Snippets 107. Way back in Snippets 66 we looked at A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, by Francis Grose, first published in 1785. Grose (1731-1791) was a noted antiquarian who wrote a series of books about medieval antiquities. Financial difficulties inspired him to branch out into other areas of writing. Slang was a good choice of topic, as it would be entertaining and have a wide appeal. However, it stands as a useful record of the language in the 18th Century beyond the formal language studied by lexicographers. Previously we looked at some selected terms from letters A and B, so let’s continue with some examples beginnning with C, chosen (in the spirit of the original publication) for entertainment value as much as anything.
Cackling Farts: eggs.
Canterbury Story: a long roundabout tale.
Carbuncle Face: a red face, full of pimples.
Catamaran: an old scraggy woman.
Caxon: an old weatherbeaten wig.
Cheese toaster: a sword.
Chitterlins: the bowels. “There is a rumpus among my chitterlins”; i.e. I have the colic.
Circumbendibus: A roundabout way, or story: “he took such a circumbendibus”.
Clod Hopper: a country farmer, or ploughman.
Cobble Colter: a turkey.
Cockshut Time: the evening, when fowls go to roost.
Cold Cook: an undertaker of funerals.
Congo: will you lap your congo with me? Will you drink tea with me?
Conny Wabble: eggs and brandy beat up together.
Costard Monger: a dealer in fruit, particularly apples.
Crab Shells: shoes.
Cracker: crust, sea biscuit, or ammunition loaf; also the backside. “Farting crackers”: breeches.
Crook Shanks: a nick name for a man with bandy legs: “he buys his boots in Crooked Lane, and his stockings in Bandy-legged Walk”.
Crowdero: a fidler.
Crummy: fat, fleshy: “a fine crummy dame”.
Crusty Beau: one that uses paint and cosmetics, to obtain a fine complexion.
Cucumbers: tailors, who are jocularly said to subsist, during the summer, chiefly on cucumbers.
I wouldn’t recommend anyone asking “will you lap your congo with me?” when you want a cup of tea. It might be misconstrued.
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