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Title: A Dictionary of Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words - Used at the Present Day in the Streets of London; the - Universities of Oxford and Cambridge; the Houses of - Parliament; the Dens of St. Giles; and the Palaces of St. - James.
Author: Antiquary, A London
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Dictionary of Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words - Used at the Present Day in the Streets of London; the - Universities of Oxford and Cambridge; the Houses of - Parliament; the Dens of St. Giles; and the Palaces of St. - James." ***

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  ☓ NO GOOD; too poor, and know too much.

  ◠+ STOP,—if you have what they want, they will buy. They are pretty
  “_fly_” (knowing).

  ⸧— GO IN THIS DIRECTION, it is better than the other road. Nothing
  that way.

  ◇ _BONE_ (good). Safe for a “cold tatur,” if for nothing else.
  “_Cheese your patter_” (don’t talk much) here.

  ▽ _COOPER’D_ (spoilt), by too many tramps calling there.

  □ _GAMMY_ (unfavourable), likely to have you taken up. Mind the dog.

  ☉ _FLUMMUXED_ (dangerous), sure of a month in “_quod_” (prison).

  ⊕ _RELIGIOUS_, but tidy on the whole.

  _See page 37._






“Rabble-charming words, which carry so much wild-fire wrapt up in





The First Edition of this work had a rapid sale, and within a few weeks
after it was published the entire issue passed from the publisher’s
shelves into the hands of the public. A Second Edition, although
urgently called for, was not immediately attempted. The First had been
found incomplete and faulty in many respects, and the author determined
to thoroughly revise and recast before again going to press. The
present edition, therefore, will be found much more complete than the
First; indeed, I may say that it has been entirely rewritten, and that,
whereas the First contained but 3,000 words, this gives nearly 5,000,
with a mass of fresh illustrations, and extended articles on the more
important slang terms—HUMBUG, for instance. The notices of a _Lingua
Franca_ element in the language of London vagabonds is peculiar to this

My best thanks are due to several correspondents for valuable hints
and suggestions as to the probable etymologies of various colloquial

One literary journal of high repute recommended a division of
cant from slang; but the annoyance of two indices in a small work
appeared to me to more than counterbalance the benefit of a stricter
philological classification, so I have for the present adhered to the
old arrangement; indeed, to separate cant from slang would be almost

Respecting the HIEROGLYPHICS OF VAGABONDS, I have been unable to obtain
further information; but the following extract from a popular manual
which I have just met with is worth recording, although, perhaps,
somewhat out of place in a Preface.

  “Gipseys follow their brethren by numerous marks, such as strewing
  handfuls of grass in the day time at a four lane or cross roads;
  the grass being strewn down the road the gang have taken; also, by
  a cross being made on the ground with a stick or knife, the longest
  end of the cross denotes the route taken. In the night time a cleft
  stick is placed in the fence at the cross roads, with an arm pointing
  down the road their comrades have taken. The marks are always placed
  on the left-hand side, so that the stragglers can easily and readily
  find them.”—_Snowden’s Magistrate’s Assistant_, 1852, p. 444.

_Piccadilly, March 15th, 1860._


If any gentleman of a studious turn of mind, who may have acquired the
habit of carrying pencils and notebooks, would for one year reside in
Monmouth Court, Seven Dials; six months in Orchard Street, Westminster;
three months in Mint Street, Borough; and consent to undergo another
three months on the extremely popular, but very much disliked treadmill
(_vulgo_ the “Everlasting Staircase”), finishing, I will propose, by
a six months’ tramp, in the character of a cadger and beggar, over
England, I have not the least doubt but that he would be able to write
an interesting work on the languages, secret and vulgar, of the lower

In the matter of SLANG, our studious friend would have to divide his
time betwixt observation and research. Conversations on the outsides
of omnibuses, on steamboat piers, or at railway termini, would demand
his most attentive hearing, so would the knots of semi-decayed cabmen,
standing about in bundles of worn-out great-coats and haybands, betwixt
watering pails, and conversing in a dialect every third word of which
is without home or respectable relations. He would also have to station
himself for hours near gatherings of ragged boys playing or fighting,
but ever and anon contributing to the note-book a pure street term. He
would have to “hang about” lobbies, mark the refined word-droppings
of magniloquent flunkies, “run after” all the popular preachers, go
to the Inns of Court, be up all night and about all day—in fact, be a
ubiquitarian, with a note-book and pencil in hand.

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

I give this outline of preparatory study to show the reason the task
has never been undertaken before. People in the present chase after
respectability don’t care to turn blackguards, and exchange cards with
the Whitechapel Pecker or the Sharp’s-alley Chicken, for the sake of
a few vulgar, although curious words; and we may rest assured that it
is quite impossible to write any account of vulgar or low language,
and remain seated on damask in one’s own drawing room. But a fortunate
circumstance attended the compiler of the present work, and he has
neither been required to reside in Seven Dials, visit the treadmill, or
wander over the country in the character of a vagabond or a cadger.

In collecting old ballads, penny histories, and other printed
street narratives, as materials for a _History of Cheap or Popular
Literature_, he frequently had occasion to purchase in Seven Dials and
the Borough a few old songs or dying speeches, from the chaunters and
patterers who abound in those neighbourhoods. With some of these men
(their names would not in the least interest the reader, and would only
serve the purpose of making this Preface look like a vulgar page from
the London Directory) an arrangement was made, that they should collect
the cant and slang words used by the different wandering tribes of
London and the country. Some of these chaunters are men of respectable
education (although filling a vagabond’s calling), and can write good
hands, and express themselves fluently, if not with orthographical
correctness. To prevent deception and mistakes, the words and phrases
sent in were checked off by other chaunters and tramps. Assistance
was also sought and obtained, through an intelligent printer in Seven
Dials, from the costermongers in London, and the pedlars and hucksters
who traverse the country. In this manner the greater number of cant
words were procured, very valuable help being continually derived from
_Mayhew’s London Labour and London Poor_, a work which had gone over
much of the same ground. The slang and vulgar expressions were gleaned
from every source which appeared to offer any materials; indeed the
references attached to words in the Dictionary frequently indicate the
channels which afforded them.

Although in the Introduction I have divided cant from slang, and
treated the subjects separately, yet in the Dictionary I have only, in
a few instances, pointed out which are slang, or which are cant terms.
The task would have been a difficult one. Many words which were once
cant are slang now. The words PRIG and COVE are instances in point.
Once cant and secret terms, they are now only street vulgarisms.

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

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

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

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

It appears from the calculations of philologists, that there are 38,000
words in the English language, including derivations. I believe I have,
for the first time, in consecutive order, added at least 3,000 words
to the previous stock,—vulgar and often very objectionable, but still
terms in every-day use, and employed by thousands. It is not generally
known, that the polite Lord Chesterfield once desired Dr. Johnson to
compile a Slang Dictionary; indeed, it was Chesterfield, some say, who
first used the word HUMBUG. Words, like peculiar styles of dress, get
into public favour, and come and go in fashion. When great favourites
and universal they truly become household words, although generally
considered slang, when their origin or antecedents are inquired into.

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


_Piccadilly, June 30th, 1859._




  Black and Coloured VAGABONDS—Vagabonds all over Europe—Vagabonds
  Universal                                                          1–5

  Etymology of CANT—Cant used in old times—Difference between Cant
  and Slang                                                          5–7

  THE GIPSEYS—Gipseys taught English Vagabonds—The Gipsey-Vagabond
  alliance—The Origin of Cant—Vulgar words from the Gipsey—Gipsey
  element in the English language—The poet Moore on the origin of
  Cant—Borrow on the Gipsey language—The inventor of Canting not
  hanged                                                            7–15

  OLD CANT words still used—Old Cant words with modern meanings—The
  words “_Rum_” and “_Queer_” explained—Old Cant words entirely
  obsolete                                                         16–19

  THE OLDEST “ROGUE’S DICTIONARY”                                  20–26

  “Jaw-breakers,” or hard words, used as Cant—Were Highwaymen educated
  men?—Vagabonds used Foreign words as Cant—The Lingua Franca, or
  Bastard Italian—Cant derived from Jews and Showmen—Classic words
  used as English Cant—Old English words used as Cant—Old English
  words not fashionable now—Our old Authors very vulgar persons—Was
  Shakespere a pugilist?—Old Dramatists used Cant words—Curious
  systems of Cant                                                  26–35


  MENDICANT FREEMASONRY—Hieroglyphics of Vagabonds—Maps used by
  Beggars—Account of a Cadger’s Map—Explanation of the
  Hieroglyphics—Did the Gipseys invent them?—The Murderer’s Signal on
  the Gallows                                                      36–43


  Slang at Babylon and Nineveh—Old English Slang—Slang in the time of
  Cromwell; and in the Court of Charles II.—Swift and Arbuthnot fond
  of Slang—The origin of “_Cabbage_”—“The Real Simon Pure”—Tom Brown
  and Ned Ward—Did Dr. Johnson compile a Slang Dictionary?—John Bee’s
  absurd etymology of _Slang_—The true origin of the term—Derived from
  the Gipseys—Burns and his fat friend, Grose—Slang used by all
  classes, High and Low—Slang in Parliament, and amongst our
  friends—New words not so reprehensible as old words burdened with
  strange meanings—The poor Foreigner’s perplexity—Long and windy
  Slang words—Vulgar corruptions                                   44–55

  FASHIONABLE SLANG                                                   58

  PARLIAMENTARY SLANG                                                 60

  MILITARY AND DANDY SLANG                                            62

  UNIVERSITY SLANG                                                    64

  RELIGIOUS SLANG                                                     66

  LEGAL SLANG, or Slang amongst the Lawyers                           70

  LITERARY SLANG, _Punch_ on “Slang and Sanscrit”                     71

  THEATRICAL SLANG, or Slang both before and behind the curtain       75

  CIVIC SLANG                                                         77

  SLANG TERMS FOR MONEY—Her Majesty’s coin is insulted by one hundred
  and thirty distinct Slang terms—Old Slang terms for money—The
  classical origin of Slang money terms—The terms used by the Ancient
  Romans vulgarisms in the Nineteenth Century                      78–82

  SHOPKEEPERS’ SLANG                                                  82

  WORKMEN’S SLANG, or Slang in the workshop—Many Slang terms for
  money derived from operatives                                       83

  SLANG APOLOGIES FOR OATHS, or sham exclamations for passion and
  temper—Slang swearing                                               85

  SLANG TERMS FOR DRUNKENNESS, and the graduated scale of fuddlement
  and intoxication                                                    86

  etymologies traced, together with illustrations, and references to
  authorities_                                                    89–249

  SOME ACCOUNT OF THE BACK SLANG, the secret language of
  Costermongers—The principle of the Back Slang—Boys and girls soon
  acquire it—The Back Slang unknown to the Police—Costermongers’ terms
  for money—Arithmetic amongst the Costermongers                 251–255

  GLOSSARY OF BACK SLANG                                         257–262

  SOME ACCOUNT OF THE RHYMING SLANG, the secret language of Chaunters
  and Patterers—The origin of the Rhyming Slang—Spoken principally by
  Vagabond Poets, Patterers, and Cheap Jacks—Patterers “well up” in
  Street Slang—Curious Slang Letter from a Chaunter              263–268

  GLOSSARY OF THE RHYMING SLANG                                  269–273

  the books which have been consulted in the compilation of this work,
  comprising nearly every known treatise upon the subject        275–290

  LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS                                              291

  Opinions of the Press upon the First Edition of this
  work—List of New Publications, &c.                             293–300



CANT and SLANG are universal and world-wide.

Nearly every nation on the face of the globe, polite and barbarous,
may be divided into two portions, the stationary and the wandering,
the civilised and the uncivilised, the respectable and the
scoundrel,—those who have fixed abodes and avail themselves of the
refinements of civilisation, and those who go from place to place
picking up a precarious livelihood by petty sales, begging, or theft.
This peculiarity is to be observed amongst the heathen tribes of the
southern hemisphere, as well as the oldest and most refined countries
of Europe. As Mayhew very pertinently remarks, “it would appear, that
not only are all races divisible into wanderers and settlers, but
that each civilised or settled tribe has generally some wandering
horde intermingled with, and in a measure preying upon it.” In South
Africa, the naked and miserable Hottentots are pestered by the still
more abject _Sonquas_; and it may be some satisfaction for us to know
that our old enemies at the Cape, the Kafirs, are troubled with a
tribe of rascals called _Fingoes_,—the former term, we are informed
by travellers, signifying beggars, and the latter wanderers and
outcasts. In South America, and among the islands of the Pacific,
matters are pretty much the same. Sleek and fat rascals, with not
much inclination towards honesty, fatten, or rather fasten, like body
insects, upon other rascals, who would be equally sleek and fat but for
their vagabond dependents. Luckily for respectable persons, however,
vagabonds, both at home and abroad, show certain outward peculiarities
which distinguish them from the great mass of lawful people off whom
they feed and fatten. Personal observation, and a little research into
books, enable me to mark these external traits. The wandering races
are remarkable for the development of the bones of the face, as the
jaws, cheek-bones, &c., high crowned, stubborn-shaped heads, quick
restless eyes,[1] and hands nervously itching to be doing;[2] for their
love of gambling,—staking their very existence upon a single cast; for
sensuality of all kinds; _and for their use of a CANT language with
which to conceal their designs and plunderings_.

The secret jargon, or rude speech, of the vagabonds who hang upon the
Hottentots is termed _cuze-cat_. In Finland, the fellows who steal
seal skins, pick the pockets of bear-skin overcoats, and talk Cant,
are termed Lappes. In France, the secret language of highwaymen,
housebreakers, and pickpockets is named _Argot_. The brigands and more
romantic rascals of Spain, term their private tongue _Germania_, or
Robbers’ Language. _Rothwalsch_, or Red Italian, is synonymous with
Cant and thieves’ talk in Germany. The vulgar dialect of Malta, and the
Scala towns of the Levant—imported into this country and incorporated
with English cant—is known as the _Lingua Franca_, or bastard Italian.
And the crowds of lazy beggars that infest the streets of Naples
and Rome, and the brigands that Albert Smith used to describe near
Pompeii—stopping a railway train, and deliberately rifling the pockets
and baggage of the passengers—their secret language is termed _Gergo_.
In England, as we all know, it is called _Cant_—often improperly

Most nations, then, may boast, or rather lament, a vulgar tongue,
formed principally from the national language, the hereditary property
of thieves, tramps, and beggars,—the pests of civilised communities.
The formation of these secret tongues vary, of course, with the
circumstances surrounding the speakers. A writer in _Notes and
Queries_,[3] has well remarked, that “the investigation of the origin
and principles of Cant and Slang language opens a curious field of
enquiry, replete with considerable interest to the philologist and the
philosopher. It affords a remarkable instance of lingual contrivance,
which, without the introduction of much arbitrary matter, has developed
a system of communicating ideas, having all the advantages of a foreign

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

The terms CANT and CANTING were doubtless derived from _chaunt_ or
_chaunting_,—the “whining tone, or modulation of voice adopted by
beggars, with intent to coax, wheedle, or cajole by pretensions of
wretchedness.”[4] For the origin of the other application of the word
CANT, pulpit hypocrisy, we are indebted to a pleasant page in the
Spectator (No. 147):—“_Cant_ is by some people derived from one Andrew
Cant, who, they say, was a Presbyterian minister in some illiterate
part of Scotland, who by exercise and use had obtained the faculty,
alias gift, of talking in the pulpit in such a dialect that ’tis
said he was understood by none but his own congregation,—and not by
all of them. Since Master _Cant’s_ time it has been understood in a
larger sense, and signifies all exclamations, whinings, unusual tones,
and, in fine, all praying and preaching like the unlearned of the
Presbyterians.” This anecdote is curious, if it is not correct. It was
the custom in Addison’s time to have a fling at the blue Presbyterians,
and the mention made by _Whitelocke_ of Andrew Cant, a fanatical Scotch
preacher, and the squib upon the same worthy, in _Scotch Presbyterian
Eloquence Displayed_, may probably have started the whimsical
etymology. As far as we are concerned, however, in the present inquiry,
CANT was derived from _chaunt_, a beggar’s whine; CHAUNTING being the
recognised term amongst beggars to this day for begging orations and
street whinings; and CHAUNTER, a street talker and tramp, the very
term still used by strollers and patterers. The use of the word CANT,
amongst beggars, must certainly have commenced at a very early date,
for we find “TO CANTE, to speake,” in Harman’s list of Rogues’ Words
in the year 1566; and Harrison about the same time,[5] in speaking
of beggars and Gipseys, says, “they have devised a language among
themselves which they name CANTING, but others Pedlars’ Frenche.”

Now the word CANT in its old sense, and SLANG[6] in its modern
application, although used by good writers and persons of education
as synonymes, are in reality quite distinct and separate terms. CANT,
apart from religious hypocrisy, refers to the old secret language, by
allegory or distinct terms, of Gipseys, thieves, tramps, and beggars.
SLANG represents that evanescent, vulgar language, ever changing with
fashion and taste, which has principally come into vogue during the
last seventy or eighty years, spoken by persons in every grade of life,
rich and poor, honest and dishonest.[7] CANT is old; SLANG is always
modern and changing. To illustrate the difference: a thief in _Cant_
language would term a horse a PRANCER or a PRAD,—while in _slang_, a
man of fashion would speak of it as a BIT OF BLOOD, or a SPANKER, or
a NEAT TIT. A handkerchief, too, would be a BILLY, a FOGLE, or a KENT
RAG, in the secret language of low characters,—whilst amongst vulgar
persons, or those who aped their speech, it would be called a RAG,
a WIPE, or a CLOUT. CANT was formed for purposes of secrecy. SLANG
is indulged in from a desire to appear familiar with life, gaiety,
town-humour, and with the transient nick names and street jokes of the
day. Both Cant and Slang, I am aware, are often huddled together as
synonymes, but they are distinct terms, and as such should be used.

To the Gipseys, beggars and thieves are undoubtedly indebted for
their Cant language. The Gipseys landed in this country early in the
reign of Henry the Eighth. They were at first treated as conjurors
and magicians,—indeed they were hailed by the populace with as much
applause as a company of English theatricals usually receive on
arriving in a distant colony. They came here with all their old Eastern
arts of palmistry, fortune-telling, doubling money by incantation and
burial,—shreds of pagan idolatry; and they brought with them, also,
the dishonesty of the lower caste of Asiatics, and the vagabondism
they had acquired since leaving their ancient dwelling places in the
East, many centuries before. They possessed, also, a _language_ quite
distinct from anything that had been heard in England, and they claimed
the title of Egyptians, and as such, when their thievish wandering
propensities became a public nuisance, were cautioned and proscribed in
a royal proclamation by Henry VIII.[8] The Gipseys were not long in the
country before they found native imitators. Vagabondism is peculiarly
catching. The idle, the vagrant, and the criminal outcasts of society,
caught an idea from the so called Egyptians—soon corrupted to Gipseys.
They learned from them how to tramp, sleep under hedges and trees, to
tell fortunes, and find stolen property for a consideration—frequently,
as the saying runs, before it was lost. They also learned the value
and application of a _secret tongue_, indeed all the accompaniments of
maunding and imposture, except thieving and begging, which were well
known in this country long before the Gipseys paid it a visit,—perhaps
the only negative good that can be said in their favour.

_Harman_, in the year 1566, wrote a singular, not to say droll
book, entitled, _A Caveat for commen Cvrsetors, vulgarley called
Vagabones, newly augmented and inlarged_, wherein the history and
various descriptions of rogues and vagabonds are given, together with
their canting tongue. This book, the earliest of the kind, gives the
singular fact that within a dozen years after the landing of the
Gipseys, companies of English vagrants were formed, places of meeting
appointed, districts for plunder and begging operations marked out,
and rules agreed to for their common management. In some cases Gipseys
joined the English gangs, in others English vagrants joined the
Gipseys. The fellowship was found convenient and profitable, as both
parties were aliens to the laws and customs of the country, living in
a great measure in the open air, apart from the lawful public, and
often meeting each other on the same bye-path, or in the same retired
valley;—but seldom intermarrying, and entirely adopting each other’s
habits. The common people, too, soon began to consider them as of one
family,—all rogues, and from Egypt. The secret language spoken by the
Gipseys, principally Hindoo and extremely barbarous to English ears,
was found incomprehensible and very difficult to learn. The Gipseys,
also, found the same difficulty with the English language. A rude,
rough, and most singular compromise was made, and a mixture of Gipsey,
Old English, newly-coined words, and cribbings from any foreign, and
therefore secret language, mixed and jumbled together, formed what has
ever since been known as the CANTING LANGUAGE, or PEDLER’S FRENCH; or,
during the past century, ST. GILES’ GREEK.

Such was the origin of CANT; and in illustration of its blending
with the Gipsey or Cingari tongue, dusky and Oriental from the sunny
plains of Central Asia, I am enabled to give the accompanying list of
Gipsey, and often Hindoo words, with, in many instances, their English

  _Gipsey._                         _English._

  BAMBOOZLE, to perplex or          BAMBOOZLE, to delude, cheat,
  mislead by hiding. _Mod Gip._     or make a fool of any one.

  BOSH, rubbish, nonsense,          BOSH, stupidity, foolishness.
  offal. _Gipsey and Persian._

  CHEESE, thing or article,         CHEESE, or CHEESY, a
  “that’s the CHEESE,” or           first-rate or very good
  thing. _Gipsey and Hindoo._       article.

  CHIVE, the tongue. _Gipsey._      CHIVE, or CHIVEY, a shout,
                                    or loud-tongued.

  DADE, or DADI, a father.          DADDY, nursery term for
  _Gipsey._                         father.[9]

  DISTARABIN, a prison. _Gipsey._   STURABIN, a prison.

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

  GIBBERISH, the language of        GIBBERISH, rapid and
  Gipseys, synonymous with          unmeaning speech.
  SLANG. _Gipsey._

  ISCHUR, SCHUR, or CHUR, a         CUR, a mean or dishonest man.
  thief. _Gipsey and Hindoo._

  LAB, a word. _Gipsey._            LOBS, words.

  LOWE, or LOWR, money.             LOWRE, money. _Ancient Cant._
  _Gipsey and Wallachian._

  MAMI, a grandmother. _Gipsey._    MAMMY, or MAMMA, a mother,
                                    formerly sometimes used for

  MANG, or MAUNG, to beg.           MAUND, to beg.
  _Gipsey and Hindoo._

  MORT, a free woman,—one for       MORT, or MOTT, a prostitute.
  common use amongst the male
  Gipseys, so appointed by
  Gipsey custom. _Gipsey._

  MU, the mouth. _Gipsey and        MOO, or MUN, the mouth.

  MULL, to spoil or destroy.        MULL, to spoil, or bungle.

  PAL, a brother. _Gipsey._         PAL, a partner, or relation.

  PANÉ, water. _Gipsey._            PARNEY, rain.
  _Hindoo_, PAWNEE.

  RIG, a performance. _Gipsey._     RIG, a frolic, or “spree.”

  ROMANY, speech or language.       ROMANY, the Gipsey language.
  _Spanish Gipsey._

  ROME, or ROMM, a man.             RUM, a good man, or thing.
  _Gipsey and Coptick._             In the Robbers’ language of
                                    Spain (partly Gipsey) RUM
                                    signifies a harlot.

  ROMEE, a woman. _Gipsey._         RUMY, a good woman or girl.

  SLANG, the language spoken        SLANG, low, vulgar,
  by Gipseys. _Gipsey._             unauthorised language.

  TAWNO, little. _Gipsey._          TANNY, TEENY, little.

  TSCHIB, or JIBB, the tongue.      JIBB, the tongue;
  _Gipsey and Hindoo._              JABBER,[10] quick-tongued,
                                    or fast talk.

Here then we have the remarkable fact of several words of pure Gipsey
and Asiatic origin going the round of Europe, passing into this
country before the Reformation, and coming down to us through numerous
generations purely in the mouths of the people. They have seldom been
written or used in books, and simply as vulgarisms have they reached
our time. Only a few are now cant, and some are household words. The
word JOCKEY, as applied to a dealer or rider of horses, came from the
Gipsey, and means in that language a whip. Our standard dictionaries
give, of course, none but conjectural etymologies. Another word,
BAMBOOZLE, has been a sore difficulty with lexicographers. It is not in
the old dictionaries, although extensively used in familiar or popular
language for the last two centuries; in fact, the very word that Swift,
Butler, L’Estrange, and Arbuthnot would pick out at once as a telling
and most serviceable term. It is, as we have seen, from the Gipsey;
and here I must state that it was Boucher who first drew attention to
the fact, although in his remarks on the dusky tongue, he has made a
ridiculous mistake by concluding it to be identical with its offspring,
CANT. Other parallel instances, with but slight variations from the old
Gipsey meanings, could be mentioned, but sufficient examples have been
adduced to show that Marsden, the great Oriental scholar in the last
century, when he declared before the Society of Antiquaries that the
Cant of English thieves and beggars had nothing to do with the language
spoken by the despised Gipseys, was in error. Had the Gipsey 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. Instances continually occur now-a-days
of street vulgarisms ascending to the drawing-rooms of respectable
society. Why, then, may not the Gipsey-vagabond alliance three
centuries ago have contributed its quota of common words to popular

I feel confident there is a Gipsey element in the English language
hitherto unrecognised; slender it may be, but not, therefore,

“Indeed,” says Moore the poet, in a humorous little book, _Tom Crib’s
Memorial to Congress_, 1819, “the Gipsey language, with the exception
of such terms as relate to their own peculiar customs, differs
but little from the regular Flash or Cant language.” But this was
magnifying the importance of the alliance. Moore knew nothing of the
Gipsey tongue other than the few Cant words put into the mouths of the
beggars, in _Beaumont and Fletcher’s Comedy of the Beggar’s Bush_,
and _Ben Jonson’s Masque of the Gipseys Metamorphosed_,—hence his
confounding Cant with Gipsey speech, and appealing to the Glossary of
Cant for so called “Gipsey” words at the end of the _Life of Bamfylde
Moore Carew_, to bear him out in his assertion. Still his remark bears
much truth, and proof would have been found long ago if any scholar had
taken the trouble to examine the “barbarous jargon of Cant,” and to
have compared it with Gipsey speech. As George Borrow, in his _Account
of the Gipseys in Spain_, eloquently concludes his second volume,
speaking of the connection of the Gipseys with Europeans:—“Yet from
this temporary association were produced two results: European fraud
became sharpened by coming into contact with Asiatic craft; whilst
European tongues, by imperceptible degrees, became recruited with
various words (some of them wonderfully expressive), many of which have
long been stumbling-blocks to the philologist, who, whilst stigmatising
them as words of mere vulgar invention, or of unknown origin, has been
far from dreaming that a little more research or reflection would have
proved their affinity to the Sclavonic, Persian, or Romaic, or perhaps
to the mysterious object of his veneration, the Sanscrit, the sacred
tongue of the palm-covered regions of Ind; words originally introduced
into Europe by objects too miserable to occupy for a moment his
lettered attention,—the despised denizens of the tents of Roma.”

But the Gipseys, their speech, their character—bad enough as all the
world testifies—their history and their religious belief, have been
totally disregarded, and their poor persons buffeted and jostled about
until it is a wonder that any trace of origin or national speech exists
in them. On the continent they received better attention at the hands
of learned men. Their language was taken down, their history traced,
and their extraordinary customs and practice of living in the open
air, and eating raw or putrid meat, explained. They ate reptiles and
told fortunes, because they had learnt it through their forefathers
centuries back in Hindostan, and they devoured carrion because the
Hindoo proverb—“_that which God kills is better than that killed by
man_,”[11]—was still in their remembrance. Grellman, a learned German,
was their principal historian, and to him we are almost entirely
indebted for the little we know of their language.[12]

GIPSEY then started, and partially merged into CANT, and the old story
told by Harrison and others, that the first inventor of canting was
hanged for his pains, would seem to be a fable, for jargon as it is,
it was, doubtless, of gradual formation, like all other languages or
systems of speech. The Gipseys at the present day all know the _old
cant_ words, as well as their own tongue,—or rather what remains of it.
As Borrow states, “the dialect of the English Gipseys is mixed with
English words.”[13] Those of the tribe who frequent fairs, and mix
with English tramps, readily learn the new words, as they are adopted
by what Harman calls, “the fraternity of vagabonds.” Indeed, the old
CANT is a common language to vagrants of all descriptions and origin
scattered over the British Isles.

Ancient English CANT has considerably altered since the first
dictionary was compiled by Harman, in 1566. A great many words are
unknown in the present tramps’ and thieves’ vernacular. Some of them,
however, bear still their old definitions, while others have adopted
fresh meanings,—to escape detection, I suppose. “ABRAHAM MAN” is yet
seen in our modern SHAM ABRAHAM, or PLAY THE OLD SOLDIER, _i.e._,
to feign sickness or distress. “AUTUM” is still a church or chapel
amongst Gipseys; and “BECK,” a constable, is our modern cant and slang
BEEK, a policeman or magistrate. “BENE,” or BONE, stands for _good_
in Seven Dials, and the back streets of Westminster; and “BOWSE” is
our modern BOOZE, to drink or fuddle. A “BOWSING KEN” was the old cant
term for a public house, and BOOZING KEN, in modern cant, has precisely
the same meaning. “BUFE” was then the term for a dog, now it is
BUFFER,—frequently applied to men. “CASSAN” is both old and modern cant
for cheese; the same may be said of “CHATTES” or CHATTS, the gallows.
“COFE,” or COVE, is still the vulgar synonyme for a man. “DRAWERS”
was hose, or “hosen,”—now applied to the lining for trousers. “DUDES”
was cant for clothes, we now say DUDDS. “FLAG” is still a fourpenny
piece; and “FYLCHE” means to rob. “KEN” is a house, and “LICK” means
to thrash; “PRANCER” is yet known amongst rogues as a horse; and “to
PRIG,” amongst high and low, is to steal. Three centuries ago, if
one beggar said anything disagreeable to another, the person annoyed
would say “STOW YOU,” or hold your peace; low people now say STOW IT,
equivalent to “be quiet.” “TRINE” is still to hang; “WYN” yet stands
for a penny. And many other words, as will be seen in the glossary,
still retain their ancient meaning.

As specimens of those words which have altered their original cant
signification, I may instance “CHETE,” now written CHEAT. CHETE was
in ancient cant what _chop_ is in the Canton-Chinese,—an almost
inseparable adjunct. Everything was termed a CHETE, and qualified by
a substantive-adjective, which showed what kind of a CHETE was meant;
for instance, “CRASHING CHETES” were teeth; a “MOFFLING CHETE,” a
napkin; a “GRUNTING CHETE,” a pig, &c. &c. CHEAT now-a-days means
to defraud or swindle, and lexicographers have tortured etymology
for an original—but without success. _Escheats_ and _escheatours_
have been named, but with great doubts; indeed, Stevens, the learned
commentator on Shakespere, acknowledged that he “did not recollect to
have met with the word _cheat_ in our ancient writers.”[14] CHEAT, to
defraud, then, is no other than an old Cant term, somewhat altered
in its meaning,[15] and as such it should be described in the next
Etymological Dictionary. Another instance of a change in the meaning of
the old Cant, but the retention of the word is seen in “CLY,” formerly
to take or steal, now a pocket;—remembering a certain class of low
characters, a curious connection between the two meanings will be
discovered. “MAKE” was a halfpenny, we now say MAG,—MAKE being modern
Cant for appropriating,—“convey the wise it call.” “MILLING” stood for
stealing, it is now a pugilistic term for fighting or beating. “NAB”
was a head,—low people now say NOB, the former meaning, in modern
Cant, to steal or seize. “PEK” was meat,—we still say PECKISH, when
hungry. “PRYGGES, _dronken Tinkers or beastly people_,” as old Harman
wrote, would scarcely be understood now; a PRIG, in the 19th century,
is a pickpocket or thief. “QUIER,” or QUEER, like _cheat_, was a very
common prefix, and meant bad or wicked,—it now means odd, curious, or
strange; but to the ancient cant we are indebted for the word, which
etymologists should remember.[16] “ROME,” or RUM, formerly meant good,
or of the first quality, and was extensively used like _cheat_ and
_queer_,—indeed as an adjective it was the opposite of the latter. RUM
now means curious, and is synonymous with queer, thus,—a “RUMMY old
fellow,” or a “QUEER old man.” Here again we see the origin of an every
day word, scouted by lexicographers and snubbed by respectable persons,
but still a word of frequent and popular use. “YANNAM” meant bread,
PANNUM is the word now. Other instances could be pointed out, but they
will be observed in the dictionary.

Several words are entirely obsolete. “ALYBBEG” no longer means a bed,
nor “ASKEW” a cup. “BOOGET,”[17] now-a-days, would not be understood
for a basket; neither would “GAN” pass current for mouth. “FULLAMS”
was the old cant term for false or loaded dice, and although used
by Shakespere in this sense, is now unknown and obsolete. Indeed,
as Tom Moore somewhere remarks, the present Greeks of St. Giles,
themselves, would be thoroughly puzzled by many of the ancient canting
songs,—taking for example, the first verse of an old favourite:

  Bing out, bien Morts, and toure and toure,
    Bing out, bien Morts, and toure;
  For all your duds are bing’d awast;
    The bien cove hath the loure.[18]

But I think I cannot do better than present to the reader at once an
entire copy of the first Canting Dictionary ever compiled. As before
mentioned, it was the work of one Thos. Harman, a gentleman who lived
in the days of Queen Elizabeth. Some writers have remarked that
Decker[19] was the first to compile a Dictionary of the vagabonds’
tongue; whilst Borrow,[20] and Moore, the poet, stated that Richard
Head performed that service in his _Life of an English Rogue_,
published in the year 1680. All these statements are equally incorrect,
for the first attempt was made more than a century before the latter
work was issued. The quaint spelling and old-fashioned phraseology are
preserved, and the reader will quickly detect many vulgar street words,
old acquaintances, dressed in antique garb.[21]

  _ABRAHAM-MEN_, be those that fayn themselves to have beene mad, and
  have bene kept either in Bethelem, or in some other pryson a good

  _ALYBBEG_, a bedde.

  _ASKEW_, a cuppe.

  _AUTEM_, a churche.

  _AUTEM MORTES_, married wemen as chaste as a cowe.

  _BAUDYE BASKETS_, bee women who goe with baskets and capcases on
  their armes, wherein they have laces, pinnes, nedles, whyte inkel,
  and round sylke gyrdels of all colours.

  _BECK_ [Beek], a constable.

  _BELLY-CHETE_, apron.

  _BENE_, good. _Benar_, better.

  _BENSHIP_, very good.

  _BLETING CHETE_, a calfe or sheepe.

  _BOOGET_, a travelling tinker’s baskete.

  _BORDE_, a shilling.

  _BOUNG_, a purse [_Friesic_, pong].

  _BOWSE_, drink.

  _BOWSING-KEN_, a alehouse.

  _BUFE_ [buffer, a man], a dogge.

  _BYNGE A WASTE_, go you hence.

  _CACKLING-CHETE_, a coke [cock], or capon.

  _CASSAN_ [cassam], cheese.

  _CASTERS_, a cloake.

  _CATETH_, “the vpright Cofe _cateth_ to the Roge” [probably a
  shortening or misprint of _Canteth_].

  _CHATTES_, the gallowes.

  _CHETE_ [see what has been previously said about this word].

  _CLY_ [a pocket], to take, receive, or have.

  _COFE_ [cove], a person.

  _COMMISSION_ [mish], a shirt.

  _COUNTERFET CRANKE_, these that do counterfet the Cranke be yong
  knaves and yonge harlots, that deeply dissemble the falling sicknes.

  _CRANKE_ [cranky, foolish], falling evil [or wasting sickness].


  _CUFFEN_, a manne [a _cuif_ in Northumberland and Scotland signifies
  a lout or awkward fellow].

  _DARKEMANS_, the night.

  _DELL_, a yonge wench.

  _DEWSE-A-VYLE_, the countrey.

  _DOCK_, to deflower.

  _DOXES_, harlots.

  _DRAWERS_, hosen.

  _DUDES_ [or dudds], clothes.

  _FAMBLES_, handes.

  _FAMBLING-CHETE_, a ring on one’s hand.

  _FLAGG_, a groat.

  _FRATER_, a beggar wyth a false paper.

  _FRESHE-WATER-MARINERS_, these kind of caterpillers counterfet great
  losses on the sea:—their shippes were drowned in the playne of

  _FYLCHE_, to robbe: _Fylch-man_ [a robber].

  _GAGE_, a quart pot.

  _GAN_, a mouth.

  _GENTRY COFE_, a noble or gentle man.

  _GENTRY-COFES-KEN_, a noble or gentle man’s house.

  _GENTRY MORT_, a noble or gentle woman.

  _GERRY_, excrement.

  _GLASYERS_, eyes.

  _GLYMMAR_, fyer.

  _GRANNAM_, corne.

  _GRUNTING-CHETE_, a pygge.

  _GYB_, a writing.

  _GYGER_ [jigger], a dore.

  _HEARING-CHETES_, eares.

  _JARKE_, a seale.

  _JARKEMAN_, one who make writings and set seales for [counterfeit]
  licences and pasports.

  _KEN_, a house.

  _KYNCHEN CO_ [or _cove_], a young boye trained up like a “_Kynching
  Morte_.” [From the German diminutive _Kindschen_.]

  _KYNCHING MORTE_, is a little gyrle, carried at their mothers’ backe
  in a slate, or sheete, who brings them up sauagely.

  _LAG_, water.

  _LAG OF DUDES_, a bucke [or basket] of clothes.

  _LAGE_, to washe.

  _LAP_, butter, mylke, or whey.

  _LIGHTMANS_, the day.

  _LOWING-CHETE_, a cowe.

  _LOWRE_, money.

  _LUBBARES_,—“sturdy _Lubbares_,” country bumpkins, or men of a low

  _LYB-BEG_, a bed.

  _LYCKE_ [lick], to beate.

  _LYP_, to lie down.

  _LYPKEN_, a house to lye in.

  _MAKE_ [mag], a halfpenny.

  _MARGERI PRATER_, a hen.

  _MILLING_, to steale [by sending a child in at the window].

  _MOFLING-CHETE_, a napkin.

  _MORTES_ [motts], harlots.

  _MYLL_, to robbe.

  _MYNT_, gold.

  _NAB_ [nob], a heade.

  _NABCHET_, a hat or cap.

  _NASE_, dronken.

  _NOSEGENT_, a nunne.

  _PALLYARD_, a borne beggar [who counterfeits sickness, or incurable
  sores. They are mostly Welshmen, Harman says].

  _PARAM_, mylke.

  _PATRICO_, a priest.

  _PATRICOS KINCHEN_, a pygge [a satirical hit at the church, _Patrico_
  meaning a parson or priest, and _Kinchen_ his little boy or girl].

  _PEK_ [peckish], meat.

  _POPPELARS_, porrage.

  _PRAT_, a buttocke.

  _PRATLING-CHETE_, a toung.

  _PRAUNCER_, a horse.

  _PRIGGER OF PRAUNCERS_, be horse stealers, for to prigge signifieth
  in their language to steale, and a Prauncer is a horse, so being
  put together, the matter was playn. [Thus writes old Thomas Harman,
  who concludes his description of this order of “pryggers,” by very
  quietly saying, “I had the best gelding stolen out of my pasture,
  that I had amongst others, whyle this book was first a printing.”]

  _PRYGGES_, dronken Tinkers, or beastly people.

  _QUACKING-CHETE_, a drake or duck.

  _QUAROMES_, a body.

  _QUIER_ [queer], badde [see what has been previously said about this

  _QUYER CRAMP-RINGES_, boltes or fetters.

  _QUIER CUFFIN_, the iustice of peace.

  _QUYER-KYN_, a pryson house.

  _RED SHANKE_, a drake or ducke.

  _ROGER_, a goose.

  _ROME_, goode [now curious, noted, or remarkable in any way. _Rum_ is
  the modern orthography].

  _ROME BOUSE_ [rum booze], wyne.

  _ROME MORT_, the Queene [Elizabeth].

  _ROME VYLE_ [or Rum-ville], London.

  _RUFF PECK_, baken [short bread, common in old times at farm houses].

  _RUFFMANS_, the woods or bushes.

  _SALOMON_, a alter or masse.

  _SKYPPER_, a barne.

  _SLATE_, a sheete or shetes.

  _SMELLING CHETE_, a nose.

  _SMELLING CHETE_, a garden or orchard.

  _SNOWT FAYRE_ [said of a woman who has a pretty face or is comely].

  _STALL_ [to initiate a beggar or rogue into the rights and privileges
  of the canting order. Harman relates, that when an upright-man, or
  initiated, first-class rogue, “mete any beggar, whether he be sturdy
  or impotent, he will demand of him whether ever he was ‘_stalled to
  the roge_’ or no. If he say he was, he will know of whom, and his
  name yt stalled him. And if he be not learnedly able to show him the
  whole circumstance thereof, he will spoyle him of his money, either
  of his best garment, if it be worth any money, and haue him to the
  bowsing ken: which is, to some typpling house next adjoyninge, and
  layth there to gage the best thing that he hath for twenty pence or
  two shillings: this man obeyeth for feare of beatinge. Then dooth
  this upright man call for a gage of bowse, which is a quarte potte of
  drink, and powres the same vpon his peld pate, adding these words,—I,
  _G. P._ do stalle the, _W. T._ to the Roge, and that from henceforth
  it shall be lawfull for thee to cant, that is to aske or begge for
  thi liuiug in al places.” Something like this treatment is the
  popular idea of Freemasonry, and what schoolboys term “freeing.”]

  _STAMPES_, legges.

  _STAMPERS_, shoes.

  _STAULING KEN_, a house that will receyue stollen wares.

  _STAWLINGE-KENS_, tippling houses.

  _STOW YOU_ [stow it], hold your peace.

  _STRIKE_, to steale.

  _STROMMELL_, strawe.

  _SWADDER_, or _Pedler_ [a man who hawks goods].

  _THE HIGH PAD_, the highway.

  _THE RUFFIAN CLY THEE_, the devil take thee.

  _TOGEMANS_ [togg], a cloake.

  _TOGMAN_, a coate.

  _TO BOWSE_, to drinke.

  _TO CANTE_, to speake.

  _TO CLY THE GERKE_, to be whipped.

  _TO COUCH A HOGSHEAD_, to lie down and slepe.

  _TO CUTTE_, to say [_cut it_ is modern slang for “be quiet”].

  _TO CUT BENE WHYDDES_, to speake or give good words.

  _TO CUTTE QUYER WHYDDES_, to giue euil words or euil language.

  _TO CUT BENLE_, to speak gentle.

  _TO DUP YE GYGER_ [jigger], to open the dore.

  _TO FYLCHE_, to robbe.

  _TO HEUE A BOUGH_, to robbe or rifle a boweth [booth].

  _TO MAUNDE_, to aske or require.

  _TO MILL A KEN_, to robbe a house.

  _TO NYGLE_ [coition].

  _TO NYP A BOUNG_ [nip, to steal], to cut a purse.

  _TO SKOWER THE CRAMPRINGES_, to weare boltes or fetters.

  _TO STALL_, to make or ordain.

  _TO THE RUFFIAN_, to the Devil.

  _TO TOWRE_, to see.

  _TRYNING_ [trine], hanging.

  _TYB OF THE BUTERY_, a goose.

  _WALKING MORTE_, womene [who pass for widows].

  _WAPPING_ [coition].

  _WHYDDES_, wordes.

  _WYN_, a penny.

  _YANNAM_, bread.

Turning our attention more to the Cant of modern times, in connection
with the old, we find that words have been drawn into the thieves’
vocabulary from every conceivable source. Hard or infrequent words,
vulgarly termed _crack-jaw_, or _jaw-breakers_, were very often used
and considered as cant terms. And here it should be mentioned that
at the present day the most inconsistent and far-fetched terms are
often used for secret purposes, when they are known to be caviare
to the million. It is really laughable to know that such words as
_incongruous_, _insipid_, _interloper_, _intriguing_, _indecorum_,
_forestal_, _equip_, _hush_, _grapple_, &c. &c., were current Cant
words a century and a half ago; but such was the case, as any one may
see in the _Dictionary of Canting Words_, at the end of _Bacchus and
Venus_,[22] 1737. They are inserted not as jokes or squibs, but as
selections from the veritable pocket dictionaries of the Jack Sheppards
and Dick Turpins of the day. If they were safely used as unknown and
cabalistic terms amongst the commonalty, the fact would form a very
curious illustration of the ignorance of our poor ancestors. One
piece of information is conveyed to us, _i.e._, that the “Knights” or
“Gentlemen of the road,” using these polite words in those days of
highwaymen, were really well educated men,—which heretofore has always
been a hard point of belief, notwithstanding old novels and operas.

Amongst those Cant words which have either altered their meaning, or
have become extinct, I may cite LADY, formerly the Cant for “a very
crooked, deformed, and ill-shapen woman;”[23] and HARMAN, “a pair of
stocks, or a constable.” The former is a pleasant piece of satire,
whilst the latter indicates a singular method of revenge. HARMAN was
the first author who specially wrote against English vagabonds, and for
his trouble his name became synonymous with a pair of stocks, and a
policeman of the olden time.

Apart from the Gipsey element, we find that Cant abounds in terms from
foreign languages, and that it exhibits the growth of most recognised
and completely formed tongues,—the gathering of words from foreign
sources. In the reign of Elizabeth and of King James I., several
Dutch, Spanish, and Flemish words were introduced by soldiers who had
served in the Low Countries, and sailors who had returned from the
Spanish Main, who like “mine ancient Pistol” were fond of garnishing
their speech with outlandish phrases. Many of these were soon picked
up and adopted by vagabonds and tramps in their Cant language. The
Anglo-Norman and the Anglo-Saxon, the Scotch, the French, the Italian,
and even the classic languages of ancient Italy and Greece, have
contributed to its list of words,—besides the various provincial
dialects of England. Indeed, as Mayhew remarks, English Cant seems
to be formed on the same basis as the _Argot_ of the French, and the
_Roth-Spræc_ of the Germans,—partly metaphorical, and partly by the
introduction of such corrupted foreign terms as are likely to be
unknown to the society amid which the Cant speakers exist. ARGOT is the
London thieves’ word for their secret language,—it is, of course, from
the French, but that matters not so long as it is incomprehensible to
the police and the mob. BOOZE, or BOUSE, I am reminded by a friendly
correspondent, comes from the Dutch, BUYSEN. DOMINE, a parson, is
from the Latin; and DON, a clever fellow, has been filched from the
Spanish. DONNA AND FEELES, a woman and children, is from the Lingua
Franca, or bastard Italian, although it sounds like an odd mixture of
Spanish and French; whilst DUDDS, the vulgar term for clothes, may have
been pilfered either from the Gaelic or the Dutch. FEELE, a daughter,
from the French; and FROW, a girl or wife, from the German—are common
tramps’ terms. So are GENT, silver, from the French, _Argent_; and
VIAL, a country town, also from the French. HORRID-HORN, a fool, is
believed to be from the Erse; and GLOAK, a man, from the Scotch. As
stated before, the Dictionary will supply numerous other instances.

There is one source, however, of secret street terms, which, in
the first edition of this work, was entirely overlooked,—indeed,
it was unknown to the editor until pointed out by a friendly
correspondent,—the _Lingua Franca_, or bastard Italian, spoken at
Genoa, Trieste, Malta, Constantinople, Smyrna, Alexandria, and all
Mediterranean seaport towns. The ingredients of this imported Cant
are many. Its foundation is Italian, with a mixture of modern Greek,
German (from the Austrian ports), Spanish, Turkish, and French. It has
been introduced to the notice of the London wandering tribes by the
sailors, foreign and English, who trade to and from the Mediterranean
seaports, by the swarms of organ players from all parts of Italy, and
by the makers of images from Rome and Florence,—all of whom, in dense
thoroughfares, mingle with our lower orders. It would occupy too much
space here to give a list of these words. They are all noted in the

“There are several Hebrew terms in our Cant language, obtained, it
would appear, from the intercourse of the thieves with the Jew _fences_
(receivers of stolen goods); many of the Cant terms, again, are
Sanscrit, got from the Gipseys; many Latin, got by the beggars from
the Catholic prayers before the Reformation; and many, again, Italian,
got from the wandering musicians and others; indeed the showmen have
but lately introduced a number of Italian phrases into their Cant
language.”[24] The Hindostanèe also contributes several words, and
these have been introduced by the Lascar sailors, who come over here
in the East Indiamen, and lodge during their stay in the low tramps’
lodging houses at the East end of London. Speaking of the learned
tongues, I may mention that, precarious and abandoned as the vagabond’s
existence is, many persons of classical or refined education have from
time to time joined the ranks,—occasionally from inclination, as in
the popular instance of Bamfylde Moore Carew, but generally through
indiscretion, and loss of character.[25] This will in some measure
account for numerous classical and learned words figuring as Cant terms
in the vulgar Dictionary.

In the early part of the last century, when highwaymen were by all
accounts so plentiful, a great many new words were added to the canting
vocabulary, whilst several old terms fell into disuse. CANT, for
instance, as applied to thieves’ talk, was supplanted by the word FLASH.

A singular feature, however, in vulgar language, is the retention
and the revival of sterling old English words, long since laid up
in ancient manuscripts, or the subject of dispute among learned
antiquaries. Disraeli somewhere says, “the purest source of _neology_
is in the revival of _old words_”—

  “Words that wise Bacon or brave Rawleigh spake,”

and Dr. Latham honours our subject by remarking that “the thieves of
London are the conservators of Anglo-Saxonisms.” Mayhew, too, in his
interesting work, _London Labour and London Poor_, admits that many
Cant and Slang phrases are merely old English terms, which have
become obsolete through the caprices of fashion. And the reader who
looks into the Dictionary of the vagabonds’ lingo, will see at a
glance that these gentlemen were quite correct, and that we are
compelled to acknowledge the singular truth that a great many old
words, once respectable, and in the mouths of kings and fine ladies,
are now only so many signals for shrugs and shudders amongst
exceedingly polite people. A Belgravian gentleman who had lost his
watch or his pocket-handkerchief, would scarcely remark to his mamma
that it had been BONED—yet BONE, in old times, meant to steal
amongst high and low. And a young lady living in the precincts of
dingy, but aristocratic May-Fair, although enraptured with a Jenny
Lind or a Ristori, would hardly think of turning back in the box to
inform papa that she, Ristori or Lind, “made no BONES of it”—yet the
phrase was most respectable and well-to-do, before it met with a
change of circumstances. “A CRACK article,” however first-rate,
would, as far as speech is concerned, have greatly displeased Dr.
Johnson and Mr. Walker—yet both CRACK, in the sense of excellent,
and CRACK UP, to boast or praise, were not considered vulgarisms in
the time of Henry VIII. DODGE, a cunning trick, is from the
Anglo-Saxon; and ancient nobles used to “get each other’s DANDER UP”
before appealing to their swords,—quite FLABERGASTING (also a
respectable old word) the half score of lookers-on with the thumps
and cuts of their heavy weapons. GALLAVANTING, waiting upon the
ladies, was as polite in expression as in action; whilst a clergyman
at Paule’s Crosse, thought nothing of bidding a noisy hearer to
“hold his GAB,” or “shut up his GOB.” GADDING, roaming about in an
idle and trapesing manner, was used in an old translation of the
Bible; and “to do anything GINGERLY” was to do it with great care.
Persons of modern tastes will be shocked to know that the great Lord
Bacon spoke of the lower part of a man’s face as his GILLS.

Shakespere, or as the French say, “the divine William,” also used many
words which are now counted as dreadfully vulgar. “CLEAN gone,” in the
sense of out of sight, or entirely away; “you took me all A-MORT,” or
confounded me; “it won’t FADGE,” or suit, are phrases taken at random
from the great dramatist’s works. A London costermonger, or inhabitant
of the streets, instead of saying “I’ll make him yield,” or “give
in,” in a fight or contest, would say, “I’ll make him BUCKLE under.”
Shakespere, in his _Henry the Fourth_ (Part 2, Act i., Scene 1) has the
word, and Mr. Halliwell, one of the greatest and most industrious of
living antiquaries, informs us, that “the commentators do not supply
another example.” How strange, then, that the Bard of Avon, and the
Cockney costermongers, should be joint partners and sole proprietors
of the vulgarism. If Shakespere was not a pugilist, he certainly
anticipated the terms of the prize ring—or they were respectable words
before the prize ring was thought of—for he has PAY, to beat or thrash,
and PEPPER, with a similar meaning; also FANCY, in the sense of pets
and favourites,—pugilists are often termed _the_ FANCY. The cant word
PRIG, from the Saxon, _priccan_, to filch, is also Shakesperian; so
indeed is PIECE, a contemptuous term for a young woman. Shakespere was
not the only vulgar dramatist of his time. Ben Jonson, Beaumont and
Fletcher, Brome, and other play-writers, occasionally put cant words
into the mouths of their low characters, or employed old words which
have since degenerated into vulgarisms. CRUSTY, poor tempered; “two of
a KIDNEY,” two of a sort; LARK, a piece of fun; LUG, to pull; BUNG, to
give or pass; PICKLE, a sad plight; FRUMP, to mock, are a few specimens
casually picked from the works of the old histrionic writers.

One old English mode of canting, simple and effective when familiarised
by practice, was the inserting a consonant betwixt each syllable; thus,
taking _g_, “How do you do?” would be “Hou_g_ do_g_ you_g_ do_g_?” The
name very properly given to this disagreeable nonsense, we are informed
by Grose, was _Gibberish_.

Another Cant has recently been attempted by transposing the initial
letters of words, so that a mutton chop becomes a _c_utton _m_op, a
pint of stout a _s_tint of _p_out; but it is satisfactory to know that
it has gained no ground. This is called _Marrowskying_, or _Medical
Greek_, from its use by medical students at the hospitals. Albert Smith
terms it the _Gower-street Dialect_.

The _Language of Ziph_, I may add, is another rude mode of disguising
English, in use among the students at Winchester College.


One of the most singular chapters in a _History of Vagabondism_ would
certainly be an account of the Hieroglyphic signs used by tramps and
thieves. The reader may be startled to know that, in addition to a
secret language, the wandering tribes of this country have private
marks and symbolic signs with which to score their successes, failures,
and advice to succeeding beggars; in fact, that the country is
really dotted over with beggars’ finger posts and guide stones. The
assertion, however strange it may appear, is no fiction. The subject
was not long since brought under the attention of the Government by
Mr. Rawlinson.[26] “There is,” he says in his report, “a sort of
blackguards’ literature, and the initiated understand each other by
slang [cant] terms, by pantomimic signs, _and by_ HIEROGLYPHICS. _The
vagrant’s mark may be seen in Havant, on corners of streets, on door
posts, and on house steps. Simple as these chalk lines appear, they
inform the succeeding vagrants of all they require to know; and a few
white scratches may say, ‘be importunate,’ or ‘pass on.’_”

Another very curious account was taken from a provincial newspaper,
published in 1849, and forwarded to _Notes and Queries_,[27] under
the head of MENDICANT FREEMASONRY. “Persons,” remarks the writer,
“indiscreet enough to open their purses to the relief of the beggar
tribe, would do well to take a readily learned lesson as to the
folly of that misguided benevolence which encourages and perpetuates
vagabondism. Every door or passage is pregnant with instruction as
to the error committed by the patron of beggars, as the beggar-marks
show that a system of freemasonry is followed, by which a beggar knows
whether it will be worth his while to call into a passage or knock
at a door. Let any one examine the entrances to the passages in any
town, and there he will find chalk marks, unintelligible to him, but
significant enough to beggars. If a thousand towns are examined, the
same marks will be found at every passage entrance. The passage mark
is a cypher with a twisted tail: in some cases the tail projects into
the passage, in others outwardly; thus seeming to indicate whether the
houses down the passage are worth calling at or not. Almost every door
has its marks: these are varied. In some cases there is a cross on the
brick work, in others a cypher: the figures 1, 2, 3, are also used.
Every person may for himself test the accuracy of these statements
by the examination of the brick work near his own doorway—thus
demonstrating that mendicity is a regular trade, carried out upon a
system calculated to save time, and realise the largest profits.” These
remarks refer mainly to provincial towns, London being looked upon as
the tramps’ home, and therefore too FLY, or experienced, to be duped by
such means.

The only other notice of the hieroglyphics of vagabonds that I have
met with, is in _Mayhew’s London Labour and London Poor_.[28] Mayhew
obtained his information from two tramps, who stated that hawkers
employ these signs as well as beggars. One tramp thus described
the method of WORKING[29] a small town. “Two hawkers (PALS[29]) go
together, but separate when they enter a village, one taking one side
of the road, and selling different things; and so as to inform each
other as to the character of the people at whose houses they call,
_they chalk certain marks on their door posts_.” Another informant
stated that “if a PATTERER[29] has been CRABBED (that is, offended) at
any of the CRIBS (houses), _he mostly chalks a signal at or near the

Another use is also made of these hieroglyphics. Charts of successful
begging neighbourhoods are rudely drawn, and symbolical signs attached
to each house to show whether benevolent or adverse.[30] “In many cases
there is over the kitchen mantel-piece” of a tramps’ lodging-house “_a
map of the district_, dotted here and there with memorandums of failure
or success.”[31] A correct facsimile of one of these singular maps has
been placed as a frontispiece. It was obtained from the patterers and
tramps who supplied a great many words for this work, and who have
been employed by me for some time in collecting Old Ballads, Christmas
Carols, Dying Speeches, and Last Lamentations, as materials for a
_History of Popular Literature_. The reader will no doubt be amused
with the drawing. The locality depicted is near Maidstone, in Kent, and
I am informed that it was probably sketched by a wandering SCREEVER[32]
in payment for a night’s lodging. The English practice of marking
everything, and scratching names on public property, extends itself to
the tribe of vagabonds. On the map, as may be seen in the left hand
corner, some TRAVELLER[32] has drawn a favourite or noted female,
singularly nick-named _Three-quarter Sarah_. What were the peculiar
accomplishments of this lady to demand so uncommon a name, the reader
will be at a loss to discover, but a patterer says it probably refers
to a shuffling dance of that name, common in tramps’ lodging-houses,
and in which “¾ Sarah” may have been a proficient. Above her, three
beggars or hawkers have reckoned their day’s earnings, amounting to
13s.; and on the right a tolerably correct sketch of a low hawker,
or costermonger, is drawn. “To Dover, the _nigh_ way,” is the exact
phraseology; and “hup here,” a fair specimen of the self-acquired
education of the tribe of cadgers. No key or explanation to the
hieroglyphics was given in the original, because it would have been
superfluous, when every inmate of the lodging-house knew the marks from
their cradle—or rather their mother’s back.

Should there be no map, “in most lodging-houses there is an old man who
is guide to every ‘WALK’ in the vicinity, and who can tell each house
on every round, that is ‘good for a cold tatur.’”[33] The hieroglyphics
that are used are:—

  ☓ NO GOOD; too poor, and know too much.

  ◠+ STOP,—if you have what they want, they will buy. They are pretty
  “_fly_” (knowing).

  ⸧— GO IN THIS DIRECTION, it is better than the other road. Nothing
  that way.

  ◇ _BONE_ (good). Safe for a “cold tatur,” if for nothing else.
  “_Cheese your patter_” (don’t talk much) here.

  ▽ _COOPER’D_ (spoilt), by too many tramps calling there.

  □ _GAMMY_ (unfavourable), likely to have you taken up. Mind the dog.

  ☉ _FLUMMUXED_ (dangerous), sure of a month in “_quod_” (prison).

  ⊕ _RELIGIOUS_, but tidy on the whole.

Where did these signs come from, and when were they first used?
are questions which I have asked myself again and again, whilst
endeavouring to discover their history. Knowing the character of the
Gipseys, and ascertaining from a tramp that they are well acquainted
with the hieroglyphics, “and have been as long ago as ever he could
remember,” I have little hesitation in ascribing the invention to
them. And strange it would be if some modern Belzoni, or Champollion,
discovered in these beggars’ marks fragments of ancient Egyptian or
Hindoo hieroglyphical writing! But this, of course, is a simple vagary
of the imagination.

That the Gipseys were in the habit of leaving memorials of the road
they had taken, and the successes that had befallen them, there can
be no doubt. In an old book, _The Triumph of Wit_, 1724, there is a
passage which appears to have been copied from some older work, and
it runs thus:—“The Gipseys set out twice a year, and scatter all over
England, each parcel having their appointed stages, that they may not
interfere, nor hinder each other; and for that purpose, when they set
forward in the country, _they stick up boughs in the way of divers
kinds, according as it is agreed among them, that one company may know
which way another is gone, and so take a different road_.” The works of
_Hoyland_ and _Borrow_ supply other instances.

I cannot close this subject without drawing attention to the
extraordinary fact, that actually on the threshold of the gibbet the
sign of the vagabond is to be met with! “The murderer’s signal is even
exhibited from the gallows; as a red handkerchief held in the hand of
the felon about to be executed is a token that he dies without having
betrayed any professional secrets.”[34]

Since the first edition of this work was published the author has
received from various parts of England numerous evidences of the
still active use of beggars’ marks, and mendicant hieroglyphics. One
gentleman writes from Great Yarmouth to say that only a short time
since, whilst residing in Norwich, he used frequently to see them on
the houses and street corners. From another gentleman, a clergyman, I
learn that he has so far made himself acquainted with the meanings of
the signs employed, that by himself marking the characters □ (_Gammy_)
or ☉ (_Flummuxed_) on the gate posts of his parsonage, he enjoys a
singular immunity from alms-seekers of all orders.



SLANG is the language of street humour, of fast, high, and low life.
CANT, as was stated in the chapter upon that subject, is the vulgar
language of secrecy. They are both universal and ancient, and appear
to have been the peculiar concomitants of gay, vulgar, or worthless
persons in every part of the world, at every period of time. Indeed, if
we are to believe implicitly the saying of _the_ wise man, that “there
is nothing new under the sun,” the “fast” men of buried Nineveh, with
their knotty and door-matty looking beards, may have cracked Slang
jokes on the steps of Sennacherib’s palace; and the stocks and stones
of Ancient Egypt, and the bricks of venerable and used-up Babylon,
may, for aught we know, be covered with Slang hieroglyphics unknown
to modern antiquarians, and which have long been stumbling-blocks to
the philologist; so impossible is it at this day to say what was then
authorised, or what then vulgar language. Slang is as old as speech
and the congregating together of people in cities. It is the result of
crowding, and excitement, and artificial life. Even to the classics
it was not unknown, as witness the pages of Aristophanes and Plautus,
Terence and Athenæus. Martial, the epigrammatist, is full of Slang.
When an uninvited guest accompanied his friend, the Slang of the day
styled him his UMBRA; when a man was trussed, neck and heels, it called
him jocosely QUADRUPUS.

Old English Slang was coarser, and depended more upon downright
vulgarity than our modern Slang. It was a jesting speech, or humorous
indulgence for the thoughtless moment, or the drunken hour, and it
acted as a vent-peg for a fit of temper or irritability; but it did not
interlard and permeate every description of conversation as now. It
was confined to nick-names and improper subjects, and encroached but
to a very small extent upon the domain of authorised speech. Indeed,
it was exceedingly limited when compared with the vast territory of
Slang in such general favour and complete circulation at the present
day. Still, although not an alarming encumbrance, as in our time,
Slang certainly did exist in this country centuries ago, as we may
see if we look down the page of any respectable History of England.
Cromwell was familiarly called OLD NOLL,—just the same as Buonaparte
was termed BONEY, and Wellington CONKEY, or NOSEY, only a few years
ago. His Legislature, too, was spoken of in a high-flavoured way as
the BAREBONES, or RUMP Parliament, and his followers were nicknamed
ROUNDHEADS, and the peculiar religious sects of his protectorate were
styled PURITANS and QUAKERS.[35] The Civil War pamphlets, and the
satirical hits of the Cavaliers and the Commonwealth men, originated
numerous Slang words and vulgar similes, in full use at the present
moment. Here is a field of inquiry for the Philological Society, indeed
I may say a territory, for there are thirty thousand of these partisan
tracts. Later still, in the court of Charles the Second, the naughty
ladies and the gay lords, with Rochester at their head, talked Slang;
and very naughty Slang it was too! Fops, in those days, when “over
head and ears” in debt, and in continual fear of arrest, termed their
enemies, the bailiffs, PHILISTINES[36] or MOABITES. At a later period,
when collars were worn detached from shirts, in order to save the
expense of washing—an object it would seem with needy “swells” in all
ages—they obtained the name of JACOBITES. One half of the coarse wit in
Butler’s Hudibras lurks in the vulgar words and phrases which he was
so fond of employing. They were more homely and forcible than the mild
and elegant sentences of Cowley, and the people, therefore, hurrah’d
them, and pronounced Butler one of themselves,—or, as we should say, in
a joyful moment, a jolly good fellow. Orator Henley preached and prayed
in Slang, and first charmed and then swayed the dirty mobs in Lincoln’s
Inn Fields by vulgarisms. Burly Grose mentions Henley, with the remark
that we owe a great many Slang phrases to him. Swift, and old Sir Roger
L’Estrange, and Arbuthnot, were all fond of vulgar or Slang language;
indeed, we may see from a Slang word used by the latter how curious
is the gradual adoption of vulgar terms in our standard dictionaries.
The worthy doctor, in order to annihilate (or, as we should say with a
fitting respect to the subject under consideration, SMASH) an opponent,
thought proper on an occasion to use the word CABBAGE, not in the
ancient and esculentary sense of a flatulent vegetable of the kitchen
garden, but in the at once Slang sense of purloining or cribbing.
Johnson soon met with the word, looked at it, examined it, weighed it,
and shook his head, but out of respect to a brother doctor inserted it
in his dictionary, labelling it, however, prominently “_Cant_;” whilst
Walker and Webster, years after, when _to cabbage_ was to _pilfer_ all
over England, placed the term in their dictionaries as an ancient and
very respectable word. Another Slang term, GULL, to cheat, or delude,
sometimes varied to GULLY, is stated to be connected with the Dean
of St. Patrick. GULL, a dupe, or a fool, is often used by our old
dramatists, and is generally believed to have given rise to the verb;
but a curious little edition of _Bamfylde Moore Carew_, published in
1827, says that TO GULL, or GULLY, is derived from the well known
_Gulliver_, the hero of the famous _Travels_. How crammed with Slang
are the dramatic works of the last century! The writers of the comedies
and farces in those days must have lived in the streets, and written
their plays in the public-houses, so filled are they with vulgarisms
and unauthorised words. The popular phrases, “I owe you one,” “that’s
one for his nob,” and “keep moving, dad,” arose in this way.[37] The
second of these sayings was, doubtless, taken from the card table, for
at cribbage the player who holds the knave of the suit turned up counts
“one for his nob,” and the dealer who turns up a knave counts “two for
his heels.”

In Mrs. Centlivre’s admirable comedy of _A Bold Stroke for a Wife_,
we see the origin of that popular street phrase, THE REAL SIMON PURE.
Simon Pure is the Quaker name adopted by Colonel Feignwell as a trick
to obtain the hand of Mistress Anne Lovely in marriage. The veritable
Quaker, the “real Simon Pure,” recommended by Aminadab Holdfast, of
Bristol, as a fit sojourner with Obadiah Prim, arrives at last to
the discomfiture of the Colonel, who, to maintain his position and
gain time, concocts a letter in which the real Quaker is spoken of as
a housebreaker who had travelled in the “leather conveniency” from
Bristol, and adopted the garb and name of the Western Quaker in order
to pass off as the “REAL SIMON PURE,” but only for the purpose of
robbing the house and cutting the throat of the perplexed Obadiah. The
scene in which the two Simon Pures, the _real_ and the _counterfeit_,
meet, is one of the best in the comedy.

Tom Brown, of “facetious memory,” as his friends were wont to say, and
Ned Ward, who wrote humorous books, and when tired drew beer for his
customers at his ale-house in Long Acre,[38] were both great producers
of Slang in the last century, and to them we owe many popular current
phrases and household words.

Written Slang was checked rather than advanced by the pens of Addison,
Johnson, and Goldsmith, although John Bee, the bottle-holder and
historiographer of the pugilistic band of brothers in the youthful
days of flat-nosed Tom Crib, has gravely stated that Johnson, when
young and rakish, contributed to an early volume of the _Gentleman’s
Magazine_ a few pages, by way of specimen, of a Slang dictionary, the
result, Mr. Bee says, “of his midnight ramblings!”[39] And Goldsmith,
I must not forget to remark, certainly coined a few words, although,
as a rule, his pen was pure and graceful, and adverse to neologisms.
The word FUDGE, it has been stated, was first used by him in literary
composition, although it originated with one Captain Fudge, a notorious
fibber, nearly a century before. Street-phrases, nick-names, and
vulgar words were continually being added to the great stock of
popular Slang up to the commencement of the present century, when it
received numerous additions from pugilism, horse-racing, and “fast”
life generally, which suddenly came into great public favour, and
was at its height when the Prince Regent was in his rakish minority.
Slang in those days was generally termed FLASH language. So popular
was it with the “bloods” of high life that it constituted the best
paying literary capital for certain authors and dramatists. Pierce Egan
issued _Boxiana_, and _Life in London_, six portly octavo volumes,
crammed with Slang; and Moncrieff wrote the most popular farce of
the day, _Tom and Jerry_ (adapted from the latter work), which, to
use newspaper Slang, “took the town by storm,” and, with its then
fashionable vulgarisms, made the fortune of the old Adelphi Theatre,
and was, without exception, the most wonderful instance of a continuous
theatrical RUN in ancient or modern times. This, also, was brimful of
Slang. Other authors helped to popularise and extend Slang down to our
own time, when it has taken a somewhat different turn, dropping many
of the Cant and old vulgar words, and assuming a certain quaint and
fashionable phraseology—Frenchy, familiar, utilitarian, and jovial.
There can be no doubt but that common speech is greatly influenced by
fashion, fresh manners, and that general change of ideas which steals
over a people once in a generation. But before I proceed further
into the region of _Slang_, it will be well to say something on the
etymology of the word.

The word SLANG is only mentioned by two lexicographers—Webster and
Ogilvie. Johnson, Walker, and the older compilers of dictionaries, give
_slang_ the preterite of _sling_, but not a word about SLANG in the
sense of low, vulgar, or unrecognised language. The origin of the word
has often been asked for in literary journals and books, but only one
man, as far as I can learn, has ever hazarded an etymology—Jonathan
Bee, the vulgar chronicler of the prize-ring.[40] With a recklessness
peculiar to pugilism, Bee stated that SLANG was derived from “the
_slangs_ or fetters worn by prisoners, having acquired that name from
the manner in which they were worn, as they required a sling of string
to keep them off the ground.” Bee had just been nettled at Pierce Egan
producing a new edition of _Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue_,
and was determined to excel him in a vulgar dictionary of his own,
which should be more racy, more pugilistic, and more original. How far
he succeeded in this latter particular his ridiculous etymology of
Slang will show. SLANG is not an English word, it is the Gipsey term
for their secret language, and its synonyme is GIBBERISH—another word
which was believed to have had no distinct origin.[41] Grose—stout and
burly Captain Grose—who we may characterise as the greatest antiquary,
joker, and drinker of porter of his day, was the first author who put
the word SLANG into print. It occurs in his _Classical Dictionary of
the Vulgar Tongue_, of 1785, with the signification that it implies
“Cant or vulgar language.” Grose, I may remark in passing, was a
great favourite with the poet Burns, and so pleased by his extensive
powers of story-telling and grog-imbibing, that the companionable and
humour-loving Scotch bard wrote for his fat friend—or, to use his
own words, “the fine, fat, fodgel wight”—the immortal poem of “Tam

Without troubling the reader with a long account of the transformation
into an English term of the word SLANG, I may remark in passing that
it is easily seen how we obtained it from the Gipseys. Hucksters and
beggars on tramp, or at fairs and races, associate and frequently join
in any rough enterprise with the Gipseys. The word would be continually
heard by them, and would in this manner soon become CANT;[42] and, when
carried by “fast” or vulgar fashionables from the society of thieves
and low characters to their own drawing-rooms, would as quickly become
SLANG, and the representative term for all vulgar or Slang language.

Any sudden excitement, peculiar circumstance, or popular literary
production, is quite sufficient to originate and set going a score
of Slang words. Nearly every election or public agitation throws
out offshoots of the excitement, or scintillations of the humour
in the shape of Slang terms—vulgar at first, but at length adopted
as semi-respectable from the force of habit and custom. There is
scarcely a condition or calling in life that does not possess its own
peculiar Slang. The professions, legal and medical, have each familiar
and unauthorised terms for peculiar circumstances and things, and
I am quite certain that the clerical calling, or “_the cloth_,” is
not entirely free from this peculiarity. Every workshop, warehouse,
factory, and mill throughout the country has its Slang, and so have
the public schools of Eton, Harrow, and Westminster, and the great
Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Sea Slang constitutes the
principal charm of a sailor’s “yarn,” and our soldiers and officers
have each their peculiar nicknames and terms for things and subjects
proper and improper. A writer in _Household Words_ (No. 183) has
gone so far as to remark, that a person “shall not read one single
parliamentary debate, as reported in a first-class newspaper, without
meeting scores of Slang words;” and “that from Mr. Speaker in his
chair, to the Cabinet Ministers whispering behind it—from mover to
seconder, from true blue Protectionist to extremest Radical—Mr. Barry’s
New House echoes and re-echoes with Slang.” Really it seems as if our
boasted English tongue was a very paltry and ill-provided contrivance
after all; or can it be that we are the most vulgar of people?

The universality of Slang is extraordinary. Let any person for a short
time narrowly examine the conversation of their dearest and nearest
friends, aye, censor-like, even slice and analyse their own supposed
correct talk, and they shall be amazed at the numerous unauthorised,
and what we can only call vulgar, words they continually employ. It is
not the number of new words that we are ever introducing that is so
reprehensible, there is not so much harm in this practice (frequently
termed in books “the license of expression”) if neologisms are really
required, but it is the continually encumbering of _old_ words with
fresh and strange meanings. Look at those simple and useful verbs,
_do_, _cut_, _go_, and _take_, and see how they are hampered and
overloaded, and then let us ask ourselves how it is that a French
or German gentleman, be he ever so well educated, is continually
blundering and floundering amongst our _little_ words when trying
to make himself understood in an ordinary conversation. He may have
studied our language the required time, and have gone through the usual
amount of “grinding,” and practised the common allotment of patience,
but all to no purpose as far as accuracy is concerned. I am aware that
most new words are generally regarded as Slang, although afterwards
they may become useful and respectable additions to our standard
dictionaries. JABBER and HOAX were Slang and Cant terms in Swift’s
time; so indeed were MOB and SHAM.[43] Words directly from the Latin
and Greek, and Carlyleisms, are allowed by an indulgent public to pass
and take their places in books. Sound contributes many Slang words—a
source that etymologists too frequently overlook. Nothing pleases an
ignorant person more than a high-sounding term “full of fury.” How
melodious and drum-like are those vulgar coruscations RUMBUMPTIOUS,
a “pull” the sharp-nosed lodging-house keeper thinks she has over her
victims if she can but hurl such testimonies of a liberal education
at them when they are disputing her charges, and threatening to
ABSQUATULATE! In the United States the vulgar-genteel even excel the
poor “stuck-up” Cockneys in their formation of a native fashionable
language. How charming to a refined ear are ABSKIZE, CATAWAMPOUSLY,
Vulgar words representing action and brisk movement often owe their
origin to sound. Mispronunciation, too, is another great source of
vulgar or slang words—RAMSHACKLE, SHACKLY, NARY-ONE for neither, or
neither one, OTTOMY for anatomy, RENCH for rinse, are specimens.
The commonalty dislike frequently occurring words difficult of
pronunciation, and so we have the street abridgments of BIMEBY for by
and by, CAZE for because, GIN for given, HANKERCHER for handkerchief,
RUMATIZ for rheumatism, BACKY for tobacco, and many others, not perhaps
Slang, but certainly all vulgarisms. Archbishop Whately, in his
interesting _Remains of Bishop Copleston_, has inserted a leaf from the
Bishop’s note-book on the popular corruption of names, mentioning among
others KICKSHAWS, as from the French, _quelques choses_; BEEFEATER,
the lubberly guardian of royalty in a procession, and the supposed
devourer of enormous beefsteaks, as but a vulgar pronunciation of the
French, _buffetier_; and GEORGE and CANNON, the sign of a public-house,
as nothing but a corruption (although so soon!) of the popular premier
of the last generation, _George Canning_. Literature has its Slang
terms; and the desire on the part of writers to say funny and startling
things in a novel and curious way (the late _Household Words_,[44] for
instance), contributes many unauthorised words to the great stock of

_Fashionable_, or _Upper-class Slang_, is of several varieties. There
is the Belgravian, military and naval, parliamentary, dandy, and the
reunion and visiting Slang. Concerning the Slang of the fashionable
world, a writer in _Household Words_ curiously, but not altogether
truthfully, remarks, that it is mostly imported from France; and
that an unmeaning gibberish of Gallicisms runs through English
fashionable conversation, and fashionable novels, and accounts of
fashionable parties in the fashionable newspapers. Yet, ludicrously
enough, immediately the fashionable magnates of England seize on any
French idiom, the French themselves not only universally abandon it
to us, but positively repudiate it altogether from their idiomatic
vocabulary. If you were to tell a well-bred Frenchman that such and
such an aristocratic marriage was on the _tapis_, he would stare with
astonishment, and look down on the carpet in the startled endeavour
to find a marriage in so unusual a place. If you were to talk to him
of the _beau monde_, he would imagine you meant the world which God
made, not half-a-dozen streets and squares between Hyde Park Corner
and Chelsea Bun House. The _thé dansante_[45] would be completely
inexplicable to him. If you were to point out to him the Dowager Lady
Grimguffin acting as _chaperon_ to Lady Amanda Creamville, he would
imagine you were referring to the _petit Chaperon rouge_—to little Red
Riding Hood. He might just understand what was meant by _vis-a-vis_,
_entremets_, and some others of the flying horde of frivolous little
foreign slangisms hovering about fashionable cookery and fashionable
furniture; but three-fourths of them would seem to him as barbarous
French provincialisms, or, at best, but as antiquated and obsolete
expressions, picked out of the letters of Mademoiselle Scuderi, or the
tales of Crebillon the “younger.” Servants, too, appropriate the scraps
of French conversation which fall from their masters’ guests at the
dinner table, and forthwith in the world of flunkeydom the word “know”
is disused, and the lady’s maid, in doubt on a particular point, asks
John whether or no he SAVEYS it?[46] What, too, can be more abominable
than that heartless piece of fashionable newspaper Slang, regularly
employed when speaking of the successful courtship of young people in
the fashionable world:—

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

ARRANGED! Is that cold-blooded Smithfield or Mark-lane term for a
sale or a purchase the proper word to express the hopeful, joyous,
golden union of young and trustful hearts? Which is the proper way to
pronounce the names of great people, and what the correct authority?
Lord Cowper, we are often assured, is Lord _Cooper_—on this principle
Lord Cowley would certainly be Lord _Cooley_—and Mr. Carew, we are
told, should be Mr. _Carey_, Ponsonby should be _Punsunby_, Eyre
should he _Aire_, Cholmondeley should be _Chumley_, St. John _Singen_,
Majoribanks _Marshbanks_, Derby _Darby_ (its ancient pronunciation),
and Powell should always be _Poel_. I don’t know that these lofty
persons have as much cause to complain of the illiberality of fate in
giving them disagreeable names as did the celebrated Psyche (as she was
termed by Tom Moore), whose original name, through her husband, was
_Teague_, but which was afterwards altered to Tighe.

_Parliamentary Slang_, excepting a few peculiar terms connected with
“_the_ House” (scarcely Slang, I suppose), is mainly composed of
fashionable, literary, and learned Slang. When members, however, get
excited and wish to be forcible, they are often not very particular
which of the street terms they select, providing it carries, as
good old Dr. South said, plenty of wild-fire in it. Sir Hugh Cairns
very lately spoke of “that homely but expressive phrase, DODGE.”
Out of “the House,” several Slang terms are used in connection with
Parliament or members of Parliament. If Lord Palmerston is known by
name to the tribes of the Caucasus and Asia Minor as a great foreign
diplomatist, when the name of our Queen Victoria is an unknown title
to the inhabitants of those parts—as was stated in the _Times_ a short
time ago,—I have only to remark that amongst the costers and the wild
inhabitants of the streets he is better known as PAM. I have often
heard the cabmen on the “ranks” in Piccadilly remark of the late
Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he has been going from his residence
at Grosvenor Gate, to Derby House in St. James’s Square,—“hollo,
there! de yer see old DIZZY doing a stump?” A PLUMPER is a single vote
at an election,—not a SPLIT-TICKET; and electors who have occupied a
house, no matter how small, and boiled a pot in it, thus qualifying
themselves for voting, are termed POT-WOLLOPERS. A quiet WALK OVER
is a re-election without opposition and much cost. A CAUCUS meeting
refers to the private assembling of politicians before an election,
when candidates are chosen and measures of action agreed upon. The term
comes from America. A JOB, in political phraseology, is a government
office or contract obtained by secret influence or favouritism. Only
the other day the _Times_ spoke of “the patriotic member of Parliament
POTTED OUT in a dusty little lodging somewhere about Bury-street.”
The term QUOCKERWODGER, although referring to a wooden toy figure
which jerks its limbs about when pulled by a string, has been
supplemented with a political meaning. A pseudo-politician, one whose
strings of action are pulled by somebody else, is now often termed
a QUOCKERWODGER. The term RAT, too, in allusion to rats deserting
vessels about to sink, has long been employed towards those turncoat
politicians who change their party for interest. Who that occasionally
passes near the Houses of Parliament has not often noticed stout or
careful M.P.s walk briskly through the Hall and on the curb-stone in
front, with umbrella or walking cane uplifted, shout to the cabmen
on the rank, FOUR-WHEELER! The term is a useful one, but I am afraid
we must consider it Slang, until it is stamped with the mint mark of
lexicographical authority.[47]

_Military_, or _Officers’ Slang_ is on a par, and of a character
with _Dandy Slang_. Inconvenient friends, or elderly and lecturing
relatives, are pronounced DREADFUL BORES. Four-wheel cabs are called
BOUNDERS; and a member of the Four-in-hand Club, driving to Epsom on
the Derby day, would, using fashionable slang phraseology, speak of
it as TOOLING HIS DRAG DOWN TO THE DERBY. A vehicle, if not a DRAG
(or dwag) is a TRAP, or a CASK; and if the TURN OUT happens to be in
other than a trim condition, it is pronounced at once as not DOWN
THE ROAD. Your city swell would say it is not UP TO THE MARK; whilst
the costermonger would call it WERY DICKEY. In the army a barrack
or military station is known as a LOBSTER-BOX; to “cram” for an
examination is to MUG-UP; to reject from the examination is to SPIN;
and that part of the barrack occupied by subalterns is frequently
spoken of as the ROOKERY. In dandy or swell Slang, any celebrity, from
Robson of the Olympic, to the Pope of Rome, is a SWELL. Wrinkled faced
old professors, who hold dress and fashionable tailors in abhorrence,
are called AWFUL SWELLS,—if they happen to be very learned or clever.
I may remark that in this upper class Slang a title is termed a
HANDLE; trousers, INEXPRESSIBLES; or when of a large pattern, or the
inflated Zouave cut, HOWLING BAGS; a superior appearance, EXTENSIVE; a
four-wheeled cab, a BIRDCAGE; a dance, a HOP; dining at another man’s
table, “sitting under his MAHOGANY;” anything flashy or showy, LOUD;
the peculiar make or cut of a coat, its BUILD; full dress, FULL-FIG;
wearing clothes which represent the very extreme of fashion, “dressing
to DEATH;” a reunion, a SPREAD; a friend (or a “good fellow”), a TRUMP;
a difficulty, a SCREW LOOSE; and everything that is unpleasant, “from
bad sherry to a writ from a tailor,” JEUCED INFERNAL. The military
phrase, “to send a man to COVENTRY,” or permit no person to speak to
him, although an ancient saying, must still be considered Slang.

The _Universities of Oxford and Cambridge_, and the great public
schools, are the hotbeds of fashionable Slang. Growing boys and
high-spirited young fellows detest restraint of all kinds, and prefer
making a dash at life in a Slang phraseology of their own, to all the
set forms and syntactical rules of _Alma Mater_. Many of the most
expressive words in a common chit-chat, or free-and-easy conversation,
are old University vulgarisms. CUT, in the sense of dropping an
acquaintance, was originally a Cambridge form of speech; and HOAX, to
deceive or ridicule, we are informed by Grose, was many years since an
Oxford term. Among the words that fast society has borrowed from our
great scholastic [I was going to say _establishments_, but I remembered
the linen drapers’ horrid and habitual use of the word] institutions,
I find CRIB, a house or apartments; DEAD-MEN, empty wine bottles;
DRAWING TEETH,[48] wrenching off knockers; FIZZING, first-rate, or
splendid; GOVERNOR, or RELIEVING OFFICER, the general term for a male
parent; PLUCKED, defeated or turned back; QUIZ, to scrutinise, or a
prying old fellow; and ROW, a noisy disturbance. The Slang words in
use at Oxford and Cambridge would alone fill a volume. As examples
I may instance SCOUT, which at Oxford refers to an undergraduate’s
valet, whilst the same menial at Cambridge is termed a GYP,—popularly
derived by the Cantabs from the Greek, GYPS (γυψ), a vulture; SCULL,
the head, or master of a college; BATTLES, the Oxford term for rations,
changed at Cambridge into COMMONS. The term DICKEY, a half shirt, I
am told, originated with the students of Trinity College, Dublin, who
at first styled it a TOMMY, from the Greek, τομη, a section. CRIB,
a literal translation, is now universal; GRIND refers to a walk,
or “constitutional;” HIVITE is a student of St. Begh’s (St. Bee’s)
College, Cumberland; to JAPAN, in this Slang speech, is to ordain;
MORTAR-BOARD is a square college cap; SIM a student of a Methodistical
turn,—in allusion to the Rev. Charles Simeon; SLOGGERS, at Cambridge,
refers to the second division of race boats, known at Oxford as
TORPIDS; SPORT is to show or exhibit; TROTTER is the jocose term for a
tailor’s man who goes round for orders; and TUFTS are wealthy students
who dine with the DONS, and are distinguished by golden _tufts_, or
tassels, in their caps. There are many terms in use at Oxford not known
at Cambridge; and such Slang names as COACH, GULF, HARRY-SOPH, POKER,
or POST-MORTEM, common enough at Cambridge, are seldom or never heard
at the great sister University. For numerous other examples of college
Slang, the reader is referred to the Dictionary.

_Religious Slang_, strange as the compound may appear, exists with
other descriptions of vulgar speech at the present day. _Punch_, a
short time since, in one of those half-humorous, half-serious articles
in which he is so fond of lecturing any national abuse or popular
folly, remarked that Slang had “long since penetrated into the Forum,
and now we meet it in the Senate, _and even the Pulpit itself is no
longer free from its intrusion_.” I would not, for one moment, wish to
infer that the practice is general. On the contrary, and in justice to
the clergy, it must be said that the principal disseminators of pure
English throughout the country are the ministers of our Established
Church. Yet it cannot be denied but that a great deal of Slang
phraseology and disagreeable vulgarism have gradually crept into the
very pulpits which should give forth as pure speech as doctrine.

Dean Conybeare, in his able _Essay on Church Parties_,[49] has
noticed this wretched addition to our pulpit speech. As stated in
his Essay, the practice appears to confine itself mainly to the
exaggerated forms of the High and Low Church—the Tractarians and
the “Recordites.”[50] By way of illustration, the Dean cites the
evening parties, or social meetings, common amongst the wealthier lay
members of the Recordite (exaggerated Evangelical) Churches, where
the principal topics discussed—one or more favourite clergymen being
present in a quasi-official manner—are “the merits and demerits of
different preachers, the approaching restoration of the Jews, the date
of the Millennium, the progress of the ‘Tractarian heresy,’ and the
anticipated ‘perversion’ of High Church neighbours.” These subjects are
canvassed in a dialect differing considerably from common English. The
are used in a technical sense. We hear that Mr. A. has been more OWNED
than Mr. B; and that Mr. C. has more SEALS[51] than Mr. D. Again, the
word GRACIOUS is invested with a meaning as extensive as that attached
by young ladies to _nice_. Thus, we hear of a “GRACIOUS sermon,” a
“GRACIOUS meeting,” a “GRACIOUS child,” and even a “GRACIOUS whipping.”
The word DARK has also a new and peculiar usage. It is applied to every
person, book, or place, not impregnated with Recordite principles. We
once were witnesses of a ludicrous misunderstanding resulting from this
phraseology. “What did you mean (said A. to B.) by telling me that ——
was such a very DARK village? I rode over there to day, and found the
street particularly broad and cheerful, and there is not a tree in the
place.” “_The Gospel is not preached there_,” was B.’s laconic reply.
The conclusion of one of these singular evening parties is generally
marked by an “_exposition_”—an unseasonable sermon of nearly one hour’s
duration, circumscribed by no text, and delivered from the table by
one of the clerical visitors with a view to “improve the occasion.” In
the same Essay, the religious Slang terms for the two great divisions
of the Established Church, receive some explanation. The old-fashioned
High Church party, rich and “stagnant,” noted for its “sluggish
mediocrity, hatred of zeal, dread of innovation, abuse of dissent,
blundering and languid utterance,” is called the HIGH AND DRY; whilst
the corresponding division, known as the Low Church, equally stagnant
with the former, but poorer, and more lazily inclined (from absence
of education), to dissent, receives the nickname of the LOW AND SLOW.
Already have these terms become so familiar that they are shortened, in
ordinary conversation, to the DRY and the SLOW. The so-called “Broad
Church,” I should remark, is often spoken of as the BROAD AND SHALLOW.

What can be more objectionable than the irreverent and offensive
manner in which many of the dissenting ministers continually pronounce
the names of the Deity, God and Lord. God, instead of pronouncing in
the plain and beautifully simple old English way, G-O-D, they drawl
out into GORDE or GAUDE; and Lord, instead of speaking in the proper
way, they desecrate into LOARD or LOERD,—lingering on the _u_, or
the _r_, as the case may be, until an honest hearer feels disgusted,
and almost inclined to run the gauntlet of beadles and deacons, and
pull the vulgar preacher from his pulpit. I have observed that many
young preachers strive hard to acquire this peculiar pronunciation,
in imitation of the older ministers. What can more properly, then, be
called Slang, or, indeed, the most objectionable of Slang, than this
studious endeavour to pronounce the most sacred names in a uniformly
vulgar and unbecoming manner. If the old-fashioned preacher whistled
Cant through his nose, the modern vulgar reverend whines Slang from
the more natural organ. These vagaries of speech will, perhaps, by
an apologist, he termed “pulpit peculiarities,” and the writer dared
to intermeddle with a subject that is or should be removed from his
criticisms. The terms used by the mob towards the Church, however
illiberal and satirically vulgar, are within his province in such an
inquiry as the present. A clergyman, in vulgar language, is spoken of
a GRAY COAT PARSON—if he is a lessee of the great tithes, ONE IN TEN,
PADRE—if spoken of by an Anglo-Indian, a ROOK, a SPOUTER, a WHITE
CHOKER, or a WARMING PAN RECTOR, if he only holds the living _pro
tempore_, or is simply keeping the place warm for his successor. If a
Tractarian, his outer garment is rudely spoken of as a PYGOSTOLE, or
M.B. (MARK OF THE BEAST) COAT. His profession is termed THE CLOTH, and
his practice TUB THUMPING. Should he belong to the dissenting body,
he is probably styled a PANTILER, or a PSALM SMITER, or, perhaps, a
SWADDLER. His chapel, too, is spoken of as a SCHISM SHOP. A Roman
Catholic, I may remark, is coarsely named a BRISKET BEATER.

Particular as lawyers generally are about the meaning of words, they
have not prevented an unauthorised phraseology from arising, which
we may term _Legal Slang_. So forcibly did this truth impress a late
writer, that he wrote in a popular journal, “You may hear Slang every
day in term from barristers in their robes, at every mess-table,
at every bar-mess, at every college commons, and in every club
dining-room.” Swift, in his _Art of Polite Conversation_ (p. 15),
published a century and a half ago, states that VARDI was the Slang
in his time for “verdict.” A few of the most common and well-known
terms used out of doors, with reference to legal matters, are COOK, to
hash or make up a balance-sheet; DIPPED, mortgaged; DUN, to solicit
payment; FULLIED, to be “_fully_ committed for trial;” LAND-SHARK, a
sailor’s definition of a lawyer; LIMB OF THE LAW, a milder term for
the same “professional;” MONKEY WITH A LONG TAIL, a mortgage—phrase
used in the well-known case for libel, Smith _v._ Jones; MOUTHPIECE,
the coster’s term for his counsel; “to go through the RING,” to take
advantage of the Insolvency Act; SMASH, to become bankrupt; SNIPE, an
attorney with a long bill; and WHITEWASHED, said of any debtor who has
taken the benefit of the Insolvent Act. Lawyers, from their connection
with the police courts, and transactions with persons in every grade of
society, have ample opportunities for acquiring street Slang, which in
cross-questioning and wrangling they frequently avail themselves of.

It has been said there exists a _Literary Slang_, or “the _Slang
of Criticism_—dramatic, artistic, and scientific. Such words as
‘æsthetic,’ ‘transcendental,’ the ‘harmonies,’ the ‘unities,’ a
‘myth:’ such phrases as ‘an exquisite _morceau_ on the big drum,’ a
‘scholarlike rendering of John the Baptist’s great toe,’ ‘keeping
harmony,’ ‘middle distance,’ ‘ærial perspective,’ ‘delicate handling,’
‘nervous chiaroscuro,’ and the like.” More than one literary journal
that I could name are fond of employing such terms in their art
criticisms, but it is questionable, after all, whether they are not
allowable as the generous inflections and bendings of a bountiful
language, for the purpose of expressing fresh phases of thought, and
ideas not yet provided with representative words.[52] The well-known
and ever-acceptable _Punch_, with his fresh and choice little pictorial
bits by Leech, often employs a Slang term to give point to a joke,
or humour to a line of satire. A short time since (4th May, 1859) he
gave an original etymology of the school-boy-ism SLOG. SLOG, said the
classical and studious _Punch_, is derived from the Greek word SLOGO,
to baste, to wallop, to slaughter. And it was not long ago that he
amused his readers with two columns on _Slang and Sanscrit_:—

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

But the vulgar term, BRICK, _Punch_ remarks in illustration,

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

It is singular that what _Punch_ says, unwittingly and in humour,
respecting the Slang expression, BOSH, should be quite true. BOSH,
remarks _Punch_, after speaking of it as belonging to the stock of
words pilfered from the Turks, “is one whose innate force and beauty
the slangographer is reluctantly compelled to admit. It is the only
word which seems a proper appellation for a great deal which we are
obliged to hear and to read every day of our life.” BOSH, nonsense
or stupidity, is derived from the _Gipsey_ and the _Persian_. The
universality of Slang, I may here remark, is proved by its continual
use in the pages of _Punch_. Whoever thinks, unless belonging to a
past generation, of asking a friend to explain the stray vulgar words
employed by the _London Charivari_?

The _Athenæum_, the most learned and censor-like of all the “weeklies,”
often indulges in a Slang word, when force of expression or a little
humour is desired, or when the writer wishes to say something which
is better said in Slang, or so-called vulgar speech, than in the
authorised language of Dr. Johnson or Lindley Murray. It was but the
other day that a writer in its pages employed an old and favourite
word, used always when we were highly pleased with any article at
school,—STUNNING. _Bartlett_, the compiler of the _Dictionary of
Americanisms_, continually cites the _Athenæum_ as using Slang and
vulgar expressions;—but the magazine the American refers to is not
the excellent literary journal which is so esteemed at the present
day, it was a smaller, and now defunct “weekly.” Many other highly
respectable journals often use Slang words and phrases. The _Times_
(or, in Slang, the THUNDERER) frequently employs unauthorised terms;
and, following a “leader”[53] of the purest and most eloquent English
composition, may sometimes be seen another “article”[53] on a totally
different subject, containing, perhaps, a score or more of exceedingly
questionable words. Among the words and phrases which may be included
under the head of Literary Slang are,—BALAAM, matter kept constantly
in type about monstrous productions of nature, to fill up spaces in
newspapers; BALAAM BOX, the term given in _Blackwood_ to the depository
for rejected articles; and SLATE, to pelt with abuse, or CUT UP in a
review. The Slang names given to newspapers are curious;—thus, the
_Morning Advertiser_ is known as the TAP-TUB, the TIZER, and the GIN
AND GOSPEL GAZETTE. The _Morning Post_ has obtained the suggestive
_soubriquet_ of JEAMES; whilst the _Morning Herald_ has long been
caricatured as MRS. HARRIS, and the _Standard_ as MRS. GAMP.[54]

The _Stage_, of course, has its Slang—“both before and behind the
curtain,” as a journalist remarks. The stage manager is familiarly
termed DADDY; and an actor by profession, or a “professional,”
is called a PRO. A man who is occasionally hired at a trifling
remuneration to come upon the stage as one of a crowd, or when a number
of actors are wanted to give effect, is named a SUP,—an abbreviation of
“supernumerary.” A SURF is a third-rate actor who frequently pursues
another calling; and the band, or orchestra between the pit and the
stage, is generally spoken of as the MENAGERY. A BEN is a benefit;
and SAL is the Slang abbreviation of “salary.” Should no wages be
forthcoming on the Saturday night, it is said that the GHOST DOESN’T
WALK. The travelling or provincial theatricals, who perform in any
large room that can be rented in a country village, are called BARN
STORMERS. A LENGTH is forty-two lines of any dramatic composition; and
a RUN is the good or bad success of a performance. A SADDLE is the
additional charge made by a manager to an actor or actress upon their
benefit night. To MUG UP is to paint one’s face, or arrange the person
to represent a particular character; to CORPSE, or to STICK, is to
balk, or put the other actors out in their parts by forgetting yours.
A performance is spoken of as either a GOOSER or a SCREAMER, should it
be a failure or a great success;—if the latter, it is not infrequently
termed a HIT. To STAR IT is to perform as the centre of attraction,
with none but subordinates and indifferent actors in the same
performance. The expressive term CLAP-TRAP, high-sounding nonsense, is
nothing but an ancient theatrical term, and signified a TRAP to catch a
CLAP by way of applause. “Up amongst the GODS,” refers to being among
the spectators in the gallery,—termed in French Slang PARADIS.

There exists, too, in the great territory of vulgar speech what may
not inappropriately be termed _Civic Slang_. It consists of mercantile
and Stock Exchange terms, and the Slang of good living and wealth. A
turkey hung with sausages is facetiously styled AN ALDERMAN IN CHAINS;
and a half-crown, perhaps from its rotundity, is often termed an
ALDERMAN. A BEAR is a speculator on the Exchange; and a BULL, although
of another order, follows a like profession. There is something very
humorous and applicable in the slang term LAME DUCK, a defaulter in
stock-jobbing speculations. The allusion to his “waddling out of the
Alley,” as they say, is excellent. BREAKING SHINS, in City slang, is
borrowing money; a rotten or unsound scheme is spoken of as FISHY;
“RIGGING the market” means playing tricks with it; and STAG was a
common term during the railway mania for a speculator without capital,
a seller of “scrip” in “Diddlesex Junction” and other equally safe
lines. In Lombard-street a MONKEY is £500, a PLUM £100,000, and a
MARYGOLD is one million sterling. But before I proceed further in a
sketch of the different kinds of Slang, I cannot do better than to
speak here of the extraordinary number of Cant and Slang terms in use
to represent money,—from farthings to bank notes the value of fortunes.
_Her Majesty’s coin, collectively or in the piece, is insulted, by no
less than one hundred and thirty distinct Slang words_, from the humble
BROWN (a halfpenny) to FLIMSIES, or LONG-TAILED ONES (bank notes).

“Money,” it has been well remarked, “the bare, simple word itself, has
a sonorous, significant ring in its sound,” and might have sufficed,
one would have imagined, for all ordinary purposes. But a vulgar or
“fast” society has thought differently, and so we have the Slang
synonymes BEANS, BLUNT, (_i.e._, specie,—not _stiff_ or _rags_, bank
notes), BRADS, BRASS, BUSTLE, COPPERS (copper money, or mixed pence),
GENT (silver,—from _argent_), HADDOCK (a purse of money), HORSE NAILS,
LOAVER, LOUR (the oldest Cant term for money), MOPUSSES, NEEDFUL,
NOBBINGS (money collected in a hat by street performers), OCHRE (gold),
purse of money), STIFF (paper, or bill of acceptance), STUFF, STUMPY,
TIN (silver), WEDGE (silver), and YELLOW-BOYS (sovereigns);—just
forty-two vulgar equivalents for the simple word _money_. So attentive
is Slang speech to financial matters, that there are seven terms for
bad, or “bogus” coin (as our friends, the Americans, call it): a CASE
is a counterfeit five-shilling piece; HALF A CASE represents half that
sum; GRAYS are halfpence made double for gambling purposes; QUEER-SOFT
is counterfeit or lead coin; SCHOFEL refers to coated or spurious coin;
SHEEN is bad money of any description; and SINKERS bears the same and
not inappropriate meaning. FLYING THE KITE, or obtaining money on
bills and promissory notes, is a curious allusion to children tossing
about a paper kite; and RAISING THE WIND is a well-known phrase for
procuring money by immediate sale, pledging, or a forced loan. In
winter or in summer any elderly gentleman who may have prospered in
life is pronounced WARM; whilst an equivalent is immediately at hand in
the phrase “his pockets are well LINED.” Each separate piece of money
has its own Slang term, and often half a score of synonymes. To begin
with that extremely humble coin, a _farthing_: first we have FADGE,
then FIDDLER, then GIG, and lastly QUARTEREEN. A _halfpenny_ is a
BROWN or a MADZA SALTEE (Cant), or a MAG, or a POSH, or a RAP,—whence
the popular phrase, “I don’t care a _rap_.” The useful and universal
_penny_ has for Slang equivalents a COPPER, a SALTEE (Cant), and a
WINN. _Two-pence_ is a DEUCE, and _three-pence_ is either a THRUMS or
a THRUPS. _Four-pence_, or a _groat_, may in vulgar speech he termed
a BIT, a FLAG, or a JOEY. _Six-pence_ is well represented in street
talk, and some of the Slangisms are very comical, for instance, BANDY,
(thus “two and a kick,” or 2s. 6d.), LORD OF THE MANOR, PIG, POT (the
price of a _pot_ of beer), SNID, SPRAT, SOW’S BABY, TANNER, TESTER,
TIZZY,—sixteen vulgar words to one coin. _Seven-pence_ being an
uncommon amount has only one Slang synonyme, SETTER. The same remark
applies to _eight-pence_ and _nine-pence_, the former being only
represented by OTTER, and the latter by the Cant phrase, NOBBA-SALTEE.
_Ten-pence_ is DACHA-SALTEE, and _eleven-pence_ DACHA-ONE,—both Cant
expressions. _One shilling_ boasts ten Slang equivalents; thus we have
BEONG, BOB, BREAKY-LEG, DEANER, GEN (either from _argent_, silver, or
the back slang), HOG, PEG, STAG, TEVISS, and TWELVER. _Half-a-crown_
CAROON; whilst a _crown_ piece, or _five shillings_, may be called
either a BULL, or a CAROON, or a CARTWHEEL, or a COACHWHEEL, or a
THICK-UN, or a TUSHEROON. The next advance in Slang money is _ten
shillings_, or _half-a-sovereign_, which may be either pronounced
_sovereign_, or _twenty shillings_, is a BEAN, CANARY, COUTER, FOONT,
are nearly obsolete, yet the terms NEDS, and HALF NEDS, are still in
use. Bank notes are FLIMSIES, LONG-TAILED ONES, or SOFT. A FINUF is a
five-pound note. One hundred pounds (or any other “round sum”) quietly
handed over as payment for services performed is curiously termed “a
COOL hundred.” Thus ends, with several omissions, this long list of
Slang terms for the coins of the realm, which for copiousness, I will
engage to say, is not equalled by any other vulgar or unauthorised
language in Europe.

The antiquity of many of these Slang names is remarkable. WINN was the
vulgar term for a penny in the days of Queen Elizabeth; and TESTER, a
sixpence (formerly a shilling), was the correct name in the days of
Henry the Eighth. The reader, too, will have remarked the frequency of
animals’ names as Slang terms for money. Little, as a modern writer has
remarked, do the persons using these phrases know of their remote and
somewhat classical origin, which may, indeed, be traced to the period
antecedent to that when monarchs monopolised the surface of coined
money with their own image and superscriptions. They are identical with
the very name of money among the early Romans, which was _pecunia_,
from _pecus_, a flock. The collections of coin dealers amply show that
the figure of a HOG was anciently placed on a small silver coin; and
that that of a BULL decorated larger ones of the same metal. These
coins were frequently deeply crossed on the reverse; this was for the
convenience of easily breaking them into two or more pieces, should
the bargain for which they were employed require it, and the parties
making it had no smaller change handy to complete the transaction.
Thus we find that the HALF BULL of the itinerant street seller, or
“traveller,”[55] so far from being a phrase of modern invention, as is
generally supposed, is in point of fact referable to an era extremely
remote. There are many other Cant words directly from a classic source,
as will be seen in the Dictionary.

_Shopkeepers’ Slang_ is, perhaps, the most offensive of all Slang.
It is not a casual eyesore, as newspaper Slang, neither is it an
occasional discomfort to the ear, as in the case of some vulgar
byeword of the street; but it is a perpetual nuisance, and stares you
in the face on tradesmen’s invoices, on labels in the shop-windows,
and placards on the hoardings, in posters against the house next to
your own door—if it happens to be empty for a few weeks,—and in bills
thrust into your hand, as you peaceably walk through the streets. Under
your doors, and down your area, Slang hand-bills are dropped by some
PUSHING tradesman, and for the thousandth time you are called upon to
learn that an ALARMING SACRIFICE is taking place in the next street,
that prices are DOWN AGAIN, that in consequence of some other tradesman
not DRIVING a ROARING TRADE, being in fact SOLD UP, and for the time
being a resident in BURDON’S HOTEL (Whitecross-street Prison), the
PUSHING tradesman wishes to sell out at AWFULLY LOW PRICES, “to the
kind patrons, and numerous customers,” &c. &c., “that have on every
occasion,” &c. &c. In this Slang any occupation or calling is termed
a LINE,—thus the “Building-LINE.” A tailor usurps to himself a good
deal of Slang. Amongst operatives he is called a SNIP, or a STEEL
BAR DRIVER; by the world, a NINTH PART OF A MAN; and by the young
collegian, or “fast” man, a SUFFERER. If he takes army contracts, it
is SANK WORK; if he is a SLOP tailor, he is a SPRINGER UP, and his
garments are BLOWN TOGETHER. Perquisites with him are SPIFFS, and
remnants of cloth, PEAKING. The percentage he allows to his assistants
(or COUNTER JUMPERS) on the sale of old-fashioned articles, is termed
TINGE. If he pays his workmen in goods, or gives them tickets upon
other tradesmen, with whom he shares the profit, he is soon known as
a TOMMY MASTER. If his business succeeds, it TAKES; if neglected, it
becomes SHAKY, and GOES TO POT; if he is deceived by a creditor (a not
by any means unusual circumstance) he is LET IN, or, as it is sometimes
varied, TAKEN IN. I need scarcely remark that any credit he may give is
termed TICK.

_Operatives’ or Workmen’s Slang_, in quality, is but slightly removed
from tradesmen’s Slang. When belonging to the same shop or factory,
they GRAFT there, and are BROTHER CHIPS. They generally dine at SLAP
BANG SHOPS, and are often paid at TOMMY SHOPS. At the nearest PUB, or
public-house, they generally have a SCORE CHALKED UP against them,
which has to be WIPED OFF regularly on the Saturday night. When out
of work, they borrow a word from the flunkey vocabulary, and describe
themselves as being OUT OF COLLAR. They term each other FLINTS and
DUNGS, if they are “society” or “non-society” men. Their salary is
a SCREW, and to be discharged is to GET THE SACK. When they quit
work, they KNOCK OFF; and when out of employ, they ask if any HANDS
are wanted. FAT is the vulgar synonyme for perquisites; ELBOW-GREASE
signifies labour; and SAINT MONDAY is the favourite day of the week.
Names of animals figure plentifully in the workman’s vocabulary; thus
we have GOOSE, a tailor’s smoothing iron; SHEEP’S-FOOT, an iron hammer;
SOW, a receptacle for molten iron, whilst the metal poured from it is
termed PIG. I have often thought that many of the Slang terms for money
originally came from the workshop, thus—BRADS, from the ironmonger;
CHIPS, from the carpenter; DUST, from the goldsmith; FEATHERS, from
the upholsterer; HORSE NAILS, from the farrier; HADDOCK, from the
fishmonger; and TANNER, from the leather-dresser. The subject is
curious. Allow me to call the attention of numismatists to it.

There yet remain several distinct divisions of Slang to be
examined;—the Slang of the _stable_, or _jockey_ Slang; the Slang of
the _prize ring_; the Slang of _servitude_, or _flunkeydom_; vulgar,
or _street_ Slang; the Slang of _softened oaths_; and the Slang of
_intoxication_. I shall only examine the last two. If society, as has
been remarked, is a sham, from the vulgar foundation of commonalty to
the crowning summit of royalty, especially do we perceive the justness
of the remark in the Slang makeshifts for oaths, and sham exclamations
for passion and temper. These apologies for feeling are a disgrace to
our vernacular, although it is some satisfaction to know that they
serve the purpose of reducing the stock of national profanity. “You BE
BLOWED,” or “I’ll BE BLOWED IF,” &c., is an exclamation often heard in
the streets. BLAZES, or “like BLAZES,” came probably from the army.
BLAST, too, although in general vulgar use, may have had a like origin;
so may the phrase, “I wish I may be SHOT, if,” &c. BLOW ME TIGHT, is a
very windy and common exclamation. The same may be said of STRIKE ME
LUCKY, NEVER TRUST ME, and SO HELP ME DAVY; the latter derived from the
truer old phrase, I’LL TAKE MY DAVY ON’T, _i.e._, my _affidavit_, DAVY
being a corruption of that word. BY GOLLY, GOL DARN IT, and SO HELP ME
BOB, are evident shams for profane oaths. NATION is but a softening
of _damnation_; and OD, whether used in OD DRAT IT, or OD’S BLOOD, is
but an apology for the name of the Deity. The Irish phrase, BAD SCRAN
TO YER! is equivalent to wishing a person bad food. “I’m SNIGGERED
if you will,” and “I’m JIGGERED,” are other stupid forms of mild
swearing,—fearful of committing an open profanity, yet slyly nibbling
at the sin. Both DEUCE and DICKENS are vulgar old synonymes for the
devil; and ZOUNDS is an abbreviation of GOD’S WOUNDS,—a very ancient
catholic oath.

In a casual survey of the territory of Slang, it is curious to observe
how well represented are the familiar wants and failings of life.
First, there’s money, with one hundred and twenty Slang terms and
synonymes; then comes drink, from small beer to champagne; and next,
as a very natural sequence, _intoxication_, and fuddlement generally,
with some half a hundred vulgar terms, graduating the scale of
drunkenness from a slight inebriation, to the soaky state of gutterdom
and stretcherdom,—I pray the reader to forgive the expressions. The
Slang synonymes for mild intoxication are certainly very choice,—they
TIGHT, and WINEY. A higher or more intense state of beastliness is
represented by the expressions, PODGY, BEARGERED, BLUED, CUT, PRIMED,
and TOP-HEAVY. But the climax of fuddlement is only obtained when the
DISGUISED individual CAN’T SEE A HOLE IN A LADDER, or when he is all
or with the SUN IN HIS EYES, or when he has LAPPED THE GUTTER, and
got the GRAVEL RASH, or on the RAN-TAN, or on the RE-RAW, or when he
is SEWED UP, or regularly SCAMMERED,—then, and not till then, is he
entitled in vulgar society to the title of LUSHINGTON, or recommended



A 1, first rate, the very best; “she’s a prime girl she is; she is
A 1.“—_Sam Slick._ The highest classification of ships at Lloyd’s;
common term in the United States, also at Liverpool and other English
seaports. Another, even more intensitive form, is “first-class, letter
A, No. 1.”

ABOUT RIGHT, “to do the thing ABOUT RIGHT,” _i.e._, to do it properly,
soundly, correctly; “he guv it ’im ABOUT RIGHT,” _i.e._, he beat him

ABRAM-SHAM, or SHAM-ABRAHAM, to feign sickness or distress. From
ABRAM MAN, the _ancient cant_ term for a begging impostor, or one who
pretended to have been mad.—_Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy_, part i.,
sec. 2, vol. i., p. 360. When Abraham Newland was Cashier of the Bank
of England, and signed their notes, it was sung:—

        “I have heard people say
        That SHAM ABRAHAM you may,
  But you mustn’t SHAM ABRAHAM Newland.”

ABSQUATULATE, to run away, or abscond; a hybrid _American_ expression,
from the Latin _ab_, and “squat,” to settle.

ADAM’S ALE, water.—_English._ The Scotch term is ADAM’S WINE.

AGGERAWATORS (corruption of _Aggravators_), the greasy locks of hair in
vogue among costermongers and other street folk, worn twisted from the
temple back towards the ear. They are also, from a supposed resemblance
in form, termed NEWGATE KNOCKERS, which see.—_Sala’s Gas-light_, &c.

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

ALDERMAN, a turkey.

ALDERMAN IN CHAINS, a turkey hung with sausages.

ALL OF A HUGH! all on one side, or with a thump; the word HUGH being
pronounced with a grunt.—_Suffolk._

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

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

ALL-ROUNDERS, the fashionable shirt collars of the present time worn
meeting in front.

ALL-SERENE, an ejaculation of acquiescence.

ALLS, tap-droppings, refuse spirits sold at a cheap rate in
gin-palaces.—_See_ LOVEAGE.

ALL-THERE, in strict fashion, first-rate, “up to the mark;” a vulgar
person would speak of a spruce, showily-dressed female as being
ALL-THERE. An artizan would use the same phrase to express the
capabilities of a skilful fellow workman.

ALL TO PIECES, utterly, excessively; “he beat him ALL TO PIECES,”
_i.e._, excelled or surpassed him exceedingly.

ALL TO SMASH, or GONE TO PIECES, bankrupt, or smashed to

ALMIGHTY DOLLAR, an _American_ expression for the “power of money,”
first introduced by Washington Irving in 1837.

AN’T, or AÏN’T, the vulgar abbreviation of “am not,” or “are not.”

ANOINTING, a good beating.

ANY HOW, in any way, or at any rate, bad; “he went on ANY HOW,” _i.e._,
badly or indifferently.

APPLE CART, “down with his APPLE CART,” _i.e._, upset him.—_North._

APPLE PIE ORDER, in exact or very nice order.

AREA-SNEAK, a boy thief who commits depredations upon kitchens and
cellars.—_See_ CROW.

ARGOT, a term used amongst London thieves for their secret or cant
language. _French_ term for slang.

ARTICLE, a man or boy, derisive term.

ARY, corruption of ever a, e’er a; ARY ONE, e’er a one.

ATTACK, to carve, or commence operations on; “ATTACK that beef, and

ATTIC, the head; “queer in the ATTIC,” intoxicated.—_Pugilistic._

AUNT-SALLY, a favourite game on race-courses and at fairs, consisting
of a wooden head mounted on a stick, firmly fixed in the ground; in
the nose of which, or rather in that part of the facial arrangement of
AUNT SALLY which is generally considered incomplete without a nasal
projection, a tobacco pipe is inserted. The fun consists in standing at
a distance and demolishing AUNT SALLY’S pipe-clay projection with short
bludgeons, very similar to the half of a broom-handle. The Duke of
Beaufort is a “crack hand” at smashing pipe noses, and his performances
two years ago on Brighton race-course are yet fresh in remembrance. The
noble Duke, in the summer months, frequently drives the old London and
Brighton four-horse mail coach, “Age”—a whim singular enough now, but
common forty years ago.

AUTUMN, a slang term for an execution by hanging. When the drop was
introduced instead of the old gallows, cart, and ladder, and a man was
for the first time “turned-off” in the present fashion, the mob were
so pleased with the invention that they spoke of the operation as at
AUTUMN, or the FALL OF THE LEAF (_sc._ the drop), with the man about to
be hung.

AVAST, a sailor’s phrase for stop, shut up, go away,—apparently
connected with the _old cant_, BYNGE A WASTE.

AWAKE, or FLY, knowing, thoroughly understanding, not ignorant of. The
phrase WIDE AWAKE carries the same meaning in ordinary conversation.

AWFUL (or, with the Cockneys, ORFUL), a senseless expletive, used to
intensify a description of anything good or bad; “what an AWFUL fine
woman!” _i.e._, how handsome, or showy!

AXE, to ask.—_Saxon_, ACSIAN.

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

BACK JUMP, a back window.

BACK SLANG IT, to go out the back way.

BACK OUT, to retreat from a difficulty; the reverse of GO AHEAD.
Metaphor borrowed from the stables.

BACON, “to save one’s BACON,” to escape.

BAD, “to go to the BAD,” to deteriorate in character, be ruined.
_Virgil_ has an exactly similar phrase, _in pejus ruere_.

BAGMAN, a commercial traveller.

BAGS, trowsers. Trowsers of an extensive pattern, or exaggerated
fashionable cut, have lately been termed HOWLING-BAGS, but only when
the style has been very “_loud_.” The word is probably an abbreviation
for b—mbags. “To have the BAGS off,” to be of age and one’s own master,
to have plenty of money.

BAKE, “he’s only HALF BAKED,” _i.e._, soft, inexperienced.

BAKER’S DOZEN. This consists of thirteen or fourteen; the surplus
number, called the _inbread_, being thrown in for fear of incurring the
penalty for short weight. To “give a man a BAKER’S DOZEN,” in a slang
sense, means to give him an extra good beating or pummelling.

BALAAM, printers’ slang for matter kept in type about monstrous
productions of nature, &c., to fill up spaces in newspapers that
would otherwise be vacant. The term BALAAM-BOX has long been used in
_Blackwood_ as the name of the depository for rejected articles.

BALL, prison allowance, viz., six ounces of meat.

BALLYRAG, to scold vehemently, to swindle one out of his money by
intimidation and sheer abuse, as alleged in a late cab case (_Evans_ v.

BALMY, insane.

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

BANDED, hungry.

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

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

BANG-UP, first-rate.

BANTLING, a child; stated in _Bacchus and Venus_, 1737, and by _Grose_,
to be a cant term.

BANYAN-DAY, a day on which no meat is served out for rations; probably
derived from the BANIANS, a Hindoo caste, who abstain from animal

BAR, or BARRING, excepting; in common use in the betting-ring; “I bet
against the field BAR two.” The Irish use of BARRIN’ is very similar.

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


BARNACLES, a pair of spectacles; corruption of BINOCULI?

BARNEY, a LARK, SPREE, rough enjoyment; “get up a BARNEY,” to have a

BARNEY, a mob, a crowd.

BARN-STORMERS, theatrical performers who travel the country and act
in barns, selecting short and frantic pieces to suit the rustic

BARRIKIN, jargon, speech, or discourse; “we can’t tumble to that
BARRIKIN,” _i.e._, we don’t understand what he says. _Miege_ calls it
“a sort of stuff.”

BASH, to beat, thrash; “BASHING a donna,” beating a woman; originally a
provincial word, and chiefly applied to the practice of beating walnut
trees, when in bud, with long poles, to increase their productiveness.
Hence the West country proverb—

  “A woman, a whelp, and a walnut tree,
  The more you BASH ’em, the better they be.”

BAT, “on his own BAT,” on his own account.—_See_ HOOK.

BATS, a pair of bad boots.

BATTER, “on the BATTER,” literally “on the streets,” or given up to
roistering and debauchery.

BATTLES, the students’ term at Oxford for rations. At Cambridge,

BAWDYKEN, a brothel.—_See_ KEN.

BAZAAR, a shop or counter. _Gipsey and Hindoo_, a market.

BEAK, a magistrate, judge, or policeman; “baffling the BEAK,” to get
remanded. _Ancient cant_, BECK. _Saxon_, BEAG, a necklace or gold
collar—emblem of authority. Sir John Fielding was called the BLIND-BEAK
in the last century Query, if connected with the Italian BECCO, which
means a (bird’s) _beak_, and also a _blockhead_.

BEAKER-HUNTER, a stealer of poultry.

BEANS, money; “a haddock of BEANS,” a purse of money; formerly BEAN
meant a guinea; _French_, BIENS, property; also used as a synonyme for
BRICK, which see.

BEAR, one who contracts to deliver or sell a certain quantity of stock
in the public funds on a forthcoming day at a stated place, but who
does not possess it, trusting to a decline in public securities to
enable him to fulfil the agreement and realise a profit.—_See_ BULL.
Both words are slang terms on the Stock Exchange, and are frequently
used in the business columns of newspapers.

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

BEARGERED, to be drunk.

BEAT, or BEAT-HOLLOW, to surpass or excel.

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

BEAT-OUT, DEAD-BEAT, tired or fagged.

BEATER-CASES, boots: _Nearly obsolete_.

BEAVER, old street term for a hat; GOSS is the modern word, BEAVER,
except in the country, having fallen into disuse.

BE-BLOWED, a windy exclamation equivalent to an oath.—_See_ BLOW-ME.

BED-POST, “in the twinkling of a BED-POST,” in a moment, or very
quickly. Originally BED-STAFF, a stick placed vertically in the frame
of a bed to keep the bedding in its place.—_Shadwell’s Virtuoso_, 1676,
act i., scene 1. This was used sometimes as a defensive weapon.

BEE, “to have a BEE in one’s bonnet,” _i.e._, to be not exactly sane.

BEERY, intoxicated, or fuddled with beer.

BEESWAX, poor soft cheese.

BEETLE-CRUSHERS, or SQUASHERS, large flat feet.

BELCHER, a kind of handkerchief.—_See_ BILLY.

BELL, a song.

BELLOWS, the lungs.

BELLOWSED, or LAGGED, transported.

BELLOWS-TO-MEND, out of breath.

BELLY-TIMBER, food, or “grub.”

BELLY-VENGEANCE, small sour beer, apt to cause gastralgia.

BEMUSE, to fuddle one’s self with drink, “BEMUSING himself with beer,”
&c.—_Sala’s Gas-light and Day-light_, p. 308.

BEN, a benefit.—_Theatrical._

BEND, “that’s above my BEND,” _i.e._, beyond my power, too expensive,
or too difficult for me to perform.

BENDER, a sixpence,—from its liability to bend.

BENDER, the arm; “over the BENDER,” synonymous with “over the
left.”—_See_ OVER. Also an ironical exclamation similar to WALKER.

BENE, good.—_Ancient cant_; BENAR was the comparative.—_See_ BONE.

BENJAMIN, a coat. Formerly termed a JOSEPH, in allusion, perhaps, to
Joseph’s coat of many colours.—_See_ UPPER-BENJAMIN.

BENJY, a waistcoat.

BEONG, a shilling.—_See_ SALTEE.

BESTER, a low betting cheat.

BESTING, excelling, cheating. BESTED, taken in, or defrauded.

BETTER, more; “how far is it to town?” “oh, BETTER ’n a mile.”—_Saxon_
and _Old English_, now a vulgarism.

BETTY, a skeleton key, or picklock.—_Old cant._

B. FLATS, bugs.

BIBLE CARRIER, a person who sells songs without singing them.

BIG, “to look BIG,” to assume an inflated dress, or manner; “to talk
BIG,” _i.e._, boastingly, or with an “extensive” air.

BIG-HOUSE, the work-house.

BILBO, a sword; abbrev. of BILBOA blade. Spanish swords were anciently
very celebrated, especially those of Toledo, Bilboa, &c.

BILK, a cheat, or a swindler. Formerly in frequent use, now confined to
the streets, where it is very general. _Gothic_, BILAICAN.

BILK, to defraud, or obtain goods, &c. without paying for them; “to
BILK the schoolmaster,” to get information or experience without paying
for it.

BILLINGSGATE (when applied to speech), foul and coarse language.
Not many years since, one of the London notorieties was to hear the
fishwomen at Billingsgate abuse each other. The anecdote of Dr. Johnson
and the Billingsgate virago is well known.

BILLY, a silk pocket handkerchief.—_Scotch._—See WIPE.

⁂ A list of the slang terms descriptive of the various patterns of
handkerchiefs, pocket and neck, is here subjoined:—

  BELCHER, close striped pattern, yellow silk, and intermixed with
  white and a little black; named from the pugilist, Jim Belcher.

  BIRD’S EYE WIPE, diamond spots.


  BLUE BILLY, blue ground with white spots.

  CREAM FANCY, any pattern on a white ground.

  GREEN KING’S MAN, any pattern on a green ground.

  RANDAL’S MAN, green, with white spots; named after Jack Randal,

  WATER’S MAN, sky coloured.

  YELLOW FANCY, yellow, with white spots.

  YELLOW MAN, all yellow.

BILLY-BARLOW, a street clown; sometimes termed a JIM CROW, or
SALTIMBANCO,—so called from the hero of a slang song.—_Bulwer’s Paul

BILLY-HUNTING, buying old metal.

BIRD-CAGE, a four-wheeled cab.

BIT, fourpence; in America 12½ cents is called a BIT, and a defaced 20
cent piece is termed a LONG BIT. A BIT is the smallest coin in Jamaica,
equal to 6d.

BIT, a purse, or any sum of money.

BIT-FAKER, or TURNER OUT, a coiner of bad money.

BITCH, tea; “a BITCH party,” a tea-drinking.—_University._

BITE, a cheat; “a Yorkshire BITE,” a cheating fellow from that
county.—_North_; also _old slang_, used by _Pope_. Swift says it
originated with a nobleman in his day.

BITE, to cheat; “to be BITTEN,” to be taken in or imposed upon.
Originally a Gipsey term.—_See Bacchus and Venus._

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

  “He is none of those same ordinary eaters, that will devour three
  breakfasts, and as many dinners, without any prejudice to their
  BEVERS, drinkings, or suppers.”—_Beaumont and Fletcher’s Woman Hater_

Both words are probably from the Italian, _bevere_, _bere_. Latin,
_bibere_. English, _beverage_.

BLACK AND WHITE, handwriting.

BLACKBERRY-SWAGGER, a person who hawks tapes, boot laces, &c.

BLACK-LEG, a rascal, swindler, or card cheat.

BLACK-SHEEP, a “bad lot,” “_mauvais sujet_;” also a workman who refuses
to join in a strike.

BLACK-STRAP, port wine.

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

BLACKGUARD, a low, or dirty fellow.

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

BLARNEY, flattery, exaggeration.—_Hibernicism._

BLAST, to curse.

BLAZES, “like BLAZES,” furious or desperate, a low comparison.

BLEST, a vow; “BLEST if I’ll do it,” _i.e._, I am determined not to do
it; euphemism for CURST.

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

BLEW, or BLOW, to inform, or peach.

BLEWED, got rid of, disposed of, spent; “I BLEWED all my blunt last
night,” I spent all my money.

BLIND, a pretence, or make believe.

BLIND-HOOKEY, a gambling game at cards.

BLINKER, a blackened eye.—_Norwich slang._

BLINK FENCER, a person who sells spectacles.

BLOAK, or BLOKE, a man; “the BLOAK with a jasey,” the man with a wig,
_i.e._, the Judge. _Gipsey_ and _Hindoo_, LOKE. _North_, BLOACHER, any
large animal.

BLOB (from BLAB), to talk. Beggars are of two kinds,—those who SCREEVE
(introduce themselves with a FAKEMENT, or false document), and those
who BLOB, or state their case in their own truly “unvarnished” language.

BLOCK, the head.

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

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

BLOOD-RED FANCY, a kind of handkerchief worn by pugilists and
frequenters of prize fights.—_See_ BILLY.


BLOW, to expose, or inform; “BLOW the gaff,” to inform against a
person. In _America_, to BLOW is slang for to taunt.

BLOW A CLOUD, to smoke a cigar or pipe—a phrase in use two centuries

BLOW ME, or BLOW ME TIGHT, a vow, a ridiculous and unmeaning
ejaculation, inferring an appeal to the ejaculator; “I’m BLOWED if you
will” is a common expression among the lower orders; “BLOW ME UP” was
the term a century ago.—_See Parker’s Adventures_, 1781.

BLOW OUT, or TUCK IN, a feast.

BLOW UP, to make a noise, or scold; formerly a cant expression used
amongst thieves, now a recognised and respectable phrase. BLOWING UP, a
jobation, a scolding.

BLOWEN, a showy or flaunting prostitute, a thief’s paramour. In
_Wilts_, a BLOWEN is a blossom. _Germ._ BLUHEN, to bloom.

  “O du _blühende_ Mädchen viel schöne Willkomm!”—_German Song._

Possibly, however, the street term BLOWEN may mean one whose reputation
has been BLOWN UPON, or damaged.

BLOWER, a girl; a contemptuous name in opposition to JOMER.

BLUBBER, to cry in a childish manner.—_Ancient._

BLUDGERS, low thieves, who use violence.

BLUE, a policeman; “disguised in BLUE and liquor.”—_Boots at the Swan._

BLUE, or BLEW, to pawn or pledge.

BLUE, confounded or surprised; “to look BLUE,” to be astonished or

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

BLUE BLANKET, a rough over coat made of coarse pilot cloth.

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

BLUED, or BLEWED, tipsey or drunk.

BLUE DEVILS, the apparitions supposed to be seen by habitual drunkards.

BLUE MOON, an unlimited period.

BLUE MURDER, a desperate or alarming cry. _French_, MORT-BLEU.


BLUE-PIGEON FLYERS, journeymen plumbers, glaziers, and others, who,
under the plea of repairing houses, strip off the lead, and make way
with it. Sometimes they get off with it by wrapping it round their

BLUES, a fit of despondency.—_See_ BLUE DEVILS.

BLUEY, lead. _German_, BLEI.

BLUFF, an excuse.

BLUFF, to turn aside, stop, or excuse.

BLUNT, money. It has been said that this term is from the _French_
BLOND, sandy or golden colour, and that a parallel may be found in
BROWN or BROWNS, the slang for half-pence. The etymology seems far
fetched, however.

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

BOB, a shilling. Formerly BOBSTICK, which may have been the original.

BOB, “s’help my BOB,” a street oath, equivalent to “so help me God.”
Other words are used in street language for a similarly evasive
purpose, _i.e._, CAT, GREENS, TATUR, &c., all equally profane and

BOBBISH, very well, clever, spruce; “how are you doing?” “oh! pretty

BOBBY, a policeman. Both BOBBY and PEELER were nicknames given to the
new police, in allusion to the christian and surnames of the late _Sir
Robert Peel_, who was the prime mover in effecting their introduction
and improvement. The term BOBBY is, however, older than the _Saturday
Reviewer_, in his childish and petulant remarks, imagines. The official
square-keeper, who is always armed with a cane to drive away idle
and disorderly urchins, has, time out of mind, been called by the
said urchins, BOBBY _the Beadle_. BOBBY is also, I may remark, an
old English word for striking or hitting, a quality not unknown to
policemen.—_See Halliwell’s Dictionary._

BODMINTON, blood.—_Pugilistic._

BODY-SNATCHERS, bailiffs and runners: SNATCH, the trick by which the
bailiff captures the delinquent.

BODY-SNATCHERS, cat stealers.

BOG or BOG-HOUSE, a water-closet.—_School term._ In the Inns of Court,
I am informed, this term is very common.

BOG-TROTTER, satirical name for an Irishman.—_Miege._ _Camden_,
however, speaking of the “debateable land” on the borders of England
and Scotland, says “both these dales breed notable BOG-TROTTERS.”

BOILERS, the slang name given to the New Kensington Museum and School
of Art, in allusion to the peculiar form of the buildings, and the fact
of their being mainly composed of, and covered with, sheet iron.—_See_

BOLT, to run away, decamp, or abscond.

BOLT, to swallow without chewing.

BONE, good, excellent. ◇ the vagabond’s hieroglyphic for BONE, or good,
chalked by them on houses and street corners, as a hint to succeeding
beggars. _French_, BON.

BONE, to steal or pilfer. BONED, seized, apprehended.—_Old._

BONE-GRUBBERS, persons who hunt dust-holes, gutters, and all likely
spots for refuse bones, which they sell at the rag-shops, or to the

BONE-PICKER, a footman.

BONES, dice; also called ST. HUGH’S BONES.

BONES, “he made no BONES of it,” he did not hesitate, _i.e._, undertook
and finished the work without difficulty, “found no BONES in the
jelly.”—_Ancient, vide Cotgrave._

BONNET, a gambling cheat. “A man who sits at a gaming-table, and
appears to be playing against the table; when a stranger enters, the
BONNET generally wins.”—_Times_, Nov. 17, 1856. Also, a pretence, or
make-believe, a sham bidder at auctions.

BONNET, to strike a man’s cap or hat over his eyes and nose.

BONNETTER, one who induces another to gamble.

BOOK, an arrangement of bets for and against, chronicled in a
pocket-book made for that purpose; “making a BOOK upon it,” common
phrase to denote the general arrangement of a person’s bets on a race.
“That does not suit my BOOK,” _i.e._, does not accord with my other
arrangements. _Shakespere_ uses BOOK in the sense of “a paper of

BOOM, “to tip one’s BOOM off,” to be off, or start in a certain

BOOKED, caught, fixed, disposed of.—Term in _Book-keeping_.

BOOZE, drink. _Ancient cant_, BOWSE.

BOOZE, to drink, or more properly, to use another slang term, to
“lush,” viz, to drink continually, until drunk, or nearly so. The term
is an old one. Harman, in Queen Elizabeth’s days, speaks of “BOUSING
(or boozing) and belly-cheere.” The term was good English in the
fourteenth century, and comes from the Dutch, BUYZEN, to tipple.

BOOZE, or SUCK-CASA, a public-house.

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

BOOZY, intoxicated or fuddled.

BORE, a troublesome friend or acquaintance, a nuisance, anything which
wearies or annoys. The _Gradus ad Cantabrigiam_ suggests the derivation
of BORE from the _Greek_, Βαρος, a burden. _Shakespere_ uses it, King
Henry VIII., i., 1—

    “—— at this instant
  He BORES me with some trick.”

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

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

BOSH, nonsense, stupidity.—_Gipsey_ and _Persian_. Also pure _Turkish_,
BOSH LAKERDI, empty talk. A person, in the _Saturday Review_, has
stated that BOSH is coeval with Morier’s novel, _Hadji Babi_, which was
published in 1828; but this is a blunder. The term was used in this
country as early as 1760, and may be found in the _Student_, vol. ii.,
p. 217.

BOSH, a fiddle.

BOSH-FAKER, a violin player.

BOS-KEN, a farm-house. _Ancient._—_See_ KEN.

BOSKY, inebriated—_Household Words_, No. 183.

BOSMAN, a farmer; “faking a BOSMAN on the main toby,” robbing a farmer
on the highway. BOSS, a master.—_American._ Both terms from the
_Dutch_, BOSCH-MAN, one who lives in the woods; otherwise _Boschjeman_
or _Bushman_.

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

BOTHER, to teaze, to annoy.

BOTHER (from the _Hibernicism_ POTHER), trouble, or annoyance. _Grose_
has a singular derivation, BOTHER, or BOTH-EARED, from two persons
talking at the same time, or to both ears. BLOTHER, an old word,
signifying to chatter idly.—_See Halliwell._

BOTHERATION! trouble, annoyance; “BOTHERATION to it,” confound it, or
deuce take it, an exclamation when irritated.

BOTTLE-HOLDER, an assistant to a “Second,”—_Pugilistic_; an abettor;
also, the bridegroom’s man at a wedding.

BOTTY, conceited, swaggering.

BOUNCE, impudence.

BOUNCE, a showy swindler.

BOUNCE, to boast, cheat, or bully.—_Old cant._

BOUNCER, a person who steals whilst bargaining with a tradesman; a lie.

BOUNDER, a four-wheel cab. _Lucus a non lucendo?_

BOUNETTER, a fortune-telling cheat.—_Gipsey._

BOW-CATCHERS, or KISS-CURLS, small curls twisted on the cheeks or
temples of young—and often old—girls, adhering to the face as if gummed
or pasted. Evidently a corruption of BEAU-CATCHERS. In old times these
were called _love-locks_, when they were the marks at which all the
puritan and ranting preachers levelled their pulpit pop-guns, loaded
with sharp and virulent abuse. Hall and Prynne looked upon all women as
strumpets who dared to let the hair depart from a straight line upon
their cheeks. The French prettily term them _accroche-cœurs_, whilst in
the United States they are plainly and unpleasantly called SPIT-CURLS.
Bartlett says:—“SPIT CURL, a detached lock of hair curled upon the
temple; probably from having been at first plastered into shape by the
saliva. It is now understood that the mucilage of quince seed is used
by the ladies for this purpose.”

  “You may prate of your lips, and your teeth of pearl,
    And your eyes so brightly flashing;
  My song shall be of that SALIVA CURL
    Which threatens my heart to smash in.”

  _Boston Transcript_, October 30, 1858.

When men twist the hair on each side of their faces into ropes they are
sometimes called BELL-ROPES, as being wherewith to _draw the belles_.
Whether BELL-ROPES or BOW-CATCHERS, it is singular they should form
part of the prisoner’s paraphernalia, and that a jaunty little kiss-me
quick curl should, of all things in the world, ornament a gaol dock;
yet such was formerly the case. Hunt, the murderer of Weare, on his
trial, we are informed by the Athenæum, appeared at the bar with a
highly pomatumed love-lock sticking tight to his forehead. Young
ladies, think of this!

BOWL-OUT, to put out of the game, to remove out of one’s way, to
detect.—_Cricketing term._

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

BOWLES, shoes.

BOX-HARRY, a term with bagmen or commercial travellers, implying
dinner and tea at one meal; also dining with Humphrey, _i.e._, going

BRACE UP, to pawn stolen goods.

BRACELETS, handcuffs.

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

BRAD-FAKING, playing at cards.

BRAGGADOCIO, three months’ imprisonment as a reputed thief or old
offender,—sometimes termed a DOSE, or a DOLLOP.—_Household Words_, vol.
i., p. 579.

BRAN-NEW, quite new. Properly, _Brent_, BRAND, or _Fire-new_, _i.e._,
fresh from the anvil.

BRASS, money.

by the “_Fancy_” to the digestive organ.

BREAK-DOWN, a jovial, social gathering, a FLARE UP; in Ireland, a

BREAKING SHINS, borrowing money.

BREAKY-LEG, a shilling.

BREAKY-LEG, strong drink; “he’s been to Bungay fair, and BROKE BOTH
HIS LEGS,” _i.e._, got drunk. In the ancient Egyptian language the
determinative character in the hieroglyphic verb “to be drunk,” has
the significant form of the leg of a man being amputated. [Egyptian

BREECHED, or TO HAVE THE BAGS OFF, to have plenty of money; “to be well
BREECHED,” to be in good circumstances.

BREECHES, “to wear the BREECHES,” said of a wife who usurps the
husband’s prerogative.

BREEKS, breeches.—_Scotch_, now common.

BRICK, a “jolly good fellow;” “a regular BRICK,” a staunch fellow.

  “I bonnetted Whewell, when we gave the Rads their gruel,
  And taught them to eschew all their addresses to the Queen.
  If again they try it on, why to floor them I’ll make one,
  Spite of Peeler or of Don, like a BRICK and a _Bean_.”

  _The Jolly Bachelors_, Cambridge, 1840.

Said to be derived from an expression of Aristotle, τετραγωνος ἀνηρ.

BRIEF, a pawnbroker’s duplicate.

BRISKET BEATER, a Roman Catholic.

BROADS, cards. BROADSMAN, a card sharper.

BROAD AND SHALLOW, an epithet applied to the so-called “Broad Church,”
in contradistinction to the “High” and “Low” Church.—_See_ HIGH AND DRY.

BROAD-FENCER, card seller at races.

BROSIER, a bankrupt.—_Cheshire._ BROSIER-MY-DAME, school term, implying
a clearing of the housekeeper’s larder of provisions, in revenge for

BROTHER-CHIP, fellow carpenter. Also, BROTHER-WHIP, a fellow coachman;
and BROTHER-BLADE, of the same occupation or calling—originally a
fellow soldier.

BROWN, a halfpenny.—_See_ BLUNT.

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

BROWN BESS, the old Government regulation musket.

BROWN PAPERMEN, low gamblers.

BROWN SALVE, a token of surprise at what is heard, and at the same time
means “I understand you.”

BROWN-STUDY, a reverie. Very common even in educated society, but
hardly admissible in writing, and therefore must be considered a
vulgarism. It is derived, by a writer in _Notes and Queries_, from
BROW study, from the old German BRAUN, or AUG-BRAUN, an eye-brow.—_Ben

BROWN-TO, to understand, to comprehend.—_American._

BRUISER, a fighting man, a pugilist.—_Pugilistic._ _Shakespere_ uses
the word BRUISING in a similar sense.

BRUMS, counterfeit coins. _Nearly obsolete._ Corruption of _Brummagem_
(Bromwicham), the ancient name of _Birmingham_, the great emporium of
plated goods and imitation jewellery.

BRUSH, or BRUSH-OFF, to run away, or move on.—_Old cant._

BUB, drink of any kind.—_See_ GRUB. _Middleton_, the dramatist,
mentions BUBBER, a great drinker.

BUB, a teat, woman’s breast.

BUCK, a gay or smart man, a cuckold.

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

BUCKLE, to bend; “I can’t BUCKLE to that,” I don’t understand it; to
yield or give in to a person. _Shakespere_ uses the word in the latter
sense, Henry IV., i. 1; and _Halliwell_ says that “the commentators
do not supply another example.” How strange that in our own streets
the term should be used every day! Stop the first costermonger, and he
will soon inform you the various meanings of BUCKLE.—_See Notes and
Queries_, vols. vii., viii., and ix.

BUCKLE-TO, to bend to one’s work, to begin at once, and with great

BUDGE, to move, to inform, to SPLIT, or tell tales.

BUFF, to swear to, or accuse; to SPLIT, or peach upon. _Old_ word for
boasting, 1582.

BUFF, the bare skin; “stripped to the BUFF.”

BUFFER, a dog. Their skins were formerly in great request—hence the
term, BUFF meaning in old English _to skin_. It is still used in the
ring, BUFFED meaning stripped to the skin. In Irish cant, BUFFER is a
_boxer_. The BUFFER of a railway carriage doubtless received its very
appropriate name from the old pugilistic application of this term.

BUFFER, a familiar expression for a jolly acquaintance, probably from
the _French_, BOUFFARD, a fool or clown; a “jolly old BUFFER,” said
of a good humoured or liberal old man. In 1737, a BUFFER was a “rogue
that killed good sound horses for the sake of their skins, by running a
long wire into them.”—_Bacchus and Venus._ The term was once applied to
those who took false oaths for a consideration.

BUFFLE HEAD, a stupid or obtuse person.—_Miege._ _German_,
BUFFEL-HAUPT, buffalo-headed.

BUFFY, intoxicated.—_Household Words_, No. 183.

BUGGY, a gig, or light chaise. Common term in America and in Ireland.

BUG-HUNTERS, low wretches who plunder drunken men.

BUILD, applied in fashionable slang to the make or style of dress, &c.;
“it’s a tidy BUILD, who made it?”

BULGER, large; synonymous with BUSTER.

BULL, term amongst prisoners for the meat served to them in jail.

BULL, one who agrees to purchase stock at a future day, at a stated
price, but who does not possess money to pay for it, trusting to a rise
in public securities to render the transaction a profitable one. Should
stocks fall, the bull is then called upon to pay the difference.—_See_
BEAR, who is the opposite of a BULL, the former selling, the latter
purchasing—the one operating for a _fall_ or a _pull down_, whilst the
other operates for a _rise_ or _toss up_.

BULL, a crown piece; formerly, BULL’S EYE.

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

BULLY, a braggart; but in the language of the streets, a man of the
most degraded morals, who protects prostitutes, and lives off their
miserable earnings.—_Shakespere_, Midsummer Night’s Dream, iii. 1; iv.

BUM, the part on which we sit.—_Shakespere._ BUMBAGS, trowsers.

BUM-BAILIFF, a sheriff’s officer,—a term, some say, derived from the
proximity which this gentleman generally maintains to his victims.
_Blackstone_ says it is a corruption of “bound bailiff.”

BUM-BOATS, shore boats which supply ships with provisions, and serve as
means of communication between the sailors and the shore.

BUM-BRUSHER, a schoolmaster.

BUMMAREE. This term is given to a class of speculating salesmen at
Billingsgate market, not recognised as such by the trade, but who
get a living by buying large quantities of fish of the salesmen and
re-selling it to smaller buyers. The word has been used in the statutes
and bye-laws of the markets for upwards of 100 years. It has been
variously derived, but is most probably from the _French_, BONNE MAREE,
good fresh fish! “Marée signifie toute sorte de poisson de mer qûi
n’est pas salé; bonne marée—_marée fraiche_, vendeur de marée.”—_Dict.
de l’Acad. Franc._ The BUMMAREES are accused of many trade tricks. One
of them is to blow up cod-fish with a pipe until they look double their
actual size. Of course when the fish come to table they are flabby,
sunken, and half dwindled away. In Norwich, TO BUMMAREE ONE is to run
up a score at a public house just open, and is equivalent to “running
into debt with one.”

BUNCH OF FIVES, the hand, or fist.

BUNDLE, “to BUNDLE a person off,” _i.e._, to pack him off, send him

BUNG, the landlord of a public-house.

BUNG, to give, pass, hand over, drink, or indeed to perform any action;
BUNG UP, to close up—_Pugilistic_; “BUNG over the rag,” hand over the
money—_Old_, used by _Beaumont and Fletcher_, and _Shakespere_. Also,
to deceive one by a lie, to CRAM, which see.

BUNKER, beer.

BUNTS, costermonger’s perquisites; the money obtained by giving light
weight, &c.; costermongers’ goods sold by boys on commission. Probably
a corruption of _bonus_, BONE being the slang for good. BUNCE, _Grose_
gives as the cant word for money.

BURDON’S HOTEL, Whitecross-street prison, of which the Governor is or
was a Mr. Burdon.

BURERK, a lady. _Grose_ gives BURICK, a prostitute.

BURKE, to kill, to murder, by pitch plaster or other foul means. From
Burke, the notorious Whitechapel murderer, who with others used to
waylay people, kill them, and sell their bodies for dissection at the

BURYING A MOLL, running away from a mistress.

BUSKER, a man who sings or performs in a public house.—_Scotch._

BUSK (or BUSKING), to sell obscene songs and books at the bars and in
the tap rooms of public houses. Sometimes implies selling any articles.

BUSS, an abbreviation of “omnibus,” a public carriage. Also, a kiss.

BUST, or BURST, to tell tales, to SPLIT, to inform. BUSTING, informing
against accomplices when in custody.

BUSTER (BURSTER), a small new loaf; “twopenny BUSTER,” a twopenny loaf.
“A pennorth o’ BEES WAX (cheese) and a penny BUSTER,” a common snack at

BUSTER, an extra size; “what a BUSTER,” what a large one; “in for
a BUSTER,” determined on an extensive frolic or spree. _Scotch_,
BUSTUOUS; _Icelandic_, BOSTRA.

BUSTLE, money; “to draw the BUSTLE.”

BUTTER, or BATTER, praise or flattery. To BUTTER, to flatter, cajole.

BUTTER-FINGERED, apt to let things fall.

BUTTON, a decoy, sham purchaser, &c. At any mock or sham auction seedy
specimens may be seen. Probably from the connection of _buttons_ with
_Brummagem_, which is often used as a synonyme for a sham.

BUTTONER, a man who entices another to play.—_See_ BONNETTER.

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

BUTTONS, “not to have all one’s BUTTONS,” to be deficient in intellect.

BUZ, to pick pockets; BUZ-FAKING, robbing.

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

BUZZERS, pickpockets. _Grose_ gives BUZ COVE and BUZ GLOAK, the latter
is very ancient cant.

BUZ-BLOAK, a pickpocket, who principally confines his attention to
purses and loose cash. _Grose_ gives BUZ-GLOAK (or CLOAK?), an ancient
cant word. BUZ-NAPPER, a young pickpocket.

BUZ-NAPPER’S ACADEMY, a school in which young thieves are trained.
Figures are dressed up, and experienced tutors stand in various
difficult attitudes for the boys to practice upon. When clever enough
they are sent on the streets. It is reported that a house of this
nature is situated in a court near Hatton Garden. The system is well
explained in _Dickens’ Oliver Twist_.

BYE-BLOW, a bastard child.

BY GEORGE, an exclamation similar to BY JOVE. The term is older than is
frequently imagined, vide _Bacchus and Venus_ (p. 117), 1737. “Fore (or
by) GEORGE, I’d knock him down.” A street compliment to Saint George,
the patron Saint of England, or possibly to the House of Hanover.

BY GOLLY, an ejaculation, or oath; a compromise for “by God.” In the
United States, small boys are permitted by their guardians to say
GOL DARN anything, but they are on no account allowed to commit the
profanity of G—d d——g anything. An effective ejaculation and moral
waste pipe for interior passion or wrath is seen in the exclamation—BY
THE-EVER-LIVING-JUMPING-MOSES—a harmless phrase, that from its length
expends a considerable quantity of fiery anger.

CAB, in statutory language, “a hackney carriage drawn by one horse.”
Abbreviated from CABRIOLET, _French_; originally meaning “a light low
chaise.” The wags of Paris playing upon the word (quasi _cabri_ au
lait) used to call a superior turn-out of the kind a _cabri au crême_.
Our abbreviation, which certainly smacks of slang, has been stamped
with the authority of “GEORGE, _Ranger_.” See the notices affixed to
the carriage entrances of St. James’s Park.

CAB, to stick together, to muck, or tumble up.—_Devonshire._

CABBAGE, pieces of cloth said to be purloined by tailors.

CABBAGE, to pilfer or purloin. Termed by Johnson a cant word, but
adopted by later lexicographers as a respectable term. Said to have
been first used in this sense by _Arbuthnot_.

CABBY, the driver of a cab.

CAD, or CADGER (from which it is shortened), a mean or vulgar fellow;
a beggar; one who would rather live on other people than work for
himself; a man trying to worm something out of another, either money
or information. _Johnson_ uses the word, and gives _huckster_ as the
meaning, but I never heard it used in this sense. CAGER, or GAGER, the
_old cant_ term for a man. The exclusives in the Universities apply the
term CAD to all non-members.

CAD, an omnibus conductor.

CADGE, to beg in an artful or wheedling manner.—_North._

CADGING, begging of the lowest degree.

CAG-MAG, bad food, scraps, odds and ends; or that which no one could
relish. _Grose_ gives CAGG MAGGS, old and tough Lincolnshire geese,
sent to London to feast the poor cockneys.

CAGE, a minor kind of prison.—_Shakespere_, part ii. of Henry IV., iv.

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

CAKEY-PANNUM-FENCER, a man who sells street pastry.

CALL-A-GO, in street “patter,” is to remove to another spot, or address
the public in different vein.

CAMESA, shirt or chemise.—_Span._ _Ancient cant_, COMMISSION.

CAMISTER, a preacher, clergyman, or master.

CANARY, a sovereign. This is stated by a correspondent to be a Norwich
term, that city being famous for its breed of those birds.

CANISTER, the head.—_Pugilistic._

CANISTER-CAP, a hat.—_Pugilistic._

CANNIKEN, a small can, similar to PANNIKIN.—_Shakespere._

CANT, a blow or toss; “a cant over the kisser,” a blow on the

CANT OF TOGS, a gift of clothes.

CARDINAL, a lady’s cloak. This, I am assured, is the _Seven Dials_
cant term for a lady’s garment, but curiously enough the same name is
given to the most fashionable patterns of the article by Regent-street
drapers. A cloak with this name was in fashion in the year 1760. It
received its title from its similarity in shape to one of the vestments
of a cardinal.

CARNEY, soft talk, nonsense, gammon.—_Hibernicism._

CAROON, five shillings. _French_, COURONNE; Gipsey, COURNA,—PANSH
COURNA, half-a-crown.

CARPET, “upon the CARPET,” any subject or matter that is uppermost for
discussion or conversation. Frequently quoted as _sur le tapis_, but it
does not seem to be a correct Parisian phrase.

CARRIER PIGEONS, swindlers, who formerly used to cheat Lottery Office
Keepers. _Nearly obsolete._

CARROTS, the coarse and satirical term for red hair.

CARRY-ON, to joke a person to excess, to carry on a “spree” too far;
“how we CARRIED ON, to be sure!” _i.e._, what fun we had.

CART, a race-course.

CARTS, a pair of shoes. In Norfolk the carapace of a crab is called a
_crab cart_, hence CARTS would be synonymous with CRAB SHELLS, which

CART WHEEL, a five shilling piece.

CASA, or CASE, a house, respectable or otherwise. Probably from the
_Italian_, CASA.—_Old cant._ The _Dutch_ use the word KAST in a vulgar
sense for a house, _i.e._, MOTTEKAST, a brothel. CASE sometimes means a

CASCADING, vomiting.

CASE, a bad crown piece. HALF-A-CASE, a counterfeit half crown. There
are two sources, either of which may have contributed this slang term.
CASER is the Hebrew word for a crown; and silver coin is frequently
counterfeited by coating or CASING pewter or iron imitations with

CASE. A few years ago the term CASE was applied to persons and things;
“what a CASE he is,” _i.e._, what a curious person; “a rum CASE that,”
or “you are a CASE,” both synonymous with the phrase “odd fish,” common
half-a-century ago. Among young ladies at boarding schools a CASE means
a love affair.

CASK, fashionable slang for a brougham, or other private
carriage.—_Household Words_, No. 183.

CASSAM, cheese—not CAFFAN, which Egan, in his edition of _Grose_, has
ridiculously inserted.—_Ancient cant._ _Latin_, CASEUS.


CASTOR, a hat. CASTOR was once the ancient word for a BEAVER; and
strange to add, BEAVER was the slang for CASTOR, or hat, thirty years
ago, before gossamer came into fashion.

CAT, to vomit like a cat.—_See_ SHOOT THE CAT.

CAT, a lady’s muff; “to free a CAT,” _i.e._, steal a muff.

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

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

CATCHY (similar formation to _touchy_), inclined to take an undue

CATEVER, a queer, or singular affair; anything poor, or very bad. From
the _Lingua Franca_, and _Italian_, CATTIVO, bad. Variously spelled by
the lower orders.—_See_ KERTEVER.

CATGUT-SCRAPER, a fiddler.

CAT-LAP, a contemptuous expression for weak drink.

CAT’S WATER, old Tom, or Gin.

CAT AND KITTEN SNEAKING, stealing pint and quart pots from

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

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

CAUCUS, a private meeting held for the purpose of concerting measures,
agreeing upon candidates for office before an election, &c.—_See
Pickering’s Vocabulary._

CAVAULTING, coition. _Lingua Franca_, CAVOLTA.

CAVE, or CAVE IN, to submit, shut up.—_American._ Metaphor taken from
the sinking of an abandoned mining shaft.

CHAFF, to gammon, joke, quiz, or praise ironically. CHAFF-bone, the
jaw-bone.—_Yorkshire._ CHAFF, jesting. In _Anglo Saxon_, CEAF is chaff;
and CEAFL, bill, beak, or jaw. In the “Ancien Riwle,” A.D. 1221,
_ceafle_ is used in the sense of idle discourse.

CHALK-OUT, or CHALK DOWN, to mark out a line of conduct or action; to
make a rule, order. Phrase derived from the _Workshop_.

CHALK UP, to credit, make entry in account books of indebtedness; “I
can’t pay you now, but you can CHALK IT UP,” _i.e._, charge me with the
article in your day-book. From the old practice of chalking one’s score
for drink behind the bar-doors of public houses.

CHALKS, “to walk one’s CHALKS,” to move off, or run away. An ordeal for
drunkenness used on board ship, to see whether the suspected person can
walk on a chalked line without overstepping it on either side.

CHAP, a fellow, a boy; “a low CHAP,” a low fellow—abbreviation of
CHAP-MAN, a huckster. Used by Byron in his _Critical Remarks_.

CHARIOT-BUZZING, picking pockets in an omnibus.

CHARLEY, a watchman, a beadle.

CHARLEY-PITCHERS, low, cheating gamblers.

CHATTER BASKET, common term for a prattling child amongst nurses.

CHATTER-BOX, an incessant talker or chatterer.


CHATTS, dice,—formerly the gallows; a bunch of seals.

CHATTS, lice, or body vermin.

CHATTY, a filthy person, one whose clothes are not free from vermin;
CHATTY DOSS, a lousy bed.

CHAUNTER-CULLS, a singular body of men who used to haunt certain well
known public-houses, and write satirical or libellous ballads on any
person, or body of persons, for a consideration. 7s. 6d. was the
usual fee, and in three hours the ballad might be heard in St. Paul’s
Churchyard, or other public spot. There are two men in London at the
present day who gain their living in this way.

CHAUNTERS, those street sellers of ballads, last copies of verses, and
other broadsheets, who sing or bawl the contents of their papers. They
often term themselves PAPER WORKERS. _A. N._—_See_ HORSE CHAUNTERS.

CHAUNT, to sing the contents of any paper in the streets. CANT, as
applied to vulgar language, was derived from CHAUNT.—_See Introduction._

CHEAP, “doing it on the CHEAP,” living economically, or keeping up a
showy appearance with very little means.

CHEAP JACKS, or JOHNS, oratorical hucksters and patterers of hardware,
&c., at fairs and races. They put an article up at a high price, and
then cheapen it by degrees, indulging in volleys of coarse wit, until
it becomes to all appearance a bargain, and as such it is bought by
one of the crowd. The popular idea is that the inverse method of
auctioneering saves them paying for the auction license.

CHEEK, share or portion; “where’s my CHEEK?” where is my allowance?

CHEEK, impudence, assurance; CHEEKY, saucy or forward. _Lincolnshire_,
CHEEK, to accuse.

CHEEK, to irritate by impudence.

CHEEK BY JOWL, side by side,—said often of persons in such close
confabulation as almost to have their faces touch.

CHEESE, anything good, first-rate in quality, genuine, pleasant, or
advantageous, is termed THE CHEESE. _Mayhew_ thinks CHEESE, in this
sense, is from the _Saxon_, CEOSAN, to choose, and quotes _Chaucer_,
who uses CHESE in the sense of choice. The _London Guide_, 1818, says
it was from some young fellows translating “c’est une autre CHOSE” into
“that is another CHEESE.” CHEESE is also _Gipsey_ and _Hindoo_ (_see
Introduction_); and _Persian_, CHIZ, a thing.—_See_ STILTON.

CHEESE, or CHEESE IT (evidently a corruption of _cease_), leave off, or
have done; “CHEESE your barrikin,” hold your noise.

CHEESY, fine or showy.

CHERUBS, or CHERUBIMS, the chorister boys who chaunt in the services at
the abbeys.

CHESHIRE CAT, “to grin like a CHESHIRE CAT,” to display the teeth and
gums when laughing. Formerly the phrase was “to grin like a CHESHIRE
CAT _eating_ CHEESE.” A _hardly satisfactory_ explanation has been
given of this phrase—that Cheshire is a county palatine, and the cats,
when they think of it, are so tickled with the notion that they can’t
help grinning.

CHICKEN, a young girl.

CHICKEN-HEARTED, cowardly, fearful.

CHI-IKE, a hurrah, a good word, or hearty praise.

CHINK, money.—_Ancient._—_See_ FLORIO.

CHINKERS, money.

CHIP OF THE OLD BLOCK, a child who resembles its father. BROTHER CHIP,
one of the same trade or profession.

CHIPS, money.

CHISEL, to cheat.

CHITTERLINGS, the shirt frills worn still by ancient beaux; properly,
the _entrails of a pig_, to which they are supposed to bear some
resemblance. _Belgian_, SCHYTERLINGH.

CHIVARLY, coition. Probably a corruption from the _Lingua Franca_.

CHIVE, a knife; a sharp tool of any kind.—_Old cant._ This term is
particularly applied to the tin knives used in gaols.

CHIVE, to cut, saw, or file.

CHIVE, or CHIVEY, a shout; a halloo, or cheer, loud tongued. From
CHEVY-CHASE, a boy’s game, in which the word CHEVY is bawled aloud; or
from the _Gipsey_?—_See Introduction._

CHIVE-FENCER, a street hawker of cutlery.

CHIVEY, to chase round, or hunt about.

CHOCK-FULL, full till the scale comes down with a shock. _French_,
CHOC. A correspondent suggests CHOKED-FULL.

CHOKE OFF, to get rid of. Bull dogs can only be made to loose their
hold by choking them.

CHOKER, a cravat, a neckerchief. WHITE-CHOKER, the white neckerchief
worn by mutes at a funeral, and waiters at a tavern. Clergymen are
frequently termed WHITE-CHOKERS.

CHOKER, or WIND-STOPPER, a garrotter.

CHONKEYS, a kind of mince meat baked in a crust, and sold in the

CHOP, to change.—_Old._

CHOPS, properly CHAPS, the mouth, or cheeks; “down in the CHOPS,” or
“down in the mouth,” _i.e._, sad or melancholy.

CHOUSE, to cheat out of one’s share or portion. Hackluyt, CHAUS;
Massinger, CHIAUS. From the Turkish, in which language it signifies an
interpreter. Gifford gives a curious story as to its origin:—

  In the year 1609 there was attached to the Turkish embassy in England
  an interpreter, or CHIAOUS, who by cunning, aided by his official
  position, managed to cheat the Turkish and Persian merchants then
  in London out of the large sum of £1,000, then deemed an enormous
  amount. From the notoriety which attended the fraud, and the
  magnitude of the swindle, any one who cheated or defrauded was
  said to _chiaous_, or _chause_, or CHOUSE; to do, that is, as this
  _Chiaous_ had done.—_See Trench, Eng. Past and Present_, p. 87.

CHOUT, an entertainment.

CHOVEY, a shop.

CHRISTENING, erasing the name of the maker from a stolen watch, and
inserting a fictitious one in its place.

CHUBBY, round-faced, plump.

CHUCK, a schoolboy’s treat.—_Westminster school._ Food, provision for
an entertainment.—_Norwich._

CHUCK, to throw or pitch.

CHUCKING A JOLLY, when a costermonger praises the inferior article his
mate or partner is trying to sell.

CHUCKING A STALL, where one rogue walks in front of a person while
another picks his pockets.

CHUCKLE-HEAD, a fool.—_Devonshire._

CHUFF IT, _i.e._, be off, or take it away, in answer to a street seller
who is importuning you to purchase. _Halliwell_ mentions CHUFF as a
“term of reproach,” surly, &c.

CHUM, an acquaintance. A recognised term, but in such frequent use with
the lower orders that it demanded a place in this glossary.

CHUM, to occupy a joint lodging with another person.

CHUMMING-UP, an old custom amongst prisoners when a fresh culprit is
admitted to their number, consisting of a noisy welcome—rough music
made with pokers, tongs, sticks, and saucepans. For this ovation the
initiated prisoner has to pay, or FORK OVER, half a crown—or submit to
a loss of coat and waistcoat. The practice is ancient.

CHUMMY, a chimney sweep; also a low-crowned felt hat.

CHUNK, a thick or dumpy piece of any substance.—_Kentish._

CHURCH A YACK (or watch), to take the works of a watch from its
original case and put them into another one, to avoid detection.—_See_


CLAGGUM, boiled treacle in a hardened state, _Hardbake_.—_See_ CLIGGY.

CLAP, to place; “do you think you can CLAP your hand on him?” _i.e._,
find him out.

CLAPPER, the tongue.

CLAP-TRAP, high-sounding nonsense. An ancient _Theatrical_ term for
a “TRAP to catch a CLAP by way of applause from the spectators at a
play.”—_Bailey’s Dictionary._

CLARET, blood.—_Pugilistic._

CLEAN, quite, or entirely; “CLEAN gone,” entirely out of sight, or
away.—_Old, see Cotgrave._—_Shakespere._

CLEAN OUT, to thrash, or beat; to ruin, or bankrupt any one; to take
all they have got, by purchase, or force. _De Quincey_, in his article
on “Richard Bentley,” speaking of the lawsuit between that great
scholar and Dr. Colbatch, remarks that the latter “must have been
pretty well CLEANED OUT.”

CLICK, knock, or blow. CLICK-HANDED, left-handed.—_Cornish._

CLICK, to snatch.

CLIFT, to steal.

CLIGGY, or CLIDGY, sticky.—_Anglo Saxon_, CLÆG, clay.—_See_ CLAGGUM.

CLINCHER, that which rivets or confirms an argument, an
incontrovertible position. Metaphor from the workshop.

CLINK-RIG, stealing tankards from public-houses, taverns, &c.

CLIPPING, excellent, very good.

CLOCK, “to know what’s O’CLOCK,” a definition of knowingness in
general.—_See_ TIME O’DAY.

CLOD-HOPPER, a country clown.

CLOUT, or RAG, a cotton pocket handkerchief.—_Old cant._

CLOUT, a blow, or intentional strike.—_Ancient._

CLOVER, happiness, or luck.

CLUMP, to strike.

CLY, a pocket.—_Old cant_ for to steal. A correspondent derives this
word from the _Old English_, CLEYES, claws; _Anglo Saxon_, CLEA. This
pronunciation is still retained in Norfolk; thus, to CLY would mean to
pounce upon, snatch.—_See_ FRISK.

CLY-FAKER, a pickpocket.

COACH, a Cambridge term for a private tutor.

COACH WHEEL, or TUSHEROON, a crown piece, or five shillings.

COALS, “to call (or pull) over the COALS,” to take to task, to scold.

COCK, or more frequently now a days, COCK-E-E, a vulgar street
salutation—corruption of COCK-EYE. The latter is frequently heard as a
shout or street cry after a man or boy.

COCK AND A BULL STORY, a long, rambling anecdote.—_See Notes and
Queries_, vol. iv., p. 313.

COCKCHAFER, the treadmill.

COCK-EYE, one that squints.

COCKLES, “to rejoice the COCKLES of one’s heart,” a vulgar phrase
implying great pleasure.—_See_ PLUCK.

COCKNEY, a native of London. Originally, a spoilt or effeminate boy,
derived from COCKERING, or foolishly petting a person, rendering them
of soft or luxurious manners. Halliwell states, in his admirable essay
upon the word, that “some writers trace the word with much probability
to the imaginary land of COCKAYGNE, the lubber land of the olden
times.” _Grose_ gives Minsheu’s absurd but comical derivation:—A
citizen of London being in the country, and hearing a horse neigh,
exclaimed, “_Lord! how that horse laughs_.” A bystander informed him
that that noise was called neighing. The next morning, when the cock
crowed, the citizen, to show that he had not forgotten what was told
him, cried out, “_do you hear how the_ COCK NEIGHS?”

COCK OF THE WALK, a master spirit, head of a party. Places where
poultry are fed are called WALKS, and the barn-door cocks invariably
fight for the supremacy till one has obtained it.

COCKS, fictitious narratives, in verse or prose, of murders, fires, and
terrible accidents, sold in the streets as true accounts. The man who
hawks them, a patterer, often changes the scene of the awful event to
suit the taste of the neighbourhood he is trying to delude. Possibly
a corruption of _cook_, a cooked statement, or, as a correspondent
suggests, the COCK LANE Ghost may have given rise to the term. This had
a great run, and was a rich harvest to the running stationers.

COCK ONE’S TOES, to die.

COCK ROBIN SHOP, a small printer’s office, where low wages are paid to
journeymen who have never served a regular apprenticeship.

COCKSHY, a game at fairs and races, where trinkets are set upon sticks,
and for one penny three throws at them are accorded, the thrower
keeping whatever he knocks off. From the ancient game of throwing or
“shying” at live cocks.

COCKSURE, certain.

COCKY, pert, saucy.

COCKYOLY BIRDS, little birds, frequently called “dickey
birds.”—_Kingsley’s Two Years Ago._

COCK, “to COCK your eye,” to shut or wink one eye.

COCUM, advantage, luck, cunning, or sly, “to fight COCUM,” to be wily
and cautious.

CODDS, the “poor brethren” of the Charter house. At p. 133 of the
_Newcomes_, Mr. Thackeray writes, “The Cistercian lads call these old
gentlemen CODDS, I know not wherefore.” An abbreviation of CODGER.

CODGER, an old man; “a rum old CODGER,” a curious old fellow. CODGER is
sometimes used synonymous with CADGER, and then signifies a person who
gets his living in a questionable manner. CAGER, or GAGER, was the old
cant term for a man.

COFFEE-SHOP, a water-closet, or house of office.

COG, to cheat at dice.—_Shakespere._ Also, to agree with, as one
cog-wheel does with another.

COLD BLOOD, a house licensed for the sale of beer “NOT to be drunk on
the premises.”

COLD COOK, an undertaker.

COLD MEAT, a corpse.

COLD SHOULDER, “to show or give any one the COLD SHOULDER,” to
assume a distant manner towards them, to evince a desire to cease
acquaintanceship. Sometimes it is termed “cold shoulder of _mutton_.”

COLLAR, “out of COLLAR,” _i.e._, out of place, no work.

COLLAR, to seize, to lay hold of.

COLLY-WOBBLES, a stomach ache, a person’s bowels,—supposed by many
of the lower orders to be the seat of feeling and nutrition; an idea
either borrowed from, or transmitted by, the ancients.—_Devonshire._

COLT’S TOOTH, elderly persons of juvenile tastes are said to have a
colt’s tooth.

COMB-CUT, mortified, disgraced, “down on one’s luck.”—_See_ CUT.

COME, a slang verb used in many phrases; “A’nt he COMING IT?” _i.e._,
is he not proceeding at a great rate? “Don’t COME TRICKS here,” “don’t
COME THE OLD SOLDIER over me,” _i.e._, we are aware of your practices,
and “twig” your manœuvre. COMING IT STRONG, exaggerating, going a-head,
the opposite of “_drawing it mild_.” COMING IT also means informing or

COME DOWN, to pay down.

COMMISSION, a shirt.—_Ancient cant._ _Italian_, CAMICIA.

COMMISTER, a chaplain or clergyman.

COMMON SEWER, a DRAIN, or drink.

COMMONS, rations, because eaten _in common_.—_University._ SHORT
COMMONS (derived from the University slang term), a scanty meal, a

CONK, a nose; CONKY, having a projecting or remarkable nose. The Duke
of Wellington was frequently termed “Old CONKY” in satirical papers and

CONSTABLE, “to overrun the CONSTABLE,” to exceed one’s income, get deep
in debt.

CONVEY, to steal; “CONVEY, the wise it call.”

CONVEYANCER, a pick-pocket. _Shakespere_ uses the cant expression,
CONVEYER, a thief. The same term is also _French slang_.

COOK, a term well known in the Bankruptcy Courts, referring to accounts
that have been meddled with, or COOKED, by the bankrupt; also the
forming a balance sheet from general trade inferences; stated by a
correspondent to have been first used in reference to the celebrated
alteration of the accounts of the Eastern Counties Railway, by George
Hudson, the Railway King.

COOK ONE’S GOOSE, to kill or ruin any person.—_North._

COOLIE, a soldier, in allusion to the _Hindoo_ COOLIES, or day

COON, abbreviation of Racoon.—_American._ A GONE COON—_ditto_, one
in an awful fix, past praying for. This expression is said to have
originated in the American war with a spy, who dressed himself in a
racoon skin, and ensconced himself in a tree. An English rifleman
taking him for a veritable coon levelled his piece at him, upon which
he exclaimed, “Don’t shoot, I’ll come down of myself, I know I’m a GONE
COON.” The Yankees say the Britisher was so flummuxed, that he flung
down his rifle and “made tracks” for home. The phrase is pretty usual
in England.

COOPER, stout half-and-half, _i.e._, half stout and half porter.

COOPER, to destroy, spoil, settle, or finish. COOPER’D, spoilt, “done
up,” synonymous with the Americanism, CAVED IN, fallen in and ruined.
The vagabonds’ hieroglyphic ▽, chalked by them on gate posts and
houses, signifies that the place has been spoilt by too many tramps
calling there.

COOPER, to forge, or imitate in writing; “COOPER a moneker,” to forge a

COP, to seize or lay hold of anything unpleasant; used in a similar
sense to _catch_ in the phrase “to COP (or catch) a beating,” “to get

COPER, properly HORSE-COUPER, a Scotch horse-dealer,—used to denote a
dishonest one.

COPPER, a policeman, _i.e._, one who COPS, which see.

COPPER, a penny. COPPERS, mixed pence.

COPUS, a Cambridge drink, consisting of ale combined with spices, and
varied by spirits, wines, &c. Corruption of HIPPOCRAS.

CORINTHIANISM, a term derived from the classics, much in vogue some
years ago, implying pugilism, high life, “sprees,” roistering,
&c.—_Shakespere_. The immorality of _Corinth_ was proverbial in
Greece. Κορινθίαζ εσθαι, to _Corinthianise_, indulge in the company of
courtesans, was a _Greek_ slang expression. Hence the proverb—

  Οὐ παντὸς ἀνδρὸς εἰς Κόρινθον ἔσθ' ὁ πλοῦς,

and _Horace_, Epist. lib. 1, xvii. 36—

  Non cuivis homini contingit adire Corinthum,

in allusion to the spoliation practised by the “hetæræ” on those who
visited them.

CORK, “to draw a CORK,” to give a bloody nose.—_Pugilistic._

CORKS, money; “how are you off for corks?” a soldier’s term of a very
expressive kind, denoting the means of “keeping afloat.”

CORNED, drunk or intoxicated. Possibly from soaking or pickling oneself
like CORNED beef.

CORNERED, hemmed in a corner, placed in a position from which there is
no escape.—_American._

CORPORATION, the protuberant front of an obese person.

CORPSE, to confuse or put out the actors by making a

COSSACK, a policeman.

COSTERMONGERS, street sellers of fish, fruit, vegetables, poultry, &c.
The London costermongers number more than 30,000. They form a distinct
class, occupying whole neighbourhoods, and are cut off from the rest
of metropolitan society by their low habits, general improvidence,
pugnacity, love of gambling, total want of education, disregard for
lawful marriage ceremonies, _and their use of a cant_ (or so-called
_back slang_) _language_.

COSTER, the short and slang term for a costermonger, or costard-monger,
who was originally an apple seller. COSTERING, _i.e._, costermongering.

COTTON, to like, adhere to, or agree with any person; “to cotton on to
a man,” to attach yourself to him, or fancy him, literally, to stick to
him as cotton would. _Vide Bartlett_, who claims it as an Americanism;
and _Halliwell_, who terms it an Archaism; also _Bacchus and Venus_,

COUNCIL OF TEN, the toes of a man who turns his feet inward.

COUNTER JUMPER, a shopman, a draper’s assistant.

COUNTY-CROP (_i.e._, COUNTY-PRISON CROP), hair cut close and round, as
if guided by a basin—an indication of having been in prison.

COUTER, a sovereign. HALF-A-COUTER, half-a-sovereign.

COVE, or COVEY, a boy or man of any age or station. A term generally
preceded by an expressive adjective, thus a “flash COVE,” a “rum COVE,”
a “downy COVE,” &c. The feminine, COVESS, was once popular, but it has
fallen into disuse. _Ancient cant_, originally (temp. Henry VIII.)
COFE, or CUFFIN, altered in _Decker’s_ time to COVE. Probably connected
with CUIF, which, in the North of England, signifies a lout or awkward
fellow. Amongst _Negroes_, CUFFEE.

COVENTRY, “to send a man to COVENTRY,” not to speak to or notice him.
Coventry was one of those towns in which the privilege of practising
most trades was anciently confined to certain privileged persons, as
the freemen, &c. Hence a stranger stood little chance of custom, or
countenance, and “to send a man to COVENTRY,” came to be equivalent to
putting him out of the pale of society.

COVER-DOWN, a tossing coin with a false cover, enabling either head or
tail to be shown, according as the cover is left on or taken off.

COWAN, a sneak, an inquisitive or prying person.—_Masonic term._
_Greek_, κύων, a dog.

COW’S GREASE, butter.

COW-LICK, the term given to the lock of hair which costermongers
and thieves usually twist forward from the ear; a large greasy
curl upon the cheek, seemingly licked into shape. The opposite of

COXY-LOXY, good-tempered, drunk.—_Norfolk._

CRAB, or GRAB, a disagreeable old person. _Name of a wild and sour
fruit._ “To catch a CRAB,” to fall backwards by missing a stroke in

CRAB, to offend, or insult; to expose or defeat a robbery, to inform


CRACK, first-rate, excellent; “a CRACK HAND,” an adept; a “CRACK
article,” a good one.—_Old._

CRACK, dry firewood.—_Modern Gipsey._

CRACK, “in a CRACK (of the finger and thumb),” in a moment.

CRACK A BOTTLE, to drink. _Shakespere_ uses CRUSH in the same slang

CRACK A KIRK, to break into a church or chapel.

CRACK-FENCER, a man who sells nuts.

CRACK-UP, to boast or praise.—_Ancient English._

CRACKED-UP, penniless, or ruined.

CRACKSMAN, a burglar.

CRAM, to lie or deceive, implying to fill up or CRAM a person with
false stories; to acquire learning quickly, to “_grind_,” or prepare
for an examination.

CRAMMER, a lie; or a person who commits a falsehood.

CRANKY, foolish, idiotic, ricketty, capricious, not confined to
persons. _Ancient cant_, CRANKE, simulated sickness. _German_, KRANK,

CRAP, to ease oneself, to evacuate. _Old word_ for refuse; also _old
cant_, CROP.

CRAPPING CASE, or KEN, a privy, or water-closet.

CRAPPED, hanged.


CRIB, house, public or otherwise; lodgings, apartments.

CRIB, a situation.

CRIB, to steal or purloin.

CRIB, a literal translation of a classic author.—_University._

CRIB-BITER, an inveterate grumbler; properly said of a horse which has
this habit, a sign of its bad digestion.

CRIBBAGE-FACED, marked with the small pox, full of holes like a
cribbage board.

CRIKEY, profane exclamation of astonishment; “Oh, CRIKEY, you don’t say
so!” corruption of “_Oh, Christ_.”

CRIMPS, men who trepan others into the clutches of the recruiting
sergeant. They generally pretend to give employment in the colonies,
and in that manner cheat those mechanics who are half famished. _Nearly

CRIPPLE, a bent sixpence.

CROAK, to die—from the gurgling sound a person makes when the breath of
life is departing.—_Oxon._

CROAKER, one who takes a desponding view of everything; an alarmist.
_From the croaking of a raven._—_Ben Jonson._

CROAKER, a beggar.

CROAKER, a corpse, or dying person beyond hope.

CROAKS, last dying speeches, and murderers’ confessions.

CROCODILES’ TEARS, the tears of a hypocrite. An ancient phrase,
introduced into this country by Mandeville, or other early English
traveller.—_Othello_, iv., 1.

CROCUS, or CROAKUS, a quack or travelling doctor; CROCUS-CHOVEY, a
chemist’s shop.

CRONY, a termagant or malicious old woman; an intimate friend.
_Johnson_ calls it cant.

CROOKY, to hang on to, to lead, walk arm-in-arm; to court or pay
addresses to a girl.

CROPPIE, a person who has had his hair cut, or CROPPED, in prison.

CROPPED, hanged.

CROSS, a general term amongst thieves expressive of their plundering
profession, the opposite of SQUARE. “To get anything on the CROSS”
is to obtain it surreptitiously. “CROSS-FANNING in a crowd,” robbing
persons of their scarf pins.

CROSS COVE and MOLLISHER, a man and woman who live by thieving.

CROSS-CRIB, a house frequented by thieves.

CROW, one who watches whilst another commits a theft, a confederate
in a robbery. The CROW looks to see that the way is clear, whilst the
SNEAK, his partner, commits the depredation.

CROW, “a regular crow,” a success, a stroke of luck,—equivalent to a

CROW, “I have a CROW to pick with you,” _i.e._, an explanation to
demand, a disagreeable matter to settle; “to COCK-CROW over a person,”
to exalt over his abasement or misfortune.

CRUG, food.—_Household Words_, No. 183.

CRUMBS, “to pick up one’s CRUMBS,” to begin to have an appetite after
an illness; to improve in health, circumstances, &c., after a loss

CRUMMY, fat, plump.—_North._

CRUMMY-DOSS, a lousy or filthy bed.

CRUNCH, to crush. _Corruption_; or, perhaps from the sound of teeth
grinding against each other.

CRUSHER, a policeman.

CRUSHING, excellent, first rate.

CRUSTY, ill tempered, petulant, morose.—_Old._

CULL, a man or boy.—_Old cant._

CULLING, or CULING, stealing from the carriages on race-courses.

CUPBOARD HEADED, an expressive designation of one whose head is both
wooden and hollow.—_Norfolk._

CURE, an odd person; a contemptuous term, abridged from CURIOSITY—which
was formerly the favourite expression.—Compare STIPE.

CURSE OF SCOTLAND, the Nine of Diamonds. Various hypotheses have
been set up as to this appellation—that it was the card on which the
“Butcher Duke” wrote a cruel order with respect to the rebels after the
battle of Culloden; that the diamonds are the nine lozenges in the arms
of Dalrymple, Earl of Stair, detested for his share in the Massacre
of Glencoe; that it is a corruption of _Cross of Scotland_, the nine
diamonds being arranged somewhat after the fashion of a St. Andrew’s
Cross; but the most probable explanation is, that in the game of Pope
Joan the nine of diamonds is the POPE, of whom the Scotch have an
especial horror.

CURTAIL, to cut off. _Originally a cant word, vide Hudibras, and
Bacchus and Venus_, 1737.

CUSHION THUMPER, polite rendering of TUB THUMPER, a clergyman, a

CUSTOMER, synonymous with CHAP, a fellow; “a rum CUSTOMER,” _i.e._, an
odd fish, or curious person.—_Shakespere._

CUSTOMHOUSE OFFICER, an aperient pill.

CUT, to run away, move off quickly; to cease doing anything; CUT AND
RUN, to quit work, or occupation, and start off at once; to CUT DIDOES,
synonymous with to CUT CAPERS; CUT A DASH, make a show; CUT A CAPER, to
dance or show off in a strange manner; CUT A FIGURE, to make either a
good or bad appearance; CUT OUT, to excel, thus in affairs of gallantry
one Adonis is said to “_cut the other out_” in the affections of the
wished for lady; CUT THAT! be quiet, or stop; CUT OUT OF, done out of;
CUT OF ONE’S GIB, the expression or cast of his countenance [_see_
GIB]; TO CUT ONE’S COMB, to take down a conceited person, from the
practice of cutting the combs of capons [_see_ COMB-CUT]; CUT AND COME
AGAIN, plenty, if one cut does not suffice, plenty remains to “come
again;” CUT UP, mortified, to criticise severely, or expose; CUT UP
SHINES, to play tricks; CUT ONE’S STICK, to be off quickly, _i.e._,
be in readiness for a journey, further elaborated into AMPUTATE YOUR
MAHOGANY [_see_ STICK]; CUT IT FAT, to exaggerate or show off in an
extensive manner; to CUT UP FAT, to die, leaving a large property; CUT
UNDER, to undersell; CUT YOUR LUCKY, to run off; CUT ONE’S CART, to
expose their tricks; CUT AN ACQUAINTANCE, to cease friendly intercourse
with them—_Cambridge._ _Old_; CUTTE, to say.

CUT, in theatrical language, means to strike out portions of a dramatic
piece, so as to render it shorter for representation. A late treasurer
of one of the so called _Patent Theatres_, when asked his opinion of
a new play, always gave utterance to the brief, but safe piece of
criticism, “_wants_ CUTTING.”

CUT, tipsey.—_Household Words_, No. 183.

CUT, to compete in business.

CUT-THROAT, a butcher, a cattle slaughterer; a ruffian.

CUTE, sharp, cunning. Abbreviation of ACUTE.

CUTTER, a ruffian, a cut purse. Of _Robin Hood_ it was said—

  “So being outlawed (as ’tis told),
    He with a crew went forth
  Of lusty CUTTERS, bold and strong,
    And robbed in the north.”

This ancient cant word now survives in the phrase, “to swear like a

CUTTY PIPE, a short clay pipe. _Scotch_, CUTTY, short. _Cutty-sark_, a
scantily draped lady is so called by _Burns_.

DAB, or DABSTER, an expert person. Johnson says, “in low language, an

DAB, a bed.

DAB, street term for a flat fish of any kind.—_Old._

DACHA-SALTEE, tenpence. Probably from the _Lingua Franca_. _Modern
Greek_, δεκα; _Italian_, DIECI SOLDI, tenpence; _Gipsey_, DIK, ten. So
also DACHA-ONE, _i.e._, _dieci uno_, elevenpence.—_See_ SALTEE.

DADDLES, hands; “tip us your DADDLES,” _i.e._, shake hands.

DADDY, the stage manager.—_Theatrical._ Also the person who gives away
the bride at weddings.

DAGS, feat or performance; “I’ll do your DAGS,” _i.e._, I will do
something that you cannot do.

DAISY CUTTER, a horse which trots or gallops without lifting its feet
much from the ground.

DAISY KICKERS, the name hostlers at large inns used to give each other,
now nearly obsolete. DAISY-KICKER, or GROGHAM, was likewise the cant
term for a horse.

The DAISY-KICKERS were sad rogues in the old posting-days; frequently
the landlords rented the stables to them, as the only plan to make them
return a profit.

DAMPER, a shop till; to DRAW A DAMPER, _i.e._, rob a till.

DANCE UPON NOTHING, to be hanged.

DANCERS, stairs.—_Old cant._

DANDER, passion, or temper; “to get one’s DANDER up,” to rouse his

DANDY, a fop, or fashionable nondescript. This word, in the sense of a
fop, is of modern origin. _Egan_ says it was first used in 1820, and
_Bee_ in 1816. Johnson does not mention it, although it is to be found
in all late dictionaries. DANDIES wore stays, studied feminity, and
tried to undo their manhood. Lord Petersham headed them. At the present
day dandies of this stamp are fast disappearing. The feminine of DANDY
was DANDIZETTE, but the term only lived for a short season.

DANDYPRAT, a funny little fellow, a mannikin; originally a

DANNA, excrement; DANNA DRAG, a nightman’s or dustman’s cart.

DARBIES, handcuffs.—_Old cant._

DARBLE, the devil.—_French_, DIABLE.

DARK, “keep it DARK,” _i.e._, secret. DARK HORSE, in racing phraseology
a horse whose chance of success is unknown, and whose capabilities have
not been made the subject of comment.

DARKEY, twilight. DARKMANS, the night.

DARN, vulgar corruption of d——n.—_American._

DASHING, showy, fast.

DAVID’S SOW, “as drunk as DAVID’S SOW,” _i.e._, beastly drunk.—See
origin of the phrase in _Grose’s Dictionary_.

DAVY, “on my DAVY,” on my affidavit, of which it is a vulgar
corruption. Latterly DAVY has become synonymous in street language
with the name of the Deity; “so help me DAVY,” slang rendering of the
conclusion of the oath usually exacted of witnesses.

DAVY’S LOCKER, or DAVY JONES’ LOCKER, the sea, the common receptacle
for all things thrown overboard;—a nautical phrase for death, the other

DAWDLE, to loiter, or fritter away time.

DAYLIGHTS, eyes; “to darken his DAYLIGHTS,” to give a person black eyes.

DEAD ALIVE, stupid, dull.

DEAD HORSE, “to draw the DEAD HORSE,” DEAD-HORSE work,—working for
wages already paid; also any thankless or unassisted service.

DEAD-LURK, entering a dwelling-house during divine service.

DEAD MEN, the term for wine bottles after they are emptied of their
contents.—_Old._—_See_ MARINES.

DEAD-SET, a pointed attack on a person.

DEANER, a shilling. _Provincial Gipsey_, DEANEE, a pound.

DEATH, “to dress to DEATH,” _i.e._, to the very extreme of fashion,
perhaps so as to be KILLING.

DEATH-HUNTERS, running patterers, who vend last dying speeches and

DECK, a pack of cards.—_Old._ Used by Bulwer as a cant term. General in
the _United States_.

DEE, a pocket book, term used by tramps.—_Gipsey._

DEMIREP (or RIP), a courtesan. Contraction of DEMI-REPUTATION—_Grose._

DESPATCHES, false “dice with two sides, double four, double five, and
double six.”—_Times_, 27th November, 1856.

DEUCE, the devil.—_Old._ Stated by _Junius_ and others to be from DEUS.

DEUCE, twopence; DEUCE at cards or dice, one with two pips or holes.

DEVIL, a printer’s youngest apprentice, an errand boy.

DEVIL-DODGERS, clergymen; also people who go sometimes to church and
sometimes to meeting.


DEVOTIONAL HABITS, horses weak in the knees and apt to stumble and fall
are said to have these.—_Stable._

DEWSKITCH, a good thrashing.

DIBBS, money; so called from the huckle bones of sheep, which have been
used from the earliest times for gambling purposes, being thrown up
five at a time and caught on the back of the hand like halfpence.

DICKEY, bad, sorry, or foolish; food or lodging is pronounced DICKEY
when of a poor description; “it’s all DICKEY with him,” _i.e._, all
over with him.

DICKEY, formerly the cant for a worn out shirt, but means now-a-days a
front or half-shirt. DICKEY was originally TOMMY (from the Greek, τομη,
a section), a name which I understand was formerly used in Trinity
College, Dublin. The students are said to have invented the term, and
the GYPS changed it to DICKEY, in which dress it is supposed to have
been imported into England.

DICKEY, a donkey.

DICKENS, synonymous with devil; “what the DICKENS are you after?” what
the d—l are you doing? Used by _Shakespere_ in the _Merry Wives of

DIDDLE, to cheat, or defraud.—_Old._

DIDDLE, old cant word for geneva, or gin.

DIDDLER, or JEREMY DIDDLER, an artful swindler

DIDOES, pranks or capers; “to cut up DIDOES,” to make pranks.

DIES, last dying speeches, and criminal trials.

DIGS, hard blows.

DIGGERS, spurs; also the spades on cards.

DIGGINGS, lodgings, apartments, residence; an expression probably
imported from California, or Australia, with reference to _the gold

DILLY DALLY, to trifle.

DIMBER, neat or pretty.—_Worcestershire_, but old cant.

DIMBER DAMBER, very pretty; a clever rogue who excels his fellows;
chief of a gang. _Old cant_ in the latter sense.—_English Rogue._.

DIMMOCK, money; “how are you off for DIMMOCK?” diminutive of DIME, a
small foreign silver coin.

DINARLY, money; “NANTEE DINARLY,” I have no money, corrupted from the
_Lingua Franca_, “NIENTE DINARO,” not a penny. _Turkish_, DINARI;
_Spanish_, DINERO; _Latin_, DENARIUS.

DING, to strike; to throw away, or get rid of anything; to pass to a

DIPPED, mortgaged.—_Household Words_, No. 183.

DISGUISED, intoxicated.—_Household Words_, No. 183.

DISH, to stop, to do away with, to suppress; DISHED, done for, floored,
beaten, or silenced. A correspondent suggests that meat is usually DONE
BROWN before being DISHED, and conceives that the latter term may have
arisen as the natural sequence of the former.

DISHABBILLY, the ridiculous corruption of the _French_, DESHABILLE,
amongst fashionably affected, but ignorant “stuck-up” people.

DITHERS, nervous or cold shiverings. “It gave me the DITHERS.”

DIVE, to pick pockets.

DIVERS, pickpockets.

DO, this useful and industrious verb has for many years done service
as a slang term. To DO a person is to cheat him. Sometimes another
tense is employed, such as “I DONE him,” meaning I cheated or “paid
him out;” DONE BROWN, cheated thoroughly, befooled; DONE OVER, upset,
cheated, knocked down, ruined; DONE UP, used up, finished, or quieted.
DONE also means convicted, or sentenced; so does DONE-FOR. To DO a
person in pugilism is to excel him in fisticuffs. Humphreys, who fought
Mendoza, a Jew, wrote this laconic note to his supporter—“Sir,—I have
DONE the Jew, and am in good health. Rich. Humphreys.” Tourists use the
expression “I have DONE France and Italy,” meaning I have completely
explored those countries.

DOCTOR, to adulterate or drug liquor; also to falsify accounts.—_See_

DODGE, a cunning trick. “DODGE, that homely but expressive
phrase.”—_Sir Hugh Cairns on the Reform Bill_, 2nd March, 1859.
_Anglo Saxon_, DEOGIAN, to colour, to conceal. The TIDY DODGE, as it
is called by street-folk, consists in dressing up a family clean and
_tidy_, and parading the streets to excite compassion and obtain alms.
A correspondent suggests that the verb DODGE may have been formed
(like _wench_ from _wink_) from DOG, _i.e._, to double quickly and
unexpectedly, as in coursing.

DODGER, a tricky person, or one who, to use the popular phrase, “knows
too much.”—_See_ DEVIL-DODGER.

DODGER, a dram. In _Kent_, a DODGER signifies a nightcap; which name is
often given to the last dram at night.

DOG, to follow in one’s footsteps on the sly, to track.

DOG-CHEAP, or DOG-FOOLISH, very, or singularly cheap, or foolish.
Latham, in his _English Language_, says:—“This has nothing to do with
dogs. The first syllable is god = _good_ transposed, and the second,
the ch—p, is chapman, _merchant_: compare EASTCHEAP.”—_Old term._

DOG-LATIN, barbarous Latin, such as was formerly used by lawyers in
their pleadings.

DOG-ON-IT, a form of mild swearing used by boys. It is just worthy of
mention that DOGONE, in _Anglo-Norman_, is equivalent to a term of
contempt. _Friesic_, DOGENIET.

DOGSNOSE, gin and beer, so called from the mixture being _cold_, like a
dog’s nose.

DOLDRUMS, difficulties, low spirits, dumps.—_Sea._

DOLLOP, a lump or portion.—_Norfolk._ _Ang. Sax._ DAEL, _dole_.

DOLLOP, _to dole up_, give up a share.—_Ib._

DOLLYMOP, a tawdrily-dressed maid servant, a street walker.

DOLLY SHOP, an illegal pawnshop,—where goods, or stolen property, not
good enough for the pawnbroker, are received, and charged at so much
per day. If not redeemed the third day the goods are forfeited. _Anglo
Saxon_, DAEL, a part,—to dole?—_See_ NIX. A correspondent thinks it may
have been derived from the _black doll_, the usual sign of a rag shop.

DOMINE, a parson.

DOMINOS, the teeth.

DON, a clever fellow, the opposite of a muff; a person of distinction
in his line or walk. At the Universities, the Masters and Fellows are
THE DONS. DON is also used as an adjective, “a DON hand at a knife and
fork,” _i.e._, a first-rate feeder at a dinner table.—_Spanish._

DONE FOR A RAMP, convicted for thieving.

DONKEY, “three more and up goes the DONKEY,” a vulgar street phrase
for extracting as much money as possible before performing any task.
The phrase had its origin with a travelling showman, the _finale_ of
whose performance was the hoisting of a DONKEY on a pole or ladder;
but this consummation was never arrived at unless the required number
of “browns” was first paid up, and “three more” was generally the
unfortunate deficit.

DONNA AND FEELES, a woman and children. _Italian_ or _Lingua Franca_,

DOOKIN, fortune telling. _Gipsey_, DUKKERIN.

DOSE, three months’ imprisonment as a known thief.—_See_ BRAGGADOCIO.

DOSS, a bed.—_North._ Probably from DOZE. Mayhew thinks it is from the
Norman, DOSSEL, a hanging, or bed canopy.

DOSS, to sleep, formerly spelt DORSE. Perhaps from the phrase to lie on
one’s _dorsum_, back.

DOSS-KEN, a lodging house.

DOUBLE, “to tip (or give) the DOUBLE,” to run away from any person; to
double back, turn short round upon one’s pursuers and so escape, as a
hare does.—_Sporting._

DOUBLE-UP, to pair off, or “chum,” with another man; to beat severely.

DOUBLE-SHUFFLE, a low, shuffling, noisy dance, common amongst
costermongers.—_See_ FLIP-FLAPS.

DOUSE, to put out; “DOUSE that glim,” put out that candle.—_Sea._

DOWD, a woman’s nightcap.—_Devonshire_; also an _American_ term;
possibly from DOWDY, a slatternly woman.

DOWN, to be aware of, or awake to, any move—in this meaning,
synonymous with UP; “DOWN upon one’s luck,” unfortunate; “DOWN in the
mouth,” disconsolate; “to be DOWN on one,” to treat him harshly or
suspiciously, to pounce upon him, or detect his tricks.

DOWN THE DOLLY, a favourite gambling contrivance, often seen in the
tap rooms of public houses, at race-courses, and fairs, consisting of
a round board and the figure of an old man or “doll,” down which is a
spiral hole. A marble is dropped “down the dolly,” and stops in one of
the small holes or pits (numbered) on the board. The bet is decided
according as the marble stops on a high or low figure.

DOWN THE ROAD, stylish, showy, after the fashion.

DOWNER, a sixpence; apparently the _Gipsey_ word, TAWNO, “little one,”
in course of metamorphosis into the more usual “_tanner_.”

DOWNS, Tothill Fields’ prison.

DOWNY, knowing or cunning; “a DOWNY COVE,” a knowing or experienced

DOWRY, a lot, a great deal; “DOWRY of parny,” lot of rain or
water.—_See_ PARNY. Probably from the _Gipsey_.

DOXY, the female companion of a thief or beggar. In the West of
England, the women frequently call their little girls DOXIES, in
a familiar or endearing sense. A learned divine once described
_orthodoxy_ as being a man’s own DOXY, and _heterodoxy_ another man’s
DOXY.—_Ancient cant._

DRAB, a vulgar or low woman.—_Shakespere._

DRAG, a cart of any kind, a coach; gentlemen drive to the races in

DRAG, a street, or road; BACK-DRAG, back-street.

DRAG, or THREE MOON, three months in prison.

DRAGGING, robbing carts, &c.

DRAGSMEN, fellows who cut trunks from the backs of carriages. They
sometimes have a light cart, and “drop behind” the plundered vehicle,
and then drive off in an opposite direction with the booty.

DRAIN, a drink; “to do a DRAIN,” to take a friendly drink—“do a wet;”
sometimes called a COMMON SEWER.

DRAW, “come, DRAW it mild!” _i.e._, don’t exaggerate; opposite of
“come it strong.” From the phraseology of the bar (of a PUBLIC), where
customers desire the beer to be DRAWN mild.

DRAWERS, formerly the ancient cant name for very long stockings, now a
hosier’s term.

DRAWING TEETH, wrenching off knockers.

DRIVE-AT, to aim at; “what is he DRIVING AT?” “what does he intend
to imply?” a phrase often used when a circuitous line of argument
is adopted by a barrister, or a strange set of questions asked, the
purpose of which is not very evident.

DRIVE, a term used by tradesmen in speaking of business; “he’s DRIVING
a _roaring_ trade,” _i.e._, a very good one; hence, to succeed in a
bargain, “I DROVE a good bargain,” _i.e._, got the best end of it.

DRIZ, lace. In a low lodging house this singular autograph inscription
appeared over the mantelpiece, “Scotch Mary, with DRIZ (lace), bound to
Dover and back, please God.”

DRIZ FENCER, a person who sells lace.

DROP, to quit, go off, or turn aside; “DROP the main Toby,” go off the
main road.

DROP, “to DROP INTO a person,” to give him a thrashing.—_See_ SLIP and
WALK. “To DROP ON to a man,” to accuse or rebuke him suddenly.

DRUM, a house, a lodging, a street; HAZARD-DRUM, a gambling house;
FLASH-DRUM, a house of ill-fame.

DRUMMER, a robber who first makes his victims insensible by drugs or
violence, and then plunders them.

DUB, to pay or give; “DUB UP,” pay up.

DUBBER, the mouth; “mum your DUBBER,” hold your tongue.

DUBLIN PACKET, to turn a corner; to “take the DUBLIN PACKET,” viz., run
round the corner.

DUBS, a bunch of keys.—_Nearly obsolete._

DUBSMAN, or SCREW, a turnkey.

DUCKS AND DRAKES, “to make DUCKS AND DRAKES of one’s money,” to throw
it away childishly,—derived from children “shying” flat stones on the
surface of a pool, which they call DUCKS AND DRAKES, according to the
number of skips they make.

DUDDERS, or DUDSMEN, persons who formerly travelled the country as
pedlars, selling gown-pieces, silk waistcoats, &c., to countrymen. In
selling a waistcoat-piece for thirty shillings or two pounds, which
cost them perhaps five shillings, they would show great fear of the
revenue officer, and beg of the purchasing clodhopper _to kneel down
in a puddle of water, crook his arm, and swear that it might never
become straight if he told an exciseman, or even his own wife_. The
term and practice are nearly obsolete. In Liverpool, however, and at
the east end of London, men dressed up as sailors, with pretended silk
handkerchiefs and cigars “only just smuggled from the Indies,” are
still to be plentifully found.

DUDDS, clothes, or personal property. _Gaelic_, DUD; _Ancient cant_;
also _Dutch_.

DUFF, pudding; vulgar pronunciation of DOUGH.—_Sea._

DUFFER, a hawker of “Brummagem” or sham jewellery; a sham of any kind;
a fool, or worthless person. DUFFER was formerly synonymous with
DUDDER, and was a general term given to pedlars. It is mentioned in
the _Frauds of London_ (1760), as a word in frequent use in the last
century to express cheats of all kinds. From the _German_, DURFEN, to

DUFFING, false, counterfeit, worthless.

DUKE, gin.—_Household Words_, No. 183.

DUMB-FOUND, to perplex, to beat soundly till not able to speak.
Originally a cant word. _Johnson_ cites the _Spectator_ for the
earliest use. _Scotch_, DUMFOUNDER.

DUMMACKER, a knowing or acute person.

DUMMIES, empty bottles and drawers in an apothecary’s shop, labelled so
as to give an idea of an extensive stock.

DUMMY, in three-handed whist the person who holds two hands plays DUMMY.

DUMMY, a pocket book.

DUMP FENCER, a man who sells buttons.

DUMPY, short and stout.

DUMPISH, sullen, or glumpy.

DUN, to solicit payment.—_Old cant_, from the French DONNEZ, give; or
from JOE DUN, the famous bailiff of Lincoln; or simply a corruption of
DIN, from the _Anglo Saxon_ DUNAN, to clamour?

DUNAKER, a stealer of cows or calves. _Nearly obsolete._

DUNDERHEAD, a blockhead.

DUNG, an operative who works for an employer who does not give full or
“society” wages.

DUNNAGE, baggage, clothes. Also, a _Sea_ term for wood or loose faggots
laid at the bottom of ships, upon which is placed the cargo.

DUNNY-KEN, a water-closet.—_See_ KEN.

DURRYNACKING, offering lace or any other article as an introduction to
fortune-telling; generally pursued by women.

DUST, money; “down with the DUST,” put down the money.—_Ancient._ Dean
Swift once took for his text, “He who giveth to the poor lendeth to the
Lord.” His sermon was short. “Now, my brethren,” said he, “if you are
satisfied with the security, down with the DUST.”

DUST, a disturbance, or noise, “to raise a DUST,” to make a row.

DUTCH CONSOLATION, “thank God it is no worse.”

DUTCH CONCERT, where each performer plays a different tune.

DUTCH COURAGE, false courage, generally excited by drink,—_pot-valour_.

DUTCH FEAST, where the host gets drunk before his guest.

DUTCH UNCLE, a personage often introduced in conversation, but
exceedingly difficult to describe; “I’ll talk to him like a
DUTCH UNCLE!” conveys the notion of anything but a desirable

DOUBLE DUTCH, gibberish, or any foreign tongue.

EARL OF CORK, the ace of diamonds.—_Hibernicism._

  “What do you mean by the Earl of Cork?” asked Mr. Squander. “The ace
  of diamonds, your honour. It’s the worst ace, and the poorest card in
  the pack, and is called the Earl of Cork, because he’s the poorest
  nobleman in Ireland.”—_Carleton’s Traits and Stories of the Irish

EARWIG, a clergyman, also one who prompts another maliciously.

EARWIGGING, a rebuke in private; a WIGGING is more public.

EASE, to rob; “EASING a bloak,” robbing a man.

EGG, or EGG on, to excite, stimulate, or provoke one person to quarrel
with another, &c. _Cor. of edge, or edge on._—_Ancient._

ELBOW, “to shake one’s ELBOW,” to play at cards.

ELBOW GREASE, labour, or industry.

ELEPHANT, “to have SEEN THE ELEPHANT,” to be “_up_ to the latest
move,” or “_down_ to the last new trick;” to be knowing, and not
“green,” &c. Possibly a metaphor taken from the travelling menageries,
where the ELEPHANT is the _finale_ of the exhibition.—Originally an
_Americanism_. _Bartlett_ gives conflicting examples. _General_ now,

EVAPORATE, to go, or run away.

EVERLASTING STAIRCASE, the treadmill. Sometimes called “Colonel
Chesterton’s everlasting staircase,” from the gallant inventor or

EXTENSIVE, frequently applied in a slang sense to a person’s appearance
or talk; “rather EXTENSIVE that!” intimating that the person alluded to
is showing off, or “cutting it fat.”


FAD, a hobby, a favourite pursuit.

FADGE, a farthing.

FADGE, to suit or fit; “it won’t FADGE,” it will not do. Used by
_Shakespere_, but now heard only in the streets.

FAG, to beat, also one boy working for another at school.

FAG, a schoolboy who performs a servant’s offices to a superior
school-mate. _Grose_ thinks FAGGED OUT is derived from this.

FAGOT, a term of opprobrium used by low people to children; “you
little FAGOT, you!” FAGOT was originally a term of contempt for a dry,
shrivelled old woman, whose bones were like a bundle of sticks, only
fit to burn.—Compare the French expression for a heretic, _sentir le

FAKE, to cheat, or swindle; to do anything; to go on, or continue; to
make or construct; to steal, or rob,—a verb variously used. FAKED,
done, or done for; “FAKE away, there’s no down,” go on, there is nobody
looking. _Mayhew_ says it is from the _Latin_, FACIMENTUM.

FAKEMENT, a false begging petition, any act of robbery, swindling, or

FAKEMENT CHARLEY, the owner’s private mark.

FAKER, one who makes or FAKES anything.

FAKING A CLY, picking a pocket.

FAMBLES, or FAMMS, the hands.—_Ancient cant._ _German_, FAUGEN.

FAMILY MEN, or PEOPLE, thieves, or burglars.

FAN, a waistcoat.

FANCY, the favourite sports, pets, or pastime of a person, _the tan of
low life_. Pugilists are sometimes termed THE FANCY. _Shakespere_ uses
the word in the sense of a favourite, or pet; and the paramour of a
prostitute is still called her FANCY-MAN.

FANCY-BLOAK, a fancy or sporting man.

FAN-TAIL, a dustman’s hat.

FAST, gay, spreeish, unsteady, thoughtless,—an Americanism that has
of late ascended from the streets to the drawing-room. The word has
certainly now a distinct meaning, which it had not thirty years ago.
QUICK is the synonyme for FAST, but a QUICK MAN would not convey
the meaning of a FAST MAN,—a person who by late hours, gaiety, and
continual rounds of pleasure, lives too fast and wears himself out. In
polite society a FAST young lady is one who affects mannish habits,
or makes herself conspicuous by some unfeminine accomplishment,—talks
slang, drives about in London, smokes cigarettes, is knowing in dogs,
horses, &c. An amusing anecdote is told of a FAST young lady, the
daughter of a right reverend prelate, who was an adept in _horseflesh_.
Being desirous of ascertaining the opinion of a candidate for
ordination, who had the look of a bird of the same feather, as to the
merits of some cattle just brought to her father’s palace for her to
select from, she was assured by him they were utterly unfit for a
lady’s use. With a knowing look at the horses’ points, she gave her
decision in these choice words, “Well, I agree with you; they _are_ a
rum lot, as the Devil said of the ten commandments.”

FAST, embarrassed, wanting money. Synonymous with HARD UP.—_Yorkshire._

FAT, a printer’s term signifying the void spaces on a page, for which
he is paid at the same rate as full or unbroken pages. This work
afforded much FAT for the printers.

FAT, rich, abundant, &c.; “a FAT lot;” “to cut it FAT,” to exaggerate,
to show off in an extensive or grand manner, to assume undue
importance; “cut up FAT,” see under CUT. As a _Theatrical_ term, a part
with plenty of FAT in it, is one which affords the actor an opportunity
of effective display.

FATHER, or FENCE, a buyer of stolen property.

FAWNEY, a finger ring.

FAWNEY BOUNCING, selling rings for a wager. This practice is founded
upon the old tale of a gentleman laying a wager that if he was to offer
“real gold sovereigns” at a penny a piece at the foot of London Bridge,
the English public would be too incredulous to buy. The story states
that the gentleman stationed himself with sovereigns in a tea tray, and
sold only two within the hour,—winning the bet. This tale the FAWNEY
BOUNCERS tell the public, only offering brass, double gilt rings,
instead of sovereigns.

FAWNEY, or FAWNEY RIG, ring dropping. A few years ago, this practice,
or RIG, was very common. A fellow purposely dropped a ring, or a pocket
book with some little articles of jewellery, &c., in it, and when he
saw any person pick it up, ran to claim half. The ring found, the
question of how the booty was to be divided had then to be decided.
The _Fawney_ says, “if you will give me eight or nine shillings for my
share the things are yours.” This the FLAT thinks very fair. The ring
of course is valueless, and the swallower of the bait discovers the
trick too late.

FEATHERS, money, wealth; “in full FEATHER,” rich.

FEEDER, a spoon.—_Old cant._

FEELE, a daughter, or child.—_Corrupted French._

FELT, a hat.—_Old term, in use in the sixteenth century._

FENCE, or FENCER, a purchaser or receiver of stolen goods; FENCE, the
shop or warehouse of a FENCER.—_Old cant._

FENCE, to sell or pawn stolen property to a FENCER.

FERRICADOUZER, a knock down below, a good thrashing. Probably derived
through the _Lingua Franca_ from the _Italian_, FAR’ CADER’ MORTO, to
knock down dead.

FIB, to beat, or strike.—_Old cant._

FIDDLE, a whip.

FIDDLE FADDLE, twaddle, or trifling discourse.—_Old cant._

FIDDLE STICKS! nonsense.

FIDDLER, or FADGE, a farthing.

FIDDLER, a sixpence.—_Household Words_, No. 183.

FIDDLER, a sharper, a cheat; also one who dawdles over little matters,
and neglects great ones.

FIDDLERS’ MONEY, a lot of sixpences;—6d. was the remuneration to
fiddlers from each of the company in old times.

FIDDLING, doing any odd jobs in the streets, holding horses, carrying
parcels, &c., for a living. Among the middle classes, FIDDLING means
idling away time, or trifling; and amongst sharpers, it means gambling.

FID FAD, a game similar to chequers, or drafts, played in the West of

FIDLUM BEN, thieves who take anything they can lay their hands upon.

FIELD-LANE-DUCK, a baked sheep’s head. _Field-lane_ is a low London
thoroughfare, leading from the foot of Holborn-hill to the purlieus of
Clerkenwell. It was formerly the market for stolen pocket handkerchiefs.

FIG, “to FIG a horse,” to play improper tricks with one in order to
make him lively.

FIG, “in full FIG,” _i.e._, full dress costume, “extensively got up.”

FIGURE, “to cut a good or bad FIGURE,” to make a good or indifferent
appearance; “what’s the FIGURE?” how much is to pay? FIGURE-HEAD, a
person’s face.—_Sea term._

FILCH, to steal, or purloin. Originally a cant word, derived from the
FILCHES, or hooks, thieves used to carry, to hook clothes, or any
portable articles from open windows.—_Vide Decker._ It was considered a
cant or Gipsey term up to the beginning of the last century. _Harman_
has “FYLCHE, to robbe.”

FILE, a deep, or artful man, a jocose name for a cunning person.
Originally a term for a pickpocket, when TO FILE was to cheat or
rob. FILE, an artful man, was used in the thirteenth and fourteenth

FILLIBRUSH, to flatter, praise ironically.

FIMBLE-FAMBLE, a lame prevaricating excuse.—_Scand._

FIN, a hand; “come, tip us your FIN,” viz., let us shake hands.—_Sea._

FINDER, one who FINDS bacon and meat at the market before they are
lost, _i.e._, steals them.

FINUF, a five-pound note. DOUBLE FINUF, a ten-pound note.—_German_,
FUNF, five.

FISHY, doubtful, unsound, rotten—a term used to denote a suspicion of a
“screw being loose,” or “something rotten in the state of Denmark,” in
alluding to an unsafe speculation.

FISH, a person; “a queer FISH,” “a loose FISH,” &c.

FIX, a predicament, dilemma; “an awful FIX,” a terrible position; “to
FIX one’s flint for him,” _i.e._, to “settle his _hash_,” “put a spoke
in his wheel.”

FIZZING, first-rate, very good, excellent; synonymous with STUNNING.

FLABERGAST, or FLABBERGHAST, to astonish, or strike with wonder.—_Old._

FLAG, a groat, or 4d.—_Ancient cant._

FLAG, an apron.

FLAG OF DISTRESS, poverty—when the end of a person’s shirt protrudes
through his trousers.

FLAM, nonsense, blarney, a lie.—_Kentish_; _Anglo Saxon_.

FLAME, a sweetheart.

FLANNEL, or HOT FLANNEL, the old term for gin and beer, drank hot,
with nutmeg, sugar, &c. Also called FLIP. There is an anecdote told
of Goldsmith helping to drink a quart of FLANNEL in a night house, in
company with George Parker, Ned Shuter, and a demure grave looking
gentleman, who continually introduced the words CRAP, STRETCH, SCRAG,
and SWING. Upon the Doctor’s asking who this strange person might be,
and being told his profession, he rushed from the place in a frenzy,
exclaiming, “Good God! and have I been sitting all this while with a

FLARE UP, a jovial social gathering, a “break down,” a “row.”

FLASH, showy, smart, knowing; a word with various meanings. A person
is said to be dressed FLASH when his garb is showy, and after a
fashion, but without taste. A person is said to be FLASH when he apes
the appearance or manners of his betters, or when he is trying to
be superior to his friends and relations. FLASH also means “fast,”
roguish, and sometimes infers counterfeit or deceptive,—and this,
perhaps, is its general signification. “FLASH, my young friend, or
slang, as others call it, is the classical language of the Holy Land;
in other words, St. Giles’ Greek.”—_Tom and Jerry, by Moncreiff_.
Vulgar language was first termed FLASH in the year 1718, by Hitchin,
author of “_The Regulator of Thieves, &c., with account of_ FLASH

FLASH IT, show it—said when any bargain is offered.

FLAT, a fool, a silly or “soft” person, the opposite of SHARP. The term
appears to be shortenings for “sharp-witted” and “flat-witted.” “Oh!
Messrs. Tyler, Donelson, and the rest, what FLATS you are.”—_Times_,
5th September, 1847.

FLATTIES, rustic, or uninitiated people.

FLATTY-KEN, a public house, the landlord of which is ignorant of the
practices of the thieves and tramps who frequent it.

FLESH AND BLOOD, brandy and port in equal quantities.

FLESH-BAG, a shirt.

FLICK, or OLD FLICK, an old chap or fellow.

FLICK, or FLIG, to whip by striking, and drawing the lash back at the
same time, which causes a stinging blow.

FLIM FLAMS, idle stories.—_Beaumont and Fletcher._

FLIMP, to hustle, or rob.

FLIMSIES, bank notes.

FLIMSY, the thin prepared copying paper used by newspaper reporters
and “penny-a-liners” for making several copies at once, thus enabling
them to supply different papers with the same article without loss of
time.—_Printers’ term._

FLINT, an operative who works for a “society” master, _i.e._, for full

FLIP, corruption of FILLIP, a light blow.

FLIP-FLAPS, a peculiar rollicking dance indulged in by costermongers
when merry or excited—better described, perhaps, as the DOUBLE SHUFFLE,
danced with an air of extreme _abandon_.

FLIPPER, the hand; “give us your FLIPPER,” give me your hand.—_Sea._
Metaphor taken from the flipper or paddle of a turtle.

FLOG, to whip. Cited both by _Grose_ and the author of _Bacchus and
Venus_ as a cant word. It would be curious to ascertain the earliest
use; _Richardson_ cites Lord Chesterfield.—_Latin._

FLOGGER, a whip.—_Obsolete._

FLOOR, to knock down.—_Pugilistic._

FLOORER, a blow sufficiently strong to knock a man down.

FLOWERY, lodging, or house entertainment; “square the omee for the
FLOWERY,” pay the master for the lodging.

FLUE FAKERS, chimney sweeps; also low sporting characters, who are so
termed from their chiefly betting on the _Great Sweeps_.

FLUFF IT, a term of disapprobation, implying “take it away, I don’t
want it.”

FLUKE, at billiards, playing for one thing and getting another. Hence,
generally what one gets accidentally, an unexpected advantage, “more by
luck than wit.”

FLUMMERY, flattery, gammon, genteel nonsense.

FLUMMUX, to perplex, hinder; FLUMMUXED, stopped, used up.

FLUMMUXED, done up, sure of a month in QUOD, or prison. In mendicant
freemasonry, the sign chalked by rogues and tramps upon a gate-post or
house corner, to express to succeeding vagabonds that it is unsafe for
them to call there, is known as ☉, or FLUMMUXED, which signifies that
the only thing they would be likely to get upon applying for relief
would be “a month in QUOD.”—_See_ QUOD.

FLUNKEY, a footman, servant.—_Scotch._

FLUSH, the opposite of HARD UP, in possession of money, not poverty

FLY, to lift, toss, or raise; “FLY the _mags_,” _i.e._, toss up the
halfpence; “to FLY a window,” _i.e._, to lift one for the purpose of

FLY, knowing, wide awake, fully understanding another’s meaning.

FLY THE KITE, or RAISE THE WIND, to obtain money on bills, whether good
or bad, alluding to tossing paper about like children do a kite.

FLY THE KITE, to evacuate from a window,—term used in padding kens, or
low lodging houses.

FLYING-MESS, “to be in FLYING MESS” is a soldier’s phrase for being
hungry and having to mess where he can.—_Military._

FLYING STATIONERS, paper workers, hawkers of penny ballads; “Printed
for the Flying Stationers” is the _imprimatur_ on hundreds of penny
histories and sheet songs of the last and present centuries.

FLYMY, knowing, cunning, roguish.

FOALED, “thrown from a horse.”—_Hunting term._—_See_ PURLED, and SPILT.

FOGEY, or OLD FOGEY, a dullard, an old-fashioned or singular
person. _Grose_ says it is a nickname for an invalid soldier, from
the _French_, FOURGEAUX, fierce or fiery, but it has lost this
signification now. FOGGER, _old word_ for a huckster or servant.

FOGGY, tipsy.

FOGLE, a silk handkerchief—not a CLOUT, which is of _cotton_. It
has been hinted that this may have come from the _German_, VOGEL,
a bird, from the _bird’s eye_ spots on some handkerchiefs [_see_
BIRD’S-EYE-WIPE, under BILLY], but a more probable derivation is the
Italian slang (_Fourbesque_) FOGLIA, a pocket, or purse; or from the
_French argot_, FOUILLE, also a pocket.

FOGUS, tobacco.—_Old cant._ FOGO, _old word for stench_.

FOONT, a sovereign, or 20s.

FOOTING, “to pay FOOTING.”—_See_ SHOE.

FORAKERS, a water-closet, or house of office.—Term used by the boys at
_Winchester school_.

FORK OUT, to bring out one’s money, to pay the bill, to STAND FOR or
treat a friend; to hand over what does not belong to you.—Old cant
term for picking pockets, and very curious it is to trace its origin.
In the early part of the last century, a little book on purloining was
published, and of course it had to give the latest modes. FORKING was
the newest method, and it consisted in thrusting the fingers stiff and
open into the pocket, and then quickly closing them and extracting any


FORTY GUTS, vulgar term for a fat man.

FOUR AND NINE, or FOUR AND NINEPENNY GOSS, a cheap hat, so called from
4s. 9d., the price at which a noted advertising hat maker sold his hats—

  “Whene’er to slumber you incline,
  Take a _short_ NAP at 4 and 9.”—1844.

FOU, slightly intoxicated.—_Scotch._

FOURTH, or FOURTH COURT, the court appropriated to the water-closets
at Cambridge; from its really being No. 4 at Trinity College. A man
leaving his room to go to this FOURTH COURT, writes on his door “_gone
to the_ FOURTH,” or, in algebraic notation, “GONE 4”—the Cambridge
slang phrase.

FOX, to cheat or rob.—_Eton College._

FOXING, watching in the streets for any occurrence which may be turned
to a profitable account.—_See_ MOOCHING.

FOXING, to pretend to be asleep like a fox, which is said to take its
rest with one eye open.

FOXY, rank, tainted.—_Lincolnshire._

FREE, to steal—generally applied to horses.

FREE AND EASY, a club held at most public houses, the members of which
meet in the taproom or parlour for the purpose of drinking, smoking,
and hearing each other sing and “talk politics.” The name indicates the
character of the proceedings.

FREEMAN’S QUAY, “drinking at FREEMAN’S QUAY,” _i.e._, at another’s
cost. This quay was formerly a celebrated wharf near London Bridge, and
the saying arose from the beer which was given gratis to porters and
carmen who went there on business.


FRENCH LEAVE, to leave or depart slyly, without saying anything.

FRESH, said of a person slightly intoxicated.

FRISK, to search; FRISKED, searched by a constable or other officer.

FRISK A CLY, to empty a pocket.

FRIZZLE, champagne.

FROG, a policeman.


FROW, a girl, or wife. _German_, FRAU; _Dutch_, VROUW.

FRUMMAGEMMED, annihilated, strangled, garotted, or spoilt.—_Old cant._

FRUMP, a slatternly woman, a gossip.—_Ancient._

FRUMP, to mock, or insult.—_Beaumont and Fletcher._

FUDGE, nonsense, stupidity. _Todd and Richardson_ only trace the word
to _Goldsmith_. _Disraeli_, however, gives the origin to a Captain
Fudge, a great fibber, who told monstrous stories, which made his crew
say in answer to any improbability, “you FUDGE it!”—_See Remarks on the
Navy_, 1700.

FULLAMS, false dice, which always turn up high.—_Shakes._

FULLY, “to be FULLIED,” to be committed for trial. From the slang of
the penny-a-liner, “the prisoner was _fully_ committed for trial.”

FUNK, to smoke out.—_North._

FUNK, trepidation, nervousness, cowardice. To FUNK, to be afraid, or

FUNNY-BONE, the extremity of the elbow—or rather, the muscle which
passes round it between the two bones, a blow on which causes painful
tingling in the fingers. Facetiously derived, from its being the
extremity of the _humerus_ (humorous).

FYE-BUCK, a sixpence. _Nearly obsolete._

GAB, GABBER, or GABBLE, talk; “gift of the GAB,” loquacity, or natural
talent for speech-making.—_Anglo Norman._

GAD, a trapesing, slatternly woman.—_Gipsey._ _Anglo Saxon_, GADELYNG.

GADDING THE HOOF, going without shoes. GADDING, roaming about, although
used in an old translation of the Bible, is now only heard amongst the
lower orders.

GAFF, a fair, or penny-playhouse.—_See_ PENNY GAFF.

GAFFING, tossing halfpence, or counters.—_North_, where it means
tossing up three pennies.

GALENY, old cant term for a fowl of any kind; now a respectable word in
the West of England, signifying a Guinea fowl.—_Vide Grose._ _Latin_,

GALLAVANT, to wait upon the ladies.—_Old._

GALORE, abundance. _Irish_, GO LEOR, in plenty.

GALLOWS, very, or exceedingly—a disgusting exclamation; “GALLOWS poor,”
very poor.

GAME, a term variously applied; “are you GAME?” have you courage
enough? “what’s your little GAME?” what are you going to do? “come,
none of your GAMES,” be quiet, don’t annoy me; “on the GAME,” out

GAMMON, to hoax, to deceive merrily, to laugh at a person, to tell
an untrue but plausible story, to make game of, or in the provincial
dialect, to make GAME ON; “who’s thou makin’ thy GAM’ ON?” _i.e._, who
are you making a fool of?—_Yorkshire._

GAMMON, deceit, humbug, a false and ridiculous story. _Anglo Saxon_,
GAMEN, game, sport.

GAMMY, bad, unfavourable, poor tempered. Those householders who are
known enemies to the street folk and tramps, are pronounced by them to
be GAMMY. GAMMY sometimes means forged, as “GAMMY-MONEKER,” a forged
signature; GAMMY STUFF, spurious medicine; GAMMY LOWR, counterfeit
coin. _Hants_, GAMY, dirty. The hieroglyphic used by beggars and
cadgers to intimate to those of the tribe coming after that things are
not very favourable, is known as □, or GAMMY.

GAMMY-VIAL (Ville), a town where the police will not let persons hawk.

GANDER MONTH, the period when the monthly nurse is in the ascendant,
and the husband has to shift for himself.

GAR, euphuistic corruption of the title of the Deity; “be GAR, you
don’t say so!”—_Franco-English._

GARRET, the head.

GARRET, the fob pocket.

GARGLE, medical student Slang for physic.

GAS, “to give a person GAS,” to scold him or give him a good beating.
Synonymous with “to give him JESSIE.”

GASSY, liable to “flare up” at any offence.

GATTER, beer; “shant of GATTER,” a pot of beer. A curious street
melody, brimful and running over with slang, known in Seven Dials as
_Bet, the Coaley’s Daughter_, thus mentions the word in a favourite

  “But when I strove my flame to tell
    Says she, ‘_Come, stow that patter_,’
  If you’re a _cove_ wot likes a gal
    Vy don’t you _stand_ some GATTER?
  _In course_ I instantly complied—
    Two brimming quarts of porter,
  With four _goes_ of gin beside,
    Drained Bet the Coaley’s daughter.”

GAWFS, cheap red-skinned apples, a favourite fruit with costermongers,
who rub them well with a piece of cloth, and find ready purchasers.

GAWKY, a lanky, or awkward person; a fool. _Saxon_, GEAC; _Scotch_,

GAY, loose, dissipated; “GAY woman,” a kept mistress, or prostitute.

GEE, to agree with, or be congenial to a person.

GEN, a shilling. Also, GENT, silver. Abbreviation of the _French_,

GENT, a contraction of “gentleman,”—in more senses than one. A dressy,
showy, foppish man, with a little mind, who vulgarises the prevailing

GENT, silver. From the _French_, ARGENT.

GET-UP, a person’s appearance, or general arrangements. Probably
derived from the decorations of a play.

  “There’s so much GETTING UP to please the town,
  It takes a precious deal of coming down.”

  _Planché’s Mr. Buckstone’s Ascent of Parnassus._

GHOST, “the GHOST does’nt walk,” _i.e._, the manager is too poor to pay
salaries as yet.—_Theat.; Ho. Words, No. 183._

GIB-FACE, properly the lower lip of a horse; “TO HANG ONE’S GIB,” to
pout the lower lip, be angry or sullen.

GIBBERISH, unmeaning jargon; the language of the Gipseys, synonymous
with SLANG, another _Gipsey_ word. Somner says, “_French_, GABBER;
_Dutch_, GABBEREN; and our own GAB, GABBER; hence also, I take it,
our GIBBERISH, a kind of canting language used by a sort of rogues
we vulgarly call Gipseys, a _gibble gabble_ understood only among
themselves.”—_Gipsey._ _See Introduction._

GIFFLE GAFFLE, nonsense.—See CHAFF. _Icelandic_, GAFLA.

GIFT, any article which has been stolen and afterwards sold at a low

GIG, a farthing. Formerly, GRIG.

GIG, fun, frolic, a spree.

  “In search of _lark_, or some delicious gig,
  The mind delights on, when ’tis in _prime twig_.”

  _Randall’s Diary_, 1820.

GIGLAMPS, spectacles. In my first edition I stated this to be a
_University_ term. Mr. CUTHBERT BEDE, however, in a communication
to _Notes and Queries_, of which I have availed myself in the
present edition, says—“If the compiler has taken this epithet from
_Verdant Green_, I can only say that I consider the word not to be a
‘University’ word in general, but as only due to the inventive genius
of Mr. Bouncer in particular.” The term, however, has been adopted, and
is now in general use.

GILL, a homely woman; “Jack and GILL,” &c.—_Ben Jonson._

GILLS, the lower part of the face.—_Bacon._ “To grease one’s GILLS,”
“to have a good feed,” or make a hearty meal.

GILLS, shirt collars.

GILT, money. _German_, GELD; _Dutch_, GELT.

GIMCRACK, a bijou, a slim piece of mechanism. _Old slang_ for “a spruce
wench.”—_N. Bailey._

GIN AND GOSPEL GAZETTE, the _Morning Advertiser_, so called from
its being the organ of the dissenting party, and of the Licensed
Victuallers’ Association. Sometimes termed the TAP TUB, or the ’TIZER.

GINGER, a showy, fast horse—as if he had been FIGGED with GINGER under
his tail.

GINGERLY, to do anything with great care.—_Cotgrave._

GINGER HACKLED, having flaxen light yellow hair.—_See_ HACKLE.

GINGUMBOB, a bauble.

GIVE, to strike or scold; “I’ll GIVE it to you,” I will thrash you.
Formerly, _to rob_.

GLASGOW MAGISTRATES, salt herrings.—_Scotch._

GLAZE, glass—generally applied to windows.

GLIM, a light, a lamp; “dowse the GLIM,” put the candle out.—_Sea, and
old cant._

GLIM LURK, a begging paper, giving a certified account of a dreadful
fire—which never happened.

GLOAK, a man.—_Scotch._

GLUMP, to sulk.

GLUMPISH, of a stubborn, sulky temper.

GNOSTICS, knowing ones, or sharpers. _Nearly obsolete in this vulgar

GO, a GO of gin, a quartern of that liquor; GO is also synonymous with
circumstance or occurrence; “a rummy GO,” and “a great GO,” signify
curious and remarkable occurrences; “no GO,” no good; “here’s a pretty
GO!” here’s a trouble! “to GO the jump,” to enter a house by the
window; “all the GO,” in fashion.—_See_ LITTLE GO.

  “Gemmen (says he), you all well know
  The joy there is whene’er we meet;
  It’s what I call the primest GO,
  And rightly named, ’tis—‘quite a treat.’”

  _Jack Randall’s Diary_, 1820.

GO-ALONG, a thief.—_Household Words_, No. 183.

GOB, the mouth; mucus, or saliva.—_North._ Sometimes used for GAB, talk—

  “There was a man called _Job,_
  Dwelt in the land of Uz;
  He had a good gift of the GOB;
  The same case happen us.”


GOB, a portion.

GODS, the people in the upper gallery of a theatre; “up amongst the
GODS,” a seat amongst the low persons in the gallery—so named from the
high position of the gallery, and the blue sky generally painted on the
ceiling of the theatre; termed by the _French_, PARADIS.

GODS, the quadrats used by printers in throwing on the imposing stone,
similar to the movement in casting dice.—_Printers’ term._

GO IT, a term of encouragement, implying “keep it up!” Sometimes
amplified to GO IT, YE CRIPPLES; said to have been a facetious
rendering of the last line of _Virgil’s Eclogues_—

  “Ite domum Saturæ, Venit Hesperus, _ite capellæ_;”


GOLDFINCH, a sovereign.

GOLGOTHA, a hat, “place of a skull.”

GOLOPSHUS, splendid, delicious, luscious.—_Norwich._

GOOSE, to ruin, or spoil. Also, to hiss a play.—_Theatrical._

GOOSE, a tailor’s pressing iron.—Originally a slang term, but now in
most dictionaries.

GOOSEBERRY, to “play up old GOOSEBERRY” with any one, to defeat or
silence a person in a quick or summary manner.

GOOSECAP, a booby, or noodle.—_Devonshire._

GOOSER, a settler, or finishing blow.

GORMED, a Norfolk corruption of a profane oath. So used by Mr.
Peggotty, one of Dickens’ characters.

GORGER, a swell, a well dressed, or _gorgeous_ man—probably derived
from that word.

GOSPEL GRINDER, a city missionary, or tract distributor.

GOSS, a hat—from the gossamer silk with which modern hats are made.

GONNOF, or GUN, a fool, a bungler, an amateur pickpocket. A
correspondent thinks this may be a corruption of _gone off_, on the
analogy of GO-ALONG; but the term is really as old as _Chaucer’s_ time.
During Kett’s rebellion in Norfolk, in the reign of Edward VI., a song
was sung by the insurgents in which the term occurs—

  “The country GNOFFES, Hob, Dick, and Hick,
    With clubbes and clouted shoon,
  Shall fill up Dussyn dale
    With slaughtered bodies soone.”

GOUROCK HAM, salt herrings. Gourock, on the Clyde, about twenty-five
miles from Glasgow, was formerly a great fishing village.—_Scotch._


GOVERNOR, a father, a master or superior person, an elder; “which way,
GUV’NER, to Cheapside?”

GRABB, to clutch, or seize.

GRABBED, caught, apprehended.

GRABBERS, the hands.

GRACE-CARD, the ace of hearts.

GRAFT, to work; “where are you GRAFTING?” _i.e._, where do you live, or

GRANNY, to know, or recognise; “de ye GRANNY the bloke?” do you know
the man?

GRANNY, importance, knowledge, pride; “take the GRANNY off them as has
white hands,” viz., remove their self-conceit.—_Mayhew_, vol. i., p.

GRAPPLING IRONS, fingers.—_Sea._

GRASS, “gone to GRASS,” dead,—a coarse allusion to _burial_; absconded,
or disappeared suddenly; “oh, go to GRASS,” a common answer to a
troublesome or inquisitive person,—possibly a corruption of “go to
GRACE,” meaning, of course, a directly opposite fate.

GRASS-WIDOW, an unmarried mother; a deserted mistress. In the United
States, during the gold fever in California, it was common for an
adventurer to put both his GRASS-WIDOW and his children to _school_
during his absence.

GRAVEL, to confound, to bother; “I’m GRAVELLED,” _i.e._, perplexed or

GRAVEL-RASH, a scratched face,—telling its tale of a drunken fall.

GRAY-COAT-PARSON, a lay impropriator, or lessee of great tithes.

GRAYS, or SCOTCH GRAYS, lice.—_Scotch._

GRAYS, halfpennies, with either two “heads” or two “tails,”—both sides
alike. _Low gamblers_ use GRAYS, and they cost from 2d. to 6d. each.

GREASE-SPOT, a minute remnant, the only distinguishable remains of an
antagonist after a terrific contest.

GREASING a man is bribing; SOAPING is flattering him.

GREEKS, the low Irish. ST. GILES’ GREEK, slang or cant language.
_Cotgrave_ gives MERIE GREEK as a definition for a roystering fellow, a
drunkard.—_Shakespere._—_See_ MEDICAL GREEK.

GREEN, ignorant, not wide awake, inexperienced.—_Shakespere._ “Do you
see any GREEN in my eye?” ironical question in a dispute.

GREEN-HORN, a fresh, simple, or uninitiated person.

GRIDDLER, a person who sings in the streets without a printed copy of
the words.

GRIEF, “to come to GRIEF,” to meet with an accident, be ruined.

GRIFFIN, in India, a newly arrived cadet; general for an inexperienced
youngster. “Fast” young men in London frequently term an umbrella a

GRIND, “to take a GRIND,” _i.e._, a walk, or

GRIND, to work up for an examination, to cram with a GRINDER, or
private tutor.—MEDICAL.

GRINDERS, teeth.

GROGGY, tipsy; when a prize-fighter becomes “weak on his pins,” and
nearly beaten, he is said to be GROGGY.—_Pugilistic._ The same term is
applied to horses in a similar condition. _Old English_, AGGROGGYD,
weighed down, oppressed.—_Prompt. Parvulorum._

GRUB, meat, or food, of any kind,—GRUB signifying food, and BUB, drink.

GRUBBING-KEN, or SPINIKIN, a workhouse; a cook-shop.

GRUBBY, musty, or old-fashioned.—_Devonshire._

GULFED, a University term, denoting that a man is unable to enter for
the classical examination, from having failed in the mathematical.
Candidates for classical honours were compelled to go in for both
examinations. From the alteration of the arrangements the term is now

GULPIN, a weak, credulous fellow.

GUMMY, thick, fat—generally applied to a woman’s ancles, or to a man
whose flabby person betokens him a drunkard.

GUMPTION, or RUMGUMPTION, comprehension, capacity. From GAUM, to
comprehend; “I canna GAUGE it, and I canna GAUM it,” as a Yorkshire
exciseman said of a hedgehog.

GURRELL, a fob.

GUTTER BLOOD, a low or vulgar man—_Scotch._

GUTTER LANE, the throat.

GUY, a fright, a dowdy, an ill-dressed person. Derived from the effigy
of Guy Fawkes carried about by boys on Nov. 5.

GYP, an undergraduate’s valet at _Cambridge_. Corruption of GYPSEY JOE
(_Saturday Review_); popularly derived by Cantabs from the _Greek_,
GYPS (γύπς), a vulture, from their dishonest rapacity. At _Oxford_ they
are called SCOUTS.

HACKLE, “to show HACKLE,” to be willing to fight. HACKLES are the
long feathers on the back of a cock’s neck, which he erects when
angry,—hence the metaphor.

HADDOCK, a purse.—_See_ BEANS.

HALF A BEAN, half a sovereign.

HALF A BULL, two shillings and sixpence.

HALF A COUTER, half a sovereign.

HALF A HOG, sixpence; sometimes termed HALF A GRUNTER.

HALF A STRETCH, six months in prison.

HALF A TUSHEROON, half a crown.

HALF AND HALF, a mixture of ale and porter, much affected by medical
students; occasionally _Latinized_ into DIMIDIUM DIMIDIUMQUE.—_See_

HALF BAKED, soft, doughy, half-witted, silly.

HALF FOOLISH, ridiculous; means often _wholly_ foolish.


HALF ROCKED, silly, half-witted.—Compare HALF BAKED.

HALF SEAS OVER, reeling drunk.—_Sea._ Used by _Swift_.

HAND, a workman, or helper, a person. “A cool HAND,” explained by Sir
Thomas Overbury to be “one who accounts bashfulness the wickedest thing
in the world, and therefore studies impudence.”

HANDER, a second, or assistant, in a prize fight.

HANDLE, a nose; the title appended to a person’s name; also a term in
boxing, “HANDLING one’s fists.”

HAND-SAW, or CHIVE FENCER, a man who sells razors and knives in the

HANDSELLER, or CHEAP JACK, a street or open air seller, a man who
carries goods to his customers, instead of waiting for his customers to
visit him.

HANG OUT, to reside,—in allusion to the ancient custom of _hanging out_

HANGMAN’S WAGES, thirteenpence halfpenny.

HANSEL, or HANDSALE, the _lucky money_, or first money taken in the
morning by a pedlar.—_Cocker’s Dictionary_, 1724. “Legs of mutton
(street term for sheep’s trotters, or feet) two for a penny; who’ll
give me a HANSEL? who’ll give me a HANSEL?”—_Cry at Cloth Fair at the
present day._ Hence, earnest money, first fruits, &c. In Norfolk,
HANSELLING a thing, is using it for the first time, as wearing a new
coat, taking seizin of it, as it were.—_Anglo Saxon._ _N. Bailey._

HA’PURTH OF LIVELINESS, the music at a low concert, or theatre.

HARD LINES, hardship, difficulty.—_Soldiers’ term_ for hard duty on the
_lines_ in front of the enemy.

HARD UP, in distress, poverty stricken.—_Sea._

HARD-UPS, cigar-end finders, who collect the refuse pieces of smoked
cigars from the gutter, and having dried them, sell them as tobacco to
the very poor.

HARRY, or OLD HARRY (_i.e._ _Old Hairy_?) the Devil; “to play OLD HARRY
with one,” _i.e._, ruin or annoy him.

HARRY-SOPH (ἐρίσοφος, very wise indeed), an undergraduate in his last
year of residence.—_Cambridge._

HASH, a mess, confusion; “a pretty HASH he made of it;” to HASH UP, to
jumble together without order or regularity.

HATCHET, “to throw the HATCHET,” to tell lies.

HAWSE HOLES, the apertures in a ship’s bows through which the cables
pass; “he has crept in through the HAWSE-HOLES,” said of an officer who
has risen from the grade of an ordinary seaman.—_Navy._

HAY BAG, a woman.

HAZY, intoxicated.—_Household Words_, No. 183.

HEAD OR TAIL, “I can’t make HEAD OR TAIL of it,” _i.e._, cannot make it

HEAP, “a HEAP of people,” a crowd; “struck all of a HEAP,” suddenly

HEAVY WET, porter or beer,—because the more a man drinks of it, the
heavier he becomes.

HEDGE, to secure a doubtful bet by making others.—_Turf._

HEEL-TAPS, small quantities of wine or other beverage left in the
bottom of glasses, considered as a sign that the liquor is not liked,
and therefore unfriendly and unsocial to the host and the company.

HEIGH HO! a cant term for stolen yarn, from the expression used to
apprize the dishonest manufacturer that the speaker has stolen yarn to
sell.—_Norwich cant._

HELL, a fashionable gambling house. In printing offices, the term is
generally applied to the old tin box in which is thrown the broken
or spoilt type, purchased by the founders for re-casting. _Nearly

HEN AND CHICKENS, large and small pewter pots.

HEN-PECKED, said of one whose wife “wears the breeches.”

HERRING POND, the sea; “to be sent across the HERRING POND,” to be

HIDING, a thrashing. _Webster_ gives this word, but not its root, HIDE,
to beat, flay by whipping.

HIGGLEDY-PIGGLEDY, all together,—as hogs and pigs lie.

HIGH AND DRY, an epithet applied to the _soi disant_ “orthodox” clergy
of the last century, for whom, while ill-paid curates did the work, the
_comforts_ of the establishment were its greatest charms.

  “Wherein are various ranks, and due degrees,
  The Bench for honour, and the Stall for ease.”

Though often confounded with, they are utterly dissimilar to, the
modern High Church or Anglo-Catholic party. Their equally uninteresting
opponents deserved the corresponding appellation of LOW AND SLOW; while
the so-called “Broad Church” is defined with equal felicity as the

HIGH FLY, “ON THE HIGH FLY,” on the begging or cadging system.

HIGH JINKS, “ON THE HIGH JINKS,” taking up an arrogant position,
assuming an undue superiority.

HIGH-FLYER, a genteel beggar, or swindler.

HIGH FLYERS, large swings, in frames, at fairs and races.

HIGH-LOWS, laced boots reaching a trifle higher than ancle-jacks.

HIGHFALUTEN, showy, affected, tinselled, affecting certain pompous or
fashionable airs, stuck up; “come, none of yer HIGHFALUTEN games,”
_i.e._, you must not show off or imitate the swell here.—_American_
slang from the _Dutch_, VERLOOTEN.

HIP INSIDE, inside coat pocket.

HIP OUTSIDE, outside coat pocket.

HIVITE, a student of St. Begh’s College, Cumberland; pronounced ST.

HOAX, to deceive, or ridicule,—_Grose_ says was originally a
_University_ cant word. Corruption of HOCUS, to cheat.

HOCKS, the feet; CURBY HOCKS, round or clumsy feet.

HOCUS, to drug a person, and then rob him. The HOCUS generally consists
of snuff and beer.

HOCUS POCUS, Gipsey words of magic, similar to the modern “presto
fly.” The Gipseys pronounce “_Habeas Corpus_,” HAWCUS PACCUS (_see
Crabb’s Gipsey’s Advocate_, p. 18); can this have anything to do with
the origin of HOCUS POCUS? _Turner_ gives OCHUS BOCHUS, an old demon.
Pegge, however, states that it is a burlesque rendering of the words
of the unreformed church service at the delivery of the host, HOC
EST CORPUS, which the early Protestants considered as a species of
conjuring, and ridiculed accordingly.

HODGE, a countryman or provincial clown. I don’t know that it has
been elsewhere remarked, but most country districts in England have
one or more families of the name of HODGE; indeed, GILES and HODGE
appear to be the favourite hobnail nomenclature. Not in any way writing
disrespectfully, was the slang word taken from Hog—with the _g_ soft,
which gives the _dg_ pronunciation? In old canting dictionaries HODGE
stands for a country clown; so, indeed, does ROGER, another favourite
provincial name.—_Vide Bacchus and Venus._

HOG, “to go the whole HOG,” to do anything with a person’s entire
strength, not “by halves;” realised by the phrase “in for a penny in
for a pound.” _Bartlett_ claims this to be a pure _American_ phrase;
whilst _Ker_, of course, gives it a _Dutch_ origin.—_Old._

HOG, a shilling.—_Old cant._

HOISTING, shoplifting.

HOLLOW, “to beat HOLLOW,” to excel.

HOLY LAND, Seven Dials,—where the St. Giles’ Greek is spoken.

HOOK, to steal or rob.—_See the following._

HOOK OR BY CROOK, by fair means or foul—in allusion to the hook which
footpads used to carry to steal from open windows, &c., and from which
HOOK, to take or steal, has been derived. Mentioned in _Hudibras_ as a
cant term.

HOOK IT, “get out of the way,” or “be off about your business;” “TO
HOOK IT,” to run away, to decamp; “on one’s own HOOK,” dependant upon
one’s own exertions.—_See the preceding for derivation._

HOOKS, “dropped off the HOOKS,” said of a deceased person—derived from
the ancient practice of suspending on hooks the quarters of a traitor
or felon sentenced by the old law to be hung, drawn, and quartered, and
which dropped off the hooks as they decayed.

HOOKEY WALKER! ejaculation of incredulity, usually shortened to
WALKER!—which see. A correspondent thinks HOOKEY WALKER may have been a
certain _Hugh K. Walker_.

HOOK-UM SNIVEY (formerly “hook _and_ snivey”), a low expression meaning
to cheat by feigning sickness or other means. Also a piece of thick
iron wire crooked at one end, and fastened into a wooden handle, for
the purpose of undoing from the outside the wooden bolt of a door.

HOP, a dance.—_Fashionable slang._

HOP THE TWIG, to run away, or BOLT, which see.—_Old._

HOP-MERCHANT, a dancing-master.

HOPPING GILES, a cripple. St. Ægidius or Giles, himself similarly
afflicted, was their patron saint. The ancient lazar houses were
dedicated to him.

HORRID HORN, term of reproach amongst the street Irish, meaning a fool,
or half-witted fellow. From the _Erse_ OMADHAUN, a brainless fellow. A
correspondent suggests HERRIDAN, a miserable old woman.

HORRORS, the low spirits, or “blue devils,” which follow intoxication.

HORSE, contraction of Horsemonger-lane Gaol.

HORSE CHAUNTER, a dealer who takes worthless horses to country fairs
and disposes of them by artifice. He is flexible in his ethics, and
will put in a glass-eye, or perform other tricks.—_See_ COPER.

HORSE NAILS, money.—_Compare_ BRADS.

HORSE’S NIGHTCAP, a halter; “to die in a HORSE’S NIGHTCAP,” to be hung.

HORSE MARINE, an awkward person. In ancient times the “JOLLIES” or
Royal Marines, were the butts of the sailors, from their ignorance of
seamanship. “Tell that to the MARINES, the blue jackets won’t believe
it!” was a common rejoinder to a “stiff yarn.” Now-a-days they are
deservedly appreciated as the finest regiment in the service. A HORSE
MARINE (an impossibility) was used to denote one more awkward still.

HOT COPPERS, the feverish sensations experienced next morning by those
who have been drunk over night.

HOT TIGER, an Oxford mixture of hot-spiced ale and sherry.

HOUSE OF COMMONS, a water-closet.

HOXTER, an inside pocket.—_Old English_, OXTER.

HUEY, a town or village.

HUFF, to vex, or offend; a poor temper.

HUFF, a dodge or trick; “don’t try that HUFF on me,” or “that HUFF
won’t do.”—_Norwich._

HULK, to hang about in hopes of an invitation.—_See_ MOOCH.

HULKY, extra sized.—_Shropshire._

HUM AND HAW, to hesitate, raise objections.—_Old English._

HUMBLE PIE, to “eat HUMBLE PIE,” to knock under, be submissive. The
UMBLES, or entrails of a deer, were anciently made into a dish for
servants, while their masters feasted off the haunch.

HUMBUG, an imposition, or a person who imposes upon others. A very
expressive but slang word, synonymous at one time with HUM AND HAW.
Lexicographers have fought shy at adopting this word. Richardson uses
it frequently to express the meaning of other words, but omits it in
the alphabetical arrangement as unworthy of recognition! In the first
edition of this work, 1785 was given as the earliest date at which
the word could be found in a printed book. Since then I have traced
HUMBUG half a century farther back, on the title-page of a singular old
jest-book—“_The Universal Jester_; or a pocket companion for the Wits:
being a choice collection of merry conceits, facetious drolleries, &c.,
clenchers, closers, closures, bon-mots, and HUMBUGS,” by _Ferdinando
Killigrew_. London, about 1735–40.

I have also ascertained that the famous Orator Henley was known to the
mob as ORATOR HUMBUG. The fact may be learnt from an illustration in
that exceedingly curious little collection of _Caricatures_, published
in 1757, many of which were sketched by Lord Bolingbroke—Horace
Walpole filling in the names and explanations. _Halliwell_ describes
HUMBUG as “a person who hums,” and cites Dean Milles’ MS., which was
written about 1760. It has been stated that the word is a corruption
of Hamburgh, from which town so many false bulletins and reports
came during the war in the last century. “Oh, that is _Hamburgh_ [or
HUMBUG],” was the answer to any fresh piece of news which smacked of
improbability. _Grose_ mentions it in his Dictionary, 1785; and in a
little printed squib, published in 1808, entitled _Bath Characters_, by
_T. Goosequill_, HUMBUG is thus mentioned in a comical couplet on the
title page:—

  “Wee Thre Bath Deities bee,
  HUMBUG, Follie, and Varietee.”

Gradually from this time the word began to assume a place in periodical
literature, and in novels not written by squeamish or over-precise
authors. In the preface to a flat, and, I fear, unprofitable poem,
entitled, _The Reign of_ HUMBUG, _a Satire_, 8vo., 1836, the author
thus apologises for the use of the word—“I have used the term HUMBUG
to designate this principle [wretched sophistry of life generally],
considering that it is now adopted into our language as much as
the words _dunce_, _jockey_, _cheat_, _swindler_, &c., which were
formerly only colloquial terms.” A correspondent, who in a late number
of _Adersaria_ ingeniously traced _bombast_ to the inflated Doctor
Paracelsus Bombast, considers that HUMBUG may, in like manner, be
derived from _Homberg_, the distinguished chemist of the court of the
Duke of Orleans, who, according to the following passage from Bishop
Berkeley’s “Siris,” was an ardent and successful seeker after the
philosopher’s stone!

  “§ 194.—Of this there cannot be a better proof than the experiment of
  ITS PORES, but at such trouble and expense, that, I suppose, nobody
  will try the experiment for profit. By this injunction of light and
  mercury, both bodies became fixed, and produced a third different to
  either, to wit, real gold. For the truth of which FACT I refer to the
  memoirs of the French Academy of Sciences.”—_Berkeley’s Works_, vol.
  ii., p. 366, (Wright’s edition).

The universal use of this term is remarkable; in California there is a
town called _Humbug Flat_—a name which gives a significant hint of the
acuteness of the first settler.

HUM-DRUM, tedious, tiresome, boring; “a society of gentlemen who used
to meet near the Charter House, or at the King’s Head, St. John’s
street. They were characterised by less mystery and more pleasantry
than the Freemasons.”—_Bacchus and Venus_, 1737. In the _West_ a low

HUMP, to botch, or spoil.

HUMP UP, “to have one’s HUMP UP,” to be cross or ill-tempered—like a
cat with its back set up.—_See_ MONKEY.

HUMPTY DUMPTY, short and thick.

HUNCH, to shove, or jostle.

HUNTER PITCHING, cockshies, or three throws a penny.—_See_ COCKSHY.

HUNTING THE SQUIRREL, when hackney and stage coachmen try to upset each
other’s vehicles on the public roads. _Nearly obsolete._

HURDY-GURDY, a droning musical instrument shaped like a large fiddle,
and turned by a crank, used by Savoyards and itinerant foreign
musicians in England, now nearly superseded by the hand-organ. A
correspondent suggests that the name is derived from being _girded_ on
the HARDIES, loins or buttocks.—_Scotch_; _Tam o’Shanter_. In _Italy_
the instrument is called VIOLA.

HUSH-MONEY, a sum given to quash a prosecution or evidence.

HUSH-SHOP, or CRIB, a shop where beer or spirits is sold “on the
quiet”—no licence being paid.

HYPS, or HYPO, the blue devils. _From Hypochondriasis._—SWIFT.

IN, “to be IN with a person,” to be even with, or UP to him.

IN FOR IT, in trouble or difficulty of any kind.

IN FOR PATTER, waiting for trial.

the nether garments.

INNINGS, earnings, money coming in; “he’s had long INNINGS,” _i.e._, a
good run of luck, plenty of cash flowing in.

INSIDE LINING, dinner, &c.

INTERESTING, “to be in an INTERESTING situation,” applied to females
when _enceinte_.

INTO, “hold my hat, Jim, I’ll be INTO him,” _i.e._, I will fight him.
In this sense equivalent to PITCH INTO or SLIP INTO.

INVITE, an invitation—a corruption used by stuck-up people of mushroom

IPSAL DIXAL, Cockney corruption of _ipse dixit_—said of one’s simple
uncorroborated assertion.

IT’S GOOD ON THE STAR, it’s easy to open.

IVORIES, teeth; “a box” or “cage of IVORIES,” a set of teeth, the
mouth; “wash your IVORIES,” _i.e._, “drink.” The word is also used to
denote DICE.

JABBER, to talk, or chatter. A cant word in _Swift’s_ time.

JACK, a low prostitute.

JACK KETCH, the public hangman.—_See_ KETCH.

JACK SPRAT, a diminutive boy or man.

JACK TAR, a sailor.

JACK-AT-A-PINCH, one whose assistance is only sought on an emergency;
JACK-IN-THE-WATER, an attendant at the watermen’s stairs on the river
and sea-port towns, who does not mind wetting his feet for a customer’s
convenience, in consideration of a douceur.

JACKS, HALF JACKS, card counters, resembling in size and appearance
sovereigns and half-sovereigns, for which they are occasionally passed
to simple persons. In large gambling establishments the “heaps of gold”
are frequently composed mainly of JACKS.

JACKETING, a thrashing.

JACKEY, gin.

JACOB, a ladder. _Grose_ says from Jacob’s dream.—_Old cant._

JAGGER, a gentleman.—_German_, JAGER, a sportsman.

JAIL-BIRD, a prisoner, one who has been in jail.

JAMES, a sovereign, or twenty shillings.

JANNOCK, sociable, fair dealing.—_Norfolk._

JAPAN, to ordain.—_University._

JARK, a seal, or watch ornament.—_Ancient cant._

JARVEY, the driver of a hackney coach; JARVEY’S UPPER BENJAMIN, a
coachman’s over-coat.

JAW, speech, or talk; “hold your JAW,” don’t speak any more; “what are
you JAWING about?” _i.e._, what are you making a noise about?

JAW-BREAKERS, hard or many-syllabled words.

JAZEY, a wig. A corruption of JERSEY, the name for flax prepared in a
peculiar manner, and of which common wigs were formerly made.

JEAMES, (a generic for “flunkies,”) the _Morning Post_ newspaper—the
organ of Belgravia and the “Haristocracy.”

JEHU, old slang term for a coachman, or one fond of driving.

JEMMY, a crowbar.

JEMMY, a sheep’s head.—_See_ SANGUINARY JAMES.


JERRY, a beer house.

JERRY, a chamber utensil, abbreviation of JEROBOAM.—_Swift_.
JERRY-COME-TUMBLE, a water-closet.

JERRY, a fog.


JESSIE, “to give a person JESSIE,” to beat him soundly.—_See_ GAS.

JEW’S EYE, a popular simile for anything valuable. Probably a
corruption of the _Italian_, GIOJE; _French_, JOUAILLE, a jewel. In
ancient times, when a king was short of cash, he generally issued
orders for so many _Jew’s eyes_, or equivalent sums of money. The Jews
preferred paying the ransom, although often very heavy. We thus realise
the popularly believed origin of JEW’S EYE. Used by _Shakespere_.

JEW-FENCER, a Jew street salesman.

JIB, the face, or a person’s expression; “the cut of his JIB,” _i.e._
his peculiar appearance. The sail of a ship, which in position and
shape corresponds to the nose on a person’s face.—_See_ GIB.—_Sea._

JIB, or JIBBER, a horse that starts or shrinks. _Shakespere_ uses it in
the sense of a worn out horse.

JIBB, the tongue.—_Gipsey and Hindoo._

JIFFY, “in a JIFFY,” in a moment.

JIGGER, a secret still, illicit spirits.—_Scotch._

JIGGER, “I’m JIGGERED if you will,” a common form of mild
swearing.—_See_ SNIGGER.

JIGGER, a door; “dub the JIGGER,” shut the door. _Ancient cant_, GYGER.
In billiards the _bridge_ on the table is often termed the JIGGER.

JIGGER-DUBBERS, term applied to jailors or turnkeys.

JILT, a crowbar or housebreaking implement.

JINGO, “by JINGO,” a common form of oath, said to be a corruption of
_St. Gingoulph_.—_Vide Halliwell._

JOB, a short piece of work, a prospect of employment. _Johnson_
describes JOB as a low word, without etymology. It is, and was,
however, a cant word, and a JOB, two centuries ago, was an arranged
robbery. Even at the present day it is mainly confined to the streets,
in the sense of employment for a short time. Amongst undertakers a JOB
signifies a funeral; “to do a JOB,” conduct any one’s funeral; “by
the JOB,” _i.e._, _piece_-work, as opposed to _time_-work. A JOB in
political phraseology is a Government office or contract, obtained by
secret influence or favouritism.

To JOE BLAKE THE BARTLEMY, to visit a low woman.

JOEY, a fourpenny piece. The term is derived (like BOBBY from Sir
Robert Peel) from Joseph Hume, the late respected M.P. The explanation
is thus given in _Hawkins’ History of the Silver Coinage of England_.

  “These pieces are said to have owed their existence to the pressing
  instance of Mr. Hume, from whence they, for some time, bore the
  nickname of JOEYS. As they were very convenient to pay short cab
  fares, the Hon. M.P. was extremely unpopular with the drivers,
  who frequently received only a _groat_ where otherwise they would
  have received a sixpence without any demand for change.” The term
  originated with the London cabmen, who have invented many others.

JOG-TROT, a slow but regular trot, or pace.

JOGUL, to play up, at cards or other game. _Spanish_, JUGAR.

JOHN THOMAS, a generic for “flunkies,”—footmen popularly represented
with large calves and bushy whiskers.

JOLLY, a word of praise, or favourable notice; “chuck Harry a JOLLY,
Bill!” _i.e._, go and praise up his goods, or buy of him, and speak
well of the article, that the crowd standing around his stall may
think it a good opportunity to lay out their money. “Chuck a JOLLY,”
literally translated, is to throw a shout or a good word.

JOLLY, a Royal Marine.—_See_ HORSE MARINE.

JOMER, a sweetheart, or favourite girl.—_See_ BLOWER.

JORDAN, a chamber utensil.—_Saxon._

JOSKIN, a countryman.

JUG, a prison, or jail.

JUMP, to seize, or rob; “to JUMP a man,” to pounce upon him, and either
rob or maltreat him; “to JUMP a house,” to rob it.—_See_ GO.

JUNIPER, gin.—_Household Words_, No. 183.

JUNK, salt beef.—_See_ OLD HORSE.

KEEL-HAULING, a good thrashing or mauling, rough treatment,—from the
old nautical custom of punishing offenders by throwing them overboard
with a rope attached and hauling them up from under the ship’s keel.

KEEP IT UP, to prolong a debauch, or the occasion of a rejoicing—a
metaphor drawn from the game of shuttlecock.—_Grose._

KEN, a house.—_Ancient cant._ KHAN, _Gipsey_ and _Oriental_.

⁂ All slang and cant words which end in KEN, such as SPIELKEN,
SPINIKEN, BAWDYKEN, or BOOZINGKEN, refer to _houses_, and are partly of
_Gipsey_ origin.

KEN-CRACKERS, housebreakers.

KENNEDY, to strike or kill with a poker. A St. Giles’ term, so given
from a man of that name being killed by a poker. Frequently shortened

KENT RAG, or CLOUT, a cotton handkerchief.

KERTEVER-CARTZO, the venereal disease. From the _Lingua Franca_,
CATTIVO, bad, and CAZZO, the male generative organ.

KETCH, or JACK KETCH, the popular name for a public hangman—derived
from a person of that name who officiated in the reign of Charles
II.—_See Macaulay’s History of England_, p. 626.

KIBOSH, nonsense, stuff, humbug; “it’s all KIBOSH,” _i.e._, palaver
or nonsense; “to put on the KIBOSH,” to run down, slander, degrade,
&c.—_See_ BOSH.

KICK, a moment; “I’ll be there in a KICK,” _i.e._, in a minute.

KICK, a sixpence; “two and a KICK,” two shillings and sixpence.

KICK, a pocket.

KICK THE BUCKET, to die.—_Norfolk._ According to Forby, a metaphor
taken from the descent of a well or mine, which is of course absurd.
The Rev. E. S. Taylor supplies me with the following note from his MS.
additions to the work of the East-Anglian lexicographer:—

  “The allusion is to the way in which a slaughtered pig is hung up,
  viz., by passing the ends of a bent piece of wood behind the tendons
  of the hind legs, and so suspending it to a hook in a beam above.
  This piece of wood is locally termed _a bucket_, and so by a coarse
  metaphor the phrase came to signify to die. Compare the Norfolk
  phrase “as wrong as a bucket.”

The natives of the West Indies have converted the expression into

KICK-UP, a noise or disturbance.

KICK UP, “to KICK UP a _row_,” to create a tumult.

KICKSHAWS, trifles; made, or French dishes—not English, or substantial.
Corruption of the _French_, QUELQUES CHOSES.

KICKSIES, trousers.

KICKSY, troublesome, disagreeable.

KID, an infant, or child.

KID, to joke, to quiz, to hoax anybody.

KID-ON, to entice, or incite a person on to the perpetration of an act.

KID-RIG, cheating children in the streets sent on errands, or entrusted
with packages. _Nearly obsolete._

KIDDEN, a low lodging house for boys.

KIDDIER, a pork-butcher.

KIDDILY, fashionably, or showily; “KIDDILY togg’d,” showily dressed.

KIDDLEYWINK, a small shop where they retail the commodities of a
village store. Also, a loose woman.

KIDDY, a man or boy. Formerly a low thief.

KIDDYISH, frolicsome, jovial.

  “Think on the KIDDYISH spree we had on such a day.”

  _Randall’s Diary_, 1820.

KIDMENT, a pocket-handkerchief fastened to the pocket, and partially
hung out to entrap thieves.

KIDNAPPER, one who steals children or adults. From KID, a child, and
NAB (corrupted to NAP), to steal, or seize.

KIDNEY, “of that KIDNEY,” of such a stamp: “strange KIDNEY,” odd
humour; “two of a KIDNEY,” two persons of a sort, or as like as two
peas, _i.e._, resembling each other like two kidneys in a bunch.—_Old._
“Attempt to put their hair out of KIDNEY.”—_Terræ Filius_, 1763.

KIDSMAN, one who trains boys to thieve and pick pockets successfully.

KILKENNY CAT, a popular simile for a voracious or desperate animal or
person, from the story of the two cats in that county, who are said to
have fought and bitten each other until a small portion of the tail of
one of them alone remained.

KILLING, bewitching, fascinating. The term is akin to the phrase
“dressing to DEATH.”

KIMBO, or A-KIMBO, holding the arms in a bent position from the body,
and resting the hands upon the hips, in a bullying attitude. Said to be
from A SCHEMBO, _Italian_; but more probably from KIMBAW, the old cant
for beating, or bullying.—_See Grose._

KINCHIN, a child.—_Old cant._ From the _German_ diminutive, KINDCHEN, a

KINCHIN COVE, a man who robs children; a little man.—_Ancient cant._

KINGSMAN, the favourite coloured neckerchief of the costermongers. The
women wear them thrown over their shoulders. With both sexes they are
more valued than any other article of clothing. A coster’s _caste_,
or position, is at stake, he imagines, if his KINGSMAN is not of the
most approved pattern. When he fights, his KINGSMAN is tied either
around his waist as a belt, or as a garter around his leg. This very
singular partiality for a peculiar coloured neckcloth was doubtless
derived from the Gipseys, and probably refers to an Oriental taste
or custom long forgotten by these vagabonds. A singular similarity
of taste for certain colours exists amongst the Hindoos, Gipseys,
and London costermongers. Red and yellow (or orange) are the great
favourites, and in these hues the Hindoo selects his turban and his
robe; the Gipsey his breeches, and his wife her shawl or gown; and the
costermonger his plush waistcoat and favourite KINGSMAN. Amongst either
class, when a fight takes place, the greatest regard is paid to the
favourite coloured article of dress. The Hindoo lays aside his turban,
the Gipsey folds up his scarlet breeches or coat, whilst the pugilistic
costermonger of Covent Garden or Billingsgate, as we have just seen,
removes his favourite neckerchief to a part of his body, by the rules
of the “ring,” comparatively out of danger. Amongst the various
patterns of kerchiefs worn by the wandering tribes of London, red
and yellow are the oldest and most in fashion. Blue, intermixed with
spots, is a late importation, probably from the Navy, through sporting

KING’S PICTURES (now, of course, QUEEN’S PICTURES), money.

KISKY, drunk, fuddled.

KISS CURL, a small curl twisted on the temple.—_See_ BOW-CATCHER.

KISS-ME-QUICK, the name given to the very small bonnets worn by females
since 1850.


KNACKER, an old horse; a horse slaughterer.—_Gloucestershire._

KNAP, to receive, to take, to steal.

KNAPPING-JIGGER, a turnpike-gate; “to dub at the KNAPPING-JIGGER,” to
pay money at the turnpike.

KNARK, a hard-hearted or savage person.

KNIFE, “to KNIFE a person,” to stab, an un-English but now-a-days a
very common expression.

KNIFE IT, “cut it,” cease, stop, don’t proceed.

KNIFE-BOARD, the seat running along the roof of an omnibus.

KNIGHT, a common and ironical prefix to a man’s calling,—thus, “KNIGHT
of the whip,” a coachman; “KNIGHT of the thimble,” a tailor.

KNOCK ABOUT THE BUB, to hand or pass about the drink.

KNOCK DOWN, or KNOCK ME DOWN, strong ale.

KNOCK OFF, to give over, or abandon. A saying used by workmen about
dinner, or other meal times, for upwards of two centuries.

KNOCKED UP, tired, jaded, used up, done for. In the United States,
amongst females, the phrase is equivalent to being _enceinte_, so that
Englishmen often unconsciously commit themselves when amongst our
Yankee cousins.

KNOCK-IN, the game of _loo_.

KNOCK-OUTS, or KNOCK-INS, disreputable persons who visit auction
rooms and unite to buy the articles at their own prices. One of their
number is instructed to buy for the rest, and after a few small bids
as blinds to the auctioneer and bystanders, the lot is knocked down to
the KNOCK-OUT bidders, at a nominal price—the competition to result
from an auction being thus frustrated and set aside. At the conclusion
of the sale the goods are paid for, and carried to some neighbouring
public house, where they are re-sold or KNOCKED-OUT, and the difference
between the first purchase and the second—or tap-room KNOCK-OUT—is
divided amongst the gang. As generally happens with ill-gotten
gains, the money soon finds its way to the landlord’s pocket, and
the KNOCK-OUT is rewarded with a red nose or a bloated face. Cunning
tradesmen join the KNOCK-OUTS when an opportunity for money making
presents itself. The lowest description of KNOCK-OUTS, fellows with
more tongue than capital, are termed BABES,—which see.

KNOCKING-SHOP, a brothel, or disreputable house frequented by

KNOWING, a slang term for sharpness; “KNOWING codger,” or “a KNOWING
blade,” one who can take you in, or cheat you, in any transaction you
may have with him. It implies also deep cunning and foresight, and
generally signifies dishonesty.

  “Who, on a spree with black eyed Sal, his blowen,
  So swell, so prime, so nutty and so KNOWING.”

  _Don Juan._

KNOWLEDGE-BOX, the head.—_Pugilistic._

KNUCKLE, to pick pockets after the most approved method.

KNUCKLE TO, or KNUCKLE UNDER, to yield or submit.

KNUCKLER, a pickpocket.

KNULLER, old term for a chimney-sweep, who solicited jobs by ringing
a bell. From the _Saxon_, CNYLLAN, to knell, or sound a bell.—_See_

KOTOOING, misapplied flattery.—_Illustrated London News_, 7th January,

KYPSEY, a basket.

LA! a euphuistic rendering of LORD, common amongst females and very
precise persons; imagined by many to be a corruption of LOOK! but this
is a mistake. Sometimes pronounced LAW, or LAWKS.

LACING, a beating. From the phrase “I’ll LACE your
jacket.”—_L’Estrange._ Perhaps to give a beating with a _lace_ or

LADDER, “can’t see a hole in a LADDER,” said of any one who is

LADDLE, a lady. Term with chimney-sweeps on the 1st of May. A
correspondent suggests that the term may come from the brass _ladles_
for collecting money, always carried by the sweeps’ ladies.

LAG, a returned transport, or ticket-of-leave convict.

LAG, to void urine.—_Ancient cant._

LAGGED, transported for a crime.

LAGGER, a sailor.

LAME DUCK, a stock jobber who speculates beyond his capital and cannot
pay his losses. Upon retiring from the Exchange he is said to “waddle
out of the Alley.”

LAMMING, a beating.—_Old English_, LAM; used by _Beaumont and Fletcher_.

LAND LUBBER, sea term for a “landsman.”—_See_ LOAFER.

LAND-SHARK, a sailor’s definition of a lawyer.

LAP THE GUTTER, to get drunk.

LARK, fun, a joke; “let’s have a jolly good LARK,” let us have a
piece of fun. _Mayhew_ calls it “a convenient word covering much
mischief.”—_Anglo Saxon_, LAC, sport; but more probably from the
nautical term SKYLARKING, _i.e._, mounting to the highest yards and
sliding down the ropes for amusement, which is allowed on certain

LARRUP, to beat, or thrash.

LARRUPING, a good beating or “hiding.”—_Irish._

LATCHPAN, the lower lip—properly a dripping pan; “to hang one’s
LATCHPAN,” to pout, be sulky.—_Norfolk._

LAVENDER, “to be laid up in LAVENDER,” in pawn; or, when a person is
out of the way for an especial purpose.—_Old._

LAY, to watch; “on the LAY,” on the look out—_Shakespere._

LED CAPTAIN, a fashionable spunger, a swell who, by artifice
ingratiates himself into the good graces of the master of the house,
and lives at his table.

LEARY, to look, or be watchful; shy.—_Old cant._

LEARY, flash, or knowing.

LEARY BLOAK, a person who dresses showily.

LEATHER, to beat or thrash. From the leather belt worn by soldiers and
policemen, often used as a weapon in street rows.

LEAVING SHOP, an unlicensed house where goods are taken in to pawn at
exorbitant rates of interest.—_Daily Telegraph_, 1st August, 1859.

LEEF, “I’d as LEEF do it as not,” _i.e._, I have no objection to do
it.—_Corruption_ of LIEF, or LEAVE. _Old English_, LIEF, inclined to.

LEG IT, to run; LEG BAIL, to run off; “to give a LEG,” to assist, as
when one mounts a horse; “making a LEG,” a countryman’s bow,—projecting
the leg from behind as a balance to the head bent forward.—_Shakespere._

LEGGED, in irons.

LEGS, or BLACKLEGS, disreputable sporting characters, and race-course

LEGS OF MUTTON, inflated street term for sheeps’ trotters, or feet.

LENGTH, forty-two lines of a dramatic composition.—_Theat._

LENGTH, six months’ imprisonment.—_See_ STRETCH.

LET DRIVE, to strike, or attack with vigour.

LET IN, to cheat or victimise.

LET ON, to give an intimation of having some knowledge of a subject.
_Ramsay_ employs the phrase in the _Gentle Shepherd_. Common in

LETTY, a bed. _Italian_, LETTO.

LEVANTER, a card sharper, or defaulting gambler. A correspondent states
that it was formerly the custom to give out to the creditors, when a
person was in pecuniary difficulties, and it was convenient for him to
keep away, that he was gone to the _East_, or the LEVANT; hence, when
one loses a bet, and decamps without settling, he is said to LEVANT.

LICK, a blow; LICKING, a beating; “to put in big LICKS,” a curious and
common phrase meaning that great exertions are being made.—_Dryden;

LICK, to excel, or overcome; “if you aint sharp he’ll LICK you,”
_i.e._, be finished first. Signifies, also, to whip, chastise, or
conquer. _Ancient cant_, LYCKE.

LIFER, a convict who is sentenced to transportation _for life_.

LIFT, to steal, pick pockets; “there’s a clock been LIFTED,” said when
a watch has been stolen. The word is as old as the Border forays, and
is used by _Shakespere_. SHOPLIFTER is a recognised term.

LIGHT, “to be able to get a LIGHT at a house” is to get credit.

LIGHT-FEEDERS, silver spoons.

LIGHTS, a “cake,” a fool, a soft or “doughy” person.

LIGHTS, the eyes.

LIGHTNING, gin; “FLASH O’ LIGHTNING,” a glass of gin.

LIMB OF THE LAW, a lawyer, or clerk articled to that profession.

LINE, calling, trade, profession; “what LINE are you in?” “the building

LINGO, talk, or language. Slang is termed LINGO amongst the lower
orders. _Italian_, LINGUA.

LIP, bounce, impudence; “come, none o’ yer LIP!”

LIQUOR, or LIQUOR UP, to drink drams.—_Americanism._ IN LIQUOR, tipsy,
or drunk.

LITTLE GO, the “Previous Examination,” at Cambridge the first
University examination for undergraduates in their second year of
matriculation. At Oxford, the corresponding term is THE SMALLS.

LITTLE SNAKES-MAN, a little thief, who is generally passed through a
small aperture to open any door to let in the rest of the gang.

LIVE-STOCK, vermin of the _insect_ kind.

LOAFER, a lazy vagabond. Generally considered an _Americanism_. LOPER,
or LOAFER, however, was in general use as a cant term in the early
part of the last century. LAND-LOPER, was a vagabond who begged in the
attire of a sailor; and the sea phrase, LAND-LUBBER, was doubtless
synonymous.—_See the Times_, 3rd November, 1859, for a reference to

LOAVER, money.—_See_ LOUR.

LOB, a till, or money drawer.

LOBB, the head.—_Pugilistic._

LOBLOLLY, gruel.—_Old_: used by _Markham_ as a sea term for grit gruel,
or hasty pudding.

LOBLOLLY BOY, a derisive term for a surgeon’s mate in the navy.

LOBS, words.—_Gipsey._

LOBSTER, a soldier. A _policeman_ from the colour of his coat is styled
an _unboiled_, or _raw_ LOBSTER.

LOBSTER-BOX, a barrack, or military station.

LOLLY, the head.—_See_ LOBB.—_Pugilistic._

LONG-BOW, “to draw,” or “shoot with the LONG BOW,” to exaggerate.

LONG-TAILED-ONES, bank notes, or FLIMSIES, for a large amount.

LOOF FAKER, a chimney-sweep.—_See_ FLUE FAKER.


LOOT, swag, or plunder.—_Hindoo._

LOP-SIDED, uneven, one side larger than the other.—_Old._

LOPE, this old form of _leap_ is often heard in the streets.

LORD, “drunk as a LORD,” a common saying, probably referring to the
facilities a man of fortune has for such a gratification; perhaps a sly
sarcasm at the supposed habits of the “haristocracy.”

LORD, a hump-backed man.—_See_ MY LORD.

LORD OF THE MANOR, a sixpence.

LOUD, flashy, showy, as applied to dress or manner.—_See_ BAGS.

LOUR, or LOWR, money; “gammy LOWR,” bad money.—_Ancient cant_, and

LOUSE-TRAP, a small tooth comb.—_Old cant._—_See_ CATCH ’EM ALIVE.

LOVE, at billiards “five to none” would be “five LOVE,”—a LOVE being
the same as when one player does not score at all.

LOVEAGE, tap droppings, a mixture of spirits, sweetened and sold to
habitual dram-drinkers, principally females. Called also ALLS.

LUBBER, a clown, or fool.—_Ancient cant_, LUBBARE.

LUBBER’S HOLE, an aperture in the maintop of a ship, by which a timid
climber may avoid the difficulties of the “futtock shrouds”—hence, a
sea term for any cowardly way of evading duty.

LUCK, “down on one’s LUCK,” wanting money, or in difficulty.

LUCKY, “to cut one’s LUCKY,” to go away quickly.—_See_ STRIKE.

LUG, “my togs are in LUG,” _i.e._, in pawn.

LUG, the ear.—_Scotch._

LUG, to pull, or slake thirst.—_Old._

LUG CHOVEY, a pawnbroker’s shop.

LULLY PRIGGERS, rogues who steal wet clothes hung on lines to dry.

LUMBER, to pawn or pledge.—_Household Words_, No. 183.

LUMMY, jolly, first-rate.

LUMPER, a contractor. On the river, more especially a person who
contracts to deliver a ship laden with timber.

LUMP THE LIGHTER, to be transported.

LUMP WORK, work contracted for, or taken by the _lump_.

LUMPERS, low thieves who haunt wharves and docks, and rob vessels;
persons who sell old goods for new.

LUMPY, intoxicated.

LUNAN, a girl.—_Gipsey._

LURK, a sham, swindle, or representation of feigned distress.

LURKER, an impostor who travels the country with false certificates of
fires, shipwrecks, &c.

LUSH, intoxicating drinks of all kinds, but generally used for beer.
The _Globe_, 8th September, 1859, says “LUSH and its derivatives claim
_Lushington_, the brewer, as sponsor.”

LUSH, to drink, or get drunk.

LUSH-CRIB, a public house.

LUSHINGTON, a drunkard, or one who continually soaks himself with
drams, and pints of beer. Some years since there was a “Lushington
Club” in Bow-street, Covent Garden.

LUSHY, intoxicated. Johnson says “opposite to pale,” so red with drink.

MAB, a cab, or hackney coach.

MACE, a dressy swindler who victimizes tradesmen.

MACE, to spunge, swindle, or beg, in a polite way; “give it him (a
shopkeeper) on the MACE,” _i.e._, obtain goods on credit and never pay
for them; also termed “striking the MACE.”

MADZA, half. _Italian_, MEZZA. This word enters into combination with
various cant phrases, mainly taken from the _Lingua Franca_, as MADZA
CAROON, half-a-crown, two-and-sixpence; MADZA SALTEE, a halfpenny
[_see_ SALTEE]; MADZA POONA, half-a-sovereign; MADZA ROUND THE BULL,
half-a-pound of steak, &c.

MAG, a halfpenny.—_Ancient cant_, MAKE. MEGGS were formerly
guineas.—_B. M. Carew._

MAG, to talk. A corruption of NAG.—_Old_; hence MAGPIE.

MAGGOTTY, fanciful, fidgetty. Whims and fancies were formerly termed
MAGGOTS, from the popular belief that a maggot in the brain was the
cause of any odd notion or caprice a person might exhibit.

MAGSMAN, a street swindler, who watches for countrymen and “gullable”

MAHOGANY, “to have one’s feet under another man’s MAHOGANY,” to sit at
his table, be supported on other than one’s own resources; “amputate
your MAHOGANY,” _i.e._, go away, or “cut your stick.”

MAIN-TOBY, the highway, or the main road.

MAKE, a successful theft, or swindle.

MAKE, to steal.

MAKE UP, personal appearance.—_Theatrical._

MANG, to talk.—_Scotch._

MARE’S NEST, a Cockney discovery of marvels, which turn out no marvels
at all. An old preacher in Cornwall, up to very lately employed a
different version, viz.: “a cow calving up in a tree.”

MARINATED, transported;—from the salt-pickling fish undergo in
Cornwall.—_Old cant._

MARINE, or MARINE RECRUIT, an empty bottle. This expression having once
been used in the presence of an officer of marines, he was at first
inclined to take it as an insult, until some one adroitly appeased his
wrath by remarking that no offence could be meant, as all that it could
possibly imply was, “one who had done his duty, and was ready to do it
again.”—_See_ HORSE MARINE.—_Naval._

MARRIAGE LINES, a marriage certificate.—_Provincial._


MARYGOLD, one million sterling.—_See_ PLUM.

MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS, when the leader of the House of Commons
goes through the doleful operation of devoting to extinction a number
of useful measures at the end of the session, for want of time to pass
them.—_Vide Times_, 20th July, 1859: Mr. C. Foster, on altering the
time of the legislative sessions.—_Parliamentary slang._

MATE, the term a coster or low person applies to a friend, partner, or
companion; “me and my MATE did so and so,” is a common phrase with a
low Londoner.—Originally a _Sea term_.

MAULEY, a signature, from MAULEY, a fist; “put your FIST to it,” is
sometimes said by a low tradesman when desiring a fellow trader to put
his signature to a bill or note.

MAULEY, a fist, that with which one strikes as with a

MAUND, to beg; “MAUNDERING on the fly,” begging of people in the
streets.—_Old cant._ MAUNG, to beg, is a term in use amongst the
_Gipseys_, and may also be found in the _Hindoo_ Vocabulary. MAUND,
however, is pure _Anglo Saxon_, from MAND, a basket. Compare “beg,”
which is derived from BAG, a curious parallel.

MAW, the mouth; “hold your MAW,” cease talking.

MAX, gin; MAX-UPON TICK, gin obtained upon credit.

M. B. COAT, _i.e._, _Mark of the Beast_, a name given to the long
surtout worn by the clergy,—a modern Puritan form of abuse, said to
have been accidentally disclosed to a Tractarian customer by a tailor’s
orders to his foreman.

MEALY-MOUTHED, plausible, deceitful.

MEDICAL GREEK, the slang used by medical students at the hospitals. At
the London University they have a way of disguising English, described
by Albert Smith as the _Gower-street Dialect_, which consists in
transposing the initials of words, _e.g._, “_poke a smipe_”—smoke a
pipe, “_flutter-by_”—butterfly, &c. This disagreeable nonsense is often
termed MARROWSKYING.—_See_ GREEK, St. Giles’ Greek, or the “_Ægidiac_”
dialect, Language of ZIPH, &c.

MENAGERY, the orchestra of a theatre.—_Theatrical._

MIDDY, abbreviation of MIDSHIPMAN.—_Naval._

MIDGE NET, a lady’s veil.

MIKE, to loiter; or, as a costermonger defined it, to “lazy about.” The
term probably originated at St. Giles’, which used to be thronged with
Irish labourers (Mike being so common a term with them as to become a
generic appellation for Irishmen with the vulgar) who used to loiter
about the Pound, and lean against the public-houses in the “Dials”
waiting for hire.

MILKY ONES, white linen rags.

MILL, a fight, or SET TO. _Ancient cant_, MYLL, to rob.

MILL, to fight or beat.

MILL, the tread_mill_, prison.

MILL-TOG, a shirt—most likely the prison garment.

MISH, a shirt, or chemise. From COMMISSION, the _Ancient cant_ for
a shirt, afterwards shortened to K’MISH or SMISH, and then to MISH.
_French_, CHEMISE; _Italian_, CAMICIA.

  “With his snowy CAMESE and his shaggy capote.”—_Byron._

MITTENS, fists.—_Pugilistic._

MIZZLE, to run away, or decamp; to disappear as in a mist. From MIZZLE,
a drizzling rain; a Scotch mist.

  “And then one _mizzling_ Michaelmas night
  The Count he MIZZLED too.”—_Hood._

MOB. Swift informs us, in his _Art of Polite Conversation_, that MOB
was, in his time, the slang abbreviation of _Mobility_, just as NOB is
of _Nobility_ at the present day.—_See_ SCHOOL.

MOBILITY, the populace; or, according to _Burke_, the “great unwashed.”
_Johnson_ calls it a cant term, although _Swift_ notices it as a proper

MOBS, companions; MOBSMEN, dressy swindlers.

MOKE, a donkey.—_Gipsey._

MOKO, a name given by sportsmen to pheasants killed by mistake in
partridge shooting during September, before the pheasant shooting comes
in. They pull out their tails, and roundly assert they are no pheasants
at all, but MOKOS.

MOLL, a girl; nickname for Mary.—_Old cant._

MOLL’D, followed, or accompanied by a woman.

MOLLISHER, a low girl or woman; generally a female cohabiting with a
man, and jointly getting their living by thieving.

MOLLSACK, a reticule, or market basket.

MOLL-TOOLER, a female pickpocket.

MOLLYCODDLE, an effeminate man; one who caudles amongst the women, or
does their work.

MOLLYGRUBS, or MULLIGRUBS, stomach-ache, or sorrow—which to the
costermonger is much the same, as he believes, like the ancients, that
the viscera is the seat of all feeling.

MOLROWING, “out on the _spree_,” in company with so-called “gay women.”
In allusion to the amatory serenadings of the London cats.

MONEKEER, a person’s name or signature.

MONKEY, spirit, or ill temper; “to get one’s MONKEY up,” to rouse his
passion. A man is said to have his MONKEY up, or the MONKEY on his
back, when he is “_riled_,” or out of temper; also to have his BACK or
HUMP up.

MONKEY, a padlock.

MONKEY, the instrument which drives a rocket.—_Army._

MONKEY, £500.

MONKEY WITH A LONG TAIL, a mortgage.—_Legal._

MONKEY’S ALLOWANCE, to get blows instead of alms, more kicks than

MONKERY, the country, or rural districts. _Old_ word for a quiet, or
monastic life.—_Hall._

MOOCH, to sponge; to obtrude yourself upon friends just when they
are about to sit down to dinner, or other lucky time—of course quite
accidentally.—Compare HULK. To slink away, and allow your friend to pay
for the entertainment. _In Wiltshire_, ON THE MOUTCH is to shuffle.

MOOCHING, or ON THE MOOCH, on the look out for any articles or
circumstances which may be turned to a profitable account; watching in
the streets for odd jobs, scraps, horses to hold, &c.

MOOE, the mouth; the female generative organ.—_Gipsey_ and _Hindoo_.
_Shakespere_ has MOE, to make mouths.

MOON, a month—generally used to express the length of time a person has
been sentenced by the magistrate; thus “ONE MOON” is one month.—_See_
DRAG. It is a curious fact that the Indians of America and the roaming
vagabonds of England should both calculate time by the MOON.

MOONEY, intoxicated.—_Household Words_, No. 183.

MOONLIGHT, or MOONSHINE, smuggled gin.

MOONSHINE, palaver, deception, humbug.

MOP, a hiring place (or fair) for servants. Steps are being taken
to put down these assemblages, which have been proved to be greatly
detrimental to the morality of the poor.

MOP UP, to drink, or empty a glass.—_Old._

MOPS AND BROOMS, intoxicated.—_Ho. Words_, No. 183.

MOPUSSES, money; “MOPUSSES ran taper,” money ran short.

MORRIS, to decamp, be off. Probably from the ancient MORESCO, or MORRIS

MORTAR-BOARD, the term given by the vulgar to the square college caps.

MOTT, a girl of indifferent character. Formerly _Mort_. _Dutch_,
MOTT-KAST, a harlotry.

MOUNTAIN-DEW, whisky, advertised as from the Highlands.

MOUNTAIN PECKER, a sheep’s head.—_See_ JEMMY.

MOUNTER, a false swearer. Derived from the borrowed clothes men used to
MOUNT, or dress in, when going to swear for a consideration.

MOUTHPIECE, a lawyer, or counsel.

MOVE, a “dodge,” or cunning trick; “up to a move or two,” acquainted
with tricks.

MRS. JONES, the house of office, a water-closet.

MRS. HARRIS and MRS. GAMP, nicknames of the _Morning Herald_ and
_Standard_ newspapers, while united under the proprietorship of Mr.
Baldwin. MRS. GAMP, a monthly nurse, was a character in Mr. Charles
Dickens’ popular novel of _Martin Chuzzlewit_, who continually quoted
an imaginary _Mrs. Harris_ in attestation of the superiority of her
qualifications, and the infallibility of her opinions; and thus
afforded a parallel to the two newspapers, who appealed to each other
as independent authorities, being all the while the production of the
same editorial staff.

MUCK, to beat, or excel; “it’s no use, luck’s set in him; he’d MUCK
a thousand.”—_Mayhew_, vol. i, p. 18. TO RUN A MUCK, or GO A MUCKER,
to rush headlong into certain ruin. From a certain religious phrenzy,
which is common among the Malays, causing one of them, kreese in hand,
to dash into a crowd and devote every one to death he meets with, until
he is himself killed, or falls from exhaustion—_Malay_, AMOK, slaughter.

MUCK OUT, to clean out,—often applied to one utterly ruining an
adversary in gambling. From the _Provincial_ MUCK, dirt.

MUCK-SNIPE, one who has been “MUCKED OUT,” or beggared, at gambling.

MUCKENDER, or MUCKENGER, a pocket handkerchief.—_Old._

MUDFOG, “The British Association for the Promotion of

MUD-LARKS, men and women who, with their clothes tucked above knee,
grovel through the mud on the banks of the Thames, when the tide is
low, for silver spoons, old bottles, pieces of iron, coal, or any
articles of the least value, deposited by the retiring tide, either
from passing ships or the sewers. Occasionally those men who cleanse
the sewers, with great boots and sou’ wester hats.

MUFF, a silly, or weak-minded person; MUFF has been defined to be “a
soft thing that holds a lady’s hand without squeezing it.”

MUFFIN-WORRY, an old ladies’ tea party.

MUFTI, the civilian dress of a naval or military officer when off
duty.—_Anglo Indian._

MUG, to fight, or chastise.

MUG, “to MUG oneself,” to get tipsy.

MUG, the mouth, or face.—_Old._

MUGGING, a thrashing,—synonymous with slogging, both terms of the
“ring,” and frequently used by fighting men.

MUGGY, drunk.

MUG-UP, to paint one’s face.—_Theatrical._ To “cram” for an

MULL, “to make a MULL of it,” to spoil anything, or make a fool of



MUMMER, a performer at a travelling theatre.—_Ancient._ Rustic
performers at Christmas in the West of England.

MUMPER, a beggar.—_Gipsey._ Possibly a corruption of MUMMER.

MUNDUNGUS, trashy tobacco. _Spanish_, MONDONGO, black pudding.

MUNGARLY, bread, food. MUNG is an _old word_ for mixed food, but
MUNGARLY is doubtless derived from the _Lingua Franca_, MANGIAR, to
eat.—See the following.

MUNGARLY CASA, a baker’s shop; evidently a corruption of some _Lingua
Franca_ phrase for an eating house. The well known “Nix mangiare”
stairs at Malta derive their name from the endless beggars who lie
there and shout NIX MANGIARE, _i.e._, “nothing to eat,” to excite the
compassion of the English who land there,—an expression which exhibits
remarkably the mongrel composition of the _Lingua Franca_, MANGIARE
being _Italian_, and _Nix_ an evident importation from Trieste, or
other Austrian seaport.

MUNGING, or “MOUNGING,” whining, begging, muttering.—_North._

MUNS, the mouth. _German_, MUND.—_Old cant._

MURERK, the mistress of the house.—_See_ BURERK.

MURKARKER, a monkey,—vulgar cockney pronunciation of MACAUCO, a species
of monkey. _Jackey Macauco_ was the name of a famous fighting monkey,
which used about thirty years ago to display his prowess at the
Westminster pit, where, after having killed many dogs, he was at last
“chawed up” by a bull terrier.

MURPHY, a potato. Probably from the Irish national liking for potatoes,
MURPHY being a common surname amongst the Irish.—_See_ MIKE. MURPHIES
(_edible_) are sometimes called DUNNAMANS.

MURPHY, “in the arms of MURPHY,” _i.e._, fast asleep. Corruption of

MUSH, an umbrella. Contraction of _mushroom_.

MUSH, (or MUSHROOM) FAKER, an itinerant mender of umbrellas.

MUSLIN, a woman or girl; “he picked up a bit of MUSLIN.”

MUTTON, a lewd woman.—_Shakespere._

MUTTON-WALK, the saloon at Drury Lane Theatre.

MUZZLE, to fight or thrash.

MUZZLE, the mouth.

MUZZY, intoxicated.—_Household Words_, No. 183.

MY AUNT, a water-closet, or house of office.

MY LORD, a nickname given to a hunchback.

MY TULIP, a term of endearment used by the lower orders to persons and
animals; “kim up, MY TULIP,” as the coster said to his donkey when
thrashing him with an ash stick.

MY UNCLE, the pawnbroker,—generally used when any person questions the
whereabouts of a domestic article, “Oh! only at MY UNCLE’S” is the
reply. UP THE SPOUT has the same meaning.

NAB, to catch, to seize; “NAB the rust,” to take offence.—_Ancient_,
fourteenth century.

NABOB, an Eastern prince, a retired Indian official,—hence a slang term
for a capitalist.

NAIL, to steal, or capture; “paid on the NAIL,” _i.e._, ready money;
NAILED, taken up, or caught—probably in allusion to the practice of
NAILING bad money to the counter. We say “as dead as a DOOR-NAIL;”—why?
_Shakespere_ has the expression in Henry IV.—

  “_Falstaff._ What! is the old king dead?
  _Pistol._ As nail in door.”

A correspondent thinks the expression is only alliterative humour, and
compares as “_Flat as a Flounder_,” “straight as a soldier,” &c.

NAM, a policeman. Evidently _back slang_.

NAMBY PAMBY, particular, over nice, effeminate. This, I think, was of
Pope’s invention, and first applied by him to the affected short-lined
verses addressed by Ambrose Phillips to Lord Carteret’s infant
children.—_See Johnson’s Life of Pope._

NAMUS, or NAMOUS, some one, _i.e._, “be off, somebody is coming.”—_Back
slang_, but general.—_See_ VAMOS.

NANNY-SHOP, a disreputable house.

NANTEE, not any, or “I have none.” _Italian_, NIENTE, nothing.—_See_

NANTEE PALAVER, no conversation, _i.e._, hold your tongue.—_Lingua
Franca._—See PALAVER.

NAP, or NAB, to take, steal, or receive; “you’ll NAP it,” _i.e._,
you will catch a beating!—_North_; also _old cant_.—_Bulwer’s Paul

NAP, or NAPPER, a hat. From NAB, a hat, cap, or head.—_Old cant._

NAP ONE’S BIB, to cry, shed tears, or carry one’s point.

NAP THE REGULARS, to divide the booty.

NAP THE TEAZE, to be privately whipped in prison.

NARK, a person in the pay of the police; a common informer; one who
gets his living by laying traps for publicans, &c.

NARK, to watch, or look after, “NARK the titter;” watch the girl.

NARP, a shirt.—_Scotch._

NARY ONE, provincial for NE’ER A ONE, neither.

NASTY, ill-tempered, cross-grained.

NATION, very, or exceedingly. Corruption of DAMNATION.

NATTY, pretty, neat, tidy.—_Old._

NATURAL, an idiot, a simpleton.

NECK, to swallow. NECK-OIL, drink of any kind.

NECK OR NOTHING, desperate.—_Racing phrase._

NEDDY, a life preserver.—Contraction of KENNEDY, the name of the
first man, it is said in St. Giles’, who had his head broken by a
poker.—_Vide Mornings at Bow Street._

NEDDY, a donkey.

NEDS, guineas. HALF-NEDS, half-guineas.

NED STOKES, the four of spades.—_North Hants._—_See Gentleman’s
Magazine_ for 1791, p. 141.

NEEDFUL, money, cash.

NEEDY, a nightly lodger, or tramp.

NEEDY MIZZLER, a shabby person; a tramp who runs away without paying
for his lodging.

NESTS, varieties.—_Old_.

NEVER-TRUST-ME, an ordinary phrase with low Londoners, and common in
Shakespere’s time, _vide Twelfth Night_. It is generally used instead
of an oath, calling vengeance on the asseverator, if such and such does
not come to pass.

NEWGATE FRINGE, or FRILL, the collar of beard worn under the chin; so
called from its occupying the position of the rope when Jack Ketch
operates. Another name for it is a TYBURN COLLAR.

NEWGATE KNOCKER, the term given to the lock of hair which costermongers
and thieves usually twist back towards the ear. The shape is supposed
to resemble the knocker on the prisoners’ door at Newgate—a resemblance
that would appear to carry a rather unpleasant suggestion to the
wearer. Sometimes termed a COBBLER’S KNOT, or cow-lick, which see.

NEWMARKET, in tossing halfpence, when it is agreed that the first toss
shall be decisive, the play is said to be NEWMARKET.

NIBBLE, to take, or steal. NIBBLER, a petty thief.

NIBS, the master, or chief person; a man with no means but high
pretensions,—a “shabby genteel.”

NICK, or OLD NICK, the evil spirit.—_Scandinavian._

NICK, to hit the mark; “he’s NICKED it,” _i.e._, won his point.

NICK-KNACK, a trifle.—Originally _cant_.

NIGGLING, trifling, or idling; taking short steps in walking.—_North._

NIL, half; half profits, &c.

NILLY-WILLY, _i.e._, _Nill ye, will ye_, whether you will or no, a
familiar version of the _Latin_, NOLENS VOLENS.

NIMMING, stealing. Immediately from the _German_, NEHMEN. Motherwell,
the Scotch poet, thought the old word NIM (to snatch or pick up) was
derived from _nam_, _nam_, the tiny words or cries of an infant, when
eating anything which pleases its little palate. A negro proverb has
the word:—

  “Buckra man _nam_ crab,
  Crab _nam_ buckra man.”

Or, in the buckra man’s language—

  “White man eat [or steal] the crab,
  And the crab eats the white man.”

NINCOMPOOP, a fool, a hen pecked husband, a “Jerry Sneak.”—Corruption
of _non compos mentis_.

NINE CORNS, a pipeful of tobacco.

NINES, “dressed up to the NINES,” in a showy or _recherché_ manner.

NINEPENCE, “right as NINEPENCE,” all right, right to a nicety.

NIP, to steal, take up quickly.

NIPPER, a small boy. _Old cant_ for a _boy_ cut-purse.

NIX, nothing, “NIX my doll,” synonymous with NIX. _German_, NICHTS,
nothing.—_See_ MUNGARLY.

NIX! the signal word of school boys to each other that the master, or
other person in authority, is approaching.

NIZZIE, a fool, a coxcomb.—_Old cant, vide Triumph of Wit_.

NOAH’S ARK, a long closely buttoned overcoat, recently in fashion. So
named by _Punch_ from the similarity which it exhibits to the figure of
Noah and his sons in children’s toy arks.

NOB, the head—_Pugilistic_; “BOB A NOB,” a shilling a head. _Ancient
cant_, NEB. NOB is an early English word, and is used in the Romance of
Kynge Alisaunder (thirteenth century) for a head; originally, no doubt,
the same as _knob_.

NOB, a person of high position, a “swell,” a _nob_leman,—of which word
it may be an abbreviation.—_See_ SNOB.

NOBBA, nine. _Italian_, NOVE; _Spanish_, NOVA,—the _b_ and _v_ being
interchangeable, as Se_b_astópol and Se_v_astópol.

NOBBA SALTEE, ninepence. _Lingua Franca_, NOVE SOLDI.

NOBBING, collecting money; “what NOBBINGS?” _i.e._, how much have you

NOBBLE, to cheat, to overreach; to discover.

NOBBLERS, confederates of thimble-rigs, who play earnestly as if
strangers to the “RIG,” and thus draw unsuspecting persons into a game.

NOBBY, or NOBBISH, fine or showy; NOBBILY, showily.—_See_ SNOB for

NOMMUS, be off.—_See_ NAMUS.

NO ODDS, no matter, of no consequence.—_Latimer’s sermon before Edward

NOSE, a thief who turns informer, or Queen’s evidence; a spy or watch;
“on the NOSE,” on the look out.

NOSE, “to pay through the NOSE,” to pay an extravagant price.

NOSE-BAGS, visitors at watering places, and houses of refreshment, who
carry their own victuals.—_Term applied by waiters._

NOSE EM, or FOGUS, tobacco.

NOSER, a bloody or contused nose.—_Pugilistic._

NOUSE, comprehension, perception.—_Old_, apparently from the _Greek_,

NUB, a husband.

NUDDIKIN, the head.

_For Cant Numerals, see under_ SALTEE.

NURSE, a curious term lately applied to competition in omnibuses. Two
omnibuses are placed on the road to NURSE, or oppose, each opposition
“buss,” one before, the other behind. Of course the central or NURSED
buss has very little chance, unless it happens to be a favourite with
the public. NURSE, to cheat, or swindle; trustees are said to NURSE
property, _i.e._, gradually eat it up themselves.

NUT, to be “off one’s NUT,” to be in liquor, or “ALL MOPS AND BROOMS.”

NUTS, to be NUTS upon anything or person is to be pleased with or fond
of it; a self-satisfied man is said to be NUTS upon himself. NUTTED,
taken in by a man who professed to be NUTS upon you.

NUTTY, amorous.

NYMPH OF THE PAVE (_French_, PAVÉ), a street-walker, a girl of the town.

OAK, the outer door of college rooms; to “sport one’s OAK,” to be “not
at home” to visitors.—_See_ SPORT.—_University._

OBFUSCATED, intoxicated.

OBSTROPOLOUS, Cockney corruption of _obstreperous_.

OCHRE, money, generally applied to _gold_, for a very obvious reason.

O’CLOCK, or A’CLOCK, “like ONE O’CLOCK,” a favourite comparison with
the lower orders, implying briskness; “to know what O’CLOCK it is,” to
be wide awake, sharp, and experienced.

ODD MAN, a street or public-house game at tossing. The number of
players is three. Each tosses up a coin, and if two come down head, and
one tail, or _vice versâ_, the last is ODD MAN, and loses or wins as
may have been agreed upon. Frequently used to victimise a “flat.” If
all three be alike, then the toss goes for nothing, and the coppers are
again “_skied_.”

OD DRAT IT, OD RABBIT (_Colman’s Broad Grins_), OD’S BLOOD, and all
other exclamations commencing with OD, are nothing but softened
or suppressed oaths. OD is a corruption of GOD, and DRAT of

OFF AND ON, vacillating; “an OFF AND ON kind of a chap,” one who is
always undecided.

OFF ONE’S FEED, real or pretended want of appetite.—_Stable slang._

OFFISH, distant, not familiar.

OFFICE, “to give the OFFICE,” to give a hint dishonestly to a
confederate, thereby enabling him to win a game or bet, the profits
being shared.

OGLE, to look, or reconnoitre.

OGLES, eyes.—_Old cant._ _French_, ŒIL.


OINTMENT, medical student slang for butter.

SCRATCH, all synonymes for the devil.

OLD GOWN, smuggled tea.

OLD HORSE, salt junk, or beef.—_Sea._

OLD TOM, gin.

OLIVER, the moon; “OLIVER don’t widdle,” _i.e._, the moon does not
shine. _Nearly obsolete._—_Bulwer’s Paul Clifford._

OMEE, a master or landlord; “the OMEE of the cassey’s a nark on the
pitch,” the master of the house will not let us perform. _Italian_,
UOMO, a man; “UOMO DELLA CASA,” the master of the house.

ON, “to be ON,” in public-house or vulgar parlance, is synonymous with
getting “tight,” or tipsy; “it’s _Saint Monday_ with him, I see he’s ON
again,” _i.e._, drunk as usual, or ON _the road_ to it.

ON THE FLY, getting one’s living by thieving or other illegitimate
means; the phrase is applied to men the same as ON THE LOOSE is to

ON THE LOOSE, obtaining a living by prostitution, in reality, on the
streets. The term is applied to females only, excepting in the case of
SPREES, when men carousing are sometimes said to be ON THE LOOSE.

ON THE NOSE, on the watch or look out.—_See_ NOSE.

ON THE SHELF, to be transported. With old maids it has another and very
different meaning.

ON THE TILES, out all night “on the spree,” or carousing,—in allusion
to the London cats on their amatory excursions.

ONE IN TEN, a parson.

ONE-ER, that which stands for ONE, a blow that requires no more. In
_Dickens’_ amusing work, the “Marchioness” tells Dick Swiveller that
“her missus is a ONE-ER at cards.”

ORACLE, “to work the ORACLE,” to plan, manœuvre, to succeed by a wily

OTTER, eightpence.—_Italian_, OTTO, eight.

OTTOMY, a thin man, a skeleton, a dwarf. Vulgar pronunciation of
_Anatomy_. _Shakespere_ has ’ATOMY.

OUT, a dram glass. The _habitué_ of a gin-shop, desirous of treating a
brace of friends, calls for a quartern of gin and three OUTS, by which
he means three glasses which will exactly contain the quartern.

OUT AND OUT, prime, excellent, of the first quality. OUT AND OUTER,
“one who is of an OUT AND OUT description,” UP to anything.

An ancient MS. has this couplet, which shows the antiquity of the

  “The Kyng was good alle aboute,
  And she was wycked _oute and oute_.”

OUT OF COLLAR, out of place,—in allusion to servants. When in place,
the term is COLLARED UP.—_Theatrical_ and _general_.

OUT ON THE LOOSE, “on the spree,” in search of adventures.

OUT ON THE PICKAROON. PICARONE is _Spanish_ for a thief, but this
phrase does not necessarily mean anything dishonest, but ready for
anything in the way of excitement to turn up; also to be in search of
anything profitable.

OUT-SIDER, a person who does not habitually bet, or is not admitted
to the “Ring.” Also, a horse whose name does not appear among the

OVER! or OVER THE LEFT, _i.e._, the left shoulder—a common exclamation
of disbelief in what is being narrated,—implying that the results of a
proposed plan will be “over the left,” _i.e._, in the wrong direction,
loss instead of gain.

OWNED, a canting expression used by the ultra-Evangelicals when a
popular preacher makes many converts. The converts themselves are
called his “SEALS.”

P’s AND Q’s, particular points, precise behaviour; “mind your P’S
AND Q’S,” be very careful. Originating, according to some, from the
similarity of p’s and q’s in the hornbook alphabet, and therefore the
warning of an old dame to her pupils; or, according to others, of a
French dancing master to his pupils, to mind their _pieds_ (feet) and
_queues_ (wigs) when making a bow.

PACK, to go away; “now, then, PACK off there,” _i.e._, be off, don’t
stop here any longer. _Old_, “_Make speede to flee, be_ PACKING _and
awaie_.”—_Baret’s Alvearie_, 1580.

PAD, “to stand PAD,” to beg with a small piece of paper pinned on the
breast, inscribed “I’m starving.”

PAD, the highway; a tramp.—_Lincolnshire._

PAD THE HOOF, to walk, not ride; “PADDING THE HOOF on the high toby,”
tramping or walking on the high road.

  “Trudge, plod away o’ the hoof.”

  _Merry Wives_, i., 3.

PADDING KENS, or CRIBS, tramps’ and boys’ lodging houses.

PADDLE, to go or run away.—_Household Words_, No. 183.

PADDY, PAT, or PADDY WHACK, an Irishman.

  “I’m PADDY WHACK, from Bally hack,
    Not long ago turned soldier;
  In storm and sack, in front attack,
    None other can be boulder.”

  _Irish Song._

PADRE, a clergyman.—_Anglo Indian._

PAL, a partner, acquaintance, friend, an accomplice. _Gipsey_, a

PALAVER, to ask, or talk,—not deceitfully, as the term usually
signifies; “PALAVER to the nibs for a shant of bivvy,” ask the master
for a quart of beer. In this sense used by _tramps_.—Derived from
_French_, PARLER.

PALL, to detect.

PALM OIL, or PALM SOAP, money.

PALMING, robbing shops by pairs,—one thief bargaining with apparent
intent to purchase, whilst the other watches his opportunity to steal.
An amusing example of PALMING came off some time since. A man entered
a “ready made” boot and shoe shop and desired to be shown a pair of
boots,—his companion staying outside and amusing himself by looking in
at the window. The one who required to be fresh shod was apparently
of a humble and deferential turn, for he placed his hat on the floor
directly he stepped in the shop. Boot after boot was tried on until at
last a fit was obtained,—when lo, forth came a man, snatched up the
customer’s hat left near the door, and down the street he ran as fast
as his legs could carry him. Away went the customer after his hat, and
Crispin, standing at the door, clapped his hands and shouted “go it,
you’ll catch him,”—little thinking that it was a concerted trick, and
that neither his boots nor the customer would ever return. PALMING
sometimes refers to secreting money or rings in the hand.

PAM, the knave of clubs; or, in street phraseology, Lord Palmerston.

PANNAM, food, bread.—_Lingua Franca_, PANNEN; _Latin_, PANIS; _Ancient
cant_, YANNAM.

PANNAM-BOUND, stopping the prison food or rations to a prisoner.
PANNAM-STRUCK, very hungry.

PANNIKIN, a small pan.

PANNY, a house—public or otherwise; “flash PANNY,” a public-house used
by thieves; PANNY MEN, housebreakers.

PANTILE, a hat. The term PANTILE is properly applied to the mould
into which the sugar is poured which is afterwards known as “loaf
sugar.” Thus, PANTILE, from whence comes the phrase “a sugar-loaf hat,”
originally signified a tall, conical hat, in shape similar to that
usually represented as the head gear of a bandit. From PANTILE, the
more modern slang term TILE has been derived. _Halliwell_ gives PANTILE
SHOP, a meeting-house.

PANTILER, a dissenting preacher. Probably from the practice of the
Quakers, and many dissenters, of not removing the hat in a place of

PAPER MAKERS, rag gatherers and gutter rakers—similar to the
chiffonniers of Paris. Also, those men who tramp through the country,
and collect rags on the pretence that they are agents to a paper mill.

PAPER WORKERS, the wandering vendors of street literature; street folk
who sell ballads, dying speeches and confessions, sometimes termed

PARADIS, _French_ slang for the gallery of a theatre, “up amongst the
GODS,” which see.


PARNEY, rain; “dowry of PARNEY,” a quantity of rain. _Anglo-Indian_
slang from the _Hindoo_, PÃNI, water; _Gipsey_, PANÉ. Old Indian
officers always call brandy and water BRANDY PAWNEE.

PASH, to strike; now corrupted to BASH, which see.—_Shakes._

PASTE-HORN, the nose. Shoemakers nickname any shopmate with a large
nose “old PASTEHORN,” from the horn in which they keep their paste.

PATENT COAT, a coat with the pockets inside the skirts,—termed PATENT
from the difficulty of picking them.

PATTER, a speech or discourse, a pompous street oration, a judge’s
summing up, a trial. _Ancient_ word for muttering. Probably from the
_Latin_, PATER NOSTER, or Lord’s Prayer. This was said, before the
Reformation, in a _low voice_ by the priest, until he came to, “and
lead us not into temptation,” to which the choir responded, “but
deliver us from evil.” In our reformed Prayer Book this was altered,
and the Lord’s Prayer directed to be said “with a _loud voice_.”—_Dr.
Pusey_ takes this view of the derivation in his _Letter to the Bishop
of London_, p. 78, 1851. _Scott_ uses the word twice in _Ivanhoe_ and
the _Bride of Lammermoor_.

PATTER, to talk. PATTER FLASH, to speak the language of thieves, talk

PATTERERS, men who cry last dying speeches, &c., in the streets, and
those who help off their wares by _long harangues_ in the public
thoroughfares. These men, to use their own term “are the haristocracy
of the street sellers,” and despise the costermongers for their
ignorance, boasting that they live by their intellect. The public,
they say, do not expect to receive from them an equivalent for their
money—they pay to hear them talk.—_Mayhew._ PATTERERS were formerly
termed “mountebanks.”

PAWS, hands.

PAY, to beat a person, or “serve them out.” Originally a nautical term,
meaning to stop the seams of a vessel with pitch (_French_, POIX);
“here’s the d——l to PAY, and no pitch hot,” said when any catastrophe
occurs which there is no means of averting; “to PAY over face and
eyes, as the cat did the monkey;” “to PAY through the nose,” to give a
ridiculous price.—whence the origin? _Shakespere_ uses PAY in the sense
of to beat, or thrash.

PEACH, to inform against or betray. _Webster_ states that _impeach_
is now the modification mostly used, and that PEACH is confined
principally to the conversation of thieves and the lower orders.

PEACOCK HORSE, amongst undertakers, is one with a showy tail and mane,
and holds its head up well,—_che va favorreggiando_, &c., _Italian_.

PEAKING, remnants of cloth.

PECK, food; “PECK and booze,” meat and drink.—_Lincolnshire._ _Ancient
cant_, PEK, meat.

PECKER, “keep your PECKER up,” _i.e._, don’t get
down-hearted,—literally, keep your beak or head well up, “never say

PECKISH, hungry. _Old cant_, PECKIDGE, meat.

PEEL, to strip, or disrobe.—_Pugilistic._

PEELER, a policeman; so called from Sir Robert Peel (_see_ BOBBY);
properly applied to the Irish constabulary rather than the City police,
the former force having been established by Sir Robert Peel.

PEEPERS, eyes; “painted PEEPERS,” eyes bruised or blackened from a blow.

PEERY, suspicious, or inquisitive.

PEG, brandy and soda water.

PEG, “to PEG away,” to strike, run, or drive away; “PEG a hack,”
to drive a cab; “take down a PEG or two,” to check an arrogant or
conceited person.

PEG, a shilling.—_Scotch._

PEG-TOPS, the loose trousers now in fashion, small at the ankle and
swelling upwards, in imitation of the Zouave costume.

PENNY GAFFS, shops turned into temporary theatres (admission one
penny), where dancing and singing take place every night. Rude pictures
of the performers are arranged outside to give the front a gaudy and
attractive look, and at night-time coloured lamps and transparencies
are displayed to draw an audience.

PENNY-A-LINER, a contributor of local news, accidents, fires, scandal,
political and fashionable gossip, club jokes, and anecdotes, to a
newspaper; not regularly “on the paper;” one who is popularly believed
to be paid for each contribution at the rate of a _penny a line_, and
whose interest is, therefore, that his article should be horribly
stuffed with epithets.

PENISULAR, or MOLL TOOLER, a female pickpocket.

PENSIONER, a man of the lowest morals who lives off the miserable
earnings of a prostitute.

PEPPER, to thrash, or strike.—_Pugilistic_, but used by

PERCH, or ROOST, a resting place; “I’m off to PERCH,” _i.e._, I am
going to bed.


PESKY, an intensitive expression, implying annoyance; a PESKY,
troublesome fellow. Corruption of PESTILENT?

PETER, a partridge.—_Poacher’s term._

PETER, a bundle, or valise.—_Bulwer’s Paul Clifford._

PETER, to run short, or give out.

PETERER, or PETERMAN, one who follows hackney and stage coaches, and
cuts off the portmanteaus and trunks from behind.—_Nearly obsolete._
_Ancient_ term for a fisherman, still used at Gravesend.

PETTICOAT, a woman.

PEWTER, money, like TIN, used generally to signify silver; also, a

PHYSOG, or PHIZ, the face. _Swift_ uses the latter. Corruption of

PIC., the Piccadilly Saloon.

PICK, “to PICK oneself up,” to recover after a beating or illness; “to
PICK a man up,” “to do,” or cheat him.

PICKERS, the hands.—_Shakespere._

PICKLE, a miserable or comical position; “he is in a sad PICKLE,” said
of any one who has fallen into the gutter, or got besmeared. “A PICKLE
herring,” a comical fellow, a merry Andrew.—_Old._

PICKLES! gammon.

PIECE, a contemptuous term for a woman; a strumpet.—_Shakespere._

PIG, or SOW’S BABY, a sixpence.

PIG, a mass of metal,—so called from its being poured in a fluid state
from a sow, which see.—_Workmen’s term._

PIG AND TINDER-BOX, the vulgar rendering of the well-known tavern sign,
“_Elephant and Castle_.”

PEPPER-BOXES, the buildings of the Royal Academy and National Gallery,
in Trafalgar-square. The name was first given by a wag, in allusion to
the cupolas erected by Wilkins, the architect, upon the roof, and which
at a distance suggest to the stranger the fact of their being enlarged
PEPPER-BOXES, from their form and awkward appearance.—_See_ BOILERS.

PIGEON, a gullible or soft person. The _French_ slang, or _argot_, has
the word PIGEON, dupe—“PECHON, PESCHON DE RUBY, apprenti gueux, enfant
(sans doute dérobé).” The vagabonds and brigands of Spain also use the
word in their _Germania_, or _Robbers’ Language_, PALOMO (pigeon),
ignorant, simple.

PIGEON, or BLUEY CRACKING, breaking into empty houses and stealing lead.

PIG-HEADED, obstinate.

PIG’S WHISPER, a low or inaudible whisper; also a short space of time,
synonymous with COCKSTRIDE, _i.e._, _cock’s tread_.

PIKE, to run away.

PIKE, a turnpike; “to bilk a PIKE,” to cheat the keeper of the

PILL, a doctor—_Military_. PILL-DRIVER, a peddling apothecary.

PIN, “to put in the PIN,” to refrain from drinking. From the ancient
peg tankard, which was furnished with a row of PINS, or pegs, to
regulate the amount which each person was to drink. A MERRY PIN, a

PINCH, to steal, or cheat; also, to catch, or apprehend.

PINDARIC HEIGHTS, studying the odes of Pindar.—_Oxford._

PINK, to stab, or pierce.

PINK, the _acmé_ of perfection.—_Shakespere._

PINNERS-UP, sellers of old songs pinned against a wall, or framed

PINS, legs.

PIPE, to shed tears, or bewail; “PIPE one’s eye.”—_Sea term._

  “He first began to eye his pipe,
  And then to PIPE HIS EYE.”

  _Old Song._

Metaphor from the boatswain’s pipe, which calls to duty.

PIPE, “to put one’s PIPE out,” to traverse his plans, “take a rise” out
of him.

PIPKIN, the stomach,—properly, an earthen round-bottomed pot.—_Norwich._

PIT, a breast pocket.

PITCH, a fixed locality where a patterer can hold forth to a gaping
multitude for at least some few minutes continuously; “to do a PITCH in
the drag,” to perform in the street.

PITCH INTO, to fight; “PITCH INTO him, Bill,” _i.e._, give him a

PITCH THE FORK, to tell a pitiful tale.


PLANT, a dodge, a preconcerted swindle; a position in the street to
sell from. PLANT, a swindle, may be thus described: a coster will join
a party of gambling costers that he never saw before, and commence
tossing. When sufficient time has elapsed to remove all suspicions of
companionship, his mate will come up and commence betting on each of
his PAL’S throws with those standing around. By a curious quickness
of hand, a coster can make the toss tell favourably for his wagering
friend, who meets him in the evening after the play is over and shares
the spoil.

PLANT, to mark a person out for plunder or robbery, to conceal, or
place.—_Old cant._

PLEBS, a term used to stigmatise a tradesman’s son at Westminster
School. _Latin_, PLEBS, the vulgar.

PLOUGHED, drunk.—_Household Words_, No. 183. Also a _University_ term
equivalent to PLUCKED.

PLUCK, the heart, liver, and lungs of an animal,—all that is PLUCKED
away in connection with the windpipe, from the chest of a sheep or hog;
among low persons, courage, valour, and a stout heart.—_See_ MOLLYGRUBS.

PLUCK’D-’UN, a stout or brave fellow; “he’s a rare PLUCKED-’UN,”
_i.e._, dares face anything.

During the Crimean war, PLUCKY, signifying courageous, seemed likely
to become a favourite term in May-Fair, even among the ladies. An
eminent critic, however, who had been bred a butcher, having informed
the fashionable world that in his native town the _sheep’s head_ always
went with the PLUCK, the term has been gradually falling into discredit
at the West End.

It has been said that a brave soldier is PLUCKY in attack, and GAME
when wounded. Women are more GAME than PLUCKY.

PLUCKED, turned back at an examination.—_University._

PLUNDER, a common word in the horse trade to express profit. Also an
_American_ term for baggage, luggage.

PLUM, £100,000, usually applied to the dowry of a rich heiress, or a

PLUMMY, round, sleek, jolly, or fat; excellent, very good, first rate.

PLUMPER, a single vote at an election, not a “split ticket.”

PODGY, drunk; dumpy, short and fat.

POGRAM, a dissenter, a fanatic, formalist, or humbug.

POKE, “come, none of your POKING fun at me,” _i.e._, you must not laugh
at me.

POKE, a bag, or sack; “to buy a pig in a POKE,” to purchase anything
without seeing it.—_Saxon._

POKER, “by the holy POKER and the tumbling Tom!” an Irish oath.

POKERS, the Cambridge slang term for the Esquire Bedels, who carry the
silver maces (also called POKERS) before the Vice-Chancellor.

POKY, confined or cramped; “that corner is POKY and narrow.”—_Times_
article, 21st July, 1859.

POLE-AXE, vulgar corruption of policeman.


POLISH OFF, to finish off anything quickly—a dinner for instance; also
to finish off an adversary.—_Pugilistic._

POLL, or POLLING, one thief robbing another of part of their
booty.—_Hall’s Union_, 1548.

POLL, the “ordinary degree” candidates for the B.A. Examination, who
do not aspire to the “Honours” list. From the _Greek_, ὁι πόλλοι,
“the many.” Some years ago, at Cambridge, Mr. Hopkins being the most
celebrated “honour coach,” or private tutor for the wranglers, and Mr.
Potts the principal “crammer” of the non-honour men, the latter was
facetiously termed the “POLLY HOPKINS” by the undergraduates.

POLL, a prostitute; POLLED UP, living with a woman without being
married to her.

POLONY, a _Bologna_ sausage.

POONA, a sovereign.—Corruption of _pound_; or from the _Lingua Franca_?

PONY, twenty-five pounds.—_Sporting._

POPS, pocket pistols.

POP, to pawn or pledge; “to POP up the spout,” to pledge at the
pawnbroker’s,—an allusion to the spout up which the brokers send the
ticketed articles until such times as they shall be redeemed. The spout
runs from the ground floor to the wareroom at the top of the house.

POSH, a halfpenny, or trifling coin. Also a generic term for money.

POSTERIORS, a correspondent insists that the vulgar sense of this word
is undoubtedly slang (Swift, I believe, first applied it as such), and
remarks that it is curious the word _anterior_ has not been so abused.

POST-HORN, the nose.—_See_ PASTE-HORN.

POST-MORTEM, at Cambridge, the second examination which men who have
been “plucked” have to undergo.—_University._

POT, a sixpence, _i.e._, the price of a pot or quart of half-and-half.
A half crown, in medical student slang, is a FIVE-POT PIECE.

POT, “to GO TO POT,” to die; from the classic custom of putting the
ashes of the dead in an urn; also, to be ruined, or broken up,—often
applied to tradesmen who fail in business. GO TO POT! _i.e._, go and
hang yourself, shut up and be quiet. _L’Estrange_, to PUT THE POT ON,
to overcharge, or exaggerate.

POT, to finish; “don’t POT me,” term used at billiards. This word was
much used by our soldiers in the Crimea, for firing at the enemy from a
hole or ambush. These were called POT-SHOTS.

POT-HUNTER, a sportsman who shoots anything he comes across, having
more regard to filling his bag than to the rules which regulate the

POT-LUCK, just as it comes; to take POT-LUCK, _i.e._, one’s chance of a
dinner,—a hearty term used to signify whatever the pot contains you are
welcome to.

POT-WALLOPERS, electors in certain boroughs before the passing of the
Reform Bill, whose qualification consisted in being housekeepers,—to
establish which, it was only necessary to boil a pot within the limits
of the borough, by the aid of any temporary erection. This implied that
they were able to provide for themselves, and not necessitated to apply
for parochial relief. WALLOP, a word of _Anglo Saxon_ derivation, from
the same root as _wall_.

POTTED, or POTTED OUT, cabined, confined; “the patriotic member of
Parliament POTTED OUT in a dusty little lodging somewhere about
Bury-street.”—_Times_ article, 21st July, 1859. Also applied to burial.

POTTY, indifferent, bad looking.

POTATO TRAP, the mouth. A humorous _Hibernicism_.

POWER, a large quantity.—Formerly _Irish_, but now general; “a POWER of

PRAD, a horse.

PRAD NAPPING, horse stealing.

PRANCER, a horse.—_Ancient cant._

PRICK THE GARTER, or PITCH THE NOB, a gambling and cheating game common
at fairs, and generally practised by thimble riggers. It consists of a
“garter” or a piece of list doubled, and then folded up tight. The bet
is made upon your asserting that you can, with a pin, “prick” the point
at which the garter is doubled. The garter is then unfolded, and nine
times out of ten you will find that you have been deceived, and that
you pricked one of the false folds. The owner of the garter, I should
state, holds the ends tightly with one hand. This was, doubtless,
originally a Gipsey game, and we are informed by _Brand_ that it was
much practised by the Gipseys in the time of _Shakespere_. In those
days, it was termed PRICKING AT THE BELT, or FAST AND LOOSE.

PRIG, a thief. Used by _Addison_ in the sense of a coxcomb. _Ancient
cant_, probably from the _Saxon_, PRICC-AN, to filch, &c.—_Shakespere._
PRIG, to steal, or rob. PRIGGING, thieving. In _Scotland_ the term PRIG
is used in a different sense from what it is in England. In Glasgow, or
at Aberdeen, “to PRIG a salmon,” would be to cheapen it, or seek for an
abatement in the price. A story is told of two Scotchmen, visitors to
London, who got into sad trouble a few years ago by announcing their
intention of “PRIGGING a hat” which they had espied in a fashionable
manufacturer’s window, and which one of them thought he would like to

PRIME PLANT, a good subject for plunder.—_See_ PLANT.

PRIMED, said of a person in that state of incipient intoxication that
if he takes more drink it will become evident.

PRO, a professional.—_Theatrical._

PROG, meat, food, &c. _Johnson_ calls it “a low word.”

PROP, a gold scarf pin.

PROP-NAILER, a man who steals, or rather snatches, pins from
gentlemen’s scarfs.

PROPS, crutches.

PROPER, very, exceedingly, sometimes ironically; “you are a PROPER nice
fellow,” meaning a great scamp.

PROS, a water-closet. Abbreviated form of πρὸς τινα τόπον.—_Oxford

PROSS, breaking in, or instructing, a stage-infatuated

PSALM-SMITER, a “Ranter,” one who sings at a conventicle.—_See_ BRISKET

PUB, or PUBLIC, a public-house.

PUCKER, poor temper, difficulty, _déshabillé_.

PUCKER, or PUCKER UP, to get in a poor temper.

PUCKERING, talking privately.

PUDDING SNAMMER, one who robs a cook shop.

PUFF, to blow up, swell with praise, was declared by a writer in the
_Weekly Register_, as far back as 1732, to be illegitimate.

  “PUFF has become a cant word, signifying the applause set forth by
  writers, &c., to increase the reputation and sale of a book, and is
  an excellent stratagem to excite the curiosity of gentle readers.”

Lord Bacon, however, used the word in a similar sense a century before.

PULL, an advantage, or hold upon another; “I’ve the PULL over you,”
_i.e._, you are in my power—perhaps an oblique allusion to the judicial
sense.—_See the following._

PULL, to have one apprehended; “to be PULLED up,” to be taken before a

PULL, to drink; “come, take a PULL at it,” _i.e._, drink up.

PULLEY, a confederate thief,—generally a woman.

PUMMEL, to thrash,—from POMMEL.

PUMP SHIP, to evacuate urine.—_Sea._

PURE FINDERS, street collectors of dogs’ dung.

PURL, hunting term for a fall, synonymous with FOALED, or SPILT; “he’ll
get PURLED at the rails.”

PURL, a mixture of hot ale and sugar, with wormwood infused in it, a
favourite morning drink to produce an appetite; sometimes with gin and
spice added:—

  “Two penn’orth o’ PURL—
  Good ‘early PURL,’
  ’Gin all the world
  To put your hair into a curl,
  When you feel yourself queer of a mornin’.”

PUSH, a crowd.—_Old cant._

PUSSEY CATS, corruption of _Puseyites_, a name constantly, but
improperly, given to the “Tractarian” party in the Church, from the
Oxford Regius Professor of Hebrew, who by no means approved of the
Romanising tendencies of some of its leaders.

PUT, a game at cards.

PUT THE POT ON, to bet too much upon one horse.—_Sporting._

PUT UP, to suggest, to incite, “he PUT me UP to it;” to have done with;
PUT IT UP, is a vulgar answer often heard in the streets. PUT UP, to
stop at an hotel or tavern for entertainment.

PUT UPON, cheated, deluded, oppressed.

PYGOSTOLE, the least irreverent of names for the peculiar “M.B.” coats
worn by Tractarian curates.—

  “It is true that the wicked make sport
    Of our PYGOSTOLES, as we go by;
  And one gownsman, in Trinity Court,
    Went so far as to call me a ‘Guy,’”

QUARTEREEN, a farthing.—_Gibraltar term._ _Ital._, QUATTRINO.

QUEAN (not QUEEN), a strumpet.

QUEER, an old cant word, once in continual use as a prefix, signifying
base, roguish, or worthless,—the opposite of RUM, which signified good
and genuine. QUEER, in all probability, is immediately derived from the
cant language. It has been mooted that it came into use from a _quære_
(?) being set before a man’s name; but it is more than probable that it
was brought into this country by the Gipseys from Germany, where QUER
signifies “_cross_,” or “_crooked_.” At all events, it is believed to
have been first used in England as a cant word.

QUEEN BESS, the Queen of Clubs,—perhaps because that queen, history
says, was of a swarthy complexion.—_North Hants._—_See Gentleman’s
Magazine for 1791_, p. 141.

QUEER, “to QUEER a flat,” to puzzle or confound a “gull” or silly

  “Who in a _row_ like Tom could lead the van,
    _Booze_ in the _ken_, or at the _spellken_ hustle?
  Who QUEER a flat,” &c.

  _Don Juan_, canto xi., 19.

QUEER BAIL, worthless persons who for a consideration would stand bail
for any one in court. Insolvent Jews generally performed this office,
which gave rise to the term JEW-BAIL.—_See_ MOUNTERS: both nearly


QUEER SCREENS, forged bank notes.

QUEER SOFT, bad money.

QUEER STREET, “in QUEER STREET,” in difficulty or in want.

QUEER CUFFEN, a justice of the peace, or magistrate—a very ancient
term, mentioned in the earliest slang dictionary.

QUERIER, a chimney-sweep who calls from house to house,—formerly termed
KNULLER, which see.

QUI-HI, an English resident at Calcutta.—_Anglo Indian._

QUICK STICKS, in a hurry, rapidly; “to cut QUICK STICKS,” to be in a
great hurry.

QUID, or THICK UN, a sovereign; “half a QUID,” half a sovereign; QUIDS,
money generally; “QUID for a QUOD,” one good turn for another. The word
is used by _Old French_ writers:—

  “Des testamens qu’on dit le maistre
  De mon fait n’aura QUID ne QUOD.”

  _Grand Testament de Villon._

QUID, a small piece of tobacco—one mouthful. _Quid est hoc?_ asked one,
tapping the swelled cheek of another; _hoc est quid_, promptly replied
the other, exhibiting at the same time “a chaw” of the weed. Probably a
corruption of CUD.

QUIET, “on the QUIET,” clandestinely, so as to avoid observation,
“under the rose.”

QUILL-DRIVER, a scrivener, a clerk—satirical phrase similar to STEEL
BAR-DRIVER, a tailor.

QUILT, to thrash, or beat.

QUISBY, bankrupt, poverty stricken.—_Ho. Words_, No. 183.

QUIZ, a prying person, an odd fellow. _Oxford slang_; lately admitted
into dictionaries. Not noticed by _Johnson_.

QUIZ, to pry, or joke.

QUIZZICAL, jocose, humorous.

QUOCKERWODGER, a wooden toy figure, which, when pulled by a string,
jerks its limbs about. The term is used in a slang sense to signify a
pseudo-politician, one whose strings of action are pulled by somebody

QUOD, a prison, or lock up; QUODDED, put in prison. A slang expression
used by Mr. Hughes, in _Tom Brown’s Schooldays_ (Macmillan’s
Magazine, January, 1860), throws some light upon the origin of this
now very common street term:—“Flogged or whipped in QUAD,” says the
delineator of student life, in allusion to chastisement inflicted
within the _Quadrangle_ of a college. Quadrangle is the term given to
the prison inclosure within which culprits are allowed to walk, and
where whippings were formerly inflicted. Quadrangle also represents a
building of four sides; and to be “within FOUR WALLS,” or prison, is
the frequent slang lamentation of unlucky vagabonds.

RABBIT, when a person gets the worst of a bargain he is said “to have
bought the RABBIT.”

RACKET, a dodge, manœuvre, exhibition; a disturbance.

RACKETY, wild or noisy.

RACKS, the bones of a dead horse. Term used by horse slaughterers.

RACLAN, a married woman.—_Gipsey._

RAFE, or RALPH, a pawnbroker’s duplicate.—_Norwich._

RAG, to divide or share; “let’s RAG IT,” or GO RAGS, _i.e._, share it
equally between us.—_Norwich._

RAGAMUFFIN, a tattered vagabond, a tatterdemalion.

RAG SPLAWGER, a rich man.

RAGS, bank notes.

RAG-SHOP, a bank.

RAIN NAPPER, umbrella.

RAISE THE WIND, to obtain credit, or money—generally by pawning or
selling off property.

RAMP, to thieve or rob with violence.

RAMPSMAN, a highway robber who uses violence when necessary.

RAMSHACKLE, to shatter as with a battering ram; RAMSHACKLED, knocked
about, as standing corn is after a high wind. Corrupted from
_ram-shatter_, or possibly from _ransack_.

RANDOM, three horses driven in line, a very appropriate term.—_See_

RANDY, rampant, violent, warm, amorous. _North_, RANDY-BEGGAR, a gipsey

RAN-TAN, “on the RAN-TAN,” drunk.—_Ho. Words_, No. 183.

RANTIPOLE, a wild noisy fellow.

RAP, a halfpenny; frequently used generically for money, thus: “I
hav’nt a RAP,” _i.e._, I have no money whatever; “I don’t care a RAP,”
&c. Originally a species of counterfeit coin used for small change in
_Ireland_, against the use of which a proclamation was issued, 5th May,
1737. Small copper or base metal coins are still called RAPPEN in the
Swiss cantons. Irish robbers are called RAPPAREES.

RAP, to utter; “he RAPPED out a volley of oaths.”

RAPPING, enormous; “a RAPPING big lie.”

RAPSCALLION, a low tattered wretch.

RAT, a sneak, an informer, a turn-coat, one who changes his party for
interest. The late Sir Robert Peel was called the RAT, or the TAMWORTH
RATCATCHER, for altering his views on the Roman Catholic question. From
rats deserting vessels about to sink.

RAT, term amongst printers to denote one who works under price. _Old
cant_ for a clergyman.

RATHER! a ridiculous street exclamation synonymous with yes; “do you
like fried chickens?” “RATHER!” “are you going out of town?” “RATHER!”

RATHER OF THE RATHEREST, a phrase applied to anything slightly in
excess or defect.

RATTLECAP, an unsteady, volatile person.

RATTLER, a cab, coach, or cart.—_Old cant._

RATTLERS, a railway; “on the RATTLERS to the stretchers,” _i.e._, going
to the races by railway.

RAW, uninitiated; a novice.—_Old._ Frequently a JOHNNY RAW.

RAW, a tender point, a foible; “to touch a man up on the RAW” is to
irritate one by alluding to, or joking him on, anything on which he is
peculiarly susceptible or “thin-skinned.”

READER, a pocket-book; “give it him for his READER,” _i.e._, rob him of
his pocket-book.—_Old cant._

READY, or READY GILT (properly GELT), money. Used by _Arbuthnot_, “Lord
Strut was not very _flush_ in READY.”

REAM, good or genuine. From the _Old cant_, RUM.

REAM-BLOAK, a good man.

RECENT INCISION, the busy thoroughfare on the Surrey side of the
Thames, known by sober people as the NEW CUT.

REDGE, gold.

RED HERRING, a soldier.

RED LANE, the throat.

RED LINER, an officer of the Mendicity Society.

RED RAG, the tongue.

REGULARS, a thief’s share of the plunder. “They were quarrelling about
the REGULARS.”—_Times_, 8th January, 1856.

RELIEVING OFFICER, a significant term for a father.—_Univ._

RENCH, vulgar pronunciation of RINSE. “_Wrench_ your mouth out,” said a
fashionable dentist one day.—_North._

RE-RAW, “on the RE-RAW,” tipsy or drunk.—_Household Words_, No. 183.

RHINO, ready money.

RHINOCERAL, rich, wealthy, abounding in RHINO.

RIB, a wife.—_North._

RIBBONS, the reins.—_Middlesex._

RIBROAST, to beat till the ribs are sore.—_Old_; but still in use:—

  “And he departs, not meanly boasting
  Of his magnificent RIBROASTING.”—_Hudibras._

RICH, spicy; also used in the sense of “too much of a good thing;” “a
RICH idea,” one too absurd or unreasonable to be adopted.

RIDE, “to RIDE THE HIGH HORSE,” or RIDE ROUGH-SHOD over one, to be
overbearing or oppressive; to RIDE THE BLACK DONKEY, to be in an ill

RIDER, in a University examination, a problem or question appended to
another, as directly arising from or dependent on it;—beginning to be
generally used for any corollary or position which naturally arises
from any previous statement or evidence.

RIG, a trick, “spree,” or performance; “run a RIG,” to play a
trick—_Gipsey_; “RIG the market,” in reality to play tricks with it,—a
mercantile slang phrase often used in the newspapers.

RIGGED, “well RIGGED,” well dressed.—_Old slang_, in use 1736.—_See
Bailey’s Dictionary._—_Sea._

RIGHT AS NINEPENCE, quite right, exactly right.

RIGHTS, “to have one to RIGHTS,” to be even with him, to serve him out.

RIGMAROLE, a prolix story.

RILE, to offend, to render very cross, irritated, or vexed. Properly,
to render liquor turbid.—_Norfolk._

RING, a generic term given to horse-racing and pugilism,—the latter is
sometimes termed the PRIZE-RING. From the practice of forming the crowd
into a _ring_ around the combatants, or outside the race-course.

RING, “to go through the RING,” to take advantage of the Insolvency
Act, or be _whitewashed_.


RINGING CASTORS, changing hats.

RINGING THE CHANGES, changing bad money for good.

RIP, a rake; “an old RIP,” an old libertine, or debauchee. Corruption
of _Reprobate_. A person reading the letters R. I. P. (_Requiescat in
Pace_) on the top of a tombstone as one word, said, soliloquising,
“Rip! well, he was an old RIP, and no mistake.”—_Cuthbert Bede._

RIPPER, a first-rate man or article.—_Provincial._

RIPPING, excellent, very good.

RISE, “to take a RISE out of a person,” to mortify, outwit, or cheat
him, by superior cunning.

RISE (or RAISE) A BARNEY, to collect a mob.

ROARER, a broken-winded horse.

ROARING TRADE, a very successful business.

ROAST, to expose a person to a running fire of jokes at his expense
from a whole company, in his presence. QUIZZING is done by a single
person only.

ROCK A LOW, an overcoat. Corruption of the _French_ ROQUELAURE.

ROCKED, “he’s only HALF-ROCKED,” _i.e._, half witted.

ROLL OF SNOW, a piece of Irish linen.

ROMANY, a Gipsey, or the Gipsey language; the speech of the Roma or
Zincali.—_Spanish Gipsey._

ROOK, a clergyman, not only from his black attire, but also, perhaps,
from the old nursery favourite, the _History of Cock Robin_.

  “I, says the ROOK,
  With my little book,
  I’ll be the parson.”

ROOK, a cheat, or tricky gambler; the opposite of PIGEON.—_Old._

ROOKERY, a low neighbourhood inhabited by dirty Irish and thieves—as
ST. GILES’ ROOKERY.—_Old._ In _Military slang_ that part of the
barracks occupied by subalterns, often by no means a pattern of good

ROOKY, rascally, rakish, scampish.

ROOST, synonymous with PERCH, which see.

ROOTER, anything good or of a prime quality; “that is a ROOTER,”
_i.e._, a first-rate one of the sort.

ROSE, an orange.

ROSE, “under the ROSE” (frequently used in its _Latin_ form, _Sub
rosâ_), _i.e._, under the obligation of silence and secresy, of which
the rose was anciently an emblem, perhaps, as Sir Thomas Browne
remarks, from the closeness with which its petals are enfolded in
the bud. The Rose of Venus was given, says the classic legend, to
Harpocrates, the God of Silence, by Cupid, as a bribe not to “peach”
about the Goddess’ amours. It was commonly sculptured on the ceilings
of banquetting rooms, as a sign that what was said in free conversation
there was not afterwards to be divulged and about 1526 was placed over
the Roman confessionals as an emblem of secrecy. The White Rose was
also an emblem of the Pretender, whose health, as king, his secret
adherents used to drink “under the ROSE.”

ROT, nonsense, anything bad, disagreeable, or useless.

ROT GUT, bad small beer,—in _America_, cheap whisky.

ROUGH, bad; “ROUGH fish,” bad or stinking fish.

ROUGH IT, to put up with chance entertainment, to take pot luck, and
what accommodation “turns up,” without sighing for better. “ROUGHING IT
_in the Bush_” is the title of an interesting work on Backwoods life.

ROUGHS, coarse, or vulgar men.

ROULEAU, a packet of sovereigns.—_Gaming._

ROUND, to tell tales, to “SPLIT,” which see; “to ROUND on a man,” to
swear to him as being the person, &c. Synonymous with “BUFF,” which
see. _Shakespere_ has ROUNDING, whispering.

ROUND, “ROUND dealing,” honest trading; “ROUND sum,” a large sum.
Synonymous also in a _slang_ sense with SQUARE, which see.

ROUNDS, shirt collars—apparently a mere shortening of “All Rounds,” or
“All Rounders,” names of fashionable collars.

ROUNDS (in the language of the street), the BEATS or usual walks of the
costermonger to sell his stock. A term used by street folk generally.

  “Watchmen, sometimes they made their sallies,
  And walk’d their ROUNDS through streets and allies.”

  _Ned Ward’s Vulgus Britannicus_, 1710.

ROUND ROBIN, a petition, or paper of remonstrance, with the signatures
written in a circle,—to prevent the first signer, or ringleader, from
being discovered.

ROUNDABOUTS, large swings of four compartments, each the size, and
very much the shape, of the body of a cart, capable of seating six or
eight boys and girls, erected in a high frame, and turned round by men
at a windlass. Fairs and merry-makings generally abound with them. The
frames take to pieces, and are carried in vans by miserable horses,
from fair to fair, &c.

ROW, a noisy disturbance, tumult, or trouble. Originally _Cambridge_,
now universal. Seventy years ago it was written ROUE, which would
indicate a _French_ origin from _roué_, a profligate, or disturber of
the peace.—_Vide George Parker’s Life’s Painter_, 1789, p. 122.

ROWDY, money. In _America_, a ruffian, a brawler, “rough.”

ROWDY-DOW, low, vulgar; “not the CHEESE,” or thing.

RUB, a quarrel, or impediment: “there’s the RUB,” _i.e._, that is the
difficulty.—_Shakespere and L’Estrange._

RUBBER, a term at whist, &c., two games out of three.—_Old_, 1677.

RUCK, the undistinguished crowd; “to come in with the RUCK,” to arrive
at the winning post among the non-winning horses.—_Racing term._

RUGGY, fusty, frowsy.

RUM, like its opposite, QUEER, was formerly a much used prefix,
signifying, fine, good, gallant, or valuable, perhaps in some way
connected with ROME. Now-a-days it means indifferent, bad, or
questionable, and we often hear even persons in polite society use
such a phrase as “what a RUM fellow he is, to be sure,” in speaking of
a man of singular habits or appearance. The term, from its frequent
use, long since claimed a place in our dictionaries; but, with the
exception of _Johnson_, who says RUM, a cant word for a clergyman (?),
no lexicographer has deigned to notice it.

  “Thus RUMLY floor’d, the kind Acestes ran,
  And pitying, rais’d from earth the game old man.”

  VIRGIL’S ÆNEID, book v., _Translation by Thomas Moore_.

RUMBUMPTIOUS, haughty, pugilistic.

RUMBUSTIOUS, or RUMBUSTICAL, pompous, haughty, boisterous, careless of
the comfort of others.

RUMGUMPTION, or GUMPTION, knowledge, capacity, capability,—hence,
RUMGUMPTIOUS, knowing, wide-awake, forward, positive, pert, blunt.

RUM MIZZLERS, persons who are clever at making their escape, or getting
out of a difficulty.

RUMPUS, a noise, disturbance, a “row.”

RUMY, a good woman, or girl.—_Gipsey slang._ In the regular _Gipsey_
language, ROMI, a woman, a wife, is the feminine of RO, a man; and in
the _Robber’s Language_ of Spain (partly _Gipsey_), RUMI signifies a

RUN (good or bad), the success of a performance—_Theatrical._

RUN, to comprehend, &c.; “I don’t RUN, to it,” _i.e._, I can’t do it,
or I don’t understand, or I have not money enough.—_North._

RUN, “to get the RUN upon any person,” to have the upper hand, or be
able to laugh at them. RUN DOWN, to abuse or backbite anyone.

RUNNING PATTERER, a street seller who runs or moves briskly along,
calling aloud his wares.

RUNNING STATIONERS, hawkers of books, ballads, dying speeches, and
newspapers. They formerly used to run with newspapers, blowing a horn,
when they were also termed FLYING STATIONERS.

RUSH, “doing it on the RUSH,” running away, or making off.

RUST, “to nab the RUST,” to take offence. RUSTY, cross, ill-tempered,
morose, one who cannot go through life like a person of easy and
_polished_ manners.

RUSTY GUTS, a blunt, rough old fellow. Corruption of RUSTICUS.

SACK, “to get the SACK,” to be discharged by an employer.

SADDLE, an additional charge made by the manager to a performer upon
his benefit night.—_Theatrical._

SAD DOG, a merry fellow, a joker, a gay or “fast” man.

SAINT MONDAY, a holiday most religiously observed by journeymen
shoemakers, and other mechanics. An Irishman observed that this saint’s
anniversary happened every week.—_North_, where it is termed COBBLERS’

SAL, a salary.—_Theatrical._

SALAMANDERS, street acrobats, and jugglers who eat fire.

SALOOP, SALEP, or SALOP, a greasy looking beverage, formerly sold on
stalls at early morning, prepared from a powder made of the root of
the _Orchis mascula_, or Red-handed Orchis. Within a few years coffee
stands have superseded SALOOP stalls, but Charles Lamb, in one of his
papers, has left some account of this drinkable, which he says was of
all preparations the most grateful to the stomachs of young chimney

SALT, “its rather too SALT,” said of an extravagant hotel bill.

SALT BOX, the condemned cell in Newgate.

SALTEE, a penny. Pence, &c., are thus reckoned:—

  ONEY SALTEE, a penny, from the _Ital._,                     UNO SOLDO.

  DOOE SALTEE, twopence                                       DUE SOLDI.

  TRAY SALTEE, threepence                                     TRE SOLDI.

  QUARTERER SALTEE, fourpence                             QUATTRO SOLDI.

  CHINKER SALTEE, fivepence                                CINQUE SOLDI.

  SAY SALTEE, sixpence                                        SEI SOLDI.

  SAY ONEY SALTEE, or SETTER SALTEE, sevenpence             SETTE SOLDI.

  SAY DOOE SALTEE, or OTTER SALTEE, eightpence               OTTO SOLDI.

  SAY TRAY SALTEE, or NOBBA SALTEE, ninepence                NOVE SOLDI.



  ONEY BEONG, one shilling.

  A BEONG SAY SALTEE, one shilling and sixpence.

  or two shillings and sixpence.

⁂ This curious list of numerals in use among the London street folk is,
strange as it may seem, derived from the _Lingua Franca_, or bastard
_Italian_, of the Mediterranean seaports, of which other examples
may be found in the pages of this Dictionary. SALTEE, the cant term
used by the costermongers and others for a penny, is no other than
the _Italian_, SOLDO (plural, SOLDI), and the numerals—as may be
seen by the _Italian_ equivalents—are a tolerably close imitation
of the originals. After the number SIX, a curious variation occurs,
which is peculiar to the London cant, seven being reckoned as SAY
ONEY, _six-one_, SAY DOOE, _six-two_ = 8, and so on. DACHA, I may
remark, is perhaps from the _Greek_, DEKA (δέκα), ten, which, in the
Constantinopolitan _Lingua Franca_, is likely enough to have been
substituted for the _Italian_. MADZA, is clearly the _Italian_ MEZZA.
The origin of BEONG I have not been so fortunate as to discover, unless
it be the _French_, BIEN, the application of which to a shilling is
not so evident; but amongst costermongers and other street folk, it
is quite immaterial what foreign tongue contributes to their secret
language. Providing the terms are unknown to the police and the public
generally, they care not a rushlight whether the polite French, the gay
Spaniards, or the cloudy Germans helped to swell their vocabulary. The
numbers of low foreigners, however, dragging out a miserable existence
in our crowded neighbourhoods, organ grinders and image sellers,
foreign seamen from the vessels in the river, and our own connection
with Malta and the Ionian Isles, may explain, to a certain extent,
the phenomenon of these Southern phrases in the mouths of costers and

SALT JUNK, navy salt beef.—_See_ OLD HORSE.

SALVE, praise, flattery, chaff.

SAM, to “stand SAM,” to pay for refreshment, or drink, to stand
paymaster for anything. An _Americanism_, originating in the letters
U.S. on the knapsacks of the United States soldiers, which letters were
jocularly said to be the initials of _Uncle Sam_ (the Government), who
pays for all. In use in this country as early as 1827.


SANK WORK, making soldiers’ clothes. _Mayhew_ says from the _Norman_,
SANC, blood,—in allusion either to the soldier’s calling, or the colour
of his coat.

SAP, or SAPSCULL, a poor green simpleton, with no heart for work.

SAUCEBOX, a mouth, also a pert young person.

SAVELOY, a sausage of chopped beef smoked, a minor kind of POLONY.

SAVEY, to know; “do you SAVEY that?”—_French_, SAVEZ VOUS CELA? In the
nigger and _Anglo Chinese patois_, this is SABBY, “me no SABBY.” The
Whampoa slang of this description is very extraordinary; from it we
have got our word CASH!

SAW YOUR TIMBER, “be off!” equivalent to _cut your stick_.—_See_ CUT.

SAWBONES, a surgeon.

SAWNEY, or SANDY, a Scotchman. Corruption of Alexander.

SAWNEY, a simpleton.

SAWNEY, bacon. SAWNEY HUNTER, one who steals bacon.

SCAB, a worthless person.—_Old._ _Shakespere_ uses SCALD in a similar

SCALDRUM DODGE, burning the body with a mixture of acids and gunpowder,
so as to suit the hues and complexions of the accident to be deplored.

SCALY, shabby, or mean. _Shakespere_ uses SCALD, an old word of

SCAMANDER, to wander about without a settled purpose;—possibly in
allusion to the winding course of the Homeric river of that name.


SCAMP, a graceless fellow, a rascal; formerly the cant term for
plundering and thieving. A ROYAL-SCAMP was a highwayman, whilst a
FOOT-SCAMP was an ordinary thief with nothing but his legs to trust to
in case of an attempt at capture. Some have derived SCAMP from _qui ex
campo exit_, viz., one who leaves the field, a deserter.

SCARPER, to run away.—_Spanish_, ESCAPAR, to escape, make off;
_Italian_, SCAPPARE. “SCARPER with the feele of the donna of the
cassey,” to run away with the daughter of the land-lady of the house;
almost pure _Italian_, “_scappare colla figlia della donna della casa_.”

SCHISM-SHOP, a dissenters’ meeting-house.—_University._

SCHOFEL, bad money.—_See_ SHOW FULL.

SCHOOL, or MOB, two or more “patterers” working together in the streets.

SCHOOLING, a low gambling party.

SCHWASSLE BOX, the street performance of Punch and Judy.—_Household
Words_, No. 183.

SCONCE, the head, judgment, sense.—_Dutch._

SCORE, “to run up a SCORE at a public house,” to obtain credit there
until pay day, or a fixed time, when the debt must be WIPED OFF.

SCOT, a quantity of anything, a lot, a share.—_Anglo Saxon_, SCEAT,
pronounced SHOT.

SCOT, temper, or passion,—from the irascible temperament of that
nation; “oh! what a SCOT he was in,” _i.e._, what temper he
showed,—especially if you allude to the following.

SCOTCH FIDDLE, the itch; “to play the SCOTCH FIDDLE,” to work the index
finger of the right hand like a fiddlestick between the index and
middle finger of the left. This provokes a Scotchmen in the highest
degree, it implying that he is afflicted with the itch.

SCOTCH GRAYS, lice. Our northern neighbours are calumniously reported,
from their living on oatmeal, to be peculiarly liable to cutaneous
eruptions and parasites.

SCOTCHES, the legs; also synonymous with NOTCHES.

SCOUT, a college valet, or waiter.—_Oxford._—_See_ GYP.

SCRAG, the neck.—_Old cant._ _Scotch_, CRAIG. Still used by butchers.
Hence, SCRAG, to hang by the neck, and SCRAGGING, an execution,—also
_old cant_.

SCRAN, pieces of meat, broken victuals. Formerly the reckoning at a
public-house. SCRANNING, begging for broken victuals. Also, an _Irish_
malediction of a mild sort, “Bad SCRAN to yer!”

SCRAPE, a difficulty; SCRAPE, low wit for a shave.

SCRAPE, cheap butter; “bread and SCRAPE,” the bread and butter issued
to school-boys—so called from the butter being laid on, and then
_scraped_ off again, for economy’s sake.

SCRAPING CASTLE, a water-closet.

SCRATCH, a fight, contest, point in dispute; “coming up to the
SCRATCH,” going or preparing to fight—in reality, approaching the line
usually chalked on the ground to divide the ring.—_Pugilistic._

SCRATCH, “no great SCRATCH,” of little worth.

SCRATCH, to strike a horse’s name out of the list of runners in a
particular race. “Tomboy was SCRATCHED for the Derby, at 10, a.m., on
Wednesday,” from which period all bets made in reference to him (with
one exception) are void.—_See_ P.P.—_Turf._

SCRATCH-RACE (on the _Turf_), a race where any horse, aged, winner, or
loser, can run with any weights; in fact, a race without restrictions.
At _Cambridge_ a boat-race, where the crews are drawn by lot.

SCREAMING, first-rate, splendid. Believed to have been first used in
the _Adelphi_ play-bills; “a SCREAMING farce,” one calculated to make
the audience scream with laughter. Now a general expression.

SCREEVE, a letter, a begging petition.

SCREEVE, to write, or devise; “to SCREEVE a fakement,” to concoct,
or write, a begging letter, or other impostor’s document. From the
_Dutch_, SCHRYVEN; _German_, SCHREIBEN; _French_, ECRIVANT (old form),
to write.

SCREEVER, a man who draws with coloured chalks on the pavement figures
of our Saviour crowned with thorns, specimens of elaborate writing,
thunderstorms, ships on fire, &c. The men who attend these pavement
chalkings, and receive halfpence and sixpences from the admirers of
street art, are not always the draughtsmen. The artist, or SCREEVER,
drew, perhaps, in half-a-dozen places that very morning, and rented the
spots out to as many cadaverous looking men.

SCREW, an unsound, or broken-down horse, that requires both whip and
spur to get him along.

SCREW, a key,—skeleton, or otherwise.

SCREW, a turnkey.

SCREW, a mean or stingy person.

SCREW, salary or wages.

SCREW, “to put on the SCREW,” to limit one’s credit, to be more exact
and precise.

SCREW LOOSE, when friends become cold and distant towards each other,
it is said there is a SCREW LOOSE betwixt them; said also when anything
goes wrong with a person’s credit or reputation.

SCREW, a small packet of tobacco.

SCREWED, intoxicated or drunk.

SCRIMMAGE, or SCRUMMAGE, a disturbance or row.—_Ancient._ Corruption of

SCROBY, “to get SCROBY,” to be whipped in prison before the justices.

SCROUGE, to crowd or squeeze.—_Wiltshire._

SCRUFF, the back part of the neck seized by the adversary in an

SCRUMPTIOUS, nice, particular, beautiful.

SCUFTER, a policeman.—_North country._

SCULL, or SKULL, the head or master of a college.—_University_, but
nearly _obsolete_; the gallery, however, in St. Mary’s (the University
church), where the “Heads of Houses” sit in solemn state, is still
nicknamed the GOLGOTHA by the undergraduates.

SCURF, a mean fellow.

SEALS, a religious slang term for converts.—_See_ OWNED.

SEEDY, worn out, poverty stricken, used up, shabby. Metaphorical
expression from the appearance of flowers when off bloom and running to
_seed_; hence said of one who wears clothes until they crack and become
shabby; “how SEEDY he looks,” said of any man whose clothes are worn
threadbare, with greasy facings, and hat brightened up by perspiration
and continual polishing and wetting. When a man’s coat begins to look
worn out and shabby he is said to look SEEDY and ready for _cutting_.
This term has been “on the streets” for nearly two centuries, and
latterly has found its way into most dictionaries. Formerly slang, it
is now a recognised word, and one of the most expressive in the English
language. The French are always amused with it, they having no similar

SELL, to deceive, swindle, or play a practical joke upon a person. A
sham is a SELL in street parlance. “SOLD again, and got the money,”
a costermonger cries after having successfully deceived somebody.
_Shakespere_ uses SELLING in a similar sense, viz., blinding or

SELL, a deception, disappointment; also a lying joke.

SENSATION, a quartern of gin.

SERENE, all right; “it’s all SERENE,” a street phrase of very modern
adoption, the burden of a song.

SERVE OUT, to punish, or be revenged on any one.

SETTER, sevenpence. _Italian_, SETTE.—_See_ SALTEE.

SETTER, a person employed by the vendor at an auction to run the
biddings up; to bid against _bonâ fide_ bidders.

SETTLE, to kill, ruin, or effectually quiet a person.

SETTLED, transported.

SET TO, a sparring match, a fight; “a dead set,” a determined stand, in
argument or in movement.

SEVEN PENNORTH, transported for seven years.

SEWED-UP, done up, used up, intoxicated. _Dutch_, SEEUWT, sick.

SHACK, a “chevalier d’industrie.”

SHACKLY, loose, rickety.—_Devonshire._

SHAKE, a prostitute, a disreputable man or woman.—_North._

SHAKE, to take away, to steal, or run off with anything; “what SHAKES,
Bill?” “None,” _i.e._, no chance of committing a robbery.—_See the

SHAKE, or SHAKES, a bad bargain is said to be “no great SHAKES;”
“pretty fair SHAKES” is anything good or favourable.—_Byron._ In
_America_, a fair SHAKE is a fair trade or a good bargain.

SHAKE LURK, a false paper carried by an impostor, giving an account of
a “dreadful shipwreck.”

SHAKER, a shirt.

SHAKESTER, or SHICKSTER, a prostitute. Amongst costermongers this term
is invariably applied to _ladies_, or the wives of tradesmen, and
females generally of the classes immediately above them.

SHAKY, said of a person of questionable health, integrity, or solvency;
at the _University_, of one not likely to pass his examination.

SHALER, a girl.

SHALLOW, a flat basket used by costers.

SHALLOWS, “to go on the SHALLOWS,” to go half naked.

SHALLOW-COVE, a begging rascal who goes about the country half
naked,—with the most limited amount of rags upon his person, wearing
neither shoes, stockings, nor hat.

SHALLOW-MOT, a ragged woman,—the frequent companion of the SHALLOW-COVE.

SHALLOW-SCREEVER, a man who sketches and draws on the pavement.—_See_

SHAM ABRAHAM, to feign sickness.—_See_ ABRAHAM.

SHANDY-GAFF, ale and ginger beer; perhaps SANG DE GOFF, the favourite
mixture of one GOFF, a blacksmith.

SHANKS, legs.

SHANKS’ NAG, “to ride SHANKS’ NAG,” to go on foot.

SHANT, a pot or quart; “SHANT of bivvy,” a quart of beer.

SHAPES, “to cut up” or “show SHAPES,” to exhibit pranks, or flightiness.

SHARP, or SHARPER, a cunning cheat, a rogue,—the opposite of FLAT.

SHARP’S-ALLEY BLOOD WORMS, beef sausages and black puddings.
Sharp’s-alley was very recently a noted slaughtering place near

SHARPING-OMEE, a policeman.

SHARK, a sharper, a swindler. _Bow-street_ term in 1785, now in most
dictionaries.—_Friesic_ and _Danish_, SCHURK.—_See_ LAND-SHARK.

SHAVE, a false alarm, a hoax, a sell. This was much used in the Crimea
during the Russian campaign.

SHAVE, a narrow escape. At Cambridge, “just SHAVING through,” or
“making a SHAVE,” is just escaping a “pluck” by coming out at the
bottom of the list.

  “My terms are anything but dear,
  Then read with me, and never fear;
  The examiners we’re sure to queer,
  And get through, if you make a SHAVE on’t.”

  _The Private Tutor._

SHAVER, a sharp fellow; “a young” or “old SHAVER,” a boy or man.—_Sea._

SHEEN, bad money.—_Scotch._

SHEEP’S EYES, “to make SHEEP’S EYES at a person,” to cast amorous
glances towards one on the sly:—

  “But he, the beast, was casting SHEEP’S EYES at her,
    Out of his bullock head.”

  _Colman, Broad Grins_, p. 57.

SHEEP’S FOOT, an iron hammer used in a printing office, the end of the
handle being made like a sheep’s foot.

SHELF, “on the SHELF,” not yet disposed of; young ladies are said to
be so situated when they cannot meet with a husband; “on the SHELF,”

SHELL OUT, to pay or count out money.

SHICE, nothing; “to do anything for SHICE,” to get no payment. The
term was first used by the Jews in the last century. _Grose_ gives the
phrase CHICE-AM-A-TRICE, which has a synonymous meaning. _Spanish_,
CHICO, little; _Anglo Saxon_, CHICHE, niggardly.

SHICER, a mean man, a humbug, a “duffer,”—a person who is either
worthless or will not work.

SHICKERY, shabby, bad.

SHICKSTER; a prostitute, a lady.—_See_ SHAKESTER.

SHILLY SHALLY, to trifle or fritter away time; irresolute. Corruption
of _Shall I, shall I?_

SHINDY, a row, or noise.

SHINE, a row, or disturbance.

SHINE, “to take the SHINE out of a person,” to surpass or excel him.

SHINER, a looking-glass.

SHINERS, sovereigns, or money.

SHINEY RAG, “to win the SHINEY RAG,” to be ruined,—said in gambling,
when any one continues betting after “luck has set in against him.”

SHIP-SHAPE, proper, in good order; sometimes the phrase is varied to
“SHIP-SHAPE and _Bristol_ fashion.”—_Sea._

SHIRTY, ill-tempered, or cross. When one person makes another in an ill
humour he is said to have “got his SHIRT out.”

SHITTEN-SATURDAY (corruption of SHUT-IN-SATURDAY), the Saturday between
Good Friday and Easter Sunday, when our Lord’s body was enclosed in the

SHIVERING JEMMY, the name given by street folk to any cadger who
exposes himself, half naked, on a cold day, to excite pity and procure
alms. The “game” is unpleasant, but exceedingly lucrative.

SHODDY, old cloth worked up into new; also, a term of derision applied
to workmen in woollen factories.—_Yorkshire._

SHOE, to free, or initiate a person,—a practice common in most trades
to a new comer. The SHOEING consists in paying for beer, or other
drink, which is drunk by the older hands. The cans emptied, and the
bill paid, the stranger is considered properly SHOD.

SHOE LEATHER! a thief’s warning cry, when he hears footsteps. This
exclamation is used in the same spirit as Bruce’s friend, who, when he
suspected treachery towards him at King Edward’s court, in 1306, sent
him a purse and a pair of spurs, as a sign that he should use them in
making his escape.

SHOES, “to die in one’s SHOES,” to be hung.

SHOOL, to saunter idly, become a vagabond, beg rather than
work.—_Smollett’s Roderick Random_, vol. i., p. 262.

SHOOT THE CAT, to vomit.

SHOOT THE MOON, to remove furniture from a house in the night, without
paying the landlord.

SHOOT WITH THE LONG BOW, to tell lies, to exaggerate. Synonymous with

SHOP BOUNCER, or SHOP LIFTER, a person generally respectably attired,
who, while being served with a small article at a shop, steals one of
more value. _Shakespere_ has the word LIFTER, a thief.

SHOPPING, purchasing at shops. Termed by _Todd_ a slang word, but used
by _Cowper_ and _Byron_.

SHORT, when spirit is drunk without any admixture of water, it is said
to be taken “short;” “summat SHORT,” a dram. A similar phrase is used
at the counters of banks; upon presenting a cheque, the clerk asks,
“how will you take it?” _i.e._, in gold, or in notes? Should it be
desired to receive it in as small a compass as possible, the answer is,

SHORT COMMONS, short allowance of food.—_See_ COMMONS.

SHOT, from the modern sense of the word to SHOOT,—a guess, a random
conjecture; “to make a bad SHOT,” to expose one’s ignorance by making
a wrong guess, or random answer without knowing whether it is right or

SHOT, from the once _English_, but now provincial word, to SHOOT, to
subscribe, contribute in fair proportion;—a share, the same as SCOT,
both being from the _Anglo Saxon_ word, SCEAT; “to pay one’s SHOT,”
_i.e._, share of the reckoning, &c.

SHOT, “I wish I may be SHOT, if,” &c., a common form of mild swearing.

SHOVE-HALFPENNY, a gambling street game.

SHOWFULL, or SCHOFELL, a Hansom cab,—said to have been from the name of
the inventor.—_Led de hor qu._

SHOW-FULL, or SCHOFUL, bad money. _Mayhew_ thinks this word is from the
_Danish_, SKUFFE, to shove, to deceive, cheat; _Saxon_, SCUFAN,—whence
the _English_, SHOVE. The term, however, is possibly one of the many
street words from the _Hebrew_ (through the low Jews); SHEPHEL, in
that language, signifying a _low_ or debased estate. _Chaldee_,
SHAPHAL.—_See_ Psalm cxxxvi. 23, “in our _low estate_.” A correspondent
suggests another very probable derivation, from the _German_, SCHOFEL,
trash, rubbish,—the _German_ adjective, SCHOFELIG, being the nearest
possible translation of our _shabby_.

SHOWFULL-PITCHER, a passer of counterfeit money.

SHOWFULL PITCHING, passing bad money.

SHOWFULL PULLET, a “gay” woman.

SHRIMP, a diminutive person.—_Chaucer._

SHUNT, to throw or turn aside.—_Railway term._

SHUT OF, or SHOT OF, rid of.

SHUT UP! be quiet, don’t make a noise; to stop short, to make cease
in a summary manner, to silence effectually. “Only the other day we
heard of a preacher who, speaking of the scene with the doctors in
the Temple, remarked that the Divine disputant completely SHUT THEM
UP!”—_Athen._ 30th July, 1859. SHUT UP, utterly exhausted, done for.

SHY, a throw.

SHY, “to fight SHY of a person,” to avoid his society either from
dislike, fear, or any other reason. SHY has also the sense of flighty,
unsteady, untrustworthy.

SHY, to fling; COCK-SHY, a game at fairs, consisting of throwing short
sticks at trinkets set upon other sticks,—both name and practice
derived from the old game of throwing or SHYING at live cocks.

SICES, or SIZES, a throw of _sixes_ at dice.

SICK AS A HORSE, popular simile,—curious, because a horse never vomits.

SICKNER, or SICKENER, a dose too much of anything.

SIDE BOARDS, or STICK-UPS, shirt collars.

SIGHT, “to take a SIGHT at a person,” a vulgar action employed by
street boys to denote incredulity, or contempt for authority, by
placing the thumb against the nose and closing all the fingers except
the little one, which is agitated in token of derision.—_See_ WALKER.

SIM, one of a Methodistical turn in religion; a low-church-man;
originally a follower of the late Rev. Charles Simeon.—_Cambridge._

SIMON, a sixpenny piece.

SIMON PURE, “the real SIMON PURE,” the genuine article. Those who have
witnessed Mr. C. Mathews’ performance in Mrs. Centlivre’s admirable
comedy of _A Bold Stroke for a Wife_, and the laughable coolness
with which he, the _false_ SIMON PURE, assuming the quaker dress and
character of the REAL ONE, elbowed that worthy out of his expected
entertainment, will at once perceive the origin of this phrase.—_See_
act v., scene 1.

SING OUT, to call aloud.—_Sea._

SING SMALL, to lessen one’s boasting, and turn arrogance into humility.

SINKERS, bad money.

SINKS, a throw of fives at dice. _French_, CINQS.

SIR HARRY, a close stool.

SISERARA, a hard blow.—_Suffolk._ Moor derives it from the story of
Sisera in the Old Testament, but it is more probably a corruption of
CERTIORARI, a Chancery writ reciting a complaint of hard usage.

SIT UNDER, a term employed in Dissenters’ meeting houses, to denote
attendance on the ministry of any particular preacher.

SITTING PAD, sitting on the pavement in a begging position.


SIVVY, “’pon my SIVVY,” _i.e._, upon my soul or honour. Corruption of
_asseveration_, like DAVY, which is an abridgment of _affidavit_.

SIXES AND SEVENS, articles in confusion are said to be all SIXES and
SEVENS. The Deity is mentioned in the Towneley Mysteries as He that
“sett all on seven,” _i.e._, set or appointed everything in seven days.
A similar phrase at this early date implied confusion and disorder,
and from these, _Halliwell_ thinks, has been derived the phrase “to be
at SIXES AND SEVENS.” A Scotch correspondent, however, states that the
phrase probably came from the workshop, and that amongst needle makers
when the points and eyes are “heads and tails” (“heeds and thraws”),
or in confusion, they are said to be SIXES AND SEVENS, because those
numbers are the sizes most generally used, and in the course of
manufacture have frequently to be distinguished.

SIXTY, “to go along like SIXTY,” _i.e._, at a good rate, briskly.

SIZE, to order extras over and above the usual commons at the dinner
in college halls. Soup, pastry, &c., are SIZINGS, and are paid for
at a certain specified rate _per_ SIZE, or portion, to the college
cook.—_Peculiar to Cambridge._ _Minsheu_ says, “SIZE, a farthing which
schollers in Cambridge have at the buttery, noted with the letter _s_.”

SIZERS, or SIZARS, are certain poor scholars at Cambridge, annually
elected, who get their dinners (including _sizings_) from what is left
at the upper, or Fellows’ table, free, or nearly so. They pay rent of
rooms, and some other fees, on a lower scale than the “Pensioners” or
ordinary students, and answer to the “battlers” and “servitors” at


SKATES LURK, a begging impostor dressed as a sailor.

SKID, a sovereign. Fashionable slang.

SKIE, to throw upwards, to toss “coppers.”—_See_ ODD MAN.

SKILLY, broth served on board the hulks to convicts.—_Linc._

SKILLIGOLEE, prison gruel, also sailors’ soup of many ingredients.

SKIN, a purse.

SKIN, to abate, or lower the value of anything; “thin SKINNED,”
sensitive, touchy.

SKIN-FLINT, an old popular simile for a “close-fisted,” stingy person.

SKIPPER, the master of a vessel. _Dutch_, SCHIFFER, from _schiff_ a
ship; sometimes used synonymous with “Governor.”

SKIPPER, a barn.—_Ancient cant._

SKIPPER IT, to sleep in the open air, or in a rough way.

SKIPPER-BIRDS, or KEYHOLE WHISTLERS, persons who sleep in barns or
outhouses in preference to lodging-houses.

SKIT, a joke, a squib.

SKITTLES, a game similar to Ten Pins, which, when interdicted by the
Government was altered to Nine Pins, or SKITTLES. They are set up in an
alley and are _thrown at_ (not bowled) with a round piece of hard wood,
shaped like a small flat cheese. The costers consider themselves the
best players in London.

SKROUGE, to push or squeeze.—_North._

SKULL-THATCHERS, straw bonnet makers,—sometimes called

SKY, a disagreeable person, an enemy.—_Westminster School._

SKY-BLUE, London milk much diluted with water, or from which the cream
has been too closely skimmed.

  “Hence, Suffolk dairy wives run mad for cream,
  And leave their milk with nothing but the name;
  Its name derision and reproach pursue,
  And strangers tell of three times skimmed—SKY-BLUE.”

  _Bloomfield’s Farmer’s Boy._

SKY-BLUE formerly meant gin.


SKY PARLOUR, the garret.

SKY SCRAPER, a tall man; “are you cold up there, old SKY SCRAPER?”
Properly a sea term; the light sails which some adventurous skippers
set above the royals in calm latitudes are termed SKY-SCRAPERS and

SKY WANNOCKING, unsteady, frolicking.—_Norfolk._

SLAMMOCK, a slattern or awkward person.—_West_; and _Norf._

SLANG, low, vulgar, unwritten, or unauthorised language. _Gipsey_,
SLANG, the secret language of the Gipseys, synonymous with GIBBERISH,
another Gipsey word. This word is only to be found in the Dictionaries
of _Webster_ and _Ogilvie_. It was, perhaps, first recorded by _Grose_,
in his _Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue_, 1785. SLANG, since it has
been adopted as an English word, generally implies vulgar language not
known or recognised as CANT; and latterly, when applied to speech, has
superseded the word FLASH.

SLANG, counterfeit or short weights and measures. A SLANG quart is a
pint and a half. SLANG measures are lent out at 2d. per day. The term
is used principally by costermongers.

SLANG, to cheat, to abuse in foul language.

SLANG, a travelling show.

SLANG, a watch chain.

SLANGY, flashy, vulgar; loud in dress, manner, and conversation.

SLANTINGDICULAR, oblique, awry,—as opposed to PERPENDICULAR.

SLAP, paint for the face, rouge.

SLAP, exactly, precisely; “SLAP in the wind’s eye,” _i.e._, exactly to

SLAP-UP, first-rate, excellent, very good.

SLAP-BANG, suddenly, violently.

SLAP-BANG SHOPS, low eating houses, where you have to pay down the
ready money with a SLAP-BANG.—_Grose._

SLAP-DASH, immediately, or quickly.

SLASH, a pocket in an overcoat.

SLASHER, a powerful roisterer, a pugilist; “the TIPTON SLASHER.”

SLATE, to pelt with abuse, to beat, to “LICK;” or, in the language of
the reviewers, to “cut up.”

SLATE, “he has a SLATE loose,” _i.e._, he is slightly crazy.

SLAVEY, a maid servant.

SLEWED, drunk, or intoxicated.—_Sea term._ When a vessel changes the
tack she, as it were, staggers, the sails flap, she gradually heels
over, and the wind catching the waiting canvas, she glides off at
another angle. The course pursued by an intoxicated, or SLEWED man, is
supposed to be analogous to that of the ship.

SLICK, an _Americanism_, very prevalent in England since the
publication of Judge Haliburton’s facetious stories. As an _adjective_,
SLICK means rapidly, effectually, utterly; as a _verb_, it has the
force of “to despatch rapidly,” turn off, get done with a thing.

SLICK A DEE, a pocket book.

SLING, to pass from one person to another.

SLIP, “to give the SLIP,” to run away, or elude pursuit. _Shakespere_
has “you _gave me the counterfeit_,” in Romeo and Juliet. GIVING THE
SLIP, however, is a _Sea phrase_, and refers to fastening an anchor
and chain cable to a floating buoy, or water cask, until such a time
arrives that is convenient to return and take them on board. In
fastening the cable, the home end is _slipped_ through the hawse pipe.
Weighing anchor is a noisy task, so that giving it the SLIP infers to
leave it in quietness.

SLIP, or LET SLIP; “to SLIP into a man,” to give him a sound beating;
“to LET SLIP at a cove,” to rush violently upon him, and assault with

SLOG, or SLOGGER (its original form), to beat, baste, or wallop.
_German_, SCHLAGEN; or, perhaps a vulgar corruption of SLAUGHTER. The
pretended _Greek_ derivation from σλογω, which _Punch_ puts in the
mouth of the schoolboy, in his impression of 4th May, 1859, is of
course only intended to mystify grandmamma, there being no such word in
the language.

SLOGGERS, _i.e._, SLOW-GOERS, the second division of race-boats at
_Cambridge_. At _Oxford_ they are called TORPIDS.—_Univ._

SLOGGING, a good beating.

SLOP, cheap, or ready made, as applied to clothing, is generally
supposed to be a modern appropriation; but it was used in this sense in
1691, by _Maydman_, in his _Naval Speculations_; and by _Chaucer_ two
centuries before that. Slops properly signify sailors’ working clothes.

SLOP, a policeman. Probably at first _back slang_, but now general.

SLOPE, to decamp, to run, or rather _slip_ away. Originally from
LOPE, to make off; the _s_ probably became affixed as a portion
of the preceding word, as in the case of “_let’s lope_,” let us

SLOPS, chests or packages of tea; “he shook a slum of SLOPS,” _i.e._,
stole a chest of tea.

SLOUR, to lock, or fasten.

SLOUR’D, buttoned up; SLOUR’D HOXTER, an inside pocket buttoned up.

SLOWED, to be locked up—in prison.

SLUICERY, a gin shop or public house.

SLUM, a letter.

SLUM, a chest, or package.—_See_ SLOPS.

SLUM, gammon; “up to SLUM,” wide awake, knowing,

  “And this, without more SLUM, began,
  Over a flowing Pot-house can,
  To settle, without botheration,
  The rigs of this here tip-top nation.”

  _Jack Randall’s Diary_, 1820.

SLUM THE GORGER, to cheat on the sly, to be an eye servant. SLUM in
this sense is _old cant_.

SLUMMING, passing bad money.

SLUMS, or BACK SLUMS, dark retreats, low neighbourhoods; “the
Westminster SLUMS,” favourite haunts for thieves.

SLUSHY, a ship’s cook.

SMACK SMOOTH, even, level with the surface, quickly.

SMALL BEER, “he does’t think SMALL BEER of himself,” _i.e._, he has a
great opinion of his own importance. SMALL COALS is also used in the
same sense.

SMASH, to become bankrupt, or worthless; “to go all to SMASH;” to
break, or “go to the dogs.”

SMASH, to pass counterfeit money.

SMASHER, one who passes bad coin.

SMASHFEEDER, a Britannia metal spoon,—the best imitation shillings are
made from this metal.

SMELLER, a blow on the nose, or a NOSER.

SMIGGINS, soup served to convicts on board the hulks.

SMISH, a shirt, or chemise. Corruption of the _Span_.—See MISH.

is a _Lincolnshire_ word for a fragment.

SMOKE, to detect, or penetrate an artifice.

SMUDGE, to smear, obliterate, daub. Corruption of SMUTCH.—_Times_, 10th
August, 1859.

SMUG, extremely neat, after the fashion, in order.

SMUG, to snatch another’s property and run.

SMUGGINGS, snatchings, or purloinings,—shouted out by boys, when
snatching the tops, or small play property, of other lads, and then
running off at full speed.

  “Tops are in; spin ’em agin.
  Tops are out; SMUGGING about.”

SMUT, a copper boiler. Also, the “blacks” from a furnace.

SMUTTY, obscene,—vulgar as applied to conversation.

SNACK, booty, or share. Also, a light repast.—_Old cant and Gipsey

SNAFFLED, arrested, “pulled up,”—so termed from a kind of horse’s bit,
called a SNAFFLE. In _East Anglia_, to SNAFFLE is to talk foolishly.

SNAGGLE TEETH, uneven, and unpleasant looking dental operators.—_West._
SNAGS (_Americanism_), ends of sunken drift-wood sticking out of the
water, on which river steamers are often wrecked.

SNAGGLING, angling after geese with a hook and line, the bait being a
worm or snail. The goose swallows the bait, and is quietly landed and

SNAGGY, cross, crotchetty, malicious.

SNAM, to snatch, or rob from the person.

SNAPPS, share, portion; any articles or circumstances out of which
money may be made; “looking out for SNAPPS,” waiting for windfalls,
or odd jobs.—_Old._ _Scotch_, CHITS,—term also used for “coppers,” or

SNEAKSMAN, a shoplifter; a petty, cowardly thief.

SNEEZER, a snuff box; a pocket-handkerchief.

SNEEZE LURKER, a thief who throws snuff in a person’s face and then
robs him.

SNID, a sixpence.—_Scotch._

SNIGGER, “I’m SNIGGERED if you will,” a mild form of swearing. Another
form of this is JIGGERED.

SNIGGERING, laughing to oneself.—_East._

SNIP, a tailor.

SNIPE, a long bill; also a term for attorneys,—a race remarkable for
their propensity to long bills.

SNIPES, “a pair of SNIPES,” a pair of scissors. They are occasionally
made in the form of that bird.

SNITCHERS, persons who turn queen’s evidence, or who tell tales. In
_Scotland_, SNITCHERS signify handcuffs.

SNOB, a low, vulgar, or affected person. Supposed to be from the
nickname usually applied to a Crispin, or a maker of shoes; but
believed by a writer in _Notes and Queries_ to be a contraction of
the _Latin_, SINE OBOLO. A more probable derivation, however, has
just been forwarded by an ingenious correspondent. He supposes that
NOBS, _i.e._, _Nobiles_, was appended in lists to the names of
persons of gentle birth, whilst those who had not that distinction
were marked down as S. NOB., _i.e._, _sine nobilitate_, without
marks of gentility,—thus reversing its meaning. Another
“word-twister” remarks that, as at college sons of nobleman wrote
after their names in the admission lists, _fil nob._, son of a lord,
and hence all young noblemen were called NOBS, and what they did
NOBBY, so those who imitated them would be called _quasi-nobs_,
“like a nob,” which by a process of contraction would be shortened
to _si-nob_, and then SNOB, one who pretends to be what he is not,
and apes his betters. The short and expressive terms which many
think fitly represent the three great estates of the realm, NOB,
SNOB, and MOB, were all originally slang words. The last has safely
passed through the vulgar ordeal of the streets, and found
respectable quarters in the standard dictionaries.

SNOBBISH, stuck up, proud, make believe.

SNOB-STICK, a workman who refuses to join in strikes, or trade unions.
Query, properly KNOB-STICK.

SNOOKS, an imaginary personage often brought forward as the answer to
an idle question, or as the perpetrator of a senseless joke.

SNOOZE, or SNOODGE (vulgar pronunciation), to sleep or doze.

SNOT, a term of reproach applied to persons by the vulgar when vexed or
annoyed. In a Westminster school vocabulary for boys, published in the
last century, the term is curiously applied. Its proper meaning is the
glandular mucus discharged through the nose.

SNOTTER, or WIPE-HAULER, a pickpocket who commits great depredations
upon gentlemen’s pocket-handkerchiefs.—_North._

SNOTTINGER, a coarse word for a pocket-handkerchief. The German
_schnupftuch_ is, however, nearly as plain. A handkerchief was also
anciently called a MUCKINGER, or MUCKENDER.

SNOTS, small bream, a slimy kind of flat fish.—_Norwich._

SNOW, wet linen.

SNOW GATHERERS, or SNOW-DROPPERS, rogues who steal linen from hedges
and drying grounds.

SNUFF, “up to SNUFF,” knowing and sharp; “to take SNUFF,” to be
offended. _Shakespere_ uses SNUFF in the sense of anger, or passion.
SNUFFY, tipsy.

SNYDER, a tailor. _German_, SCHNEIDER.

SOAP, flattery.—_See_ SOFT SOAP.

SOFT, foolish, inexperienced. An old term for bank notes.

SOFT-SOAP, or SOFT-SAWDER, flattery, ironical praise.

SOFT TACK, bread.—_Sea._

SOLD, “SOLD again! and the money taken,” gulled, deceived.—_Vide_ SELL.

SOLD UP, or OUT, broken down, bankrupt.

SOLDIER, a red herring.

SON OF A GUN, a contemptuous title for a man. In the army it is
sometimes applied to an artilleryman.

SOOT BAG, a reticule.

SOP, a soft or foolish man. Abbreviation of MILKSOP.

SOPH (abbreviation of SOPHISTER), a title peculiar to the University
of _Cambridge_. Undergraduates are _junior_ SOPHS before passing their
“_Little Go_,” or first University examination,—_senior_ SOPHS after

SOUND, to pump, or draw information from a person in an artful manner.

SOW, the receptacle into which the liquid iron is poured in a
gun-foundry. The melted metal poured from it is termed PIG.—_Workmen’s

SOW’S BABY, a pig; sixpence.

SPANK, a smack, or hard slap.

SPANK, to move along quickly; hence a fast horse or vessel is said to
be “a SPANKER to go.”

SPANKING, large, fine, or strong; _e.g._, a SPANKING pace, a SPANKING
breeze, a SPANKING fellow.

SPECKS, damaged oranges.

SPEEL, to run away, make off; “SPEEL the drum,” to go off with stolen

SPELL, “to SPELL for a thing,” hanker after it, intimate a desire to
possess it.

SPELLKEN, or SPEELKEN, a playhouse. _German_, SPIELEN.—_See_ KEN.—_Don

SPICK AND SPAN, applied to anything that is quite new and

SPIFFED, slightly intoxicated.—_Scotch slang._

SPIFFS, the percentage allowed by drapers to their young men when they
effect a sale of old-fashioned or undesirable stock.

SPIFFY, spruce, well-dressed, _tout à la mode_.

SPIFLICATE, to confound, silence, or thrash.

SPILT, thrown from a horse or chaise.—_See_ PURL.

SPIN, to reject from an examination.—_Army._

SPIN-EM-ROUNDS, a street game consisting of a piece of brass, wood, or
iron, balanced on a pin, and turned quickly around on a board, when the
point, arrow shaped, stops at a number and decides the bet one way or
the other. The contrivance very much resembles a sea compass, and was
formerly the gambling accompaniment of London piemen. The apparatus
then was erected on the tin lids of their pie cans, and the bets
were ostensibly for pies, but more frequently for “coppers,” when no
policeman frowned upon the scene, and when two or three apprentices or
porters happened to meet.

SPINIKEN, a workhouse.

SPIRT, or SPURT, “to put on a SPIRT,” to make an increased exertion for
a brief space, to attain one’s end; a nervous effort.

SPITFIRE, a passionate person.

SPLENDIFEROUS, sumptuous, first-rate.

SPLICE, to marry; “and the two shall become one flesh.”—_Sea._

SPLICE THE MAIN BRACE, to take a drink.—_Sea._

SPLIT, to inform against one’s companions, to tell tales. “To SPLIT
with a person,” to cease acquaintanceship, to quarrel.

SPLODGER, a lout, an awkward countryman.

SPOFFY, a bustling busy-body is said to be SPOFFY.

SPONGE, “to throw up the SPONGE,” to submit, give over the
struggle,—from the practice of throwing up the SPONGE used to cleanse
the combatants’ faces, at a prize fight, as a signal that the “mill” is

SPOON, synonymous with SPOONEY. A SPOON has been defined to be “a thing
that touches a lady’s lips without kissing them.”

SPOONEY, a weak-minded and foolish person, effeminate or fond; “to be
SPOONEY on a girl,” to be foolishly attached to one.

SPOONS, “when I was SPOONS with you,” _i.e._, when young, and in our
courting days before marriage.—_Charles Mathews_, in the farce of
_Everybody’s Friend_.

SPORT, to exhibit, to wear, &c.,—a word which is made to do duty in a
variety of senses, especially at the University. _See the Gradus ad
Cantabrigiam._ “To SPORT a new tile;” “to SPORT an _Ægrotat_” (_i.e._,
a permission from the “Dons” to abstain from lectures, &c., on account
of illness); “to SPORT ONE’S OAK,” to shut the outer door and exclude
the public,—especially _duns_, and boring acquaintances. Common also in
the Inns of Court.—_See Notes and Queries_, 2nd series, vol. viii., p.
492, and _Gentleman’s Magazine_, December, 1794.

SPORTING DOOR, the outer door of chambers, also called the OAK.—_See_
under SPORT.—_University._

SPOTTED, to be known or marked by the police.

SPOUT, “up the SPOUT,” at the pawnbroker’s; SPOUTING, pawning.—_See_
POP for origin.

SPOUT, to preach, or make speeches; SPOUTER, a preacher or lecturer.

SPRAT, sixpence.

SPREAD, butter.

SPREAD, a lady’s shawl. SPREAD, at the _East_ end of London, a
feast, or a TIGHTENER; at the _West_ end a fashionable reunion, an
entertainment, display of good things.

SPREE, a boisterous piece of merriment; “going on the SPREE,” starting
out with intent to have a frolic. _French_, ESPRIT. In the _Dutch_
language, SPREEUW is a jester.

SPRINGER-UP, a tailor who sells low-priced ready made clothing, and
gives starvation wages to the poor men and women who “make up” for him.
The clothes are said to be SPRUNG-UP, or “blown together.”

SPRY, active, strong, manly.—_Americanism._

SPUDDY, a seller of bad potatoes. In _Scotland_, a SPUD is a raw
potato; and roasted SPUDS are those cooked in the cinders with their
jackets on.

SPUNGING-HOUSE, the sheriff’s officer’s house, where prisoners, when
arrested for debt, are sometimes taken. As extortionate charges are
made there for accommodation, the name is far from inappropriate.

SPUNK, spirit, _fire_, courage, mettle.

  “In that snug room, where any man of SPUNK
  Would find it a hard matter to get drunk.”

  _Peter Pindar_, i., 245.

Common in _America_. For derivation see the following.

SPUNKS, lucifer matches.—_Herefordshire; Scotland._ SPUNK, says Urry,
in his MS. notes to Ray, “is the excrescency of some tree, of which
they make a sort of tinder to light their pipes with.”

SPUNK-FENCER, a lucifer match seller.

SQUABBY, flat, short and thick.

SQUARE, honest; “on the SQUARE,” _i.e._, fair and strictly honest; “to
turn SQUARE,” to reform, and get one’s living in an honest manner,—the
opposite of CROSS.

SQUARE, “to be SQUARE with a man,” to be _even_ with him, or to be
revenged; “to SQUARE up to a man,” to offer to fight him. _Shakespere_
uses SQUARE in the sense of to quarrel.

SQUARE COVE, an honest man.

SQUARE MOLL, an honest woman.

SQUARE RIGGED, well dressed.—_Sea._

SQUARING HIS NIBS, giving a policeman money.

SQUEEZE, silk.

SQUIB, a temporary _jeu d’esprit_, which, like the firework of that
denomination, sparkles, bounces, stinks, and vanishes.—_Grose._

SQUINNY-EYED, squinting.—_Shakespere._

SQUIRT, a doctor, or chemist.


STAG, a shilling.

STAG, a term applied during the railway mania to a speculator without
capital, who took “scrip” in “_Diddlesex Junction_,” and other lines,
_ejus et sui generis_, got the shares up to a premium, and then sold
out. _Punch_ represented the house of Hudson, “the Railway King,” at
Albert Gate, with a STAG on it, in allusion to this term.

STAG, to demand money, to “cadge.”

STAG, to see, discover, or watch,—like a STAG at gaze; “STAG the push,”
look at the crowd. Also, to dun, or demand payment.

STAGGER, one who looks out, or watches.

STAGGERING BOB, an animal to whom the knife only just anticipates death
from natural disease or accident,—said of meat on that account unfit
for human food.

STALE, to evacuate urine.—_Stable term._

STALL, to lodge, or put up at a public house. Also, to act a

STALL, or STALL OFF, a dodge, a blind, or an excuse. STALL is _ancient

STALL OFF, to blind, excuse, hide, to screen a robbery during the
perpetration of it by an accomplice.

STALL YOUR MUG, go away; spoken sharply by any one who wishes to get
rid of a troublesome or inconvenient person.

STALLSMAN, an accomplice.

STAMPERS, shoes.—_Ancient cant._

STAND, “to STAND treat,” to pay for a friend’s entertainment; to bear
expense; to put up with treatment, good or ill; “this house STOOD me in
£1,000,” _i.e._, cost that sum; “to STAND PAD,” to beg on the curb with
a small piece of paper pinned on the breast, inscribed “_I’m starving_.”

STANDING, the position at a street corner, or on the curb of a market
street, regularly occupied by a costermonger, or street seller.

STANDING PATTERERS, men who take a stand on the curb of a public
thoroughfare, and deliver prepared speeches to effect a sale of any
articles they have to vend.—_See_ PATTERER.

STANGEY, a tailor; a person under petticoat government,—derived from
the custom of “_riding the STANG_,” mentioned in Hudibras:—

  “It is a custom used of course
  Where the grey mare is the better horse.”

STARK-NAKED (originally STRIP-ME-NAKED, _vide Randall’s Diary_, 1820),
raw gin.—_Bulwer’s Paul Clifford._

STARCHY, stuck-up, high-notioned, showily dressed, disdainful, cross.

STAR IT, to perform as the centre of attraction, with inferior
subordinates to set off one’s abilities.—_Theatrical._

STAR THE GLAZE, to break the window or show glass of a jeweller
or other tradesman, and take any valuable articles, and run away.
Sometimes the glass is cut with a diamond, and a strip of leather
fastened to the piece of glass cut out to keep it from falling in and
making a noise. Another plan is to cut the sash.

START, “THE START,” London,—the great starting point for beggars and

START, a proceeding of any kind; “a rum START,” an odd circumstance;
“to get the START of a person,” to anticipate him, overreach him.

STASH, to cease doing anything, to refrain, be quiet, leave off; “STASH
IT, there, you sir!” _i.e._, be quiet, sir; to give over a lewd or
intemperate course of life is termed STASHING IT.

STEEL, the house of correction in London, formerly named the _Bastile_,
but since shortened to STEEL.

STEEL BAR DRIVERS, or FLINGERS, journeymen tailors.

STEMS, the legs.

STEP IT, to run away, or make off.

STICK, a derogatory expression for a person; “a rum” or “odd STICK,” a
curious man. More generally a “poor STICK.”—_Provincial._

STICK, “cut your STICK,” be off, or go away; either simply equivalent
to a recommendation to prepare a walking staff in readiness for a
journey—in allusion to the Eastern custom of cutting a stick before
setting out—or from the ancient mode of reckoning by notches or tallies
on a stick. In Cornwall the peasantry tally sheaves of corn by cuts in
a stick, reckoning by the score. CUT YOUR STICK in this sense may mean
to make your mark and pass on—and so realise the meaning of the phrase
“IN THE NICK (or notch) OF TIME.” Sir J. Emerson Tennent, in _Notes and
Queries_ (December, 1859), considers the phrase equivalent to “cutting
the connection,” and suggests a possible origin in the prophets
breaking the staves of “Beauty” and “Bands,”—_vide_ Zech., xi., 10, 14.

STICK, to cheat; “he got STUCK,” he was taken in; STICK, to forget
one’s part in a performance—_Theatrical_; STICK ON, to overcharge or
defraud; STICK UP FOR, to defend a person, especially when slandered
in his absence; STICK UP TO, to persevere in courting or attacking,
whether in fisty-cuffs or argument; “to STICK in one’s gizzard,” to
rankle in one’s heart; “to STICK TO a person,” to adhere to one, be his
friend through adverse circumstances.

STICKS, furniture, or household chattels; “pick up your STICKS and
cut!” summary advice to a person to take himself and furniture

STICKS, pistols.—_Nearly obsolete._

STICK-UPS, or GILLS, shirt collars.

STICKINGS, bruised or damaged meat sold to sausage makers and penny pie

STICKY, wax.

STIFF, paper, a bill of acceptance, &c.; “how did you get it, STIFF or
_hard_?” _i.e._, did he pay you cash or give a bill?

STIFF FENCER, a street seller of writing paper.

STIFF ’UN, a corpse.—_Term used by undertakers._

STILTON, “that’s the STILTON,” or “it is not the STILTON,” _i.e._, that
is quite the thing, or that is not quite the thing;—polite rendering of
“that is not the CHEESE,” which see.

STINGO, strong liquor.—_Yorkshire._

STINK, a disagreeable exposure.

STINKOMALEE, a name given to the then New London University by Theodore
Hook. Some question about _Trincomalee_ was agitated at the same time.
It is still applied by the students of the old Universities, who regard
it with disfavour from its admitting all denominations.

STIPE, a stipendiary magistrate.—_Provincial._

STIR, a prison, a lock-up; “IN STIR,” in jail. _Anglo Saxon_, STYR,
correction, punishment.

STIR UP SUNDAY, the Sunday next before Advent, the collect for that day
commencing with the words “Stir up.” Schoolboys, growing excited at
the prospect of the vacation, irreverently commemorate it by stirring
up—pushing and poking each other. CRIB CRUST MONDAY and TUG BUTTON
TUESDAY are distinguished by similar tricks; while on PAY-OFF WEDNESDAY
they retaliate small grudges in a playful facetious way. Forby says,
good housewives in Norfolk consider themselves reminded by the name to
mix the ingredients for their Christmas mince pies.

STOCKDOLAGER, a heavy blow, a “finisher.” _Italian_, STOCCADO, a
fencing term.

STODGE, to surfeit, gorge, or clog with food.

STONE JUG, a prison.

STOOK, a pocket-handkerchief.

STOOK HAULER, or BUZZER, a thief who takes pocket-handkerchiefs.

STOP, a detective policeman.

STORY, a falsehood,—the soft synonyme for a _lie_, allowed in family
circles and boarding-schools. A Puritanism that came in fashion with
the tirade against romances, all novels and stories being considered as
dangerous and false.

STOTOR, a heavy blow, a SETTLER.—_Old cant._

STOW, to leave off, or have done; “STOW IT, the gorger’s leary,”
leave off, the person is looking. _See_ STASH, with which it is
synonymous.—_Ancient cant._

STOW FAKING! leave off there, be quiet! FAKING implying anything that
may be going on.

STRAW. Married ladies are said to be “in THE STRAW” at their
_accouchements_. The phrase is a coarse allusion to farm-yard animals
in a similar condition.

STRAWING, _selling_ straws in the streets (generally for a penny) and
_giving_ the purchaser a paper (indecent or political), or a gold (!)
ring,—neither of which the patterer states he is allowed to sell.

STREAK, to decamp, run away.—_Saxon._ In _America_ the phrase is “to
make STREAKS,” or “make TRACKS.”

STREAKY, irritated, ill-tempered.

STREET PITCHERS, negro minstrels, ballad singers, long song men, men
“working a board” on which have been painted various exciting scenes in
some terrible drama, the details of which the STREET PITCHER is bawling
out, and selling in a little book or broadsheet (price one penny); or
any persons who make a stand in the streets, and sell articles for
their living.

STRETCH, abbreviation of “STRETCH one’s neck,” to hang, be executed as
a malefactor.—_Bulwer’s Paul Clifford._

STRETCH, twelve months,—generally used to intimate the time any one
has been sentenced by the judge or magistrate. ONE STRETCH is to be
imprisoned twelve months, TWO STRETCH is two years, THREE STRETCH is
three years, and so on.

STRETCHER, a falsehood.

STRETCHER, a contrivance with handles, used by the police to carry off
persons who are violent or drunk.

STRETCHER FENCER, one who sells braces.

STRETCHING MATCH, an execution.—_See_ STRETCH.

STRIKE ME LUCKY! an expression used by the lower orders when making
a bargain, derived from the old custom of striking hands together,
leaving in that of the seller a LUCK PENNY as an earnest that the
bargain is concluded. In Ireland, at cattle markets, &c., a penny, or
other small coin, is always given by the buyer to the seller to ratify
the bargain.—_Hudibras._ Anciently this was called a GOD’S PENNY.

  “With that he cast him a God’s peny.”—_Heir of Linne._

The origin of the phrase being lost sight of, like that of many others,
it is often corrupted now-a-days into STRIKE ME SILLY.

STRIKE THE JIGGER, to pick the lock, or break open the door.

STROMMEL, straw.—_Ancient cant._ Halliwell says that in Norfolk
STRUMMEL is a name for hair.

STRONG, “to come it STRONG.”—_See_ COME.

STUCK-UP, “purse-proud”—a form of snobbishness very common in those
who have risen in the world. Mr. Albert Smith has written some amusing
papers on the _Natural History of_ STUCK-UP _People_.

STUFF, money.

STUFF, to make false but plausible statements, to praise ironically, to
make game of a person,—literally, to STUFF or CRAM him with gammon or

STUMP, to go on foot.

STUMPED, bowled out, done for, bankrupt, poverty stricken.—_Cricketing

STUMPS, legs, or feet.

STUMPY, money.

STUMP UP, to pay one’s share, to pay the reckoning, to bring forth the
money reluctantly.

STUN, to astonish.

STUNNER, a first-rate person or article.

STUNNERS, feelings of great astonishment; “it put the STUNNERS on me,”
it confounded me.

STUNNING, first-rate, very good. “STUNNING pears,” shouts the coster,
“only eight a penny.”—_Vide Athenæum_, 26th March, 1859. Sometimes
amplified to STUNNING JOE BANKS! when the expression is supposed to be
in its most intense form. JOE BANKS was a noted character in the last
generation. He was the proprietor of a public-house in Dyott-street,
Seven Dials, and afterwards, on the demolition of the Rookery, of
another in Cranbourne-alley. His houses became well-known from their
being the resort of the worst characters, at the same time that the
strictest decorum was always maintained in them. JOE BANKS also
acquired a remarkable notoriety by acting as a medium betwixt thieves
and their victims. Upon the proper payment to Joe, a watch or a snuff
box would at any time be restored to its lawful owner—“no questions in
any case being asked.” The most daring depredators in London placed the
fullest confidence in Joe, and it is believed (although the _Biographie
Universelle_ is quiet upon this point) that he never, in any instance,
“sold” them. He was of the middle height, stout, and strongly made, and
was always noted for a showy pin, and a remarkably STUNNING _neck-tie_.
It was this peculiarity in the costume of Mr. Banks, coupled with
those true and tried qualities as a friend, for which, as I have just
remarked, he was famous, that led his customers to proclaim him as
STUNNING JOE BANKS! The Marquis of Douro, Colonel Chatterley, and men
of their stamp, were accustomed to resort to a private room at his
house, when too late or too early to gain admittance to the clubs or
more aristocratic establishments.

STUNNED ON SKILLY, to be sent to prison and compelled to eat SKILLY, or

STURABAN, a prison. _Gipsey_, DISTARABIN.

SUCK, a parasite, flatterer of the “nobs.”—_University._

SUCK, to pump, or draw information from a person.

SUCK-CASSA, a public-house.

SUCK THE MONKEY, to rob a cask of liquor by inserting a straw through a
gimlet hole, and sucking a portion of the contents.

SUCK UP, “to SUCK UP to a person,” to insinuate oneself into his good

SUFFERER, a tailor.

SUIT, a watch and seals.

SULKY, a one-horse chaise, having only room for one person.

SUN IN THE EYES, to have too much drink.—_Dickens._

SUP, abbreviation of _supernumerary_.—_Theatrical._

SUPER, a watch; SUPER-SCREWING, stealing watches.

SURF, an actor who frequently pursues another calling.—_Theat._

SWADDLER, a Wesleyan Methodist; a name originally given to members of
that body by the Irish mob; said to have originated with an ignorant
Romanist, to whom the words of the English Bible were a novelty, and
who, hearing one of John Wesley’s preachers mention the _swaddling
clothes_ of the Holy Infant, in a sermon on Christmas-day at Dublin,
shouted out in derision, “_A swaddler! a swaddler!_” as if the whole
story were the preacher’s invention.—_Southey’s Life of Wesley_, vol.
ii., p. 109.

SWADDY, or COOLIE, a soldier. The former was originally applied to a
discharged soldier, and perhaps came from shoddy, of which soldiers’
coats are made.

SWAG, a lot or plenty of anything, a portion or division of property.
In Australia the term is used for the luggage carried by diggers: in
India the word LOOT is used. _Scotch_, SWEG, or SWACK; _German_, SWEIG,
a flock. _Old cant_ for a shop.

SWAG, booty, or plundered property; “collar the SWAG,” seize the booty.

SWAG-SHOP, a warehouse where “Brummagem” and general wares are
sold,—fancy trinkets, plated goods, &c. Jews are the general
proprietors, and the goods are excessively low priced, trashy, and
showy. SWAG-SHOPS were formerly plunder depôts.—_Old cant._

SWAGSMAN, one who carries the booty after a burglary.

SWANKEY, cheap beer.—_West._

SWAP, to exchange. _Grose_ says it is _Irish_ cant, but the term is now
included in most dictionaries as an allowed vulgarism.

SWEAT, to extract money from a person, to “bleed,” to squander

SWEATER, common term for a “cutting” or “grinding” employer.

SWEEP, a low or shabby man.

SWEET, loving or fond; “how SWEET he was upon the moll,” _i.e._, what
marked attention he paid the girl.

SWELL, a man of importance; a person with a showy, jaunty exterior; “a
rank SWELL,” a very “flashly” dressed person, a man who by excessive
dress apes a higher position than he actually occupies. Anything is
said to be SWELL or SWELLISH that looks showy, or is many coloured,
or is of a desirable quality. Dickens and Thackeray are termed great
SWELLS in literature; so indeed are the first persons in the learned

SWELL FENCER, a street salesman of needles.

SWELL HUNG IN CHAINS, said of a showy man in the habit of wearing much

SWIG, to drink. _Saxon_, SWIGAN.

SWIG, a hearty drink.

SWIM, “a good SWIM,” a good run of luck, a long time out of the
policeman’s clutches.—_Thieves’ term._

SWINDLER, although a recognised word in respectable dictionaries,
commenced service as a slang term. It was used as such by the poor
Londoners against the German Jews who set up in London about the
year 1762, also by our soldiers in the German War about that time.
SCHWINDEL, in _German_, signifies to cheat.

SWING, to be hanged.

SWINGING, large, huge.

SWIPES, sour or small beer. SWIPE, to drink.—_Sea._

SWIPEY (from SWIPES), intoxicated.

SWISHED, married.

SWIZZLE, small beer, drink.

SWOT, mathematics; also a mathematician; as a verb, to work hard for an
examination, to be diligent in one’s studies.—_Army._

This word originated at the great slang manufactory for the army, the
Royal Military College, Sandhurst, in the broad Scotch pronunciation of
Dr. Wallace, one of the Professors, of the word _sweat_.—_See Notes and
Queries_, vol. i., p. 369.

T, “to suit to a T,” to fit to a nicety.—_Old._ Perhaps from the
T-square of carpenters, by which the accuracy of work is tested.

TACKLE, clothes.—_Sea._

TAFFY (corruption of _David_), a Welshman. Compare SAWNEY (from
_Alexander_), a Scotchman.

TAG-RAG-AND-BOBTAIL, a mixed crowd of low people, mobility.

TAIL BUZZER, a thief who picks coat pockets.

TAKE, to succeed, or be patronised; “do you think the new opera will
TAKE?” “No, because the same company TOOK so badly under the old
management;” “to TAKE ON,” to grieve; _Shakespere_ uses the word TAKING
in this sense. To “TAKE UP for any one,” to protect or defend a person;
“to TAKE OFF,” to mimic; “to TAKE heart,” to have courage; “to TAKE
down a peg or two,” to humiliate, or tame; “to TAKE UP,” to reprove;
“to TAKE AFTER,” to resemble; “to TAKE IN,” to cheat or defraud, from
the lodging-house keepers’ advertisements, “single men TAKEN IN AND
DONE FOR,”—an engagement which is as frequently performed in a bad as a
good sense; “to TAKE THE FIELD,” when said of a _General_, to commence
operations against the enemy; when a _racing man_ TAKES THE FIELD he
stakes his money against the favourite.

TAKE BEEF, to run away.

TAKE IN, a cheating or swindling transaction,—sometimes termed “a DEAD
TAKE IN.” _Shakespere_ has TAKE IN in the sense of conquering. TO BE
HAD, or TO BE SPOKE TO, were formerly synonymous phrases with TO BE

TALLY, five dozen bunches of turnips.

TAN, to beat or thrash; I’ll TAN your hide, _i.e._, give you a good

TANNER, a sixpence. _Gipsey_, TAWNO, little, or _Latin_, TENER, slender?

TANNY, or TEENY, little. _Gipsey_, TAWNO, little.

TANTREMS, pranks, capers, or frolicking; from the _Tarantula_ dance?
See account of the involuntary phrensy and motions caused by the bite
of the tarantula in Italy.—_Penny Cyclopædia._

TAPE, gin,—term with female servants.

TAPER, to gradually give over, to run short.

TAP TUB, the _Morning Advertiser_.

TAT BOX, a dice box.

TATER, “s’elp my TATER,” another street evasion of a profane oath,
sometimes varied by “s’elp my GREENS.”

TATLER, a watch; “nimming a TATLER,” stealing a watch.

TATS, dice.

TATS, old rags; MILKY TATS, white rags.

TATTING, gathering old rags.

TAW, a large or principal marble; “I’ll be one on your TAW,” I will pay
you out, or be even with you,—a simile taken from boys aiming always at
winning the TAW when playing at marbles.


TEETH, “he has cut his _eye_ TEETH,” _i.e._, is old and cute enough.

TEETH-DRAWING, wrenching off knockers.

TEETOTALLER, a total abstainer from alcoholic drinks.

TEETOTALLY, amplification of TOTALLY.

TELL-ON, to tell about.

TENPENCE TO THE SHILLING, a vulgar phrase denoting a deficiency in

TESTER, sixpence. From TESTONE, a shilling in the reign of Henry VIII.,
but a sixpence in the time of Q. Elizabeth.—_Shakespere._ _French_,
TESTE, or TETE, the head of the monarch on the coin.

TEVISS, a shilling.

THEATRE, a police court.

THICK, intimate, familiar. _Scotch_, CHIEF; “the two are very CHIEF
now,” _i.e._, friendly.

THICK-UN, a sovereign; a crown piece, or five shillings.

THIMBLE, or YACK, a watch.

THIMBLE-RIG, a noted cheating game played at fairs and places of
great public thronging, consisting of two or three thimbles rapidly
and dexterously placed over a pea, when the THIMBLE-RIGGER, suddenly
ceasing, asks you under which thimble the pea is to be found. If you
are not a practised hand you will lose nine times out of ten any bet
you may happen to make with him. The pea is sometimes concealed under
his nail.

THIMBLE TWISTERS, thieves who rob persons of their watches.

THINSKINNED, over nice, petulant, apt to get a “raw.”

THREE SHEETS IN THE WIND, unsteady from drink.—_Sea._

THREE-UP, a gambling game played by costers. Three halfpennies are
thrown up, and when they fall all “heads,” or all “tails,” it is a
mark; and the man who gets the greatest number of marks out of a given
amount—three, five, or more—wins. The costers are very quick and
skilful at this game, and play fairly at it amongst themselves; but
should a stranger join in they invariably unite to cheat him.

THRUMS, threepence.

THRUMMER, a threepenny bit.

THRUPS, threepence.

THUMPING, large, fine, or strong.

THUNDERER, the _Times_ newspaper.

THUNDERING, large, extra-sized.

TIBBING OUT, going out of bounds.—_Charterhouse._

TICK, credit, trust. _Johnson_ says it is a corruption of
_ticket_,—tradesmen’s bills being formerly written on tickets or cards.
ON TICK, therefore, is equivalent to _on ticket_, or on trust. In
use 1668. Cuthbert Bede, in _Notes and Queries_, supplies me with an
earlier date, from the _Gradus ad Cantabrigiam_.

  “No matter upon landing whether you have money or no—you may swim in
  twentie of their boats over the river UPON TICKET.”—_Decker’s Gul’s
  Hornbook_, 1609.

TICKER, a watch.

TICKET, “that’s the TICKET,” _i.e._, what was wanted, or what is
best. Corruption of “that is not _etiquette_,” by adding, in vulgar
pronunciation, _th_ to the first _e_ of etiquette; or, perhaps, from
TICKET, a bill or invoice. This phrase is sometimes extended into
“that’s the TICKET FOR SOUP,” in allusion to the card given to beggars
for immediate relief at soup kitchens.—_See_ TICK.

TIDY, tolerably, or pretty well; “how did you get on to-day”—“Oh,

TIED UP, given over, finished; also married, in allusion to the
Hymenial knot, unless a jocose allusion be intended to the _halter_

TIFFIN, a breakfast, _dejeuner a la fourchette_.—_Anglo Indian slang._

TIGER, a boy employed to wait on _gentlemen_; one who waits on ladies
is a page.

TIGHT, close, stingy; hard up, short of cash; TIGHT, spruce, strong,
active; “a TIGHT lad,” a smart, active young fellow; TIGHT, drunk, or
nearly so; “TIGHT laced,” puritanical, over-precise. Money is said to
be TIGHT, when the public, from want of confidence in the aspect of
affairs, are not inclined to speculate.

TIGHTNER, a dinner, or hearty meal.

TIKE, or BUFFER LURKING, dog stealing.

TILE, a hat; a covering for the head.

  “I’m a gent, I’m a gent,
    In the Regent-street style,—
  Examine my vest,
    And look at my TILE.”—_Popular Song._

Sometimes used in another sense, “having a TILE loose,” _i.e._, being
slightly crazy.—_See_ PANTILE.

TIMBER MERCHANT, or SPUNK FENCER, a lucifer match seller.

TIME O’ DAY, a dodge, the latest aspect of affairs; “that’s your TIME
O’ DAY,” _i.e._, _Euge_, well done; to PUT A PERSON UP TO THE TIME O’
DAY, let him know what is o’clock,—to instruct him in the knowledge
needful for him.

TIN, money,—generally applied to silver.

TINGE, the percentage allowed by drapers and clothiers to their
assistants, upon the sale of old-fashioned articles.—_See_ SPIFFS.

TIN-POT, “he plays a TIN-POT game,” _i.e._, a low or shabby

TIP, a douceur; also to give, lend, or hand over anything to another
person; “come, TIP up the tin,” _i.e._, hand up the money; “TIP the
wink,” to inform by winking; “TIP us your fin,” _i.e._, give me your
hand; “TIP one’s boom off,” to make off, depart.—_Sea._ “To miss one’s
TIP,” to fail in a scheme.—_Old cant._

TIP THE DOUBLE, to “bolt,” or run away from a creditor or officer.
Sometimes TIP THE DOUBLE TO SHERRY, _i.e._, to the sheriff.

TIP-TOP, first-rate, of the best kind.

TIPTOPPER, a “swell,” or dressy man, a “_Gorger_.”

TIT, favourite name for a horse.

TIT FOR TAT, an equivalent.

TITIVATE, to put in order, or dress up.

TITLEY, drink.

TITTER, a girl.

’TIZER, the _Morning Advertiser_.

TIZZY, a sixpence. Corruption of TESTER.

TOASTING FORK, derisive term for a sword.

TOBY CONSARN, a highway expedition.

TOBY, a road; “high TOBY,” the turnpike road. “High TOBY spice,”
robbery on horse-back.—_Don Juan_, canto xi., 19.

TODDLE, to walk as a child.

TO-DO (pronounced quickly, and as one word), a disturbance, trouble;
“here’s a pretty TO-DO,” here is an unpleasant difficulty. This exactly
tallies with the _French_ word AFFAIRE (_a faire_).—_See Forby’s
Vocabulary of East Anglia._

TOFFER, a well dressed, “gay” woman.

TOFFICKY, dressy, showy.

TOFT, a showy individual, a SWELL, a person who, according to a
Yorkshireman’s vocabulary, is UP-ISH.

TOG, a coat. _Latin_, TOGA.—_Ancient cant._

TOG, to dress, or equip with an outfit; “TOGGED out to the nines,”
dressed in the first style.

TOGS, clothes; “Sunday TOGS,” best clothes. One of the oldest cant
words, in use in the time of Henry VIII.

TOGERY, clothes, harness, domestic paraphernalia of any kind.

TOKE, dry bread.

TOL-LOL, or TOL-LOLISH, tolerable, or tolerably.


TOMMY, bread,—generally a penny roll.

TOMMY, a truck, barter, the exchange of labour for goods, not money.
Both term and practice general among English operatives for half-a

TOMMY-MASTER, one who pays his workmen in goods, or gives them tickets
upon tradesmen, with whom he shares the profit.

TOMMY SHOP, where wages are generally paid to mechanics or others, who
are expected to “take out” a portion of the money in goods.

TOM-TOM, a street instrument, a small kind of drum beaten with
the fingers, somewhat like the ancient tabor; a performer on
this instrument. It was imported, doubtless, with the _Nigger_
melodies,—TOM-TOMS being a favourite instrument with the darkies.

TONGUED, talkative; “to TONGUE a person,” _i.e._, talk him down.

TOOL, “a poor TOOL,” a bad hand at anything.

TOOL, to drive a mail coach.

TOOL, to pick pockets.

TOOLER, a pickpocket. MOLL-TOOLER, a female pickpocket.

TOOTH, “he has cut his eye TOOTH,” _i.e._, he is sharp enough, or
old enough, to be so; “up in the TOOTH,” far advanced in age,—said
often of old maids. _Stable term_ for aged horses which have lost the
distinguishing mark in their teeth.

TOPHEAVY, drunk.

TOPPED, hung or executed.

TOP-SAWYER, the principal of a party, or profession. “A TOP-SAWYER,
signifies a man that is a master genius in any profession. It is a
piece of _Norfolk_ slang, and took its rise from Norfolk being a great
timber county, where the _top_ sawyers get double the wages of those
beneath them.”—_Randall’s Diary_, 1820.

TOPS, dying speeches and gallows broadsides.

TOPSY-TURVY, the bottom upwards. _Grose_ gives an ingenious etymology
of this once cant term, viz., “_top-side turf-ways_,”—turf being always
laid the wrong side upwards.

TO-RIGHTS, excellent, very well, or good.

TORPIDS, the second-class race-boats at Oxford, answering to the
Cambridge SLOGGERS.

TOSHERS, men who steal copper from ships’ bottoms in the Thames.

TOSS, a measure of sprats.

TOUCHED, slightly intoxicated.

TOUCHER, “as near as a TOUCHER,” as near as possible without actually
touching.—_Coaching term._ The old jarveys, to show their skill, used
to drive against things so close as absolutely to _touch_, yet without
injury. This they called a TOUCHER, or, TOUCH AND GO, which was hence
applied to anything which was within an ace of ruin.

TOUCHY, peevish, irritable. _Johnson_ terms it a low word.

TOUT, to look out, or watch.—_Old cant._

TOUTER, a looker out, one who watches for customers, a hotel runner.

TOWEL, to beat or whip. In _Warwickshire_ an oaken stick is termed a
TOWEL—whence, perhaps, the vulgar verb.

TOWELLING, a rubbing down with an _oaken_ TOWEL, a beating.

TRACKS, “to make TRACKS,” to run away.—_See_ STREAK.

TRANSLATOR, a man who deals in old shoes or clothes, and refits them
for cheap wear.

TRANSLATORS, second-hand boots mended and polished, and sold at a low
price. Monmouth-street, Seven Dials, is a great market for TRANSLATORS.

TRANSMOGRIPHY, to alter or change.

TRAP, a “fast” term for a carriage of any kind. TRAPS, goods and
chattels of any kind, but especially luggage and personal effects; in
Australia, SWAG.

TRAP, “up to TRAP,” knowing, wide awake,—synonymous with “up to SNUFF.”

TRAP, a sheriff’s officer.

TRAPESING, gadding or gossiping about in a slatternly way.—_North._

TRAVELLER, name given by one tramp to another. “A TRAVELLER at her
Majesty’s expense,” _i.e._, a transported felon, a convict.

TREE, “up a TREE,” in temporary difficulties,—out of the way. _American
expression_, derived from RACCOON or BEAR-HUNTING. When Bruin is TREED,
or is forced UP A TREE by the dogs, it means that then the tug of war
begins.—_See_ ’COON. Hence when an opponent is fairly run to bay, and
can by no evasion get off, he is said to be TREED. These expressions
originated with Colonel Crockett. In _Scotland_ the phrase is “up a
CLOSE,” _i.e._, a passage, out of the usual track, or removed from

TRINE, to hang.—_Ancient cant._

TROLLING, sauntering or idling.

TROLLY, or TROLLY-CARTS, term given by costermongers to a species of
narrow cart, which can either be drawn by a donkey, or driven by hand.

TROTTER, a tailor’s man who goes round for orders.—_University._


TROTTERS, feet. Sheep’s TROTTERS, boiled sheep’s feet, a favourite
street delicacy.

TRUCK, to exchange or barter.

TRUCK-GUTTED, pot-bellied, corpulent.—_Sea._

TRUCKS, trowsers.

TRUMP, a good fellow; “a regular TRUMP,” a jolly or good natured
person,—in allusion to a TRUMP card; “TRUMPS may turn up,” _i.e._,
fortune may yet favour me.

TUB THUMPING, preaching or speech making.

TUCK, a schoolboy’s term for fruit, pastry, &c. TUCK IN, or TUCK OUT, a
good meal.

TUFTS, fellow commoners, _i.e._, wealthy students at the University,
who pay higher fees, dine with the Dons, and are distinguished by
golden TUFTS, or tassels, in their caps.

TUFT-HUNTER, a hanger on to persons of quality or wealth. Originally
_University slang_, but now general.

TUMBLE, to comprehend or understand. A coster was asked what he thought
of _Macbeth_,—“the witches and the fighting was all very well, but the
other moves I couldn’t TUMBLE to exactly; few on us can TUMBLE to the
jaw-breakers; they licks us, they do.”

TURF, horse racing, and betting thereon; “on the TURF,” one
who occupies himself with race course business; said also of a
street-walker, nymph of the pavé.

TURKEY-MERCHANTS, dealers in plundered or contraband silk. Poulterers
are sometimes termed TURKEY MERCHANTS, in remembrance of Horne Tooke’s
answer to the boys at Eton, who wished in an aristocratic way to know
who _his_ father was,—a TURKEY MERCHANT, replied Tooke;—his father was
a poulterer. TURKEY MERCHANT, also, was formerly slang for a driver of
turkeys or geese to market.

TURNED OVER, to be stopped and searched by the police.

TURNED UP, acquitted by the magistrate or judge for want of evidence.

TURNER OUT, a coiner of bad money.

TURN OUT, personal show or appearance; a man with a showy carriage and
horses is said to have a good TURN OUT.

TURNOVER, an apprentice who finishes with a second master the
indentures he commenced with the first.

TURNPIKE-SAILORS, beggars who go about dressed as sailors.

TURN UP, a street fight; a sudden leaving, or making off.

TURN UP, to quit, change, abscond, or abandon; “Ned has TURNED UP,”
_i.e._ run away; “I intend TURNING IT UP,” _i.e._ leaving my present
abode or altering my course of life. Also to happen; let’s wait, and
see what will TURN UP.

TUSHEROON, a crown piece, five shillings.

TUSSLE, a pull, struggle, fight, or argument. _Johnson_ and _Webster_
call it a vulgar word.

TUSSLE, to struggle, or argue.

TWELVER, a shilling.

TWIG, style, _à-la-mode_; “get your strummel faked in TWIG,” _i.e._,
have your hair dressed in style; PRIME TWIG, in good order, and high

TWIG, “to hop the TWIG,” to decamp, “cut one’s stick,” to die.

TWIG, to understand, detect, or observe.

TWIST, brandy and gin mixed.

TWIST, appetite; “Will’s got a capital TWIST.”

TWITCHETTY, nervous, fidgetty.

TWITTER, “all in a TWITTER,” in a fright, or fidgetty state.

TWO-HANDED, awkward.

TWOPENNY, the head; “tuck in your TWOPENNY,” bend down your head.

TWOPENNY-HOPS, low dancing rooms, the price of admission to which was
formerly—and not infrequently now—two pence. The clog hornpipe, the
pipe dance, flash jigs, and hornpipes in fetters, _à la_ Jack Sheppard,
are the favourite movements, all entered into with great spirit and
“joyous, laborious capering.”—_Mayhew._

TYBURN COLLAR, the fringe of beard worn under the chin.—_See_ NEWGATE

TYE, or TIE, a neckerchief. Proper hosier’s term now, but slang thirty
years ago, and as early as 1718. Called also, SQUEEZE.

UNBETTY, to unlock.—_See_ BETTY.

UNCLE, the pawnbroker.—_See_ MY UNCLE.


UNICORN, a style of driving with two wheelers abreast, and one
leader,—termed in the _United States_, a SPIKE TEAM. TANDEM is one
wheeler and one leader. RANDOM, three horses in line.



UP, “to be UP to a thing or two,” to be knowing, or understanding; “to
put a man UP to a move,” to teach him a trick; “it’s all UP with him,”
_i.e._, it is all over with him, often pronounced U.P., naming the two
letters separately; “UP a tree,” see TREE; “UP to TRAP,” “UP to SNUFF,”
wide awake, acquainted with the last new move; “UP to one’s GOSSIP,”
to be a match for one who is trying to take you in;—“UP to SLUM,”
proficient in roguery, capable of committing a theft successfully.

UPPER BENJAMIN, a great coat.

UPPER STOREY, or UPPER LOFT, a person’s head; “his UPPER STOREY is
unfurnished,” _i.e._, he does not know very much.

UPPISH, proud, arrogant.

USED UP, broken-hearted, bankrupt, fatigued.

VAMOS, or VAMOUS, to go, or be off. _Spanish_, VAMOS, “let us go!”
Probably NAMUS or NAMOUS the costermonger’s word, was from this,
although it is generally considered back slang.

VAMPS, old stockings. From VAMP, to piece.

VARDO, to look; “VARDO the cassey,” look at the house. VARDO formerly
was _old cant_ for a wagon.

VARMENT, “you young VARMENT, you!” you bad, or naughty boy. Corruption
of _vermin_.

VELVET, the tongue.


VIC., the Victoria Theatre, London,—patronised principally by
costermongers and low people; also the street abbreviation of the
Christian name of her Majesty the Queen.

VILLAGE, or THE VILLAGE, _i.e._, London.—_Sporting._

VILLE, or VILE, a town or village.—pronounced _phial_, or

VINNIED, mildewed, or sour.—_Devonshire._

VOKER, to talk; “can you VOKER Romany?” can you speak the canting
language.—_Latin_, VOCARE; _Spanish_, VOCEAR.

WABBLE, to move from side to side, to roll about. _Johnson_ terms it a
“low, barbarous word.”

WALKER! or HOOKEY WALKER! an ejaculation of incredulity, said when a
person is telling a story which you know to be all gammon, or false.
The _Saturday Reviewer’s_ explanation of the phrase is this:—“Years
ago, there was a person named _Walker_, an aquiline-nosed Jew,
who exhibited an orrery, which he called by the erudite name of
_Eidouranion_. He was also a popular lecturer on astronomy, and often
invited his pupils, telescope in hand, to _take a sight_ at the moon
and stars. The lecturer’s phrase struck his school-boy auditory, who
frequently “took a sight” with that gesture of outstretched arm, and
adjustment to nose and eye, which was the first garnish of the popular
saying. The next step was to assume phrase and gesture as the outward
and visible mode of knowingness in general.” A correspondent, however,
denies this, and states that HOOKEY WALKER was a magistrate of dreaded
acuteness and incredulity, whose hooked nose gave the title of BEAK to
all his successors; and, moreover, that the gesture of applying the
thumb to the nose and agitating the little finger, as an expression of
“Don’t you wish you may get it?” is considerably older than the story
in the _Saturday Review_ would seem to indicate. There is a third
explanation of HOOKEY WALKER in _Notes and Queries_, iv., 425.

WALK INTO, to overcome, to demolish; “I’ll WALK INTO his affections”
_i.e._, I will scold or thrash him. The word DRIVE (which see) is used
in an equally curious sense in slang speech.

WALK OVER, a re-election without opposition.—_Parliamentary_,
but derived from the _Turf_, where a horse—which has no rivals
entered—WALKS OVER the course, and wins without exertion.

WALK-THE-BARBER, to lead a girl astray.

WALK YOUR CHALKS, be off, or run away,—spoken sharply by any one who
wishes to get rid of you.—_See_ CHALKS.

WALL-FLOWER, a person who goes to a ball, and looks on without dancing,
either from choice or not being able to obtain a partner.

WALL-FLOWERS, left-off and “regenerated” clothes, exposed for sale in

WALLOP, to beat, or thrash. Mr. John Gough Nichols derives this word
from an ancestor of the Earl of Portsmouth, one Sir John Wallop, Knight
of the Garter, who, in King Henry VIII.’s time, distinguished himself
by WALLOPING the French; but it is more probably connected with WEAL, a
livid swelling in the skin, after a blow.—_See_ POT WALLOPER.

WALLOPING, a beating or thrashing; sometimes in an adjective sense, as
big, or very large.

WAPPING, or WHOPPING, of a large size, great.

WARM, rich, or well off.

WARM, to thrash, or beat; “I’ll WARM your jacket.”

WASH, “it won’t WASH,” _i.e._, will not stand investigation, is not
genuine, can’t be believed.

WATCHMAKER, a pickpocket, or stealer of watches.

WATCH AND SEALS, a sheep’s head and pluck.

WATER-BEWITCHED, very weak tea, the third brew (or the first at some
houses), grog much diluted.


WATERMAN, a light blue silk handkerchief. The Oxford and Cambridge
boats’ crews always wear these—light blue for Cambridge, and a darker
shade for Oxford.

WATTLES, ears.

WAXY, cross, ill-tempered.

WEDGE, silver.—_Old cant._

WEDGE-FEEDER, silver spoon.

WEED, a cigar; _the_ WEED, tobacco generally.

WELL, to pocket, or place as in a well.

WENCH, provincial and old-fashioned term for a girl, derived from WINK.
In _America_, negro girls only are termed WENCHES.

WEST CENTRAL, a water-closet, the initials being the same as those
of the London Postal District. It is said that for this reason very
delicate people refuse to obey Rowland Hill’s instructions in this

WET, a drink, a “drain.”

WET, to drink. Low people generally ask an acquaintance to WET any
recently purchased article, _i.e._, to stand treat on the occasion;
“WET your whistle,” _i.e._, take a drink; “WET the other eye,” _i.e._,
take another glass.

WET QUAKER, a drunkard of that sect; a man who pretends to be
religious, and is a dram drinker on the sly.

WHACK, a share or lot; “give me my WHACK,” give me my share. _Scotch_,

WHACK, to beat; WHACK, or WHACKING, a blow or thrashing.

WHACKING, large, fine, or strong.

WHALE, “very like a WHALE in a teacup,” said of anything that is very
improbable; taken from a speech of Polonius in _Hamlet_.

WHEEDLE, to entice by soft words. “This word cannot be found to derive
itself from any other, and therefore is looked upon as wholly invented
by the CANTERS.”—_Triumph of Wit_, 1705.

WHERRET, or WORRIT, to scold, trouble, or annoy.—_Old English._

WHIDDLE, to enter into a parley, or hesitate with many words, &c.; to
inform, or discover.

WHIDS, words.—_Old Gipsey cant._

WHIM-WAM, an alliterative term, synonymous with _fiddle-faddle_,
_riff-raff_, &c., denoting nonsense, rubbish, &c.

WHIP, to “WHIP anything _up_,” to take it up quickly; from the
method of hoisting heavy goods or horses on board ship by a WHIP, or
running tackle, from the yard-arm. Generally used to express anything
dishonestly taken.—_L’Estrange_ and _Johnson_.

WHIP JACK, a sham shipwrecked sailor, called also a TURNPIKE sailor.

WHIPPER-SNAPPER, a waspish, diminutive person.

WHIPPING THE CAT, when an operative works at a private house by the
day. Term used amongst tailors and carpenters.

WHISKER. There is a curious slang phrase connected with this word. When
an improbable story is told, the remark is, “the mother of that was a
WHISKER,” meaning it is a lie.

WHISTLE, “as clean as a WHISTLE,” neatly, or “SLICKLY done,” as an
American would say; “to WET ONE’S WHISTLE,” to take a drink. This is
a very old term. _Chaucer_ says of the Miller of Trumpington’s wife
(_Canterbury Tales_, 4153)—

  “So was hir joly WHISTAL well Y-WET;”

“to WHISTLE FOR ANYTHING,” to stand small chance of getting it, from
the nautical custom of _whistling_ for a wind in a calm, which of
course comes none the sooner for it.

WHITE FEATHER, “to show the WHITE FEATHER,” to evince cowardice. In the
times when great attention was paid to the breeding of game-cocks, a
white feather in the tail was considered a proof of cross-breeding.

WHITE LIE, a harmless lie, one told to reconcile people at variance;
“mistress is not at home, sir,” is a WHITE LIE often told by servants.

WHITE LIVER’D, or LIVER FACED, cowardly, much afraid, very mean.

WHITE PROP, a diamond pin.

WHITE SATIN, gin,—term amongst women.

WHITE TAPE, gin,—term used principally by female servants.

WHITE WINE, the fashionable term for gin.

  “Jack Randall then impatient rose,
    And said, ‘Tom’s speech were just as fine
  If he would call that first of GO’S
    By that genteeler name—WHITE WINE.’”

  _Randall’s Diary_, 1820.

WHITECHAPEL, or WESTMINSTER BROUGHAM, a costermonger’s donkey-barrow.

WHITECHAPEL, the “upper-cut,” or strike.—_Pugilistic._

WHITEWASH, when a person has taken the benefit of the Insolvent Act he
is said to have been WHITEWASHED.

WHOP, to beat, or hide. Corruption of WHIP sometimes spelled WAP.

WHOP-STRAW, cant name for a countryman; _Johnny_ WHOP-STRAW, in
allusion to threshing.

WHOPPER, a big one, a lie.

WIDDLE, to shine.—_See_ OLIVER.

WIDE-AWAKE, a broad-brimmed felt, or stuff hat,—so called because it
never had a _nap_, and never wants one.

WIDO, wide awake, no fool.

WIFE, a fetter fixed to one leg.—_Prison._

WIFFLE-WOFFLES, in the dumps, sorrow, stomach ache.

WIGGING, a rebuke _before comrades_. If the head of a firm calls a
clerk into the parlour, and rebukes him, it is an _earwigging_; if done
before the other clerks, it is a WIGGING.

WILD, a village.—_Tramps’ term._—_See_ VILE.

WILD, vexed, cross, passionate. In the United States the word _mad_ is
supplemented with a vulgar meaning similar to our Cockneyism, WILD; and
to make a man MAD on the other side of the Atlantic is to vex him, or
“rile” his temper—not to render him a raving maniac, or a fit subject
for Bedlam.

WILD OATS, youthful pranks.

WIND, “to raise the WIND,” to procure money; “to slip one’s WIND,”
coarse expression meaning to die.

WIND, “I’ll WIND your cotton,” _i.e._, I will give you some trouble.
The Byzantine General, Narses, used the same kind of threat to the
Greek Empress,—“I will spin such a thread that they shall not be able
to unravel.”

WINDED-SETTLED, transported for life.

WINDOWS, the eyes, or “peepers.”

WINEY, intoxicated.

WINKIN, “he went off like WINKIN,” _i.e._, very quickly.

WINKS, periwinkles.

WINN, a penny.—_Ancient cant._

WIPE, a pocket handkerchief.—_Old cant._

WIPE, a blow.

WIPE, to strike; “he fetcht me a WIPE over the knuckles,” he struck
me on the knuckles; “to WIPE a person down,” to flatter or pacify a
person; to WIPE off a score, to pay one’s debts, in allusion to the
slate or chalk methods of account keeping; “to WIPE a person’s eye,”
to shoot game which he has missed—_Sporting term_; hence to obtain an
advantage by superior activity.

WIRE, a thief with long fingers, expert at picking ladies’ pockets.

WOBBLESHOP, where beer is sold without a license.

WOODEN SPOON, the last junior optime who takes a University
degree; denoting one who is only fit to stay at home, and stir

WOODEN WEDGE, the last name in the classical honours list at Cambridge.
The last in mathematical honours had long been known as the WOODEN
SPOON; but when the classical Tripos was instituted, in 1824, it was
debated among the undergraduates what _sobriquet_ should be given to
the last on the examination list. Curiously enough, the name that year
which happened to be last was WEDGEWOOD (a distinguished Wrangler).
Hence the title.

WOOL, courage, pluck; “you are not half-WOOLLED,” term of reproach from
one thief to another.

WOOLBIRD, a lamb; “wing of a WOOLBIRD,” a shoulder of lamb.

WOOL-GATHERING, said of any person’s wits when they are wandering, or
in a reverie.—_Florio._

WOOL-HOLE, the workhouse.

WORK, to plan, or lay down and execute any course of action, to perform
anything; “to WORK the BULLS,” _i.e._, to get rid of false crown
pieces; “to WORK the ORACLE,” to succeed by manœuvring, to concert a
wily plan, to victimise,—a possible reference to the stratagems and
bribes used to corrupt the _Delphic oracle_, and cause it to deliver
a favourable response. “To WORK a street or neighbourhood,” trying at
each house to sell all one can, or so bawling that every housewife
may know what you have to sell. The general plan is to drive a donkey
barrow a short distance, and then stop and cry. The term implies
thoroughness; to “WORK a street well” is a common saying with a coster.

WORM, _see_ PUMP.

WORMING, removing the beard of an oyster or muscle.

W.P., or WARMING PAN. A clergyman who holds a living _pro tempore_,
under a bond of resignation, is styled a W.P., or WARMING PAN rector,
because he keeps the place warm for his successor.—_Clerical slang._

WRINKLE, an idea, or fancy; an additional piece of knowledge which is
supposed to be made by a WRINKLE _à posteriori_.

WRITE, “to WRITE ONE’S NAME on a joint,” to have the first cut at
anything,—leaving sensible traces of one’s presence on it.

YACK, a watch; to “_church_ a YACK,” to take it out of its case to
avoid detection.

YARD OF CLAY, a long, old-fashioned tobacco pipe, also called a

YARMOUTH CAPON, a bloater, or red herring.—_Old_—_Ray’s Proverbs._

YARN, a long story, or tale; “a tough YARN,” a tale hard to be
believed; “spin a YARN,” tell a tale.—_Sea._

YAY-NAY, “a poor YAY-NAY” fellow, one who has no conversational power,
and can only answer _yea_ or _nay_ to a question.

YELLOW BELLY, a native of the Fens of Lincolnshire, or the Isle of
Ely,—in allusion to the frogs and a yellow-bellied eel caught there;
they are also said to be _web-footed_.

YELLOW-BOY, a sovereign, or any gold coin.

YELLOW-GLOAK, a jealous man.

YELLOW-JACK, the yellow fever prevalent in the West Indies.

YELLOW-MAN, a yellow silk handkerchief.

YOKEL, a countryman.—_West._

YOKUFF, a chest, or large box.

YORKSHIRE, “to YORKSHIRE,” or “come YORKSHIRE over any person,” is to
cheat or BITE them.—_North._

YORKSHIRE ESTATES, “I will do it when I come into my YORKSHIRE
ESTATES,”—meaning if I ever have the money or the means. The phrase is
said to have originated with _Dr. Johnson_.

YOUNKER, in street language, a lad or a boy. Term in general use
amongst costermongers, cabmen, and old-fashioned people. _Barnefield’s
Affectionate Shepherd_, 1594, has the phrase, “a seemelie YOUNKER.”
_Danish_ and _Friesic_, JONKER. In the _Navy_, a naval cadet is usually
termed a YOUNKER.

YOUR-NIBS, yourself.

ZIPH, LANGUAGE OF, a way of disguising English in use among the
students at _Winchester College_. Compare MEDICAL GREEK.

ZOUNDS, a sudden exclamation,—abbreviation of _God’s wounds_.



The costermongers of London number between thirty and forty thousand.
Like other low tribes, they boast a language, or secret tongue, in
which they hide their earnings, movements, and other private affairs.
This costers’ speech, as Mayhew remarks, offers no new fact, or
approach to a fact, for philologists; it is not very remarkable for
originality of construction; neither is it spiced with low humour,
as other cant. But the costermongers boast that it is known only to
themselves; that it is far beyond the Irish, and puzzles the Jews.

_The main principle of this language is spelling the words
backwards,—or rather, pronouncing them rudely backwards._ Sometimes,
for the sake of harmony, an extra syllable is prefixed, or annexed;
and, occasionally, the word is given quite a different turn in
rendering it backwards, from what an uninitiated person would have
expected. One coster told Mayhew that he often gave the end of a word
“a new turn, just as if he chorussed it with a tol-de-rol.” Besides,
the coster has his own idea of the _proper_ way of spelling words, and
is not to be convinced but by an overwhelming show of learning,—and
frequently not then, for he is a very headstrong fellow. By the time
a coster has spelt an ordinary word of two or three syllables in the
proper way, and then spelt it backwards, it has become a tangled knot
that no etymologist could unravel. The word GENERALISE, for instance,
is considered to be “shilling” spelt backwards. Sometimes Slang
and Cant words are introduced, and even these, when imagined to be
tolerably well known, are pronounced backwards. Other terms, such as
GEN, a shilling, and FLATCH, a halfpenny, help to confuse the outsider.

After a time, this back language, on BACK-SLANG, as it is called by the
costermongers themselves, comes to be regarded by the rising generation
of street sellers as a distinct and regular mode of speech. They never
refer words, by inverting them, to their originals; and the YENEPS and
ESCLOPS, and NAMOWS, are looked upon as proper, but secret terms. “But
it is a curious fact, that lads who become costermongers’ boys, without
previous association with the class, acquire a very ready command of
the language, and this though they are not only unable to spell, but
‘don’t know a letter in a book.[56]’” They soon obtain a considerable
stock vocabulary, so that they converse rather from the memory than the
understanding. Amongst the senior costermongers, and those who pride
themselves on their proficiency in BACK-SLANG, a conversation is often
sustained for a whole evening, especially if any “flatties” are present
whom they wish to astonish or confuse. The women use it sparingly, but
the girls are generally well acquainted with it.

The addition of an _s_, I should state, always forms the plural, so
that this is another source of complication. For instance, _woman_
in the BACK-SLANG, is NAMOW, and NAMUS, or NAMOWS, is _women_, not
NEMOW. The explorer, then, in undoing the BACK-SLANG, and turning the
word NAMUS once more into English, would have _suman_,—a novel and
very extraordinary rendering of _women_. Where a word is refractory in
submitting to a back rendering, as in the case of _pound_, letters are
made to change positions for the sake of harmony; thus, we have DUNOP,
a pound, instead of _dnuop_ which nobody could pleasantly pronounce.
This will remind the reader of the Jews’ “_old clo! old clo!_” instead
of _old clothes, old clothes_, which would tire even the patience of a
Jew to repeat all day.

This singular BACK tongue has been in vogue about twenty-five years.
It is, as before stated, soon acquired, and is principally used by the
costermongers (as the specimen Glossary will show), for communicating
the secrets of their street tradings, the cost and profit of the goods,
and for keeping their natural enemies, the police, in the dark. COOL
THE ESCLOP (look at the police) is often said amongst them, when one of
the constabulary makes his appearance.

Perhaps on no subject is the costermonger so particular as on money
matters. All costs and profits he thinks should be kept profoundly
secret. The Back Slang, therefore, gives the various small amounts very

  FLATCH, halfpenny.

  YENEP, penny.

  OWT-YENEPS, twopence.

  ERTH-YENEPS, threepence.

  ROUF-YENEPS, fourpence.

  EVIF, or EWIF-YENEPS, fivepence.

  EXIS-YENEPS, sixpence.

  NEVIS-YENEPS, sevenpence.

  TEAICH, or THEG-YENEPS, eightpence.

  ENIN-YENEPS, ninepence.

  NET-YENEPS, tenpence.

  NEVELÉ-YENEPS, elevenpence.

  EVLÉNET-YENNEPS, twelvepence.

  GEN, or GENERALIZE, one shilling, or twelvepence.

  YENEP-FLATCH, three halfpence.

  OWT-YENEP-FLATCH, twopence halfpenny. &c. &c. &c.

  GEN, or ENO-GEN, one shilling.

  OWT-GENS, two shillings.

  ERTH-GENS, three shillings.

The GENS continue in the same sequence as the YENEPS above, excepting
THEG-GENS, 8s., which is usually rendered THEG-GUY,—a deviation with
ample precedents in all civilised tongues.

  YENORK, a crown piece, or five shillings.

  FLATCH-YENORK, half-a-crown.

Beyond this amount the costermonger reckons after an intricate
and complicated mode. Fifteen shillings would be ERTH-EVIF-GENS,
or, literally, three times 5s.; seventeen shillings would be
ERTH-YENORK-FLATCH, or three crowns and a half; or, by another mode of
reckoning, ERTH-EVIF-GENS FLATCH-YENORK, _i.e._, three times 5s., and

  DUNOP, a pound.

Further than which the costermonger seldom goes in money reckoning.

In the following Glossary only those words are given which
costermongers principally use,—the terms connected with street
traffic, the names of the different coins, vegetables, fruit and fish,
technicalities of police courts, &c.

The reader might naturally think that a system of speech so simple as
the BACK-SLANG would require no Glossary; but he will quickly perceive,
from the specimens given, that a great many words in frequent use in a
BACK sense, have become so twisted as to require a little glossarial


  BIRK, a “crib,”—house.

  COOL, to look.

  COOL HIM, look at him. A phrase frequently used when one costermonger
  warns another of the approach of a policeman.

  DAB, bad.

  DABHENO, one bad, or a bad market.—_See_ DOOGHENO.

  DAB TROS, a bad sort.

  DA-ERB, bread.

  DEB, or DAB, a bed; “I’m on to the DEB,” I’m going to bed.

  DILLO-NAMO, an old woman.

  DLOG, gold.

  DOOG, good.

  DOOGHENO, literally “one-good,” or “good-one,” but implying generally
  a good market.

  DOOGHENO HIT, one good hit. A coster remarks to a “mate,” “_Jack made
  a_ DOOGHENO HIT _this morning_,” implying that he did well at market,
  or sold out with good profit.

  DUNOP, a pound.

  ERTH, three.

  EARTH[57] GENS, three shillings.

  EARTH SITH-NOMS, three months.

  EARTH YANNOPS, or YENEPS, threepence.

  EDGABAC, cabbage.

  EDGENARO, an orange.

  E-FINK, knife.

  EKAME, a “make,” or swindle.

  EKOM, a “moke,” or donkey.

  ELRIG, a girl.

  ENIF, fine.

  ENIN GENS, nine shillings.

  ENIN YENEP, ninepence.

  ENIN YANNOPS, or YENEPS, ninepence.

  ENO, one.

  ERIF, fire.

  ERTH GENS, three shillings.

  ERTH-PU, three-up, a street game.

  ERTH SITH-NOMS, three months,—a term of imprisonment unfortunately
  very familiar to the lower orders.

  ERTH-YENEPS, threepence.

  ESCLOP, the police.

  ES-ROPH, or ES-ROCH, a horse.

  EVIF-YENEPS, five pence.

  EVLENET-GENS, twelve shillings.

  EVLENET SITH-NOMS, twelve months.

  EWIF-GENS, a crown, or five shillings.

  EWIF-YENEPS, fivepence.

  EXIS GENS, six shillings.

  EXIS-EWIF-GENS, six times five shillings, _i.e._, 30s. All moneys may
  be reckoned in this manner, either with YENEPS or GENS.

  EXIS-EVIF YENEPS, elevenpence,—literally, “sixpence and fivepence =
  elevenpence.” This mode of reckoning, distinct from the preceding, is
  also common amongst those who use the back slang.

  EXIS SITH-NOMS, six months.

  EXIS-YENEPS, sixpence.

  FI-HEATH, a thief.

  FLATCH, a half, or halfpenny.

  FLATCH KEN-NURD, half drunk.

  FLATCH YENEP, a halfpenny.

  FLATCH-YENORK, half-a-crown.

  GEN, twelvepence, or one shilling. Possibly an abbreviation of
  ARGENT, cant term for silver.—See following.

  GENERALIZE, a shilling, generally shortened to GEN.

  GEN-NET, or NET GENS, ten shillings.

  HEL-BAT, a table.

  HELPA, an apple.

  KENNETSEENO, stinking.

  KENNURD, drunk.

  KEW, a week.

  KEWS, or SKEW, weeks.

  KIRB, a brick.

  KOOL, to look.

  LAWT, tall.

  LEVEN, in back slang, is sometimes allowed to stand for _eleven_, for
  the reason that it is a number which seldom occurs. An article is
  either 10d. or 1s.

  LUR-AC-HAM, mackarel.

  MOTTAB, bottom.

  MUR, rum.

  NALE, or NAEL, lean.

  NAM, a man.

  NAMESCLOP, a policeman.

  NAMOW, a woman; DILLO NAMOW, an old woman.

  NEERGS, greens.

  NETENIN GENS, nineteen shillings.

  NEETEWIF GENS, fifteen shillings.

  NEETEXIS, or NETEXIS GENS, sixteen shillings.

  NETNEVIS GENS, seventeen shillings.

  NET-THEG GENS, eighteen shillings.

  NEETRITH GENS, thirteen shillings.

  NEETROUF GENS, fourteen shillings.

  NET-GEN, ten shillings, or half a sovereign.

  NET-YENEPS, tenpence.

  NEVELE GENS, eleven shillings.

  NEVELE YENEPS, elevenpence,—generally LEVEN YENEPS.

  NEVIS GENS, seven shillings.

  NEVIS STRETCH, seven years’ transportation, or imprisonment.—_See_
  STRETCH, in the _Slang Dictionary_.

  NEVIS YENEPS, sevenpence.

  NIRE, rain.

  NIG, gin.

  NI-OG OT TAKRAM, going to market.

  NITRAPH, a farthing.

  NOL, long.

  NOOM, the moon.

  NOS-RAP, a parson.

  OCCABOT, tobacco; “tib of OCCABOT,” bit of tobacco.

  ON, no.

  ON DOOG, no good.

  OWT GENS, two shillings.

  OWT YENEPS, twopence.

  PAC, a cap.

  PINURT POTS, turnip tops.

  POT, top.

  RAPE, a pear.

  REEB, beer.

  REV-LIS, silver.

  ROUF-EFIL, for life,—sentence of punishment.

  ROUF-GENS, four shillings.

  ROUF-YENEPS, fourpence.

  RUTAT, or RATTAT, a “tatur,” or potato.

  SAY, yes.

  SEE-O, shoes.

  SELOPAS, apples.

  SHIF, fish.

  SIR-ETCH, cherries.

  SITH-NOM, a month.

  SLAOC, coals.

  SLOP, a policeman.—_See Dictionary of Slang and Cant Words._

  SNEERG, greens.

  SOUSH, a house.

  SPINSRAP, parsnips.

  SRES WORT, trowsers.

  STARPS, sprats.

  STOOB, boots.

  STORRAC, carrots.

  STUN, nuts.

  STUNLAWS, walnuts.

  SWRET-SIO, oysters.

  TACH, a hat.

  TAF, or TAFFY, fat.

  THEG, or TEAICH GENS, eight shillings.

  TEAICH-GUY, eight shillings,—a slight deviation from the numerical
  arrangement of GENS.

  TENIP, a pint.

  THEG YENEPS, eightpence.

  TIB, a bit, or piece.

  TOAC, or TOG, a coat. TOG is the _old cant_ term.—_See Dictionary of
  Slang, &c._

  TOAC-TISAW, a waistcoat.

  TOL, lot, stock, or share.

  TOP O’ REEB, a pot of beer.

  TOP-YOB, a pot boy.

  TORRAC, a carrot.

  TRACK (or TRAG), a quart.

  TROSSENO, literally, “one-sort,” but the costermongers use it to
  imply anything that is bad.

  WAR-RAB, a barrow.

  WEDGE, a Jew.

  YAD, a day; YADS, days.

  YADNAB, brandy.

  YENEP, a penny.

  YENEP-A-TIME, penny each time,—term in betting.

  YENEP-FLATCH, three halfpence,—all the halfpence and pennies continue
  in the same sequence.

  YAP-POO, pay up.

  YEKNOD, or JERK-NOD, a donkey.

  YENORK, a crown.

  YOB, a boy.

  ZEB, best.



There exists in London a singular tribe of men, known amongst the
“fraternity of vagabonds” as Chaunters and Patterers. Both classes
are great talkers. The first sing or chaunt through the public
thoroughfares ballads—political and humorous—carols, dying speeches,
and the various other kinds of gallows and street literature. The
second deliver street orations on grease-removing compounds, plating
powders, high polishing blacking, and the thousand and one wonderful
pennyworths that are retailed to gaping mobs from a London kerb stone.

They are quite a distinct tribe from the costermongers; indeed, amongst
tramps, they term themselves the “harristocrats of the streets,” and
boast that they live by their intellects. Like the costermongers,
however, they have a secret tongue or Cant speech, known only to each
other. This Cant, which has nothing to do with that spoken by the
costermongers, is known in Seven Dials and elsewhere as the RHYMING
SLANG, _or the substitution of words and sentences which rhyme
with other words intended to be kept secret_. The chaunter’s Cant,
therefore, partakes of his calling, and he transforms and uses up into
a rough speech the various odds and ends of old songs, ballads, and
street nick-names, which are found suitable to his purpose. Unlike
nearly all other systems of Cant, the rhyming Slang is not founded
upon allegory; unless we except a few rude similes, thus—I’M AFLOAT is
the rhyming Cant for _boat_, SORROWFUL TALE is equivalent to _three
months in jail_, ARTFUL DODGER signifies a _lodger_, and a SNAKE IN THE
GRASS stands for a _looking-glass_—a meaning that would delight a fat
Chinaman, or a Collector of Oriental proverbs. But, as in the case of
the costers’ speech and the old gipsey-vagabond Cant, the chaunters and
patterers so interlard this rhyming Slang with their general remarks,
while their ordinary language is so smothered and subdued, that, unless
when they are professionally engaged and talking of their wares, they
might almost pass for foreigners.

From the inquiries I have made of various patterers and “paper
workers,” I learn that the rhyming Slang was introduced about twelve
or fifteen years ago. Numbering this class of oratorical and bawling
wanderers at twenty thousand, scattered over Great Britain, including
London and the large provincial towns, we thus see the number of
English vagabonds who converse in rhyme and talk poetry, although
their habitations and mode of life constitute a very unpleasant
Arcadia. These nomadic poets, like the other talkers of Cant or secret
languages, are stamped with the vagabond’s mark, and are continually
on the move. The married men mostly have lodgings in London, and come
and go as occasion may require. A few never quit London streets, but
the greater number tramp to all the large provincial fairs, and prefer
the MONKERY (country) to town life. Some transact their business in a
systematic way, sending a post-office order to the Seven Dials printer,
for a fresh supply of ballads or penny books, or to the SWAG SHOP, as
the case may be, for trinkets and gewgaws, to be sent on by rail to a
given town by the time they shall arrive there.

When any dreadful murder, colliery explosion, or frightful railway
accident has happened in a country district, three or four chaunters
are generally on the spot in a day or two after the occurrence, vending
and bawling “_A True and Faithful Account_,” &c., which “true and
faithful account” was concocted purely in the imaginations of the
successors of Catnach and Tommy Pitts,[58] behind the counters of their
printing shops in Seven Dials. And but few fairs are held in any part
of England without the patterer being punctually at his post, with
his nostrums, or real gold rings (with the story of the wager laid by
the gentleman—see FAWNEY BOUNCING, in the Dictionary), or save-alls
for candlesticks, or paste which, when applied to the strop, makes
the dullest razor keen enough to hack broom handles and sticks, and
after that to have quite enough sharpness left for splitting hairs, or
shaving them off the back of one of the clodhoppers’ hands, looking
on in amazement. And CHEAP JOHN, too, with his coarse jokes, and no
end of six-bladed knives, and pocket-books, containing information for
everybody, with pockets to hold money, and a pencil to write with in
the bargain, and a van stuffed with the cheap productions of Sheffield
and “Brummagem,”—he, too, is a patterer of the highest order, and
visits fairs, and can hold a conversation in the rhyming Slang.

Such is a rough description of the men who speak this jargon; and
simple and ridiculous as the vulgar scheme of a rhyming Slang may
appear, it must always be regarded as a curious fact in linguistic
history. In order that the reader’s patience may not be too much taxed,
only a selection of rhyming words has been given in the Glossary,—and
these for the most part, as in the case of the back Slang, are the
terms of everyday life, as used by this order of tramps and hucksters.

It must not be supposed, however, that the chaunter or patterer
confines himself entirely to this Slang when conveying secret
intelligence. On the contrary, although he speaks not a “leash of
languages,” yet is he master of the beggars’ Cant, and is thoroughly
“up” in street Slang. The following letter, written by a chaunter
to a gentleman who took an interest in his welfare, will show his
capabilities in this line.

  Dear Friend,[59]

  Excuse the liberty, since i saw you last i have not earned a thickun,
  we have had such a Dowry of Parny that it completely stumped or
  Coopered Drory the Bossmans Patter therefore i am broke up and not
  having another friend but you i wish to know if you would lend me
  the price of 2 Gross of Tops, Dies, or Croaks, which is 7 shillings,
  of the above mentioned worthy and Sarah Chesham the Essex Burick for
  the Poisoning job, they are both to be topped at Springfield Sturaban
  on Tuesday next. i hope you will oblige me if you can for it will be
  the means of putting a Quid or a James in my Clye. i will call at
  your Carser on Sunday Evening next for an answer, for i want to Speel
  on the Drum as soon as possible. hoping you and the family are All

  I remain Your obedient Servant,


  ABRAHAM’S WILLING, a shilling.


  ALL AFLOAT, a coat.

  ANY RACKET, a penny faggot.


  ARTFUL DODGER, a lodger.

  ARTICHOKE RIPE, smoke a pipe.

  BABY PAPS, caps.

  BARNET FAIR, hair.

  BATTLE OF THE NILE, a tile—vulgar term for a hat.

  BEN FLAKE, a steak.

  BILLY BUTTON, mutton.

  BIRCH BROOM, a room.

  BIRD LIME, time.

  BOB, MY PAL, a gal,—vulgar pronunciation of _girl_.

  BONNETS SO BLUE, Irish stew.

  BOTTLE OF SPRUCE, a deuce,—slang for twopence.

  BOWL THE HOOP, soup.

  BRIAN O’LINN, gin.

  BROWN BESS, yes—the affirmative.

  BROWN JOE, no—the negative.

  BULL AND COW, a row.

  BUSHY PARK, a lark.

  BUTTER FLAP, a cap.

  CAIN AND ABEL, a table.

  CAMDEN TOWN, a brown,—vulgar term for a halfpenny.

  CASTLE RAG, a flag,—slang term for fourpence.

  CAT AND MOUSE, a house.

  CHALK FARM, the arm.

  CHARING CROSS, a horse.

  CHARLEY LANCASTER, a handkercher,—vulgar pronunciation of

  CHARLEY PRESCOTT, waistcoat.

  CHERRY RIPE, a pipe.

  CHEVY CHASE, the face.

  CHUMP (OR CHUNK) OF WOOD, no good.

  COW AND CALF, to laugh.

  COVENT GARDEN, a farden,—Cockney pronunciation of farthing.

  COWS AND KISSES, mistress or missus—referring to the ladies.

  CURRANTS AND PLUMS, thrums,—slang for threepence.

  DAISY RECROOTS (so spelt by my informant of Seven Dials; he means,
  doubtless, _recruits_), a pair of boots.

  DAN TUCKER, butter.

  DING DONG, a song.

  DRY LAND, you understand.

  DUKE OF YORK, take a walk.

  EAST AND SOUTH, a mouth.

  EAT A FIG, to “crack a crib,” to break into a house, or commit a

  EGYPTIAN HALL, a ball.


  EPSOM RACES, a pair of braces.


  FANNY BLAIR, the hair.

  FILLET OF VEAL, the treadwheel, house of correction.


  FLAG UNFURLED, a man of the world.

  FLEA AND LOUSE, a bad house.

  FLOUNDER AND DAB (two kinds of flat fish), a cab.

  FLY MY KITE, a light.

  FROG AND TOAD, the main road.

  GARDEN GATE, a magistrate.

  GERMAN FLUTES, a pair of boots.

  GIRL AND BOY, a saveloy,—a penny sausage.

  GLORIOUS SINNER, a dinner.

  GODDESS DIANA (pronounced DIANER), a tanner,—sixpence.

  GOOSEBERRY PUDDING (_vulgo_ PUDDEN), a woman.

  HANG BLUFF, snuff.

  HOD OF MORTAR, a pot of porter.


  I DESIRE, a fire.

  I’M AFLOAT, a boat.

  ISLE OF FRANCE, a dance.

  ISABELLA (vulgar pronunciation, ISABELLER), an umbrella.

  I SUPPOSE, the nose.

  JACK DANDY, brandy.

  JACK RANDALL (a noted pugilist), a candle.

  JENNY LINDER, a winder,—vulgar pronunciation of window.

  JOE SAVAGE, a cabbage.

  LATH AND PLASTER, a master.

  LEAN AND LURCH, a church.

  LEAN AND FAT, a hat.


  LIVE EELS, fields.

  LOAD OF HAY, a day.

  LONG ACRE, a baker.

  LONG ACRE, a newspaper. See the preceding.

  LORD JOHN RUSSELL, a bustle.

  LORD LOVEL, a shovel.

  LUMP OF COKE, a bloak,—slang term for a man.

  LUMP OF LEAD, the head.

  MACARONI, a pony.

  MAIDS A DAWNING (I suppose my informant means _maids adorning_), the


  MINCE PIES, the eyes.


  MUFFIN BAKER, a Quaker.

  NAVIGATORS, taturs,—vulgar pronunciation of potatoes.

  NAVIGATOR SCOT, baked potatoes all hot.


  NEVER FEAR, a pint of beer.

  NIGHT AND DAY, go to the play.

  NOSE AND CHIN, a winn,—_ancient cant_ for a penny.

  NOSE-MY, backy,—vulgar pronunciation of tobacco.


  OATS AND CHAFF, a footpath.

  ORINOKO (pronounced ORINOKER), a poker.

  OVER THE STILE, sent for trial.

  PADDY QUICK, thick; or, a stick.

  PEN AND INK, a stink.

  PITCH AND FILL, Bill,—vulgar shortening for William.

  PLATE OF MEAT, a street.

  PLOUGH THE DEEP, to go to sleep.

  PUDDINGS AND PIES, the eyes.

  READ OF TRIPE (?), transported for life.

  READ AND WRITE, to fight.

  READ AND WRITE, flight.—See preceding.

  RIVER LEA, tea.

  ROGUE AND VILLAIN, a shillin,—common pronunciation of shilling.

  RORY O’MORE, the floor.

  ROUND THE HOUSES, trouses,—vulgar pronunciation of trousers.

  SALMON TROUT, the mouth.

  SCOTCH PEG, a leg.

  SHIP IN FULL SAIL, a pot of ale.

  SIR WALTER SCOTT, a pot,—of beer.

  SLOOP OF WAR, a whore.

  SNAKE IN THE GRASS, a looking glass.

  SORROWFUL TALE, three months in jail.

  SPLIT ASUNDER, a costermonger.

  SPLIT PEA, tea.


  STEAM PACKET, a jacket.

  ST. MARTINS-LE-GRAND, the hand.

  STOP THIEF, beef.


  SUGAR CANDY, brandy.

  TAKE A FRIGHT, night.

  THREE QUARTERS OF A PECK, the neck,—in writing, expressed by the
  simple “¾.”

  THROW ME IN THE DIRT, a shirt.

  TOMMY O’RANN, scran,—vulgar term for food.

  TOM TRIPE, a pipe.

  TOM RIGHT, night.

  TOP JINT (vulgar pronunciation of joint), a pint,—of beer.

  TOP OF ROME, home.

  TURTLE DOVES, a pair of gloves.

  TWO FOOT RULE, a fool.

  WIND DO TWIRL, a fine girl.



Slang has a literary history, the same as authorised language. More
than one hundred works have treated upon the subject in one form or
another,—a few devoting but a chapter, whilst many have given up their
entire pages to expounding its history and use. Old Harman, a worthy
man, who interested himself in suppressing and exposing vagabondism in
the days of good Queen Bess, was the first to write upon the subject.
Decker followed fifty years afterwards, but helped himself, evidently,
to his predecessor’s labours. Shakespere, Beaumont and Fletcher, Ben
Jonson, and Brome, each employed beggars’ Cant as part of the machinery
of their plays. Then came Head (who wrote “The English Rogue,” in 1680)
with a glossary of Cant words “used by the Gipseys.” But it was only a
reprint of what Decker had given sixty years before. About this time
authorised dictionaries began to insert vulgar words, labelling them
“Cant.” The Jack Sheppards and Dick Turpins of the early and middle
part of the last century made Cant popular, and many small works were
published upon the subject. But it was Grose, burly, facetious Grose,
who, in the year 1785, collected the scattered glossaries of Cant
and secret words, and formed one large work, adding to it all the
vulgar words and Slang terms used in his own day. I am aware that the
indelicacy and extreme vulgarity of the work renders it a disgrace to
its compiler, still we must admit that it is by far the most important
work which has ever appeared on street or popular language; indeed,
from its pages every succeeding work has, up to the present time, drawn
its contents. The great fault of Grose’s book consists in the author
not contenting himself with Slang and Cant terms, but the inserting
of every “smutty” and offensive word that could be raked out of the
gutters of the streets. However, Harman and Grose are, after all, the
only authors who have as yet treated the subject in an original manner,
or have written on it from personal inquiry.

AINSWORTH’S (William Harrison) Novels and Ballads. _London_, V.D.

  Some of this author’s novels, such as Rookwood and Jack Sheppard,
  abound in cant words, placed in the mouths of the highwaymen. The
  author’s ballads (especially “Nix my dolly pals fake away,”) have
  long been popular favourites.

ANDREWS’ (George) Dictionary of the Slang and Cant Languages, Ancient
and Modern, 12mo. _London_, 1809

  A sixpenny pamphlet, with a coloured frontispiece representing a
  beggar’s carnival.


  Mentioned by John Bee in the Introduction to his Sportsman’s Slang

ASH’S (John, LL.D.) New and Complete Dictionary of the English
Language, 2 vols. 8vo. 1775

  Contains a great number of cant words and phrases.

BACCHUS AND VENUS; or, a Select Collection of near 200 of the most
Witty and Diverting Songs and Catches in Love and Gallantry, with Songs
in the Canting Dialect, with a DICTIONARY, _ explaining all Burlesque
and Canting Terms_, 12mo. 1738

  Prefixed is a curious woodcut frontispiece of a _Boozing Ken_. This
  work is scarce, and much prized by collectors. The Canting Dictionary
  appeared before, about 1710, with the initials B. E. on the title.
  It also came out afterwards, in the year 1751, under the title of
  the _Scoundrel’s Dictionary_,—a mere reprint of the two former

BAILEY’S (Nath.) Etymological English Dictionary, 2 vols, 8vo. 1737

  Contains a great many cant and vulgar words;—indeed, Bailey does not
  appear to have been very particular what words he inserted, so long
  as they were actually in use. A _Collection of Ancient and Modern
  Cant Words_ appears as an appendix to vol. ii. of this edition (3rd).

BANG-UP DICTIONARY, or the Lounger and Sportsman’s Vade Mecum,
containing a copious and correct Glossary of the Language of the Whips,
illustrated by a great variety of original and curious Anecdotes, 8vo.

  A vulgar performance, consisting of pilferings from Grose, and
  made-up words with meanings of a degraded character.

BARTLETT’S Dictionary of Americanisms; a Glossary of Words and Phrases
colloquially used in the United States, 8vo. _New York_, 1859

  It is a curious fact connected with slang that a great number of
  vulgar words common in England are equally common in the United
  States; and when we remember that America began to people two
  centuries ago, and that these colloquialisms must have crossed the
  sea with the first emigrants, we can form some idea of the antiquity
  of popular or street language. Many words, owing to the caprices of
  fashion or society, have wholly disappeared in the parent country,
  whilst in the colonies they are yet heard. The words SKINK, to serve
  drink in company, and the old term MICHING or MEECHING, skulking or
  playing truant, for instance, are still in use in the United States,
  although nearly, if not quite, obsolete here.

BEAUMONT and FLETCHER’S Comedy of _The Beggar’s Bush_, 4to, 1661, or
any edition.

  Contains numerous cant words.

BEE’S (Jon.) Dictionary of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, the Pit, the
Bon Ton, and the Varieties of Life, forming the completest and most
authentic Lexicon Balatronicum hitherto offered to the notice of the
Sporting World, by Jon. Bee [_i.e._ John Badcock], Esq., Editor of the
Fancy, Fancy Gazette, Living Picture of London, and the like of that,
12mo. 1823

  This author published books on Stable Economy under the name of
  Hinds. He was the sporting rival of Pierce Egan. Professor Wilson, in
  an amusing article in _Blackwood’s Magazine_, reviewed this work.

BEE’S (Jon.) Living Picture of London for 1828, and Stranger’s Guide
through the Streets of the Metropolis; shewing the Frauds, the Arts,
Snares, and Wiles of all descriptions of Rogues that everywhere abound,
12mo. 1828

  Professes to be a guide to society, high and low, in London, and to
  give an insight into the language of the streets.

BEE’S (Jon.) Sportsman’s Slang, a New Dictionary of Terms used in the
affairs of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, and the Cockpit; with those
of Bon Ton and the Varieties of Life, forming a _Lexicon Balatronicum
et Macaronicum, &c._, 12mo, _plate_. _For the Author_, 1825

  The same as the preceding, only with an altered title. Both wretched
  performances, filled with forced and low wit.

BLACKGUARDIANA; or, Dictionary of Rogues, Bawds, &c., 8vo, WITH
PORTRAITS [by _James Caulfield_]. 1795

  This work, with a long and very vulgar title, is nothing but a
  reprint of _Grose_, with a few anecdotes of pirates, odd persons,
  &c., and some curious portraits inserted. It was concocted by
  Caulfield as a speculation, and published at _one guinea_ per copy;
  and, owing to the remarkable title, and the notification at the
  bottom, that “only a few copies were printed,” soon became scarce.
  For philological purposes it is not worth so much as any edition of

BOXIANA, or Sketches of Modern Pugilism, by Pierce Egan (an account of
the prize ring), 3 vols, 8vo. 1820

  Gives more particularly the cant terms of pugilism, but contains
  numerous (what were then styled) “flash” words.

BRANDON. Poverty, Mendicity, and Crime; or, the Facts, Examinations,
&c., upon which the Report was founded, presented to the House of Lords
by W. A. Miles, Esq., to which is added a _Dictionary of the Flash or
Cant Language, known to every Thief and Beggar_, edited by H. Brandon,
Esq., 8vo. 1839

  A very wretched performance.

BROME’S (Rich.) Joviall Crew; or the Merry Beggars. Presented in a
Comedie at the Cockpit, in Drury Lane, in the Year (4to.) 1652

  Contains many cant words similar to those given by Decker,—from whose
  works they were doubtless obtained.

BROWN’S (Rev. Hugh Stowell) Lecture on Manliness, 12mo. 1857

  Contains a few modern slang words.

BRYDGES’ (Sir Egerton) British Bibliographer, 4 vols, 8vo. 1810–14

  Vol ii., page 521, gives a list of cant words.

BULWER’S (Sir Edward Lytton) Paul Clifford. V.D.

  Contains numerous cant words.

BULWER’S (Sir Edward Lytton) Pelham. V.D.

  Contains a few cant terms.

BUTLER’S Hudibras, with Dr. Grey’s Annotations, 3 vols, 8vo. 1819

  Abounding in colloquial terms and phrases.

CAMBRIDGE. Gradus ad Cantabrigiam; or a Dictionary of Terms, Academical
and Colloquial, or Cant, which are used at the University, _with
Illustrations_, 12mo. _Camb._, 1803

CANTING ACADEMY; or Villanies Discovered, wherein are shewn the
Mysterious and Villanous Practices of that Wicked Crew—Hectors,
Trapanners, Gilts, &c., with several new Catches and Songs; also
Compleat Canting Dictionary, 12mo., _frontispiece_. 1674

  Compiled by Richard Head.

CANTING; a Poem, interspersed with Tales and additional Scraps, post
8vo. 1814

  A few words may be gleaned from this rather dull poem.

CANTING DICTIONARY; comprehending all the Terms, Antient and Modern,
used in the several Tribes of Gypsies, Beggars, Shoplifters,
Highwaymen, Foot Pads, and all other Clans of Cheats and Villains,
with Proverbs, Phrases, Figurative Speeches, &c., to which is added a
complete Collection of Songs in the Canting Dialect, 12mo. 1725

  The title is by far the most interesting part of the work. A mere
  make-up of earlier attempts.

CAREW. Life and Adventures of Bamfylde Moore Carew, the King of the
Beggars, _with Canting Dictionary, portrait_, 8vo. 1791

  There are numerous editions of this singular biography. The Canting
  Dictionary is nothing more than a filch from earlier books.

CHARACTERISMS, or the Modern Age Displayed; being an attempt to expose
the Pretended Virtues of Both Sexes, 12mo (part i., Ladies; part ii.,
Gentlemen), _E. Owen_. 1750

  An anonymous work, from which some curious matter may be obtained.

CONYBEARE’S (Dean) Essay on Church Parties, reprinted from the
_Edinburgh Review_, No. CC., October, 1853, 12mo. 1858

  Several curious instances of religious or pulpit slang are given in
  this exceedingly interesting little volume.

COTTON’S (Charles) Genuine Poetical Works, 12mo. 1771

  Scarronides, or Virgil Travestie, being the first and fourth Books of
  Virgil’s Æneis, in English burlesque, 8vo, 1672, and other works by
  this author, contain numerous vulgar words now known as slang.

DECKER’S (Thomas) The Bellman of London; bringing to light the most
notorious villanies that are now practised in the Kingdome, 4to, black
letter. _London_, 1608

  Watt says this is the first book which professes to give an account
  of the canting language of thieves and vagabonds. But this is wrong,
  as will have been seen from the remarks on Harman, who collected the
  words of the vagabond crew half a century before.

DECKER’S (Thomas) Lanthorne and Candle-light, or the Bellman’s Second
Night’s Walke, in which he brings to light a brood of more strange
villanies than ever were to this year discovered, 4to. _London_, 1608–9

  This is a continuation of the former work, and contains the _Canter’s
  Dictionary_, and has a frontispiece of the London Watchman with his
  staff broken.

DECKER’S (Thomas) Gulls Hornbook, 4to. 1609

  “This work affords a greater insight into the fashionable follies and
  vulgar habits of Q. Elizabeth’s day than perhaps any other extant.”

DECKER’S (Thomas) O per se O, or a new Cryer of Lanthorne and
Candle-light, an Addition of the Bellman’s Second Night’s Walke, 4to,
black letter. 1612

  A lively description of London. Contains a Canter’s Dictionary,
  every word in which appears to have been taken from Harman without
  acknowledgment. This is the first work that gives the Canting Song,
  a verse of which is inserted at page 20 of the Introduction. This
  Canting Song was afterwards inserted in nearly all Dictionaries of

DECKER’S (Thomas) Villanies discovered by Lanthorne and Candle-light,
and the Helpe of a new Cryer called O per se O, 4to. 1616

  “With Canting Songs neuer before printed.”

DECKER’S (Thomas) English Villanies, eight several times prest to Death
by the Printers, but still reviving again, are now the eighth time (as
at the first) discovered by Lanthorne and Candle-light, &c., 4to. 1648

  The eighth edition of the “_Lanthorne and Candle-light_.”

DICTIONARY of all the Cant and Flash Languages, both Ancient and
Modern, 18mo. _Bailey_, 1790

DICTIONARY of all the Cant and Flash Languages, 12mo. _London_, 1797

DICTIONARY of the Canting Crew (Ancient and Modern), of Gypsies,
Beggars, Thieves, &c., 12mo. N.D. [1700]

DICTIONNAIRE des Halle, 12mo. _Bruxelles_, 1696

  This curious Slang Dictionary sold in the Stanley sale for £4 16s.

DUCANGE ANGLICUS.—The Vulgar Tongue: comprising Two Glossaries of
Slang, Cant, and Flash Words and Phrases used in London at the present
day, 12mo. 1857

  A silly and childish performance, full of blunders and
  contradictions. A second edition appeared during the past year.

DUNCOMBE’S Flash Dictionary of the Cant Words, Queer Sayings, and Crack
Terms now in use in Flash Cribb Society, 32mo, _coloured print_. 1820

DUNTON’S Ladies Dictionary, 8vo. _London_, 1694

  Contains a few cant words.

EGAN. Grose’s Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, with the
addition of numerous Slang Phrases, edited by Pierce Egan, 8vo. 1823

  The best edition of Grose, with many additions, including a Life of
  this celebrated antiquarian.

EGAN’S (Pierce) Life in London, 2 vols, thick 8vo, _with coloured
plates by Geo. Cruikshank, representing high and low life_. 18—

  Contains numerous cant, slang sporting, and vulgar words, supposed by
  the author to form the basis of conversation in life, high and low,
  in London.

ELWYN’S (Alfred L.) Glossary of supposed _Americanisms_—Vulgar and
Slang Words used in the United States, small 8vo. 1859


  “In a very early volume of this parent magazine were given a few
  pages, by way of sample, of a Slang Vocabulary, then termed Cant. If,
  as we suspect, this part of the Magazine fell to the share of Dr.
  Johnson, who was then its editor, we have to lament that he did not
  proceed with the design.”—_John Bee, in the Introduction to his Slang
  Dictionary_, 1825.

GENTLEMAN’S MAGAZINE, vol. xcii., p. 520.

  Mention made of slang.

GLOSSARIES of County Dialects. V.D.

  Many of these will repay examination, as they contain cant and slang
  words, wrongly inserted as provincial or old terms.

GOLDEN CABINET (The) of Secrets opened for Youth’s delightful Pastime,
in 7 parts, the last being the “City and Country Jester;” with a
Canting Dictionary, by Dr. Surman, 12mo. _London_, N.D. (1730)

  Contains some curious woodcuts.

GREENE’S (Robert) Notable Discovery of Coosnage, now daily practised by
sundry lewd persons called Conie-catchers and Crosse biters. Plainly
laying open those pernitious sleights that hath brought many ignorant
men to confusion. Writen for the general benefit of all Gentlemen,
Citizens, Aprentices, Country Farmers, and Yeomen, that may hap to
fall into the company of such coosening companions. With a delightful
discourse of the coosnage of Colliers, 4to, _with woodcuts_. _Printed
by John Wolfe_, 1591

  _The first edition._ A copy of another edition, supposed to be
  _unique_, is dated 1592. It was sold at the Heber sale.

GREENE’S (Robert) Groundworke of Conny-Catching, the manner of their
PEDLERS’ FRENCH, and the meanes to understand the same, with the
cunning slights of the Conterfeit Cranke. Done by a Justice of the
Peace of great Authoritie, 4to, _with woodcuts_. 1592

  Usually enumerated among Greene’s works, but it is only a reprint,
  with variations, of _Harman’s Caveat_, and of which Rowland complains
  in his Martin Markall. The _second_ and _third_ parts of this curious
  work were published in the same year. Two other very rare volumes by
  Greene were published—_The Defence of Cony-Catching_, 4to, in 1592,
  and THE BLACK BOOKES MESSENGER, in 1595. They both treat on the same

GROSE’S (Francis, generally styled _Captain_) Classical Dictionary of
the Vulgar Tongue, 8vo. 178—

  The much sought after FIRST EDITION, but containing nothing, as far
  as I have examined, which is not to be found in the _second_ and
  _third_ editions. As respects indecency, I find all the editions
  equally disgraceful. The Museum copy of the _First Edition_ is,
  I suspect, Grose’s own copy, as it contains numerous manuscript
  additions which afterwards went to form the second edition. Excepting
  the obscenities, it is really an extraordinary book, and displays
  great industry, if we cannot speak much of its morality. It is the
  well from which all the other authors—Duncombe, Caulfield, Clarke,
  Egan, &c. &c.—drew their vulgar outpourings, without in the least
  purifying what they had stolen.

HAGGART. Life of David Haggart, alias John Wilson, alias Barney M‘Coul,
written by himself while under sentence of Death, _curious frontispiece
of the Prisoner in Irons_, intermixed with all the Slang and Cant Words
of the Day, to which is added a Glossary of the same, 12mo. 1821

HALL’S (B. H.) Collection of College Words and Customs, 12mo.
_Cambridge_ (_U.S._), 1856

  Very complete. The illustrations are excellent.

HALLIWELL’S Archaic Dictionary, 2 vols, 8vo. 1855

  An invaluable work, giving the cant words used by Decker, Brome, and
  a few of those mentioned by Grose.

HARLEQUIN Jack Shepherd, with a Night Scene in Grotesque Characters,
8vo. (_About_ 1736)

  Contains Songs in the Canting dialect.

HARMAN’S (Thomas, Esq.) Caveat or Warening for Common Cursetors,
vulgarely called Vagabones, set forth for the utilitie and profit of
his naturall countrey, augmented and inlarged by the first author
thereof; whereunto is added the tale of the second taking of the
counterfeit Crank, with the true report of his behaviour and also
his punishment for his so dissembling, most marvellous to the hearer
or reader thereof, newly imprinted, 4to. _Imprinted at London, by H.
Middleton_, 1573

  Contains the earliest Dictionary of the Cant language. Four editions
  were printed—

  William Griffith 1566

  William Griffith 1567

  William Griffith 1567

  Henry Middleton, 1573

  What _Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue_ was to the authors of
  the earlier part of the present century, Harman’s was to the Deckers,
  and Bromes, and Heads of the seventeenth.

HARRISON’S (William) Description of the Island of Britain (prefixed to
Holinshed’s Chronicle), 2 vols, folio. 1577

  Contains an account of English vagabonds.

HAZLITT’S (William) Table Talk, 12mo (vol. ii. contains a chapter on
_Familiar Style_, with a notice on _Slang Terms_.) V.D.

HEAD’S (Richard) English Rogue, described in the Life of Meriton
Latroon, a Witty Extravagant, 4 vols., 12mo. _Frans. Kirkman_, 1671–80

  Contains a list of cant words, evidently copied from Decker.

HELL UPON EARTH, or the most pleasant and delectable History of
Whittington’s Colledge, otherwise vulgarly called Newgate, 12mo. 1703

HENLEY’S (John, _better known as_ ORATOR HENLEY) Various Sermons and
Orations. 1719–53

  Contain numerous vulgarisms and slang phrases.

[HITCHING’S (Charles, _formerly City Marshal, now a Prisoner in
Newgate_)] Regulator; or, a Discovery of the Thieves, Thief-Takers,
and Locks, alias Receivers of Stolen Goods in and about the City of
London, also an Account of all the FLASH WORDS _now in vogue amongst
the Thieves, &c._, 8vo., VERY RARE, _with a curious woodcut_. 1718

  A violent attack upon Jonathan Wild.

HOUSEHOLD WORDS, No. 183, September 24.

  Gives an interesting but badly digested article on slang; many of the
  examples are wrong.

JOHNSON’S (Dr. Samuel) Dictionary (the earlier editions). V.D.

  Contains a great number of words italicised as _cant_, low, or

JONSON’S (Ben.) Bartholomew Fair, ii., 6.

  Several cant words are placed in the mouths of the characters.

JONSON’S (Ben.) Masque of the Gipsies Metamorphosed, 4to. 16—

  Contains numerous cant words.

KENT’S (E.) Modern Flash Dictionary, containing all the Cant Words,
Slang Terms, and Flash Phrases now in Vogue, 18mo., _coloured
frontispiece_. 1825

L’ESTRANGE’S (Sir Roger) Works (principally translations). V.D.

  Abound in vulgar and slang phrases.

LEXICON Balatronicum; a Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit,
and Pickpocket Eloquence, by a Member of the Whip Club, assisted by
Hell-fire Dick, 8vo. 1811

  One of the many reprints of _Grose’s_ second edition, put forth under
  a fresh, and what was then considered more attractive title. It was
  given out in advertisements, &c., as a piece of puff, that it was
  edited by a Dr. H. Clarke, but it contains scarcely a line more than

LIBER VAGATORUM: Der Betler Orden, 4to.

  The first edition of this book appears to have been printed at
  Augsburg, by Erhard Öglin, or Ocellus, about 1514,—a small quarto
  of twelve leaves. It was frequently reprinted at other places in
  Germany; and in 1528 there appeared an edition at Wittemberg, with
  a preface by Martin Luther, who says that the “Rotwelsche Sprach,”
  the cant language of the beggars, comes from the Jews, as it
  contains many Hebrew words, as anyone who understands that language
  may perceive. This book is divided into three parts, or sections;
  the first gives a special account of the several orders of the
  “Fraternity of Vagabonds;” the second, sundry “_notabilia_” relating
  to the different classes of beggars previously described; and the
  third consists of a “Rotwelsche Vocabulary,” or “Canting Dictionary.”
  There is a long notice of the “Liber Vagatorum” in the “Wiemarisches
  Jahrbuch,” 10te, Band, 1856. Mayhew, in his “London Labour,” states
  that many of our cant words are derived from the Jew fences. It is
  singular that a similar statement should have been made by Martin
  Luther more than three centuries before.

LIFE IN ST. GEORGE’S FIELDS, or the Rambles and Adventures of
Disconsolate William, Esq., and his Surrey Friend, Flash Dick, with
Songs and a FLASH DICTIONARY, 8vo. 1821

MAGINN (Dr.) wrote Slang Songs in _Blackwood’s Magazine_. 1827

MAYHEW’S (Henry) London Labour and London Poor, 3 vols, 8vo. 1851

  An invaluable work to the inquirer into popular or street language.

MAYHEW’S (Henry) Great World of London, 8vo. 1857

  An unfinished work, but containing several examples of the use and
  application of cant and slang words.

MIDDLETON (Thomas) and DECKER’S (Thomas) Roaring Girl; or Moll Cut
Purse, 4to. 1611

  The conversation in one scene is entirely in the so-called Pedlar’s
  French. It is given in _Dodsley’s Old Plays_.


  The smallest slang dictionary ever printed.

MONCRIEFF’S Tom and Jerry, or Life in London, a Farce in Three Acts,
12mo. 1820

  An excellent exponent of the false and forced “high life” which was
  so popular during the minority of George IV. The farce had a run of
  a hundred nights, or more, and was a general favourite for years.
  It abounds in cant, and the language of “gig,” as it was then often

MORNINGS AT BOW STREET, by T. Wright, 12mo, _with Illustrations by
George Cruikshank_. _Tegg_, 1838

  In this work a few etymologies of slang words are attempted.


  A copy of this work is described in _Rodd’s Catalogue of Elegant
  Literature_, 1845, part iv., No. 2128, with manuscript notes and
  additions in the autograph of Isaac Reed, price £1 8s.

NEW DICTIONARY of the Terms, Ancient and Modern, of the Canting Crew in
its several tribes of Gypsies, Beggars, Thieves, Cheats, &c., with an
addition of some _Proverbs, Phrases, Figurative Speeches, &c._, by B.
E. GENT, 12mo. N.D. [1710]

  Afterwards issued under the title of _Bacchus and Venus_, 1737, and
  in 1754 as the _Scoundrel’s Dictionary_.

NEW DICTIONARY of all the Cant and Flash Languages used by every class
of offenders, from a Lully Prigger to a High Tober Gloak, small 8vo.,
pp. 62. 179—

  Mentioned by John Bee.

NOTES AND QUERIES. The invaluable Index to this most useful periodical
may be consulted with advantage by the seeker after etymologies of
slang and cant words.

PARKER. High and Low Life, A View of Society in, being the Adventures
in England, Ireland, &c., of Mr. G. Parker, a _Stage Itinerant_, 2 vols
in 1, thick 12mo. _Printed for the Author_, 1781

  A curious work, containing many cant words, with 100 orders of rogues
  and swindlers.

PARKER’S (Geo.) Life’s Painter of Variegated Characters, with a
Dictionary of Cant Language and Flash Songs, to which is added a
Dissertation on Freemasonry, _portrait_, 8vo. 1789

PEGGE’S (Samuel) Anecdotes of the English Language, chiefly regarding
the Local Dialect of London and Environs, 8vo. 1803–41

PERRY’S (William) London Guide and Stranger’s Safeguard, against
Cheats, Swindlers, and Pickpockets, by a Gentleman who has made the
Police of the Metropolis an object of enquiry twenty-two years (no
wonder when the author was in prison a good portion of that time!) 1818

  Contains a dictionary of slang and cant words.

PHILLIPS’ New World of Words, folio. 1696

PICKERING’S (F.) Vocabulary, or Collection of Words and Phrases which
have been supposed to be peculiar to the United States of America, to
which is prefixed an Essay on the present state of the English Language
in the United States, 8vo. _Boston_, 1816

  The remark made upon _Bartlett’s Americanisms_ applies equally to
  this work.


  Contains numerous slang terms.

POTTER’S (H. T., of _Clay, Worcestershire_) New Dictionary of all the
Cant and Flash Languages, both ancient and modern, 8vo, pp. 62. 1790

POULTER. The Discoveries of John Poulter, alias Baxter, 8vo, 48 pages.

  At pages 42, 43, there is an explanation of the “Language of Thieves,
  commonly called Cant.”

PRISON BREAKER, The, or the Adventures of John Shepherd, a Farce, 8vo.
_London_, 1725

  Contains a canting song, &c.

PUNCH, or the London Charivari,

  Often points out slang, vulgar, or abused words. It also,
  occasionally, employs them in jokes, or sketches of character.

QUARTERLY REVIEW, vol. x., p. 528.

  Gives a paper on Americanisms and slang phrases.

RANDALL’S (Jack, _the pugilist_, formerly of the “_Hole in the Wall_,”
Chancery lane) Diary of Proceedings at the House of Call for Genius,
edited by Mr. Breakwindow, to which are added several of Mr. B.’s minor
pieces, 12mo. 1820

  Believed to have been written by Thomas Moore. The verses are mostly
  parodies of popular authors, and abound in the slang of pugilism, and
  the phraseology of the fast life of the period.

RANDALL (Jack) A Few Selections from his Scrap Book; to which are added
Poems on the late Fight for the Championship, 12mo. 1822

  Frequently quoted by Moore in _Tom Crib’s Memorial_.

SCOUNDREL’S DICTIONARY, or an Explanation of the Cant Words used by
Thieves, Housebreakers, Street-robbers, and Pickpockets about Town,
with some curious dissertations on the Art of Wheedling, &c., _the
whole printed from a copy taken on one of their gang, in the late
scuffle between the watchmen and a party of them on Clerkenwell green_,
8vo. 1754

  A reprint of _Bacchus and Venus_, 1737.

SHARP (Jeremy) The Life of an English Rogue, 12mo. 1740

  Includes a “Vocabulary of the Gypsies’ Cant.”

SHERWOOD’S Gazetteer of Georgia, U.S., 8vo.

  Contains a glossary of words, slang and vulgar, peculiar to the
  Southern States.

SMITH’S (Capt.) Compleat History of the Lives and Robberies of the most
Notorious Highwaymen, Foot-pads, Shop-lifts, and Cheats, of both Sexes,
in and about London and Westminster, 12mo, vol. i. 1719


SMITH (Capt. Alexander) The Thieves Grammar, 12mo., p. 28. 17—

  A copy of this work is in the collection formed by Prince Lucien

SMITH’S (Capt.) Thieves Dictionary, 12mo. 1724

SNOWDEN’S Magistrate’s Assistant, and Constable’s Guide, thick small
8vo. 1852

  Gives a description of the various orders of cadgers, beggars, and
  swindlers, together with a _Glossary of the Flash Language_.


  By an anonymous author. Contains some low sporting terms.

STANLEYE’S Remedy, or the Way how to Reform Wandring Beggers, Thieves,
etc., wherein is shewed that Sodomes Sin of Idlenes is the Poverty and
the Misery of this Kingdome, 4to. 1646

  This work has an engraving on wood which is said to be the veritable
  original of Jim Crow.

SWIFT’S coarser pieces abound in vulgarities and slang expressions.

THE TRIUMPH OF WIT, or Ingenuity display’d in its Perfection, being the
Newest and most Useful Academy, Songs, Art of Love, _and the Mystery
and Art of Canting, with Poems, Songs, &c., in the Canting Language_,
16mo. _J. Clarke_, 1735

  What is generally termed a shilling _Chap Book_.

THE TRIUMPH OF WIT, or the Canting Dictionary, being the Newest and
most Useful Academy, containing the Mystery and Art of Canting, with
the original and present management thereof, and the ends to which it
serves and is employed, illustrated with Poems, Songs, and various
Intrigues in the Canting Language, with the Explanations, &c., 12mo.
_Dublin_, N.D.

  A Chap Book of 32 pages, circa 1760.

THOMAS (I.) My Thought Book, 8vo. 1825

  Contains a chapter on slang.

THE WHOLE ART OF THIEVING and Defrauding Discovered: being a Caution to
all Housekeepers, Shopkeepers, Salesmen, and others, to guard against
Robbers of both Sexes, and the best Methods to prevent their Villanies;
to which is added an Explanation of most of the cant terms in the
Thieving Language, 8vo, pp. 46. 1786

TOM CRIB’S Memorial to Congress, with a Preface, Notes, and Appendix
_by one of the Fancy_ [Tom Moore, the poet], 12mo. 1819

  A humorous poem, abounding in slang and pugilistic terms, with a
  burlesque essay on the classic origin of slang.

VACABONDES, The Fraternatye of, as well of ruflyng Vacabones, as
of beggerly, of Women as of Men, of Gyrles as of Boyes, with their
proper Names and Qualities, with a Description of the Crafty Company
of Cousoners and Shifters, also the XXV. Orders of Knaves; otherwyse
called a Quartern of Knaves, confirmed by Cocke Lorell, 8vo. _Imprinted
at London by John Awdeley, dwellyng in little Britayne streete without
Aldersgate._ 1575

  It is stated in _Ames’ Typog. Antiq._, vol. ii., p. 885, that an
  edition bearing the date 1565 is in existence, and that the compiler
  was no other than old John Audley, the printer, himself. This
  conjecture, however, is very doubtful. As stated by Watt, it is more
  than probable that it was written by Harman, or was taken from his
  works, in MS. or print.

VAUX’S (Count de, _a swindler and a pickpocket_) Life, written by
himself, 2 vols., 12mo, _to which is added a Canting Dictionary_. 1819

  These Memoirs were suppressed on account of the scandalous passages
  contained in them.

WEBSTER’S (Noah) Letter to the Hon. John Pickering, on the Subject
of his Vocabulary, or Collection of Words and Phrases supposed to be
peculiar to the United States, 8vo, pp. 69. _Boston_, 1817

WILD (Jonathan) History of the Lives and Actions of Jonathan Wild,
Thieftaker, Joseph Blake, _alias_ Blue skin, Footpad, and John
Sheppard, Housebreaker; together with a CANTING DICTIONARY BY JONATHAN
WILD, _woodcuts_, 12mo. 1750

WILSON (Professor) contributed various Slang pieces to _Blackwood’s
Magazine_; including a Review of Bee’s Dictionary.

WITHERSPOON’S (Dr., of America) Essays on Americanisms, Perversions of
Language in the United States, _Cant_ phrases, &c., 8vo., in the 4th
vol. of his Works. _Philadelphia_, 1801

  The earliest work on American vulgarisms. Originally published
  in a series of Essays, entitled the _Druid_, which appeared in a
  periodical in 1761.



  _Ancient_, or _Ancient English_—Whenever these terms are employed, it
  is meant to signify that the words to which they are attached were in
  respectable use in or previous to the reign of Elizabeth.—See _Old_.

  _Ancient Cant_—In use as a _cant_ word in or previous to the reign of



  _Cor._—A corruption.

  _East._—Used in the Eastern Counties.







  _L.F._—Lingua Franca, or Bastard Italian.




  _N.D._—No date.


  _Old_, or _Old English_—In general use as a respectable word in or
  previous to the reign of Charles the Second.—See _Ancient_.

  _Old Cant_—In use as a cant word in or previous to the reign of
  Charles II.




  _Sal._, or _Salop_—Shropshire.

  _Sax._—Saxon, or Anglo-Saxon.


  _Sea_—Used principally by Sailors.







  _V.D._—Various dates.

  _West._—Used in the Western Counties.





[1] “Swarms of vagabonds, whose eyes were so sharp as Lynx.”—_Bullein’s
Simples and Surgery, 1562._

[2] _Mayhew_ has a curious idea upon the habitual restlessness of
the nomadic tribes, _i.e._, “Whether it be that in the mere act of
wandering, there is a greater determination of blood to the surface of
the body, and consequently a less quantity sent to the brain.”—_London
Labour_, vol. i., p. 2.

[3] Mr. Thos. Lawrence, who promised an _Etymological, Cant, and Slang
Dictionary_. Where is the book?

[4] _Richardson’s Dictionary._

[5] _Description of England_, prefixed to _Holinshed’s Chronicle_.

[6] The word SLANG, as will be seen in the chapter upon that subject,
is purely a Gipsey term, although now-a-days it refers to low or
vulgar language of any kind,—other than cant. SLANG and GIBBERISH in
the Gipsey language are synonymous; but, as English adoptions, have
meanings very different from that given to them in their original.

[7] The vulgar tongue consists of two parts: the first is the CANT
Language; the second, those burlesque phrases, quaint allusions,
and nick names for persons, things, and places, which, from long
uninterrupted usage, are made classical by prescription.—_Grose’s
Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue_, 1st edition, 1785.

[8] “Outlandish people calling themselves _Egyptians_.” 1530.

[9] In those instances, indicated by a *, it is impossible to say
whether or not we are indebted to the Gipseys for the terms. DAD, in
_Welsh_, also signifies a father. CUR is stated to be a mere term of
reproach, like “Dog,” which in all European languages has been applied
in an abusive sense. Objections may also be raised against GAD and

[10] JABBER, I am reminded, may be only another form of GABBER, GAB,
very common in Old English, from the _Anglo-Saxon_, GÆBBAN.

[11] This very proverb was mentioned by a young Gipsey to Crabb, a few
years ago.—_Gipseys’ Advocate_, p. 14.

[12] I except, of course, the numerous writers who have followed
Grellman, and based their researches upon his labours.

[13] _Gipseys of Spain_, vol. i., p. 18.

[14] _Shakes._ Hen. IV., part 2, act ii, scene 4.

[15] It is easy to see how _cheat_ became synonymous with “fraud,” when
we remember that it was one of the most common words of the greatest
class of cheats in the country.

[16] I am reminded by an eminent philologist that the origin of QUEER
is seen in the _German_, QUER, crooked,—hence “odd.” I agree with
this etymology, but still have reason to believe that the word was
_first_ used in this country in a cant sense. Is it mentioned any where
as a respectable term before 1500? If not, it had a vulgar or cant
introduction into this country.

[17] BOOGET properly signifies a leathern wallet, and is probably
derived from the _low Latin_, BULGA. A tinker’s budget is from the same

[18] Which, literally translated, means:

  Go out, good girls, and look and see,
    Go out, good girls, and see;
  For all your clothes are carried away,
    And the good man has the money.

[19] Who wrote about the year 1610.

[20] _Gipseys of Spain_, vol. i., p. 18. Borrow further commits himself
by remarking that “Head’s Vocabulary has always been accepted as the
speech of the English Gipseys.” Nothing of the kind. Head professed
to have lived with the Gipseys, but in reality filched his words from
_Decker_ and _Brome_.

[21] The _modern_ meanings of a few of the old cant words are given in

[22] This is a curious volume, and is worth from one to two guineas.
The Canting Dictionary was afterwards reprinted, word for word, with
the title of _The Scoundrel’s Dictionary_, in 1751. It was originally
published, without date, about the year 1710 by B. E., under the title
of a _Dictionary of the Canting Crew_.

[23] _Bacchus and Venus_, 1737.

[24] Mayhew’s _London Labour and London Poor_, vol. iii., No. 43, Oct.
4th, 1851.

[25] _Mayhew_ (vol. i., p. 217), speaks of a low lodging-house, “in
which there were at one time five university men, three surgeons, and
several sorts of broken down clerks.” But old Harman’s saying, that “a
wylde Roge is he that is _borne_ a roge,” will perhaps explain this
seeming anomaly.

[26] _Mr. Rawlinson’s Report to the General Board of Health, Parish of
Havant, Hampshire._

[27] Vol. v., p. 210.

[28] Vol. i., pages 218 and 247.

[29] See Dictionary.

[30] Sometimes, as appears from the following, the names of persons and
houses are written instead. “In almost every one of the padding-kens,
or low lodging-houses in the country, there is a list of walks pasted
up over the kitchen mantel piece. Now at St. Albans, for instance, at
the ——, and at other places, there is a paper stuck up in each of the
kitchens. This paper is headed “WALKS OUT OF THIS TOWN,” and underneath
it is set down the names of the villages in the neighbourhood at which
a beggar may call when out on his walk, and they are so arranged as
to allow the cadger to make a round of about six miles each day, and
return the same night. In many of these papers there are sometimes
twenty walks set down. No villages that are in any way “gammy” [bad]
are ever mentioned in these papers, and the cadger, if he feels
inclined to stop for a few days in the town, will be told by the
lodging-house keeper, or the other cadgers that he may meet there, what
gentlemen’s seats or private houses are of any account on the walk that
he means to take. The names of the good houses are not set down in the
paper for fear of the police.”—_Mayhew_, vol. i., p. 418.

[31] _Mayhew_, vol. i., p. 218.

[32] See Dictionary.

[33] _Mayhew_, vol. i., p. 218.

[34] _Mr. Rawlinson’s Report to the General Board of Health,—Parish of
Havant, Hampshire._

[35] This term, with a singular literal downrightness, which would be
remarkable in any other people than the French, is translated by them
as the sect of _Trembleurs_.

[36] Swift alludes to this term in his _Art of Polite Conversation_, p.
14. 1738.

[37] See _Notes and Queries_, vol. i., p. 185. 1850.

[38] He afterwards kept a tavern at Wapping, mentioned by Pope in the

[39] _Sportsman’s Dictionary_, 1825, p. 15. I have searched the
venerable magazine in vain for this Slang glossary.

[40] Introduction to _Bee’s Sportsman’s Dictionary_, 1825.

[41] The Gipseys use the word Slang as the Anglican synonyme for
Romany, the continental (or rather Spanish) term for the Cingari or
Gipsey tongue. _Crabb_, who wrote the _Gipsies’ Advocate_ in 1831,
thus mentions the word:—“This language [Gipsey] _called by themselves_
_Slang_, or _Gibberish_, invented, as they think, by their forefathers
for secret purposes, is not merely the language of one or a few of
these wandering tribes, which are found in the European nations, but is
adopted by the vast numbers who inhabit the earth.”

[42] The word SLANG assumed various meanings amongst costermongers,
beggars, and vagabonds of all orders. It was, and is still, used to
express cheating by false weights, a raree show, for retiring by a back
door, for a watch-chain, and for their secret language.

[43] _North_, in his _Examen_, p. 574, says, “I may note that the
rabble first changed their title, and were called the mob in the
assemblies of this [Green Ribbon] club. It was their beast of burden,
and called first _mobile vulgus_, but fell naturally into the
contraction of one syllable, and ever since is become proper English.”
In the same work, p. 231, the disgraceful origin of SHAM is given.

[44] It is rather singular that this popular journal should have
contained a long article on _Slang_ a short time ago.

[45] The writer is quite correct in instancing this piece of
fashionable twaddle. The mongrel formation is exceedingly amusing to a
polite Parisian.

[46] Savez vous cela?

[47] From an early period politics and partyism have attracted unto
themselves quaint Slang terms. Horace Walpole quotes a party nickname
of February, 1742, as a Slang word of the day:—“The Tories declare
against any further prosecution, if Tories there are, for now one
hears of nothing but the BROAD-BOTTOM; it is the reigning Cant word,
and means the taking all parties and people, indifferently, into the
ministry.” Thus BROAD-BOTTOM in those days was Slang for _coalition_.

[48] This is more especially an amusement with medical students, and is
comparatively unknown out of London.

[49] _Edinburgh Review_, October, 1853.

[50] A term derived from the _Record Newspaper_, the exponent of this
singular section of the Low, or so called Evangelical Church.

[51] A preacher is said, in this phraseology, to be OWNED, when he
makes many converts, and his converts are called his SEALS.

[52] “All our newspapers contain more or less colloquial words; in
fact, there seems no other way of expressing certain ideas connected
with passing events of every-day life, with the requisite force and
piquancy. In the English newspapers the same thing is observable, and
certain of them contain more of the class denominated Slang words than
our own.”—_Bartlett’s Americanisms_, p. x., 1859.

[53] The terms _leader_ and _article_ can scarcely be called Slang,
yet it would be desirable to know upon what authority they were first
employed in their present peculiar sense.

[54] For some account of the origin of these nicknames see under MRS.
HARRIS in the Dictionary.

[55] See Dictionary.

[56] _Mayhew_, vol. i., p. 24.

[57] My informant preferred EARTH to ERTH,—for the reason, he said,
“that it looked more sensible!”

[58] The famous printers and publishers of sheet songs and last dying
speeches thirty years ago.

[59] The writer, a street chaunter of ballads and last dying speeches,
alludes in his letter to two celebrated criminals, Thos Drory, the
murderer of Jael Denny, and Sarah Chesham, who poisoned her husband,
accounts of whose Trials and “Horrid Deeds” he had been selling. I give
a glossary of the cant words:

  _Thickun_, a crownpiece.

  _Dowry of Parny_, a lot of rain.

  _Stumped_, bankrupt.

  _Coopered_, spoilt.

  _Bossman_, a farmer.

    ⁂ Drory was a farmer.

  _Patter_, trial.

  _Tops_, last dying speeches.

  _Dies, ib._

  _Croaks, ib._

  _Burick_, a woman.

  _Topped_, hung.

  _Sturaban_, a prison.

  _Quid_, a sovereign.

  _James, ib._

  _Clye_, a pocket.

  _Carser_, a house or residence.

  _Speel on the Drum_, to be off to the country.

  _All Square_, all right, or quite well.

New Books Published by JOHN CAMDEN HOTTEN, 151B, PICCADILLY.

Now ready, SECOND EDITION, beautifully printed, Fcap. 8vo, pp. 316,
cloth extra, 4s. 6d.,

=A Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant=, and VULGAR WORDS, used at the
present day in the Streets of London; the Universities of Oxford and
Cambridge; the Houses of Parliament; the Dens of St. Giles; and the
Palaces of St. James: preceded by a HISTORY OF CANT AND VULGAR LANGUAGE
_from the time of Henry VIII., showing its connection with the_ GIPSEY
Wandering Tribes of London, the Costermongers, and the Patterers_. BY
“=A Cadger’s Map of a Beggar’s District=,” _and Explanation of_ THE

  “Rabble-charming words, which carry so much wild-fire wrapt up in

☞ THE SECOND EDITION, entirely rewritten, with more than TWO THOUSAND
_additional_ words, and a mass of fresh information not included in the
_first_ issue.

This interesting work is an important contribution to popular
philology, as it chronicles for the first time nearly FIVE THOUSAND
WORDS used by persons of every denomination in common conversation,
origin of many cant and slang words is also traced.


  “The author has spared no pains to make his little volume perfect,
  both by collecting original and unused material from costermongers,
  vagabonds, and tramps, and by consulting nearly all writers who
  have gone before. * * * The author divides SLANG into _historical_,
  _fashionable_, _parliamentary_, _military and dandy_, _university_,
  _religious_, _legal_, _literary_, _theatrical_, _civic_, _money_,
  _shopkeepers’ and workmen’s slang_,—the _slang apologies for oaths_,
  and the _slang of drunkenness_. The Freemasonry of tramps and
  beggars, and the hieroglyphics they use, is an interesting part of
  vagabond history that requires, if possible, further investigation.
  * * * His work is carefully and honestly performed, and we hope that
  the writer will read our remarks [five full columns] in a proper
  spirit, and, in the latest slang of the present hour, will “TAKE THEM
  ON HIS HEAD LIKE A BIRD.”—_Athenæum._

  “Extremely interesting. This little volume is evidently the result of
  a great deal of labour, as all works must be that are, in the chief
  part, collected directly by the observation and care of the author:
  and this we believe is the case in the present instance. The author
  we suspect to be identical with the publisher, and if so, he has
  had great opportunity by his possession of a large amount of scarce
  tracts, ballads, and street publications, of informing himself of the
  language of the vagabond portion of our population.”—_Leader._

  “There is a certain amount of interest in preserving the origin of
  slang words as a record of existing manners, and of those strange
  popular sayings which have a rapid and almost universal popularity,
  and then fade away as rapidly. The combinations of language in cant
  are often curious. The London Antiquary informs us that the cant for
  a public house at the present day is _suck cassa_,—pure Saxon and
  pure Spanish.”—_Saturday Review._

  “This is by far the most complete work upon a curious subject which
  has yet been compiled—a dictionary of more than three thousand
  words in current use in our streets and alleys, lanes and by-ways,
  from which the learned lexicographers have turned aside with

  “This new Dictionary of our English cant and slang is _full_, and
  may be received as an amusing and suggestive little book of common
  knowledge into any household. Indecency has been omitted from its

  “The ‘London Antiquary’ has certainly taken up a very curious and
  interesting branch of linguistic research.”—_Notes and Queries._

  “An instructive as well as amusing work. The author may be
  congratulated upon the successful issue of his labours in the field
  of vagabond and unrecognised speech.”—_Titan_ in an article of _ten

  “An amusing work, and a most useful and valuable contribution to the
  study of words. It is absolutely necessary to all those who in fast
  life would “mind their P’s and Q’s,” as well as to the readers of our
  newspaper and periodical literature.”—_Montrose Review._

  “We do not wonder that of so quaint and entertaining a compilation a
  new edition should so soon have been demanded.”—_Globe._

  “Contains a good deal of curious historical and anecdotical
  information, and is altogether a well got up, well edited, and
  amusing little volume.”—_Shipping Gazette._

  “Evinces a great amount of industry.”—_Morning Star._

Beautifully printed, 12mo., cloth, 3s. 6d.,


=The Biglow Papers. By James Russell= LOWELL. (Alluded to by John
Bright in the House of Commons.)


⁂ _This Edition has been Edited with additional Notes explanatory of
the persons and subjects mentioned therein._

  “The rhymes are as startling and felicitous as any in ‘Hudibras.’
  ‘Sam Slick’ is a mere pretender in comparison.”—_Blackwood’s

  “The fun of the ‘Biglow Papers’ is quite equal to the fun of the
  ‘Ingoldsby Legends.’ This is the real doggerel, the Rabelaiesque of

☞ There is an edition of this work extant, hastily got up after my
own was announced, edited by Mr. Hughes, the author of _Tom Brown’s
School Days_. It gives an introduction, long and occasionally amusing,
but of not the least value in explaining to the _English_ reader the
peculiarities of the work. The _Globe_ pointed out this sad defect
in reviewing the present edition:—“The copy beside us,” remarks the
writer, “is apparently edited and published by Mr. Hotten, who gives
a preface—which has the rare merit of explaining exactly what the
ordinary English reader requires to know of satirical political poems,
written in the Yankee dialect, touching the Mexican war, and the
extension of the slave states—and of attempting to explain nothing
else.”—_Globe_, Dec. 8, 1859.

Now ready, SECOND EDITION, fcap. 8vo, neatly printed, price 1s.,

=Macaulay; the Historian, Statesman=, and ESSAYIST: Anecdotes of his
Life and Literary Labours, with some Account of his Early and Unknown

⁂ Also, a fine paper Edition, cloth, neat, with a PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAIT
(_the only one known to have been taken_) by MAULL and POLYBLANK, price
2s. 6d.

☞ Includes Anecdotes of SYDNEY SMITH, MOORE, ROGERS, and LORD JEFFREY;
and gives numerous examples of Lord Macaulay’s extraordinary memory and
great powers of conversation.

  “A brilliant sketch of the great historian, containing particulars
  of his youthful compositions, which are new and deeply

  “We regard the little work before us as a very opportune publication.
  The author has brought together such a mass of facts, sketches, and
  anecdotes, illustrative of the character and mind of Lord Macaulay,
  that the book is very valuable as supplying, in a small compass, a
  faithful and vivid account of the great historian.”—_Bradford Review._

  “An interesting account of a man who was an ornament to our nation.
  Of the extraordinary capacity and availability of his memory many
  wonderful stories are told.”—_Evangelical Repository._

  “This work is well timed. Here we really have all that is known
  concerning the great man. The little book brings together with
  much dexterity and success very various and very scattered
  materials. We have been peculiarly interested in the details of the
  late illustrious Baron’s youthful productions. Never before has
  Wordsworth’s famous couplet, “The boy is father of the man,” received
  so vivid illustration. It is earnestly to be hoped that the whole of
  these early papers, and his inedited speeches and addresses written
  and spoken in the flush of his powers, and with all the wealth of
  illustration that so distinguished him, shall be collected. Why not
  at once by the writer of the present brilliant sketch? We know not
  who he is, but he is a man of no common powers. He has evidently,
  too, put his heart into his book. It thrills and throbs with reverent
  love towards the man. We like exceedingly his fresh, generous,
  glowing style; and not less his genial, gossipy way of telling the
  many anecdotes with which his pages sparkle.”—_Advertiser._

  “Valuable from the original matter and anecdotes it gives concerning
  Macaulay’s youthful productions.”—_Leader._

  “We hear Mr. Hotten’s little book on Macaulay is a success. Ten
  thousand copies sold within a few days!”—_Critic._

Now ready, NEW AND POPULAR EDITION, neatly printed, fcap. 8vo, pp. 336,
price 2s. 6d.,

=Anecdotes of the Green Room and= STAGE; or Leaves from an Actor’s
Note-Book, at Home and Abroad, by GEORGE VANDENHOFF.

☞ Mr. Vandenhoff, who earned for himself, both in the Old and New
Worlds, the title of THE CLASSIC ACTOR, has retired from the Stage. His
reminiscences are extremely interesting, and include Original Anecdotes
of the Keans (father and son), the two Kembles, Macready, Cooke,
Liston, Farren, Elliston, Braham and his Sons, Phelps, Buckstone,
Webster, Chas. Mathews: Siddons, Vestris, Helen Faucit, Mrs. Nisbett,
Miss Cushman, Miss O’Neil, Mrs. Glover, Mrs. Chas. Kean, Rachel,
Ristori, and many other dramatic celebrities.

Now ready, post 8vo, cloth, 3s. 6d.,

=Rubbing the Gilt Off: a West End Book= for All Readers. By JOHN
HOLLINGSHEAD, Author of “Under Bow Bells, a City Book for All Readers.”



  The Humiliation of Fogmoor.

  A Pet of the Law.

  Navy Dry Rot.

  How to Make a Madman.

  Nine Kings.

  An Official Scarecrow.

  A Model Theatre.

  The Suffering Sinecurist.

  A National Christmas Bill.

  The Social Reformer.

  Mudfog on Colonies.

  Diplomatic World.

  The Man behind my Chair.

  Wanted, a Court Guide.

  “Clever and sagacious writing.”—_Athenæum._

  “As a collection of papers which, through all their whimsical
  fancies, develope a political system with an earnestness and
  a consistency that are rare, we can cordially recommend Mr.
  Hollingshead’s book.”—_Leader and Saturday Analyst._

  “Mr. Hollingshead has lost nothing of his dramatic power.”—_Critic._

  “The stories are no less interesting and amusing than
  instructive.”—_Morning Star._

  “Mr. Hollingshead has considerably widened his range of humorous
  illustration, still keeping, however, to the field of political
  economy.”—_Daily News._

Now ready, fcap. 8vo, cloth, price 3s. 6d., beautifully printed,

=Gog and Magog; or, the History of the= Guildhall Giants. With Some
Account of the Giants which Guard English and Continental Cities. By F.


⁂ The critiques which have appeared upon this amusing little work have
been uniformly favourable. The _Athenæum_ pronounces it a perfect
model of successful antiquarian exposition, readable from the first
line to the last. The _Art Journal_ devotes a considerable space to
the little work, and congratulates the author upon his success. The
_Leader_ contributes two full columns of eulogy. The _Builder_ directs
its readers to purchase it. The _Critic_ says, in a long article,
that it thoroughly explains who these old Giants were, the position
they occupied in popular mythology, the origin of their names, and a
score of other matters, all of much interest in throwing a light upon
fabulous portions of our history.

Now ready, in 8vo, 4s., blue cloth and gold,

=Photographic Pleasures: Popularly= pourtrayed with Pen and Pencil. By
CUTHBERT BEDE, B.A., Author of “Verdant Green,” &c.


  “The ludicrous side of Photography is fair game for the caricaturist.
  With much cleverness Mr. Bede has seized the salient points of the
  new art.”—_Athenæum._

  “The work is full of illustrations, radiant with the raciness of
  Cruikshank, the broad and round humour of Rowlandson, knowledge of
  the world of Doyle, and quick apprehension of Leech.”—_Herald._


Nearly ready, in Two Vols. 8vo, cloth, extra,

=Old Wine in New Bottles: Tales and= Sketches of Life and Character, by
DOUGLAS JERROLD, edited, with an Introduction, by his son, Blanchard
Jerrold. With Illustrations by John Leech.

⁂ This work will contain some of the most characteristic pieces from
the pen of the master wit—tales hitherto unknown and untold. Amongst
others may be enumerated:—

  Some Account of a Stage Devil.

  Baron von Botts, a Tale of Blood.

  A Chapter on Black Dogs.

  The Actress at the Duke’s.

  Papers of a Gentleman-at-Arms.

  Bully Bottom’s Babes.

  The Rocking Horse.

  My Husband’s Winnings: a Household Incident.

  The Lamp-post: a Household Narrative.

  Midnight at Madame T.’s.

  The Old Boatman.

  Solomon’s Ape.

  Patty Larkspur’s Watch.

  The Tutor Fiend and his Three Pupils.

  Lizzy’s Back Hair.

  Christopher Snub, who was Born’d to be Hang’d.

  Recollections of Guy Fawkes, &c. &c.

Nearly ready, in fcap. 8vo, cloth extra,

=A Pedlar’s Wallet: Filled from Household= Words, by DUDLEY COSTELLO.

This work will comprise some of the best papers contributed to Charles
Dickens’ famous periodical.

Nearly ready, beautifully printed, fcap. 8vo, price 3s. 6d.

=The Choicest Jests of English Wits=; from the Rude Jokes of the
Ancient Jesters, to the refined and impromptu Witticisms of Theodore
Hook and Douglas Jerrold. Including the Cream of Joe Miller: comprising
the best Sayings, Facetious and Merry, which have contributed to give
to our country the name of Merry England.

Nearly ready, beautifully printed, on fine paper, fcap. 8vo, pp. 350,
price 5s.,

=The History of Playing Cards, and the= VARIOUS GAMES connected with
them, from the Earliest Ages; with some Account of Card Conjuring, and
Old-Fashioned Tricks.


This most amusing work, introducing the reader to a curious chapter
of our social history, gives an interesting account, replete with
anecdotes, of the most popular and widely known pastime which has
ever been invented by man for his amusement. A more instructive and
entertaining book could not be taken in hand for a pleasant hour’s

Two Vols. royal 8vo, handsomely printed, £2 8s.

=Ancient Songs, Ballads, and Dance= TUNES of the Olden Time,
illustrative of the National Music of England, with Introductions
to the different Reigns, and Notices of the Airs from Writers of
the Sixteenth Century; also a Short Account of the Minstrels, by W.

This interesting work forms the largest and most complete collection of
Ancient British Ballads and Songs ever published. The words are from
the original old copies, and the addition of the Old Tunes to which
they were formerly sung is an interesting and most curious feature.
Several facsimiles adorn the work.

Preparing for publication, fcap. 8vo, beautifully printed,

=Old English Ballads, relating to New= England, the Plantations, and
other Parts of North America; with Ancient Poetical Squibs on the
Puritans and the Quakers who emigrated there; now first collected from
the original excessively rare Broadsides sold in the streets at the
time, and edited with Explanatory Notes. _Illustrated with facsimiles
of the very singular woodcuts which adorn the original Songs and

Preparing for publication, beautifully printed, post 8vo, half morocco,
Roxburghe style,

=Garland of Pepysian Ballads, Historical=, ROMANTIC, and HUMOROUS, some
illustrating Shakespere, edited by EDWARD F. RIMBAULT, Esq., LL.D.

It is well known that the unfortunate regulation imposed by Pepys, the
celebrated diarist, that his Manuscripts and Books should never be
examined save in the presence of a Fellow of the College at Cambridge
where they are preserved, has hitherto alone prevented the collecting
and publishing some of the more interesting of these world-renowned
Ballads and Songs. The difficulty, however, has been surmounted by
Dr. Rimbault, aided by the authorities of Magdalene College; and the
lovers of our charming old popular poetry will be glad to know that
a _Garland_ of these Balladian ditties is in course of publication.
The work will be preceded by an Introduction on Ballad Lore, Ballad
Writers, and Ballad Printers, giving some new and interesting
particulars gathered from “old bookes,” and other sources, hitherto
unexplored. The publisher would state that the work will be beautifully
printed by Whittingham, and that it will be adorned by a curious
woodcut facsimile frontispiece.

Nearly ready, in small 4to, half morocco, very neat,

An hitherto unknown Poem, written by John Bunyan, whilst confined in
Bedford Jail, for the Support of his Family, entitled,

=Profitable Meditations, Fitted to Man’s= DIFFERENT CONDITION; in a
Conference between Christ and a Sinner. By JOHN BUNYAN, Servant to the
Lord Jesus Christ.

_London: Printed for Francis Smith at the Sign of the Elephant and
Castle without Temple Bar, 1661_

This very interesting, though melancholy literary memorial of the
Author of the celebrated Pilgrim’s Progress, will be choicely reprinted
by Whittingham, from the only known copy lately discovered by the
publisher. It will be edited, with an Introduction by George Offor,
Esq. The impression will be limited.

Now ready, price 5s.

=Magna Charta. An Exact Facsimile of= the Original Document, preserved
in the British Museum, very carefully drawn, and printed on fine plate
paper, nearly 3 feet long by 2 feet wide, with the ARMS AND SEALS OF

A.D. 1215

COPIED BY EXPRESS PERMISSION, and the only _correct_ drawing of the
Great Charter _ever taken_. This important memorial of the liberties
and rights of Englishmen is admirably adapted for framing, and would
hang with propriety from the walls of every house in the country. As a
guarantee to the purchaser that the facsimile is exact, the publisher
need only state that Sir Frederick Madden has permitted copies to hang
for public inspection upon the walls of the Manuscript Department
in the British Museum. It was executed by Mr. Harrison, under whose
auspices the splendid work on the Knights of the Garter was produced
some years ago.


Shortly will be published, in square 12mo, beautifully printed, price
3s. 6d.,

=The Book of Vagabonds and Beggars=, (LIBER VAGATORUM: _Der Betler
Orden_), with a Vocabulary of their Language (_Rotwelsche Sprach_);
edited, with Preface, by MARTIN LUTHER, in the year 1528. NOW FIRST

⁂ This very singular work is comparatively unknown in this country.
The first edition appears to have been printed at Augsburg, by Erhard
Öglin, or Ocellus, as early as 1514—a small quarto of twelve leaves. It
was frequently reprinted at other places in Germany; and in 1528 there
appeared an edition at Wittemberg, with a Preface by Martin Luther,
from which the present translation has been made. The work is divided
into three parts or sections; the first gives a special account of the
several orders of the “Fraternity of Vagabonds;” the second, sundry
_notabilia_ relating to the different classes of beggars previously
described; and the third consists of a CANTING DICTIONARY. It is
singular that more than three centuries ago Martin Luther should have
declared that the cant language of beggars comes from the Hebrews,
and that in our own time a similar statement should be made by Mayhew
in his _London Labour_. Mayhew says that many of the most expressive
street terms in every day use by London and provincial vagabonds are
derived from the Jew _Fences_.

Now ready, fcap. 8vo, beautifully printed by Whittingham, price 2s.,

=Letters of the Marchioness Broglio Solari=, one of the Maids of
Honour to the Princess Lamballe, &c.; with a Sketch of her Life, and
Recollections of Celebrated Characters (intended to have been sold at

The Marchioness Broglio Solari was the natural grand-daughter of Lord
Hyde Clarendon, and consequently one of the collateral branches of the
Queens Mary and Ann, and their grand-father, the great Chancellor of
England. She played an important part in the French Revolution; was the
friend of Emperors and Princes; was intimately acquainted with George
the Fourth, Burke, Sheridan, Madame de Stael, the Duke of Wellington,
Sir Robert Peel, Sir H. Davy, Paganini, &c., of most of whom she gives
characteristic anecdotes. The Marchioness endured many troubles, was
robbed of her fortune, and for some time obtained her living as an
actress at the theatres of London and Dublin. This work was published
by an intimate friend, and the entire impression (with the exception
of a few copies) passed into the hands of the family. It is believed
that only 150 copies were printed. The book (by those who know of its
existence) has always been considered as a _suppressed work_.

[In preparation.]

=The History of English Popular Literature=, WITH SOME ACCOUNT OF CHEAP
OR CHAP-BOOKS, Penny and Sixpenny Histories, Old Romances, Fairy Tales,
Books of Wonder, Garlands and Penny Collections of Ballads, Books of
Recipes and Instruction, Jest Books, &c.; ALSO THE HISTORY OF THE RISE

This very important work will range with _Nisard’s History of French
Popular Literature_, 2 vols., Paris, 1854. It will be illustrated with
numerous exceedingly curious woodcuts, many by FAIRHOLT, and several
from the original blocks used by the old London Bridge and Aldermary
Church Yard publishers.

Printed by TAYLOR & GREENING, Graystoke-place, Fetter-lane, London, E.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes

Variant spelling and hyphenation have been preserved as printed; simple
typographical errors have been corrected.

The following changes were also made:

  Page 24:
  _ROME BOUSE_ [rum booze], [TN: added comma]

  Page 25:
  and what schoolboys term “freeing.”] [TN: added closing bracket]

  Page 32:
  through the caprices of fashion. [TN: deleted extraneous quotation

  Page 35:
  “Hou_g_ do_g_ you_g_ do_g_?” [TN: added closing quotation mark]

  Page 67:
  a “GRACIOUS child,” [TN: added closing quotation mark]

  Page 91:
  singular enough now, but common forty years ago. [TN: deleted
  extraneous quotation mark]

  Page 95:
  “oh, BETTER ’n a mile.” [TN: added closing quotation mark]

  Page 95:
  talk BIG,” _i.e._ [TN: was "ie."]

  Page 96:
  BLOOD-RED [TN: added hyphen]

  Page 98:
  “O du _blühende_ [TN: was "bülhende"]

  Page 103:
  having been at first plastered [TN: was "filastered"]

  Page 127:
  “tip us your DADDLES,” [TN: added closing quotation mark]

  Page 133:
  “what does he intend to imply?” [TN: added opening quotation mark]

  Page 135:
  DUNAKER, a stealer of cows or calves. [TN: added period]

  Page 138:
  “cut up FAT,” [TN: added opening quotation mark]

  Page 142:
  FLUMMUXED, stopped, used up. [TN: added period]

  Page 148:
  GO, a GO of gin, [TN: added comma]

  Page 152:
  for his customers to visit him. [TN: was a comma]

  Page 154:
  ST. BEE’S.—_University._ [TN: added period]

  Page 156:
  feigning sickness or other means. [TN: added period]

  Page 164:
  KIMBO, or A-KIMBO [TN: was "A KIMBO"]

  Page 167:
  “landsman.”—_See_ LOAFER [TN: added opening quotation mark]

  Page 174:
  “gay women.” [TN: added opening quotation mark]

  Page 177:
  MUMMER, a performer at a travelling theatre. [TN: added period]

  Page 178:
  “he picked up a bit of MUSLIN.” [TN: added closing quotation mark]

  Page 180:
  NESTS, varieties.—_Old_. [TN: added period]

  Page 182:
  NYMPH OF THE PAVE (_French_, PAVÉ [TN: was "PAVÈ"]

  Page 190:
  “PIPE one’s eye.” [TN: added closing quotation mark]

  Page 191:
  “he’s a rare PLUCKED-’UN,” _i.e._ [TN: added period]

  Page 194:
  PRIG, a thief. [TN: added period]

  Page 194:
  PUB, or PUBLIC, a public-house. [TN: added period]

  Page 196:
  “M.B.” coats worn by Tractarian curates.— [TN: deleted extraneous
  quotation mark]

  Page 199:
  “Lord Strut was not very _flush_ in READY.” [TN: added closing
  quotation mark]

  Page 199:
  RIBROAST, to beat till the ribs are sore. [TN: was a comma]

  Page 200:
  “Rip! well, he was an old RIP, and no mistake.” [TN: added closing
  quotation mark]

  Page 202:
  “ROUGHING IT _in the Bush_” [TN: added opening quotation mark]

  Page 204:
  or SALOP, a greasy [TN: deleted extraneous comma]

  Page 204:
  NOVE SOLDI. [TN: added period]

  Page 218:
  is supposed to be analogous [TN: was "analagous"]

  Page 220:
  Tops are out; SMUGGING about.” [TN: single quote changed to double]

  Page 227:
  “a rum START,” [TN: added opening quotation mark]

  Page 227:
  “to get the START of a person,” to anticipate [TN: deleted extraneous

  Page 234:
  “to TAKE THE FIELD,” [TN: added closing quotation mark]

  Page 236:
  swim in twentie of their boats over the river UPON TICKET.” [TN:
  added closing quotation mark]

  Page 241:
  TWIST, appetite; “Will’s got a capital TWIST. [TN: was a comma]

  Page 242:
  TWOPENNY, the head; “tuck in your TWOPENNY, [TN: was a period]

  Page 242:
  hornpipes in fetters, _à la_ Jack Sheppard, [TN: was a period]

  Page 244:
  WALK-THE-BARBER, [TN: added comma]

  Page 244:
  WALL-FLOWER, [TN: added comma]

  Page 244:
  this word from an ancestor of the Earl of Portsmouth, [TN: added

  Page 245:
  Generally used to express anything dishonestly taken. [TN: added

  Page 247:
  “_Jack made a_ DOOGHENO HIT _this morning_,” [TN: added opening
  quotation mark]

  Page 277:
  BAILEY’S (Nath.) Etymological English Dictionary, 2 vols, 8vo. [TN:
  added period]

  Page 283:
  Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 8vo. 178— [TN: final
  number missing; em dash added]

  Page 284:
  (prefixed to Holinshed’s Chronicle) [TN: added closing parenthesis]

  Page 293:
  —SOUTH. [TN: added em dash]

  Page 294:
  ‘Sam Slick’ [TN: added closing quotation mark]

  Page 295:
  many wonderful stories are told.” [TN: added closing quotation mark]

  Page 299:
  other sources, hitherto unexplored. [TN: added period]

  Page 300:
  one of the Maids of Honour to the Princess Lamballe, &c. [TN: added

  Page 300:
  The Marchioness Broglio [TN: was "Broglia"]

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Dictionary of Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words - Used at the Present Day in the Streets of London; the - Universities of Oxford and Cambridge; the Houses of - Parliament; the Dens of St. Giles; and the Palaces of St. - James." ***

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