Friday, March 2, 2012

200 Year Old Slang
(or: the more things change...)

This brilliant little tome–now available on the Gutenberg Project, here–is a compilation of the slang of two centuries ago–many of which are now solid English words on their own. The collection is a wonderful timewaster (and, being in the public domain, freely available for filching good stuff when short of ideas for the blog). Therefore, I present to you, without further ado, a sampling of.....

THE 1811 DICTIONARY OF THE VULGAR TONGUE.
A DICTIONARY
OF BUCKISH SLANG,
UNIVERSITY WIT,
AND
PICKPOCKET ELOQUENCE.

UNABRIDGED FROM THE ORIGINAL 1811 EDITION WITH A FOREWORD BY ROBERT CROMIE; COMPILED ORIGINALLY BY CAPTAIN GROSE.

(AND NOW CONSIDERABLY ALTERED AND ENLARGED, WITH THE MODERN CHANGES AND IMPROVEMENTS, BY A MEMBER OF THE WHIP CLUB.)

ASSISTED BY HELL-FIRE DICK, AND JAMES GORDON, ESQRS. OF CAMBRIDGE; AND WILLIAM SOAMES, ESQ. OF THE HON. SOCIETY OF NEWMAN'S HOTEL



(PS: I wonderful if Hell-Fire Dick had any idea his name would still be used two hundred years hence?).

* ACTIVE CITIZEN. A louse.

* BANDBOX. Mine a-se on a bandbox; an answer to the offer of any thing inadequate to the purpose for which it is proffered, like offering a bandbox for a seat.

* BOB TAIL. A lewd woman, or one that plays with her tail; also an impotent man, or an eunuch. Tag, rag, and bobtail; a mob of all sorts of low people. To shift one's bob; to move off, or go away. To bear a bob; to join in chorus with any singers. Also a term used by the sellers of game, for a partridge.

* BOG HOUSE. The necessary house. To go to bog; to go to stool.

* TO BUM. To arrest a debtor. The gill bummed the swell for a thimble; the tradesman arrested the gentleman for a watch.

* BUTTOCK AND TONGUE. A scolding wife.

* CROP. To be knocked down for a crop; to be condemned to be hanged. Cropped, hanged.

* DIVIDE. To divide the house with one's wife; to give her the outside, and to keep all the inside to one's self, i.e. to turn her into the street.

* DOCTOR. Milk and water, with a little rum, and some nutmeg; also the name of a composition used by distillers, to make spirits appear stronger than they really are, or, in their phrase, better proof.

* FEET. To make feet for children's stockings; to beget children. An officer of feet; a jocular title for an officer of infantry.

* FOYSTED IN. Words or passages surreptitiously interpolated or inserted into a book or writing.

* GAGGERS. High and Low. Cheats, who by sham pretences, and wonderful stories of their sufferings, impose on the credulity of well meaning people. See RUM GAGGER.

* GRIN. To grin in a glass case; to be anatomized for murder: the skeletons of many criminals are preserved in glass cases, at Surgeons' hall.

* HALF SEAS OVER. Almost drunk.

* HARE. He has swallowed a hare; he is drunk; more probably a HAIR, which requires washing down.

* IDEA POT. The knowledge box, the head.

* KING OF THE GYPSIES. The captain, chief, or ringleader of the gang of misrule: in the cant language called also the upright man.

* LATHY. Thin, slender. A lathy wench; a girl almost as slender as a lath.

* LENTEN FARE. Spare diet.

* LOOKING-GLASS. A chamber pot, jordan, or member mug.

* NAVY OFFICE. The Fleet prison. Commander of the Fleet; the warden of the Fleet prison.

* OCCUPY. To occupy a woman; to have carnal knowledge of her. (Gives an entirely new meaning to the phrase "Occupy Wall Street", does it not? - RLK)

* PANTER. A hart: that animal is, in the Psalms, said to pant after the fresh water-brooks. Also the human heart, which frequently pants in time of danger. CANT.

* PAVIOUR'S WORKSHOP. The street.

* PONTIUS PILATE. A pawnbroker. Pontius Pilate's guards, the first regiment of foot, or Royal Scots: so intitled from their supposed great antiquity. Pontius Pilate's counsellor; one who like him can say, Non invenio causam, I can find no cause. Also (Cambridge) a Mr. Shepherd of Trinity College; who disputing with a brother parson on the comparative rapidity with which they read the liturgy, offered to give him as far as Pontius Pilate in the Belief.

* PROPERTY. To make a property of any one; to make him a conveniency, tool, or cat's paw; to use him as one's own.

* PUDDING TIME. In good time, or at the beginning of a meal: pudding formerly making the first dish. To give the crows a pudding; to die. You must eat some cold pudding, to settle your love.

* RUMBO. Rum, water, and sugar; also a prison.

* SADDLE. To saddle the spit; to give a dinner or supper. To saddle one's nose; to wear spectacles. To saddle a place or pension; to oblige the holder to pay a certain portion of his income to some one nominated by the donor. Saddle sick: galled with riding, having lost leather.

* SEVEN-SIDED ANIMAL. A one-eyed man or woman, each having a right side and a left side, a fore side and a back side, an outside, an inside, and a blind side.

* SHOTTEN HERRING. A thin meagre fellow.

* TICK. To run o'tick; take up goods upon trust, to run in debt. Tick; a watch.

* TRANSLATORS. Sellers of old mended shoes and boots, between coblers and shoemakers.

* TO TROLL. To loiter or saunter about.

* VAGARIES. Frolics, wild rambles.

Again, this awesome little book can be found here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep it clean for gene.