1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue

Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Charles Franks and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team

1811 DICTIONARY OF THE VULGAR TONGUE.

A
DICTIONARY
OF
BUCKISH SLANG, UNIVERSITY WIT,
AND
PICKPOCKET ELOQUENCE.

UNABRIDGED FROM THE ORIGINAL 1811 EDITION WITH A FOREWORD BY
ROBERT CROMIE

COMPILED ORIGINALLY BY CAPTAIN GROSE.
AND NOW CONSIDERABLY ALTERED AND ENLARGED, WITH THE MODERN
CHANGES AND IMPROVEMENTS, BY A MEMBER OF THE WHIP CLUB.
ASSISTED BY HELL-FIRE DICK, AND JAMES GORDON,
ESQRS. OF CAMBRIDGE; AND WILLIAM SOAMES, ESQ. OF
THE HON. SOCIETY OF NEWMAN’S HOTEL.

PREFACE.

The merit of Captain Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue has
been long and universally acknowledged. But its circulation was
confined almost exclusively to the lower orders of society: he
was not aware, at the time of its compilation, that our young men
of fashion would at no very distant period be as distinguished
for the vulgarity of their jargon as the inhabitants of Newgate;
and he therefore conceived it superfluous to incorporate with his
work the few examples of fashionable slang that might occur to
his observation.

But our Jehus of rank have a phraseology not less peculiar to
themselves, than the disciples of Barrington: for the uninitiated
to understand their modes of expression, is as impossible as for
a Buxton to construe the Greek Testament. To sport an Upper
Benjamin, and to swear with a good grace, are qualifications
easily attainable by their cockney imitators; but without the aid
of our additional definitions, neither the cits of Fish-street,
nor the boors of Brentford would be able to attain the language
of whippism. We trust, therefore, that the whole tribe of
second-rate Bang Ups, will feel grateful for our endeavour to render
this part of the work as complete as possible. By an occasional
reference to our pages, they may be initiated into all the
peculiarities of language by which the man of spirit is
distinguished from the man of worth. They may now talk bawdy
before their papas, without the fear of detection, and abuse
their less spirited companions, who prefer a good dinner at home
to a glorious UP-SHOT in the highway, without the hazard of a
cudgelling.

But we claim not merely the praise of gratifying curiosity, or
affording assistance to the ambitious; we are very sure that the
moral influence of the Lexicon Balatronicum will be more certain
and extensive than that of any methodist sermon that has ever
been delivered within the bills of mortality. We need not descant
on the dangerous impressions that are made on the female mind, by
the remarks that fall incidentally from the lips of the brothers
or servants of a family; and we have before observed, that
improper topics can with our assistance be discussed, even before
the ladies, without raising a blush on the cheek of modesty. It
is impossible that a female should understand the meaning of
TWIDDLE DIDDLES, or rise from table at the mention of BUCKINGER’S
BOOT. Besides, Pope assures us, that “VICE TO BE HATED NEEDS BUT
TO BE SEEN;” in this volume it cannot be denied, that she is seen
very plainly; and a love of virtue is, therefore, the necessary
result of perusing it.

The propriety of introducing the UNIVERSITY SLANG will be readily
admitted; it is not less curious than that of the College in the
Old
Bailey, and is less generally understood. When the number and
accuracy of our additions are compared with the price of the
volume, we have no doubt that its editors will meet with the
encouragement that is due to learning, modesty, and virtue.

DICTIONARY OF THE VULGAR TONGUE.

ABBESS, or LADY ABBESS, A bawd, the mistress of a
brothel.

ABEL-WACKETS. Blows given on the palm of the hand
with a twisted handkerchief, instead of a ferula; a jocular
punishment among seamen, who sometimes play at cards
for wackets, the loser suffering as many strokes as he has
lost games.

ABIGAIL. A lady’s waiting-maid.

ABRAM. Naked. CANT.

ABRAM COVE. A cant word among thieves, signifying a
naked or poor man; also a lusty, strong rogue.

ABRAM MEN. Pretended mad men.

TO SHAM ABRAM. To pretend sickness.

ACADEMY, or PUSHING SCHOOL. A brothel. The Floating
Academy; the lighters on board of which those persons
are confined, who by a late regulation are condemned to
hard labour, instead of transportation.—Campbell’s
Academy; the same, from a gentleman of that name, who had
the contract for victualling the hulks or lighters.

ACE OF SPADES. A widow.

ACCOUNTS. To cast up one’s accounts; to vomit.

ACORN. You will ride a horse foaled by an acorn, i.e. the

  gallows, called also the Wooden and Three-legged Mare.

  You will be hanged.—See THREE-LEGGED MARE.

ACT OF PARLIAMENT. A military term for small beer, five
pints of which, by an act of parliament, a landlord was
formerly obliged to give to each soldier gratis.

ACTEON. A cuckold, from the horns planted on the head

  of Acteon by Diana.

ACTIVE CITIZEN. A louse.

ADAM’S ALE. Water.

ADAM TILER. A pickpocket’s associate, who receives the
stolen goods, and runs off with them. CANT.

ADDLE PATE. An inconsiderate foolish fellow.

ADDLE PLOT. A spoil-sport, a mar-all.

ADMIRAL OF THE BLUE, who carries his flag on the main-mast.

  A landlord or publican wearing a blue apron, as

  was formerly the custom among gentlemen of that vocation.

ADMIRAL OF THE NARROW SEAS. One who from drunkenness

  vomits into the lap of the person sitting opposite to

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