The Project Gutenberg EBook of 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue
by Captain Grose et al
DICTIONARY OF THE VULGAR TONGUE.
ABBESS, or LADY ABBESS, A bawd, the mistress of a
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
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
him. SEA PHRASE.
ADRIFT. Loose, turned adrift, discharged. SEA PHRASE.
AEGROTAT, (CAMBRIDGE), A certificate from the apothecary
that you are INDISPOSED, (i. e.) to go to chapel. He
sports an Aegrotat, he is sick, and unable to attend Chapel.
or Hall. It does not follow, however, but that he can STRUM
A PIECE, or sport a pair of oars.
AFFIDAVIT MEN. Knights of the post, or false witnesses,
said to attend Westminster Hall, and other courts of
justice, ready to swear any thing for hire.
AFTER-CLAP. A demand after the first given in has been
discharged; a charge for pretended omissions; in short,
any thing disagreeable happening after all consequences of
the cause have been thought at an end.
AGAINST THE GRAIN. Unwilling. It went much against
the grain with him, i.e. it was much against his
inclination, or against his pluck.
AGOG, ALL-A-GOG. Anxious, eager, impatient: from the
Italian AGOGARE, to desire eagerly.
AGROUND. Stuck fast, stopped, at a loss, ruined; like a
boat or vessel aground.
AIR AND EXERCISE. He has had air and exercise, i.e. he
has been whipped at the cart's tail; or, as it is generally,
though more vulgarly, expressed, at the cart's a-se.
ALDERMAN. A roasted turkey garnished with sausages;
the latter are supposed to represent the gold chain worn
by those magistrates.
ALDGATE. A draught on the pump at Aldgate; a bad bill
of exchange, drawn on persons who have no effects of the
ALE DRAPER. An alehouse keeper.
ALE POST. A may-pole.
ALL-A-MORT. Struck dumb, confounded. What, sweet
one, all-a-mort? SHAKESPEARE.
ALL HOLIDAY. It is all holiday at Peckham, or it is all holiday
with him; a saying signifying that it is all over
with the business or person spoken of or alluded to.
ALL HOLLOW. He was beat all hollow, i.e. he had no
chance of conquering: it was all hollow, or a hollow thing,
it was a decided thing from the beginning. See HOLLOW.
ALL NATIONS. A composition of all the different spirits
sold in a dram-shop, collected in a vessel into which
the drainings of the bottles and quartern pots are emptied.
ALLS. The five alls is a country sign, representing five human
figures, each having a motto under him. The first
is a king in his regalia; his motto, I govern all: the second,
a bishop in pontificals; motto, I pray for all: third,
a lawyer in his gown; motto, I plead for all: fourth: a
soldier in his regimentals, fully accoutred; motto, I
fight for all: fifth, a poor countryman with his scythe
and rake; motto, I pay for all.
ALTAMEL. A verbal or lump account, without particulars,
such as is commonly produced at bawdy-houses,
spunging-houses, &c. Vide DUTCH RECKONING.
ALTITUDES. The man is in his altitudes, i.e. he is drunk.
AMBASSADOR. A trick to duck some ignorant fellow or
landsman, frequently played on board ships in the warm
latitudes. It is thus managed: A large tub is filled with
water, and two stools placed on each side of it. Over
the whole is thrown a tarpaulin, or old sail: this is
kept tight by two persons, who are to represent the king
and queen of a foreign country, and are seated on the
stools. The person intended to be ducked plays the Ambassador,
and after repeating a ridiculous speech dictated
to him, is led in great form up to the throne, and seated
between the king and queen, who rising suddenly as soon
as he is seated, he falls backwards into the tub of water.
AMBASSADOR OF MOROCCO. A Shoemaker. (See Mrs.
AMBIDEXTER. A lawyer who takes fees from both plaintiff
and defendant, or that goes snacks with both parties
AMEN CURLER. A parish clerk.
AMEN. He said Yes and Amen to every thing; he agreed to
AMINADAB. A jeering name for a Quaker.
AMES ACE. Within ames ace; nearly, very near.
TO AMUSE. To fling dust or snuff in the eyes of the person
intended to be robbed; also to invent some plausible tale,
to delude shop-keepers and others, thereby to put them
off their guard. CANT.
AMUSERS. Rogues who carried snuff or dust in their pockets,
which they threw into the eyes of any person they
intended to rob; and running away, their accomplices
(pretending to assist and pity the half-blinded person)
took that opportunity of plundering him.
ANABAPTIST. A pickpocket caught in the fact, and punished
with the discipline of the pump or horse-pond.
ANCHOR. Bring your a-se to an anchor, i.e. sit down. To let
go an anchor to the windward of the law; to keep within
the letter of the law. SEA WIT.
ANGLERS. Pilferers, or petty thieves, who, with a stick
having a hook at the end, steal goods out of shop-windows,
grates, &c.; also those who draw in or entice unwary persons
to prick at the belt, or such like devices.
ANGLING FOR FARTHINGS. Begging out of a prison window
with a cap, or box, let down at the end of a long
ANKLE. A girl who is got with child, is said to have sprained
ANODYNE NECKLACE. A halter.
ANTHONY or TANTONY PIG. The favourite or smallest pig
in the litter.--To follow like a tantony pig, i.e. St.
Anthony's pig; to follow close at one's heels. St. Anthony
the hermit was a swineherd, and is always represented
with a swine's bell and a pig. Some derive this saying
from a privilege enjoyed by the friars of certain convents
in England and France (sons of St. Anthony), whose swine
were permitted to feed in the streets. These swine would
follow any one having greens or other provisions, till they
obtained some of them; and it was in those days considered
an act of charity and religion to feed them.
TO KNOCK ANTHONY. Said of an in-kneed person, or one
whose knees knock together; to cuff Jonas. See JONAS.
APE LEADER. An old maid; their punishment after
death, for neglecting increase and multiply, will be, it is
said, leading apes in hell.
APOSTLES. To manoeuvre the apostles, i.e. rob Peter to
pay Paul; that is, to borrow money of one man to pay
APOSTLES. (CAMBRIDGE.) Men who are plucked, refused
APOTHECARY. To talk like an apothecary; to use hard or
gallipot words: from the assumed gravity and affectation
of knowledge generally put on by the gentlemen of this
profession, who are commonly as superficial in their
learning as they are pedantic in their language.
APOTHECARY'S BILL. A long bill.
APOTHECARY'S, or LAW LATIN. Barbarous Latin, vulgarly
called Dog Latin, in Ireland Bog Latin.
APPLE CART. Down with his apple-cart; knock or throw
APPLE DUMPLIN SHOP. A woman's bosom.
APPLE-PYE BED. A bed made apple-pye fashion, like what
is called a turnover apple-pye, where the sheets are so
doubled as to prevent any one from getting at his length
between them: a common trick played by frolicsome
country lasses on their sweethearts, male relations, or
APRIL FOOL. Any one imposed on, or sent on a bootless
errand, on the first of April; which day it is the custom
among the lower people, children, and servants, by dropping
empty papers carefully doubled up, sending persons
on absurd messages, and such like contrivances, to impose
on every one they can, and then to salute them with
the title of April Fool. This is also practised in
Scotland under the title of Hunting the Gowke.
APRON STRING HOLD. An estate held by a man during
his wife's life.
AQUA PUMPAGINIS. Pump water. APOTHECARIES LATIN.
ARBOR VITAE. A man's penis.
ARCH DUKE. A comical or eccentric fellow.
ARCH ROGUE, DIMBER DAMBER UPRIGHT MAN. The
chief of a gang of thieves or gypsies.
ARCH DELL, or ARCH DOXY, signifies the same in rank
among the female canters or gypsies.
ARD. Hot. CANT.
ARMOUR. In his armour, pot valiant: to fight in armour;
to make use of Mrs. Philips's ware. See C--D--M.
ARK. A boat or wherry. Let us take an ark and winns, let
us take a sculler. CANT.
ARK RUFFIANS. Rogues who, in conjunction with watermen,
robbed, and sometimes murdered, on the water, by
picking a quarrel with the passengers in a boat, boarding
it, plundering, stripping, and throwing them overboard, &c.
A species of badger. CANT.
ARRAH NOW. An unmeaning expletive, frequently used by
the vulgar Irish.
ARS MUSICA. A bum fiddlle.
ARSE. To hang an arse; to hang back, to be afraid to
advance. He would lend his a-e and sh-te through his ribs;
a saying of any one who lends his money inconsiderately.
He would lose his a-e if it was loose; said of a careless
person. A-e about; turn round.
ARSY YARSEY. To fall arsy varsey, i.e. head over heels.
ARTHUR, KING ARTHUR, A game used at sea, when near
the line, or in a hot latitude. It is performed thus: A man
who is to represent king Arthur, ridiculously dressed,
having a large wig made out of oakum, or some old swabs, is
seated on the side, or over a large vessel of water. Every
person in his turn is to be ceremoniously introduced to
him, and to pour a bucket of water over him, crying,
hail, king Arthur! if during this ceremony the person
introduced laughs or smiles (to which his majesty endeavours
to excite him, by all sorts of ridiculous gesticulations), he
changes place with, and then becomes, king Arthur, till
relieved by some brother tar, who has as little command
over his muscles as himself.
ARTICLES. Breeches; coat, waistcoat, and articles.
ARTICLE. A wench. A prime article. A handsome girl.
She's a prime article (WHIP SLANG), she's a devilish good
piece, a hell of a GOER.
ASK, or AX MY A-E. A common reply to any question;
still deemed wit at sea, and formerly at court, under the
denomination of selling bargains. See BARGAIN.
ASSIG. An assignation.
ATHANASIAN WENCH, or QUICUNQUE VULT. A forward
girl, ready to oblige every man that shall ask her.
AUNT. Mine aunt; a bawd or procuress: a title of eminence
for the senior dells, who serve for instructresses, midwives,
&;c. for the dells. CANT. See DELLS.
AVOIR DU POIS LAY. Stealing brass weights off the counters
of shops. CANT.
AUTEM. A church.
AUTEM BAWLER. A parson. CANT.
AUTEM CACKLERS, AUTEM PRICKEARS. Dissenters of every
AUTEM CACKLETUB. A conventicle or meeting-house for
AUTEM DIPPERS. Anabaptists. CANT.AUTEM DIVERS. Pickpockets who practice in churches;
also churchwardens and overseers of the poor. CANT.
AUTEM GOGLERS. Pretended French prophets. CANT.
AUTEM MORT. A married woman; also a female beggar
with several children hired or borrowed to excite charity.
AUTEM QUAVERS. Quakers.
AUTEM QUAVER TUB. A Quakers' meeting-house. CANT.
AWAKE. Acquainted with, knowing the business. Stow the
books, the culls are awake; hide the cards, the fellows
know what we intended to do.
BABES IN THE WOOD. Criminals in the stocks, or pillory.