Saturday, September 25, 2010

 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue

William Hogarth, First Engraving from "A Harlot's Progress"
by Captain Grose et al.

I loved perusing the Dictionary of American Slang when I was a youth and I wasted many hours pretending to study while reading it in the library. I have continued to enjoy dictionaries of obscure and vulgar words. Here are some interesting selections given us by Captain Grose.

JIBBER THE KIBBER. A method of deceiving seamen, by fixing a candle and lanthorn round the neck of a horse,one of whose fore feet is tied up; this at night has the appearance of a ship's light. Ships bearing towards it, run on shore, and being wrecked, are plundered by the inhabitants.This diabolical device is, it is said, practised by the inhabitants of our western coasts.


BUG-HUNTER. An upholsterer.

BUM TRAP. A sheriff's officer who arrests debtors. Ware hawke! the bum traps are fly to our panney;  keep a good look out,the bailiffs know where our house is situated.

BUM FODDER. Soft paper for the necessary house or torchecul.

BUNTER. A low dirty prostitute, half whore and half beggar.

BUTCHER'S DOG. To be like a butcher's dog, i.e. lie by the beef without touching it; a simile often applicable to married men.

CAPRICORNIFIED. Cuckolded, hornified.

CUNDUM. The dried gut of a sheep, worn by men in the act of coition, to prevent venereal infection; said to have been invented by one colonel Cundum. These machines were long prepared and sold by a matron of the name of Philips, at the Green Canister, in Half-moon-street, in the Strand. That good lady having acquired a fortune, retired from business; but learning that the town was not well served by her successors, she, out of a patriotic zeal for the public welfare, returned to her occupation; of which she gave notice by divers hand-bills, in circulation in the year 1776. Also a false scabbard over a sword, and the oil-skin case for holding the colours of a regiment.

RESURRECTION MEN. Persons employed by the students in anatomy to steal dead bodies out of church-yards.

RIDING ST. GEORGE. The woman uppermost in the amorous congress, that is, the dragon upon St. George. This is said to be the way to get a bishop.

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