Snippets 130. Francis 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, and in 1785 his A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue was published. 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, B and C, so let’s continue with some examples beginnning with D, E and F, chosen (in the spirit of the original publication) for entertainment value as much as anything.
Daddles: hands. Tip us your daddle; give me your hand.
Dandy Prat: an insignificant or trifling fellow.
Day Lights: eyes.
Death Hunter: an undertaker.
Dingable: anything considered worthless.
Dog in a Doublet: a daring, resolute fellow.
Domino Box (to open the): to open the mouth.
Double Jugg: a man’s backside.
Dowse on the Chops: a blow in the face.
Drop in the Eye: almost drunk.
Dub the Jigger: open the door.
Dumplin: a short thick man or woman.
Dunghill: a coward.
Dustman: to let the dustman get hold of you; to fall asleep.
Execution Day: washing day.
Face-making: begetting children.
Faithful: one of the faithful; a tailor who gives long credit.
Famgrasp: to shake hands.
Fart Catcher: a valet or footman, from his walking behind his master or mistress.
Feeder: a spoon.
Fibbing Gloak: a pugilist.
Fice, or Foyse: a small windy escape backwards, more obvious to the nose than ears.
Fizzle: an escape backward.
Flash of Lighning: a glass of gin.
Fogle: a handkerchief.
Fogle Hunter: a pickpocket.
Freshman: one just entered a member of university.
Note the inclusion of “freshman” as slang – not an American invention, but a term first used in Cambridge over 500 years ago.
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