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Officier de l' instruction publiqtie ; Professor R.M.A. Woolwich 
Author of " Argot and Slang" a'c. &r'c. 


Author of " The Breitmann Ballads," " The English Gypsies 
and their Language " a'c. 

VOL-. I. .-V— K. 




;. 1. u <) :i 4 




a very great number of respectable and by no means 
uneducated persons, slang is simply a collective name 
for vulgar expressions, the most refined individual 
\ i^B^flj^HI being the one who uses it least. To them it is all 

that which in speech is " tabu," or forbidden. Others 
<^ regard it as the jargon of thieves, which has spread to costermongers 

and street-arabs, though in justice to the worthy people first men- 
tioned it must be admitted that many of them are so fortified in 
' their ignorance of what is beneath them, that they are unaware 
CQ that thieves have a lingo of their own. 

Zu Others, again, believe that it is identical with the gypsy tongue 

or Romany, an opinion which, in spite of its easily demonstrated 

0) etymological absurdity, has held its ground for more than a century ; 

'^ whilst several writers, such as the author of the " Life of Bampfield 

•H (or Bampfylde) Moore Carew," have published so-called gypsy 

vocabularies, in which barely half-a-dozen words of corrupt Romany 

are to be found. 

Many, not without good excuse, find it very difficult to distinguish 
between technical terms not as yet recognised by lexicographers, 
and those which are, to all intents and purpose, firmly established. 

It is worthy of notice, let it be said en passant, that the two nations 
at the head of the intellectual movement, England and France, have 
the most extensive slang vocabulary, the two being about on a par 
in that respect. 

Now, the dialect alluded to above was, centuries ago, almost the 
only slang — and there are men so much behind the times that it is 

vi Preface. 

the only slang to them still. We put in the qualifying " almost " 
because there always have been certain conditions, such as emigra- 
tion to savage countries, which have bred new circumstances, with a 
corresponding development of language. The Roman legionaries in 
the wilds of Gaul and Germany found classical Latin as inadequate 
for bush vocabulary as the Anglo-Saxon finds classical English in 
the backwoods of America and the backblocks of Australia, and they 
evolved a Low Latin slang corresponding with such terms as " war- 
paint," " backwoodsman," " ring-barker," " bushmaii,"and " throwing- 
stick." ^fodern French has its elements of base Latin origin, just 
as the English lexicons of the future will include a number of 
words forged by necessity in the busli and the backwoods— in New 
"World mines and cities — and others which at the present time are 
only to be found in such dictionaries as the present one. 

But here, in the heart as well as at the extremities of "Anglo- 
Saxony," new needs and new circumstances are being developed 
unceasingly, and society both high and low, in every walk of life, 
and on bypaths of art and trade, has of late years taken to inventing 
new words and phrases, some for practical wants, others for amuse- 
ment, some coarse and rude, others daintily cut and polished, deftly 
veiled — all in such profusion, that every one of the old definitions 
of slang is now inadequate to express the "new departure" phase 
of the language. 

Perhaps the best general definition at which one can arrive is 
that "slang" is a conventional tongue with many dialects, which are 
as a rule unintelligible to outsiders. In one case at least it has 
been framed with the intention of its being intelligible only to the 
initiated — the vagiibond and thievish fraternity. 

The vocabulary is based chiefly on words of the language jn-oper, 
ancient and modern (with an admixture of forei^ woi-ds), which 
have become "slang" through a metaphoric process or misappro- 
priation of meaning. Thus "brass," "timbers" and "pins," "red 
lane," " nnig," "canister," "claret," "ivory," "tile," taken figura- 
tively, enrich tlie slang vocabulary by respectively acquiring the 
conventional meaning of "impudence," "legs," "throat," "face,'' 
"head," "blood," '• loetli," "hat." 

Preface. vii 

It has been well said therefore that slang, in its general features, 
is hardly more than an arbitrary interpretation of the ordinary 
language. It does not suffice, however, that it should be merely 
conventional or figurative, else it might be multiplied ad infinitum. 
But being to a great degree the outcome of the humour and wit, 
more or less refined, of its promoters, it bears the stamp of 
sarcasm, of callousness, and occasionally of a grim philosophy, as, 
for example, when a drunkard is called a " lean away," or a man 
" waiting for a dead man's shoes " is said to be " shepherding " his 
rich relative — when a clergyman is jestingly called a "sky -pilot" or 
a " fire-escape " — when a man who feels beaten says that he has been 
" had on toast," and will " give it best." 

Each profession or trade has its " lingo," not to be mistaken for 
technical phraseology. Thus in cricket " wickets " is technical, but 
"sticks" is slang ; to put a "break" on a ball the former, to put 
"stuff" on it the latter. " Bone shaker," the old type of bicycle, is 
slang ; but "kangaroo," the latest improvement on the spider bicycle, 
and which in shape somewhat resembles the primitive "bone shaker^" 
belongs to the technical phraseology of 'cycle machinists. 

It sometimes occurs that a technical word conies to be used figura- 
tively in an humorous and sarcastic sense. Sailors talk slang when 
they say of a drunken man that his " mainbrace is well spliced," or 
that he is " two sheets in the wind." 

Occasionally a class slang word is adopted by the public, and 
swells the vocabulary of general or " society " slang. This specially 
applies to nautical and sporting phraseology. Thus it is quite pos- 
sible for people Avho do not belong to the seafaring fraternity to 
hear of a husband having to " look out for squalls " when he comes 
home "heeling over" from having dined too well, even if he has 
not " capsized " or been " thrown upon his beam-ends " in the 
gutter. And many a person when asked to contribute to a charity 
has declared himself " stumped," though he may never have been 
near a cricket-field since he left school. 

What one might call the classical slang of thieves is technically 
termed "cant." It has the appearance of possessing more quaint 
and original features than the more modern lingo, the sole reason 

viii Preface. 

for which is perhaps that it proceeds from dialects but little known, 
as for instance Romany, or from Celtic and Anglo-Saxon words no 
longer used as language-words and known only to a few scholars. 

Gaiit possesses but few original terms coined in a direct manner 
by those who employ the vocabulary, for it needs greater imaginative 
powers than these light-fingered professors are generally credited 
with to invent terms that shall remain and form part of a language. 
An illustration of this may be found in the French argot — taken in 
the narrower sense of malefactors' language and leaving out altogether 
the Parisian slang — which in spite of all the efforts of those inte- 
rested in the matter has remained very nearly what it was in the 
seventeenth century. 

The components have been elongated, then curtailed, then their 
syllables have been interverted, and finally they have reappeared 
under their original form. 

Taking as a starting-point that slang and cant are of an essentially 
conventional and consequently metaphoric and figurative nature, it 
may safely be asserted that the origin of slang and cant terms must 
certainly be sought for in those old dialect words which bear a 
resemblance in form ; not however in words which bear an approxi- 
mately identical meaning, but rather in such as allow of the supposed 
offsprings having a figurative connection of sense. 

The reader will probably best understand what is meant if he 
will, for the sake of argument, suppose the modern English language 
to have become a dead language known only to scholars. Then let 
him take the slang word " top-lights," meaning eyes. He is seeking 
the origin of top-lights. If he were to find in the old language a 
word having some resemblance in form and bearing the identical 
meaning of eyes he would have to reject it. But when he finds the 
same word signifying the upper lanterns of a ship, he may adopt it 
without hesitation, because the metaphor forms a connection link 
and furnishes a safe clue. 

So far we have spoken rather as if slang were a kind of outlaw 
or Bedouin with every man's hand against it, but of late years 
many judicious and intelligent writers h<ive recognised that there is 
a vast number of words wliicli, while current, are still on probation, 

Preface. ix 

like emigrants in quarantine, awaiting the time when they are to 
be admitted to the regular haven of the Standard Dictionary. But 
this increase has been so enormous and so rapid that no standard 
lexicographer could do it justice. It is generally admitted that to 
keep pace with modem French journalism or novels, a " Dictionnaire 
d' Argot " is absolutely indispensable, and this is now quite as much 
the case with English. And when we consider that it is not possible 
to take up a copy of any of the leading London society journals 
without finding very often in one single article a dozen slang which have never yet been given in any dictionary what- 
ever, it will be admitted that a time has certainly come to publish 
a dictionary upon new lines in which every effort shall be made 
to define such expressions without regard to what the department is 
called to which they belong. 

To show what a need there is of such a work, one only has to 
reflect that a vast number of more recent American slang phrases 
(not old English provincialisms established ah initio in New England, 
but those chiefly of modern Western manufacture) have never been 
collected and published. And the same may be said of those which 
have cropped up and developed themselves in the English-speaking 
colonies, in the bush of Australia, or South Africa. The real 
amount of Romany, Dutch, Celtic, and Yiddish, in the various 
slangs, has never yet been decided by writers who had a thorough 
knowledge of these languages, and Mr. Hotten, while declaring that 
to the gypsies we are in great measure indebted for the cant lan- 
guage, and that it was the corner-stone and a great part of the edifice 
of English slang, was still so utterly ignorant of it as to have 
recourse to a vocabulary of Roumanian gypsy to explain the very 
few words of English Romany in liis work, the great majority of 
which were in some way erroneous. The present is the first Slang 
Dictionary ever written which has had the benefit of contributors 
who thoroughly understood Celtic dialects, Dutch, German, and 
French slang, and who were thus enabled to establish their rela- 
tions with English cant, and one of these gentlemen is equally 
at home in Pidgin-English, Gypsy, and Slielta or tinker's slang, 
which by- the-bye is one of the three principal slangs of the kingdom, 

X Preface. 

and is here made known for the first time in a work of this kind ; 
this being also the first Slang Dictionary to which the rich and racy 
slang of the fifth continent — the mighty Australian commonwealth 
of the future — has been contributed by one long resident in the 
country and familiar both with its life and its literature. Informa- 
tion has been gathered at its very source from all classes of society, 
and in every department contributors have been employed who 
were perfectly at home in their respective specialities. 

We began our preface with trying to define, or discover, the 
nature of that slippery Proteus, slang ; after doing which to the 
best of our power, we proceeded to show the necessity for a dic- 
tionary such as the present, and to instance the precautions 
taken to make it exhaustive. We might have added that the 
majority of the contributors selected were men not only intimate 
with their subject, but also of proved ability in literature. We 
could hardly conclude without making some allusion to the volume 
which was the forerunner of this, " Argot and Slang." One passage 
in its preface has attracted much attention for its terse enunciation 
of what is generally recognised. 

" Slang has invaded all classes of society, and is often used for 
want of terms sufficiently strong to convey the speaker's real feel- 
ings. It seems to be resorted to in order to make up for the short- 
comings of a well-balanced and polished tongue which will not lend 
itself to exaggeration and violence of utterance. Journalists, artists, 
politicians, mon of fa.shion, soldiers, even women, talk argot, some- 
times unawares." A curious illustration of this has just been 
brought under the editor's notice. A gentleman had been pub- 
lishing for some years with the same firm of publishers, but with 
very varying success. " I can never for the life of me," he used to 
complain, " tell whether Mr. Pompous means that my new book is 
a poor one or a bad one. His letters are tissues of under certain 
circumstances, we should not feel justified in advising (or not advising), 
in the present state of the public taste it is impossible to predict, con- 
ceivably, &c." But a year or two ago a college friend of this author 
became a member of this firm of publishers. In due time another 
book was submitted, and the answer came from the new partner — 

Preface. xi 

" My dear , it would be rot publishing a thing like this. The 

public would sfnort at it. Yours very truly, ." The author's 

confidence in his publisher went up a hundred per cent. There 
was now a member of the firm sufficiently intimate with him to 
employ " slang " in their communications, and the author knew that 
from that time he would be able to tell to a fraction the exact grade 
of value they put upon every work he off'ered them. " Slang " is an 
essential of the age. Even a bishop has used it in the pulpit, in a 
modified form, when he said that "Society would be impossible 
without white lies." It seems as if the day was not far off when 
it might be true to say that " Society would be impossible without 

One thing is Certain, that the taste of the age is to learn speci- 
alities from those who have a special knowledge of them. The 
public that goes to see the life of the Wild West and the prize-ring, 
rejoice also in realistic novels by those whose special knowledge best 
qualifies them for the work, whether it be an uncanny familiai'ity 
with the mysteries of the Far West, or the mysteries of Paris ; and 
these kind of works, as a rule, abound above all others in technical 
expressions and argot. Granted that people of the same country as 
the author are generally able to understand these by the context 
without the labour of a dictionary, a very small percentage of the 
intelligent foreigners who make a practice of reading English works 
of note could, without the aid of a vocabulary, be able to decipher 
the multifarious "lingos" which enter into these books, and this 
is just the class who will be most assisted by the arrangement 
adopted in this work of giving all the various departments of slang 

A. B. 




T does not seem to have occuiied to any writer that the 
chief reason why the early history of purely English 
slang is obscure, is because that previous to a certain 
determinate date, there was really so little of it, that 
it hardly existed at all. There can be no biography of 
a child worth writing so long as it can babble only a few words. It 
is probable that of these few early slang words, none have been lost. 
During the Saxon Early English and IMiddle English periods, there 
were provincial dialects, familiar forms of speech, and vulgarisms, 
but whether a distinct canting tongue was current in England, re- 
mains as yet to be established. That the tinkers or metal-workers, 
who roamed all over Great Britain, were a peculiar people,* with a 
peculiar Celtic language called Shelta, may be true, but canting as 
yet did not exist. 

No discoveries have as yet been made which cast much light on 
the process by which English canting, or the language of the loose 
and dangerous classes, was first formed. This much we know, that 
in England, to a beginning of antiquated and provincial or perverted 
words, a few additions were made of Welsh, Irish, or Gaelic, with 
here and there a contribution from the Continent. It seems to be 
evident that this rill of impure English, most defiled, was a very 

* John Bunyan, it may be remembered, once asked his father whether the 
tinkers were not "a peculiar people." Regarded from any point of view, 
this indicates that ho suspected they were not English. Bunyan, according 
to recent researches, could not have been a gypsy, but as a tinker he must 
have known Shelta, or the old tinker's language, and therefore naturally 
suspected that ho belonged to some kind of separate race. 

xiv A Brief History of English Slang. 

slender one. But as C. J. Ribton Turner suggests, it was the arrival 
of the gj'psies in England about 1505, speaking by themselves a 
perfect language, which stimulated the English nomads to gi'eatly 
improve their own rude and scanty jargon. According to Samuel 
Rowlande, whose work, "The Runnagate's Race," appeared in 16 10, 
one Cock Lorrell, a gi-eat rascal, but evidently a man of talents, 
became, in 1501, the acknowledged head of all the strollers in Eng- 
land. This person formed his followers into a regular guild or 
order, according to the spirit of the time in which he lived, and 
observing that the gypsies, under their leader, Giles Hathor, were a 
powerful and rapidly increasing body, he proposed to them a general 
council and union of interests and language. 

" After a time that these vp-start Lossels had got vuto a head, the 
two chief Commaunders of both these regiments met at the Diuels- 
arse-a-peak, there to parle and intreete of matters that might tend to 
the establishing of this their new found gouernment ; and first of all 
they think it fit to deuise a certaine kinde of Language, to the end 
that their cousenings, knaueries, and villainies might not be so easily 
perceiued and knowne in places where they come." 

Here Samuel Rowlande, speaking ignorantly, says that this 
tongue was made up out of Latin, English, and Dutch, with a few 
words borrowed from Spanish and French. To this day it is com- 
mon enough for " travellers," or gypsies, to tell the ignorant that the 
language which they speak is Latin, French, or Dutch, &c. From 
the language itself, as given by Robert Copland (1535), and Ilarman 
("Caveat for Cursitors") in 1567, it appears that the gypsies actually 
contributed a certain amount of Romany, but that with their 
natural dislike to teach it, they made this contribution as small as 
possible — though it is larger than Mr. Turner supposes. He has, 
however, with very approximate accuracy, shown the various Celtic 
origins of the terms not reducible to English or Saxon. Of Latin 
he finds only eight words, of which two are very doubtful, while 
two others, ijcrry (i.e. jerry), excrement, and peck, meat, are plainly 
from the lloimuiy jirr (rectum vel cxcremcntnm), and pehho; roast, i.e., 
roast meat. It is too far afield to seek these common gypsy words 
in the Latin (jcrra', trifles, and })ecu>^, cattle. 

This was the beginning made of the canting or thieves' tongiie, 
and it must be admitted that the first meeting of this Philological 
Orientil Congress for the ])urj)ose of forming a language was 
probably not deficient in a certain ]>ictures(iuo element, and an abbi 
artist might find a worse subject than tliis grand council of the 

A Brief History of English Slang. xv 

gypsies and vagabonds in their cavern among the hills. It is to 
be observed that Harman, a magistrate who was not only very 
familiar with every type of criminals, but who was the first who 
ever published a canting vocabulary, declares that it was only 
within thirty years previous to 1567 that the dangerous classes had 
begun to use a familiar jargon at all. Mr. Turner says that this 
statement is little better than a guess at the truth ; but Harman, 
who seems to have been an earnest and honest writer, explicitly 
declares that his statement was the result of inquiry among many, 
or to use his own words : "As far as I can learne or understand by 
the examination of a nuviber of them, their language — which they 
terme peddelars Frenche or canting — began but within these xxx 
yeeres or lyttle above." 

What confirms this statement, if it does not actually prove it, 
is the fact that Harman, though he evidently laboured hard to 
make a full vocabulary and had many facilities for collecting words, 
gives us in all only about 160, while those who came after him in the 
field are accused of only repeating him. But the truth probably 
is, that Harman was quite right ; canting was really young in his 
time, and small in proportion to its age. Its growth may be very 
clearly traced in dramatic, comic, or criminal literature from 1535, 
as shown by Kobert Copland in his "Hye Way to the Spyttel 
House," down to the present day. 

In old canting the most striking element is the large proportion 
of Celtic words, drawn from all parts of Great Britain. Turner has 
observed that the Act 5 Edward III. c. 14, affords evidence that the 
Welsh gwestwr, " unbidden guest," or vagabond, was a public nuisance 
in England prior to 133 1. In fact the Welsh and Irish stroller, or 
professional rogue and beggar, was a common type represented and 
ridiculed in broadsides or plays till within a century.* Edicts and 
Acts of Parliament, and the most vigorous punishment and reship- 
ment of " ye vacabones " to their homes, were utterly ineffectual to 
keep them out of England. In the English " kennick " or canting 
of the lowest classes of the present day, the greater proportion of 

* A majority of those travellers and tramps in England, who are simply 
beggars and thieves, and who do not seek for work, are still Irish. Full 
information on this subject may be found in the " History of Vagrants and 
Vagrancy," by C. J. Ribton Turner ; and it may be said with truth that all 
the criminals of the towns and cities put together do not injure the country 
at large so much as these creatures, who carry vice into every hamlet, and 
into the remotest corners of the kingdom. 

xvi A Brief History of English Slang. 

Celtic terms are apparently not taken directly from Gaelic, Erse, 
Welsh, or Manx, but from a singular and mysterious language called 
Shelta (Celtic ?), or Minklas Thari (tinkers' talk), wbich is spoken 
by a very lai^e proportion of all provincial tinkers (who claim for 
it great antiquity), as well as by many other vagabonds, especially 
by all the Irish who are on the roads. The very existence of this 
dialect was completely unknown until 1867, its vocabulary and 
specimens of the language being first published in " The Gypsies " 
(Boston, 1880). It has been ingeniously conjectured by a reviewer 
tliat as all the Celtic tinkers of Great Britain formed, until tlie 
railroad era, or about 1845, an extremely close corporation, always 
intermarrying, and as they are all firmly persuaded^ that their 
tinkerdom and tongue are extremely ancient, they may possibly 
be descendauits of the early bronze-workers, who also perambu- 
lated the country in bands, buying up broken implements and 
selling new ones. This is at least certain, that the tinkers as a body 
were ^'ery clannish, had a strongly-marked character, a well-de- 
veloped langviage of their own, and that while they were extremely 
intimate with the gypsies, often taking wives from among them, 
and being sometimes half-bloods, they still always remained 
tinklers and spoke Shelta among themselves. The nature of this 
alliance is very singular. In Scotland the tinkler is popularly 
identified with the gypsy, but even half-blood tinklers, such 
as the Macdonalds,* who speak Romany, do not call themselves 
gypsies, but tinklers. The caste deserves this brief mention since 
it has apparently been the chief source through which Celtic woixls 
have come into English canting — an assertion which is not the mere 
conjecture of a philologist, but the opinion of more than one very 
intelligent and well-informed vagabond. It is very remarkable that 
though Shelta is more or less extensively spoken even in London, 
and though it has evidently had a leading influence in contributing 
the Celtic element to canting, thus far only one writer has ever 
pul)lished a line relative to it. Hotten or his coUaborateurs seem, 
in common with Turner and all other writers on vagabonds, never 
to have lieard of its existence. It will probably be recognised by 
future analysts of canting that in all cases wliere a corrupted Celtic 
word is found in it, it will be necessary to ascertain if it did not 
owe its change to liaving passed thi-ougli the medium of Shelta. 

• It is needlesa to say gypsies have assumed family names, such as 
Stanley, Leo, &c., and among others that of Macdonald. 

A Brief History of English Slang. xvii 

Though the gypsy contribution to canting was not extensive, it 
was much larger than many extensive writers on vagabonds have 
supposed, and it is worth noting that a number of our most char- 
acteristic slang words, such as row, shindy, tool (in driving), mash 
(i.e., to fascinate), pal, chivvy, and especially the arch-term slang 
itself, are all Komany. It is not remarkable that Cock Lorrell 
recognised in the gypsies " a race with a back-bone," and one 
from whom something could be learned. Their blood " had rolled 
through scoundrels ever since the flood," and from the begin- 
ning they had spoken not a mere slang, but a really beautiful and 
perfect language resembling Hindustani or Urdu, but which was 
much older. The constituents of this tongue are Hindi and Per- 
sian — the former greatly predominating — with an admixture of 
other Indo- Aryan dialects. It was first suggested in "English 
Gypsies and their Language " that the true origin of the Kom or 
gypsy was to be found among the Dom, a very low caste in India, 
which sprung from the Domar, a mountain tribe of shepherd- 
robbers ; and recent researches by Mr. Grierson among the Bihari 
Dom have gone far to confirm the conjecture. Its author also 
discovered that there exists to-day in India a wandering tribe 
known as Trablus, who call themselves Rom, and who are in all 
respects identical with the Syrian and European gypsies. About 
the tenth century, owing to political convulsions, there were in 
India a great number of outcasts of different kinds. Among 
these the Jdts, a fierce and warlike tribe, crushed by Mahometan 
power, seemed to have coalesced with the Doms or Rom, the 
semi-Persian Luri or Nuri (originally Indian), and others, and 
to have migrated westward. Miklosich, in a very learned work, 
has, by analysing the language as it now exists, pointed out 
the Greek, Slavonian, and other words which they picked up en 
route. It was about the beginning of the fifteenth century that a 
band of about 300 of these wanderers first appeared in Germany, 
whence they in a few years spread themselves over Europe, so that 
within a decade many thousands of them penetrated to eveiy corner 
of the Continent. They were evidently led by men of gi'eat ability. 
They represented themselves as pil{^rims, who, because they had 
become renegades from Christianity, had been ordered by the King 
of Hungary as a penance to wander for fifty years as pilgrims. 
They had previously by telling the same story, but adapted to the 
faith of Mahomet, got a foothold in Egypt. They thus obtained 
official license to make themselves at home in every couutrv, except 


xviii A Brief History of English Slang. 

in England, yet went there all the same. Andrew Borde, the 
eccentric physician, who lived during the reign of Henry VIII., was 
the first person who made (in 1 542) a vocabulary of their language, 
which he did under the impression that it was " Egyptian " or the 
current tongue of Egypt. Bonaventura Vulcanius, in 1 597, in his 
curious book " De Literis et Lingua Getarum," also gave specimens of 
Romany as " Nubian." The first European writer who discovered 
that Romany was really of Hindu origin, was J. C. Rudiger, and 
this he announced in a book entitled " Neuester Zuwachs der Sprach- 
kunde," Halle 1782. He was followed by Grellmann, whose work 
was much more copious. It was translated into English at the begin- 
ning of this century, and passed through thiee editions. George 
Borrow, in his novels of " Lavengro " and " The Romany Rye," pub- 
lished about 1845, and in "The Gypsies in Spain," first told the pub- 
lic much about this subject, and his influence was very great both 
in England and on the Continent in awakening an interest in it. 
Among more recent writers. Dr. Bath C. Smart, Francis Groome, 
and the writer, have been the principal collectors of Anglo-Romany 
lore. Borrow, who knew the gypsies so well, was far from being 
perfect in their language, as he declared positively that there are 
only 1200 words in the English dialect; more recent researches 
have more than doubled the numljer. 

The next element of importance which enters into English slang 
of the middle type, subsequent to old cant, is Dutch. Of this there 
are two separate sources. In England, from the time of William 
of Orange until that of George II., there was a constant influx 
of Nederduytsch, while in America, the State of New York, while 
subject to Holland, contributed an equally large proportion of quaint 
expressions, and of these in time there was great interchange lietween 
the old country and the new. To detect many of these, one must 
go much deeper into Dutch than the standard dictionaries, and 
descend to Teirlinck's and other collections of thieves' slang, or dig 
into such old works as those of Sewcl, in which the vulgar and anti- 
quated words " to be avoided " are indicated by signs. As English 
and Dutch belong to the same stock, it naturally results that nimibers 
of our provincial or obsolete terms are the same or nearly the same 
in both ; in such cases we have generally placed them together. An 
examination of the work cannot fail to convince any one that our 
indebtedness to this source is much greater than has ever been su])- 
posed. But as these derivations are often as doubtful as they are 
numerous and plausible, the editor, with the exajnple of Bellenden 

A Brief History of English Slang. xix 

Kerr * before him, would beg the reader to observe that in this work 
no ancient or foreign words are advanced as positively establishing 
the etymology of any slang expression, but are simply adduced as 
indicating possible relations. The day has gone by when it sufficed 
to show something like a resemblance in sound and meaning between 
a dozen Choctaw and as many Hebrew words, to prove positively 
that the Red Indians are Jews. But " wild guess-work " is still 
current even in very learned works, and though " in a pioneer way " 
it is useful in affording hints to true philologists, it should never 
claim to be more than mere conjecture. 

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth many Italian words found 
their way not only into English literature but also into slang, and 
additions have occasionally been made since then from the same 
source. Thus fogle, a handkerchief, is beyond question the Italian 
foglia, a leaf, also slang for a silk handkerchief (Florentine folio), 
and not the German vogel, a bird, as Hotten declares. The number 
of these derivations is much larger than has ever been supposed, 
and much of the mine is still unworked. 

Old canting retained its character until the reign of Charles II., 
when a great deal of general slang began to be current, which weis 
not connected in any way with the jargon of the dangerous classes. 
Bite, macaroni, and quiz were slang, but not cant ; they originated 
in or were first made popular by fashionable people. Following the 
Spanish Quevedo, and other writers of the vida tunantesca, or " tag- 
rag-and-bobtail school," as models, not only the dramatists, but 
authors like Sir Roger L'Estrange and Defoe used directly, or put 
into the mouths of their heroes, a familiar, free and easy, offhand 
style, which was anything but conventional, or as many may think, 
correct. Pedantic writers also continued for more than a century 
to deliberately manufacture in great quantity, from Latin, words 
of the kind used by the unfortunate Limousin student who was 
beaten by Gargantua. An " about-town " dialect was developed 
by "bloods" and wits, in which Dutch, Italian, and French began 
to appear more frequently than of yore. Gypsy and old canting 
terms rose now and then from the depths, or dregs, and remained 
on the surface. It was during this which may be called the middle 
slang epoch, that those conventional or colloquial terms began to be 

* The author of an ingenious and eccentric work in two volumes, in which 
he endeavoured to prove that most English proverbs, sayings, and nursery 
rhymes are all in old Dutch, and have an esoteric meaning, being really 
attacks on the Church. 

A Brief Histoty of English Slang. 

current, whicli, without being vulgar or directly associated with 
crime, were, owing to their novelty, flippancy, or "fastness," still 
kept in limbo, or under probation. It has been truly enough said 
that the old slang was altogether coarse or vulgar, and that there 
was subsequentl}'^ a great increase in the number of low and obscene 
terms classed with it, a growth which went on vigorously until the 
end of the reign of George IV. But while Butler, Swift, Tom 
Brown, Grose, and scores of minor artists dealt out more or less 
" dirt or deviltry," it should be remembered that the accretion of new 
phrases, which were in no way "immoral," was really much greater. 

About this time, during the latter part of the seventeenth century 
and the first half of the eighteenth, was the beginning of the vast 
array of words now in familiar use, which are unjustly called slang, 
because that term forces upon them associations with vulgarity and 
crime which they no more merit than that leaves or flowers should 
be identified with the dirt from which they grow. This quarantine 
language is simply the natural and inevitable result of a rapid in- 
crease in inventions, needs, new sources of humour, and, in fact, of 
all social causes. Kew names are in as great demand as they were 
of yore, when heathen were converted and baptized in batches. 
Then they were often all called John or James by the thousand 
"for short," but now we are more discriminating and analytical. 
But it is to be observed that hitherto no writer whatever has ever 
dealt with these quarantined words or piobationers in the spirit 
which they merit, or pointed out the fact that they fulfil a legitimate 
function in language, or attempted to collect them in a book. 

It would a])pear to have been about a century ago that a few 
Yiddish, or Hebrew-German, woi-ds began to creep into English 
slang. "When we consider that fully one-half of the Rothwalsch or 
real slang of Germany is of this kind of Hebrew, and also the great 
numbers of persons who speak it, it is remarkable that we really 
have so little of it. As an instance of the guess-work philology 
which we have alluded to, it may be pointed out that the common 
Jewish word gomwf (Hebrew ganef), a thief, is according to Hotten 
very old, in English, because it is found in a song of the time of 
Edward VI. as grtoffe ! 

" Tho country gnoffcs, Hob, Dick, and Will, 
With clubs and clouted shoon, 
Shall fill up Dussyn Dale 

With slaughtored bodies soon." 

But gvnff,:^ according to Wright, does not mean a thief at all, but 

A Brief History of English Slang. 

a churl (also an old miser). Its true root is probably in the Anglo- 
Saxon cneov, cnuf, or cnHvan (also cneav, knave), to bend, yield to, 
cneovjan (genujlectere). If country boors or peasants be therefore the 
meaning of gnoffes, it would be in Yiddish keferim. This remarkable 
dialect is now spoken by some thousands of persons in London, and 
there are one if not two newspapers published in it. The editor 
has not only the German-Jewish Chrestomatie of Max Griinbaum, 
and many books written in Yiddish, but also eleven vocabularies 
of it, one of which, a MS. of about 3000 words, is by far the most 
extensive ever compiled. It seems not unlikely that the word 
poker, as a game of cards, is derived from Yiddish, since in it pochger 
(from pochgen) means a man who in play conceals the state of his 
winnings or losses, or hides his hand. This is so eminently char- 
acteristic of poker that the resemblance seems to be something more 
than merely accidental. There have always been Jewish card- 
players enough in the United States to have given the word. The 
most remarkable and desperate game of poker within the writer's 
knowledge (in which not only a fortune but a life were risked) 
occurred on board a Mississippi steamer, its hero being a Jew. 

Of late years many Anglo-Indian and pidgin-English, or Anglo- 
Chinese words, have become familiar to the public. For the former 
our chief authority has been the "Glossary of Anglo-Indian Colloquial 
Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms," by Col. Henry Yule and 
the late Arthur Coke Burnell (870 ]ip. 8vo, London, John Murray, 
1886), a copious work, as remarkable for extensive erudition as for 
sagacity, common-sense, and genial humour. For pidgin-English 
we have used the only work extant on the subject, viz., " Pidgin- 
English Ballads, with a Vocabulary," by C. G. Leland (London, 
Triibner & Co., 1887). This remarkable dialect, owing to the ease 
with which it is acquired, is now spreading so rapidly all over the 
East that Sir Richard Burton thinks that it may at no distant date 
become the lingua-franca of the whole world. 

Anything like a distinct history of the development of English 
slang has hitherto been impossible, owing to the ignorance of most 
of those who have put themselves forward as its analysts and lexico- 
graphers. Samuel Rowlande told the world that gypsy and canting 
had resolved themselves into one and the same thing, and following 
his lead, one authority after the other, such as the author of the 
"Life of Bampfylde Moore Carew," gave us as "Gypsy" vocabu- 
laries, works in which hardly a trace of Romany was to be found. 
In vain did Grellmann, Hoyland, and George Borrow explain that 

xxii A Brief History of English Slang. 

these wanderers spoke an Oriental language — even Mr. Edward 
Gosse, in liis " Memoir of Samuel Rowlande," says that " ' Martin 
Markall ' is entirely in prose, except some queer gyfsy songs " — the 
" gypsy songs " in question having less resemblance to gypsy than 
English has to Spanish or French. The editor has before him a 
work written and published within a few years, called " The New 
York Slang Dictionary," in which the writer tells us that " hilk is 
a word in the gypsy language, from which most English slang is 
derived " (hilk not being Romany at all), and assures the reader that 
his book (which is simply a re-hash of Grose, with the addition of 
some purely modern Americanisms) will enable him to make him- 
self understood in the slums of St. Petersburg, Paris, or in any 
country in the world ! In common with far gieater critics and 
scholars, he believes that gypsy is a mixture of all European 
tongues and corrupt English, when, in fact, it does not contain a 
single French word.* Hotten had a far better knowledge of the 
constituent elements of slang, unfortunately he had not even an 
average "smattering" of the languages which must be understood, 
and that into their very provincialisms, argots, and corruptions, in 
order to solve the origin of all the really difficult problems in it. 
He knew that tlie poet, Thomas Moore, made a great mistake in 
believing that canting was gJl>sy, but he knew nothing whatever 
of Romany, and asserts that it is mingled up and confused with 
canting, and is ignorant enough to declare that " had the gypsy 
tongue been analysed and committed to writing three centuries ago, 
there is every probability that many scores of words now in common 
use could be at once traced to its source." This was the result of an 
erroneous belief that Mr. Borrow knew everything of English Romany 
that could be known, while the fact is that by comparison with 
Continental dialects, and with the aid of what Mr. Borrow did not 
know, it is tolerably certain that the English gypsy of three cen- 
turies ago is by no means the lost langujige which he assumed it 
to be. 

The last and not least important element in English slang consi.sts 
of Americani.sms. The original basis or beginning of these is to be 
found in Yankeeisms or words and phrases jieculiar at first to New 
England. They consisted chiefly of old English provincialisms. 

* Goorgo liorrow tliinks that the word bUddika, a shop, is from the French 
boutique. It is niucli nioro probably the Italian hotter/a, thonffh it still more 
reitombloit the Spanish bodega. 

A Brief History of English Slang. xxiii 

with an important addition of Dutch which came over the border 
from New York and New Jersey, and a few Canadian-French 
expressions. For these the dictionary of Mr. Bartlett is an invalu- 
able source of reference. We cannot praise too highly the industry 
and sagacity manifested in that work. His weak point lies in the 
fact that having been guided by dictionaries such as that of Wright, 
he too frequently assumes that a word which is marked as provincial 
is not generally known in England. Hence he gives as peculiarly 
and solely American words which have no special claim to be re- 
garded as such. In addition to these mostly Saxon-born terms, 
there is a much greater number of quaint eccentric expressions of 
Western and Southern growth, which increase at such a rate that one 
might easily compile from a very few newspapers an annual volume 
of new ones. Yet again, English slang phrases are continually 
being received and shifted into new meanings and forms, as caprice 
or need may dictate. It may surprise the reader to learn that the 
works of Artemus Ward, Bret Harte, Mark Twain, and other standard 
humourists, are by no means the great mines of slang which they 
are popularly supposed to be. It is in the newspapers, especially 
in their reports, theatrical or local, and not infrequently in the 
"editorials," that the new racy and startling words occur, as they 
are improvised and picked up. This dictionary contains a large 
collection of true and recent American colloquial or slang phrases, 
and though the works of the great American humourists have been 
carefully searched for this purpose, it will be found that the majo- 
rity of terms given are from other sources. The reader who is 
familiar with Bartlett and other writers on Americanisms, can judge 
for himself to what extent — or to what a slight extent — we are 
" indebted " to them. It is true that tliey are frequently cited, but 
in the great majority of instances it lias been for the purpose of 
correction, emendation, or illustration of their definitions. 

The history of Slang is that of the transition of languages into 
new forms, and from this jioint of view it may be assumed that 
such a work as the present will be of as great interest to the 
thorough student of history as tlie folk-lore to which it properly 
belongs, or anything else which indicates the phases of culture. 



K Brooksmith 
Egebton Castle 
J. C. Coleman 
Sir Patrick Colquhoun 
Major A. Griffiths 
John Hollingshead 
P. Beresfobd Hope 
Rev. J. W. Horsley 
C. Pelham Huggins 
Rev. Blomfield Jackson 

C. T. Jacobi 
C. G. Leland 
Hauon Le Stbanqb 
Charles Mack ay, LL.D. 
Prof. W. Paris 
T, Preston 
J. A. P. Price, M.D, 
Alfred German Reed 
Prof. D. B. W. Sladen 
The Earl of Suffolk 
M. Tylkcote 

And Others. 




I (popular), a form 
used to indicate a 
high degree of excel- 

The magistrates all praise my zeal, 

And put me down Ai, 
And burglars when they hear my step 

Instantly cut and run. 
They sometimes drop things in their flight. 

Those things of course I take ; 
To leave them there to tempt the poor 

Would be a great mistake. 

— Music Hall Song. 

The expression is also used ad- 

My friends remark, " Oh, what a lark 

To see the money fly ! " 
They say we're two young sillies, and 

We don't know what to buy. 
But you just leave my Fred alone, 

He's such a knowing sort, 
He lays the money out A i. 

And this is what he's bought. 

—Music Hall Song. 

She i^ Ax; in fact the aye-wunnest girl 
I ever saw. — Shirley Brooks: The Gordian 

I am, A\,\ am all right, com- 

It originated from A i , Lloyd's, 
an abbreviation commonly used 
in mercantile circles to indi- 
cate the character of a ship 
and its appointments. To be 
classed Ai at Lloyd's means 
that the vessel, its anchor's, 
sails, tackle, and stores have 
been examined by official sur- 
veyors, and found to be in 
good trim, entitling it to be 
ranked as first class. When a 
vessel fails to reach the highest 
standard, other marks are be- 

A. I or No. I (fenian). The latter 
is often incorrectly used. It 
should be Ai, a. title for the 
commander of 900 men. 

Aaron (thieves). The Aaron is 
the chief or captain of a gang 
or school of thieves. This 
cognomen is invariably ac- 
comimnied with the prefix The 
— par excellence the first — simi- 

Aaron — Abandoned. 

lar to the eldest representa- 
tive of certain Irish and Scotch 
clans or families, such as The 
O'Conor Don, The Chisholm, &c. 
As Aaron was the first high- 
priest, and the Aarons are the 
chiefs of the Hebrew tribes, it 
is probably of Jewish origin in 
its slang application. Aaron was 
an old cant term for a cadger 
who combined begging with 
acting as a guide to the sum- 
mits of mountains, chiefly to 
evade the laws against vaga- 
bondage, no doubt a play in 
its slang sense on its Hebrew 
equivalent, lofty, 

A-baa (various). An abaa cove, 
a bad man ; an abaa muff, a 
silly person. Among trade 
unionists an abaa signifies a 
non-unionist, who is generally 
assailed with the derisive shout, 
" Baa, baa, black sheep." 

Abacter (old), a dishonest drover 
or shepherd, one who connives 
at the stealing of his master's 
cattle. Probably from the Latin 
abactores, ^stealers of cattle. 
One of the tricks of the ab- 
acters of old Smithfield was 
the driving a bullock into a 
jeweller's or other shop, and 
during the confusion and excite- 
ment of expulsion the abacter a 
confederates, under the cloak 
of assistance, would help them- 
selves to any valuables handy. 
The Annual Register for 1818 
records that one shop was so 
served three times in that 

Abaddon (old), a treacherous 
thief, one who turns informer 
against his fellow-rogues. From 
the Hebrew dbaddon, a de- 
stroyer ; often confounded with 
the Cockneyism a-bad-'un, a bad 

The prisoner. Money Moses, better 
known among thieves and fences as Moses 
the abaddon, has been, to my knowledge, 
for the last twenty years a receiver and 
dealer in stolen property. — Report of the 
Trial of the Great Gold Dust Robbery. 

Abandannaad (thieves), one who 
risks his liberty by committing 
an act of contemptible petty 
larceny. The phrase originated 
through a footpad robbing a 
woman of a paltry bandanna 
(hence abandannaad) shawl 
valued at ninepence, for which a 
notorious high-class, or " high- 
toby" thief, one "Kiddy Har- 
ris," was hanged, although inno- 
cent of any connection with the 
robbery, the real culprit having 
soon after confessed to the 
crime. The poor prosecutrix 
was so horrified at discovering 
her mistaken identification that 
she became a lunatic. This 
incident was the chief cause 
of the passing of Sir Samuel 
Romilly's Act for the abolition 
of capital punishment for rob- 
beries on the highway of pro- 
perty under forty shillings 

Abandoned habits (society), the 
riding costume of the "Pretty 
Horsebreakers " of "the Lady's 
Mile," in Hyde Park. 

Abandonees — Abbreviations. 

Abandonees (provincial), house- 
less tramps, wanderers. (Har- 
lotry), a prostitute who has 
either deserted her husband or 
been abandoned by him. 

The married abandonee looks down with 
a ludicrous assumption of superiority on 
such of her unfortunate companions as 
have never vowed at the altar " to obey." 
— H. Dowries Miles: Life of Richard 
Palmer (Dick Turf in). 

Abandonment, city term for the 
bankruptcy of a railway com- 

Abandons (popular), foundlings, 
also applied to street prostitutes. 

Abbess, lady (obsolete), the mis- 
tress of a brothel, also a pro- 

The infernal wretches who traffic in the 
souls and bodies of their helpless victims 
^x& CtCCie-A lady abbesses. — W. Kidd: Lon- 
don and all its Dangers. 

The inmates were called the 
' ' nuns," and sometimes ' ' Sisters 
of Charity." The French slang 
had formerly the corresponding 
expression " abbesse," the estab- 
lishment being termed " abhaye 
des s'offre d tous," the inmates 
"nonnes," and the male associate 
of the mistress " le sacristain." 

Abbey-lubber (nautical). This is 
an old term of reproach for idle- 
ness, and is applied only to the 
nautical lubber. In the " Burn- 
ynge of Paula's Church, 1563,'' 
it is thus explained : " An abbey - 
lubber, that was idle, well-fed, 
a long lewed lither loiterer, 

that might work, and would 
not." — Smyth : SaUor's Word- 

Abbot, the fancy man or husband 
of an abbess. A crozier'd abbot, 
or abbot on the cross, a man 
who keeps a brothel more for 
the purpose of robbery and ex- 
tortion than that of prostitu- 

Abbreviations. One of the most 
notable signs of the degrada- 
tion and deterioration of a lan- 
guage is the popular habit, in 
many other countries besides 
England, of abbreviating words 
and reducing them to their first 
syllables, as if in a fast age 
the common multitude had only 
time to express themselves in 
monosyllables. It prevails alike 
in the learned halls of Oxford 
and Cambridge and the lowest 
slums of St. Giles's and White- 
chapel. Among the most pro- 
minent may be cited the f ollow- 
ingwhich,though strictly speak- 
ing are not slang, touch on 
it as not being the original 
terms. When written or printed 
they are simply technical and 
conventional, but used verbally 
they are slang. 

A.D.C., Aide-de-Camp ; Ad.O., 
adjutant ; Ad lib. , ad libitum ; 
A.Q.M.O., Assistant Quarter- 
Master-General ; biz, business ; 
C. inC, Commander-in-Chief J 

C. - 0., Commanding- Officer ; 
Cri', " Criterion " (restaurant) ; 

D. AQ.M. G., Deputy -Assistant 
Quarter - Master - General ; Ex- 


Abbreviations — Abigail. 

am., university or competi- 
tive examination; Gent., gen- 
tleman ; the High, High Street, 
Oxford ; I.G. , Inspector-Gene- 
ral ; Jocks., jockeys ; J.P., 
Justice of the Peace ; Mem., 
memorandum or member ; 
Mods., moderations (university) ; 
N.C.O., Non - Commissioned 
Officer; Nem. Con., nemine con- 
tradicente ; O.C, Old Cheltonian 
fCheltenham College) ; Ox., Ox- 
ford music-hall; Pav., Pavilion 
mu.sic-hall; Photo, photograph 
Pops., popular concerts; P.R. 
the prize ring ; Pub. , or pablic 
public-house ; Pug., pugilist 
Q.C., Queen's Counsel; Q.MO. 
Quarter-Master-General ; Bad. 
radical; Rep., representative 
Sov., sovereign ; Spec, specula 
tion; Specs., spectacles; S.U.O. 
Senior Under - Officer (RM, 
Academy) ; Tec, detective 
Tol or tol lol, tolerable ; Tram, 
tram-car; Typo., typographer 
or printer ; Varsity, university 
Vet., veterinary surgeon; Vice 

Cab and bus, which were ori- 
ginally slang, have by dint of 
usage succeeded in establishing 
themselves in the language. 
In the novels of Charles Dickens 
they had already acquired a 
certain archaic flavour. 

Abdar (Anglo-Indian), a teeto- 
taller. In Hindostanee abdar 
signifies a water-carrier. 

Abdeli (Anglo-Indian), a hypo- 
crite, a canting preacher, a 
fa.stidious or f.tlsc zealot. 

Aberdeen cutlets (popular), cured 
or dried haddocks, or " bad- 
dies," as the Scotch term them. 

Abiding (vagrants), "my abiding," 
generally refers to a temporary 
resting or hiding place, secure 
from capture. Abiding-hy, hid- 
ing within call. 

Abel had no friends, and as he was not 
considered to have an aii'ding'-plixce, his 
being missed from one spot only led to the 
conclusion that he had gone to another. — 
Mrs. Crowe: Lilly Dawson. 

Abigfail (society), a lady's maid. 
More properly one of an ill 
temper, or tyrannical to her mis- 

Tyrrill, on entering his apartment, found 
that it was not lighted, nor were the obi- 
gailsoi Mrs. Dods quite so alert as a waiter 
at Longs'. — Sir IValter Scoit : St. Konans 

Old English writers first em- 
ployed it as a cant word for a 
termagant woman, and after- 
wards for a female bigamist. 
It seems probable that having 
originally received its present 
signification from Abigail, who 
called herself the handmaiden 
of David, the word became 
synonymous for a lady's maid, 
in the same way that Job 
and Samson came to be ap- 
plied respectively to a model 
of patience and to a man of 
herculean strength. It was 
used by Beaumont and Fletcher 
as the name of a handmaiden in 
their comedy of the " Scornful 
Lady," and must have been fur- 
thcr popularised l)y the maiden 

A bigail — A bnormity. 


name Abigail Hill of Mrs. Ma- 
sham, waiting- woman to Queen 
Anne. It appears to have been 
adopted by many authors. 

Whereas they petition to be freed from 
any obUgation to marry the chamber-maid, 
we can by no means assent to it ; the 
Abigail, by immemorial custom, being a 
deodand, and belonging to holy Church. 
— Reply to Ladies and Bachelors Peti- 
tion, 1694. 

By coach to the king's play-house, and 
there saw "The Scornful Lady" well 
acted ; Doll Common doing Abigail most 
excellently. — Pepys Diary. 

There are many other in- 
stances of the names of char- 
acters of comedies or novels 
having been adopted to denote a 
whole class of individuals. Thus, 
an inn-keeper is called Boni- 
face, from Farquhar's "Beaux' 
Stratagem." A Bob Acres, from 
Sheridan's " The Eivals," is sy- 
nonymous with a coward. The 
French apply to a swindler 
the name of Robert Macaire, 
immortalised by Frdddric Le- 
maitre in his impersonation of 
the character in the melo- 
drama "I'Auberge des Adrets" 
— Robert Macaire, by the bye, 
was the name of a notorious 
bandit. One of the creations 
of Balzac, in his "Comddie 
Humaine," I'lUustre Gaudis- 
sard, has provided an epithet 
for a commercial traveller ; and 
the French use A hUjail with the 
same signification as on this 
side of the Channel. 

On vit paraitre une superbe berline, 
forme anglaise, a quatre chevaux, re- 
marc}uable surtout par deux trcs jolies 

abigalls, qui ^taient juchdes sur le siege 
du cocher. — Brillat-Savarin : Physiologic 
du Goiit. 

Dr. C. Mackay, alluding to the 
generally accepted derivation of 
the word, says, " This supposi- 
tion may, or may not be correct ; 
but it is curious to remark that 
in the ancient Breton and Gaelic 
language, abliagaU signifies flip- 
pant, waspish, and snappish, 
which word is derived from 
abhug, a terrier, a snarling dog." 

Abishag (thieves), the illegitimate 
child of a mother who has been 
seduced by a married man. In 
Hebrew it means the mother's 

Walpole wrote — " I love David too well 
not to be jealous of an Abishageight years 
old." — Leigh Hunt's Indicator. 

Able - whackets (nautical), a 
popular sea-game with cards, 
wherein the loser is beaten over 
the palms of the hands with 
a handkerchief tightly twisted 
like a rope. It is very popular 
among sailors. French soldiers 
have a similar game, at least 
as regards the penalty, termed 
" foutro." — Vide Barrlre' s Argot 
and Slang. 

Abnormity (vulgarism), "a bleed- 
ing abnormity," an opprobrious 
epithet applied to the treache- 
rous and deceitful ; a person of 
crooked ways, an informer, a 
deformed or humpbacked per- 
son. Abnormeth was formerly 
used in a similar sense. 

A bob — Above. 

Abob (Winchester), a large white 
jug containing about a gallon in 

Abounding (American), applied 
to a person unmistakably pro- 
minent at a party or a public 

When we are told of a professed wit 
more than usually abounding at an even- 
ing party, there is no temptation to recruit 
our dictionaries from the English manu- 
factured in the United States. — Evening 

About East (American). A term 
used by men coming from the 
New England, i.e., the eastern 
and purely Yankee States, to 
signify anything that meets 
with approval. Such things or 
people are said to be ahvat 
Eoil. J, Russell Lowell in his 
"Letters" well illustrates this 
colloquialism of men who re- 
gard everything done in their 
native states as right, and whose 
eyes are often turned to the old 
home amidst the roughing and 
struggle of the wilder West. 

There was not a Yankee when Horace 
Mann regretted we had not the French 
word sorienter in our speech, " whose 
problem has not always been to find out 
what is about East. The enthusiastic 
(though quaintly exaggerated) love borne 
the East by its sons is, perhaps, most 
strikingly illustrated in Major Jack Dow- 
ning's oft-repeated phrase, ' I'd go East 
of sunrise any day to see sich a place.' " 

About right (vulgarism). To do 
a thing ahout right is to do it 

About the size of it (American). 
An expression indicating an 

average, or estimate, or ex- 
pression of value, or an equiva- 
lent, in a very wide sense. 

" Do you think that on the whole our 
Phebe would marry Seth?" 

" Wall — I guess that on the whole that's 
about the size of it. She don't know 
her own mind yet, but she will when she 
comes to take the measure on't." — Ameri- 
can Story. 

When Eagle Davis died, 
I was sittin' by his side, 
Twas in Boston, Massachusetts, and he 
said to me, " Old boy ! 

This climate as you see — 
\%ViX.just the size for me ; 
Dead or livin', take me back if you can 
to Ellanoy." 

—A Ballad: In the Wrong Box. 

" Do you take this woman, whose hand 
you're a-squeezin', to be your lawful wife, 
in flush times an' .skimp?" 

" I reckon that's about the siu of it, 
squire." — Chicago Ledger. 

Above one's bend (American), 
beyond one's capacity. 

It would be above tny bend to attempt 
telling you all we saw among the Red- 
skins. — J. T. Cooper: The Oak Openings. 

In the South the phrase to sig- 
nify the same idea is " above 
my huckle-berry," or " a huckle- 
berry above my persimmon." 
Bend in this sense is probably 
derived from the Anglo-Saxon 
hend, signifying a bond or any- 
thing that binds — a contract. 

For ich am comen hider to-day, 
For to saven hem, yive y may, 
And bring hem out of bende. 
— Anns and Atniloun, 1. 1233. 

"Above my bend" is "more 
than I am bound or held to do " 
— a Saxon idiom. 

A bove — A braham . 

Above par, below par (popular). 
To be above or below par signifies 
that the person using the ex- 
pression is in better or worse 
health than usual. It is derived 
from the commercial term which 
refers to the price of stock, in 
that case the meaning being 
"average" or "level." Above 
2)ar signifies also tolerably drunk ; 
possessed of money beyond one's 
actual expense. 

Abracadabra (medical), applied 
to any senseless gibberish or 
extravagant notion. Organic 
evolution has been stated to be 
the new abracadabra of science. 
The French use the epithet 
abracadabrant, which is best 
rendered by "stunning" or 
' ' flabbergasting. " A bracadabra 
was a cabalistic word in the 
Middle Ages. It was written 
in successive lines in the form 
of an inverted triangle, each 
line being shorter by a letter 
than the one above, till the last 
letter A formed the apex of a 
triangle at the bottom. It was 
said to have magical power, and 
when hung around the neck 
it was supposed to act as a 
charm against ague. It is 
thought to be derived from the 
Hebrew ab, father, ruach, spirit, 
and dabar, word. According to 
this derivation it represents the 

Abraham (popular), a cheap and 
trashy slop shop. 

Abraham's balsam or hempen 
elixir (provincial), execution by 

hanging. So named from the 
hemp tree, a kind of willow, 
that is called Abraham's balm 
by botanists. By the gypsies 
it is called Father's balm, and 
it is used by them as a pre- 
servative of chastity. There is 
a pecuUar stone in the marshy 
districts of the North of Eng- 
land called Abrahams stone ; a 
piece of this stone is worn by 
the lower classes round their 
necks as a charm against ague, 
thus following the tradition that 
Abraham wore a precious stone 
round his neck to preserve him 
from disease; when Abraham 
died, God placed this stone in 
the sun. 

Abraham cove (thieves), a mean, 
beggarly, despised thief, or 
rather sneak. Decker writes 
in 1608 that " The Abraham cove 
is a lustie strong rogue who 
walketh with a slade about his 
guarrons" (a sheet about his 
body). The Hon. Justice Matsel, 
of New York, in the Rogue's 
Lexicon, registers Abraham cove 
" a naked or poor man ; a beg- 
gar in rags" {Grove). 

Abraham grains (thieves), a pub- 
lican who brews his own beer. 

Abraham -man or Abram-man 
(ancient cant), a naked vaga- 
bond, a lame or sick beggar, a 
begging impostor. The Abra- 
ham ward in Bedlam had cer- 
tain inmates who were allowed 
to go begging on behalf of 
the hospital, and were called 



Abraham-men, the term being 
applied subsequently to lame or 
sick beggars, or those shamming 
distress. The begging impos- 
tors designated as Abram-men 
were well known in the six- 
teenth century, and are men- 
tioned in the " Fraternitie of 
Vagabondes," 1575. "AnAbrar 
ham-man is one that walketh 
bare-armed and bare-legged, and 
fayncth to be mad, calling him- 
self Poor Tom." Abraham-men, 
in Stephen's "Essays and Char- 
acters," 1615, are designated as 
fugitive ragamuffins, pretend- 
ing to be cripples or impotent 
soldiers. Harman thus describes 
them : — 

These A brahani-mcn be those that fayne 
themselves to haue beene mad ; and haue 
licene kept eyther in Bethelem or some 
other pryson a good tyme, and not one 
amongst twenty that euer came in pryson 
for any such cause ; yet wyll they saye 
howe pitiously and most extreamely they 
haue beene beaten and dealt with all. . . . 
These begge money. — Caveat or Waren- 
ing/or Common Cursetors. 

The old English dramatists 
use Abraham as a cant word for 
nakedness, in which sense it is 
still common among tramps, who 
say of a naked person, " He was 
dressed in Abraham's suit, a suit 
of everlasting flesh colour." 

A tawny beard was termed 
an " Abraham-coloured beard," 
probably in accordance with the 
directions for representing all 
the i)orsons in Scripture as given 
in the " Byzantine Painters' 
Guide," the "Book of Bally- 
moti," &c. In all of these the 
beards arc siKJcially described. 

A "Judas-coloured beard," a 
word of similar import, was so 
called because Judas Iscariot 
was traditionally supposed to 
have had a red beard, and was 
so represented by early Italian 
painters. But the epithet of an 
Abraham - coloured beard re- 
mains as yet without any ex- 
planation or justification. To 
"sham Abraham" was to feign 
sickness or distress, and the term 
is used to the present day. 

The " Sham Abraham " Agitation. 
— Matters must have come to a pretty pass 
when even the Daily News withdraws its 
support from the Trafalgar Square impos- 
tors. — TAe Globe. 

A popular song of the last 
century, when forgery of bank 
notes for one pound was a com- 
mon crime, and when the hang- 
ing of the detected criminal was 
quite as frequent, has preserved 
for posterity the name of Abra- 
ham Newland, the then cashier 
of the Bank of England, who 
signed all the notes in circula- 
tion : — 

Sham Abraham you may, 
But you must not sham Abraham Newland. 

Sailors use the term to de- 
note an idle fellow who wants 
to be put on the sick list so as 
to shirk duty. Workmen also 
use it, with the meaning "to 
pretend to be ill," in order to 
get off work. 

Abraham suit, on the, any kind 
of do<lge or deceit designed to 
excite sympathy, used by beg- 
ging-letter impostors. 

Abraham — Abskize. 

Abraham work (popular), ill-paid 
trumpery work ; trading shams ; 
showy swindles. 

Abraham's willing (rhyming 
slang), a shilling. 

Abregoyns (American). Bartlett 
spells this corruption of " abori- 
gines " as Abergoins or Abrogans. 

1 have often heard Ab-ree-goynes used 
in jest for aborigines, especially by Virgin- 
ians, but never Abrogans or Abergoins.— 
C. G. Leland. 

Abridgments (old), knee breeches, 

/^m«<2 (producing a pair of small-clothes 
which Toke examines) — " Your master is 
\'on beggar," &c. 

Toke — " I accept the abridginents, but 
you've forgotten to line the pockets." — 
Lyttonl Money. 

Abroad (Winchester), a boy is 
said to be abroad when his 
name is taken off " Continent 
Roll " or Sick List, and he re- 
turns to school duties. 

Abroaded (society), a noble de- 
faulter on the Continent to 
avoid creditors. It is the police 
officials' slang for convicts sent 
to a colonial or penal settle- 
ment, but applied by thieves in 
this country, and formerly in 
the colonies, to imprisonment 

A.B.S. First-class sailors are 
rated as A.B.S. , " able-bodied 
seamen." Sometimes faceti- 
ously translated as " a bottle- 

The Albatross 

Is the captain and boss. 

The sea-gull queers 

Are the oflS-ceers ; 
And the Carey chickens, as I guess, 
Is every one an A.B.S. 

— From a MS. of Sea Ballads. 

Abs. (Winchester), abbreviation 
for absent. To get ahi. is to get 

Abscotchalater (thieves), one who 
is hiding away from the police. 
From the American absquattdate, 
to run away. 

Absence (Eton). This word in the 
slang of the boys is meant to 
convey just the opposite mean- 
ing. It signifies also roll-call. 

Absent without leave (thieves), 
broken out of gaol ; escaped 
from the police. (Common), not 
forthcoming when wanted for 
some crime, debt, or difficulty ; 

Mr. Roupell, the member for Lambeth, 
was reported absent without leave. — Morn- 
ing Star: Ptirliatnentafy Summary. 

At no former period on the expiration 
of the racing season were there so many 
speculators absent without leave. — Sport- 
ing Life. 

Absit (university), a permit to be 
absent from college, hall, or 
chapel for the day. 

Abskize, abschize (American). 
In a sketch of Western life 
published in 1833, in a Phila- 
delphia newspaper, this word 
occurs as meaning to depart or 
go away. It would seem to be 


A bsquatulate — A busive. 

derived from the Dutch afschey- 
den ; German abscheidm, to leave 
or depart. 

Absquatulate (American), to dis- 
appear, to run away, to abscond. 
The reverse of to "squat," from 
ab and squat, originally settlers' 
slang for abandoning a location 
when fearing an unwelcome 
visitation, and settling on a 
more remote spot. 

You'd thank me to absquatulate, as 
the Yankees say. . . . Well, I will in a 
minute. — Rhoda Broughton : Cometh up 
as a Flower. 

Bartlett calls this "a factitious 
vulgarism." It was in use nearly 
fifty years ago. At that time 
running away with money by 
bank presidents, &c. , became 
very common in consequence of 
financial panics or collapses, 
and it was the fashion to coin 
words from the names of the 
delinquents, as " to Swartwout " 
or " to Schylerise," &c. When 
we reflect that there are many 
Yankee and Western men ac- 
customed to spelling bees, and 
perhaps more familiar with the 
difficult words of the dictionary 
than are many scholars, it does 
not appear remarkable that we 
find in American slang a num- 
l>er of words which have a 
learned length and Latin sound. 
To any half-educated man with 
a fancy for extravagant ex- 
pression, and familiar with 
" abscond," " to .squattle away," 
and " perambulate," absquatu- 
late would readily suggest itself 
in an effort to recall one or the 

other. Once uttered and heard, 
it would become popular. To 
deliberately invent a new word, 
without some foregoing sug- 
gestion or basis, and get it 
adopted, is one of the rarest 
events in the world, even in 
America, where men are con- 
tinually attempting it. 

The various slang synonyms 
are " to skedaddle, to cut one's 
lucky, to sling one's hook, to 
mizzle, to bolt, to cut and run, 
to slip one's cable, to step it, to 
leg it, to tip the double, to am- 
putate one's mahogany, to make 
or to take tracks, to hook it, to 
slope, to slip it, to paddle, to 
evaporate, to vamoose, to tip 
your rags a gallop, to walk 
one's chalks, to pike, to hop the 
twig, to turn it up, to cut the 
cable and run before the wind," 
and in the lingo of the light- 
fingered and sure-footed gentry, 
"to make beef, to guy, to speeL" 
— Barrlre: Argot and Slang. 

Abusive drill, adjutant's drill. 
The adjutant, being respon- 
sible for the drill of a regi- 
ment, has constant parades for 
instruction and practice, at 
which he may occasionally 
use strong language. He is 
especially concerned with the 
development of recruits, the 
perfecting of awkward squads, 
and of careless or inattentive 
soldiers sent back to drill as 
a punishment. A salutary 
change has no doubt come over 
the army, which was once pro- 
verbial for cursing and swear- 

A busive — A cademy. 


ing. Even the highest ranks 
were addicted to it, as witness 
the old saying, " How we swore 
in Flanders," and the story in 
Greville's Memoirs of the Duke 
of Wellington and Lord Anglesea 
at Waterloo. When the latter 
was wounded, he cried, " I've 
lost my leg, by G — d ! " " Have 
you, by G — d I " replied the 
Duke. But language of cor- 
rection and reproof is stiU likely 
to be strong, and may at times 
become " abusive " when issuing 
from a much aggravated ad- 
jutant's mouth. A story is told 
of the last Lord Cardigan 
which illustrates the style of a 
military officer of a compara- 
tively modern school. His lord- 
ship was being driven to the 
covert-side in a postchaise, 
and the postiUion lost his way. 
Lord Cardigan, furious at being 
made late for the pieet, threw 
down the glass of the chaise 
and cried, " I may be right or 
I may be wrong, or I may not 
be the proper person to say so, 

but you're a son of , 

and if I could get near you, I'd 
twist your neck off," 

Academies, canting, the low lodg- 
ings or public-houses for cad- 
gers and tramps, lurkers, or the 
houses of call or country lodg- 
ing-houses for beggars and im- 
postors who solicit alms by a 
written petition or forged sol- 
dier's or sailor's discharge. 

Academy (obsolete), an organisa- 
tion of thieves; a rendezvous 

for practising the flash art 
"dodge;" a goal; a brothel. 
Termed also " flash-drum,' 
" nanny - shop," " buttocking 
shop," and in police-court re- 
ports, "disorderly house." Esta- 
blishments where " good beds " 
are provided for couples are 
termed "houses of accommoda- 
tion," which correspond to the 
French "maisons de passe." A 
chronicler of old London relates 
that Sir William Walworth, the 
city fishmonger, who assassi- 
nated Wat Tyler, possessed a 
number of academies or low 
brothels in Southwark, which 
Wat Tyler had levelled with the 
ground. " Hence," says the old 
writer, " private feeling and re- 
venge may have prompted Wal- 
worth's activity to slay Tyler." 
Peter Pindar writes that "aca- 
demy is an euphemistic expres- 
sion for a house that harbours 
courtezans." A " finishing aca- 
demy" is a private brothel, 
where a staff of young (not 
common) prostitutes are kept on 
hire. So called from its being 
the last gradation of private 
prostitution before going on the 
public streets. The girls who 
chiefly resort to these brothels 
are work girls who visit on the 
sly : they are not driven by want 
or desertion, but go from wil- 
fulness ; to use their own words, 
they "work honestly for a liv- 
ing, but do the naughty for their 
clothes." A "character aca- 
demy," a rendezvous for cha- 
racterless shopmen, footmen, 
barmen, and others, whereat 


Academy — According to. 

false characters are concocted, 
and other plans are matured for 
robbing employers. These places 
are chiefly alehouses kept by 
discarded servants ; as the sub- 
scriptions are enforced monthly 
on those in place, the funds are 
very large, and each academy 
keeps a staff of well-educated 
teachers who are well expe- 
rienced in all the craft of trade, 
and well-appointed agencies are 
kept up in aU the manufacturing 
towns, acting as references, and 
to give good written characters. 
A "gammoning academy" is a 
reformatory for juvenile cri- 

Acceleration (vagrants). " He 
died of acceleration" he died of 

Accelerators, the union reheving 
officers, from their frequent re- 
fusal to give food to the dying 
outcast, whose miserable career 
of want often ends in death. 
In such cases the jury invari- 
ably accompany their verdict of 
natural death with the rider, 
" Accelerated through the want 
of the common necessaries of 

Accommodated (thieves), sen- 
tenced to a term of imiDrison- 

For practising on the n.-it, I appre- 
hended and was accommodated with a 
month's tioard and lodging at the expense 
of the nM\a\\.—Mayhcw : London Labour 
and London J'oor. 

Accommodation houses (com- 
mon), brothels. Their female 

frequenters are termed " Ladies 
of accommodating morals" being 
a trifle more genteel than their 
sisters, the street prostitutes. 

Accommodation shops (city). 
The oflicers of certain " Fin- 
ance Joint Stock Companies " 
who practise the accommodation 
swindle on "Lloyd's Bonds," 
Debentures, Preference, and all 
other shares. 

Accommodators (thieves), 
chiefly ex-police constables who 
negotiate a compounding of 
felonies and other crimes by 
bribing witnesses and prose- 

According to Cocker (common), 
proper, according to rule, ac- 
cording to the best authority. 
This phrase refers to a famous 
writing-master of the name of 
Cocker, who in tlie time of 
Charles II. composed and pub- 
lished an elaborate Treatise on 

This work commences with a 
"Frovena," or Preface, which 
ends thus: "All the Problems 
and Propositions are well 
weighed, pertinent, and clear, 
and not one of them taken on 
trust throughout the tract; 
therefore now 

Zoilus and Momus lie you down and 

For these inventions your whole force 


Professor De Morgan writes 
that tlie plirase as a popular 

According to — Acatmiilatives. 


saying originated in 1756, and 
was taken up by the people 
from Murphy's play of "The 
Apprentice," in which the strong 
point of the old merchant Win- 
gate is his extreme reverence 
for Cocker and his Arithmetic. 
In America, a similar confir- 
mation phrase is in common 
use, except that the name of 
Gunter is substituted for that of 
Cocker. Gunter was a famous 
arithmetician, and no doubt 
the American phrase is the 
oldest. The old laws of Rhode 
Island say, "All casks shall be 
gauged by the rule commonly 
known as ' gaugitig by Gunter.' " 
" Mr. K., a respected citizen of 
Detroit, has published a letter 
entirely exonerating General 
Cass from the charge of having 
defrauded his association in the 
land speculations. He is posi- 
tive that all was done according 
to Gunter." According to John 
Norie is the standard of appeal 
among sailors. John Norie 
compiled a very popular work 
entitled, "The Navigator's 
Standard Manual." Among 
schoolboys according to Walking- 
hame is the confirmation of a 

According to the revised sta- 
tutes (American). Anything 
that is legal, or properly 
authorised or established. An 
expression first used in this 
general or humorous .sense by 
a lawyer of New York named 
Halstead, in Vanity Fair, in 

Account (nautical). Going upon 
account is a phrase for buc- 

(Sporting), to account for, re- 
fers to one's personal share in 

The persecuted animals (rats) bolted 
above ground ; the terrier accounted for 
one, the keeper for another. — TJiackeray : 
Vanity Fair. 

Accounts (common). To cast np 
accounts is to vomit, and in 
thieves' lingo it signifies to be- 
come evidence against an accom- 

Accumulatives (American). At 
times an editor in the United 
States will make a remark or a 
joke, then another will cite it 
and add a remark or a parody 
of it, which will again be com- 
mented on by a third. Thus 
one says: — 

" William, familiarly known as ' Bill ' 
Sticker, was indicted last week in Lead- 
ville for passing counterfeit money. This 
is according to law, for he who runs may 
read in any street, ' Bill Stickers will be 
prosecuted.' " 

To which a rival adds : 

' ' We say amen to that. We were stuck 
yesterday ourself with a bad bill." 

And a third exclaims : 

" Suppose Sam Jones should put a bowie 
into Bill Sticker, who would be the Bill 
Sticker in that case ? Let us reflect ! " 

We have seen as many as 
twenty and more of these ac- 
cumulative paragraphs of this 
kind " going the rounds " of the 
country press. 


Accumulator — Acres. 

Accumulator (racing), a person 
who backs one horse, and then 
if it wins results (sometimes in- 
cluding original stakes) goes on 
to some other horse. 

Ace of spades (old slang), a 
widow, alluding to the hue of 
the card. This slang word is 
given in the " Lexicon Bala- 
tronicum," London 1811. 

Ack (Christ's Hospital). In the • 
slang of Blue Coat boys this 
word is expressive of denial or 

Ack men or ack pirates (nautical), 
fresh water thieves. Probably 
from a corruption of "ark," 
meaning boat, as the term 
" ark ruffs " has a like significa- 
tion. Ack, however, seems to 
have some connection with the 
old term akcr (apparently from 
the Anglo-Saxon egor, the flow- 
ing of the sea), which is still 
applied on the Trent to a kind 
of eddying twirl which occurs 
on the river when it is flooded. 
In the dialect of Craven, ac- 
cording to Mr. Thonaas Wright 
(Dictionary of Obsolete and 
Provincial English), a ripple on 
the surface of the water is 
termed an acker. 

Acknowledge the com, to (Ame- 
rican). To admit that one has 
been got the better of, or is 

It is said that an Illinois hoosier once 
came to New Orleans with two boats, one 
loaded with corn, the other with potatoes. 
He fell among gamblers, was made drunk, 

and "anted off" or lost both his boats. 
During the night there came a storm and 
the boat full of com was sunk. In the 
morning the gamblers came to claim their 
stakes. The hoosier with great firmness 
replied, " Gentlemen, I acknowledge the 
com, but the potatoes you shan't have 
— by thunder!" — American Newspaper. 
{Given more fully in Bartlett's Dic- 

A-cock (popular), knocked over, 
defeated ; suddenly surprised, 

He made a rush at me and sent me 
and my barrow all a-cock. — Thames Police 
Report, May 23, 1867. 

Also, cocked up. 

The small grey sprig on the crown of 
our pericranium and the thin grey tail 
acock behind. — Recreations of Christopher 

Acorn (old cant), the gallows tree. 

The acorn is planted for thee, my bonny 
boy. — Wilson's Tales oftlu Border. 

Acquisitive (American), booty, 

The officers surprised them packing 
up the acquisitive. — The Man in Pos- 
session, by Leman Rede : Sunday Times. 

An acquisitive cove, a man 
given to picking and stealing. 

Acreocracy (American), a coined 
word to signify the landlord 

The introduction of a plutocracy amongst 
the aristocracy and the acreocracy, though 
it has tended somewhat to vulgarise our 
social institutions, has not been without its 
good effect. — I/allberger's Illustrated 
Magazine (1878). 

Acres (theatrical), a coward, from 
the pusillanimous Bob Acres in 
Sheridan's i)lay. 

Acres — Adam. 


In Ireland "a regular acres 
man " meant a professed duellist . 
From "the fifteen acres" for- 
merly a field famous for duels 
in Dublin, In India, Acre Farm, 
near Calcutta, is used for duels, 
hence " a regular acre's man," 

Across lots (American). " In the 
most expeditious manner" (as 
regards time), or (as regards dis- 
tance) "by the shortest cut." 
" He may be said to have at- 
tained place and power across 
lots," i.e., with great rapidity. 
This phrase comes down to us 
from the old settlers' days, when 
the shortest road then, as indeed 
now, was across lots, and not by 
the main road. 

You would cut across the lot like a streak 
of lightning if you had a chance. — Char- 
coal Sketches, i. 35. 

And in the " Biglow Papers," 
Mr. J. Kussell Lowell says : — 

" To all the mos' across lot ways of 
preachin' an' convertin'." 

Acting dickey (naval), an ofiicer 
acting as lieutenant although 
not confirmed by the Admiralty. 
(Legal), a clerk or agent acting 
in the name of a lawyer on the 
Rolls. ' The practice of acting 
dickey is generally resorted to 
in questionable proceedings. 

Action (American), quick work, 
an immediate result. Western 
card playing, &c., slang. 

" That's my kind," says old Sam ; " you 
get action there at every turn. No wait- 
ing for any darned cards to turn up." — 
F. Francis : Saddle and Moccasin. 

Actionize, to (legal), to cite before 
a legal tribunal. 

Act of Parliament (old), small 
beer. A military term referring 
to the fact that publicans were 
by Act of Parliament compelled 
to supply billeted soldiers with 
five pints daily gratis. There 
is a story current among the 
Chelsea veterans that the Duke 
of Wellington saw a soldier 
warming his weak regulation 
beer. His Grace said, " Damn 
the belly that won't warm Act 
of Parliament." The soldier re- 
plied, " Damn the Act of Parlia- 
ment, it won't warm the belly." 

Actual (American), "the actual," 


As for happiness in this world without 
the rhino, the chink, or the actual, you 
might as soon think of winning a woman's 
affections in a raffle. — Dow's Sermons. 

Ad., adver. (printer's), abbrevia- 
tions for advertisement. 

" I want this adver. where it won't 
show," said a lawyer, as he entered the 
office of a newspaper. "It's got to be 
published to comply with the law, but it 
pertains to a divorce case, and we don't 
want any more publicity than we can help. 
Let me see ; your paper is Democratic, 
isn't it?" 

The editor replied that it was. 

" Then run this ad. in under the church 
notices. It will never be seen there by 
your subscribers," said the lawyer. — Ame- 
rican Newspaper. 

Adam (popular), master-man, fore- 
man, or superintendent ; termed 
also "gaffer" or "boss of the 


Adam — Admiral. 

Adam's ale (old), water as a 
beverage. It is supposed that 
this was the only drink of our 
first parent, and that before 
Noah planted the vine all were 
perforce teetotalers. 

Your claret's too hot, sirrah drawer, go 

A cup of cold Adam from the next 

purling spring. 

— T.Brown: Works. 

Another old term for the 
beverage which "does not in- 
toxicate but does not cheer," 
is " fish broth." The French 
argot has the contemptuous 
epithets "ratafia de grenouilles," 
and "vase," sometimes varied 
to "vasinette." 

Adam Tiler (old cant), a pick- 
pocket's confederate, who re- 
ceives the stolen article, and 
runs off with it. Origin un- 
known, but supposed to have 
been the name of one notorious 
for his skill at this kind of thing. 
It is possibly from the German 
Theiler, one who shares, a con- 

Added to the list (racing), is said 
of a horse which has been cas- 
trated. A like operation per- 
formed on a man is termed in 
French slang " Abdlardiser," 
from the barbarous treatment 
of Aboard by Chanoine Fulbert. 
When a horse has been imper- 
fectly castrated he is called a 

Addition, division, and — silence I 

(American). This phrase origi- 
nated in Philadelphia. 

Addle-cove (popular), a foolish 
man, same as addle-pate. 
" Literally, a rank sucker." — 
N. Y. Slang Diet. 

Addled-egg (common), a canard, 
an egg from the fabulous mare's 

Addle-headed (common), with 
little brains, or empty-headed; 
from Anglo-Saxon adda, mud. 

Addle-pate (common), one whose 
brain cannot distinguish be- 
tween the objects which are 
outside it and the imaginations 

Addle - pot (common), a spoil- 
sport ; a mar-all. 

Adept (thieves), a pickpocket, a 

An adept must be one of an audacious 
spirit with a nimble conveyance and a 
vocabulary of cabalistic phrases to astonish 
the beholder. — The Merry Companion, 
or Delights for the Ingenious, by Richard 
Neve [Juggler), 1721. 

(Old cant), an alchemist. 

Adjutant's gig (military), the bar- 
rack roller, which is drawn, pre- 
sumably under the adjutant's 
orders, by the defaulters — the 
men imder punishment — who 
are the slaves, the hewers of 
wood and drawers of water for 
officers, comrades, and the bar- 
racks generally. 

Admiral (naval), the ship which 
carries the admiral. Formerly 
all ships were called admirals. 

Our t.-ill admirals that visit every sea.— 
Cornelius 0'I)o7vd. 

Admiral — A dopted. 

17 , 

Admiral of the Blue (old slang), 
a public-house keeper, so called, 
says Grose, because publicans 
were accustomed to wear blue 
aprons. Properly an Admiral 
of the Blue is one of the third 
class in the navy, and holds the 
rear in an engagement. 

Admiral of the narrow seas (nau- 
tical), one who from drunken- 
ness vomits into the lap of his 
opposite companion. 

Admiral of the Red (common), a 
person whose ruby countenance 
gives unequivocal signs of his 
penchant for the bottle. Pro- 
perly, Admiral of the Red is an 
admiral of the second class, and 
holds the centre in an engage- 

As regards the word admiral 
taken in its literal sense, it may 
be interesting to remark that 
this word seems to have been 
introduced into Europe by the 
Genoese or Venetians in the 
twelfth or thirteenth century, 
from the Arabic Amir-al-bahr, 
commander of the sea, the termi- 
nating word having been omitted 

Admirals of the red, white, and 
blue (popular), street and square 
beadles, office and club door- 

Admiral of the white (popular), a 
white-faced person, a coward ; 
a woman in a faint. 

Admire, to (American), character- 
istic of New England, and used 

in many strange ways, e.g., " I 
admire to look at pictures." 
Admire is often used for liking, 
predilection, or taste. " I do 
admire peaches and cream." 
" Don't you admire pumpkin- 
pie with ginger in it ? " corre- 
sponds to the prosaic use of 
adorer, to worship : " j 'adore 
les pommes de terre frites." 

Adobe (American), a house made 
of dried clay in adobes or large 
clay blocks. " To the old 
adobe," is the death-cry of the 
vigilants of San Francisco when 
a criminal is tried by lynch law 
and condemned to death ; the 
old adobe being the slang title 
of the custom-house where the 
execution of malefactors takes 
place. Adobe signifies a sun- 
baked brick, from the Spanish. 

At Los Angelos, county California, the 
skilled silk workers are comfortably housed 
in adobe cottages. — United States Corres- 
pondent, Standard, May i86g. 

Adoi, adoy (gypsy), there. '' Adoi 
se miri dye I " — " There is my 
mother I " 

Adonee (old cant), the Deity. Evi- 
dently Yiddish, from Adonai, 
Lord. Martin Luther uses the 
word as a cant term among 
beggars for God. 
A tramps' toast says : — 

" May the good Adonee 
Soften the strong ; 
Lighten our loads 
And level our roads." 

Adopted (American) signifies a 
naturalised citizen. President 


Adopted — Adullamites. 

' Lincoln proposed to Congress 
that the word adopted should be 
struck from all public docu- 
ments, so as to place foreign 
citizens and native-born citizens 
on an equality. 

Adopter, a scoundrel who pre- 
tends to be desirous of adopting 
a child, out of philanthropic 
motives, on the payment of a 
certain sum, and either gets rid 
of it at the earliest opportunity, 
or leaves it to die of starvation 
and neglect. 

There can be no doubt that if the history 
of every one of the ten thousand of the 
young human pariahs that haunt London 
streets could be inquired into, it would be 
found that no insignificant percentage of 
the whole were children abandoned and 
left to their fate by mock adopters such 
as F. X. — J antes Greenwood : Ttu Seven 
Curses of London. 

The initials refer to the sub- 
joined advertisement, which is 
given here as a specimen of the 
mode of proceeding of adopters. 

Adoption. — A person wishing a lasting 
and comfortable home for a young child 
of either sex will find this a good opjxjr- 
tunity. Advertisers, having no children 
of their own, are about to proceed to 
America. Premium, fifteen pounds. Re- 
spectable references given and required. 
Address, F. X. 

Adoption. (Low) "doption," an 
adopted child. In baby farm- 
ing, " to be mounted for lopping 
the ' doption,' " is to be placed 
in the criminal dock for causing 
the death of an adopted child. 

Adown in the viol (thieves), a hue 
and cry against a detected cul- 

prit. Adown, although now con- 
sidered vulgar, was formerly 
used by our best writers in 
place of down ; viol refers to the 
noise of the old-fashioned in- 
strument when played by street 
musicians, which was very dif- 
ferent from its offspring the 

Ad portas (Winchester), a Latin 
speech delivered by the Senior 
College Prefect to the War- 
den of New College, and the 
"Posers" (see this word), &c., 
under the middle gate when 
they come down at election to 
examine for Winchester and 
New College scholarships and 

Adrom (gypsy), away. From a 
and dram, a road or way ; Greek 
Spofids. " Jasa tu adrom, m5n 
hatch akai" — "Go thou away, 
do not stop here 1 " 

Adsum (Charterhouse), roll-call or 
name calling. 

Adullamites (Parliamentary), the 
seceders from the Liberal party 
led by Mr. Gladstone during 
the Reform Agitation of 1S67. 
To "take refuge in the cave of 
Adullam " is a phrase borrowed 
from the Old Testament, and 
was used during the great 
American civil war in 1863 by 
President Lincoln in reference 
to the partisans of General 
M'Lellan after liis dismissal 
from the command of the army 
of the Potomac. It was after- 

Adullamites — Affinity. 


wards used by John Bright in 
the British Parliament. 

John Bright invented another apt phrase 
when he dubbed the seceders from the 
Reform party Adullamites. ParHamen- 
tary tactics have naturally given birth to 
many slang words. — Comhill Magazine. 

Adusta, adosta (gypsy), enough. 

" But adosta Romany chals," — " Many 
gypsies. " — L avengro. 

Advantage (Califomian) ; pocket 
advantage, carrying a pistol 
charged and at half cock in the 
coat pocket, so that if the hand 
is placed in the pocket it rests 
on the handle. Sometimes a 
shot is fired at an adversary 
through the pocket itself. This 
is only done with a derringer. 

^gers (university slang), letters 
of excuse ; from the Latin ceger. 

Pethaps it's a deep-laid scheme of yours to 
post a heap of tegers while you're a Fresh- 
man, and then to get better and better 
every term, and make the Dons think that 
you are improving the shining hours by 
doing chapels and lectures more regularly, 
artful Giglamps ! — Cuthbert Bede : The 
Adventures of Mr. Verdant Green. 

iEgrotat (university), a remission 
of a collegiate duty, generally 
obtained by some questionable 
excuse to the principal. From 
(E'jrotare, to be ill. 

^Esthetic (American). This word, 
from being supposed to mean 
"artistic," has been extended 
to excellence of all kinds. In 
1884 a grocer in Philadelphia 
advertised very seriously and 
innocently that he had some 

" very (esthetic cheese." It is 
occasionally abused in much the 
same way in England. 

Aetna (Winchester), an ambitious 
appellation given to a small 
boiler for " brewing," that is, 
making cocoa or coffee, the 
combustible used being spirits 
of wine. 

A. F., abbreviation for "Across 
the Flat," one of the numerous 
subdivisions of the racing track 
at Newmarket. The A. F. course 
commences at the running gap 
in the Ditch, and ends at the 
winning post of the Rowley 
Mile, whence also to the Grand 
Stand. The distance A. F. is 
one mile, two furlongs, and 
seventy-three yards. 

Affidavit men (old), men who loi- 
tered about the courts of justice 
ready to swear anything for 
Ijay. They were also known as 
Knights of the Post, and were 
distinguished by the straw 
which they stuck in the heels 
of their shoes. The word has 
become obsolete, but not so the 
practice, as there are even now 
plenty of scoundrels loitering 
outside courts of justice who 
are ready to swear to anything 
for half-a-crown. 

Affinity (American), a person of 
the opposite sex who is per- 
fectly in harmony with any 
one. A passional affinity is 
one in whom intense sexual 
desire exists in common with 


Affinity — Afflictions. 

all other attributes. This is 
the favourite and character- 
istic expression of the Free- 
Love sect, which sprang up 
about 1850, and for a time 
attracted a great deal of atten- 
tion, holding public meetings in 
New York, "giving rise" to 
much newspaper writing, and 
not a little extremely lively 
literature, such as "Fanny 
Greely, or the Confessions of a 
Free-Love Sister," &c. Several 
communities were founded to 
carry out Free-Love practically ; 
that at Berlin Heights was made 
the subject of an amusing sketch 
by Artemus Ward. The Oneida 
county Free-Love community 
is described by Hepworth Dixon 
in " Spiritual Wives." The ori- 
ginal Free-Lovers held that love 
is, or should be made, the mo- 
tive power and inspiration of 
life, that to perfeQt ourselves 
in every way we should have an 
affinity, that two persons are 
required to make one complete 
life or destiny, and that it is 
the great duty of life to seek 
for this affinity. Everything 
should yield to this, and should 
the affinity unfortunately be al- 
ready married to another, there 
should be a divorce and re- 
marriage at once. Of course, it 
was soon discovered that a great 
deal of experimenting with dif- 
ferent ladies or gentlemen was 
necessary before the true affinity 
could be discovered. This 
liberty to "chop and change 
ribs A Jm mode Oermanorum " 
was not, however, favourably 

regarded by the "cold world" 
of orthodox Christians. 

In the year 1850, a house of ill-fame 
having been broken up in Philadelphia, 
its inmates were brought before a magis- 
trate. Among them was a young lady of 
very attractive personal appearance, who 
was identified as belonging to an excellent 
family in the North. On being asked why 
she led such a disreputable life, she re- 
plied that she was an advanced spiritualist 
and free-lover, and considered it to be the 
mission and duty of her life to offer herself 
to men seeking for affinities, or to man 
in the abstract, and that every man whom 
she liked and who returned the feeling was 
her husband. She defended her views with 
great earnestness, and in language which 
indicated an excellent education and ex- 
tensive reading. — MS. Notes. 

I was goin' along the street, 'bout 
three-quarters past owl-time, when I met 
as pretty a yard-and-a-half of black silk as 
I ever looked at. "Young gentleman," 
says she, " don't you want a pashernal 
affinity > " " What's that ? " says I. "It's 
a prize bed-comforter," says she, "and the 
price is five dollars, extras included ; don't 
say no, for to-morrow and the day after 
you'll be sorry to have missed such a chance 
of addin' to the golden joys of youth." — 
Ne7v York Sunday Journal. 

Affirmative side, the winning side, 
the side most likely to forward 
one's self-interest and f)romo- 

He was shrewd, sharp, and subtle enough 
to be always on the affirmative side. — 
Tiie Silent Placeman, 1824. 

Cats and dogs have never been able tew 
agree on the main question that both seem 
tew want the affirmative side tew on'st. — 
Josh Billings : On Cats. 

Afflictions (drapers), mourning 
habiliments, .^^tcii'owa are quiet, 
i.e., mourning goods are not in 
demand. Mitigated affiictiom, 
half mournin<'. 

Affygraphy — Age. 


AflFygraphy (popular) is said of 
anything that fits nicely. 

" Is it in ? " said he — " It is," said she. 
" Does it fit ? " said he — " It does," said 

"Quite affygraphyV — "Quite affy- 


— The Lady and the Shoemaker. 

Aficionado (gypsy), a non-gypsy 
who lives and mixes with the 
tribe. From the Spanish afic- 
ion, affection. 

An aficionado, a true lover and student 
of gypsy life. — Experiences of a Roumanie 
Rhei ; Penny Illustrated Paper. 

Afloat (common), in a promising or 
a prominent state or condition. 

All the town's afloat. — Gay. 

A-fly (low), to get a-jly is to 
become expert at. 

Go first to costermongery, 
To every fakement get a-Jly, 
And pick up all their slangery. 

— The Leary Man. 

Afterdap (American). In Peiyi- 
sylvania and the Western States 
of America this signifies an ad- 
ditional, and very often unjust 
demand beyond the agreement 
or bargain originally made. 
"None of your afterclaps.'" In 
Scotland the same word means 
" evil consequences." 

After-dinner man (old), a deep 

• The good Baronet (Sir Francis Burdett) 
was not only a foxhunter, but a celebrated 
after-dinner man. It must have been a 
good bout indeed in which he was woisted. 
— Dublin Sketch Book, 1830. 

After four (Eton), the interval 
between 3 and 6 f.k. 

Afternoon buyer (popnlar), one 
who waits until after the market 
dinner with the hope of pur- 
chasing cheaper than before 
that time. 

Afternoon farmer (popular), one 
who neglects his farming opera- 
tions until late in the season, or 
holds over his stock until late 
in the day, in the hope of getting 
a better price. 

After twelve (Eton), the recess 
after morning school and before 
afternoon class. 

I used to visit him regularly in the dear 
old college from the after tivelve. — Whyte- 
Melville's Good for Nothing;. 

Croppie, who abominated all laws and 
delighted in transgressions, resolved to go 
to the fair, and without difficulty he per- 
suaded the Pug and me to join him. One 
day after twelve the three of us passed over 
Windsor Bridge in the same condition as 
the "bold adventurers" alluded to in 
Gray's Ode. — Brinsley Richards' Seven 
Years at Eton. 

Age (American, cards, technical), 
the oldest hand or player to the 
left of the dealer, who, at Poker, 
is allowed to pass the first round 
after the hands are " helped," 
and to come in again after all 
have raised or gone out. He 
signifies his intention by saying 
" my aye," or *' I pass the aije." 
The effect is that the first player 
becomes the last player. This 
expedient is sometimes used to 
conceal a very good hand, and 
at other times as preparatory to 


Age — Agonise. 

■ a " bluff," or a poor one. As 
cases of absolute equality among 
hands are all but impossible at 
Poker, little is risked by it. 

Aged (racing, technical), any 
horse over six years is described 
as aged. 

We really do abuse the powers of our 
blood stock in its undeveloped stage, and 
use up our racehorses at far too early an 
age. There is no disputing the fact that 
Bendigo stands alone as a first-class aged 
representative racehorse now on the turf, 
where in former days we had our Laner- 
costs. Touchstones, Beeswings, Alice Haw- 
thorns, &c., by the dozen. — Sporting 

Agee or ajee (American). Bartlett 
defines this as " askew ; " as to 
have one's hat agee. From the 
term gee, used in driving cattle. 
It seems rather to be derived 
ir ova gee, "to agree with," "to 
fit," with the prefix negative o. 
In America it is also applied to 
a door ajar or partly open, as 
appears by the following rhymes 
from a comic paper published 
in Philadelphia in 1833 or 1834 
on an incident which occurred 
there : — 

I am an undertaker true. 

And know my business well ; 

I'm just the man to punish you, 
For sending folks to hell. 

You quite forgot, behind the door, 

When it was left agee, 
I caught you hugging Mrs. , 

Your heart quite full of glee. 

According to "Wright (Provincial 
Dictionary), agee is North Eng- 
lish, and means both awry and 
ojnr. The word is, however, at 

present far more generally used 
in America than England. 

Aggari (Anglo-Indian), lit. fire- 
carriage, applied by the natives 
to a railway train. — Eohson Job- 
son, being an Anglo-Indian Glos- 
sary, London 1886. 

Aggerawators (popular), a corrup- 
tion of " aggravators," the lock 
of hair formerly in vogue alike 
among honest costermongers and 
men of the Bill Sykes type, worn 
twisted back from the temple 
towards the ear. It is now in 
favour among gypsies and a 
few " bruisers." The French 
peasants of Berry are fond of 
this ornament, which recalls, 
though much shorter, the old 
cadenettes of the French hus- 

His hair was carefully twisted into the 
outer corners of each eye, till it formed 
a variety of that description of semi- 
curls usually known as haggerawaiors . 
— Dickens : Sketches by Boz. 

Agitate the communicator (com- 
mon), ring the bell. 

Agitator (common), a bell rope; 
the street door knocker. 

Aglal, glal (gypsy), before, in 
front of. 

Ago gate (American thieves' 
slan<r), be quick I A warning 
signal. From agog. 

Agonise (American), to endure 
agony. A favourite word with 
young or "sensational" clergy- 

Agonise — Air. 


men. The writer once heard 
one of these declare (in Ken- 
tucky), that "We must agonise 
if we would see God," and 
he has since met with the same 
expression in print. 

Agony (common), to put or to 
pile the agony on, means to 
thrill, to horrify, to keep up or 
intensify the excitement attend- 
ant on sensational productions. 

"Wife" is a fair specimen of a book of 
this kind. It is all agony from beginning 
to end. There are no pauses for length- 
ened descriptions of summer evenings or 
old-fashioned gardens ; there are neither 
panegyrics of virtuous heroes, nor verbal 
portraits of lovely heroines. * The agony 
is put on at full pressure in the first chap- 
ter, and is never shut off till the last.— 
Saturday Revieiv. 

That particular column in the 
daily papers, which is headed 
by private communications be- 
tween individuals, is called the 
" agony column." 

And how does she propose to succeed ? 
Pollaky? The a^(7«y column ? Placards, 
or a Bell-man "i— Black : A Princess 0/ 

Hard. — 1 beg of you to see me. Your 
refusal does more harm than good. Your 
time will suit me. Please don't refuse. I 
ihink it most unkind of you, considering 
all things. — Q. 

— Standard. 

The agony column does not 
always contain unpleasant or 
dismal tidings. It is used ex- 
tensively by lovers and as a 
means of communication be- 
tween thieves, &c. 

Should be delighted to take sweet 
counsel of an Oracle so lovely, free, and 

mild. True grief to have marred Elysian 

Sweetheart. — Shall be in town shortly 
after Christmas. So longing to see you, 
love. True and faithful even to your 

The Moon. — Bless ns and keep us, what 
can you mean? 1 never supposed. — Eliab. 
— Standard, 

It is said that the last Carlist 
revolution was arranged entirely 
by means of the Time*' agony 

Football players say of the 
side that makes a number of 
goals that it " piles on the 
agony." In theatrical parlance 
an "agony piler" is an actor 
who performs in a sensational 
play in which the blood of the 
audience is made to curdle 
and their flesh creep. To "pile 
on the agony " was originally 
American ; it was common in 

Aidh (tinker), butter, 

Ainoch (tinker), a thing. 

Air and exercise (thieves), penal 
servitude at a convict settle- 
ment. Two stretches of air 
and exercise, i.e., two years' penal 

Airing (racing), a horse is 
said to be " out for an airing" 
when there is no intention on 
the part of those concerned with 
him that he should win. 

Air line road, an (American), an 
expression applied to a rail- 
road track when it passes over 


Air — Alderman. 

the level unbroken prairie in a 
straight line without bend or 
gradient. "A straight shoot" 
is also another term for this. 

Aja, ajaw (gypsy), so. Often 
pleonastic kushte ajd, good 

"If waver f<5ki kirns lis, 
Mukk lendy kair ajd." 

(If other people like it, let them 
do so." — £. H. Palmer.) 

Akalak (Anglo-Indian), a cape 
worn by Indian ofl5cers on state 

Akerman's Hotel (obsolete), 
Newgate prison, the governor 
being, in 1787, a man named 

Akonyo (gypsy), alone. 

" Me shon akonyo gilde yoi, 
Men buti ruzhior, 
Te sari chiricloi adoi. 
Pen mandy giloir." 

(" I am all alone," she sang, 
" among many flowers, and all 
the birds are singing songs to 
me." — Janet Tuckey.) 

Alay, ale (gypsy), do'WTi. — (" Besh- 
tu alay adoi te me te vel pen 
tute a kushto gudlo" — " Sit 
thou down there, and I will tell 
thee a nice story 1 ") 

Albany beef (American), the 
stnr<j;cun, so called because 
Washington Irving spoke of the 
"hospitable V>oards" of that 
city as "smoking with stur- 
geon." It is also sometimes 

called "nigger beef," sturgeon 
being in some parts of the 
United States a cheap fish 
which was once held in very 
little account. It is to be re- 
marked that several kinds of 
fish are often spoken of as meat. 
Thus a Yarmouth bloater is 
called a two-eyed steak, or a 
Yarmouth capon ; a kind of 
fish in India is known as Bom- 
bay ducks, and a fresh herring 
is a Billingsgate pheasant. 

Albert (common), a watch chain. 

Albertopolis, according to Hotten, 
a facetious appellation given by 
the Londoners to the Kensington 
Gore district. Now obsolete. 

Aldea (Anglo-Indian and frontier 
American), a village or a villa, a 
country-seat. From the Spanish 
aldea, which is in turn derived 
from the Arabic. 

Alderman (popular), a half-crown, 
a long pipe, a turkey. An alder- 
man in chains, is a turkey hung 
with sausages. " Blood and 
guts alderman," a fat and pom- 
pous man. 

(Thieves), au aldinnan, a large 
"jemmy" or crowbar, used for 
opening safes. An extra large 
one is called a " lord mayor." 

Alderman Lushington, intoxicat- 
ing drink. (I'attor imported 
into Australia by convicts.) 

Beer or liquor of any kind is lush ; to 
lus/t is to drink. .Speaking of a person 
who is drunk, tlie " fl.ish " fraternity say, 
" Aliiennan Lushington is concerned," or 

Aldgate — All along. 


simply, " He has been voting for the alder- 
man. " A lush-crib, or lush-ken, is a public- 
house. — From VaMx's Memoirs. 

Aldgate pump (old), a draught 
on Aldgate pump meant a bill of 
exchange drawn on persons no 
better able to pay than Aldgate 

Ale draper (old), ale-house keeper. 

Alemnoch (tinker), milk. 

Ales (Stock Exchange), a nick- 
name used by men on 'Change 
for Allsopp & Sons' stock. 

Alexandra limp, the (common), 
a fashionable craze, resulting 
from a toadying imitation of a 
certain lady well known in 
society who walks with a slight 

Your owji advocacy for the Grecian bend 
and the Alexandra limp — both positive 
and practical imitations of physical afflic- 
tion. — Chambers's Journal. 

Alfred David (popular), affidavit ; 
also Affidavy and Davy. 

I almost dropped when up she jumped 
And said, " I'm ready now, 
But why this look of thusness 
That is stealing o'er thy brow?" 
I cried, " Avaunt and touch me not ! " 
Then bolted up the lane. 
And I'll take my Alfred David h.o\. 
She don't catch me there again. 
— Blighted Love, by Harry Adaufs. 

He is engaged in receiving the after- 
daty of a man who got his head broke by 
a tinker. — Kingslty : Geoffrey Hamlyn. 

Algerines (theatrical), performers 
who bully the manager of a 
theatre when the salaries are 

not paid. Also petty money- 

All abroad (common) an expres- 
sion used when any undertaking 
has failed, and a person is im- 
certain as to the course to pur- 
sue. A variant is " all at sea." 

" Alas ! poor ghost ! " It's a doubt which 

is most 
To be pitied — one doom'd to fry, broil, 

boil, and roast, — 
Or one bandied about thus from pillar 

to post, — 
To be all abroad— K.a be " stumped," not 

to know where 
To go — so disgraced. 

— Ingoldsby Legends : A Legend oj 

Allacompain or alicumpaine 

(rhyming slang), rain, termed 
"parney" in thieves' lingo; 
also a common sweetmeat de- 
rived from the name of the 

Of ups and downs I've felt the shock. 
Since days of bats and shuttlecocks. 
And alicumpaine and Albert rocks 
When I the world began. 

— The Leary Man. 

He had been noted for an immoderate 
partiality for the saccharine though indi- 
gestible cates known as alecampane, and 
Bonaparte's ribs.— 6"a/a.- The Haddington 

All afloat, rhyming slang for a 

All alive (tailors), garments un- 
fairly or slovenly made. 

All along of, an illiterate synonym 
for "on account of," "by rea- 
son of," or "owing to such and 
such a cause." The phrase oc- 


AU-a-mort — AH fours. 

curs in print so early as the time 
of Chaucer, and is therefore in 
all probability much older. 

AU-a-mort (old), struck dumb, 

All around sports (American), 
men who take an interest in all 
kinds of sport — racing, shoot- 
ing, fishing, ball, pedestrianism, 
sparring, cock-fighting, ratting, 

All at sea (common), bewildered, 
confused ; " aU at tea on the 

" Dear, do scientific men become sailors 
when they are scared?" 

"Guess not. Why?" 

" Because this paper says that since the 
earthquake the scientists are all at sea." — 
Pittsburg Bulletin. 

All beer and skittles, recent slang 
signifying that the life and the 
circumstances of the person to 
whom it is made applicable are 
not so pleasant or so happy as 
they might be, or as they are re- 
presented to be. The allusion is 
to the supposed amusements 
of working men in the skittle 
ground, and to the beer which 
they drink to refresh themselves 
•luring the exercise. 

Even the life of an heir to the Russian 
throne is not all beer and skittles. The 
young Grand Dulce has narrowly escaped 
lx:ing sent to the Crimea instead of to 
Cannes for the benefit of his health. — 

The expression is sometimes 
varied to idl skittles and beer. 

There's danger even when fish are caught 
To those who a wetting fear ; 

For wliat's worth having must aye be 

And sport's like life, and life's like sport, 
It ain't all skittles and beer. 

— Adam Lindsay Gordon's Poems. 

The word skittles itself has 
ceased to belong to slang phrase- 
ology. It may be interesting 
to remark that the game was 
originally nine pins ; but the 
Blue Laws of Connecticut having 
forbidden that game, the astute 
sons of the Puritans added a 
pin, and made the game ten 
pins, or, as it is now called, 
"American bowls." 

All brandy (popular), good, pro- 
fitable, pleasant. 

All bum (popular), a female with 
a large bustle. 

All-fired (English and Ameri- 
can), immoderate, violent. This 
common expression is thought 
in New England to be an eu- 
phemism for " hell-fired." Thus 
people talk of an " all-fired 
abuse," meaning a crying abuse ; 
an '^all-fired hurry," i.e., in great 

I knows I be so all-Jired jealous I can't 
bear to hear o' her talking, let alone writing 
to. — T. Hughes ; Ton Brown at Oxford. 

All fours, to be on (common), to 
be on good terms, to be exactly 
similar ; probably of Masonic 
origin, and referring to the com- 
pleteness and harmony of the 
four sides of a " square." 

The cases [Rradlaugh v. Newdegafe, 
Clarke v. Bradlaugh] are on all /ours. — 

All gay — All my eye. 


All gay (thieves), a term to denote 
that the coast is clear, a variant 
of "all serene," all right. French 
thieves use the expression " tout 
est franco " in the same sense. 

Having selected one house, at which 
James Hawes reported to the fourth man 
that it was all gay, which the detective, 
who was in hiding in a garden, understood 
to mean that no one was at home, the four 
men joined together near it. — The Globe. 

All-get-out (American), an old 
Yankee expression. " Oh, get 
out 1 " appears to have suggested 
it. This is uttered very often 
when any person announces 
or says something extravagant. 
Whence the saying, " That beats 

But hark ! behold ! to-morrer thou, 
In deep revenge mayst dry thy tears, 

I hev a plan which you'll allow 
Beats all-git-out when it appears. 
— The Ballad 0/ Tim Zioti Boggs. 

All holiday at Peckham (popular) 
is said when there is nothing 
to eat. All holiday means no 
work, and Peckham is a play on 
"peck," food. 

All hollow, hollow (old slang), 
completely, utterly. " I beat 
him all hollow at a race." Pro- 
bably derived from ivhoUy. All 
whole, or whole-and-all, heel en 
al, is a Dutch idiom ; heel-all, 
the universe. 

All in (racing) means that bets 
made on horses in the list are 
to stand whether the horse runs 
or not. 

All in I (Stock Exchange), an ex- 
pression used by men on 'Change 

when a market goes flat, and 
there is a general disposition to 

All in a pucker (common), in 
confusion ; so hurriedly as to 
agitate and perplex. Women 
of the lower classes, especially 
when suddenly flustered and 
agitated, will declare themselves 
aU in a pucker, and most fre- 
quently such a statement will be 
deemed sufficient qualification 
to justify a resort to the usual 

All in fits (tailors). See Paealy- 


All mouth (American), a man who 
is a great talker, and only a 
talker, is said to be all mouth. 

When one Congressman assaults another 
he generally hits him in the mouth, that 
being about all there is to strike at. — 
A merican Journal. 

All my eye (popular), nonsense, 
untrue. Some philologists have 
suggested — though they have 
not adopted — a derivation from 
the Welsh al mi hivy, it is very 
tedious, i.e., it is all nonsense. 
It seems far more probable that 
it is a contraction of the phrase 
" there is as much of it as there 
is in all my eye," the words 
being made more forcible by 
closing one of the organs of 
vision. To express dissent from 
any statement, or a refusal to 
comply with a request, French 
slang has the corresponding term 
■mon osil ! which is usually accom- 
panied by a knowing wink and 


All my eye — All nations. 

a significant gesture as an in- 
vitation to inspect the organ. 
AU my eye is sometimes elon- 
gated into ''All my eye and Betty 
Martin," which seems to have 
been the original phrase, and of 
which many explanations have 
been given. By many it is said 
to be a corruption of a Popish 
prayer to St. Martin, commenc- 
ing with the words, " O mihi 
beate Martine I " which fell into 
discredit at the Reformation. 
Mr. T, Lewis O. Davies thinks 
that it arose from a gypsy 
woman in Shrewsbury, named 
Betty Martin, giving a black eye 
to a constable, who was chaffed 
by the boys accordingly. The 
expression must have been com- 
mon in 1837, as Dickens gives 
one of the Brick-Lane testi- 
monials as from " Betty Martin, 
widow, one child, one eye" 
("Pickwick," ch. xxxiii.). Tak- 
ing for granted that the ex- 
pression originated from the 
beginning of a prayer (a theory 
which is now rejected by 
most etymologists), this would 
be but one of the many in- 
stances of a religious formula 
being distorted and ridi- 
culed. Thus, the cant term 
"to patter flash," i.e., to talk 
in cant, is from "to patter" 
(signifying to mumble), which 
itself is probably derived from 
paternoster. The French use 
palendtres with the significa- 
tion of mumbling, and pate- 
nCtrcs de sin;/c means mutter- 
ing, grumbling; un voblscum, 
from dominus voblscum, in the 

mouth of French work-people, 
is a disparaging epithet for 
priest. The familiar cagot, i.e. 
religious hypocrite, was for- 
merly a friar of a mendicant 
order. Then ears polite, on 
both sides of the Channel, are 
frequently offended by vulgar 
allusions to the Bulgarian here- 
tics, though the expression has 
lost its former opprobrious 
meaning. Again, some etymo- 
logists derive the word " bigot " 
from the first words of a prayer 
"by God." " Un goddam" 
used to be synonymous with an 
Englishman, at the time when 
it was thought in France that 
all Britons had red hair, sold 
their wives at Smithfield, got 
drunk regularly after dinner 
(this may have been a fact at 
the time of three-bottle men), 
and always had a bull-dog with 
his nose at their heels. Bailey 
ascribes the origin of hocus 
pocus, used by quacks, to hoc 
est corpus meum, when this for- 
mula fell into ridicule with 
many others after the Reforma- 
tion. It is curious to note that 
old-fashioned French charlatans 
still use the Vfords priclii-pr^cha 
as an opening to their boniment 
or puffing speech. 

All nations (obsolete), a coat or 
garment of different patches ; 
a woman with many colours 
in her dress. A glass of all 
Tmtions was supplied at the 
dram shops, and consisted of 
the mixed drippings of the spirit 
taps and drops of spirits left in 

All nations — All over. 


the measnres and glasses. In 
America this is called "all 
sorts." It is generally mixed 
with cayenne pepper. In Lon- 
don " all sorts " is a rapidly in- 
toxicating compound. 

Alio (pidgin English), all, every. 
is added to many words in 
pidgin in an arbitrary manner. 
"Alio man talkee my so fashion " 
— "Every man talks to me 

Slang-Whang when makee noise, 
Wit 'he pigtail floggee alio boys, 
Alio this pidgin long tim 'go, 
What tim good olo Empelor Slo. 

— Slang- Whang. 

All of a hough (tailors), very 
rough, twisted, or slovenly. 

All of my lone (American), all 

All on the go (vulgarism), gone, 
done away with. 

Then his supper — so 'nice! — that had 
cost him such pains — 
Such a hard day's work — now all on 
the go ! 
'Twas beyond a joke, and enough to 
The mildest and best-temper'd fiend 

— Ingoldsby Legends. 

All out (popular), much, by far; 
"o/i out the best," by far the 
best. To be all out, to be quite 
wrong. (Turf), one who has 
been unsuccessful during a day's 
racing is said to be all out. 
(Stock Exchange), all out! an 
expression to denote that the 
market improves, and that there 
is a general disposition to buy. 

All out (athletic), where a runner 
or walker has done his utmost, 
and has not a yard up his sleeve. 

All-overish (vulgarism), a sensa- 
tion as of illness, chills, shud- 
dering pleasure, or "the creeps" 
from head to foot. 

It made me feel all-overish to hear him 
talk so ! 

Susan kissed me one, two, three times — 
I swan it made me feel all-overish with 

— An Honest Boy. 

All over pattern (decorative de- 
sign.) " A technical term that 
is used to denote a design in 
which the whole of a field is 
covered with ornament in con- 
tradistinction to such as have 
units only at intervals, leaving 
spaces of the ground between 
them. The ornament of the 
Moors, as seen in the decora- 
tions of the Alhambra, and that 
of Eastern nations generally, is 
most commonly of this nature ; 
the whole surface of the object 
is covered with decorative forms 
so as to present to the eye a 
mass of elaborate detail, the 
leading lines of which can often 
only be detected by careful 
scrutiny. When, as in some 
Persian surfaces, these lines are 
often quite lost, the result is 
unsatisfactory." — F. E. Hulme : 
Suggestions in Floral Design, 

All over the shop (common), all 
over the place ; refers also to an 
obtrusive and exaggerated per- 
formance which asserts itself in 
an offensive manner. In retail 


All over — All-rounder. 

traders' slang it signifies a widely 
spread movement of any kind, 
a general scramble, disturbance, 
or agitation. (Tailors), used of 
a person or thing taking up too 
much room. 

Allow (American), to admit, to 
declare, to intimate that a thing 
must be done. This word is 
quaintly used by rustics in dif- 
ferent states to express thought, 
or opinion on its utterance ; to 
give. " AU the people in the 
room cUloived that his conduct 
was perfectly shameful." " He 
allowed he'd give me a new trunk 
if I'd allow him my arm-chair." 
(Harrow), allorc, a boy's weekly 
allowance of pocket-money. 

Allowances (tailors), allowances 
for making up a garment, i.e., 
for seams, padding, wadding, 
buttoning, and respiration. 

All plopa (pidgin), quite right. 

OIo Howqua, he talkee. My wife she 
velly 'culis 'bout pearlee (is very curious or 
pecuUar as to pearls), she likee one kind 
pearlee, no other chop (quality) can do ; 
she likee pearlee numpa one lound, he 
whitey colour. Look, see all plopa, alio 
samee that he Empelor hab got top side 
he hat. Supposey pearley blongy so 
fashion, my wifee too much likee, golaw. — 
Hmvqua and the Pearls. 

All round (common), a phrase 
applied to a thing or person 
thoroughly adapted to its or 
his purpose, and signifies in its 
restricted sense complete and 
perfect, as "an aiZ round man 
of business," " an all round 
lawyer," "an all round sports- 

man," "waall round gentleman 
or lady," or even a.n " all round 
scoundrel or thief " (in America 
an "all round crook.") An all 
round man is one who can turn 
his hand to anything, or a clerk 
who can undertake all the de- 
partments in his business. 

A much graver question is raised by the 
strongly expressed opinion of so many wit- 
nesses, that the foreigner is at present a 
better all roufui man. — The Times. 

Mr. Cox in the small part of Coquelicot 
is quite himself as a thoroughly all 
round actor — at all events in appearance. 
— Punch. 

An all round player at billiards 
is one who goes in for any kind 
of stroke, in contradistinction to 
a player who plays exclusively 
the spot stroke. 

It was very evident that the sympathies 
of the audience were with the all round 
player rather than with the spot performer. 
The one was all grace and variety. The 
other, with plenty of grace, was playing a 
game which invariably became monotonous 
after a while. There is no doubt that, 
nowadays, the British public cares little 
for billiard exhibitions in which the staple 
is a continuous succession of spot strokes. 
— The Star. 

An all round cannon is said 
of a cannon stroke effected by 
touching the cushions in suc- 
cession with one's ball before 
striking another. 

All-rounder (common). A shirt 
collar meeting in front, thus 
covering the throat, was very 
fa.shionable a short time ago, 
and no " masher" would be seen 
without one reaching up to his 

All round — Allspice. 


All round my hat (popular), "I 
feel all round my hat," I feel 
queer, do not feel very well. 
"That's aU round my hat" is 
synonymous with " that's all 
gammon," or nonsense. From 
a song which was very popular 
in 1834. 

Alls (popular), tap droppings, 
or inferior spirits, sold cheap ; 
(workmen's), goods and chat- 
tels, or, perhaps, more properly, 
tools. "Come, pack up your 
alls and be off," is a common 
form of dismissal to a labourer 
or workman. 

All-same (pidgin), a very common 
expression for " the same as," 
like, or equal. 

Supposey you hearee plenty talkee 'bout 
fashion. Ch 'hoy ! my tlnkee China- 
woman, fankwei woman, dllo woman, alio 
tinkey dllo same inside her mouth. Wat 
tim you pay plenty doUa', he allo-tim 
good fashion. — Hcrwqtui and the Pearls. 

All serene (popular), all safe, all 

Who're you, sir? — oh, Mister So-and- 
so — all right — and this gentleman ? — friend 
o' Mr. W.'s — oh, very well — yes, there's 
Barney — this a friend o' yours, Barney? — 
yes? — all right, then — yes, I think we're 
all serene I— Bird d Freedom. 

Some years ago the phrase was 
bawled in the streets, before 
such expressions as " How's 
your poor feet ? " " Who's your 
hatter ? " came into vogue. The 
Parisians at this time indulged 
in equally idiotic inquiries or 
calls, such as " Et tes pieds 
8ont-ils Ji la sauce 1 " " Oh^ 
Lambert! as-tu vu Lambert?" 

"Et ta soeor?" Of more re- 
cent creation is the stupid " On 
dirait du veau." 

All smoke, gammon, and pickles 
(popular), all deceit, nonsense. 

All sorts. (See All Na'hons.) 

All sorts and conditions of men. 

The title of a novel by Walter 
Besant, and the heading of a 
well-known collect in the Pray er- 
Book. It has passed into such 
common and general use as to 
have become a truly " fixed 
popular phrase." (See All 
Nations. ) 

It was a rare mess, all sorts and condi- 
tions of men, women, and children, dogs 
and cats, promiscuously intermingled, and 
all on one grand kick-up. — American 

All sorts of (American). Bartlett 
defines this as " expert, acute, 
excellent, capital." It is more 
accurately, as its name declares, 
" perfect, complete in every de- 
tail, having every quality." AU 
sorts of a horse is a horse pos- 
sessed of every merit, not one 
that is merely excellent or 
capital. AU sorts of a job (E. A. 
Poe, cited by Bartlett) does not 
mean an expert, acute, or excel- 
lent undertaking, but one re- 
quiring all conceivable abilities. 
In this it corresponds to the 
German allerlei and Dutch al- 
lerley. " Hy is van aWer^e// soort 
voorzien." Allerley is, in fact, 
translated aU sorts by Sewel. 

Allspice (popular), a grocer. 


All^s quiet — All the way. 

All's quiet on the Potomac 1 

(American). This phrase ori- 
ginated during the Civil War, 
and has since been the refrain 
of a very popular song. It de- 
notes quietude ; a period of calm 
enjoyment. " Don't fret about 
things ; they are going on 
swimmingly, for all's quiet on 
tJie Potomac." 

All T. H. (tailors), all right, or 
very good indeed (stock cut- 

All the caboose (common), every- 
where. The caboose is the galley 
or cooking place of a ship, or 
simply a kitchen. 

" The fact is he conquers us every one. 

Does love, love, love ! 
We don't find it out till the mischief is 

By love, love, love ! 
To fight against him is no manner of use, 
A gander's a gander, a goose is a goose. 
And Cupid's the king over all the caboose. 

Oh I love, love, love I " 

All the go (common), in demand, 
fashionable, meeting with a very 
ready sale. 

Jerry Hawthorn was agreeable, and he 
and Corinthian Tom were soon in the midst 
of Li/e in London, and lost no time in 
calling on young Bob Logic, who was a 
gay spark like his father, and quite aufait 
with all the sprees of the metropolis. 
" F'ashions have changed, my dear Coz," 
said the Corinthian, " and the young bucks 
and exquisites seem to us to dress strangely ; 
but I suppose their attire is all the go now, 
and these are the swell suits made by the 
Dickey Primefit of the day." — Punch. 

It is also used in America. 

.•\ gentleman entered a Chicago gun- 
store and asked \.o be shown some revolvers. 

" Here is a nice family weapon," said the 
clerk. "Family weapon?" "Yes, a 
family weapon. Just the thing for domes- 
tic tragedies. It has six chambers, sir, 
two bullets for your faithless wife, two for 
the ruthless destroyer of your home, and 
two for yourself. They are all the go 
now." — Texas Si/tings. 

Fine stock is getting to be all the go in 
that line here now, and there is some as 
fine here as can be found anywhere, — 
Carlisle Correspondence. 

All there (general), extensively 
used with the signification of 
first-rate, up to the mark. A 
good player at any game is said 
to be aU there ; the same is said 
of a pretty, well-dressed woman. 
A smart officer also is all there. 
It likewise means to be in one's 

The band and the 'opping was prime, 

though, and 'Arry in course was all 

I'd several turns with a snappy young 

party with stror-coloured 'air ; 
Her name she informed me was Polly, and 

wen, in my 'appiest style, 
I sez, "Polly is nicer than Politics I" 

didn't she colour and smile ! 

— Punch. 

All the shoot (popular), the whole 
assembly, all the party. " Every 
man-jack of them." 

The Prince of Wales in a bricklayer's 

I could scarcely believe my eyes. 
Helping to build the Royal Institute ! 
At a penny an hour less than all the 

Oh ! what a surprise ! 
— Oh .' what a Surprise .' Broadside 

All the way down, or simply all the 
way (common slang, probably 
American), entirely (r/. "down 

All to — Almighty. 


to the ground "). It implies 
probably from top to bottom. 
A common phrase is " that will 
suit me all the way dovm," or all 
the way. 

All to his own cheek (tailors) 
signifies all to himself. 

All to pieces (common), utterly, 
excessively. To beat one all to 
pieces is to surpass one alto- 
gether. The term is also used 
by boating men. A crew are 
said to have fallen all to pieces 
when they are exhausted and 
the rowing is wild. 

All up (general), a synonym for 
" all over," signifies that the end 
has come to any one, that aU is 
over with him. "All to smash" 
is another phrase of a similar 
meaning, applied to a person 
whose affairs are irretrievably 
involved, who is utterly bank- 
rupt in fortune. Thus one hears 
that " So-and-so has gone all to 
smash," i.e., his credit is gone. 
Plans, and indeed anything, may 
go "all to smash." A similar 
expression is popular among the 
lower classes in Belgium and 
Holland, and among children 
alle op signifies that every- 
thing is gone — all is over. An 
odd variety of this slang is 
sometimes heard in the United 
States. Mr. Bartlett records 
that it is a common expression 
among servants in Pennsylvania 
to say, " all any more," instead 
of " all gone " or all's up. 

All wag blue (American), a jolly 
time, a frolic, a jamboree. — 
MS. Americanisms, by C. Ze- 
land Harrison. 

'Tis merry in hall 
When beards wag' all. 

— Shakspeare. 

Ally-begf, a bed. This very 
ancient and nearly obsolete 
cant word was expressive of 
the pleasure found by the vaga- 
bond classes in the unusual 
luxury of a warm and comfort- 
able resting-place for the night. 
People who slept in a nook 
in a wall, under a bush or a 
hedge, or the chance shelter of 
a barn or outhouse, spoke of a 
bed as a\Re, pleasant, agreeable, 
and heg, little, i.e., a little place 
or harbour of pleasantness. 
Leah is Gaelic for a bed, and 
leab-beg, a little bed ; and leab- 
ker or lybker, a house with beds 
in it, a lodging-house for travel- 

Almighty smash (American). The 
adjective is used in an infinite 
variety of ways, and Lord Lytton 
in a certain measure acclima- 
tised it on this side of the 
water. For example, he speaks 
in the following quotations of 
almighty smash (that is, a state 
of complete demolition) ; of 
" driving into almighty shivers " 
(a state of entire collapse) ; and 
of "almighty crack" (that is, 
without ceasing — a reference 
to the popular crack of doom). 
These phrases are thus illustrated 
from one of his best works — 


Almighty^ Altitude. 

" I wish you would mind the child — 
It is crumpling up and playing almighty 
smash with that flim-flam book, which 
cost me one pound one." 

" As if that was not enough to destroy 
and drive into ' almighty shivers,' a decent 
fair-play Britisher like myself." 

" Let us cut short a yam of talk which, 
when it comes to likings and dislikings, 
might last to ' almighty crack.' " 

— My Novel. 

"The ^almighty dollar,' that great ob- 
ject of universal devotion throughout our 
land, seems to have no genuine devotees 
in these peculiar villages." — Washington 
Irving: Creole Village. 

Almyra, an Anglo-Indian word 
for a chest of drawers, derived 
from the Hindustani almdri, and 
the Portugese almario. Old 
English, ambry, a cupboard, 
niche; Italian, anaodio; Latin, 

Alsatia (common), synonymous 
with low quarter. The higher 
Alsatia was a sanctuary in White 
Friars, where people were for- 
merly free from arrest for debt. 
The lower Alsatia was also a 
sanctuary of the same descrip- 
tion, and was situated in the 
Mint in Southwark. 

And for this ruin the gambling-house is 
responsible. Huntley is but one of the 
thousands who are stripped annually of 
all they possess in this modem Alsatia. 
Not only of their money, but of their health 
and of their happiness. — T. Greenwood: 
A Gambling Hell. 

Whitefriars, adjacent to the Temple, 
then well known by the cant name of 
Alsatia, had at this time, and for nearly 
a century afterwards, the privilege of a 
sanctuary, unless ag.ainst the writ of the 
Lord Chief - J ustice. . . . The place 
abounded with desperadoes of every de- 
ncription — bankrupt citizens, ruined game- 

sters, irreclaimable prodigals, &c &c. — 
Scott : Fortunes of Nigel. 

The haunt of gladiators and prize- 
fighters — of the vicious and penniless — of 
the savage and the obscene — the Alsatia 
of an ancient city. — Lord Lytton: The 
Last Days of Pompeii. 

Alsatian (old), a rogue, such as 
lived in Alsatia or Whitefriars, 

He spurr'd to London, and left a 
thousand curses behind him. There he 
stmck up with sharpers, scourers, and 
Alsatians.— Gentleman Instructed. 

Altemal (American thieves' slang), 
altogether ; the sum total of a 
story or bill ; cut it short. From 
the Dutch altemal, altogether. 

What was the altemal^. It only raised 
fifteen cases. The dummy raked a case 
and a half, and the thimble was a first, but 
the slang and onions were bene. — On the 

In olden days the phrase was 
specially applied to the accounts 
rendered to the frequenters of 
brothels, such being given with- 
out details — a practice which 
allowed of gross overcharges 
without any possible means of 
Altering the Jeff's click (tailors), 
making up a garment without 
reference to the cutter's chalk 
lines or style. 

Altham (old cant), a "curtall's" 
wife. A curtail was a second 
in command in the fraternity of 

Altitude (obsolete), a drunken 
man was said to be " out of his 

Amah — Ameer. 


Amah (Anglo-Indian), a wet-nurse. 
Portuguese ama, German amme, 
a nurse. 

A sort of good-natured housekeeper-like 
bodies, who talk only of ayahs and amoAs, 
and bad nights and babies, and the advan- 
tages of Hodgson's ale while they are 
nursing ; seeming, in short, devoted to 
suckling fools and chronicling small beer. — 
Letter froTtt Madras, Yule and BumelTs 
Anglo-Indian Glossary. 

In pidgin English it has the 
same signification : — 

My look-see, one amah, t'at amah has 
got one piecee littee fankwei chilo, wat 
look-see allo-same one Japanee nitchky. 
I askee amah, " How much you sellum 
my that one piecee culio?" — Th^ Sartcy 
Sayings of Wan- Tong. 

Amandi, mende, men (gypsy), we ; 
amendi, a men did, we two. 
"Jasa tu sar amandi, man se 
trashno" — "Come with us; 
don't be afraid." 

Ambassador (nautical), a practical 
joke performed on board ship 
\>j Jack Tars in warm latitudes, 
the victim being ducked in the 
wash-deck tub, and subjected 
to other indignities (Admiral 
Smyth). Sailors of other nations 
indulge in similar jokes when 
crossing the equator. 

Ambia or ambeer (American), a 
euphemism for salivated tobacco . 
juice, the result of chewing. 
Bartlett says, "The word is a 
corruption of amber, to which 
it bears a slight resemblance in 
colour, manifesting certainly a 
delicacy of expression which 
borders upon the poetical." 

The word afiUna, as generally used at 
Princeton, which largely represents the 
solid South, is not applied to saliva, but to 
the intensely strong nicotine, or thick brown 
substance which forms in pipes. I have 
always supposed that it is merely a South- 
ern variation of amber, which exactly 
represents its colour. — Notes by C. G. 

Ambidexter (obsolete), a barrister 
who acts as a counsel for both 
parties. Also a blackleg who 
shares with both parties at the 
gaming-table, or on the race- 

Ambush (American), a nickname 
for the scales used by grocers, 
coal-dealers, &c. So called be- 
cause they are always " lying in 

Ameen (Anglo-Indian), an Arabic 
word amin, meaning a trust- 
worthy person, but applied by 
the English in India to several 
kinds of native officials, nearly 
all reducible to the definition 
of fide commisaariiis. It is also 
applied to native assistants 
in land surveying. — Yide and 
Burnell : A nglo - Indian Glos- 

" Bengalee dewans, once pure, are con- 
verted into demons ; ameens, once harm- 
less, become tigers. — Peterson, Speech in 
the Nte Durpan case, ibid. 

Ameer (Anglo-Indian), originally 
an Arab word amin, root amr, 
signifying commanding or a 
commander, is used in the East 
in a very general way for digni- 
taries and magnates. 


Amen — Ampersand. 

Amen (gypsy), among. 

Amen a shel o' Gorgios, 
Jinas len Romany ; 
(Among a hundred Gorgios, 
You'd know the Romany.) 

—O. Patteran. 

Amen chapel (Winchester), a 
service on " Com. and Ob." 
(which see), when the responses 
are chaunted to the organ, and 
instead of the ordinary psalms 
and first lesson, Psalms 145, 146, 
and 147, and Eccles. are used. 

Amen curler (old), a parish clerk, 
from the response so frequently 
made use of by him. 

Amen wallah (military), the 
chaplain's clerk, who makes 
the responses in the garrison or 
other church. The suffix waU 
lah is the well-known Hindu- 
stani word signifying man or 
person, and is one of innumer- 
able instances of the adoption 
in our army of Hindustani terms, 
due to the lengthened occupa- 
tion of India by British troops. 

Amener (old), a regular amener, 
one who says yes to everything. 

Amerace (American thieves' 
slang), very near, within call. 

Americanesses (American). This 
version of Americaine has begun 
to appear in Western news- 

Talented "Americanesses" Abroad. 
— Miss Anna E. Klumpke, who has been 
studying for many years under the best 
Paris masters, can now be ranked among 
the first American portrait artists. She 

received an "Honourable Mention" in 
last year's Salon for her portrait of her 
sister, Dr. Klumpke, whose appointment 
to be house surgeon in the Paris hospitals 
created no little sensation a year ago in 
French medical circles. Miss Klumpke, 
the artist, is now in the South of France 
finishing a portrait of Miss Elizabeth Cady 
Stanton. — Chicago Tribune. 

Americanising (American). 
" Americanising a people," ac- 
cording to the Rev. J. S. Gubel- 
man, " consists in teaching 
them the English language. 
After this come sundry minor 
virtues. He is not a true 
American who desecrates the 
Sabbath, who yields to intem- 
perance, or treads down the 

American shoulders (tailors), 
shoulders cut broad and ' ' built 
up," to give the wearer an ap- 
pearance of massiveness about 
the shoulder. 

American tweezers (thieves' 
slang), an instrument by means 
of which an hotel thief is en- 
abled to open a door fastened 
with the key in the lock inside. 

Ames all (old slang), within amea 
all, nearly, very near. 

Aminadab (cant), a jeering name 
for a Quaker. 

Ammunition leg (army), a wooden 

Ampersand (American, but of 
Enf^lish origin), the seat or 
hinder part. In one of the 

Ampersand — Analf. 


Crockett almanacs a hunter 
speaks of a bear's ampersand. 
Derived from " and per se and," 
thus explained by Bartlett : — 

" Two generations ago, when 
Irish schoolmasters were com- 
mon at the South, this expres- 
sion, equivalent to the & annexed 
to the alphabet (meaning & per 
se and, to distinguish it from 
&c.), was in frequent use." 

As the ampersand came at the 
bottom of the alphabet, it came 
to be at length associated with 
the breech itself. 

But he observed in apology, that it (z) 
was a letter you never wanted hardly, and 
he thought it had only been put there "to 
finish oflF th' alphabet, like, though antpus- 
ena (&) would ha' done as well," for 
what \\^co\:^A%^e..— George Eliot : Adam 

A shrivelled, cadaverous, neglected piece 
of deformity, i' the shape of an ezard or 
an empersi-and, or in short anything. — 
Charles Macklin : The Man of the World. 

Ample form. Lodge opened by 
the Grand Master in person, 
' ' Due Form " by the deputy, 
"Form" by other mason or 
person. Also used colloquially 
for the " correct thing." 

Amputate your timber, or your 
mahogany, to (common), to go 
away, run off. A variant of 
" cut your stick," as a person 
who cuts a walking-stick from 
a tree or hedge previous to 
starting on a journey. 

A-muck ( Anglo- Andian), from the 
Malay amuk or amok, to run 
furiously and desperately at any 

and every one, to make a furi- 
ous onset. A word probably 
derived from the Malay, though 
there is some reason to ascribe 
an Indian origin to the term. 
Malayan scholars say it rarely 
occurs in any other than the 
verbal form mengdmuk, to make 
a furious assault. It has passed 
into general use, and is often 
applied to any one who sets 
himself up to defy popular 
opinions, or the multitude. The 
word was familiar to English- 
men two centuries ago. 

Frontless and satire-proof he scours the 

And runs an Indian vtuck at all he 

— Dry den : The Hind and the 
Panther, a.d. 1687. 

Satire's my weapon, but I'm too dis- 

To run a-muck, and tilt at all I meet. 
— Pope : Imitation 0/ Horace, a. d. 
1727 — Anglo-Indian Glossary. 

To run amock is to get drunk with 
opium ... to sally forth from the house, 
kill the person or persons supposed to have 
injured the amock, and any other person 
that attempts to impede his passage.^^ 
Cook's Voyage. 

Amusers (English and American), 
thieves, who formerly used to 
throw snuff or pepper in a vic- 
tim's eyes, while an accomplice 
robbed him, under pretext of 
rendering assistance. 

Anabaptist (obsolete), a thief, 
caught in the act, and doused 
in the horse trough or pond. 

Analken (tinker), to wash. 

Analt (tinker), to sweep, to broom. 


Anava — Atigeliferous. 

Anava, Anner (gypsy). In the 
common dialect dnner or hanner, 
to bring, fetch, carry. 

" If tute '11 anner a truslo levinor 
niandy 'II pessur lis" — " If you will bring 
a quart of ale, I'll pay for it." 

Anchor (nautical). "Bring your 
a — e to an anchor" i.e., sit 
down ; also " bring yourself to 
an anchor," a common phrase. 

"Hullo, Pet! . . . bring yourself to an 
anchor, my man." The Pet accordingly 
anchored himself by dropping on to the 
edge of a chair.— C Bedt: Verdant Green. 

" To let go an anchor to the 
windward of the law," to keep 
just within the letter of the law. 
SaOors use the expression "to 
heave anchor," meaning to go 

And yet, my boys, would you believe me ? 
1 returned with no rhino from sea ; 
Mistress Polly would never receive me, 
So again I heav'd anchor — yo, yea ! 
— C. Dibdin : The Good Ship the Kitty. 

Anchorage (popular), a place of 
abode. The term explaining 

Ancient mariners (Oxford Uni- 
versity slang), rowing "dons" 
at Oxford. A crew of dons {vide 
DoKs) are always called ancient 

And don't you forget it ! (Ameri- 
can). This common-place ex- 
hortation, as it is popularly used 
and forcibly intoned, illustrates 
the fact that any word or ex- 
pression, by dint of repetition 
and emphasis, may become as- 
sociated with humour until it 

seems to have something in it 
beyond its real meaning. 

And he didn't (tailors), often used 
to express the belief that a per- 
son has really done something 
discreditable in spite of the 
attempt to prove his innocence. 

And no mog^e (tailors), and no 
mistake, joking apart. Some- 
times it is used as an interroga- 
tion, and at other times to ex- 
press disbelief ; for instance, a 
man may be relating some in- 
credible story, and an auditor 
will convey a world of meaning 
by quietly remarking, but with 
peculiar emphasis, and no moguc. 

And no whistle (taUors). This 
remark means, no one seems to 
think that what you have said 
applies to yourself, but I do. 

Andrew Miller (nautical), a man- 
o'-war ; Andrew Miller s lur/ger, 
a vessel of the royal navy, is 
smugglers' slang taken out to 
Australia by the convicts,- and 
is used by accomplices in warn- 
ing the smugglers of the ap- 
proach of revenue cutters, &c. 

AnerjSl (gypsy), over against, vis- 
n-vis. Mungw^ is also au obso- 
lete term for the same. 

An rikkerdas stardy anerjdl, 
To akovo kalo Romany chdl. 

—O. Delaben. 

Angelicas (popular), young un- 
married women. 

Angeliferous (American), a word 
signifying " angelic," and first 

rl ugeliferous — A nglo-French . 


used by Bird in his novel of 
" Nick of the Woods," in which 
roaring Ralph Stackpole fre- 
quently calls the heroine ^'^an- 
geliferous Madam I " 

Heaven, my hyarers, is all sorts of a 
glorious, beautiful, angeliferous place. 
Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, 
it hath not entered into the heart of any 
cracker round in these hyar diggins to 
conceive what carryins-on the jest-made- 
perfect hev up thar. — A Hard- West Ser- 

Angels altogether (West Indian), 
a sobriquet applied to those who 
habitually give way to excessive 

Angel's footstool (nautical), an 
imaginary sail jokingly assumed 
to be carried by Yankee vessels. 
It is said to be a square sail, 
and to top the " sky sails," 
"moon sails," "cloud cleaners," 
&c. — W. Clark Rutiell : Sailors' 

Ang-el's gear (nautical), a grace- 
ful term used by gallant tars to 
denote female attire. 

Angel suit (tailors), vestand jacket 
combined, and the trousers made 
to button to the bottom of the 
jacket. It is now a thing of the 

Angel's whisper (military), the 
bugle or trumpet call for de- 
faulters' drill. It sounds from 
three to four times a day, and 
the expression is undoubtedly 
euphemistic ; like the favourite 
expletive of the sea captain, 
who, when reproving his crew. 

said : " Bless you, my lads ; 
bless vou 1 You know what I 

Anglaterra, Anghiaterra (gypsy), 

Angled (billiards^, an angled ball 
is one that is so near the edge 
of the pocket, that a player is 
prevented from playing at any 
other ball direct. 

Anglers or hookers (thieves) 
petty thieves, who steal goods 
by means of a stick with a hook 
at the end. 

Suffer none, from far or near, 
With their rights to interfere ; 
No strange Abram, ruffler crack. 
Hooker of another pack. 
Rogue, or rascal, frater, maunderer, 
Irish toyle, or other wanderer ; 
No dimber-damber, angler, dancer. 

— Ainsivorth : Oath of the Canting 

Modem French thieves call 
this mode of purloining " grin- 
chissage au boulon," from the 
circumstance that the hook is 
inserted through a bolt-hole in 
the shutters. Angler is a very 
old slang term (nearly obso- 
lete) for an adventurer or catch- 
penny. It may be found used in 
Breton's "Wit's Trenchmen " 
(159) in this sense. It is now 
also applied to rogues, who at 
races and country fairs entice 
the unwary to try their luck at 
the thimblerig, prick in the 
garter, three-trick -card, &c 

Anglo-French. Much notice has 
been taken of late of English as 


A uglo- French — A nimals. 

"she is spoken ; " not so much of 
French as "he is Englished," 
possibly because it is no longer 
fashionable in England to use 
French words needlessly in con- 
versation, although the number 
of gentlemen who ask for lee- 
cures after dinner is still " very 
respectable." In the United 
States it is, however, still very 
current, if we may believe the 
assertion of an American " news- 
paporial writer," who asserts 
that "there are on an average 
six misquotations, malpronun- 
ciations, or misapplications of 
French daily among our entire 
population per head." 

Detroit is agog over the expected pro- 
duction of a new comic opera, written by 
Miss Marie M'Kenna, a local musician. 
It is called " Lucile," and is a love story 
of Alsatian peasants. Miss M'Kenna ad- 
mits that she is " poetess as well as musi- 
cian." The following is a stanza from one 
of her " lyrics" : 

Dear Claude will escort me au bon tnarche, 
And whatever we buy will be recherche, 
Recherche, recherche, 
And nicer than anything here. 

This is supposed to represent the ecstatic 
delight of a young girl who has just caught 
a husband. Miss M'Kenna's French is 
rather rheumatic, but the verses will touch 
a chord in every feminine heart. — Chicago 

Anglomaniacs (American), 
another name for Bostonians 
as being ultra-English. There 
is a club at Boston called the 
A tifflomaniacs. 

Angry boys. Slang of the early 
part of the .seventeenth centurj-, 
to designate the noisy and 
riotous young men or " bloods," 

who in dronken or semi-drunken 
frolics made nocturnal disturb- 
ances in the streets, and com- 
mitted outrages on unoffending 
passengers. A century later 
these public nuisances were 
called Mohawks. 

I have heard some speech 
Of the angry boys, and seen 'em take to- 

— Ben Jonson : Tht A Ichemist. 

Get thee another nose that will be pull'd 
Off by the angry boys for thy conversion. 
— Beaumont and Fletcher : The Scorn- 
ful Lady. 

Angular party (common), a party 
composed of three, five, or 
seven persons. 

Angustrin (gypsy), a finger, a 
ring, corrupted to wongashy. 
It also means only a finger's- 
breadth, or a very little, in any 
sense. Hence wdngish, a little, 
a short time. " ' Hatch a won- 
gish, besh a wongish akai for 
me,' pende laki " — " ' Stop a 
little, wait a little here for me,' 
she said." 

Animal, to go the whole (Ameri- 
can), in common use in the 
West. It is a mere, though 
more popular variant of the 
English " to go the whole hog," 
and means the same. 

That they had much better pay first- 
class, and go the entire animal. — Sala : 
Twice Round the Clock. 

Opposing all half measures, and prefer- 
ring to go the extreme animal. — Dickens : 
Nicholas Nicklchy. 

Animals (American cadets), the 
cognomen by which new arrivals 

A n imals — A nointing. 


are known at the West Point 
Military Academy (see also 
"Bkasts"). The English have 
' ' snooker " and the lYench 
' ' melon " as equivalents. A new 
cadet who puts on extravagant 
airs and pretensions — a cox- 
comb or "puppy" — is called 
"a fast animal." 

Ankair (gypsy), to begin. 

" I ain't Idled kek religion, 
An' I'll kek ankair kenna ; 
But if waver foki kams lis 
Mukk lendy kair aja." 

—E. H. Palmer. 
(" I have taken (got) no religion, and 
I'll not begin now ; but if other people 
like it, let them do so." 

Ankle (American thieves' slang). 
" She has sprained her anUe," 
she has had an illegitimate 
child. Also, " She has broken 
her leg." A somewhat similar 
expression is used in the French 
theatrical world ; a lady who is 
enceinte is said to have a bad 
knee : " Elle a mal au genou." 

Anna (Anglo-Indian). Hindi, and 
or dndh, the sixteenth part of a 
rupee. The term is also applied 
colloquially to persons of mixed 
parentage. "Such an one has 
at least two annas of dark 
blood," or "of coffee colour." 
This may be compared with the 
Scotch expression that a person 
of deficient intellect " wants 
twopence in the shilling." — 
Anglo-Indian Glossary. 

In the United States this slang 
is paralleled by the following 
expressions :— " He "or " she 
has a lick of the tar-brush." 

" He has a white stripe down 
the back," it being beUeved 
that mulattoes or quadroons 
have a line of light colour on 
the spine. 

Annex (American), to steal. It 
became popular in 1835, at the 
time of the annexation of Texas, 
which was regarded by many as 
a theft. 

Robert, "Prince" of the Yetholm 
gipsies, was recently charged with stealing 
a pair of spectacles. The "Prince" said 
that his eyes were in a very queer condi- 
tion, and that he had no intention of an- 
nexing the spectacles, which he picked up 
quite by accident ; but the beak remarked 
that bagging barnacles constituted a serious 
offence, and was a short-sighted policy for 
a man to pursue. As "Prince" Robert 
left the dock he promised faithfully to 
avoid the eyes of the law in future. — Fun. 

Some account of this ready- 
witted Prince Robert may be 
found in ' ' The English Gypsies 
and their Language," Triibner, 

Anodyne necklace (old), a halter. 
The hangman's noose was also 
called the " Tyburn tippet," a 
" horse's nightcap," a " hempen 

Anog (American), an andiron. 
Bartlett derives this from hand- 
dog, Dutch aan-hoog, that which 
heightens or raises. 

Anointed (Irish), is expressive of 

great rascality. 

Anointing (popular), a sound beat- 
ing, the effect taken for the 


Anonyma — Another. 

Anonyma (obsolete), or incognita, 
a lady of the demi-monde or even 
quart-de-monde, corresponds to 
the French cocotte. 

The carefully sealed envelopes contain- 
ing letters from fair anonytnas. — Bulwer 
LyttoH : Kenebn Chillingly. 

The late Mr. H. J. Byron, 
the playwright and actor, in 
some MSS. annotations to a 
copy of the " Slang Dictionary," 
now in the British Museum, 
says, writing in November 1868, 

that " Miss , said to have 

been the real Anonyma, died at 
Paris about that time." Other 
synonyms are " pretty horse- 
breaker," "demi-rep," and the 
more modern " tart," which, 
however, is used also in the 
sense of woman, wife. The 
lower in the scale are — mot, 
common jack, bunter, bed-fagot, 
shake, bulker, gay woman, un- 
fortunate, barrack-hack, dress 
lodger, &c. 

Another acrobat (music hall), for 
another tumbler, i.e., another 
glass of drink. 

Another fellow's (popular), a 
slang phrase which, like most of 
its kind, owes its popularity to 
its almost indefinite power of 
application. Thus if a man re- 
marks that he has a new coat, 
he is awked if it was another 
fellow's, or if the girl with whom 
he is in company is not the 
property of some one else. 

Whenever you meet me, I've always a 

A nothcr fellah' i. 

I love a good weed, so invariably smoke 

A nother fellah's. 
Round into the Cri. every evening I slip. 
And deep in the pale sparkling bitter I 

And when I've no money I generally sip 
A nother fellah 's. 
Not mine, nor yours, 
Not his, nor hers, 
No, no — another fellah's. 

— Another Fellah's Ballad. 

Another gfuess sort of man (old). 
The expression is invariably 
applied to one who is knowing 
and " fly," or not the man you 
take him to be. It has a close 
resemblance both in sound and 
meaning to the Yiddish "chess." 
This may be a mere coincidence, 
but it is certainly of English 

He has been a student in the temple 
these three years ; another guess sort of 
man, I assure you. — Tom D' Urfey : Ma- 
dame Tickle, 1682. 

Another lie nailed to the coimter 

(American), a very common 
expression in American news- 
papers in reference to detected 
slanders, &c. It was usual in 
olden times to nail " Bungtown 
(t.e., Birmingham) coppers," and 
all kinds of counterfeit or worth- 
less coins, to the counters of 
the country "stores" or shops. 
This is mentioned in the " Jack 
Downing Letters," 

" If there is any truth," exclaims the 
excited editor of a North Carolina paper, 
" in the story that one of the Chicago An- 
archists is employing his time in jail in 
the perfecting of an invention by which a 
clarionet, equal in tone to the best in the 
market, can be made of tin and sold for 
fifteen cents, the man ought to be hanged 
at once." Rest easy, brother. None of 

Antagonise — Any other. 


the condemned Anarchists is fond enough 
of work to spend his time in such a man- 
ner. The story has doubtless been cir- 
culated for political effect. Another lie 
nailed. — Chicago Tribune. 

Antagonise (sporting), to act as 
an opponent. 

Dingley Dell sent Jones and Brown to 
the wickets, where they were antagonised 
with the leather by Alf and the Young 
Phenomenon. Alf threw up a maiden. — 
The Saturday Review. 



cuffins (old), knock- 

Anthony or tantony pig (old), 
the favourite or smallest pig 
in the litter. To follow like 
St. Anthony's pig meant to 
follow close at one's heels. St. 
Anthony the hermit was a swine- 
herd, and is always represented 
with his bell and pig. 

Antimony (printer's), type. 

Anty-up (Australian and Ame- 
rican), a game of cards. 

As they ride up, a savage-looking half- 
bred bull dog yelps hoarsely, and two or 
three men creep out from underneath the 
tarpaulin of the nearest dray, where they 
have been playing anty-up (a favourite 
game with cards) for tobacco. John re- 
cognises a teamster who has been employed 
by himself. — D. Sladen. 

From ante, the stake with 
which the dealer at poker com- 
mences each hand before deal- 
ing the cards ; he puts up a 
" chip" in front of him, hence 
the name. Make good the ante ; 
the dealer, after looking at his 
hand, must either go out of the 

game and forfeit his ante, or 
must make it good by putting 
up a sum equal to it, so as to 
make his stake the same as that 
of the other players. Raising 
the ante ; any one at the time of 
"chipping in" to fill his hand 
may raise the ante, and the other 
players must then in turn make 
their stakes equal to the maxi- 
mum so raised, or else must 
" run " and abandon what they 
have already staked. 

Anxious or inquirers' meeting 
(common, but of American ori- 
gin), an after-meeting held dur- 
ing a " revival " for the benefit 
of those who profess "to be 
anxious for their soul's salva- 
tion." Those who during " re- 
vivals " profess anxiety for 
" salvation " are said to occupy 
" the anxious seat." 

Anyhow you can fix it (Ame- 
rican), however you may try, try 
as you may. " I don't see how 
you can convince me of th9,t, 
anyhow you can fix it," 

Once on a drift log I tink I see an 

Scull my boat roun' and chuck him sweet 

po later. 
I hit him on de head an' try fur to wix it, 
Couldn't fool him bad, wouldn't nohow 
nx it. 

Den I up wid a brick, 
An' I hit him such a lick ! 
An' 'twas nuffin but a pine log upon a big 
— Gumbo Cuff, a Negro Ballad, 1832. 

Any other man (American). This 
phrase had a great "run" in 
1 860. If a man became prosaic , 


Any other — Apes. 

or b^an to " discurse," and to 
use alternatives such as " Brown, 
or Jones, or Robinson," he was 
promptly called to order by the 
cry " OT any other man." It was 
first made known in type by 
Charles G. Leland in a comic 
sketch in the New York Vanity 
Fair. It has since been dis- 
covered that in " Waverley " 
there is the expression " Gif 
any man or any other man." 

Any racket (rhyming slang), a 
penny faggot. 

Anything else, not doing (Ame- 
rican), a strong affirmation gene- 
rally in reply to a question as 
to what is or has been done by 
a third party. "Was So-and- 
so drunk," or " bad tempered," 
or "in good spirits ? " " He 
didn't do or want anything else," 
would be the reply. 

Anywhere down there (tailors), 
an expression which comes al- 
most simultaneously from every 
man in the "shop" when any- 
thing is dropped on the floor. 
The words are peculiarly aggra- 
vating if it is a breakable article. 

Apartments to let (popular), a 
term used in reference to one 
who is not over bright, whose 
head requires metaphorically 
some furniture to fill its empty 
rooms. The French have a 
kindred expression for a man 
who shows signs of becoming 
crazy, and say that he is remov- 
ing his furniture, "ildemdnage." 

It is related of the celebrated 
Richard Brinsley Sheridan that 
his son Thomas, who was a can- 
didate for a seat in Parliament, 
jestingly declared to him that 
he had no decided political prin- 
ciples, that he was inclined to 
serve the party which would pay 
him best, and that he should 
put a placard on his forehead 
inscribed with the words, "To 
let." His father replied, "All 
right, Tom ; but don't forget to 
add, ' unfurnished 1 ' " 

Ape, an " ape-leader " is an old 
maid. The expression occurs in 
" The Taming of the Shrew," and 
is still common. The punish- 
ment of old spinsters, it was 
said, was to lead apes in Hades ; 
whereby two equally innocent 
beings — the maid and the 
ape — were equally but unjustly 
punished. It is probably an 
old superstition derived from 
the East. In India and China, 
certain evil-doers are supposed 
to carry about or lead in hell 
certain animals. ( Vide Doo- 
little, " China.") " To say an 
ape's paternoster," is to chatter 
indistinctly, either from cold or 
excitement. The expression cor- 
responds to the French "dire 
des paten6tres de singe." 

Apes (Stock Exchange), a nick- 
name for Atlantic first mortgage 

If anything tickles our fancy, 
We buy them "Brums," " Caleys," or 

— A tiift : House Scraps. 

Apollo — Apple-pie. 


Apollo bunder (Anglo-Indian), a 
well-known wharf at Bombay. 
The word Apollo appears to be 
a very curious change of the 
native word palla or pallaa, a 
kind of fish, to that of a Greek 
god. Other native authorities 
derive it from pdl, a fighting 
vessel, &c. — Anglo-Indian Glos- 

Apopli (gypsy), once more, again, 
yet again, Kair lis apopli, do it 
again ; anpali, back again, lit., 
" or after." 

Apostles (University, Cantab.). 
The "Gradus ad Cantabrigiam " 
says : " The apostles are the 
clodhoppers of literature, who 
have at last scrambled through 
the Senate House without being 
plucked, and have obtained the 
title of B.A. by a miracle. The 
last twelve names on the list of 
Bachelor of Arts — those a degree 
lower than the ol iroWoi — are 
thus designated." The apostles 
are so called because they are 
twelve in number. (Common) 
"to manoeuvre the apostles," to 
borrow money from one person 
to pay another, an allusion to 
the expression, "Robbing Peter 
to pay Paul." 

Apostle's Grove, St. John's Wood, 
also called ' ' Grove of the Evan- 
gelist." Evilly disposed persons 
might remark that the place is 
saintly only in name, as in some 
parts it corresponds to the Rue 
Breda of Paris, where ladies of 
the demi-monde and even quart- 
de-monde dwell. 

Apple-cart (popular), the human 
body. The term is in keeping 
with the " potato trap," which 
does duty in the slang vocabu- 
lary for mouth ; the " bread 
basket," for stomach; "crum- 
pet," for head, &c. To the 
imaginative powers of coster- 
mongers we probably owe the 
metaphor. One will say that his 
apple-cart is upset, meaning that 
he has been disappointed by the 
failure of his plans. (American) 
" To ' upset one's apple-cart and 
spill the peaches,' means to ruin 
any undertaking. The phrase 
was originally American, and 
had peculiarly this signification 
Hotten's limitation of it to the 
human body was all conjecture 
and fancy." 

Apple-dumpling shop (common), 
a fat woman's exposed breasts. 
The French argot, with more 
(jalanterie, terms the same 
" oranges sur I'dtag^re." 

Apple-pie bed (general), is made 
by xmtucking the sheet at the 
bottom of the bed and doubling 
it up, so as to form a sort of 
bag half way down the bed and 
thus preventing the owner from 
stretching himself at full length. 
A common trick of mischievous 
boys and girls at boarding- 
schools and elsewhere. 

Apple-pie day (Winchester col- 
lege), the last Thursday in Long 
Half, when the " men " get their 
money and the scholars get 


Apple-pie — Ard. 

Apple-pie order (common), in 
regular order. "Order" is an 
old word for a row, and a pro- 
perly made apple-pie had, of 
old, always an order, or row 
of regularly cut " turrets," or 
an exactly divided border. Pies 
are seldom made now in this 
manner in England, but in rural 
America, especially in New Eng- 
land, they are still common. 

I am just in the order which some folks 
— though why I am sure I can't tell you — 
would call apple-pie. — Ingoldsby Legetids. 

Apples and pears (rhyming slang), 
the stairs. 

Application (Irish), name ; a cor- 
ruption and perversion of appel- 

1 am not Aurora, 
Or the beauteous Flora, 
But a rural maiden to all men's view. 
That's here condoling 
My situation, 

And my application is the Colleen Rue. 
— Colleen Rue : Broadside. 

Appro (trade), a contraction of 
approbation. " On appro," on 
sale for return. The term is 
used by tradesmen generally. 

Appropriation (tailors), garments 
taken from old rejections and 
worked in for another " force," 
or the next "supply" for the 

Apronstringf-hold (old), an estate 
held by a man during his wife's 

" There are many estates like leasehold, 
freehold, and copyhold, but a man least 
likes the a/>ronstring;-hold." 

Aqua pumpaginis (old), pump- 
water. Termed also "Adam's 
ale," and " fish broth," for- 
merly, when people with weak 
stomachs did not make a virtue 
of necessity, and when the others 
only " pledged " themselves in 
bumpers of old Burgundy. 

A-ratti, arati (gypsy), by night. 

" Oh mandy jins ardtti to kister off a 

"Oh I know how to ride a horse off by 

Arch (popular), a boat. 

I goes and sneaks a mikket and a lot of 
lines of a pal's arvh. — H. Evans ; The 
Brighton Beach Loafer. 

Arch-cove (thieves), leader of mob 
or party. 

Archdeacon (Oxford), the Merton 
strong ale. 

Arch dell (old), the wife of a 
headman of vagrants. Termed 
also "arch doxy." 

Arch-duke (American thieves), a 
funny fellow. 

Arch-gonnof (American thieves), 
chief of a gang of thieves ; 
termed " dimbcrdamber," " up- 
right man," in old English cant ; 
and archi-siipp6t in the old 
French argot. Gonnof is Yid- 
dish for thief ; Hebrew, ganef. 

Ard (American thieves), hot ; evi- 
dently from ardent. In old cant 
it had the signification of foot. 

Area — Arkansas. 


Area sneak (popular), one who 
sneaks into kitchens to steal. 
Other varieties of malefactors go 
by the appellations of " prig, 
cracksman, crossman, sneaks- 
man, moucher, hooker, flash - 
cove, bug-hunter, cross-cove, 
buz-faker, fogle-hunter, stook- 
hauler, toy-getter, tooler, prop- 
nailer, palmer, dragsman, buz- 
gloak, amuser, bob-sneak, boun- 
cer, bully-prigger, thimble-twis- 
ter, gun, conveyancer, dancer, 
pudding -snammer, ziff, drum- 
mer, knuck, buttock -and -file, 
poll-thief, little snakesman, mill- 
ben, a cove on the cross, flash- 
man, finder, gleaner, picker, 
tax-collector," and formerly " a 
good fellow, a bridle-cull, a 
sampsman, an angler." — Bar- 
r Ire's Argot and Slang. 

Argify (popular), a jargon corrup- 
tion of to argue. 

"The European league of Peace and 
Liberty have just held a congress at 
Geneva. The hrst sitting was very noisy. 
Most ' leagues ' prefer liberty to peace, 
when it comes to argi/ying." 

Do you want to argify, you little beggar. 
— Leech's Cartoons. 

Argol-bargol. According to Hot- 
ten this is a Scotch phrase 
signifying "to bandy words." 
It is possible that it has a 
Hebrew derivation. Bar-len in 
Yiddish is, " to talk or speak 
in any way," and hargolis is 
one who goes about in misery 
and poverty, perhaps a fluent 
beggar. Argol is the popular 
pronunciation of ergo — as given 
by Dame Quickly — a word which 

of old was continually used in 
argumentative conversation. 

Aristippus (old), a diet drink 
much in vogue in the latter part 
of the last century. It was 
made of sarsaparUla and other 
drugs, and sold at the coffee- 

Ark (thieves), a boat or vessel. 
(Military), a box in the barrack- 
room used for holding extra 
articles of a man's kit. In 
America a large boat used on 
rivers to transport produce to 

It may be noted, that in the 
northern counties the large 
chests in farm-houses used for 
keeping meat or flour are called 
arks. Villon, the old French 
poet, in his Jargon Jobelin, 
terms arque a coffer or money- 
box, and in the modem French 
argot "aller h, I'arche" means 
to go frequently to the money- 
box, to spend one's money freely. 

Ark and dove (masonic), an 
American degree preparatory 
to the R.A. 

Arkansas toothpick (American), 
a large bowie knife which shuts 
up into the handle. It is a 
piece of savage irony which 
thus dubs it, as the blade, which 
has a point of half its length, is 
over a foot long and two inches 

Straightway leaped the valiant Slingby, 
Into armour of Seville, 

With a strong Arkansas toothpick. 
Screwed in every joint of steel. 
—Ben Gaultier: American Ballads, B. 


A rk — A rsy-varsy. 

Ark floater (theatrical), an actor 
so loaded with years, that he is 
supposed, through some effort 
of the imagination, to have 
made his d^but before the 
" floats," i.e., the footlights in 
Noah's ark. People will say, 
"You must have come out of 
the ark," or " You were born in 
the ark ; " because you are so 
old-fashioned, and ignorant of 
current events. 

Ark-man (old), Thames boatman 

Ark-ruff (old), fresh-water thief. 

Armpits (old), petty larceny. The 
term has been imported into 
Australia by the convicts. Vaux, 
in his Memoirs, says : " To work 
under the armpits, is to practise 
only such kinds of depredation 
as will amount, upon conviction, 
to what the law terms single 
or petty larceny, the extent of 
punishment for which is trans- 
portation for seven years. By 
following this system a thief 
avoids the halter, which cer- 
tainly is applied above the 
armpits." Watches are stolen 
by using the right hand under 
the armpit of the left arm, which 
is put across the breast. 

Armstrong, Captain (turf), a dis- 
honest jockey. " He came Cap- 
tain Armstrong" is equivalent 
to saying that the rider pulled 
with a strong arm, thus prevent- 
ing his horse from winning. 

'Arry, for Harry, a familiar general 
term for a young costermonger 

dressed in his best clothes when 
taking a Sunday walk with his 
young woman. The correspond- 
ing word for the young woman 
is *' Sarah Jane " or "Jemima." 
The 'Arri^ are almost indigenous 
to London, are generally to be 
seen with short pipes in their 
mouths, and swarm at fairs and 
races and other places of public 
resort, talking slang and puff- 
ing tobacco smoke, and if not 
altogether of the same genus 
as the roughs and rowdies that 
infest great cities, are little re- 
moved from them in manners, 
appearance, and conversation. 

'Arry smokes a two-penny smoke 

Oh ! poor 'Arry! 
' Arty's pipe's enough to choke, 

Bad boy, 'A rry ! 
'Arry thinks it very good fun 

To puff his cheap cigar 
Into the faces of every one 

While doing the la-di-da. 

—Ballad : How do, 'A rry f 

The female ^Ai'ri/ is sometimes 
called an "'Arriet." 

As an inhabitant of Munster Square, I 
am quite content to gaze on the "green 
space," and should be very sorry to see it 
become the rendezvous of the 'Arrits and 
"'Arriets" of the neighbourhood. — The 

Arse-board, the hinder part of a 


Arse coolers (vulgar), a term 
used by common women in 
speaking of dress-improvers. 

Arsy-varsy (old), topsy-turvy, 
heels over head. 

" The old mare pitched him arsy-Tarsy 
into the ditch." 

Artesian — Assay. 


Artesian (Australian, popular), 
Colonial beer. People in Gipps- 
land, Victoria, use artesian just 
as Tasmanians use cascade, in 
the sense of " beer," because 
the one is manufactured from 
the celebrated artesian well at 
Sale, Gippsland, and the other 
from the cascade water. 

Artful (popular), a word of wide 
application to intimate trickery, 
secrecy, and " dodges." 

He'd an artful little bottle on an artful 

little shelf, 
He was not "a little silly," but a very 

knowing elf. 

— H. Adams: Sister Hannah. 

Artful dodgers (thieves), lodgers ; 
fellows who dare not sleep twice 
in the same place for fear of 

Artichoke (American thieves), a 
low and old prostitute. It is 
curious to note that the French 
argot has the term c(£ur d'arti- 
chaut to denote a man or woman 
of a highly amatory disposition. 

Paillasson, quoi ! cceur d artichaut, 
C'est men genre ; un' feuille pour tout 

r monde, 
Au jour d'aujourd'hui j'gobe la blonde ; 
Apres d' main, c'est la brun' qu'i m'faut. 
—Gill: La Muse ii Bibi. 

Article (popular), a poor specimen 
of humanity ; also, a wretched 

Articles (American thieves), a suit 
of clothes ; termed in the Eng- 
lish slang, "togs, toggery, clob- 

Articles of virtue (familiar) {i.e., 
vertu), virgins. 

Artistic. It is a common error 
to suppose that artistic is a 
synonym for beautiful, symme- 
trical, or attractive. That only 
is artistic which, being made 
by the hand of man, indicates 
direct individual character and 
touch. The more machinery in- 
tervenes between the original 
pattern and the mere copy, the 
less art is there. The Sistine 
Madonna is truly a work of art, 
the most perfect chromo-litho- 
graphic copy of it is not. As 
used by many tradesmen, to 
indicate their cast works, 
machine-sawed furniture, &c., 
the word art or artistic is mere 

Asa, asarla, asarlus (gypsy), thus, 
so, in this manner. 

Ash path (running), a running 
path formed of pulverised cin- 
ders or black ash. 

Ask bogy (old slang), an indecent 
evasive exclamation used by 
sailors when not wishing to 
answer any question. 

Askew (old cant), this may be a 
corruption of escuelle. 

Asking (turf), a jockey is said to 
" ask " or " call upon " a horse 
when rousing him to greater 

Assay (American thieves' slang), 
commence, try it. From the 


Assay — Atmosphere. 

expression to take the aaaay or 
esiay, to taste wine to prove that 
it is not poisoned. Hence to 
try, to taste, trial or sample. 
Shakspeare uses the term. 

(He) makes vow before his uncle, never 

To give the assay of arms against your 


— Hamlet. 

Asses (printers). See Donkeys. 
Term used by pressmen for com- 
positors, by way of retaliation 
in calling them "pigs." The 
animal creation has furnished 
a variety of slang terms for 
French printers in sufficient 
numbers to form a small mena- 
gerie. Thus a compositor is 
called " mulct ; " a master or 
foreman, "singe;" anewspaper, 
"canard" (which also means 
false news) ; to have " one's 
monkey up," that is, to be angry, 
is "gober sa chfevre" or "son 
boeuf ," from the effect produced 
by the horns of the animal in 
the metaphoric operation ; a 
letter which has fallen from 
the form is termed " chien ; " a 
creditor, " loup ; " an idle work- 
man whodisturbs others, " ours." 
" Poser une sangsue" is to cor- 
rect one's fellow-workman's 
work in his absence. The Ger- 
man typos say that one receives 
liis "herring" when he gets 
dismissed from his employ. 

Astern (common), behind, in the 
rear of ; from the nautical term. 

Asti .(gypsy), would have, have 
to ; astis, can, possible ; asti 

si, it can be ; nasti negti, it is not 
possible, i.e., it cannot be. 

Astral body (theosophist), a 
phrase borrowed from the Rosi- 
crucians, and used by Paracelsus 
and Van Helmont. It signifies 
a semi-spiritual self, which goes 
forth from the body. 

Then there is the astral body, which is 
a nice thing to have, as it can be made 
responsible for all the doings of the carnal 
body, and can be pressed into service for 
any occasion when the latter would be of 
no account, even to the materialising of 
strawberries in January, or crockery at 
picnics when the necessary plates and cups 
have been forgotten. The only difficulty 
with the astral body is its unreliability. 
It is such a subtle, slippery thing that the 
owner, unless he hangs on to it with the 
utmost tenacity, is apt to lose it just when 
he most needs it, like the Buddhist in 
New York who wis jailed the other day. 
He had been in the habit of depending 
upon his astral body for the materialisation 
of coin to meet his expenses, and when 
arrested for obt.iining money under false 
pretences could only defend himself by 
saying that he had lost his astral body. 
As he could not show that he had taken 
any pains to find it, and had not even 
advertised a reward for it, he had to take 
the same penalties that are imposed upon 
those who have no astral bodies to fall 
back upon in time of financial emergency. 
— Chicago Tribune. 

Atch, hatch (gypsy), to remain, 

" Sa mandy hatched to kur, my rye" — 
" So I stayed to fight, my master." 

Atmosphere (American, Boston), 
a new slang of society 
and literature thus explained 
by an American journal : — 

" The cant of the day is the word a/wioj- 
/A^rr, which displaced 'tone.' When 
people tried to be exquisite they spoke of 

Atomy — Attorney. 


the tone of a novel, a club, or a person. 
Now it is atmosphere. A city is said to 
have a peculiar atmosphere when its people 
and their customs seem peculiar to the 
observer. Such words are very convenient 
when people have nothing particular to 
say, and mean to say it impressively." 

Atomy (popular), a small or 
deformed person. Varied some- 
times to an "abortion," 

Atrish (gypsy), afraid. 

" An whenever the bavol pudered he was 
atrdsh he'd pel a-lay pr6 the shinger- 
ballas o' the guro" — "And whenever the 
wind blew he was afraid he would fall 
down on the horns of the bull." — The 
English Gypsies. 

At that (American), meaning 
something in addition to, an 
intensive. Said to have origi- 
nated in Pennsylvania, and to 
be a translation of the German 
dazu. " She is beautiful and 
rich at that," " She is old and 
ugly at that." It is also used 
upon a variety of occasions, 
without reason or necessity. 

" Now then, Mister, drinks all round, 
and cobblers at that." — Notes on Canada. 

He's got a scolding wife, and an ugly 
one at that. — Bartlett. 

The Mississippi's a mighty big drink — 
and a muddy one at that. — Idem. 

The practice with one-half of the New 
Yorkers, of moving on the first of May, is 
an awful custom, and foolish at that. — 
Major Downing. 

In Australia one talks of dear 
at that, weak at that, &c., some 
such word as "rate" or "price " 
being understood. 

So we'll drain the flowing bowl, 
'Twill not jeopardise the soul, 
For it's only tea and weak at that. 

—KeighlyGoodchild: The Old 
Felt Hat. 

Attic (popular), the human head, 
to be " queer in the attic," to 
be intoxicated or cracked. A 
somewhat similar term in the 
French slang is " grenier k sel." 
The synonyms are, "knowledge- 
box, tibby, costard, nob, nut, 
chump, upper storey, crum- 

Attleborough (American), sham. 
Sham jewellery, from the town 
of Attleborough, in Massachu- 
setts, where much imitation or 
trashy jewellery is made. 

Attorney (thieves). The term is 
applied to a cunning fellow, or 
at least one who passes himself 
off as such ; clever in getting 
round people, or turning diffi- 
culties [attorney, French A tour- 
ner) ; a loafer who pretends to 
a full knowledge of the legal 
meshes in which the light- 
fingered gentry are occasion- 
ally involved. The attorney is 
always ready to give advice in 
these and other matters for a 
small consideration in money, 
and failing that, for a glass of 
any kind of "tipple" at the 
nearest "pub." This distant 
relation to the great family of 
"limbs of the law " hangs about 
the favourite resorts of other 
kinds of " practitioners," i.e., 
thieves. He is considered as a 
shining light by some, as an 
impostor by others, but what- 
ever the case may be, he dis- 
tinguishes himself from the real 
attorney by the low rate of his 


Attorney-General — Aunt. 

Attorney-General's devil (legal). 
This is a barrister, who, not 
being a Queen's Counsel, is ap- 
pointed by the Attorney-General 
for the time being to be his 
"junior" in Government cases. 
He is always one of the best 
men at the junior bar, and as 
such is chosen by the Attorney- 

Attory, venomous, from adder, 
a poisonous little serpent, origi- 
nally spelt and pronounced ad- 
der y. Chaucer in the "Per- 
son's Tale" speaks of attry anger; 
Anglo-Saxon attor, poison. 

Auctioneer (popular), to tip him 
the auctioneer, is to knock a 
man off his legs. Derived from 
the saleroom phrase to knock 

Audit (Winchester), the day on 
which the students receive their 
pocket-money, called also "ap- 
ple-pie day." 

Audit ale (Cambridge), very 
strong ale supposed to be drunk 
on audit day. It is peculiar to 
Trinity College. About two cen- 
turies ago, some ale was brewed 
for that college which was so 
strong and good that the recipe 
was preserved with care, and 
the ale has ever since been 
made every year in a limited 
(quantity. Professors and un- 
dergraduates arc allowed to 
purchase a certain number of 
bottles. This ale will burn like 
spirits when thrown into the 

ITie table was spread with coffee, audit, 
devils, omelets, hare-pies, and all the other 
articles of the buttery.— (?«;V/<a[; N eld in 

Audley or orderly (theatrical), a 
term used by theatrical show- 
men when they wish to abridge 
the performance, in consequence 
of there being a sufficient num- 
ber of persons waiting to fill 
" another house." The manager 
or parade master will then call 
out, John Orderly I 

Auger (American), a prosy fel- 
low, a bore. 

Aul. prae. (Winchester), an abbre- 
viation which stands for Pra- 
fectas Aula, that is. Prefect of 

Auly-auly (Winchester), a game 
played on " grass court " on Sa- 
turday afternoons after chapel. 
It is played by throwing a 
small cricket ball at your op- 

Aunt. This term, as used in the 
phrase at " my aunt's,'" in a 
brothel, is obsolete. The old 
slang of the Elizabethan era, 
aunt, had the signification of 
a concubine, a prostitute, or a 
woman of loose morals, or, 
worse, a procuress. " Mine aunt 
will feed me," was a, common 
phrase at one time, meaning an 
agent who would procure virgins 
for the purposes of debauchery. 
Shakspeare and Hen Jonson use 
the word. 

Aunt — Autem. 


The lark, that tirra-lirra chants, — 
With, hey ! with, hey ! the thrush and 

the jay : — 
Are summer songs forme and my aunts. 
While we lie tumbling in the hay. 

— Shakspeare. 

The more modem expression 
for a concubine — who lives in 
a single man's house without 
either of them letting the world 
into the real secret of the con- 
nection — is "niece." Thus 
many reverend gentlemen in 
Catholic countries, whose vows 
of chastity debar them from 
enjoying the sweets of pater- 
nity, are fain to content them- 
selves with being the uncles 
of pretty "nieces." A curSs 
niece is a standing joke in 
France. The sons of the Pope 
— if these high ecclesiastical 
dignitaries have any, as they 
had in ancient times far more 
frequently than in the present 
— are called " nephews." 

To go to "my aunt's," to go 
to the privy. The expression is 
nowadays used chiefly by girls, 
who say among themselves, " I 
am going to my aunt," or " I 
am going to my auntie." 

Australian flag, the (Anglo-Austra- 
lian slang), the bottom of a shirt. 
The Australian who lives up the 
country generally wears a belt 
instead of braces, the result 
being that when he exerts him- 
self, there is usually a great 
fold of shirt protruding between 
his small clothes and his waist- 
coat, which Englishmen have 
called in scorn the Australian 
flag. The Cornstalk talks of 

him as a '* new chum ; " he talks 
of the Cornstalk as " showing the 
A ustralian flag." 

Australian grip (up country Aus- 
tralian), a hearty shake of the 
hand (compare Masonic Grip.) 
The bushman shakes hands very 
heartily — a long grip with the 
whole hand, following three 
deep shakes. He does not crush 
your hand ; but he is sarcastic 
about the "limp shakes" and 
"one-finger shakes" of people 
" newly out from home." 

None the less 
Was he a graceful, well-bred host, 
But he was hearty in accost, 
And giving the A ustralian grip 
And good up-country fellowship 
As bushmeii. 

—D. B. IV. Sladen : A Summer 

Autem or autum, a church. This 
word, which is of the oldest 
cant, and is given by Harman, is 
probably the Yiddish a'lhoummc, 
a church {tifleheing the common 
term), which in ordinary con- 
versation would be pronounced 
autem. It seems to have been 
at first always associated with 
clerical marriage, and as in cant 
Adam and Eve are terms for 
husband and wife, it is possible 
that Autem also owes some- 
thing to Outem or Oudem, as 
Adam is pronounced in Yiddish. 
Thoumme or tume reallj' means 
the forbidden or impure (church). 
("Unrein verboten." — Thiele.) 
"A," or "ah," is the vulgar Yid- 
dish pronunciation for "Ein." 
It is curious to note that in old 


A uteni — A uthor. 

French cant a church was 
termed entonne or entijle, tijle 
being Yiddish for church. 

Autem bawler or autem-jet (old), 
a parson. The more modern 
slang has the epithets, " devil 
dodger," and " sky pilot." 

At last Job explained the cause of my 
appearance, viz., his wish to pacify Daw- 
son's conscience by dressing up one of the 
pals, whom the sinner could not recognise, 
as an autem bawler, and so obtaining him 
the benefit of the clergy without endanger- 
ing the gang by his confession. — Buhver 
Lytton : Pelkant. 

Autem cackle tub (old), conven- 
ticle, or Dissenters' meeting- 

Autem cacklers (old), Dissenters. 
It also means married women. 

Oh ! where will be the culls of the bing, 

A hundred stretches hence ? 
The bene morts, who sweetly sing, 

A hundred stretches hence? 
The aute>n<ackUrs , autem coves, 
The jolly blade who wildly roves ; 
And where the cuffer, bruiser, blowen, 
And all the cops and beaks so knowin', 

A hundred stretches hence ? 

— A Hundred Stretches Hence. 

Autem cove (thieves), a married 

Autem dippers or divers (old), 
Anabaptist-s, from the custom 
of dipping or baptizing the con- 

Autem divers (old), church pick 
purses, and derisively, the 
churchwardens and overseers 
of the j)Oor, 

Autem goglers (old), pretended 
French prophets. 

Autem jet (old), one of the in- 
numerable equivalents for a 
parson. Autem,, a church ; jei, 
black, from the prevailing hue 
in a parson's dress. 

Autem mort (old cant). A legal 
wife, whose marriage has been 
celebrated in a church. It 
does not apply to marriages 
celebrated by " hedge parsons" 
on the highway, as rendered me- 
morable by the lines supposed 
to have been given to a pair of 
gypsy lovers by Dean Swift : — 

" Beneath this tree in rainy weather, 
I've joined this whore and thief together ; 
And none but He who wields the thunder 
Shall part this whore and thief asunder." 

The autum-mort finds better sport 
In bowsing then in nigling, 
This is bien bowse, this is bien bowse. 
— R. Brome: A Jovial Crew. 

Autem prickears (old), a gene- 
ral name for Dissenters. (See 
Autem Cacklkrs.) 

Autem quavers (old), Quakers. 

Autem quaver tub (old), a Quakers' 

Author baiting (theatrical), a 
sprightly pastime, invariably 
indulged in on the first night 
of an unsuccessful play. The 
process is as follows : — 

"First. — Set your trap, and catch your 
author. In order to do so— call for him 
with spontaneity, and apparent enthusiasm. 

"Second. — When you have caught him, 
that is, as soon as he puts his before 
the curtain, go for him, shout, shriek, yell, 
bellow, hiss, emit a flood of ' obscure noises 
from filthy lips." 

Av — Avast. 


"When you have degraded yourself to 
thelevel of the lowest standard of humanity, 
and when you have insulted the unfortu- 
nate dramatist hy every means which your 
paucity of brains and plenitude of lungs 
can devise, your author baiting is com- 

Av (gJTsy), come ; avakdi, come 
here. • Full form me avava, I 
come. " If tute'U av akai 
mandy'll del tute a horra" — 
"If you'll come here, I'll give 
you a penny." 

Av my little Romany chel, 
Av along with mansar ! 
Av my little Romany chel, 
Koshto si for mangue. 

— Borrcnu. 

Avails, profits or advantages, ab- 
breviated into vaili, is the gratui- 
ties given by visitors or guests 
in great houses to servants for 
civilities, attentions, or services 

Avast (nautical), a sailor's phrase 
for stop, cease, stay. Accord- 
ing to Webster a corruption of 
the Dutch Koud vast, hold fast. 
Some etymologists connect it 
with the old cant term " bynge 
a waste." Others ascribe its 
origin to the Italian batta, 
enough. This derivation seems 
plausible, from the circum- 
stance that French workmen 
use hasta with the same signifi- 
cation as EngUsh tars. 

Avast heaving a minute, Tom, and 
we'll light our pipes and gather round 
and spin cuff; what do you say, lad? — 
/iare Bits. 

" No satisfactory explanation 
of this term, which occurs 

in the oldest English cant- 
ing," says C. G. Leland, "has 
ever been offered." In gypsy, 
wast or vast (Hindu, hasta or 
hast) means a hand, and, as in 
English, it is intimately con- 
nected with using the hands or 
being ready. Chiv a vast adoi ! 
means exactly in Romany, "put 
a hand there I" "be alert!" 
It is equivalent to "lend a 
hand ! " It will be readily un- 
derstood that the injunctipn to 
lend a hand might easily be- 
come a synonym for " attend 
there ! " " observe ! " or " look 
out ! " It is to be remarked 
that in modern English, gypsy 
hatch a wowjish ! meang^'"stop 
a bit!" or, literally, "stop a 
thumb ! " Wongish is a cor- 
rupted form of angustrin, a 
fiuger or thumb, and it seems 
to be a synonym for a bit or 
small piece, because a digit 
forms a smaller portion of the 
hand. " I'll not bate a finger's 
breadth of it." Vast, meaning 
a hand, appears to denote a 
greater extent or quantity, e.g., 
"a hand's breadth better," and 
is sometimes confused with vast, 
meaning a great deal. An old 
Yorkshire song says — 

" But Tom got the best of this bargain 
And came off wi' a Yorkshireman's 
triumph at last." 

Wright gives vast as meaning 
a waste or deserted space. In 
the song the actual meaning is 
that the victor beat his anta- 
gonist not vastly but by a little, 
or " by a hand," i.e., " barely," 


A vast — A wful. 

as the succeeding lines clearly 
prove : — 

" For though between dead horses there's 
rwt much to choose, 
Yet Tom's were the better by the hide 
and four shoes," 

Avail In old cant has the 
signification of away. 

Avast to the pad, let us bing. — T. 
MiddUton : Roaring' Girle. 

Avering', the trick of a be^ar 
boy who strips himself and goes 
naked into a town with a false 
story of his being cold and rob- 
bed of his clothes, to move com- 
. passion and get other clothes. 
This is called averts and to go 
an avering. — Old Manuscript in 
the Lansdotone Collection, quoted in 
Wrigkt^s ^'Archaic Dictionary." 
The word is evidently gypsy, 
from aver, to come or go, as 
further appears by averis, is or 
OS being (as is common in Indian 
dialects) a suffix to form a noun 
{vide Av). 

Avo, Swo, auwo, awali, avail 

(gypsy), yes. Avali is rare in 
England, but it may be com- 
monly heard in Hungary. 

Lei a chumer del a chumer 

Avo, avali ! 

Buti, buti, sSr pa tQte, 

Miro kilmlo zi. 
Take a kiss — give a kiss — yes — yes. Many 
and many, all for you, my dear heart. 

— Janet Tuckey. 

Avoirdupois lay (old), stealing 
brass weights off shop counters. 

A'wake (general), on one's guard, 
warned, put up to. 

" A common expression of 
the ' family people ; ' thus a 
thief will say to his accomplice 
on perceiving that the person 
they are about to rob is aware 
of their intention and upon his 
guard, ' Stow it, the cove's 
awake.' To be awake to any 
scheme, deception, or design, 
means, generalh', to see through 
or comprehendit." — From Vaux's 

Awer (gypsy), but. This recalls 
the German aber, but it is pro- 
bably only a form of the affirma- 
tive awo. 

Awful. This word does duty in 
fa.'ihionable slang for "very." 
Girls and women are no longer 
"very pretty" or "very hand- 
some," but "awfully pretty" 
or " aicftdly handsome." The 
expression is sometimes varied 
into "dreadfully." An awful 
shame or pity, or a dreadful 
shame or pity, are common 
expressions both among the 
high and low vulgar. "An 
aicfidly fine day " is a favourite 
expletive among young and 
old, but especially among the 
young. All these, and count- 
loss other perversions of the 
word, might fitly be described 
as awfully destructive of the 
grace, elegance, and purity of 
the English language. In like 
manner very laughable farces 
are declared to be screamingly 
funny or excruciatingly funny ; 
as if very were no longer an 
English word. 

A wful — Ayrshires. 


" The lumberer very rarely mixes in polite 
society, but when he does he never fails 
to make his mark. Only a few weeks ago 
he was introduced to , and that effu- 
sive young lady was quite charmed with 

" ' I think him awfully nice,' she said ; 
' I am quite taken with him.' 

" And so were they all, until a subsequent 
examination of the sideboard disclosed the 
fact that a considerable portion of the plate 
had likewise been taken with him." 

The Philadelphia Press quotes 
"a charming old lady's advice 
to girls — very excellent advice 
indeed, to the sv?eet-faced dam- 
sels who are making their first 
bows to society this winter. 
Firstly, what to avoid : 

" A loud, weak, affected, whining, harsh, 
or shrill tone of voice. 

" Extravagances in conversation — such 
phrases as ''awfully this,' 'beastly that," 
' loads of time,' ' don't you know,' ' hate ' 
for ' dislike,' &c. 

" Sudden exclamation of annoyance, 
surprise, and joy — often dangerously 
approaching to female swearing — as 
' bother ! ' ' gracious ! ' ' how jolly ! ' " 

Awkward squad (military and 
nautical), a squad formed of 
the men who are backward in 
drill instruction. The French 
have the corresponding term, 
"Le peloton des maladroits." 

Axe to grind, an (American, 
political), said when a man who 

has some pet scheme or hobby 
of his own in view, supports 
another who may in the future 
be useful to him. Such men 
are said to have axes to grind,. 

Special legislation in behalf of private 
interests is one of the curses of this country, 
otherwise so blessed by the smiles of Divine 
Providence. The number of axes which 
are taken to the various State Capitols, to 
be ground at the public expense, is per- 
fectly enormous. — Ne^u York Tribune. 

The phrase is derived from a 
story told by Benjamin Franklin 
in his life. Once when he was 
a boy, a man who wanted to 
grind an axe persuaded little 
Benjamin by flattery to turn the 
stone till he was utterly weary 
and his hands were sore, and 
then when it was done, told 
him rudely to be off. After 
this, whenever anybody was ex- 
tremely amiable, the great Ame- 
rican philosopher speculated 
whether the polite person had 
not an axe to grind. 

Ayah (Anglo-Indian), a Hindoo 
nurse or lady's attendant. From 
the Portuguese aia, a nurse. 

Ayrshires (Stock Exchange), is 
used to describe Glasgow and 
South-Western Railway stock. 


Ba — Baboo- English. 

(fenian). In the Fenian 
vocabulary this letter 
stands for a captain. 

Ba (gypsy), brother, 
friend. This resembles the north- 
country hor, but is of Hindu 

Babblers (sport), ill-bred hounds ; 
when the pack is questing the 
babblers frequently open without 

Babelo-dye, babalo-dye (gypsy), 

Babes (trade), the " small fry " or 
lower orders of "knook-out" 
men who are bought over by the 
larger dealers just previous to 
a sale coming off, and who for 
a few shilUngs retire altogether, 
or promise to make no biddings 
while the lot is held by any of 
the other party. 

Baboo (Anglo-Indian), from the 
Bengali and Hindu Bdbu, which 
is properly a term of respect, 
like Master or Mr. Its applica- 
tion in this sense is now confined 
to Lower Bengal, though C. P. 
Brown states that it is also used 
in Southern India for My Lord 
or Your Honour. In Bengal 
and elsewhere it is often used 
among Anglo-Indians with a 
slight savour of disparagement, 
as characterising a superficially 
cultivated but too often effemi- 
nate Bengali. From the exten- 
sive cmi)loyment of the class to 
which the term was applied as 

a title, in the capacity of clerks 
in English oflBces, the word has 
come often to signify a native 
clerk who writes English. — 
Anglo-Indian Glossary. 

" But I'd sooner be robbed by a tall man 

who showed me a yard of steel. 

Than be fleeced by a sneaking Baboo with 

a peon and badge at his heel." 

—Sir A. C. Lyall: The Old 

Baboo - English (Anglo - Indian). 
This term is applied to the 
peculiar English which is rather 
written than spoken by the 
natives in India. It is difficult 
to describe, not being specially 
ungrammatical or faulty as re- 
gards orthography, and yet it is 
the drollest dialect of English 
known. It is most humorous 
when the writer has made him- 
self familiar with, let us say 
Shakspeare and the Referee, the 
Bible and the "Slang Diction- 
ary," Artemus Ward, Milton, 
Punch, and the "Polite Letter 
Writer," and then contrives to 
happily unite all their character- 
istics with most unexceptionable 
gravity and skill. It is said that 
a converted Baboo, wishing to 
combine devotion with kindly 
feeUng, ended a letter to an 
English lady-patron, to whom 
he supplied meat, with this 
expression : " Your affectionate 
butcher, in Christ." Of late 
years many amusing specimens 
of Baboo- English have been 
collected and })ublished. There 
is a work called " The Baboo 
and Other Tales," by Augustus 

Babus — Back block. 


Babus, bawbus (gypsy), grand- 
father. " Mandy dikked yer 
hdbus a chinnin kosbters kaliko 
adr^ lestis tan" — "I saw your 
grandfather a cutting woods 
(making skewers) yesterday, in 
his tent." 

Baby-herder (American cowboy 
slang), a nurse for an infant. — 
C. Leland Harrison : MS. Ameri- 

Baby-paps (thieves), rhyming 
slang for caps. 

Bacca-pipe (popular), old-fash- 
ioned way of wearing whiskers. 
The bacca-pipe was the whisker 
curled in tiny ringlets. 

Bach, to, batch, baching (Ame- 
rican), from the word bachelor. 
To form a party and live without 
women's society or aid in the 
woods or by the sea-side. The 
expenses entailed on young 
men who mix with ladies in 
society at the watering-places 
in America are great, and often 
out of all proportion to their 
means, the natural result being 
that bachelors take to the 
forests or sea-surf, and live 
in tents, enjoying themselves 
thoroughly without the aid of 
" the muslin," for half, or quar- 
ter the money which they must 
otherwise have expended on 
treating ladies to carriages, 
juleps and cobblers after bath- 
ing, billiards and ten pins, ball 
tickets and suppers. 

Baching', a delightful Western amuse- 
ment which pleases the doctors. Never 

bach? Well, it's a great scheme. Can 
have just what your appetite craves, and 
at a nominal price, and there is no woman 
around to find fault and comment upon 
the lay-out. Of course it requires judg- 
ment to prorate the ingredients essential to 
a first-class repast, and frequently one errs 
in the quantity of seasoning necessary to 
impart a palatable relish to corn, tomatoes, 
string beans, and succotash, but you soon 
catch on, and frequently before the salt 
and pepper give out. . . . Yes, baching is 
perfectly delightful, and while errors may 
inter\'ene during the period in which the 
dog is convalescing, the outcome cannot 
be other than satisfactory — to resident 
physicians. — California Newspaper. 

Back (general) to get one's baxik 
tip, to get angry, the idea being 
taken from a cat, that always 
arches its hack when irritated. 
" Don't get your back up," 
" Keep your hair on," " Don't 
lose your shirt," are synony- 
mous expressions for an exhor- 
tation to keep one's temper. 

Back block (Australian), the 
country outside the margin of 
the settled districts. 

Like the brief flight of a sparrow upon a 

wintry night, 
Out of the frost and and darkness into 

the warm and light, 
Is the advent of a stranger in the back 

blocks out West, 
Here to-night, and gone to-morrow, after 
food, roof, and rest. 
—D. B. IV. Sladen : Out West in 
Queensland {First Edition of 
Australian Lyrics). 

These back blocks are, as a rule, 
grazing country, often very 
poor, let to the squatters (or 
graziers) in immense tracts at a 
nominal rent. One often hears 
of a man holding a thousand 


Back block — Back-handed. 

or two thousand squaxe miles. 
Mr. Fisher, a South Austra- 
lian, recently put upon the 
market, in the northern terri- 
tory of South Australia, lAocks 
to the aggregate of thirty or 
forty thousand square miles. 
In very remote parts, crown- 
lands are sometimes leased at 
sixpence a square mile. The 
two greatest difficulties to con- 
tend with (besides droughts and 
floods) are " getting up stores," 
and getting to market. Cattle 
are sometimes driven all the way 
from the Gulf of Carpentaria 
to Melbourne, the whole length 
of Australia, for sale, and some 
cattle which had come this 
journey had been six months 
and three weeks en route. 

Back-breakers. According to the 
evidence taken before the Chil- 
dren's Employment Commis- 
sion, the ganger who contracts 
to do the work hires the sm<allest 
and cheapest children, select- 
ing the strongest and most will- 
ing of the gang as a back-breaker, 
whose duty it is to. set an 
example of activity to the rest 
and " put them along." 

Back-cheat (old cant), a cloak. 

Back-cloth (theatrical), scenes in 
a theatre or music hall. 

'I"he hack<loth is the well-known " wood- 
land glade" that Mr. de Pinna, the mana- 
ger, invariably selects as the scene of these 
combats, and three rounds are fought 
under the Marquis of Queensberry rules. 
— Evening Ncivs. 

Back - door work (popular), 

Backed (old slang), dead, with 
" one's toes turned up." 

Back end (racing), the last two 
months of the racing season. 

Lowestoft, though amongst the arrivals, 
shirked some of his engagements last back 
end. — Star. 

A bad: enler, consequently, is 
a horse which appears on the 
racecourse at the end of the 

Lord Bradford's horse evidently likes 
the Doncaster course, and he is undoubt- 
edly a hack ender. It must be for these 
reasons that he is so well backed, by the 
public be it understood, the stable rarely 
making any sign until the last moment. — 
Sporting Times. 

Backers (a racing technical term), 
the general body of the betting 
public who wager on horses 
winning, in contradistinction to 
the more limited society of the 
"ring" or "bookmakers," who 
bet against horses. 

This term is also frequently 
applied to coal carriers, whip- 
pers, or heavers. 

Mr. Dudley Baxter, M.A,, 
states in National Income that a 
coal backer is considered past 
work at forty. 

Back-gammon player (old), a 
practiser of an unmentionable 
vice. Also called " an usher," or 
"gentleman of the back door." 

Back-handed turn (Stock Ex- 
change), leaving made an un- 
profitable bargain. 

Backhanders — Back seats. 


Backhanders (common), one who 
keeps back the decanter in order 
to hand himself a second glass 
before he passes it. Also, a 
drink out of turn. 

Long experience has shown us that to 
get small advantages over us gives the 
Scotch so much pleasure that we should 
not think of grudging them the mild satis- 
faction, just as a kindly host affects not 
to notice a valued guest, who, he observes, 
always helps himself to an innocent back- 
hander. — The Saturday Review. 

Back handicap (running), the 
process of revising a time handi- 
cap, the time being reckoned 
from the second the " limit 
man " is sent off. 

Back-house, or backward (com- 
mon), a privy. So called from 
being usually situated at the 
rear of house. Soldiers also 
call it "the rear," from asking 
leave to fall to the rear of the 

Backing or turning-on (Ameri- 
can thieves' slang), a very usual 
kind of cheating, by which a 
man is victimised in such a 
manner as to render himself 
liable to punishment. 

Back jump (thieves), a back win- 
dow. The window seems to be 
considered by thieves only in 
the light of a convenient means 
of escape, hence the expression 

Back mark (running), the mark 
nearest the scratch — sometimes, 
of course, the scratch itself. A 

man is said to be " backmarked ' ' 
in handicajjping when the 
handicapper sets him back, or 
gives him less start than he has 
hitherto had. 

Back of beyond, the (American), 
a mythical country where large 
fortunes are to be made — a Tom 
Tiddler's ground. 

I sat down to my breakfast on the 
morning of the second day of April 188-, 
with no more notion that I should find 
myself at dinner-time that day at sea, 
bound on a voyage, the story of which I 
now propose to write, than I have, seeing 
that I am come in safety home again, of 
setting out before to-morrow to seek my 
fortune in the uttermost part of the mys- 
terious country known as the Back 0/ 
Beyond. — W. A. Pat on: Down tht Isr 

Back scuttle, to (thieves), to enter 
by the back way. 

Back-seam (popular), to be down 
on one's hack-seam is to be at 
one's last breath. 

Back seats (American), a very 
common slang expression signi- 
fying reserve or an obscure and 
modest position. It originated 
in a saying of President John- 
son in 1868, that "in the work 
of reconstruction traitors should 
take hack seats." 

General Shelby of rebel notoriety says : — 
" Let it be distinctly understood at St. 
Louis and everywhere else that, while the 
issues of the war are past and forgotten, 
we take back nothing, and there is no use 
of their expecting us to do so." 

That's true. You don't even take back 
seats. In the Cleveland variety show 
every man-jack of you is in the bald-headed 
TOW.— Chicago Tribune. 


Backsheesh — Back staircase. 

" For my part," remarked a handsomely, 
even sportively dressed young man in the 
smoking-car, "I think this Grover Cleve- 
land is getting altogether too much atten- 
tion. ... I predict that in two months he 
will take a back seat as it were. He will 
discover that there are some big men in 
this country b«side himself. This ain't no 
one-man countrj-." — American Humorist. 

Backsheesh (Anglo-Indian). 
From the Persian bakhsMsh, a 
gratuity, a " tip." 

What an honour to think that 1 am to 
be elevated to the throne, and to bring the 
seat in Parliament as backsheesh to the 
Sultan. — Thackeray: Pendennis. 

Back slangy (Australian convicts), 
the going stealthily to or into a 
place, sneaking into it. Pro- 
bably taken out to Australia 
by the convicts transported 
thither, though it may have 
originated thera 

(Thieves), to enter or come 
out of a house by the back 
door, or to go a circuitous or 
private way through the streets 
in order to avoid any parti- 
cular place in the direct road, 
is termed hack-slanging it. — 
Vaux's Memoirs. Back dang also 
means slang produced by spel- 
ling words backwards, e.g., "nael 
ekom " for lean moke, "occa- 
bot " for tobacco. 

Back-slangitig is quite aristo- 
cratic up the country in Aus- 
tralia, where, unless it is a formal 
visit, it is almost the universal 
custom for any one of any rank 
to drive straight into the stables 
of the house he is going to, call 
for a groom (or quite as often 
a boy) to take the horses, and 
then walk round to the house. 

Back slum (Australian convicts' 
slang), a back room, a back 
entrance. Probably taken out 
to Australia by the convicts 
transported thither. 

In ordinary colloquial Eng- 
lish, back slum simply means a 
" back street " or a " bad neigh- 
bourhood," but Vaux in his 
Memoirs says that among the 
Australian lays back dum is a 
back room, also the back en- 
trance to any liouse or premises ; 
thus, "We'll give it 'em on the 
back slum," means " We'll get in 
at the back door." 

Back staircase (popular), a de- 
risive term for a bustle, called 
by maid-servants "bird cage," 
or " canary cage." Parisian 
ladies had formerly the un- 
assuming polisson, superseded 
imder the Third Empire by the 
more "all round" crinoline, 
brought into fashion by the 
Empress, and which became so 
much the rage all the world 
over as to be worn even by Afri- 
can belles, whose sole adorn- 
ment it frequently was. Eng- 
lish girls of the lower classes, 
who could not afford to procure 
the " real article," would aflix 
wooden hoops to their petti- 
coats. Scoffing Parisians now 
term the modern " dress impro- 
ver " — so elongated, painfully 
pointed, and almost horizontal 
— " un lieutenant " (a pun on 
" tenant lieu de ce qui manque ") 
" nuage " (" parcequ'il cache la 
lune," tunc being .slang for the 
posterior), and "volapuk." 

Backstairs — Badgeer. 


Backstairs influence (common), 
a disparaging term for occult, 
intriguing influence. 

There is no rule of the service so strict 
that it will not yield to backstairs, or other 
influence.— rr«M, April 26, 1888. 

Back talk (popular), no haclc 
talk, i.e., speaking frankly. 

Back-tommy (tailors), a piece of 
cloth used to cover the stays at 
the waist. 

Back-track (American) ; going 
back, retreating, eating one's 
words; to take the back-track, 
to recede from one's position. 

The first law of self-preservation has 
admonished Mr. Douglas that he has gone 
as far in the slavery concessions to the 
South as he can possibly go, and that if he 
would save himself at home he must take 
the back-track. — New York Herald, De- 
cember 26, 1857. 

I turned to Mac and said, " Come, 
Mac, what's the use of fooling ; come 
with me." 

" No back-tracks, Texas. I'll stay here." 
— R. Morley : The Western Av emus. 

Back up (public schools), to call 
out, as, for instance, when a 
praefect requires a fag. 

Backy (tailors), the man working 
immediately behind the speaker. 
The term is much affected by 
" slop cutters." 

Bacon (common), the body; "to 
save one's hacon," to escape a 
castigation ; "to baste one's 
hacon," is to strike one ; (theat- 
rical), to " pull hacon," 

The late Mr. H. J. Byron, the 

actor, very popular in his time, 
says this phrase has reference 
to a grimace which he used 
to make, and which was called 
pulling a ba^on face, or, in 
short, pulling hacon, but the ex- 
pression is not in general use. 

Bad break (American), an out- 
break, outrage, turbulent con- 

"Sam," he says, "you've made one or 
two bad breaks since you've been in town." 
— F. Francis : Saddle and Moccasin. 

Bad egg (popular), a rascaL 

There is some philosophy in the remark 
that a man may be a bad egg, and yet not 
be a nuisance unless he gets broke. — 
Sporting Times. 

The term is used in America 
to express a man of unsound or 
doubtful character. It became 
popular about 1849-50. If the 
corresponding slang term existed 
in China, a had egg would, on the 
contrary, mean a very honest 

But one gray-haired old veller shmiled 

crimly und bet 
Dat Breitmann vould prove a. /ad egg for 

dem yet. 

— Ballads of Hans Breitmann. 

There was, however, a considerable 
feeling amongst others there that he was 
a bad egg, and they even went so far as to 
suggest that the sooner he had a bullet in 
him the better. — A, Staveley H ill : From 
Home to Home. 

Badge coves (old cant\ persons 
existing on the bounty of the 

Badgeer (Anglo-Indian), from the 
Persian bdd-ger, wind-catch. 


Badger — Bad man. 

A contrivance for bringing air 
down into, and for cooling and 
ventilating a house, A wind 

Badger (American thieves), a 
"panel" thief (panel being pro- 
bably a corruption of panny, a 
cant word for a house), who robs 
a man after a woman has enticed 
him into bed. 

In schools it is the fate of 
red-haired boys to be nick- 
named after this animal. (Na- 
val) badger-hag, the fictitious 
Neptune who visits the ship on 
her crossing the line, and is so 
called from his badgering the 
uninitiated. Formerly the term 
was applied to a huckster or 
retailer, from badjulate, to carry, 
Latin bajulare. To overdraw 
one's badger is slang for over- 
drawing one's banking account, 
a play on the expression drawing 
the badger. 

His checks no longer drew the cash, 
Because, as his comrades explain'd in 

He had overdrawn his badger. 

— Hood : Miss Kilviansegg. 

Also applied in old cant to a 
footpad who in old days robbed 
persons near a river, subse- 
quently throwing the body of 
the victim into the water ; a 
common prostitute. 

Bad give-away (American), in- 
cautious betrayal, lapsus. 

It was a bad give-aivay when a temper- 
ance lecturer absent-mindedly tried to blow 
the foam off a glass of water. — American 

Bad halfpenny (Australian con- 
victs' slang), a fruitless errand, 
no go. Probably taken out by the 
convicts transported thither. 
Vaux in his Memoirs says : — 

When a man has been upon any errand, 
or attempting any object which has proved 
unsuccessful or impracticable, he will say 
on his return, "It is a bad halfpenny" 
— meaning that he has returned as he 

A ne'er-do-well is called a 
bad halfpenny, because the ne'er- 
do-well of the family is so diffi- 
cult to get rid of ; he is said " to 
turn up like a bad halfpenny," 
because imperfect coins are 
constantly being traced back to 
and forced back on the person 
who circulates them. 

Bad lot (common), a person of 
indifTerent character. The term 
seems to be derived from an 
auctioneering phrase. It is 
often applied to girls who have, 
as the French term it, " la 
cuisse gaie." 

The girl shuddered. 

" I always thought you were a bad lot." 
The chorus girl was trying to pluck up her 

" Well, well — I was once as pretty as 
you, and a deal prettier, and was made 
more fuss with." — Aiiy Sli'per's Half 

A very handsome girl she may be, but 
a bud lot, as her father was. — Ji. D. Black- 
more : Erema. 

Bad man (American). This has 
a special meaning in the West, 
where it indicates a heartless, 
cruel murderer. Rowdies and 

Bad man — Baggage. 


bullies in their boasting often 
describe themselves as " hard 
had men from Bitter Creek." 

In vain he begged for mercy. Milton 
was obdurate, and refused to be moved by 
the would-be bad man's prayers. He led 
him into the post tied up like a broncho 
steer, and the jeers of the citizens as poor 
Dosy shambled past them on his way to 
the jail were the death-knell of his bad- 
ness. He made no " John Branch plays " 
after this, but attended faithfully to his 
herd, and the bare mention of the name 
of Mad Milton was sufficient to keep him 
quiet whenever he forgot his defeat and 
essayed the rdle of bad man. — Detroit 
Free Press. 

" Bad man " for a cruel mur- 
derer is indeed a very mild way 
of putting it. If the euphemism 
were carried on, a murderer 
pure and simple would probably 
be styled a naughty man. 

Bad match twist (barbers), red 
hair and black whiskers. 

Badminton (prize ring), blood ; 
properly a kind of claret cup. 
To " tap the badminton, or 
claret," is to draw blood. 

Bag (common), any kind of purse 
when empty ; to give the bag, 
i.e., to dismiss, run away. 

When of oof they had bereft him, his 
own tart had promptly left him. 
And gone off with some one else upon 
a drag. 
It was cruel to forsake him; but, as 
settling day would break him. 
She had given him, quite cheerfully, 
the bag. 

— Sporting Times. 

(Printers and sailors), a vulgar 
term for a pint or pot of beer ; 

" Come and have a hag " would 
be a form of invitation given. 

Bag, to (familiar), to steal or 

The shameful way in which our ships 
are being bagged without the slightest 
scruple to suit private ends becomes our 
wretched system of naval government in- 
comparably. The public, who have to pay 
the piper pretty sweetly for the Spithead 
pageant, can hardly be expected to look 
without wonder or disgust at the barefaced 
partiality displayed by the Admiralty in 
appropriating vessels. — Moderti Society. 

Also a phrase in common use 
signifying the expansion of gar- 
ments by frequent wear. 

" You men are so lucky," a fair maiden 
Discussing the question of dress, 
" You're ne'er burdened with petticoats, 
corsets, nor shawls, 
Which to us are a source of distress." 
" Yes, I know, " said a youth who'd been 
waiting for this. 
An argument ready to seize — 
" What you've said is all true, but there's 
one point you miss. 
Your pants never bag 3X the knees." 

Baggage smasher (American), a 
word with two meanings. The 
first applies to men who hang 
about the railway stations to 
steal luggage, the second to the 
railway porters and others who 
in America handle trunks and 
boxes, &c., with extraordinary 

" I feel depressed to-night," remarked a 
large, down-town trunk manufacturer to 
his wife. " I think I have a touch of 
malaria," "I fancy it will soon pass 
away," replied the lady, without much 
concern. " Why don't you go around to 
the Grand Central Station, and watch 
them smash baggage for an hour. That 
will revive you I " — New York Sun. 


Bagged — Bogs. 

A London thief who steals 
luggage off carriages or cabs by 
climbing up behind, is termed 
a " dragsman." 

Bagged (American thieves), im- 
prisoned, " scooped in," i.e., 
taken in, victimised. 

Bagging (northern counties), used 
of food between meals ; in Lan- 
cashire especially, an afternoon 
meal, i.e., what is taken about 
in a bag. See CARPET BAG- 

Lancashire adopts the whole-board or 
partial-board system very extensively. The 
local term of bagging- implies bread and 
cheese, or pies ; and there are all the 
varieties of board and lodging, dinner of 
potatoes and bacon with butter-milk, 
bagging in the forenoon and afternoon, 
dinner and lunch, and rations allowed for 
women. — Chambers's Journal. 

Bagging or jockeying the over 

(cricketers), the practice of bats- 
men who manage their running 
in such a manner as to get all 
the bowling to themselves. 

Bagman (general), a commercial 
traveller. A name formerly 
given to commercial travellers 
from their travelling on horse- 
back and carrpng their samples 
or wares in saddle-bags ; now 
used only in a somewhat con- 
temptuous manner. 

The late lord came to London with four 
post-chaises and sixteen horses. The pre- 
sent lord travels with five bagmen in a 
railway carriage. — \V. At. Thackeray : 

Bagnio (old), a bawdy house. 

Bag of mdls (American), the same 
as hurrah's nest or whore's nest. 
Everything in confusion, and 
topsyturvy. The sign of the 
Bag of Nails in England has 
been said by inventive and 
imaginative etymologists to be 
derived from " the Baccha- 

" 1 may bid as high as your pintle, and 
make you squint like a dag of nails," 
replied the intruder, " though you nib 
us to whit for it." — On the Trail. 

Bags (general), trousers. The 
synonyms are " kicks," " sit 
upons," "hams." Sometimes 
rudely called " bumbags." 

Then the throng begins to yell. 
But I scatters 'em pell-mell, 
Be their clothing manly bags or female 
skirts ; 
With my staff I goes for all, 
Both the big 'uns and the small, 
For I'm bound to give sich rabble their 
" deserts." 

— Funny Folks. 

"But, hollo!" he cried, as he caught 
sight of his legs. "Parsons don't wear 
tight tweed bags." . . . Jack had to un- 
pack his portmanteau, and get out his even- 
ing inexpressibles. — Chambers's Journal. 

When the pattern of the hagi 
is very staring they are called 
" howling bags." The synonyms 
" unmentionables " and " inex- 
pressibles," though generally 
used jocosely, must have been 
coined by people with indecent 
imaginations who think more of 
the contents tlian the container, 
and who would cover with petti- 
coats the nakedness of statues 
or incase the legs of pianos in 
" inexpressibles." It may, how- 
ever, have been invented bv 

Bags — Baked. 


ladies who will blush at the word 
chemise, but who do not scruple 
to show themselves in public in 
such a decollete state as to sug- 
gest that only the lower half of 
that garment has been retained. 
To " have the bags off," is to 
be of age and one's own master, 
to have plenty of money. To 
have the bags on would surely be 
a more appropriate metaphor in 
this instance. 

Bags, to take the (athletic), to 
go hare in a paper chase. 

Ba-ha (tailors), bronchitis. 

Bai, by (gypsy), a sleeve, a bough. 

Bail (Australian Blackfellows' 
lingo), no, not. The following 
is a specimen of the pidgin- 
English stuffed with Blackfel- 
lows' words used by the whites 
on stations in their intercourse 
with the aborigines : — 

" Too much big-fellow water, tail ply 
(fly), come up ; iaii pind (find) him," 
answers the aboriginal, adding, however, 
the question, "you patter potchum " (eat 

" Yohi " (yes), said John, rather doubt- 
fully, for he is not sure how his stomach 
will agree with the strange meat. — A. C. 

(Society), to give leg bail and 
land security, a phrase for run- 
ning away, decamping. 

Baist a snarl (tailors), york up a 

Bait (Winchester), rage, to be in 
a bait, or in a "swot," to be 


To bait a lad is to teaze 

Bait-land (nautical), an old word, 
formerly used to signify a port 
where refreshments could be 
procured. — Admiral Smyth. 

Bak, bacht (gypsy), luck. A very 
common word. Bdktalo, lucky. 

" Rya del mandy a panjer." "What 
for?" " For bdk." " For bock, kek — but 
mandy'U dee it to tute to kin a cigarrus." 

' ' Master give me fiver (5 cents). " ' ' What 
for?" " ¥ or bdk." " For bock (beer), no 
— but I'll give it to you to buy a cigar." — 
Gypsy Notes in America (MS.). 

Bake, to (Winchester), to rest, to 
enjoy "dolce far niente;" (com- 
mon), to fumigate a room. 

Baked (Australian), tired out. 
Slang delights in puns. Because 
meat put in the oven is said to 
be baked when it is "done," a 
man who is " done up," or 
" done," is said to be baked. 
This distinctly "slang" use of 
baked is quite different from 
baked in the sense of " heated " 
or " hot," in which even ladies 
often use it. In the English 
slang only "haXi-baked" means 

Baked Spanish (common). A 
Spanish means a large Spanish 

Maria looks very nervous like at this, 
but told me afterwards if it hadn't been as 
she tried to forget of the young man, and 
only to remember there was tripe for supper 
and a baked Spanish, she'd have fainted 
right clean away. — Fun: Murdle Visiting. 


Bakelo — Bakes. 

Bakelo (gypsy), hungry. " Shan tu 
bakelo?" — "Are you hungry 7 " 

Baker (American), a word dis- 
covered or unconsciously in- 
vented by the Baron E. de 
Mandat Grancey. 

We got there without unduly exciting 
the idle curiosity of the bakers around us. 
In America they call the habitual man- 
about-town, the lounger — baker. I leave 
to a more learned etymologist than myself 
the care of discovering whether there is not 
in this term an ironical allusion to the way 
in which they make the execrable bread 
we are forced to eat everywhere in the 
country. — Baron E. Mandat Grancey : 
Cotv-Boys and Colonels. 

The writer of the above had 
heard the word loaf a', and having 
inquired its meaning, innocently 
translated it as baker. In a short 
time baka' will, perhaps, be 
current as a joke, and a few 
years hence some one learned 
in Americanisms may possibly 
declare it to be the original word, 
or at least a well - established 
American term, and one recently 
heard by him in America. 
(Winchester College), a baker 
is a cushion, generally a large 
green one, used by prefects and 
by boys who have studies of their 
own. The name is also given to a 
small red cushion used at chapel. 
Formerly it meant a portfolio. 
A " baker layer " is a junior who 
has to take a prefect's baker in 
.and out of hall at meals. The 
term was probably obtained by 
punning on the connotation of 
t)io word loaf. 

Baker-kneed (workmen), an in- 
kneed man, one whose knees 

knock together — the position in 
which bakers stand to knead 
their bread tending to make 
their knees incline inwards. 

His voice had broken to a gruffish 
squeak, he had grown blear-eyed, baker- 
kneed, and gummy. — Coleman : Poetical 

Baker-legged (see Bakeb-kneed). 

. . . His body crooked all over, big 
belly'd, baker-lej^g'd. — L' Estrange: Life 
of j-Esop. 

Baker's dozen (common), thir- 
teen. Originally the London 
bakers supplied the retailers 
with thirteen loaves to the 
dozen, so as to make sure of not 
giving short weight. 

About a baker s dozen of cows and calves 
were collected." — P. Francis : Saddle ami 

To " give a man a baker's 
dozen " is to give him a good 
beating, to give him full measure 
in that respect. 

Baker, to spell, an expression for 
attempting anything difficult. 
In old spelling-books, baker was 
the first word of two syllables, 
and when a child came to it, 
he thought he had a hard task 
before him. 

If an old man will marry a young 
wife, why then — why then— why then — he 
must s/ell baker.— Longfellow : The A'rrc- 
England Tragedies. 

Bakes (American), one's original 
stake in a game, a juvenile term ; 
as " ' I will .'itop when I got my 
bakes' said by a boy playing 
marbles" (Ilartlett), in refer- 

Bakes — Balance. 


ence possibly to a baker's not 
always getting his hake safely 
out of the oven. More probably 
' from the provincial English 
bakes, marbles of baked clay or 

Bakester (Winchester), one who 
bakes — that is, a sluggard, an 
idle fellow who is fond of lying 
down doing nothing. (Provin- 
cial), a cognomen for a baker. 

Baking-leave (Winchester), per- 
mission to "bake" — that is, to 
sit in a study or " pigeon-hole." 

Baking-place (Winchester), a sort 
of couch or sofa, an important 
article of furniture for those 
who delight in baking, that is, 
doing nothing. 

Bakro, bokro (gypsy), a sheep or 
lamb ; hakenyro, a shepherd. 

Bal (gypsy), a hair (Hindu, bal). 
Balm, bailor, hairs ; bdlnoi, 

Balaam-box (printing shops), used 
by compositors to designate the 
receptacle for silly paragraphs 
about monstrosities in art or 
nature ; or old jokes and anec- 
dotes kept in reserve to lengthen 
out pages or columns which 
might otherwise remain vacant. 
The phrase originated in the 
comparatively remote days when 
newspaper editors were some- 
times at a loss to iill up the al- 
lotted space at their command. 
No such difficulty, however, 
confronts them in this age 

of verbosity, when the "gift of 
the gab" is considered to be 
one of the proofs of states- 
manship, and when short-hand 
writers supply the materials for 
fiUing and overfilling the news- 
papers, by full reports of the 
speeches of vestrymen, platform 
orators, members of Parliament, 
and worse perhaps than all, of 
windy barristers, doing their 
utmost in courts of law to 
make guilt look innocence, 
or vice versa, and otherwise 
"darkening counsel with vain 
words." The disease that afflicts 
the printing-offices is no longer 
that of "atrophy," but of flatu- 
lence in its worst and most per- 
sistent forms. 

An essay for the Edinburgh Review, 
in the old unpolluted English language, 
would have been consigned by the editor 
to his <5(i/aaw-basket. — Hall: Modern 

Balaclava day (military), pay 
day, a survival of the Crimean 
war. The day on which men 
ha^ang got their pay took it 
down to Balaclava, the great 
base of supply, where purchases 
could best be made from sut- 
lers who had their hut shops 

Balance (American), the rest or 
remainder of anything. Bartlett 
says that it is " a mercantile 
word originally introduced into 
the ordinary language of life by 
the Southern people, but now 
improperly used throughout the 
United States to signify the re- 


Balance — Ball. 

mainder of a thing. The balance 
of an account is a term well 
authorised and proper, but we 
also frequently hear such ex- 
pressions as the balance of a 
speech, the balance of the day, 
&c." It seems doubtful whether 
balance can ever be quite correct 
unless it signifies an exactly 
equal half. 

I hit on her afifections for the balance of 
the season. 

— Nes^o Song- of 1843. 

Balbus (university), Latin prose 
composition. A term derived 
from Arnold's " Latin Prose 
Composition," a well - known 
text-book in which Balbus (who 
does not connect in his memory 
this odious individual with the 
magister's cane ?) occurs at the 
beginning of the exercises and 
on every page, sometimes over 
and over again, right through to 
the end of the book. 

Balderdash (old), a term applied 
to adulterated wine, and to 
senseless talk or writing. 

Bald-face (American), new whis- 

Bald-faced shirt (American cow- 
boys), a white, i.e., muslin or 
linen shirt. So called because 
haldfactd, or Hereford cattle 
have white faces. — C. Leland 
Harrison: MS. Americanisms. 

Bald-faced stag (popular), a term 
of <lurision applied to a bald- 
headed man. 

Bald-headed row (American), the 
front seats in the pit of a theatre. 
It is an old joke in the United 
States, that whenever there is 
a great "leg-piece," or a "frog- 
salad " (/.c, a ballet with unusual 
opportimities for studying ana- 
tomy), the front seats are always 
filled with veteran roues, or 
" Uncle Neds." 

Baldober (see Baldower), a direc- 
tor, or leader. In German 
thieves' slang the director or 
planner of a robbery, who gets 
a double share. 

Baldower (Yiddish), head-speaker. 
One who conveys information ; a 
spy. Connected with this are 
baldowcm, to direct, plan, spy, 
lurk, observe (in Dutch slang 
baldoveren), also baldorcr, a spy 
or traitor. 

Bales, a little drive with (popu- 
lar) ; Bales is the policeman who 
superintends the Black Maria, 
or prison van. 

I was fined forty shillings, but not forty 
Had I in my pocket to pay. 
So into the p'lice van soon bundled was I, 
But to Bales I sung all the way. 
— Ok, ain't I having a day. Bcrtini, 
Marlborough Street. 

Bale-up (common), an equivalent 
of " fork out," that is, pay, give 
the money instantly, ji phrase 
imported from tlie Australian 

Ball (prison), prison allowance ; 
six ounces of meal ; a drink. A 
hall of fire in popular slang is a 

Ballad-basket — Bally. 


glass of brandy, in allusion to 
the fieriness and pungency of 
the wretchedly bad spirit sold 
as brandy to the lower classes. 

Ballad-basket (old cant), a street 

Ballast (common), money. Some 
of the slang synonyms for money 
were or are — "Oof, ooftish, 
stumpy, muck, brass, leaver, 
blunt, needful, rhino, bustle, cole, 
gilt, dust, dimmock, feathers, 
brads, chinks, pieces, clinkers, 
stuff, clumps, chips, coin, shek- 
els, corks, dibbs, dinarly, horse- 
nails, gent, huckster, mopusses, 
palm oil, posh, ready, Spanish, 
rowdy." — Barrere : Argot and 

A rich man is said to be well- 
ballasted. A man is said to 
"lose his ballast" when his 
judgment fails him, or when he 
becomes top-heavy from conceit. 

Ballooning' (Stock Exchange). 
When stock is increased to a 
figure far beyond its real value 
it is said to be ballooned, and 
the operation by which this 
is effected is called Ixdlooning, 
The means by which this result 
is attained are cooked or other- 
wise favourable reports, ficti- 
tious sales, and so on. 

Ballooning it (American), exag- 
gerating, indulging in bounce, 
pulling the long bow. It is 
said to have originated in a story 
of a man who boasted that he 
had fought a duel in a balloon 

and brought down his adversary, 
balloon and all. But this was 
a veritable occurrence, as ap- 
pears by the St. James's Gazette 
of August 5, 1887— 

"Since General Boulanger's conditions 
are unacceptable to M. Ferry, and as the 
usages of duellists seem conflicting on this 
subject, perhaps these eminent men might 
try a duel on the very reasonable condi- 
tions agreed on by M. de Grandpre and M. 
le Pique in Paris in 1808. These gentlemen 
having quarrelled about a lady, agreed to 
have it out in balloons, each party to fire at 
the other's balloon and try and bring him 
down. A month was taken to build two 
similar balloons ; and on a fine day the pair 
ascended with their seconds from the Tui- 
leries gardens, armed with blunderbusses. 
When they were about half a mile up, and 
some eighty yards apart, the signal was 
given, and M. le Pique missed. M. de 
Grandpr^, however, made a successful 
shot, and his opponent's balloon went 
down with tremendous rapidity, both 
principal and second being instantly 
killed — much to the satisfaction of the 

Balls (popular), "to make halls of 
it," to make a mistake, to get 
into trouble. 

Balls' all (popular), all rubbish. 

Ballum-rankum (old), a ball where 
all the dancers arc thieves, pros- 
titutes, or other very degraded 
persons, as in the "buff-ball," in 
which both sexes join without 

Bally (society), a word in use 
among the young men of the 
present day to emphasise a 
speech. Coined by the Sportin'j 
Times, from the Irish word 
" bally-hooly." It is mostly 


Bally — Balmy. 

used as a euphemism for 
"bloody." Of the samQ class 
are "darn it!" "by golly 1" 
" great Scott ! " 

" Oh, that's b rot ! " quoth the dis- 
dainful Chiderdoss, who byway of a change 
had both backed and tipped the right 'un. 
" Who interfered with him ? " 

' ' Wliy, the bally winner, of course ! 
Didn't he get in front of him ? " 

And then sundry sad and silent men 
faded away into the Rainbow, and got in 
front of several drinks. — Sporting Times. 

Ballyrag (Oxford University), 
a free fight in jest. This is 
an old word that has been in 
use at least a hundred years — 
spelt also bullarag. The con- 
clusion of a big "wine" (vide 
Wine), is often a wholesale 
ballyrag or milee, always carried 
on in good temper (personal 
violence in a*^narrel is practi- 
cally unknown at Oxford). To 
ballyrag a man is to mob him 
and play practical jokes upon 
him, to hustle him. To ballyrag 
a man's rooms is to turn them 
upside down, to make "hay" 
of them. 

Dear Muriel, — I always was rather a 
toff; but when I tell you that this bloom- 
ing house has become perfectly beastly, I 
know you will pity the poor old bounder. 
I have been rotting all day in the library, 
but even ballyragging has lost its ch.irm. 
A sweep or a smug would be a relief, but 
there is not so much as a plunger to be 
seen nor a mug to speak to. Under these 
circumstances I miss you most awfully, 
and I write to say that if you would come 
to my di'.jgings for a little while it would 
lie perfectly rippin. — Your affectionate 
uncle, G. E. C. 

P.S. — That's where the j .ke comes in. 
— The Culture of the Misses : The St. 
yames's Gazette. 

(Common), to bully, to make 
a kick up or riot. 

None of your flaring up, and ballyrag- 
ging the people about. — Edmund Yates : 
The Rock Ahead. 

The word is a corruption of 
bullyrag, to threaten, bully, 
hustle. "Bully" is a provin- 
cialism for a riot. It may be 
noted that in Yiddish balhe and 
rag mean a riot, a fight, and 
rage. Bahle-rag would, in fact, 
be a roaring row. 

Balm (old), a falsehood. 

Balmy (common), sleepy, from 
balmy (Ut., soothing) sleep ; 
weak-minded, dull, easily im- 
posed upon, mad. 

The people in our alley call me Salvation 

Since I have been converted, but I try 

to bear the load, 
They say I must be balmy to go and 

join the Army, 
That leads you to salvation in the White- 
chapel Road. 

— Salvation Sally. 

The expression is much in 
favour with thieves. 

I had hardly got outside when he came 
out like a man balmy. — Horsley : Jottings 
from Jail. 

Among convicts to " put on 
the balmy stick " is to feign in- 

There was always a number putting on 
the ''^ balmy stick" — or, in plain terms, 
feigning insanity. Nobody in prison be- 
lieves in brain disease. Every lunatic is 
accused of " putting it on," and is punished 
for it. There are always a dozen or so in 
the balmy \i3.xA.— Evening Ne^vs. 

Balmy — Bamboozle. 


To be a little bit " balmy in 
one's crumpet " means to be 
slightly crazy. The synonyms 
are "to be touched," "off one's 
chump," " wrong in the upper 
storey," "to have rats in the 
upper storey," " a tile loose," 
" half-baked," " dotty." To 
" go balmy " signifies to go mad, 

" Ah," said Tom Carleton subsequently 
to the Talepitcher, "none o' my kids ever 
go balmy over flowers or the Academy ; 
give 'em ice cream and Buffalo Bill — that's 
the business ! " 

To have a " dose of balmy" 
or a "wink of the balmy" to 

As it's rather late, I'll try and get a wink 
or two of the balmy. — Charles Dickens : 
Old Curiosity Shop. 

Balo, baler, bawlor (gypsy), a 


" Oh I jassed to the ker 
An' I tried to mang the bdlor. 
Tried to mang the muUo bdlor 
When I jassed to the ker " — 

" I went to the house and I tried to beg 
the pig, tried to beg the dead pig when I 
went to the house." 

— English Gypsy Ballads. 

Policemen are also called 
balor, or " pigs" in gypsy. 

Balovas te (an') yoras (gypsy), 
bacon and eggs ; yoras, eggs. 

" Ballovas an' yoras, 
Ballovas an' yoras, 
A' the rye an' the rani 

A pirryin ap the drom " — 
" Oh ! the eggs and bacon. 
Oh ! the eggs and bacon. 
And the gentleman and lady 
A-walking up the way." 

Balsam (thieves' slang), money. 

" It was no great quids, Jim— only six 
flimseys and three beans. But I'm flush of 
the balsam now, and I ain't funked to 
flash it." — Netv York Slang Dictionary. 

— I.e., " There wasn't much money, Jim 
— only six notes and three sovereigns. But 
I've plenty of money now, and I am not 
afraid to show it." 

Also impertinence, impudence. 

Balwar (Anglo-Indian), a barber. 
This is an amusing instance of 
native blending of balwala (hair- 
person, capiUarius) with the 
English word. 

It often takes the further form balbar, 
another fictitious hybrid shaped by the 
Persian buridan, to cut ; guosi, hair- 
cutter. — Anglo-Indian Glossary. 

Bam (old), facetious humbug ; 
"to bam" was to impose on a 
person by means of falsehood ; 
also to chaff and poke fun at 
any one. 

Bamboozle, to (common), to 
cheat, to delude, to humbug? 

Fair ladies attend ! and if you've a friend 
At court, don't attempt to bamboozle or 

trick her ! 
Don't meddle with negus, or any mixed 

liquor ! 
Don't dabble in "magic!" my story has 

How wrong 'tis to use any charms but your 


—Ingoldsby Legends. 

In the language of sailors, to 
bamboozle has the meaning of 
to decoy the enemy by hoisting 
false colours. 

This word has been a stumb- 
ling-block to all t he etymologists 
wlio have attempted to grapple 


Bamboozle — B. and S. 

with it. " It is," says the Dic- 
tionary of Phrase and Fable, 
"a Chinese and gypsy word, 
meaning to dress a man in bam- 
boos to teach him swimming." 
As the gypsies never had inter- 
course with China, and as the 
explanation is utterly unintelli- 
gible and irrelevant, the etymo- 
logy must be reckoned imagi- 
native, to say the least of it. 
"Hotten, with others, credits 
bamboozle to the gypsies ; as 
bambhorna is Hindu for to hum- 
bug, and as the terminative dsel 
is used in Romany, it is possible 
that bamboozle is the Hindu word 
gypsified." — C. G. Leland: MS. 
Gypsy Notes. 

Banagher, to bang. 

Banco or bunko steerer or roper 
(American), a sharper, a con- 
fidence-trick man. 

The ro/ier or the banco steerer gentle- 
man is one and the same animal, and he 
will find you out the morning after you 
land in Chicago or St. Ix>uis. He will 
accost you — very friendly, wonderfully 
friendly — when you come out of your hotel, 
by your name, and he will remind you — 
which is most surprising considering you 
never set eyes on his face before — how you 
have dined together in Cincinnati, or it 
may be Orleans, or perhaps Francisco, 
l>ecause he finds out where you came from 
1.1st. And he will shake hands with you ; 
and he will propose a drink ; and he will 
p.iy for that drink. And presently he will 
take you somewhere else, among his pals, 
and he will strip you so clean that there 
won't be left the ]irice of a four-cent paper 
to throw .-iround your face and hide your 
blushes.— y/d- Golden Huttcrjly. 

(Chiirtcrhoiise .School), banco, 
evening school. 

Bandanna (Anglo-Indian). Hot- 
ten says of this word that it 
was originally a peculiar kind 
of silk handkerchief, but is now 
a slang word, denoting all kinds 
of "stocks," "wipes," and "fo- 
gies," and in fact the generic 
term for a kerchief. In the 
United States it is specially 
applied to a kind of cotton or 
muslin handkerchief from Mad- 
ras, much worn by women of 
colour, especially old-fashioned 
or elderly ones, wrapped about 
the head. The American ban- 
danna is invariably made of 
yellow and red in cross stripes. 

This term is properly applied to the 
rich yellow or red silk handkerchief with 
diamond spots left white by pressure ap- 
plied to prevent their receiving the dye. 
The etymology may be gathered from 
Shakspeare's Dictionary, which gives 
tdnd/ina, a mode of dyeing in which the 
cloth is tied in different places, to prevent 
the parts from receiving the dye. " Sir 
Horace P'ogle is about to be raised to 
the peerage as Baron Bandanna" (I'anity 
fair, ii. c. 52.) — Anglo-Indian Glossary. 

Banded (popular), hungry ; lite- 
rally, bound up. From the 
notion that to appease the pangs 
of hunger, one must tighten his 

Bandero (American), widow's 
weeds. — Nero York Slang Dic- 

Bandog (old), a bailiff or his 

B. and S. (common), brandy and 

" And now, wife of mine, I wonder 
whether your domestic handiness would 

Bands — Bang. 


go far enough to give me a B. and S. f " 
The obedient wife flies to the cellaret, and 
for the first time in her life Squire Mor- 
combe's daughter opens a soda - water 
bottle. — Braddon : Hostages to Fortune. 

Bands (Australian convicts), hun- 
ger. lutroducedintoAustraliaby 
the convicts transported thither. 
Cf. the English thieves' expres- 
sion handed, meaning hungry. 

"To wear the bands" is to be hungry 
or short of food for any length of time ; a 
phrase chiefly used on board the hulks or 
in jail. — Vaux's Memoirs. 

In the early days of New 
South Wales, before Australia 
began to produce meal and 
grain for itself, the colony was 
dependent for its supplies upon 
England and the Cape of Good 
Hope, and the colonists were 
several times on very short com- 
mons, and even on one occasion 
were absolutely in danger of 
perishing. The phrase is derived 
from the custom among the poor, 
and soldiers on an expedition, of 
wearing a tight belt round the 
stomach to prevent the pains of 

Bandy (Anglo-Indian), a word of 
general application to several 
kinds of vehicles, such as 
carriages, bullock waggons, bug- 
gies, and carts. Used in South- 
ern and Western India. It is 
the Telegu hamli, Tamil vandi. — 
A nfjlo-Indimi Glossary. 

A mighty solemn old man, seated in an 
open bandy, as a gig with a head that has 
an opening behind is called at M.idras. — 
Memoir of Colonel Mountain, 1826. 

In thieves' slang it means a 
sixpence, so called from this 
coin being sometimes bent. 

Bang (pugihstic and low), a blow ; 
Icelandic hang, a hammering. 
"I'll give you a hang in the 
' gills.' " To bang, to beat. 

The hemp, with which we used to bang 
Our prison pets, yon felon gang. 
In Eastern climes produces bhang. 

Esteemed a drug divine. 
As hashish dressed, its magic powers 
Can lap us in Elysian bowers. 
But sweeter far our social hours 

Over a flask of wine. 
— Lord Neaz'es : A nglo-Indian Glossary. 

Banged up to the eyes, is drunk. 
Hair worn down low on the 
forehead almost to the eyes, is 
in America called a hang, and 
the practice of thus wearing it 
is to hang. Called "toffs" in 

Bang, as applied to wearing the hair 
low, is derived from the provincial English. 
In Norfolk the edge of a hat is said to 
bangle (Wright) when it drops or bangs 
down over the eyes. And corn or young 
shoots when beaten by the rain and hang- 
ing down, are bangled or banged. So 
loose and hanging ears are ' ' bangled ears. " 
■ — Notes by C. G. Leland. 

He banged his hair to hide his bunged 
eye. — Newspaper. 

To make the bang, you must begin by 
dividing your front hair at half-inch dis- 
tances from ear to ear, combing the rest 
back. The process is repeated until the 
whole front hair has been successfully 
banged. — Illustrated London News. 

(Stock Exchange), to hang, to 
loudly offer stock with the in- 
tention of lowering the price. 

Oh ! in the days of old, 
At least, so I've been told, 
We only heard of "pufl"," and " rig," and 


Bang — Bang-up. 

But now better things exist, 
For we daily swell the list, 
And have really quite a choice of market 

— A tkin : House Scraps. 

To hang also signifies to excel 
or surpass. Banging, great or 

Banger (Yale), a thick stick, cane, 
or bludgeon. 

The freshman reluctantly turned the key, 
Expecting a Somophore gang to see. 
Who, with faces masked and bangers stout, 
Had come resolved to smoke him out. 
— Yale Literary Magazine, vol. xx. 
P- 75- 

(Popular), an obvious untruth. 

Bangle (Anglo - Indian). This 
word, now generally used in 
England, is from the Hindu 
hangri. The original is applied 
to a bracelet of coloured glass, 
but it is now extended to all 
kinds of such ornaments for the 
wrist when in ring-form or of 
one piece of metal. 

Hear their wrists and ankles jangle, 
With many a brass and silver bangle ; 
Dresses sprayed with many a spangle, 
So for living fish they angle. 

— 'I'hc Mild Hindoo. 

Miss H. wore her bl.-uing C.ishmere 
shawl ; her great brooch . . . ; and her great 
bracelets (she used to say, " I am given to 
imderstand they are called bangles, my 
dear, by the natives ") decorated the sleeves 
round her lean old \\a.n<i^.— Thackeray: 
The Neu'comcs. 

It is curious that the Hindu 
word Uingri exists in Eng- 
land as the gypsy term for a 
waistcoat, i.e., originally a mere 
ring, belt, or circlet of cloth, 
like a cummerbund. 

Bang off (common), to write a 
letter hang off, in a hurry. 

Bangster, a provincialism for the 


If you are so certain of being the bang- 
ster, so very certain, I mean, of sweeping 
stakes. — .S"/> Walter Scott : St. Ronan's 

Also, a loose woman, a buUy. 

If the Pope's champions are to be bang- 
sters in our very change-houses, we shall 
soon have the old shavelings back again. 
—Scott: The Abbot. 

Bang straw (provincial), a barn 
thresher, but applied to farm 
servants in general. 

Bang-tailed (popular), short - 

"These little bang-tailed sinners any 
good?" said Drysdale, throwing some 
cock - a - bondies across the table. — T. 
Hugfus : Tom Bro^vn at Oxford 

Bang-up (common), fine, first-rate. 
Synonymous with " slap-up." 
To bang-up, to make first-rate, 

Pat to his neck-cloth gave an air 
In style, and a la militaire ; 
His pocket, too, a kerchief bore. 
With scented water sprinkled o'er ; 
Thus bangcd-up, sweeten'd, and clean 

The sage the dinner-table braved. 

— Combe: Dr. Syntax. 

Jem drove me in a gig of the regular 
hang-up, stay-for-nothing, rumtumtiddity 
order. — Punch. 

Nothing more thoroughly ban^-up and 
highgeewoa rollicking than the run which 
the Evergreen had last Thursday, — Punch. 

A bang-up cove is a dashing 
fellow who sj)cnds his money 

Bang-up — Banter. 


freely. Bartlett gives hang-up 
as American, but it has long 
been common in England, where 
it originated. " Bangs Banag- 
her," beats the world. 

Bang up to the mark (popular), 
in fine or dashing style. 

B a n g 7 (Winchester) brown ; 
brown clothes considered as 
vulgar ; brown sugar. Pro- 
bably from bangy, dull, gloomy, 
an adjective used in Essex. 

Bangy- wallah (Anglo-Indian), a 
carrier of parcels. 

The lady's luggage was particularly 
scant, and the bangy-ivallahs , as they are 
called, who carry the boxes, had an easy 
time of it. — Mark Lemon : Falkner Lyle. 

Banjee (Anglo-Indian), a band of 

Banjo, the name given by the 
patients in one at least of the 
London hospitals to a bed-pan, 
from its somewhat fanciful re- 
semblance to the well-known 
and now fashionable musical 

Bank, to (thieves'), to put in a 
place of safety. " To hank the 
swag," to secure the booty. 
Also, to bank is to go shares. — 

Bankers (old), clumsy boots and 

Bankrupt cart (old), a one-horse 
chaise ; so called, it is said, 
by Lord Mansfield, from being 

so frequently used on Sunday 
jaunts by extravagant trades- 

Bank sneak (American), "hank 
sneak thieves," men of educa- 
tion, good address, and fault- 
less attire, who in gangs of 
three or four engage the atten- 
tion of the oSicers of a bank 
while one of their number com- 
mits a robbery. No thieves 
are so dangerous, or so much 

Banners (American), newsboys' 
slang. The word is explained 
in the following extract from 
the Chicago Tribune: — 

"Oh, I say, Figsy, " cried one, " ain't yer 
gittin' stood off a good deal on yer 
banner this week ? " 

"Yer'd better dry up, Slimmy, or may 
be yer wouldn't like me to mention how 
yer sponges yer eatin's." 

" Eatin's," explained the matron, "are 
the meals which they get down-town. 
Banners are the fees which they pay for 
their meals and lodgings at the home. 
That word is in use all over the United 
States, and I have never found a newsboy 
yet who could tell me where it came 

Banter, to (American). The preli- 
minary discussion or pour-par- 
ler which precedes a bargain 
is called a banter or bantering. 
It is derived from banter, to 
make a jest of or to challenge. 

Chatham, N.C, Nov. 15, 1886.— A 
white man named Moore was sent to the 
chain-gang on S.iturday for having traded 
wives with another man. When Judge 
Gilmer asked him what he had to say 
why sentence should not be passed, he re- 
plied that he did not know his .-\ct was a 


Banting — Bar. 

cHme. A man came to his house with a 
woman that was better-looking than his 
own wife, and bantered him for a trade ; 
so he "swapped," and paid $1.50 to boot. 
As this was his first "swap " he hoped that 
the court would impose a light sentence. 
— Chicago Tribune. 

Bantingf, the process of getting 
rid of superfluous fat by means 
of a strictly regulated diet. 
The method was introduced by 
Mr. Banting — hence the name 
— about twenty-five years ago. 

A parlour where all the furniture seemed 
to have undergone a prolonged course of 
banting. — Miss Braddon : Only a Clod. 

Banty (popular), saucy, impudent. 
Probably from bantam or banty- 
chickens, which are proverbial 
in America for pertness. — Neio 
York Slang Dictionary. 

Banyan (Anglo-Indian), an under- 
shirt, originally of muslin, and 
so called as resembling the body 
garment of the Hindus, but now 
commonly applied to under body 
clothing of elastic cotton, wool- 
len, or silk web. — Anglo-Indian 

Those were the days when even the 
honourable members of the Council met 
in banyan shirts, conjee caps, and long 
drawers, with a case-bottle of good old 
arrack, and a gouglet of water on the table. 
— India Gazette, February 24, 1781. 

An undershirt, commonly called a ba- 
nian. — IVilliamson, V. M. i. 19. 

I have lost nothing by it but a banyan 
shirt, a corner of my quilt, and my Bible 
singed. — Sufferings of a Dutch Sailor. 

Banyan days (nautical), those in 
wliich no llcsh meat was issued 
to the messes. Stock-fish used 

to be served out till it was found 
to promote scurvy. 

Of kitcheny (butter, rice, and dal) the 
European sailors feed in these parts, and 
are forced at such times to a Pagan ab- 
stinence from flesh, which creates in them 
an utter detestation to those banian days, 
as they call them. — Oz'ing^on, a.d. 1690. 

May your honour never know a banyan 
day, and a sickly season for you, into the 
bargain ! — Marryat I Japhet in Search 
of a Father. 

According to Admiral Smyth, 
" The term is derived from a 
religious sect in the East, who, 
believing in metempsychosis, eat 
of no creature endowed with 
life." Hotten says the term is 
probably derived from the Ba- 
nians or Banyans, a Hindoo caste, 
who abstain from animal food. 
Quite as probably from the sani- 
tary arrangements which have 
in hot climates counselled the 
gating on certain days of ban- 
yans and other fruits in pre- 
ference to meat. 

The dinner, I own, is shy, unless I come 
and dine with my friends, and then I make 
up for banian days. — Thackeray : The Ad- 
ventures of Philip. 

Bar (racing), except. Bar is used 
instead of the common com- 
pound form debar. When the 
bookmaker says " ten to one 
bar one," he means that lie will 
lay ten to one against any horse 
bar {i.e., except) one. 

"How do they bet?" inquired the 
Jubilee Plunger. 

" Evens," replied Gus Jacobs. 

'' All right. I'll bet j-ou a monkey." 

" No," said (Jus. " I don't want to bet 
— but here 1 I'll lay you 700 to 400 bar 

Bar — Barge. 


"All right," said the Plunger. "I'll 
have it." — Sporting Titnes. 

(American thieves), "Jar that 
toss," stop that game. 

" Bar that toss, Jim," said Bell, " for 
you're as fly at the pictures as the devil 
at lying, and 1 would rather be a knight 
of Alsatia than a plucked pigeon." — On 
the Trail. 

(Oxford University), to bar, to 
object to. Probably from to bar, 
in the sense of to except ; com- 
moner in the compound form 
debar. A "Bullingdon" man 
would probably say that he tar- 
red "the Union." An "Exeter" 
man would be pretty certain to 
say that he barred "Jesus." 

Bar (gypsy), a hedge, a garden or 
inclosure ; a pound for cattle. 
Persian, bdgh. Also a stone ; tacho 
bar, a true or real stone, i.e., a 

Baragan tailor (tailors), a rough 

Barber, to (university), to do 
one's impositions by deputy, 
the college barber having often 
been employed to perform this 
duty — hence the phrase. Those 
who by this means get rid of 
their impositions are said to 
barberise them. 

"And as for the impositions, why," as 
Mr. Bouncer said, "ain't there coves to 
barberise for you, Gig-lamps?" — C. Bede : 
Verdant Green. 

Barber, that's the (old slang). 
Grose in his rare first edition of 
the " Classical Dictionary of 
the Vulgar Tongue," says this 

was " a ridiculous and unmean- 
ing phrase in the mouths of the 
common people about the year 
1760, signifying their approba- 
tion of any action, measure, or 

Barber's cat (common). Hotten 
gives the definition — a half- 
starved, sickly-looking person. 
A term used in connection with 
a coarse expression. 

Barber's clerk (common), a con- 
ceited, over-dressed fellow, who 
apes the manners of a gentle- 

Barbly (pidgin), babble, noise. 
Probably the same as bobbery 
or bobbely. " Too muchee bar- 
bly makee that chilo." 

Bared (popular), shaved. 

There are boys who think themselves 
men, and who go to barbers' shops to be, 
as they say, bared. — Diprose : Modem Joe 

Bare-footed on top of the head 

(American), an expression ap- 
plied to a bald man. 

Barge (printers), an article used 
by compositors in correcting 
the forms. Either a flat piece 
of card, or a small wooden box, 
with divisions to hold spaces for 
altering the justification of the 
line. A case, with some boxes 
full and others nearly empty, is 
also called a banje, probably re- 
ferring to those boxes full up to 
the edge. The technical term 
would be space papers or space 


Barge — Barking. 

(Common), barge or bargey, a 
term of ridicule applied to a 
very corpulent man or woman 
of large posterior development ; 
a simile derived from the shape 
of a coal barge, or any clumsy 
boat or ship, compared with a 
wherry, or other vessel of more 
elegant and slender build. 

Baris, bawris, bawri (gypsy), a 
snail ; bawris simmun, snail soup. 

Bark (popular), an Irish man or 
woman. Hotten says that no 
etymology can be found for this. 
In low Whitechapel Yiddish 
the term would at once be 
understood to mean a wanderer 
or vagabond, based on barkolis, 
or bargolis, one who goes about 
in misery and poverty, and 
barches, " further," as barches 
holchen, " to go further." It is, 
however, probably derived from 
the Celtic barrag, scum, or dirty 
scum. Scum, as an abusive 
term, " scum of the earth," 
is originally Irish, vide Bark- 
shire. (Common), the skin, to 
''bark one's shins " is to get the 
skin off one's shins. 

That'll take the bark from your nozzle, 
and distil the Dutch pink for you, won't 
it ? — The Further Adventures of Mr. Ver- 
dant Green. 

(Popular), cough. 

So I suppose we must sing " Spring's 
Delights " when we ain't on the bark or the 
sneeze. — Punch, 1887. 

Barker (common), a man em- 
ployed at the doors of shows 
and shops of an inferior 

to entice people inside. The 
French slang has the exactly 
corresponding term aboyeur. 
Among touting photographers he 
is called a "door sman." At uni- 
versities a barker signifies a great 
swell, and in America a noisy 
coward ; barker has another sig- 
nification explained by the fol- 
lowing quotation : — 

But what was "b.arking "? I thought a 
great deal about the matter, and could 
arrive at no more feasible conclusion than 
that a barker was a boy that attended a 
drover, and helped him to drive his sheep 
by means of imitating the bark of a dog. — 
Charles Greenwood : Outcasts 0/ London. 

Also used by thieves for pis- 
tol. The term is in contradic- 
tion to the saying, that a " dog 
that barks seldom bites." 

Here a loud holloa was heard close by the 
horses' heads. " Good heavens, if that is 
a footpad!" said Mr. Spencer, shaking 
violently. " Lord, sir, I have my barkers 
with me." — Buliver: Night and Morning. 

" Barkers for me, Barney," said Toby 

" Here they are," replied Barney, pro- 
ducing a pair of pistols. — Charles Dickens : 
Oliver Twist. 

In nautical parlance, barkers is 
an old term for lower-deck guns 
and pistols. 

Barkey* (nautical), a sailor thus 
calls a pet ship to which he 

For the barkey she did know, 
As well as e'er a soul on board, 
'Twas time for us to go. 
— Old American Slaver's Song. 

Barking irons (thieves), pistols; 
and in nautical slang large 

Barkshire — Barney. 


duelling pistols, which French 
soldiers call " pieds de cochon." 

Barkshire, a word applied by the 
low English to Ireland ; from 
bark, a contemptuous and deri- 
sive name for an Irishman or 
Irishwoman. A member for 
Barkshire is a noisy, howling, 
troublesome fellow, who at- 
tempts to cough down his op- 
ponents, ie., hark at them. 

Bark up the wrong tree, to 

(American), is said of a man 
who vainly endeavours to ac- 
comphsh a thing for which he 
is not fitted, or who addresses 
himself to the wrong person for 

" You didn't really go to old Bullion," 
said a politician to an office seeker ; "why, 
he has no influence there, I can tell you ; 
you barked up the •wrong' tree there, my 
friend, and you deserve to fail. — Rich- 
mond Enquirer. 

Bamaby (common), to dance 
Barnaby is to move quickly 
and irregularly. See Cotton in 
his "Virgil Travestie," where, 
speaking of Eolus, he has these 
lines — 

" ' Bounce,' cries the portholes, out they fly. 
And make the world dance Bamaby." 

Barnacle (old cant), pickpocket. 

The man that stood beside thee is old 
Crookfinger, the most notorious setter, 
barnacle, and foist in the city. — Mark 
Lemon : Leyton Hall. 

Barnacles (common), spectacles ; 
termed also "gig-laraps" or 
" bosses." From barnacle, a kind 
of shellfish, or from barnacles. 

an instrument consisting of two 
branches joined at one end with 
a hinge, to put upon a horse's 
nose, to confine him for shoe- 
ing, bleeding, or dressing. 

Your eyes dasell after your washing ; 

these spectacles put on ; 
Now view this raysour ; tell me, is it 

no't a good one ? 
They bee gay bamikles, yet I see 

never the better. 
— Edwards : Damon and Pithias. 

Barndoor practice (society), the 
fashionable but indefensible 
system of battue, by which the 
birds are brought all within a 
limited range, where they fall 
an easy prey to the " sports- 
man I " 

Barnet fair (thieves), rhyming 
slang for hair ; called also 
" thatch." 

Barney (popular), a mob or a 
crowd, disturbance. 

'Ard lines, ain't it, Charlie, old hoyster? 
A barney s a barney, dear boy, 

And you know that a squeege and a sky- 
lark is wot I did always enjoy. 

A street-rush is somethink splendaclous 
to fellers of speerit like me. 

But dints and di.ikkylum plaster will 
spile the best sport, dontcher see. 
— Punch. 

This word has several mean- 
ings, and apparently two dis- 
tinct roots— one Aryan, and the 
other Semitic. Barney, a mob 
or crowd, may be derived from 
the gypsy bdro, great or many, 
which sometimes takes the form 
of barno or barni, and which 
suggests the Hindu bahrna, to 
increase, proceed, to gain, &c., 


Barney — Barnunt. 

and bharna, to fill or satisfy. 
Barney, a swindle, a sell, or 
a cross, is probably from 
the Yiddish barniss or bariwss, 
which becomes a Jewish proper 
name in Barnet, popularly Bar- 
ney. (Dickezis gives this name 
to a young Jew.) Bai-nits means 
a leader of a multitude, or head- 
man of any description. Remote 
as the connection between a 
•' swindle " and a " captain " 
may seem to be, it is direct 
enough according to the lowest 
form of Yiddish or German 
thieves' slang, in which a lead- 
ing, a clever, a swindling man 
are all united in cnchcnicr, " a 
wise man," and also "a leader of 
thieves." In achprosch we have 
again the conceptions of intelli- 
gence united to robbery, and to 
leadership. Further, baldober, a 
director, a leader, is applied to 
an arch-thief who gets double 
share. Balmasseniaten has also 
the double meaning of a shrewd 
man of business and a swin- 
dler, and the transition from a 
swindler to a swindle is natural 
enough, and has many parallels. 
It is to be observed that Hebrew 
terms of this stamp are far 
more frequently used by Chris- 
tian than by Jewish malefactors, 
as is proved by their corrup- 
tion. From the harnixs, barnrt, 
or barnry of a gang of thieves, 
we have harncyiny, robbing, or 
swindling, whence barney, a 
swindle, is all in order. 

(Racing), the person who pre- 
vents a liorsc winning a race, is 
<le.scribed jus " doing a barney." 

The same phrase is applied to 
the horse itself. 

(Running), humbug, rubbish ; 
in racing, when a man does 
not try to win. 

(Society), trip, excursion, out- 

(Popular), fun, larking ; teas- 
ing for amusement. It is 
common to hear people of the 
lower class say, whenever there 
is any object in view to make fun 
of, or have a game with, "Let's 
have a barney." 

Barney, to (Harvard University), 
to recite badly. 

Barn mouse (popular), to be bitten 
by a ham mouse, to be tipsy. 
Possibly an allusion to barley. 

Barn stormer (familiar), a term 
formerly applied to itinerant 
actors who acted in barns, like 
the troupe of Scarron's Roman 
Comiijue, and that of Gautier's 
Capitaine Fracassa 

Barnum (American.) " To talk 
Barnum " is not to indulge 
in extravagant " high-falutin," 
— this the great American never 
does, — but to utter vast asser- 
tions in a quiet manner. The 
following is a good specimen 
of it. 

Rising Phoenix-like from the ashes of 
my fifth great fire, which only served to 
ilhimin.ate my p.ith of duty as the Ame- 
rican people's champion amusement-pro- 
vider, I have taken into equal partnership 
my energetic and experienced friend .ind 
former associate, James A. Bailey. We 
liavc cular,t;i:d and vastly improved the 

Barnumise — Barrack. 


greatest show on earth, which we propose 
to establish as a permanence, with a 
reserved capital of several millions of 
dollars. At an early date we intend to 
establish in several of the largest Ameri- 
can cities permanent museums containing 
many thousands of natural, artificial, me- 
chanical, and scientific curiosities. . . . 
The Barnum and Bailey show will present 
to this and future generations a world's 
fair and a moral school of object teaching 
of unexampled variety and superior excel- 
lence, more amusing, instructive, compre- 
hensive, and vast than was ever before seen 
or dreamed of. — Phineas T. Barnum. 

Barnumise, to (American), to act 
as Mr. Barnum, a showman, im- 
presario, and a public cliaracter, 
in so many phases famous, or 
notorious, that his name has 
passed into the established list 
of Americanisms. The word 
humbug does not express so 
much as that of Barnum. 

Barnum had made himself 
so extremely conspicuous in so 
many ways even thirty years 
ago, that a Paris editor sug- 
gested that when his engage- 
ment as manager for Jenny Lind 
should come to an end, she 
would make quite as much 
money if she would go about 
exhibiting Mm. Long ago not 
a soul in the United States put 
the least faith in Barnum's 
curiosities, but this made no 
difEerence in the receipts, people 
thronged in " just to itt how 
he humbugged the greenhorns." 
In one advertisement the great 
exhibitor admitted with beauti- 
ful candour that what lie exhi- 
bited might not be genuine, that 
hehimself with all hisexperience 
might have been taken in by un- 

scrupulous deceivers — " all that 
we ask," he said, " is that the 
public will come and judge for 
themselves, and we promise 
faithfully to abide by their ver- 
dict." The public did come, 
paying twenty-five cents (or one 
shilling) per head and passed 
their verdict, and Mr. Barnum 
did abide by it (and the dollars), 
and at once got out something 
new. At last nobody put any 
faith in his curiosities. Then it 
became a source of intense de- 
light to him to exhibit objects 
which were really remarkable, 
and to make the public believe 
they were frauds. Having once 
a real bearded woman, Barnum 
ingeniously contrived to have it 
reported that she was a man, 
and to get himself prosecuted 
for imposition, the result being 
a medical examination, an ac- 
quittal, and of course an in- 
creased rush of sight-seers. It 
should be added that Mr. Bar- 
num has always been noted for 
, very great though always judi- 
cious generosity, that he is 
exceptionally honourable and 
honest in his private dealings, 
and that he has built up Bridge- 
port, Connecticut, from a small 
town to a city. Barnum's colos- 
sal show was destroyed by fire 
a short time since. 

Barrack hack (army), a girl who 
prowls about barracks for pur- 
poses of prostitution, generally 
the lowest of the low. French 
soldiers call these " paillasse de 
corps-dc-garde. " Barrack-hack 


Barrack — Barvelo. 

is also applied to young ladies 
of perfectly virtuous character, 
but who have been to garrison 
or militarj balls for several 
years. The term was freely 
used at one time in reference 
to one of the parties in a noted 
criminal case. 

Barracking (Australian), banter- 
ing. Probably from the slang 
term barrikin, jargon, speech, 
or discourse, on account of the 
"palaver" which traders must 
hold before they can strike a 

Barrakin or barrikin (popular), 
jargon, gibberish ; low, unin- 
telligible language. 

The high words in a tragedy we calls 
jaw-breakers, and we say we can't tumble 
to that barrikin. — Maytuiv : London La- 
bour and the London Poor. 

From the French baragouin, 
which has the same meaning. 
It occurs in Rabelais as bara- 
goin. " Cheese your barrikin," 
stop talking, shut up. 

Barrel boarder (American), "a 
bucket-shop bummer, a low 
sot" (New York Slang Diction- 
ary), evidently derived from 
sitting about on the barrels in 
a small shop. 

Barrel fever (common), the sick- 
ness caused by intoxication, 
sometimes called the bottle- 
ache, the quart-mania, and the 
gallon -distemper, all possible 
precursors of ddirium tremens. 

Barres (old), gamblers' term, ap- 
plied to money lost by them, 
but which they do not pay. 

Whereby they wyl drawe a mannes 
money but pay none, which they call 
barres. — Asc/tam : Toxophilus. 

Barrick (American), a common 
word in Pennsylvania for a hill. 
From the German berg. 

Bang, bang ! de sharp pistolen shots 

Vent pipin by his ear, 
Boot he tortled oop de barrick road 

Like any mountain deer. 

— Breit?Mann in Politics. 

Barrovy-bunter (costermongers) , 
female costermonger. 

I saw s^d\T\.y barro7v-bunier\n the street, 
cleaning her dusty fruit with her own 
spittle. — Smollett : Humphrey Clinker. 

Barrow-tram (popular), a term 
applied jocularly to a raw-boned, 
awkward-looking person. 

Barter (Winchester), a barter is 
a ball more generally called a 
" half volley " by cricketers, 
from the name of R. S. Barter, 
a famous cricketer. It has also 
the signification of a hard hit. 
To barter is to hit the ball hard 
at cricket. 

Barts, an abbreviation of St. Bar- 
tholomew's Hospital, used by 
medical student.'! and others. 

Barvelo (gypsy), rich, wealthy. 

A 16rdus vias kete welg(^ro 
Rya tc ranis shan hanieli. 

A tano rye te a kamelo, 
Avo ml pirrynl, Svali ! 

— A Lord Went to the Pair. 

Bash — Basket. 


— Lords and ladies are rich. A young 
gentleman and an agreeable (lovely) one. 
Yes, my sweetheart, yes. — Janet Tuckey. 

(Hindu, bhara, increase, ful- 

Bash, to (popular), to strike, to 
thrash, to crush ; to bash hats is 
a favourite amusement of Lon- 
don roughs in a large crowd. 
From a provincialism to beat 
fruit down from the trees with 
a pole. 

He taps me across the hand with a cane, 
and my mother goes in and bossies him 
over the head with a poker, and gets him 
fined for assaulting me. — Punch. 

(Pugilistic), a bash is one of a 
variety of blows. 

It certainly seemed also that this en- 
counter had been full of " go." The 
" cockles " of the hearts of Corinthian 
Tom and Jerry Hawthorn warmed as they 
heard and read of " fibbing " and " counter- 
ing," of "red-hot smacks," "left-handers 
on the nob," " rib-roasters," " upper- 
cuts," " exchanges," " bashes," " knock- 
downers," "body-punches," "spankers," 
"welts," "smashers," "whistlers," "rat- 
tling ivories," "stingers," "bangs," " hot- 
uns," and of the "tapping "of the "claret," 
and the flowing of " the r\iby."— Punch. 

(Old provincial English), to 
beat. In Bedfordshire to beat 
fruit trees with a pole. Allied 
to haste, to beat ; Icelandic 
beysta, Swedish bC^ta, and basa, 
to beat. An English word of 
Danish origin. 

In prisons to bash signifies to 
strike, and especially to flog. 
Bashing in, a flogging at the 
commencement of a rufllan's 
term of imprisonment ; hashing 
out, one at the close. 

(Popular), a tremendous plunge 
or fall, A word expressive of 
sudden concussion, breaking up, 
or tumbling. 

The chaise went crash and I went bash 
Amongst the shafts and wheels, 
And Mary Ann and her mama, 
Went right head over heels 1 

— George Homcastle: Mary Ann 
and her Mama. 

Basher (pugilistic), prize fighter, 
synonymous with " bruiser." 

Bashing (prison), a flogging. 

Basing (gaming). " That's basing " 
when clubs are turned up trumps 
— the allusion as generally ex- 
plained being " that clubs were 
trumps when Basing was taken." 
This was one of the most me- 
morable of the sieges of the 
Civil War. 

Basket (old cant), used in the 
phrase " a kid in the basket," 
said of a woman in the family 
way. (Tailors), stale news. 

Basket meeting (American). A 
half picnic and half religious 

Basket, to bring to the (old), to 
fall into poverty. 

God be praised ! I am not brought to 
the basket, though I had rather live on 
charity than rapine. — Father Darrelll 
Gentlemen Instructed. 

Basket, to go to the (old), to be 

Arrested ! this is one of those whose base 
and abject flattery helped to dig his grave. 


Basket — Both. 

He is not worth your pity, nor my anger ; 
go to the basket and repent. — Massinger : 
Fatal Do'Mry. 

This is from the fact that a 
basket was lowered from the 
prison window for alms by a 
man, who called out, " Pity the 
poor prisoners ! " 

Bastard brig (naval), a coaster, 
termed also a " schoony-orgy " 
or " hermaphrodite brig." 

Bastile (thieves, paupers, and 
tramps), the workhouse or " big 
house ; " formerly a prison. The 
word is now abbreviated into 

Bat (American), a frolic, a spree. 
An abbreviation of batter, which 
means the same. 

I'm away from the shop and away from 

my work, 
And I mean to cut up like a regular 

Turk ; 
So down with the Lager and up with 

your hat. 
We are off for the day on a regular bat. 
— Concert Hall Songs. 

Also a prostitute who only 
walks the streets at night. 
Termed " hirondelle de nuit" 
in French slang. 

You lie, you bat — I couple with no 
cove but my own. Harry, will you let 
yourself be made a two-legged stool of l)y 
a flag-about ?— 0« i/ie Trail. 

In the English slang, " on his 
own bat " has the signification 
of on his own account, by his 
own exertions, a cricketing 
phrase. JIat also moans pace — 
to go ofT at a good bat. 

Bates' farm (prison), the prison ; 
probably applied only to Cold 
Bath Fields. 

Now every morning when you rise 

You get a starving meal, 
And if you don't eat all they send 

You have to work the wheel. 
I'hen so merrily we go 

To chapel to have prayers, 
And for a little pastime work 
The everlasting stairs. 

For it was this blooming morning 
I left OU Bates's fann. 
I feel so glad this blessed day 
I've left Old Bates's farm I 

So C. B. F., the initials of Cold 
Bath Fields stamped on articles 
used in the prison, is interpreted 
Charley Bates's Farm, and to be 
on the treadmill there is feed- 
ing the chickens on Charley 
Bates's Farm. A warder of that 
name is said to have been in 
charge there. 

Bath (general), "go to Bath" is 
so universally used that it has 
almost ceased to be slang. In- 
valids or insane persons used to 
be sent to Bath for the benefit 
of its mineral w^aters. So " go 
to Bath " literally meant you are 
mad, go to Bath to get cured. 

You tell a disagreeable neighbour to " go 
to Bath " in the sense in which a Roman 
would have said " abi in malam rem." — 
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 
New York. 

" Go to Bath I " said the Baron. A de- 
fiance so contemptuous roused the ire of 
the adverse comn\a.n(leTS.^lngoldsby Le- 

This town does not seem to 
have been in favour with the 
Earl of Rochester, who thus 
(Icsorihi's it : — 

Bath — Battels. 


There is a place, down a gloomy vale, 
Where burdeu'd nature lays her nasty 

Ten thousand pilgrims thither do resort 
For ease, disease, for lechery and sport. 
— Works. 

Bath, which has given its 
name to various things for which 
it was supposed to be famous, 
as Bath brick, Bath buns, Bath 
chairs, &c., has, besides, pro- 
vided the French argot with 
the adjective hath or hate, an 
equivalent of .4 1 , used in phrases 
such as "c'est hien bath" that 
is, excellent, first-class, tip-top. 
" !^tre de la hate " signifies to be 
lucky, fortunate. The origin 
of the expression is as follows : 
— Towards 1848 some Bath note- 
paper of superior quality was 
hawked about in the streets of 
Paris and sold at a low price. 
Thus "papier hath" became sy- 
nonymous with excellent paper. 
In a short time the qualifying 
term alone remained, and re- 
ceived a general application. — 
A. Barrire : Argot and Slang, 

Batha (Anglo-Indian). " Two 
different words are thus ex- 
pressed in Anglo-Indian col- 
loquial, and in a manner 
confounded: (i.) Hindu hhatd, 
an extra allowance made to 
officers, soldiers, or other 
public servants when in the 
field or on other special occa- 
sions, also subsistence-money 
to witnesses or j^risoners. (2.) 
Hindu hatta, agio or difference 
in exchange, or discount on 
uncurrent coins." — Anglo-Indian 

Bathing machines (nautical), 
old lo-gun brigs are so named. 

Bat mugger (Winchester), an in- 
strument for oiling bats. 

Bats (thieves' slang), old shoes or 
boots. In Somersetshire, low- 
laced boots. From j>at, old 
gypsy for foot or shoe. 

Battels (university), a student's 
account at the college kitchen. 
Sometimes also it is used for 
the goods supplied. 

Buttery and kitchen cooks were adding 
up the sum total ; bursars were preparing 
for battels. — C. Bede : Verdant Green. 

It is an old word, originally 
meaning an account. In the 
Gentleman's Magazine, August 
1872, it is said to be derived 
houibezahlen, "to'pa.j." Wright 
gives the derivation old English 
hat, increase, and Anglo-Saxon 
do,'^, deal, portion. Another origin 
is that given by Dr. Brewer, 
battens, from the verb to batten, to 
feed. Batten is used by Shak- 
speare in Coriolanus, and also 
in Hamlet, where the prince 
addresses his mother, and asks 
her to compare his father's por- 
trait with that of her second 
husband, whom she married so 
soon after the funeral of the 
first as to scandalise all Den- 

Follow your function, go ! and batten 
on cold bits. 

— Coriolanus : Act IV. scene 5. 
Could you on this fair mountain leave to 

And batten on this moor? 

— Hamlet : Act III. scene 4. 


Battels — Bnulk. 

(Oxford University), to battel, to 
be indebted to the buttery for 
provisions and drink, to run an 
account for food, &c., with the 
college as opposed to boarding 
in a private house. In De Quin- 
cey's " Life and Memoirs," p. 
274, there is an allusion to this 
Iiractice — " Many men battel at 
the rate of a guinea a week and 
wealthier men more expensive, 
and more careless men even 
battdled much higher ; " also to 
reside or keep terms at the 
university. It has been sug- 
gested that the word is derived 
from an old monkish word, 
patella or batella, a plate. 

Batter (popular), wear and tear. 
"Can't stand the batter," i.e., 
not equal to the task ; "on the 
batter" on the streets applies 
to prostitutes, termed in French 
argot " batlre le quart" with 
this special meaning ; also, given 
up to debauchery. See BArry. 

Batters (printers), a recognised 
term applied to bad or broken 
letters which are flung into the 
" hell box," a receptacle to hold 
these discarded types, which are 
melted down eventually. 

If you please, sir, . . . the devil has 
Ijeen putting live matter into hell instead 
of batters. — American Newspaper. 

Batting' his eyes (American), a 
gambler's term for men who 
look on but do not play. 

Battle of the Nile (rhyming slang), 
a " tilo," i.e., a hat. 

Battlin'-finches (bird fanciers), 
explained by the following quo- 
tation: — 

It's all in the trainin' of 'em. I've had 
battliti -fitiches — we calls 'em battliri- 
Jinches when they're trained for match- 
singing or for pegging — wot 'ud sing in 
my hat as I walked along, and without 
being in any cage at all. — J. Greenwood : 
In Strange Company. 

Battlings (public schools), weekly 
allowance given out to boys on 

The business of the latter was to call 
us of a morning to distribute amongst us 
our bait lings or pocket-money. — Dickens : 
Household IVords, vol. i. p. 188. 

Battner (old), an ox. " The cove 
has hushed the battner," the 
butcher has killed the ox ; from 
batten, to fatten. According to 
Skeat, of Scandinavian origin, 
from the same root as " better." 

Batty (workmen), wages, per- 
quisites. Derived from batta, 
an extra pay given to soldiers 
while serving in India. — Hotteus 

Batty-fang (provincialism), to 
thrash; batty-fang or batter-fang, 
blow ; batty-fanging, a thrashing. 

The Pastor lays on \\xi\.y/angs 
Whitehead the Pastor batter-fangs. 
— IVard : Englaml s Ke/oriiiation. 

Baulk (Winchester), a hoax, a 
false report. (Popular), wlien 
street boys are playing at pitch 
and toss, the cry may be heard 
" head a baulk ! " or " woman a 
baulk I " should the coin fall on 
its edge instead of flat on the 

Baum — B.C. 


Baum, to (Univ., American), to 
fawn, to flatter, to curry favour. 

Bavo, bavol (gypsy), air, breath, 
breeze, wind. "0 shillo hdvol 
puderla 'dr^ ye hevyor " — " The 
cold wind is blowing through 
the holes." Bdvol is sometimes 
used for dust. 

Bawbells (old slang), the testicles, 
a corruption of hobble, a pro- 
vincialism signifying stones and 

Bawdy banquet (old cant), whor- 

Bawdy baskets (old slang), wo- 
men who sold pins, &c., to ser- 
vant girls, or exchanged these 
articles for eatables, and occa- 
sionally stole linen off hedges. 
Also applied to the itinerant 
vendors of obscene and ribald 
literature, and to a prostitute. 

Many a faire lasse in London towne, 
Many a baivdie basket borne up and 
— Puttenhaiii : Art of English Poesie. 

Bawhawder (Anglo-Indian), from 
the Hindu hahadur, a hero, a 
chamjjion. A word applied in 
Anglo-Indian to any great swell 
or soldier. It is a title of honour 
for bravery, which is found in 
one form or another all over the 

There is nothing of the great bahaivder 
about him. — Athena-utii, No. 2670, p. 851: 
Anglo-Indian Glossary. 

Bayadere. This word, though 
generally supposed to be Hindu 

for a dancing - girl, is only a 
French form of the Portuguese 
hailadeira, from bailar, to dance. 

" Come, an hour of rapture prove?" 
" And what art thou ? " "A bayadere. 
And this the joyous home of Love." 
— Goethe. 

Bayard of ten toes, to ride 

(old slang). The old equivalent 
of " Shanks' mare " (German 
Schusters Jiappen, cobbler's black 
horses), i.e., to go on foot. In 
the old romances Bayard was a 
celebrated horse. 

Bay-window (American), preg- 
nancy, with a big belly. New 
York Slang Dictionary: "She 
has a how-window to her toy- 
shop." The French argot ex- 
presses the same by the phrase, 
" EUe a un polichinelle dans la 
tiroir," the tiroir being in this 
phrase a "toy-shop." 

B.C. has become the stereotyped 
exponent of a ridiculous charge 
of libel. A genteel young 
woman complained to Mr. Ing- 
ham of having been abused by 
a person who called her a B.C. 
The magistrate asked what 
B.C. meant, when he was told 
that C. meant "cat," but B. 
was too shocking to be uttered 
aloud. She consented, however, 
to whisper the naughty word in 
his worship's ear. Mr. Ingham 
heard the mysterious " libel," 
and though he could not grant 
the summons, B.C. has acquired 
the signification given above. — 
Dr. Brewer: Dictionary of Phrase 
and Fable. 


B.C. — Beam ends. 

(Racing), the Beacon Course, 
the full length (four miles, one 
furlong, one hundred and forty- 
three yards) of the racing track 
at Newmarket. 

Beach cadgers (old), idle vaga- 
bonds dressed as sailors, who 
prowl about the beach at water- 
ing-places and obtain money 
on false pretences from persons 
frequenting that part. 

Beach-comber (nautical), a feUow 
who loafs about a port to filch 
smaU things. One who prowls 
about the sea-shore to plunder 
wrecks or pick up waifs and 
strays of any kind. In the 
Pacific any kind of sailor ad- 
venturer. (Nautical), a river 

Beach-tramper (nautical), coast- 

Beadle (freemasons), an officer 
answering to junior warden in 
a council of Knights of the 
Holy Sepulchre. 

Beak, originally thieves' cant 
(bock), for policeman, magistrate, 
but now it has only the latter 

I suppose you don't know what a beak 
is, my flash com-pan-i-on ? . . . My eyes, 
how green 1. . . . Why, a beak's a madg- 
st'rate ; and when you walk by a beak's 
order, it's not straightforerd, but always 
agoing up and niver a coming down agin. 
— Charles Dickens : Oliver Tavist. 

The term is used by better 
men than thieves. 

There was an old obstinate beak 
(Who oftentimes played a queer freak), 
Said, " Take her away — 
Next time she must pay ! " 
And would not let her chief witness 

— Sporting Times. 

Some etymologists derive heah 
from the Saxon bcag, a gold 
collar worn by civic magistrates 
as an emblem of authority. It 
seems, however, that "beck," a 
constable, was from a metaphor 
based on the literal meaning of 
the word heak or hill, and the 
circumstance that a detective 
is nowadays termed a "nose" 
comes in support of this sup- 
position. It may also be de- 
rived from " to beckon," to inti- 
mate a command, the "move 
on" of the modern constable. 
To account for the meaning 
of magistrate, it may be said 
that the transition was easy 
from the humble guardian of 
the law to the more exalted 
one. Thus French malefactors 
gave both policeman and magis- 
trate the common appellation of 
vache. A judge is sometimes 
called the " beak of the law." 

Beaker hunter or beak hunter 

(thieves' slang), a thief who de- 
votes his attention to the poultry 

Beak gander, judge of the supe- 
rior court. 

Beam ends (general), a nautical 
metaphor. A person ent irely at 
a loss, who is " all abroad," is 

Beam ends — Beans. 


said to be " thrown upon his 
beam ends." 

He laughed the idea down completely ; 
and Tom abandoning it, was thrown upon 
his beam-ends again for some other solu- 
tion. — Charles Dickens : Martin Chuzzle- 

The French would express a 
state of embarrassment by " il 
est au bout de son latin," or " il 
ne sait sur quel pied danser." 

The phrase also means to be 
in great need, when the " bal- 
last " (money) — to continue the 
nautical metaphor — is gone. 

When a fellow is on his beam-ends, as I 
was then, he must keep his eyes about him 
and have impudence enough for anything, 
or else he may stop and starve. — May- 
kew : London Labour and the London 

" On one's heam-ends," in a 
sitting posture. 

You get on stunningly, gig-lamps, and 
haven't been on your beam-ends more than 
once a minute. — C. Bede : Verdant Green. 

Bean. This word occurs in several 
colloquial phrases, such as "three 
blue heans in a blue bladder," 
and refers to a rattle-head, a 
foolish fellow. 

They say — 
That putting all his words together, 
'Tis three blue beans in a blue bladder. 
— Prior: Alma Cant. 

The phrase is evidently from a 
jester's bladder with hfxms or 
peas in it. It must be noted, 
as a coincidence, that the idea 
of a hladder was uppermost in 
the minds of those who coined 
the French word fol, fool, jes- 

ter, from the low Latin fdlis, 
bellows or bladder. 

"Not worth a bean," or "the 
black of a bean," corresponds 
to the Latin ne hilum (literally 
"not the black of a bean"), 
contracted into nihil. There is a 
Dutch proverb, " Every 6ean has 
its black," i.e., " Every man has 
his faults," which gives force to 
the English expression. 

(American slang), a bean is 
specially a five-dollar gold piece, 
and " iean-traps " is synony- 
mous with stylish sharpers. 

Formerly bean meant a guinea. 
This is possibly from the French 
bien, used in old canting among 
other meanings for property or 

" Couldn't you let him pike if I come 
down with a thimble and ten beans ? " 

The detective shook his head. — On tJie 

Bean feast (tailors), a good feast, 
also an annual excursion of 

Beano (printers). See 'Goose. 
Abbreviation of word "bean- 
feast," mostly used by machine - 
printers. Compositors generally 
employ the term "'goose'*' or 
"wayzgoose" for this festive 

Beans, he don't know (Ameri- 
can). The natives of New Eng- 
land, but especially of Boston, 
are celebrated for culture or in- 
telligence of the highest order, 
and also for an extraordinary 
fondness for beans baked in a 


Beans — Bear. 

pot with pork — of which Fuller, 
the Shakspeare of divines, said 
that ' ' it was a good dish which 
the Pythagoreans and Jews had 
contrived between them to 
spoil." The result of all this 
has been a saying for any igno- 
rant person that Ae don't knoio 
beans, i.e., " he is an ignoramus, 
or Gentile — he is not a Bos- 
tonian, he is not fond of beans, 
ergo, an outside barbarian." 
Others derive it from the old 
joke, " How many black beans 
make five white ones ? " to 
which the answer is, " Five, if 
you peel them." He who knew 
how to answer this question 
was supposed to kno^o beans. In 
the following extract from the 
Boston Globe, in which an effort 
is made to select from the local 
directory names which indicate 
articles of food, it is worth ob- 
serving that the first name 
thought of is, of course. Bean, 
although the list is not in alpha- 
betical order: — 

" The Hub's Happv Family. — Accord- 
ing to the city directory, there are plenty of 
Beans in Boston, one Egge, eight Pyes, .-i 
number of Onions, and one Crumb. Be- 
sides these there are three Bones, also Salt 
and Jelly. Seven Beers are found, and 
Coffee, Milk, and Teas. There is one 
Chicken to three Goslings and a Hawk. 
Boston also has a pair of Stockings, one 
Sock, one Cravatt, a pair of Mittens, and 
four Collars. Three Hatts and one Wigg 
complete the outfit." 

The writer for the Globe forgot 
to look out for Bacon to go 
with his Beans. It was, we be- 
lieve, a Bo.ston Bacon, "fore- 
named" Delia, who first denied 

to Shakspeare the authorship of 
his plays. 

(Society), to be "full of beans," 
means to be in good form. The 
metaphor is borrowed from a 
horse being said to be full of 
beans when he is fresh and 
frisky. To be beany, is to be in 
a good humour, Uke a horse 
who has had a good feed. 
(Common), to " give beans," 
means to give a good beating. 

He's the unbought and undefeated Chel- 
sea Chicken, and I reckon that when he 
meets the Brazilian Gamecock — Tom Tif- 
fin, who holds the championship of the 
Western Hemisphere, he'll give him deans. 
— Moonshine. 

The term beatis is also used for 
money ; a " haddock of beans," 
a purse of money. 

Bear (Stock Exchange), a fall, or 
a speculator for a fall ; a man 
who sells stock which he does not 
possess in the hope of being paid 
not to have it delivered. His 
confrere the "bull" speculates 
in the same manner for a rise, 
while the " stag " operates on 
shares of new companies which 
he applies for with the inten- 
tion of selling at once at a pre- 
mium. The commonly accepted 
and very old explanation of these 
words is that the bears claw 
or pull the stock down, wliile 
the bulls toss it up. The 
" stag " is the representative 
of the timid speculator, trust- 
ing more to his fieotness of 
foot than to the balance at his 
banker's when the expected 
premium is "nil," and ho is 

Bear — Bear-leader. 


called upon to pay the allot- 

Now as the Bull had run away, 
Unable for the shares to pay, 
'Twas clear, as he'd no cash to spare, 
The Stag then couldn't pay the Bear; 
So when the Bear went for his due, 
The Stag had gone to Boulogne too. 

And, since the Stag had cut and run, 
'Twas plain the Bear could pay no one ; 
So those to whom he money ow'd, 
When they sought out the brute's abode, 
Found that the Bear, or him they call so, 
Had cut and run to Boulogne also. 

— A tkin : House Scraps. 

Current expressions in the 
"House" are: to operate for 
a hear ; to realise a profitable 
bear. To hear the market is 
using every effort to depress the 
price of stock in order to buy it. 

And these are the clients who sell and 

Who "bear" when low and "bull" when 

And who pay the Como, a source of gain, 
Which lightens sorrow and eases pain. . . . 
And these are the men who, all forlorn. 
Wander about all tattered and torn, 
Who have been clients, who sell and buy. 
Who "bear" when low and " bull " when 


— A tkin : House Scraps. 

Dealings are now becoming more active 
in these stocks, and a considerable bear 
account is developing itself. — Truth, April 

26, 1888. 

When speculators become de- 
faulters—to whatever category 
of the animal trinity mentioned 
above they may belong — they 
are metamorphosed into " lame 
ducks," and " waddle out of the 

" To hear a bob " (nautical), 
used jocularly by Jack-tars for 

"to lend a hand; " (popular), 
to join in chorus with persons 

Beard splitter (old slang), a rake ; 
one of the "loose fish" sort 
who is fond of prostitutes. The 
allusion is obvious. 

Bearer-up (thieves' slang), a 
gambling cheat, more generally 
called a "bonnet," a commis- 
sion agent, bidder or sweetener 
at an auction ; a decoy-duck 
at cards who induces strangers 
to play with sharpers by per- 
suasion or by seeing him win. 
From the legal term " bearer " 
in old law, one who bears down 
and oppresses others by vexa- 
tiously assisting a third party 
in maintaining a suit against 

Bear fight (society), a rough 
and tumble in good part. The 
smoking or billiard rooms at 
night in country houses are 
the places where bear figlUs fre- 
quently occur, 

Be-argered (common), drunk. 
Probably from the German be- 
argcrt, irritated, vexed, referring 
to the ' ' fifth stage of intoxica- 
tion, which is one of wrath and 
fighting " (Korte, Sprichworter 
der Deutsclun). 

Bear-leader (common), the travel- 
ling companion or tutor of a 
young gentleman or nobleman, 
employed by the parents or 
guardians to watch over him 


Dear leader — Beastly. 

and keep him from evil courses 
which he might fall into if 
left to himself. " Unlicked 
cub " was and still is a slang 
term for an undisciplined youth, 
and was no doubt the origin 
of hear as applied to the same 
kind of person. When Dr. 
Johnson visited Scotland and 
the Hebrides in his old age, 
accompanied by James Bos- 
well, who has left the world 
so amusing an account of the 
prejudices of his uncouth and 
ungainly hero against every- 
thing he saw in Scotland, it 
pleased the wits of Edinburgh 
to call Boswell his bear-Icadcr. 
Henry Erskine, to whom Bos- 
well had introduced the great 
man, slipped a shilling into 
Boswell's hand, saying, "Take 
tliat, my good man ; it's for the 
sight of j'our bear ! " 

Bears ? are you there with your 

(old), are you there, or, at it 
again ? Joe Miller says the ex- 
pression originated in this way. 
A man disgusted with a sermon 
on Elislia and the bears, went 
on the following Sunday to an- 
other church, where he heard 
the sermon delivered once more 
by the same preacher. Irate 
at being thus foiled, he cried 
out, "Arc you there with your 
bears ? " The explanation is more 
quaint than convincing. The 
phrase seems to have been very 
common in the seventeenth cen- 

Another, wlien at the racket court he had 
a ball struck into hi> haiard, would ever 

and anon cry out, " Estes-vous Ik avec vos 
oursV which is ridiculous in any other 
language but English. — J. Howell: h'or- 
raine Travell. 

Oh, quoth they, here is an accident may 
save the man ; are you there with your 
hears ? We will quit the exercise of the 
House's right rather than that should be.— 
Roger North : Examcn. 

Bear watching, to (American), a 
phrase indicating suspicion. 

" Jones may be a nice man, but he'll 
bear 'Matching — you had better keep your 
eye on him." 

' ' Now Brer Rabbit knowed he bes' look 
about right spry, cayse de creeters all had 
dey eyes skint an' dey years open fer him, 
cayse he bed setch cu'y'ous leetle ways 
wi(i him dat he'd bar watchin." — Urcr 

Beastly (common). This word, 
which was once used only in 
a very abusive sense, has, by 
dint of repetition, come like 
awfully, or dreadful, or horrid 
in America, to signify " very." 

Ere ladies use such beastly names our 

follies to condemn, 
They should in mind they always 

find we're beastly fond of them. 
— Zoological CoDi/'anioiis : A Jiallatl. 

They go on if I say " beastly jolly," 
.\nd say that I mustn't talk slang, 
And lecture me well on the folly 
Of shutting the door with a bang. 

— //. Adams : Only a Little 
Hit Giddy. 

It is also used in society as 
an emphatic adjective. Every- 
thing that does not meet with 
approval now is heasth/ : as, 
"We had a beastly didl sermon 
this morning." Surely a libel 
on animals, -as the original 
ineaning is, "pertaining to, or 

Beastly — Beat. 


having the form and nature 
of a beast." Thus, the young 
French lady used the word 
correctly when she said of her 
pets, " I like horses, I like dogs, 
I like parrots ; in short, I like 
everything that is haistly l" 

Beasts (American cadets). At 
the United States Military Aca- 
demy, at West Point, new cadets 
are so called. More appro- 
priate and suggestive terms — 
though not so forcible — are used 
at the Royal Military Aca- 
demy, Sandhurst — "Snooker," 
"Johnny;" "bejants" (bejaunes) 
is applied to freshmen at Aber- 
deen University. 

Beat, to (American), to cheat, or 
"do" one out of money in any 

Two of these eating establishments are 
large and busy places, wherein two good 
dishes can be had for a dime (fivepence). 
It is said that the waiters are all athletes 
and skilled bouncers, who are more re- 
spected by the public than any waiters 
ever were before. It is like trifling with 
dynamite to try to beat one of these places 
out of a dinner, and the bummer who does 
so is described as looking and feeling as if 
he had been through a rolling-mill when 
his waiter has tired of toying with him. — 
Chicago Tribune. 

To "6eai hollow," to "heat 
into fits," to " heat badly," to 
surpass or excel. A man who 
is wholly exhausted is said to 
be " dead-?;e«<. " 

" That heats the bugs ! " (Ame- 
rican). The phrase is used to 
denote anything stupendous, 
incredible, incommensurable. 

Probably from an old story in 
which some bugs showed as- 
tounding sagacity and achieved 
some wonderful feat in order to 
baffle their tormentor and extri- 
cate themselves from a perilous 
position. Another version is 
that a man to prevent the bugs 
from getting to his bed, made 
a circle of tar round it. Then 
they climbed up to the ceiling, 
and fell or jumped down on the 
bed. Finally, he made another 
circle of tar on the ceiling, and 
that " heat the bugs." 

" Well, if this don't beat the bugs ! " he'd 
say. " What a spot o' work this is, sar- 
tainly." — Sam Slick. 

Mr. Atkin, in his " House 
Scraps," has a story of a dog 
that certainly " heats the bugs." 
"One said his dog was so clever 
that it would not go out with 
him unless his cartridges fit his 
gun. ' Well, old man, I must 
admit that youj dog is above 
the average, but I'll back mine 
against him for a fiver. I was 
in our lane the other evening, 
when my dog pointed at a man 
I had never seen before, and as 
nothing would make him move, 
I went up to the man and said, 
' Sir, would you oblige me with 
your name ? ' ' Yes, sir, my 
name is Partridge.' " 

Beat, a (journalistic). "To have 
a heat on one," is to call on one. 

On my return home I had what jour- 
nalists call a heat on nearly all my 
acquaintances, to whom I had much that 
was strange and wonderful to tell concern- 
ing my travels. — iV. A. I'atou: Down the 


Beat — Beating. 

(American), to " get a beat on 
one," to have the laugh of one, 
to take a " rise" out of. 

" Great Csesar ! and we've gone to 
press," gasped the editor. " The after- 
noon papers will get a beat on us to- 
morrow." — San Franciscan. 

Beat daddy mammy, to (old 
military), to practise the ele- 
ments of drum beating. 

Beat the Dutch, to (popular). 
That heats the Dutch, is said of 
any startling statement or in- 
credible fact. To beggar de- 
scription or stagger belief. Ori- 
ginally used to express extreme 
stupidity and obstinacy, a Dutch- 
man being popularly represented 
as a phlegmatic person whom 
nothing could move. 

Beaten down to bed-rock (Ame- 
rican), reduced to the last ex- 

Some had died, others were dying ; none 
were well, and all were, as they tersely 
futii, beaten down to bed-rock. — Phillipps- 
Wolley : Trottings of a Tenderfoot. 

Beater - cases (obsolete), shoes 
or boots ; also called formerly 
" bowles; " more modern are the 
"trotter-cases" (termed "trot- 
tinets," or " trottins " in French 
slang), "grubbers, carts, beetle- 
crushers, crab-shells, and hock- 
dockies." Thieves and roughs 
in a poetical mood have given 
thoin the name of "," 
while mashers ruefully talk of 
their pointed patents as " ex- 
cruciators." A policeman on 
his beat is said by the roughs to 

exercise his " plates of meat." 
The much despised spring side 
boots officers term ' ' Jemimas." 

Beaters (thieves), feet, an abbre- 
viation of dew-beaterg, a slang 
term for feet, and, in Norfolk, 
coarse oiled shoes that resist the 
dew. "To pad one's beaters," 
to walk, to walk away. 

Pluck me some panam and caftar. Bill, 
for I want to pad my beaters. — A'e^v York 
Slang Dictionary. 

The earlier word is " batters " or 
"bats,"' which represents the ori- 
ginal " pats," In gj'psy, tompats 
is in common with canting a 
word for feet. Hindu, tal-pat, 
the sole. 

Beating the booby (nautical), the 
beating of the hands and arms 
across the chest, to warm 
oneself in cold weather. An 
older synonymous expression is 
" beating Jonas." 

Beating the quartermaster (Ame- 
rican), a phrase current in the 
army, which probably originated 
in the following story : — 

Jonas Smith, of Washington, Indiana, 
towards the close of the late war, was body 
servant to a Quartermaster, and after the 
close, and when the Quarterm.-ister had 
been mustered out, as the story is told, he 
requested Smith, as a last service before 
parting, to take a large lx)x on a dray to 
the freight depot and ship it, asking Smith 
at the same time "if he could re.nd and 

Jonas answered that he could not, started 
off with the box, and on the way to the 
station removed the shipping-tag, which 
bore the n.ime of the Quarterm.istcr and 
that of the place the box was to be shipped. 

Beating — Beauty-sleep. 


and substituted his own name and address, 
and by that means obtained a box of new 
army blankets the Quartermaster intended 
to capture or steal from Uncle Sam. 

Jonas, who is fairly educated, said in 
extenuation of this commercial transaction : 

" Mr. Quartermaster ' captured ' the 
blankets from the Government, and I 
captured them from him. Everything is 
fair in war." — Detroit Free Press. 

Beating the road (American), 
travelling in a railway train 
without paying. There are 
many ways of doing this known 
to the American "dead beat," 
adventurer, and tramp. One is 
to pretend to be an olEcial em- 
ployed on some other railroad, 
another to make a private 
arrangement with the conduc- 
tor or an employ^ to be allowed 
to travel in a freight car, a third 
is to simply hide in the freight. 

The problem was — twelve or thirteen 
hundred miles to be overpassed without 
paying one's fare over the rails. This 
would have been an easy task to many, 
and some months later it would scarcely 
have caused me so much anxiety, but I 
was then inexperienced, and somewhat 
green in the matter of passes, which are 
often to be obtained by a plausible man 
of good address, and versed in the methods 
of beating' the road, or, more literally, 
of cheating the company. — Roberts : The 
U'esiem Avernus. 

English roughs and tliieves 
term this kind of cheat- 
ing " doing a duck," generally 
managed by hiding under the 
seat of a carriage. 

Beau. This is a word in very 
general use in America to signify 
a lover or an especially devoted 
attendant. From this the verb 

to beau, to beau about. In 
Queen Anne's time the beau 
meant rather an elegant man 
than a lover. 

The Southern girl is more frivolous- 
minded than her Northern sister ; she cares 
more for beaux and ribbons, a dance and 
a laugh. She loves the sunshine and stroll 
in the park with no definite end in view 
except perhaps a smile and a bow from 
the young men of her acquaintance. — 
Boston Record. 

Beau -nasty (old), a fop who, 
though in exterior finely dressed, 
is dirty and slovenly in person 
and habits. 

Beautifiers (popular). Women 
who, like Madame Eachel, pro- 
fess to make people " young 
and beautiful for ever." Of late 
years these persons have become 
common, and have many cus- 
tomers not only in the demi- 
monde, but even among poor 

Take my advice, girls ; good complexions 
Only are gained by early strolls. 

Heed not the beauiijier's directions. 
Use not her dear cosmetic rolls. 
— Ballad: Strolling Down the Lanes. 

Beau trap (old), a well-dressed 
sharper who used to Uc in wait 
for country visitors. 

Beauty-sleep (common), a nap 
before midnight. 

Are you going? It is not late. ... A 
medical man, who may be called up at any 
moment, must make sure of his beauty- 
sleep. — Kingsley : Tiuo Years Ago. 

And would I please to remember that I 

had roused him (the hostler) up at night ; 

and the quality always made a point of 

paying four times over for a man's loss of 



Beavers — Bed-post. 

his btautysUep. I replied that his loss of 
beauty-sleep was rather improving to a man 
of so high a complexion, &c. — Blackmore : 
Loma Doone. 

Beavers (Winchester), originally, 
leave to go out in the afternoon, 
when none but prefects were 
allowed to wear hats. After- 
wards the appellation denoted 
an intermission of half-an-hour 
in the course of the afternoon 
on whole school days, when 
school began at two o'clock. 
The term is now obsolete. A 
leaver (nautical), is a helmet in 
general, but particularly that 
part which lets down to aUow 
of the wearer's drinking. 

Beck, beur (old cant), a con- 
stable. In Dutch slang, hekaan 
means arrested, imprisoned. 

The ruffin cly the nab of the Harman. beck 
If we mawnd Pannam, lap or ruff-peck. 
— Thomas Dekker. 

Bed (thieves' slang), put to hcd 
with a shovel, dead and buried. 

Played out they lay, it will be said, 

A hundred stretches hence ; 
With shovels they were put to bed 

A hundred stretches since. 

— A Hundred Stretches He>:cc : Neiu 
York Slang Dictionary. 

Bedder (universities), a bedmaker, 
a species of charwoman now 
nearly extinct in Oxford, but 
flourishing at Cambridge. 

Bed-fagot (common), a contemp- 
tuous term for a woman, but 
more specially applied to a 
prostitute. A provincialism for 
a bedfellow. 

Bed filling^ (army), lying down 
after dinner to rest and digest. 
It is the general rule that the 
cots or iron bedsteads in sol- 
diers' barrack-rooms shall be 
constantly kept neat and tidy, 
palliasse rolled up and bedding 
evenly folded. But at certain 
hours, as after dinner, a little 
relaxation of the rule is allowed. 

Bed-house, a house of assigna- 
tion. One where beds and 
rooms are hired by the hour 
or half-day, &c. An institution 
which has spread with incre- 
dible rapidity of late years in 
England and America, since the 
suppression or gradual disap- 
pearance of brothels, so that, 
according to trustworthy infor- 
mation, where there formerly 
existed one of the latter, there 
are now from ten even to twenty 
of the former. The rejieal of 
the Contagious Diseases Act 
has given a great impetus to 
the establishment of bcd-}u)use». 

Bedoozle (American), to confuse, 
bewilder, the result being that 
a man is "all abroad," or " flab- 

Bed-post (common), in the 
" twinkling of a bed-post," in a 
moment, as quick as lightning, 
in a jiffy, or a-s rapidly as a 
staff can be twinkled or turned. 
A more modern expression ex- 
tensively used is, in the " twink- 
ling of a pike-staff," which 
explains itself. Ikd-post, in 
this case, seems to have re- 
placed l)ed-staff, a wooden pin 

Bed-post — Bee-bee. 


stuck formerly on the sides of 
the bedstead to keep the clothes 
from slipping on either side, 
and which might be wielded as 
a stick or staif when a brute 
thought it necessary to chastise 
his better half. Nous avons 
changi tout cela, and now the 
improvised staff has been super- 
seded by the poker, varied by 
an application of hob-nailed 

Bed-rock (American), to get on 
the bed rock, not to be able to go 
lower or to abate. Used in this 
instance: "What is the price 
of that?" " Six dollars." "Is 
it bed-rock price ? " i.e., is it 
your lowest price. Bed-rock 
pieces, the last coins in one's 
almost empty purse ; probably 
a miner's phrase. 

Bee (American), a meeting, gene- 
rally a merrymaking, but with 
a practical or beneficial object. 
Thus there are apple-bees 
for paring apples, husking-bees 
for husking, raising-bees to 
" raise " houses, and spelling- 
bees. Probably an abbrevia- 
tion of the old word " bidding," 
or the Dutch bied, influenced 
by bee as a type of industry. 
" Bidding," pronounced fee- 
ding, meant an invitation a cen- 
tury ago. 

Harry cum parry, when will you marry ? 

When apples and pears are ripe. 
I'll come to your wedding without any 
And stay with the bride all the night. 
— Mother Goose's Nursery Rhyjiies for 
Boys and Girls f^Standard Edition). 

A " chopping-Jee " is thus de- 
scribed in a western magazine : 
" Once a clearing was attempted 
on a large scale. It was for the 
site of a public institution. The 
inhabitants within a radius of 
ten mUes were invited to a 
" chopping- 6ee." Each one 
brought his axe and day's pro- 
visions. No spirituous liquors 
were allowed. The work was 
ordered by an elected marshal 
of the day. The front rank of 
trees, ten rods in width, were 
chopped partially through on 
either side, then the succeeding 
ones in like manner for a space 
of perhaps twenty rods. Then 
the last rank was felled simul- 
taneously by the united force, 
when, with a crash increasing to 
a thundering volume, it bore 
down on the next, till all lay 
prostrate. And thus for three 
days did this volunteer war 
against the forest progress." 

Bee-bee (Anglo-Indian), Hindu, 
from the Persian bl bi, once ap- 
plied to English ladies, who are 
now called Mem Sahib. It is 
still often used by native ser- 
vants in addressing European 
maid - servants. — Awjlo • Indian 
A Hiuuu concubine. 

But the society of the station does inter- 
fere in such cases, and though it does not 
mind bce-becs or tlieir friends, it rightly 
taboos him who entertains their white 
rivals. — lyUliam Ho".vard Russell : Hfy 
Diary in India in the Year 1S58-59. 

(Gypsy), an aunt. Some- 
times applied respectfully and 


Bee-bee — Beef. 

affectionately to any middle- 
aged woman. " The title Bibi is 
in Persian the same as among 
us senora or dofia." — Texeira ■' 
Relacion de Uormuz, A.D. l6ll. 

Beef (Australian convicts' slang), 
" stop thief 1 " introduced by 
the convicts transported thither. 
A feature of thieves' cant, and 
indeed of slang generally, is its 
fondness for punning and rhym- 
ing, e.g., " cobbler," applied to 
the last sheep that is shorn, 
" slang-whang," and " Bolt-in- 
turns." Thief was canted into 
beef because they rhymed. 

Beef—sio'p thief. To beef a person is 
to raise a hue and cry after him in order to 
get him stopped. — J'aux's Memoirs. 

(English thieves' slang), to heef 
it, or to give hot beef, is to give 
chase, pursue, raise a halloo 
and cry. 

I guyed, but the reeler he gave me hot 
And a scuff came about me and hollered ; 
I pulled out a chive, but I soon came to 
And with screws and a j.imes I was 

— The Re/cree. 

(Nautical), a figurative term 
for strength — " more beef ! " 
more men on ; (common), " beef 
up ! " or " put your beef to it 1 " 
An ejaculation meant as a re- 
quest to use one's strength, to 
use one's muscles to good ac- 
count. (Popular), Ihe penis; 
to be drosscd like " Christ- 
mas hetf," to be in one's best 

Man's poor heart in ecstasy 

Will very often beat, 
When the tart is young. 

"Tis then he'll go and dress himself 

Like unto Christmas beef. 
When the tart is young ! 

— When the Tart is Young. 

Beef -headed (popular), stupid, 
dull as an ox. Bcef-wVled is a 
provincialism with a like signi- 
cation. " 5ec/-witted," that is, 
dull, thick-headed ; " having no 
more wit than an ox" is a 
term used by Shakspeare. 

Beef it, to (provincialism). To 
beef it is to indulge in a meal of 
butchers' meat ; it only occurs 
amongst the lower and poorer 

Beefment (thieves), on the beef- 
mcnt, on the look-out. 

Beef stick (army), the bone of 
the meat in the day's rations. 
A soldier is allowed, at home, 
three-quarters of a pound of 
meat, including bone, and when 
the day's mess dinner is cut up, 
little but the stick remains for 
those last served. 

Beef straight (American). When 
a man has nothing but beef for 
a meal, and must eat it without 
bread, vegetables, &c., it is beef 
straight. The same term is ap- 
plied to any other kind of food 
per se. 

Beef to the heels, like a Mullin- 
gar heifer. Mr. II. J. ISyroii 
.says : " The expression beef to the 

Beef — Been. 


heeli is first found, I believe, in 
the Irish saying, ' A Waterf ord 
heifer, heef to the heds.' " 

Dolly was not a fine woman, as they 
say, at all ; not ieef to the heels, by any 
means ; in a grazier's eye she would 
have had no charm whatsoever. — Rhoda 
Broughton : Cometh up as a Flo^uer. 

Beefy (common), unduly thick, 
commonly said of women's 
ankles; also rich, juicy, plen- 
teous. To take the whole pool 
at loo, or to have any particular 
run of luck at cards generally, 
is said by players to be very 
heefy (Hotten). Beefy is also 
applied to a bloated, red-faced 

Bee-gum (American), a hollow 
gum-tree in which bees have 
hived. This is more technical 
than slang. 

Bob tuck him by de skin, 
As de bear wus comin' in, 
An' he pull, an' he pull till down de hol- 
ler tree cum ; 
Den nigger Bob come out. 
An' run like nigger mout. 
While de bear link he got de debbil in 
de bee-gum. 

— Negro Song. 

Bee in the bonnet (common). To 
have a bee in one's bonnet, is to 
be odd, eccentric, fantastical, 
whimsical, or half-crazy. It is 
supposed to be a peculiarly Scot- 
tish phrase, because Scotsmen 
wear " bonnets," and English- 
men do not. Its use, however, 
is not confined to Scotland, but 
was known in England in the 
seventeenth century, and is still 
common. It occurs in a song 

by Herrick, entitled the " Mad 
Maiden," of the date of 1648: — 

" For pity, sir, find out that bee. 
Which bore my love away ; 
I'll seek him in your bonnet brave, 
I'll seek him in your eyes." 

A friend speaking to an Edin- 
burgh lady of a late eminent 
professor in the University, said 
he was an excellent man, but he 
had a bee in his bonnet. " Don't 
say that," replied the lady, as- 
suming a look and tone of re- 
proof. " You under-rate him. 
A bee in his bonnet i Why, he 
has a whole hive of bees in it I " 
The French have the corres- 
ponding expression "avoir un 
hanneton " — a may-bug. 

Been in the sun (popular), intoxi- 
cated, alluding to the flushed 
countenance of one who has 
been drinking heavily. 

Been measured for a new um- 
brella (American), said origi- 
nally of a man that nothing 
fitted him but his umbrella. An 
old joke, reproduced by Artemus 
Ward, who took his own gene- 
rally wherever he found it. 

" Wall, about this time there was a man 
in an adjacent town who had a green 
cotton umbrella." 

"Did it fit him well? Was it custom- 
made ? Was he measured for it ? " 

" Measured for what ? " said Abe. 

"The umbreller?" — Artemus Ward. 

Beeno (gypsy), bom. •' Ki sos 
tikno becno ? " — ' ' Where was the 
babe born ? " 

Been to Bung^wn. Been to 
Boston (American). It is re- 


Been — Beetle-crushers. 

ported that instances have been 
known in which ladies living 
in the country have gone " to 
town " for the purpose of meet- 
ing with lovers, or making them, 
" in loco secreto." So it is said 
of one not quite above suspicion, 
that she has been there, and should 
a foreigner not understanding 
the phrase ask where, the answer 
may be, to Bungtoton. In Phila- 
delphia it is said of a very fast 
woman, that she has been to, or 
comes from Scranton, a town in 
Beer barrel (pugilistic), the body. 

That draws the bung from the ieer 
barrel, I'm a thinkin'. — C. Bede : Verdant 

Beerslinger (American), a term 
for a barman in a lager-beer 
"saloon" or tavern. It origi- 
nated in Philadelphia in 1848- 
49, about which time lager-beer 
was first brewed in America. 
The word "slingers" had pre- 
viously been commonly applied 
for at least forty years to other 
barmen, who were often spoken 
of as " whiskey - slingers " (a 
punningterm). " Rum-slingers " 
or " gin-slingers," derived in this 
instance probably from gin- 
sling. In America "sling" is 
a very common expression, indi- 
cating to be engaged with, or 
to tackle, attack, &c. Hence 
" hash-slingcr," one who eats at 
an ordinary table, or one who 
is eating in any way. " Ink- 
slinger," a writer. " Don't sling 
your i-ass at me," means give 

me no more of your impudence. 
"Jerk" and "jerker " are in every 
way exact synonyms for "sling" 
and " slinger," e.g., a beer- 

Beeswax (common), poor, 
soft cheese, sometimes called 
"sweaty-toe cheese," the French 
equivalent of which is " pied de 
facteur." Applied to persons 
whom it is difficult to get rid 
of. Friends conversing together 
seeing one of this kind coming 
towards them, frequently say, 
" Here's old Beestoax, let's be off." 

Bees'vyaxers (Winchester College). 
Thick-soled, laced-up boots are 
BO called, no doubt from being 
used in damp or snowy weather, 
after having been besmeared 
with beeswax, grease, or dub- 
bin, in order to make them 

Bee - sweetening ( American ) , 
honey, more jargon than slang. 

I was once a guest in a log-cabin, in a 
remote part of Indiana, in 1864. There 
were on the supper-table three kinds of 
sweetening for the coffee, and yet none of 
them were made from the cane. " Will 
you have," asked my host, '^ bee-svieeten- 
in, tree-sweetenin', or sorghum?" Bee- 
S7ueeienin' was honey, tree-sweetenin' was 
maple sugar and maple molasses, while 
sorghum was the coarse molasses made 
from a kind of Chinese maize. 

Beetle-crushers (common), a per- 
son's foot. More frequently 
used with the sense of foot of 
large proportions, large flat foot. 
Also shoe or boot. 

Beetle-crushers — Belial. 


Yes, but what horrible boots ! whoever 
could have had the atwocity to fwame such 
beetle-crushers. — Rhoda Broughton : Red 
as a Rose is She. 

The expression was first used 
in Punch, in one of Leech's 
caricatures. A man with " ex- 
trdmitds canailles," as the 
French have it, is said to be 
blessed with " beetle-crushers 
and mutton fists." (Army), an 
infantry soldier is derisively 
termed beetle-crusher by the 
cavalry, varied sometimes to 
" mud-crusher," a near equi- 
valent of the French "pousse- 

Who wouldn't Be a millionaire, 

A-roUing in his riches? 
Though dolor-ous the load they bear — 
Who wouldn't be a millionaire? 
I own the rich man's shoes to wear 

My beetle-crusher itches 1 
Who wouldn't be a millionaire, 

A-rolling in his riches ? 

— Funny Folks. 

Before - tim (pidgin), formerly, 
once, previously, ere now, of 

Old How-qua, he one piecee velly largey 
Hong machin (merchant), sartin be/ore- 
tim you plenty healee (have heard oO 
allo-same Uoff-quSi.—How-gtta and the 

Beggarbolts (nautical), a term 
formerly applied to any missiles 
thrown from a galley-slaves' 
boat at an attacking force. 

Beggars' velvet (common), par- 
ticles of down shaken from a 
bed, and left to accumulate 
under furniture by the negli- 
gence of housemaids. A more 

befitting term is " sluts'-wool," 
as reflecting on the lazy habits 
of the maid. 

Begum, a rich widow, 

Beilby's ball (old), an old Bailey 
executioner. " You will dance 
at Beilby's ball, where the sheriil 
pays for the music," frofii the 
name of the executioner in the 
time of Jonathan Wild. 

Be in it, to (common), Uke the 
American phrase "to be on it." 
But the English expression 
seems to denote being in trouble, 
" I'm always in it." 

And I was in it, fairly in it ! 
I fell in the box of eggs and there I 
quickly stuck. 
I mas in it, fairly in it ! 
I was in it, for it's just my luck. 
— Song. 

Bejant, new student at Aberdeen 
University. A corruption of 
the French bSjaune {bee jaune), 
unsophisticated young man, 
compared to an unfledged black- 
bird. The term is applied to 
the first or lowest class, the 
second being the " semi-bejants," 
the third the "tertians," and 
the fourth the " magistrands." 

Belay (nautical), stop. " Belay 
that yarn," cease talking, we 
have had enough of it. 

Belch (old), beer. 

Belcher (roughs), a blue bird's- 
eye handkerchief. 

Belial (Oxford), BaUiol College. 


Bell — Bell-topper. 

Bell (tramps), a song. 

B e 1 1 e r i n (American), talking 
loudly, crying aloud. 

'Twas up among de mountains 
All in de woods an' canes ; 
A nigger came a bellerin 
An' rushin' throo de wanes. 

— Lucy Neal. 

I hed a plaguey good ol' musket that I'd 
brung with me from my hum in Jarsey, 
an' I'd polished an' iled it till it was slick 
as a whistle, an' I kinder thought I'd open 
JefTs eyes a leetle ef I got any kind of a 
chance to p'int it at one o' them air deer 
Jeff 'd I>en a bellerin so much 'bout. — New 
York Sun. 

Bellows (pugilistic), the lungs ; 
"bellows to mend " was formeriy 
said of a pugilist when winded, 
and generally of a person out of 

Bellows, bellowses (American), 
the heaves in a horse. 

And when old Tom Jefferson sent for 
me to go to Washington, I was still here 
with fifteen children and as good a boss as 
any man ever sid, only she was blind and 
had the bellusses. — Uncle Steve's Stump 

(Nautical), an old hand at the 
belloics, a man up to his work, 
to his duty. A " fresh hand at 
the bellows " is said when a gale 

Bellowsed (thieves) was said of 
nnc who had " lumped the 
lighter " or had been " lagged," 
i.e., transported. As laoged is a 
gy|>sy word, meaning bound or 
tied together (Hindu iCigdnul), 
it is probable that bellowsed is 
the common provincial word 

belost, which has precisely the 
same signification. 

Bellowser (pugilistic), a blow 
that knocks the wind out of the 
" bellows " or lungs. (Old cant), 
a sentence of transportation for 
life ; that is, to the convict's 
last breath when his lungs or 
"bellows" cease to play. 

Bellows to mend (pugilistic and 
athletes), short in the wind, 
pumped out. 

To one gentleman he would pleasantly 
observe, as he tapped him on the chest, 
" Bellcrws for you to mend, my buck ! " — 
C. Bede : Verdant Green. 

Bell swagger (old), a noisy, 
bullying fellow. 

Bell-topped or knobbed (vulgar), 
a man with a large top to his 
generative organ. 

Bell-topper, that kind of hat 
known in England as a " chira- 
ney-pot," a " silk hat," a " high 
hat," a " top hat," a ^^bell-top- 
per," a bell-shaped top hat. The 
term is, we believe, not un- 
known to hatters in England, 
but in Australia it is universally 
used, often even by refined peo- 
ple. White ones are very much 
commoner than black in Aus- 
tralia and America, on account 
of the higher temperature. 

When the writer was about 
to land at Port Melbourne he 
was warned " a man is of no 
account in Melbourne without 
a wliite bell -topper." Soon after 
this he went to the Geelong 

Bell-topper — Belvidere. 


races and ordered a dozen 
oysters at a stall. The man 
gave him thirteen by mistake. 
"Stop," he said, "you're giving 
me too many." The man who 
was next to him — quite a com- 
mon man and a little drunk — 
turned round and addressed him 
sententiously, "A cove with a 
white hell-topper should never 
be mean." 

Belly-chere (old cant), food. 

Belly-chete (old cant), an apron. 

Bellyful (old), a sound drubbing 
or thrashing. 

Belly-go-firster (old slang), the 
first blow, usually given in the 

Belly hedges (Shrewsbury School), 
an obstruction of a moderate 
character in steeplechases run 
by the boys. 

Belly plea, the (old), the old slang 
term to describe the practice 
of women condemned to death 
pleading pregnancy in mitiga- 
tion or deferment of sentence. 
This custom is alluded to in the 
" Beggar's Opera." In most jails 
there were men termed "child 
getters," who made a practice 
of qualifying women to put for- 
ward such a plea. 

Belly-timber (common), food; 
termed also " prog," " grub." 

Belly up, a facetious way of allud- 

ing to a woman being in the 
family way. 

" So help my greens, if our 
Sal ain't bin and got her belly 

Belly-vengeance (common), sour 
beer that wiU give the stomach- 

Below the belt (tailors), unfair 
or mean, from an expression 
used in boxing or fencing. 

Belt, belt tinker, bellows (tailors), 
a very roughly made garment. 

Belting (nautical), a beating, be- 
fore the rattan or cat-o'-nine- 
tails came into use. 

Belting society (legal), a debat- 
ing society, formerly held in the 
Inns of Court. 

Beltinker(popular), to give a man 
bcltinher, to thrash him. 

Then they begin using bad language. 
They swear they'll give me beltinktr if 
they ever hear me again. — Ballad. 

Some of the synonyms are " to 
give one Jessie, a tanning, a hid- 
ing, a walloping, a jacketting, 
a dusting, to walk into, to 
quilt, to set about," the opera- 
tion being sometimes pushed 
tu " thrashing one within an 
inch of his life," or " knocking 
into a cocked hat." 

Belvidere (popular), a handsome 
man, an Apollo. Pronounced 


Bent use — Bender. 

The ladies say I am bewitching, 
In fact I'm a real belvitUre. 
In bar-room, in parlour, in kitchen, 
Oh, thb is the language I hear. 
— The Beautiful Major : Ballad. 

Bemuse, to (common), to fuddle 
oneself with drink. 

Ben (jonmalistic and theatrical), 
short for benefit. 

Benefit to Jack Burke.— This well- 
known boxer, who has had the misfortune 
to break his leg in two places, is to be 
accorded a benefit at the Mason's Hall, 
Bow Common Lane, on Monday, Decem- 
ber 5. A capital programme has been 
organised, and we hope that his fellow 
pro's will rally round him on the occasion, 
and give his ben a good send off. M.C.'s 
Jack Fay, and T. Sands. — Sporting Life. 

(Common), an abbreviation for 
"Benjamin," a waistcoat (see 
Benjamin) ; to stand hen, to 
treat one to liquor. 

Benamee (Anglo-Indian, also old 
gypsy), anonymous. Hindu, 6e- 

A term specially applied to documents 
of transfer and other contracts in which the 
name entered as that of one of the chief 
parties is not that of the person interested. 
— Anglo-Indian Glossary. 

Benat, benar (old cant), better. 

Ben cull (thieves), a friend, a 
comrade, a "pal" Cull meant 
formerly a man, a fool ; hen, an 
abbreviation of the cant term 
hene, good. 

Bend (common), "that's above 
my bend," i.e., beyond my 
power, too expensive or too 
difficult to perform (Hotten). 
This has nothing in common 
with the " Grecian bend," an 

affected Btyle of walking as- 
sumed by some ladies as a 
flattery to royalty, in keeping 
with the " Alexandra limp." 

Bender (common), a sixpence, so 
called because it is easily bent ; 
also " kick," a very old word. 
In old cant " half-a-borde," and 
now a " tanner," and in thieves' 
lingo a " cripple." 

" What will you take to be paid out?" 
said the butcher. " The regular chum- 
mage is two-and-six ; will you take three 
bob?" "And a bender," suggested the 
clerical gentleman. — Charles Dickens : 
Pickwick Papers. 

(American), a frolic, relaxation, 
spree, or " party." Probably 
from the Dutch bende, an assem- 
bly, party, or band. 

I led her through the festal hall, 
Her glance was soft and tender ; 
She whispered gently in my ear, 
" Say, Mose, ain't this a bender t" 
— Putnam's Monthly (Barileit, p. 29). 
Hans Breitmann joined de Turners, 

November in de Fall, 
Und dey gived a boorsten bender 

All in de Turner Hall. 
— Breitmann and the Turners. 

Also a leg. 

Young ladies are not allowed to cross 
their benders in school. — Longfello^v : 

(Thieves and roughs), the arm ; 
over the bender means over the 
arm, over the left, i.e., not really. 
In the same way schoolboys 
said, "I'll do it — fain," mean- 
ing that they will not. 

Yanx, in his Memoirs, says : 
— "Bender is an ironical word 
used in conver.sation by flash 
people ; as where one j^arty 
afiirms or professes anything 

Bender — Bengi, 


which the other believes to be 
false or insincere, the latter 
expresses his incredulity by ex- 
claiming bender ! or if one asks 
another to do an act which the 
latter considers unreasonable or 
impracticable, he repUes, ' Oh, 
yes; I'll do it — bender,' mean- 
ing by the addition of the last 
word that in fact he wiU do no 
such thing." 

Bendigo (common), nearly obso- 
lete. A fur cap named from a 
noted pugilist, who is said to 
have got his nickname from 
his skill at " ducking." This 
" muscular Christian," some 
fifteen' years ago, became a 
convert and preacher. 

Bendover (Winchester) is to place 
yourself in such a posture as to 
give one so disposed an oppor- 
tunity of "spanking" you. 

Bene, ben (old cant), good. 

A gage oiben Rom-bouse, 

In a bousing-ken of Rom-vile, 
Is benar than a Caster, Peck, pannam, 
Or popler, which we mill in dense-a- 
vile. — Thomas Middleton. 

"vStowe your 6ene" is thus ex- 
plained — 

"What, stowe your bene., cofe, and cut 
benar wydds." — Harman : Caveat. 

I.e., "What, hold your peace, good fel- 
low, and speak better words." 

A beae mort, a pretty woman. 

Oh 1 where will be the culls of the bing, 
A hundred stretches hence ? 

The bene maris, who sweetly sing, 
A hundred stretches hence ? 

— A Hundred Stretches Hence. 

Bene darkmans (old cant), good 

Bene flakes (old cant), bill-for- 

Beneship (old cant), very well. 

Ben-flake (thieves), a steak at a 
" slap-bang," i.e., a low cooking- 
shop or eating-house. 

Beng (gypsy), devil, flame ; hen' 
galo, bengescro, devilish. Also 
bengis or bengus. Bengis his ze 
(zee), (May) the devil (be in) his 
heart. Paspati, also Pott. Thes, 
ii. 407, arguing from mere re- 
semblance of sound, derives being 
from benk, a frog, or beng, a frog, 
or benga, squint-eyed in Hindu, 
But as bengel in German and 
Dutch means a mischievous, evil 
fellow or scamp, there is pro- 
bably some Aryan root which 
would furnish a more direct 
connection with the evil prin- 

" As if yuv had dikked o' ien£^ te sa," — 
" As if he had seen the devil and all." 
— English Gypsy Songs. 

Perhaps it comes from beg, 
Hindu, but of Mongol origin, 
meaning lord or master. The 
Spanish gypsies call the devil 
by a similar term, d buen baron, 
the good baron or lord. 

Bengi (military), an onion. Ori- 
gin obscure, but it may be re- 
ferred to the Hindustani bcng 
or bhang, from its pungent 
taste ; or again, it may be a 


Bengi — Beshava. 

form of the Hindu bhindi (often 
pronounced like bengi), the okra 
of America, also called bendy 
and bdmia. One variety of it is 
about the size of an onion. 

Bengy, a waistcoat, is from the 
gypsy bangri. 

Benighted, the (Anglo-Indian), 
a term applied in raillery to the 
inhabitants of Madras by their 
envious neighbours. 

Benjamin or benjie (common), a 
waistcoat or coat, formerly a 
"Joseph." Possibly an allusion 
to Joseph's garment left in Ma- 
dame Potiphar's grasp. Dr. C. 
Mackay says it was so named 
from a once celebrated advertis- 
ing tailor in London. (Nauti- 
cal), a low crowned straw hat, 
with a very broad brim. 

Ben joltraem (old), poor and 
coarse food, such as agricultural 
men, navigators, and men work- 
ing on roads, have to put up 

Bens (American), tools, styled 
" alls " by English workmen. 

Benvenue (printers), obsolete. 
This was a kind of entrance-fee 
paid by the workman to the 
" chapel " on entering a new 
oflice. Equivalent to " stand- 
ing his footing." Derived from 
the French apparently, bien- 
venue, welcome, footing, used 
in the expression " payer la 

Beong (costermongers),a shilling ; 
in old cant a " borde " and now 
a "bob;" from the Italian 
bianco, white, also a silver coin. 
An equivalent for this is to be 
found in most slangs. For in- 
stance, in Dutch thieves' slang, 
toitten; in German, blanker ; Ita- 
lian, biancon. Formerly French 
silver coins were termed blancs. 

Beray (old cant), dung, dirty. 

Berk, burk, pi. berkia (gypsy), 
breast, breasts. 

Bero (gypsy), a ship or boat ; 
beromengro, a sailor ; beromcscro, 
pertaining to a ship, naval. 
"Ghiom adrd a bero" — " I went 
in a ship," in common jargon 
" mandy-jawed (or jassed), adrd 
a bero." 

Berthas (Stock Exchange), Lon- 
don, Brighton, and South Coast 
Railway Company, ordinary 

Dear Bertha, I have not forgotten, 
She's really a feature in " rails ; " 
And tho' some of my tips have been rotten, 
I landed some money in " mails." 

— A tkin : House Scraps. 

Besh (gypsy) , a year. Continental 
gypsy, bersh. Bui besh, two 

Beshava (gypsy), I sit, common 
form besh ; Besh tu alay, sit 
down; bcshclla, he sits. "Who 
besh in ye pus, around the yag " 
— " Who sit in the straw around 
the fire." — 0. Borrow: Lavengro. 

Beshermengro — Betty. 


Beshermengro (gypsy), one who 
sits, a magistrate. 

Bespeak-night (common), a night 
in theatrical performance set 
apart for the special benefit of 
some actor or actress — a benefit 
in modern phraseology. 

Best (common), to best a man, 
to have the better of one in 
any way. 

And this great party, the noble army of 
consumers, would cry out at any attempt 
to raise the price of the commodity for 
the benefit of the producers, whom, by a 
curious perversion of mind, they consider ~ 
their natural enemies, to be bested sX every 
possible opportunity. — Evening News. 

To cheat. 

When I went to the fence he bested 
me because I was drunk, and only gave 
me £i, los. for the lot. — Horsley : Jott- 
ings frcmi Jail. 

(Thieves), to give in Ic&t, to 
affect repentance. 

If when in the magisterial presence he 
contorts his countenance in affected agony, 
it is merely because he perceives from his 
worship's tone that he wishes to agonise 
him, and is shrewd enough to know that 
to "give in best," as he would express it, 
is the way to get let off easy. — J. Green- 
wood : The Seven Curses 0/ London. 

Bester (popular), one who gets 
the better. Also a low betting 
cheat, a blackleg. 

Best girl (American), the preferred 
one ; a sweetheart. 

"Did you ever hear," asked my best girl, 
as we drove along Delaware Avenue, past 
the elegant grounds of Jonathan Scoville, 
" why Mr. Scoville never built that costly 
residence he had planned ?" — Detroit Free 

Besting (running), to get the 
better of any one by unfair 

Besting the pistol (running), 
where a runner gets the best 
of the starter, and is away on 
his journey when the pistol 
goes off. 

Bet a seed, to (American), to bet 
the smallest chip or counter, 
i.e., stake, in the game of poker. 
— MS. Collection of Americanisms, 
by C. Leland-IJarrison. 

Be there, to (common), to be in 
one's element, to be knowing at 
a thing. 

I very soon began to preach and prate. 
And with the sisters played some funny 
I was so good at nobbling with the plate. 

They soon made me captain of the ranks ; 
And often when our meetings were dis- 
With sister Jane I'd offer up a prayer, 
I'd such a jolly spree when she took me 
home to tea. 
For I know what it is to be there ! — Song. 

Better than a dig in the eye with 
a blunt stick (common). The 
expression is used to denote a 
thing of little value. 

Betting round (racing), laying 
fairly and equally against nearly 
all the horses in a race, so that 
no great risk can be run. Com- 
monly called "getting round." 

Betty (thieves), a skeleton key 
or picklock, termed also tivvil, 
twist, .screw ; all Betty, it is all 
up I past recovery. 


Bet — Bible-clerk. 

Bet, you (American), you may be 
sure of it, you may safely bet 
that it is true. 

We reached the settlement of Ubet. The 
name had been selected from the slang 
phrase so laconically expressive of " You 
may be sure I will. "... A night marauder 
took advantage of a good moon to place a 
ladder against a window, hoping to secure 
the property of a gentleman asleep within 
the chamber. As he lifted the window and 
put his head in the gentleman woke up, 
and with great promptness presented his 
six-shooter, shouting out, " You get ! " 
With equal promptness the detected thief 
exclaimed, "■ You bet ! " and slid down the 
ladder, — et procul in tenuem ex ocvlis 
evanuit auram. — Alex. Stavely Hill: 
Front Home to Home. 

Bever (obsolete), a slight repast 
between meals, an afternoon 
lunch, a meal eaten in a hurry. 
It was in use at the English and 
American universities. At the 
former the bevers consisted of 
a portion of bread and an allow- 
ance of beer laid out in the hall 
in the afternoon, a break of a 
quarter of an hour in school 
time being allowed in summer 
for this refreshment. The pecu- 
liar nature of the repast was a 
relic of the old founders' days. 
Old English bever, a drinking ; 
from the old French bevre, to 

Bevy or bevali (common), beer ; 
abbreviation of beverage. Gypsy 
pivi, drink; Slavonian jj/fo, beer. 
Other appellations for beer are 
" gatter, oil of barley, bug juice, 
ponjello " ; and were it the best 
of Bass's it is termed by board- boys " swipes." 

Bewer (tinkers' slang), a woman. 
"Misli to my bewer" — "Write 
(i.e., go or send) to my woman," 
Young bew'r, a girl. 

B flats (popular), bugs. 

Mrs. B. beheld one night a stout negro 
of the flat-backed tribe, known amongcomic 
writers as the B Jlats, stealing up toward 
the head of the people. — Household Words. 

Bheesty (Anglo-Indian), a water- 
carrier. " The universal word in 
the Anglo-Indian households of 
Northern India for the domestic 
who supplies the family with 
water, carrying it in a mussuck 
or goat's skin on his back. No 
class of men is so diligent, so 
faithful, unobtrusive, and so 
uncomplaining as the bihistis." 
— Anglo-Indian Glossary. 

Here comes a seal carrying a porpoise 
on its back. No 1 it is only our friend the 
bheesty. — In my Indian Garden. 

Bible (nautical), a liand axe ; also 
a square jjiece of freestone to 
grind the deck with sand in 
cleaning it ; a small holystone, 
so called from seamen using 
them kneeling. — Admiral Smyth. 

Bible carrier (common), a person 
who sells songs without singing 
them (Hotten). 

Bible-clerk (Winchester), a col- 
lege prefect who has to read 
the lessons in chapel, to keep 
order in school, to open the 
doors for masters, to keep up 
the fire, and assist at flogging. 
He holds his ollice for a week 
at a time. Bible-clerks come into 

Bible-clerk — Big as. 


course now (since " Cloisted 
time" 1872) on Wednesday in- 
stead of Saturday. A Bible- 
cleric xscob is the first "scob" 
(box spelt backwards, phoneti- 
cally) on the right hand as you 
enter school It bears a brass 
plate with the inscription en- 
graved on it : " Tw det di'07- 
vwarr]" — "To each successive 
reader," because £ible-dei-ks 
used to read the lessons at 

Bible-pounder (popular), a parson ; 
termed also a "white-choker," 
a " devil-dodger," a " cushion- 

Bibling (Winchester), a flogging 
consisting of six cuts on the 
small of the back administered 
by the head or second master. 
The term is obsolete. The 
bibling-Tod was an instrument 
with which the punishment of 
bibling was administered. It 
consisted of a handle terminated 
by four apple-tree twigs. 

Underneath is the place of execution 
where delinquents are " bibled." It need 
hardly be said that it (the rod) is applied 
in the ordinary fashion, six cuts forming 
what is technically called a bibling, on 
which occasion the Bible-clerk introduces 
the victim ; and four being the sum of a 
less terrible operation called a "scrubbing." 
— Blacl'TduoocIs Edinburgh Magazine. 

Biddable (common), docile, obe- 
dient to order, tractable. 

Biddy (Winchester College), a 
bath in college which was filled 
every morning for Prefects, &c., 
by the junior man in each 

" gallery " or bed-room. The 
origin of the word is possibly due 
to the French bidet, an article 
of bed-room furniture for the 
use of ladies, more common on 
the Continent than in Eng- 
land. (American), an Irish ser- 
vant girl. 

Bidree or bidry (Anglo-Indian). 
Of late years all amateurs of 
bric-k-brac in England have be- 
come familiar with a kind of 
nieUo-work of sUver patterns on 
a black metal ground which 
comes from the Deccan, and 
which takes its name from the 
city of Bidar. This is bidree 
work. The ground is made of 
three parts pewter to one of 
copper, which is inlaid with the 
silver, and the ground is then 
blackened. — Madras Literary 
Society Jmii-nal, New Series, i 

Biff (Americanism), to give a " biff 
in the jaw," to strike one in the 
face. In England to " fetch 
you a wipe in the mug," or 
" give you a bang in the chops," 
are choice. Biff is from the 
provincial English befet or buffet, 
a blow ; old French bufet. Pos- 
sibly Anglo-Saxon hifjan, to 

Biffin (popular), "my biffin" is a 
friendly appellation. 

"Ain't that up to Dick, my biffin?" " I 
never said it warn't." — /. Greenwood: 
Under the Blue Blanket. 

Big^ as all out o' doors, a hu- 
morous Americanism for any- 


Big-bird — Big fellow. 

thing unusually or abnormally 

The infamal villain ! Tell me who he is, 
and if he was as big as all out-doors I'd 
walk into him. 

He is looking as big as all out-doors 
jist now, and is waitin' for us to come to 

— Sam Slick : The Clockmaker. 

Big-bird (theatrical), to "get the 
big-bird," to be hissed. The bird 
is supposed to be, and is very 
often, a goose. French actors 
call hissing " appeler Azor," 
this being the usual name for 
a dog. 

Big bugs (American), an expres- 
sion for great people, people of 
consequence, aristocrats. Bart- 
lett thinks that this word sug- 
gests some anecdote which 
would be " worth finding out." 
There is no lack in American 
newspapers of anecdotes ex- 
plaining the origin of popular 
phrases, but unfortunately about 
ninety-nine in a himdred of 
them are what Germans call 
Nachwerk, manufactured after- 
wards by some ingenious hu- 
mourist to suit the case. The 
following, which is of recent 
origin, might easily pass for 
one of these valuable originals. 
Those which have already ap- 
peared on Chestnut, sworn to by 
as many authorities as those 
cited by Autolycus, would fill a 

It puts me in mind of a story once 
heard from an old man. He was speaking 
of a rich neighbour who was going for the 
first time to New Orleans. " Yes," he 
said, " Mr. Jones is a mighty big man 

round here, but he won't stand a chance 
to shine down there. He'll be like the 
bug who lived on a pumpkin, and because 
he was twice as big as any other bug round 
there, he allowed he was the largest insect 
on earth. But one day there came two or 
three of' them big gold beetles, and lit on 
the pumpkin in all their original splendour, 
and Mr. Pumpkin Bug jest turned pale and 
crawled down underneath. " Children," 
says he, " I wouldn't hev thought it, but 
there's bigger bugs in the world than what 
I be ! " — Queer Bits. 

While my wife goes out washin', an 

cleanin' big bug houses, 
I'll have a shop down-town for renovatin' 

trousers. — A Bootblacks Soliloquy. 

In the Australian lingo big 
bugs has also the meaning of 
man of importance. 

" What's your brother doing ? " 

" Oh ! he's an awful big bug now. The 
Minister of Railways has got him a billet 
in the Civil Service." 

" What's the billet ? " 

"Railway-porter at Lai Lai." — Vic- 
torian Comic Paper. 

Big country (sport), the open 

In the roomy stalls of the stables you 
make the acquaintance of Donative, who 
bore his lord and master to victory over 
three miles of big country. — The IVorld. 

Big dog with a brass collar, the, 

the principal or head of a con- 
cern, or the biggest " wig" of a 

Big fellow (AustraUan Blackf el- 
low's lingo), large, a quantity ; 
a specimen of the pidgin Eng- 
lish stuffed with Blackfellow's 
words used by the whites on 
stations in their intercourse with 
the aborigines. 

Biggin — Big mouth. 


" Too much big fellow water, bait (ply) 
fly come up bait pind (find) him," answers 
the aboriginal, adding, however, the ques- 
tion, ' ' You patter potchum ? " (eat possum). 
—A. C. Grant. 

Biggfin (Winchester, &c.), a coffee- 
pot consisting of two parts — a 
strainer, and a coffee-pot. 

" It is very odd," said Hatton to his 
companion Morley, "you can't get coffee 
anywhere." Morley, who had supposed 
that coffee was about the commonest article 
of consumption in Mowbray, looked a little 
surprised ; but at this moment Hatton's 
servant entered with a mysterious yet some- 
what triumphant air, and ushering in a 
travelling biggin of their own, fuming like 
one of the springs of Geyser. " Now try 
that," said Hatton to Morley, as the ser- 
vant poured him out a cup. — Disraeli: 

Biggity (American), large, extra- 
vagant, grand, presumptuously. 

Well, den, w'iles dey wuz all a-settin' 
dar, en de 'lasses wuz a bilin' en a blub- 
berin', dey got ter runnin' on, talkin' 
mighty biggity. — Uncle Remus. 

Big guns (common), men of im- 
portance, great people. 

M. Coquelin has been feted, feasted, 
and generally entertained during his stay 
in the metropolis. The other evening he 
was invited to meet the Prince of Wales, 
and had the honour of supping with Albert 
the Jolly, and a host of other big guns. — 
Modern Society. 

Big head (American), a term of 
abuse, implying that a man 
is conceited, "bumptious;" to 
get the hig head, to be in a 
state verging on intoxication, 
what the French call " etre al- 

All the Colonel's tact and diplomacy 
were necessary to preserve peace now. . . . 

The " boys " got the big head, and dis- 
played effervescence scarcely less remark- 
able than that of the champagne itself.— 
F. Francis ; Saddle and Moccasin. 

It signifies, further, the feeling 
of a swelled head, accompanied 
by headache experienced in the 
morning after a debauch, when 
one has " mal aux cheveux," as 
the French express it. 

A big head laden with cocktails and gin, 

Is all that I have to say. 
To remind me of the whisky that has all 
gone in 
To a hold that is not far away. 
As I sit on a keg gazing over the beers. 
That the bums are all scooping down, 
I pray that the barkeeper may have no 
For in whisky I'll never be drowned. 
— Chicago Tribune : Dear Boys, Come 
and Have a Drink. 

Big house (costermongers), the 

As long as they kept out of the big house 
she would not complain. . . . The men 
hate the thought of going to the big house. 
— London Labour a?id the London Poor. 

Big Injun (American), a term ap- 
plied at first by the red Indians 
to indicate some great chief. 

" He big Injun — he heap big Injun — 
he dam heap big Injun — he mighty dam 
big heap dam big Injun — he Jones 1 " — 
Three Thousand Miles in a Railway Car. 
Philadelphia, 1869. 

Big mouth (American), a very 
common expression applied to 
any man who talks too much, 
who is windy, "gassy," and 
given to bosh. During his 
trial for murder the wretched 
Guiteau often interrupted the 
judge by crying out " Shut up, 
hig mouth." 



Big tints — Bildar. 

Henry George is going to leave New 
York for a while. He is probably jealous 
of Liberty, whose mouth is a yard wide. — 
Philadelphia North A tnerican. 

Tliey hev wandered with their sorrers unto 

the sunny South, 
They hev got tremendous swallows, and a 

monstrous lot of mouth. 

— Ballad of the Green Old Man. 

Big nuts to crack (American), a 
difficult or large undertaking. 

Big pond (American), the Atlantic, 

He (old Clay) is all sorts of a boss, and 
the best live one that ever cut dirt this side 
of the big pond, or t'other side either. — 
Sam Slick : The Clockiiiaker. 

Big pot (common), a somebody, 
a person of consequence. 

My name is Peter Smifkins, 
I live with ma at Slough ; 

I've got a city clerkship, 
.So I'm quite a big pot now. 

— Music Hall Song. 

Big side runs (Rugby), the open 
paper chases. 

Big sides (schools), a school term 
for the practice games at foot- 
ball, where all or nearly all the 
boys join in. It was originally 
used at Rugby. 

Big take (American), anything 
very much affected or popular. 
A grand acquisition, a fashion, 
a success. 

We hear that certain fragrant and cun- 
ningly contrived bouquets for ladies are a 
big take in New York. In the centre of 
the pretty bunches of flowers half-pint 
bottles are neatly concealed. The Ixjttles 
are filled with cool refreshing cocktails ; 
straws run throuKh the corks, and as the 
gentle daughters of Kve take a sniff, they 
can enjoy a " snifter."— /^»«. 

Big, to look (common), to assume 
an inflated air or manner. To 
" talk hig," to talk in a boasting 
manner, from the propensity 
of very small men to assume 
"bumptious" or defiant ways. 
These expressions have almost 
ceased to be slang. 

Big wig (common), a pompous, 
conceited individual. Also ap- 
plied by the lower classes to 
those in a high station of life 
or office. Thus a judge or 
nobleman will be termed a hig 
wig. The word is used in a 
good-humoured, familiar sense. 
The portraits of Holy Bonifacius, Bishop 
of Budgeon, and all the defunct big-7uigs 
of the college. — Thackeray: Lovell the 

Talbot Twysden's dinner-table is large, 
and the guests most respectable. There 
is always a big-iuig or two present. — 
Thackeray : Tlu Adventures of Philip. 

This morning he went up of his own 
accord afore the Lord AL-iyor or some of 
them city big-ivigs. — Dickens: Martin 

(Nautical), a high officer. 

Bikin (gypsy), to sell ; h'ikin cngro, 
a merchant, or one who sells. 

Bildar or beldars (Anglo-Indian), 
a term applied to diggers with 
the spade or mattock in the pub- 
lic works. 

Ye lyme is .-xll<5 out — ye masons lounge 

aboute ! 
Ye beldars have alle strucke and are 

smoking att their eese, 
Ye brickes are alle done ! — 
Ye kyne are skynne and bone, 
And ye thre.isurour has bolted wyth xii 

thousand rupees I 
— Anglo-Indian Glossary: Ye Dreame 
of an K.recutiTe F.ngineere. 

Bile — Bilking. 


Bile (old slang), an old term used 
for the female organ of genera- 

Bilk (common), to defraud, to 
cheat, to obtain goods without 
paying for them, to cheat the 
driver of a hackney carriage 
or a girl from whom one has 
received the sexual favour; a 
bilk, a deception. The term 
has long been in use. 

And all the vile companions of a street 
Keep a perpetual bawling at the door : 
Who beat the bawd last night? who 
bilkt the whore ? 

— Earl 0/ Rochester's Works. 

I don't intend to bilk my lodgings. — 
Fielding: Tom Jones. 

But as upon the scene I cast 
My wond'ring gaze, a friend went past. 
His nose was red, he reeled along, 
And when I asked him what was wrong, 
Strong drink, he said, was [liic .') a bilk. 
And so he had been drinking — milk ! 

— Scraps. 

To "do a hilk,^' to defraud, 
specially used in the case of 
prostitutes who are cheated, in 
the French slang " poser un la- 
pin." Most etymologists derive 
the word l\lk from the Gothic 
hilaikan, to mock, to deride. 

Bilk, as provincial or old Eng- 
lish, meaning to cheat or defraud 
(Wright), is a form of balk, which 
has the same meaning, in the 
sense of hindering a man in his 
rights. Balk, to hinder, is, ac- 
cording to Skeat (Etymol. Diet.) 
from balk, a beam or bar ; to 
put a balk or bar in a man's 
way. Anglo-Saxon balea. But 
as English it is probably from a 
Danish source, bjalka, Old Norse 

bialki (Ettmiiller, Lex. Ang. 
Saxonicum), which brings us 
directly to bilk. 

" Bilking the blues," in prison 
slang, is evading the police. 
In society a man who, though 
never actually found out, is 
strongly suspected of cheating 
at cards, would be called a 

Bilker (common), same meaning 
as bilk in the sense of cheat, 
but specially applied to rascals 
who defraud prostitutes or cab- 

A third and frequent means of evading 
payment of cab fares is for riders late at 
night, or in the small hours of the morn- 
ing, to stealthily get out of the vehicles 
in motion, and then run off unobserved. 
Some of these malpractitioners have be- 
come so skilful in this action that they 
have left the cabs and gently closed the 
door afterwards without being seen, when 
they were being driven along at six or 
seven miles an hour. In a few instances 
the more expert of these bilkers have even 
jumped out of "hansoms" in dark roads 
or lanes unperceived by their drivers when 
the "two-wheelers" have been running at 
eight or nine miles an hour. — Tit Bits. 

(Popular), one who gets a bed 
at a lodging-house and does not 
pay for it. 

Besides, the sjTnpathies of the other 
lodgers are always with the bilker, and if 
they took any part in a scuffle, should such 
a thing arise, it would be in his favour 
and agninst the porter. — Thor Fredur : 
Sketches from Shady Places. 

Bilking (popular), explained by 


The consequence is that all duties are 
discharged in such a place in the most 
slovenly manner, and that as many as pos- 


Bill— Billet. 

sible are shirked, with consequences in the 
way of bilking, or getting beds without 
paying for them. — Thor Fredur : Sketches 
from Shady Places. 

Bill (Eton), in the h\R, on the 
punishment list. 

Some of the small boys whom this de- 
lightful youth tempted to ape his habits, 
had often occasion to rue it when they 
staggered back to college giddy and sick, 
carrying with them a perfume which told 
its tale to their tutors, and caused them to 
be put in the bill. — Brinsley Richards : 
Seven Years at Eton. 

Bill, a long or short (common), a 
term of imprisonment. 

Out of prison, Larry I Lord save me ! 
yev've had a short bill this time for kick- 
ing a woman. — Savage Loudon. 

Bill brighters (winter), small 
fagots employed in the kitchen 
to light the fires. 

Billed up (army), confined to bar- 
racks, a term peculiar to Her 
Majesty's Guards, to whom a 
punishment which curtails free- 
dom of movement is no doubt 
especially irksome. 

Billet (Australian, popular), a situa- 
tion. A bUlet is as universal a 
term for a situation as "screw " 
is for a salary in Australia, or 
" bobby " for policeman in Eng- 
land. The metaphor is of course 
taken from billets or quarters 
being found for soldiers, who 
are then said to be " billeted out " 
in military parlance. Thus one 
of the commonest slang words 
in Australia— 

Up country billets oft are loss. 
Work for "tucker" — trust the boss. 
— Edward Fitzgerald : Printers' 
Proi>erbs in the A ustralasian 
Printers Keepsal;e. 

A gentleman at a boarding- 
house in Parramatta, New South 
Wales, in 18S3, related with 
great gusto a curate's biRet in 
Northumberland which had just 
come under his notice. The 
vicar was away travelling round 
the world for his health, and the 
curate, a Cambridge graduate, 
received the magnificent stipend 
of ;i^ 1 20 a year for looking after 
the church services, the parish, 
the vicar's wife and five children, 
and two puj^ils cramming for 

Billet is used in England with 
a like signification. In prisorus 
"getting a billet" is being ap- 
pointed to some ofiice which 
procures certain advantages for 
the convict who is fortunate 
enough "to receive the favour. 

Some time later on I renewed my ac- 
quaintance with P under difficulties 

which were not altogether insurmountable, 
and as he walked behind me in the exer- 
cise ground, he told me the story of his 
commercial career. Being a " communion 
bloke" and a "good character" man, he 
soon got a billet. He was enrolled amongst 
the " cleanerSj" and promoted to be the 
"chaplain's orderly," which was the only 
billet I wished to obtain for myself. He 
secured it, and on a Sunday solemnly 
marched up the ])ulpit stairs to open the 
Rible or Prayer Hook, and fix therein at 
the proper places the hymns and anthems 
to be sung by the congregation. This was 
his Sunday's duty. — Evening Ncivs. 

(Old military slang), hiilet, ap- 
l)ointed place or aim. " f^vcry 
bullet has its hillel.^' 

Billiard — Billy- hunting. 


Billiard slum, the (Australian con- 
victs' slang), false pretences. 
Probably introduced into Aus- 
tralia by the convicts transported 
thither. To " give on the billiard 
slum," to "mace" or "give 
upon the mace," i.e., to obtain 
goods on credit which you never 
mean to pay for, to run up a 
score with the same intention, 
or to sponge upon your acquain- 
tance by continually begging 
or borrowing from them (Vaux's 
Memoirs). To parallel the pun 
between " mace " and billiard 
slum, cf. "bolt-in-tun," "cob- 
bler," &c. Slang, and especially 
thieves' slang, is very addicted 
to these puns. 

Billingsgate pheasant (common), 
a red herring or bloater, other- 
wise known under the appella- 
tion of "Yarmouth capon" or 
" two-eyed steak." 

Bill of sale (old slang), widows' 

he goes so far as having a bit of 
mackintosh sheeting outside the 
blanket to keep it dry. He will 
be seen "humping" (carrying) 
these on the hottest day. 

So much for our hero ! A statuesque foot 
Would suffer by wearing that heavy nailed 
boot — 

Its owner is hardly Achilles : 
However, he's happy. He cuts a great 

In a land where a coat is no part of the 

In the country of ''damper" and 

—Dr. Kendall: Tim the Splitter. 

Billy boy (nautical), a Yorkshire 
vessel, with one mast. 

Bill y-b u t to n (thieves' slang), 
rhyming slang for mutton ; also 
a contemptuous term for a young 
journeyman tailor. 

Billy buzman (thieves), a pick- 
pocket who confines his atten- 
tion exclusively to silk handker- 

Billy (Scotch), a silk handerchief, 
also used by thieves ; (common), 
a policeman's stall ; (thieves), 
stolen metal ; (New Zealand and 
Australia), a saucepan. In the 
Bush, everything — tea, soup, or 
anything else — is boiled in the 
hillij, a tin saucepan with a 
wire poop-handle to carry it by. 
The sundowner or swagman, 
tramping the country in search 
of work, invariably carries this 
billy and a blanket. In the 
latter all his worldly goods are 
usually strapped up ; sometimes 

Billycock (Australian), a kind of 
hat. The billycock is a low, 
round, hard-felt hat with a 
turned-up brim. Hotten de- 
scribes it as a soft felt hat of 
the Jim Crow or " wide-awake " 

Billy-fencer (popular), a marine- 
store dealer, 

Billy-hunting (popular), buying 
old metal ; one of the occupa- 
tions of a " billy-fencer " or 
marine-store dealer. (Thieves), 


Billy-siink — Binge. 

going out for the purpose of 
stealing pocket-handkerchiefs. 

Billy-stink (Anglo-Indian), a name 
given by Europeans in India to 
the vile liquids of native manu- 
facture sold in the bazaars. 

Billy-stink is the very appropriate name 
given by Europeans to one of those 
maddening native compounds. It would 
indeed be very hard to say what the com- 
ponent properties of this very highly- 
flavoured fluid consist of. . . . When 
drinking any of the odoriferous mixture it 
is a common thing for individuals to press 
the apertures pertaining to their nasal ap- 
pendage between thumb and forefinger. — 
Brunlees Patterson : Life in the Ranks. 

Bims, bimshise (West Indian). 
Barbadoes and its inhabitants are 
so nicknamed throughout the 
West Indies. A recent traveller 
hazards the following ingenious 
explanation — which if not true 
ought to be so — of these terms, 
which are confessedly obscure 
in their derivation. " Barbadoes 
is known all the world over as 
the little island that pays her 
way ; it has never been con- 
quered ; its people are enter- 
prising and energetic, go-ahead 
and driving ; in short, the 
business men of these islands 
(the Caribbees). Barbadian may 
therefore be said to mean a 
man with ' go ' and grit, energy 
and vim." 

^ing (g}Tsy)> the devil ; (old cant) 
a liquor shop, as a rum bing ; 
to bing, to go, to attack, shoot. 

" Could you not have turned him on !iis 
back like a turtle, and left him there?" 

said Lord Etherington. "And had an 
ounce of lead in my body for my pains? 
No, no ! we have already had footpad 
work enough. 1 promise you the old buck 
was armed as if he meant to iing^ folks 
on the low toby." — Scott: St. Ronan's 

Bing avast (old cant derived 
from gypny), an angry command 
to be off, meaning literally, " go 
to the devil." Beng English 
gypsy ; Scottish gypsy binff, 
meaning the devil, and avast irom 
avdva second present indicative 
and imperative, avdsa or avissa 
"thou goest," or "go thou." 
Full form, bin<j avas tu ! or awaste. 
It is probable that in Harman's 
vocabulary a is by accident sepa- 
rated from wad. Bin//, the devil, 
is not to be confounded with the 
same word in " to bi}ifj out," in 
old cant, nor avast with avast, 
in its other meaning. It is 
probable that those who made 
the old cant, having learned 
from gypsies that bini/ ai-ast 
meant "go to the devil," con- 
sidered that binj meant " go " 
or "come" a distance, and used 
it as such. 

Binf^ o\xt, bien morts and toure. 
For all your duds are hinged awast. 
— Old Song, 1560. 

Binge (Oxford), a big drinking 
bout. To bimjc is a provincialism 
for to soak a vessel in water to 
prevent its leaking. It is also a 
nautical term meaning to rinse 
a cask. This word seems to be 
connected with bung, the orilice 
in the bilge of a cask, througli 
wliicli it is filled. 

Bingo — Birdcage. 


Bingo (old cant), probably of 
gypsy origin. Spirits or brandy. 

Pass round the bingo, son of a gun, 
You musty, dusky, husky son ! 
— Lord Lytton : Paul Clifford. 

Some soda-water, with a dash of bingo, 
clears one's head in the morning. — T. 
Hughes : Tom Brown at Oxford. 

" Bingo boy," a drunkard ; 
" bingo mort," female dram- 

£ing (gypsy), the devU, an evil 
spirit, probably suggested the 
word. Puns on spirit in its 
twofold meaning have always 
been common both in English 
and gypsy. Bengalopani (gypsy) , 

Bing^ (trade), a term largely used 
in the butter trade to denote 
bad, ropy butter (Hotten). 

Binnacle-word (nautical), any 
learned or affected word used 
in the navy, which the sailors 
jeeringly offer to chalk upon 
the binnacle. 

Binni (tinker), small ; hinny soolli, 
a boy ; lit. , small man. 

Birch broom (thieves), rhyming 
slang for room. 

Birdcage, a slang term in vogue 
among the lower orders for a 
bustle, or in more modern slang a 
' ' dress-improver." This part of 
a lady's toilet is a kind of pad or 
cushion worn at the back of the 
dress for the purpose of ex- 
panding the skirts, and, in some 
cases, making up for certain 

deficiencies in the wearer's form. 
Those now in fashion are im- 
mensely elongated structures, 
little suggestive of the human 
form ; some are built on the prin- 
ciple of the old crinoline, with 
wire or steel ribs, hence the ap- 
pellation of birdcage. 

She was walking in her hest clothes on 
Bank Holiday, when a crossing sweeper 
knocked up against her, and being a per- 
fect lady she was all over his chevy before 
he'd time to turn round, and they took 
her by the chignon and the birdcage and 
waltzed her into Vine Street quicker than 
a wink. — Sporting Times. 

Me and Jane was at Greenwich last 
week. The hill's very nice, but Jane quite 
spiled her birdcage rollin' down. A new 
dress, too. — Ally Sloper's Half-Holiday. 

Not long ago there was an 
action relating to patents in the 
High Court of Justice. The 
court was strewn with various 
specimens of these articles, and 
considerable amusement was 
caused by the spectacle of a 
judge and several leading coun- 
sel arguing gravely on the in- 
tricacies of the various designs 
for dress-improvers. The judge, 
after looking at several designs, 
said, " I hope you are going to 
produce another of these ar- 
ticles, Mr. , which I do not 

see here. It is called the Jubi- 
lee ... it is one which, when 
a lady sits down, plays the 
' National Anthem.' " An old 
lawyer would have his feeble 
joke, too, and remarked that he 
had attended the sittings of the 
court for many years, but that 
never had he witnessed so much 
" bustle." 


Birdcage — Bishop's foot. 

(Racing), the saddling pad- 
dock adjoining the Grand Stand 
at Newmarket. (Popular), a 
four - wheeled cab, otherwise 
known by the appropriate ap- 
pellation of " growler." 

Bird-lime (thieves), rhyming slang 
for time. 

(popular), a handker- 



Were they lurking at this secluded spot 
until what they thought was a good time 
to sheer off with the " swag " ? Was that 
the swag tied up in the blue birdseyef — 
J. Greenwood : In Strange Company. 

Bird's eye fogle, a (prize-fighters), 
the name of a scarf tied round 
their waists by prize-fighters in 
the ring ; a neckerchief or hand- 
kerchief with white spots on a 
black, blue, or other ground. 
Fogle, from the German vogd, a 

Bird's eye wipe (common), a ker- 
chief, either for the pocket or 
neck, with blue spots on it. 

Birk (back slang), a "crib," i.e., 

Birthday suit (common), the suit 
of our first parents before they 
had a bite in the apple. 

Bish (Anglo-Indian), poison ; San- 
skrit, %-ls1ia, poison. 

An old English gypsy once asked me 
if 1 knew what beesa meant. He said it 
was a kind of poison made from beans. I 
recognised in it at once an Indian word 
for poison, especially aconite. 

Bishop (horse-dealers), to bishop a 
horse is a swindling contrivance 
resorted to in order to deceive 
buyers as to its age. An old 
horse has no black streaks on 
his teeth, and by some process 
these are made to appear ; from 
a north of England term. See 
Bishop's foot. 

(Common), the chamber uten- 
sil or •' Jordan ; " also, lat- 
terly, an " it." The last is de- 
rived from the humorous de- 
scription of Max O'Rell in 
"John Bull's Womankind," p. 

" Better still, would you believe that in 
very good houses I have seen, and very 
plainly too, . . . ye^, positively, I have 
seen lion the floor under the washstand?" 

Bishop's court. In most Austra- 
lian sees the bishop's palace is 
called bishop's court. Perhaps 
palaces are considered unsuit- 
able for democratic commu- 
nities ; just as it is not correct 
to address a colonial bishop as 
"my lord." In practice, how- 
ever, they arc always addressed 
" my lord." Not to do so would 
be an incivility. 

Bishop's foot, to bishop (Low- 
land Scotch and North of Eng- 
land), the devil's foot. Milk 
burned in the pan is, in the 
North of England, said to be 
bishoped. In Fifeshire the 
expression is applied to food 
tliat has been scorched in cook- 
ing or otherwise spoiled — " </tc 
bishop's foot's in it." The bisliop 
means the devil, and the saying 

Bisser — Bitch party. 


is probably a relic of the times 
of the Keformation, when in 
Scotland everything connected 
with prelacy was considered to 
be bad, 

Bisser (gypsy), to forget. 

Bit (American), correctly the old 
Spanish " real," equal to twelve 
and a half cents, or about six- 
pence. In England the now 
seldom seen fourpenny- piece 
was called a fourpenny-6ii, also 
a "joey," from the late Joseph 
Hume, M.P., who extolled its 
convenience in a speech which 
he made in Parhament. In 
Pennsylvania the "real" was 
called an elevenpenny-iii, — hit 
being a translation of the 
Spanish "peso," a piece or bit 
(as it was popularly understood), 
and signified any coin. Since 
this Spanish and Mexican 
money was withdrawn from 
circulation the term lit is 
applied to the "dime." The 
" medio " or " half-real " was in 
Philadelphia called a fippenny- 
hit (fivepenny), which was ab- 
breviated to " fip," as " eleven- 
penny-6i<" became contracted 
to "levy." This old Spanish 
currency became so worn that 
the " levy," which was legally 
worth twelve and a half cents, 
often weighed less than the ten- 
cent silver piece or "dime," 
and it was said that boys were 
in the habit of filing down 
and smoothing the latter so 
as to make them pass for the 

A Philadelphian is always stylish and 
fashionable when he owns twelve and a 
half cents, for then he can always hold a 
levy (levee). — Vanity Fair, i86i. 

(West Indian), a hit is a four- 
penny piece. In Demerara the 
negroes make this one of their 
units of calculation. Thus a 
shilling is three hits, and so 

(Popular), fourpence. 

Bitch, to (old slang), to give way 
through fear. The primary 
meaning is to sport. (Common), 
"to be" or "to stand hitch," 
from the gypsy bitcher or hitch, 
to send away, let go, or yield. 

"Don't bitcher it because you're at- 
rash" — "Don't let it go because you're 

To assume a woman's functions 
in making tea, presiding at the 
table, &c. 

Bitchadey-pawdel (gypsy), trans- 

Bitch booby (old military slang), 
a country girl. 

Bitcher (gypsy), to send. Hence 
to order or command. Bitcher- 
tng kirs, police or assize-courts. 
See To Bitch. 

Bitcherin mush (gypsy), a magis- 

Bitcher-pawdel (gypsy), to trans- 

Bitch party (university), tea party; 
only suitable for women in the 


Biter — Bite. 

minds of the coiners of this 
irreverent expression. "Will 
you be old hitch ? " means " Will 
you make tea 1 " 

Biter (old), a woman of inordinate 
sexual desires. 

Bite the ear, to (prison slang), 
to borrow. " I bit his ear for 
three and a sprat " — I borrowed 
3s. 6d. of him. 

Bite the roger, to (thieves), to 
steal a portmanteau. 

Bite the •wiper, to (thieves), to 
steal a pocket-handkerchief. 

Bite, to (common), to take in, im- 
pose on, cheat, over-reach in any 
way. Hotten says this is a 
gypsy term, but does not prove 
it. " Cross-bite, for a cheat, 
constantly occurs in the writers 
of the sixteenth century. Bailey 
has cross-bite, a disappointment, 
probably the primary sense, and 
bite is very probably a contrac- 
tion of this." It is much more 
probably derived from the Dutch 
buiten, which in slang means, 
according to Teirlinck, to buy, 
or trade, and which is more 
accurately defined by Ghcrard 
van der Scheuren {Teuthonista 
oft Duytdender, 1475-77) as 
" Buy ten, we.sselen mangeln, 
cuyden ; <u,yscAcn-cambire, per- 
mutare," &c. These words all 
mean to trade, exchange, or 
barter ; but tinjschen indicates 
cheating, or swindling ; com- 
bining the force of the analo- 

gous German words tauschen, to 
exchange or trade, and tduscJien, 
to deceive. Hotten also says 
that bite is a north country 
word for a hard bargain (used 
by Pope), and that Swift tells 
us that it originated with a 
nobleman in his day. Accord- 
ing to Sewel's Dictionary, buit 
is booty, spoil, pillage ; buiten, 
among other meanings, has "to 
go out to pillage," and " zich te 
buyten gaan " {i.e., to go out, or 
away, or too far) is "to be ex- 
orbitant." When we remember 
that byten means in Dutch to 
bite, and buyten (which has al- 
most the same pronunciation) 
to bargain ■with all the associa- 
tions of deceit and plunder, it 
seems much more probable that 
bite, a hard bargain, or bite, to 
cheat, came from the Low 
Countries direct, than from an 
English word signifying " dis- 
appointment." — C. G. L. 

Bite was formerly used as an 
interjection equivalent to the 
modern expression " sold ! " 
There is a story of a man sen- 
tenced to the gallows who sold 
his body to a surgeon. . . . 

It is a superstition with some surgeons 
who beg the bodies of condemned male- 
factors, to go to the gaol and bargain for 
the carcass with the criminal himself. . . . 
The fellow who killed the officer of New- 
gate, very forwardly, and like a man who 
was willing to deal, told him, " Look you, 
Mr. Surgeon, that little dry fellow, who been half-starved all his life, and is 
now half-dead with fear, cannot answer 
your purpose. . . . Come, for twenty 
shillings I am your man." Says the 
surgeon, "Done, there's a guinea." 'I'his 
witty rogue took the money, and as soon 

Bite — Bitter. 


as he had it in his fist, cries, " Bite, I am 
to be hanged in chains." — Spectator, No. 

Bite up (tailors), an unpleasant 

Bit-faker (thieves' slang), a coiner 
or forger of false money. To 
"fake" is probably the' Latin 
facio, which has many meanings 
besides its primary meanings of 
"make" and "do." It may 
also be a form of the gypsy her, 
which has the same significa- 
tions. A hit-faker would, there- 
fore, be a maker of money (bit). 

Bit-fakingf (thieves' slang), coin- 
ing or forging money. 

Bitingf his hips (tailors), regret- 
ting what he has done or said. 

Biting up (tailors), grieving for 
something lost or gone. 

Biting your name in (popular), 
taking a large draught of some 
liquor, drinking deep or greedily. 

Bit of blood, a spirited horse that 
has some blood. 

Bit of cavalry, a saddle horse. 

Bit of leaf (prison), a small quan- 
tity of tobacco. 

The same rigid rule is in force at Port- 
land. I suppose it is because the convicts 
almost to a man set such a high value on 
a bit of leaf, regarding it as the greatest 
luxury of their lives, that the authorities 
are so severe in their endeavours to keep 
it from them. But they get it for all that. 
— J. Greenwood: Gaol Birds at Large. 

Bit of mutton (common), a nice 
woman, generally in a question- 
able sense. 

Bit on, a (common), slightly in- 

The gallant captain was a bit on. He 
wanted to make some purchases there and 
then. — Sporting Times. 

Bit of sticks (sporting), a copse. 

The form of the master, his white head, 
who bends 
With his fine old school air, deferential 
and courtly. 
As his hand to our Belle's tiny boot- 
tip he lends. 
" Boots and saddles " the word is : — and 
ye who would follow 
For a last stirrup-cup loiter not nor 
delay ! 
For from yon bit of sticks will ere long 
the view-holloa 
Ring the rise of the curtain, the start 
of the play. 

— Sporting Times. 

Bit of stuff (familiar), over- 
dressed man ; a man with full 
confidence in his appearance 
and ability. A young woman 
of dissolute life, who is also 
called a "bit of muslin." 

(Common), a draft or bill of 

I am sorry that bit of stuff {mtsmng the 
bill) wasn't for five thousand francs. — 
Lever : Tlie Dodd Family Abroad. 

Bits of stiff (popular), bank notes. 

Bitter (general), to " do a bitter," 
to have a glass of bitter ale. 
Originally an Oxford term. 

Into the " Cri." of an evening I slip, 
And into the cool sparkling bitter I 

— Music Hall Song. 


Bitto — Black-and-tan. 

Bitto, bitti (gypsy), a bit, a little, 
small, little. A hitto mush, a 
smaU man ; bitti dlr, fainter, 
lower (voice), less, smaller; 
hitti mullos or mHUeys, goblins, 

Bivvy, piwy (provincial), a drink, 
beer ; a shant of bivvy, a pot of 
beer ; a diminutive of beverage, 
or from the gjpsjpiava or biava, 
to drink ; pivo, beer in Bohemian 
or Czech. In French cant pivois 
is wine. 

mugs ! — and their black and red flags 
let 'em carry ; 
But wen they are next on the job they will 
'ave to look wide-oh I for 'Arry. 

— Putich. 

In theatrical language the biz 
is the acting, performing a part. 

And, when you come to Covent G., it also 

may be said, 
That Horace Lennard's book b good, and 

worthy to be read ; 
That Squire and those are funny chaps 

that Fanny Leslie's "great," 
And Joseph Cave, in all the biz, is smart 

and up to date. 

— Punch. 

B 1 y e g'h i n (tinker), stealing ; 
hiyegh', to steal ; biyegh' th'eenik, 
to steal the thing. 

Biz (English and American), 

" They manage these things better in 
France," said Gub, on the Caffarel affair. 
" It's all very well to sneer at 'decorated 
tailors,' but I think if you can do it, to 
pay your tailor with a decoration is dashed 
good Hz. I think I shall try it on." 

" What'U you decorate him with?" 
asked Rootytooty, who takes a lively in- 
terest in these matters, and believes muchly 
in an editor's ability to benefit his fellow- 

"Oh," replied Gub, "I shall try him 
with the Order of the Boot." — Sporting 

It also means any kind of 

'i'hat v/asn't my day for being in the 
target /liz, and I flopped flat as a pan- 
cake. — /Iniericcin N ewspaper. 

'Jo bonnet a lot of old blokes and make 
petticoats squeal is good liz, 

lUit a Crusher's 'ard knuckles a crunching 
ycr scrag? .No, I'm blowcd if that is 1 

Let 'cm Awarni " in their thousands" — the 

B. K. S. (officers), barracks, used 
specially among officers in mufti, 
who wish to preserve the in- 

Blab (common), to talk incon- 
siderately, to let secrets slip 
out, betray ; Dan. blahbrc, to 

" He has not peached so far," said the 
Jew. . . . " If he means X.oblai us among 
his new friends, we may slap his mouth 
yet." — CliarUs Dickens: Oliver Twist. 

Among the many modes of tormenting 
practised by the ordinary woman of society, 
one of the worst is her habit of blid'Hng, 
or repeating to one dear friend the things 
that have been lately said and done by 
another dear friend. — Saturday Review. 

Black-and-tan (street), half-and- 
half, porter and ale mixed. 
(American), applied to black and 
brown terriers. A mulatto, a 
mi.xture of mulattoes and blacks. 
During the Civil War tlie South 
was called the black - ai\d - tan 
country, from the planters " tan- 
ning " or boating tlieir slaves. 

Black arse — Black bracelets. 


Black arse (common), a kettle or 

Black art (old cant), the art of 
picking locks. 

Blackball (society), means to 
vote against a man for election 
for a club, &c., by ballot. The 
expression was derived from the 
once prevalent custom at club 
elections of giving each voter 
a white and a black ball ; if he 
wished to vote for the election 
of the candidate he put in the 
white ball, if otherwise, the 
black ball. This term is so fre- 
quently used that it has ceased 
to be slang, and the word 
" piU " has been substituted. 
The French equivalent, a cor- 
ruption of the English, is hlack- 

Blackberry swagger (popular), a 
person who hawks tapes and 
bootlaces (Hotten). 

Blackbird, to (colonial), to kidnap, 
from the colour of the skin of 
those kidnapped, such as negroes, 
natives of New Zealand, »S:c. In 
the quotation reference is made 
to "Kanakas," which see. 

But sometimes — we are glad to say in the 
past — iniquitoiisly blackhirded or kidnap- 
ped, and practically sold into slavery. — 
Daily Telegraph. 

Blackbird catching (colonial), the 
slave trade; recruiting coloured 
labourers in the South Sea 

Black-box (thieves), a lawyer. 

My blowen kidded a bloke into a panel 
crib and shook him of his thimble to put 

up for a black-box, but it wouldn't fadge. 
I took two stretches of air and exercise.— 
On the Trail. 

%,€., " My girl enticed a man 
into a bawdy house (where men 
are robbed by confederates), and 
stole his watch to procure money 
for a counsel, but it was of no 
use. I got two years at a con- 
vict settlement." 

Blackboys (up country Austra- 
lian), aboriginal servants in 
Australia. Blackhoy means a 
black who has become a servant. 
It is not surprising that "boy" 
should be synonymous with 
" servant" in countries in whose 
infancy free adult whites could 
hardly by any wages be induced 
to work. The term is not ap- 
plied to wild blacks. 

In many instances where two or three 
teams travelled together, one or more were 
driven by blackboys, that is to say, abori- 
ginal natives ; the term being invariably 
employed by colonists towards blacks, no 
matter what age they may be. These 
were attired similarly to their white com- 
panions in shirt and trousers ; but the 
shirts were as a rule of a more gaudy pat- 
tern, and a bright-coloured handkerchief 
as often as not encircled their waists, or 
was bound round their heads. — A. C. 
Grant : Bush Life in Queensland. 

Black bracelets (old), handcuffs. 

When the turnkey next morning stepp'd 
into his room. 

The sight of the hole in the wall struck 
him dumb ; 

The sheriff's black bracelets lay strewn on 
the ground, 

I'ut the lad that had worn 'em could no- 
where be found. 
Tol-de-rol ! 
— //. Ainsworih : Jack Shepfard. 


Black cattle — Blackford. 

Black cattle (old), parasites infest- 
ing the heads of uncleanly 

Black cattle show (clerical), a 
gathering of clergy; eg., Epis- 
copal visitation, or garden-party. 

Black coat (common), a clei^- 
man, from the habitual sombre- 
ness of his attire. The French 
argot has corbeau for a priest, 
for the same reason. 

Black diamonds (popular), a 
common simile for coal. Also, 
talented persons of dingy or un- 
polished exterior ; rough jewels 

Black disease (medical), the 
common name of more than one 
disease, as of black jaundice, 
and of melaena. 

Black eye (common), "we gave 
the bottle a black eye," i.e., drank 
it almost up. " He cannot say 
' black is the white of my eye,' " 
i.e., he cannot point out a blot 
in my character. (Nautical), 
" black's the white of my eye I " 
used when Jack avers that no 
one can say this or that of him. 
It is an indignant assertion of 
innocence of a charge. "Le 
ciel n'est pas plus pur que le 
fond de mon cceur ! " 

Blackfellow (Australian), an ab- 
original, one of the native in- 
habitants of Australia. The 
first feature in the natives which 
struck the early settlers of Aus- 
tralia was their colour. It was 

natural for them to write of the 
blacJcfdiows. At present the 
term is most used by whites 
" up the country," and by the 
aborigines themselves. Towns- 
people generally talk of " ab- 

I was one day at a country cricket match 
in Victoria. Two aboriginals were pre- 
sent. We were a man short, so we asked 
one of them to play for us. Both came 
into the pavilion, when the one who had 
been asked to play said to the other, 
" Blackfellmv, you just clear out of this — 
this place for cricketers, not for black- 
fellows." — Douglas B. W. Sladen. 

Black fly (country), a clergyman. 

Black-foot (provincial), one who 
attends on a courting expedi- 
tion, to bribe the servant, make 
friends with the sister, or put 
any friend oil his guard. The 
French say of a man who favours 
love intrigues, that " il tient la 

Blackford, Blackford swell (Lon- 
don slang), a swell supposed to 
be in borrowed or hired plumage. 
It is common for roughs to cry 
Blackford! to a swell dressed 
up for the occasion. So called 
from an advertising tradesman 
well known as letting on hire 
suits of clothes by the day. 

Said the teacher : " ' And it came to pass 
that David rent his clothes.' Now what 
does that mean, boys, 'rent his clothes'?" 
Up went Benny's hand. " I tumble," 
says he, " Blackford."— Popular Song. 

" He is seen everywhere about town I 
When at home, who the deuce can 
he be? 

Blackfriars — Blackguard. 


He says he resides with his ma in 
Though his letters are postmarked 
He looks very well that's beyond all 
For at Black/onfs he's rigged up 
and down, 
For Blackford lends suits, from the 
hat to the boots, 
And that just suits the Boy about 

Blackfriars (thieves' slang), used 
as a warning; "look out!" 
French thieves would say, "ac- 
resto I " 

Blackgfuard (common), alow, dis- 
reputable fellow. Dr. John- 
son, GifCord, and others derive 
this from an attendant on 
the devil, and also from the 
mean dependants of a great 
house, who were generally 
called the Hack guard as early 
at least as the beginning of the 
sixteenth century. 

We have neither school nor hospital for 
the distressed children called the black- 
guards. — Nelson : Address to Persons of 

A lousy knave, that within this twenty 
years rode with the blackguards in the 
duke's carriage, 'mongst spits and dripping- 
pans. — Webster: The White Devil. 

Thieves and murderers took upon them 
the cross to escape the gallows ; adulterers 
did penance in their armour. A lament- 
able case that the devil's blackguards 
should be God's soldiers. — Fuller: The 
Holy War. 

C. G. Leland says : — " It is 
probably the old Dutch thieves' 
slang word hlagaart, from blag, 
meaning a man (but always in 
an inferior sense), and art, the 

commonest termination for a 
noun. • The greater part of 
the nouns in slang which are of 
Dutch origin, are formed with 
the ending aard {aart, erd, ert), 
er, rik, heid, and ing.' — James 
Teirltnck, Woordenhoek van Bar- 
goensch. To those who would 
object that man does not neces- 
sarily mean a vulgar or low per- 
son, I would suggest that in 
thieves' patois it means nothing 
else, and that in our British 
tinkers' dialect, subil siableach 
(Gaelic for a vagabond) is used 
simply to denote any man." 

Likewise in the French argot, 
gonce, originally a fool (occasion- 
ally used with that meaning 
now), has the signification of 
man, individual. Wright has, 
however, shown that the entirely 
English term blackguard, as ap- 
plied to scullions, was in general 
use at an early date. 

Her Majesty, by some means I know 
not, was lodged at his house Ewston, farre 
unmeet for her highness, but fitter for the 
black garde. — Lodge's Illustrations, ii. 


I was alone among acoachful of women, 

and those of the elector's duchesse cham- 
ber, forsooth, which you would have said 
to have been of the blacke guard. — Mori- 
son's Itinerarie. 

Though some of them are inferior to 
those of their own ranke, as the blacke- 
guard in a prince's court. — Burton : Ana- 
tomy of Melancholy. 

Nor must her cousin be forgot, preferr'd 
From many years' command in the black 

To be an ensign. 
Whose tatter'd colours well do represent 
His first estate i' th' ragged regiment. 

— Earl of Rochester s Works. 


Blackguard — BlacRleg. 

In the above the allusion is to 
the cousin of Nell Gwyn, Charles 
II.'s mistress. 

These make out a strong case 
for the early use of the word 
in England. It would seem to 
have died out for a time and 
been revived, possibly under 
Dutch influence, in the time of 
the Georges. 

It has been suggested that 
hlackgnard is from braggart, with 
a change of liquid. French of 
the sixteenth century braguar, 
bragard, or bragghar (gradually 
altered to bragueur, then bla- 
gueur), dandy, vain fellow, 
swaggerer, traceable to the old 
braies, breeches, dandies of the 
sixteenth century being known 
by the approved style of their 
breeches. More recently there 
are instances of dandies or others 
receiving the appellation of the 
more conspicuous articles of 
thoir dress or the colour of these 
— the iaion-rougc, a dandy of the 
time of Louis XIV. ; col-casse, the 
modern Pari.sian " masher ;" cas- 
quette-d-trois-p'ints, a bully ; cids- 
rmiges and cherry-bums, hussars ; 
ichitc-choker, a clergyman, &c. 

It has also been said that the 
term was derived from the cir- 
cumstance of a number of dirty 
ragged boys attending on the 
parade to blacken the boots and 
shoes of the soldiers and do any 
other dirty oflices. From their 
constant attendance at the time 
of the l{ojal Body Guard mount- 
ing, they were ])y some facetious 
person nicknamed tlu; llach- 

Blackie (American), a very old 
word for a negro, still occa- 
sionally used. It is to be found 
in a negro song which dates 
back to the beginning of this 

Our son no more he serve ; no more play 

de lackey, 
No more our daughter weep, cos wite man 

call dem blackie. 

— Ching-a-Ring Chaw. 

Black jack (American), rum 
and molasses, with or without 
water. A New England drink. 
(Winchester), a large leathern 
jug which formerly was used 
for beer. 

Black job (undertakers'), a fune- 
ral. Lord Portsmouth's hobby 
was to attend all the black jobs 
he could hear of. 

"What, a funeral mute?" "Yes, sir, 
black job business." — Edmund Yates: 
Land at Last. 

Black language (Anglo-Indian), 
an expression, no longer com- 
mon, for Hindustani and other 
Indian tongues. It is remark- 
able that the English gypsies 
sometimes speak of Komany 
as the Kalo jib, or black tongue. 
The term was doubtless origi- 
nally Hindu. 

Blackleg (common), a name for- 
merly appropriated to swind- 
lers in racing transactions, and 
to those who betted without 
intending to pay their losses. 
Also generally applied in Ame- 
rica to gambling of any kind. 
In its earlier application it 


-Black Maria. 


meant a swindler or criminal, 
and is conjecturally derived 
from such fellows' legs being 
black and bruised from sitting 
in the stocks and wearing fet- 
ters ; or from the legs of a 
game - cock, which are always 
black, gamblers and swindlers 
being frequenters of the cock- 
pit'. Else from an allusion to 
the legs of a "rook," another 
name for a swindler. Blackleg is 
now a recognised word. In old 
provincial English a blacJc-foot 
was a man who attended a lover 
on a courting expedition to do 
the dirty and mean work, such 
as bribing servants, and acting 
the Leporello. 

(Tailors) to blackleg, a set that 
reject a man as not fit to move 
in their society, or who organise 
a method to compel a man \o 
leave his situation or the town, 
are said to blackleg him. 

Blackletter lawyer (legal), an 
antiquarian expert in law, where- 
as one well versed in " case 
law," or the decisions of judges, 
is termed a " case lawyer." 

Black lion (medical), the name 
given to certain rapidly-slough- 
ing ulcers which affected our 
soldiers when in Portugal. 

Blackmail (recognised). To levy 
blackmail was a tribute extorted 
by jjowerf ul robber chieftains to 
protect travellers from the de- 
predations of other robbers in- 
ferior to themselves in strength 
an<l organisation. In the United 

States, says Bartlett, it usually 
means money extorted from a 
person, by threatening to accuse 
him of a crime or to expose him 
in the newspapers (it is used 
with a like meaning in England). 

"Thrice is he armed who hath his quarrel 

But sure that force in self defence will 

Whose only armour 'gainst the critic 

Is found to be l>/ack mail. 

— Punch. 

What Mr. Caine tells us about Clapham 
Common is unfortunately not confined to 
the suburbs, but is a very active evil in 
the centre of the very best parts of our 
town, and the continuous blackmailing of 
unfortunates by the police has been a 
notorious fact in such thoroughfares as 
Piccadilly, Pall Mall, Waterloo Place, 
Regent Street, &c., for some years past. 
— Saturday Review. 

Skeat says : — " Mail is a Scot- 
tish term for rent, Blackmail or 
black rent is the rent paid in 
cattle, as distinct from white 
money or silver." It is curious 
to note, however, that maille in 
old French signified copper coin 
(a trace of which still remains 
in the modern phrases $ans sou 
ni maille, avoir maille d partir, 
&c.). This word may have 
been adopted by the Scotch, who 
still retain French words in 
their phraseology. Black-money 
is a provincialism still used 

Black Maria (English and Ame- 
rican), the cell van in which 
prisoners are removed from 
court to prison. Termed in the 
French argot " panier Ji salade." 


Black Maria — Black town. 

Bobbies ba-se and beaks inhuman 
Every fieldmale's path perplex ; 

Who on earth would be a woman — 
Which it is a wretched sex. 

No one freer, no one greater, 

'Arrj' cycles : is it just 
Sarah Anne's perambulator 

Should be hobject of disgust ? 

What's the reason, tell me why, ah ! 

Why that gig with children nice 
Should be scorned like Black Maria, 

Full of villainy and vice? 

—Aily Slopers Half Holiday. 

When I^rd Carrington and his attend- 
ant noblemen arrived in Melbourne on a 
visit lately, Black Maria, the prison van, 
was drawn up by the station, apparently 
in waiting. — Modern Society. 

This term is said to liave 
originated in Philadelphia in 

Black Monday (popular), execu- 
tions used to take place on 

Black mummer (old), a person un- 
shaved and unwashed. 

Black ointment (thieves), pieces 
of raw meat. 

Black psalm (old), to sing a lilaclc 
punlm was to cry. 

Black Sal (popular), the tea-kettle. 

Black Saturday (workmen's). 
When a labourer or meclianic 
has anticipated or drawn all 
Ills wages and has no money to 
lake at the end of the week, 
his mates say " he has a black 
Siiturd/i}! in his week." 

Black-sheep (Winchester). 
Wlicii a iiKui in "junior part'' 

jockeyed a man in "middle 
part" he was said to black- 
sheep him, whilst the other was 
said to be black • fiheeped. This 
could only happen in " cloisted 
time," that is, during the last 
eleven weeks of " long half," 
when "middle" and "junior 
parts " went up together. It 
refers now to senior and junior 
divisions of " middle part." 

Blacksmith's daughter (old), 
the large keys with which the 
doors of sponging-houses were 

Black spy (popular), the devil. 

Black strap (popular), port wine. 
(American), New England mm 
and molasses. (Nautical), the 
dark country wines of the 
Mediterranean. Also, bad port, 
such as was served for the sick 
in former times. 

Ask for a Ixjttle of black strap out of 
bin No. 4 ; light your cigar, smoke the 
room full ; nod to misses, pull up your 
shirt collar before the looking-glass. — 
Drawing for the Million. 

(Old), the name by which a 
certain punishment, a labour 
task imposed on soldiers at 
Gibraltar for small offences, 
was called. 

Black teapot (poptdar), a black 

Black town (Anglo-Indian), the 
jiojiular local English name for 
Madras. It is also used at Hoin- 

Blach wash — Blank. 


bay to distinguish the native 

Many cadets on their arrival are obliged 
to take up their residence in dirty punch- 
houses in the black town. — Munro's Nar- 
rative, 22. 

Black wash (medical), a lotion 
consisting of calomel and lime- 

Black 'V7ork (popular), undertak- 

Bladder of lard (popular), a bald- 
headed person. The French 
equivalent is " boule de vieux 

Blade (common). It is generally 
and plausibly assumed that this 
word for a m^n is derived from 
hlade as a synonym for sword, 
and a soldier. And this seems 
to be borne out by the analogy 
of a similar French expression, 
unc banne lame, which formerly 
meant a man of the world, a 
dashing man. Blade is still 
used in the provinces for a 
brisk, mettlesome, sharp young 
man. But as it has the same 
pronunciation as the Dutch 
hloed, meaning " blood," and as 
a blood was the common term 
for "a fast, and high-mettled 
man " during the reigns of the 
Georges, it is not impossible it 
owes much to the latter. The 
word was also a personal noun 
in Dutch, as een arme bloed, a 
poor fellow. Bloed, a simple- 
ton, is from a different root ; 
bluode, timid, fearful ; Irish 

blate, German blode. Royster- 
ers and debauchees were also 
termed " roaring boys." 

I do not all this while account you in 
The list of those are called the blades 

that roar 
In brothels, and break windows ; fright 

the streets 
At midnight worse than constables. 

— Shirley : The Gamester. 

Bladhunk (tinker), prison. 

Blame (popular), a mild expletive 
used when one is dissatisfied or 
disappointed. Oftener heard in 
the provinces than in London, 
and much more so in America. 

The keeper had fired four times at an 
Indian, but he said, with an injured air, 
that the Indian had skipped around so's to 
spile everything — and ammunition blamed 
skurse, too. — Mark Twain: Roughing It. 

Yes, John Bull is a blamed blockhead. 
— Sa^H Slick. 

" Man alive ! This ain't the boat; this 
is the ferry house ! " 

"Yew — don' — say so 1 " slowly ejaculated 
the sunburned old fellow. " An' here I've 
been a waitin' three hours for the blamed 
thing to start for Brooklyn 1 " — Diak^s 
U ravellers Magazine. 

" Damnation 1 " is sometimes 
softened into " blamenation ! " 

Blan (gypsy), the wind. 

Blank (hunting), to draw a blanTc 
in coursing or hunting is to 
have a run without meeting 
with anything. Quite recently 
tlie term blank has been adopted 
as a substitute for " damn," 
" bloody," and other forcible 


Blank — Blaze. 

Here you've been and gone three hours 
on an errand for me, and blank me if you 
ain't runnin' off without a word about it. — 
Bret Harte : Gabriel Conroy. 

Because you're religious, blank you, 
do you expect me to starve ? Go and order 
supper first ! Stop ! where in blank are you 
going ? — Bret Harte : Gabriel Conroy. 

" For blank's sake, sir, give me the 
orffice, you knows me surely, and that I'm 
square. Veil, then, give me the orffice, 
so help me blank I'll keep it dark." 

Enter a closely-shaven, bullet - headed 
fellow in an ecstasy of excitement at having 
just seen Cuss, and at the exquisite " fit- 
ness" of that worthy. " So help my blank, 
blank!" he cries delighjedly, "if he ain't 
a blank picter with the weins in his face 
down 'ere and 'ere, a showin' out just if a 
blank hartist 'ad painted him. Tell yer 
he's beautiful, fine as a blank greyhound, 
with a blank heavy air with him that looks 
blank like winnin. Take yer two quid to 
one, guv'nor?" adds the speaker, suddenly 
picking out a stout purple-faced farmer in 
the group of eager listeners. 

— Charles Dickens : Farce for the 

Championship in All the Year 


Blanket, a lawful (old cant), a 
wife. The allu.sion is obviou.s. 

Blanket hornpipe (popular) refers 
to the .sexual intercourse. 

Blanks (Anglo-Indian), a rare 
word used for whites or Euro- 
peans by themselves. 

Blare (popular), to roar, to bawl. 

He blared and he holloaed and swore he 

was hurt, 
His coat got torn off and he hadn't a shirt, 
'I'hen the missus comes down and she said 

to the cook. 
You aud.-icious hussey, you'd best sling 
your hook. 
— The Masher and the Parrot : 
/{ mails iJe Ballad. 

Blarney (common), flattery ; sup- 
posed to be derived from a stone 
in the tower of Blarney Castle, 
near Cork, the kissing of which 
is a feat of some difficulty, from 
its perilous position in the wall. 
It is supposed to confer the gift 
of eloquence, of a kind peculiarly 
adapted to win the hearts of 
women. It is a common saying 
in Cork, when a man is trying 
his powers of persuasion or 
wheedling, " he has been to 
Blarney Ca.stle," or "none of 
your blarney." 

Blast (popular), a familiar name 
amongst the lower orders for 
erysijielas of the face. 

Blater (popular), a calf; to "cry 
beef on a blater," to make a fuss 
about nothing. 

Don't be glim-flashy ; why, you'd cry 
beef on a blater. — Lytton : Pelhatn. 

Blather (general), idle nonsense. 
Also thin mud or puddle. 

A prize-fighter who does not fight is 
about as valuable a macliine as an alarum 
clock which does not go off. He has no 
raison d^tre. We do not of course wish to 
insinuate that any of the "fistic marvels" 
of to-day are guilty of such conduct. And 
yet there may be those who watch " Mr." 
John L. Sullivan revolving round the pro- 
vinces in a cloud oi blather, who think the 
cap should fit. — Fair Trade. 

Blatherskite (American), a man 
whose tongue runs away with 
him ; an irrepressible 
chatterer; " blatliering." Of 
Hcutcli origin {vide Blkthkhs). 

Blaze (American). "To blaze a 
tree," to remove the bark so as 

Blaze — Blazers. 


to leave a white surface exposed, 
which serves either for a boun- 
dary, a landmark, or as a sign 
to direct travellers. The Algon- 
kin Indians of the north-east 
blaze trees so as to direct Indians 
leaving a village ; white men 
make such marks on the other 

A path which brought us opposite 
Ntunduru Island, Hazing^ the trees as a 
guide. — Stanley : Through the Dark Con- 

It is used in this sense by the 
up country Australians. 

The last six miles of a new road into 
Carcoar had just been marked out and 
partially made by the inhabitants, ex- 
pressly for the governor. It was a well 
chosen but rough track designated by 
blazed trees on either hand, the unbarked 
parts being painted white, in order to be 
more manifest in the dusk. — Lieut. -Col. 
Munday : Our Antipodes. 

It also applies to any kind of 

I picked up a stone, and blazed my 
course by breaking off a projecting corner 
occasionally from lava walls and festoons 
of sulphur. — Mark Twain : A Strange 

Blaze is an English provin- 
cialism for a white spot on a 
horse's forehead ; and blazed is 
a term applied to a tree when 
marked for sale. 

(General), to blaze away, to 

He blazed away and missed you in that 
shallow watercourse. — A. L. Gordon : The 
Sick Stockrider. 

Blaze of triumph (theatrical), a 
ridiculous hyperbole, invented 
by the poet iJunn, to indicate 

a great success and crowded 
houses. To the initiated this 
usually signifies a dead fail- 
ure, and a house crowded with 

Blazer (university), a coloured 
loose flannel jacket, worn as 
the uniform of a boating or 
other club ; originally red, but 
now of the club colours, striped 
or coloured accordingly. The 
surplice worn by students in 
chapel on certain feast or fast 
days, is described as the blazjer 
of the Church of England. Each 
club chose a different colour 
or combination of colours, and 
these combinations are some- 
thing sufficiently startling to 
have originated the appellation. 

Another fair damsel was resplendent in a 
scarlet blazer over cream-coloured flannel. 
Some of the .striped blazers were very 
becoming. Slate and white, and black 
and white, were decidedly the favourites, 
though one daring dame had ventured on 
magenta. — Modem Society. 

The effect produced by the thousands of 
floating and moving craft, with their occu- 
pants in brilliant blazers and light cos- 
tumes, is quite unique of its kind. — The 

(Prisons), a jacket worn by 

If the young gentlemen do not like the 
convict blazers, they will not be allowed 
to take out a boat imless accompanied by 
a policeman. — Funny Folks. 

Blazers (nautical), a term applied 
to mortar or bomb vessels, from 
the great emission of flame to 
throw a 13-inch shell. — Admiral 


Blazes — Bleeding. 

Blazes (common). " Go to hlnzes," 
i.e., "go to hell," is a common 
expression both in Great Britain 
and the United States, among 
those who are too fastidious to 
say the word that they mean, 
and are willing to go ninety-nine 
per cent, in the expression of 
jirofanity, making use of " by 
Gad," instead of "by God," 
"great Scott," instead of "great 
God," and "darned" instead of 
" damned." 

I could have told Johnny Skae that I 
would not receive his communication at 
such a late hour, and to go to blazes with 
it. —Mark Twain. 

Bleach, to (Harvard University, 
Massachusetts), to absent one- 
self from morning prayers. To 
prefer being present in the spirit 
rather than in the body. 

Bleached mot (popular), a fair- 
complexioned wench. 

Bleak (thieves' slang), handsome 
(New York Slang Dictionary). 

Bleating cheat (old cant), a sheep. 
" Cheat," meaning a thing 
(gypsy), was added to a word 
describing the cry of the ani- 
mal, thus cackling cheat, grunt- 
ing cheat, &c. 

When I spoke to him, he said some- 
thing about a bleating sheep losing a bite ; 
but I should think this young man is not 
much of a talker in general. — Mactnillans 

Bleating cull (old cant), a shcep- 

Bleating prig, sheep-stealing. 

Bleating rig (old cant), sheep- 

Bleed, to (English and American), 
to be obliged to pay money 
against one's will, or to oblige 
one to pay. 

A boy lives in Pennsylvania who suffers 
from bleeding at intervals. He usually 
bleeds nine days at a time. Candidates 
who bleed three months at a time will 
envy him. — San Francisco Alia. 

This is in reference to the 
extravagant demands made 
upon political candidates by 
" heelers" and " strikers," 

Then this fine old Englishman, to crown 

each other deed, 
Has lately shown that for our sake he did 

not fear to bleed. 
A generous gift, that silver cup, in sooth 

you'll be agreed. 
That a cup which bears nine handsome 

»tugs is a handsome one indeed ! 

— St. Helens Lantern. 

(Printers), a book or pamphlet 
that is cut down so much as 
to touch the printed portion is 
said to Uetd. 

Bleeder (sporting), a sovereign ; 
(university), a " regular bleeder" 
signifies a superlative duffer. 

Bleeders (old), spurs, from their 
causing blood to flow by fre- 
quent use. 

Bleeding the monkey (nautical). 
The vurnkty is a tall pyramidal 
rod or bucket which conveys the 
grog from the grog-tub to the 
men. Stealing from this in tran- 
situ is so called. — Admiral Hinyth. 

Blethers — Blind. 


Blethers (Scottish), wind or 
windy ; nonsense. Robert Burns 
jocosely laments that his busi- 
ness was to string up blethers 
in rhyme for fools to sing. 
Bletherhead is a loquacious fool. 
Bletherumskite is a synonymous 
word, but expressive of still 
greater contempt by the use of 
the word "skite" or "skyte," 
which signifies excrement. To 
blether or blather is to talk tedi- 
ously and foolishly. The word is 
akin to " bladder," that is, filled 
with wind. 

I hae been clean spoilt just wi' listen- 
ing to twa blethering old wives. — Sir 
Walter Scott : Old Mortality. 

Wha can ken . . . whether sic prayers 
as the Southron read out of their auld 
blethering black mess-book there, may not 
be as powerful to invite fiends, &c. — Scott : 
Fortunes of Nigel. 

Blew or blue (common), to waste, 
to spend, to dissipate. " I hlexo 
a bob (I wasted a shilling)," said 
a costermonger, " when I went 
to an exhibition of pictures." 
To spend or lose one's money in 
gambling or betting. 

But knock-down blows the punter knows 

Are a part of his racing creed, 
And he says this year he has no fear — 

" The Baron must succeed ! " 
We think so too, and our oof we'll blew. 

However rash the act, 
For if this one's missed he will swell the 

Of the winners we might have backed. 
— Sporting Times. 

We'll polish off the malt and grog, and to 

have we are bound, 
A jolly jug, and kiss the girls and women 

all around ; 

We'll take a stroll, and then keep it up 

till boxing night, 
Blew all the coin — rent as well, and think 

we're doing right ; 
And if we have to pawn the clock, next 

day I shan't repine. 
It was my father's custom, and so it shall 

be mine. 


Blewed (common), spent, disposed 
of. Lost or been robbed of. Pri- 
marily, to pay out, to spend. 
German blauen, which suggests 
blue, and not to blow, as the 
original. Ins Uaue hinein (away 
into the blue), vanished, gone ; 
the French passe au bleu has 
the same signification. Faire 
passer au bleu, to suppress, dis- 
sipate, spend, squander, appro- 
priate. An allusion to a dis- 
tant, undefined place in the blue 

Bligee, bligey (pidgin), obliged. 

Too muchee 'bligee you, Missee Hughsee, 
fo' that number-one book. You show me 
that pricee, England-side, my look see 
that Table, can savey how-fashion makee 
offer. Must catchee chancee now. — Chin : 

Blimey (common), an apparently 
meaningless, abusive term. 

C. FOR THE Mob. — As this is a court, I 
feel it suitable and proper to use the sort 
of language always used up our court. I 
therefore remark, " Liars, murderers, ras- 
cals, gliastly bloodsuckers, devils ; garn 
hout, shet up currant-face, bliviey" and 
other things which would naturally occur 
to a gentleman by Act of Parliament. — An 
Ennobling Exhibition. 

Blind (popular), " in the blind," in 
the night, in darkness. 


Blind — Blizzard. 

Then it's down with the bedstead and let 
us away, 
Pack up all we can in the blind, 
And long ere the morning, 
Without any warning, 
We'll leave back-rent and landlord be- 


(Printers), a term applied to a 
paragraph mark IT, owing to the 
fact of the eye of the F being 
black or filled up. 

Blind cheeks (popular), posteriors, 
termed sometimes Uind Cupid. 
The French argot calls it more 
appropriately le horijne. An- 
other slang expression for the 
same part of the body is "two 
fat cheeks and ne'er a nose ; " 
in French slang " un visage sans 

Blinder (thieves), to "take a 
Hinder," to die. 

Some rubber to wit had napped a winder, 
And some were scragged and took a 

—On ike Trail. 

Blindo, to (army), to die. 

Blind one's trail, to (American), to 
act in such a way that it would 
be difficult to trace one's doings ; 
putting off the scent. Thus a 
fox in crossing a river blinds his 
trail, water being fatal to the 
scent of dogs. 

Blink, to (American), to drink. In 
Dutch thieves' slang, Uinkert is 
a glass. " Minkcrt om uit te 
biiizen " — "To booze from a 

Blinker (American), a phrase 
fully explained by the follow- 
ing anecdote from a New York 
newspaper : — 

" The term growler has become obsolete, 
and blinker has succeeded it. A waggon- 
load of ' supplies ' was tr.insferred to the 
Bedlows (prison) island boat, and among 
them were two two-gallon kerosene oil 
cans. A boat-h.and remarked, ' They must 
be usin' lots of kerosene — them officers 
over there — for they gets them cans filled 
mighty often ! ' The secret was let out a 
few minutes later, when one of the men 
coming on deck with the happy smile of 
one who has interviewed the ardent, said 
to one of his companions : ' I say, Jimmy, 
the blinkers have got good stuff this 
time !' " 

— Vide Blink. 

Blinkers (pugilistic), the eyes, 
termed also ogles, optics, peep- 
ers, winkers. (Common), spec- 
tacles. Blinhert, Dutch slang, 

Blinko (thieves), the term is ex- 
plained by the quotation. 

"What is a blinko, for instance?" 
" Well, it's a kind of entertainment, sing- 
ing, and that," replied the old fellow, 
" to which strangers are not invited — least 
of all the police." — /. Greenwood : Dick 

Blizzard (American), a word of 
many meanings. In one of the 
early Crockett almanacs about 
1836 it appears as distinctly 
meaning a shot from a rifle. 

" The elder boys when they went to 
school carried their rifles to get a blizzard 
at anything they might meet on the 

It has been conjectured that 
in this sense it was derived from 

Blizzard — Block. 


blaze, or from the (Canadiau) 
French blesser, to wound or hit. 
It was also applied to lightning 
at an early date. At present the 
tremendous wind - storms like 
the typhoon which sweep over 
the West are called blizzards. 
It possibly owes this later mean- 
ing to the German blitz. 

With reference to the word blizzard, a 
Western correspondent sends the follow- 
ing : — The word was first used in Marshall, 
Minn., some thirteen years ago. Some 
friends were enjoying themselves at a 
public-house, when a storm of wind and 
snow arose, and one of the number, look- 
ing up quickly, uttered a German expres- 
sion (our correspondent has forgotten the 
words) which sounded very much like bliz- 
zard. His friends took it up and have 
since called a storm of wind accompanied 
by snow a blizzard. Some years ago the 
origin of the word was sought and it was 
said to be Indian, and that an Indian used 
the expression (or one similar in sound) 
upon seeing some white men coming out 
of a severe snowstorm. — Detroit Free 

The German expression here 
referred to is "blitzen I " 

Bloat (American), a drunkard, a 
drowned corpse. 

Bloater (popular), " my bloater" a 
term of friendship much in 
favour with 'Arry, who likes 
his friends as much as his 
bloater for breakfast, and that 
is not saying a little. 

But, bless yer, my bloater, it isn't all 
chin-music, vots and "ear ! 'ear ! " 

Or they wouldn't catch me on the ready, 
or nail me for ninepence. No fear ! 
— Punch. 

Block, the (Australian). " Doing 
the block" i.e., promenade, is 

one of the favourite amuse- 
ments of Melbourne ladies be- 
tween twelve and one and five 
and six. The block is the fashion- 
able promenade in Melbourne. 
The block is the block of build- 
ings in Collins Street lying be- 
tween Swanston Street and 
Elizabeth Street. 

Block house (old slang), a prison, 
house of correction, penitentiary, 
and similar establishments. The 
expression reminds one of the 
French military slang term le 
bloc, an abbreviation of blockhaus. 

Block of stock (American), an 
adaptation of the French term 
en bloc, meaning a large number 
of shares in anything, a great 
undivided mass, held as a single 

It would be comparatively easy, there- 
fore, for a syndicate to take the control 
from Jay Gould, especially if Russell Sage 
or some other holder of a big blocA oy stock 
were to join the movement. — Chicago Tri- 
bune, October 2, 1887. 

Block ornaments (popular), the 
better kind of meat scraps sold 
at butchers' stalls. 

On the shelves set out in front of the 
shop, meat scraps are offered at ijd. the 
lb. ; better scraps (or block ornaments, as 
they are termed) at 4d. — Standard. 

For dinner, which on a week day is 
hardly ever eaten at the costermonger's 
abode, they buy block ornaments, as they 
call the small, dark-coloured pieces 
exposed on the cheap butchers' blocks 
or counters. — Henry Maykew : London 
Labour and the London Poor. 

Also old-fashioned, queer-look- 
ing men and women. 


Bloke — Blood. 

Bloke (common), not strictly "a 
man," as Hotten defines it, but 
a man in a contemptuous sense. 
So the word was originally used 
in the police newspapers twenty- 
five years ago. A bloke was a 
victim of sharps, a stupid per- 
son, a greenhorn. It is not 
from the gypsy loke, a man, as 
Hotten asserts, loke not being 
an Anglo-Romany word. It is 
probably from the Dutch blok, 
a block, a log, a fool, which 
gives rise to Uok-ker, a plodder, 
a dull fellow, and to the English 

The girl is stunning, the blokes say, so 
we must forgive you. — Ouida : Held in 

" Give us a horder, then, old bloke," 
shrieked another gamin. — F. W. Robin- 
son : Little Kate Kir by. 

It has another signification, 
which is explained by the quota- 

It came out in the course of the evidence 
that the meaning of the word bloke was 
"a man whom a woman might pick up in 
the street." — J. Greenwood: Seven Curses 
i>/ London. 

Blood (fencing). In the old back- 
swording contests a blood, i.e., 
a streak of blood on the head or 
face at least one inch in length, 
was the equivalent of a deci- 
sive "broken-head." The word 
Unli;/cr is used in the same sense 
by tlie (jlormau students on the 

In prize-ring parlance the 
word is not considered suftici- 
ently graphic, and blood is never 
mcniioiicd except under syno- 

nyms such as " claret " (especi- 
ally picturesque in connection 
with tapping), "Badminton" 
(a peculiar kind of claret cup 
invented at the Duke of Beau- 
fort's seat), "ruby," "crimson," 
" Chateau Lafitte," kc. 

Blood and entrails (nautical). 
This is a slang name given to 
the British ensign by Yankee 


Blood and thunder (popular), port 
wine and brandy mixed. 

Blood and thunder literature 

(American), now common in 
England. Literature of the 
loudest and coarsest sensational 
kind, "detective" novels, ro- 
mances like "Jack Sheppard" 
and the " Outlaw of the Plains," 
" Life of Bufl:alo Bill," &c. 

One more instance of the deleterious 
influence of blood and t/i under /iction. 
Lecomte, the man who made a most deter- 
mined attempt to murder a messenger of 
the Bank of France the other day l>y 
plunging a bradawl into the nape of his 
neck, was an inveterate peruser of crimson- 
toned literature, his favourite authors 
being Ponson du 'I'errail, Gaboriau, and 
Liicenaire, the lettered murderer who 
emulated the deeds of Hoffman's " Car- 
(lillac " by prowling around the streets of 
I'aris for victims. — Paris Concspondence : 
Daily Telegraph. 

Blood boat (naval), a "tally 
boat " or bumboat, a boat em- 
l)loyed to carry provisions from 
the shoi^e. 

Blood -curdler (society), a story 
of murder likely to make the 
reader's blood curdle. 

Blood — Bloody. 


It will contain two pages of interesting 
and absorbing turf reminiscences by our- 
selves and master; a blood ■ curdler, by 
the murderman. — Sporting Times. 

The only one who is annoyed is our own 
special murder-monger, who has got several 
blood-curdlers of English extraction up his 
sleeve. — Sporting Times. 

Blood for blood (trade), barter 
among tradesmen, who ex- 
change with each other the 
commodities in which they 

Blood-suckers (society), extor- 
tioners, people who are con- 
stantly getting money. Derived 
from vampires, who are blood- 

If the stay be longer, the porter and the 
boots expect something. A fair estimate 
is about two francs per diem divided be- 
tween all the blood-suckers. Members of 
the Stock Exchange generally give treble 
this; members of the aristocracy half — 

(Nautical), lazy fellows, who 
by skulking throw their pro- 
portion of labour on the shoul- 
ders of their shipmates. — Ad- 
miral Smyth. In the army such 
fellows are styled " scrim- 

Bloody. Dr. C. Mackay makes the 
following remarks : " A word 
that is constantly used in the 
sense of sanguinary by the rudest 
and foulest-mouthed of the vul- 
gar. Did these people know 
the harmlessness of the odious 
epithet, as they now understand 
it — if they understand it at all' 
— they would perhaps cease to 
employ it, as not sufficiently 

coarse and disgusting to suit 
their ideas of the emphatic. 
Dean Swift, who was partially 
acquainted with the vernacu- 
lar Gaelic of Ireland, wrote from 
Dublin to his friend Gay that it 
was ' bloody hot ' — an expres- 
sion which he would not have 
permitted himself to use in its 
blackguardly English sense of 
sanguinary. ' Bloody hot,' in 
the use made of it by Dean 
Swift, meant ' rather hot.' " 

Mr. Charles G. Leland writes : 
" Mr. Hotten thinks that this is 
an expletive without reference 
to any meaning. Any one who 
will take the pains to look over 
the sanguinary words in any 
European language can at once 
perceive a great deal of meaning 
in the association of Moody with 
evil or revolting. We find, for 
instance, ill or evil blood, blood- 
thirsty, blood-stained, bloody, 
in the sense of cruel or atro- 
cious, bloody council, blood- 
guilty, and in German or Dutch, 
blood-shame or incest, a blood- 
revenger, bloody revenge, and 
in all three ' a bloody villain ' 
for murderer, as nothing is more 
natural than for an adjective or 
adverb used in so many oppro- 
brious meanings to take on 
others. The transfer of Uoody 
from murderous to everything 
wicked or bad seems as natural 
as Max O'liell's derivation of it 
from By'r Lady 1 is absurd. As 
11. H. Proctor remarks, in his 
Americanisms ( ' Knowledge ' ), 
it is ' simple nonsense.' The 
Germans have btutwenig, which 


Bloody — Blot. 

has nothing to do with Hut, 
' blood ; ' the first component 
is a dialectal form of bloss, 

The Earl of Suffolk gives 
the following definition of 
the word: "Bloody, an orna- 
mental adjective of infinite 
adaptability and significance. 
'J'his word is used largely 
though not exclusively in turf 

Bloody Jemmy (popular), sheep's 

Bloody king's, a red-brick church 
in Barnwell (St. Mary's the 
Less), resembling King's Col- 
lege Chapel in architecture. 

Bloody Mary's, the red-brick 
church, St. Paul's, resembling 
St. Mary's in Cambridge, the 
University church. 

Bloody shirt, the (American), 
agitation of the war question 
after the Civil War. 

"Chorus of mugwump, democratic, and 
rebel yells : Here's Blaine waving the 
bloijiiy shirt again. The colour line is 
wiped out ; the negro question is settled, 
and all Southern negroes interested in poli- 
tics are democrats. Down with the sec- 
tional question ! " 

Bloomer (Australian), prison slang 
for a mistake. Abbreviated 
from the expression "a bloom- 
ing error." 

manner, or to express disap- 
pointment or ruffled feelings — 
' mild swearing, in fact. It is 
applied to everything from a 
swell to an oyster. 

Heard on the course at Ascot after 
mounted bobby had rushed amongst horses 
in Prince of Wales' Stakes and completely 
spoiled Phil's chance of winning. Irate 
backer of Phil, with feeling : "Just like 
niy blooming luck ; a blooming peeler's 
stood in my way all my life." — Bird o' 

He had been tried and found guilty of 
murder. The day had come for his execu- 
tion, and the Talepitcher and Tom Beard 
had made a special journey to the gallows 
with a Church Service and a German dic- 
tionary to liear his last words. As the fatal 
moment approached he turned to the hang- 
man, in a dazed, half-conscious manner: 

" What day o' the week is this ?" 

" Monday," replied Berry. 

" Monday, is it ? Well, s'whelp my 
good garden stuff, this is a bloomin nice 
way to commence the week ! " — sporting 

Bloomy (American), fiowers; from 
tlie Dutch. 

Bloss (American thieves), woman, 
girl, mistress ; from blossom, old 
English slang. 

I only piked into Grassville with a dim- 
ber-damber, who couldn't pad the hoof for 
a single darkman's without his bloss to 
keep him from getting pogy. — On the 

Blot the scrip (popular), to engage 
to do anything by a written 

Blooming (common), used com- 
monly for emphasising a word, 
but generally in an ironical 

Blot the scrip, and jark it (old 
cant), to stand surety or bail 
for anv one. 

Bloviate — Blow. 


Bloviate (American), a made up 
or "factitious" word, which has 
been used since 1850, and is 
perhaps older. It is irregularly 
used to signify verbosity, wan- 
dering from the subject, and 
idle or inflated oratory or blow- 
ing, by which word it was pro- 
bably suggested, being parti- 
ally influenced by " deviate." 

Blow (university), a drunken 
frolic ; an old slang phrase for- 
merly much in vogue at both 
Oxford and Cambridge, but not 
much used now, such words as 
"spree," "tight," &c., having 
superseded it. Also, "to blow" 
and "to go on the Uotc." (Old 
cant), " He has hit the blow," 
i.e., he has stolen the goods, or 
done the deed. (Common), a 

For this I went to the Steel (Bastile — 
Cold Bath Fields Prison), having a new 
suit of clobber on me, and about fifty blow 
in my brigh (pocket). When I came out 
I went at the same old game. — J. Horsley : 
Prison Jottings. 

Blow, blow it (American thieves' 
slang), to be silent, be quiet ! 
hold your chatter I This is 
quite the opposite of the English 
slang "to blow," which means 
to inform on, or the common 
American " to blow," i.e., to talk 
loudly and emptily. 

Mac Clarty objected ; giving the young 
man a warning look, he said, "Nixey 
Toohey, get out flash — blo^u it, man, blo^u 
it!" which meant that Mr. Mac Clarty 
thought that Mr. Toohey ought not to talk 
so much. — Philadelphia Press, Dec. 8, 

Blow, blow on, upon (common), 
to expose, inform. 

And she ain't got nobody but me to keep 
a secret for her, and I've been and blotued 
on her. — J. Greenwood : Dick Temple. 

You wouldn't blow an old chum among 
his friends, would you ? — Sam Slick : The 

Depend upon it that they're on the scent 
down here, and that if he moved, he'd 
blow upon the thing at once. — Dickens : 
Oliver Tzuist. 

But I will blow her, he said, I will blow 
her ladyship's conduct in the business. — 
Sir Walter Scott : St. Ronan's Well. 

Derived from the primary mean- 
ing to blow, to spread by report 
as if with a trumpet, to publish ; 
or from to blow upon, to taint, 
to blast, to bring into disfavour 
or discredit. 

Happily for him, he was not put to 
the bar till the first burst of popular rage 
had spent itself, and till the credit of the 
false witnesses had been blown upon. — 

In Dutch an ear-blower, oor- 
bleazer, means an instigator, 
informer, or sycophant ; the 
French siffler dans I'oreUle seems 
to be closely allied to it. (Win- 
chester), to bloiv signifies to 
blush, like a rose in full bloom. 
(American), to blow, to brag, 
or " gas " unduly. (Old slang), 
" to blow the groundsels," using 
the floor for the purpose of sexual 
intercourse. (Common), "toblow 
the gaff," to reveal the secret, 
to " peach," to inform. The old 
form still in use is "to blow 
the gab," i.e., to utter the dis- 
course, which has more meaning 
in it. 


Blow — Blower. 

Why, he scarcely knows a jimmy from a 
round robin, and Jack deserved the tippet 
for making a law with him, as all coves 
of his kiuney "blow the gaflF." — On the 

Sometimes " to blow the gag," 
which literally signifies to blow 
off the metaphoric impediment 
which keeps one's mouth closed 
To blow off, to treat to drinks 
(Common), hloio out, a good meal 

That was a rare good blow out, solilo' 
quises Dan, complacently recalling the 
taste of the savoury viands. — Savage Lon 

Blowed, to be blmved. This expres- 
sion is a weak attempt to avoid 
the use of the oaths " damn " or 
" blast," and occurs in only such 
expressions as ' ' I'll be blowed if 
I do," and many others that 
are continually heard from 
the mouths of the populace. 
Tom Hood was asked to con- 
tribute to a new cheap periodi- 
cal for nothing, or for a small 
advance as he termed it upon 
nothing, and replied to the 
request that he would will- 
ingly do so in the interest of 
cheap literature, if his butcher 
and baker would act upon the 
same principle towards himself. 
He cited a letter on the subject 
which he had received from his 
butcher : — 

Sir, — Respectin' your note ; cheap litera- 
ture be blo7ved ! Butchers must live as 
well as other people, and if so be as you 
and the readin' public wants to have meat 
at prime cost, you must buy in our beast- 
esses, and kill yourselves. — John Stokes. 

It's no shame to lie defeated by Peck- 
sniff. />7oK> Pecksniff. — Dickens : Martin 

Blowen (thieves), originally a 
showy courtesan, a prostitute, 
but now used more in the sense 
of woman, mistress. 

Tramp it, tramp it, my jolly blo^ven. 
Or be grabbed by the beaks we may. 

And we shall caper a-heel-and-toeing 

A Newgate hornpipe some fine day. 

— William Maginn. 

All the most fashionable prigs, or toby- 
men, sought to get him into their set ; and 
the most crack bloiven in London would 
have given her ears at any time for a' loving 
word from Bachelor Bill. — Lytton : Paul 

It is used with a like meaning 
by American thieves. 

Ah, Bell ! you were always the blowen 
for a rum bing. — On the Trail. 

M. O. Davis gives the definition 
of " blowen, a showy woman, 
used disparagingly," which 
would imply that it is derived 
from blown, i.e., inflated. It 
seems on the contrary to be 
used in a complimentary sense, 
a simile from a fiill-blown flower, 
and this poetical derivation is 
borne out by the closely allied 
term, bloivess, a pet, and bloss, 
a woman, from blossom in Ame- 
rican thieves' lingo. 

Blower (American), a noisy, talk- 
ative man, a " gas-bag." 

A man who earns his living by travelling 
about with a lung-tester was in Indiana- 
polis the other day. He was approached 
by a tall, well-fed personage, wlio handed 
him five cents and prepared to blow into 
his machine. 

"Hold on — hold on a minute!" said 
the street faker, excitedly, as he scanned 
his customer a moment, and jerked the 
tube out of his hand ; " ain't you Dan 
V'oorhees ? " 

Blower — Blown. 


" I am D. W. Voorhees," replied the 
tall man, in some surprise. 

" Then you can't touch this machine. I 
wouldn't have it burst for $50. Here is 
your nickel. This ain't no elephant lung- 
tester. " 

And shouldering his macliine the man 
walked rapidly away, as if he had had a 
narrow escape. 

It wonld appear from this 
artless anecdote that Mr. Voor- 
hees has a natural reputation 
as a hlmcer. It is said that the 
late Horace Greeley, during a 
trip from New York to Phila- 
delphia, being engaged in a 
political discussion, went on 
"narrating" or "orating" for 
a long time, while all the other 
passengers kept silence in ad- 
miration of the great man. 
But the conductor, not knowing 
who the speaker was, and think- 
ing that he was monopolising 
an undue share of conversation 
—a great offence in the United 
States — stepped up to him with 
the remark, " Old man, you 
talh too much. Shut up 1 We 
don't allow no such Mowing on 
this train." And then there 
was a roar of laughter " fit to 
blow the roof off." 

(Popular), a tobacco-pipe. 

Blow in (American), another 
form of "blew," to spend one's 

".Sam? Isn't he in the valley?" "Not 
much ! Sam got two months' wages ahead, 
so he cracked his whip, and went off on a 
bend." "To hlmu in'f" Jake laughed 
assent. ^.S'aa'(^/« and Moccasin. 

" To Umo in one's pile," to spend 
one's money, to pay. 

I had " blcnvn in my pile " 
On the strength of his tip. 
The name of the horse 
Was on many a lip ; 
But I learnt, ere sunset, to my sorrow 
Tliat there's slips twixt the cup and the 

— Turf, Field, and Farm. 

Blowing (Australian, popular), 

boasting, bragging. 

The public-houses presented a very busy 
sight, and judging by the bars it seemed 
that when men were not eating, sleeping, 
or working, they were drinking grog and 
boasting (or blowing, in colonial parlance) 
of some feat which they had performed, 
or of the particular merits of some horse, 
bullock, dog, or man. — Grant: Bush Life. 

The metaphor probably is "hlow- 
inf/ one's own trumpet," if indeed 
it be not simply an abbreviation, 
Australian slang being given to 
abbreviations of all kinds. An- 
thony Trollope gave a good deal 
of offence in Australia by speak- 
ing of blowing as a national fail- 
ing out there. 

(American), " blotoing his ba- 
zoo," blowing his own trumpet, 
boasting. From the Dutch feaz», 
abbreviation of bazuin, a trum- 
pet or trombone, " Jeniand.i lof 
bazuynen," to sound one's (own) 
praise. (Thieves), " blowing out 
a red light," stealing a gold 
watch, a white light being a 
silver watch. (Nautical), " blow- 
ing ^rc&t guns and small arras," 
heavy gales, a hurricane ; " bloir- 
iug the grampus," throwing 
water over a man on watch who 
has fallen asleep. 

Blown together (tailors), gar- 
ments badly made are said to 
have been blown together. 


Blow out — Blue. 

Blow out (common), an entertain- 
ment or feast. 

" She' sent me a card for a blow out" 
said Mowbray, " and so I am resolved to 
go." — Sir Walter Scott: St. Ronan's 

Synonyms are " spread," 


Blow up (common), so universally 
used as to have almost ceased 
to be slang; to vehemently scold, 

The other day some poor fellow married 
a somewhat faded beauty, and one of his 
former acquaintances inquired how the 
newly-wedded pair were getting on. 
" Very indifferent," was the reply. " She's 
always bloiving hit7i up." "I'm not sur- 
prised at that," said the first. "Look at 
the amount of powder she carries about 
her."— /l//^ Sloper's Half Holiday. 

To give a hlomng up is synony- 

(Workmen), to hlow up (i.e., 
to sound the whistle), is to call 
the men to work ; used by fore- 
men and gaugers. 

Blowsy (common), wild, dis- 
ordered, dishevelled, generally 
applied to the hair of a woman 
when unkempt, disarranged, and 
streaming over her forehead and 
face. " Blowsabella " is the 
name given to a personage in an 
ancient mock heroic poem. 

Blub (popular), an abbreviation 
of to "blubber," to cry like a 
child with noise and slavering. 

Don't be a fool and blub, Jim, it's a 

darned good thing for you, 
You'll find a mate as can carry and I'll 

play the music too. 
— lieonie K. .Siins: ballads of linbylon. 

Blubber (popular), the mouth; 
to " sport blubber" is said of a 
large coarse woman who exposes 
her bosom ; blubber and guts, 
obesity ; blubber-heUj, a fat 
person ; blubber-head, a stupid 
person. (Nautical), blubber boiler, 
a whaling vessel. (Common), 
blubber cheeks, large flaccid 
cheeks hanging like the fat or 
blubber of a whale. The terra 
has ceased to be slang. 

Bluchers (Winchester), college 
prefects with only "half" 
power, which means they can 
only "fag" men in "hall" or 
" chambers." 

The remaining eight college prefects 
(called in Winchester tongue bluchers) have 
a more limited authority, confined to 
chambers and the quadrangle. — Black- 
woods Edinburgh Magazine. 

Bludgers (thieves\ fellows who do 
not hesitate to use the bludgeon. 

Bludget, a low female thief who 
decoys her victims into alley- 
ways, &c., to rob them (New 
York Slang Dictionary). Bludger 
(English slang), a man who uses 
violence in robbery ; it has pos- 
sibly some connection with the 
old Dutch slang word bollctje, a 
man or master. " Volmaakt, 
bolletje, volmaakt 1 " 

Blue (common). This word en- 
ters into several slang phrases, 
not only English but of other 

To be in "the blues," to have 
a "fit of the blues" (in French 
broycrdu noir), to be afliicted wit h 



' " Uue devils," to drink till " all 
is blue" " to be partial to blue 
ruin," "tolookblue," "tocryblue 
murder," are all familiar phrases 
of ancient origin and modern 
prevalence. * ' Du vin bleu," and 
" petit bleu," are used by the 
French to signify thin, sour, 
unwholesome wine, terms which 
owe their origin to a similar 
association of ideas. 

In some of those with melan- 
choly meanings, there is an 
evident connection between blue 
as a colour, and the idea of 
grief, disappointment. Thus the 
French have the expression, 
"En voir de Ueues," to meet 
with great disappointment, an- 
noyance, sufferings, a variant 
of "En voir de grises." "En 
bailler tout bleu," to be gaping 
with astonishment at some news 
or act which arouses one's in- 
dignation, from the livid hue of 
the face. 

Charles G. Leland makes the 
following remarks : — 

" Blue, English popular slang, 
but somewhat extended in the 
United States. When this word 
is used to denote extremes, as 
' to drink till all is blue,' ' a dyed 
in the wool blue Presbyterian,' 
' true-blue ' in political opinions 
or honesty, it would appear that 
its origin is possibly maritime. 
Mue water was till a recent 
period always described as oil 
or out of soundings, so that, 
like the sky, it suggests no end. 
It is remarkable that in both 
German and Dutch the same 
idea of extremity is connected 

with Uue. An utterly bad, piti- 
ful result in the latter is ' Een 
blauwe uytvlugt.' In the last ex- 
tremity of dead drunkenness, 
or in the swoons of a man in 
the delirium tremer^s, a blue sky 
or atmosphere seems to gather 
round the victim, in which a 
luminous point appears, which 
' seems to come directly at him,' 
as the writer has heard it de- 
scribed. To look blv£ is pro- 
bably derived, like blue-noses, 
from cold, or from approaching 
death, which latter would suffi- 
ciently account for the relation 
of blue to despair, despondency, 
and misery." 

" Now, shendlemens, I sings you a song 
of mine own vot I translade from de Sher- 
man of Schiller " : — 

Dere is an oldt saying, und I peliefe id 

is true. 
Dot ven a man dies his fingers tooirn 

His fingers toom />iue by de light of de 

Und vy shouldn't efery man enjoy his 

own room ? 
Gorus. — Room, poys, room, by de light 

of de moon, 
Und vy shouldn't efery man enjoy his 

own room ? 

— Yale College Song. 

" Blue devils and red monkeys 
are said by the experienced to 
be the characteristic appari- 
tions which haunt drunkards." 

(Common), to talk blue, to 
talk immodestly, or libidinously. 
"A bit of blue," an obscene or 
libidinous anecdote. " A brown 
conversation" and "a brown 
study " is used in the contrary 
sense, and means seriously, 
gravely, and decently. 


Blue — Blue- blazer. 

(Oxford and Cambridge), a 
man is said to get his blue (that 
is, the right to wear the Uni- 
versity colour) when he repre- 
sents his University against 
the rival university, in the an- 
nual boat-race, cricket-match, 
athletic sports, or football 

Blue, blew, to (common), to pawn 
or pledge, to spend or lose one's 
money at gambling, to waste 
money generally. Varied to 
Uew, from the phrase "blown 
in," which refers to money 
that has been spent, as in the 
phrase, " I ' blewed ' all my 
tin." For another derivation 
see Blewed. 

He'd a rooted aversion to everything 
And so innately modest was he 
That he blushed when his optics en- 
countered a view 
Of the broadly cerulean sea. 
He adored modest maidens of charming 
But blue-stockings he'd always eschew. 
And he carried his tastes to the verge of 
the mean — 
He had oof, which he never would 

— Sporting Times. 

" To blew a job," to make a 
mess of a business ; from to 
blow in the sense of make worth- 
less ; (thieves), to bleio, to steal ; 
"Ikwcd of his red 'un," i.e., his 
watch stolen from him. " I've 
been Uewcd of my skin," I've 
been robbed of my purse. 

Blue-apron (common), a Wuc-opron 
statesman. "Alay politician, a 
tradesman who interferes with 

the affairs of the nation. The 
reference is to the blue apron 
once worn by almost all trades- 
men, but now restricted to but- 
chers, poulterers, fishmongers, 
and so on" (Dr. Brewer's Dic- 
tionary of Phrase and Fable). 

Blue bill (Winchester), every 
"man" in " Commoners," that 
is, school, in contradistinction 
to college, has his tradesman's 
bills enclosed in a blue envelope 
given to him by the head-master 
on the last evening of the half, 
after " preces " or prayers, at 
8-45 P.M., in "Mugging Hall." 
(See this word.) 

Blue Billy (popular), the hand- 
kerchief (blue ground with 
white s^DOts) sometimes worn 
and used as a colour at prize- 
fights. Also the refuse ammo- 
niacal lime from gas factories 

Blue blanket (vagrants), explained 
by quotation : — 

The vagabond brotherhood have several 
slang terms for sleeping out in a field or 
meadow. It is called " snoozing in Hedge 
Square," " dossing with the daisies," and 
* ' Ij'ing under the Hue blanket." — J. Green- 
•wood : Under the Blue Blanket. 

The French have the equi- 
valent " Coucher h, I'hotel de 
I'Etoile." (Popular), a large 
rough coat, a pilot coat. 

Blue-blazer (American), a fancy 
drink of sugar, hot water, and 
spirits, but made in a peculiar 

Blue-blazes — Blue murders. 


Blue-blazes (common), helL As 
there is probably no man who 
has ever heard of hell who has 
not been taught to associate it 
with burning sulphur or brim- 
stone, the expression does not 
seem to be so meaningless as 
some writers suppose. (Popular), 
spirituous liquors. 

Blue boar (old cant), the vulgar 
term for a venereal disease. 

Blue-bottle (general), a policeman, 
a constable, termed also a " blue 

The Bobby's big boot, though, is nudging 

her now, 
And she sleepily stutters, " All right ! 

Whatsh th'row?" 
Then the buzz of the blue bottle's borne on 

the breeze — 
" Now move yourself, 'Liza 1 Come, pass 

along, please 1 " 

— Sfiorting Tunes. 

It occurs in Shakspeare in 
the Second Part of King Henry 
IV., where Doll Tearsheet 
calls the beadle " a Uue-iotUe 
rogue." Most etymologists agree 
in ascribing the appellation to 
the colour of a policeman's uni- 
form. The term was formerly 
applied to servants dressed in 
blue liveries. The police force 
is sometimes spoken of as the 
"blues." The old French city 
police were termed by thieves 
les verts, from their green uni- 
forms, and nowadays a French 
rogue will talk of les serins 
(canaries), i.e., gendarmes, with 
yellow facings. The rebel 
chouans called the Republican 

soldiers ha ileus. The Austrians 
and the English were respec- 
tively styled les blancs and 
liabits rouges by French soldiery. 
Again, "blue bellies" was a 
term applied by the Confederate 
soldiery during the CivU War 
to the Federals, on account of 
their blue gaberdines, and the 
latter dubbed their adversaries 
"grey-backs." Many other ex- 
amples might be given in sup- 
port of the above derivation of 

Blue boy (popular), a bubo. 

Blue butter (popular), mercurial 

Blue cheek (popular), explained 
by quotation. 

There were three fashions for whiskers 
when I was a child, and they were vari- 
ously known as dlue cheek, the whisker 
shaved off and leaving the cheek blue ; 
" bacca pipe," the whisker curled in tiny 
ringlets) ; and " touzle," or whisker worn 
bushy. — /. Greenwood : Outcasts of 

Blue flag (popular), a blue apron 
worn by butchers, greengrocers, 
&c. "He has hoisted the blue 


Blue funk (English and Ameri- 
can), extreme fright. 

It put me in a regular blue funk. — 

Blue moon (proverbial), an unde- 
fined period, used in the phrase, 
" Once in a blue moon." 

Blue murders (popular), a great 
and unusual noise. To call blue 


Blue noses — Blue ruin. 

murders, to call out loudly. " If 
you hit me again I'll call out 
blue murders." 

Blue noses (Americanism), 
natives of Nova Scotia. 

" Pray, sir," said one of my fellow-pas- 
sengers, "can _you tell me the reason why 
the Nova Scotians are called bliu noses ? " 
" It is the name of a potato," said I, 
" which they produce in the greatest per- 
fection, and boast to be the best in the 
world. The Americans have in conse- 
quence given them the nickname of Hue 
noses." — Haliburton : Sam Slick. 

Blue peter (nautical), the signal 
for sailing when hoisted at the 
foretop mast-head. This well- 
known flag has a blue ground 
with a white square in the 
centre (Admiral Smyth). 

The blue peter has long been flying at 
my foremast, and . . . now I must soon 
expect the signal for sailing. — Justin 
McCarthy : A History of Our Ozvn 

This expression is also ap- 
plied to the call for trumps 
in whist. 

Blue pigeon (thieves), the lead 
on roofs ; to fly or shoot the 
hlue pigeon, to steal lead off 
the roofs of buildings. (Nauti- 
cal), a nickname for the sound- 
ing lead. 

Blue pill (American), a bullet. 
Lead has long been termed bluey 
in England, and death by a 
bullet blue murder, but the 
enormous consumption of hlue 
fills or calomel in the United 
States renders it possible that 
the simile originated there. 

. . . That if he did so he would be re- 
ceived with a welcome from a horse-pistol. 
To which the answer was, " Hev got a 
mountain howitzer witch karrys a fore- 
pound (4 lb.) ball, and I intend to blow 
you and your house to hel before I begin 
on your turkers. So come on with your 
pistil and blue pil. — Knickerbocker Maga- 

Blue plumbs (thieves), bullets. 

No rapture can equal the tobyman's joys. 
To blue devils blue plumbs give the 

— Ainsworih: Rookwood. 

Blue ribbon (racing), the term is 
only applied to the Derby. 

Melton, who won the blue ribbon after 
one of the most exciting finishes. — Illus- 
trated London News. 

Blue ruin (popular), gin of inferior 
quality. Termed also "blue 
His ear caught the sound of the word 

viorbleu > 
Pronounced by the old woman under her 

breath ; 
Now, not knowing what she could mean by 

blue death. 
He conceived she referred to a delicate 

Which is almost synonymous, namely, 
blue ruin- 

— In^oldsby Legends. 

A tumbler of blue ruin fill, fill for me 1 
Red tape those as likes it may drain, 
I5ut whatever the lush, it a bumper must 

— Lord Lytton : Paul Clifford. 

Dr. Brewer gives the explana- 
tion: "Blue, from its tint, and 
ruin, from Its effects." Compare 
as regards similes of colour "red 
tape," red wine ; " petit bleu," 
coarse red wine; " une verte" 
or " i^rroquet," a glass of ab- 
sinthe (which is green); "une 
brune," a glass of porter ; " une 

Blue ruin — Blujff. 


blonde," a glass of ale; "une 
jaune," a dram of brandy ; 
"une dame blanche," a bottle 
of white wine; "pi vols sa- 
vonn^," white wine; "nd- 
gresse," bottle of red wine. 
And with respect to pernicious 
effects, " breaky leg," strong 
drink ; " eau-de-mort, casse- 
poitrine, tord-boyaux," rank 
brandy. The term blue ruin 
must have been coined by 
sober people, or by repentant 
drunkards, whilst those other- 
wise inclined gave it the fond 
appellation of "white velvet," 
or "white satin," unconsciously 
imitated by French dram-drink- 
ers, when, after having tossed 
off some horrible stuff in an 
assommoir, they fervently ejacu- 
late, " C'est un velours, quoi I " 

Blues (common), the Royal Horse 
Guards ; the Bluecoat school ; 

. the crews of the 'Varsity boat 
race — the dark blues being the 
Oxford men, and the light Uucs 
those from Cambridge; the 
police force. 

Well, what's the row . . , 

Or whether this here mobbing, as some 

longish heads foretell it, 
Will grow to such a riot that the Oxford 

Hues must quell it ? 

— Hood Row at the Oxford Amis. 

(Society), "a fit of the blues" 
means a fit of depression ; it 
is abbreviated from the "blue 
devils," which are supposed to 
appear to a man suffering from 
delirium tremens. 

She had attracted him for a while, but 
his strong good common sense, as well as 

his strong healthy body and robust habits, 
soon carried him out of the blues he had 
for a while fallen into. — Lucy Farmer; 
or, Chronicles ofCardew Manor. 

Blue skin (West Indian), the 
child of a black woman by a 
white man. The name of a 
mulatto, one of the characters of 
Ainsworth's " Jack Sheppard." 

Blue squadron, one of the (East 
Indian), a person having a cross 
of the Indian breed. 

Blue the screw, to (popular), to 
spend one's salary. 

He buys her gloves and dresses new. 
And stands her dinners down at Kew ; 
In fact on her blues all his screw. 
Which some day he will sadly rue. 
— The Gaiety Masher: Broadside. 

Bluey (thieves), lead. (Austra- 
lian), a bushman's bundle, the 
outside wrapper of which is 
generally a blue blanket 

Bluff, to (American, low), to put 
down by a bold front, to oppose 
by "cheek" or effrontery. 

I did not care if it took me a week ; I 
was not going to be bluffed by them. — 
North of England Advertiser. 

German, bluff en. The eleventh 
commandment among thieves 
in Germany is " Da sollst 
Dich nicht verbluffen lassen " — 
" Don't let yourself be Uuffed." 
Dutch blufferd, a snarling fel- 
low ; bloffen, to bark at. Also 
Dutch, verbluffen, to put out of 
countenance, to face down. 

(Patterers' slang), an excuse, 
a pretence. 


Bluffer — Boarding school. 

There is a strong suspicion among men 
whose heads are level that the minstrel 
variety performance is a blujff' of the 
" messenger " to keep from the public the 
real motives of the murders. — Bret Harte: 
Gabriel Conroy. 

Bluffer (provincial), an innkeeper, 
or landlord of a public-house. 
(Nautical), a boatswain of a ship. 

Bluifingf (American, cards), betting 
high on poor cards at poker, 
in the hopes of frightening the 
other players into going out, 
A crafty player wiU often allow 
himself to be called for a 
small Um§, so as to establish 
a reputation for doing it, in 
order to lie by and win a good 
stake when he has a really 
good hand, on which he has 
thus induced his antagonists to 
suppose that he is bluffing. The 
English equivalent for this term 
is "bragging." 

Blunderbuss (popular), a stupid, 
blundering f eUow. 

Blunt (thieves), money. 

When the slow coach paused, and the 
gemmen storm'd, 
I bore the brunt — 
And the only sound which my grave lips 
Was 3/««/— still blunt I 
—Lord Lytton : Paul Clifford. 

" Take care of your watches, gentle- 
men 1" said the polite policeman, endea- 
vouring to divide the mob. 

" Take care of your /Hunt, you devils ! " 
yelled the gallant Primrose Leaguer, who 
had come to see the fun. — Bird o' Free- 

By some the word is derived 
from Mr. John Ijlunt, the 

chairman of the South Sea 
Company, the famous bubble by 
which a few fortunes were won, 
and many fortunes were lost, in 
1720. By others it is thought 
that the word originated in the 
French Uond. But hlunt (some- 
times varied to the hlunt) is 
more probably derived, as the 
latter appellation implies, from 
an allusion to the blunt rim of 
coins or to their hardness, as in 
the phrase " hard cash," " soft " 
being bank notes, and " stiffs " 
cheques or bills. 

Blunted (popular, and thieves), 
possessed of money. 

Bly-hunka (tinker), a horse. 

B. N. C., Brasenose College, Ox- 

Board, to (military), to borrow. 

Board him (nautical), a col- 
loquialism for I'll ask, demand, 
or accost him (Admiral Smyth). 
Shakspeare makes Polonius say 
of Hamlet : — 

" I'll board him presently." 

To "board him in the smoke," 
means to take a person by sur- 
prise, from the simile of firing a 
broadside and taking advantage 
of the smoke to board. 

Boardings school (old cant), the 
name given by thieves and 
similar characters to Newgate 
or any other prison. "To go 
to boardiny school " was to go 
to gaol. French thieves call a 

Boat — Bobachee. 


prison "pal" "un aminche de 

Boat (thieves), originally to trans- 
port, the term is now applied 
to penal servitude. To "get 
the hoaf^ or to "be boated" is 
to be sentenced to a long term 
of imprisonment equivalent to 
transportation under the old 
system (Hotten). To boat with 
one is to be a partner in some 
crime, to be an accomplice. 

" Does he ioai with you?" " Yes, and 
he's an artist. Only last night, down at 
the Albany break-up, he buzzed a bloke 
and a shakester of a reader." — On the 

(Military), a good boat is a 
soldier who spends his money 
freely with his poorer comrades. 

Bob (general), a shilling. Origin 
unknown. Perhaps from a 
simile in allusion to the meaning 
of bob, formerly bait for fish, the 
coin being looked upon in the 
light of a bribe. " Bobstick," 
old slang for a shilling, would 
in that case be the fishing-rod. 
Compare with "palm-oil," both 
money and bribe, and the French 
slang huilc de mains, same mean- 
ing. Also with (jraisse, money, 
from the phrase "graisser 
la patte," to bribe. It is 
curious to note that hob is a 
blow, and "blow" slang for a 

The jolliest fellow you ever met 

Is a dismal man at home ; 
The wittiest girl in society's set 

Will with headaches her wit atone. 
The man whose graces a court would 

Is tied to a desk from night till mom ; 
And the man who would lend his last 
bob to a friend 
Never has the first bob to lend. 

— Bird o' Freedom. 

(Popular), bob! stopl the re- 
sponse to the request "say 
when," while spirits are being 
poured into one's glass. 

" Bob a nob," a shilling a head. 

Bob, in old slang, signified a 
shoplifter's assistant, to whom 
the stolen goods were passed, 
and who carried them away. 
" All is bob," i.e., all is safe. 
From a Cornwall term bob, 
pleasant, agreeable. A variant 
of "aU gay," and "aU serene." 
" To shift one's bob," to go away. 

(Public schools), " dry bob," 
a boy who devotes himself to 
cricket or football, or any other 
games on "dry land," in oppo- 
sition to "wet bob," one who 
gives himself up to boating. 

The friendly rivalry between England 
and America led some while ago to a con- 
test between the " wet bobs," to use an 
Eton phrase, of either country, and it was 
only fair that the "dry bobs" should show 
what they could do. — T. Ogilvie : Im- 
perial Dictionary of the English Lan- 

"Dry 606 " also refers to fruitless 


Resolved to win, like Hercules, the 

prize . . . 
The cheating jilt, at the twelfth, a dry 
bah cries. 

— Earl 0/ Rochester s Works, 

Bob my pal (rhyming slang), a 
"gal," girl. 

Bobachee (Anglo-Indian), a cook; 
a vulgar or slang form of 6<*- 


Bobber — Bobbish. 

warcki, a high dignitary at the 
Mongol court, a taster and 
carver to some great man. 
Bobbachy canvah, cook-house. — 
A n^lo- Indian Olossai-y. 

Bobber (popular), a fellow-work- 
man, mate. Also a variant of 
"bob," as in the phrase "two 
bobber," a florin. 

So down I gets and finds a two bobber. 
My mate gives me the wink, but the slavey's 
on the job, so 1 say, " Oh, miss, if I ain't 
found a two bobber," — Sporting Times. 

Bobbery (Anglo- Indian). This 
word comes from the East, but 
its origin is doubtful. The 
authors of the " Anglo-Indian 
Glossary " declare that it is com- 
mon for Hindus when in surprise 
or grief to exclaim, Bapre ! 
or Bapre bap ! " Oh, Fathers 1" 
This is imitated in Anglo-Indian 
by Bobbery Bob / Ladies in the 
United States also sometimes 
exclaim, "Fathers!" with or 
without " merciful," or " good " 
as a prefix. Bobbery generally 
signifies a row, a disturbance. 
It is even more common as 
"bobbely" in pidgin English, 
but it is very doubtful indeed 
whether it originated, as some 
think, in the Cantonese pa-pi, a 
I'll bet a wager there'll be a bobbery in 

the pigsty before long. — Marryat: Peter 


It also means in India " pack," 
a pack of hounds or dogs of all 
kinds without distinction. 

What a C.ibinet has put together — 
a regular bobbery^jn:)s..— Anglo-Indian 

Bobbin (common), " That's the 
end of the bobbin." A phrase 
equivalent to saying, "That's the 
end of it," when all the thread 
is wound ofE a bobbin or spool. 
The French say "etre au bout 
de son rouleau." (American), 
bobbin' around, a slang phrase 
meaning going about, here and 
there, casually. It rose from 
the refrain of a song which was 
popular in 18150. In another 
lyric the following allusion was 
made to a report that the King 
of Belgium had proposed mar- 
riage to Miss Burdett-Coutts 
and been rejected. 

So the King of the Belgines went in and 
got sold 

When he hoped for a fortune in silver and 

Which shows that great mon-i-archs some- 
times are found 

Runnin' after rich ladies and bobbin 

If I ketch him bobbin' round arter our 
Nancy here agin, I'll just set the dorgs on 
him — though I don't believe a decent dorg 
would want to bite such an everlasting 
slink as he is. — Sunday Paper. 

Bobbing armind is evidently 
a variation on " bobbing up and 
down," rising and falling, here 
and there, like a fisherman's 
bob in the water. 

Bobbing (public schools), " dry 
bobbing " applies to all sports on 
terra firma, and " wet bobbing" 
to aquatics. ^ 

Bobbish (common), smart, spruce, 
or in good order, fair. From 
a Cornwall term bob, pleasant, 

Bobbles — Bobtail, 


"'Ow are yer, pretty iodSisA?" "I'm 
much as usual, thankee." — Punch. 

Bobbles (popular), the testicles. 
From the s^me word signifying 
in Cornwall, stones, pebbles. 

Bobby (general), a policeman ; 
otherwise " peeler, cop, or 
copper, blue-bottle, pig, reeler, 
crusher, frog, fly-cop," &c. 

The cook, she, when 
The bobby's on his beat, 

Oft Ughtens master's larder 
Of the pudding and the meat. 

" If you want a thing done, you should 
do it yourself," 
Is an excellent maxim, no doubt in its 
way ; 
But, when citizens willingly part with their 
They're entitled to claim some return 
for their pay. 
Bull does not pay Bobbies to lounge on 
their beats, 
And leave him at last to look after his 

— Punch. 

Some thirty years ago the 
man in blue (journalistic) was 
stiU sometimes called " hohiy 
peeler," a fact which bears out 
the generally admitted origin 
of hohhy from Sir Robert Peel, 
to whom the establishment of 
the force was due, in 1829, and 
who replaced the old " Charlies " 
(so called from Charles I., in 
whose reign the system was 
reorganised), who then acted 
as constables and night- watchers 
in the metropolis. According 
to Hotten, the ollicial square- 
keeper, who is always armed 
with a cane to drive away idle 

and disorderly urchins, has, 
time out of mind, been caUed 
by the same urchins, " bobby the 

Bobby twister (thieves' slang), a 
burglar who would hesitate at 
nothing, even to shooting any 
policeman who might be endea- 
vouring to capture him. A 
noted bobby twister was the fa- 
mous burglar Peace, whose diur- 
nal avocations were certainly 
in keeping with his name, as he 
was considered a highly respect- 
able citizen. He was, or pre- 
tended to be, a teetotaller, and, 
it is said, a member of the 
Salvation Army. His respecta- 
bihty ended on the gallows. 

Bob-cull (thieves), good fellow. 

"Where be you going, you imp of the 
world?" cried the dame. "Get in with 
you, and say no more on the matter ; be a 
bob-cull — drop the bullies, and you shall 
have the blunt ! " — Lytton : Paul ClifforcU 

Bob is a provincial term, sig- 
nifying pleasant, agreeable. 

Bobs (schools), huge beer jugs. 

Only those "juniors" attended whose 
office it was to bring away the portions of 
bread and cheese and bobs of beer for con- 
sumption in the afternoon. — T, A. Trollopt: 
What I Remember. 

Bobstick (old), a shilling. 


Bobtail (old slang), a licentious, 
immodest woman of the very 
lowest character. One who ex- 
posed her person in public. Also 
an impotent debaiiclice. 


Bob White — Bogey. 

Bob White (American), a popular 
but not a slang name for the 
quail, whose notes are supposed 
to resemble the words Bob — 
White, with a pause between the 
two words and a strong accent 
on the miite. It is just two- 
thirds of the song of the whip- 

The American fanner has watched his 
birds through the cycle of the year ; has 
listened to the "Ah Bob White! ah Bob 
IVhite ! " that with the fall of the apple- 
blossoms begins to fill the air. — Mac- 
millans Magazine. 

Bodier (pugilistic), a blow on the 
sides of the body, otherwise 
known as a " rib-roaster." 

Bodkin (common), an old word 
still in use, with the sense of 
dirk, dagger. (Sporting), a per- 
son who takes his turn between 
the sheets on a night when the 
hotel has twice as many visitors 
as it can comfortably lodge 
(Hotten's Dictionary). (Com- 
mon), to " ride bodkin" any one 
sitting between two others in a 
carriage, is said to "ride bod- 

Then he called a hansom, and expressing 
his willingness to " be ihebodkin " {Anglice, 
ride in the middle), ordered the jehu to 
drive to Middlesex Street. — Sporting 

Body-slangs (thieves' cant), fet- 
ters for the body. 

Budy-slangs are of two kinds. 
Each consists of a heavy iron 
rint^ to go round the waist, to 
which are attached in one case 
two bars or heavy chains, con- 
nected with the fetters round 

the ankles, in the other case a 
link at each side attached to a 
handcuff. Into these the wrists 
are locked, and thus held down 
to the prisoner's sides. The 
latter are now only to be found 
in museums. — Vaux. 

Body snatcher (old), a bailiff or 
runner ; a violator of the grave ; 
an undertaker. 

Bog (prison), the farm works at 
Dartmoor where much land has 
been reclaimed. Bog gang, the 
party of convicts detailed for 
this work. (Common), a privy. 
Originally printers' slang, but 
now very common. "To bog," 
to ease oneself. (Tinker), see 


Bogey, often called bug-aboo, a 
word existing in different forms 
in many languages. As both 
God and Devil may be found in 
Deus, Uevas, divine, Diabolua 
and the gypsy Duvel or Bevlia 
(both meaning God only), so we 
have the divinity as Bog in 
Eussian, and in the Celtic bug, 
a spirit or spectre, while in 
English bugge or bug is in two 
senses a terror, as the famous 
Bugge Bible and Spenser's 
" Faerie Queene " bear witness. 
The bogey or bug-aboo is an 
imaginary horror or monster 
with which vulgar, wicked, or 
foolish people were, and perhaps 
still are, accustomed to frighten 
children at night. It is probable 
that aboo is the common old 
Irish war-cry, which was said 

Bogey — Bogus. 


to be so terrifying that it was 
formeriy prohibited by law. 
This 0600 was well-known and 
much talked of during the time 
of Elizabeth. On August 2, 
1887, Mr. Courtney in Pariia- 
ment invented a new form of 
the word. 

Mr. Courtney, though a partisan of the 
undertaking, urged that a division should 
be taken at once to save time. He de- 
scribed the speech of Baron H. de Worms 
as a combination oibogeyism and fogeyism. 
(A laugh.) Mr. W. H. Smith and Mr. J. 
Morley joined in the appeal to close the 
discussion. — Saint James's Gazette. 

(Common), one's landlord, 
called by the French "Mon- 
sieur Vautour." (Studios), a 
painting is said to be hogey when 
sombre tints predominate. 

Bogh (tinker), to get, hold, make 
work. This appears to be a very 
general sort of a verb. 

Bog oranges (common), potatoes, 
from the fact that potatoes form 
the chief diet of Irish peasants. 

Bog-trotter (now recognised), an 
Irish peasant. " Bog-trotting," 
applied to an Emeralder, or to 
any one who lives among marshy 

The impudent bog-trotting scamp dare 
not threaten me ! — Thackeray : Pendennis. 

Bogue, to (American), to apply 
one's self very earnestly, to make 
every effort. " I don't git much 
done without I hogue right in 
along with the men" (Bartlett), 
Jjoege, a bow, or a course in 
Dutch, is used exactly in this 

sense, as "het over alia bogen 
wenden," to try everything, to 
leave no stone unturned. Also 
in Dutch bogen, to pride one's 
self on employing energy in 

Bog^s (American), anything like 
a sham, a fraud, a counterfeit, 
or a humbug. Bogus money, 
bogus banks, &c. 

One of the bogus petitions in favour of 
the coal and wine dues unearthed by Mr. 
Bradlaugh is purported to be signed by 
no less than thirteen racehorses I — Funny 

The story which derives the 
name from one Borghese, who 
a generation ago flooded the 
West with counterfeit money, 
is, like most American deriva- 
tive stories given in news- 
papers, extremely doubtful. As 
soon as an expression becomes 
popular, ingenious artists in 
literary superclieries at once 
manufacture for it a history. 
Bogus is from a cant term ap- 
pUed to counterfeit coin. This 
word is widely current in the 
United States, whence it has 
been recently imported by Eng- 
lish newspaper writers. Among 
the tinklers or tinkers, a kind 
of Scottish gypsies, bogus means 
counterfeit coin, from bogh, to 
make, and the Romany termi- 
nation us. Wilson declares that 
there are numbers of these tin- 
kers in America. Dr. C. Mackay 
is of opinion that it was intro- 
duced in America by Irish immi- 
grants from boc, pronounced 
hoke, deceit, fraud. 


Bohn — Bolt. 

Bohn (Yale College), a transla- 
tion, or a pony from Bohn, the 
name of well-known London 
publishers, who issued a series 
of translations of the Classics, 
the use of these becoming very 
common in the States ; a Bohn 
was generally adopted as a 
name for a translation. 

'Twas plenty of skin with a good deal of 

— Songs o/the Jttinlee: Yale College 

Boiled shirt (Australian diggers) 
a clean shirt or " clean biled 
rag," as Mark Twain puts it, 
boiling being a primitive way of 
washing shirts. 

John rode home with a depressed mind. 
As he passed the public-house which had 
proved the lion in the old man's path, he 
saw the publican, a bloated, greasy-faced 
man, a villainous low forehead, and a 
prize-fighting look, walking up and down 
the verandah in a boiled skirt. — A. C. 

Boiler-plated (American) origi- 
nated in iron-clad. Utterly im- 
penetrable, irresistible, not to 
be affected. 

He gave me a look of boiler-plated re- 
proach, clapped on his hat, and was off with- 
out another word. — Mr. and Mrs. Bowser. 

Boilers (Royal Military Academy), 
boiled potatoes as opposed to 
"greasers," fried potatoes. 

Boilings or biling (common), the 
" whole boiling," the whole 
, party, or entire quantity. 

The last mile, he said, tho' the shortest 
one of the whole bilin', took the longest to 
do it in by a jug full.— .Saw SlicA : The 

A phrase probably derived 
from the kitchen, and a stew 
or broth of many ingredients. 
It is a phrase more common 
among Irish than among English 
or Scotch people, though not 
wholly unknown to either. The 
Irish pronounciation is " biling " 
or " bilin'." The term is exten- 
sively used in America, and is 
sometimes varied to the " whole 
gridiron of them," applied to a 
party. The latter is Irish. 

Boilum tea (pidgin), to boil tea. 

Blongy my dis tim boilum you tea, 
mumpa one first chop /itee-Jitee ! (quick !) 

Talkee dat sa-van (servant) he is savvy 
how boilum tea. — Pidgin Talkee. 

Boko (common), a nose. 

An expert in nazography declares that a 
pale nose usually belongs to the selfish, 
cold-hearted man; whilst the highly- 
coloured boko is characteristic of the san- 
guine temperament usually possessed by 
the man who is hopeful that a free drink 
is looming in the distance. — Fun. 

Originally a large nose, pos- 
sibly from beak, old slang for a 
nose, or from the old English 
boche, bake, a swelling. 

Boler, bowler (Winchester), stiff 
felt hat or pot hat. 

Bolly (Marlborough) is used by 
the pupils with the significa- 
tion of pudding. 

Bolt, to (colloquial), to make a 
sudden and rajjid movement, for 
haste, alarm, jjcrplcxity, or other 
cause of expedition. To bolt one's 
food is to swallow without mas- 

Bolt — Bonanza. 


tication ; to holt is to run away, 
to decamp, to disappear. The 
term, according to Grose, is bor- 
rowed from the rabbit-warren, 
because the rabbits hoU when a 
ferret enters into their burrows. 
But the derivation is probably 
from holt, the ancient and not yet 
obsolete word for an arrow, as in 
the current proverb " a fool's 
bolt is soon shot," so that to 
holt is to move as swiftly as 
an arrow. (Prison), "getting 
the holt" being sentenced to 
penal servitude. 

" Long Bill expects bolt " informs the 
sympathetic or rejoicing reader that one 

William expects to be sentenced to 

penal servitude. — Rev. J. W. Horsley : 
Jottings from Jail. ._ 

Bolted (nautical), " I've been 
through the mill, ground and 
halted." That is, " You can't 
gammon me ; I'm too old a bird 
to be caught with chaff." Bolted 
in this case signifies sifted. 

Bolt -in -tun (London thieves), 
bolted, run away, got away, 
one of the puns that cant and 
slang are so fond of. Cf. " Cob- 
bler," " Billiard slum," &c. 

Vaux in his Memoirs says : — 
"A term founded on the cant 
word ' bolt,' and merely a fan- 
ciful variation very common 
among flash persons, there being 
in London a famous inn so 
called. It is customary when 
a man has run away from his 
lodgings, broken out of jail, or 
made any other sudden move- 
ment, to say 'the IMt-in-tan is 
concerned,' or ' he's gone to the 

Bolt-in-tun' instead of simply 
saying, * he has bolted,' " &c. 

Bolt the moon, to (common), to 
cheat the landlord by taking 
away goods or furniture with- 
out paying the rent ; literally to 
extinguish the moon and take 
advantage of the darkness thus 
produced. ' ' To shoot the moon ' ' 
is more common. 

Bolus (common), an apothecary. 

Bombay duck (Anglo-Indian), a 
small fish called the bummelo 
or bumbalow, which is caught 
on the Indian coasts. When 
dried it forms the well-known 
Bombay ducks, seen so frequently 
among grocers' delicacies in 

Bombo (nautical), weak, cold 

Bona (theatrical), good, varied to 

" rumbo." 

Bonanza (American), a Spanish 
word, originally applied to pro- 
fit, benefit. A profitable silver 
mine or a share in it is a bon- 
anza. Now applied generally 
to money. 

At last the train came, and the guard 
on the train handed me a heavily-sealed 
envelope, remarking as he did so — 

" IjC careful of that, Branthwaite. 
There's a bonanza in that package if it 
were yours or mine." 

" Money?' I asked. 

"Yes; twenty thousand dollars." — 
American Story. 

But a bonanza with millions in it is not 
struck every week. — Scribner's Monthly. 


Bonos — Boned. 

Bonas (popular), belles. The 
difference between donnas and 
lonas is thus stated in a music- 
haU ballad :— 

Girls are in vulgar called donnas, 
Some are called Miss and some Mrs. ; 
The best of them all are called bonas, 
The whole jolly lot's fond of kisses. 

— Broadside : O Fred, don't be so 

Bonce (varions), the head, called 
also "crust, chump." From 
honct, a marble of larger size 
than ordinary, used by boys. 
The French slang for head, 
hiUe, literally a marble, bears 
out this derivation. 

Bone (American), a fee ; to J«m«, 
to pay a fee, or rather bribe, 
called hone, at the custom- 
house to induce the officials not 
to examine passengers' luggage, 
or to let it off lightly. From 
the slang hone, derived either 
from the French hon, or, as 
Murray suggests, from the 
middle English hoon. This 
word is used with the sense 
of good by English v^abonds. 
<^, their hieroglyphic for the 
word, chalked by them on houses 
and street corners as a hint to 
succeeding beggars. 

(Masonic), a corruption of the 
Hebrew word for builder, 

(Common), to hone, to steal, 
to pilfer, to purloin. Probably 
derived from hon, good, or, by 
extension of meaning, to seize 
on a good thing. 

The while within the pocket of her gown 
Childe Alice deftly placed the purse she'd 

Alas ! its contents were not worth a 
" brown ; " 
His winnings all were "stumers," and 

she groaned. 
" The world is too much with us ! " poor 
Childe Alice moaned. 

— Bird of Freedom. 

This word, according to the 
Glossary of Cant in Bampfyled 
Moore Carew, also signifies to 
apprehend, to arrest, to take 
into custody, to " nab." Com- 
pare with the French cant 
phrase " etre le bon," which has 
the same meaning. 

(American cadets), to study 
hard ; possibly a playful allu- 
sion to the more universal slang 
meaning of the verb "to hone," 
the meaning of course being to 
convey the idea of acquiring 
knowledge by force — an ap- 
propriate reading of the word 
for the cadets of West Point — 
but more probably from Bohn's 
translations. For other deriva- 
tion, see BoONDER. 

Bone box (old slang), the mouth ; 
the teeth are now called the 
" ivories." 

Bone-crusher (South African), a 
heavy bore rifle for killing big 

African game require hone<rushers ; 
for any ordinary carbine possesses suffi- 
cient penetrative quality, yet has not the 
disabling quality which a gun must possess 
to be useful in the hands of an African 
explorer. — H. Stanley : How I found 

Boned (thieves), taken into cus- 
tody. To hone is to take what 
does not belong to one. There 
is therefore a world of dry 

Boned — Bone shave. 


humour in the thief saying that 
he has been boned or stolen by 
the poKceman when taken into 

Tell us how you was boned, signifies tell 
us the story of your apprehension, a com- 
mon request among fellow-prisoners in a 
jail, which is readily complied with as a 
rule ; and the various circumstances therein 
related afford present amusement and also 
useful hints for regulating their future 
operations, so as to avoid the like mis- 
fortune. — Vaux. 

Bone-grubber (common), a person 
who hunts for bones in dust- 
holes, or any spot where refuse 
is thrown. 

The ione-£T>*iier und the mud-lark differ 
little in their pursuits. — Mayhew : London 
Labour and the London Poor. 

The term was also applied to 
a resurrectionist. Cobbett was 
therefore called a bone-grubber 
because he brought the remains 
of Tom Paine from America 

Bone-lazy (common), excessively 
or hopelessly lazy. 

Boneless, a ghost, a shadowy and 
impalpable spectre or appari- 

Bone muscle, to (American 
cadets), to frequent the gymna- 
sium ; frequently to take exer- 
cise there. 

Bone-picker (common), a foot- 

Boner (Winchester), a blow given 
with the fist on the lowest 

Bones (medical), the bones of the 
human skull. " Do you know 
your bones ? " i.e., are you fami- 
liar with the anatomy of the 
human skeleton. (Stock Ex- 
change), Wickens, Pease & Co.'s 

So now we shall soon have our " crackers," 

And likely enough our " cheroots," 
While our bones can be sent to the 
" knackers," 
And then we have sweet " Sarah's 

— At kin : House Scraps. 

(Common), to rattle the hma, 
to play at dice. 

Bone setter (old), a hard or fast 
trotting horse. 

Bone shaker (common), a name 
given to the old - fashioned 
bicycle, which was a clumsy 
wood machine, and was super- 
seded by the spider steel ma- 
chine, which is now being 
superseded in its turn by the 
smaller "Safety." 

Bone shave, the sciatica or rheu- 
matic gout in the sciatic nerve. 
According to Mr. Thomas Wright 
in his Archaic Dictionary, the 
peasantry of Exmorehadacharm 
for the supposed cure or relief 
of this malady, consisting in the 
repetition of the following dog- 
gerel lines as the patient lay on 
his back on the brink of a brook 
or river, with a staff by his side 
between him and the water. 
Bone shave right, 
Bone shave straight. 

As the water runs by the stone 

Good for bone shave. 


Bone standing — Bono. 

Bone standing (American cadet), 
to hone standing, to study hard 
for a class position (0. E. 
Wood : United States Army). 

Bong (Australian blackfellows' 
lingo), dead. This word is a 
specimen of the pidgin-English, 
stuffed with native words, in 
which intercourse is carried on 
with the blacks on stations. 

" Yohi," said the boy, still sitting on his 
horse, "altogether bcmg" (dead), "one 
fellow bail bong" (one not dead). "Which 
one bail bong ? " demanded John in terror. 
" Missis bail bong ony, cawbawn frighten " 
(Missis not dead, only dreadfully fright- 
ened). — A. C. Grant: Bush Life in 

Bonger, banger (gypsy), to bend, 
bow, duck, dodge, to twist or 
turn ; bongo, bent, turned, un- 
willing, sinister, crooked, evil, 
distorted, awry. " O bongo 
yakk" — "The evil eye." "0 
bongo wast " — " The left hand." 
"A bongo zi" (or sec) — "A 
crooked, evil heart." " bongo 
rikk o' the drom" — "The left- 
hand side of the road." 

Boning (American cadets), boning 
the adjutant, a violent or immo- 
derate assumption of a military 
air or bearing ; a swaggering 
military fillibuster ; a Bombastes 
Furioso. Boning demerit, said 
of a cadet who avoids giving 
cause for being reported to the 
authorities (O. E. Wood : United 
states Army). 

Bonnet (thieves), a pretext or 
pretence. Vau.x defines it thus : 

— " A concealment, a pretext, a 
pretence, an ostensible manner 
of accounting for what you 
really wish to conceal ; as a 
man who lives by depredation, 
will still outwardly follow some 
honest employment, as a clerk, 
porter, newsman." One who 
metaphorically bonnets or blinds 
other people; a bonnet or bon- 
neter is also a sham bidder at 
auctions ; a confederate in 
thimblerig or three cards ; one 
who pretends to buy of a crocus 
pitcher or street medicine ven- 
dor so as to entice purchasers. 
In French, bonnetcur is one who 
is profuse of compliments and 
bows ; hence a swindler who 
tries to wheedle people out of 
their money ; also a three-card 
trick sharper. To bonnet for a 
person, is to corroborate any 
assertion he has made, or to re- 
late facts in the most favourable 
light, in order to extricate him 
from a dilemma, or to further 
any object he has in view. 

(Common), to smash a man's 
hat over his face, a favourite 
amusement of London roughs. 

Two young men who . . . varied their 
amusements by bonneii'ig the proprietor 
of this itinerant coffee-house. — Dickens : 

Bonneter (thieves), a crushing 
blow on the hat. 

Bonnets so blue (rhyming slang), 
Irish stew. 

Bono, good. (East), bono Johnny, 
an Englishman. 

Booby-hutch — Book-form. 


Booby-hutch (thieves), the police- 

Booby-trap (Winchester), the door 
of a room is left open, and on 
the top are placed some big books 
and a wet sponge, so that when 
it is pushed the whole falls on 
the head of whoever opens it. 
This time-honoured species of 
practical joking is not confined 
to Winchester. 

Books were closed, hooby-traps scattered, 
sofa-pillows restored to their legitimate 
places. — Chambers's Journal. 

Boodgeree (Australian bush 
slang), a blackfellow's word 
for "good," incorporated into 
the slang of the white. Used 
principally in the pidgin-Eng- 
lish, in which the whites carry 
on their conversation with the 
blacks. A very common word. 

What was his fate then might be mine 
in a few minutes. I determined to keep 
still and wait for what might turn up. 
Presently I heard bushes rustling some 
distance behind, and the voice of a black- 
fellow, uttering in that strange tone in 
which the wild savage first pronounces 
English words — boodgeree (white fellow, 
good, good white fellow). — A. C. Grant: 
Bush Life in Queensland. 

Boodle (American), booty, profit, 
perquisites, plunder. Commonly 
used with regard to government 
transactions, contracts, &c., by 
which the public are cheated. 

'Twas Yankee doodle once I swore, 
But it is Yankee boodle now. 

— American Paper. 

This word in the United States 
is applied among thieves only to 
counterfeit or bad money. The 

hoodie carrier is the man who 
carries the counterfeit or 
" queer," while the shover passes 
it off. " At the first sign 
of trouble the hoodie carrier 
vanishes, leaving nothing to 
criminate his com-rogue " (New 
York Slang Dictionary). 

(American political), hoodie 
explained by quotation. 

In the States the money used for elec- 
tioneering purposes is known as boodle, 
"sinews of war," and "living issues." — 
Cornhill Magazine. 

Boodle has also the signification 
of property, wealth; unques- 
tionably from the Dutch hoedel, 
household stuff. Also an estate 
left by persons deceased. (Popu- 
lar), a stupid noodle (Murray). 

Book (literary), the libretto of an 

This piece will be followed by a new 
comic opera called "Compere Guillerj-," 
by H. Perry, the book being by Messrs. 
Julian Perry and Paul Burani. — Sporting 


(Turf), an arrangement of 
bets against certain horses 
marked in a pocket-book made 
for that purpose. "Making a hoolc 
upon it," is a common phrase 
that a man is prepared to lay 
the odds against the horses in a 
race. " That does not suit my 
hook," i.e., does not accord with 
my other arrangements (Hotten). 

Booked (common), disposed of, 

Book-form (turf), the relative 
powers of speed or endurance 
of race-horses as gauged by the 

1 62 

Bookies — Boomali. 

"book," i.e., the published re- 
cord in the calendar of races past. 

Bookies (turf), the bookmakers. 

The bookies came down like wolves on the 

To try and secure all the " Jubilee " gold. 
Some plumped for St. Mirin, but wrongly 

had reckoned, 
For Annaraite won, and the " Saint " was 

but second. — Turf. 

Past Epsom's Spring, again we try 

Our luck with bookies and with horses 
On yet another field, where lie 
The mysteries of the Guineas' courses. 
— Bird o' Freedom. 
The toughest bookie, as well as the airiest 
turfite, will be sorry to hear of the death 
of a genial fellow. — The World. 

Books (Winchester). There are 
prizes given at the end of each 
half by Lord Saye and Sele to 
the two seniors in each division. 
These are called the hooks. To 
get hooks is to obtain one of these 
prizes. When a part or division 
are saying a lesson, the pupils 
sit at one end of '"School," 
in three rows ; they are then 
said to be "up to hooks'^ The 
Don sits in his chair with his 
side towards them, and the 
" man " who is saying the lesson 
stands in front of him. 

Books (card players), a pack of 

business or politics. A great 
hoom in cotton refers to an 
advance in price and greater 
activity in the market, while 
the first rumour that a certain 
man will obtain a nomination 
♦ to office may be announced in 
a newspaper in large letters at 
the head of a column as, "A 
hoom, for Smith ! " 

A Boom for Hill. — A movement is 
on foot in Washington to organise a David 
B. Hill boom for the Presidency. — Chicago 

In the present case many influences seem 

to work in the direction of a boom. — Truth. 

Some Prospero waved his magic wand, 
the world made discovery that it was posi- 
tively languishing for want of more copper 
and tin, all visible supplies were eagerly 
bought up, and the great mining boom of 
1887 was fairly started. — Globe- 

(Journalistic), a hoonn refers to 
the publication in a newspaper 
of some correspondence which 
will raise up a polemic, and, by 
thus attracting the attention of 
the public, increase the sale of 
the paper. 

The latest Daily Telegraph boom — 
"Our Daughters" — is going on merrily, 
and the views of the various young ladies 
are distinctly interesting to note. — Globe. 

(Nautical), to " top one's hoom 
off," to be off or start in a cer- 
tain direction. 

Boom (American), properly the 
distant sound as of thunder gra- 
dually increasing in intensity. 
This word, from being a favour- 
ite one in American oratory, 
began to be applied in 1880 to 
any great advance or rise in 

Boomah (Australian), a very large 
kind of kangaroo. This word 
is probably a mistake of Colonel 
Munday's. He heard the kan- 
garoo called a boomer because 
of its enormous size : the word 
was strange to him, and he 

Boomah — Boom-passenger. 


imagined it to be a variety of 
kangaroo, and not a slang word 
expressive of size. 

An oflScer from Van Diem en's Land 
told me that he had once killed in that 
colony "a kangaroo of such magnitude, 
that being a long way from home, he was 
unable though on horseback to carry away 
any portion except the tail, which alone 
weighed thirty pounds. This species is 
called the boomah, and stands about seven 
feet high." — Lieut. -Col. Munday : Our 

Bo(Mner (American), a very big 
specimen, a huge snake or kan- 

And should you ask how such a one 

A nvighty hunter grew, 
So many flying does outsped, 

So many boomers slew. 

But suddenly the vision passed, 

And Bill became aware, 
That he was in the boomer's arms, 

And bounding through the air. 
— /. B. Stephens : Marsupial Bill. 

A very great lie, a very big 
flea ; a very long hit at cricket 
would be described as a boomer, 
or a regular boomer (used by 
" slangy ' ' Australians). A boomer 
is probably that which makes a 
big boom or noise, and so some- 
thing very big. We have the 
same metaphor in "a great 

Boomerangs (American), properly 
a carved flat weapon used by 
the natives in Australia, which, 
when thrown, returns to the 
thrower. In American journal- 
ism the word is frequently used 
to indicate some evil measure, 
or act, or falsehood, which, like 

a curse, has "come home to 
roost," or recoiled on the head 
of its author. The title, " A 
Bourbon Boomerang," in an Ame- 
rican newspaper, means that 
the Democrats have been in- 
jured by some scheme they had 
formed against the Republicans. 

Boomeranging (Australian), hit- 
ting or kUling with a boome- 
rang. A slang participle, coined 
from the native word boome- 

War shouts and universal Boomerang'- 
—J. P. Stephens : A Picaninny. 

Booming (Australian), large, as- 
tonishing. For derivation vide 


Look at that booming guana I He has 
been feeding sumptuously on the carrion. 
He is watching us with his "glittering 
eye," his head up, his vicious tongue darting 
out now and then like a serpent's fangs. — 
A. C. Grant. 

Boom - ja - langf ( American), a 
mysterious slang word, which 
seems to mean the same as the 
Spanish funeion, business, or 
what is going on. 

'Twas right in the middle of the boom-ja- 
All on a summer day. 
Rip Sam ! set her up again ; 
Set her up again ! set her up again. 
We're all of the Choctaw tribe. 

— Song, i860. 

Boom - passenger (nautical), a 
convict on board ship. Derived 
from the circumstance that 
prisoners on board convict ships 
were chained to, or were made 


Boonder — Booze. 

to crawl along, or stand on the 
booms for exercise or punish- 
ment (Hotten). 

Boonder, bounder (American), a 
scrubbing-brush, (New York), 
Dutch, boender, a brush. "A 
rubber, a rubbing-brush. Boenen 
to rub with a brush," implying 
diligence. Hence the American- 
ism to hone it, to bone into it, to 
apply one's self,' to scrub away 

Boost, to (American), to push up. 
Generally used in the sense of 
giving one a lift; "give me a 
boost," as one boy when climb- 
ing a tree says to another. 

The bull was actually tearing up the 
earth and boosting up the sand like a whirl- 
wind. — Mark Twain: Roughing It, 

Booth (thieves), a house ; to " heave 
a booth," to rob a house. 

Booth - burster, bam - stormer 
(theatrical), a loud actor, of the 
good old-fashioned " horse-dung 
and sawdust" type. The late 
T. B. Chatterton used to term 
it "gut acting," 

Booting (military), punishment 
inflicted by the men with a sur- 
cingle or strap. 

Boot joe (military), musketry 

Boot-leg plan (American), by 
evasion or trickery, in reference 
to the saying that " the boot is 
on the other log," i.e., not as 

one would naturally understand 
an assertion. 

There is as much whisky consumed in 
Iowa now as there was before, but less 
beer, throughout the State "for medical 
purposes only," and on the boot-leg plan, 
and saloons run openly in the larger towns 
in defiance of the laws. — Omaha Herald. 

Boots (common), man or boy who 
cleans boots at an hotel. The 
term has ceased to be slang. 

Well, I must do my best, the post oi boots 
My office, which I used to think sublime. 
This sort of thing scarcely suits. 

— Punch. 

A " bootcatcher " was a pro- 
vincialism applied to a man at 
an inn whose duty it was to pull 
off the boots of travellers. 

To " buy any one's old boots," 
to marry or keep a cast-off mis- 

Booze (common), drink ; to booze, 
to drink heavily. To be " on 
the booze," to be out on a drunken 
jollification, going from one 
public-house to another. The 
word is derivable from "bouse," 
to drink deep or carouse. In 
Wright's Archaic Dictionary 
"boose" is defined as mean- 
ing, in some of the rural dis- 
tricts, a cattle " trough," where 
kine and horses drink. In War- 
wickshire and Leicestershire 
the trough is called a " booson." 
Some etymologists derive this 
from the Hindostani 6002a, drink, 
and others from the Dutch buy- 
zcn, to tipple — with more reason, 
as the term was good English in 
the fourteenth century. 

Booze — Bosh. 


Thomas Harman, in his " Ca- 
yeat, or Warening for Common 
Cursetors," 1568, has bouxe for 
drink, and to house for to drink. 

" I say by the Salomon I will lage it of 
with a gage of bene bouse ; then cut to my 
nose watch. Why, hast thou any lowre in 
thy bonge to bouse ? " — " I say by the mass 
I will wipe it off with a quart of good drink, 
say what you will to me. Why, hast 
thou any money in thy purse to drink?" 

To be boozed, to be drunk. 

Boozer, or booser (popular), one 
fond of potations, a drunkard. 

This landlord was a boozer stout, 
A snuff-taker and smoker. 

— Wolcot : Peter Pindar. 

Boozing cheat (thieves), a bottle. 

Boozing ken (popular), a public- 

Boozing^on (Australian prison 
slang), a drunken man. In 
England, Lushington' (one who 
lushes or drinks) is the equiva- 
lent term. 

Boozy (popular), partially intoxi- 
cated ; what the vulgar collo- 
quialism calls the " worse for 
liquor," or " disguised in liquor." 
Formerly not slang. 

Borak (colonial), to "poke boraJc," 
applied in colonial conversation 
to the operations of a person 
who pours fictitious information 
into the ears of a credulous 
listener {Notes and Queries, 7th 
Series, vol. iii. p. 476). 

Bordeaux (pugilistic), blood, 
termed also "claret. Badmin- 

Borde (old cant), a shilling. Pro- 
bably originated in the term 
" bord," formerly a duty paid in 
fairs and markets for setting 
up tables, boards, and stalls. 

Bord you (nautical), a phrase used 
to claim the next turn after one 
who is drinking. Used also in 
Norfolk by harvesters. 

Bore, to (pugilistic), to drive an 
opponent on to the ropes of the 
ring by sheer weight. 

MoUineaux tried to bore down his 
opponent by main strength ; Cribb deter- 
mined to prevent him if possible by repeat- 
ing some desperate blows on the head. 
— Thomas Cribb : Pugilistica. 

(Athletics), to push an oppo- 
nent out of his course. 

Boring (turf), when a horse in 
running hangs upon another so 
as to interfere with his chance 
of winning, the process, whether 
intentional on the part of the 
jockey or the result of the 
exhaustion or bad temper of 
the animal, is called boring. It 
usually leads to recrimination, 
and occasionally to disqualifica- 

Bom w^eak (nautical), when a 
vessel is feebly built, she is said 
to have been 60771 weak. 

Bosh (colloquial), nonsense. 

This gentleman whispered to his comrade 

the (I believe of Eastern derivation) 

the monosyllable bosh! — Thackeray : The 
Adventures of Philif). 


Bosh — Boss. 

"This well-known word is 
alleged," say the authors of the 
Anglo-Indian Glossary, "to be 
taken from the Turkish hosh, 
signifying empty, vain, useless, 
&c. (Redhouse's Dictionary); but 
we have not been able to trace 
its history or first appearance in 
English." Bosh in English, and 
all other gypsy dialects, means 
a noise or sound of any kind, 
and is also used in all the senses 
of the Turkish word to denote 
emptiness, just as we might say 
" that is all talk." " Hatch 
your bosh," or "bosherin," stop 
your noise, is quite the same 
as stop your hosh. And as the 
English gypsy bosh, in fact, 
comes rather nearer to the Eng- 
lish slang word than the Turkish, 
it seems most likely that the 
Romany supplied it. Bosh or 
bash in gypsy hds also the 
meaning of music, and is ap- 
plied to a violin. It was, and 
may yet be, a test of a " tra- 
veller's" proficiency in gypsy 
habits, or in the Romany lan- 
guage, to put to him the fol- 
lowing verse : 

" O can you rokker Romanis ? 
O can you kill the bosh t 
O can you ja to staruben ? 
O can you chin the kosh ?" — 

i.e. " O can you talk Romany? 
O can you play the fiddle ? 
O can you go to prison ? 
O can you cut the wood ? " 

The last line refers to making 
skewers or other articles of wood 
— the last resort for a gypsy 
when poor. 

Bosh faker (itinerants), violinist. 
Bosh is gypsy for a violin. A 
great many expressions used by 
the lowest class of actors are 
from the gypsy. Also boshman. 

Bosh lines (showmen), literally 
violin strings, explained by 

Both of these men have Marionette 
frames, and are Marionette performer* in 
addition ; and invariably charge more for 
their engagement when working the Ma- 
rionettes, or "bosk lines," as they call 
them, as well.— 7"/^ Bits. 

Bos-ken (tramps), a farm-house. 

Bosky (popular), drunk ; from 
bosky, swelled, in fact, "tight," 

Reminding Corinthian Tom and Jerry 
Hawthorn of the Oxonian and his inclina- 
tion to get bosky. — Putuh. 

Bosman (tramps), a farmer. 

I've seen the swell bosmen buy the pills 
to give the people standing about, just to 
hear the crocus patter. — Henry Mayhew: 
London Labour and the London Poor. 

Boss, an American and colonial 
term extensively used in Eng- 
land by all classes in a variety of 
meanings, such as master, head. 

Boss horse-shoers now charge fifty cents 
extra for shoeing, to meet the demands of 
the journeymen. — The Weekly Bulletin, 
San Francisco. 

You want a boss cook and a beauty, 
don Cabeza, eh ! Well I guess I am both. 
What'll you give me to come to the mine 
and cook ? — F. Francis : Saddle and Mo- 

The station-^<'M stopped dead still and 
glared at me speechless. — Mark Twain: 
Koughing It. 

Much philological research has 
been devoted to establish the 



complete etymology of this word, 
it being held that it is connected 
with boss, a round, salient protu- 
berance which rises, so to speak, 
in a superior manner above the 
surrounding surface; but most 
philologists agree in deriving it 
from the Dutch baas, master ; 
den baas speden, to play the mas- 
ter, to domineer, to lord it, 
the pronunciation of baass and 
boss being the same. And this 
origin is borne out by the 
circumstance that the French 
argot has beausse for the master 
of a house, rich citizen, man of 
importance, which was borrowed 
from Flemish vagabonds and 
thieves. In Norfolk boss is used 
in the sense of master, or one 
who can beat and overcome an- 
other. In the North of England 
"bossock" and "bossy" mean 
large, fat, with a large belly. 
The last word bears a close re- 
semblance to the French bossu ; 
but of course a "bossy " man and 
a bossu differ in respect of the 
position of the protuberance. 

In America boss is also used as 
an adjective with the sense of 
principal, large, fine, as a boss 
lot of apples. 

M.-xny a time have I let the " boss mine," 
or the " boss ranch" slip through my fin- 
gers I — F. Francis : Saddle and Mocassin. 

Boss is often used as a verb, 
with the signification to own, 
manage, superintend, conduct. 

Our gallant chief, bossing the situation 
as usual, insisted upon the National An- 
them being played at the conclusion of the 
sport, and subsequently called for three 
cheers for the Queen.—S/oriing Times. 

" Old Blivins, who bossed the local sheet. 
And the lawyer who worked for beer 
as a fee ; -^ 
In a maudlin state wandered down the 
Having had a dejected kind of spree." 
— Keighky Goodchild: Waif. 

In short, with no other counteracting 
force than an old lady and a youth of 
eighteen, it is easy to see that a "free- 
booter " like the Captain bossed the show, 
just as he had done at the Pantheon. — 
Sporting Times. 

He was bossing the cooking himself 
that evening, and at that moment was en- 
gaged in stirring some beans that he was 
frying in the Mexican style, bacon-fat 
being substituted for lard. — F. Francis : 
Saddle and Mocassin. 

" Bossed his own shoes," man- 
aged his affairs personally. 

At any rate, the elder Hegner has 
hitherto bossed his own shoes, &c. — Truth. 

The Australian employ^ gene- 
rally speaks of his master as the 
boss, though he seldom would 
address him as boss except when 
the master is really in the same 
station of life as himself. It is 
disrespectful to address a man 
as boss in Australia. The " Lar- 
rikin " is rather fond of prefac- 
ing his impertinences to passers 
by with, " I say, Boss." 

I remember a certain South Australian 
aide-de-camp, who was a tremendous 
" masher," coming over to Melbourne for 
" the Cup." He was wearing one of those 
btiff-starched four-inch collars, irreverently 
styled "jampots," and was saluted in 
Bourke Street on the "Cup night" with 
" I say, Boss, how much for the celluloid?" 
from an individual who was not to be 
crushed by a withering glance through a 
deliberately screwed-in eyeglass. 

—V. B. IV. Sladen. 

1 68 

Boss — Boston. 

"The Darky Boss: the 'trashy white,' 
a ' brudder,' 
Man at the prow and woman at the 
— J. B. Stepluns : Macaulay' s New 

Cabmen use the term with 
the sense of the " fare," in Paris 
le. bourgeois (which has also all 
the other meanings of boss). 

Who is a gentleman? On returning 
from the Lichfield Coursing Meeting the 
other evening, one of the runners with the 
telegraph messages from the ground to the 
Lichfield telegraph office was given a ride 
home, and when nearing Lichfield it was 
discovered that some one was seated in 
front by the side of the coachman. The 
ioss wanting to know who it was, asked 
the boy what gentleman that was riding 
by the side of the driver, and the reply 
was as follows, " He's no gentleman, sir, 
he's only a policeman." — Bird o' Free- 

' ' Boss of the shanty," master, 
manager of the place. 

The young man who lives not far from 
Burdett Road, who sports a P. and O. 
cap, and wore a C. medal at the Poplar 
early closing concert, should have strutted 
about so. Was he looking for the fair 
young lady, or did he fancy himself " toss 
of the shanty." — To6y. 

Boss of the show, manager of 
a theatre, music-hall, circus, or 
a man who gives an entertain- 

Miss Leonora Bradley, well known in 
America, will open shortly in London, at 
a West End theatre, with a new play 
called "Jess," written by the authors of 
" My Sweetheart." Eugfene C. Stafford 
will he fioss of this show, of which report 
speaks highly. — Bird o' Freedom. 

(Popular), to boss anything, 
to make a mess of it, to spoil it. 

Bossaroo, used by J. B. Stephens, 
the Australian comic poet, as an 
abbreviation of "Boss Kanga- 

Ringed by the fathers of the tribe, 

Surrounded, yet alone, 
The Bossaroo superbly posed 

Upon a granite throne, 
A very old " old man," who had 

Four generations known. 

— J. B. Stephens : Marsupial Bill. 

Bossers (common), spectacles ; 
because (specially in the case 
of short-sighted persons) they 
make one look "boss-eyed" or 
squinting, or from the studs on 
horses' blinkers. 

Boston (American), an expres- 
sion which owes much of its 
meaning to the tone and accent 
with which it is uttered. Some- 
times it is Boxting, the nasal 
Yankee form of the word. It 
is meant to satirise provincial 
vanity, and the peculiar form 
of priggishness which is de- 
clared by envious New Yorkers 
and others to be characteristic 
of "the hub of the universe." 
The city of Boston unquestion- 
ably is, as regards literary cul- 
ture, far in advance of any city 
in America, a fact of which its 
indwellerg are by no means 

Boston culchaw (American). It 
is declared by the dwellers in 
the other (doubtless envious) 
cities of America that the in- 
habitants of Boston are so proud 
of their "culture," that how- 
ever excited or unruly they may 

Boston — Bottle-holder. 


become, any person can at once 
call them to order by referring 
to it. In a letter from the Hub 
to the Chicago Tribune there is 
a detailed and apparently per- 
fectly truthful narrative of two 
" ladies," or at least " women of 
wealth," who began to quarrel 
furiously in a shop over a coun- 
ter for a shilling handkerchief. 
The bystanders, and finally all 
the people in the place, were 
soon in a furious row, when a 
tall, dignified man, observing 
that there was a stranger pre- 
sent, restored quiet as by a 
miracle. All that he did was 
to utter in an absent-minded 
way, " Boston cidchaw — ahem ! " 
There was a sudden silence — 
a marked sensation, as if an 
electric current had in a second 
struck every heart — and the 
ladies, forgetting the handker- 
chief, , at once retreated. It is 
said that the police experience 
no difficulty in stopping dog- 
fights, "plug-masses," or rows 
in the lowest taverns ; they 
have but to cry, " Is this aesthe- 
tic ? Is this becoming Boston .? " 
Happy the city whose detrac- 
tors can find in it no worse 
subject of ridicule than its de- 
votion to culture. 

Botany Bay (Oxford), a name for 
Worcester College, Oxford, given 
in reference to the situation of 
the building, which is at some 
distance from the centre of the 

(Prison slang), penal servitude 
generally, but going out of use, 

as transportation, which began 
in 1787, ceased in 1867. Botany 
Bay (now known as New South 
Wales) first received convicts in 

Botch (old), a nickname for a 
tailor. From to botch, to patch 
up clumsily. 

Bottle (sporting), it turned out no 
bottle, did not turn out well, 
failed. (Popular), bottle-headed, 

Bottle-arsed (printers), type that 
is thickened at the bottom or 
feet is thus described. This cir- 
cumstance arises from the fact 
of it being worn by continual 
impression, and sometimes has- 
tened by improper "planing" 
down or levelling, preparatory 
to laying the form on for print- 

Bottle-holder (pugilistic), one of 
the seconds attending a prize 
fight in the ring, who takes 
charge of the water bottle and 
holds the combatant on his 
knees between the rounds, whilst 
the other sponges and other- 
wise attends to him. 

Lord Palmerston was so nick- 
named after a speech he made 
when Foreign Secretary. 

The noble Lord told the deputation that 
the past crisis was one which required on 
the part of the British Government much 
generalship and judgment, and that a good 
deal of judicious bottU-ltolding was obliged 
to be brought into play. The phrase 
bottle-holdings borrowed from the prize- 


Bottle — Bounder. 

rinf;, offended a good many persons. — 
Justin M'Carthy : A History of Our 
07vn Titftes. 

Bottle of spruce (rhyming slang), 
a deuce, slang for twopence. 

Bottling (theatrical), the same as 
applies to hobbing. 

Bottom (common), spirit placed 
in a glass before water is poured 

(Up country Australian), the 
scrubby, swampy ground in the 
bottom of a depression or valley. 
Mostly used in compounds such 
as ti-tree (tea-tree) bottom. 

It led 
Into a forest track which oft 
Was blocked by tea-tree bottom soft 
Or fallen trunk, compelling them 
To make detours, and thrice a stem 
Some inches through must needs be 

On pain of being wholly stopped. 

— D. B. W. Sladen : A Summer 

5o«oTO-growths is good Eng- 
lish for grass growing on low 

(American), " soda and dark 
bottom," soda and brown brandy. 

Bottom dollar (American), last 

We'll go our bottom dollar. — Sporting 

Botts (popular), the colic. Pro- 
perly small worms in the rec- 
tum of a horse. 

Botty (popular), conceited. (Nur- 
sery), a contraction for an in- 
fant's posterior. The French 
equivalent is tutu. 

Boughs, up in the (old), in a 

Bounce (common), cherry-brandy. 
(Popular and thieves), a bully ^or 
swell ; a " rank6o«7wre," a great 
swell. To bounce, to swindle, 
to cheat by false representa- 

You will get no cheque or anything else 
out of us, so you had better travel down 
to Dover under the seat ; and if you can't 
bounce the "Johnnies "on the boat, you'll 
have to swim from Dover to Calais. — 
Sportitig Times. 

(American), bounced, dis- 
missed, turned out ; " given the 
G. B.," i.e., grand bounce, to 
be turned out with great in- 

Bouncer (popular), a swindler, a 
person who steals whilst bar- 
gaining with a tradesman, a 
large, stout man or woman. 

(Prison), a male companion 
of a prostitute, who lives on 
her gains, and who, by in- 
timidation and threats, extorts 
money from men whom she en- 

(Naval), a gun that kicks vio- 
lently when fired. 

Bouncingcheat (old cant), a bottle, 
probably from the noise made 
when opening it and drawing 
the cork, or a corruption of 

boozing -cheat. 

Bounder (university), a student 
whose manners are despised by 
the soi-disant dite, or who is 

Bounder — Bow-catcher. 


beyond the boundary of good 
fellowship ; also a dog-cart. 

(Society), a swell, a stylish 
fellow, but of a very vulgar 

I said something one day about my own 
attire, and she remarked that if I ordered 
the particular hat I desired I should be 
taken for a bounder; and when I asked 
what that meant, she said, " Oh, a toff, 
you know." Feeling that my ignorance 
had better be displayed no further, I de- 
parted by the next train. — St. James's 
Gazette: Culture of the Misses. 

A bounder comes above the sunset hill. 

Who'll come and make his stay ; 
For he's the snipe with writs who is possest. 
No human force can chase that dun 
He is the boss ! and in possession still. 
— Bird o' Freedom. 

Also a four-wheeled cab, 
otherwise known as a " growler." 

Bound to be had (popular), des- 
tined to be outwitted or cheated. 

Sold again ! What a shame ! it is really 

too bad. 
The way that I'm treated is certainly sad, 
Tis my phiz that they quiz like my mother 

and dad. 
So wherever I go I am bound to be had. 
— F. Caughan: Ballad. 

Bounge, bonge, or bung (old 
cant), a purse, and also for a 
pickpocket. A corruption of 
the English bougct, wallet. 

Boung nipper (old), a pickpocket, 
or, as they were then called, 
" cut-purses." 

Bounty jumper (American), a 
soldier who deserts to enlist 
into another regiment for the 
sake of the bounty. 

Afanager of Caledonian Sports—''^ In 
what line are you a contestant ?" Appli- 
cant — " I am a jumper." "Ah, you have 
made a record?" " I made a pretty fair 
one during the war, I jumped the bounty 
five or six times. — Philadelphia Call. 

Bourbon democrats (American), 
according to their Republican 
opponents, the Democrats, espe- 
cially those of the South, are 
like the Bourbons, because they 
have "forgotten nothing, and 
learned nothing," since the war. 

Bouse, or booze out (naval), a 
good house out is a good feed, a 

Bousing-ken (old cant), tavern, 
ale - house, modernised into 

"And byng to rome vyle, to nyp a 
bonge ; so shall we haue lowre for the 
bousing-ken." — Harman : A Caveat. 

i.e., "And let us away to London, to cut 
a purse ; so we shall have money for the 

Forting thinks the term is a 
gypsy corruption of the Hindos- 
tani booza, drink, and khana, 
house. Bousin, or housingot, 
in the slang of French sailors, 
is a drinking place or "lush- 
crib," from the Dutch buyzen, 
to tipple. 

Bovine heart (medical), not the 
heart of an ox, but a human 
heart, which, owing to disease 
of one set of valves, has become 
so much enlarged as to equal in 
size that of an ox. 

Bow-catcher (popular), a corrup- 
tion of beau-catcher, a small 


Bowery — Bowly. 

curl which formerly was worn 
twisted on the temples. French 
" accroche-coeurs " (rouflaquettes 
in the case of prostitutes' bul- 
lies), and American "spit- 

Bowery boy (American, specially 
New York), for many years the 
rough or rowdy of New York 
was called the Bowery boy, from 
a street, the Bowery (Dutch 
Bouwene), which he was sup- 
posed to peculiarly affect. 

When I first knew it both the old Bowery 
Theatre and the old Btnvery boy were in 
their glory. It was about that time that 
Thackeray, taking some notes in Gotham, 
had an encounter with the Bowery boy 
that seems to have slipped into history. 
The caustic satirist had heard of the 
Bowery boy, as the story goes, and went 
to see him on his native heath. He found 
him leaning on a fire hydrant, and accosted 
him with, " My friend, I want to go to 
Broadway." Whereupon the ^(««(rry ^(y, 
drawing up his shoulders and taking an- 
other chew on his cigar, "Well, why 

the don't yer go, then ? " — Chicago 


In New York other species 
of roughs were termed "dead 
rabbits," " five pointers," and 
" Water - Street rats ; " the 
roughs of Baltimore were known 
as "blood tubs" and "plug 
uglies," in Philadelphia as 
"shifflers" and "moyamen- 
sings," and in New Orleans as 
"tigers" (New York Slang 

Bowled (Winchester), synony- 
mous with " croppled," or " crop- 
ped," that is, turned in for a 
lesson at " standing up," when 

at the end of cloister time all 
below senior part have to repeat 
eight lessons, that is, from 150 
to 400 lines. 

Bowled out (thieves), convicted ; 
a metaphor taken from cricket, 
where the batsman's innings is 
concluded for good when he is 
bowled out. 

A man who has followed the profession 
of thieving for some time, when he is 
ultimately taken, tried, and convicted, is 
said to be bowled out at last ; to botul 
out a person in a general sense, means 
to (detect him in the commission of any 
fraud or peculation, which he has hitherto 
practised without discovery. — Vauj^s 

Bowles (popular), shoes. 

Bowl out, to (general), to put out 
of a game, to detect. 

Bowl the hoop (rhyming slang), 

Bowly, bowry (Anglo-Indian), a 
well. These in India are often 
grand and beautiful structures, 
the water being reached by 
broad flights of stairs, with 
resting-places here and there. 

To persons not familiar with the East, 
such an architectural object as a boiu-lee 
may seem a strange perversion of inge- 
nuity ; but the grateful coolness of all 
subterranean apartments, especially when 
accompanied by water, and the quiet gloom 
of these recesses, fully compensate in the 
eyes of the Hindu for the more attractive 
magnificence of \}m gh&ts. Consequently 
the descending flights of which we are now 
speaking, have often been more elaborate 
and expensive pieces of architecture than 
any of the buildings above ground found 

Bows — Box. 


in their vicinity. — Fergusson : Indian and 
Eastern Architecture, Anglo-Indian Glos- 

Bows (nautical), wide in the hows, 
having large hips and posteriors. 
To have a large "barge," same 

Bowse, or bouse up the jib 

(nautical), an old phrase, mean- 
ing to tipple. "Bowsing his 
tib or jib " is said of a man who 
has been drinking freely. 

Bowsprit (old), the nose. The 
analogy is evident between the 
most prominent part of the face 
and the bowsprit of a vessel. 
More modern are the "boko," 
"conk," and "smeller." 

Bow-wow (old), a contemptuous 
term for a man born in Boston, 
Mass. It is possible that this 
meaning was in the first place 
derived from how-wow, a servile 
personal attendant. 

Box (common), to be in the wrong 
60a:, to be mistaken. The ex- 
pression is old, and has passed 
into the language. 

"Sir," quoth I, " if you will hear how 
St. Augustine expounded to that place, 
you shall perceive that you are in a wrong 
box." — Ridley, 1554. 

(Thieves), cell. 

In a box of the stone jug I was born. 
Of a hempen widow the kid forlorn. 
Fake away ! 

— A insworth : Rookwood. 

To box (Australian station 
slang), to join, or mix. 

It now was time to mark the lambs, 
And make young ewes distinct from rams. 

While he the overseer would come 
With full hands from the station home. 
From which they'd start at break of day, 
And do the marking in a day ; 
And still he cautioned each to heed. 
And look out as he did proceed. 
" Now, mind yourselves, for if you box, 
You'll play the mischief with the flocks." 
— Dugald Ferguson, N.Z. : The Lambs, 
in " Castle Joy and other Poems." 

Boxed in (thieves), explained by 


When there were three in a job there 
would always be one outside to look out, 
not only for any person coming along, but 
for lights in the windows, showing that 
somebody had been disturbed, in which 
case it was easy for him to whistle a warn- 
ing to his pals to clear out. But the single- 
handed man lacked these various advan- 
tages. It was neck or nothing with him 
when he was once boxed in (when he 
entered a house), and a revolver was his 
best safeguard. — J. X^reenwood : A Con- 
verted Burglar. 

Box Harry, to (commercial tra- 
vellers), to go without dinner 
for want of the money to pro- 
cure it, or having dinner and 
tea at one meal to save expense. 
Formerly, it is said, truants 
confined at school, without fire, 
fought or boxed a figure nick- 
named Harry (probably the 
devil), which hung in their 
room, to keep themselves warm. 
That may be the origin of the 
phrase. In Lincolnshire, to box 
Harry is to be careful after being 
extravagant. To box the devil on 
account of one's poverty strongly 
reminds one of the French " tirer 
le diable par la queue," to be 
" hard up." 


Box — Boys. 

Box hat (common), a silk hat, 
termed also a " chimney-pot." 

Box of dominoes (popular), the 

Box the Jesuit, to (old), a term 
to express a secret vice. 

Box - wallah (Anglo-Indian), a 
hybrid Hindu word, from balas, 
or the English box, and wala, a 
pronominal termination, A box- 
wallah is a small pedlar, who 
sells cheap wares, and who cor- 
responds closely to many of his 
cousins, the pedling gypsies of 

Boy (society), champagne, pro- 
bably' derived from the term 
" lively boy," which is often ap- 
plied to a young man brimming 
over with animal spirits. 

To be let, cheap, in the Royal Exchange, 
a small, well-fitted office, with use of iay. 
Suitable for stockbroker or solicitor. — X., 
care of Leathwait & Simmons, advertising 
agents, i Pope's Head Alley, E.C. X. 
can send us particulars at once. Pommery 
74, extra sec., is our favourite kind of iay, 
but there aren't many brands that we aren't 
equal to tackling at this establishment. — 
Sporting Times. 

(Popular), a hump on a man's 
back. A hunch, or hump back 
man is sometimes spoken of as if 
he were two persons — "him and 
his boy" 

(Anglo-Indian and pidgin), 
throughout the East personal 
servants of any age are called 
hoyi. The authors of the Anglo- 
Indian Glossary observe that 
similar uses of the word are to 

be found in the Vulgate, also 
in the Arabic, and German lite- 
rature, while Shakspeare makes 
Fluelen say — 

" Kill the pays and the luggage ! 'tis 
expressly against the laws of arms 1 " 

In pidgin-English a servant 
is boy, whilst boy in the ordi- 
nary sense is " one small boy." 
In Tonkin the word is used by 
the French with a like significa- 

Boycott, to (general), a now gene- 
rally accepted term, used with 
the signification of to send to 
Coventry, to stand aloof. The 
French equivalent is " mettre 
en quarantaine." 

" Why, Mabel, dear, I have not seen you 
for the last ten days : surely you don't mean 
to boycott Regent Street ?" 

" I don't want to boycott Regent Street, 
but they may want to Endacott me." — 
Sporting Times. 

From Captain Boycott, an 
' Irish landlord, who lay under a 
kind of excommunication, all 
labourers being forbidden to 
work for him under penalty of 
some fearful punishment. 

Boys (turf), the crowd of " Tam- 
pers," " brief snatchers," "wel- 
shers," " magsmen," " lum- 
berers," and other rogues who 
nourish on every racecourse. 

I should think that there is hardly a 
bookmaker in Tattersall's, or even one of 
the ready-money fraternity, who wonld 
not willingly subscribe to a fund for the 
laudable purpose of cleansing the rings 
from those foul abominations, those crimi- 
nal scoundrels known as the boys. These 
vermin rob the public annually of thousands 

Boys — Branded. 


of pounds, and divert from the pockets of 
the bookmakers a perfect river of gold. — 
Bird o Freedom. 

The hoys is also a designation 
occasionally applied to the ring. 
" He is not on terms with the 
hoys,''' means that the person 
alluded to has lost more money 
than he can pay, and does not 
venture within hail of the book- 

Brace, to (American thieves), to 
get credit by swagger. To hrace 
it through, to do a thing by 
sheer impudence. 

Bracelets (police), handcuffs. Its 
equivalent is used in French 

" You'd better slip the bracelets on him, 
Jim." The fellow on my left produced a 
pair of handcuffs. — Miss Braddon : Robert 

"Ah, but I do!" exclaimed the detec- 
tive, suddenly seizing the trembling wretch. 
"Come, let's slip the bracelets on." — G. 
Sims : Rogues and Vagabonds. 

Brace of shakes, in a (popular), 
in a moment. 

Brace up, to (thieves), to pawn 
stolen goods. Hotten so defines 
it, bat Vaux says : "To dispose 
of stolen goods by pledging 
them for the utmost you can 
get at a pawnbroker's is termed 
' bracing them up.' " 

Bracket-faced (old), of unpleasing 
features, hard-visaged or ugly. 

Bracket -mug (popular), a very 
ugly face, mug being slang for 

Brads (thieves), halfpence, money. 
Hotten says, irads, money ; 
Vaux, "Brads are halfpence, 
also money in general." Pro- 
perly hrads are a kind of nails 
used by cobblers. 

" Get anything ? " 

" Get anything ? Not a brad, s'welp my 
never. The old bloke vhas a sittin' up a 
sharpenin' his scissors." 

" But you must a' got something ? " 

" Vhell, yes — I vhas lucky to get out 
without bein' made a sheeny myself." — 
Sporting Times. 

Brag (thieves), a money-lender at 
exorbitant interest, a Jew. 

Brain-pan (medical), the skull- 
cap, the calvaria, also the skull 
itself. (Common), the head, 
called also " nob, nut, know- 
ledge-box, canister, chump." 

Bramble, a Kentish term for a 

Bramble - gelder. In Suffolk a 
derisive appellation for an agri- 
culturist (Hotten). 

Bran (popular), bread. French 
soldiery call it houie de ton. 

He purchased ... a half-quartern loaf, 
or, as he himself expressed it, a four- 
penny bran. — Charles Dickens: Oliver 

Branded ticket (nautical), a dis- 
charge given to an infamous 
man, on which his character 
is given, and the reason he 
is turned out of [the service 
(Admiral Smyth). 


Brandy — Brassy. 

Brandy coatee, brandy (Anglo- 
Indian), a cloak, a coat for the 

Barani-kurti seems to be a kind of hy- 
brid shaped by the English word " coat," 
though kurti and kurta are true Persian 
words for various forms of jacket and 
tunic. — Anglo-Indian Glossary. 

Brandy-faced (popular), red faced. 
Is generally said of one who is 
in the habit of drinking spirits 
in excess. 

Brandy pawnee (Anglo - Indian 
and English gypsy), brandy and 
water. From pani, Hindu and 
Romany, for water. In Eng- 
land " parny " is a common 
slang word for water. 

I'm sorry to see you, gentlemen, drink- 
ing brandy paivnee. It plays the deuce 
with our young men in India. — Thackeray : 
The Newcomes. 

Bran-mash (army), bread broken 
up and soaked in coffee or tea 
at breakfast, or the evening 
meal, which consists of dry 
bread only, as the regular ration, 
men in funds adding red her- 
rings, eggs, and other savoury 
condiments according to choice. 
See Floating Batteries. 

Brass (coUoquial), impudence, 
"cheek," from the immovable 
hard-set countenance of a bold, 
impudent person, the front 
d'airain of the French expres- 
sion abbreviated into avoir le 
front de . . ., to have the auda- 

She in her defence made him appear 
such a rogue upon record, that the Chief 

Justice wondered he had the 6nus to 
appear in a Court of Justice. — North: 

It is said of an impudent per- 
son that his face has been 
"rubbed with a brass candle- 
stick," or that he is as " bold 
as brass." 

" He died damned hard, and as bold as 
brass," an expression commonly used 
among the vulgar after returning from an 
execution. — George Parker: Dictionary 
of Cant. 

(Popular), money generally. 

But my brass all went to 
Old Nick, and the rent too. 
For I backed Sorrento — 

No Sunday dinner. 

— Bird o' Freedom. 

" It's no good being proper in this 
world," said the lirst housemaid. " Brass 
can do better than the gold what has stood 
the fire," said the second. — Dickens : 
Oliver Twist. 

Brass bound and copper fastened 

(nautical), a term applied to a 
midshipman when in uniform. 

Brasser (Blue Coat School), a 

Brass knocker, a phrase used 
among professional beggars and 
tramps to signify the broken 
victuals, which they unwillingly 
receive instead of money, and 
commonly throw away on the 
roadside as soon as they are out 
of sight of the donors. 

Brassy (popular), impudent. 

No, Mister Cattle, Betty was too brassy, 
We never keep a servant that is saucy. 
— IVolcot : Peter Pindar. 

Brazen-faced — Break. 


Brazen-faced (common), impu- 
dent, shameless. See Beass. 

Bread, or hard tack (nautical), 
biscuit. Bread being termed 
" soft tack." 

Bread-and-butter fashion (prosti- 
tutes), that is, one (slice) upon 
another. It was said of two 
persons caught in the act that 
"they were lying bread-and- 
butter fashion." 

Bread-and-butter warehouse (old 
cant), Ranelagh Gardens was so 
called. See Beead-and-But- 
TEE Fashion. 

Bread and meat (military), the 

Bread bagfs (army), those con- 
nected with the victualling 
department. Formerly termed 
"muckers;" French soldiers 
call them riz-pain-sel. 

Bread barge (nautical), the tray 
in which biscuit is handed 

Bread-basket (popular), the 

. . . The point of a sharp instrument 
driven right through, close to my knees, 
with the exclamation, " What do you think 
of that now in a policeman's bread- 
basket V — C. Kingsley : Alton Locke. 

When you can't fill the bread-basket, 
shut it : go to sleep. — Reade: Never too 
late to Mend. 

Bread-picker (Winchester), a 
nominal ofSce, excusing the 
holder from fagging. 

Bread-room (nautical), an old 
term for stomach. 

The waiter returned with a quartern of 
brandy, which Crowe . . . started into his 
bread-room at one cant. — Smollett : L. 

Bread-room jack (nautical), pur- 
ser's steward help. 

Break (prison), a collection made 
in aid of one awaiting trial 
or recently discharged. Liter- 
ally, pause in street performance 
when the hat goes round. 

The mob got me up a break (collection), 
and I got between five or six foont (sove- 
reigns). — Rev. J. Horsley : Jottings from 

Break or crack one's egg, to 

(cricketers), to make one's first 
run, thus avoiding the "duck's 

Breaking the balls (billiards), 
commencing the game. 

Breaking up of the spell, the 

(thieves), explained by quota- 
tion. Vide Spell. 

The breaking up of the spell is the 
nightly termination of the performance 
at the Theatre Royal, which is regulaily 
attended by pickpockets of the lower order, 
who exercise their vocation about the doors 
and avenues leading thereto, until the house 
is emptied and the crowd dispersed. — 
Vaux's Memoirs. 

Break o' day drum, a tavern 
which is open all night. 

Break out all over (American), a 

common slang phrase, borrowed 

from the medical vocabulary. 

Thus if a man were in a great 



Break — Brewer's horse. 

rage, it might be said that his 
wrath broke out all over him, or 
that he smiled from his feet to 
his eyes. In the following anec- 
dote it is applied to an excessive 
development of piety. 

" ' Get down the Bible, we're going to 
have family prayer.' ' Why 1 are you 
going to have family prayer before you 
have religion ? ' she asked. Grigger said 
he wanted it and the minister said if he'd 
do before he got it as he thought he'd do 
after he got it he'd have it. Well, Grigger 
could not get the idea into his head. But 
Grigger stuck to it, and in a few weeks 
Grigger was the finest case of religion I 
ever saw. It broke out all over him." 

Break shins, to (common), to bor- 
row money. The French slang 
equivalent is " donner un coup 
de pied dans les jambes." 

Break the molasses jug, to 
(American), to make a mistake 
and come to grief. 



ht, dar's whar he broke his merlasses 
-Uncle Remus. 

Break the neck of anything, to 

(common), a phrase signifying 
that the greater portion of any 
task has been accomplished. 

Breaky-leg (popular), strong 
drink. The French slang says 
of a man who has liad too much 
drink that he has " une jauibe 
de vin." (Thieves), a shilling, 
from the expression " to break 
shins," which see. 

Breast fleet (old slang), Roman 
Catholics were once known by 
this name. So called from the 

practice of making the sign of 
the cross on their breasts. 

Breeched (common), to be well 
off. The French say of a bank- 
rupt that he is unbreeched, de- 

(Schoolboys), to be breeched, 
to be flogged. 

Breeches (colloquial), a wife who 
usurps her hu sband's prerogative 
is said to "wear the breeches." 
French, " porter la culotte." 

Breeze (common), a quarrel or 
disturbance— generally "to kick 
up a breeze." 

Breezy (American), cool. 

Not since the original enemy of mankind 
stood up and rebuked sin have we seen 
such an exhibition of what might be called 
breezy chic (pronounced in this instance 
cheek) as that exhibited by Carter Harri- 
son, Mayor of Chicago, in coming to New 
York to give us points on municipal govern - 
ment. — New York World. 

Brekker (Oxford), breakfast. 


Brevet-wife (common), an unmar- 
ried woman, who is represented 
as married to the man with 
whom she cohabits. 

Brew, to (Marlborough), to have 
some refreshment in tlie after- 
noon at about four o'clock. 

Brewer's horse, old cant name 
for a drunkard. A vulgar stanza 
on this subject was popular 
about a hundred years ago or 
more : — 

Brian o Linn — Brickfielder. 


" I wish I were a hrnver's horse 

But six months of the year, 
I'd take my fill of honest stuff, 

Apd drink up all the beer. 
When that was done, what should I do 

My thirst to satisfy, 
I'd eat up all the corks and bungs, 

Give up the ghost and die." 

Brian o' Linn (rhyming slang), 

Brick (colloquial), a term of com- ' 
mendation applied to a parti- 
cularly honest, good, jolly, 
brave, or spirited person. 

Steerforth approved of him highly, and 
told us he was a brick. — Dickens : David 

It is used sometimes with an 
adjective prefixed, as an "out- 
and-out briclc," a "regular 

Another familiar word in the university 
slang is a " regular brick," that is, a jolly 
good fellow, and how the simile is logically 
deduced is amusing enough. A brick is 
"deep red," so a " deep read " man is a 
brick ; a deep read man is in university 
phrase a "good man;" a good man is a 
jolly fellow with non-reading men, ergo a 
jolly fellow is a brick. — Hallberger's Illus- 
trated Magazine. 

It is evident that the figurative 
sense of the word is in allusion 
to the shape of a hrick. In 
English and other languages 
straightforwardness is always 
identified with squareness. "He 
answered 30U as square as a 
hrick." "He did it on the 

Brickfielder or brickduster (Aus- 
tralian), a dust storm, a kind 
of whirlwind frequent in Aus- 
tralia during the summer time. 

Identified by Lieut. -Col Munday 
with the " southerly burster," 
so called from the brickdusty 
feel of the grit with which the 
wind charges itself as it rolls 
up the storm. 

In October 1848, as I find by my diary, 
I witnessed a fine instance of a nocturnal 
brickfielder. Awakened by the roaring of 
the wind I arose and looked out. It was 
bright moonlight, or it would have been 
bright but for the clouds of dust, which, 
impelled by a perfect hurricane, curled up 
from the earth and absolutely muffled the 
fair face of the planet. Pulverised speci- 
mens of every kind and colour of soil within 
two miles of Sydney, flew past the house 
high over the chimney tops in lurid whirl- 
winds, now white, now red. It had all the 
appearance of an American prairie fire, 
barring the fire. . . . 

One of the greatest miseries of the 
"southerly burster " is that (welcome to all 
animated nature as are its cooling airs) its 
first symptoms are the signal for a general 
rush of housemaids to shut hermetically 
every aperture of the dwelling. The ther- 
mometer in the drawing-room and one's 
own melting mood announce some 86" 
of heat, while the gale driving so refresh- 
ingly past your windows is probably 30° 
lower ; but if you have any regard for 
sight and respiration, for carpets, chintz, 
books, and other furniture, you must re- 
ligiously shut up shop until the chartered 
libertine, having scavengered the streets of 
every particle of dust, has moderated its 
wrath. Even then, however well fitted 
may be the doors and windows, the volatile 
atoms will find their way everywhere, to 
the utter disturbance of household and 
personal comfort. — Lieut.-Col. Munday: 
Our Antipodes. 

The climate of Queensland is very hot. 
In summer the heat is Indian ; and it is a 
moist, that is to say, an exhausting heat, 
whereas the summer temperature in other 
parts of Australia is comparatively dry ; 
drier in South Australia and Victoria than 
in New South Wales, but when brick- 
fielders or dust storms are not blowing, 
endurable. — Daily Telegraph. 


Brick — Briefs. 

Brick in the hat (common), intoxi- 
cated, top-heavy. The deriva- 
tion is obvious. 

Bricklayer's clerk (nautical), a 
contemptuous expression for 
lubberly people pretending to 
having seen better days, but 
who were forced to betake them- 
selves to sea life. 

Bridge (card-sharpers), a cheating 
trick at cards, by which any 
particular card is cut by pre- 
viously curving it. French card- 
sharpers term it " faire le pont." 

I've found out the way that Yankee 
fellow does the king. It's not the common 
bridge that everybody knows. — Charles 
Lever: Davenport Dunn. 

To bridge a person or throw 
him over the bridge, is, in a gene- 
ral sense, to deceive him by be- 
traying the confidence he has re- 
posed in you. In the game the 
confederates so play into each 
other's hands that the victim 
must inevitably be "thrown 
over the bridge." 

Bridle-cull (old cant), a highway- 

A booty of £10 looks as great in the eye 
of a bridle-cull, and gives as much real 
happiness to his fancy, as that of as many 
thousands to the statesman. — Fielding: 
Jonathan Wild. 

Brief (prison), a note or letter. 

"Just look what I've had sent me. 
An order to go over the Bank of Eng- 
land." . . . 

''Cant you alter the brief, to admit 

" Oh lor, no ; wouldn't try it on ; might 
queer the pitch before starting." — Bird o' 

Brief is a survival of an old 
English term of common ecclesi- 
astical use in the seventeenth 
and eighteenth centuries. In 
French bref, both from the 
Latin brevis. See rubric in the 
Prayer-book. Here briefs, cita- 
tions, and excommunications 
are to be read. Briefs were 
circular letters issued by 
authority asking for charitable 
collections in all churches. 

(Thieves), a ticket, pocket- 
book, pawnbroker's duplicate. 

So I claimed (stole) them, . . . and 
guyed (ran) to the rattler (railway), and 
took a brief to London Bridge. — Rev. J. 
Horsley: Jottings from Jail. 

" Take it from me," exclaimed the gen- 
tleman with the pink may twined round 
his hat, as he gracefully reclined on the 
seat of a third-class carriage in the Ascot 
" special," and leisurely sucked a piece of 
fried fish, " these 'ere six and sixpenny 
' rattlers ' may be all right in their way, 
but give me a thirty-two-blow weekly 
brief! They goes at twice the bloomin' 
speed, an' you meets a different class o' 
company ! " — Bird o' Freedom . 

I have snatched at briefs, the property of 
But the punishment was too much to 
Oh send your boy a pound, thou best of 
mothers ; 
I'll refund it when the Gee-gees run 
— IVhen the Gee-gees Run .Again. 

Briefs (cardsharpers), cards con- 
structed on a cheating prin- 
ciple. Like the German Bricfc, 
which Baron Heineckcn says 
was the name given to the cards 
manufactured at Ulm. Brief 
is also the synonym for a card 
in German slang, and briefen 
means to play at cards. 

Brief snatchers — Brismelah. 


Brief snatchers (thieves), pick- 
pockets who devote their atten- 
tions to pocket-books on race 

Brigh (thieves), pocket. Probably 
from breeches, but closer in form 
to the Gaelic brigis, whence the 
French braies, breeches, and 
hrayette or braguette, flap of 
breeches, which formed a con- 
venient receptacle for small 
articles when pockets had not 
superseded the pouch. 

Bright (freemasons), an adjective 
applied to well-instructed ma- 

Bright in the eye (popular), a 
mild state of intoxication. 

Brim (old cant), a woman ; (com- 
mon), a violent and irascible 
woman. Brim, a very old Eng- 
lish word for angry or enraged, 
is supposed to be from the raging 
or roar of the sea. Anglo-Saxon 
brim, surf, surge on the shore. 

She raved, she abused me, and splenetic 

was ; 
She's a vixen, she's a brim, zounds ! she's 

all that is bad. 

— lyhim of the Day-, 1799. 

Brimstone (old cant), an aban- 
doned rogue, or prostitute ; 
(common), a violent, irascible 

The brimstone swore I beat her husband, 
and so I paid for meddling. ^/c'/jwj/tjw .- 

Confound the woman . . . was there 
ever such an aggravating brimstone ! — J. 
Greenwood : A linos t Lest. 

Bringing down the house (thea- 
trical and journalistic), eliciting 
thunders of applause. 

Bring on your bears I (American), 
a common form of challenge. 
It is said that a small boy in the 
Far West, who lived in a place 
where bear-killing was a favour- 
ite amusement, was very much 
struck at hearing for the first 
time the story of Elisha read 
from the Bible. The next day, 
while in his log-cabin home, he 
saw approaching an old man on 
whose pate not a hair could be 
seen. He hastily took down his 
father's rifle and loaded it, 
sharpened the family bowie- 
knife, and roared at the ancient 
passer-by, "Go up, thou Bald- 
head ! " Then looking defiantly 
up to heaven he cried, " Now, 
bring on your bears I " The 
Chicago Tribune (September 13, 
1886) heads a defiant article to 
England with this exclamation. 

Briny (popular), the sea. French 
slang, "la grande salde." 

He delights in collaring a greenhorn, 
and after pouring into his willing ears tales 
of unutterable woe and adventures under- 
gone on the briny. . . — H. Evans: The 
Brighton Beach Loafer. 

Brisket-beater (popular), a Roman 
Catholic (Hotten). 

Brismelah (Anglo- Yiddish), the 
ceremony of circumcision. Be- 
rts, a covenant ; btris hamiloh, 
the covenant of circumcision. 

The practice, however, of putting round 
the hat at brismelahs has fallen off consi- 


Bristol milk — Broady. 

derably. At one place I knows of, where 
they haves a annual baby every Purim, 
the family Mohel had become such a nui- 
sance with his begging that at the last 
brismelah they couldn't get enough 
Yidden for mezooman, let alone minyan, 
and if it hadn't been for the potman calling 
from the Cat and Trumpet they'd never 
a been able to bring the brismelah off at 
all. — Sporting Times. 

Bristol milk (old), sherry. Bristol 
was the chief port at which ves- 
sels from Spain carrying cargoes 
of this wine used to arrive — 
hence the name. 

Broach the claret, to (pugiUstic). 

'Twas not till the tenth round his claret 

was broach'd. 
But a pelt in the smeller, too pretty 

to shun, 
If the lad even could set it going like 

— Torn Cribb's Memorial to Congress. 

Broad and shallow (popular), an 
epithet applied to the so-called 
" Broad Church," in contradis- 
tinction to the " High " and 
" Low " Churches (Hotten). 

Broad bottom. Explained by 

A coalition Government in the last 
century was known by the apt nickname 
of the Broad Bottom. Walpole, writing 
Mann in 1741, says : " The Tories declare 
ag.iinst any further prosecution — if Tories 
there are, for now one hears of nothing 
but the Broad Bottom ; it is the reigning 
cant word, and me.ins the taking all parties 
and people indifferently into the Ministry." 
— Comhill Magazine. 

Broad brim (common), originally 
a Quaker, thus called from 
tlie peculiar hat worn by the 
" friends." Now used in refer- 
ence to rjuict, sedate men. 

A veteran correspondent, who inspired 
"The Druid " with nianyof his paragraphs, 
writes us that Mr. W., the breeder of Fair 
Alice, did not stand atone as we imagined, 
and that Mr. K., the owner of Priscilla 
Tomboy, was also a broad brim. — Sporting 

Broad cooper (brewers), a person 
employed by brewers to nego- 
tiate with publicans (Hotten). 

Broad faking (card-sharpers), 
playing at cards, or doing the 
three-card trick on race-courses, 

Broads (popular and thieves), 

"Yes, he was a red hot 'un," quoth the 
Horticulturist, "and at the broads he was 
unrivalled. But he played it too thick at 
Brighton that week." — Sporting Times. 

He then took another business at Wal- 
worth, and got on well while he forswore 
the "infernal broads" as he called them. 
— /. Greenwood : Tag, Rag, <5^* Co. 

Broadsman (thieves), a card- 

Broady (tailors), among East End 
tailors broadcloth is so called. 
Also a general term for cloth. 

Gentlemen finding their own broady can 
be accommodated. — A Slang Advertise- 

" Broady workers are men 
who go round selling vile shoddy 
stuff under the pretence that it 
is excellent material, which has 
been got ' on tlie cross,' that is, 
'stolen ' " (Hotten). 

(Thieves), hroady, anything 
worth stealing. 

Brock — Broomsticks. 


Brock, to (Winchester), to bully. 
Literally, to badger. From 
brock, a badger. 

Brockster (Winchester), a bully. 

Brogan (American), coarse, strong 
shoes. From brogues, coarse 
shoes, which, according to Ken- 
nett, are shoes made of rough 
hide used by the wild Irish. 
Irish brog, a shoe. 

Broiled crow, to eat (Ameri- 
can). A newspaper editor who 
is obliged by his party, or other 
outside influences, to advocate 
principles different from those 
which he supported a short 
time before, is said to eat broiled 
crow, more conmionly "to eat 

Broke (common), hard -up, re- 
duced to one's last sou. 

There was a young plunger, who smartly 
Snapped up the big books about Hartley ; 

Then came the^ajc^, 

And Ben cried " Carrasco ! 
I'm bested, broke, busted — or partly ! " 
— Bird o Freedom. 

Broke her leg (American), said 
of an unmarried woman who 
has had a child. In French 
theatrical slang, a lady who is 
enceinte " ar mal au genou," the 
result of a, faux-j)as. 

Broken. When a corporal at the 
R. M. Academy is reduced for 
some irregularity or misconduct 
he is said to be broken. 

Broken knees (popular), a woman 
who has made a slip, or been 

seduced, is said to have broken 
knees. The Germans say she 
has " lost a shoe." The analogy 
existing in each language be- 
tween the phrase and the lan- 
guage of the stable is curious. 

Brolly (Winchester), a corruption 
of umbrella. The term is used 
also at the universities, 

I saw great Goshen stamping on the pave, 
I saw that famous man his brolly wave ; 
I heard a naughty word, and I am free 
To own that that same word began with D. 
— Funny Folks. 

Broncho (American), wild or 
savage, unruly. A Western term 
derived from the broncho or mus- 
tang, an unruly brute. 

" Oh ! I don't know. He'd been sing- 
ing the music to 'em" (imitating them). 
" Sam's too broncho." — F. Francis : 
Saddle and Mocassin. 

Broom it, to (old slang), to run 

Broomstick (common), to be mar- 
ried " over the broomstick," to 
live as man and wife without 
being married. 

Young ladies had fain single women re- 

And unwedded dames to the last crack of 
doom stick, 

Ere marry by taking a jump o'er a broom- 

— Ingoldsby Legends. 

An allusion to a marriage 
ceremony performed by both 
parties jumping over a broom- 

Broomsticks (thieves), insolvent 
bail. Called also " queer-bail," 
" straw bail," "Jew bail," &c. 


Brosh — Brown Bess. 

" Queer-bail are persons of no 
repute, hired to bail a prisoner 
in any bailable case. These men 
are to be had in London for 
a trifling sum, and are called 
hroomstickt " (Vaux's Glossary). 

Brosh (American), brittle. Dutch, 
brds, frail, brittle. A New York 

Brother-chip (popular), originally 
fellow-carpenter. Almost gene- 
ral now as brother tradesman of 
any kind. 

Brother smut (popular), used in 
the phrase "ditto brother smut," 
equivalent to tu quoque. Some- 
times " ditto smut " when ad- 
dressed to a woman. 

Brother starlings (old slang). 
"He's a brother starling of 
mine," i.e. he cohabits with the 
same mistress and shares her 

Brovm (popular), halfpenny. 

My father he is on the seas, my mother's 

dead and gone, 
And I am here, on this here pier, to roam 

the world alone ; 
I have not had, this live-long day, one 

drop to cheer my heart. 
Nor l>r<nvn to buy a bit of bread with, let 

alone a tart. 

— Ing;oldsby Legends. 

How much ha' we took to-day, Jim? 

Why, not a single brmvn, 
Ami our show one o' the best 
Once, and we rode from town to town. 
— George R. Sims : Ballcuis of 

1 took Parr's pills, which brought on 
premature old age ; and here I am, as you 
see.-., a wicktum to mislortunc. My heart 

is btuting for a buster, my mag is for a 
mag. So throw down your browns, kind- 
hearted Christians, and be done brown 
and " no mistake."— i?j/>wf«.- Laugh and 

(Common), to "do it brovm," 
to do well or completely. 

What with "cabbys"and with "wires," 
When anything transpires 

To send the market either up or down. 
In aerated " Breads," 
Or " Shores," or " Yanks," or " Reds," 

In slang we really do it rather brown. 
— At kin: Hoxise Scraps. 

(Popular), to brown, to under- 

"I can bro^un almost any poetry," said 
George, "but not Browning." — News- 
paper Story. 

And when they ask me if I brown such 
language, I ne'er hear or read as to brown- 
ing ; I'm done broivn instead. — T. K. 
Symns : The Age of Betting. 

Browns and whistlers (thieves), 
explained by quotation. ^^ Browns 
arid Whistlers are bad halfpence 
and farthings (it is a term used 
by coiners ") (Vaux's Glossary). 

Brown Bess (common), the old 
Government regulation musket. 
Soldiers of all nations are fond 
of giving names of persons to 
their weapons. The French 
troopers sometimes call their 
sword "Jacqueline," and most 
of the siege guns during the 
siege of Paris in 1870 had been 
nicknamed in the same manner 
by the sailors who manned the 
forts, their favourite being a 
very large gun called "Jose- 
phine." " To hug brown Bess," 
to serve as a private soldier. 
(Rhyming slang), yes. 

Brown Bessie — Brum. 


BroTvn Bessie, an old word for a 
woman of easy or uneasy virtue. 
Also hlach Bess. 

Things proffered and easie to come by 
diminish themselves in reputation and 
price, for how full of pangs and dotage is a 
wayling lover, for it may bee some brown 
Bessie. — Dore's Polydoron, 1631. 

"Bonny black Bess" was a very 
popular scandalous baUad a cen- 
tury ago. 

Brown bill (old), the old weapon 
of the English infantry. 

Brown George (nautical), a hard 
and coarse biscuit. 

Brownie (whalers), the polar bear. 

Brown Janet (nautical), a knap- 

Brown Joe (rhyming slang), no. 

Brown papermen (popular), ex- 
plained by quotation. 

But the little nick (a gambling-house) is 
what we call only bro-wn papermen, low 
gambling, playing for pence, and a shil- 
ling being a great go. — Mayhew : London 
Labour and the London Poor, 

Brown stone (American), beer. 

Brown talk (common), conver- 
sation of an exceedingly proper 

Brown typhus, brown titus, and 
in America brown creeturs, an 
attempt at the pronunciation of 
bronchitis, or the names fre- 
quently given by the lower 
orders to that common disease. 
These misnomers are some- 
times most amusing, as, for in- 

stance, a poor woman had been 
told she had myxadema, and 
informed a second medical man 
that her first doctor had said 
that she had got Nicodemus; 
but, she added, he could not 
cure it. 

Browny (thieves), a penny. 

Dols. is brozvm'es, as we call 'em some- 
times, that's pence. — Hamilton Aldi : 
Morals and Mysteries, 

Browse, to, to enjoy oneself, to 
idle about, to loll in the sun. 
French faire son Uzard. The 
expression is much used by 
gentlemen cadets of the Royal 
Mihtary Academy. In the 
United States, to eat here and 
there, now and then, an ex- 
pression of Abraham Lincoln's. 

Bruiser (prison), the bully who 
is a hanger-on of prostitutes. 

I'he bruiser is the nearest approach 
to Dickens' hero. Bill Sykes. — Michael 
Davitt : Leaves frotn a Prison Diary. 

(Common), a pugilist. (Pugilis- 
tic), a prize-fighter. (Popular), 
one fond of fighting. 

C, who is known in the neighbourhood 
as a "great bruiser" pleaded that he 
made a mistake, and thought Conway was 
molesting the woman, who he also mistook 
for his wife. He goes to jail for six weeks. 
— Echo. 

Brum (Winchester), stingy, mean. 
Probably an abbreviation of 
Brummagem. (Popular and 
thieves), a counterfeit coin. 
AI.S0 Birmingham. 

We have just touched for a rattling stake 
of sugar (large stake of money) at Brutn. 
— Cornhill Magazine. 

1 86 

Brumby — Brush. 

Brumby (Australian), a wild horse. 

Brummagem (common), Birming- 
ham, applied to anything vulgar 
or counterfeit. 

Those may be Brvmma^em or Man- 
chester manners, but they won't go down 
here. — Rhoda Broughton : Cometh up as 
a Flower. 

Never let yourself be deceived by Brum- 
viagem and paste. — Miss Thackeray : Old 

He whipped out his Brummagem blade so 
And he made three slits in the buffalo's 
And all its contents, through the rents and 
the vents, 
Come tumbling out, — and away they all 
hied I 

— Ingoldsby Legends. 

Brummagem was originally 
spelled Bromidgham, and its 
first connection with anything 
spurious or sham came from the 
so-called Bromidgham groat, a 
counterfeit fourpenny piece. 
It was subsequently applied to 
a person who was neither Whig 
nor Tory (Halliwell). 

Brummagem buttons (popular), 
counterfeit coin. 

Want change for a fiver — bad silver, 
Brummagem buttons, won't do. — Dickens : 
Pickwick Papers. 

Brums (Stock Exchange), London 
and North Western Railway 

We kneel at the feet of our " Nancys," 
We load them with " cottons " and 
If anything tickles our fancy, 

We buy them Brums, " Caleys," or 
" Apes." 

— Atkin: House Scraps. 

(Popular), the inhabitants of 
Birmingham. From "Brumma- 

The Brums must really look to the 
morals of their town a little more. — 
Modem Society. 

Joe Capp is the most sensibly dressed 
man who goes racing. He wears a long, 
cool-looking alpaca surtout ; but it was 
rough on Joe, after losing fourteen thick 
'uns at Four Oaks, when a Brum, whom 
he elbowed out of the way, remarked — 

" Don't think you're heverybody be- 
cause you make your coat hout o' the pore 
bloomink slavey's Sunday skirt." — Sport- 
ing Times. 

Brung (American), brought. A 
^vTJter on Americanisms is 
slightly mistaken in saying that 
white men use it as a "very 
mild joke." It is very often a 
stinging insult, and the writer 
has seen a man in Boston very 
angry because he was asked in 
jest, " Where were you brung 
up ? " The insult was in the 
intimation that the man was 
familiar with or in the habit 
of using such an expression. 

Brush (populfir), a house-painter. 

Brush, to have a (old), to have 
sexual intercourse, when applied 
to women ; also to run away. 

Brusher (old slang), a bumper. 
"To drink a brusher" was to 
drinkfromafullglass. (Schools), 
an abbreviation of " bum- 
brusJur," a schoolmaster. 

Brush up, to (American), to hum- 
bug or flatter, to smooth, 
conciliate. Brushing up a flat, 

Brydport dagger — Buck. 


"prancing," flattering 
York Slang Dictionary). 


Brydport dagger (old), explained 
by quotation. 

Stab'd with a Brydport dagger, that is, 
hang'd or executed at the gallowes ; the 
best, if not the most, hemp (for the quantity 
of ground) growing about Brydport. — 
Fuller: Dorset Worthies. 

Bub, bubby (American), a term 
very commonly applied to a 
little boy. It- came from 
Pennsylvania, where it was 
derived from the German huhe, 
which is commonly abbreviated 
to huh. 

" ' Bui,' he said to a little shaver coming 
out of the savings-bank with a book in his 
hand, ' are you saving money ? ' 

" ' Yes, sir.' 

" ' How much have you got in the bank?' 

" ' Eight cents, sir. I did have thirteen, 
but father got in straitened financial cir- 
cumstances and I had to draw five.' " 

Bub (thieves), strong malt liquor ; 
generally drink. 

Ay, iui and grubby, I say. 
Lots of gatter, quo' she, are flowing. 
— IV. Maginn : Vidocq's Slang Song. 

Also a brother. 

Bubber (American), applied to 
any woman (old or young) with 
full, well-rounded breasts, or 
buhbies, whence the term. 

Bubble-buff (old), a bailiff. 

Bubbley jock (popular), a turkey ; 
a stupid, boasting person. 

Bubbling squeak (army), hot soup. 
Properly, bubble and squeak is a 
dish composed of pieces of cold 

boiled meat and greens, after- 
wards fried, which have thus 
first bubbled in the pot, and 
then hissed or squeaked in the 

Bubs, bubbles (common), a 
woman's breasts. From bvb, 

Buck. This almost obsolete word, 
for what the French called a 
petit-mattre, and more recently 
daim (literally buck), has been 
gradually superseded by "blood," 
"dandy," "maccaroni," "swell," 
"Bond Street lounger," "ex- 
quisite," "dude," and "masher." 

(American, cards), a device 
for securing a good ante at 
poker or brag. The player 
whose turn it is to ante, instead 
of putting up money, puts up a 
knife, key, or any small article, 
saying, "I ante a buck worth $5," 
or whatever sum he chooses to 
name. If he has not won it 
back himself when he retires, he 
must redeem it from the pos- 
sessor at the price named. The 
peculiarity of the buck is that 
whoever holds it must ante it 
when it comes to his turn. 
Whenever it is desired to bring 
the game to a close, a good 
finish is secured by agreeing 
to " chase the buck home," i.e., 
whoever wins it has the next 
deal, and consequently antes 
it. The game stops as soon as 
the buck has been won back 
by the player who originally 
started it. 

(Cabdrivers), a sham "fare" 



in a cab. A biuJe is a man who 
rides in a cab ostensibly as a 
legitimate fare, to enable the 
cabman to proceed to some des- 
tination to which he is not 
allowed to take an empty cab. 
Many of the semi - private 
thoroughfares of London are 
closed to empty cabs, 

Mr. , on behalf of the United Cab 

Proprietors' Protection Association, said 
it often occurred that the men who were 
so conveyed were bucks — men who rode in 
a cab ostensibly as legitimate fares. In 
reality they acted in collusion with the 
driver to evade the police regulations, espe- 
cially with regard to theatres. — Standard. 

(Popular), a sixpence. The 
word is rarely used by itself, 
but as in the phrase, " two and 
a buck." More frequently " two 
and a kick." Possibly from the 
gypsy bdk (pronounced buck), 
luck, as it is always asked for 
for luck. 

(Old slang), to " run a buck," 
to poll a bad vote at an election. 
This phrase is of Irish origin. 

(American), to biick is to butt 
against, to oppose. 

Yer oughter be ershamed o' yerse'f ter 
persecute 'ligion in dis way. Wy how de 
work o' de Lawd gwine ter prosper when 
de white folks bucks ergin it dis way ? I'se 
sorry fur yer, fur old Satan got his eye on 
yer, sho. — Arkansaiv Traveller. 

To rear up, to jump like a 
buck, to jump and " cavort." 
Applied to a peculiar leaping of 
Western horses. Dutch, boken 
vmken, to cut capers ; bok- 
stavast, leap-frog. 

The term is used also in South 
Africa and Australia. 

I don't think that we have a beast 
About the place that bucks the least. 
—Z>. B. tK Sladen : A Hummer 

(Banking), "to buck an ac- 
count " is to make an account 
balance without carrying it out 
properly, i.e., to cook the ac- 

(Californian), in the Califor- 
nian vernacular this signifies to 
play against the bank, as, e.g., 
in faro, that is, to sweep the 
tables, or clean out or gut the 

I don't like your looks at all, I'd buck 
against any bank you ran all night. — 
Bret Harte : Gabriel Conroy. 

(Winchester College), " to 
buck down " is to be unhappy, 
whilst to "buck up" is to be 

(Anglo-Indian), to talk egotis- 
tically, to prate and chatter, to 
let one's tongue run loose. From 
the Hindu bakna. 

And then he bucks, with a quiet stub- 
born determination that would fill an 
American editor or an Under Secretary of 
State with despair. He belongs to the 
twelve foot tiger school, so perhaps he 
can't help it. — All Baba. 

Buck-bail (thieves), bail given by a 
sharper for one of his own gang. 

Buck fitch (old), an old man of 
abandoned haVjits, an old roui. 
A " buck face," an injured hus- 
band, alluding to the horns. 

Buck or fight the tiger, to 

(American), to gamble. Derived 
from the parti -coloured divisions 
or strii)es on a gambling table. 

Buckeen — Buck/torse. 


This little oil town, on the line of the 
Olean, Bradford, and Warren Railroad, 
and partly in Pennsylvania and partly in 
New York, is the greatest poker-playing 
place in the entire northern oilfield. It 
is a town in which all the residents 
"buck the festive tiger." — Chicago Tri- 

Buckeen (Irish), a bully, an in- 
ferior sort of squire. 

There were several squireens or little 
squires, a race of men who have suc- 
ceeded to the buckeens described by 
Young and Crumpe. — Miss Edge-worth: 

Bucket (American), an anonymous 
letter. (Common), to " give the 
iucket," to dismiss, to dismiss 
from one's employ. 

He were sore put about because Hester 
had gi'en him the bucket. — Mrs. Gaskell: 
Sylvia's Lovers. 

(University), to bucket is to 
scoop the water instead of pull- 
ing the oar steadily and fairly 

(Popular), to bucket a person, 
to deceive, ruin him. To kick 
the bucket, to die. 

"Fine him a pot," roared one, "for 
talking about kicking the bucket. He's a 
nice young man to keep a cove's spirits 
up, and talk about a ' short life and a 
merry one.' " — C. Kingsley : Alton Locke. 

Dr. Brewer gives the follow- 
ing explanation : "A bucket is 
a pulley. . . . When pigs are 
killed they are hung by their 
hind legs on a bucket . . . and 
oxen are hauled up by a 
pulley. ... To kick the bucket 

is to be hung on the bulk or bucket 
by the heels." 

Bucket afloat (rhyming slang), a 

Bucket-shop (American), a bucket 
has in America several mean- 
ings, all indicating underhand 
or concealed dealings. The term 
is applied to low groggeries, and 
also to places which advertise 
as below cost flashy goods 
which are sold at a large profit. 
Low, swindling, gambling places, 
or lottery offices, also bear this 
name, and in Chicago it appears 
from the following extract to be 
borne by broker establishments 
where " corners " are manipu- 

The latest story out to account for the 
recent strength in the wheat market, is to 
the effect that it is the result of a combined 
effort to "burst the bucket-shops." 

(Stock Exchange), the office 
of an outside broker of doubtful 

A disreputable gambling case which 
came before the Divisional Court yesterday 
is noteworthy for the remarks made on 
" the vice of gambling in stocks and shares " 
by two judges. A gambler had sued a firm 
of bucket-shop keepers for profits alleged 
to have been made on "certain transac- 
tions," and the latter coolly pleaded the 
statute against wagering and gaming in 
defence. — Pall Mall Gazette. 

Buckhara (American), a California 
name for a cattle driver. It is 
the Spanish vaquero. 

Buckhorse (pugilistic). ' ' A smart 
blow or box on the ear ; derived 
from the name of the celebrated 


Buckle — Budger. 

'bruiser'" (John Smith, alias 
Buckhone, fought on the stage 
1732-46), according to Hotten's 

Buckle, to (Scottish), to marry, 
a vulgarism used by D'Urfey in 
his imitation of a Scotch song, 
popular in the time of Charles 
II., "Within a mile of Edin- 
burgh Toun." The phrase is 
still current in England among 
the lower classes, among whom 
to be "buckled " not only means 
to be married, but to be taken 
into custody. 

Buckle-beggar (old), a man who 
officiated as a clergyman to per- 
form the marriage ceremony in 
the Fleet Prison ; also a hedge- 
priest, who performs the cere- 
mony of marriage among tramps 
and gypsies. 

Buckled (thieves), imprisoned. 
French slang, boucld. 

Why, I was iuciied bccaxxst I got drunk. 
It was a pure accident. Had I followed 
my usual work I should never have fallen. 
— Evening News. 

Buckler, a collar (New York Slang 

Buckra yam ("West Indian). As 
in negro eyes " the white man," 
or buckra, is the synonym of 
something superior and beyond 
him in the scale of being, so 
the word has come to mean 
anything good. Thus buckra 
yam, good yam; buckra cloth, 
good cloth. A " swanga buckra " 

is a specially well-dressed white 

Bucks (West Indian), the cogno- 
men of the aboriginal inhabi- 
tants of British Guiana — the 
South American Indians. 

Bud (American), a "society" word 
for young lady debutantes, or 
"come outers," in their first 

There's nothing so beautiful to me as a 
beautiful girl. 1 doubt if any man can 
better understand or be more truly in love 
with the dear perfectness of nature than I 
am. O girls, da appreciate girls. At my 
last ball the kids (youths) were tearing 
around . . . but even the shyest and 
greenest of it^ds knows that the ad- 
miration of the kid isn't worth having, 
it is so easy to get and as hard to get 
rid of. — Madge : Letter in the Nnu York 

Budge (thieves), a thief ; especially 
one who sneaks into a shop 
and is locked in, thus getting a 
chance to admit an accomplice. 
Formerly a pickpocket. Pro- 
bably from bouget, budge, budget, 
a sack, pouch, wallet. A 

Budge, the sneaking (old slang), 
robbing private houses of light 
small articles, such as coats, 
hats, &c. ; now called " area 
sneak " or "hall sneak." "Budge 
clothes," lambs' fur formerly 
used for trimming the robes of 
Bachelors of Arts (Halliwell). 
Standing budge, a thief, scout, 
or spy. 

Budger (thieves), a drunkard. 

Budgerow — Buffer. 


Budgerow (Anglo-Indian). Hin- 
du, hujra. A heavy keelless 
barge, formerly much used by 
Europeans travelling on the 
Gangetic rivers (Anglo-Indian 

The bujra broad, the bholia trim. 
Or pinnaces that gallant swim 
With favouring breeze, or dull or slow, 
Against the heady current go. 

— H. H. Wihon in Bengal Annual. 

Budging-ken (thieves), a public 
house, the " cove of the hudg- 
ing-ken " being the landlord. 

Budmash (Anglo-Indian), a bad, 
worthless fellow ; a scoundrel. 

Gamblers, cut-throats, budmashes of 
every description. — Bosworth Smith : 
Life 0/ Lord Lawrence. 

Budzat (Anglo-Indian), from the 
Persian badzat, evil race. A low 
fellow, a "bad lot," a black- 

Why the Shaitan (devil) didn't you 
come before, you lazy old budzart ? — 
A nglo-Indian Glossary : The Datik Bun- 

Buff (tramps), among the tramping 
fraternity a buff-ball is a dancing 
party, characterised by the in- 
decency of those who attend it, 
the costume de rigueur being that 
of our parents. 

The most favourite entertainment at 
this place is known as "buff-ball," in 
which both sexes — innocent of clothing — 
madly join, stimulated with raw whisky 
and the music of a fiddle and a tin whistle. 
—James Greenwood : In Strange Com- 

(Old slang), to " stand buff" 
to bear the brunt, to pay the 
piper; also "to boast," given 
as a very old word by 
"Batman uppon Bartholome," 

To buff, defined by Hotten as 
simply meaning to swear to ; 
but the following, from the New 
York Slang Dictionary, gives the 
spirit of the word very accu- 
rately : "Buffing it home is 
swearing point-blank to any- 
thing, about the same as bluf- 
fing it, making a bold stand on 
no backing." 

Buffer (common), a man, a fel- 

But aged, slow, with stiff limbs, totter- 
ing much, 
And lungs that lacked the bellows- 
mender's touch, 
Yet sprightly to the scratch both buf- 
fers came. 
— Torn Cribb's Memorial to Congress. 

I'll merely observe as the water grew 

The more my poor hero continued to 

Till the sailors themselves cried in 

pity, Poor buffer ! 

—Ingoldsby Legends. 

Also a merry companion with a 
spice of the rogue in him, the 
Falstaff of a century ago. Buffer 
or buffard is a provincialism for 
a foolish fellow. In Dutch, boef 
or boefer, means, according to 
the Groot Wordenbock der 
Engelsche en Nederduytsche 
Jaalen of William Sewell, " a 
rogue, knave, or wag," which is 
identical both in sound and 
meaning with the English word 


Buffer — Bug. 

(Popular), a dog, from the 
old cant word hufe, a dog. (Old 
cant), a smuggler, a rogue, a 
cheat ; also a dog. Buffer- 
nabber, a dog-stealer. (Nau- 
tical), buffer, a navy term for a 
boatswain's mate, one of whose 
duties it was to administer the 
"cat." From the obsolete 
English to huff, to strike. It 
has been suggested, however, 
that buffer is of Dutch origin. 
Teirlinck (Woordenbock van 
Bargoensch) gives haf, a blow ; 
baffen, to strike with the fist, 
adding "Klanknabootsend idiot- 
isme van dagelijksch gebrink 
in Vlanderen." 

Buffle-headed (popular), stupid 
and stolid as a buffalo or ass. 
Synonymous with "pig-headed," 
stupidly obstinate. 

You know nothing, you huffle-headed, 
stupid creature. — IVyclurley : Plain 
Dealer, 1677. 

Buff's (common), the 3rd regiment 
of foot in the British army. 
From their facings. 

Buffy (common), intoxicated. 

Flexor was fine and huffy when he came 
home last night. — Shirley Brooks: The 
Cordian Knot. 

Bug (American and English 
thieves), a breast-pin ; bugger, 
a pickpocket, or one who makes 
a specialty of snatching away 
breast-pins, studs, &c. ; bug- 
hunter, the same. 

The chips, the fawneys, chatty-feeders, 
The bugs, the boungs, and well-filled 

—On the Trail. 

i.e., The money, the rin;;s, spoons, 

Breast-pins, purses, and well-filled 

(American and older English), 
bug, which in England is now 
limited to the Cimex, politely 
termed a Norfolk Howard, is 
in America still applied to all 
varieties of the Coleoptera and 
many other insects. 

"Oh, Fred, what's that ticking noise? 
Do you think it's the death watch mamma 
was reading about before she put us to 
bed?" " Hessie, don't be a little goose. 
It's only a 6ug, anyhow. Maybe it's not 
even a iug- — only the bed-ticking." — Phila- 
delphia Call. 

(Old slang), to bug, an old 
phrase in use at one time among 
journeymen hatters to signify 
the substitution of good material 
with inferior stuff. Bailiffs who 
accepted money to delay service 
of writs were also said " to hug 
the writ." 

Bug- or bug over, to (thieves), to 
deliver, give or hand over. Vaux 
instances : " He hug'd me .1 
quid," i.e., he gave me a guinea ; 
"iwjr over the rag," i.e., hand 
over the money. 

Bugaroch (American thieves), 
pretty (New York Slang Diction- 

Bug blinding (army), white-wash- 
ing, a process calculated to 
destroy, or at least to remove 
the superficial traces of vermin 

Bugging — Bulge. 


that are a perfect pest in 
the more antiquated barracks, 
especially in warm climates. 

Bugging (American), taking 
money from a thief by a police- 
man. This indicates the ex- 
istence of an old word "bug" 
for money as well as valu- 
ables. In Dutch slang, bucht 
is money. 

Buggy (old cant), a leather bottle. 
It now signifies a gig or light 

Bug hunter (thieves), a thief who 
plunders drunken men. 

Bug juice (army), ginger ale. 
In America applied to very bad 

Bugle it, to (American cadet), to 
abstain from attending class and 
reciting until the bugle sounds 
for attention. 

Bug walk (popular), a bed. 

Build, to (or it) (American), said 
of a man who is slow to move, 
or of an affair which requires 
great exertion. It is taken from 
a boy's trick of putting a coal 
under a tortoise to make it walk. 

" I have a letter of introduction to Mr. 
Samuel Slump," said a stranger in a West- 
ern town to a citizen. " Can you tell me 
if he is a man of drinking habits?" " Wall, 
stranger," replied the citizen, expectorat- 
ing copiously, " I wouldn't go so fur as to 
say that Sam is a hard drinker, but I reckon 
if you ask him to go an' take suthin', you 
won't have to buiid a fi>e under him to 
git him stalled." 

(Nautical), to "build a chapel " 
is to turn a ship round through 
bad steering. 

Building spots for sale (Ameri- 
can), used of any imperfect per- 
son or thing. 

Built that way (common), " not 
built that way," not in one's line. 

Black Moustache addresses the divinity 
as " Popsie," and she calls him " Bob." 
During the evening they have impromptu 
dancing. Smith cjm't dance ; he isn't 
built that way, and Miss Jones says that 
Black Moustache waltzes delightfully. All 
of which means that the following week is 
one of agony for young S., who moodily 
meditates leaving England for ever, and 
straightway abjures the harmless necessary 
shave. — Bird o' Freedom. 

Bulgarian atrocity (Stock Ex- 
change), Varna and Rustchuk 
Railway 3 per cent, obligations. 

And we've really quite a crew 

Of fancy names to represent a share . . . 

But fancy, by the way. 

Now, in the present day, 

A Varna's a Bulgarian atrocity. 

— A tkin : House Scraps. 

Bulge (American), properly to 
bulge is to swell out, and bulge 
is a swelling or belly. In the 
United States the words are 
extended and amplified in many 
ways. Thus there is a story 
of a man who, being tried for 
shooting his neighbour, pleaded 
that be had only aimed at the 
bulge of his shirt where it 
" bagged out " above his trousers. 
"To get the bulge" on a man, 
appears to mean to have the 
better of him. As bulge conveys 
the idea of swelling or infiation 


Bulger— Bull. 

or expansion, it is much used to 
indicate magnitude or extrava- 
gance. Thus to go " bulging 
about " conveys the same idea 
as "splurging" (which see). 

Bulger. This English word, signi- 
fying a large object or creature, 
is much more extensively used 
in the United States than in the 
mother- country. " New York 
is a bvlijer of a place," said 
Colonel Crockett in 1835. At 
Princeton College (New Jersey) 
the largest and heaviest of the 
students is familiarly called hoi- 
ger. The negro minstrel word 
hulgine, for a locomotive, appears 
to be a compound, the first part 
of which is derived rather from 
lidge than "bull," as implying 

I got on board de telegraf an' floated 

down de ribber, 
De 'lectric fluid magnified and killed five 

hundred nigger. 
De b-uUgine burst, de steam went off, I 

really tought I'd die ; 
I shut my eyes to hold my breath — 

Susanna don't you cry ! 

— Song 0/0 Susanna. 

Bulk and file (old), two thieves 
working together. The hulk 
jostles the victim against the 
jlle, who robs him of his money 
or watch. 

Bulker (old cant), a street-walk- 
ing prostitute; from "bulk," 
that formerly signified the 

She must turn bulker (when her cloathes 
are worn out), at which trade I hope to see 
you suddenly. — KavtHscro/t, 1670. 

Bulky (Winchester College), gene- 
rous, open-handed, as opposed 
to "brum." 

Bull, now recognised and applied 
to a blunder, formerly meant 
any kind of rough, blundering, 
or foolish jest or trick, and is of 
the same root with huUy in its 
sense of a clown or merry-maker. 
Old Dutch bollaert (Skeat), "a 
jester or a gyber." Swedish 
bullra, to make a noise. Butler 
in Anglo-Norman means an 
equivocator or deceiver, which 
unmistakably indicates the ex- 
istence of bull in the modern 

The sexte case is of fals bullers, 
Baith that tham makes and that tham wers. 
—MS. Cottan. Vespasian 

The term hull-ca\i itself 
(Shakspeare), and bull-finch, a 
stupid fellow (North Country), 
all indicate the association with 
blundering and stupidity which 
is implied by bull. The word 
was first .specially identified with 
Hibernian mistakes by Miss 
Edge worth in her "Essay on 
Irish Bulls." (Popular), a roar- 
ing horse. 

(Popular and thieves), a crown, 
an abbreviation of its former 
appellation, a bull's eye. 

. . . Then giv' me a little money, four 
half bulls, wot you may call half-crowns, 
and ses, hook it I — Charles Dickens, 

(Prison), rations of meat ; an 
uncomplimentary reference to 
the toughness of the beef sup- 
plied. The French slang has 

Bull — Bull-doze. 


bidoche, for meat, from bidet, a 

(Stock Exchange), explained 
by first quotation. 

Berliner is puzzled by the terms iull 
and " bear," that he often sees in the 
papers in connection with the Stock Ex- 
change. . . . These terms are as old as the 
time of the South Sea Bubble, 1710. A 
man who contracted to sell stock of which 
he was not possessed was called a " bear," 
in allusion to the proverb, " Selling the 
skin before you have caught the bear," 
and he who bought, without intending to 
receive the stock, was called a iuU, by 
way of distinction. To 6uU the market is 
now to raise the price of stock when ope- 
rating for a sale, while to " bear" it is to 
use every effort to depress the price of 
stock in order to buy it. 

So was the huntsman by the bear op- 

Whose hide he sold before he caught the 

— Tii Bi/s. 

A man was complaining that he had lost 
all his money through gambling on the 
Stock Exchange. A friend ventured to 
ask him if he had been a bull ox a " bear " ? 
and was told " Neither, I was an ass." — 
A tkin : House Scraps. 

(American thieves), a loco- 

. . . Had just touched a bloke's leather 
as the bull bellowed for the last time. — 
On the Trail. 

Bull and cow (rhyming slang), a 

Bull-dance (nautical), a dance 
without women ; also called a 
" stag-dance." 

Bull-dog (university), one of the 
duties of the university proctors 
is to promenade the town in 
search of offending undergra- 
duates. Certain men, who are 

termed bull-dogs, accompany 
him. Their duty is to chase 
the offender, whose ingenuity 
in evading capture gives rise to 
many amusing stories. Many a 
long race too often ends in 
finding their prey is an outsider, 
whom they have no interest in 

The proctor's satellites, vulgarly called 
bull-dogs. — Macmillan's Magazine. 

I don't mean the college bull-dogs, they 
don't interfere with us, only with women. 
— H. Mayhew : London Labour and the 
London Poor. 

(Old slang), a pistol, now a 
short thick revolver. 

" I have always a brace oi bull-dogs about 
me." ... So saying, he exhibited a 
very handsome, highly-finished, and richly 
mounted pair of pistols. — Sir W. Scott: 
St. Ronatis Well. 

(Nautical), the great gun 
which stands "housed" in 
the officers' wardroom cabin. 
General term for main-deck 

Bull-dog blazer (American), a 
short thick revolver. 

The manager laid down a large cane he 
had in his hand, and picked up instead a 
trusty bull-dog blazer, as he said — 

"Young man, I don't think you can be 
of any service to me, and you'd better slide." 

" Assuredly ; but you don't happen to 
have a shilling you could lend me?" 

" No, I don't," and the manager cocked 
the revolver. 

"Well, say ; let me into the show, will 
j-ou ? " — Green Room. 

Bull-doze, to (American), to com- 
pel a person to do anything, or 
to influence his conduct by 
cruelty or brute force. It is 


Bull-doze — Bullocky. 

derived from a Southern word 
meaning a whip or cowhide, or 
species of " kurbatch," made 
from the (jlana penis of a 
bull. It is said that negroes 
were whipped almost to death 
with this, or bull-dozed to make 
them vote the Democratic ticket. 
It is now extensively used in the 
United States, to express com- 
pulsion of any kind, especially 
in politics. 

Bull-dozer (American), a revolver. 
Used to mean a persuader, some- 
thing to enforce an argument 
by personal violence. Vide 

Bullet (army), discharge upon 
the spot, without a moment's 

(Printers), see Dry-UP, and 
Qui. According to Savage's 
" Dictionary of the Art of 
Printing," 1841, a workman was 
said to have got the bullet when 
he was discharged instanter — 
without the customary notice 
on either side. 

Bullets (cards), in American brag, 
are aces ; sometimes called 
white aces, in contradistinction 
to aces made up by holding 
braggers. The highest hand in 
the game is three white (or real) 
aces, the next highest is " two 
bullets and a bragger," which 
cannot, of course, occur in the 
same round in which three real 
aces are held, though another 
player may hold two other 
bullets and a bragger at the 

same time. Hence the expres- 
sion " the serene confidence 
which a Christian feels in the 
three white aces." 

Bullfinch (provincial), a corrup- 
tion of " bull fence," a stiff 
fence able to keep bulls out of 
or in a field. 

The third fence was a teazer, an ugly 
bullfinch with a ditch on the landing side. 
— Guy Livin^tone. 

Also a stupid fellow, 

BuUjine (nautical) a locomotive 
is so called by sailors. Termed 
" bull " by American thieves. 

Bull-money, a vulgar phrase for 
money extorted by a chance 
witness from the man detected 
in the fields, the woods, the sea- 
shore, or other lonely place, in 
the act of carnal copulation. 

Bullock's heart (printers), see 
Token. This is a term of con- 
tempt that pressmen apply to 
a single " token," or order to 
print, of two hundred and fifty 
copies only, the lowest paying 
number in the scale of prices. 
This expression is due to the 
circumstance that it is not a 
"fat" but a "lean" job, hence 
the comparison to a bullock's 
heart, which, unless suffering 
from "fatty degeneration," is 
the essence of leanness. 

Bullock's horn (rhyming slang), 
in pawn. 

Bullocky (Australian, upcountry), 
a bullock-team driver. In the 

Biillocky — Bully. 


bush all the heavy hauling is 
done with bullock-drags. It is 
quite a common sight up the 
country to see teams of a dozen 
and upwards. BuUockirs in 
Australia are as proverbial as 
bargees or Billingsgate fishwives 
in England for the forcibleness 
of their language. 

" When you make Mokepilly," quoth one 
of the sunburnt bullocky men, " keep on bj' 
the brush fence, and that will take you 
right into the gap. Gee hup, Streaky ; 
ya-hoy-ya, Strorb'ry." — T. C. Work: Aus- 
tralasian Printer s Keepsake. 

Bull party, an assembly, gather- 
ing, or dinner party of jnen 

Bull puncher (American), a word 
defined as follows by one who 
was himself of the calling : — 

He followed the profession of a hill- 
puncher; that is, he went in charge of the 
cattle destined for slaughter and "canning " 
in the distant North, and made money at 
it, being steady and trustworthy, and no 
drinker. — Morley Roberts : The Western 
Avemus, 1887. 

Bull's-eye villas (military), the 
small open-air tents used by the 
volunteers at their annual rifle 
contest held on Wimbledon 

Bull's feathers, horns. To describe 
a man as wearing huWs feathers 
was to represent him as a 

Three crooked horns, smartly top-knotted 
with ribands; which being the ladies' wear, 
seem to intimate that they may very pro- 
bably adorn, as well as bestow, the bulls 
feather. — Richardson : Clarissa llarlmve. 

The attribute of boms to a 
cuckold is of remote antiquity, 
and is supposed by symbolists 
of the school of Creuzer and 
Faber to be derived from the 
horns of cattle, also of the new 
moon, at which time festivals 
were held in Assyria, where all 
women were in common, and 
men who were among the ini- 
tiated bore the symbol and were 
corpparedtooxen. Horns as worn 
on the head were suggestive of 
feathers in a cap, hence fruZZ's 
feathers (Ch3,rles G, Leland, 
U.S. Notes). 

The French have a correspond- 
ing expression: "planter des 
plumes de boeuf." 

On me dit qu'elle est bien gente 
Qu'elle est douce comme un agneau. 

Par ma foi ! j'ai peur que'mplante 
Plumes de boeuf a mon chapeau ! 

— Song. 

Bull the cask, to (nautical), to 
pour hot water into an empty rum 
puncheon, and let it stand until 
it extracts the spirit from the 
wood. The mixture is drunk by 
sailors in default of something 

Bull-traps, thieves or swindlers 
who personate policemen (Ne\v 
York Slang Dictionary). 

Bully (American), oftep applied 
in a commendable sense by the 
vulgar ; as, for instance, a hdbj 
fellow, a bully horse. 

Hope you had a pleasant nap, bully place 
for a nice quiet snooze. — Bret Hartt-: 
Poems ami Prose. 


Bully — Bully-cock. 

The captain said she was a bully boat. — 
Mark Twain: Roughing it. 

" Now," said he, " Slick, my bully, I 
think I see a smart chance of doin' a con- 
siderable stroke of business to Nova Scotia, 
in the smugglin' line. — Sam Slick. 

BuUij for you, for me, is a 
commendatory phrase. 

That's bully, plenty bully for me. Just 
you gimme the hundred dollars. — Mark 
Twain : Tom .lawyer. 

This word has two distinct 
meanings : ( i.) A braggart, or a 
man who terrifies and threatens. 
(2.) The older form, still com- 
mon, applied to any person or 
thing which is pre-eminently 
excellent, e.g., a huUy horse, 
" that's hully." The Bully Bot- 
tom of Shakspeare implies a 
compliment. In Dutch slang 
hoL has the same meaning, a 
head, a leader ; as one might 
say, the bully of the crowd. 
Also an intelligent person. 
" Boll, 'een man met eenen goe- 
den kop. Bol van de kit, man, 
of meester van het huis," i.e., 
" A man with a good head, the 
master of a house." The word 
came into Dutch as it did into 
German slang, from the Ger- 
man-Hebrew, hal meaning lite- 
rally man, but always used to 
indicate a master, director, or 

(Common), a htdly, a stone or 
lump of lead tied in the end of a 
handkerclnef (New York Slang 

(Football), a scrimmage. 

" Change ! " was called, and after the 
first bully the ball was rushed down the 
Kroum! to tlie clialk line of good calx. 

where a bully was formed, after which it 
was walked into calx and five shies ob- 
tained before time was called. — Sporting 

Bully-beef (army), tinned meat ; 
supposed to be made of old bulL 
The " iron ration," as it is often 
called, either from its tough- 
ness, or the cases of tin or other 
metal in which it is preserved. 
(Nautical), boiled beef. 

Bully-boss (American), the land- 
lord of a sporting crib, tavern, 
or brothel. Derived in all pro- 
bability from bully and boss, but 
also agreeing remarkably, though 
b)' chance, with the baal habos, 
or "master of the house" of 
the Jews, which is commoner 
as hal bos; hence the Dutch 
thieves' slang, balleboos {bads), 
head man of any kind. This is 
a very curious instance of words 
of similar forms derived from 
radically different sources. 

Bully-buck (old slang), a man re- 
tained by the keepers of brothels, 
being paid by them to assist in 
enforcing exorbitant demands 
on those frequenting such places. 
Sometimes it was pretended that 
they were the husbands of some 
of the inmates, in order by threats 
of exposure to extort money 
from simpletons supposed to 
have been discovered in fayrante 

Bully - cock (old slang), a man 
who, for the purposes of robbery 
and theft, fomented a quarrel 
between people, to cloak his 
nefarious designs. 

Bullyrag — Bu m-brusher. 


Bullyrag (American and English), 
to abuse, revile, or scold vehe- 
mently. From the Dutch hvl- 
der-ar, a blusterer ; bulderaren, 
to rage, to bluster, to roar ; bul- 
derarig, blustering, and raak, 

Bully -rook or rocJc, a braggart, 
occurs in Shakspeare, where it 
is certainly of Dutch origin, e.g., 
huller-hrook, a boisterous fellow. 
Bvlbra, Swedish, to make a 

The C. C. Well, he's blowing her up ; 
" Look 'ere, Matilda," he sez, " I'm 'anged 
if they 'aven't bin and let the Throne-room 
lire out again ! " And she sez, " It's no use 
bullyraggin me, Billiam ; speak to the 
Lord 'Igh Chamberlain about it — it's 'is 
business. "—Punch. 

Bully-trap, a trap for bullies and 
blackguards ; applied to a man 
of mild and gentlemanly ap- 
pearance and demeanour, who, 
if attacked by a bully, shows 
unexpected spirit, courage, and 
determination, and proves more 
than a match for his assailant. 

Bum (public schools), a birching ; 
termed also a belting. (Army), 
" cherry bums," the hussars, the 
allusion being obvious. The 
French chasseurs go by the 
nickname of cuU rouges. 

(Obsolete), hum or " bummy," 
a contraction of bum baiUif. 
Thus called because he follows 
the man he has to serve with 

Here lies John Trull, by trade a ium ; 

When he died 

The Devil cried, 
"Come, John, come." 

To bum, to arrest a debtor. 

The word, according to Black- 
stone, is a corruption of "bound ' ' 
bailiff ; but this has been denied, 
as bum bailiffs are no more 
" bound" than other officers of 
the law to do justice, Todd 
quotes passages to prove that it 
arose from the pursuer catching 
hold of a man by the tail or 
hinder part of his garment. 

Bumble (common), a beadle, from 
Dickens' character in "Oliver 


Bumble-crew (journalistic), cor- 

Then spake the chairman to the rate- 
payers :- 

The shindy of to-day exposes all 
The apish antias of a bumble crew. 
The worst this town containeth. 

— Punch. 

Bumbo (old), brandy, water, and 
sugar ; also a negro term for 
the private parts of a woman. 

Bum - brasher, an opprobrious 
name for a schoolmaster. 

Dionysius was forced to turn bum- 
hrusher in my own defence, a condition 
which best suited with a man that de- 
lighted in tyranny and blood. — T. Brcnvfi : 

Derived from the too com- 
mon practice of pedagogues 
who flog boys with or with- 
out reason. The historical bum- 
hrushers date from the days 
of James I. of England and 
VI. of Scotland — whose tutor, 
Buchanan, had no greater re- 


Bum-brusher — Bummer. 

spect for his royaJ person than 
for that of other boys, except 
on the infrequent occasions 
when he flogged him vicari- 
ously — and from Drs. Busby, 
Keate, and Arnold in more mo- 
dern times. In the Glossary to 
the " Life and Adventures of 
Bampfylde Moore Carew " it is 
said that the word " flaybottom " 
is bestowed upon a flogging ped- 
agogue. It has been suggested 
that the word is a pun, and a 
corruption of phlebotomus, let- 
ting blood, but the word itself 
gives evidence of its more 
humble origin. 

Bum-charter (thieves), hot bread 
and water. 

Bum<harter is a name given to bread 
steeped in hot water by the first unfortu- 
nate inhabitants of the Enghsh Bastile, 
where this miserable fare was their daily 
breakfast, each man receiving with his 
scanty portion of bread a quart of boiled 
water from the cook's coppers. — Vaux's 

Bumchik (provincial), inferior 
beer for harvest labourers.' 

Bum-curtain (University), short 
or ragged academical gown. 

Bumf (schoolboys), paper ; an ab- 
breviation of "bum-fodder." A 
6uTO/-hunt is a paper-chase. 

Bum-fidget (old), a restless, un- 
easy person who cannot sit 


Bumkin, or bumpkin, a stupid 
lout, or rustic. P'rom Old Dutch 
hoomken, a tree 'or log. Since 

the English term also signified 
a thick piece of wood, it was 
readily applied to a blockhead. 
In French, bUche, a log, has 
also the signification of block- 

Bummarees, unrecognised 
hangers-on at Billingsgate Fish 
Market, who act as middlemen 
between the wholesale and re- 
tail dealers, and who make a 
profit out of both parties. The 
word is usually derived from 
the French bonne marie, the good 
tide or product of the sea. 

The bummaree is the jobber or specu- 
lator on a fish exchange. — Henry May- 
hew: London Labour and the London 

Bummer (turf), a heavy loss. 
(American), a slow, lazy fellow ; 
in the French argot, chie-debout, 
a loafer. 

The auctioneer . . . never got a bid — 
at least never any but the eighteen dollar 
one he hired a notoriously substanceless 
bummer to m3.Vc.—Mark Twain : Rough- 
ing It. 

San Francisco is the elysium of hum- 
men. Nowhere can a worthless fellow, 
too lazy to work, too cowardly to steal, 
get on so well. — Scribner's Monthly. 

(American), one who sponges 
upon his acquaintances. 

In California, men who profess to be 
journalists, and so obtain free drinks, are 
called literary bummers. — Hottens Dic- 

Ihtmnwr is of Pennsylvania 
origin, from the German word 
bummlcr, meaning the same. 
During the war the term was 
applied to the camp-fullowers 

Bummer — Bumptious. 

20 1 

or semi-deserters who followed 
the Federal army. These ir- 
regular heroes, who sometimes 
rendered good service by fight- 
ing desperately, are commemo- 
rated as indomitable marauders 
in the " Breitmann Ballads." 

Dey spurred on, dey hurried on, gpllopin 

Boot for Breitmann help coomed yoost a 

liddle too late. 
For ash de La wine goes smash mit a bound, 
So on to de bummers de repels coom doun. 
Heinrich von Schinkenstein's tead in de 

Ulrich aus Gailingen's deadt ash a toad, 
Und Sepperl — Tyroler — shpoke nefer a 

But yoost " Mutter Gottes 1 " — and died 

in de ford. 

Bump, making a (boating, uni- 
versity), catching the boat in 
front and knocking against it, 
the boats being arranged two 
lengths apart in the race in 
their previous order of merit. 

The chances of St. Ambrose's making a 
bump the first night were weighed. — Mac- 
millan's Magazine. 

Bumper (theatrical), a very full 
house at a popular performance. 
The word bumper, for a full 
glass of liquor, from which the 
theatrical term is derived, was 
in the early days supposed to be 
derived from toasts drunk to the 
health of the Pope, the " bon- 
pcre " of all true Catholic Chris- 
tians. This explanation is no 
longer generally accepted, since 
the word is rightly regarded as 
a corruption of bombard, a drink- 
ing vessel, but originally signi- 
fying a cannon. 

This derivation is borne out 
by the circumstance that the 
French call canon a glass of wine 
drunk at a wine-shop. 

Bum perisher, or shaver, a short- 
tailed coat, termed rase-ciU in 
French slang. 

Bumping races (university). In 
the eight-oared races at the 
universities the ccnnpeting boats 
start one behind the other at a 
given distance. When a boat 
bumps {i.e., touches any part of) 
the boat in front, it takes the 
other's place in the next race. 
The races are always rowed in 
two divisions, about twelve to 
fifteen in each, and the head 
boat in the lower division is the 
last boat in the first division, 
and is called the sandwich boat. 
The first boat in the first divi- 
sion is called the Head of the 

Bump supper (university), ex- 
plained by quotation. 

A bump supper, th,-it is, a supper to com- 
memorate the fact of the boat of one col- 
lege having, in the annual races, " bumped" 
or touched the boat of another college im- 
mediately in front. — Cuthbert Bede : Ad- 
ventures of Mr. Verdant Green. 

Bumptious (common), apt to take 
offence, quarrelsome without 
adequate provocation. Evident- 
ly from "bump," which Skeat 
derived from " boom," to make a 
hollow sound. Dutch, bommen, 
one who roars or resounds at 
once, to swell up or bounce. 

I heard that Mr. Sh.-irp's wig didn't fit 
him, and that he needn't be so "bounce- 


Bumsquabbled — Buncombe. 

able" — somebody else said bumptious — 
about it, because his own red hair was 
very plainly to be seen behind. — Charles 
Dickens : David Copperfield. 

Bumsquabbled (American), crest- 

The judge said ... he had got too 
much already, cut him off the other two- 
thirds, and made him pay all costs. If he 
didn't look bumsquabbled it's a pity. — 
Sam Slick : The Clockmaker. 

Bumsucker (society), a very vul- 
gar expression in common use 
among men in society for a 
toady. One who is a hanger-on 
and flatterer of great men, and 
who will do their dirty work 
for them. In French, ?ecAe- 

Bum-trap (old), bailiff. 

The noble bum-trap, blind and deaf to 
every circumstance of distress, greatly rises 
above all the motives to humanity, and 
into the hands of the jailor resolves to 
deliver his miserable prey. — Fielding: 
Tom Jones. 

Bun (American), a fellow who 
cannot be shaken off. (Com- 
mon), to have the hun, to get 
the better of, to surpass. 

O Lord ! to think I deemed myself most 


This infamie most surely has the lun ! 
— The Sporting Times. 

Bunce (trade), commission from 
tradesmen and others, black- 
mail, sums of money, of which 
both the employer and employed 
are defrauded liy the middle 
man, through whose hands the 
money passes at some time or 

other prior to reaching its desti- 
nation. In large theatres there 
are frequently four or five 
hundred persons employed in 
various departments, and the 
head of each department holds 
his own treasury. 

(Turf), profit, interest on 

(Popular), money. 

For though I am neither a fool nor a 

Whatever I prig other folks get the 

— T.Browne: Unlucky Individuals. 

The boys will try it on for their bunts. 
—L. L. and L. P. 

According to Hotten from hon 
or bonus, probably the latter. 

Buncer (trade), one who buncea or 
exacts bunce (which see). 

Bunch (common), a blow. (Ame- 
rican), to bunch, to gather up, 
purse up. 

The speaker bunded his thick lips to- 
gether like the stem-end of a tomato. — 
Mark Twain : The Gilded Age. 

Bunch of fives (popular), the fist. 

M'.\uliffe does not seem to appreciate 
the honour of standing up to Carney 
again. He says he won't be ready for 
three months. One taste of the P.irming- 
ham boy's quality seems to have been 
quite sufficient for the American light- 
weight champion. It is extremely impro- 
bable that M'Auliffe will ever again come 
within reach of Carney's bunch of Jives. — 
sporting Life. 

Bunco. Vide Bunko. 

Buncombe or bunkum (Ameri- 
can), talking big, affecting en- 

Buncombe — Bundling. 


thnsiasm, bnt always with an 
underhand purpose. Sometimes 
used, especially in England, to 
denote mere magniloquence. 
Mr. Hotten has made the dis- 
covery that " it arose from a 
speech made by a North Caro- 
lina senator named Buncombe." 
The truth is that these are 
two words, of the same sound 
but of entirely different ori- 
gin, and with different mean- 
ings. One originated, it is said, 
as follows (vide Bartlett) : A 
member of the House of Re- 
presentatives, when making a 
windy speech about nothing 
then before the House, being 
asked why he did so, replied 
that he was speaking to or for 
Buncombe. But long before this 
story arose, it was usual in New 
England to express great ap- 
probation or admiration of any- 
thing by calling it bunkuvi, and 
this was derived from the Cana- 
dian French, "Le buncum sa" 
("il est bon comme 5a"), "it is 
good as it is." There was a 
negro song fifty or sixty years 
ago with this refrain: — "Bom- 
sell ge mary, lebrunem sa." 
This is presumed to be negro 
Canuck- French for " Mam'selle 
je marie, elle est bonne comme 

'I'he bunkum bestowed at Threadneedle 
Street Board. 

— Punch. 

Another American importation is bun- 
kum, a word generally [used to signify 
empty, frothy declamation. It is said to be 
derived from the action of a speaker who, 
persisting in talking to an empty house, 
said he was speaking to Buncombe, the 

name of the place in North Carolina which 
he represented. — Comhill Magazine. 

Buncomise, to (journalistic), to 
talk twaddle. 

Experience has taught me the inutility 
of interviewing. You set a man at once at 
weighing his words, and he either gam- 
mons you intentionally, buncomises, or is 
reticent, so as to be of no service. — A 
Forbes : My Experiences of the War 
between France and Germany. 

Bund (Anglo-Indian), an artificial 
bank or wharf. 

" This term is also naturalised 
in the Anglo-Chinese ports. It 
is there applied to the embanked 
quay above the shore of the set- 
tlements " (Anglo-Indian Glos- 

Bunder (Anglo-Indian). Persian 
hundar, a seaport landing-place, 
harbour, or custom-house. 

Bundling (old), a custom of un- 
married people of different 
sexes, or lovers, sleeping to- 
gether, but with clothes on, 
or under such conditions that 
coition is supposed not to take 
place. It has been described 
by Wright as Welsh, by Bart- 
lett as American, but it is to 
be found anywhere , or everj-- 
where in tlie world among the 
commoner sort of people (and 
occasionally among the other 
class), when opportunity pre- 
sents itself. Mr. Bartlett thinks 
it is not now practised in the 
United States. He evidently 
does not know the Pennsyl- 
vanian Dutch or New England, 
where the custom still prevails. 


Bundling — Bunged. 

Washington Irving acted rather 
unfairly when he described 
bundling as something which 
the Dutch learned froni the 
Yankees, since it was in full 
bloom in Holland at the time of 
which he wrote, and is thus 
described by Sewel (1797) : 

" Queeston is an odd way of 
wooing usual in some sea towns 
or Isles of Holland, after this 
manner. When the wench is 
gone to bed, the fellow enters 
the room and lays himself down 
in his clothes upon the blankets, 
next unto her, with one window 
of the room open, and thus he 
talks with her, very innocently 
— as it is reported." 

It is said of a damsel in Con- 
necticut, who expected her lover 
to come and bundle with her, 
that her mother bade her put 
both her legs into a pillow-case, 
and tie it round her waist. 
The next morning she asked her 
if she had kept her "limbs" in 
the bag, to which Miss Inno- 
cence replied, " Ma, dear, I only 
took one out." 

Bung (common), a brewer or a 
landlord of a beerhouse. 

A Peerage and a Beerage. — Within the 
Ia<;t few years several " bungs " have been 
made Peers. There is no particular objec- 
tion to this, for brewing is just as likely to 
produce an individual who is so thoroughly 
impregnated with legislative wisdom that 
he will propagate legislators, as shooting 
pheasants, or any of the other occupations 
to which those who become Peers generally 
devote themselves, and a beerage is as 
glorious an institution as a Peerage. The 
only difficulty seems to me to be this : 
The title becomes a sort of (Jovernment 

guarantee that the beer of its posses.<»r is 
good, and, therefore, any one whose beer 
is up to par ought to have a right to claim 
a Peerage, for otherwise competition will 
not be carried on between the bungs under 
fair conditions. — Truth. 

A pickpocket, sharper, a purse. 
This very old English cant word 
is still in use among American 
thieves in the phrase "to go 
bung,'" which is the same as "to 
go bang," derived from the pop- 
ping of a cork, or the hung of a 
barrel ; lost, gone. 

In this case the title of the "Queen's 
Fund " has been sufficient to damn what 
otherwise, beyond doubt, wquid have been 
a widely beneficial charity. It cannot be 
thought, however, that the Queen herself 
will be consumed with sorrow even if she 
does happen to hear that this abortion has 
" gone bung." — Australian journal. 

(Pugilistic) to give, pass, hand 
over; "bung over the rag," 
hand over the note. (Popular), 
in a public-house game called 
" cod 'em," when one of the op- 
posite party suspects the piece 
to be in any particular hand, 
he places his own over it and 
exclaims "bung it here," i.e., 
give it up. 

Bunged peeper (common), an eye 
closed by a blow. 

There is, I think, no natural connection 
between the bung of a barrel and an eye 
which has been closed by a blow. But 
when we reflect on the mingling 
of gj-psies with prize-fighters, it is almost 
evident that bongo may have been the 
origin of it. A bongo yakko (or yak), 
means a distorted, crooked, or in fact a 
bunged eye. It also means lame, crooked. 
or sinister. — The English Gy/>sies and 
their Language. 

Bung-juice — Bunko. 


To bung is good English for 
to close up. 

Bung-juice (thieves), porter or 
beer (New York Slang Dic- 

Bunk (American), a wooden case 
or bench "which serves for a 
seat by day and a bed by night " 
(Bartlett). In America denotes 
generally a rough bed or place 
for sleeping. Dutch, " slaap 
hunk," a settle-bed, or press- 
bed. American, " to hunk." 

, . . And so pass over the rest of his 
voyage by saying that he was confined to 
his bunk, and saw no more of it. — H. 
Kingsley : Kavenshoe. 

Bunker (popular), beer. (Ameri- 
can), large, fine, remarkable. 
East of England, honker. This 
word suggests a possible origin 
of Buncombe. 

Bunko, bunco (American), from 
the Italian hanco, a bench or 
bank. A game at cards, like 
three-card monte, and is usually 
simply a swindle. It is described 
by Inspector BjTnes, Chief of 
Detectives in New York, sub- 
stantially as follows. It is ap- 
parently so simple and honest 
that the shrewdest men are 
readily induced to try it, and 
are thus fleeced. There are 
forty-three spaces upon a hunko 
"lay out," forty-two are num- 
bered, and thirteen contain stars 
also (no prizes), one is blank, 
and the remaining twenty-nine 
represent prizes ranging from 

two to five thousand dollars. 
The game can be played with 
dice or cards. The latter are 
numbered with a series of small 
numbers ranging from one to 
six, eight of which are drawn 
and counted, and the total re- 
presents the number of the 
prize drawn. Should the victim 
draw a star number he is allowed 
the privilege of drawing again 
by putting up a small amount 
of money. He is generally 
allowed to win at first, and later 
on the game owes him from 
$1000 to $5000 (i.e., from ;^200 
to ;i^ioco). This is when he 
draws the conditional prize, 
No. 27. The conditions are 
that he must put up I500 (;f 100), 
or as much as the dealer thinks 
he will stand. This is explained 
to him as necessary to save 
what he has already won, and to 
entitle him to another drawing. 
To inveigle men to play hunko, 
the most extraordinary pains 
are taken, and the hunko-steeieis 
or ' ' touts," who seek for victims, 
are selected from the most 
gentlemanly-looking, well-edu- 
cated persons that can be found. 
There are innumerable instances 
of lawyers and others, who knew 
the world well, and who were 
perfectly on their guard as to 
hunko, being taken in by it, and 
half ruined. Its extraordinary 
vogue in the United States jus- 
tifies this detailed description 
of it as pramionitus, jira^munitus. 
The writer is well acquainted 
with an English gentleman who, 
while travelling in the United 


Bunkum — But ra-beebee. 

States, was "bunkoed" out of 

several thousand dollars. 

Bunkum. See Buncombe. 

Bunny grub (Cheltenham College), 
green vegetables, called "grass" 
at the Royal Military Academy. 

Bunon (Anglo-Indian), applied to 
any humbug, " anything ficti- 
tious or factitious," a cram, a 
shave, a sham (Anglo-Indian 

You will see within a week if this is 
anything more than a bunon. — Oakfitld, 
ii. 58. 

Bun-struggle or worry (army), 
a tea meeting ; an entertain- 
ment to which benevolent souls 
occasionally invite the soldiers 
in a garrison, but which has 
generally smaller attractions for 
them than the canteen or public- 

Bunt (common), an apron, properly 
sail canvas ; to hunt, to jostle. 

Bunter (common), a street- walking 
thief, a prostitute. 

Bunts. See Bunce. 

Burick(Australian convicts' slang), 
a whore. Introduced into Aus- 
tralia by the convicts tran- 
sported thither. 

Burick is a prostitute, or common 
woman. — Vaux's Memoirs. 

Burking (army), dyeing the mous- 
tache and whiskers. It was at 
one time the custom for the 
whole of the men in smart 

cavalry regiments to dye their 
moustaches, &c., black, to burke 
or suppress their natural colour. 
This was for the sake of uni- 
formity. Fashion in hair has 
always been a feature in military 
life. As in the past each corps 
prided itself on its own peculiar 
arrangement of pigtail and 
-powder, so now there are regi- 
ments in which public opinion 
demands a hard and fast rule 
about hair. Few will tolerate 
whiskers ; Piccadilly weepers, 
Dundrearies, as they were once 
called, are universally despised ; 
and where the beard is permitted 
to be worn, as in India, its 
dimensions and trimming are 
often the subject of precise 
regulations. Burking meant 
formerly to stifle, from Burke, 
who was hung in 1829 for 
murder by suffocation of persons 
whose bodies he sold to surgeons 
for dissecting. 

Bum (thieves), cheat ; burners, 
swindlers with dice and cards ; 
burnt, infected with venereal 
disease (New York Slang Dic- 

Burner (old slang), an acute form 
of a certain stage of a contagious 

Burr, to (Marlborough College), 
to fight. 

Burra-beebee (Anglo-Indian), a 
great lady, a grande dame, a 
lady-swell. (Gypsy), bdro beebec. 

Burra — Bushel. 


This is a kind of slang word applied in 
Anglo-Indian society to the lady who 
claims precedence at a party. — Anglo-In- 
dian Glossary. 

The ladies carry their burra bibi-ship 
into the steamers when they go to Eng- 
land. My friend endeavoured in vain to 
persuade them that whatever their social 
importance in the City of Palaces, they 
would be but small folk in London. — 
Viscountess Falkland: C how-Chow. 

Burra khana (Anglo-Indian), a 
grand feast, a big dinner. In 
English gypsy, hdro habben, 
from the same Indian roots. 

Burra sahib (Anglo-Indian), the 
chief, or head, or master. A 
great man. 

Burst (sporting), lively pace, smart 
race, spurt. 

During " a good burst " one of the hunt 
lost both " sight and sound" of the pack, 
and riding along almost disconsolate over' 
took a " yokel," and at once asked him if 
he had seen the " hare and hounds." 
" Ees, zir, I seed a dog chasing a hare." 
" Which way were they going?" 
" Ah, zir, I can't tell 'ee that ; all I could 
see was the dog was having the best of it." 
— Sporting Times. 

Burying (old cant), "burying a 
wife " signifies the feast given 
by an apprentice on the comple- 
tion of his term of apprentice- 
ship, and becoming a free man, 
to set up in business for himself. 
(Common), " burying araoW," for- 
saking a wife or mistress. 

Bus (common), abbreviation of 

An experiment was recently made of a 
female omnibus conductor on the new line 

between Piccadilly Circus and King's 
Cross. She only lasted a day. Most pro- 
bably she met with an offer of marriage 
and closed her connection with one bus to 
get another as legitimate. — London Court 

(Theatrical), contraction of 
"business." Pronounced hiz. 
The dramatic action of a play 
is described in aU written parts 
as bv^. The dumb show de- 
scribed in Hamlet is all hiz. 
Biz is also applied to the com- 
mercial affairs of the theatre, 
as "good hiz" or "bad biz." 
(Anglo-Indian), 6«s/ "Enough!" 
" Hold hard ! " " Stop there 1 " 
"That will do!" "Hold your 
horses ! " 

(American), " to buss," to 
punch, probably from "burst." 
" I'U buss your head " is a com- 
mon threat. 

Bushed (up coimtry Australian), 
lost in the bush or uncleared 
country primarily, and hence 

Desmard was on these occasions always 
accompanied by one of the boys, for John 
feared that he might get bushed; but he 
himself and the other boy went separately. 
— A. C. Grant. 

(Common), " bushed on," 
much pleased, " I am awfully 
bushed on," that takes my 

(Old slang), applied to a poor 
man without money. "He's 
completely bushed," i.e., desti- 

Bushel, to (American), to repair 
garments. German biiszen, to 
mend, hence " busheler," a 


Bushcl-buhby — Buss. 

tailor's assistant, whose busi- 
ness it is to repair garments 

Bushel-bubby (old slang), a large 
and f uU-breasted woman. 

Bushwhackers (West Indian), 
men who squat alive in the 
" bush," leading an idle, useless 

(American), during the CivU 
War guerillas or irregulars 
were called " bushwackers." To 
" bushwack" a boat is to draw 
it along by seizing the bushes 
on the banks. 

Bushy park (rhyming slang), a 
lark. "A man who is poor is 
said to be ' in hu&hy park,' or 
' in the park ' "(Vaux's Memoirs). 

Business (theatrical), the move- 
ments of the actors, their look 
and tone. 

The success of one of these pieces de- 
pends not upon verbal joking, good or 
bad, but upon business. — Saturday Re- 

Playing well or ill, according to the mood 
in which she may happen to be, an actress 
of Madame Bernhardt's trempe naturally 
varies her business. — Times. 

(Singers), singing profession- 

She began her business in a deep sweet 
voice. — Thackeray : History o/Pendennis. 

(American), "the husincsi- 
end,"the end of any object which 
is put to practical use. The buii- 
»iej(s-end of a mule is his heels. 

If, on an occasion of this nature, one 
stationed himself behind the door, and, as 
a sort of preliminary warnii.g to the others, 

greeted the first interloper with the buH- 
ness-cnA of a boot-jack, he would be morally 
certain of a lively one-sided misunderstand- 
ing that might end disastrously to himself. 
— J. Stevens; Around the IVorld on a 

Busk, busking (trade), explained 
by quotation. 

They obtain a livelihood by busking, as 
it is termed, or, in other words, by offering 
these goods for sale only at the bars or in 
the tap-rooms and parlours of taverns. — 
H. Mayhew : London Labour and the 
London Poor. 

From a furniture carter of this descrip- 
tion I received some most shocking details 
of having to busk it, as this talking about 
goods for sale is called by those in the 
trade. — H. Mayhew : London Labour and 
the London Poor. 

(Low actors), getting one's 
living on the road, by recita- 
tions in tap-rooms, &c. ; pro- 
bably from buskin. 

Busking' is going into public-houses and 
playing and singing and dancing. — //. 
Jfay/ieTV : London Labour and the London 

(Tramps), singing. 

Buskers (popular), men who go 
about performing, singing, or 
playing in a low way in the 
streets or in public-houses. 

'I'hen Mary Jones happened to meet 

•V tumbler whose real name was simply 

John Brown, 
While slanging one day in the street. 
His form so attractive, his figure so neat. 
So unlike common buskers was he, 
So pleasing his tricks she enchanted be- 
And soon forgot all about me. 

— J. Lloyd : The Hying Lady. 

Buss. See Bus. 

Bust — Bustle. 


Bust (thieves), a burglary. 

" Fatty Bill, from City Road, rem. for a 
^K^< ex. 2 years," means that William . . . 
has been comf>eIled to leave his congenial 
haunts in the City Road as he is remanded 
for a burglary, and anticipates two years' 
hard labour. — Rev. J. W. Horsley : Jot- 
tings from Jail. 

(Royal Military Academy), to 
go on the bust, to go to town for 

(American), a burst, a frolic, 
a debauch, a spree. The refer- 
ence in the following paragraph 
is to an American Minister to 
Mexico, who was said to have 
indulged in a hast of unwonted 

An article has appeared recently upon 
" Busts of the Vice-Presidents." Some- 
thing upon the busts of Foreign Ministers 
would possess more of current interest. — 
Omaha Herald. 

(Thieves), to bust, to inform, to 
" split ; " to commit a burglary. 
(American), to destroy. 

They was by this time jined by a large 
crowd of other Southern patrits, who 
comenst hollerin, " Hang the bald-headed 
aberlitionist, and bust up his immoral ex- 
hibition 1 " — Artcmus Ward. 

Buster (popular), a small new 
loaf, termed also " burster ; " a 
"penny-worth of bees-wax and 
a penny hustev" i.e., bread and 

I can't get at it, I can't get at it, 

I like the faggots tho' they smell. 
But now the penn}''s down the well, 

I can't get at it, I can't get at it. 
I thought I'd have a buster but it's all 
no go 1 

— Song. 

(American), anything large in 
size, a drinking bout, a man of 
great strength. 

He tackled some of their regular busters 
and they throwed him. — Mark Twain : 
Dry Diggings. 

(Australian), southerly buster, 
southerly wind of great vio- 

(Thieves), a burglar. 

(Common), anything large, 
of extra size ; a spurt. 

At frequent intervals during the day, 
the cattle, animated by a sudden impulse, 
broke back and made a determined charge 
through the drivers, with their heads 
turned homewards. Whenever this took 
place, the overseer, after turning them 
round, gave the mob a buster a.t a severe 
pace during the next half hour to take the 
wind out of them. — Nichols : Wild Life 
and Adventure in the Australian Bush. 

Wot odds arterall ? We're jest dittos : I'm 

not bad at bottom, sez you. 
Well, thank ye for nothink, my joker. As 

long as I've bullion to blue, 
I mean to romp round a rare buster, lark, 

lap, take the pick of the fun. 
And, bottom or top, good or bad, keep my 

heye on one mark — Number One ! 
— Punch. 

Bustle, a dress -improver, the pro- 
tuberance behind on a woman's 
dress. Before 1855 and 1856 
ladies had begun to wear crino- 
line and skeleton skirts. Then 
came the bustle, an artificial 
appendage intended to produce 
the impression that the wearer 
had a full glxitc x. mnximus or 
siant. Of late it has assumed 
enormous dimensions, far sur- 
passing anything characteristic 
of the most fully developed 
Hottentot Venus. 

" Nothing has outstripped the bustle in 
its gigantic strife for prodigious excellence. 
It is remarkable that this form of fashion, 


Bustle — Butler- English. 

which has never been literally to the front, 
has still left all other rivals behind. . . . 
We can recall when this startlingly repro- 
ductive fruit received the distinct impetus 
which has borne it through successive 
stages to the present extraordinary condi- 
tion of development." (The writer here 
displays great knowledge in proving that 
it was the use of bustles during the Ameri- 
can war, as places for concealing valu- 
ables, which led to their increase in the 
United States.) "At tins crisis the bustle 
played a historic part. It became a safe 
deposit vault for imperilled jewellery and 

" When the bustle shall have been de- 
veloped to its probable limit, the lady who 
wears one will certainly escape recogni- 
tion, if not observation. Our attention 
was lately called to a bustle of -the pneu- 
matic species. This is a graft of the bulb 
variety, and is filled with atraospheiic 
oxygen, and it was propelling a young 
lady before it, much as a perambulator is 
advanced by a nurse. This bustle was the 
admiration that day of the entire city of 
Augusta. She wore a terra-cotta chimney- 
pot hat, and what with the pneumatic 
bustle, the beautiful creature closely resem- 
bled a rural summer cottage with a stove- 
flue fixed at one end." — History of the 
Bustle : Greensboro {Ga.) Home Journal. 

(Popular), money. 
To bustle, to tie up into 
bundles or to make bunches. 

Bustled (common), confused, 

Busy-sack (popular), a carpet- 

Butcha (Anglo-Indian), the young 
of any animal. 

Butcher, the (American), a boy 
wlio is allowed to pass through 
the line of " cars" or carriages 
on a railway for the purpose of 
selling a great variety of articles. 

He is generally considered, to 
judge by the tenor of the re- 
marks andanecdotesin the news- 
papers, as an intolerable annoy- 
ance. He leaves with every 
passenger, nolens volens, news- 
papers, books, sweets, fruit, 
toys, &c., all of which must be 
carefully guarded, or returned 
if not purchased, under the pen- 
alty of incurring that unlimited 
" sass" in which youths of his 
class are generally so proficient. 
The following incident, from the 
Detroit Free Press, gives a faith- 
ful picture of the temptations 
offered by the butcher : — 

On a Michigan central train the other 
day as the butcher came into the car with 
a basket of oranges, an old man, whose 
wife sat beside him, was very anxious to 
buy half-a-dozen, but she waved the boy 
on witli, " He can't have 'em. He never 
eats one without the juice runs down on 
his shirt bosom." 

(Common), the king at cards, 
called un baufm French slang. 

(Prison), the butcher is a nick- 
name for the doctor. Other- 
wise termed " sawbones," 
" croaker." 

Butcher's dog (common), "to lie 
like a butchers dog,^' i.e., by 
the beef without touching it, is 
to lie beside a woman without 
sexual intercourse. 

Butcher's mourning (popular), a 
white hat with a mourning 

Butler-English (Anglo-Indian), a 
kind of pidgin-English spoken 
in the Madras Presidency. 

Butteker — Button-buster. 


Butteker, a shop, from the Italian 
bottega. A curious variation of 
this word is "butter-ken," 
Gypsyj butteia or boodika. 

Butter, to (common), to praise a 
person too flagrantly; "to pass 
the butter boat," is to indulge 
at public dinners in laudatory 
toasts of the prominent or dis- 
tinguished persons who are pre- 
sent. The phrase has its coun- 
terpart in the Scottish proverb, 
" Claw me and I'll claw you." 
From dire, to praise, and signi- 
fying " Praise me and I'U praise 
you." The English proverb, 
" Fine words butter no parsnips, " 
took its rise in a kindred idea. 

I'll butter him, trust me. Nothing com- 
forts a poor beggar like a bit of praise when 
he is down. — C. Kings ley : Two Years 


Butter a bet, to (old slang), to 
increase it by twice or thrice its 
first amount. 

Buttered bun (old slang), a woman 
who, directly after cohabitation 
with one man, allows another 
to embrace her. 

Butter fingers (cricketers), an epi- 
thet applied to a " fielder " who 
does not hold a ball which he 
ought to catch. 

Butter flap (rhyming slang), a 
trap, light cart. 

Butterfly (nautical), a sailor's 
name for a river barge. 

Buttock (common), a street- 
walker, a common prostitute. 

You jade I I'll ravish you ! You but- 
tock ! I'm a justice of the peace, sirrah ! 
— Soldiers Fortune, 1681. 

The bands and the buttocks that lived 
there around, 
Came flocking hither. 

— Poor Robin, 1694. 

\Vi' ruefu' face an' signs o' grace, 

I paid the buttock hire ; 
The night was dark, and through the park 

1 couldna but convoy her. 

Robert Bums : On the Cuttie Stool. 

Buttock and file (old cant), a shop 


The same capacity which qualifies a 
mill-ben, a bridle-cull, or a buttock and file 
to arrive at any degree of eminence in his 
profession would likewise raise a man in 
what the world esteem a more honourable 
calling. — Fielding: Jonathan Wild. 

Buttock and tongfue (old slang), 
a scolding, shrewish wife. 

Buttock-ball (old slang), cohabita- 

Buttock-broker (old slang), a pro- 
curess, and in society a match- 
making woman. 

Buttocking-shop (common), a 
brothel. The corresponding ex- 
pression in the French slang is 
magasin de f esses. 

Button (old cant), a shilling, now 
a bad one. (Streets), a decoy 
sham purchaser. 

The Cheap Johns have a man or a boy 
to look after the horse . . . and sometimes 
at a fair to hawk or act as a button (decoy) 
to purchase the first lot of goods put up. — 
//. Mayhew : London Labour and the 
London Poor. 

Button-buster (theatrical), a really 
humorous low comedian, one 


Buttoner — Buz. 

who excites the risible faculties 
so strongly that the auditors 
laugh until they burst their 

Buttoner (card-sharpers), a con- 
federate who entices "pigeons " 
into playing. 

Button on (printers), see Pan 
ON and CHOPrEE ON. An 
expression frequently used by 
printers, equivalent to " making 
buttons," " lit of the blues," or 
" down in the dumps." 

Button pound (provincial), money, 
literally money that can be 

Buttons (common), a pj^e. 

Our present girl is an awful slowcoach ; 
but we hope some day to sport buttons. — 
E. B. Ramsay: Reminiscences of Scottish 
Life niui Cliaracter. 

Button up, to (Stock Exchange, 
American). When in a falling 
market a broker has made an 
unprofitable purchase, and keeps 
the matter secret, he is said to 
button up. 

Butty (Cheap Jacks), a partner. 
(Provincial), a companion or 
partner in a piece of contract 

A btitty co\\\er is one who contracts with 
the mine owner to raise the coal at so 
much per ton, employinc; other men to do 
the actual work. The word is from the 
gipsy dialect. A " booty pal " is a fellow- 
workman, literally a " work brother." In 
the mouths of navvies or rough workman 
"pal" would soon be diopped, and hutty 
would rei)rcscnt the original phrase.— 
I'.liezcr Edwards ; Words, Facts, and 
} '/; rases. 

(Army), comrade, chum. (Po- 
pular), a policeman's assistant. 

Buy a prop (Stock Exchange), a 
recommendation signifying that 
the market is flat and there is 
nobody to support it. 

Buy his time, to (American). 
Before the war slaves often 
bought themselves free by in- 
stalments, paying down so much 
money at a stated time. When, 
for instance, a slave had thus 
paid half the money, half of 
his time would be his own. It 
happened thus that a man of 
colour who was half redeemed 
fell into a flood and narrowly 
escaped drowning. On being 
asked what his thoughts were 
on finding himself so near death, 
he replied that he couldn't help 
thinking what a fool a man was 
to risk money " in such unsarten 
property as niggers." Many 
negroes also hired their own 
time, paying so much per day 
or week for it, trusting to earn 

Buz or buzz, to (common), to 
share equally what remains in 
a bottle, or to pour out the last 
drops from a decanter. 

Get some more poit, whilst I hiizz this 
bottle here. — Thackeray : I 'aniiy J'air. 

(American, according to Bart- 
lett, but quite as much English), 
to pick pockets while engaging 
a victim in convcrsalion, or 
while a confederate docs so, 
i.e., while " buzzing " to him. 

Buz — Buzzer. 


Scores of other visitors know to their 
loss how they were buzzed. The Plunger 
had his note-case, containing over ^200 
in notes, extracted from his fob. — Bird o 

Buz in thieves' slang was ori- 
ginally to whisper; it is now 
common in the sense of talking 
confidentially or earnestly to 

" I saw you talking to Blank on the 
corner over there." 

" Yes." 

" Buzzing you to vote for him ? " 

" Yes." 

" But you can't do it." 

" No." 

" And you told him so ? " 

" Well, not right away." 

" What were you waiting for ? " 

" Why, I didn't tell him so until I had 
asked for the loan of $5, and he said he 
didn't have it. " — Detroit Free Press. 

(Popular), to talk, to make a 

Old bottle-blue buzzed iox a bit. 
And a sniffy young Wiscount in barnacles, 
landed wot 'e thought a' it. 

— Punch. 

Buz-bloke (thieves), a pickpocket. 

Buz - cove (AustraUan convicts' 
slang), most hkely taken out to 
Australia by the convicts trans- 
ported thither. 

Vaux, in his ' ' Memoirs of 
Convict Life in Australia," says : 
" Buz-covt or ' buz-gloak,' a pick- 
pocket ; a person who is clever 
at this practice is said to be 
a 'good buz.'" 

Buz-man (thieves), a thief; an 

Buznapper (old slang), a con- 
stable, onewho "knaps" or takes 

" buzzers " or pickpocket, 
a young pickpocket. 


Buznapper's academy, a school 
in which young thieves were 
trained. Figures were dressed 
up and experienced 1 utors stood 
in various dillicult attitudes for 
the boys to practise upon. When 
clever enough they were sent 
on the streets. Dickens gives 
full particulars of this old style 
of business in "Oliver Twist" 

Buznapper's kinchin (old cant), 
a watchman. 

Buzzard (American), an oppres- 
sive, arrogant person, jealous of 
rivalry, and vindictive. The 
Wiggins alluded to in the fol- 
lowing paragraph is a celebrated 
though not very successful 
American weather-prophet. 

Wiggins pronounces Professor Proctor 
"a buzzard among scientists, devouring 
every young man whom he finds making 
any pretensions." If he can succeed in 
eliminating the pretentious Wiggins, the 
country will rise up as one man and call 
him blessed. — Chicago Tribune. 

Buzzard dollar (American), so 
called from the eagle on it, 
which captious critics think 
looks like a ivs^ic^ -buzzard. 

The waiters all expect something from 
}0U. They are very cunning, and always 
bring plenty of small change, so that if 
one is inclined to give he can find no ex- 
cuse. They will take anything you give 
them, from a nickel up to a buzzard dollar, 
and look happy. — Chicago Tribune. 

Buzzer (thieves), a pickpocket, 


Buzz-gloak — Cabbage. 

Buzz-gloak (old), a pickpocket. 

He who surreptitiously accumulates 
bustle is, in fact, nothing better than a 
buzz-gloak. — Lord Lytton : Paul Clif- 

By-chop (old), an illegitimate 

By George ! a vulgar ejaculation. 

By golly ! a mild oath. 

By gum 1 (American), a mild oath. 

One night she was gone, by gum .' 
But as soon as ever I missed her. 

From the king, for a glass of rum, 
I bought her younger sister. 

— T/u Ballad of yFilliam Duff. 

By Jingo I (common), an exclama- 
tion denoting surprise, indigna- 
tion, defiance. See Jingo. 

6y the wind (nautical), hard up, 
in pecuniary need. 

AB (common), a bro- 
thel. The term arises 
from the fact that 
four - wheeled cabs 
are sometimes used 
for certain purposes. 

The French argot describes 
a four-wheeled cab as bordd 

(University), explained by 

Those who can't afford a coach, get a 
cab, alias a crib, alias a translation. — 
C. Bede : Verdant Green. 

(Tinker), a cabbage. 

Cabbage ( tailors and dressmakers). 
This is given as a cant word for 
private theft by dictionaries of 
the beginning of the nineteenth 
century, but it is used now in a 
slangy sense only in reference 
to the purloining by tailors of 
pieces of cloth. 

Did any one ever yet hear of a working 
lailor who was proof against misappropria- 
tion of his neighbour's goods, or, as he play- 

fully designates it, cabbage'i Is it not a 
standard joke in the trade this cabbage? 
Did one ever hear of a tailor being shunned 
by his fellow-workmen, or avoided by his 
neighbours, on account of his predilection 
for cabbage ? Yet what is it but another 
word for " theft " ? — J. Greenwood : Seven 
Curses of London. 

Formerly carhagc. 

Lupez for the outside of his suite has 

paide ; 
But, for his heart, he cannot have it 

made ; 
The reason is, his credit cannot get 
The inward carbagc for his cloathes as 


— Herrick : Ilesf>erides. 

Wright gives the following 
definition of cabbage used as a 
verb, " to purloin or embezzle, 
as pieces of cloth, after cutting 
out a garment ; properly and 
originally to cut off the heads 
of cabbages, and occasionally 
also such as are not our own 
but belong to others." This de- 
rivation is borne out by the old 
French caiust r,to deceive, cheat, 

Cabbage-head — Cabobbled. 


from cabus, a white-headed cab- 

Cabbagfe-head (common), a soft- 
headed person. 

Cabbager (common), a tailor. 
Formerly cahhage contractor. 

Cabbage-tree mob (obsolete Aus- 
tralian slang), now called " lar- 
rikins," not quite equivalent to 
the London street rough or 
loafer, because they generally 
are or might be in prosperous 
circumstances. Thus called on 
account of the emblem of their 
order being the low-crowned 
cabbage-palm hat. 

There are to be found round the doors 
of the Sydney Theatre, a sort of loafers 
known as the cabbage-tree 7>tob, a class 
whom, in the spirit of the ancient tyrant, 
one might excusably wish had but one nose 
in order to make it a bloody one. — Lieut.- 
Col. Mttnday : Our Antipodes. 

The modern larrikin has ex- 
changed the cabba[/e-tree for a 
black wideawake felt hat (hence 
called the "larrikin hat"), which 
he wears with its brim turned 
down. The clothes he most 
affects are " shiny black," with 
a velvet collar, and his boots 
have ridiculously high heels. 

Cabbagites. See Cabbage-tree 


Unaware of the propensities of the cab- 
bagitcs, he was by them furiously assailed 
for no better reason, apparently, than be- 
cause, like " Noble Percy," "he wore his 
beaver up." — Lieut. -Coi. Munday : Our 

Cab-bilking (common), cheating 
a cabman out of his fare. 

Some of the methods of cab-bilking are 
very artful and curious. One is to order 
a Jehu to set down a fare at a restaurant 
or tavern having a back entrance in another 
street, and to await the return of the latter 
for a few minutes. On this being done, 
the ridet, after partaking of refreshments, 
decamps by that exit, to the loss and indig- 
nation of the driver, who often only learns 
that the hirer has defrauded him after 
waiting for a long time beyond that which 
he has been asked to stay. — Globe. 

Cabby (general), driver of a cab. 

No wonder Lord Ronald Gower is popu- 
lar among cabbies. Last night he presided 
over the meeting of the Cabdrivers' Asso- 
ciation, and in his speech he remarked that 
" he always gave cabhy what he called the 
inevitable extra sixpence, particularly if 
lie found that the driver was kind to his 
horse." — Globe. 

Cable-hanger (nautical), a person 
catching oysters in the river 
Medway, not free of the fishery 

Cab-moll (common), a prostitute 
in a brothel. 

Cabob, kibob, khabaub (Anglo- 
Indian), used in Anglo-Indian 
households for any kind of roast 
meat. Properly it is applicable 
to small slices of meat on 
skewers, with slices of onion 
and green ginger between them, 
the whole being seasoned with 
pepjier and salt, butter, &c. In 
a plainer form it is common in 
Venice, and perhaps in all parts 
of Italy. 

Cabobbled (nautical), confused, 


Caboodle — Cackling-chete. 

Caboodle (American), a New Eng- 
land expression, originally used 
by coasting sailors. It means 
the entire party, all the set or 
clique. It is probably a slang 
modification of the Spanish 
word cahildo, which means the 
same thing. 

Cackle (circus), the dialogue of a 
play. Some actors seek to de- 
rive this word from cacalogy. 
It is, however, far more likely 
to have been derived by the 
equestrian performers, who in- 
troduced and popularised it, 
from the more homely "cluck, 
cluck " of the humble barn-door 
fowl, after the process of laying 
an egg. 

When manager of Astley's, the 
great Ducrow, who shared the 
hatred which his craft has 
always more or less entertained 
towards the actor, was wont to 
apostrophise the performers in 
his equestrian drama after this 
fashion : ' ' Come, I say, you 
mummers " (see Mummkes), 
" cut your cackle, and come to 
the 'osses 1 " 

(Houghs), talk. 

He was dabs at the cackle.— Punch. 

Cackle-chucker (theatrical), the 
prompter, whose duty it is to 
" chuck out" the words, i.e., to 
prompt the actors when they 
forget, or don't know the words 
— a matter of rare occurrence 
amongst the hierarchy of Eng- 
lish actors. As a rule, the 
prompter is the hardest worked 
and the worst paid man in the 

theatre. Notwithstanding his 
proverbial industry and ability, 
under no concatenation of cir- 
cumstances has a prompter ever 
been known to " give the 
word" at the precise moment 
when it is wanted. One of our 
most famous stage-managers, a 
well-known tragedian, is wont 
to affirm with grim humour that 
he has observed during a pro- 
longed experience that the first 
qualification for a prompter is 
" not to know how to prompt." 

Cackle merchant (theatrical), the 
author of a play, 

Cackler (popular), talker. 

The captain was a good-looking fellow, 
and a good fellow, too. " He ain't much 
of a cackler," thought Susie, when they 
had sat together for a little while. — Ally 
aioper's Half Holiday. 

(Thieves), a fowl; "prig of 
cackler," one who steals fowls. 

Cackler'sken (thieves), hen roost. 

Cackle-tub (common), a pulpit. 
Very old slang, but still in use. 

"Jack, he goes to church," said Hass, 
lifting her eyebrows dubiously, " I don't 
rightly know to what shop, and it's too far 
off, maybe, and I ain't got a prayer-book ; 
but I sorter think if yer'U Iwrrow Lucy's 
chair to wheel me, I'll go and sit under the 
cackie-titi in Little Uethel next Sunday. — 
Savage : London. 

Cackling-chete (old cant), a fowl. 

She has a cackling-chete, a grunting- 
chete, ruff pecke, cassan and poplarr of 
yarum. — T. Hannan: Caveat. 

i.e., " She has a fowl, a pig, bacon, cheese, 
and milk porridge." 

Cackling-cove — Cadger. 


Cackling - cove (popular and 
thieves), an actor. 

Cackling farts (old), eggs. 

Cad (common). The word is 
hardly slaug in some of its 
senses. It has various meanings, 
such as omnibus conductor. 

The spirited proprietor, knowing Mr. 
Barker's qualifications, appointed him to 
the vacant office of cad on the very first 
application. — Sketches by Boz {The First 
Omnibus Cad). 

An ' Arry or street boy ; a mean 
or ill-bred feUow ; or one vulgar 
in feeling, to be met with, like 
the snob, in every class of 
society. Among a certain class, 
tradesmen, merchants, work- 

Thirty years ago, and even later, the 
young men of the labouring classes were 
the cads, the snobs, the blackguards. — 
Kingsley: Alton Locke. 

At public schools and uni- 
versities the term applies to 
townsmen. Possibly derived 
from "cadger." or Irish cadas, 
fustian, rag. More probably from 
cadet, used in a sense of inferi- 
ority. " Caddee " is a provincial- 
ism for under - servant, and in 
France, in the provinces, cadet is 
a nickname sometimes given to 
a poor, half-witted hanger-on, 
to a young farm-servant, or to 
an ass. " Un fameux cadet " is 
an expression used by the French 
in a contemptuous manner, 
and applied to a puny fellow 
who puts on airs. It has been 
suggested that cad comes from 
the tscotch cadie, a term for- 

merly applied to the carriers of 
sedan - chairs. The character 
and occupation of these men 
were regarded with much con- 

Caddy-butcher (popular), ex- 
plained by quotation. 

The calf . . . the veterinary surgeon 
had advised him to sell it to some caddy- 
butcher, i.e., one who buys horses to sell 
for horse meat. — Standard. 

Cade, the (society), the Burlington 
Arcade. At certain times of the 
day this covered walk is the 
lounge of fast men of the town 
and the better class of the demi- 

Cadge to, properly to beg ; sup- 
posed to be derived from cadge, 
a basket carried by beggars, in 
the same way that to beg is 

, from " bag," originally to carry. 
Slangily applied to waiters who 
hang about for a gratuity. 

Mr. has, further, my congratulations 

on the excellence of the waiters employed. 
They are smart, don't cadge, and are 
models of civility. — Sporting Times. 

(Scholastic), to try and get 
pupils or hints by sneaking 

Cadge-cloak (old cant), a beggar. 

Cadge-cloak, curtal, or curmudgeon, no 
Whip-Jack, palliard, patrico . . . nor any 
other will I suflfer. — Bampfylde Moore 

Cadger, properly a trickster, a 
tramp or vagabond who either 
begs or sells small articles by 
the way as he tramps from place 
to place. 


Cadger — Cain. 

The full extent of the society's useful- 
ness, according to vulgar prejudice, is 
represented by the unfortunate cadger 
pounced on in the act of receiving alms, 
and carried before a magistrate to account 
for that enormous iniquity. — ■/. Greenwood: 
Seven Curses of London. 

Slang meaning explained by 

I may here remark that amongst people 
of my born grade no one is so contemptu- 
ously regarded as he who is known as a 
cadger. The meaning they set on the 
word is not the dictionary meaning. The 
cadger with them is the whining beggar — 
the cowardly impostor, who, being driven 
or finding it convenient to subsist on charity, 
goes about his business with an affectation 
of profoundest humility, and a conscious- 
ness of his own unworthiness ; a sneaking, 
abject wretch, aiming to crop a meal out of 
the despising and disgust he excites in his 
fellow-creatures. — /. Gieeniuood : The 
Little Ragamuffins. 

Cadging', properly begging. 

I've got my living by casting fortins, and 
t'^gg'ngi and cadging, and such like. — 
//. Kingsley : Geoffrey Hamlyn. 

I don't say that they were all beggars — 
probably not more than a third of ihem 
were — but what one in vain looked for was 
the "jolly beggar," the oft-quoted and 
steadfastly believed in personage who 
scorns work because he can " make" in a 
day three times the wages of an honest 
mechanic 'by the simple process of caiie;- 
ing.—J. Greenwood : In Strange Com- 

Slangily applied to cabmen 
when they are off the rank solicit- 
ing fares, or to waiters who hang 
about and fawn for a gratuity. 

Cady (popular), a hat, from an 
old .style resembling a barrel. 
"Cade," [)rovincial English for a 
barrel or small cask. 

Caffre's tightener (South African), 
bread or food of any kind, as 
distinguished from drink. 

Cagf, to (schoolboys), to irritate 

Cage (thieves), a prison. (military), to abstain for a 
certain time from liquor. Grose, 
in his "Classical Dictionary of 
the Vulgar Tongue," says, " This 
is a military term used by pri- 
vate soldiers, signifying a solemn 
vow or resolution not to get 
drunk for a certain time, or, as 
the term i.s, ' not till their cagg 
is out,' which vow is commonly 
observed with strictness ; " e.g., 
" I have ca(j;/cd myself for six 
months," "Excuse me this time 
and I will carjg for a year." 
This term is also in use in Scot- 

Cagmag (popular), scraps, odds 
and ends of butcher meat, un- 
palatable food ; properly an old 

Cahoot, in (American), to be in- 
timately concerned with any 
one in an affair. There can be 
little doubt that it came from 
either the Dutch Kajiiit or Ger- 
man Kajtitc, or perhaps the same 
in Old Saxon, meaning a cabin, 
implying living or messing to- 
gether. French cahutc, a hovel, 
renders this more probable. 

Cain and Abel (rhyming slang), 
a table. 

Cake — Calico. 


Cake (American and provincial 
English), a man without much 
sense, or one wanting in ideas ; 
not so much a fool as a mere 
nothing. A weaker form is ex- 
pressed by saying, " He's a cake 
only half-baked." This expres- 
sion is most frequently heard 
in Philadelphia. 

" To take the cake,'" to sur- 
pass, excel, to be first in any- 
thing. This coincides oddly, 
though entirely accidentally, 
with a conjectured meaning of 
the origin of Pretzel {q. v.). 

He's always up to doing folks, 
He's always on the wake ; 

He's after profit when he jokes, 
On that " he takes the cake." 
— Queer Bits. 

Cakey (popular), soft, foolish, or 
empty-headed ; from the pro- 
vincial English "cake," a foolish 

Cakey - pannum - fencer (street ) , 
a street pastry-cook. 

Calaboose (American), from the 
Spanish calabozo, the common 
name for a watch - house or 
prison, especially in New Or- 

I went on board de oder day, 
To hear wot de boatmen had to say, 
Den I let my passion loose, 
An' dey jammed me fast in de calahjose. 
— Negro Song. 

Calculate, to (American). Al- 
though it cannot be denied 
that many people in New Eng- 
land often use the word calculate 
as a synonym for "guess," to 

express every form of thought, 
such as "to esteem, suppose, 
believe, think, expect, intend," 
&c., this is far from being uni- 
versally the case. Calculation 
sets forth a more deliberate ac- 
tion of the mind, and is more 
associated with thought. A 
Yankee will generally calculate 
the chances of anything, when 
he would not guess them. Calc'- 
late, which is nothing but the 
result of rapid conversation, 
may be heard in England as in 

Calf (common), an idiotic or 
stupid person ; calf- headed, 

She had a girlish fancy for the good- 
looking young ca//' who had so signally 
disgraced himself. — Hamilton AieU: 
Morals and Mysteries. 

Calf-clingers (popular), explained 
by quotation. 

Knee-breeches were just going out of 
fashion when I was a little boy, and calf- 
clingers (that is, trousers made to fit the 
leg as tight as a worsted stocking) were 
"coming in."—/. Greenwood : Tlie Little 

Calf's-head (popular), a white- 
faced man with a large head. 

Calico (common), weak, lean. 

In such a place as that your calico body 
had need have a good fire to keep it warm. 
— Nathanael Bailey : Colloquies 0/ Eras- 
mus, Translated. 

How a shrewd, down-east Yankee once 
questioned a simple Dutchman out of his 
well-fed steed, and left him instead a 
vile in exchange. — Sala : The 
Seven Sons 0/ Mammon. 


Calico-bally — Calp. 

Calico-bally (American), a fre- 
quenter of calico-balls. About 
fifty years ago in Philadelphia 
it was usual to speak of balls 
frequented by factory girls as 
"slewers," and the commoner 
kind of grisettes as calico or 
dollar balls; hence calico-bally 
has come to signify, when ap- 
plied to a young gentleman 
dissipated or fast, one who goes 
anywhere for amusement. 

I once was a cobby and hack young man, 

And a little bit calico-bally ; 
A picture-card-out-of-the-pack young man, 

And frequently music-hally. 

— Concert Hall Song. 

Calico yard (Australian), a kind of 
corral. The expression is used 
by drovers. 

California, Califomians, money. 
Term generally applied to gold 
only (Hotten). 

Call (theatrical), big call, a warm 
recall before the curtain. 
Charley played with all his old anima- 
tion and grace, and got a big call. — George 
K. Sims : Ba ! Ha ! 

To call a piece is to have it 
brought on in rehearsal after 
a first performance with a view 
to alterations. 

(American), to have the call, 
to be preferred, have the chance, 
to be wanted. 

Tall girls have the call now. They are the 
fashion this season. — Detroit Tribune. 

Call-a-go (street patter), to leave 
off trying to sell anything and 
to remove to another spot, to 
dchiiit. Also to give in, yield 
at any game or business. Pro- 

bably from the go in cribbage 

Calle (American thieves' slang), 
a woman's gown. German He- 
brew kcdlc, a girl. 

Callee (pidgin - English), curry. 
" No can chaw-chaw t'at cdUee." 

Callithumpian, Calliathumpian 
serenade (American), a sere- 
nade after the fashion of a cha- 
rivari, in which old kettles with 
sticks, gridirons, cows' horns 
or tin horns, penny trumpets, 
or anything that will make a 
horrible and discordant sound is 
employed. It is possibly from 
the Yiddish callc, a bride, and 
means bride-thumping or mak- 
ing a noine at a bridal, or from 
" call " and " thump." 

Hartmann got married. . . . Hart- 
mann's neighbours thought it would be 
a bright thing to give him a calliat/titm- 
/>ian serenade . . . occasion. So they 
got under his window and blowed and 
snorted, and rung their dinner-bells, and 
brayed on their bark horns till there was a 
pause. Then Hartmann stuck his head 
outen the winder and said : " Friends, 
Romans, and fellow-citizens ! I thank you 
for the honour of this musical treat, which 
I suppose to your ears is as good a one as 
can be given. But it wants one thing. It 
lacks the exhilarating tones of the shot- 
gun, an' there it is, d n you !" Saying 

this, he fired two barrels of small shot 
among 'em, and they scattered. The sere- 
nade was over. — Phil. Hartmann and 
the Boys. 

Call-party (bar), given in hall by 
.students called to the bar in the 
Middle Temple. 

Calp, Kelp (old cant), a hat. 

Cambra — Canard. 


Cambra (tinker), a dog. 

Camden-town (rhyming slang), 
a " brown " or halfpenny. 

Camel's complaint (city), the 
hump, i.e., low spirits. 

Camesa (thieves), a shirt or 
chemise. From the Spanish or 
Italian. Written also kemesa, as 
appears from the following 

My thimble of ridge and my driz 

All my togs were so niblike and plash. 
— A insworth : Rookwood. 

Camister (popular), a clergy- 
man, from his wearing a white 
gown ; " camisated," i.e., one 
who is dressed with a shirt out- 

Camp, to (Australian), to floor, to 
put down. The metaphor here 
is the same as to "make," to 
" take a back seat ; " to cartif, to 
make to camp, implying that 
your rival cannot stand up to 
you. According to Wright camp 
is a provincialism meaning to 
contend, from the Anglo-Saxon 

At punching oxen you may guess 
There's nothing out can caiii^ him ; 

He has, in fact, the slouch and dress 
Which bullock -driver stamp him. 
— //. Kendall: Billy Vickers. 

Camp candlesticks (military), 
empty bottles and bayonet.s, 
from the fact that in the exi- 
gencies of military life these 
articles are often used for the 

Camp-horse (Australian). This 
term, peculiar to the East, is 
thus explained by Mr. Finch 
Hatton : — 

Both my brother and Frank were very 
sound hands at cutting out, and they were 
both riding first-rate "camp-horses," so I 
watched them at work wiih the greatest 
interest. A camp-)wrse is one used for 
cutting out cattle on a camp, and very few 
horses are good at it ; but the performance 
of a really first-class one is a sight worth 
seeing. Each man picks his beast, and 
edges him gently to the outside of the 
mob, on the side of the camp nearest the 
draft-mob. The instant the animal finds 
itself cut off from the c.imp, it makes the 
most desperate efforts to rejoin the herd, 
and the speed at which a bullock can 
travel, and the activity with which he 
turns, are marvellous. — Fitich Hatton : 
Advance Australia. 

Can (American), a dollar ; a 
" canary " was very old English 
slang for a gold coin. A gold- 
piece is also called a "canary- 
bird " in New York. 

Canard, now recognised. French 
canard, literally duck, and meta- 
phorically false news. The 
first canard is said to have 
been the famous story illus- 
trating the voracity of ducks. 
Thirty ducks were taken, one 
was chopped up fine, feathers 
and all, and the others ate it. 
Then a second was minced, and 
.so on, till within an hour only one 
duck remained. Three similar 
stories are told by a French 
writer as to the origin of the 
term. Hence canarder, to hum- 
bug or spin yarns. " Donner 
des canards" is given in Hautel's 


Canard — Canister. 

Dictionary ( 1 808) with the mean- 
ing of to deceive. 

" My dear," said Mrs. Snaggs to her 
husband, "what is a canard V "Why, 
a canard is something one canardly 
believe, of course." "Oh, to be sure! 
Why couldn't I think of that?"— A'ar« 

The announcement that appearefl in 
these columns, to the effect that in future 
no advertisements from persons offering to 
give tips would be accepted by us, has 
given rise to the usual canards, and has 
brought into play the imaginative faculties 
of the "London Correspondent." — SJiort- 
ing Titnes. 

Canary (old), a sovereign, from the 
colour. French argot, jaunet. 

Canary-bird (common), a mis- 
tress. (Thieves), a prisoner. 

Candle keepers (Winchester Col- 
lege), the inferiors (all those 
who are not prefects) who have 
been longest in the .school have 
certain privileges, as wearing a 
"cow-shooter," or round-top- 
ped hat. They used to be called 
"jolly keepers." 

Candlestick (Winchester College), 
a corruption of candidate. Those 
who go in for the college entrance 
examination are termed candle- 

Candlesticks (London), the foun- 
tains at Trafalgar Square. 

There was his pillar (Nelson's) at 
Charinc-Cross, just by the candlesticks 
(fountains). — Mayhew: London Labour 
and tlic London Poor. 

Candy-pull (American), a candy- 
pull is ;i party of botli sexes at 
which molasses orsucraris boiled 

and pulled by two persons (whose 
hands are buttered) to give it 
proper consistency, and then 
mixed and pulled again, till it 
becomes true candy. The term 
is used in slang in many ways. 

The good old-fashioned amusement 
known as a candy -pull has had more or less 
of a revival in society this season. What- 
ever the time of its first advent, it was 
quite popular about twenty years ago as a 
society entertainment, but it seemed to run 
its course and died away. At that period 
candy-pulls were given in some of the most 
aristocratic mansions on Fifth Avenue, and 
the rollicking scenes were oftentimes quite 
democratic in the fun, however full-dressed 
might have been their presentation. — 
Brooklyn Eagle. 

Cane (common), "to lay Cawe upon 
Abel ; " to beat with a cane. 

Cane nigger (West Indian), a 
happy-go-lucky fellow, one de- 
void of care and anxiety. From 
the circumstance that in "cane 
time " the negroes are fat and 
happy. As "fat as a nigger in 
cane time" has become pro- 
verbial in Antigua. 

Caners (fashionable). In the 
summer of 1886, at several 
watering-places, almost every 
young lady carried a cane. It 
was originally an American 

Canister (common), a hat ; also 
" canister cap." 

Turning round, I saw my unfortunate 
bciver, or canister, as it w.-is called by the 
gentry who had it in their keeping, tx)und- 
ing backwards and forwards. — Atkin: 
House Scraps. 

(rugilistic), the head. 

Cank — Canoodler. 


Cank (old), dumb, silent. 

Cannibals (Cambridge), the train- 
ing - boats for the 'Cambridge 
freshmen or the rowers them- 

Cannis-cove (American), a dog- 
fancier. A word current in New 
York. In Dutch thieves' slang 
the Latin word canis is used 
for a dog, but, as the accent 
falls on the last syllable, it is 
thought to be derived from the 
French caw/c/te. This is the more 
probable as the Dutch word is 
limited to small dogs. 

Cannon (turf), the collision of two 
horses during a race ; from bil- 
liards. Apparently on the lucus 
a non principle, the jockey bear- 
ing this name (Thomas Cannon) 
is celebrated for his scrupulous 
and honourable avoidance of 
such a mishap. 

(Common), to cannon, to come 
into collision. French slang 
caramboler, literally to make a 
cannon at billiards. 

Roaring with pain and terror, the boy 
cannoned into the very hand of a police- 
man, who seized him. — Shirley Brooks : 
Sooner or Later. 

Canon (thieves), drunk. 

One night I was with the mob, I got 
canon (drunk), this being the first time. 
After this, wlien I used to go to concert- 
rooms, I used to drink beer. — Horsley : 
Jottinssfroju Jail. 

Canon, literally having used 
the " can " freely. 

The French slang for a glass 
of wine is canon. Canonner 

is to drink wine at a wine-shop, 
or to be an habitual tippler; 
and se canonner is to get drunk. 
Cannon is a very common word 
in German for a drinking-cup. 
Hence he is " canonised," he is 
" shot," i.e., he is drunk. " Er 
ist geschossen " (Korte Pro- 
verbs). The word is naturally 
confused with can, German 
Kaune, a tankard, and canon- 
enstiefel, or "cannon" (i.e., long 
boots), which are a common pat- 
tern for tankards. 

Who will not empty his boots hke a can, 
He is indeed no German man. 

— Comtiion Saying. 

Canoodle, to (English and Ameri- 
can), to fondle, pet, dally, bill 
and coo. 

I meet her in the evening, for she likes to 
take- a walk 
At the moment when the moon cavorts 
And we prattle and canoodle, and of every- 
thing we talk. 
Except, of course, that naughty topic 

— Bird 0' Freedom. 

Possibly from "cannie," gentle. 

Canoodler (American), explained 
by quotation. 

" Pray, good sir, what is a canoodler?" 
" Tell you, mum, queer business, mum, 
but prosperous, money — heaps of it, mum, 
for you and me" — and he winked signifi- 
cantly, ierked up a chair and squatted in 
it, all in a breath. . . . Undeterred, he 
rattled on : " I'm an original thinker, mum. 
Invent business opportunities. Share'm 
with actors, and then we canoodle — divvy 
the profits. Me and Sheridan made a big 
thing on the Japanese advertising screen 
in 'School for Scandal.' Big thing." — 
Green Room Jokes. 


Cant — Cape. 

Cant (pugilistic), blow, a " cant on 
the chops," a blow on the face, 
(Tramps), explained by quota- 

We broke one window because the hou?:e 
was good for a carti — that's some food — 
bread or meat, and they wouldn't give it 
us. — Mayhcw : London Labour and the 
London Poor. 

Also a gift, as a " cant of togs," 
a gift of clothing. In these 
senses, from cant, to divide, as 
used by Jusser, p. 278. Hence 
cant, a sham. 

(Thieves), to cant the cues, 
to explain a matter, to tell a 

" But cant us the cues. AVhat was the 
job?" "A pinch for an emperor's slang. 
We touched his leather too, but it was very 
lathy."— C« tJu Trail. 

Canteen (South African), a road- 
side tavern ; natives often call 
all kinds of drink canteen. 

Canteen medal (army), a good 
conduct stripe which is gained 
by absence from the defaulters' 
book. The illusion implies that 
the bearer owes his stripe rather 
to a strong head than good re- 
solution to keep away from the 

Canticle (old slang), a parish 

Can't say National Intelligencer 

(American), equivalent to saying 
" he is drunk," it l)cing held 
that no one who is not sober can 
pronounce Ihe name of this very 
old and respectable Washing- 
ton newspaper. There is a 

story in which the phrase ori- 
ginated — or which originated 
from it, to the effect that a 
father in Washington who had 
a dissipated son, always obliged 
him when he returned home at 
night to submit to this test. If 
he said Nacial InteUencer, he 
was obliged to sleep in the hay- 
loft of the stable. 

Canuck (American), a Canadian. 
The origin of this word appears 
to be unknown. The derivation 
from Connauglit, an Irishman, 
is far-fetched and doubtful. 
It may be possibly the first 
syllable of Canada, with an In- 
dian termination, but this is 
mere conjecture. Uc or vq' is 
a common Algcnkin ending to 
nouns. It is probably an Indian 
word modified. 

Canvasseens (nautical), sailors' 
canvas trousers. 

Canvas town (popular), the por- 
tion of Wimbledon Common 
occupied by the Hags of the 
rifiemen when encamped there 
— within the flags. 

Cap (thieves), a false cover to a 
tossing coin. To cap, to assist 
as a confederate, especially of 
cardsharpers. See CArrER. 
(Universities), to cap the quad- 
rangle, to cross the area of the 
college, cap in hand, in reverence 
to the " fellows" who sometimes 
walk there. 

Cape cod turkey (American), salt 
fish. In tlie same way a " Yar- 
mouth capon " is a bloater. 

Capella — Cap . 


Capella (theatrical), a coat. From 
the Italian. 

Capeovi (coster), sick, seedy. 

Caper (American), a device, idea, 
or invention. 

Langtry and Daly worked the Chinese 
Boy, but the Arab is a change, and then 
this trap caper knocks the newspaper 
fiends silly. — New York Morning Jour- 

" The proper cajper," the last 
fashionable fancy, the latest 
" comme ilfaut device." 

Mind-reading is now the proper caper. 
" Take hold of my left hand and tell me 
what I'm thinking of," said the head of 
the family to his confiding spouse. "Oh, 
yes," said she, grasping his hand convul- 
sively, " you are thinking about taking me 
to hear Patti." She had to guess again. — 
Boston Herald. 

(Streets), device, occupation 

for a living. 

" Are you goin' a tottin' ? " "No." . . . 
"Then what caper are you up to?" — 
Greenwood : The Little Ragatnuffins. 

Caper-sauce (common), to " cut 
caper-sauce" to be hanged. 

Capers (thieves), "merchant of 
capers,'" a dancer. 

And my father, as I've heard say. 

Fake away ! 
Was a merchant of capers gay, 
Who cut his last fling with great applause. 
Nix my doll pals, fake away ! 

— A insworth ; Rookwood. 

Also caper merchant. 

Capper (American thieves), ex- 
plained by quotation. 

Gamblers are called knights of the green 
cloth, and their lieutenants, who are sent 
out after greenhorns, are called decoys, 
cappers, and steerers. — Xexv York Slang 

Capper-clawing (popular), a fight 
between females. 

Captain Copperthome's crew 
(old slang), where every one 
wishes to rule the roast, or to 
take command. 

Captain Crank (old cant), head of 
a gang of highwaymen. 

Captain Hackum (old slang), a 
blustering bully, a Bombastes 

Captain lieutenant (old slang), 
the flesh of an old calf, meat 
that was neither veal nor beef. 
This phrase was of military 
origin, and was a simile drawn 
from the officer of that deno- 
mination. These men, while 
ranking as captains, only drew 
the pay of a lieutenant, and 
though not full captains were 
above the lieutenants. 

Captain Queernabs (old slang), a 
man who was shabbily dressed 
and ill-conditioned. 

Captain Sharp (old slang), a 
cheat, blackleg, or common 

Captain Tom (old slang), the 
ringleader of a mob. Some- 
times also the mob itself was so 

Cap your lucky (American 
thieves), run away. 

Cap your skin, to (thieves), to 
stri^j naked. 



Caravan — Carney. 

Caravan (old slang), a large 
sum of money, also a person 
swindled out of a large amount. 
(Pugilistic), a railway train, es- 
pecially a train expressly char- 
tered to convey people to a 
prize fight (Hotten). 

Caravanserai (pugilistic), a rail- 
way station. 

Carcoon (Anglo-Indian), a clerk, 
from the Mahratta hdrkan, a 
clerk (Anglo-Indian Glossary). 

My benefactor's chief carcoon allowed 
me to sort out and direct despatches to 
officers at a distance who belonged to the 
command. — Pandurang Hari. 

Card (popular), a character. A 
man may be a knowing, a downy, 
rum, or shifting card, or queer 
sort of card, according to cir- 

Mr. Thomas Potter, whose great aim it 
was to be considered as a knowing card, 
a fast goer, and so forth. — Sketches by 
The last time that he got run in, 

Is days about a week, 
And, on the charge of drunkenness, 

Was brought before the beak ; 
He chaffed the magistrate and said, 

" You are a rum old card!" 
So forty shillings he was fined, 
Or else a month with hard. 
— G. Iloriicastle : The Frying Pan. 

(Common), a device, under- 
taking. A strong card, an un- 
dertaking likely to succeed. On 
the cards, likely, probable. 

Cardinal (American), a lobster ; 
curdiwxl hash, lobster salad 
(New York Slang Dictionary). 

(Old), a lady's red cloak. Now 
mulled red wine. 

Cargo (Winchester), explained by 

Scholars may supplement their fare with 
jam, potted meats ... or, better still, 
from the contents oi cargoes, i.e., hampers 
from home. — Everyday Life in our Public 

Carler (New York thieves), a 

Carlicues, curlicues (American), 
lively tricks, capers. The deri- 
vation from curly and cue seems 
to be due to a mere resemblance 
in sound, and an arbitrary com- 
bination. Bartlett suggests cara- 
cole (French), anagrams being 
common in colloquial language. 
The old word carle-cat, or carli- 
cat, a male cat or kitten, may 
have influenced the formation 
of carlicues. 

Carnes (popular), to heap up ca- 
resses, flatteries, compliments, 
and blandishments, with the 
view of deceiving the persons 
on whom they are lavished. The 
derivation is from came or cairn, 
a heap or pile of stones. A 
similar idea led to the use of 
the phrase, "pile up the agony." 
The word is also " carmes," evi- 
dently from the g3'psy Mvis, 
often pronounced harms, mean- 
ing loves, likes, pets, &c. A 
kcim or harm, which is nearer 
to the Sanskrit, is a desire, a 
love, &c. 

Carney, flattery, hypocritical lan- 
guage. Supposed to be of Irish 
origin. To carncy or come the 

Camish — Carrion-hunter. 


covmey, to flatter, wheedle, in- 
sinuate oneself. 

Camish (thieves), meat, from the 
Italian came; carnish-ken, a 
thieves' eating-house. In the 
French argot " came " is tough 

Carob (tinker), to cut. 

Caroon (costermongers), five shil- 
lings. Possibly from the Italian 

Carpet (common), to be called 
upon the carpet, or to be car- 
peted, to be scolded, reprimand- 
ed, to have to give an account 
of one's self. 

Poor Percy was often carpeted, and as 
often he promised amendment. — Mark 
Letnon : Golden Fetters. 

What looked to most people like a mis- 
carriage of justice occurred in connection 
with the August Handicap, won by- 
Rhythm. George Barrett, who rode the 
second, was carpeted, on the complaint of 
the apprentice Allsopp (inspired by his 
master), for foul riding. — Sporting Times. 

(Masonic), the painting repre- 
senting the emblems of a degree. 

Carpet-bagger (popular), a term 
introduced from America. A 
man who seeks election in a 
place with which he has no 
connection (T. L. 0. Davies). 

Other ca;^«i-ia^^«rj, as political knights- 
errant unconnected with the localities are 
called, have had unpleasant receptions. — 
Guardian Newspaper. 

Synonymous with carpet-bag 

Wright gives the definition : 

Carpet-bagger, an opprobrious 
appellation applied to a resident 
of one of the Northern States, 
who after the Civil War of 
1861-65 removed to the South 
for temporary residence, and 
the promotion of personal and 
selfish ends. 

Carpet-bag recruit (army), one of 
the better class who joins with 
his baggage, with other clothes 
in fact than those in which he 


Carpet-swab (popular), carpet- 

A little gallows-looking chap . . . with 
a carpet-swab and mucking togs. — In- 
goldsby Legends. 

Carpet tom-cat (military), an 
officer who shows much atten- 
tion to, and spends a great deal 
of his time in the company of 

Carrier (old), a tell-tale. (Thieves), 
a rogue employed to look out 
and watch upon roads, at 
taverns, &c., in order to carry 
information to his gang. 

Carrier-pigeon (thieves), a swin- 
dler, one who formerly used to 
cheat lottery office-keepers ; now 
used among betting-men to de- 
scribe one who runs from place 
to place with commissions 

Carrion case (popular), a shirt, a 

Carrion-hunter (old cant), an un- 


Carrots — Casa. 

Carrots, carroty-nob (common), 
applied to a red-haired person. 

" Here, one of you boys — you. Carrots 
— run to the 'Compasses' and tell Mr. 
Kiddy he's wanted." A sharp, red-haired 
lad darted off with the message. — Mark 
Lenwn : Loaied at Last. 

Carry, to (old cant), to carry the 
keg is said of one easily angered. 
An allusion to fiery spirits. 

Carry com, to (common), to bear 
success well and equally. It is 
said of a man who breaks down 
under a sudden access of wealth 
— a successful horse-racing man 
and unexpected legatees often 
do — or who becomes so affected 
and intolerant, that " he doesn't 
carry corn well " (Hotten). 

Carry me out I (American), an 
expression of incredulity or 
aflfected disgust. It implies 
feeling faint and requiring to be 
carried out into the fresh air. 
It would be called forth by a bad 
pun, or an impossible story, or 
"blowing;" often preceded by 
"oh, good night," and some- 
times intensified by the addition 
of " and leave me in the gutter." 

Carry on, to (common), to make 
love to, to flirt openly. 

Also to joke a person to excess, 
to have a groat spree, to be 
lively or arrogant, or act in any 
out of the way manner. 

There is a time in the life of every young 
lady whtn she feels like carrying^ on. No 
matter how modest, and pious, and truly 
good a girl may be, a day comes when she 
feels like doing something ridiculous, and 
creating a great laugh. — A'm/ </ Fn-cJoiu. 

Cart (turf), an owner is said to be 
" in the cart" or carted, when his 
horse is prevented winning by 
some fraud on the part of those 
in his employment. Instances 
are not wanting where the pub- 
lic have been put " in the cart " 
by an owner who resents their 
interference with his field of 

(City.) When two or three 
fellows are playing at dominoes 
or cards, the one who has the 
lowest score but one, at any 
moment of the game, is said to be 
" in the cart." The lowest score 
is called " on the tail-board." 

Also race-course : " traversed 
the cart," walked over the 

Carted (old), signified taken to 
execution or whipped at the 
cart's tail. 

Carts (popular), a pair of shoes ; 
also " crab shells." 

Cart-wheel (thieves), five-shilling 
piece. French slang has roue de 
dcrrUre for a five-franc piece. 

Carvel (New York thieves), jea- 
lous. Probably meaning also in 
love or wooing ; from carve, to 
make love f o. Vide Halliwell. 

Ca-sa (legal), a writ of capias ad 

Casa, caser, carser (costcrmon- 
gors and ncL:;ro minstrels), a 
house, Italian. (Theatrical), a 
house. French slang has case 
with (lie .same signification. 

Cascade — Cat. 


C^cade or hang out (theatrical), 
scenic effect at conclusion of 
scene or performance. (Popu- 
lar), to cascade, to vomit. 

Case (American), a dollar, good 
or bad. In England a bad 
crown piece. Hebrew, Icesef, 
silver, ^103 ; hence kasch, a head- 
piece (i.e., a coin), and the Yid- 
dish caser, a crown. 

(Tailors), "case of pickles," a 
hopeless case; " he is the greatest 
case evermore," he is the worst 
man known, or, he is a most 
remarkable individual. 

(Old), a brothel. Also a water- 
closet. (Thieves), a house. 

Caser (thieves), explained by 
quotation. Vicle Case. 

So one morning I found I did not 
have more than a caser (five shillings). — 
Horsley : Jottings from Jail. 

Cask (society), a brougham. 

Cass, cassan (thieves and roughs), 
cheese. From the Italian iaclo. 
It is remarkable that this, the 
oldest slang for cheese, is still 
current among thieves in New 
York. It is found in nearly all 
the Latin, Teutonic, and Celtic 
languages. In old cant, casson. 
It is generally supposed to have 
been introduced by the gypsies. 

Here's ruffpeck and cassons, and all of 

the best, 
And scraps of the dainties of gentry 

cofe's feast. 

— Broome : Jo7'ial Crew. 

Cassan. See Cass. 

C a s s i e (printers), wrinkled, 
stained, or outside sheets of 
paper. Old provincial, cassen, 

cast oflF. From casse, to dis- 
charge, cashier. Latin, cassare, 
to break. 

Cast (popular). Men in small 
boats who want to be towed 
behind steamers say " give us 
a cast" (Hotten). 

Castieau's hotel (Australian 

thieves' patter), the Melbourne 
jail, so called from Mr. J. B. 
Castieau, the governor of the 
Melbourne jail. 

He "caught" a month and had to 
"white it out" at " diamond -cracking " 
in Castieau's hotel. — The Australian 
Printer's Keejsake. 

Castle -rag (rhyming slang), a 
" flag " or fourpence. 

Cast-offs (nautical), landsmen's 

Castor (common), a bicycle. Pro- 
perly a small wheel. 

Mr. C , who being driven by a lady 

whose carriage was molested by cads on 
castors, climbed solemnly down, and . . . 
administered a well - deserved collective 
hiding to the crowd. — Sporting Times. 

Cast up one's account, to. Vide 

Casual (common), a tramp or 
poor man, who seeks shelter 
at night at a workhouse. 

I have, at the risk of shocking the reader 
of delicate sensibilities, quoted at full the 
terms ui which my ruffianly casual chsiuxhtr 
fellow delivered himself of his opinion as 
to the power of " cheek " illimitable. — 
/. Greenwood : Seven Curses 0/ London. 

Cat (popular), a drunken, fighting 
prostitute. 'iYic jtudendum f. In 
French, chat. Generally termed 


Cat — Catch bet. 

by girls " pussy." Also contemp- 
tuously applied to a woman, 

(Society), "an old cat," an 
old lady of malicious disposi- 
tion, who has une mauvaise 
langue, and is always saying 
disagreeable things and telling 
ill-natured stories. Cat, or old 
cat, is often applied by servants 
to their mistress. 

Well, look here, Jessie, I am determined 
to have some fun while the cat's away. — 

" A tame cat " is a man in 
society who always has the 
entr^ of a house and is treated 
almost like one of the family, 
and who, if a bachelor, is not 
looked upon as a likely suitor 
for one of the daughters, but 
is made general use of when a 
man is wanted in a hurry to fill 
up a vacancy. 

(Thieves), lady's muff. To 
"free a cat," to steal a muff. 
To go out "cat and kitten " hunt- 
ing, is stealing pewter pots from 
publicans. (Popular), to " shoot 
the cat," to vomit. (Tailors), 
to " whip the cat," to work at 
private houses. (Infantry), to 
"shoot the cat," to sound the 
bugle for defaulters' drill. 

Cat and kittens (thieves), quart 
and pint pots. 

Cat and mouse (rhyming slang), 

Catawampously (American), 
fiercely, eagerly, violently. " Ca- 
tawampously chewed up," com- 
pletely defeated, utterly demo- 

There is something cowardly in the idea 
of disunion. Where are the wealth and 
power that showed us fourteen millions? 
Take to our heels before three hundred 
thousand slaveholders for fear of being 
' ' catawampously chewed up. "— Frederick 
Douglas : A Negro Orator. 

Catch (popular), or "a great catch," 
woman or man worth marrying. 
Generally applied to wealthy 
men and heiresses, or "warm" 

I am friends with her ma, I stand drinks 
to her pa. 
They think I'm a catch, that is plain. 
—G. Homcastle : I'll See you again in 
the Morning (Ballad). 

Catch a bob, to (American), a 
boy's expression for getting on 
behind and taking a ride gratis ; 
getting a lift. 

"Bob, what does your father do?" 
inquired a farmer of a lad who had caught 
a bob on his sleigh. — American A'ews- 

Catch a lobster, to (American), 
same as the English " to catch 
a crab." 

She is not the first hand that caught a 
lobster by puttin' in her oar afore her turn, 
I guess. — Sam Slick : The Clockmaker. 

Catch on a snag-, to (American), 
to meet one's superior. 

In rough Western parlance a man who 
falls in with such a player (a man who. 
be.-iring a high reputation for all-round 
godliness, is a crack "poker" player) 
catches on a snag, and it is said that 
every one who visits the Nonh-West 
comes across sooner or later the snag on 
which he is to catch. — Cumberland : The 
Queen's Highway. 

Catch bet (popular), a bet made 
for the purpose of entrapping 

Catchee — Cats^ party. 


the unwary by means of a paltry 
subterfuge (Hotten). 

Catchee (pidgin-English), to get, 
have, own, possess, hold. " My 
look-see one piecee man catchee 
chow-chow" — "I saw a man 
eating." " My catchee waifo " — 
"I am — or am to be married." 
"My no catchee one flin inside 
alio t'at house" — "I have not 
one friend in all that family." 

Suppose one man no catchee cash, he no 

can play at game ; 
Supposey pigeon no hab wing, can no 

make fly all same. 

— Wang-ti. 

Catch-'em-alive (common), paper 
smeared with a sticky substance 
to catch flies. 

A picture-room devoted to a few of the 
regular shaky old saints, with such coats 
of varnish that every holy personage served 
for a fly-trap, and became what is now 
called in the vulgar tongue a catch- 
'em-alive, O. — Charles Dickens: Little 

Also a small-tooth comb, 
alluding to the tenants in the 
hair of dirty people. 

Catch on, to (common), imported 
from America ; to accept an 
offer, to understand. 

Randolph looked rather puzzled at first, 
but when he did catch on to the Arch- 
bishop's meaning, he had to be thumped 
on the back by his pal Chamberlain, to 
prevent him from choking.— /"«««y Folks. 

" You catch on," is an invitation 
to take one's turn, to follow suit. 

(Theatrical), a play is said to 
be caught on when successful. 

Catch on the hop, to (common), 
to catch or find one by taking 

one's chance when he is travel- 
ling or moving about. Also to 
catch unawares. 

Catch-pole (old slang), a sheriff's 

Catever (popular), poor, bad, of 
doubtful quality. According to 
Hotten, from the Lingua Franca 
and Italian cattivo, bad. ' ' Well, 
how's things : bona 1" " No, 

Catfish death (American), suicide 
by drowning. 

Col. " Pat " Donan doesn't like the play 
of "Hamlet." Hear the eloquent adjec- 
tive slinger : " I have no patience, much 
less sympathy, with a wretched weakling 
who goes around jabbering at dilapidated 
old ghosts in tin helmets and green gauze 
veils, under bogus moonlight ; everlastingly 
threatening to do something, and never 
doing it ; driving his sweetheart to lunacy 
and a catfish death, by his dime-museum 
freaks." — Chicago Press. 

Cat-heads (old), a woman's 

Cat-lap (common), weak drink. 

Cats' head (Winchester College), 
the fag end of a shoulder of 

Cats' meat (popular), the lungs. 

Cats' party (familiar), a party to 
which none but those of the 
weaker sex are invited, and at 
which tea drinking and singing 
are indulged in. 

She was once introduced to young M . 

This was at a cats' party given by Mrs. 
to a few \^iii\^%.— Standard. 


Cats^ water — Caulker. 

It is likely Mr. Justice thought it 

funny and appropriate to hint that a fes- 
tivity was called a cats' party on account 
of the music. — Town Talk. 

Cats' water (popular), gin, cat 
being here naeant for woman. 

Cat's-skin earl (parliamentarj), 
one of the three senior earls in 
the House of Lords. 

Catting (common), vomiting. 

Cattle (popular), a kind. One 
talks of men being " rum cattle," 
" queer cattle" just as one talks 
of a man being "a queer fish" 
or "a downy bird." 

But lawyers is cattle I feel to hate, 
/\nd this one— I'd like to punch his head. 
— Keighley Goodchild : How Waif 
went to England. 

Cancus (American), lately intro- 
duced into England, originally 
a meeting of politicians called 
together to debate upon the 
claims of candidates for politi- 
cal or municipal offices, and 
agreeing to act together on the 
day of election. 

\Vhat a cajiciis is, as popularly under- 
stood in England, needs no explanation ; 
but the curious thing about the word is 
the seeming impossibility of ascertaining 
with any certainty its origin and deriva- 
tion. The explanation generally given is 
that it is a corruption of "caulkers" or 
" calk-house." One authority says that 
I he members of the shipping interest, the 
"caulkers" of Boston, were associated, 
shortly before the War of Independence, 
in activf:ly promoting opposition to Eng- 
lind, and that the word arose from their 
ineetin;;s in the caulkers' house or " calk- 
house." . 

Another derivation h.Ts, however, been 
proposed. In the "Transactions of the 

American Philological Association, 1872," 
Dr. Hammond Trumbull suggests that the 
origin of the word is to be found in the 
native Indian cau-cau-as-u, meaning one 
who advises. — Comhill Magazine. 

It may be observed that the 
derivation of the word from 
"caulkers" is perfectly rational, 
and has been accepted for more 
than a century. There is a pun 
implied in the name (" caulker," 
a tremendous story, an over- 
whelming fellow) which pro- 
bably aided to make it popu- 
lar. . 

Caught on the fly (American), 
a phrase borrowed from ball 
play, but applied to being caught, 
interviewed, or otherwise arrest- 
ed, while travelling. 

Carter Harrison told that New York 
reporter that he "must be caught on the 
Jly." According to his own umpiring, 
then, his New York speech was a foul 
bawl. — A merican Newspaper. 

An English equivalent is 
" caught on the hop." 

Caulk, to (nautical^ to lie down 
on deck and sleep, with clothes 

Caulker (society), a lie, derived 
from a "caulker," a stiff dram, 
that takes a considerable deal 
of swallowing, also supposed to 
be derived from "corker," a 
regular stopper. (Common), 
a stiff dram. 

The Mobile officer joins us heartily in a 
caulker^ and docs not need to be pressed 
to take a liule supper. — Archibald Forbes : 
My Experiences 0/ the War between 
France and Germany. 

Caution — Cayuse. 


Caution (general), any one w^o is 
peculiarly dressed, peculiar in 
his habits, or eccentric, some 
one who makes himself ridicu- 
lous. This word is an abbrevia- 
tion of the expression "a, caution 
to snakes." 

Altogether he was a caution to look at. 
— Sam Slick : The Clockmaker. 

Also anything out of the 
common way. 

I'heir win against Middlesex — who led 
off with a first innings of 301 — by tight 
wickets is an example of one of their sur- 
prises, and what is vulgarly called a cau- 
tion. — Bailey s Monthly Magazine. 

Cavaulting' (old), copulation. 
From the Lingua Franca cayoZi«. 

Cavaulting school (old slang), 
a house of ill fame, a brothel 

"•Care-in (American), to fall in. " A 
metaphor taken," says Hotten, 
" from an abandoned mining 
shaft," but it was used in Ame- 
rica before 1849. Now generally 
applied to a failure, such as a 
bankruptcy, a collapse of stock 
speculations, or of political 

That is what Colonel Sanderson and his 
colleagues in the representation of Irish 
landlordism call it — an absolute all-round 
cave-in on the part of the Government. — 
Pall Mall Gazette. 

It is also applied to any kind 
of indentation. 

I went down dar wid my hat caved in, 

Du-da, du-da ! 
Came back home wid my pocket full of 

Du-da, du-da-day ! 
— Negro Minstrel Song. 

Cave-in, properly to "calve- 
in," a phrase introduced by 
Dutch navvies. Flemish ink- 
alven, to cave-in. Friesic calven, 
to calve as a cow, also to cave-in. 
The falhng portion of earth 
is compared to a calf dropped 
by a cow (Skeat). From early 
times glaciers were called by the 
Dutch cows, and the icebergs 
which fell from them calves. 
The falling of the bergs was 
called calving. 

Cavort, to (American), to kick up 
the heels like a horse at: play, or 
to act extravagantly. 

As long as there been a stage for 
pretty women to caz'ort on, there have 
been impressionable youths to worship at 
the shrines of the pretty women. — Ameri- 
can Newspaper 

To move about in an aimless 

O Sal ! yer's that demed fool from 
Simpson's, cavortin round yer in the dew. 
— Bret Harte : Penelope. 

Cav?bawn (up-country Austra- 
lian), spelt also cobbon, big, a 
word borrowed from the blacks, 
which has passed into bush- 
slang, and is generally used by 

"There," said Stone, pointing to the 
big house, "nobody has lived in the 
' cawiawn humpy ' — that is what the 
blacks call it — since Mr. Cosgrove went 
away." — A. C. Grant: Bush-Life in 

Caxton (theatrical), a wig. 
Cayuse (cowboys), a horse. 


Cas — Chalks. 

Caz (thieves), cheese. See Cass. 
An easy dupe. As good as caz, 
easy to accomplish. 

Cedar (prison), a pencil. 

He was a "first-class" man, entitled to 
write every quarter. He provided cedar 
and a sheet of paper on which I wrote what 
was necessary. — Evening News. 

Century (turf), a hundred pounds. 

A little cheque for a century is the 
prize we offer this week for the successful 
accomplishment of the task of naming the 
first three. — Sporting Times. 

Cert (turf), used in reference to 
a racing event thought to be 
about to have a successful issue. 

A man who was burdened with debt 
Heard a cert and heavily bebt. 

But what should have won 

So badly did ron 
That quickly the man had to "gebt." 
— Bird o Freedom. 

Certainties (printers). See Un- 
CEKTAINTIES. A Vulgarism ap- 
plied to infants of the male sex. 

Chaff-cutter (old), 
tongue, slanderer. 


Chaffer (popular), the mouth ; a 
great talker. 

One of these men had a wife who used 
to sell for him ; she was considered to be 
the best chaffer in the row ; not one of 
them could stand against her tongue. — 
Mayhew : London Labour and the London 

To " moisten one's chaffer," to 
have a drink. 

Chaffy (Blue-coat School), spruce, 

Chai, chy, tchai (gypsy), girl, 
woman ; Romany, chi, a female 


Chairus, cheirus, chyrus (gypsy), 
time. Bonar gives this word 
also for "heaven." 

Chal (gypsy), (pronounced tchal,'ch 
as in church), a lad, a gypsy. 
Hotten says this was the old 
Romany term for a man, but it 
is as much in use as ever. A 
woman is not a chie, but a chy or 
chai, to rhyme with ichy. 

Chalava (gypsy), I touch. 

Chal droch (tinker), a knife. 

Chalk (turf), unknown or incom- 
petent. The names of most 
jockeys are printed on slides, 
which are kept ready at every 
race-meeting for insertion in the 
telegraph-board. Formerly a 
certain number of slate or black 
slides were used, so that the 
name of a new jockey could at 
once be written thereon in chalh. 
Hence "a chalk-jockej " came 
to mean one unknown, or un- 
favourably known, to fame. His 
name was not considered worth 
printing. (Common), unknown, 

A list of remarkably chali-tilled person- 
ages. —/f<?r/</. 

(Tailors), chalk ! silence ! 

Chalk - farm (rhyming slang), 

Chalks (popular), by chalks, by 
far, by many degrees. 

Chalks — Champagne. 


In chatting, singing, and dancing, 
Don't we pass each night away, 

We beat by chalks your finest parties, 
I'll a wager lay. 

We are all jolly, &c. 

Also "long chalJcs," originally 
an expression used by tailors 
only, alluding to the chalk lines 
on garments. 

" From your counsel's statement and the 
seeming honesty of your countenance," 
said the learned magistrate, " I was quite 
convinced that you were innocent ; but the 
evidence of the last witness has quite upset 
all my previous convictions." 

" I wish it would upset all mine," growled 
the culprit. 

But it didn't by long chalks, and his 
address was Millbank for the next six 
months. — Sporting Times. 

Also the legs. To " walk one's 
chalks" to go away. 

The prisoner has fabricated his pilgrim's 
staff, to speak scientifically, and perambu- 
lated his calcareous strata. " What ? " 
Cut his stick, and walked his chalks. — 
Kingsley : Tiuo Years Ago. 

Chalk, to (nautical), to make one 
pay his footing or stand treat. 
At sea it is the custom the first 

, time a new comer goes up a 
mast for some old hand to chase 
him up and try to get near 
enough to him to chalk his 
shoes. If he succeeds the new 
comer is expected to pay for a 
bottle of rum. 

Chalk up, to (Australian slang, less 
frequent in England), to debit 
to a person. Undoubtedly the 
expression arose from the custom 
of the keeper of an ale-house 
making a note of the various 

drinks consumed in a drinking 
bout, by scribbling them down 
with chalk upon the wall. 

Whole weeks and jnonths of hard-earned 
gold, by ounces and even pounds weight 
at a time, disappeared at these haunts, in 
a mazy account and reckoning between a 
landlord and his customer, chalked up 
during successive days of intoxication. — 
W. Westgarth: Victoria late Australia 

(Common), chalk it up, put it 
to my account. 

Cham (gypsy), cheek, leather, tin. 
Chwmmerdino, a slap on the 

Chamberlain (Winchester Col- 
lege), the brewer of the college 
and school. 

Chamber of Horrors (Parliamen- 
tary), the Peeresses' gallery at 
the House of Lords, from its 
being railed round as if it con- 
tained objectionable or repul- 
sive inmates. 

There could be no doubt as to the in- 
convenience, the gallery being generally 
known as the Chamber of H orrors. — Daily 


Chammy (society), champagne, 
termed also " cham," or " boy," 
and sometimes " fizz." 

Champagne Charley (popular), 
any dissipated man or noted 
drinker of " fizz." The name of 
a song which appeared in 1868, 
which was set to a very pleas- 
ing and original air. The origi- 
nal Charley is said to have been 
a wine-merchant, who was in 
the habit of making presents of 


Champion- — Chapel. 

bottles of champagne to all his 

Champion, very commonly used 
in America to signify pre-emi- 
nent. An exemplary humbug 
is described as "a champion 
fraud." A noisy candidate for 
office was denounced by a Chi- 
cago newspaper as '"the cham- 
pion gas-bag." 

Champ up, to (popular), to tear 
up, pull upwards. 

Chancer (tailors), one who exag- 
gerates, or lies. Also one who 
attempts anything and is in- 

Chancery. To get a man's head 
into chancery is to get it under 
your arm so as to pummel it 
at ease. The allusion is ob- 

Chance the ducks (popular), an 
ironical phrase signifying "come 
what may " (Hotten). 

Chance your arm (tailors), try, 
let it go, chance it. 

Cbaney-eyed (popular), with but 
one eye, or eyes like those of 
a Chinese, as chancy is some- 
times used as a corruption of 

It is another priboiier, who replaces the 
last individual— a " wall-eyed" or c/m«^^- 
eyed prisoner, with an open mouth. — The 

Chant (old cant), an advertise- 

Chant, to (popular), to talk, in- 
form, cry up, sing ballads, &c. ; 
cJianting-coyes, reporters. 

Chanters (popular), explained by 

As long as one can remember, gangs 
of men have perambulated the highways 
in the frosty months, but until recently 
they were invariably chanters with a 
legend of coming all the way from Man- 
chester. But song is eschewed in modern 
times. — Greenwood : Seven Curses o/ Lon- 

Chanty (nautical). "There are 
two kinds of sea songs : those 
which are sung at concerts and 
in drawing-rooms, and some- 
times, but not very often, at 
sea, and those which are never 
heard off shipboard. The latter 
have obtained in this age the 
name of chanty, a term which I 
do not recollect ever having 
heard when I was following the 
life. It is obviously manufac- 
tured out of the French word " 
(W. Clark Kussell), 

Chapel (printers). As various 
references are made to matters 
arising out of the chapel, it is 
necessary to describe this insti- 
tution. Technically, it refers to 
the meetings of the workmen to 
discuss trade matters, to settle 
disputes, and to consider chari- 
table appeals, &c., and various 
rules are enforced for the guid- 
ance of the workmen and main- 
tenance of good feeling 
themselves. It has been suj)- 
posed that the term arose from 
the fact that Caxton established 

Chapel — Charm. 


the first printing-press in this 
country in Westminster Abbey. 
The officers of these chapels 
usually consist of a "father" 
and " clerk." 

Chapel of ease (common), the 

Chapper - cot (Anglo - Indian). 
Hindu, chappar-khat, a bedstead 
with curtains. 

Chappie (society), a term of en- 
dearment in use among the 
" mashers " of society when ad- 
dressing their friends and ac- 
quaintances, much in vogue 
lately. A dandy. 

I am going to send this correspondence 
to Puttch. Ta ! ta ! dear old chappie. — 

He was a harmless-looking chappie. 
— Sporting Times. 

Chapt (old cant), thirsty. 

Char (gypsy), grass. 

Charl-chorl (gypsy), to pour out, 
vomit ; cliorl it mree, pour it 

Charge, to (Winchester College), 
to run at all speed. 

Charing Cross (rhyming slang), 

Chariot-buzzing (thieves), pick- 
ing pockets in an omnibus. 

Charles, his friend (theatrical), 
the walking gentleman, or se- 
condary interesting young man 
of a play. 

Charley (thieves), a gold watch ; 
probably from the old word 
Charley, the watch or a watch- 
man. (Tailors), the nap on a 
"faced" cloth, also a round- 
shouldered figure. 

Charley Bates' 
Bates' Faem. 



Charley Lancaster (rhyming 
slang), handkerchief, pronounced 
" handkercher. " 

Charley-pitcher (thieves), one who 
plays to win watches, or char- 
leys. A pitcher is one who 
works the streets. In San 
Francisco in 1849 there were 
open-air monte players who 
only took watches for a bet. 
A sharper who entices country- 
men into playing at some 
swindling game, such as 
"prick the garter" or "thimble- 

Charley Prescot (rhyming slang), 
a waistcoat. 

Charlie (old), a name for a watch- 

It was the duty of the watchman to call 
the hours, but no voice of any vigilant 
Charlie had as yet saluted the ears of 
Lowry. — Turnpike Dick, or tite Star oj 
the Road. 

Charlies (Winchester College), 
thick string gloves, called thus 
from the Rev. Charles Griffith. 
(Popular), a woman's breasts, 
also " bubbles," " dairies." 

Charm (thieves), a picklock. 


Charpoy — Chaunted. 

Charpoy (Anglo-Indian), ex- 
plained by quotation. 

We must send down to the bazaar, and 
get tables, chairs, and cAa>^(»)'i(bedsteads). 
— ly. H. Russell: My Diary in India in 
the Years 1858-59. 

Charrshom, chershom (tinker), a 

Charter the bar, charter the 
grocery, to (American), to buy 
all the liquor in a groggery or 
"rum-mill" and give it away 
freely to all comers. This is 
not an uncommon occurrence 
in the South and West. 

This fine Arkansas gentleman raises seve- 
ral hundred bales ; 

Unless through drought, or worm, or some 
other contingency, his crop runs short 
and fails ; 

And when his crop is ginned and baled, he 
puis it on board a boat. 

And charters the bar, and has a devil of a 
good spree while down to New Orleans 
he and his cotton float. 

—Albert Pike. 

Bolus was no nigeard. He would as 
soon treat a regiment or charter the 
grocery for the day as any other way. — 
/. G. Baldwin : David Bolus, Esq. 

Chat (thieves), a house ; from 
chattels, or chateau. 

I had not been at Sutton very long before 
1 piped a slavey (servant) come out of a 
chat (house), so when she had got a little 
way up the double (turning), I pratted 
(went) into the house. — Rev. J. W. Hors- 
ley : Jottings frotn Jail. 

" That's the chat," the proper 
words to use ; the state or facts 
of a case. 

Has the gentleman any right to be in 
this room at all, or has he not ? . . . That's 
the chat, as I take it. — Anthony Trollope : 
Orley J' arm. 

Chat-hole (prison), a hole in the 
wall, made to carry on a con- 

Chats (theatrical), properties ; 
short for chattels. (Popular), 
lice. In this sense cliaU is pro- 
bably from chatd, meaning 

(Stock Exchange), London, 
Chatham, and Dover Railway 

Chatta (Anglo-Indian), an um- 

Chatterers (common), the teeth. 

Chattering (prize ring), a blow on 
the mouth. 

Chatter broth (old slang), a tea 

Chatty (popular), filthy, lousy. 
A chatty, a lousy person ; a 
" chatty doss," a bed with ver- 
min. Vide Chats. 

Chatty-feeder (thieves), a spoon. 
Vide Chatty. 

Chaunt or chant, to, to take worth- 
less horses to fairs and sell them 
by false representations. 

Jack Firebrand and Tom Humbold . . . 
was here this morning c/ia«//«^ horses with 
'em. — Thackeray: Virginians. 

To chaunt the play, to ex- 
plain the tricks and devices of 

Chaunted upon the leer (old cant ), 
an advertiser. 

Chaunter — Cheapstde. 


Chaunter (street), a man who sells 
baUads, last dying speeches, &c., 
in the streets. Street ballad 

The running patterer ... is accom- 
panied generally by a chaunter. I'he 
chaunter not only sings, but fiddles. — 
Mayhew. London Labour and the Lon- 
don Poor. 

A dealer who takes worthless 
horses to fairs and sells them 
by false representations. 

Chaunter-cull (street). There are 
rhymsters who carry on a trade 
in London — though the head- 
quarters appear to be in Bir- 
mingham — who write ballads to 
order on any subject, to be sung 
in the streets, on events that may 
interest the public : murders, 
executions, elopements, breaches 
of promise, suicides, or horrible 
railway accidents. The hono- 
rarium paid to these self-styled 
poets is said to vary from half- 
a-crown (the minimum) to three 
half-crowns (the maximum). 

Chauvering donna (theatrical), a 
prostitute. Chauvering is cant 
for sexual intercourse. Also, 
" columbine, knofka." 

Chauvering moll (old cant), a 

Chaw (university), a trick ; to 
chaw, to deceive. (American), 
to use up. 

Chawbacon (common), a country 
clown, a rough, rude, unedu- 
cated rustic, a clodhopper ; 
sometimes colloquially desig- 

nated as "Giles" or "Hodge," 
from the supposed prevalence 
of these patronymics among the 
rural population. 

The chaw-bacons, hundreds of whom 
were the Earl's tenants, raised a shout. — 
Savage: R. Medlicott. 

Chaw-buckt (Anglo -Indian), a 
whip. Hindu, chabuJc ; gypsy, 

Ye same day Ramgivan was brought 
forth and slippered, the next day he was 
beat on ye soles of his feet, ye third day 
chaw-buckt, and ye 4th drub'd till he could 
not speak, and all to force a writing in our 
names for Rupees 50,000. — Hedges. 

Chaw over, to (popular), to repeat 
one's words with a view to ridi- 
cule (Hotten). 

Chaws or chores (American), 
small jobs. The handy man 
does chores. 

Very early in the morning there is an 
unpleasant operation to be performed, 
called "doing chaws," in the simple lan- 
guage of the farm. This luckily applied 
only to Charlie and Mr. C. , who, I believe, 
except during the busiest part of the year, 
work the 300 acre farm without help. 
" Doing chaws," by the way, means feed- 
ing the creatures generally. — Phillips- 
Wolley : Trot tings 0/ a Tenderfoot. 

(Popular), to have a bit of 
chaivs refers to copulation. 

Chaw up, to (popular), to finish 
one up. " Chawed up," done 

I felt as if I could cha^v him right up, 
I was so mad. — Sain Slick : The dock- 

Cheapside (old slang), "He came 
at it by way of Cheapside," that 


Cheat — Cheesemongers. 

is, little or nothing was given 
for it. 

Cheat or nubbing-cheat (thieves), 
the gallows. 

See what your laziness is come to; to the 
cheat, for thither will you go now, that's 
infallible. — Fielding: Jonathan Wild. 

Chee (pidgin), long ; probably an 
abbreviation of muchee " much," 
" China-boy no stoppee chee 

Chee-chee, (gipsy), nothing, less, 
superfluous, also equivalent to 
"be silent." 

Cheek (common), assurance, im- 
pudence. Probably from the 
habit of impudent persons of 
putting their tongue in their 

Although she was neither good-looking 

nor young, 
And her virtues, if any, unknown and 

She'd a dangerous eye, and an eloquent 
And a cheek that was something 

— Sporting Times. 

Also, share or portion. 
Cheeks (common), the posterior. 
Cheeky (common), impudent. 

lioys give me a good deal of annoyance, 
they are so very cheeky. — Mayheiv : Lon- 
don Labour and the Lotidon Poor. 

Cheese (society), " quite the 
clierse," varied to tlie " Stilton," 
or "real Stilton," synonymous 
with quite the thing, from the 
Hindustani or Anglo-Indian chiz, 

thing. Sometimes oheete is used 
as a derisive nickname for any 
man who has pretensions to 
being smart. (Schools), an 
adept ; one boy will talk of 
another being an awful clieese 
at bowling, fives, Latin verses, 
&c. (R. M. Academy), hard 
cheese, equivalent to " hard 
lines," no luck ; especially used 
at bilhards. (Popular), cheese 
it, leave off. A corruption of 

I was just entering upon one of my own 
composition, when, sir, I was vulgarly 
requested to cheese it. — Sporting Times. 

(Thieves), ''cheese your barri- . 
kin," hold your noise. (Nine- 
pins), the ball. 

He sent the damaged cheese skimming 
and cannoning among the four gruat pins. 
— Greenwood : Tag, Kag, <V Co. 

Cheese boxes (American), the 
nickname given by irreverent 
Confederates to the ironclads of 
the Monitor type then (at the 
time of the Civil War) just 
invented. They, however, spoke 
even as disrespectfully of their 
own unsuccessful attempts at a 
similar class of vessel, calling 
them " tinclads." 

Cheese-cutter (common), an aqui- 
line nose ; also a large, square 
peak to a cap. Cheese-cutters, 
bandy legs. 

Cheese-knife (army), sword. 

Cheesemongers, once a popular 
name for the First Lifeguards 
(Hot ten). 

Cheese- toaster — Chew. 


Cheese-toaster (army), a sword. 

I'll drive my cheese-toaster through his 
body. — Thackeray: The Virginians. 

Cheesy (society), excellent, smart, 
varied sometimes to "rare Stil- 
ton," which might be said to be 
the square power of cheesy. 

Che - muck (American), food ; 
taken from the Indians of the 
North-West, and now current 
among the miners, 

Cherpin llyower (tinker), book. 
" Cherpin appears to be vulgar. 
Llyower was on second thought 
declared by Owen to be the right 
word." Gaelic, leahhar. — The 
Gypsies. Fic?e Lyeskin CHEEPS, 
telling fortunes. 

Cherry (thieves), a young girl. 

Cherry-bums (army). Vide Bum. 

Cherry-merry (Anglo-Indian), a 
present of money. 

Cherry-merry-bamboo (Anglo-In- 
dian), a beating, a term probably 
invented by sufferers with very 
thick hides indeed. 

Cherry pie (common), this term 
was formerly used with the 
sense of the more modern 
" tart," or girl. 

Cherry-pipe (thieves), a woman. 
Pipe is rhyming slang for ripe. 

Cherry-ripe (rhyming slang), a 

Chestnuts (American and Eng- 
lish), an exclamation used in 
reference to stale news. 

The thing's got so bloomin' stale, I was 
afraid you'd yell chestnuts at me if I said 
anythin'. — Sporting Times. 

Chete (old cant), this word was 
extensively used by the va- 
grant classes in reference to 
anything. Teeth were called 
" cracking " or " crunching 
chetes" swine "grunting cketes," 
a knife a " cutting chete," or 
the gallows a "hanging" or a 
"topping chete." To strike 
some chete, to steal something. 

This word is used as an affix 
in the formation of names 
(Turner), and is equivalent, 
not to the gypsy engro, which 
means an active agent, but to 
engree, denoting " a thing." 
Thus nab-chete, a hat, literally 
a head-thing ; a cackling -chete, 
chicken ; hearing - chetes, ears. 
Possibly of Gypsy-Indian origin 
in common with the Anglo-In- 
dian chiz, corrupted to chitz. 
Chit and chitter have also the 
meaning in gypsy of "a rag, a 
bit, a piece." It may, however, 
be derived from the root of 
chattel; M. E. chatel, property 
(also cattle) ; Old French catel. 
This would lead to the Low 
Latin capitale (Skeat), but there 
is possibly a different root in 
common with the Westmore- 
land chat, a fragment, i.e., a 
thing or bit. 

Chew (prison), a bit of tobacco. 

A piece as large as a horse-bean, called 
a chew, is regarded as an equivalent for 



Chew — Chik. 

a twelve-ounce loaf and a meat ration. — 

Greenwood : Gaol Birds at Lar^e. 

(American), to chew oneself, 
expressing vexation. 

Say, do you know it's fairly rank to be 
back at school. Could chew myself. I 
hate it so. — Springfield Republican. 

Chewgah bag (Australian black- 
fellows), the wild bee's store of 

Chewing the cud (common), the 
habit of chewing tobacco. It is 
curious to note that amongst 
the farmers and stock-keepers 
of Surrey the cud is called a 
(luid — hence perhaps ' ' a quid of 

Chewing the rag or fat (army), 


Some of the "knowing blokes," promi- 
nent among whom will be the "grousers," 
will, in all probability, be chewing the rag 
or fat. — Brunlees Patterson : Life in the 

Chew it, to (cowboys), to eat. 

Chic (society), elegant, dashing, 
perfect. French, cliic. For the 
various significations of the 
French word, vide Barrere's 
" Argot and Slang." 

One of the most chic functions of the 
present season in Paris was the dinner given 
last Wednesday by Princess Mathilde. — 
The World. 

Chice. Vide Shice. 

Chicken (Anglo-Indian), embroi- 
dery. Chicken-walla, a pedlar 
of embroidery. Persian, chiJcin, 
art needlework. 

(Common), a term, applied to 

anything young, small, or in- 
significant ; " chicken stakes," 
small paltry stakes (Hotten). 

Chicken - butcher (old slang), a 

Chicken fixings (American). 
Bartlett defines this as chicken- 
fricassee, but it is often used to 
denote chickens prepared in any 
way. The common expression 
" corn-bread and common doins, 
or wheat - bread and chicken- 
fixins," intimates as much. 

Chicken Nabob (old slang). If a 
man returned from India with 
a larger fortune than ^^50,000 
or ;^6o,ooo he was called a 
chicken nabob. 

Chickerleary cove (coster), an 
exceedingly sharp man. 

Chi-ike (roughs), a street salute, 
a loud word of hearty praise, a 

Now join in a chi-ike — the 

Jolly we all like, 
I'm off with a party to the Vic. 

— Vance : The Chickaleary Cox'e. 

Chi-iked (tailors), chailed un- 

Chik, chick (gypsy), dirt, clay, 
ashes, sand. Chikkli cowas, ob- 
jects of earthenware. Sdr 
chikklo, all dirty. 

" Beshdom adoi akonya, 
Te sar m;5n Asti diUk 
Sas kalo muUo wongur 
Te pano, mullo chikk" — 

" I sat there alone, and all one could see 
was black dead coals, and white dead 

—O. Patteran. 

Children's shoes — Chinche. 


(Anglo-Indian), an abbrevia- 
tion of chickeen, or four rupees. 

Children's shoes (popular), to 
"make children's shoes," to be 
made nought of (Hotten). 

Chill, to (popular), to warm. 
From the expression to "take 
the chill off;" "chilled beer" 
for warmed beer is a very usual 

Chilo (pidgin English), child. 

Ping-Wing, he pie-man son, 
He velly worst c/tilo alio Canton, 
He steal he mother picklum mice, 
An' thiowee cat in bilin rice. 
Hab chow-chow up, an' " Now," talk he, 
" My wonda' where he meeow-cat be !" 
— The Song of Ping-Wing. 

Chimany, chummeny (gypsy), 
something, anything. De mandy 
chomany, "Give me something." 

Chiming (thieves), praising a 
person or thing that is un- 
worthy, for the purpose of 
getting off a bad bargain. 

Chimleyco (popular), Pimlico. 

If you're stopping 
Down in Wapping, 
Rotten Row, or Chimleyco. 
— Song : There's a lot ojfun in London, 

Chimmel (tinker), a stick. 

Chimmes (tinker), wood or stick. 
Vide Chimmel. 

Chimney chops (old slang), a 
name given to a negro. 

Chimney-pot (common), a silk 

An excellent life-preserver may be made 
in a few seconds in the following manner : 
Lay a silk handkerchief on the ground and 
spread it open. Then place on it, brim 
downwards, a hat of the " chimney-pot 
sort," and tie the four comers of it together 
over the crown of it. The article so pre- 
pared may then be thrown to the drowning 
person ; or, better still, it may be taken to 
him by some one that can %^\ia.— Ross's 
Variety Paper. 

Chimney - sweep (common), a 

black draught. 

Chin (American thieves), a child ; 
probably an abbreviation of kin- 
chen. (American), to chin, to 

He was a worker, and liked nothing 
better than to get into a circle of young 
cow-punchers and chin and josh with 
them. — Prancis : Saddle and Moccasin. 

(Gypsy), to cut or write. This 
suggests the Indian cutting, or 
graving all letters on palm-leaves, 
&c. (Hindu, chinh, a scar.) 
Chinamangrl, a letter. 

Chinas (Stock Exchange), Eastern 
Extension Telegraph Shares. 

China Street (thieves). Accord- 
ing to Vaux, China Street is 
a cant name for Bow Street, 
Covent Garden — where the 
celebrated police court is 

Chinche, chints, a bug. The 
authors of the Anglo-Indian 
Glossary say that "this word 
is now quite obsolete both in 
India and England." But it 
has always been familiarly used 
as it now is in the United States, 
not as an euphemism, but as 


Chin-chin — Chip. 

the correct original Spanish 
word. It is remarkable that 
"bug" was originally a figura- 
tive and perhaps polite term for 

Chin-chin (pidgin-English), a term 
derived from the Mandarin 
(standard dialect) ts'ing, ts'ing ; 
Cantonese, ch'ing, ch'ing, equiva- 
lent to " thank you," or a polite 
"adieu" or salutation. In 
pidgin it is used for worship, 
prayer, or to make a request. 

Chin-chopper (popular), a blow 
under the chin. 

Chine, choon, chen, chone 

(gypsy), the moon. 

Chingarer, chingers (gypsy), 
sparks. Hindu, chingi, spark. 

Chinger (gypsy), to tear, split, 
scold, or quarrel ; through. 

Chingerben (gypsy), contrary, 

Chink (thieves), money. 

At knock'emsdown and tiddlywink, 
To be a sharp you must not shrink, 
But be a brick and sport your chink. 
— 1 he I.eary Man. 

Chinkers (thieves), money. 

Are men like us to be entrapped and sold, 
And see no money down, Sir Hurly-Burly? 
We're vile crossbow-men, and a knight are 

But steel is steel, and flesh is still but flesh, 
So let us see your chinkers. 

— Taylor: Philip Van Artevelde. 

Also handcuffs and shackles 
united hv a chain. 

Chin-music (English and Ameri- 
can), talk, conversation. 

"I am not," he said, "going to orate. 
You did not come here, I guess, to hear 
me pay out chin-music." — The Golden 

(Common English), talking, 

But, bless yer, my bloater, it isn't all 

chin-music, votes and " 'Ear, 'ear !" 
Or they wouldn't catch me on the ready, 
or nail me for ninepence. No fear 1 
— Punch. 
Also cliin play. 

Chinqua soldi (low theatrical), 
fivepence. From the Italian. 

Chinse (Winchester College), a 

Chin-wag (common), officious 
impertinence (Hotten). 

Chip (American journalism). 
Local items in newspapers are 
called chips, and sometimes 
the term is applied to the re- 
porter who collects them. It 
was once suggested in a news- 
paper office in Philadelphia that 
the city reporters should be 
called "five-six," and the local 
editor, "seven-eight," in accor- 
dance with the well - known 
rhyme : — 

Five, six — pick up chifis ; 

Seven, eight — lay them straight. 

(American), to chip, to under- 

I knew at once that they had got scared, 
and trenched up like a bevy of quails ; 
so 1 said to Jim, "Now you lei me do 
the talking, when they begin to sing 
'Indians' — don't you chipV — Francis: 
Sa*lJle and Moccasin. 

Chip in — Chit. 


Chip in (American). Defined by 
Bartlett as meaning to contri- 
bute. He gives no etymology 
for the word. It has also 
another meaning, i.e., to take 
shares in and contribute, as if 
ten men were all to chip in on 
any undertaking. Supposed to 
be derived from "chips," the 
counters which represent money 
in gambling. As implying con- 
cealment, in a slangy sense, it 
probably was something to the 
gypsy chipper, to hide ; Hindu, 
chipana. Tan chipdnd, to hide 
the body, i.e., one's self. 

Chipper (American), lively. Pos- 
sibly from " chippernigns," 
"chip-muk," or " chip-munk," 
a proverbially lively little squir- 
rel. {Sicurus striatus, or striped 

Chippy (common), unwell. 

He was chippier than ever after a jam- 
boree of abnormal magnitude. — Sporting 

Chips (popular), money. 

She admitted for me she might possibly 

Chips, eh? I'm no mash for a tinker. 

— Bird o Freedon. 

Also a nickname for a car- 

Chirido (gypsy), a bird. Romany 
chiriclo, "the gypsy bird," i.e., 
the water-wagtail. It is said 
that whenever one sees a water- 
wagtail he will soon after meet 
with gypsies. KCdo chinclo, a 
blackbird or crow ; sometimes 
pronounced chillico. 

Chirki, shirki (gypsy), a star. 
Chirki or shirki, a star in Romany, 
may possibly have something in 
common with the Persian chirkh, 
meaning the sky, or chiragh, a 

Chirp, to (thieves and roughs), to 

1 firmly resolved to chirp, when I was 
taken before the magistrate to give evi- 
dence, as little as possible. — /. Green- 
wood : The Little R agamuffitis. 

Also to inform. 
Chirper (journalistic), a singer. 

The gentle damsel informed the votive 
vocalist that she could not .sleep at nights 
through thinking about burglars, and con- 
templated purchasing a revolver. " Don't 
be rash," said the chirper. — Fun. 

Chirpy (American), cheerful, like 
a lark, in fact. 

Chirruper (popular), an additional 


Chisel, to (common), properly to 
cut close as in a bargain, &c. , 
to cheat in a small way ; for in- 
stance, to try to sell second-hand 
or soiled goods for new ones. 
(Winchester College), to cheat ; 
a chisel, a cheat. 

Chit (Anglo-Indian), a letter, note, 
certificate, or pass. It is remark- 
able that for nearly a century 
diiierent writers in India speak 
of the habit of writing notes on 
all occasions, as if every person 
in the country were a Micawber. 

These incessant chits are an immense 
trouble, but the ladies seem to like them. — 
Letters from Madras (vide Anglo-Indian 


Chit — Choker. 

(Pidgin-English), same. 

Empelo posha he name topside galantee 
chit (the Emperor wrote his name on a 
grand letter). — /"A* Woolly Hen. 

(Clubs), orders for drinks, &c., 
given at clubs. 

Chitterlings (old), the shirt frills 
formerly fashionable. 

Chitti (gypsy), nothing, trifling. 

Chitty (tailors), an assistant cutter 
or trimmer. 

Chitty - faced (popular), said of 
one who has a childish look, 
like a chit or infant. 

Chiv (gypsy) to put, place, fix, 
throw. " Chiv lis adrd " — " Put 
it in." " Chiv lis avrl " — " Throw 
it away." " Chivella o chiriclo 
adr^ lestis tan " — " She puts the 
bird into his cage" {i.e., "tent"). 
To goad, chase, drive about. 
In this sense probably from chiv, 
a sharp-pointed knife or goad. 
Hence, the English slang word, 
to " chivy." " Chiv apr^," to 
put or throw up. 

(Tinker and Romany), a point- 
ed knife. In gypsy generally 
a churi. 

Beruna, gibel a chiv for the gentry cove. 
— Disraeli: Venetia. 

Chivalry (old), coition. To do an 
act of chivalry, to have con- 
nection with a woman. More 
modern is to "ride," with the 
same sense. Old French writers 
termed this chevaulcher. 

Chive (thieves), a knife ; from the 
gypsy to chive, to stab. 

We had a fight and he put the chive into 
me. — Horsley: Jottings from Jail. 

Chive fencer (popular), a street 
seller of cheap cutlery. 

Chivy (thieves), the face ; to chivy, 
to scold. 

Chlorhin (tinker), to hear. 

Choakee. See Choket. 

Chocolate gale (nautical), a brisk 
N.W. wind off the West Indies 
and Spanish Main (Smyth). 

Choke-jade (turf), a dip in the 
course at Newmarket a few 
hundred yards on the Cambridge 
side of the running gap in the 

Choke off, to (common), to get 
rid of. 

" We are so terribly troubled with beg- 
gars. . . ." "Don't know how to choke 'em 
off, my dear? Why, give 'em pudding 
crust, cake, and dumplings of your own 
making to be sure." — Fun. 

Choker (prison), a cell. Yidt 

There was not a spare potato but what 
he seized as soon as the dinner tins were 
put outside the door by the prisoners, and 
as a rule he was summarily marched off to 
choker for stealing food intended for Her 
Majesty's pigs. Choker had no terror for 
this Chancery barrister — he rather liked it. 
— Evening Xeivs. 

Also a garotter. 
a cravat. 


Choker — Choops. 


He looks when walking — pretty pet ! 
With gait still stiffer than his choker. 
As if he'd swallowed for a bet, 
Or by mistake, the kitchen poker. 

— Ally Slofier's Half-Holiday. 

" White-cAoicr," a white tie. 

We have what Mugford calls a white- 
choker dinner to-day. — Thackeray : The 
Adventures of Philip: 

Also a clergyman. 

Chokey (popular and thieves), 
prison. Yidt Choki. 

And didn't a bobby claw 'old on me . . . 
and gits me a week in chokey, cos he 
said I was a priggin'. — H. Evans: The 
Brighton Beach Loafer. 

In prisons chokey refers speci- 
ally to the punishment cell. 
(Anglo-Indian), a chair. 

Don't throw yourself back in your burra 
chokey and tell me it won't do. — Warren 
Hastings to G. Vansittart. 

Also a police station, a custom 
or toll house. Hence watching 
or mounting guard is called 

Choki, or chokie, the guard-room. 
The lock-up or prison for mis- 
conducted or drunken soldiers, 
which is part and parcel of the 
guard - house, and under the 
charge of the barrack guard ; 
generally a dark, gruesome 
place, with no furniture but the 
guard bed, the "little soldat" 
of the French army, a standing 
wooden erection, fixed, and on 
a slope, with a raised wooden 
pillow at one end. It is the 
father of the plank bed, the 
only bed for short-term pri- 
soners in modern prison disci- 

pline. Choki is Anglo-Hindu- 
stani, derived from chank, the 
market - place near the gate 
in which Orientals, like our 
medisevals, lodged their cap- 

Chokidar (Anglo-Indian) , a watch- 
man ; sometimes a police atten- 

Chokka (gypsy), shoe or boot. 
Hindu, charka. 

Chokra, chuckoroo (Anglo-In- 
dian), a boy, a youngster, especi- 
ally one employed about a house- 
hold, or a regiment. 

Chone (gypsy), the moon. Also 

" Tu shan i chone odre o hev 

Miri deari kfimeli rani, 

Te waveri fol;i shan o bav 

Kun gav'la tut' fon mdn 'y " — 

" The moon which passes o'er the sky. 

My darling, seems like thee. 

And other folk are but the clouds 

That hide thy face from me." 

Chonkeys (popular), explained by 


Chonkeys are a kind of mince-meat baked 
in crust. — Mayhew : London Labour aiui 
the London Poor. 

Choomer (gypsy), a kiss. Plural, 
chUmya, kisses. 

" Si miri chUmya shan kushti to ha 
Tu iiasti hatch bockalo, deari aja " — 
" If kisses of mine were good to eat. 
You shouldn't go hungry long, my 

Choops (Anglo - Indian), keep 
silence ; a corruption of choo- 


Chootah — Chores. 

Chootah (Anglo-Indian), small, 

Chop (pidgin and Anglo-Indian), 
properly, a seal, stamp, or im- 
pression. Used to indicate 
quality, as in " first chop," i.e. 
stamped or branded, or marked 
as the best. Hindu, ch'hdp. It 
is used on the Eastern seas also 
for certificate, pass, license, sig- 
nature. CAop-house, a custom- 

Wang he go to fi'st c/u>p coffin. 
To be mand'lin an' chin-chin um ! 

— IVang the Snob. 

Chop, to (turf), to beat. Essex 
dialect, chop, to fiog. From chop 
or chap, to cut. 

Another in John Dawson's stable is likely 
to be very handy here, and thai one is 
Hawthorn, who created such a sensation 
when she chopped the mighty Salisbury 
at York the year before last. — Sporting 

(Sport), to outstrip, catch. 

A certain meet where, after chopping 
their fox, poor Reynard's carcass was 
"pinched" by a Brummagem rough. — 
Bird o' Freedom. 

Chop-chop (pidgin), quick, 
quickly, make ha.ste, look sharp. 
Cantonese, kap - Ara/5 ; Man- 
darin, kip-kip. " In the Nortli- 
ern dialects kwai-kivai, quick, 
quick, is more usual" (Bishop 

That nightcy tim begin chop-chop, 
One young man walkec, no can stop, 
Ma-skcc snow, niaskee ice, 
He cally flag wit' chop so nice — 
Top-side galow I 

— Excelsior. 

Chopper, chopping blow (boxing), 
a short, downward blow with the 
knuckles, delivered from the 
elbow. Oneof the most clumsy, 
ineffective, and most easily par- 
ried blows that could be re- 
sorted to. It was nevertheless 
a favourite with SlacK (cham- 
pion, 1750-60). 

Chopper on (printers). A man 
when miserable or "down in 
the dumps " is said to have a 
chopper on. 

Chopping girl (old slang), a very 
young female who exhibits 
sexual precocity. One who has 
la cuissegaie, as the French slang 
humorously expresses it. 

Choppy (American), applied to a 
broken, hillocky county. 

Chops (popular), the mouth. A 
" wipe in the chops," a blow on 
the face ; " down in the chops,'' 
sad. Chops is a nickname given 
by schoolboys to one who has 
well-developed maxillaries. 

Chor, char (gypsy), grass. Hindu, 
chara, fodder. 

Chore (gypsy), a thief, to steal. 
" Kai did tute cliore adovo?" — 
"Where did you steal that?" 
Hindu, chor, a thief. 

Chores (American), odd jobs. A 
" choreman " is a handy man, a 
Jack of all trades. 

Their carpenter was dead, and I am a 
handy man, so I took his place. Then 
made a few dollars doing cliores around. — 
The Golden Butterjly. 

Choring — Chow-chow. 


Choring (Scottish thieves), steal- 
ing. From the gypsy. 

While outside the cells he heard . . . 
ask "What she was in for?" Maciver 
replied, " Choring, me and Maggie 
Devaney." He took that to mean steal- 
ing. — Scottish Newspaper. 

Choro (gypsy), poor ; also churero 
and chdridlr, poorer. " Mandy's 
a churedo " — " I am a poor man." 
This word is confused with 
choredo, one not of pure gypsy 
blood, and stolen; e.g., churedo 
or posh an' posh,*hali. and half, 
also a poor person. 

" Oh, mandy shorn ckoro te kalo ; 

Oh, mandy shorn kek pensa rye " — 
" Oh, I am poor and black ; 

Oh, I am not like a gentleman." 
— Gypsy Wooing. 

Chortle (popular), to howl. 

Chota-hazry (Anglo-Indian), 
" little breakfast ; " refreshment 
taken early in the morning, 
corresponding to the auroral 
mint julep or pre-prandial cock- 
tail of Virginia. An ante-break- 

The small meal commonly known in 
India as chota-hnziri, and in our English 
colonies as Early Tea. — IVaring: Tropi- 
cal Resident. 

Chouse (schools). It is a regular 
ckouse, signifies it is a great 

The boy . . . was told that what he 
had done was an awful chouse.— Brinsley 
Richards : Seven Years at Eton. 

(Common), to chouse, to cheat 
out of one's share or portion. 
Supposed to be derived from 

the Turkish chia<ms, an inter- 
preter, on account of a gross 
fraud committed by one on 
Turkish merchants in London. 

Chout (East End, London), an en- 
tertainment (Hotten). 

Chovey (costermongers), a shop. 

Chovihani, chovihan (gypsy), a 
witch, a wizard. Hindu, choi- 
hani. ' ' Miri diri bibi ma kamara 
butidiro tevel chovihani" — " My 
dear aunt, I would like to be- 
come a witch." 

Chowdar (Anglo-Chinese), a fool. 

Chow-chow (pidgin-EngUsh), to 
eat, or food of any kind. This 
is the chief definition, but the 
word is also specially applied to 
a kind of sweet preserve made 
of many things, and has thence 
been somewhat incorrectly taken 
to mean a medley of trifles of 
any kind. Also chow-chow, " to 
have a meal. " In the Mandarin 
dialect cki-fan, showing that the 
radical of the word means to 
eat, and not a mixture. 

" Littee Jack Horna, 
Makee sit inside coma, 
Choiv-clunv he Clismas-pie ; 
He puttee inside t'um." 
We ate chow-chow with chopsticks on 
the celestial restaurants. — Mark Twain; 
Innocents at Home. 

The word chow<how is suggestive 
especially to the Indian reader of a mixture 
of things good, bad, and indifferent ; of 
sweet little oranges and bits of bamboo 
stick, slices of sugar-cane and rinds of 
unripe fruit, all concocted together . . . 
into a very tolerable confection. — Bombay 
Quarterly Review, 1858. 


Chowing — Chucked. 

Chowing or chippingf (theatrical), 
incessant talking, grumbling. 

Christening (thieves), christening 
a watch is altering the name of 
maker and number. 

Christians (Cambridge Univer- 
sity), a name given to the 
members of Christ's College, 

Chuck (Westminster School), a 
schoolboy's treat. 

(Military), mealy bread. (Nau- 
tical), hard chuck, sea biscuit. 
(Popular), explained by quota- 

A labourer will term a fellow he dislikes 
"a beggar who eats chuck," chuck being 
a low-priced part of the carcase. — Stan- 

Also bread and meat. 
(Common), the chuck, turning 
out of doors, dismissal. 

And I shall get the blooming chuck as 
well as fourteen days. — Sporting Times. 

Chuck, to (popular), to eat. 

Mo and his man were having a great 
breakfast one morning. . . . Mo exclaimed 
to his man, " Chuck rumbo (cat plenty) my 
lad." — Hindlcy: Life and Adventures of 
a Cheap Jack. 

To turn out of doors, used 
specially in reference to drunken 
men forcibly ejected f rom-public- 

There's one on 'em a-sitting next to me 
. . . let's chuck him. — Sporting Times. 

To chuck or chuck up, to give 
up the game or attempt, from 
the custom of throwing up the 
sponge at a prize fight. 

The rest of us can chuck up work indefi- 
nitely. — Sporting Times. 

Chuck a fit, to (popular), to pre- 
tend to have a fit. 

He suddenly tumbled across Stephens 
and Pascal's " Words and Music for Chil- 
dren of all Ages," and he neaxly chucked 
a fit when he saw that No. 9, described 
as a drinking song, was called "Ginger 
Beer," and in praise of that fluid ! — Sport- 
ing Times. 

Chuck and toss (popular), tossing 
for halfpence. 

They frequently had halfpence given to 
them. They played also at chuck and 
toss with the journeymen, and of course 
were stripped of every farthing. — Afay- 
Iiew. London Labour and the London 

Chuck a stall, to (thieves), ex- 
plained by quotation. 

I said to my pal, " Chuck me a stall and 
111 have that." What did I mean ? Why, 
keep close to me, and cover what I'm 
doing. — Greenwood : Seven Years' Penal 

Chuck churches (old slang), those 
who dealt simoniacally in the 
sale of livings were so called. 

Chucked (prison), acquitted or 
released. " 7, or the chuck for 
a clock," inscribed on a prison 
wall, meant that the writer ex- 
pected seven years' penal servi- 
tude, if he was not acquitted, 
on the charge of stealing a 

Rit from 7 dials ; remanded innocent 
on two charges of pokes, only out 2 weeks 
for a drag, expects to be fullicd or else 
chucked. — Horsley : Jottings from Jail. 

Chucked — Chull. 


(Popular), disappointed, thrown 
out, sold, reproved. 

Chucked again, chucked again ! 
Whatever may happen I get all the blame. 
Wherever I go, it is always the same — 
Jolly well chucked again ! 

— Yardley: Chucked Again. 

Chucked in, into the bargain. 

Went to one on 'em yesterday, Charlie ; a 
regular old up and down lark. 

The Pallis free gratis, mixed up with a old 
country fair in a park, 

And Rosherville gardens chucked in. 

— Punch. 

Chucked up (prison), discharged 
from jail. 

When i was chucked up they took me 
to an old Jew's in Dudley Street for my 
clothes. — Evening News. 

Chucker (cricketers), a bowler 
who throws the ball instead 
of bowling it. Also one who 
volunteers to play, and does not 
keep his promise. 

(Common), chucker, or chucker 

out, a waiter or potman whose 

duty it is to turn drunkards out. 

'Tis midnight— the chucker his duty has 

done ; 
In the gutter lies Liza — she's been in the 

— sporting Times. 

Used figuratively. 

Lord Grey was about to resume his role 
of chucker out to the proposed measure of 
his own party. — Punch. 


chucTcer, a 

Chuck in (popular), to challenge ; 
from the prize-fighting custom 
of throwing a cap into the ring. 
Nearlv obsolete. 

Chucking a curly (military), 
going sick without cause. To 
"chuck" a fit is a common 
slang expression for counter- 
feiting one, and the curly may 
be traceable to the contortions 
and convulsions of the supposed 
sufferer, who is all curled up as 
he lies writhing on the bed or 

Chucking a jolly (coster- 
mongers), ironically praising a 
greenhorn, or the goods of a 

Chucking rocks (American), 
throwing stones. 

Chuckle-head (popular), a man 
with a large head, a dunce. 

Chuck-me-dos (bird fanciers), a 
variety of singing-bird, in imita- 
tion of its notes. 

Talk about yer Middlesex rubbish, with 
their toU-loU-loll-kiss-me-dears ; they don't 
touch yer reg'ler good chuck-me-dos by any 
number of chalks.—/. Greenwood: In 
Strange Company. 

Chuck the dummy, to (thieves), 
to feign an epileptic attack or a 
fit. In prisons the expression 
applies to one who feigns an 
epileptic fit in order to be re- 
moved to the infirmary. 

Chuff it (popular), be off. 

Chull (Anglo-Indian), make haste 
An abbreviation of the Hindo- 
stanee chuLlo, go along. 


Chummage — Cincinnati. 

Cbummag'e, chumming-up (old), 
a custom amongst prisoners be- 
fore imprisonment for debt was 
abolished. When a fresh man 
was admitted to their number, 
rough music was made with 
poker, tongs, sticks, and sauce- 
pans. For this ovation the ini- 
tiated prisoner had to pay 

Chummy (popular), chimney- 
sweep. Also a low-crowned 
felt hat. 

Chump (popular), for chum. 

Fancy, old chump, 
Me doing the sawdusty reglar, and foller- 
ing swells on the stump. 

— Punch. 

A hard-headed feUow ; the 
head. " Off his cAwnip," insane. 

Old gentleman off his chump— r\in<, 
Away.—Si'ms : Social Kaleidoscope. 

(American), a chump, a fellow, 

We believe that he is the man to put on 
the turf with John L. with bare fists, and 
stop the big chump's noise. — New York 
National Police Gazette. 

Chump of wood (rhyming slang), 
no good. 

Chunk (streets), explained by 

Here they gambol about like rabbits, 
until somebody raises the cry, " Nix ! the 
chunk " (the slang term for School Board 
officer). — Thor Fredur : Sketches from 
Shady Places. 

Chunks (American), large quan- 

Look here, pard, we've struck it this 
time ; chunks of it \—New York Star. 

Church, a term of endearment. 
" My church," my dear ! 

(Thieves), to "church a yack," 
vide Christening. 

Churched (common), married. 

"If it were not for the women, I fear 
few churches would be wanted." " Of 
course not, there'd be no one to be 
churched." — Sporting Times. 

Chu-shimgf (pidgin), Chinese »/(eon- 
chu-shang, "you little beast" or 
"animal." Often used jestingly 
in conversation with flower-boat 

She talkee, " Whomenyou comedisside? 
My pay you flog gum, sheon<hu-shang, you 
littee beasts — san-ne-ko-tow — my cuttee 
off your head ! "—The Little Wife. 

Chuzzle, to (popular), cheat, cir- 

Cig (American), a cigar. 

Dancing the jig, 
Every fellow with a cig, 
And a cig of confounded bad tobacco. 
— Broadside. 

Cinch (American), to subdue, get 
the better of, extort, impose 

My father is wealthy, and I think I can 
cinck him for five hundred dollars. — 
Denver Republican. 

(Thieves), to put the screw on 
any one. 

Cincinnati olives (American), 
pigs, because a large quantity 
of olive oil is manufactured out 
of Cincinnati lard. 

Cinder — Claret-jug. 


Cinder (common), a dram of 
spirits mixed with seltzer or 
soda water. (Sporting), the 
cinder, the running path. 

At Lords' wickets, or Lilley Bridge 
cinder.— Funny Folks. 

Cinder grabber (popular), a ser- 
vant maid. 

Circumbendibus (common), in a 
roundabout way. A long yarn. 

Circus cuss (thieves), circus 

City college (thieves), Newgate 

Civil rig (beggars), a trick of 
beggars to obtain alms by over 

Civvies (army), a suit of civvies, 
i.e., civilian's clothes. 

Clack (popular), the tongue, 
speech ; to clack, to talk idly, 
to chatter. 

Clack box (common), a garrulous 

Clacker (popular), talk, chatter, 
also pudding or pie crust. 

I hope we've got plenty of clacker for 
Christmas if we haven't got anything else. 
— Rare Bits. 

Clack-loft (popular), a pulpit. 

Gladder (old), a male flirt. 

ClaggTim (popular), boiled treacle 
hardened. From"closr." 

Claim (Australian and American), 
a miner's allotment. 

The hill is systematically honey-combed 
with claims old and new. — L. IVork : 
Australian Printers' Keepsake. 

(Thieves), to claim, to steal 

Clam butcher (American), a man 
who opens dams. 

Clank (thieves and tramps), a 

Tip me the clank, like a timber-mort as 
you are. — Disraeli: Venetia. 

Clanker (old cant), silver plate. 

Clapper (popular), the tongue; 
more especially that of a loqua- 
cious person. 

Clapper-dudgeon (old cant), a 
beggar born. 

Claras (Stock Exchange), Cale- 
donian Railway stock. 

For we have our Sarahs and Claras, 
Our Noras and Doras for fays. 

— Atkin : House Scraps. 

Claret (pugilistic), a term which 
has become general for blood. 

If you spill 
One drop of his claret that's not in your 

I'll hang you. By jingo ! I will. 

— Ing;oldsby Lesends. 

To tap the claret, to draw 

Claret-jug (pugilistic), now com- 
mon for the nose. 

What, oh what's the meaning of that 

chappie's blackened eyes '/ 
On his claret-jug, I ask you, what's that 

variegated rise ? 

— Bird o' Freedom. 


Classy — Cleymans. 

Classy, clashy (Anglo-Indian), a 
common sort of person, a tent- 
pitcher, a chain-bearer. 

In such a country it was perfectly hope- 
less to dream of getting any of the clean 
skins home to the yards. — Finch Hation : 
Advance Australia. 

Claw (prison), a lash of the cat-o'- 
nine tails. 

Oh ! cass that old Kerr, who condemned 
me to twenty-five claws with the cat. 
— Greenwood: A Night in a Work- 

Claw-hammer (common), dress 
coat. In French slang, queue 
de pie, or siffiet. 

The black claw-hammer coat was gene- 
rally -worn.— Standard. 

Claws for breakfast (prison), a 
humorous expression for the 
infliction of the cat, which 
usually takes place in the 

... A rufSan being uncertain as to the 
morning when he is to have, as he himself 
would say, clams /or breakfast, is in the 
habit of lying night after night in a sweat 
of terror. — Greemvood : In Strange Com- 

Clean (thieves), expert, smart. In 
French, un soldat propre is a 
smart soldier. 

Clean out, to (common), to take 
or win all one has ; to ruin. 

Ah ! ... he has cleaned me out, but I 
can go and earn some more when I like. — 
Dickens : Oliver Tivist. 

Clean skin (Australian), the term 
for unbranded and wild-bred 
cattle which have escaped to 
the scrubs. 

Clean straw (Winchester College), 
clean sheets. Formerly the 
beds had a straw mattress, 
hence the expression. 

Clean the slate, to (popular), to 
pay off all debts. 

And everything comes right some day. 
Though " thirty-five per cent." is hot, 
'Tis cheap when pa pays all the 

Let hatter, tailor, fellahs wait, 
A wife with cash will clean the slate. 
— Ballad : Tra la la. 

Clear (thieves), drunk. 

Clear crystal (popular), spirits 
generally, but more correctly 
probably gin or whisky only. 

Cleave (old slang), one that will 
cleave is said of wanton and 
forward women, such as would 
throw themselves at a man with- 
out waiting for favour to be 
asked of them. 

Clerked (old), imposed upon. 

Clerk's blood (old), red ink. A 
common expression of Charles 

Clever - shins 


(schools), a sly 

Cleymans (old cant), artificial 
sores made by beggars to im- 
pose upon people. 

Click — Clobber. 


Click (popular), a blow ; to dick, 
to snatch. 

Clicks in the gob, blows on the 

. . . What with clouts on the nob. 
Home hits in the bread basket, clicks in 
the gob. 
— Moore : Tom Crib's Memorial. 

Clicker (printing), a person in a 
printing-office who is at the 
head of a certain number of 
compositors for a particular 
division of work or otherwise. 
It is also used in the shoemak- 
ing trade. (Trade), a female 
touter at a bonnet-shop, or the 
servant of a salesman who stands 
at the door. (Popular), a knock- 
down blow. 

Clift, to (thieves), to steal. 

Clinch (popular and thieves), to 
get the clinch, to be imprisoned. 

Clincher (general), a settler. 

Clink (military), another term for 
guard-house, derived evidently 
from the Clink, one of the ancient 
London prisons, that of West- 
minster. Sir Walter Scott, in 
" Peveril of the Peak," makes 
Jem Clink one of the warders 
in Newgate. 
(Thieves), plate. 

He wouldn't have been hobbled but the 
melting-pot receiver proved his selling flie 
clink to him. — G. Parker: Variegated 

Clinker (common), any thing or 
person that is first-rate, equiva- 
lent to a " stunner." 

The yellow-haired girl at the bar. A 
clinker, ain't she ? gave me these (cigars), 
and they are 'orrid bad. — Ward or Wife. 

(Thieves), a chain. 

Clinkerum (old), the gaoL From 
the old prison called the "Clink." 

Clink-rig (thieves), stealing tan- 
kards from public -houses. 

Clipper (general), something very 
good, very fast, above the aver- 
age. Derived from the swift- 
sailing ships called opium and 
tea clippers. 

There must be a new horse bought, not 
a knacker's sort of horse, mind yer, but 
a regler clipper; a chestnut; goes like 
steam, Sam ses it do." — ■/. Greenwood: 
The Little Ragamuffins. 

Clipping (general), excellent. 
A "clipping ball," a ^'dipping 
good chap." Vide Clippeb. 

Clishpen (tinker), to break by 
letting fall. 

Clisp (tinker), to fall ; let fall. 

Cloak- twitchers (old cant), thieves 
who robbed passers-by of their 
cloaks. The old French tire- 

Clobber (popular and thieves), 
clothes. A corruption of that 
word, with a change of syllable. 

If you are hard up always tell the dear 
things that j-ou are a gentleman's valet. 
This will account for your good clobber. — 
Sporting Times. 

Next morning I got up about seven, and 
went home to change my clobber, and put 


Clobbered up — Clothes-pin. 

on the old clobber to work with the kipsy. 
— Horsley : Jottings from Jail. 

Clobbered up (popular and vul- 
gar), dressed up. 

" D'you know, if you were clobbered up 
I shouldn't mind taking you out?" She 
promised to be presentable. In her own 
words, she said, " I'll come clobbered up 
like a dukess." — Fun. 

(Theatrical), patched 
shabby-genteel get up. 


Clock (English and American), a 

When you have the clock safe in your 
hand, break the little ring that holds it to 
the chain, using both hands to do it, and 
then drop the sucker (victim) into his 
chair (seat) again, and say, " Wait here till 
I bring you a cab." — Philadelphia Press. 

Clock -calm (nautical), perfect 

Clod -crushers (American), an 
epithet used by Americans to 
describe the large feet which 
they believe to be the charac- 
teristics of Englishwomen as 
compared with those of their 
own country, an opinion shared 
by other foreign critics as well ; 
but in reality the question is 
one that rests wholly on the art 
of the shoemaker, and it is a 
fact that English ladies of 
fashion (who generally show 
greater regard for the appear- 
ance of their nether extremity, 
from the garter downward, than 
their more humble and plain 
sisters usually do) can favour- 
ably compare, in that respect at 
least, with any of the dainty, 

neat-ankled, light-tripping ones 
of New York or Paris. At any 
rate they take more wholesome 
exercise in the fresh air, and if 
they fail to satisfy to the same 
extent the eye of the artist or 
the voluptuary, they are able to 
walk greater distances without 
groaning at every step, and 
decidedly have the advantage 
at " crushing clods." 
(Common), large feet. 

Cloister-roush (Winchester Col- 
lege). Formerly in cloister- 
time two halves of the school 
used to rush from the ends of 
the school at each other. To 
run "cloisters": when a man 
in junior part is put into senior 
part without passing through 
the middle one he is said to 
" run cloisters." 

Clothes, coloured (army), plain 
clothes as distinguished from 
uniform. More particularly in 
the infantry, and the expression 
" coloured " is probably ironical, 
plain clothes, or mufti, being as 
a rule less strongly coloured 
than the crimson livery of the 
Queen. The expression has 
oflicial sanction, however, and 
is often used at courts-martial, 
when a prisoner is charged with 
having " absented himself with- 
out leave, until apprehended in 
' coloured clothes,' " &c. &c. — 
out of uniform, that is to say. 

Clothes-pin (American), that's 
the sort of clothes-pin I am, i.e., 
that's the sort of man I am. 

Cloth-market — Cly. 


Cloth-market (old), a term for a 
bed, quaint but not slang. 

Miss, your slave ; I hope your early ris- 
ing will do you no harm : I find you are 
but just come out of the cloth-market. — 
Swift: Polite Conversation. 

An old French corresponding 
term is haUe aux draps. 

Cloud-cleaner (nautical), an ima- 
ginary sail carried by a Yankee 

Clout (common), a blow. A 
" clout in the chops," a blow on 
the face. (Thieves), a pocket- 

Clouting (thieves), stealing hand- 

Clow (Winchester College), a box 
on the ears; to clow, to box 
one's ears. 

Clower (old cant), possibly allied 
to the Gaelic cliah, a basket ; 
termed "kipsy" by English 

Cloyer (old cant), one who at- 
tempted to share in the profits 
of a robbery or a swindle in 
which he bore no part. 

Then there's a cloyer or snap, that dogs 
any new brother in the trade, and snaps ; 
and will have half in any booty. — Roaring 
Girl : Sixteenth Century. 

Club, to (military), to get a party 
of men or troops into a confused 
mass through a blunder when 

Cly (thieves), pocket. 

To his dies my hooks I throw in, and 
collar his dragons clear away. — W. 
Maginn : Vidocq's Slang Song. 

Old cant, dye, to take, to seize, 
from old English deyes, claws. 
Cly is provincial for money. To 
take, steal, money, pocket seem 
to be interchangeable terms in 
various slang languages. 

Cly in old cant had also the 
signification of sack, basket, 
possibly from Gaelic cliah, 

Clye, cly, to (old cant), to take, 
to seize. 

Gerry gan, the ruffian clye thee. — T. 
Hamtan: Caveat. 

To cly off, to carry away. 

Here safe in our skipper let's cly off our 

And bowse in defiance o' th' Harman-beck. 
— Broojne : Jovial Crew. 

Also cly, to steal. 
Cly-faker (thieves), a pickpocket. 

They were gentlemen sharpers, and not 
vulgar cracksmen and cly-fakers. — Lytton : 

This may be from cly, a pocket, 
as suggested, but it is worth 
noting that in Dutch thieves' 
slang, kleifolher is a thief who 
wanders about, derived from 
fokker, one who goes about, and 
Ueif, silver. Vide Cly. 

Cly-faking' (thieves), picking 
pockets. Vide Fake. 

"What is cly-fakingV . . . "Why, a 
prigging of wipes, and sneeze-boxes, and 
ridicules, and such." — //. Kingsley: Ra- 

Cly the jerk, to (old cant), to 
stand in the pillory. 



Coach — Cob. 

Coach (university and public 
school), the private tutor by 
whose aid a student is " driven " 
through his examination at the 
university. It is now no longer 
peculiar to the university. 

He was a student at Christ Church and 
a Fellow of Merton, and in early life was 
a very successful coach at Oxford. — The 

A tutor not connected with a 
college is sometimes termed a 
" rural coach." 

(General and sport), to coach, 
to instruct, to "drive,"to prepare 
a man for an examination ; a 
word which has now almost at- 
tained to a recognised place in 
the language. 

I coached him before he got his scholar- 
ship ; he ought to have taken honours 
before Easter, but he was ill. — G, Eliot : 

Also to instruct in physical 
acquirements, such as boating, 

He had already been down several times 
in pair-oar and four-oar boats, with an old 
oar to pull stroke, and another to steer and 
coach the young idea. — T, Hughes: Torn 
Jlrcrwn at Oxford, 

Coaching' (common), instructing. 

An almost recognised word. 

There is no sport which is healthier 
. . . than rowing under proper coaching 
and supervision. — Staruiard. 

(Rugby), a flogging. 

Coach-'wrheel (popular and 
thieves), a crown piece ; French 
slang roue de derriire. 

Coal, cole (common), money ; 
"post the cole," put down the 

Coaling (theatrical), a coaling 
part, a part which is popular 
with the audience — one which 
elicits great applause ; coaling 
lines, telling speeches. 

It was customary some years 
ago, when a young actor 
achieved a success in a part of 
this character, for some ancient 
idiot to put a piece of coal in 
the youngster's dressing-place. 
One fails to see the fun of this. 

Hotten says coaling, profitable, 
very good, is derived from coal, 

Coals (common), to "pull over 
the coals," to scold. (Nautical), 
to "take one's coals in," to 
catch a venereal disease. 

Coal-scuttle (American), a nick- 
name for the peculiar bonnet 
worn by Quakeresses, which 
was exactly the shape of an old- 
fashioned coal-scuttle. Some 
years ago coal-scuttle bonnets 
were worn in England. Vv.le 
Leech's sketches. 

There was Miss Snevellici . . . glancing 
from the depths ofher(r^a/-jc«^</<r bonnet at 
Nicholas. — Dickens : Nicholas Nickleby. 

Cob (popular), a piece of bread 
baked in a round form for 

(English prisons), a dark pun- 
ishment cell. 

Cob, to (schoolboys), to catch or 
detect. Coh is jjrobably a cor- 
ruption of the cant word " cop," 
from the gypsy kap. 
(Popular), to deceive, humbug. 

Cobble-colter — Cockatoo. 


Cobble-colter (tramps and gyp- 
sies), a turkey. 
Come, old mort, tout the cobhle<olter. 

. . . And Beruna, flick the panam. — 

Disraeli: Venetia. 

Cobbled (schoolboys), caught or 
detected. Cobbled is a variation 
of " cobbed." Vide To CoB. 

Cobbler (Australian shearers' 
slang), the last sheep. This 
term is very widely spread in 
Victoria. It is a pun of the 
shearers. The cobbler is the man 
with the last, and therefore they 
call the last sheep the cobbler. 

Cochineal dye (pugilistic), blood. 

He would kindly inquire of one gentle- 
man, "What d'ye ask for a pint of your 
cochinealdye ?" — C.Bede: Verdant Green. 

Cock (racing), " a cock horse," 
properly a child's rocking-horse, 
is a horse kept in the betting 
quotations to deceive public 
backers, though known to the 
private layers against him that 
he has no chance of winning, 

(Tailors), a good cock, one 
who thoroughly understands 
how a garment should be made. 
A poor cock, the reverse. 

(Thieves), an abbreviation of 
" cockney." 

(Pugilistic), a man knocked 
out of time ; used in the phrase 
"knocked him a cock.'^ From 
the expression "to knock into 
a cocked hat." 

(Printers), vide Jeff and 
Theow. When throwing or 
j effing, should one or more of 
the nine quadrats not fall flat, 
but lodge crosswise on another, 

it is termed a cock, and the 
thrower is allowed another turn 
or chance. 

(Popular), to cock, to smoke 

Cock a ball, to (cricketers), to 
throw a ball under-handed. 

Cock-a-brass (old cant), a con- 
federate of card- sharpers who 
remains outside the public- 
house where they are operating. 
When they have left, cock-a-brass 
protects their retreat by mis- 
leading statements to the victim 
on the direction taken by them. 

Cock-a-hoop (common), in high 
spirits ; alluding to a victorious 
cock crowing. This is borne out 
by the French, "se dresser sur 
ses ergots," to be elated or to 
look proud and defiant. 

Cock and hen club (common), a 
free and easy gathering where 
persons of both sexes are ad- 
mitted. One composed exclu- 
sively of males is a " stag party," 
whereas a gathering of females 
who do congregate for the pur- 
pose of drinking tea and gossip- 
ing is termed a " cat party." 

Cock and pinch. The old beaver 
hat cocked back and front, and 
pinched at the sides. 

Cockatoo (Australian up-country). 
Also cockatoo farmer or settler, 
a small settler. Sometimes 
termed cocki/. So called to 
compare them with the common 
sulphur-crested white cockatoos, 
which come down 6n the newly 
sown cornfields in myriads. 


Cockatoo — Cocks. 

The cockatoo settlers or free selectors 
fight desperately for the privilege of pick- 
ing out any piece of land they may fancy. 
— Grant: Busk Life in Queensland. 

A cockatoo fence is one on a 
cockatoo's farm. 

The trees themselves, . . . woven with 
their branches into the stout cockatoo 
fence. — BlackiuoocFs Magazine : C. T., 
Imjiressions o/ Australia. 

Cocked hat (common), "knocked 
into a cocked hat," completely 
beaten, smashed, out of shape. 

Cocked his toes (thieves), dead. 

Cocked it (tailors), examined it, 
saw it, spoke of it. 

Cocker (low), my cocker, my good 

"I'm on, my cocker," 1 sez. "Giv' us 
your ';ind on it, my pippin, and arf a quid 
on account." — //. Evans: The Brighton 
Beach Loafer. 

Cock-eye (popular), one who 

Cockles (popular), more a vulgar- 
ism than slang. Literally the 

In Bermondsey not long ago there lived a 

little dame ; 
She was the cockles of my heart, and Nancy 

was her name. 

— Nancy Fancied a Soldier. 

Cockneyshire (tailors), London. 

Cock-quean, a female cuckold, or 
a wife whose husband goes with 
other women. A beggar or 
cheat (Wright). 

Queene June, not a little wroth against 

her husband's crime, 
By whome she was a cock-quean made. 
— Warner: Albion's England. 

Cockroaches (old slang), to get 
cockroaches, a phrase used at 
one time to describe the prac- 
tice of secret vices. 

Cockrobin shop (printers), a small 
printing-office where common 
work is done, and where labour 
is badly paid for, is usually de- 
scribed as such. From the fact 
that some cheap printers were 
noted for the issue of fly-leaves, 
on which were printed stories, 
such as the "Death of Cock 

Cocks (common publishing slang). 
According to Hotten, " fictitious 
narratives in verse or prose of 
murders, terrible accidents, &c." 
They are the topical legends of 
the street. The suggestion that 
the term is derived from a 
" cooked " statement is very far- 
fetched ; that it came from a 
" cock and bull story " is at least 
ingenious. It is possible, though 
not proved, that, as these nar- 
ratives were originally chiefly 
sung in a dull chant, the pro- 
verbially wearisome and mono- 
tonous songster, the cuckoo, 
gave the original name to these 
C'^oi-minstrels and their wares. 
The Dutch say of such a voca- 
list, " Hy zingt den Koekeoks 
zang," he sings the cuckoo's 
song — " he harps always upon 
the same string." 
(Pugilistic), blows. 

Cock-sure — Coddom. 


Cock-sure (popular), certain, con- 
fident. Probably an abbrevia- 
tion of " cocky-sure," i.e., confi- 
dent, as a "cocky" fellow. It 
has been suggested that the 
origin ought to be sought in the 
old practice of cock-throwing. 
Shakespeare uses the expression 
in the sense of "sure as the 
took of a fire-lock." 

We steal as in a castle, cock-sure. . . , 
We walk invisible. — Henry IV. 

Cock-up (printers), a term for 
superior letters or figures, such 
as used for abbreviations, i.e. 
"Mr- "or "A\" &c. 

Cocky (common), saucy. 

Cocky. Tide, Cockatoo. 

Cocoa-nut (common), the head. 
French slang, le coco. 

Cocum (common London slang, 
also Yiddish). In Hebrew 
chochum, chochem, or cochcm, 
crafty, learned, wise, or a wise 
man. According to Hotten the 
English slang term means 
shrewdness, ability, luck. 
"Jack's got cocum" he's safe 
to get on. Among themselves 
German thieves call one another 
by this name. Mr. Hotten does 
not recognise any Hebrew origin 
for the word, and suggests that it 
is "allied to the Scottish keek and 
German gucken, to peep or pry 
into." In Yiddish cocJiemer or 
cochem, pronounced almost like 
cocum, means wisdom ; cochum- 
wirth, a thieves' landlord ; each- 

mat Schlaumauck, the wisdom 
of Solomon. 

" Wie grau sejnen deine werk, got, ale 
hastu gemacht mit chochmah, die welt is 
vul deine akufte, du hast sei beschafen." — 
Polish-German Yiddish Translation of 
the 104/A Psalm, cited by GrUnbaum. 

(Theatrical), wariness, to 
"fight cocum" to be cautious. 

(Booksellers), a sliding scale 
of profit in the book trade in 
cases where the books are 
not marked, according to your 

Cod (popular), a fool; to cod, 
to chaff, hoax. An idiom im- 
ported from the sister isle. 

She threw a plaice right in my face, 

And told me to depart. 
I thought that she was codding me. 

And told her I should stop. 
She lifted up her lovely foot, 

And kicked me out of the shop. 

— Barrett: Old Jones's Gal. 

(Thieves), a purse. Gaelic 
cod, a bag. 

(Tailors), a drunkard ; on the 
cod, drinking and neglecting 
work. From coddle, a pro- 
vincialism for to indulge. 

Codd (Charterhouse), probably 
from codger, an old pensioner. 

Yonder sit some threescore old gentle- 
men, pensioners of the hospital, . . . the 
Cistercian lads called these old gentlemen 
codds. — Thackeray: The Neiucomes. 

Codding (Irish schoolboys), non- 
sense, humbug, chaff. 

Coddom (popular), explained by 

The convicts take advantage of that to 
the extent sometimes of playing a gam- 


Coddom — Cold. 

bling game called coddom. It is simple 
enough. They play three or four a side, 
the implement being a button or a peculiar- 
shaped small piece of stone, "guess 
whose hand it is in " being the principle. 
— J. Greenwood: Seven Years' Penal 

Hotten gives "coddam, a 
public-house game, much affec- 
ted by medical students and 

Codgfing job (tailors), a garment 
to repair. 

Cod - lasher (theatrical), a kind 
of suspender used by tight-rope 
dancers, acrobats, pantomimists, 
&c., to protect the crutch. 
From cods, which see. 

Cods (common), the testicles. 
Cod properly is a pad and bag 
for the testicles. Gaelic cod, 
a bag. 

Cofe (old cant), fellow. 

What, stowe your bene, co/e. — T. Har- 
man : Caveat. 

Co£fee-null (common). The mouth 
is so termed, but the phrase 
is rarely heard now, having 
given place to others. 

(American), explained by 

One of the old-pattern Colts, with the 
barrels revolving ; the ancient coffee-mill 
or "pepper-box." — //. L. WiUiavis : 
Buffalo Bill. 

French slang has moidin a 
cafe for a mitrailleuse. 

Coffee-shop (popular), the W.C. 
Also a coflin. 

Coffin-ships (nautical), any leaky 
cranky unseaworthy vessels. 

Cog(oldcant),atooth. (Sharpers), 
to co^r, to cheat at dice. (Schools), 
to cheat at examinations by 
using cribs or other sources of 
information. A perfectly recog- 
nised word in the sense of de- 
ceive, cheat generally ; hence 
cogs, loaded dice. 

Coge, or coag it, to (American), 
according to Bartlett, refers to 
the habitual and excessive use 
of ardent spirits. Cogue, to drink 
drams (Wright). From provin- 
cial English cogue, a dram. 

Coguing the nose (nautical), 
making comfortable over hot 
negus or grog. From provin- 
cial English cogue, a dram. 

Coker. Vide Clanker. 

Cold blood, a house licensed for 
the sale of beer "not to be 
drunk on the premises " (Hot- 

Cold coffee (common), misfortune. 
(Oxford), a trumpery affair. 

Cold comfort (traders), said of 
articles sent out on approval 
and returned. 

Cold cook (popular), an under- 
taker (Hotten). 

Cold deck (American), a prepared 
pack of cards, played on a green 

Cold meat (popular), a corpse. 

Cold — Collaring. 


Cold meat box (popular), a coffin. 

Cold pig (popular), a dash of cold 
water to waken an indolent 
servant or lazy person in the 

He never threw cold water over her 
when she was in bed. Mr. Justice re- 
marked that no doubt many of them knew 
what cold pig was. — Daily News. 

(Thieves), a person who has 
been robbed of his clothing. A 

(Commercial), returned goods. 

Cold shake (American), a cold 
period of weather, also used 
sometimes in reference to fever 
and ague. As a figure of speech 
it is applied to cold and reserved 
conduct. " It gives me the 
ccld shakes just to look at her — 
she's so frozen up an' digner- 

Cold tea (common), brandy. In 
use also during the last century. 
The Spectator, Tatler, and Ouar- 
dian often allude to a "keg " of 
ccM tea. 

Cold thing (American cadet), to 
have a cold thing, to have a cer- 
tainty, to be entirely confident 
of anything. 

Cold water army (common), a 
facetious name given to the 
fraternity of teetotallers. 

An old stager was compelled by his 
worthy spouse to join the cold "water 
army, which he did, promising not to 
touch a drop of anything except in sick- 
ness. He has never been well since. — 
Diprose : Modern Joe Miller, 

Cold without (common), spirits 
with cold water and without 

1 laugh at fame. Fame, sir I not worth 
a glass of fold -without. — Lytton: My 

Cole (popular), money. Tide 

Moreover, the whole of the said cash or 

Shall be spent for the good of the old 

woman's soule. 

— Ingoldsby Legends. 

Colfabis, a Latinized Irish 
phrase, signifying the closet of 
decency, applied as a slang 
term to a place of resort in 
Trinity College, Dublin. 

Colinderies (society), modern 
term for the Colonial Exhibition, 
used as an abbreviation. 

Colla, cuUo (gypsy), a thing, 
things. " Chiv yer cuLloi adre 
the wardo" — " Pitch your things 
into the waggon 1 " 

Collar (common), " out of collar," 
out of cash, not in training ; 
a phrase borrowed from the 
stable. Also out of work. 

A decent allowance made to seedy 
swells, head robbers, and flunkeys out of 
collar. (Slang advertisement.) 

To collar, to seize, to steal 
(Thieves), " to collar his dra- 
gons," to steal his sovereigns. 

Collar day (old), hanging day. 

Collaring' the big bird (theatri- 
cal), getting hissed. An allu- 


Collar — Colours. 

sion to a goose's mode of ex- 
pressing angry dissatisfaction. 

Collar 'work (common), hard 
work ; an uphill journey. 

And when Lucca was reached there 
were still fourteen miles, nearly all collar 
■work, between that and the baths. — Trol- 
lope : What I Remember. 

Collector (old cant), a street 

Colleger (University and schools), 
the square cap worn by univer- 
sity men, or by boys at public 
and other schools. 

Colley (theatrical). Actors and 
others connected with the stage 
speak of the columbine as 

Colly- wobbles (popular), rumb- 
lings in the intestines ; the 
belly-ache. A probable origin 
is colic-Jco6Wes, the latter word 
from to wobble, i.e., to shake 
from side to side. But it should 
be noted that colly is a provin- 
cialism for anything irregular, 
uneven, wrong. 

Colo (pidgin), cold. 

Hab lib in colo land, 

Hab stop where we belong, 
What tim much soUy in-i-sy {inside, 
in her heart), 
She makee dis sing song. 

— The Princess in Tartary. 

Colonial (Australian and Ameri- 
can), unsettled, because in the 
early days of the colonies men 

dressed and behaved unconven- 
tionally, and life and property 
were by no means so secure as 
they are now. Also rude, rough, 
ungainly, awkward, used in this 
sense more in England than in 
Australia. An Englishman will 
say very or thoroughly colonial 
in a contemptuous way. 

Colours (prize ring), the hand- 
kerchiefs, displaying some de- 
finite colour or pattern, chosen 
by prize-fighters as their dis- 
tinguishing badges on the day 
of a contest. The third "rule 
of the ring," as revised by 
the PugUistic Association, lays 
down : — "That every man shall 
be provided with a handker- 
chief of a colour suitable to his 
own fancy, and that the seconds 
proceed to entwine these hand- 
kerchiefs at the upper end of 
one of the centre stakes of the 
ring ; that these handkerchiefs 
shall be called the colours, and 
that the winner of the battle at 
its conclusion shall be entitled 
to their possession as the trophy 
of victory." 

There was, among the greater 
favourites, the "bird-eye" wipe, 
the wipe or handkerchief of any 
colour with spots, but generally 
with white ground and blue 
spots; the "blood-red fancy," 
all red ; the "yellow man," all 
yellow ; the " yellow fancy," 
yellow with white spots ; the 
"cream fancy," with coloured 
pattern on a white ground ; the 
"blue Billy," with a white 
pattern on a blue ground ; and 

Colours — Come.. 


many more. Among the colours 
specially associated with the 
names of pugilists are the 
"Belcher" {Jem, the champion), 
dark blue ground with a spot 
in the middle of darker hue, 
and large white spots ; the 
"Randal's man," green, with 
white spots; "King's man," 
green, with yellow pattern. 

(Australian miners), originally 
the gold visible after washing, 
either good or poor colour, as 
the case may be, but the ex- 
pression is generally used that 
there is just enough to show 
the presence of gold. 

Colquarron (old cant), a person's 
neck. From cole, Anglo-Nor- 
man for neck, and quarron, 
cant for body. Vide QuAE- 

Colt, a juryman at his d^but ; 
properly a person without ex- 
perience. (Cricketers), a young 
inexperienced player, a pro- 
fessional at his first season. 
(Thieves), a young thief. 
(Popular), to colt, to make one 
pay for his footing. Hotten 
gives the definition "to make a 
person free of a place, which 
is done by his standing treat, 
and submitting to be struck on 
the sole of the foot with a piece 
of board." This is a relic of the 
old London 'prentice days, when 
it was an exaction of money, 
usually spent in ale, termed colt 
ale, paid by an apprentice at the 
commencement and expiration 
of his apprenticeship. 

Colt-man (American), a man 
who keeps horses specially for 

Columbine (theatrical), a prosti- 

Columbus (theatrical). One would 
have thought that this illus- 
trious navigator would naturally 
be associated with some new 
and successful discovery, never- 
theless a "regular Columbus" 
is synonymous with hopeless 
"frost," or utter failure. 

Comb-brush (old), a lady's maid. 

The maid who at present attended on 
Sophia was recommended by Lady Bellas- 
ton, with whom she had lived for some 
time in the capacity of a cofnb-brush. — 
Fielding : Tom Jones. 

Comb-cut (common), mortified, 
like a cock disgraced by the 
deprivation of his comb. 

Comb down, to (Australian), to 
ill-treat, thrash. Like the 
French "donner unepeign^e." 

. . . Narrating how he had copped the 

old on the hop and co»tbed him down 

to rights. — A. C. Grant. 

Combing the cat (nautical), the 
boatswain, or other operator, 
running his fingers through the 
cat-o'-nine-tailsto separate them 

Comb the hair, to (common), to 
scold ; French " laver la t^te." 

The process called combing' his kair for 
him is said not to be uncommon in married 
circles. — Globe. 

Come down to (common), to pay. 


Come — Common. 

Do you keep the gentleman in dis- 
course while I speak to the prisoner and 
see how he can come d<nvn. — Johnston: 

Come it over, to (popular), to 
deceive by wheedling, to rule 
by assumption of superiority or 

Don't try to come it over me like your 
sister comes it over you. — Greenwood: 
Almost Lost. 

Come it, to (thieves), to inform ; 
also to be quiet. 

He heard one of the others say in reply, 
" Come it," meaning to tell — to be quiet. — 
Daily Telegraph. 

(Pugilistic), to show fear. 

Come on (turf), said of a horse 
that has improved, is in good 

He was at one time last year a few 

pounds in front of , and if he has come 

on, that form would give him a consider- 
able charm. — Bird o' Freedom. 

Come souse, to (pugilistic), to 

As it was. Master Georgy came sense with 

the whack. 
And there sprawled, like a turtle turned 

queer on its back. 

— Tom Cribb's Memorial to Congress. 

Come this-side (pidgin-English), 
arrived here. "Just now hab 
got two piecee joss-house man 
come this-side." 

Come, to (popular), to practise, 
to understand. 

We ain't two by ourselres as comes that 
dodge. — Greenwood : Tag, Rag, df Co. 

(Prostitutes), refers to ejacu- 

Comical (popular), a napkin. 

Coming it at the broa(Js (card- 
sharpers), explained by quota- 

People whose education has been ne- 
glected might possibly have failed to 
understand that coming it at tlie broculs 
or at the box meant in common parlance 
playing cards or dice.— /"A* Bat. 

Coming it strong (popular), carry- 
ing things to an unreasonable 
degree; exaggerating. 

He here shook his head— right little he 
But he thought she was coming it 
rather too strong. 

— Ingoldsby Legends. 

Coming the old soldier (popular), 
to trick one by false represen- 
tations, such as are made by a 
rogue who pretends to be an 
oW soldier. 

Permit me, if you and your two friends 
think of coming what is vulgarly called t/te 
old soldier over me, to make you under- 
stand that you had better abandon the 
intention. — J. Greenwood: Dick Temple. 

Commission (old cant), a shirt ; 
Italian, camicia. In more mo- 
dern slang a " mish." 

Clean linen yields a shirt before we rise. 
Which is a garment shifting in condition ; 
And in the canting tongue is a commission. 
— Taylor's Works. 

Commister. Tide Camistee. 

Common bounce (prison), one who 
makes accusations of unnatural 
crime, employing lads as decoys. 

To do most professional thieves justice, 
tliey never speak of these unique wretches 

Common — Compradore. 


except in terms the most contemptible. — 
Michael Davitt : Leaves from a Prison 

Common doingfs (Americanism), 
plain, wholesome fare, as distin- 
guished from dainties. 

Commoner {old cant), a novice ; 

Commoner grub (Winchester Col- 
lege), a dinner given by college 
to commoners when cricket 
matches are over. 

Commonise, to (Oxford Univer- 
sity). Two or more are said to 
comtnonise when they have their 
meals together. Commonising 
means strictly that each should 
bring his "commons." 

Common jack (army), low prosti- 
tutes are thus termed by the 
military in Woolwich, and pro- 
bably in other garrison towns. 

Common plugs (American), the 
common rut of mankind — the 
ol iroWol — sometimes the great 
unwashed, but more commonly 
very ordinary people indeed, 
neither the big- wigs nor the 
dregs of society. 

Many will meet us in the depths of the 
forest and go away thinking that we are 
just coiumon plugs, of whom the world 
wots not ; but there is where they fool 
themselves. — New York Mercury. 

Commmiicator. Agitate the com- 
municator, ring the belL 

Commmiion bloke (prison), a 
religious hypocrite. 

He was a cotnmunion bloke. This was 
the pious gentleman. — Evening News. 

Comp. (printers). Vide Gallet- 
SLAVES. Generally applied to 
compositors as an abbreviation, 
but originally the short term 
for companion used both by 
pressmen, who work in pairs, 
and by compositors who work 
in companionships ; nowadays 
accepted as the abridgment of 
compositor only. 

Comped (printers), set up or com- 
posed matter ; abbreviation of 
word composed. 

Competition wallah (Anglo-In- 
dian), members of the Civil 
Service who have entered it by 
the competitive system. 

The competition wallah . . . dins per- 
petually in our ears the greatness of 
India. — Saturday Revie-w. 

Compo. (printers), abbreviation 
for the composition of which 
printing rollers are made — 
principally of treacle and glue. 
(Nautical), a sailor's monthly 

Compradore (pidgin), from the 
Portuguese compi-ador, a pur- 
chaser. Formerly used in 
India, where it originated, now 
in general use only in Chinese- 
English. The comprador of the 
present day is a steward or but- 
ler, who manages all the house- 
hold affairs, supplying by con- 
tract, not only furniture and 
provisions, but even servants. 


Compresado — Conscience. 

An' Massa Coe feel velly sore, 
An' go an' scold he cotnpladore / 
An' compladore all hollor shook, 
Lun dunny stairs an' bang he cook. 
— Mary Coe. 

Compresado (gypsies), an in- 

Con (Winchester), from kovIvKov, 
a knuckle — a blow on the head 
given by the knuckles or any 
hard substance. 

Concaves and convexes (card- 
sharpers), cards cut in a parti- 
ticular way, and thus contrived 
for cheating. 

Conchers (up-country Australian), 
tame or quiet cattle. 

Condog (popular), to agree with. 
A variation from concur. 

Confab (society), conversation, 
generally of a private nature. 

Confederate (Texas), "you're 
mighty confederate," a phrase 
used by a Texan when he wishes 
to express the strongest possible 
approval of some sentiment or 

Confidence dodge or buck (com- 
mon), explained by extract 
from Daily Telefjrapk : — 

"... Swindled him out of 
his watch and chain by means 
of that ten thousand times 
repeated rogue's device, the 
confidence trick. It was the 
old game pure and simple 
— the threadbare hocus-pocus 
of inviting the victim, a per- 

fect stranger, to ' come and 
have a drink,' and while the 
friendly glass is being discussed 
in comes another man, who 
joins in the conversation, and, 
in a casual way, mentions that 
he has just inherited several 
thousand pounds, and that, as 
a thank-offering, he should like 
to give away, by deputy, a few 
hundreds to the deserving poor, 
and is ready to hand over the 
largess there and then to any 
person who can show to his 
satisfaction that he is of an 
unsuspicious disposition ; the 
same to be proved by his en- 
trusting the money and jewellery 
he may happen to have about 
him to his, the benevolent lega- 
tee's, keeping, while the latter 
goes away for half-an-hour or 
so with the same." 

Congee, conjee (Anglo-Indian), 
rice water ; from the Tamil 
kanshi, "boilings." 

Conk (common), nose. 

His " dexter ogle " has a " mouse ; " 
His conk's devoid of bark. 

— A tkin : House Scraps. 

" Conky " is a nickname given 
by schoolboys to one with a pro- 
minent nose. The great Duke 
was called " Old Conky." 

Conscience (theatrical), a kind of 
association in a small company 
for the allotment of shares in 
the profits, &c. The man who 
is lucky enough to have a con- 
cern of his own, generally a 
very small affair, however badly 

Conscience — Conveyer. 


he may act, must be the leading 
man or first low comedian, per- 
haps both. He becomes the 
manager, of course, and thus 
has one share for " fit-up," one 
for scenery, one and a half for 
management, one for wardrobe, 
one and a half as leading man ; 
and the same is given to the 
wife, who, of course, will not 
play anything but the juvenile 
lead, but who at any other time 
would be glad to play first old 
woman. Thus the manager 
takes nearly all the proceeds. 

Consonant choker (society), one 
who cannot pronounce his R's 
and his G's. 

Consoo (pidgin), consul. 

My makee first-chop pidgin long-side 
dat consoo man, dat man no lawts (lazy), 
he blongy plenty smart inside. — News- 

Constable (common), to outrun 
or overrun the constable, to get 
into debt. 
Harkee, my girl, how far have you 

overrun the cotistable ? I told him that 

the debt amounted to eleven pounds. — 

Smollett: Roderick Random. 

Constician (theatrical), an or- 
chestral musician. 

Consumah, khansama (Anglo- 
Indian). Persian, khansaman, 
house-steward, or provider, or 
" I have taught my khansama to make 

very light iced punch." — Jacquemont : 


Contango (Stock Exchange), cor- 
ruption of continuation, a re- 

newal of a bargain, a specula- 
tive sale or purchase. The 
premium paid by a buyer of 
stock to the seller, when upon 
selling day he wishes the bar- 
gain to remain open. 

B stands for broker, for bull and for bear, 
C's the contango that's paid by the bull. 
— A thin : House Scraps. 

Continent (Winchester College), 
to be continent, is to be on the 
sick-list. Continent work, work 
done while on the sick-list. 

Continental damn (American), 
a term applied at a very early 
time in the Republic to any- 
thing utterly worthless, and 
supposed to have. originated in 
some allusion to the Continental 
currency or American assignats. 
Not to care a continental, not 
to care a damn. 

Continuations (common), trousers 
or breeches. 

Convenient (old cant), a mistress. 

Convey, to (thieves), to steal. 

But as I am crack, I will convey, cross- 
bite, and cheat upon Simplicius. — Atar- 
si on. 

Conveyancer (thieves), a thief, a 

Conveyancing (common), steal- 
ing ; picking pockets. 

Ihe green youth who attempted to 
decamp with 's watch . . . was pro- 
perly punislied for his verdancy in the art 
of conveyancing. — Modern Society. 

Conveyer (old), a thief. The ex- 
pression is used by Shakspeare 


Cooked — Cooper. 

in King Richard II. The French 
argot has the correspondent 
emporteur, with a like significa- 

Cooked (society), done, defeated, 
finished up, exhausted. 

Cook his goose, to (common), 
to kill, ruin a person. 

Thus abstinence, which cooks the goose. 
At length Sal's life has doflfed. 

— A Song: Drunken Sally. 

Also to worst one. 

Billy's too big in the Westphalia's gig- 
lamps, you're the boy to cook Fosbrooke's 
goose. — C. Bede: Verdant Green. 

Cook, to (artists), to dodge up a 
picture. Artists say that a pic- 
ture will not cook when it is 
excellent and unconventional, 
and beyond specious imitation 

(Colloquial), to prepare, tam- 
per with, as to cook accounts, 

A fixed percentage on every backer's 
pound, and the oflfchance of cooking the 
returns. — Sporting Times. 

I hate my Lady, because she has locked 
my cooked 2kC<:.o\xvA% in the bower saloon. — 

Cool (common), used in reference 
to a largo sum of money. 

Suppose you don't get sixpence costs, 
and lose your cool hundred by it. — Miss 
E.l^e-djorth : Loi'c and Law. 

Coolaman (Australian blackfel- 
lows), a word adopted from the 
blacks by the whites to describe 
a blackfellow's drinking vessel, 
and then apjilied gcncndly. 

A few broken gourds . . . and a cracked 
coolaman were to be seen here and 
there.— .^. Grant: Busk Life in Queens- 

Cooler (American), prison. So 
called on account of its being 
a fit place for getting sober or 
cooling down ; or from cooler, a 
large tub, as in quotation. 

They came near soaking him in the 
cooler. — F. Francis : Saddle and Moc- 

(Popular), a glass of beer after 
drinking spirits. Also a woman. 

Coon (American), short for racoon, 
a man. The term first became 
general nearly fifty years ago. 
A gone coon (also English), one 
who is ruined, lost. 

Coon's age (American), a very 
popular expression to signify a 
long time, the racoon being 
regarded as a very long-lived 

I saw Miss Jones inside the stage, 
'Tis now an hour or so, 
It seems to me an old coon's age 
Since I beheld her go. 

— Ncivspaper Ballad. 

Coop (streets), prison, abbrevia- 
tion of hen-coop. 

Vou say that you have been in the coop 
as many times as I have. — J. Greenwood : 
Dick Temple. 

Cooper, to (American), to under- 

Why on earth nature made you in the 
shape she did is more I can cooper. 
— A vierican Neius/mper. 

Cooper — Coppas. 


Possibly from a metaphor, I 
cannot cooper, I cannot grasp, 
that is beyond my capacious- 
ness, comprehension. Else from 
co-operate, with the sense of 

(Thieves), to destroy, spoil, 
forge ; to cooper a manniker, 
forge a signature. Vide CooP- 


Coopered (turf 1, a horse that has 
been hocussed or otherwise pur- 
posely injured so as to prevent 
him from running, was formerly 
said to be coopered. The ex- 
pression is sometimes used now 
as in quotation. 

Till they served him up a " coopered 

And then of course he came 

A most conclusive " smasher." 
— Bird o' Freedom. 

(Tramps), a coopered place, a 
house that has been spoilt by 
too many tramps calling there 

Coopered, in the sense of fall- 
ing in, ruined, is possibly allied 
to the Scotch cowp, to tumble 

Coorsy (Anglo-Indian), a chair ; 
Arabic kursl. 

Cooter. Vide Coutee. 

Cop (thieves), a policeman. Vide 
To Cop. 

Wen that cc/"got his hand on my collar, 
he ought to 'ave knowed like a shot, 

By the Astrykan only, that I wasn't one 
of the Socherlist lot. 

— Punch. 

The copi, the police. 

Then, as them cowards of cops 'ave as 
much on their 'ands as they kin do with, 
now's the time for a bit of a loot ! — Punch. 

(Anglo-Indian), evp ! beware ; 
an abbrevation of coprador. 

Cop-bung' (thieves), a warning 
cry when the police make their 

Johnny Miller, who was to have his 
regulars, called out cop-bung I for, as you 
see, a fly-cop was marking. — On the Trail. 

Cop busy (thieves), the act of 
handing plunder to a confede- 
rate, so as to have nothing 
about one when arrested. 

Cop, to (popular and thieves), 
to take, arrest, steal, catch. 

I'm right Tory right down to my boots, at 
a price, and I bellered, " 'Ear, 'ear ! " 

But they don't cop yours truly with chaff 
none the more, my dear Charlie, no 


"Here, cop.'' I did not understand 
what he meant by the phrase. ... I did 
not attempt to cop. Suddenly I saw three 
boiled potatoes, a pudding, and a six- 
ounce loaf roll on the floor. — Evening 

(Sporting), to win, to get 
money ; a dead cop, a sure 
method of arriving at this result. 

To cop is derived by Hotten 
from Latin capere ; more pro- 
bably it comes from the gypsy 
kap or cop, to take ; Scotch, kep ; 
Gaelic, ceapan. 

Coppas (gypsy), blankets, cover- 
ings, tiles. 


Copper — Corker. 

Copper, cop (popular and thieves), 
a policeman ; from " to cop," 
which see. 

" Then three coppers came." " Cop- 
fers, coppers, what are they ? " Witness : 
" Policemen, your worship." — Standard. 

Copperheads (American), pro- 
perly poisonous serpents. The 
term was applied by the Fede- 
rals to the peace party. 

Copperman (Australian prison), a 

Copper nose, the vulgar term for 
acne rosacea, the red, enlarged, 
pimply nose of chronic alcohol- 

Coppers (popular), mouth ; espe- 
cially a parched one after pota- 

A fellow can't enjoy his breakfast after 
that without something to cool his coppers. 
— Hughes : Tom Brown at Oxford. 

"Hot coppers" is a phrase for 
a mouth parched by excessive 
drinking, or " as dry as a lime 

Copper, to (gaming), when play- 
ing at faro, to cover a stake 
with a small check, which 
signifies that the card selected 
is backed to lose, not win. 

Oh, d — n Squito ! It seems like she'd 
coppered me. Ever since she — since I 
sten that gal, luck's gone dead against 
me. — /''. Francis: Saddle and Moccasin. 

Copus (Cambridge University). 
Talking Latin at table, or similar 
improprieties, are followed by 
the infliction by the students of 

a fine. A copus, or quart of ale, 
is a common penalty. 

Corduroy - road (American and 
Australian), a road made of 
branches and logs laid side by 
side. The branches stand out 
like the ribs of corduroy. 

Cork (common), a bankrupt. 
"Probably," says Hotten, "in- 
tended to refer to his lightness, 
as being without ballast." 

(Pugilistic), " to draw a cork" 
is to " tap the claret," i.e., to 
give a bloody nose. 

(Army), Captain Cork, applied 
at mess when any one is slow 
in passing round the bottle. 

Corkage (hotels), a sum charged 
per bottle to persons providing 
their own wine. This term can 
hardly be considered as slang, 
but as a word unrecognised by 

Corker (theatrical). A regular 
corker is a duffer ; an imbecile'; 
one who corks or bottles up 
another actor's effects, or ruins 
a play. 

(English and American), 
sometliiug that closes up or 
settles a question ; something 
unusually large, remarkable. 

The Crown Prince's lunch-bill was rather 

a corker ; 
No wonder His Highness refused for to 

pay. — Fun. 

Also first-rate ; at the top of 
the tree. 

Jake Kilrain is a corker, and ought to 
luive the championship of the world. — 
Xeiv York National Police Gazette. 

Corks — Corpse-reviver. 


Corks (popular), a butler, alluding 
to his functions. Also money ; 
though originally a nautical 
term, this is very much used 
by printers. 

Corned (colloquial), intoxicated. 
From over-indulgence in drink 
strong enough to "corn" one 
(Wright), ' ' Possibly from soak- 
ing or pickling oneself like 
corned beef," says Hotten. It 
has been suggested that it is 
from the Keltic corn, French 
come, a horn used formerly as 
a drinking vessel. As we say 
that a man is in his " cups," it 
is possible that our very remote 
ancestors said of him that he 
was horned or corned, but it is 
almost beyond doubt that the 
term is an Americanism from 
corn, a very common name for 
whisky. (Tailors), pleased. 

Comer (common), to get a corner 
is to get the entire control of a 
stock, and so make it impossible 
for others to complete their bar- 
gains or to purchase. 

He had been mixed up disadvantage- 
ously in a recent corner in marbles. — 

(London), the " Corner," Tatter- 
sail's horse repository and bet- 
ting-rooms, which was at Hyde 
Park Corner. (Thieves), a share 
— generally a share in the pro- 
ceeds of a robbery. 

Cornered (tailors), in an inextri- 
cable dilemma ; for instance, a 
man makes a garment which is 
already paid for, and pawns it, 

spends the money, and can't 
raise the amount to release it 
when wanted. 

Cornish duck (city), a pUchard. 
" It frys in its own grease." 

Cornstalks (Australian), the 
settlers, especially the girls, 
so called because their average 
height is very great, though they 
are fragile. 

We talk of cornstalks or "slab-sided 
Yankees," and have in our minds a tall 
but rather thin figure as representative of 
Australasia and America. — Globe. 

Com - stealers (American), the 

"How is you been, my old Bullock?" 
and he squeezed his corn-stealers till the 
old gineral began to dance like a bear 
on red-hot iron. — Sam Slick: The Clock- 

Corporal Forbes (Anglo-Indian), 
a soldier's name for cholera 

We are all pretty well, but a great quan- 
tity are in hospital with Corporal Forbes. 
— Shipp's Memoirs. 

Corpse provider, a facetious name 
for a physician. 

" Doctor," cried the happy mother, as 
she waltzed into the consulting-room of 
the Brixton corpse provider, " I wish to 
consult you about my baby's legs." — 
— Sportitig Times. 

Corpser. Vide To Cobpse. 

Corpse-reviver (common), a dram 
of spirits. 

There was a general rush for wet towels 
and corpse-revivers. — Sporting Times. 



Corpse — Counterfeit. 

Corpse, to (theatrical), to confuse, 
to put out fellow-actors by 
sticking fast in the dialogue ; 
kill a scene through ignorance, 
wilfulness, or stupidity. A con- 
tretemps of this kind is called 
"a regular corpser." 

Corroboree (up country Austra- 
lian), to boil ; a word borrowed 
from the natives, who thus call 
one of their wild dances. Whites 
generally use it in the sense of 
disturbance, hence it is said 
that a kettle corroborees when it 

Corybungus (pugilistic), backside. 

Cosh (popular and thieves), a stick 
of any kind, but more especially 
a policeman's baton. From the 
gypsy kdsht, corrupt form kdsh, 
meaning wood in any form. 

The officer . . . sought to give the finish- 
ing coup de grace with his cosh . . . 
and it split the baton. — Evening News. 

Cossack (popular), a policeman. 

Costard (popular), the head; avery 
old word, used by Shakspeare 
in King Lear. 

Coster bloke (popular), a coster- 

I feels the tears come down my cheeks, 
when I 'eerd him 'owl and wail, 

"And," sez I, " I'm a simple coster bloke, 
but my 'art's right as the mail." 

— Sporting limes. 

Cot, a term of opprobrium for 
a woman. Heard in Kentish 

watering-places for the most 

Cotton lord (common), a Man- 
chester manufacturer or dealer 
in cotton. 

Cottonopolis, Manchester (Hot- 

Cottons (Stock Exchange), Con- 
federated Dollar Bonds. 

Cotton, to (common), a colloquial- 
ism in the sense of to like, agree, 
be attached (literally to adhere, 
cling to, like cotton to cloth), 
but used in a slangy sense as in 

For when once Madam Fortune deals out 

her hard raps, 
It's amazing to think how one cottons to 

drink ! 
At such times, of all things in nature, 

There's not one that is half so seducing as 


— Ingoldsby Legetids. 

Couch a hogshead, to (old cant), 
to lay down to sleep. 

I couched a hogshead in a sk>-pper this 
darkemans. — T. Harman : Cazcat. 

Council of ten (popular), the toes 
of a man who turns his feet 
inward (Hotten). 

Counterfeit crank (old cant), a 
rogue who shammed epilepsy. 
From the German krank, sick. 

Those that do counterfeit the crank be 
young knaves and yonge harlots, that 
dcpcly dissemble the falling sickness. — 
T. llarman : Cazcat. 

Counter-jumper — Covent Garden. 


Counter-jumper (common), a 
shopman, a draper's assistant. 

"Sir, you should know that my cheek 
is not for you." " Why," said he, stifling 
his anger, " it seems free enough to every 
counter-jumper \n the town." — C. Kings- 
ley: Westward Ho. 

Counter-skipper (popularl, a vari- 
ant of "counter-jumper," a 

Counter, to (pugilistic), to strike. 

His kissing traps countered. 
His ribs roasted. 

— C. Bede : Verdant Green. 

Count noses, to (parliamentary), 
to take the number of a divi- 

County crop (prison), hair 
shortened to about an inch, 
which used to be the rule in all 
prisons, but is now confined to 
convicts. The expression is 
therefore now a misnomer, as 
county prisons no longer exist 
since the Government took all 
over in 1877, and prisoners 
are not thus cropped, as it 
would continue their punish- 
ment by marking them out after 
their discbarge. 

Couple-beggar (old cant), a low 
fellow, who officiated as a 
clergyman in performing mar- 
riages in the Fleet prison. 

Couranne (theatrical), from 
couronne or corona, live shillings. 

Court card (old slang), a beau. 

Court martial (schoolboy), the 
practice of tossing in a blanket 
for a practical joke. 

C outer (popular), a sovereign. 
From gypsy, cutto, literally a 
piece. / 

Cove (popular and thieves). In 
old cant, " cofe," " cuffin," a 
man ; also landlord. 

He's a rum dog. Don't he look fierce 
at any strange cove- — Dickens : Oliver 

Besides, I am that sort of cave the swells 
so much admire. — Toby. 

This word Hotten connects 
with " cuif," a North of England 
word for a lout or awkward 
fellow. This seems to be borne 
out by the circumstance that in 
most cant languages man and 
fool are synonymous, but it has 
been suggested to be more pro- 
bably from the Romany cova, a 
thing, the term being almost 
indefinite in its applicability. 
"It is," says Pott, "a general 
helper on all occasions, is used 
as a substantive and an adjec- 
tive, and has a far wider scope 
than the Latin res. Thus cove 
means that man ; cori, that 
woman." The derivation from 
the German kopf, a head (not ap- 
plied directly to individuals ex- 
cept as in English), has also been 
suggested. (Australian station), 
the cove, the master, or over- 

Covent Garden (old slang). This 
place seems to have acquired at 


Covent Garden — Cow-boy. 

one time a most unenviable 
notoriety, for it entered con- 
siderably into the vicious slang 
of fifty years ago. Thus "the 
Covent Garden ague " was a cer- 
tain venereal disease ; a " Covent 
Garden abbess " was a procuress ; 
and prostitutes were nicknamed 
" Covent Garden nuns." (Rhym- 
ingslang), afarthing pronounced 

Cover (thieves), an accomplice 
who "fronts" or covers a pick- 
pocket while he is operating. 
(American), to cover, to drink. 

An Englishman drinks rum fustian, ima- 
gining that he is overing a fancy mixed 
drink. — American Newspaper. 

Cover-down (thieves), a tossing 
coin with a false cover. Obso- 

Covess (old cant), explained by 


. . . Well acquainted with the cove and 
the coveis—\)\7& is, the landlord and land- 
lady. — J, Parker: Variegated Charac- 

Covey (popular and thieves), a 
man or boy. Vide Cove. 

Hullo, my covey ! what's the row ? — 
Dickens: Oliver Treist. 

"Can't you repay me that five bob 
now?" "You'd only booze it if I did." 
And the covejf will have to wait. — Bird o 

Coving, theft of jewellery by 
palming it as a conjuror does. 

Covo (gypsy) (for actvo), this ; 
this person or thing. Covo, 
" this man ; " cori, " this wo- 

Cowa, cuwa (gypsy), a thing; 
often pronounced cover, " up to 
all the covvas," up to all the 
tricks, games, devices, or 

Cowaben (gypsy), an incident. 

Cow (nautical), a gay woman. 
Vache, in the French slang, has 
the same signification. (Turf), 
one thousand pounds. 

Cowan. In ordinary slang a spy, 
a sneak, a prying informer. It 
is a term given by the Free- 
masons to all uninitiated per- 
sons, and is probably the Hebrew 
word cohen, JIID, a priest, from 
the opposition and oppression 
which the Freemasons have en- 
dured from the Catholic Church. 
Cowan is not an uncommon form 
of " Cohen" as a name among 
Jews. The derivation of Cowan 
from the Greek kuuv, a dog, is 
a great injustice to the Free- 
masons, who have never re- 
garded or treated the unini- 
tiated as dogs. 

Cow and calf (rhyming slang), to 

Cow-boy (American), cattle her- 
der or drover of Texas and 
South -Western States. The 
term was applied during the 
revolutionary war to so-called 
Tory partisans in the State of 
New York, but who were no 
better than brigands, plunder- 
ing both sides. 

Cowcamp — Crack. 


Cowcamp (American), explained 
by quotation. 

. . . Were a number of ccnvcamps, 
where i-ecently settled stockmen kept 
watch and ward over herds of long-horned 
Texas cattle, which grazed along the 
river or on the mesas above. — The Youth's 

Cow-chilo (pidgin-English), a 
girl, i.e., cou)-child. A boy was 
termed bidl-chiio. These terms 
are becoming obsolete, but are 
often used in fun to chaff 

In he city of Whampo 
Lib Joss-pidgin man name Coe, 
Massa Coe he missionaly, 
Hab got one cow-chilo Maly. 

— The Ballad of Mary Coe. 

Cow- COW (pidgin), to be very 
angry, to scold (Hotten). 

Cow juice (popular), milk ; the 
term is also used by school- 

Cowlick (popular), lock of hair 
twisted forward from the ear, 
rarely seen now. 

Cow-oil, or cow-grease (pidgin), 
butter. Obsolete, but literally 
translated from the Chinese. 

Cows and kisses (rhyming slang), 
mistress or missus ; the ladies. 

Come, ccnvs and kisses, put the battle of 
the line on your Barnet fair, and a rogue 
and villain in your sky-rocket. — Horsley : 
Jottings from Jail. 

Cowshooter (Winchester College), 
a round-topped hat, worn only 
by prefects, "bluchers" (rank- 

ing next to prefects), and " jolly- 
keepS," or old students. 

Crabs (thieves), feet; to move 
one's crabs, to run away. 

I crossed a crusher at the landyard. . . . 
I moved my crabs like a bull. — On the 

(Dice players), a pair of aces. 

Crabshells (popular), shoes. 

Crack, a recognised colloquialism, 
used as an adjective, meaning 

Captain Cadsby, as he loved to call 
himself, was the crack shot of Doltshire. 

(Sport), a crack, an adept. 

Lawn tennis at Cannes . . . the doings 
of the cracks, we know, interest many of 
our teasers.— Pastime. 

(Turf), the crack is the favour- 
ite in a race. 

The extraordinary fluctuations in the 
betting which drove the crack from 6 to 4 
to 10 to I the night before the race. — 
Sporting Times. 

(Old), a crack, an insane person, 
a boaster. 

(Popular), a crack, a prostitute ; 
to crack up, to extol, to puff 
(obsolete English, but used in 
a slangy sense) ; in a crack, in 
an instant ; to crack, to inform. 

(Thieves), a crack, a burglary. 

Here . . . success to the crack. 

— Dickens : Oliver Twist. 

To crack a crib, to commit a 

I mean to crack a crib to-night. 
But, pals, don't crack on me. 

— Ballad : Bates' Farm. 


Crack — Cram. 

The crib's barred up at night like a jail ; 
but there's one part we can crack safe and 
softly. — Dickens : Oliver Twist. 

(Tinker), crack, a stick. Not 
" modern gypsy," as declared 
by Hotten. 

Crack a bottle, to (common), to 
drink a bottle of liquor. 

Crack a whid, to (thieves), to 

Cracked nut (common), the head 
of an insane person. 

An enthusiastic poet begs Mr. to 

lift up his "crested head." Cracked nut 
would, practically speaking, be more to 
the point. — Fun. 

Cracked up (common), ruined, 
" gone to smash." 

Cracker (common), an untruth 
consequent on boastful or im- 
probable statements. The older 
form is " crack," alluding to 
high-sounding language, as in 
"crack up," to loudly extol, puff 
up. It has been suggested that 
" crack" is from the Gaelic 
crac, to talk. The French unc 
craque is a mild untruth, or a 
gasconade, and in the latter 
sense it is synonymous with 
cracker. Le Baron de Crac is 
the French Munchausen, the 
hero of a volume of travels, who 
meets with the most marvellous 
adventures, the type of a boast- 
ful, gasconading, story-teller. 

Crackey (popular), an ejaculation. 
A corruption of " crikey," which 

Cracking a crust (common), rubb- 
ing along in the world ; " crack- 
ing a tidy crust," means doing 
very well. This is a very com- 
mon expression among the lower 
orders (Hotten). 

Crackling (Cambridge Univer- 
sity), the three velvet strips 
worn on the sleeve by members 
of St. John's CoUege, Cambridge, 
called "hogs." 

Crack-pot (American), preten- 
tious, petty, a small person of 
little account. 

I'm a crack-pot in the city . . . 
All the barmaids at me titter 
When I call for mild and bitter. 
They say I am their little , 

Bit of crack-pot jam. 
—A Catnach Ballad: The 
Crack-Pot in tfie City. 

Cracksman (thieves), a burglar. 

Some mortals disdain the calm 

blessings of rest, 
"^oViX cracksman, for instance, thinks 

night-time the best. 

— Insoldsby Legends. 

Cram, crammer (common), a lie. 

My little friend . . . pulled my nose 
for telling what he called a beastly cram. — 

That was the crammer I told him, and 
furthermore ... I piled it up a bit. — 
Greenwood : Left in a Cab. 

To cram, to lie ; also to acquire 
or impart instruction hastily in 
view of an approaching exami- 
nation. This is an almost re- 
cognised term. 

A very clever lad can dispense with the 
expense of being crammed. — United Ser- 
vice Gazette. 

Cram — Craze. 


To cram up one, to ply him 
with falsehoods. 

(University), a cram, a trans- 

The infatuated Mr. Bouncer madly per- 
sisted ... in going into the school clad 
in his examination coat, and padded over 
with a host of crams. — C. Bede : Verdant 

Crammer (common), a falsehood; 
a liar; one expert in "cram- 
ming," i.e., preparing hastily 
candidates for examination ; the 
head of a "cramming" estab- 

Cramped, crapped (popular and 
thieves), killed or hanged. 

Cramping cull (old cant), the 

Cramp in the hand (popular), 
stinginess or meanness. 

Cramp words (old cant), sentence 
of death. 

Cranberry eye (American). When 
a man's eye is bloodshot, gene- 
rally from drinking alcohol, he 
is often called a boy with a 
cranberry eye. The American 
cranberry is very much larger 
than the English variety, and 
bears a resemblance to an in- 
flamed optic. 

Crank. Tide Counteefeit 
CRANK. (American), insane, ec- 
centric, or a monomaniac. (Old), 
gin and water. 

Crap (old cant), money ; the 

And what if at length, boys, he come to 

the crap ? 
Even rack-punch has some bitter in it. 
— Ainsworth : Rookwood. 

To crap, to hang. 

(Printers), applied to "pie," 
or mtxed-up type, that a com- 
positor neglects to clear away ; 
equivalent to the popular name 
for excrement. 

(Popular), to crap, to ease 

Crapping casa (low theatrical), 
the W.C. 

Crapny (gypsy), a turnip, a button 
or nail head. Sometimes hrafny. 

Crawl (tailors), one who uses un- 
dignified means to curry favour 
with an employer or foreman. 

Crawler (common), explained by 

Every hansom-cab, or crawler, is in 
itself an express waggon on a small but 
sufficient scale. — Bird o Freedom. 

Also a cab which goes slowly 
to pick up fares. A mean, con- 
temptible fellow. 

Craw-thumper (popular), a Roman 
Catholic (Hotten). In America 
a native of Ireland, i.c., Irish 

Wanted a servant-maid. No pulings 
or crawthumpers need apply. — Phila- 
delphia Public Ledger. 

Craze (common), used in refer- 
ence to anything in great vogue 
that is " the rage" for the time 


Crazy — Cribcracker. 

It was a erase on both sides and it 
passed. During the craze S. and M. had 
their photographs taken together, and the 
double picture sold somewhat furiously. — 
Bird o Freedom. 

Crazy quilt (American), properly 
a quilt made of all kinds of 
patches. Figuratively a con- 
fused and mixed political party. 

Cream-jugs (Stock Exchange), 
Char kof -Krementschug Railway 

Oh ! supposing our Cream-jugs were 

Or " Beetles" were scuring the " Babies." 
— A tkin : House Scraps. 

Cream stick (popular), the penis. 

Creamy (common), excellent. 

Creeper (prison), one who curries 
favour by hypocrisy and tale- 

Creepers (popular), lice. (Ameri- 
can), the feet. 

Creeps (common), explained by 

Each of those four men was immediately 
seized with that cold, peculiar thrill, com- 
monly called the creeps. — Bird o' Freedom. 

Cri, short for Criterion. 

But the youth was hard-hearted, and 
soon he departed, 
And wandered away to the Cri. 

— Sporting Times. 

Crib (popular and thieves), a 
house, room. 

They separated in the garden after 
they had cracked the crib, — H. Kingsley : 
Geoffrey ilaiitlyn. 

The term is used by others in 
a disparaging sense for a place, 
house, situation, restaurant. 
(Schools), a literal translation 
of an author. Possibly from 
the meaning of to crib, to crowd 
together, to confine in a small 
space, as "cram," synonym of 
crib, or from the slang significa- 
tion to cheat, to pilfer. To crih, 
to cheat at an examination by 
using a crib, more generally to 
cheat by plagiary. (Common), 
to crih, given by Webster as a 
recognised word but used now 
in a slangy sense, to pilfer. 

It is not stealing, at least it does not 
seem like stealing ... it is at most only 
cribbing. — Greenwood : Seven Curses of 

(Old cant), crih, the stomach. 

Cribbage-faced (common), is said 
of a person marked with the 

Cribber (military), a grumbler ; a 
cavalry term evidently from the 
expression "crib-biter," given 
to a horse which gnaws at its 
crib or manger, quarrelling with 
his last meal and his difficulty 
in digesting it. 

Crib-biter (common), an invete- 
rate grumbler. Vide Ckibber. 

Cribcracker (thieves and popu- 
lar) , a burglar. 

The little boys . . . delight in gossip 
concerning his talents as a cribcracker s^nii 
his adventures as a pickpocket. — Sims : 
Ho~M the J'oor Live. 

Crikey — Crockets. 


Crikey (popular), an exclamation 
denoting astonishment, a cor- 
ruption of Christ. 

" Well, I'm blowed ! " he added. " This 
here's a free country, and a cove ain't to 
swear at his own gal, oh, crikey." — Sims : 
Rogues and Vagabonds. 

Crimum (tinker), sheep. 

Crinkum-crankum (old slang), a 
woman's private parts. 

Cripple (popular), a bent sixpence. 
(Common), an awkward or dull 

Crisp {common), a banknote. 

He . . . cashed a cheque for ;£ioo and 
handed over the crisp. — Modem Society. 

Croaker (old slang), a fourpenny 
piece. (Common), one who 
takes a desponding view of 
everything. (Popular), a beg- 
gar, a corpse. 

Well ... it won't perhaps send you 
into hysterics to hear that Dave is as 
good as a croaker. — J. Greenwood: Al- 
most Lost. 

(Prison), the doctor. 

One man who had put his name for the 
" butcher " or croaker, would suddenly 
iind that he had three ounces of bread less 
to receive and then a scene would ensue. 
— Evening News. 

Croak, to (thieves), to die, to 

Croakumshire (old slang). This 
nickname is said to have been 
given to Northumberland be- 
cause of the difficulty people in 
that county have in pronouncing 
the letter r, which imparts a 

somewhat rough tone to the 

Crock (common), the original 
meaning is that of a slow, 
worthless horse, but in society 
it is also applied figuratively to 
a slow, foolish, good-for-nothing 
person, as in the phrase, " that 
girl is a regular croclc." In 
sporting and university lan- 
guage it is also used in reference 
to a duffer, a lazy bungler. 

The delinquents still rowed their blades 
like giants and nowhere in the boat was a 
crock to be seen. — Referee. 

With reference to the origi- 
nal meaning of ilow, worthless 
horse, crock is allied to creep, 
Anglo-Saxon creopan, and old 
High Dutch kriochan. But it is 
curious to note that in German 
slang krig is a horse, and that 
the German ross, a horse, has 
given the French rosse, a slow, 
good-for-nothing horse ; this 
word being used with the same 
figurative meaning as crock, 
applied to persons. 

Crocker (sporting), a spaniel em- 
ployed in beating imderwood 
for small game. 

Crockets (Winchester College), 
the word for cricket. To "get 
out crockets " is to get out with 
a "duck's egg," that is, with- 
out having made any runs. 
"Small crockets" is the name 
given to a game played with an 
india-rubber ball and a plain 
deal bat about two inches 


Crocodile — Cross. 

Crocodile (university), a girls' 
school walking two and two. 

Crocus, crocikus (popular and 
thieves), a quack; crocus- 
chovey, an apothecary's shop ; 
croMts-pitcher, a street seller of 

(Army), crocu$, an army or 
navy surgeon. From "croak," 
to die, which has given the 
prison slang "croaker" for a 

Crone (circus), a clown. From a 
provincialism, oronny, merry. 

Cronker (tailors), the foreman. 

Crook (thieves and popular). On 
the crook, by dishonest means ; 
the reverse of " square." Got 
on the crook, stolen. Hence a 
crook is a thief, both in England 
and America. 

Chicago crook. — "Good news, Jim." 
. . . Fellow crook.— " y^)\ax'% up?" — 

No crook gets any good out of his 
boodles. — Detroit Free Press. 

Crookback (old slang), a six- 
penny piece, from some of 
these coins being much bat- 

Crooked (thieves), stolen. Yidc 

Croop (popular), stomach; for 

Cropper (common), a heavy fall ; 
to tumble "neck and crop." 

He was far more shaken by his cropper 
than iu any round of his memorable fight 

with Bungaree or any other opponent. — 
Sporting Times. 

To "come a cropper," to have 
a heavy fall. Also said of a 
man who experiences a decided 

There was a steeplechase for gentlemen 
riders, over which all the sharps came a 
cropper through backing Sufflct. — Sport- 
ing Times. 

Croppie (prison), one who has had 
his hair cut in prison. The term 
was applied to Irish rebels in 
1789, and formerly to those who 
had their ears cut off by the 
executioner. Puritans went by 
that name on account of their 
short hair. 

Croppled (Winchester College), 
to be croppled is to be turned 
in a lesson. 

Cross (thieves). To be " on the 
cross," to be a thief; to get a 
thing on the cross is to obtain it 
surreptitiously, the reverse of 
" on the square." 

The young woman is Bess, and perhaps 
she may be on the cross, and y' don't go 
to say that what with flimping and with 
cly-faking, and such like, she mayn't be 
wanted some day. — //. Kingsley: Kavens- 

Hence, a cross, a thief; termed 
also "cross man," or ^' cross 

It reminds us too of the "plants" and 
crosses, and of the lowest of the low who 
supported pugilism. — Punch. 

(University), to cross, putting 
a cross against a man's name for 
not paying his bills to the bursar, 
or cutting chapel lectures, &c. 

Cross — Grumpier . 


Cross chap (costermongers), a 


Cross cove and mollisher 

(thieves), a man and woman 
who are in partnership for pur- 
poses of robbery. 

Cross-crib (thieves and roughs), 
a house frequented by thieves. 

Cross-cut, and tip and sifter 

(American), mining terms from 
California expressive of motions 
or methods in washing gold. 
These terms were at one time 
commonly applied in slang in 
many ways. 

Cross-drum (thieves), a thieves' 

Cross-famming (thieves), robbing 
a person of his scarf-pin ; " from 
the position of the arms in the 
act," says Hotten. Fide Fam. 

Crossing the damp-pot (tailors), 
going to America. 

Cross-kid, to (thieves), explained 
by quotation. 

A reeler came to the cell and cross- 
kidded (questioned) me. — HorsUy : Jot- 
tings from Jail. 

Cross-roader (American), a man 
whose ways are doubtful or 

. . . For the simple purpose of being 
introduced to the club, there to "fleece 
the suckers," who never suspect they are 
playing against a cross-roader. — Chicago 

Crow(thieves),a man who watches 
while another creeps into houses, 

down areas, or into shops. ( Com - 
mon), a regular crow, an un- 
expected piece of luck, i.e., 
something to crow over. " I 
have a crow to pull with you," 
a complaint to make, or mis- 
understanding to clear up. 
(American), to eat crow, to 
recant, to humiliate oneself. 

In America, a right-about movement of 
this character is described as eating crow. 
— St. James' Gazette. 

Crowder (tinker), a string. 

Crowders (theatrical), large audi- 

Crow-eater (colonial), a lazy fel- 
low who will live on anything 
rather than work. 

Crowsfoot (prison), the Govern- 
ment mark of the broad arrow, 
which is stamped in black paint 
on prison clothing as a means 
of detection in case of escape. 

Crug (popular), food. (Christ 
Hospital), bread. 

He had his tea and hot rolls in a morn- 
ing, while we were battening upon our 
quarter of a penny loaf — our crug. — 
Lamb : £ssays. 

Crummy (army), dirty ; applied 
amongst soldiers to a man's 
appearance. (Thieves), with 
well-filled pockets. Also lousy. 
A " crummy doss." 

Crumpet face (popular), a face 
with smallpox marks. 

Crumpler (common), cravat. 


Crutch — Cuffy. 

If I see a boy make to do about the fit 
of his crj4tn/>Ur . . . — Blacktnore : Lortui 

Crutch (Winchester College), a 
name given to the school car- 

Cry of things (popular), a great 
number of things; "a cry of 

Cry matches (American), a slang 
exclamation of surprise. Its 
derivation is improbably given 
as "crime hatches." By some 
"cry" is considered as equiva- 
lent to Christi or Christ, but 
the phrase is altogether obscure. 

Crusher (popular), a policeman ; 
from the slang term " to crush," 
to run. 

To bonnet a lot of old blokes, 

And make petticoats squeal is good 

But a crusher's 'ard knuckles a 
crunching yer scrag ? no, 
I'm blowed if that is ! 

— Putich. 

Crush, to (popular), to run. Pos- 
sibly from " beetle - crusher " 
(which see). 

Crust (theatrical), the head. 

Crusty beau (old slang), a fop 
who makes up with paint and 

C's, the three (prison), the Cen- 
tral Criminal Court. 

Cuckoo (society), a fooL 

Cud (Winchester College), hand- 
some, pretty. Probably from 
kudos. (Popular), a piece of 
tobacco chewed, a " quid." 

Cuddling (prize-fighters), wrest- 

It was said by some cavillers that there 
was too much wrestling, or, as they called 
it, cuddling. — Punch. 

Cue despiser (theatrical), said of 
an actor who is careless in tak- 
ing up his cue, thereby damag- 
ing the performance. 

Cue, to (thieves), to obtain goods 
on credit which you never 
mean to pay for, synonymous 
with "going upon the letter 
Q," "the mace." 

Cuff (tailors), one who feigns re- 
ligion, or is religious. 

Cuffer (military), a lie ; spinning 
a cuffer, telling an exaggerated, 
grossly improbable story ; one 
that cuffs or beats any story. 
(American thieves), a man, rus- 
tic. From old English cant 
cofe, or the Yiddish kaffcr, a 
stupid fellow ; kaffori, Hebrew 
for a peasant. 

Cuff shooter (theatrical), an im- 
pudent and presuming tyro, who 
gives himself airs, and thinks 
more of his " cuffs " than his 

C.T.A., (circus and travelling 
showmen), the police. 

Cuffy, cuffee (West Indian), a 
word generally applied to 

Cuffy — Ctinnels. 


negroes, and which was at 
one time a very common name 
among them. Literally it 
means ' ' Thursday." Among the 
Guinea and Dahomey negroes 
every man receives a name 
from the day of the week on 
which he is born. Hence the 
frequency of Quashee, Cuffee, 
Juba, &c. The latest Cuffee in- 
troduced to the British public 
was King Coffee Calcolli. 

The fine dash of Virginia upper cuffy 
ism, it is gone, gone for ever. Sambo has 
settled down into a simple bourgeois. — 
Putnam's Magazine. 

Culing (thieves), an abbreviation 
of reticuling; snatching reti- 
cules from the seats of carriages 
at races. 

Culio (pidgin), a curio, a curiosity. 
The common term " curio " was 
borrowed from this Chinese ab- 
breviation : 

One time two piecey Flunsee (French- 
men) make walkee in Canton, 

Look-see one piecee cw/zV-shop — a first 
chop numpsi one. 

— L'Oiseau. 

Evidently an abbreviation of 
" cullion," French couillon. 

(Theatrical), actors sometimes 
address one another as euUy, or 
"laddie." ' 

"Where's your wife, old boy?" inquired 
a friend of a well-known comedian on tour. 
"Don't know, cully." — Bird o' Freedom. 

Kum cull, the manager. 

Cully gorger (theatrical), the 
manager of a theatre. Ac- 
cording to Baumann, a brother 

Cum annexes (West Indian), the 
members of one's family. 

Cum-sha'w (pidgin), a present of 
any kind, a gratuity, a pourboire 
or baksheesh. "According to 
Giles it is the Amoy pronuncia- 
tion (kam-sid) of two characters 
signifying ' grateful thanks ' " 
(Anglo-Indian Glossary). 

Mashee, he no givee dat Chinee man 
cumskaw, not one little nip tee cashee (one 
very small coin), he too smallo man inside, 
he no makee plopa fashion — p'hol — The 
Talking Ducks. 

Cull, cully (popular and thieves), 
a man or boy. 

Now the darky shines on 'em, you see 
what famous togs the cull has ou. — Ains- 
worth : A uriol. 

Cully had formerly the signi- 
fication of greenhorn, fool, dupe, 
milksop, and was a recognised 
word ; it is used by Addison 
and others. 

Your royal cully has command 
Only from you at second hand. 
— Earl 0/ Rochester : Works. 

Cundum (old), appliance for the 
prevention of infection in sexual 
intercourse. The word is used 
by the Germans. Said to be 
derived from one Condom, who 
lived in the reign of Queen 
Amie, and was noted for selling 
what is now called " French 
letters." French, capotes ang- 

Cunnels, dunnovans (tinker), 


Cup — Cuss. 

Cup and saucer players (theatri- 
cal), a term of derision invented 
br the pessimists for the pur- 
pose of depreciating the artists 
associated with the perform- 
ance of the late T. W. Robert- 
son's comedies. * 

Cup-tosser (popular), a person 
who professes to tell fortunes 
by examining the grounds in 
tea or coffee-cups (Hotten). 

Cure (common), a curious, eccen- 
tric, odd person. Imported 
from America ; was used with 
that sense twenty - five years 
ago. More generally now a 
humorous, comical person. De- 
rived from an eccentric Ameri- 
can popular song called "The 

Curious, to do (popular), to do 
anything out of the ordinary. 
" Look at that man tumbling 
about. He's doing curious" 

Curl up (popular), be silent. 

Currants and plums (rhyming 
slang), thrums ; slang for three- 

Currency (Australian), persons 

born in Australia, natives of 

England being termed "ster- 

Curro (gypsy), a cup or tankard. 

Curse of Scotland (Scotch), the 
nine of diamonds. Many de- 
rivatives have been suggested, 
and Hotten says the most pro- 

bable is, that in the game of 
Pope Joan the nine of diamonds 
is the pope, of whom the Scotch 
have an especial horror. 

Cursetor (old cant), a tramp, 

Curtail (old cant), second in 
command in the fraternity of 

Curtain (theatrical), a strong 
situation at the end of an act, 
which, when the curtain de- 
scends, elicits a burst of ap- 
plause, and causes the curtain 
to be taken up again. 

Curtain-raiser (theatrical and 
journalistic), a short play per- 
formed before a more important 
one. Corresponds to the French 
" lever de rideau." 

" Love and Politics" was produced as a 
curtain-raiser at the Opera Comique on 
Thursday. — The Referee. 

Cuse (Winchester College), a book 
in which the marks of each 
division are recorded. 

Cushion-smiter (popular), a 
clergyman or preacher. 

Cushmawaunee (Anglo-Indian), 
never mind. 

Cuss (American), a man. 

A durncd nasty old cuss he is, and don't 
you forget it. — F. Francis: Saddle and 

It is not always used dis- 
paragingly ; a tough cusi is a 
bold, indomitable man. 

Cussedness — Cut. 


It is said that the teamster . . . con- 
sidered himself to be entitled to be called 
a tough cuss. — Stevens: Around the 
World on a Bicycle. 

Cussedness (American), e\\\- 
mindedness, innate depravity. 
To do a thing out of pure 
cussedness is the same as to do 
it for mere mischief, without 
reason or excuse. Also auda- 

He . . . resolved to be present in his 
seat out of what may be characterised as 
pure cussedness. — Daily Telegraph. 

Cuss out, to (American), to sub- 
due or silence an opponent 
by overwhelming severity of 
tongue. " He cussed him out," 
i.e., used such violent language 
(not necessarily profane) as to 
verbally annihilate him. 

Customer (common), generally 
used in such phrases as a " queer, 
or rum customer ; " a curious 
fellow, or one diiiicult to deal 
with; an "ugly customer," a 
dangerous person or animal. 
(American thieves), a victim. 

Cut (old), tipsy. (Society), a step, 
a stage, as " she is a cut above 

Cut a shine, to (popular), to play 
pranks, amuse oneself boister- 

I smoke her havannas and lower her 

At times with her money I cut a rare 



Cut and dried (thieves), the phrase 
refers to a robbery which has 
been duly planned. 

Some time after that affair with the 
fence, one of the mob said to me, " I have 
got a place cut and dried ; will you come 
and do it ? "—HorsUy : Jottingsfromjail. 

Cut bene, to (old cant), to use 
pleasant words. 

Cut capers, to (common), to be- 
have in a disorderly, improper 

Cut dead, to (common), to break 
off all connection with an ac- 
quaintance or friend. 

But he could not get these books with- 
out Dr. Wycherley, and unfortunately he 
had cut that worthy dead in his own 
asylum. — Reade : Hard Cash. 

Cut didoes, to, synonymous with 
cut capers (Hotten). 

Cut dirt, to (American), to run 
away very rapidly. 

He jump up fo' sartin — he cut dirt 

and run. 
While Sambo follow arter wid his 

" turn, tum, turn." 

— Negro SongofiZzq. 

Cut down (American), deprived, 
brought low, poor. 

Cut in, to (society), take a share 
in, to try for. 

Most of the students will cut in for a 
prize. — School Magazine. 

Cut into, to (Winchester College), 
to hit one on the back with a 
"ground ash" or stick used by 
prefects in the exercise of their 


Cut — Cutting. 

Cut it fat, to (popular), to show 
off, exaggerate. 

They've mustered in great force, and no 
mistake. I'm blest if they ain't cut it /at. 
— Funny Folks. 

Cut of one's jib (common), one's 

Cut one's lucky (popular), to go 
away, to run off ; to make a 
" lucky " escape (Lat. feliciler 

Cut one's stick, to (common), 
to depart ; literally, procure a 
stick for a journey. Or a cor- 
ruption of up stick / i.e., tent- 
pegs, often done in a great hurry. 

Far off a man appeared ; and by his guise 
I knew him for a keeper ! . . . 
... I fled !— fast as I could 
I went !— in fact, again, and it was wise, 
I cut my stick. 

— Fun. 

Cuts (tailors), "small cuU" are 
small scissors, button - hole 

Cut saucy, to (tailors), to cut 
a garment in the height of 

Cutsom (pidgin), custom ; a word 
extensively applied tolaw, habits, 
usage. "Dat blongy olo ciit- 
som," is continually heard from 
Chinese, when asked the reason 
for anything. 

So it blongey olo cutsom — which neva' 

wailo way, 
Alio baba' (all barbers) hab got stickee in 

China-side to-day. 

— A hong and the Mosquito. 

Cutter (old), a cutpurse. Hotten 
says this ancient cant word now 

survives in the phrase, "to 
swear like a cutter." Cutter, ac- 
cording to Vaux, was applied to 
a man in the habit of drawing a 
knife in a quarreb 

Cut that (popular), be quiet. 

Cut the line (printers), see Lines 
ON. When a companionship of 
compositors fall short of work 
they cut the line, i.e., all the 
men leave work till sufficient is 
provided for the whole. The 
reference is to the fact that 
piece hands working in com- 
panionships are paid by the 
number of lines composed, ac- 
cording to size and width. 

Cut the line, string, to (thieves), 
to cut a story short, to end a 

Cutting (Australian and Ameri- 
can), separating cattle from a 
herd and lassoing them. 

I had been furnished with a trained 
cutting- pony, reported to be one of the 
best in the valley. ... It was only 
necessary, after having shown him a cow 
or a calf getting away from the herd, to 
give him his, and at full speed he 
started for it immediately. — F. Francis : 
Saddle and Moccasin. 

Cutting his eyes (thieves), getting 


Cutting his own throat (Stock 
Exchange) is said of a man who 
buys or sells stocks, and imme- 
diately re-sells or re-purchases 
them at a loss. 

Cutting his painter (nautical) is 
said of a man who makes off 

Cutting — Cymbal. 


suddenly or clandestinely, or 
dies. French sailors use the 
corresponding expression cUra- 
linguer with the same sense. 

Cutting it fine. Vide Fixe. 

Cutting shop (popular), a place 
where cheap inferior goods or 
material are retailed. 

Cutting the wind (military), sword 

Cutting-trade (trade), one con- 
ducted on competitive principles, 
where the profits are very closely 
shaved (Hotten). 

Cutting up (popular), acting in 
an eccentric or daring manner. 
To cut up shindies was the first 
form. The expression has ex- 
tended to the United States. 

Cuttle-boung (old cant), a knife 
used for cutting purses. 

Cutto or cutter (gypsy), a piece, 
bit, rag, or drop. Cutters o' 
brishno, "drops of rain;" yeck 
cutter 0' levinro, " one drop of 
ale." Cutterengris, bits, pieces. 
Engrl, equivalent to a thing or 
one thing, like the " one piece " 
of Pidgin, is often quite need- 
lessly post-fixed to a noun in 
Romany. (Hindu, i-a<ra, a drop.) 
Hence cutter, a (gold) piece, a 

Cut, to (common), to run away. 
Generally to "cwi and run." Ab- 
breviated from "cut his stick," or 
from an idea of severance, sepa- 
ration, as in the phrase " cutting 
one's painter," going away. 

Excuse me, you fellows, I must cut off 
home. — Bird o' Freedom, 

Simply shook him . . . bade him to cut 
it quick. — Town Talk. 

(Trade), to compete in busi- 
ness (Hotten). 

(Old cant), to speak. 

Cutty (common), a short-stemmed 
clay pipe. 

"Wot's the matter?" cried the sand- 
man, who had lighted a cutty, and was 
quietly smoking it. — Ainyiuorth : Auriol. 

Cutty-eyed (thieves), one who 
looks suspicious. 

Cutty-sark (Scotch), a short 

Cut up (common), vexed ; to cut 
up, to come up ; generally to 
turn out, well or otherwise ; 
to become ; to exit up well, vide 
Cut up fat. (Thieves), to 
cut up, to divide the plunder. 

Cut up fat, to (common), to leave 
at one's death a good estate. 

Cut up rough, to (common), to 
give signs of great displeasure, to 
become violent, evilly disposed. 

Well ! . . . I'm not so sorry, after all, 
that they cut up rough, and ploughed me. 
— C. Bede : Verdant Green. 

Cut up rusty, to (popular), to be- 
come unpleasant, angry, rough. 

Cut up shines, shindies, to (popu- 
lar), to play tricks, pranks 

Cut your own grass, to (prison), 
gain your own living. 

Cymbal (thieves), a watch. 



(tramps and beggars), 
a detective. 

Still I play shoeblack 
odd times. I have a few 
friends among the D's (detectives), who 
give me the job to watch a house occasion- 
ally. Then I take up the box and brushes 
and place myself in a suitable position. 
It pays well while it lasts. Nor is it the 
only way in which my friends the D's find 
me useful. I have free entry into all sorts 
of haunts, and can go and come as I like 
without arousing suspicion. — Thor Fre- 
dur: Sketches from Shady Places. 

D's, the two (army), short pay. 
The residue left a soldier, part 
of whose pay is stopped by 
sentence of court-martial for 
" spouting " or pawning his kit. 
However large the amount to be 
recovered, he must be allowed 
to retain twopence, 2d., as daily 


D. H. F. (cycling slang), really 
letters signifying a peculiar 
form of fork used for bicycles, 
and known as the " Double Hol- 
low Fork." Applied to a man 
means a stupid ass. 

Dab. In the slang of " water 
rats," i.e., river thieves who 
plunder the bodies of drowned 
persons, the body of a poor 
ragged woman is called a dah ; 
from dab, vulgarly used in con- 
tempt for a woman, as a dirty 
da6, a slut, dahs being rags. 

(Theatrical), a bed. 

(Common), to be a dah at any- 
thing is to be more than usually 
expert at it. 

Sir Peter Lawrie, on a recent visit to 
Billingsgate for the purpose of making 
what he calls a piscatory tour, was much 
astonished at the vigorous performance of 
various of the real " live fish," some of 
which, as he sagely remarked, appeared 
to be perfect dabs at jumping. — Punch. 

Generally supposed to be de- 
rived from " adept," but to dah 
means to strike gently, and 
a dah is therefore one skilful 
in dabbing, one with a light 
touch, a skilful hand, a "good 
hand " at, hence expert in. 

In old cant the term "rum 
dabe" was applied to one ex- 
pert at roguery. Literally, a 
"good hand;" possibly from 
German tappe, fist, paw, and 
this may be the origin of the 
modern dab. The French slang 
has dab, meaning master, chief, 

(Costermongers' back slang), 

I've been doing awful dab with my 
tol (lot) or stock, haven't made a yennep 
(■p&nny.)—Di/>rose: London Life. 

Dab it up, to (thieves), to cohabit 
with a woman. From dah, a 
contemptuous term for a woman. 
Also to agree. 

Dab out, to (popular), to wash. 

His wife at this moment advantaging 
herself of Sabbath leisure to dab out 
her solitary cotton gown. — J. Greenwood : 
Undercurrents of London Life. 

Dabster. Vide Dab. 

Dab wash. Among the lower 
classes a dab wash is a small 
intermediate wash between the 
large ones. 

Dace — Dago. 


That great room itself was sure to have 
clothes hanging to dry at the fire, what- 
ever day of the week it was ; some one of 
the large irregular family having had what 
was called in the district a dab wash of a 
few articles forgotten on the regular day. — 
Mrs. Gaskell: Sylvias Lovers. 

Dace (American), two cents. From 

Dacha-saltee (thieves and coster- 
mongers), tenpence. From the 
Itahan died soldi. 

What with my crippledom and thy piety, 
a wheeling of thy poor old dad, we'll bleed 
the bumpkins of a dacha-saltee. — Reade : 
The Cloister and the Hearth. 

Dacoit (Anglo-Indian), a robber 
belonging to an armed gang 
which, according to law, must 
consist of at least five persons. 

Dad, daddy (popular), father. In 
Welsh tad ; Irish daid, ancient. 

He gets more like his dad every day. 
— Street Song. 

Ddd, d£dus, dddo (gypsy), of 
Hindu origin, father ; dadeakro, 
fatherly, pertaining to a father ; 
"ap miro dad(^skro wast 1 " by 
my father's hand ! 

Daddle (popular), hand. 

Werry unexpected pleasure ! Tip us 
yo-av daddle. — C. Kingsley : Alton Locke. 

(Boxing slang), the fist. 

With daddies high upraised, and nobs 

held back, 
In awful prescience of th' impending 

Both kiddies stood, and with prelusive 

And light manoiuvring kindled up the 


— Belts Life in London. 

Daddy (theatrical), the comic old 
man of a company. According 
to Hotten, a stage manager. 
At sham raffles the daddy is a 
confederate who is, by previous 
arrangement, to win the prize. 
At casual wards the daddy is 
the old pauper in charge. 

Daffy (popular), gin. Hotten 
says : — "A term used by monthly 
nurses, who are always extolling 
the virtues of Daffy's elixir, and 
who occasionally comfort them- 
selves with a stronger medicine 
under Daffy's name. Of late 
years the term has been altered 
to ' soothing syrup. ' " 

Daftie (tailors), one who says (or 
does) anything absurd. 

Dagger-cheap (old), dirt cheap. 
"The Dagger w*as a low ordinary 
in Holborn, referred to by Ben 
Jonson and others ; the fare 
was probably cheap and nasty " 
(T. L. O. Davies, Supplementary 
English Glossary). 

We set our wares at a very easy price ; 
he (the devil) may buy us even dagger- 
cheap, as we say. — Andrervs : Sermons. 

Dago (American), an Italian, de- 
rived by one authority from the 
Spanish hidalgo. As the word 
has been for a long time in use 
among sailors, who apply it to 
Spaniards, Portuguese, and Ita- 
lians, but principally to the 
former, there is little doubt but 
that it comes from Diiyo, which 
is almost equivalent to Jack in 
the Spanish ports. 


Dags — Daknta. 

Dags (popular), a work, a job, a 
performance. " I'll do your dags 
for you," i.e., I'll do your work 
for you. The word is a corrup- 
tion of the old English and Low- 
land Scotch, and local in many 
English counties ; darg, a day's 
work, as in the rhyme — 

" I'll do my (iarg 
Before I arg," 

which is to say, "I'll do my 
work before I argue about it." 
The " Farmer's Encyclopaedia," 
quoted in Worcester's Diction- 
ary, defines "darg " or "dargue " 
as " the quantity of peat which 
one man can cut and two men 
wheel in a day." 

Dai, dye (gypsy), a mother. Dya! 
oh mother I Dyeskrl dye, ma- 
ternal grandmother. Bdbeli dye, 
paternal grandmother. 

Daily Levy, the, a nickname of 
the Daily Telegraph, in allusion 
to its proprietor, Mr. Levy 

We repeat, Billy allowed the operation 
to be carried out without even a verbal 
protest, very unlike him, and the robbers 
took away the gold box and complimented 
him on being a daisy. Border Chester- 
fields have not a word p{ heartier com- 
mendation in their energetic but limited 
vocabulary. — //. L. Williams : In the 
Wild West. 

Daisy-cutter (common), a horse 
that does not lift its feet much 
off the ground when trotting or 
galloping, or simply a trotting 

The trot is the true pace for a hackney ; 
and were we near a town, I should like to 
try that daisy-cutter of yours upon a piece 
of level road (barring canter) for a quart 
of claret at the next inn. — Sir W. Scott : 
Rob Roy. 

(Cricket), a ball bowled all 
along the ground, instead of 
with a proper pitch. Though 
perfectly fair, they are con- 
sidered bad form. Termed also 
a "sneak." 

Daisy-kicker (ostlers), the name 
ostlers at inns sometimes give 
each other. 

Dairies (popular), a vulgar word 
for a woman's breasts. The allu- 
sion is obvious. 

Daisies (popular and thieves), 
boots. Abbreviated from "daisy- 
roots," which see. 

And there they set as dumb as mice, 
and me and Ginger a laying under the 
seats. Oh ! it Was a treat — with the 'eels 
of the copper's daisies just in front of my 
conk. But there was nothin' for it but to 
lay quiet. — Sporting Times. 

Daisy (popular), jolly fellow. 

Daisyroots (rhyming slang), boots. 

The Windsor warrior was anxiously 
regarding his newly varnished patent 
leathers while yearning to cross from the 
Guards' Club to the Marlborough in 
muddy Pall Mall. 

"'Ere you are, sir; jump in," roared 
c.ibby. " Sooner t.ike you across for 
nothing than see you spile them lovely 
daisyroots. ' ' — Sporting 1 imes. 

Daisyville (thieves), the country. 
Dakma, to (thieves), to silence. 

I had to dakma the bloke to clay the 
swag. Palsey crowed for me, and that 

Dam — Dancer. 


was all the good it done me. — On the 

Dam (up-country Australian), a 
pond for watering cattle. This 
is generally made by throwing 
up a bank across a hollow or 
little gully. When the floods 
come the escape of the flood- 
water is prevented. 

The rain had heen pouring down for 
weeks, as if to make up for the summer's 
drought. It had filled the dams and 
flooded the creeks, and the diggers were 
having a drunken bout. — Keighhy Good- 
child: Waif. 

Damber (old cant), first damber- 
cove, a head-man. 

Dame (Eton). At Eton the word 
Dame has no reference to the 
weaker sex. Any person, other 
than a classical master, who 
keeps a boys' boarding-house in 
College is a Dame. Thus all 
mathematical masters' houses 
are Dames' houses. 

I am thankful to say that I did not 
attend the show. But I happened to see 
the World conducted back to his Dames, 
and the spectacle was gruesome. The 
punishment inflicted had been very con- 
siderable, and I do not think the World 
appeared in public for quite a fortnight. — 
Sketchy Memories of Eton. 

Damnation Comer (Eton), ex- 
plained by quotation. 

Meanwhile, " regardless of our doom, 
we little victims played," or rather watched 
the play ; we little knew what cruel fate 
awaited us, or that the present head-mas- 
ter of Eton and the Rev. F. W. Cornish 
lay in ambush for our outcoming behind 
that very sharp turn in the High Street, 
which, on account of its acute angle, 
and the consequent danger of being nailed 

in shirking in old days, was somewhat 
flippantly termed Damnation Comer. — 
Sketchy Memories of Eton. 

Damned soul (old slang). A clerk 
in the Customs House, whose 
duty was to swear or clear mer- 
chandise, used to guard against 
perjury by taking a previous 
oath never to swear truly; he 
was called a damned soid, 1 

Damper (school), a suet pudding 
in use at schools, introduced 
before meat to take off the 
edge of the appetite. (Thieves), 
a shop till. To "draw a dam- 
fer" to rob a till. 

(Tailors), a "sweater," i.e., 
one who gets as much work for 
as little pay as possible out of 

Damp-pot (tailors), the sea. 

Dance, to (printers). If letters 
drop out when the forme is 
lifted, the forme is said to dance 
(Academy of Armoury, R, Holme, 
1 688). 

(Old), " <o dance the Padding- 
ton frisk," to be hanged ; also 
termed "to dance upon nothing." 
French " danser une danse oil 
i' n'y a pas d' plancher." 

Just as the felon condemned to die, 
With a very natural loathing, 
Leaving the sheriff to dream of ropes. 
From his gloomy cell in a vision elopes 
To a caper on sunny greens and slopes. 
Instead of the dance upon nothing. 

— Hood : Miss Kilmansegg. 

Dancer or dancing-master 

(thieves), a thief who gets on 
the roof of houses and effects 


Dancers — Dang. 

an entrance by a window. He 
has of course to pick his way 
carefully, and to be as neat in 
his steps as a dancing-master. 

Dancers (thieves), a flight of steps 
or stairs. 

Come, my Hebe, brack the dancers, 
that is, go up the stairs. — Lytton: What 
will he do with it. 

Dander (low), to get up one's 
dander, or to have one's dander 
raised, to get suddenly into a 
passion ; to burst or flare up. 
From the Dutch. 

The fire and fury that blamed in her eyes 
gave ocular evidence of her dander being 
up. — From the N. O. Picayune, cited by 

My dander got considerable riz at this, 
so I knocked the chap down as called nie 
a confederate. — Scraps. 

There is not the slightest 
proof that this is derived from 
raising the scurf or dander at 
the roots of the hair, as Bart- 
lett thinks, though American.':, 
misled by the resemblance of 
sound, talk about " dander being 
riz." In Dutch donder is thun- 
der, and op donderen, i.e., to get 
the donder up, is to burst out 
into a sudden rage, or, as Sewel 
explains, "like an infernal 
spirit ; " to flare up ; to blaze 
out in wrath. 

Dandy (coiners), a counterfeit 
gold sovereign or half sovereign. 
The spurious coin is well made, 
and its composition includes 
some pure gold. 

And it is not in paltry pewter "sours, " 
with which the young woman has dealings, 

but in dandies; which, rendered into in- 
telligible English, means imitation gold 
coin.—/. Greenwood : Tag, Rag, &' Co. 

(American). This word, origi- 
nally English, and manifestly 
taken from the ordinary word 
dandy, a fop, as a type of any- 
thing neat or fanciful, has been 
greatly extended in America. 

The man who marries a woman simply 
because she is a dandy arrangement to 
have about the house does so from a pure 
business standpoint, and, in the end, if 
not compelled to support him, she has 
done better than many women I know of. 
— Nasby. 

(Anglo-Indian), a boatman ; 
also a kind of hammock-litter, 
in which travellers are carried. 

In the lower hills, when she did not 
walk, she travelled in a.daniiy. — Kinloch : 
Large-game Shooting in Thibet. 

(Irish), a small glass of whisky. 

Dandy-master (coiners), a coiner 
who employs others to pass 
counterfeit coin. 

The spirits obtained being mostly bottled 
and labelled, and unopened, find a ready 
sale at public-houses known to the dandy- 
master, so that no serious loss is expe- 
rienced in that direction. — J. Greenwood : 
Tag, Rag, A' Co. 

Dandy -rig (Wq^t American), 
fashionable attire. 

In the barber's shop that I entered the 
three chairs were all occupied. A slender, 
graceful, " interesting young man," of an 
Italian type of face, dressed in a blue 
shell-jacket bound with yellow, a good 
deal of loud jewellery, and a dandy-rig 
generally, operated on one customer. — 
F. Francis : Saddle and Moccasin. 

Dangf it! (common), an evasive 
curse, but imlike its prototyi)e, 

Danglers — Dark. 


Damn it I it is never used 

Danglers (thieves), a bunch of 

And where the swag, so bleakly pinched, 
A hundred stretches hence ? 
The thimbles, slang, and danglers filched 
A hundred stretches hence ? 

— On the Trail. 

Darbies (prison), handcuffs, irons. 

" Stay," cried he, " if he is an old hand 
he will twig the officer." " Oh, I'm dark, 
sir," was the answer ; "he, won't know me 
till I put the darbies on him." — Reade: 
Never too Late to Mend. 

It is said that handcuffs, used 
to bind two prisoners together, 
were called a Darby and Joan. 

Darble (old cant), the devil. 
From the French. 

Darby (old cant), ready money. 

Dark (common), secret. 

It was evident to the Devonshire gentle- 
man that the three traitors had agreed 
between them to keep quite dark a certain 
little episode of tiie afternoon enjoyment. — 
J. Greenwood: Dick Teinple. 

(Prison), "getting the dark," 
being confined in an absolutely 
dark ceU. Probably abolished 
now. There was one at Clerken- 
well Prison, but it was not used 
for at least the last ten years of 
that prison's existence. 

Dark cully (old slang), a married 
man who keeps a mistress, but 
for fear of detection only visits 
her secretly. 

Dark horse (turf), a horse who 
has never run, or who having 

run is supposed not to have 
exhibited his real powers in 
public. The sporting journals 
are kindly constant in their en- 
deavours to throw light on this 
particular form of darkness. 

The present year is likely to be memor- 
able in racing records as the year of sur- 
prises. The first favourites have fared 
badly. The Derby was won by a dark 
horse; Tenebreuse, who carried off the 
Grand Prix last Saturday, was hardly in 
the betting. — Standard. 

(American), a candidate who 
keeps his intentions in the back- 
ground tiU he finds his oppor- 

Dark house (old), a lunatic asy- 

Dark it, to (tailors), to keep 

Darktnans (old cant), night. 

Bene lightmans to thy quarromes ; in 
what lipken hast thou Ij-pped in this 
darkemans, whether in a lybbege or in 
the strummel ? — T. Hartnan: Caveat, 

I.e., " Good-day to thee ; in what house 
didst thou sleep last night, in a bed or on 
the straw ? " 

Darkman's budge (old cant), a 
man who slips in unobserved 
into a house in the daytime to 
give ready entrance to his con- 

Darks (nautical), nights on which 
the moon does not shine — much 
looked to by smugglers (Ad- 
miral Smyth). 

Dark 'un (racing), equivalent to 
" dark horse," which see. 


Darky — Davy. 

Darky (American), negro. 

In these days of schools and school- 
masters for the coloured people the num- 
ber of those "who cannot tell their right 
hand from their left will presumably 
rapidly diminish ; but before the darky 
of anti-bellum times quite disappears among 
the shades of things that are past . . . — 
Harper's Magazine. 

Also twilight. 

Darned, dam it (common), a cor- 
ruption of and euphemism for 
damn. Of American origin. 

"Two dimes," coolly replied Jonathan. 
"Two devils," snarled the customer; 
"why, I can get just as good cider here 
for five cents a glass." " No, you can't," 
drawled the Yankee. " There ain't a pint 
of cider, 'cept what I've got in that 'ere 
barrel, this side of Orleans. I'm darned 
if there is." — Diprose t Book 0/ Anec- 

Dash (turf), to have a dash on a 
race is to exceed largely the 
speculator's ordinary limit of 

(Popular), to " cut a dash," 
to make a great parade, dress 

(African Coast patois) a pre- 
sent or gratuity. Guinea negro, 

Dasher (common), an extravagant 
or " fast " person. 

She was astonished to find in high life a 
degree of vulgarity of which her country 
companions would have been ashamed. . . 
These young ladies were dashers. — Miss 
Edge-worth : Altneria. 

(Turf), one noted for his smart- 

With much regret I heard, during my 
visit to Newmarket, that Mr. 's con- 

dition still continues to cause his family 
and friends the gravest anxiety. Would I 
could write better news concerning the 
dasher, who is one of the best of good 
fellows. — Sporting Times. 

Dash my wig, dash my buttons, 

senseless evasion of the honester 
word damn, used at a time 
when profane oaths were more 
fashionable than they have since 

Dashy, deva-dasi, dasis (Anglo- 
Indian), girls devoted to dancing 
and prostitution in the idol 
temples, especially of Southern 

" In Hindu deva-ddsi means slave-girl 
of the gods. The like existed at ancient 
Corinth under the name of ierodouloi, 
which is nearly a translation of the Hindu 
term. These appendages of the worship 
of Aphrodite were the same thing as the 
Phoenician Kedeshoth, repeatedly men- 
tioned in the Old Testament. (E.g. Deut. 
xxiii. 18.) Such girls are mentioned in the 
famous inscription in Citiura in Cyprus . . . 
under the name of altna, curiously near 
that of the modern Egj-ptian aii/na " 
(also aiina or ainieh). Dasis are the danc- 
ing girls attached to the pagodas. — Nelson : 

Daub (low), a vulgar name for a 
painter ; properly a coarsely 
painted picture, what the French 
call crodte, 

Davy (popular), a corruption of 

Ay, ay, my young coon, said she, or a 
silver spoon either. I'll take my daz/y it's 
only pewter. — Sam Stick. 

Davy Jones (nautical), a mythi- 
cal character supposed to typify 
the depths of ocean. Davy 

Davy — Daylights. 


Jones' locker, the bottom of the 

It has been ingeniously con- 
jectured that the sea, which is 
so often the sailors' cemetery, 
was called Jonah's locker, that 
the prophet's name was corrup- 
ted into Jones, and Davy pre- 
fixed as being a common name 
in Wales {Notes and Queries). 
For other derivation, vide Dr. 
Charles Mackay's " Gaelic Ety- 
mology of the English Lan- 

Sailors sometimes call the 
devil " Old Davy." This ap- 
pears to be a diminutive of 

Even in the appellations given him (the 
devil) by familiar or vulgar irreverence, 
the same pregnant initial prevails, he is the 
Deuce, and Old Davy, and Davy Jones. — 
Southey : The Doctors. 

Davy putting- on the coppers for 
the parsons (nautical), the brew- 
ing of a storm. 

Davy's sow, or David's sow 

(popular). ' ' As drunk as Davys 
sow," completely drunk. 

Grose says : — " David Lloyd, 
a Welshman, had a sow with 
six legs ; on one occasion he 
brought some friends and asked 
them whether they had ever 
seen a sow like that, not know- 
ing that in his absence his 
drunken wife had turned out 
the animal, and gone to lie 
down in the sty. One of the 
party observed that it was the 
drunkest sow he had ever be- 

The term may have originated 
(a mere conjecture) in an allu- 
sion to Nell Gywn, one of the 
mistresses of Charles II. (nick- 
named David — his father was 
called Nebuchadnezzar by the 
Roundheads), who was credited 
with every vice by the Earl 
of Rochester, and of whom he 
wrote : 

. . . Madam Nelly, 
Whose first employment was, with open 

To cry fresh herrings, even ten a groat. 
— A Satire. 

Other synonymous expressions 
are, " drunk as a drum, as a 
wheelbarrow, sow-drunk, drunk 
as a fish, as a lord, as a piper, 
as a fiddler, as a rat." 

Dav7k {Anglo-Indian), transport, 
by means of relays of men and 
horses ; the mail. To lay a 
dawk is to organise a postal or 
transport service. 

During the mutiny of 1857-58, when 
several young surgeons had arrived in 
India, whose services were urgently wanted 
at the front, it is said that the Head of the 
Department to which they had reported 
themselves, directed them to immediately 
" lay a dawk." To which one, aghast, re- 
plied, " Would you kindly explain, sir — for 
you might just as well tell me to lay an 
egg." — Anglo-Indian Glossary. 

Dawk-bungalow (Anglo-Indian), 
a resting-place or house for 

I am inclined to think that the value 
of life to a ddk bungalow fowl must be 
very trifling. — In my Indian Garden. 

Daylights (common), the space 
left in the glass, and between 


Daylights — Dead. 

the liquor and the rim ; not per- 
mitted in ultra-conncil gather- 
ings when a toast is to be drunk. 
The way on such occasions 
of the proposer of the toast was 
" no daylights and no heel-taps, 
but a full bumper." 

(Popular), the eyes ; to " dar- 
ken one's daylights," to give a 
black eye. 

Good woman I I do not use to be so 
treated. If the lady says such another 
word to me, damn me, I will darken her 
day Ugh is. — Fielding ; A niclia. 

Dead (turf), certainty. 

" Dealers in the dead" did well then ; 
bet after bet was booked about horses 
which had no more chance of winning 
than "if they were boiled." — Baileys 
Monthly Magazine. 

Dead-alive (popular), a stupid, 
dull, slow fellow. 

Dead-amiss (racing) is said of a 

horse that is incapacitated from 
winning a race through illness. 

Dead as a tent-peg (popular), 
from the pegs being buried in 
the ground. 

First Clubman. — " Hullo, Bob ; heard 
the news about Macstinger, of the ' Mos- 
quito'?" Second Clubman. — "No; 
what's up?" KrRST C. — "Great Scott! 
it's a case of down, not up, dear boy. 
He's dead as a tent-peg. Poisoned him- 
self last night." — Fun. 

Varied to " dead as a door- 
nail," or "dead as a herring," 
" dead as small beer." 

Dead beat (American), an im- 
postor ; a man who does not 

intend to pay his share; an 
unprofitable sponger. 

(Common), to be dead beat, to 
be utterly exhausted. 

Dead broke (common), utterly 
ruined, penniless. (American), 
to dead break, to ruin at a gam- 
bling game. 

This other, a man whohad never touched 
a card, but learnt the game over-night and 
sat out a seven-hours' play with the chief 
gamblers, under the fire of their associates, 
dead-broke them, so that they quitted the 
camp laughed at by their own pals. — H. 
L. IVilliams : Buffalo Bill. 

Dead cargfo (thieves), plunder 
that will not recompense for the 
risk entailed. 

Deader (army), a military funeral. 

Dead finish, the (up - country 
Australian), excellent beyond 
measure ; in Cockney slang an 
" out-and-outer." Death is a 
natural metaplior for complete- 
ness, for exhaustion or exhaus- 
tiveness ; dead is a common 
prefix, expressing the same idea 
in "dead on," "dead-nuts," 
" dead certain," " dead beat," 
"dead heat." 

' ' He's the deadjiiiish—^o right through 
a man," rejoins Sam rather. "Blessed if 
he didn't near skiver my boss." — A. C. 
Grant : Bush Life in Queensland. 

Dead-head (American), one who 
stands about a bar to drink at 
the expense of others. 

Sitting on a bench outside the principal 
hotel are three or four hopelessly aban- 
doned loafers, wearing plainly the stamp 
of dead-head on their shameless features, 



waiting to be asked to drink, or listening 
eagerly for the not infrequent "shout for 
all hands."— y4. C. Grant. 

Dead heat (common), exactly 
even. Two men who are equal 
in anything are said to be a 
dead heat; from a racing ex- 

Ay, so ends the tussle. I knew the 
tan-muzzle was first, though the ring-men 
were yelling "dead heat." A nose I could 
sweax by, but Clarke said " the mare, by 
a short head." — A, L. Gordon: How we 
Beat the Favourite. 

Dead-horse (popular), to "draw 
the dead-horse" is doing work 
paid for in advance. The term 
explains itself. Used also by 
sailors. Admiral Smyth says 
that " when they commence 
earning money again there is in 
some merchant ships a ceremony 
performed of dragging round 
the deck an effigy of their fruit- 
less labour in the shape of a 
horse, running him up to the 
yard-arm, and cutting him adrift 
to fall into the sea, amidst loud 
cheers." French printers call 
this manger du said, to eat salt 
pork, that is, something that 
excites thirst ; from the fact 
that workmen in this case, feel- 
ing disinclined for work, pay 
frequent visits to the wine-shop. 

Dead horses (West Indian), 
shooting stars. The supersti- 
tion of the negro mind imagines 
that shooting stars are the 
spirits of horses that have been 
killed by falling over ravines 
and precipices. 

Dead lurk (thieves), breaking 
into a house when the inmates 
are at church . 

Deadly lively, to be (common), to 
be factitiously or xmnaturally 

Deadly nevergreen, the (thieves), 
the gallows ; said also to bear 
fruit aU the year round. 

Dead man (provincial), ground 
rising higher on one side of 
a wall than on the other. 
" There is so much dead man 
that the house is always damp." 
(Popular), a scarecrow; a 
man made of rags. Possibly a 
corruption of "dudman," from 
cant term duds, for clothes, rags. 
Also an extra loaf smuggled 
into the basket by a baker's 
man, and disposed of by him. 

Deadman's lurk (thieves), a crafty 
scheme laid by swindlers to ex- 
tort money from the relatives of 
a deceased person. 

Dead marine, dead man (popular), 
an empty bottle, implying that 
its contents have been alcoholic. 
The expression doubtless arises 
from the jealousy, dashed vdth 
a slight flavour of contempt, 
with which marines are re- 
garded by sailors on board 
ship. The phrase survives in 
a famous old drinking-song, set 
to very spirited music by Jack- 
son of Exeter — an admirable 
specimen of the ancient popular 



melodies of England, and of 
which the well-known choims 

And he who will this toast deny 
Down among the dead men let him lie. 

The word was formerly a 
marine, which, being used in a 
company at which William IV., 
then Duke of Clarence, was 
present, gave offence to an 
oflBcer of that gallant corps, 
who asked the Prince what he 
meant by it. "I mean by 
marine," replied the Prince, 
with more readiness than was 
usual with him, " a good fel- 
low who has done his duty, and 
is ready to do it again." The 
French term an empty bottle 
"un corps mort." 

Dead meat train (common), a 
special train carrying corpses 
from Waterloo Station to the 
London Necropolis at Woking. 

Dead men's shoes (common), pro- 
perty which can only be claimed 
after the decease of the holder. 

Dead nap (provincial), a cheat, a 
downright rogue. 

Dead nip (provincial), the failure 
of any petty plan or scheme. 

Dead nuts on (popular Austra- 
lian), very fond of. An ampli- 
fication of the ordinary English 
slang "nuts on." 

Dead - oh 1 (naval), is said of a 
man in the last stage of intoxi- 

Dead-on (riflemen), straight on. 
A rifle-shot talks of the aiming 
being dead-on when the day 
is so calm that he can aim 
straight at the bull's eye instead 
of having to allow to the right 
or left for wind. He is said to 
be dead-on himself when he is 
shooting very well. 

Dead, on the (common), on the 
teetotal tack. Dead is often 
used as a strengthening adjec- 
tive, " dead proper," " dead 

Dead season (journalistic), the 
time when nothing is going on. 
For society this is the summer, 
or during Lent. 

Dead sow's eye (tailors), a badly 
worked button-hole. 

Dead stick, to (theatrical), to 
stop, to break down utterly in 
the midst of a performance. The 
most eminent actors have been 
subject to sudden and treacher- 
ous lapses of memory. Macready 
has been known to break down 
in Virginius — a character he 
had acted thousands of times. 
Charles Kean has broken down 
in Othello and Melnotte. On 
the first night of "Henry IV." 
at the Queen's Theatre, Phelps 
stuck dead or dead stuck in Henry 
IV., and the actor who played 
the Prince of Wales had to 
prompt his royal father. 

Dead stock (common), unsaleable 

Dead — Deaner. 


The youngest, who was a capless, shoe- 
less little wretch, certainly not more than 
eight years old, had a " cigar-light " box 
tucked under his arm ; another, a couple 
of years older, perhaps, carried the stump 
of a birch broom ; while the third, who was 
the oldest and the hungriest, looking the 
most decently dressed, held in his hand a 
few local newspapers — AismaWy dead stock, 
considering the day and the hour. — James 
Greenwood: Crackling's Dole. 

Dead swag (thieves), plunder that 
cannot be got rid of. 

Dead to rights (police slang), em- 
ployed by detectives when they 
have quite convicted a criminal, 
and he is positively guilty. "I've 
got him dead to rights," It is 
often employed in a more gene- 
ral sense to indicate certainty of 
success. It seems to have ori- 
ginated in America. 

Dead 'un (thieves), a house un- 
occupied temporarily or alto- 

Me and the screwsman went to Graves- 
end and found a dead 'un, and we both 
went and turned it over. — Horsley : Jot- 
tings from Jail. 

(Thieves and roughs), a half 
quartern loaf. (Turf), a horse 
that may be laid against as if 
he were dead ; possibly because 
he is not going to run, certainly 
because he is not intended to 

" Racing men," said Mr. Justice Field, 
in a memorable case some years ago, " evi- 
dently have a morality of their own." And 
it is certain that there are bookmakers or 
commission agents — call them what you 
will — whose honour and rectitude is un- 
questioned in their own circle, but who, so 

far from shrinking from the idea of getting 
money out of a dead 'un, will jump at the 
first opportunity. — Bird o' Freedom. 

(Theatrical), a super who plays 
for nothing. The mistakes that 
are made in crowds and full 
scenes is often accounted for 
by the fact that a super who 
has attended all rehearsals is 
shunted at a moment's notice 
to make room for the dead 'un, 
who sometimes pays the super 
master for the privilege of get- 
ting behind the scenes as welL 

(Popular), to make dead 'uns, 
explained by quotation. 

Man has a desire to peck a bit ; conse- 
quently he must in a measure depend upon 
rogues in grain, the miller, and the baker ; 
and this rule therefore teaches the art and 
mystery of making what are called dead 
'uns; that is, to charge not only for what 
j-ou deliver, but for what you do not. — 
Diprose : Laugh and Learn. 

Dead-wood earnest (American), 
quite earnest. 

No ! oh, good licks, are you in real 
dead-wood earnest. — Mark Twain: Totn 

Dead w^rong 'un (common), a very 
dishonest fellow, a cheat. 

" Don't you ever speak to that man," 
said the Immaculate One, "he is a dead 
wrong 'un. Plays cards, and has big 
pockets and little fingers. Cheats. Once 
went into the card room with six coups 
ready put up in his pocket." — Sporting 

Deal suit (popular), a deal coffin 
supplied by the parish. 

Deaner (thieves), shilling. 

I know what I will do ; I will go to 
London Bridge rattler (railway) and take 


Deaner — Deen. 

a deaner ride and go a wedge-hunting 
(stealing plate.) — Rev. J. Horsley : Jot- 
tings from Jail. 

It has been suggested that 
deaner is from denier, but more 
probably it is a corruption of 
the Yiddish dinoh, a coin. 

Deansea Ville (old cant), the 
country ; Deansea Ville stampers, 

Death-hunter (street), a man who 
sells dying speeches or con- 
fessions of executed criminals. 
Also an undertaker. 

Death on (Australian), good at. 
The metaphor is probably that 
of completeness. Vide Dead 
Finish. "Death on rabbits," 
would mean a very good rab- 
bit shot; "death on peaches," 
greedy of peaches. The phrase 
is common in the United 
States, where a lady over fond 
of finery is said to be death on 

Death-trap (journalistic) , a 
theatre or other place of amuse- 
ment made to contain large 
numbers of people. The ex- 
pression became general after 
the burning of several such 
edifices in 1887. 

Our laws, too, would enable us to 
punish persons whose negligence and in- 
attention have been the causes of disaster ; 
but then, as Mr. Punch reminds us, we 
never think of trying a railway director for 
a railway accident, or a theatrical lessee 
and his architect (to say nothing of a 
bench of magistrates) for erecting or 

licensing a death-trap. — St. Jamet's 


Debblish (South Africa), a penny. 

Deck (Anglo-Indian), a look, a 
peep. Hindu dekh-nd, to look. 
•' Dek-ho, you ' bud-mash ! ' " 
.In English gypsy, dikk. Dick- 
ing, from the gypsy is common 
English slang for looking. 

(American), a pack of cards. 
Formerly used in England. 
From the expression "to deck 

Decus (old slang), a crown-piece ; 
from the motto on the edge, 
Decus et Tutamen. 

Dee (tramps), a pocket-book ; 
termed "reader" by thieves. 
Probably an abbreviation of 
dummy, which see. (Popular), 
a penny. 

Kydder. — Hullo, Sneyde, old man, 
where are you going ? 

Sneyde. — Inside, to see our "uncle," 
and get a bob on this. {S/tcnus his waist- 
coat done up in neiuspaper.) 

Kvdd'er. — We're both down on our luck 
again, then. I've just taken in {looks 
roumi)—ahtm ! — the blankets from my 
lodgings. I'll wait till you come out. 
(VVniis till Sneyde comes out.) 

Sneyde. — He's a hard nail, he is. I've 
only got nine dee out of him. — The Re- 

Deen (Anglo - Indian). Arabic 
din, religion ; faith. 

About the worst curse that you can lay 
out on a is " Zen-ul dinak! " 
'•Curse your religion!" A native who 
will bear with a placid smile the infor- 
mation that his mother was a social evil of 

Deerstalker — Demon. 


the most revolting type, and that he and 
all his relations, like all their ancestry 
before them, are and were pigs, destined 
to devour nameless dirt in Sheol, will nip 
out his cheese-knife and go for your vitals 
should you cast any reflection on his 
faith. Even for him "there are choras," 
not of muslin, but Muslim. — Travels in 

Deerstalker (society), a wide- 
awake hat. 

Del (gypsy), to give, kick ; also to 
hit, as one says, " give it to 
him," but more precisely deUer, 
done, draw ; dellin, hitting or 
kicking ; dellin leskro, " a givin' 
of him ; " dellemengro, a horse 
that kicks. 

Delaben (gypsy), a gift. 

Delicate (begging impostors), a 
sham subscription-book. 

Dell (old canting), a youngwench. 
Brome (" A Jovial Crew, or the 
Merry Beggars," 1652) gives 
this word. In Old Dutch slang 
dil, del, and dille also mean a 
girl, Dielken, fiUe de joie (Der- 
enbourg). Thiele, a Jewish girl, 
especially a young one. In Ger- 
man-Hebrew dilla also means 
a maiden. It is possible that 
dilly-dally, in the sense of phil- 
andering and amorous trilling, 
is derived from diU or dell. 
Finally the gypsy has del (lit. to 
give) in the sense of sexual 
union, " Del adre minj." 

DeloU (Anglo-Indian), a broker. 
In Egypt a pedlar of old clothes, 
a street dealer. 

Delving it (tailors), hurrying, 
keeping the head down, sewing 

Demand the box, to (nautical), to 
call for a bottle. 

Demaunders for glymmeir (old 
cant), explained by quotation. 

These demaunders /or giytnmar he for 
the most parte wemen, for glymmar in 
their language is fyre. These go with 
fayned lycences and counterfayted writ- 
ings, hauing the hands and seales of such 
gentlemen as dwelleth nere to the place 
where they fayne themselues to haue bene 
burnt, and their goods consumed with 
fyre. — Hartttan : Caveat. 

Demi-rep (old), a woman of 
questionable character — abbre- 
vation of " demi-reputation." 

. . . arrant rascals, male and female . . . 
demi-reps and lorettes, single and unmar- 
ried. — Quarterly Revietu. 

Dem keb (London), a hansom ; a 
"masher" phrase from Gilbert's 
"Wedding March." "Let's 
take a duem heb. " 

Demmy cit (American cadet), a 
townsman (cit., citizen) who is 
dressed as a gentleman. 

Demon chandler (nautical), one 
who supplies ship's stores of 
a worthless character — often 
utterly unfit for use and food. 

I snubbed skipper for bad grub, rotten 

flour to eat, 
Hard tack full of weevils ; how demon 

chandlers cheat ! 
Salt junk like mahogany, scurvying man 

and boy. 
Says he, "Where's your remedy?" 

Board of Trade, ahoy I 

— Sailors' Language. 


Demons — Deux. 

Demons (Australian), prison slang 
for police. "The demont put 
pincher on me," I was appre- 

Dempstered (old cant), hung; from 
"dempster," the executioner, 
so called because it was his 
duty to repeat the sentence to 
the prisoner in open court. 
This was discontinued in 1773. 

Denounce, to (American). In the 
West to pre-empt land, to an- 
nounce a title to it. 

You ain't got no right to come prospect- 
ing around now. I've denounced it all — 
it's all mine. — F. Francis: Saddle and 

Dep (popular), a deputy. (Christ's 
Hospital), a Grecian. 

Derby darlingfs, or D.D.'s (Ame- 
rican), a term applied to women 
who wear Derby hats. 

The late decidedly masculine tendency 
in fashionable female headgear has brought 
out a n«-w type of girl of the period and 
coined a new phrase to describe her. The 
girls who promenade up and down Chest- 
nut Street these fair autumn days, arrayed 
in men's stiff hats, are now called Derby 
girls, or Derby darlings. I'his is occa- 
sionally abbreviated into D.D. in such 
forms as " there goes a D.D-," or "she's 
a regular D.D." — Philadelphia Times. 

Derbyshire neck, a term for 
the goitrous neck, owing to its 
prevalence in Derbyshire. 

Derrey (thieves), an eyeglass ; 
hence the expression used by 
tailors to "take the derrey," to 
quiz, ridicule. 

Derrick (old cant). In the days 
prior to the appearance in public 
life of the better known Jack 
Ketch, Derrick signified the 
hangman, from the supposed 
name of a then existing func- 
tionary. The word occurs in 
"The Bellman of London," an 
old play, published in 16 16, the 
year of Shakspeare's death. 

" He rides circuit with the devil, and 
Derrick must be his host, and Tyburn the 
inn at which he will alight." 

To derrick, " a cant term for 
setting out on a small but not 
over-creditable enterprise. The 
act is said to be named from a 
Tyburn executioner " (Admiral 

Derwenter (Australian), a con- 
vict. So called from the River 
Derwent, in Tasmania, which, 
like New South Wales and West 
Australia, was originally a con- 
vict settlement. Cf. "Vande- 
monian" and " Sydney-sider." 

Despatchers (gambling cheats), 
according to Hotten false dice 
with two sets of numbers, and, 
of course, no pips. So called 
because they bring the matter 
to a speedy issue. 

Detrimentals (society), a very 
common term in society for 
those who are not well off, and 
therefore detrimental as hus- 

Deuce (popular), twopence. From 
the French. 

Deux wins (old cant), twopence. 



Devil, a barrister who does work 
for another, termed "devilling." 
The dexH gets up the case for a 
senior in large practice, generally 
without any remuneration. It 
is almost also an oflficial desig- 
nation. The Attorney-General's 
devid for the Treasury is a post 
of £\yxi a year. The Attor- 
ney-General has also devils in 
Chancery, as, for instance, the 
"charity devil," for the matters 
in which he is officially con- 
cerned. The Attorney-General's 
devil in the Treasury, after a 
certain probation, is often pro- 
moted to the bench. He is, in 
fact, a sort of junior Attorney- 
General. On circuit, no one is 
allowed to devil for another un- 
less he is a member of the same 
circuit, and the barrister for 
whom he devils is actually en- 
gaged in some other court on 
that circuit (Huggins). 

(Printers), a printer's junior 
apprentice or errand boy. 

(Literary), explained by quo- 

" Who are you ? " 1 asked in dismay. 

" I'm a devil." . . . 

" A what ! " I exclaimed with a start. 

" A devil. ... I give plots and incidents 
to popular authors, sir. Write poetry for 
them, drop in situations, jokes, work up 
their rough material : in short, sir, I devz'l 
for them." — George R. Sims: The A uthor's 

Devil a plebe, to (American ca- 
dets), to victimise or revile a 
new cadet. 

Devil and Tom Walker, the 

(American), an old saying once 

common in New England to the 
effect that it "beats the deril and 
Tom Walker," or " he fared as 
Tom Wcdker did with the devil." 
In the Marvellous Repository, a 
curious collection of tales, many 
of which are old Boston legends, 
there is one of Tom Walker, who 
sold himself to the devil. The 
book was published about 1832. 

Devil-dodger (popular), clergy- 

These devil-dodgers happened to be so 
very powerful (that is, noisy) that they soon 
sent John home crying out, he should be 
damn'd. — Life of J. Sackington. 

Devil drawer (old slang), a poor, 
miserable artist. 

Devils (common), small wheels 
soaked in resin, and used for 
lighting fires. 

Devil's among the tailors, the 

(common), i.e., there's a disturb- 
ance going on. " This phrase," 
says Mr. Edwards, " arose in 
connection with a riot at the 
Haymarket on an occasion when 
Dowton announced the perform- 
ance for his benefitof a burlesque 
entitled 'The Tailors : a Tragedy 
for Warm Weather.' At night, 
many thousands of journey- 
men tailors congregated in and 
around the theatre, and by riot- 
ous proceedings interrupted the 
performances. Thirty-three of 
the rioters were brought up at 
Bow Street the next day. A 
full account of the proceedings 
will be found in Biographua 



Dramatim under the heading 
' Tailors.' " 

Devil's bedposts (common), the 
four of clubs. 

Devil's book (common), cards. 

Damn your cards, said he, they are the 
devil's book. — Swi/i : Polite Conversation. 

Devil's claws (prison), explained 
by quotation. 

A Scotch cap, worsted stockings, and a 
pair of shoes, completed the uniform of 
a full private in Her Majesty's Convict 
Service. This uniform was decorated all 
over with the devils claws (the broad 
arrow). — Evening News. 

Devil's daughter (common), a 
scolding, shrewish wife. 

Devil's delight, a disturbance or 
quarrel of more than usual 
vehemence. To "kick up the 
(hvil's ddigJit " is to indulge in 
drunken and obstreperous jovi- 

Devil's dust, scraps and remnants 
of old woollen garments sent to 
the mill to be remanufactured 
in the semblance of good cloth, 
commonly known among manu- 
facturers — who use the word 
satirically — as " shoddy." 

Devil's golden tooth, the (Ameri- 
can). " One would think he'd 
found the dcviVs yolden tooth" a 
common saying in Ma.ssachu- 
setts. Founded on a story to 
the effect that Kidd, the pirate, 
once obtained from the devil 
his eye-tooth, which had the 
power of changing all metals 

into gold. The losing and find- 
ing of this tooth by several 
persons forms the subject of a 
popular tale. 

Devil's g^ts (old slang), a term 
given by farmers to the sur- 
veyor's chain. 

Devil's livery (nautical), black and 
yellow. From the colours being 
used for mourning or quarantine. 

Devil's Own, the Inns of Court 
Kifle Volunteers. 

Devil-scolder (popular), a clergy- 

Devil's sharpshooters(American). 
anicknamegivenby "thechurch 
militant" to those of the cleri- 
cal party who in the Mexican 
War belied their clotli and pro- 
fession ; also to any person 
favouring unjust war. 

Devil's teeth (common), dice. 

Devil to pay, the (common), an 
allusion to the legendary tales 
of the Middle Ages, in which, 
in exchange for the enjoyment 
of unlimiteil wealth, power, or 
other earthly advantage, a man 
was supposed to have sold his 
soul to the devil. 

Devil to pay and no 'fitch hot 

(nautical). The seam which mar- 
gins the water-ways was called 
the "devil." Why, only caulkers 
can tell, who perhaps found it 
sometimes difficult for their 

Devotional — Dick. 


tools. The phrase, however, 
means service expected, and no 
one ready to perform it. Im- 
patience and naught to satisfy 
it (Admiral Smyth). 

Devotional habits (common) is 
applied to a horse inclined to 
"say his prayers," that is, apt 
to fall on his knees. 

De\7-drink (labourers), an early 
drink. French, "une goutte 
pour tuer le ver," the worm 
being thought to be more than 
usually thirsty in the morning. 

Dewskitch (popular), a severe- 
thrashing; perhaps from "catch- 
ing one's due." 

Dial-plate (common), the face. 
" To turn the hands on his dial- 
plate," i.e., to disfigure the face. 

Dials (prison), members of the 
criminal class who live about 
the Seven Dials in London. 

Diamond - cracking (Australian 
thieves' patter), stonebrcaking. 
The metaphor is obvious, break- 
ing " those precious stones." 

He caught a month and had to white 
it out at diamond-cracking in " Castieau's 
Hotel." — The Australian Printers Keep- 

In England, £^t«?no>ui crackimj 
refers to working in a coal- 

Diary, to (American thieves), to 

Dib (common), a portion or share. 

Dibs (common), money. 

The trots round with a tin plate or 

a royal dish-cover, and collects dibs for 
the Imperial Institute. He exhibits him- 
self at football- matches and Church bazaars 
on consideration of nailing the coin for his 
pet scheme. — Modem Society. 

So called, says Hotten, from 
the knuckle bones of sheep, 
which have been used from 
the earliest times for gambling 
purposes when money was not 
obtainable — in one particular 
game five being thrown up at 
a time and caught on the back 
of the hand like half-pence. 
This resembles the common 
children's game of " jackstones." 
The French call it " jeu des 
osselets." (Thieves), "flash your 
dibs," show your money. 

Dick (military), the penis. 

Dick, dikk, to (gypsy, also com- 
mon cant), to see, to look. 
Hotten says this is " North 
country cant," but it is found 
in all gypsy- dialects. (Hindu, 
dekhna.) Dikkamengro, a look- 
ing-glass, also dikkamengrl, both 
referring to anything used in 
connection with seeing, such 
as spectacles, lorgnons, or tele- 
scopes. The latter would be a 
daro - dikkamengrl — a far - see- 
thing. Tu sCiste dikkavit, you 
should have seen it. 

Dick at the Garjcrs (gorgias) 

The Garjers round mandy, 

Trying to lei my meriben 

My meriben away. 
I.e., " See the gorgios round me trying 
to take my life away." 

iJick-kdlo, to look black. 


Dicker — Diddler. 

frown ; dick-dum, I saw (seldom 
heard) ; dick-pdli, look back, re- 

Dicker (American), exchange or 

It may be for their interest to make the 
dicker. — New York Tribune. 

Dick in the green (thieves), 
weak, inferior, poor. A pun on 
the word "dicky," as bolt-in- 
tuu is on " to bolt." 

Dicky, or Dick in the green, 
very bad or paltry ; anything of 
an inferior quality is said to 
be a " jDicAy concern " (Vaux's 

Dick's hatband, as queer as 

(provincial), anything strange or 
peculiar. This phrase, which 
Bartlett claimed as an Ameri- 
canism, is in reality an English 
provincial simile, and correctly 
given is, "^s queer as Dick's 
hatband made of pea straw that 
went nine times round, and 
would not meet at last." The 
origin of the phrase may be due 
to the oddness of using such a 
material for the purpose. 

Dick, up to (popular), all right, 
up to the mark, good and satis- 

Dicky (common), middling, in- 

And how's the fielding ? 

"lis there you'll have the pull that 

wickets sticky 
Or cut up, through the influence of 

Can't neutralise. 

— J'uncA. 

It's all di^iky or dickey with 
him, it's all over with him. 

"I'is all dickey with poor Father Dick ; 
he's no more. 

— Ingoldiby Legends. 

(London slang), smart, a swell. 
(Popular), explained by quo- 

" I saw a laden waggon bearing the 
name of one of the cheap advertising firms 
you speak of." . . . "Ah, bearing the 
name . . . you saw a waggon wearing a 
dicky, you mean — a false front plate with 
a name on it which slips on and oflf like 
them on the wans that the pianoforte- 
makers borrow."—/. Greenwood: Low- 
Life Deeps. 

(Theatrical), " dicky domus," 
literally a bad, poor house, one 
with a small audience. 

Dicky birds (theatrical), a generic 
term which includes vocalists of 
every description, from Madame 
Patti down to a singer in the 

Diddeys (common), a woman's 
breasts. The word is really a 
provincial term for a cow's 

Diddle, to (vulgar), to have sexual 
commerce. It signifies properly 
to " dredge ; " also to cheat in 
an artful way. 

O that Tommy Riddle, 
What played upon the fiddle, 
Has managed for to diddle me 
Of my true love. 

— Pofiular Song. 

Diddler(common),an impecunious 
scamp, a swindler. See Jeremy 
Diddler (Kenny's farce of " Itais- 

Didoes — Diklo. 


iog the Wind"), or his more 
modem prototype, Jingle, in 

Didoes. Vide To Cut Didoes, 

Die-by-the-hedge (provincial), in- 
ferior meat of cattle which have 
died and not been slaughtered. 

Die in one's shoes, to (common), 
to be hanged. The metaphor is 
not happy, as men may die else- 
where than on the gallows with 
their boots on. 

And there is M'Fuze, and Lieutenant 

Tregooze ; 
And there is Sir Carnahy Jenks, of the 

All come to see a man die in his shoes ! 
— Ingoldsby Legends. 

Dientical (American), a frivolous 
anagram for " identical," but 
often heard. 

Die, or dee (thieves), a pocket- 
book, but specially the dummy 
or pocket-book stuff ed with flash 
bank bills used by a " dropper." 

Dig (common), a blow with the 
fist, or tips of fingers, as " a dig 
in the eye," "a dig in the ribs." 

Dig a day under the skin, to 

(popular), to shave at such a 
time as to make it serve for two 

Dig, full (popular), the full allow- 
ance of pay. 

Diggers (popular), the fingor- 

" If you do," returned Bill, " I will fix 
my diggers in your diai-plate and turn it 
up with red." — On the Trail. 

Also spurs, or the spades on 

Diggers' delight (New Zealand), 
large brown felt hat worn by 
diggers in New Zealand. 

Diggings (common), place or 
habitation. Of American origin. 

I'ma daisy, dear boy, and no 'eeltaps ! I 

wish the St. James's young man 
Could drop into my diggings permiskus; 

he's welcome whenever he can ; 
For he isn"t no J., that's a moral; I 

don't bear no malice ; no fear ! 
But I'd open 'is hoptics a mossel con- 

cernin' my style and my spere. 

— Punch. 

Dignity, a (West Indian), the 
name given by Europeans to a 
negro ball, the designation being 
probably derived from the ludi- 
crous pomposity of the negro 
character. The blacks are very 
chary of admitting strangers, 
and especially white people, as 
eye-witnesses. Oftentimes they 
degenerate into a scene of the 
wildest debauchery. 

Dikk (Anglo - Indian), worry, 

And Beaufort learned in the law, 

And Anderson the sage, 
And if his locks are white as snow, 

'Tis more from dikk than age. 

— Wilfred Heeley. 

In English gypsy the word is 
duhk, more frequently dush. 

Diklo, diclo (gypsy), a handker- 
chief, cravat. Men-dido, a neck- 


Dildoes — Ding- hat. 

Dildoes, more commonly known 
now as " the broom handle." 
An instrument made of various 
soft pliable substances, and re- 
sembling the male pudendum, 
used by women who, possessing 
strong amatory passions, and 
forced to celibate lives, are 
afraid of pregnancy following 
natural copulation. In this conr 
nection the female pudenda is 
called "a broom." 

Such a sad tale prepare to hear, 
As claims from either sex a tear, 
Twelve dildoes meant for the support 
Of aged lechers of the court 
Were lately burnt by impious hand, 
Of trading rascals of the land. 
Who, envying their curious frame, 
Exposed these Priaps to the flame. 
— Butler : Dildoides {occasioned by 
burning a hothead of dildoes 
at Stocks Market, i6y2). 

(Old slang), to dildo, to play 
wantonly with a woman. 

Dilly (popular), a night-cart. 

Dilly-bag (Australian up-countrj'), 
a blackfellow's wallet. 

Their own dilly-hags have nothing of 
value or interest in them. Some locks of 
hair rolled up in thin slips of bark, pro- 
li.-ibly belonging to a deceased friend ; a 
|iiece or two of crystal for magic purposes; 
two or three bones, and some fat which the 
troopers who, from tlieir own upbringing, 
are authorities on such things, pronounce 
human ; a primitive-looking Ixjne fish hook 
or two, and some siring m.ide of opossum 
hair— that is all.— /I. C. Grant. 

Dimber (old cant), pretty, neat. 

Dimber cove (thievesand gypsies), 
:i trontleman. 

'Tis a dimber cm>e. Come, old mort, 
tout the cobble-colter ; are we to have 
darkmans upon us ? — Disraeli : Venetia. 

Dimber-damber (old cant), very 
pretty ; a very clever rogue ; 
head of a gang. (Dekker gives 
damhet, a rascal, rogue.) 

No dimber-damber, angler, dancer. 
Prig of cackler, prig of prancer. 

— Life of Bamp/ylde Moore CareTv. 

Dimmock (popular), money. The 
derivation is evidently from the 
small coin " dime," worth ten 
cents in United States coinage. 

Dimmocking-bag, a bag used for 
collecting subscriptions in small 
sums for any special object ; 
also the special savings bank 
of the individual who usually 
hoards his sixpence for a parti- 
cular object, as at Christmas 
time for the Christmas feed. 

Dinahs (Stock Exchange), Edin- 
burgh and Glasgow Railway 
Ordinary Stock. 

Dinarly (theatrical), coin, money, 
borrowed from the Spanish 
dinero ; " nantie dinarly " signi- 
fies " no treasury to-day." 

Dine out, to (popular), to go 
without dinner. 

Ding-bat (American), money. 
The word din or ding seems to 
indicate value in several lan- 
guages. £.(/. , in Yiddish, dinoh 
mimaunaus, money questions. 
Din, judgment. (Yiddish), din 

Ding — Dirt-scrapcrs. 


toe cheschbaum geben, to settle 
accounts. In Dutch, dingen, to 
plead, to cheapen ; dinghank, a 
judge's bench ; dinger, one who 
pleads or cheapens. 

Ding boy (old cant), a rogue or 

Ding-dongf (popular), in good ear- 
nest. To " set about a thing 
ding-dong " is to tackle it with 
vigour. An alliterative redupli- 
cation of ding, to beat, to strike, 
and also perhaps in allusion to 
the quick succession of strokes 
in ringing of bells. 

Dinged (American), exceedingly. 
In the Southern States a man 
will say that he worked dinged 
hard. Vide DiNGGONED. 

Dingers, the cups and balls ; or, 
in the French phrase, " gobelets 
et muscades," used by con- 

Ding-fury (provincial), huff or 
anger. A slang word very com- 
mon in the provinces. " She 
flounced away in a ding-fury." 

Dinggoned (American), a Western 
equivalent for " darned." In 
the South it takes the form of 
"dinged." They are all euphe- 
misms for "damned." 

Well, sir, that dinggoned show was more 
of a mystery to me the more I examined 
it, so I took Stack and Wirth out into 
the hall and explained my impressions. — 
Superior Inter Ocean. 

Dip (popular), a pickpocket ; to 
dip, to arrest, convict, be put in 
any way into trouble. 

(Thieves), to dip, to pick a 
pocket, from the ordinary sense 
of the word. To dip a lob, to 
steal the contents of a till. Also 
to pawn. 

Dipped in the wing (popular), 
winged, worsted. 

I'm nipped in the bud, I'm dipped in the 

I'm weeded, I'm sold, I am every- 

ITiat is wretched, forlorn, and mad with 

Look at my head — only gaze at my 

— Cecil Merrie : Only wait till 
you^re Married. 

Dipper, dipping bloke (thieves), 
a pickpocket. 

Off to Paris I shall go to show a thing or 

To the dipping blokes wot hangs about 

the caKs ; 
How to do a cross-fan for a super or a 

And to bustle them gendarmes I'd give 

the office. 
— Vance : The Chichaleary Co7'c. 

Dips (nautical), the purser's boy. 

Dirt-scrapers (American), lawyers 
who in examining witnesses ask 
them all manner of needless 
questions relative to their past 
lives and inquire closely as to all 
their relations with women, &c., 
cither with a view to m.aking 
them appear inmioral and dis- 
creditable, or, as is often really 
the case, to afford to the court 
and spectators the exquisite 


Dirty — Dtspar. 

pleasure of seeing a man or 
woman tortured and put to 
sliame. A criminal case without 
any dirt- scraping has become of 
late very exceptional, both in 
England and in America. 

Dirty half hundred (military). 
The 50th Regiment was called 
so, partly from having black 
facings which gave a sombre 
look to the uniform. After the 
battle of Badajos it was changed 
to the "gallant half hundred." 

Dirty puzzle (common), a slut. 

Discombobberated (American), 
discomposed, upset, "Hum- 

An' when he seen I'd killed a deer as 
slick as grease he was so discombobberated 
he couldn't speak. — Ne-w York Sun. 

Discommon; or discommune( uni- 
versity), not to communicate ; 
that is, to prohibit students 
dc aling with certain tradesmen 
who have transgressed the rules 
of the University, a species 
of excommunication or " boy- 

Disguised in liquor (common), a 
common phrase in the vernacular 
for one who is slightly intoxi- 
cated. The expression, though 
vulgar, is not without merit, as 
conveying the truth that a 
drunken man is not playing a 
real part, but has assumed a 
guise that is false and unnatural. 

Dish, to, to circumvent, to ruin, to 
frustrate an enemy's or an op- 

ponent's plans. The word was 
used by the late Earl of Derby 
on a memorable occasion, when 
he affirmed that such and such 
a measure would "dish the 
Whigs." It has been supposed 
that the word was used in the 
first instance as a corruption of 
"dash," "dash" itself being an 
euphemism for " damn," as in 
the vulgar oath, "dash my 
wig," for " damn my wig," but 
to dish most probably is only 
one of the many expressions 
connected with the kitchen, as 
"to cook his goose," to "give 
one a roasting," to " do brown," 

Dishclout (common), a dirty, un- 
savoury woman. When, how- 
ever, a man marries his cook, 
and it is said that he has made 
a napkin of a dishclout, no other 
meaning is attributable except 
that a "mesalliance" has been 

Dispar. The following explana- 
tion of this term is given by 
W. H. David. "The word 
' sines,' the scholars* allowance 
of bread for breakfast or supper, 
and dispar, his portion of meat, 
have their origin in a Winches- 
ter College custom which pre- 
vailed in the last century. There 
being neither ' hatch ' nor roll- 
call at the College Hall in these 
days, the provision for breakfast 
was laid out on a table, and the 
stronger took the lion's share, 
and left the weaker ' sines.' So 
again at dinner the double plate 

Diss — Diving-bell. 


of pieat fell to the former as a 
matter of might, and the un- 
equal moiety, the dispar, be- 
came the portion of the weaker 

Diss (printers), abbreviation for 
distribution, i.e., printed off 
type — to be returned to its re- 
spective cases, and re-composed. 

Dissecting job (tailors), a heavy 

Distiller (Australian convicts' 
slang), one who is easily vexed 
and betrays his chagrin. Vide 
Carey the Keg. Probably not 
of colonial origin but introduced 
by transportees. 

Ditch and ditcher (Anglo- Indian), 
slang terms applied in a dis- 
paraging manner to Calcutta 
and the " Calcuttians." 

Dite (American), " I don't care 
a dite." Dutch, duyt, a doit, 
half a farthing. " Hy gelykt 
hem oop en duyt," there is not 
half a farthing difference be- 
tween them. 

Dittoes, a suit of clothes made 
all of the same cloth, in French 
" un complet." The term is 
pretty general. 

Ditty (popular), bag ; a corrup- 
tion of the tailors' phrase, "a 
dittobag," from thebag in which 
they keep miscellaneous articles 
for the repair of their clothes or 
shoes — for thread, tapes, but- 
tons, needles, pins, nails, &c. 

Dive (American), a drinking- 
saloon ; a cellar -saloon. 

An Ourayite recently passing through 
Canon City on Sunday was invited to go 
to the penitentiary to church services, and, 
accepting the invitation, found 385 con- 
victs assembled, and among them, playing 
the violin in the choir, the young Italian 
who shot his mistress through the window 
of her house just back of the dive known 
as " 220 " here in Ouray about a year 
ago. — The Solid Muldoon, Ouray, Colo- 

Dive into one's sky, to (popular), 
to thrust one's hand in one's 

" Yes, I know, Uncle, it's Mary Ann. 
I see you through the keyhole this morn- 
ing when she brought up your shaving 

Then Uncle Ben dived into his sky 
and brought up a nice bright Jubilee half- 
dollar, and little Willie went off to the 
confectioner's singing. — Sporting Times. 

Dive into the woods, to (Ameri- 
can), a common figure of speech 
for hiding one's self. 

A female of the Salvation Army has 
invented what is called the "salvation 
kiss." Young men who have seen the 
female portion of the army will not seek 
salvation in this new form. They will dive 
still deeper into the ivoods when the army 
comes around. — S orristovim Herald. 

Diver (thieves), a pickpocket ; 
he "dives into the skies" of 
other people. 

Divide the house with one's wife, 

to, a quaint saying which sig- 
nifies to turn her out into the 

Diving-bell, a cellar tavern. 


Divous — Dock. 

Divous (gypsy), a day. boro 
divoHsko divous, the great day 
of judgment. Probably a con- 
traction of diivelesh-o, divine. 

Divvy( American), to divide, share, 
or partake. 

If Mexican robbers make a rush on an 
American ranch in Zapata, Frio, Cameron, 
Hidalgo, or Starr Counties, they are ex- 
pected to difvy with the American gentle- 
men engaged in the same line of business 
before being permitted to cross the river 
peacefully. — Chicago Tribune. 

Do (popular), a do is a fraud, an 

I thought it was a do to get me out of the 
house. — Sketches by Boz. 

Do, to (common), to outwit, to pay 
out, to cheat. (Thieves), to do a 
place or crib, is to break into a 
house for the purpose of steal- 

I went in a place and touched for some 
wedge, which we done for three pounds 
ten. — Horsley : Jottings from Jail. 

(Popular and thieves), " to do 
for," to kill. 

The prisoners had since stated that the 
stranger had bidden them to do for M. 
— — — , and then to take away everything 
which he might have about him. — Daily 

Do a bit, to (popular), to eat some- 

When I asked her what she'd t.ike, 
Her answer made me queer ; 
She said, " I admit 
1 can do a hit 
Of everything that's here. 
Some mulligatawny soup, a mackerel, and 

A hanbury, a bath-bun, and a tuppenny 
sausage roll, 

A little drop of sherry, a little pint of 

A roley-poley pudding, with a pile of cakes 
and jam." 

— Matilda Gorger: Francis 
and Day. 

Do a gfuy, to (thieves), to run 
away, to get out of the way. 

It's a fact to be deplored, though it cannot 
be ignored. 
That all of us are not well off for oof ; 
Andoccasionally a Johnny, who is "gone" 
on some fair " honey," 
Hasn't cash enough to treat her like a 
When he tries to raise the wind, it's just 
possible he'll find 
It difficult to keep within the law, 
.\!as ! he may be " fly," but when it's time 
to do a gtjy, 
He's sure to meet the bobby at the door. 
—Sporting Titnes. 

(Workmen), to be away whilst 
supposed to be at work. 

Dobie (Anglo-Indian), a man who 
performs the functions of a 
washerwoman ; also a wa.sher- 

Dock (old cant), to deflower (Har- 
man); gypsy, diikker, to wrong, 
ravish, injure. JJukker or docker 
is often used without the ter- 
minal " er." Turner derives it 
from the Gaelic terraich. 

(Printers). This is colloquial 
for a man's weekly bill or 
"pole," probably from the fact 
of its being subject or liable to 
be "docked" or curtailed by 
the person appointed to check 
the bills. (Winchester), to dock, 
1o scratch out ; to dock a book, 
to fear out pages from a book. 
(Popular), hospital. 



Docker (law), a brief for defence 
handed by a prisoner in the dock 
to any barrister who by the 
etiquette of the profession is 
bound to take it, at the mmi- 
mum fee of 23s. 6d. 

Doctor, the (up-country Aus- 
tralian), the men's cook on a 
station. The title of the man 
who concocts one kind of mix- 
tures and prescriptions is trans- 
ferred to one who practises in 
another branch of the profes- 
sion, which is thoroughly char- 
acteristic of Australian slang. 

(Old), a decoction of milk and 
water, rum, and a spicing of 

(Gamblers), doctors, false cards 
or dice. 

" Here," said he, taking some dice out 
of his pockets, " here are the little doctors 
which cure the distempers of the purse." — 
Fielding : Tom Jones. 

From to doctor, to poison, to 
falsify, to adulterate. 

She doctor d the punch, and she doctor d 

the negus, 
Taking care not to put in sufficient to 

flavour it. 

— Ingoldsby Legends. 

To "put the doctor'' on one, 
to cheat him. 

Perhaps ways and means may be found 
to put the doctor on the old prig. — T. 
Broivn : IVorks. 

(Popular), to "keep the doc- 
tor " is said of a publican who 
retails adulterated drinks. 

Dodderer (provincial), a shaky, 
mumbling old man. The old 
English had to " doddle," signi- 

fying to tremble, to shake, still 
used in the North of England. 

He got up on an old mule which had 
served nine kings, and so mumbling with 
his mouth, nodding and doddling with his 
head, would go see a coney ferreted. — 
Urquhart : Rabelais. 

French dodeliv^r, which has 
the root dod, oscillation, in com- 
mon with the English equiva- 
lent ; Italian, dandolare, to rock, 
to shake gently. 

Doddy (provincial). This is ap- 
plied in Norfolk to any person 
of low stature. Sometimes 
"Hodman dod," and " hoddy 
doddy, all head and no body." 
A " dod " is provincial for a rag 
of cloth, and to "dod " is to cut 
off, to lop. 

Dodgasted (common), a milder 
form of damned. 

" Well, what was it, anyhow?" 
" It was one of those dodgasted elec- 
trical machines ! Trying my nerves, you 
know ! " 

And when the boys had recovered, the 
funeral -monger had gone, and so had all 
the available drinks on the counter. — 
Sporting Times. 

Dodge (common), a clever contri- 
vance ; a cunning, underhanded 
trick. A recognised term, but 
used in many slangy senses. 
Among the numerous dodges re- 
sorted to by tricky or dishonest 
persons are the "pamphlet 

The "pamphlet dodge" is an established 
variety of the begging-letter man of trade. 
Two or three experts will club together 
to take advantage of a striking event or 
momentous political crisis, find out some 


Dodge — Dog. 

poor penny-a-liner in one of the haunts of 
such people, and get him to throw to- 
gether forty or fifty pages on the parti- 
cular subject, paying him miserable wages 
for the work. — Tit-Bits. 

(Thieves), " delivered dorfjre." 

Alfred sends his servant with goods to 
a customer, with orders to bring back the 
goods or the money. The servant takes 
the goods and hands in the bill, and the 
customer says, on reading the bill, "All 
right, put the goods down there," which 
the man does, expecting that the customer 
is about to pay the bill. When he has 
done so, the customer says he will call 
and pay his master ; but on the man tell- 
ing him he must take the goods back if 
the bill is not paid, the customer replies 
that he has delivered the goods, that they 
are now in the possession of the purchaser, 
and that if he touches them he will give 
him in charge of the police. — Tit- Bits. 

The " tidy dodge," dressing 
up children so that they look 
tidy, and slowly walking about 
the streets with this genuine 
or borrowed family for begging 

To dodf/e, to track one in a 
stealthy manner. 

There's not the smallest danger in it 
. . . it's only to dodge a woman. ... I 
can do that pretty well, I know. ... I 
was a regular cutting sneak when I was at 
•>c\\oq\.-— Dickens : Oliver Twist. 

Dodger (common), a tricky per- 
son, a swindler. Dickens has 
immortali.sed the word by his 
character of the Artful Dodger 
in Oliver Twist. (Popular), a 
dram. (Provincial), a night- 
cap, hence the latter meaning. 
(American), tliis terra, meaning 
a round roll or pat of maize- 
bread, is apparently derived 
from the same word as applied 

to any object of a similar shape 
(e.g., in vulgar slang, the penis). 
In Dutch, dag or dagje {en end- 
tje dagg) means a short bit of 
rope. Dot or dotje is also a ball 
of wool, cotton, &c., generally 
spoiled, decaying, or in a mass. 

Dodo (old), a common expression 
for a fussy old man, or de- 
crepit man. 

Dod-rottedest (American), a eu- 
phemistic form of swearing ; 
sometimes "dod-fetched,""dod- 

Well, sir, there was the dod-rottedest 
machine you ever saw. A nice-looking 
man with black whiskers was turning 
away at a big 'balance - wheel made of 
champagne bottles. — Superior Inter 

Dog (society), a man ; a gay dog, 
a jolly dog, a careless dog, &c. 
The word dog now has come to 
mean in .society a gentleman of 
an amorous turn of mind, who 
ha,s great success among the 

(American), dog, dog-goned, 
God and God damned, as 
it is popularly explained ; it 
being believed that dog is the 
word God reversed. " I'll be 
dogged" is the common form, 
and it is really never used 
to seriously signify anything so 
extreme as eternal condemna- 
tion. It is possibly a New York 
word, and may therefore be de- 
rived from the Dutch daugen, 
to summon to judgment, to 
arraign. If this be so, there 

Dog — Doing. 


would be a very apparent con- 
nection with condemned. 

Dog biting dog (theatrical), one 
actor ungenerously criticising 
another's performance. 

Dog-collar (common), a stiff, 
stand-up collar, one of the kind 
much in favour among dandies. 

Dog - dumed (West American), 
a mild form of swearing. Pro- 
bably an euphemism for God 

Bird declared that he would be dog- 
dumed if he was going to run his interior 
(he called it by some other name) out a-driv- 
ing the stock any further ahead— rf«r»^^ 
if he would. — F. Francis : Saddle and 

Doggery (American), a partial 
anagram of groggery. A low 
drinking place, a " rum-bucket- 
shop," a "dive," a "gin-mill," 
a " boozing-ken," a " rum-icile," 
a "drunkery." 

Not one word can be justly said against 
the character or ability of any of the nomi- 
nees. They "are in every way immensely 
superior to their Democratic opponents, 
who number among them as far as the 
nominations have gone half-a-dozen dog- 
^ery- keepers, a crooked ex-gager, a police- 
court shyster, and a railroad lobbyist. 
Two or three other doggery ■Ve.e\>^r% and a 
lobbyist or two and Van Pelt will be added 
before the Democratic nominations close. 
The " Reds " and the "side-show " people 
will hardly elect any of their men unless 
they are indorsed by the Democrats. — 
Chicago Tribune. 

(Popular), nonsense. 

Dogs (Stock Exchange), New- 
foundland Land Co. Shares. 

Dog's body (nautical), a kind of 
pease- pudding. 

Dog-shooter (Royal Military Aca- 
demy). Cadets thus term a 
student who accelerates, that 
is, who, being pretty certain of 
not being able to obtain a com- 
mission in the engineers, or not 
caring for it, elects to join a 
superior class before the end of 
the term. An allusion to a 
volunteer, called a dog-shooter. 

Dog's nose (common), gin and 
beer ; "so called from the mix- 
ture being as cold as a dog's 
nose," say several etymologists. 
It also applied to a man given 
to whisky. 

Dog's paste, (popular), .sausage, 

Dog's soup (common), rain water. 

Dog stealer (common), a faceti- 
ous appellation for a dog-dealer, 
who is generally considered as 
deserving it. 

Dog's tail (nautical), a name for 
the constellation Ursa Minor, 
or Little Bear. 

Dog-town (American), a colony 
of prairie dogs. 

The prairie dogs had colonised in a part 
of this, the upper end of the valley, and we 
traversed a dog-tcnun some acres in extent, 
each underground habitation of which was 
marked by a little heap of excavated earth. 
F. Francis : Saddle and Moccasin. 

Doing a bishop (army), turning 
out for parade at short notice. 


Doing — Doll. 

and with small preparation for 
cleaning up, &c. 

Doing a bunk or doing a shift 

(common), attending to nature's 

Doing a nob (circus and show- 
men), making a collection of 
money from spectators (Frost's 
" Circus Life "). 

Possibly from the gypsy noh- 

Doing a star pitch (theatrical), 
sleeping in the open. French, 
" coucher k 1' hotel de la Belle 

Doing it on the d. h. (common). 
I could do it on my d. h., i.e., on 
my head, is a vulgar assurance 
of being able to do a thing with 
the greatest ease. 

Doing out (American thieves), 
a device by which a thief, if 
arrested with a confederate, 
pleads guilty but acquits the 

Doing poUy (prison), picking 
oakum in jail. 

Doings (American), any kind of 
food, but in most instances 
applied to that of an ordinary 

Suppose you drop roun' ter-morrer an' 
take dinner wid me. We ain't got no great 
doins at our house, but I speak de old 
onian . . . kin sorter scramlile roun' 'cm 
git uj) sunip'n. — Uncle Kcmus. 

Doing time (tliicves) refers to a 
term of imprisonment. 

Doldrums (nautical and provin- 
cial), trouble, low spirits, worri- 
ment. " Jack in the Doldrums " 
was the title of a tale or novel. 
Applied sometimes to a stormy 
place, or where the weather or 
navigation is bad. 

For then I must surely die, 

And my soul sail off to Doldrums isle. 

Unless some one pities my pain 

And carries me down where the waters 

And pitches me in again. 

— The Song of the Merman. 

The term seems to have be- 
come general. Probably from 
dull (with the sense of doleful), 
and a facetious suffix, as in tan- 
trums. For other derivations 
vide Dr. Charles Mackay's 
"Gaelic Etymology of the 
English Language." 

Dole (Winchester College), a trick, 
stratagem ; from the Latin dolus. 

Dollar (city), a five-shilling piece. 

Dollop (old slang), a lump, a 
share. To share, according to 
Hotten, derived from " dole 
up," to deal out in small por- 
tions. Dutch, deal, a share. 

The old gal used to stow a whacking lot 
in a big pocket she had in herpetticut, and 
I used to put away a dollop in the busum 
of my shirt, which it was tied round the 
waist-bag hid underneath my trousers for 
the purpose, liut, Lor' bless yer, some- 
times the blessed trade would go that 
aggravatin' that we would both find our- 
selves loaded up in no time. — Seven Curses 
of London. 

Doll's christening (provincial), a 
party consisting entirely of 

Dolly — Domnterar. 


Dolly (popular), silly, foolish. 

" You are a chit and a little idiot," re- 
turned Bella, " or you wouldn't make such 
a dolly speech." — Dickens: Our Mutual 

(Society), a dolly, a prostitute, 
a street walker, short for dMy- 
mop ; also a mistress. 

Drink, and dance, and pipe, and play, 
Kisse our dollies night and day. 

— Herrick: Hesjierides. 

More modern is " my tart " 
for "my mistress." 

(Anglo-Indian), Hindu, dCdi, 
a present of fruit, flowers, and 
sweetmeats ; also the daily offer- 
ing of flowers usually made by 
the molly {mall) called "the 
molly with his dolly." In some 
parts of India the doUy has 
grown into an extravagance con- 
sisting sometimes of bushels of 
fruit, nuts, and confectionery, 
with bottles of champagne and 

(Tailors), a bit of cloth used 
as a sponge. 

Dolly-mop (common), a tawdrily 
dressed servant girl, a semi- 

Dolly-shop (common), a pawn- 
broker's shop of the poorest and 
lowest description. From the 
Yiddish dcd or dol, poor, which 
suggested the hanging up a doll 
as a sign for such places. 

" That's a dolly-shop," said the green- 
grocer; "sort of pawnbroker's without a 
license, where they charge threepence in 
the shilling per week on what they lend 
you. The young 'un went there to raise 
a sixpence, I'll be bound." — James Green- 
wood : Three Half-Crowns. 

Dom (Anglo-Indian), a very low 
caste, representing some very 
old aboriginal race. It was fir**^ 
suggested by Charles G. Leland 
that the origin of the Rom or 
gypsies should be sought in this 
caste, and recent researches by 
Grierson have gone far to con- 
firm the conjecture. Thus D 
and R are convertible in the 
Hindu-gypsy dialects, e.g., doi, 
a spoon, and roi. And while 
dom, domni, and domnipana, 
mean in India a d(ym, a female, 
dom, romni, romnipana, or rornni- 
pen have exactly the same 
meaning in gypsy as applied to 
gypsies and gypsydom. 

Do me proud (American), equi- 
valent to saying that one is 
complimented or made to feel 

" Sez he, 'You're an honour to your 
section.' Sir," I answered, "you do »ie 
proud. " 

Domine Do-little (old slang), the 
name of an impotent old man. 

Domino (nautical), "a common 
ejaculation," says Hotteu, "of 
sailors when they receive the 
last lash of a flogging." The 
allusion may be understood from 
the game of dominoes. 

Domino thumper (theatrical), a 

Dominoes (popular), the teeth. 
French slang, jie it de dominos. 

Dommerar (old cant), a variety of 
the mendicant tribe who pre- 
tend to be deaf and dumb. 


Domum — Donkey. 

These dommerars are leud and most 
subtyll people : the most part of these are 
watch men, and wyll neuer speake, vnlesse 
they haue extreame punishment. — Har- 
man: Caveat. 

Domum ball (Winchester College), 
a ball given by the superan- 
nuated college prefects on the 
evening after the "men" go 
home for the Midsummer holi- 

Don, a contraction of the Latin 
dominus. It is a university term 
for a man who has taken his 
master's degree. It is, how- 
ever, generally confined to resi- 
dent M.A.'s. 

An " Oxford M. A. " writes : — " This 
University has, I suppose, been always 
notorious for narrow-minded bigotry ; but 
ought the general public to be allowed 

to suffer because Mr. , as a robust 

Radical, is not easily stomached of the 
Tory don ? "—Pali Mall Gazette. 

(Winchester), a master. 

Dona, donah (theatrical), a girl, a 
woman ; from the Italian. The 
term is also used by tramps, 
London roughs, &c. 

Of course you've been to to see 

the pantomime, 
Where fairies sport in clothes so smart, 

in manner quite divine. 
Of course you've seen the Fairy Queen, 

they call her Mademoiselle, 
Well, perhaps you won't believe it, but 

that donah is my gal. 

— Ceo. Anthony : Mary turns 
the Mangle. 

Denaker (old), a cattle stealer. 

Done (common), outwitted, 

And immediately afterwards follows a 
well-known theatrical costumier, who has 
been done in the matter of fancy dresses 
by a gentleman connected with an amateur 
dramatic performance. — The Graphic. 

Done also means exhausted, 
varied to " done up;" done for 
himself, injured or ruined him- 

Lord Randolph is much mistaken if he 
supposes that it is only an aristocratic 
friend here and there who believes that he 
has done for h\iase.\i.^Pall Atall Gazette. 

Done brOTWH (common), befooled, 
that is, completely done. 

And they stared at each other, as much as 
to say, 
" Hollo ! Hollo ! here's a rum go ! 
Why, captain! — my lord!— here's the 

devil to pay ! 
The fellow's been cut down and taken 
away ! 
What's to be done? We've missed all 
the fun ! 
Why, they'll laugh at and quiz us all over 

the town. 
We are all of us done so uncommonly 

— Ingoldsby Legends. 

Done-over (popular), intoxicated. 

Done to death (society), rejieated 
ad nauseam. 

Wasted a shilling in Bond Street by 
going to Harry Furniss' "Artistic Joke." 
Why Artistic':' And, emphatically, why 
Joke? Caricature of Academy pictures 
done to death in comic journals with 
utmost regularity or many past years.— 
Sporting Times. 

Donkey (nautical,) a seaman's box 
in which he keeps his clothes. 

(Printers.) Compositors are 
sometimes called donkrys by 
pressmen by way of retaliation 
for calling them "pigs." 

Donkey — Door. 


(Streets), " Who stole the 
donkey ? " This was and still is 
a common street cry in Hounds- 
ditch and the other Hebrew 
quarters of London when a man 
wearing a white hat makes his 
appearance. The low Jews had 
or have a notion that no one but 
a Christian — and certainly no 
Jew — ever wears a white hat. 
They also have a saying that the 
Founder of Christianity stole the 
donkey on the back of which He 
rode into Jerusalem. Hence the 

(Common), "Three more and 
up goes the donkey,^' that is, 
three pennies more and the do7i- 
key will go up the ladder. This 
phrase, used by mountebanks to 
denote that the performance 
will begin when the sum re- 
quired is complete, is often said 
mockingly to a braggart lo im- 
ply disbelief in accounts of his 
own wonderful performances. 

Donkey-riding (popular), cheat- 
ing in weight and measure. 

Donny (prison), a woman. From 
the Italian dona. 

Don's week (tailors), the week 
before a general holiday. 

Don't go off before you 'start 

(American), a common exhorta- 
tion to any one not to be in 
"too precious" or too great a 

Well, hold on noM',' I'm. goin' to tell 
you. Don't go off before you start', as , 
de darkey said to de baulky mule.-^ 
Brudder Bones. 

Doodle-dasher (low), one who 
practises onanism ; doodle is the 

Dookering (gypsies), fortune- 
telling ; from dooriJc, to pro- 

Dookie (theatrical), a penny show 
or unlicensed theatre, usually 
fitted up in a large room or a 
cellar in a populous neighbour- 
hood. The eminent tragedian, 
Charles Dillon, emerged from 
one of these in his youth, and. 
handsome Conway, once the 
spoiled child of fashion, ad- 
mired and idolised by the belles 
of Bath — notably by Madame 
Piozzi (Johnson's Mrs. Thrale) 
— found a temporary refuge at 
one of them when driven from 
the patent theatres by the brutal 
persecution of "that ferocious 
literary ruffian, Theodore Hook " 
(Byron). There are three or 
four performances a night at 
a dookie, and the audience is 
usually composed of juvenile 
harlots and thieves. Many of 
these places of resort , still 
flourish at the East End. , 

Dookin-cove, a fortune-teller; 
from the gypsy dookering or 
dukkcrin, telling fortunes. 

Door nail, dead as a. Vide Dead 
AS A Tknt Peg. 

Door steps (Whitechapel slang), 
slices of bread and butter. " I 
' say, guvnor, give us a pennorth 
of weak and two' c/ot»r dcps." 


Do over — Dossers. 

Do over (popular), said of any 
one who is intimate (carnallv) 
with a woman. . 

Dope, to (American). Doping is 
the stupifying men with tobacco 
prepared in a peculiar way, as 
the gypsies of old were wont to 
use Datura stramonium. From 
old cant dope, a simpleton, dupe. 

Nine out of ten saloons in the slums 
employ doping as a mea^iS to increase their 
illicit \^MGx\\x^.--— American Newspaper. 

Dopey (old cant), a beggar's trull ; 
■ the podex ; the buttocks ; Scot- 
tied, a doup. 

Doras (Stock Exchange), South- 
Eastern Railway Deferred Or- 
dinary Stock. 

Dose (thieves), a sentence to im- 
grisonment. To give a man his 
done, or punish him, doubtless 
Gomes_ from a dose of medicine, 
but it is not impossible the Yid- 
dish doic, don or dasz (Chaldaic), 
m,eaning the law; has influenced 
the word in this peculiar ca^e. 
(Old cartt), a' burglary. 

Doshed, I'm, an exclamation of 
surprise, akin to " dashed." 

Doss (tramps and popular), a 
bed. ■ ' ■ 

As the sombre shades of evening begin 
lo cast their darkening shadows over the 
earth, the m.njority of the troops will return 
to their respective quarter?, and soon after 
nine o'clock the greater number will be 
comfortably tUck^d in doss (bed) for the 
ni^t. ^^Patterson : Life in the Ranks. 

Dr. CJharles Mackay says :-;- 

from ' doze,' as a place to sleep 
in ; or quite as likely," he adds, 
" from dor«e, the back. It is, how- 
ever, most likely from neither 
of these, but from the Gaelic 
dos, a hedge or bush under which 
tramps very often find their only 
available resting-place for the 
night — the money failing them 
to secure a shelter in a low 
lodging-house." According to 
Dr. Brewer, " Do»s is a hassock 
full of straw, a bed — properly a 
straw bed. Dossel is an old word 
for a bundle of hay or straw. " 
This derivation is the more pro- 
bable, and is borne out by the 
French slang word picu, bed, 
from piau, straw, straw bed, 
which has given piausser to 
sleep, modernised into pioneer. 
It also means sleep. 

There is only about one of them in 
l/5ndon where a fellow can do a comfort- 
able doss, and that is St. Pancras's. — 'J'/ior 
Fredur: Sketches in Shady Places. 

The author of "Sketches in 
Shady Places "remarks: — "Doss, 
slang term for .sleep — meaning 
to ' lie on the back.' On exa- 
mination it will startle one to 
find how many of these vulgar- 
isms are derived directly from 
the learned languages." 

Dosser, the, the father of a 
family. From provincialism dos, 
a " masher." 

Dossers (common), explained by 

The " 'appy dossers " are the wretched 
.people who roam alxjiit the street house- 
less, and creep in to sleep on the stairs, in 
the pass<iges and untenanted cellars of the 


Doss-house — Dott}\ 


lodging-houses with the doors open night 
and day. — George R. Sims : Htna the Poor 

Doss*'house (tramps and thieves), 
a lodging-house, especiaDy the . 
common lodging-houses where 
beds are fourpence a night. 

Dossingf-crib (costermongerg), a,; 
low lodging-house. 

Doss, to (tramps, populat, &c)) 
to sleep. Vide Do^. " 

A newspaper sheet I. will borrow. 
And make up my face very white, 

There will be a schlemozzle to-morrow, 
I shall doss in the Square to-night". 
— Sporting Times. 

Dossy (popular), elegant ;, very 
dossy, in elegant style. 

Joe Capp made a resolve a little while 
ago when on the eve of a mashing expedi- 
tion to do the whole thing very dossy. 
" Ere dora it," said Joe, " yew la'ads all 
go .about in shiny boots, steerewth an' all, 
and ry have a pair, see if I woant." — 
Sporting Times. 

An extremely elegant cloak 
was formerly ternjed a dossal. 
Hence perhaps the expression. 

Dot (nautical), a ribbon ; a dot • 
drag, a watch ribbon. , ' 

"Do the high, to (Oxford Univer- 
sity), to walk up and down the 
High Street on Sunday even- 

Do time, to (popular), to serVe 
one's time in prison. 

Bums is about fifty-seveii years old, and 
has a national reputation as an expert 
cracksman. He has done time in Joliet, 

Sing Sing, and Nashville, Tenn; ' He was 
pardoned from the latter institution one 
year ago, after serving three-quarters of a 
ten years' sentence. — /nter Ocean. 

»Do to tie to ^American), trust- 
worthy, fit tb asspciat^ with. 

The only' safe ^class of citizens, the class 
that will do to tie to, are those who believe 
in the condign punishinent 6f all crime — 
who believe, that a Government is, great, 
not in proportion as it forgives criminals, 
but in proportion as it punishes them apd 
en'fqBces law and order. It will be a dark 
^ay for the Republic wheij this class Shall 
not outnumber both of the others com- 
bined. — In4ianapotis JoutTtal. 

'Dots (•American), items of infor- 

" Lieutenant Arnold," he continued, 
" retnarked he could give dots on a great 
many of them ; that one — a verj' prominent 
one — naming him, was in the habit of 
visiting a houSb south of the avenue twice 
a week. I said that is none of our Ixisi- 
hess ; though we might know these things 
officially, we do not know them 'in any' 
other capacity." — Chicago Tribune. 

(Populitr), money. 

Dotter (low), a penny-a-liner' a 
. reporter. 

Dottle (popular), a well-coloured 
black stump of a clay pipp. . 

Dotty (popular), cracked," silly. . 

She's .sent away the chairs, and the carpet 
off the stairs, 
I'm getting just as lean as any ghbst ;• 
The becl<itead and the dra\^ers have been 
sacrificed Ijecause 
She went dotty through that dreadful 
Parcels Post. - Soug. 

An appellation used for one's 
man by females of the lower 
classes or prostitutes. 


Dou ble — Dowtu 

Double (thieves), k turning in ^ 

road. '• 

I had not been at SuttOn very long 
before I piped 3 slavey come out of a 
chat (house), so, whep she had got a little 
way up the, double, I pratted (went) into 
the hoMsc.^Horsiey : Jottings frotn Jail. 

Double-breasted feet (tailors), 
club feet. 

Double-double, to put on the, a 
process wherein a thief, having 
arranged with other thieves to 
lose a race, so that they may 
safely "lay" against him, de- 
ceives them and runs to .win. 

Double event (common), properly 
a technical term used on the 
turf when a man bets on both 
sides to meet either contingency 
— used in a slangy Sense. 

Dear Sir— Unqxiestionably there is such 
a thing as luck. The other night I was 
under the impression that I should have 
two stalls for the Haymarket. I promised 
one to an. aged Hebraic tart. As a matter 
of fact, I only got one, which, in the in- 
terests of your paper, I naturally filled. I 
thoroughly disenjoyed my evening, and 
the aged one won't speak to me now. Such 
a double event is only due to luck. — Yours 
sincerely. Sir Walter. 

The Pooferies. — Sporting Ti»ies. 

Double-finn (low), a ten-pound 

Double L'nes (nautical), ships' 
casualties. From the mode of 
entering in books at Lloyds'. 

Doubles (printers). If a composi- 
tor repeats a line or sentence in 
composing, he is said to have 
made a double. 

Doublet (thieves), a spurious dia- 
' mond* 

Dough, pudding at public and 
military schools. 

Dover (hotel), a r^chauff^ ; a cor- 
ruption of "do over," or do 
over again. 

Dovers (Stock Exchange), South- 
Eastern Railway Ordinary Stock. 

DoTwd (popular), for dowdy ; 
showily dressed. 

But a crummy old Liberal doivd. 
With bare shoulders by acres, old boy. 

Dowlas, according to Hotten, a 
linen-draper. Dowlas is a kind 
of towelling. 

Dowlings (Shrewsbury School). 

There are four or five compulsory games 
a week (football) known as dowlings 
(ioOAo«). — Everyday Life in our Public 

DoTvn (thieves), suspicion, alarm, 
or discovery which obliges one 
to desist from the business or 
depredation he was engaged in. 
(Popular), to be "down in," 
to be at a low ebb, lacking in, 
out of. " Dmvn in blunt," lack- 
ing money. " Doivn upon one's 
luck," unfortunate. Perhaps 
originally "doicn in one's luck." 
To be "down in the mouth," 
dejected, disconsolate, crest- 

I!ut what have you got to say for your- 
self, why you should leave me here, dou'U 
in the mouth, health, blunt, and 'everj'- 
thing else? — Charles Dickens: Oliver 

Down — Downy. 


To be "down on one^" to be 
opposed to, to lose no oppor- 
tunity for punishing, to main- 
tain constant enmity or ill-will. 

My pa is a bishop of spotless renown, 
On all that is naughty his reverence is 

But I should delight in the sights of the 

Yet am doomed to the utmost propriety ! 
— George Anthony : T%e Clergy- 
man's Daughter. 

Down a pit (theatrical), despe- 
rately smitten with a part. 

Down-easter (West American), a 
person from the east. 

A " wooden-mugged down-easter" with 
bushy eyebrows, and quick, twinkling 
eyes, who sang over and over again, " Oh, 
my little darling, I love you ! Oh, my little 
darling, yes, I do I " had the second in 
charge. — F. Francis: Saddle and Moc- 

Downed (English and American), 
conquered, tricked, cheated. 
Literally not getting the upper 

" Then this money may ease your dis- 
tress — 
But I hope I'm not sold, 'tis the truth you 
have told ? " 
"The truth, sir!" she murmured. 
" M'yes ! " 
But therein she lied, 'twas a stratagem 
She'd a couple of pals in the " plant ; " 
And the stranger was downed. 

— Sporting Times. 

Downer (popular), a sixpence. 
According to Barrow from the 
gypsy word tawno, or little one. 
The word seems, however, to be a 
variant of " deaner," which see. 

Down on the bed rock (West 
American), penniless, 

I was mighty hard up at the time— right 
down on the bed rock — and it is just pos- 
sible that I may have betfn monkeying with 
the cards a little.— ^^". Francis: Saddle 
and Moccasin. ' 

Downs, the (thieves), Tothill 
Fields' prison. 

Down the road (popular), stylish, 
in fashionable style. 

Down to the ground (English and 
American), thoroughly, com- 
pletely ; ' ' right up to the handle, ' ' 
that doivn to the ground. 
It implies probably from top 
to bottom. 

Downy (common), to do the 
downy, to keep in bed in .the 

This'll never do . . . cutting chapel to 
do the downy. — C. Bede : Verdant Green. 

(Popular and thieves), cun- 
ning, skilful. 

Upper benjamins built cwi a downy 
plan. — Slang Advertisement. 

"I, suppose you don't know what a 
prig is ? " said the Dodger (nournfully. 
" I am, I'd scorn to be anything else 
— so's Charley, so's Fagin, so's Sikes, 
SOS Nancy, so's Bet. So we ail are, down 
to the dog. And he's the do^viiiest one of 
tlie lot I " — Dickens: Olr^er Twist. 

A " doicny cove,!' a cunning 
fellow, one who " knows what's 
o'clock." An allusion to his 
having the upper hand in his 
dealipgs with others. 

Downy-\ooVm^ cove, the fair 'lin ; p. mug 
like that ou^ht to be worth a fortune to 
liim. — /. Greemuood: Dick Temple. 


Downy — Drag. 

Dowrny Bible (tailors), corruption 
of Douay Bible j equivalent to 
" according to Cocker." ' • 

Dowry (common), a very grea* 
deal, an excess. Hotten says 
this is probably from the gypsy, 
but there is nothing like' jt 
in Romany. It .is just j)os- 
sibly. from the "Yiddish dowor, a 
thing (or word) ; cUttcrin bfteU- 
im, superflnous thidgs. Dowor ' 
would, Jike res, refer to pro- 

Dowser (popular); a m^li who.tells 
fortunes ; a kind of wizard who 
IJretends to be able to find water 
or treasures liy means of a divin- 
ing-rod. . . • 

Doxy (canting), a mistress, a 
'; moll," geiierall^ used in a 
disreputable sense, but "in the 
West ol Engiand women fre- 
quently call their little . girls 
' doxies ' in a familiar and en- . 
dearing sense'' (Hotten). Tins 
probablS" . is- the original tnean-' 
ing. • .•*. . 

Lastly I 'wril creave. to my t/a^^, 
stiffly, and'will bring her duck.— ./^■(/J- a/ 
Baiiifylde Moore Cdrew. 

Do you see anything gxfeen in my 
eye? (popular), Doyou think that 
] am to or gulled. 
"^Grccn". « U synonym for'un- 
.*()phisticat«dj simple- minded, 
the equivalent in French Jieing 
c(iriii<*hon, a gherkin, alluding to 
the colour. ' 

Drab ( LTV psy.), poison or medicine ; 
"up to '/)v»/y. '"knowing all tlio 

myst^ies of poison and reme- 
dies, suggesting "up to trap" 
in English /slang. 

Drafting on the camp (Austra- 
Iian),^explained by quotation. 

Drafting on the camp, or cutting out, as 
it is generally called, is a very pretty per- 
formance to watch, if it is well done. First 
of all a small mob is cut off from the main 
body of the cattle, and driven gently away 
for a little distance^ and then allowed to 
stand. This is the nucleus of the draft 
mob, for no beast will stand still a moment 
by itself, and one of the hands is told off 
tQ watch them. One or two men then ride 
in among the cattle, and draft out the ones 
they want, one at a time, while the rest of 
the hands ride round the camp and keep 
^Jle cattle from breaking away. — Finch- 
Hatton: Advance Aitstralia. ' 

Dr^.g' (low),- a woman's dress 
when assumed by men for a 
frolic or a fraud. When a 
" moUyi" or young man, dresses 
like a girl, for immoral pur- 
poses, he is said to be "on 
the rira^." In England and 
AmericSi drag-h&Wa are held, at 
which the young men are 
, dressed like women, and women 
'very often like men. ^ovuedrag- 
.balls, without any of the female 
element, and attended by sodo- 
mites, take place occasionally in 

(Thieves), a term of three 
months' imprisonment, termed 
also "tray moons." 

. . . But neither Snuffy (Reeves, thr 
identifier) nor Mac (Macintyre) knew me, 
so I got a drag, and was sent to the Steel. 
—Horsley: Jottingifr»m Jail. 

■ Well, sir, as I was-.s.'iying, I only got a 
drag for that. last jol). Oh, 1 bej; pardon, 
a drag pieans three mo;iths. Three 

Drag — Draw. 


weeks is called a drag;, too — a cadger's 
drag;. — James Greenwood: Seven Years' 
Penal Servitude. 

(Popular), to go upon a drag, 
to go about for pleasure. 

Also a lure, trick, stratagem. 

Dragged (tailors), behind time. 

Dragging (thieves), robbing pro- 
perty from carts or cabs. (Pro- 
vincial;, dragging - time, the 
evening of a country fair day, 
when the young men begin 
kissing the girls and pull them 

Dragging the pudding (tailors), 
getting the sack just before 

Draggletail (common), a dirty, 
drunken woman ; a prostitute 
of the lowe;jt class. 

Dragsman (thieves), a thief who 
robs carriages by climbing up 

Drain (common), a drink. 

" A drain for the boy," said Toby, half 
filling a wine-glas,s ; " down with it, inno- 
cence." — Dickens : M liver Twist. . . 

When I a young man of about two 
and twenty, 1 lodged in Little Argj'll 
Street (out of RegenC Street), and having 
made great friends with the Tiigiit bobby, 
who "had' a drain" occasionally — even 
when on duty— in my jrooms, 1 could slip 
in or out early in the morninj;, or at night', 
ill a disguise which was useful and unique. 
— Sporting Times i 

Drains (American), a tributary 
of a large river. Washington- 
Irving iu "Astarea" thus uses 
the phrase: "About noon, tlie 

travellers reached the drains 
and brooks that formed the 
head waters of the river." 

(Nautical), the cook on board 

Draper (old), ale-draper, a public- 
house keeper. The term seems 
to have a facetious origin, un- 
less it be a corruption of "ale- 
dropper." Shakspeare has ale- 
draper for a publican. 

Drat it (popular), a feminina ab- 
jurgation expressive of con- 
tempt or anger, erroneoush- 
supposed to be a corruption of 
the vulgar curse, "God rot it ! " 
It is- a form of drcadeth or dread 
and drad, fear or dread (Anglo- 
Saxon). Drat occurs in Piers 
Plowman and Guy of War- 

Draw (sporting and common), 
a strife which is without result. 
From "a drawn game." 

'I'he time seems to be nigh when all 
"international" contests will end in a 
draw. It is the usual fate of international 
cricket matches.— 5'/. James's Gazette. 

Said of any play, performance, 
■ or exhibition when it is a suc- 
cass and attracts people. 

Mr. -^ — 's hew religious enterprise in 
the southprn suburb commenced very 
hopefully. It was something new to the 
people of Wimblewood, and it proved a 
draiu. The congregations were large and 
growing, and very .soon the hall 
crowded. — F.venht^ News. 

It has also the general mean- 
ing of great attraction. 



■ Oh, the shades are -most charmingly 
And the fit without flaw, 
And the hat quite, a draw. 

— Bird o Freedom. 

(Cricket), a draw is a hit made 
with the surface of the bat in- 

(American), a Western term 
applied to the cattle which a 
cowboy employ^ could pick 
up, or plainly steal, for his 

I could have raised quit? a nice bunch 
of cattle in a twelvemonth. Half the 
draw was worth something those times I 
— F. P'rancis : Saddle and Moccasin. 

Sroall glades, glens, Or valleys. 

We had left the flats behind, and were 
now in a r filing country, intersected by 
grassy draws, or miniature valUys, which 
afforded the finest kind of shelter for 
rattle. — F. Francis: Saddle and Moc- 
c isin. 

(Common), to draw, to take 
in,- cir(!nmvent. 

(Military), to draw, an abbre- 
viation of " to draro the badger," 
explained by quotation. "' 

A young ofllcer on first joining was sub- 
j';cted to all sorts of practical joking. . . . 
Practfail joking wa^» indeed a reoognised 
institution. ... Its usual- manffestations 
were irr.nuing a man who had returned 
from mess early, and " ntaking hay " of 
his furniture and property. ... A parly • 
of lialf<i-dozen wild young sulialterns, led 
proliably by a festive captain, would, after 
a lieavy . guest night, proceed to the 
victim's room. . . . Perhaps the inmate 
would be made to stand in the middle of 
tlie room in his night-^irt, and sing a 
.omic son^. Occasionally, he would be 
carried downstairs, where he was made to 
stand on the mantelpirce of the ante- 
room, and order drinks .^ll rouiul . . . 

We know of one officer, who, in his night- 
shirt, was made on a cold winter's night 
to stand outside the window, on the ledge. 
— Colburn : United Semice Gazette. 

(Boxing and popular), to 
"draw or tap the claret," to 
"draw the cork," to make the 
nose bleed. 

This is technically called drawing- the 
claret, and is followed up by "practice 
in the school-room " by a black eye and 
a bloody nose. — Di/irose: Laugh and 

(University and popular), to 
vex, to infuriate. It is un- 
doubtedly .a metaphor from 
"drawing a badger," i.e., send- 
ing in a badger-terrier to worry 
him out : which in its turn is 
probably a metaphor from the 
badgers being occasionally 
dragged out by the bull-dog or 
badger-hound. So in Australia 
one speaks of " drawing a 'pos- 

Draw a bead, to (American), the 
Western hunter or trtipper in 
taking aim does so with de- 
liberate precision. He slowly 
raises the " front sight," which 
in appearance is like a bead, to 
a level with the back sight, and 
when the two are in a line he 
immediately fires — hence the 
expression, and in colloquial use 
it has.comtf to signify an attack 
upon one. 

Dra-w blanks, to (American), to 
fail, miss, or be disappointed. 

" Have you any invisible ink ? "• 
She sighed 
In a whisper 

■J'o the clerk. 



" We have it, and of the best " — 

He replied ; 
" Do you know how to make it work ? " 
" Oh, it isn't for me, but — 
The nice young man 
Who writes to me often — 

Thanks I 
Ma opens my letters, and, 
After this, 
. I propose that she shall — 
Draw blanks." 

— C. G. Leland. 

Draw boy (trade), a superior 
article marked at a low price, 
placed in his window by a shop- 
keeper to attract customers ; 
not intended to be sold, but only 
to act as a decoy to cheat those 
greedy credulous people who like 
to make a good bargain. This 
trick does not always succeed, 
and may generally be foiled 
by any obstinate customer who 
will persist, in spite of re- 
fusal, to become possessed of 
the identical piece of merchan- 
dise that has tempted his cupi- 
' dity. 

Dra^ng (studios), artists call a 
water-colour picture a draw- 

Drawing a wipe (thieves), steal- 
ing a pocket-handkerchief from 
a person's pocket. 

Drawing his wool (tailors), vex- 
ing, or causing any one to lose 
his temper. 

Drawing piaster (tailors), seek- 
ing to ascertain a man's inten- 

Drawing the flats (popular), im- 
posing on simple-minded people. 

The principal artists, however, in the 
art of drawing; the flats, or national per- 
spective, are lawyers, doctors, and trades- 
men ; each of whom has a principle of 
drawing peculiar to his trade or profes- 
sion, which ought to be thoroughly com- 
prehended by the amateur. — Diprosc: 
Laugh arid Learn. 

Drawing the Queen's picture 

(thieves), the manufacture of 
base money. 

Draw it mild (common), calm 
yourself, don't exaggerate, the 
reverse of " coming it too strong." 
It has also the signification ex- 
plained by the quotation. 

Drawing it mild is used when the 
artist wishes to circumvent or bamboozle 
his customers, and consists in " flummery " 
'or " gammon," which may either be put on 
the individual with a camel's hair pencil 
or a trowel, according to his humour. — 
Diprose: Laugh and Learn. 

Draw out, to (common), to elicit 
information or secrets from one. 
French, " tirer les vers du nez ? " 

He was a heavy, simple-looking fellow, 
and the older tramp was in conversation 
with him, and evidently " drawmg him 
out." — J. Crreenwood : Tag, Rag, cr" Co. 

Draw teeth, to, to wrench knock- 
ers and door-liandles from ' off 
street doors, a favourite amuse- 
ment of medical students of 
bygone days. 

Draw the planet, to (gypsies), to 
tell one's fortune. 

Eliza .Stanley, a " good-looking young 
gypsy," tells fortunes; in fact, Mrs. Stan- 
ley can "rule your planet." In order, 
however, to do this successfully she must 
be entrusted with gold — nothing less being 
heavy enough tf draw the planet. Mrs. 


Draiv — Oris. 

Stanley has been drawing the planet with 
considerable success lately; but she has 
at last drawn the planet down upon her- 
self, and the Portemoiuh magistrates have 
given her thrse months.— T'A* Globe. 

Draw wbrsted,to (tailors), to fer- 
, ment a quarreL 

Dress a. hut, to (shopmeu), to 
exchange articles stolen from 
' respective employers. 

Dressed to kail (American), to be 
. over-dressed ; equivalent to " to 

be dressed to death," "dressed 

to the nfties." 

When we see a gentleman tiptoeing 
along Broadway, with a lady wiggle- 
wdggling by his side and both dressed 
to kill, as the vulgar would say, yqu may 
be sure that he takes care of Number 
One. — Dow s.Sfrmons. 

Dress in (Winchester College), 
The four or five next best players 

• <in a fobtball team stand ready 
dressed so as to take thfe place 
of any player .who is in- any 
way injured. They are said to 
" drea in." 

Dressing or dressing down 

(common), a beating, a tlefeat. 
It also me&ns a scolding. 

If *vef I meet him again I will give him 
such ;i dresting as he has not had this 
many a day.— J/;Vi Austen : Sense -and 


Dress-lodger (prostitute), ex- 
plained \^s- quotation. 

They belong utterly aod entirely to the 
devil in human shape who owns the den 
that the wretched harlot learns to call her 
" home." You would neverdream of the 
dcjilurable deptlt of her drslitution if you 

met her in her gay attire . . . she is abso- 
lutely poorer than the meanest beggar that 
ever whined for a crust. These women 
are known as dress-lodgers. — J. Green- 
wood: The Seven Curses 0/ London. 

Drink (American), a river. The 
"big Drink" is the common 
Western term for the Missis- 

The old boat was a rouser — the biggest 
on tiie Drink. — Nezv i'ork Opinions 0/ the 

Dripping (common), a contemp- 
tuous term applied to a cook, 
who is not exactly a cm-don 

IHiver's pint (military), a gallon 
ol ate. Drivers of the artillery 
are supposed to have large 
powers of absorption. 

Drive, to (racing), to drive a horse 
is to urge him on with whip 
and spurs. 

Drive turkeys to market, to 

(popular), to reel from one side 
to the otljer like °a tipsy man. 
Probably from the wobbling of 
the birds in question. 

Driz (lliieves ^nd gypsies), lace. 
From ' the gypsy doriez, thread 
or lace. "/Jm-fencer," a per- 
son who l)uys or sells stolen lace. 
A driz kemtsa, a shirt v^'ith a 
lape frill. 

With my fawnied fancy and my onions 

gay, fake away, 
With my thimble of ridge and my driz 


—Ainsni-q^th: R ookivooii,. 

Droddutn — Dropped. 


Droddum (popular), the buttocks, 
the breech. 

Dromedary (thieves), a bungler. 

Drop (American), to get the drop 
on a- man, to forestall, get 
first advantage. This phrase 
alludes to a trick, practised in 
large cities upon unsuspecting 
strangers, called the drop game, 
which consists in pretending to 
find a pocket-book or purse full 
of notes, which a confederate 
has dropped upon the near ap- 
proach of a likely victim. By 
specious representations the 
finder manages to obtain good 
money from the victim, who 
is said to be dropped on, the 
noCes being, of course, counter- 

Also to hg,ve . the drop on 

When summoned to hold his hands up, 
he refused and attempted to draw his owi» 
revolver, with the result of having two 
bullets put through him. Finnigan com- 
mented on Calamity as a fool for not 
knowing when a man had the dro/> on 
hiin. — Century Illustrated Magazine. 

Drop in the eye (old), to " have a 
drop in the eye," tb' be partially- 

O faith, Colonel, you must own you h^d 
a drofi in your eye, for when 1 left you 
you were half seas over.^ — Swift: Polite 

Drop it (common), cease, leave 

Drop one's leaf, to (common), 
io die. Obviously an allusion 

to the fall of the leaves in 

Drop the money purse, to (Ameri- 
can), to incur a loss, make a 

Den The Dog he sail inter Brer Coon, 
en right dar's whar he drop his money- 
puss, kaze Brer Coon wuz cut out fer dat 
bizness, an' he far'ly wipe up de face er de 
earf wid 'im — Brer Remus. 

Drop the scabs in, to (tailors), 
to work the button-holes. 

Drop, to (thieves and popular), 
to leave, turn aside; to "dro/j 
the^ain Toby," to turn off the 
main road. (Popular), to drop 
a man, to knock him down; 
to drop on, to arrest suddenly, 
to abruptly interfere oi" pre- 
vent, to reprove, lay the re- 
sponsibility on. 

The father died, the son then tried some 

poison for to take ; 
But this they stopped, and on him drop- 
ped, for making this sad mistake. 

— Song: Tiddle-a-lVink tlie 

(American), to lose. 

St. Paul sporting men left for Illinois on 
= Monday prepared to get even on their 
previous losses on the Gilmore-Myersmill, 
fcught at Harrison's Landing, near St. 
Croix Falls, Wis., October 19th last, when 
MeyA sent Gilmore to grass in five founds. 
The Minneapolis and St. Paul men gave 
big odds on Gilmore, and in round numbers 
it is estimated that the Minnesota men 
dropped 558000 on the fight. — St. Louis 
Globe JJemocrat. 

(Common); to drop into, to 

Dropped on (tailors), disap- 


Dropping — Drunk. 

Dropping the anchor (racing), 
keeping back a horse in a 

On the other hand, on remarking upon 
the wild way of riding, the visitor will 
probably be met with the retort, that if 
the jockeys did not flog their animals un- 
mercifully, they would be accused of what 
is here termed in racing slang droppinf; 
the anchor. — Sporting Times. 

Drum (popular and thieves), a 
house or lodging. 

Call it what you like . . . drum, crib, 
owse, or whichever way you likes to put a 
name to it ; it makes no matter to thrf place 
I mean. — J. Greenwood : Dick Temple. 

I went straight back to the old drum in 
Spitalfields, and after a drink with old 
friends we made up a tossing party, and I 
lost every penny of that ten shillings in a 
very little time. — J. Green^vood : Se^ien 
Years' Penal Servitude. 

Drum means also a street, a 
road ; in the West of England 
a "drong." 

• It may have come directly 
from the English gypsy di-um 
(old form drom), which is, 
truly, from the Greek bpoixbs, a 
road. The origin of the old 
French cant word, trime, which 
has the same meaning, is pro- 
bably identical. 

(Old), rout or ball. From 
the of the entertainment 
a ball - room was called ' the 
" di-um-Toom." 

The bonny hoiusemaid begins to repair 
the disordered drum-room. — Fielding: 
Tom Jones. 

(Pugilistic), the ear. 
(Tailors), a small workshop. 

Drummer (tailors), trousers' 
inakf T. 

(Old racing), a horse whose 
forelegs move in an irregular, 
unusual manner. 

(American), a commercial 
traveller; probably from the 
simile of beating the drum to 
attract attention, or from drum, 

First Drummer—" Had any fun this 
trip ? " Second Drummer — " We tried to 
have some in Louisville, but it did not 
turn out very well. We painted the nose 
of one of the boys a brillijint red. and sent 
him into a revival-meeting." " They must 
have thought him a fit subject for conver- 
sion." "Well, no; they all rushed up to 
him, grabbed him by the hand, said they 
were glad to see him back from Europe, 
and asked for a puff in the Courier Jour- 
nal. — Omaha World. 

In this paragraph the editor 
of the Omaha World satirises 
a colleague in a rival news- 

(Thieves), a thief who makes 
his victims insensible by giving 
them a narcotic, or causing them 
to inhale chloroform. Pro- 
bably a corruption of "dram- 
mer" from "dram." 

Drumstick (popular), the leg ; 
" drumstick cases," trousers. 

Drunk (American), a state of 

Observing this, the opium master, who 
was still squatted on the bed, hastened to 
roll up a couple of cigarettes of common 
tobacco, and lit them by takin* a whiff at 
e.-»ch, after which he handed them to the 
Chinamen, -who rose from the couch yawn- 
ing, and, like men only half awake, 
staggered towards the fire, and sat re- 
R.-irding it in silence. They were not going 
yet ; they had come for a drunk, and 
would probably indulge in half-a-dozen 

Drunken — Dty. 


more pipes before the evening was over. — 
Jii Strange Company. 

Drunken chalks (soldiers), good 
conduct badges. Derisively 
used, and implying that the 
badges have been gained not 
by sobriety but by the faculty 
of carrying liquor well. 

Drury Lane vestaJs (old). Drury 
Lane, like Covent Garden, had 
at one time a reputation for 
immorality and debauchery 
rivalling the Haymarket and 
Regent Street of to-day. The 
neighbourhood was notorious 
as the resort and dwelling-place 
of women of the town, whether 
kept mistresses or common 
harlots. They were called 
Drury Lane vestals, and " the 
Drury Lane ague " was a loath- 
some venereal disorder. 

Dry bob. Vide Bob. 

Dry-bobbing (Eton), cricketting. 
"Wet-bobbina," the term for 
river sports. Vide BOB. 

Eventually he won his case ; the Georgic 
was excused, and "Hossy" recited the 
prologue with much success. It was in 
April, when a late and severe flood had 
put an end to a little attempted early dry- 
bobbing. — Sketchy Memories of Eton. 

Dry boots (common), 
humorous fellow. 


Dry hash (Australian), a man who 
will not "shout," i.e., pay for 
drinks. Vide Dkadiikad. 

Dry lodging (lodging - house 
keepers), .sleeping accommoda- 
tion without board. 

Dry nurse, to (nautical), is said 
of a junior officer on board ship 
who advises an ignorant cap- 
tain, and instructs him in his 

Dry shave, to (common), to annoy 
one by violently rubbing his 
chin with the fingers. 

Dry up (popular, originally Ame- 
rican), hold your tongue ; varied 
by " curl up," "put a clapper to 
your mug," " stop your jaw," 
and other equally elegant in- 
vitations. (Theatrical), a dry 
up, a failure, the reverse of a 

Whoever is responsible for the dry up at 
the Opera Comique deserves to be ostra- 
cised from theatrical society. — Bird o' 

To dry up, to stick, i.e., to 
forget the words of a part and 
break down. 

(Racing), to slacken pace 
through exhaustion ; literally 
tcbe "pumped out." 

At the distance he looked like winning 
in a canter, but dried up immediately 
after ward s . — Sporting 1 imes. 

(Printers), to leave off work 
at dinner time or at night. 
Sometimes to discharge, or 
to leave a situation. 

Dry, walking (military), a dry 
walk or walking dry, is the un- 

, interesting and very distasteful 
promenade a soldier is com- 
pelled to take when he leaves 
barracks after working hours 
without a penny in his pocket. 


D. T. — Duck. 

D. T. (common), deliriam tre- 
mens, used very generally by 

They get a look, after a touch of D. T., 
which nothing else that I know of can give 
them. — Indian Tale. 

D. T. also means Daily Tele- 

Dub, to (thieves), to open ; "rfuft 
the jigger," open the door. T. 
Harman writes this "dup." 

Tower ye yander is the kene, dup the 
gygger. — Harman : Caveat. 

Dub, a key, lock, picklock. 
i>M6-lay, robbing houses by pick- 
ing the locks. "Dubber," an 
expert lock-picker. 

To dub a jigger is a variant of 
" strike a jigger," to break open 
a door, and dub in that sense 
is from the meaning to strike. 
Anglo-Saxon dubban. Hence 

(Popular), to " dub up," to pay 
up. Provincial, dubs, money. 
So that " dub up " would be the 
exact rendering of the French 
^"nancCT*, to pay. (Anglo-Indian), 
dub, a small coin. 

Dub at a knapping jigger (old 
cant), a turnpike-man. 

Dubs (Winchester). In the slang 
of the boys of that public school 
this term has the meaning of 

Dubsman (old cant), a jailer. 

Oh 1 give me a chisel, ft knife, or a file, 
And the dubsman shall find that I'll do 
it in style ! 

— IV. H. Aumvorih : Jack Shefpard. 

Due (printers), short for the ink- 
ductor or fountain that regulates 
the quantity given out to each 
impression on a machine. 

Ducat, ducats (theatrical), coin, 
cash of any description. 

(Thieves), a railway ticket. 
Probably a porruption of ticket. 

So I took a ducat for Lutton in Surrey, 
and went a wedge-hunting. — Horsley : 
Jottings from Jail. 

Duck (popular), a bundle of scraps 
of meat sold to the poor. (Win- 
chester), the face. 

Duck, or duck's ^%% (cricket), 
no runs ; an allusion to the 
shape of the nought. 

I carried out my bat for nineteen, «nd 
Thomas his for fifteen, scored with much 
pluck at the pinch of the game ; iii fact, 
he won the match, for the remaining man 
was good for nothing else but a duck, — 
Bird d Freedom. 

(Stock Exchange). In the 
slang of the " House" a "lame 
duck" is a defaulter. The ex- 
pression is old. 

1 may be " lame," but I shall never be 
a duck, nor deal in the garbage of the 
alley. — Walpole Letters. 

A "lame duck" is said to 
"waddle out of the alley," that 
is, leave the Stock Exchange as 

The gaming fools are doves, the ku.tves 
are rooks, 'Change-alley bankrupts waddle 
out "\amt ducks." — Garrick : Prologue to 
Foote's Maid of Bath. 

Duck, doing a (thieves), getting 
under the scat of a railway car- 
riage when the ticket-collector 

Duck — Dudetie. 


comes round, so as to avoid 
paying the fare. From the 
ordinary meaning of to duck, to 
drop the head or person sud- 

With a downward glance of intense 
scorn at me, the first speaker continued — 

" Doin' a duck, macin' the rattler, 
rid in' on the cheap, on the odno, under 
the bloomin' seat, down wi' the dust, all 
among the daisies, where you like, and 
what you like, it makes no matter which, 
what do you think? Gentlemen in my 
walk of life can't always be worried." — 
Sporting Times. 

Ducks (common), white linen, or 
drill trousers. 

This young person had stipulated that 
Billy should do the thing proper, and be 
married in a pair of white ducks. These 
garments he had cheapened at a mart of 
"reach me down" notoriety, to the satis- 
faction of the feminine onlooker of his pro- 
ceedings through the window. — Savage: 

(Stock Exchange), Aylesbury 
Dairy Company shares. 

(Anglo-Indian), officials of the 
Bombay service. 

Dudder, dudsman (old), a pedlar 

' who sold articles of clothing to 

country people. Vide Duds. 

Duddering rake (old), an ex- 
tremely debauched man about 

Dude (American), a swell or 
" masher," an overdressed man. 
Probably from the very old 
flnglish cant dmle, a garment. 

Ain't you one of these dudes as the 
Colonel brings down sometimes from Kl 
Paso and Silver, that wants kettles o' hot 
water to twelve o'clock? — F. Francis: 
Saddle and Moccasin. * 

The word is also used in 

Sometimes, however, a dis- 
tinction seems to \>& established 
between dvde and dandy, the 
former being considered to apply 
more' to a brainless "masher." 

I'm a dandy I'll have you all to know. 

With the ladies I'm never rude : 
This style is all my own, with it I carry 
I'm a dandy, but I'm no dude. 


The following quotation gives 
amusing evidence of the anti- 
quity of dude. 

A correspondent of the AVw yorik 
Evening' Pest shows that dudes are of 
very ancient date. In the " Eunuchus " 
of Terence, act iv. scene iv., 1. 15, it is ' 
written : — 

" Ita vistus est 
Dudutn quia v.-iria veste exornatus fuit," 
Which, literally translated into English, 
would read :^" He seemed ^ dude, be- 
cause he was (iecked'out in parti^coloured 
clothes," or still more literally, " in a vest 
of many colours." 

Dude hamfatters (American), a 
sarcastic allusion to the swell 
and " masher " port- raisers. A 
large number arte located not a 
hundred miles from Chicago. 

It seems that the dude hamfatters, after 
tr^'ing various games to skip unseen, con- 
ceived the idea of making up as a couple 
of well-dressed women. — ■Neiu York Xa- 
tioiuil Police Gazette. ■ 

Dudetnan or dudman, a scare- 
crow (HalliwoJl). 

Dudette, dildinette (American), a 
very young girl, a mere chit, 
who affects the airs and style of 
a belle. . 


Diidikabin — Duffer. 

Dudikabin (gypsy), "to lei dudi- 
kabin,'^ lit., to take lightment. 
This word was for a long time 
kept a great secret by the 
gypsies, and one of them was 
reprimanded by his friends for 
telling the writer. It means the 
making a clean sweep of every- 
thing valuable in the house, 
under pretence of propitiating 
the planets, or of finding and 
attracting hidden treasure. This 
latter is more specially the huk- 
ani boro, or " great humbug." It 
appears to be connected with 
the English slang - equivalent 
"lightment," from to lighten, 
to relieve of one's property, to 

Dudine (American), a lady "dude." 

Long - handled eye-glasses, and the 
dudines who buy and use them. — Phila- 
delphia Times. 

Duds (thieves), clothes. Scottish 

dud, a rag. 

As I was walking down Cheapeide a 
man came up to me and said, " Look 
here, mate, the sooner you sling them 
dudi away the longer you' will keep out of 
quod. I have been following behind two 
private clothes detectives, and they spotted 
you by your togs, so take my tip to get 
rid of them. — Ex'cning Ne^vs. 

Also duddies. 

Then he took out a little knife, 

Let a' his duddies fa'. 
And he was the brawest gentleman 

That stoo4 among them a'. 
— Old Balloji ; We'll gang nae Mair 
a Koving. \Attribtttcd to King 
James I', p/ Scotland] 

T. Hiirman uses the word 
with the meaning of linen 

We wyll fylche some duddes off the 
ruffemans, or myll the ken for a lagge of 
dudes. — Caveat. 

I.e., "We will steal some linen off the 
hedges, or rob a parcel of the same from 
the house." 

(Old), to " sweat dud-t," to 
pawn clothes. A " dudman " 
is provincial for a scarecrow ; 
literally a ragged fellow. 

DufT (thieves), spurious. Men at 
the duff, passers of false jewel- 
lery. To dnff, to sell spurious 
goods, often under the pretence 
of their having been smuggled, 
stolen, or found. In London 
attempts at dujfing are often 
made by rascals who offer for 
sale a worthless meerschaum 
pipe or ring, pretending they 
have just found it. FtiZeDuFFEK. 

Duffer (common). This word has 
two opposite meanings. A rank 
swindler, a clever cheat — "a 
word in frequent use in 1701 
to express cheats of all kinds." 
In Yiddish every word which 
means clever or wise also means 
roguery ; and in Yiddish doffer 
is a shrewd, clever, very crafty 
man (adjective doff, from tov or 
toff, good) ; Dutch thieves' slang 
doffer, a tramp, a seller of forged 

. . . Nor did it mark him out as the 
prey of ring-droppcrs, pea and thimble- 
riggers, duffers, loiiters, or any of those 
bloodless sharpers, who are perhaps a little 
better known to the police. — Dickens : 
Martin Chuzzlnvit. 

A worthless person, a stupid 
man, an awkward, unskilful fel- 
low, a coward. 

Duffer — Duke. 


What an awful duffer he is. I do not 
believe he hit a thing to-day ; besides, he is 
so dangerous. — Saturday Review. 

In this latter sense the word 
is connected with daffe, Anglo- 
Saxon, a fool ; daffum, a silly 
person (Wright) ; daff, a coward ; 
daft, of weak intellect. Anglo- 
Saxon deaf, " surdus, absurdus, 
stolidus," from dufan. Deaf is 
in most of its Indo-European 
forms synonymous with stupid 
or stolid. Gothic daufs, dull or 

(Popular), spurious money. 

I very quietly slipped four duffers among 
six good bobs, and accommodated her with 
the change she wanted. It came off all 
right, so I've four bob left for drinks ; see ! 
— Bird d Freedom. 

(Nautical), a woman who 
assists smugglers. 

Duffer out, to (Australian), mining 
slang. A reef is said to duffer 
out when the gold is nearly or 
quite exhausted. 

He then reported to the shareholders 
that the lode had buffered out, and that 
it was useless to continue working. — Ad- 
vance Australia. 

Dug-out (American), a canoe 
hollowed out of the trunk of a 
tree. The term seems common 
throughout the New World, as 
the Rev. W. Cartwright in his 
" Autobiography " says, " If by 
chance we got a dug-out to 
cross in ourselves and swira our 
horses by, it was quite a treat." 
Also a rough kind of structure 
built over an excavation. 

The new house was at best but a modest 
little structure, but Mayne viewed the 

placing of each shingle and the driving of 
each nail with profound satisfaction. In 
the sparsely settled neighbourhood, where 
dug-outs and "shacks" predominated, a 
"frame" house, even though small and 
unpretending, was a structure of no-mean 
importance. When it became known that 
Jack Mayne intended to plaster the " front 
room " it was pretty thoroughly agreed 
that reckless extravagance characterised 
Mayne's house building. — Sporting Titne:. 

Duke Humphrey (common), "tb 
dine with Duke Humphrey," to 
go without dinner. Dr. Brewer, 
in his " Dictioaary of Phrase 
and Fable," says : — " Hum- 
phrey, Duke of Gloucester, son 
of Henry IV., was renowned for 
his hospitality. At his death it 
was reported that a monument- 
would be erected to him in St. 
Paul's, but his body was interred 
at St. Albans. When the pro- 
menaders left for dinner, the 
poor stay-behinds who had no 
dinner used to say to the gay 
sparks who asked if they were 
going, that they would stay a 
little longer and look for the 
monument of the ' good duke.' " 
" Dining with the cross- legged 
knights " (the stone efligies of 
the Round Church) had the same 
signification. Hotten has the 
following explanation : — " Some 
visitors were inspecting the 
abbey where the remains of 
Humphrey DuTie of Gloucester 
lie, and one of them was unfor- 
tunately shut in, and remained 
there solus while his companions 
were feastihg at a neighbouring 
hostelry. He was afterwards 
said to have dined with I)uke 
Hutnphrey, and the saying even- 


Duke — Dumb-cow. 

tually passed into a proverb." 
Vide Halliwell, who gives a 
better origin, and one supported 
by all contemporary writers. 

Duke of limbs (common), a 
tall, spindle-shanked man ; the 
phrase also implies awkward- 
ness and uncouthness. 

Duke of York (rhyming slang), 
walk or talk. 

Dukes or dopks (popular and 
thieves), the hands ; from the 
gypsy duk, dook, which refers 
to palmistry ; " it is in his dook," 
meaning " it is in his fate," 
became " it is in his hand." 

Then he began to push me about, so I 
siiiJ I would not go at all if he put his 
dukes (hands) on me. Then he rammed 
my nut (head) against the wall and shook 
the veiy life out of me. — Horsley: Jot- 
tings from Jail. 

To grease one's duhe, to bribe, 
to pay. 

So the next day I went to him, and 
asked him if he was not going to grease 
my duke. — Horsley : Jottings from Jail. 

To put up one's dukcf, to 
fight, to box. 

No doubt Britain's foes will be thrown into 
Of utter dismay and despair, too ; 
Finding those near the throne arc to prize- 
fighting prone ;• 
And are nady to fight "on the square," 
Now tliat royalties spar, all the swells, near 
and far, 
W ill do ditto— withoiK any warning ; 
And without any llukes, will all put up 
their dukes. 
And try punching the hag every morning. 

— J'Ull. 

Dukey. Vide Dookie. 
Dukk, dook (gypsy), breath. 

Mandy nashered my diikk a prasterin 
puller the juva. — An Old Gypsy. 

I.e., "I lost my breath running after the 

A spirit ; that which inspires 
divination or palmistry ; the 
demon of Socrates. 

I find that the dook is like myself, very 
much given to lying. — George Borroiv : 

Also pain, vexation, annoy- 
ance. (According to the primi- 
tive Shamanic faith, all pain was 
caused by evil spirits.) 

Dukker, dnk, dook, dooker 

(gypsy), to tell fortunes, to pain, 
grieve, chide; diikkirhcn, grief, 
trouble, a fault ; dukkcrijien 
or dukkcrpcn, fortune - tolling, 
augury ; dukkero, sorrowful. 
Hindu, dokli, fault. 

When I pens adovo I pens a tacho duk- 
kerin. —George Bonmu: Lavcngro. 
Mfikk mengy dukker ■^■omx k(5k'ro, rj'a ? 
So? Mandy cant pen lis-mandy can. 
Ma tute siiv 'at diikkerin, pSl.n — 
Addvo SOS sar o tem began. 
" Shall I tell your fortune too, .sir? 
What? I can't ! Oh, yes, I can. 
Don't you laugh at fortune-telling, 
'Twas with that the world Vjegan." 
— Professor E. H . Fainter. 

Dull in the eye (popular), intoxi- 

Dull swift (old), said of one long 
gone on errands or messages. 

Dumb-co'w (Anglo-Indian), also 
diunb-anccd (participle), to brow- 
beat, to cow, set down. 

" This is a capital specimen 

Dumb-cow — Dung. 


of Anglo-Indian dialect. Dam 
khdna, ' to eat one's breath,' is 
a Hindu idiom for ' to be silent.' 
Mr. Hobson-Jobson converts this 
into a transitive verb, to dam- 
iAas, and both spelling and mean- 
ing being affected by English 
suggestions of sound, this comes 
in Anglo-Indian use to imply 
coucing and silencing " (Anglo- 
Indian Glossary. 

Dumfogged (literary), confused. 

Dummock (low), the fundament ; 
otherwise known as "blind 

Dummy (popular), anything 
fictitious or sham, an individual 
of vacant mind, and one bereft 
of speech. (Tailors), a piece of 
cloth rolled tight and saturated 
with oil ; used for rubbing 
clothes of a very hard nature 
in places required to be cut, 
, also the shears, to make cutting 
more easy. (Thieves), a pocket- 
book. Originally a book full of 
sham notes. 

He is caught — he must "stand and de- 
liver ; " 

Then out with the dummy, and oflf with 
the bit. 

Oh, the game of High Toby for ever I 
— Ainswortli: Roohwood. 

A " duwiniy-hunter," a pick- 
pocket, whose speciality is to 
steal pocket-books. 

No dummy-hnnteT had forks so fly, 
No knuckler so deftly could fake a cly, 
— A insworih : Roohwood. 

Dummy daddle dodge (thieves), 
picking pockets in an omnibus 
under cover of a sham hand. 

Asked by the friendly warder what he 
thought of the dummy daddle dodge, 
Mr. Mobbs said he rather thought that 
game was played out. A woman, he pro- 
ceeded to explain, can work with a 
dummy daddle in an omnibus or a railway 
carriage much better than a man, because, 
without appearing conspicuous, she can 
wear any kind of loose shawl or cloak as 
concealment for her real hand. — J. Green- 
wood : Daily Telegraph. 

Dump fencer (street), a man who 
hawks buttons. Dump is an 
old word for a leaden medal. 

Dumpoke (Anglo-Indian), a duck, 
boned, baked, and highly sea- 
soned. From the Persian dam- 
pukht, " air-cooked," or baked. 
In English gypsy, pukht would 
be pekkerd, from the same 

These eat highly of all flesh duntpokcd, 
which is baked with spice in butter. — 

Dumps (popular), money. Vide 
Dump Fencer. 

May I venture to say when a gentleman 

In the river at midnight for want of the 

He rarely puts on his knee-breeches and 


— Ingpldshy Legends. 

Dung (workmen), one who is com- 
pelled to accept lower wages 
after being out on strike. The 
word is the preterite of tHe 
old English verb to "ding," to 
beat down, one who is dung or 
beaten, as in the old proverb, 
still termed Scottish, " It's a 
sair duivj bairn that maunna 


Dungaree — Dust. 

(Tailors), " dunging it " is said 
of a traitor to the trade. 

Dungaree (Anglo-Indian), com- 
mon, coarse, low, vulgar. The 
name of a disreputable suburb 
of Bombay, and also of a coarse 
blue cloth used for sailors' 

Dunnage (popular), clothes or 

Dunnakin (American thieves), a 
chamber-pot. In England, the 

Durham man (old slang), a knock- 
kneed man was so called, and 
was said to grind mustard be- 
tween his knees. 

Durrynacker (prison), female 
hawker. From the gypsy dori 
or doriez, threads or lace. 

Dust (common), money. Possibly 
for gold dust. 

" Put it down to the bill " is the fountain 
of ill, 
'Tis this has the shopkeepers un- 
Bazaars never trust, so down with your 
And help us to diddle all London. 
— Grimaldi's Bazaar. 

The term is old, it occurs in 
the "Life of Ken," 1690. "Down 
with the dust," pay the money. 

If they did intend to trade with Christ 
they must "down with the i/ust " instantly, 
for to his knowledge the Papists did offer 
a vast sum of money for England's Christ. 
— Eiuhards Olicnations, 1O71. 

He who giveth to the poor lendeth to 
the Lord. If you like the security " down 
with the dust." — Hemion attributed to the 
Rev. Rowland Hill. 

Duster (tailors), a sweetheart. 

Dust Hole (common), the Queen's 
Theatre, Tottenham Court Road, 
so called from the fact that 
half a century ago, when under 
the management of Mr. Glossop, 
the ddbris of the theatre was 
swept daily under the pit, and 
suffered to accumulate, to the 
great inconvenience of the 
audience, until the dust hole was 
crowded to repletion. The first 
French plays acted in London 
were given at this theatre, 
which, after many vicissitudes 
of fortune, became fashionable 
as the Prince of Wales', and is 
now the property of the Salva- 
tion Army. 

Dust out of, to (American), to 
leave or depart. 

Mother — Johnnie, brush the dust off 
your boots. Johnnie — Is that the kind of 
dust papa was talking to governess about ? 
RIotlier — What did he say ? Johnnie — He 
said: "Dost thou love me, Agnes?" 
Mother — No, it was not, Johnnie ; but 
Agnes will dust out of here to-morrow 
morning. — Boston Globe. 

Dust, to (West American), to 
dismount by .'dlowing oneself 
to roll off to the soft ground. 

Frequently, instead of quitting them 
when they were turned loose, the boys 
would sit astride of the steers they had 
been holding, and "stay with them" as 
they went bucking down the corral to- 
wards their fellows, until the proximity of 

Dustoor — Dying. 


these latter warned the riders to roll off 
and dust. — F. Fraticis: Saddle and Moc- 

Dustoor, dustoory (Anglo- 
Indian), a commission paid, 
generally as a kind of bribe. 
Persian and Hindu, dastur, cus- 

" That commission or per- 
centage on money passing in 
any cash transaction which 
sticks to the fingers of the 
agent of payment " (Anglo- 
Indian Glossary). 

Dusty (popular), "not so dusty," 
not so bad. 

Three red clocks, two pusses, and a 
white slang — I ain't done so dusty! — 

Dusty, gritty, or stony broke 

(popular), without a sou. 

" I've been as flash as they make 'em in 
my time, and you'll 'ardly believe it " — 
this in a hoarse whisper to me — "I've 
been that broke — stony, gritty, dusty broke 
— you understand, as I'd 'ave nicked the 
broads out of a pal's kick, if they was 
there, and sold 'em for the price of 'alf a 
pint." — Sporting Times. 

Dutch (military), to " do a Dutch," 
to run away, to desert. Pro- 
bably an allusion to " Dutch 

Dutch (popular), a wife. 

Now he'd not a brown, nor a friend in 

In fact he was quite undone ; 
He made a vow he'd never row 
With his old Dutch again. 
So part by hook, and part by crook. 
He tramped it back to London. 

— Mitchell: J ijnmy Johnson's 

Dutch auction (cheap Jacks), a 
method of selling good-; with- 
out incurring the penalties for 
selling without a license. 

Dutch clock, a bed-pan is so called 
by nurses. 

Dutch feast (common), a dinner 
at which the host gets drunk 
before his guests. 

Dutchman's breeches (nautical), 
two streaks of blue in a cloudy 

Dutch treat (American), a dinner 
or drinking where every man 
pays for himself. 

Dying in a horse's nightcap 

(po[)ular), being luing. A horse's 
nightcap, i.e., a halter. 


Ear — Eat 

AR (American), to get 
up on one's ear, to 
rouse oneself to a 
great effort. 

They called me bully boy, altho' I've seen 

nigh threescore years, 
And said that I was lightning when I got 

up on my ear. 

— Words and tJuir Uses. 

Earl of Cork (Irish), the ace of 
diamonds. According to Carle- 
ton, "It is the worst ace and 
the poorest card in the pack, 
and is called the Earl of Cork 
because he is the poorest noble- 
man in Ireland." 

Early riser (popular), the vulgar 
name for an efficient aperient 
pill. The application of the 
term is obvious. 

Ear-mad (medical), the thickened 
ear (in its upper portion) found 
in some cases of insanity ; hence 
the name. 

Earth bath (old), a grave ; to 
take an earth bath, to be dead 
and buried. Also to take a 
" ground sweat." 

Earthquake (American), hotiUd 
earthquake, spirits, intoxicating 
liquor of any kind. So called 
from the disorderly motions at- 
tendant on intoxication, or an 
abbreviation of "carf/ii^Ma/tc pro- 

Holfled earthquakes are just as bad as 
the other kind. Scratch a bottled earth- 
ijitake and you'll find a QocV\.:i\\.— Chicago 

Earthquake protector (Ameri- 
can), explained by quotation. 

It was a delicious hevera.ze, not uncon- 
nected with old Jamaica, and sent a deli- 
cious glow through every vein. . . . 

" But how, pray, does this protect me 
from an earthquake ? " 

" Well, sir," replied the barkeeper, " if 
you'll only drink enough of it, you won't 
care a continental whether the earthquake 
comes or not." — New York Star. 

Eanvig (thieves), a clergyman. 

Earwigg'ing (common), a rebuke 
in private. Is said of a sneak- 
ing, tattling fellow-employe who 
carries little trifling errors on 
the part of others to the ears of 
the governor. 

Ease, to (popular and thieves), to 
rob. French slang, soul/tgcr. 

Eason, to listen (New York Slang 
Dictionary). EaMn is an Eng- 
lish provincialism for eaves ; 
hence eason, from eavesdrop- 

East and south (rhyming slang), 
the mouth. 

Eastery (cheap Jacks), explained 
by quotation. 

Sometimes, when in a country where 
there were large villages or small towns, 
we used to work what was called eastery 
or private business.— ///W/iy.- Life and 
Adventures of a Cheap Jack. 

Easy (thieves), "make the cull 
easy," kill the fellow. 

Eat a fig (rhyming slang), to 
"crack a crib," i.e., to commit 
a burglary. 

Eat — Elephant. 


Eat one's terms, to (legal), to pre- 
pare for the bar ; to attend the 
requisite number of dinners in 
hall each term. 

Eat, to (American), a Western 
expression, meaning not to con- 
sume but to provide food. 

Captin, do you ate us or do we aie 
ourselves ? Eat yourselves, to be sure. — 
American Story. 

Eats his head off (common), is said 
of a horse that remains for a 
long time in the stable. Some- 
times of servants or others who 
have little to do. 

Eaves (American thieves), a hen- 

Eavesdropper (American thieves), 
a chicken thief, or a low sneak 
or thief generally. 

Ebenezer (Winchester College), 
a ball at racquets that hits the 
line and rises high into the air. 

Ebony (popular), a bit of ebony, 

Ebony optics (pugilistic), black 
eyes ; ehony optics albonized, 
black eyes painted white. 

Edge (tailors), "stitched off the 
cdfjc " refers to a glass or pint 
not filled to the top ; " side 
edije," whiskers. A " short top 
edge " is a turn-up nose. 

Edgenaro (back slang), orange. 

Eggshaw (Anglo-Indian), brandy ; 
probably from the name of a 

EgTPtian hall (rhyming slang), a 

Eighter (prison), an eight-OTince 


" Do you eat all your chuck?" 

" No, I have two eighters in my cell 


"I shall be orderly to-morrow. Sling 

me a toke." — Evening News. 

Ekom (back slang), a " moke " or 

Elbow crooker (thieves), a hard 
drinker ; from the phrase to 
" crook one's elbow," to drink. 
In French, "lever le coude," 
said of a hard drinker. 

Elbo'wer (thieves), a furtive; one 
that "elbows," i.e., turns the 
corner, or gets out of sight. 

Elbow grease (popular), hard 

Elbow-scraper (nautical), fiddle 

Elbow shaker (old), gambler with 
dice. From the expression "to 
shake one's elbow." 

Elbow^, to (thieves), to turn a 
corner, to get out of sight. 

Electrified (American), excited 
with liquor. 

Elephant (thieves), a victim pos- 
sessed of much money. 

(Common), the elephant, origin- 
ally an Americanism. We might 
compile a volume of the amusing 


Elephant — Elfen. 

explanations and illustrations 
of this expression which have 
appeared in American news- 
papers. To hare seen the 
elephant is to have had a full 
experience of life or of a certain 
subject or object. _ There is a 
book by "Doesticks" (Mortimer 
Thompson), called "Seeing the 
Elephant," devoted to describing 
"life" in New York, of which 
a reviewer remarked that the 
ekphant, according to Mr. 
Thompson, appeared to be bad 
brandy. When a man had 
made an unfortunate specula- 
tion he would say that he had 
not only seen the elephant but 
felt him kick. The phrase 
seems to have originated in an 
old ballad of a farmer who, 
while driving his mare along 
the highway, met with a show- 
man's elephant, which knocked 
him over, and spilt his milk 
and destroyed his eggs. The 
farmer consoled himself for his 
loss by reflecting that he had 
at least " seen the elephant." 

And he said, " Now in future no one can 

That I've not seen tAe elephant — neither 

the mare." 

In 1849-1850, to have been to 
California and returned was to 
have seen the elephant. 

Those who sold the bonds had vanished, 
those who hadn't held the town, 

Little knew they of its glory over seas 
or great renown, 

They had nothing'of the fruitage — though 
alas ! they held the plant. 

Nothing saw they of the picture save in- 
deed the ehphant. 

He who had been in the background now 

came rushing to the fore. 
Terribly he trampled on them — very awful 

was his roar. 

— The Rise and Fall ofGloryville. 

Montaigne strangely enough 
seems to suggest that "to see 
tlie elephant" waS in his time 
connected with experience of 
life. He cites the following 
from "Arrien. Hist. Ind.," c. 

"Aux Indes Orientales la chastet^ y 
estant en singuliere recommandation, 
I'usage pourtant souffroit qu'une femme 
mari^ se peust abandonner k qui luy 
presentoit un (Uphant, et cela avec 
quelque gloire d'avoir est6 estim^e k si 
hault prix." 

This then was the Indian way 
of " seeing the elephant" and 
of paying, as at the present 
day, an enormous price for the 

(Common), a girl is said to 
"have seen tlie elephant" when 
she has lost her chastity. 
French, " avoir vu le loup." 

Elephant's trunk (rhyming slang), 

Elevation, explained by quota- 

" They as dinnot tak' spirits down thor, 
tak' their pennord o' elevation then — 
women-folk especial." 

" Vihal's elcvationt" . . . 

" Opium, Ixjr' alive, opium." — C. Kings- 
liy : A I ton Locke. 

" Elevated " is English for in- 
toxicated in a slight degree. 

Elfen, to walk on tiptoe lightly 
(New York Slang Dictionary). 

Embroider — Entire. 


Probably from the old word 
alfen, hence aleft, lifted. 

Embroider (common), to exag- 
gerate, romance. In French, 

Tom tried to make himself appear to be 
a hero too, and succeeded to some extent, 
but then he always had a way of e»t- 
broidering. — Mississippi Pilot. 

Emperor (common), "drunk as 
an emperor." The quintessence 
of intoxication. Ten times "as 
drunk as a lord." The French 
say " saoul comme trente mille 
hommes." (Thieves), hence a 
drunken man. 

A pinch for an emperor's slang. He 
was in his altitudes, and we pinched his 
thimble, slang and onions. — On the Trail. 

Empty bottle (Univ. Cantab), a 
pensioner. Bristed, in his " Five 
Years in an English University," 
says, "They are popularly de- 
nominated empty bottles, the first 
word of the appellation being 
an adjective, though were it 
taken as a verb there would be 
no untruth in it. " 

End (American), " to be all on 
end," to be very angry or 
irritated. From rising up, or 
jumping up in a rage. Also 
applied to a state of excite- 
ment, especially of anticipa- 
tion. "They were all on end 
to see the President go by." 

Endacott, to (journalistic), to act 
like a constable of that name 
who arrested a woman whom 
he thought to be a prostitute. 

Constable Endacott. . . . Though he 
might base a claim to a pension on literary 
grounds, as having enriched the English 
language with a new word {to Endacott, 
V.A.), it is not probable that an economical 
Government would value this addition to 
the dictionary very highly. — Evening 

The expression lived " ce que 
vivent les roses, I'espace d'un 
matin," probably on account of 
certain facts proved in the course 
of a subsequent investigation, 
and which showed that the con- 
stable's name ought not to go 
down to posterity as that of an 
oppressor of womankind. 

Ends, at loose (familiar). When 
a business is neglected, or its 
finances arc in a precarious con- 
dition, it is said to be at loose ends. 

Enemy (common), used in the 
quaint but not slangy phrase, 
"How goes the enemy?" i.e., 
what is the time 7 

Ensign bearer (military), a man 
with a red and blotchy face 
arising from tippling. 

Enthuse (American), to excite en- 
thusiasm, to be enthusiastic. A 
favourite word with "gushing" 
clergymen. "An object large 
enough to enthuse an angel's 
soul." Enthused, excited with 

Entire figfure, the (American), to 
the fullest extent. A simile na- 
turally derived from expressing 
sums of money by numerals 
or "figures." Also the "big 
figure," the " whole figure." 


E. P. — Excruciators. 

E. P. (clerical), a very common 
abbreviation, means the " East- 
ward Position," adopted in por- 
tions of the Communion Service. 

Epsom races (rhyming slang), a 
pair of braces. 

Equal to the genuine Limburg^er 

(American), a standard simile 
for anything which is asserted 
to attain the maximum of bad 
smells. The German Limburger 
cheese has, to those who are not 
accustomed to it, an intensely 
disagreeable odour. 

Equipped (thieves), rich, well 

ErifTs, young thieves (New York 
Slang Dictionary). 

" It's the gait all them eriff's dances," 
observed the one-eyed man. " I remem- 
ber once I was in cahoots with a cove like 
that."— 0« the Trail. 

Esclop (back slang), police ; pro- 
nounced " slops." 

Euchred (common), played out ; 
from a game at cards. 

Europe morning' (Anglo-Indian). 
When a man gets up late, that 
is, at nine or ten o'clock, he is 
said to have a Europe morning. 
The expression explains itself. 

Evaporate, to (common), to run 
away, to vanish. 

Everlasting staircase, the 

(thieves). The treadwheel, 
originally invented by Mr. 

Cubitt in 1817, and first used 
in Brixton Prison, fell some- 
what into desuetude, but has 
been revived in some prisons 
under the Government rdgime, 
as an instrument both of utility 
for grinding com, raising water, 
&c., and of real hard labour. 
The labour varied most un- 
equally, e.g., from 7500 feet 
ascent in the day in Lewes 
prison to 14,200 feet in Boston. 
This inequality and consequent 
injustice has now been re- 

Everton cofifee (rhyming slang), 

Everything is lovely, and the 
goose hangs high (American), 
a phrase which became known 
during the war, and which 
formed the burden of a popular 
song. It signified that all is 
going well. The goose is a 
synonym for terror or alarm. 
Thus, on the stage, "to be 
goosed" is to be hissed, and 
when the goose hangs high it is 
equivalent to saying that there 
is no defeat to fear. The phrase 
originated in Philadelphia. 

Ewe (old), a white ewe, a hand- 
some woman ; an old ewe, an 
old woman. 

Exam, (schools), short for exami- 

Excruciators (London), the new- 
fashioned boot or shoe painfully 

Execution — Face-making. 


Joyfully the lads bore T'Owd Mon off 
to Blurton's and got him a real shiny pair 
of pointed excniciators (small thirteens, 
T'Owd 'Un usually takes calf fourteens). 
Sporting Tunes. 

Execution day (common), wash- 
ing day amongst the lower 

Expecting (society), a common 
expression for a woman being 
in the family way ; it is an 
abbreviation for expecting her 

Explaterate (American), to en- 
large upon, to hold forth, to 
explain and illustrate fully. 

On this I will explaterate. 

And all my views profusely state. 

— Joel Boodler's Campaign. 

From the obsolete English to 
explute, to unfold. 

Extrumps (Winchester College), 
a corruption of extempore. To 
"go up to books extrumps " is 
to go up without having pre- 
pared one's lesson. " Extrum- 
pere," a jocose perversion of 
extempore, has been used by 
old English authors. 

Eye limpet, another name for an 
artificial eye. 

Eye-openers (American), one of 
the many concoctions drunk at 
American bars. 

In the vestibule of each refreshment- 
room there is an American bar, where 
visitors may indulge in juleps, cock- 
tails, cobblers, rattlesnakes, gum ticklers, 
eye-openers, flashes o" lightning, brandy 
smashes, stone fences, and a variety of 
similar beverages. — E. MacDennott : The 
Popular Guide to the International Ex- 
hibition 0/1Z62. 

Also a general term for any 
kind of intoxicating drink. 

(Society), is said of'an3rthing 
out of the way. 

Of course, there were the usual eye- 
openers in the way of dress. — Modem 

Eyes (low), "no more eyes nor 
arseholes," said of a one-eyed 

Eye, to take one's (tailors), to 
please one's fancy. 

Eye water (popular), gin. 

|ACE (popular), credit 
at a public-house. 
From one's physiog- 
nomy being known 
there ; or from face, 
effrontery, confidence. " To run 
one's face," to obtain credit by 
effrontery. ' ' He has no face 
but his own" (Grose), he has 

no coin {faces in French slang) 
in his pocket. 

Face entry (theatrical), the entr«5e 
or freedom of access to a 
theatre, from the face being 

Face-making (popular), begetting 



Facer — Fad. 

Facer (pugilistic), a blow on the 

While showers of facers told so deadly 

That the cracked jaw-bones cracked 'as 
they fell. 

— r. Moore. 
Blogg, starting upright, tipped the fel- 
low s. facer. — Ingotdsby Legends. 

(Society), a metaphorical 
knock down ; severe blow. 

The news of his having hit his leg yes- 
terday has proved a facer. — Sporting 

(Popular), a tumbler of whiskj- 

(Irish), a dram, a full glass. 
An old word for a bumper of 

(Thieves), a man who places 
himself directly in the way of 
persons in pursuit of his ac- 
complices. Formerly /acer meant 
an impudent fellow. 

Face the music, to (popular), a 
phrase no doubt of theatrical 
origin, and alluding to the tre- 
pidation sometimes felt upon 
facing the audience. The 
orchestra is generally placed 
in front of the audience, and 
consequently nearest the stage. 
To face the music is therefore to 
meet an emergency. Some- 
times it means "to show one's 
hand," i.e., to make plain one's 

(American), to boldly meet a 
severe trial ; to nerve oneself 
up to go tlirough a disagree- 
able emergency. Originally 
army slang, applied to men 

when drummed out to the tune 
of the "Rogue's March." 

Facie (tailors), the man working 
in front of one. "Facie on the 
bias," the man working in 
front of one to the right or 
left. " Facie on the two thick," 
the individual working imme- 
diately behind one's face-mate. 

Facings (tailors), "silk facings" 
are beer - droppings on the 
breast of a coat. 

Facings, put one through the 

(popular), in military parlance 
the regular drill — "Face!" 
"Right about face!" &c. In 
popular slang, to give one a 
scolding or call him to account. 

We were scarcely wed a week 

When she put me through my facings. 
And wolloped me — and worse ; 

She said I did not want a wife, 
I ought to have had a nurse. 

— F. Egerton : If my wife would 
let tne. 

Facing the knocker (tailors), 

Fad (common), hobby, whim, 
fancy, favourite pursuit. 

It seemed a harmless bit of fun, 

Tho' smoking is a sad 
Bad habit girls might better shun 

I'han take up as 3. fad. 

— Bird o' Freedom. 

Given in Wright's Provincial 
Dictionary as a provincialism, 
and by Hotten as a slang term, 
though it can hardly be con- 
sidered as such. Obsolete in the 
sense of cherish, caress, fondle, 
and now a low exi)ression for to 

Fad — Fagot. 


trifle, play the fiddle. It has 
been suggested by a writer in 
the CornhiU Magazine that it is 
derived from "fidfad,"a word 
that has been long in use, with 
much the same meaning as fad. 
In the sense of trifling, worth- 
less, it is derived from the 
Anglo-Norman fade, meaning 
originally sad, faded, tainted, 
decoyed. It seems to have 
been used at a very early date 
to signify fanciful, whimsical. 

Fad cattle (old slang), women of 
easy virtue. 

Faddist (common), enthusiast ; 
one addicted to " fads," which 

Fadge (popular), a corruption of 

Fadge r (glaziers), a glazier's 

Fadmonger, a monger of "fads," 
which see. 

It has hardly yet found its way into 
the dictionary, but " fads " are many, and 
"faddists" and fadmongers abound. — 
CornhiU Magazine. 

Fae-gang, a gang of gypsies. 
Faa was a common name for 
gypsies— not assumed, but often 
accepted by them. "Johnnie 
Faa, the Gipsy Laddie," is the 
title of an ancient popular bal- 
lad, recounting how a hand- 
some vagrant of that name ran 
off with the Countess of Cassilis, 
who was enamoured of him for 
his manly, hearty, and winning 

manners. Robert Faa is the 
present king of the Scottish 
gypsies at Yetholm. 

Fag, to (thieves), to beat. Ex- 
pressive of the trouble in giving 
a beating. 

(School), a young scholar who 
has to wait upon and do all 
sorts of little odd jobs for an 
elder one. 

Fagger (thieves), a small boy put 
into a window to rob the house 
or to open it for others to rob ; 
called also "little snakesman." 

Fagot (popular), a bundle of bits 
of the "stickings" (hence pro- 
bably its name), sold for food to 
the London poor (Hotten). But 
more probably from "fag-end." 
Also a term of contempt applied 
to a woman or child with re- 
ference originally to the slovenly 
garments, the person being com- 
pared to a bundle of sticks 
loosely put together. The 
French fai/ote signifies dressed 
in ill-fitting, badly matched 

Fagot briefs, bundles of worth- 
less papers tied up with red 
tape carried by unemployed 
barristers in the back rows of 
the courts to simulate briefs 

Fagot vote (politicians), votes 
given by electors expressly 
qualified for party purposes 
(Dr. Brewer). 

Evidently from the old term 
fagots, "dummy" soldiers or 


Fagot — Fake. 

sailors who were hired to appear 
at muster and fill up the com- 
panies or crews. 

Fag'ot, to, an expression proper 
to robbers ; that is, to bind 
hand and foot (Bayer's Dic- 
tionary, 1748). It is curious to 
note the coincidence with the 
French cant fagot, a convict ; 
from the circumstance that con- 
victs were all bound to one 
common chain when on their 
way to the hulks. 

Faints (schoolboys), in vogue 
amongst schoolboys to express 
a wish temporarily to withdraw 
from participation in the par- 
ticular sport or game being 
played. It is generally under- 
stood that this can only take 
place while in bounds or out of 
danger. It is somewhat similar 
to the now almost obsolete term 
" wicket " in cricket. 

Fair and square (common), hon- 
est, honesty. 

She beat him /air and square in a two 
miles and a quarter gallop. — Bird o Free- 

Also fair, square, and above 

I will have none of this hole and corner 
business. ... I wish all the criticisms in 
my paper to be /iiir, square, and above 
ground. — Anthony Trolhpe. 

Fairlick (Harvard University), .1 
football terra used when the 
liall is fairly caught or kicked 
beyond bounds. 

" Fairlick I" he cried, and raised his 

dreadful foot. 
Armed at all points with the ancestral 

boot. — Hari'ardiana. 

Fair rations (sport), fair play, 

Their protest was ludicrous in its insig- 
nificance, _/a/r rations out of the question. 
— Toby. , 

Fair trade (thieves), smuggling. 

Faithful, one of the (common), a 
tailor giving long credit. As 
this trade is in London, at all 
events, almost entirely in the 
hands of the Jews, they are 
sarcastically .said to have joined 
the ranks of X\\q faithful ; or this 
when they allow long credit to 
a customer, a practice which, it 
is to be feared, also often makes 
the old saying concerning them 
literally true—" his faith has 
made him unwhole," i.e., bank- 

Fake, a very ancient cant word, 
possibly from faccrc, used in the 
honest sense of to do, to make, 
originally, but afterwards in the 
dishonest one. The word was 
popularised by a song introduced 

■ in Mr. Ainsworth's novel " Rook- 
wood." It is used with various 
significations, and in this resi^ect 
exactly corresponds to the verb 
fairc of the French slang. 
(Thieves), to rob. 

All who in Blois entertain honest views, 
Have long been in bed, and enjoying a 

Nought is waking save mischief and 

And a few who are silting up brewing or 
' — Ifigoidsby Legends. 

Fake — Fakement. 


To do, to make, to cheat, 
swifldle, beg, malinger or coun- 
terfeit illness or sores, to escape 
labour and gain the diet of the 

Having set his mind upon shirking all 
work, he announces his intention Xa fake 
the doctor and "work" the parson. — 
Evening News. 

To continue, go on. 

In box of the stone peg I was born, 
Of a hempen widow the kid forlorn ; 
Fake away I 

— Ains-uiorth: Rookwood. 

"Fake away, there's no down," 
go on,- there is no one looking. 
To "fake a screeve," to draw 
up a false document, a begging 
letter; to "fake one's slangs," 
to file through one's irons ; to 
"fake a cly," to pick a pocket. 

(American thieves), in addi- 
tion to the usual meaning, cut- 
ting out the wards of a key. 

" Faking the sweetener," kis- 

(Sporting), to hocus or poison. 
To insert ginger under a horse's 

(American and English), false 
report, deception, pretence, 

. . . And that naming the house in the 
ridiculous way it was named was merely a 
fake to draw attention to it. — J. Green- 
wood: Tag, Rag, Gr' Co. 

The report sent out . . . does not bear 
investigation. It is a. fake, and nothing 
else. — Daily Inter Ocean. 

"I heard your brother had gone to 
New York." 

"Oh, that a. fake. He was badly 
punished at football, and is lying low to 
fetch up." — The Youth's Companion. 

Also invention, contrivance. 

That was one of the hesX/akes of the 
time, and there was lots of money in it 
too. — Bird o' Freedom. 

(Card-sharpers), a dodge. 

Now to learn some new fakes with the 
broads. — Sporting Times. 

(Stage), /aA;c is another term 
for " make up " of a character ; 
to fake, to paint one's face. 

Or ask what their age is, they'll scorn- 
fully say — 

" I do not fake (and smiling), I'm twenty 

— Birdo' Freedom. 

In conjuring, any mechanical 
contrivance for the performance 
of a trick. So also in a show, if, - 
for example, an apparently ordi- 
nary dinner plate had a small 
nick in it to help its being 
caught on the point of a knife 
after being tossed into the air, 
the plate would be/oAed. Again, 
bustling through a show of any 
kind under difliculties artfully 
concealed from the spectators 
is faking it. 

" Faking the duck," adulter- 
ating, dodgery. 

Fakeman Charley, the mark of 
the owner of a stolen object. 

Fakement, a word of general ap- 
plication among the lower or- 
ders for the doing of anything ; 
trade, profession, contrivance, 

The fakement conn'd by knowing rooks 
Must be well known to you. 

— The Leary Man. 

(Thieves and vagrants), a false 
begging petition. 


Fakement — Fall. 

Lawyer Bob AraMts /oMemenis up ; he's 
tipped a peg for each. — Ducange A nglicus : 
The Vulgar Tongve. 

Any dishonest practice, swin- 
dling dodge, forgery, 

I cultivated his acquaintance . . . and 
put him up to the neatest XwxXc fakement 
in the world ; just showed him to raise 
two hundred pounds . . . just by signing 
his father's name. — H. Kingsley : Geoffrey 

Also the depositions of a wit- 

Fakements (theatrical), small 
properties or make-up, such as 
a hare's foot, an old white 
stocking-top, piece of burnt 
cork, &c., all you can get in a 
"make-up" box, a cigar-box. 
Certain pantomimists are ac- 
customed to call the proper- 
ties used in the harlequinade 
fakements. A good story of 
Macready, whose loathing for 
the very name of slang was 
notorious, is told in connection 
with this subject. When star- 
ring in Hamlet at Newcastle-on- 
Tyne, the manager was short- 
handed, and an unfortunate 
clown was pressed into the 
^service for Francisco, who 
speaks the first line of the 
play. The poor pantomimist 
was waiting in great anxiety 
for the halberd or partizan he 
was to carry while niounting 
guard, and the property-man 
who ought to have provided it 
was conspicuous by his absence. 
The great Mac, grim and growl- 
ing, and more atrabilarious than 
usual, opened fire with — 

" Er — er — are we to stay here 
all day 7 Begin, sir, begin." 

" Can't begin, guv'nor," quoth 
the clown. 

"Er — why not, sir? er — why 
not 7 " 

" 'Cos I ain't got my fake- 

" Your what, sir? Good 
heavens I your what ? " 

" 'Hy fakements. Here, I say, 
cully" (catching sight of the 
property-man, who had just put 
in an appearance), "hand over 
the fakements.'" 

The great Mac, thoroughly 
nonplussed, growled to the pro- 
perty-man — 

"By all means, Mr. Cully, 
hand over the gentleman's fake- 
ments, and let us begin the 

Faker (popular and thieves). This 
word is applied to a great 
variety of men — pedlars, work- 
men, thieves. From " to fake." 
In Dutch slang /oi'ier is a thief ; 
jicker in German cant. 

(Circus), a faker, a circus 
rider or performer. 

(Popular), a prostitute's lover, 

Fakes and slumboes (theatrical), 
one of the numerous synonyms 
used by pantomimists to de- 
scribe properties. 

Fall of the leaf (old cant), hang- 
ing. Parker says, " The new 
mode of hanging. The culprit 
is brought upon a stage, and 
placed upon a leaf. When the 

Fall — Fancy. 


rope is fixed about his neck the 
leaf falls, and the body imme- 
diately becomes pendant," 

Why, I suppose you know that he was 
knocked down for the crap the last ses- 
sions. He went off at the: /all of the leaf 
at Tuck'em Fair. — G. Parker: Variegated 

Fall, to (thieves), to be appre- 

A little time after this I^// again at St. 
Mary Cray for being found at the back of 
a house. — Horsley : Jottings front Jail. 

False hereafters (American), 

The scheme worked to perfection. In 
the large bustles which they wore, the 
dudes carried off their wardrobe in large 
false hereafters, and passed the lady of 
the house on their way out. — New Y'ork 
National Police Gazette. 

Fam, fem (thieves), the hand. 

If they do get their fatns on me I'll be 
in for a stretch of air and exercise.— C» 
the Trail. 

The gypsies claim this as a Ro- 
many word and derive it from 
/em., five, or the five fingers, al- 
though five in Romany is panrje. 

Fambles, fumbles (thieves), the 
hands. Vide Fam. 

Fam grasp (old cant), shaking 

Family disturbance (cowboys), 

Family man (thieves), one of the 
fraternity of thieves. Also a 
receiver of stolen goods or 
" fence." 

Fam lay (thieves), robbing a 
store by pretending to examine 
goods. But more specially to 
rob a jeweller by means of a 
sticky substance attached to the 
palm or fingers, thus abstracting 
the articles shown. 

•Fam squeeze (thieves), strang- 

Fam, to (thieves), to handle ; from 
the gypsy /aw or vangri. 

Fan (thieves), a waistcoat. 

Fan, to (thieves), to steal from the 
person. (Prov. Cumberland), to 
feel, to find. 

On the way down the street Pete was 
very friendly and entertaining, ar^A fanned 
the countryman's pocket where he had 
seen him put the roll, but it had been 
shifted. — New York World. 

Fancy bloke (sporting), a sporting 
man ; also the favoured man of 
a low class woman, or prosti- 

Fancy house (prostitutes), a 
house of ill-repute. 

Fancy Joseph (common), a youth 
who is a general favourite and 
pet among prostitutes. Also 
" Cupid," a mere boy, who goes 
with fast women or girls. An 
M.D., a " milliner's darling." 

Fancy man (prostitutes), the lover 
of a prostitute. 

But my nuttiest blowen, one fine day, 

Fake away ! 
To the beak did \\^x fancy man betray. ' 
— A insworth : Rookwood. 


Fancy — Farmer. 

Fancy pieces (common), prosti- 

Fancy, the, the favourite pastimes 
of sporting men. 

That boxing and ratting, and other forms 
<\{ the fancy, still exist as part of the amuse- 
ments of the lower orders is perfectly true, 
but they can no longer be classed as among 
the amusements of those who cannot afford 
to pay high prices of admission to illegal 
entertainments. — Sims: How tht Poor 

The word very soon became 
specialised with reference to the 
devotees of the prize ring. 

They hurried to be present at the ex- 
pected scene with the alacrity of gentlemen 
of the/a?icy hastening to a set to. — Scott : 
St. Ronan's Well. 

Other meaning explained by 

His father took a great deal to the fancy 
... it meant dealing in birds, and dogs, 
and rabbits. — J. Greenwood: The Little 

Fancy work, to take in (com- 
mon). In general use among 
milliners, dressmakers, and shop 
girls, who resort to secret pros- 
titution to eke out their scanty 
earnings at legitimate work. If 
a girl known to be receiving 
small wages dresses well and 
seems to have plenty of money, 
it is said of her, " Oh, she takes 
in fancy work." 

Fanning (thieves), a beating, also 
stealing. Crosii-f nnning, steal- 
ing from the person with the 
arms crossed, the right hand 
operating under the left arm- 

Fanny (common), the fem. pud. 

Fanny Adams (naval), tinned 

Fanny Blair (rhyming slang), the 

Fanqui (Anglo-Chinese), a Euro- 
pean ; literally foreign devil. 

Fanteeg (popular), to be "in a 
regular /anice^'," to be perplexed, 
embarrassed, to be at one's wits' 
end (provincial English). 

Far back (tailors), an indifferent 
workman or an ignorant per- 

Farm (common), a place where il- 
legitimate children are boarded, 
or rather starved, for a given 

There can be no question that he has .t 
better chance . . . though his treacherous 
"adopter" deserts him on a door-step, 
than if he were so kindly cruel as to tole- 
rate his existence at the fann. — Green- 
wood: Seven Curses of London. 

(Prison), the prison hospital. 

He . . . first entered into a critical de- 
scription of the dietary system of \k\'ifarvi 
infirmary. — Evening News. 

To " fetch the farm" to ob- 
tain infirmary treatment and 

. . . The dodges which would take place 
to " fetch ihefarjn." — Eveniftg Ac^vs. 

Farmer (common), one who keeps 
a "farm," which see. 

These are not the fanners who append 
to their advertisements the notification that 
children of ill-health are not objected to. — 
Greenwood : Sci'cn Curses of London. 

Fashno — Fawney. 


(Thieves), an alderman. 
Kent a hare. 


Fashno, fashni, fashloni (gypsy), 
false, counterfeit ; fashni au- 
gxistrins, false (gold) rings ; also 
fashino fauny. (Fauny is cant- 

Fast (common), in want of money. 
Same as " hard up." 

Fat (thieves), money. French 
slang, graisse. Fat cull, a rich 
man. (Printers), paying work 
in contradistinction to bad or 
" lean " work. This paying 
work consists of blank spaces 
in a page which are paid 
for at the same rate as pages 
fully printed. Short lines of 
verse set up in type are also 
considered as being fat. (Popu- 
lar), vide Cut it fat. Cut up 
FAT. (Theatrical), a part with 
good lines and telling situation 
that gives the player an oppor- 
tunity of appearing to advan- 
tage is said to be fat, or to have 
fat. When an actor has a part 
of this kind, his colleagues are 
wont to say "he's got all the 
fat." (Princeton College), re- 
mittances of money to students. 
(English and American), fat 
thing, something which is very 
profitable or "fat." 

"Those concerns will some time be 
unable to pay their interest," say these 
wise men, " and then we will step in and 
get a,Jat thing." — American Newspaper. 

Fat flab (Winchester), part of a 
breast of mutton. 

Father (thieves), a receiver of 
stolen property. (University), 
father of a college, the praslector 
who presents his men for de- 
grees and represents the parents. 
(Printers), a person elected to 
preside as chairman to the 
"chapel" (which see) when held. 
He acts as a medium between 
master and men. (Naval), the 
dockyard name given to the 
builder of a ship of the navy. 

Fatness (common), wealth. 

That a man who has enjoyed so many 
years oi fatness should die in absolute 
penury. — Sporting Times. 

Fawney (thieves), a ring ; also 

We believe that \}n^fauneysow the hands 
were not molested, probably being left to 
be requisitioned on some future occasion. 
— Bird o Freedom. 

Hotten gives the derivation, 
Irish, faince, a ring. 

Fawney bouncing (thieves), sell- 
ing rings for a pretended wager. 

Fawney dropper (thieves), one 
who practises the ring-dropping 
trick. Vide FAWNEY KiG. 

Shallow fellows gad the hoof and fence 
their cant of togs, whWst /a-!vney droppers 
gammon the flats and take the yokels in. — 
Ducange Anglictis : The Vulgar Tongue. 

Faw^ney rig (thieves), the ring- 
dropping trick. A rogue drojjs 
a valueless ring or other article 
of jewellery 'and when he sees 
a person jncking it up, claims 
half ; or, he pretends to have 


Fawnted — Fen. 

just found the article and offers 
it for sale to a passer-by at a 
low price. A few years ago 
the article offered was generally 
a meerschaum pipe. 

Fawnied (thieves), with rings, 
wearing rings. 

Feathers (popular), money. Pro- 
bably from the phrase to 
" feather one's nest." 

Feed (common\ a meaL 

When he did give a Jeed he always 
limited the invitation to four. — Bird o 

(Football), io feed, to support. 

Feeder (thieves), a silver spoon. 
(Nautical), a small river falling 
into a large one, or into a dock 
or float. Feeders in pilots' lan- 
guage are the passing spurts 
of rain which "feed" a gale 

Feeding gale (nautical^ a storm 
which is on the increase, some- 
times getting worse at each 
succeeding squall. When a gale 
freshens after rain it is said to 
have fed the gale (Smyth). 

Feele (popular and thieves), a 
girl ; from the French jille, or 
the Italian fylia. 

Feet (old), "(o make feet for 
children's stockings," to beget 

Feet casements, a humorous ex- 
pression for shoes or boots. 

But he managed without it ; only the 
new yiet casetnents were not sea.soned. — 

Fegaries (American), old English 
for "vagaries," fads, caprices, 
whimsies, odd fancies, whims. 
A common word in New Eng- 

Fell and didn't (tailors) is said of 
a man who walks lame. 

Felling a bit on (tailors), North- 
ern fell, sharp, crafty, doing 
something underhand. 

Fellow - commoner (Cambridge 
University), an empty bottle 

Fello^w-comp. (printers), a term 
of familiarity used by composi- 
tors amongst themselves, espe- 
cially for those employed in the 
same office. 

Fello'w-P. (printers), a designa- 
tion applied to each other by 
apprentices that have been 
bound to the same master or 
firm, whether in the past or in 
the present. In some large 
offices it is customary to have 
an annual gathering of these 
fellow- P. ^s, and such reunions 
are very sociable, and the tra- 
ditions of a firm are thus 
handed down. 

Fen (thieves), a prostitute. Amis- 
pronunciation of femme, or from 
the Anglo-Saxon fen or fenn, 
mud, dirt. Compare with the 
French gadoue, meaning both 
Paris mud and prostitute. 

Fen — Ferg. 


(American and provincial Eng- 
lish), a boy's exclamation to ex- 
press warning or prohibition. 
*^ Fen puds," or "/en ball," keep 
away the ball ; from English 
" fence off," or very old English, 
fend, ward off. English boys 
use the word " feign," I decline; 
also "feign it," leave off. 

Fence (thieves), a receiver of 
stolen property ; also his house 
or shop. Probably from "fence 

About two moon after this same fence 
fell for buying two finns. — Horsley : Jot- 
tings Jrotn Jail. 

G. Parker, in his " Variegated 
Characters," says: "In Field 
Lane, where the handkerchiefs 
are carried, there are a number 
of shops called 'fence shops,' 
where you buy any number." 

Fence-riding (American), said of 
those who wait to see which 
side it will pay them to indorse, 
and then when victory or suc- 
cess seems certain, to throw in 
their lot with the winning side. 

This question is one of clear right and 
wrong, and there can be no fence-ridins; 
when the rights of four millions of men are 
at stake. — Congressional Globe. 

Fence, sitting on the. Although 
without doubt American in its 
later usage, the idea conveyed 
is "as old as the hills." Trench, 
in his " English Past and Pre- 
sent," page 300, points out how 
singular it is that not only is 
the same idea embodied in the 
phrase as in the Latin prcpvari- 

cato, viz., " straddling with dis- 
torted legs," but that it should 
also carry with it almost exactly 
the same figurative meaning as 
the classical word. "To sit on 
the fence," in political cant par- 
lance, is to wait and see how 
things go before committing 
oneself to definite action or 

A kind o' hangin' round an' seitin on 

Till Providence pinted how to jump an' 

save the most expense. 

— Biglow Papers. 

Sometimes the phrase is varied 
with " sitting on both sides of 
the hedge." The expression is 
of Western growth, being trace- 
able to the care with which the 
squatter fences in his lot ; it also 
being a point of vantage at the 
top of which, at the close of the 
day's work, he can smoke his 
pipe and survey his possessions 
while thinking out las plans for 
the future. 

Fence, to (thieves), to sell stolen 
property, or take it to a re- 
ceiver's. The term is old. 

It's not the first time that I have fenced 
a rum screen with him. — G. Parker: 
Variegated Characters. 

Also to spend money. 

Fencing crib (thieves), a place 
where stolen property can be 
disposed of. 

Fencing cully (old), a receiver of 
stolen goods. 

Ferg, to (Vermont University), 
old English ferke, to hasten, pro- 


Ferguson — Fetch. 

ceed, go. As going out of a 
rage. German vergehen. When 
a man is cooling down from 
intense excitement or passion 
he is said to ferg. 

Fergfuson (common), generally 
heard expressed as, "It's all 
very well, Mr. Ferguson; you're 
very good-looking, but you can't 
come in." Said to be addressed 
to men who are not known at- 
tempting to obtain admission 
to "close" gambling - houses, 
or other haunts of dissipation, 
where close watch is kept for 
fear of the police. There is a 
song which has this sentence 
for a refrain. It was very com- 
mon, and used with many ap- 
plications from 1845 to 1850. 

Ferret (thieves), a young thief 
who gets into a coal barge and 
throws coal over the side to his 
confederates. (Old), a trades- 
man who, having supplied goods 
at ruinous prices on credit, con- 
tinually duns his customers for 

Ferricadouzer, a knock - down 
blow, a good thrashing (Hotten). 
Evidently derived from the Ita- 
lian fare cadere, to cause to fall, 
and dosso, back. 

Fess, to (American university), to 
fail in reciting the lesson, to- 
gether with a mute appeal for 
no further questions to be put. 
The military cadets at West 
I'oint also use the word in a 
similar way. Old English fese, 
to frighten, make afraiil. 

And when you and I and Benny and 

General Jackson too, 
Are brought before a final board our course 

of life to view, 
May we never y^w on any point, but then 

be told to go 
To join the army of the blest, with Benny 

Havens, O ! 

— Song: Benny Havens, O ! 

Fetch (common), a success ; to 
fetch, to please, to arouse lively 
interest, excite admiration. 

" You come up to the window and touch 
your hat, and say, ' Luggage all in, my 
Lord;' that will Jeick 'cm." — Bird o 

(Theatrical), is said of a play 
or entertainment which finds 
great favour with the public 
and attracts large audiences. 

The masher's ballet is one of the features 
of the show and ought to fetch north 
London. — Ez'ening Neivs. 

(Thieves), to fetch the farm. 
Y'ldc Farm. 

Fetch a lagging, to (thieves), to 
be serving out one's sentence at 
a convict establishment. 

Millbank for thick shins and graft at the 

Broadmoor for all lags as go off their 

Brixton for good toke and cocoa with fat, 
Dartmoor for bad grub but plenty of chat, 
Portsmouth a blooming bad place for h-ord 

Chatham on Sunday gives four ounces of 

Portland is the worst of the lot for to joke 

Vox fetching a lagging there is no place 

like Woking. 

— A Thirf's Production, quoted by 
Horslcy : Jottings from Jail. 

Fetch up, to (popular), to startle. 
(American), to come to light, 

Fetch — Fiddler's green. 


and said, for example, of the 
bodies of drowned people. 

" Bodies that come over the falls, they 
mostly_/^/cA up here." 

"Things always fetch ufi sooner or 
later, but it's sometimes a week before we 
get 'em." — Between Two Oceans. 

Also to recruit one's strength, 
to recover from some illness. 

Fettle (popular), " in good fettle," 
in good order, well equipped. 
Also in a good state of mind, 
jolly, or very drunk. 

Fever-time (Winchester College), 
the time when superannuated 
college prefects go for a fort- 
night into a sick-room in order 
to " mug," that is, to give them- 
selves up to hard study. 

Fez (Harrow), the tasselled cap 
worn by members of a football 
eleven. A member of that 

Fibbery (thieves), lying. From 

And if you come \.o fibbery 
You must mug one or two. 

— The Leary Man. 

Fibbing gloak (old cant), a pugi- 

Fibbing match (thieves), a prize 

Fibbings (boxing), rapid, repeated 
blows, delivered at a short 

I say, could I borrow these gentlemen's 

More skilled than my neck, or in fibbingi 

and bruises. 

— Ingoldsby Legends. 

Fib, to (old cant), to strike, beat. 
(Boxing), to deliver rapid blows 
at a short distance. 

Each cull completely in the dark 
Resolved his fibbing not to mind. 

— Ainsworth: Rookwood. 

. . . His whole person put in chancery, 
stung, bruised, fibbed, propped, fiddled, 
slogged, and otherwise ill-treated. — Cuth- 
bert Bede: Adventures of Mr. Verdant 

To tell lies. 

Fickle Johnny Crow (West In- 
dian), one who does not know 
his own mind. 

Fiddle (Stock Exchange) a six- 
teenth part oi £,\. 

Done at s. fiddle ; " Sugar " getting in ! 
— Atkin : House Scraps. 

(Thieves), a whip. (Popular), 
a sharper; the Scotch fiddle, 
the itch ; a sixpence, possibly 
from the expression "fiddler's 
money," sixpences. (Tailors), 
second fiddle, an unpleasant 

Fiddle-face (popular), a wizened 

Fiddler (pugilistic), a pugilist wlio 
depends more on his activity 
than upon his strength or stay. 
(Popular), a sharper, a cheat, a 
careless, dilatory person. Also 
a sixpence or farthing. 

Fiddler's green (nautical), a sort 
of sensual Elysium, where sailors 
are represented as enjoying for 
a "full due" those amenities 
for which Wapping, Castle 


Fiddle — Fi-fa. 

Kag, and the back of Ports- 
mouth Point were once noted 

Fiddle, to (thieves), to gamble and 
consequently to cheat. (Popu- 
lar), to get one's living by doing 
small jobs in the streets. To 
play upon, to take in. 

She's diddled me, %\ic's_fiddled me, nigh 
Sent me oflF my chump. 

— Robson : Ballad. 

(Common), to take liberties 
with a woman. (American), to 
intrigue, or intrigue craftily. 

Bob is the man who^</if/^(f himself into 
Congress. — St. Louis Chronicle. 

(Pugilistic), to strike. 

Fidlam bens (thieves), thieves 
who have no speciality, who 
will steal anything. 

Fidlam coves (thieves). Vide 
FiDLAM Bens. 

Field (sport), the runners in any 
race. (Turf), the horses in a 
race as opposed to the favour- 
ite. To "chop the field" is said 
of a horse that outstrips the 
rest, literally "whips" them. 
Vide To Chop. 

Bismarck, whose terrific speed enabled 
him to chop his_field. — Sporting Times. 

To " lay against the field" is 
to back one horse against all 
comers. (Hunting), the riders. 

The cry of the ' 'field a pony," 
means that the layer is willing 
to bet even money on the gene- 
ral mass of runners against any 
one competitor. The backers 

would, of course, select the 
favourite on these terms. 

Fielder (turf), one who backs the 
"field" (which see) against one 
horse. Also a "layer" or "book- 

Yet the confiAm^ ^elder who took this 
security stood him in Paris for about ;iioo. 
— Bird d Freedom. 

Field-leine duck (popular), a baked 
sheep's head. Field-lane was a 
low London thoroughfare lead- 
ing from the foot of Holborn 
Hill to the purlieus of Clerken- 
well (Hotten). 

Field, to (Winchester College), to 
jump into the water before an- 
other goes in, so as to assist 
him. (Turf), to back the ' ' field, " 
which see. 

It cannot be denied that there has lately 
been an uncommon eagerness to field. — 
Sporting Times. 

Field, to lead the (city), to set an 
example which is followed by 
all others. Evidently an adap- 
tation of the sporting phrase. 

Fiery lot (popular), a word which 
does not mean in ordinary slang 
hot-tempered so much as "fast " 
and rollicking. 

Berty isn't bad-tempered, though he's 

such 3. fiery lot; 
And he's cool, though when he's spree- 

ing, he's a boy that goes it hot. 

— Brooiiside,: My Berty. 

Fi-fa (legal), a writ of ficri- 
facias, i.e., a writ lying for him 

Fifer — File. 


who has recovered an action of 
debt or damages, to levy the 
debt or damages against whom 
the recovery was had. 

Fifer (tailors), a waistcoat-maker. 

Fig (common), "to be in ivXipj" 
in full dress ; figuretto, figured 
silk, the finest and most expen- 
sive dress. Old English from 
the Italian (Halliwell). Dr. 
Brewer says this term is a cor- 
ruption of the Italian in fiocchi, 
in gala costume. Hotten thinks 
it may be an allusion to the fig- 
leaf of our first parents. An- 
other but more probable etymo- 
logy is that it is taken from 
the word full jig. (figure) in 
fashion books. 

(Horsedealers), to fig a 
is to apply ginger to a horse to 
make him appear lively, to make 
him carry a fine tail. 

Figged out (popular), dressed in 
best clothes, in full costume. 

Figger (thieves), vide Faggek. 

Fighting tight (American), drunk 
and quarrelsome. Extremeh' 

In those unburdened days a quarter of 
a dollar would buy enough sour mash to 
make an ordinary man fighting tight, but 
now it would take the larger part of a 
dollar. — Chicago Tribune. 

Fight one's weight in wild cats, 
to (American), to be full of 
courage and "go." 

John Halkett, as I learned afterwards, 
could.;?^A^ his weight in wild cats. — Th€ 
Golden Butterfly. 

Fig leaf (common), a small orna- 
mented apron worn by ladies. 
(Fencing), the apron or padding 
protecting the lower part of 
the abdomen and the right 

Figure dancer (thieves), one who 
alters the numbers or figures on 

Figure-head (nautical), the face. 

Figure man (studios), the prin- 
cipal figure in a picture. In 
French artists' language, It 

Filau (Anglo-Indian), explained 
by quotation. 

He is ambitious of being Vice-President 
of the Municipal Committee, or a Filau 
(Anglicc Fellow) of the University, and it 
is requisite that his qualifications