdeley, dwellyng in little Britayne streetc 
■wWhowt Aldersgate. I575- 

It is stated in Ames' Tjipofi. Antiq., vol. ii., p 8S5, that an edition bearing the 
date 1565 is in exi>tence, and that the compiler was no otlier tlian old 
John Audley, the printer, himself. This conjecture, however, is very 
doubtful. As stated by Watt, it is more than proliable that it was writ- 
ten by Harman, or was taken from his works, in MS. or print. 

VAUX'S (Count, de, a simndler and j)ic^pochet) Life, written by himself, 
2 vols., i2mo, to ivhich is added a Canting Dictionary. 1819. 

These Memoirs were suppressed on acoount of the scandalous passages con- 
tained in them. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SLANG AND CANT. 305 

WEBSTER'S (Noali) Letter to the Hon. John Pickering, on the Subject 
of his Vocabulary, or Collection of Words and Phrases supposed to be 
peculiar to the United States, 8vo, pp. 69. Boston, 181 7. 

WILD (Jonathan) — History of the Lives and Actions of Jonathan Wild, 
Thieftaker, Joseph Blake, alias Blueskin, Footpad, and John Shep- 
pard. Housebreaker ; together with A Canting Dictionary by Jona- 
thjIN Wild, woodcuts, i2mo. i7So. 

WILSON (Professor) contributed various Slang pieces to Blackwood's 
Magazine; including a Review of Bee's Dictionary. 

WITHERSPOON'S (Dr of America) Essays on Americanisms, Perversions 
of Language in the United States, Cant phrases, &c., 8vo., in the 4th 
vol. of his Works. Philadelphia, 1801. 

The earliest work on American vulgarisms. Originally publislied as a series 
of Essays, entitled the Druid, which appeared in a periodical in 1761. 



THE END. 



JOHN CAMDEN HOTTEN, PSINTER, PICCADILLY, LONDON. 

U 



§00}lS 011 "^aViQXXKQt 



Preparing, in 2 Vols. 8vo, 

A DICTIONARY OF COLLOQUIAL ENGLISH : 

THE WORDS AKD PHRASES IN CURRENT USE COMMONLY 
CALLED "SLANG" AND "VULGAR." 

Their Origin and Etijmolofft/ traced, and their Use lUnsfrated by JExamples 
drawn from the genteelest Authors. 



The notorious incompleteness of even the best of our English, 
dictionaries can only be attributed to the manifest impossibility 
of any one man's registering and authenticating by an apposite 
example every word which is even common and current in 
printed literature. This difficulty is immeasurably increased 
when the words sought to be recorded are, in many instances, 
at present purely colloquial, and, if printed at all, imbedded in 
literature which is essentially fugitive, — such as the bulk of our 
plays and novels and the columns of our newspapers. Johnson- 
ianism, if much at a discount in our literature, has certainly de- 
parted altogether from our daily speech, which every year seems 
to become more and more idiomatical, nay — with reverence be it 
spoken — slangy; and the Editor believes that unless the colloquial- 
isms of this generation be registered, our descendants ^viIl have a 
very colourless picture of the conversation and manners of their 



fathers, of all ranks of society. There is surely nothing trivial in 
an attempt to do this thoroughly and systematically,— a like work 
being done for our county dialects and obsolete literature by 
the first philologists in Europe, necessarily in an imperfect manner 
and with immense labour. And the Editor Jiopes that those into 
whose hands this falls will kindly render him assistance in filling 
up the deficiencies of this third edition, and in illustrating the 
newer and more uncommon words by extracts from our literature. 
It will be endeavoured to select such illustrations as shall be not 
only valuable as such, but interesting in themselves. All contri- 
butions in aid of this work,— suggestions on origin and etymo- 
logy, unregistered words, definitions, and illustrative examples, — 
will be thankfully received and acknowledged by the publisher, 
Mr Camden Hotten, Piccadilly, London. 

June 4, 1864- 



It is the Editor's intention, also, to give in this work the 
French Slang equivalents for our oivn vulgar terms and 
neologisms. As the tash is a difficult one — the every-day speech 
of Paris being much more changeable than that of London — 
the Editor will be thankful for any assistance rendered. 



3 

BY PERMISSION OF H.I.H. PRINCE LUCIEN BONAPARTE. 



Preparing, in i small vol., sq. 24mo, exquisitely printed, 

The Song of Solomon in the North-Derbyshire Dialect. 

Edited, with Notes, &c., by THOMAS HALLAM, Esq. 

*^* Uniform with the other small books on Dialect issued by H.LH. 
the Prince Lucien Bonaparte. This is the first time the North- 
Deebyshike Dialect has been specially treated of. 



BY PERMISSION OF H.I.H. PRINCE LUCIEN BONAPARTE. 



Preparing, in i small vol., sq. 24mo, exquisitely printed, 

The Gipsy Yocabulary ; or, List of Words taken down from 
the Mouths of Gipsies in Somersetshire, by a Clergyman resident 
there in 1780. Edited, with Notes, Introduction, &c., by W. 
PINKERTON, Esq., F.L.S. 

*^* Uniform with the other small books on Language issued by 
H.I.H. Prince Lucien Bonaparte. The value of this Vocabiilary con- 
sists in the fact that the words were written down on occasions of 
ACTUAL CONVERSATIONS WITH GiPSiES, and that it was not compiled 
from GreUman or any of the Continental works. 



WINCHESTER WORDS AND PHRASES. 



In preparation, 8vo, 

Glossary of all the Words, Phrases, Customs, peculiar to 

Winchester College. 

*jf* See School Life at Winchester Collie, which will be shortly 
published. 



4 

In preparation, i vol., small 8vo, 

The School and College Slang of England ; or, Glossaries of 

the Words and Phrases pecnliar to the Six great Educational ■ 
Establishments of the Country. 



DICTIONAEY OF AJSIERTCANISMS. 



Thick 8vo, published at_;^i, 5s., only 12s. 6d., 

G-lossary of Words and Phrases usually regarded as 

peculiar to the United States. By JOHN KUSSELL BART- 
LETT. Third and best Edition. 

*^* The work extends to 560 pages, and presents to the English 
reader a body of admirably-selected extracts from the humorous and 
dialectical literature of the United States. The work is offered at the 
lowest cash price, and must be apijlied for direct, 05 no discount can he 
allowed to any agent. 

It is a curious fact connected with Slang that a great number of 
vulgar words common in England are equally common in the United 
States ; and when we remember that America began to people two 
centm-ies ago, and that these colloquialisms must have crossed the sea 
with the first emigrants, we can form some idea of the antiquity of 
popidar or street language. Many words, owing to the caprices of 
fashion or society, have wholly disappeared in the parent country, 
whilst in the colonies they are yet heard. The words skink, to serve 
drkik in company, and the old term snCHiNG or meeching, skulking 
or playing truant, for instance, are still in use in the United States, 
although nearly, if not quite, obsolete here. 



Now ready, only a few Copies for sale, original price 53. , 
now offered at 2s. 6d. , 

A Dictionary of tlie Oldest Words in the English Lan- 
guage, from the Semi-Saxon Period of a.d. 1250 to 1300; con- 
sisting of an Alpliabetical Inventory of every "Word found in the 
printed English Literature of the Thirteenth Century. By the 
late HERBEET COLEETDGE, Secretary to the Philological So- 
ciety. 8vo, neat. 

An invaluable work to historical students- and those interested in 
linguistic pursuits. " The present publication may be considered as 
the foxmdation-stone of the Historical and Literary Portion" of the 
great English Dictionary now in preparation by the Philological 
Society. " Explanatory and etymological matter has been added, 
which, it is hoped, may render the work more generally interesting 
and useful than could otherwise have been the case." 



^p° The Publisher ivill he glad to receive the names of gentle- 
men who may desire to secure Copies of any of the above ivories. 
Of three of them only a very limited number zvill he printed. 



c-<r-es<5N(53acS>'c)<S>''^>~3 



NEW LIST 

OF 

POPULAE AND INTEKESTITO BOOKS 

PUBLISHED OR SOLD BY 

JOHN CAMDEN HOTTEN, 



.* XoTE. — In order to insure the correct delivery of the actual works, 
or PARTICULAR EDITIONS, specified in this list, it is necessary that thk 

NAME OF THE PDBLISHEK SHOULD BE DISTINCTLY GIVEN, otherivise 

the purchaser will probably receive books of a different character from 
those which were ordered. 



In the press, in 2 vols., very handsomely printed, price 16s., 

THE HOUSEHOLD STOEIES OF ENGLAND. 



*2?IIE WEST OF ^HGLAWBj 

OE, THE 

DROLLS OF OLD CORNWALL. 

Collected and Edited by ROBERT HUNT, F.R.S. 

'*,/ For an Analysis of this important icorJc see printed description, which 
may be obtained gratis at the Publisher's. 

The Work is in Two Series. The First embraces the Fabulous 
Age, or Pbe-histokio Period : the Second, The Romances and 
♦Superstitions of Historic Times. Many of these Stories are 
remarkable for their wild poetic beauty ; others surprise us by their 
quaintness ; whilst others again show forth a tragic force, which can 
only be associated with those rude ages which existed long before the 
period of authentic history. 

John Ciimdeii Jlotteii, 7-1 ojid 75, Ficcud'dli/, W, 



BOOKS READY AND IN PREPARATION. 

This day, pp. 328, in 8vo, price 6s. 6d., by post 73,, 
NEW DICTIONAEY OF COLLOQUIAL ENGLISH. 



SLANG DICTIONARY; 

OB, 

The Vulgar "Words, Street Phrases, and "Fast" 
Expressions of High and Low Society; 

Many with their Etymology, and afeto with their History traced. 

WITH CURIOUS ILLUSTRATIONS. 





JEgypiian Eieroglypkie verb, 
io be drunk, $hotving the ampu- 
tation of a man'a leg. Sei 
under Bbbakt Lug (viz 
Strong Drink) in the Diction- 
ary, p. 81. 



Hedge and Wooden Spoon. 
See p. 272. 




See Two upon Ten, in 
the Dictionury, p. 264. 

* * With this work 13 incorporated The Dictionary of Modern S!an^, Cant, ana 
Vuhiar Words, issued by " a Loudon Antiquary" in 1859. The first edition of thai 
work contained aboiat 300O wurds; the second, issued twelve months later, gave 
upwards of 5O0O. Both editions were reviewed by the critical press mth ai' 
approval seldom accorded to small works of the kmd. During the four years thai 
have elapsed, the compiler has sone over the field of unrecognised English onet 
more. The entire subject has been resurveyed, out-lying terras and phrases 
have been brought in, new street-words have been added, and better illustrations o: 
old colloquial expressions given. The result is the volume before the reader, which 
oilers, for his amusement or instruction, nearly 10,000 words and phrases commouh 
deemed "vulgar," but which are used by the highest and lowest, the best, th-' 
wisest, as well as the worst and most ignorant of society. 

Jolti Camden Jlolten, 71 and 7.3, FiccadiVy, If. 



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DOGS IN THE OLDEN TIME. 



TARIETIES OF DOGS, 

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This day, Popular Edition, price Is., by Post Is. 2d., 
THE CHOICEST HUMOROUS POETET OF THE AGE. 



BIGLOW PAPERS, 

By JAMES EUSSELL LOWELL. 




\* The only Cokeect Edition, with Notes foe the English 
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Tlie Times of 25th July, ISei, says ; — " To associate the names of eminent 
persons with ludicrous images * » * keen and caustic political satire. America has 
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The work has frequently been alluded to in the House of Commons, and is 
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John Camden Sotten, 74 and 75, Piccadilly, W, 



BOOKS READY AND IN PREPARATION. 

^" A New Book by the late Mr. Thackeray will be published in a few 
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THE 

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OH, 

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FIVE-AND-TWENTY YEAES SINCE. 

BY THE LATE 

WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY. 

WITH ORIGINAL COLOURED ILLUSTRATIONS. 




•»• For these interesting sketches of French Literature and Art, 
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original papers up to the present time. 



John CamdcH Molten, 7-i and 75, Ficcadilly, TK, 



Very Recently Published. 

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OE, 

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The Great Forest. 

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" Patch ;" or, The Smile Fairy. 



j\Ty Lord Lion. 
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King Uggermugger ; or. The 

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Bee Me. 



The Story of the Spring Fairies. 
A Fable with a Moral. 



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John Camden Hotten, 74 and 75, Piccadilly, W. 



FAMILY FAI RY TALES. 









fwm. 







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P A N S I E ; 



THE LAST LITEKARY EFFORT OF 



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*^* All that remains of Hawthorne's unfinished Romance- 
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John Camden Hotten, 7-i and 75, Piccadilly, W, 



GUNTER^S CONFECTIONERY. 

See opposite page for description and price. 




Specimen Illustrations. 

2\o. 17. Seyde's Jraohine for Passing' I No. 24. Freezing-Pots and Ico Tubs. 
Pulps of Fruits. „ 25. Boniba Ice Mould. 

18. Funnel, with Stop Stick. | „ 2ti. Flower Modelling. 



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In a few days (Orders may be given at once). The 

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This most amusing work, introducing the reader to a curious chapter of our social 
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John Camden Sotten, 74 and 75, Piccadilly, W. 



HISTORY OF PLAYING CARDS, 

AITD THE VAEIOOS GAMES CONNECTED WITH THEM; 

With Some Account of Card Conjuring 



A^■T> 



ot^i:>-fj^stlto2^t:t> teickls. 




Specimen Illustration. 

rriTH SIXTY OTHEE CURIOUS E^'GBAVING3. 

See opposite page for description. 



John Camden HoHeii, 7i and 76, Ficcadin</, W, 



LIFE AND ANECDOTES OF THACKERAY. 



Now Beady, in Post ?>vo, beautifully printed, price 7s. Qd., 

THACKERAY: 

THE HUMOUEIST AND THE MAN OF 
LETTEES. 

THE STOUTT OF 

HIS LIFE AND LITERAEY LABOURS. 

WITH 

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NEVER BEFORE MADE PUBLIC. 

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Memlre de la Sociite des Oent de Lettret. 




Illustrated with a Photographic Portrait {one of the most 
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OR, 

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Bt f. w. fairholt, f.s.a. 

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Specimen Illustration. 



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% 



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HARRY EMANUEL, F.G.S. 

In a few days, neatly printed, price Is. 6d., 

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JOHN CAMDEN HOTTEN, 

74 AND 75, PICCADILLY, LONDON, W. 



PE 
3721 
H7 
1865 



Hotten, John Camden (comp.) 

The slang dictionary 
.2d ed.^ 



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