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THE ROUTLEDGE DICTIONARY OF
HISTORICAL SLANG

THE ROUTLEDGE DICTIONARY
OF HISTORICAL SLANG
ERIC PARTRIDGE

ABRIDGED BY JACQUELINE SIMPSON

This edition, first published in 1973 by Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd is based on A Dictionary of
Slang and Unconventional English, first published by Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd in 1937.
Revised and enlarged editions appeared in 1938, 1949, 1951 and 1961. From the last of these,
published in two volumes, this book has been compiled.
Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group
This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2006.
“To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis
or Routledge’s collection of thousands of eBooks please go to
www.eBookstore.tandf.co.uk.”
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except
for the quotation of brief passages in criticism
ISBN 0-203-38096-7 Master e-book ISBN

ISBN 0-203-39016-4 (Adobe e-Reader Format)
ISBN 0 7100 7761 0 (Print Edition)

A NOTE ON THIS EDITION
This book is an abridgement of the 1961 edition of Eric Partridge’s A Dictionary of Slang
and Unconventional English, containing only those words and expressions which were
already in use before the First World War, and which may therefore be considered as
historical, rather than modern, slang. The process of abridgement has also entailed
omitting solecisms, malapropisms and grammatical points recorded in the 1961 edition.

ABBREVIATIONS AND SIGNS
abbr.

abbreviation, or shortening; abbreviated, abridged

adj.

adjective

adv.

adverb

after

after the fashion of; on the analogy of

anon.

anonymous

app.

apparently

Apperson

G.L.Apperson, English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases,
1929

A.-S.

Anglo-Saxon

B.

Sidney J.Baker, Australian Slang, 1942

B. & L.

Barrère & Leland’s A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon and
Cant, 1889 (A–K)–1890 (L–Z).

B. & P.

Brophy & Partridge, Songs and Slang of the British Soldier
1914–18, 3rd ed., 1931

Baumann

Heinrich Baumann; ’s Londonismen, 1887

B.E.

B.E.’s Dictionary of the Canting Crew, ca 1690. (Better
dated 1698–9)

Bee

‘Jon Bee’, Dictionary of the Turf, 1823

Bowen

F.Bowen’s Sea Slang, 1929

Boxiana

Pierce Egan, Boxiana, 4 vols., 1818–24

Brandon

Brandon’s Glossary of Cant in ‘Ducange Anglicus’

c.

cant, i.e. language of the underworld

C.

century; as C.18, the 18th century

c. and low

cant and low slang

ca

about (the year…)

cf.

compare

C.O.D.

Concise Oxford Dictionary

Coles

E.Coles, Dictionary, 1676

coll

colloquial(ism)

Collinson

W.E.Collinson, Contemporary English, 1927

c.p.

a catch-phrase

d.

died

Dawson

L.Dawson’s Nicknames and Pseudonyms, 1908

dial.

dialect; dialectal(ly)

Dict.

Dictionary

D.N.B.

Dictionary of National Biography

‘Ducange Anglicus’

his The Vulgar Tongue, 1857

ed.

edition

E.D.D.

The English Dialect Dictionary, by Joseph Wright, 1896–
1905

e.g.

for example

Egan’s Grose

See ‘Grose’ below

Eng.

English

esp.

especially

ex

from; derived from

F. & Gibbons

Fraser & Gibbons, Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases,
1925

F. & H.

Farmer & Henley’s Slang and its Analogues, 7 vols.,
1890–1904

fig.

figurative(ly)

fl.

flourished (floruit)

Fr.

French

Franklyn

Julian Franklyn, Dictionary of Rhyming Slang, 1960

gen.

general(ly); usual(ly)

Ger.

German

Gr.

Greek

Grose

Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785, 1788,
1796, 1811, 1823). Hence, Egan’s Grose=Egan’s ed. of
Grose, 1823. Grose, P.=my annotated reprint of the 3rd ed.

G.W.

the Great War, 1914–18

H.

J.C.Hotten, The Slang Dictionary, 1859, 1860, etc.

ibid. (ib.)

in the same authority or book

id.

the same

i.e.

that is

imm.

immediately

Irwin

Godfrey Irwin, American Tramp and Underworld Slang,
1931

It.

Italian

j.

jargon, i.e. technical(ity)

Jice Doone

Jice Doone, Timely Tips to New Australians, 1926

Jon Bee

see ‘Bee’

L.

Latin

Lewis

W.J.Lewis, The Language of Cricket, 1934

Lex. Bal.

The Lexicon Balatronicum, or 4th ed. of Grose, 1811

lit.

literal(ly)

literary

literary English, i.e. unused in ordinary speech

Lyell

T.Lyell’s Slang, Phrase and Idiom in Colloquial English,
1931

Mayhew

Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor, 3
vols., 1851

M.E.

Middle English

M.L.

Medieval Latin

mod.

modern

Morris

E.E.Morris, Austral English, 1898

n.

noun

N.B.

note carefully

Nevinson, 1895

H.W.Nevinson, Neighbours of Ours, 1895

ob.

obsolescent; cf. †

occ.

occasional(ly)

O.E.

Old English; i.e. before ca 1150

O.E.D. (Sup.)

The Oxford English Dictionary (Supplement)

on

on the analogy of

Onions

C.T.Onions, A Shakespeare Glossary, ed. of 1913

opp.

opposite; as opposed to

orig.

original(ly)

Pettman

C.Pettman, Africanderisms, 1913

pl.

plural; in the plural

Port.

Portuguese

ppl

participle; participial

p.ppl

past participle

prob.

probable, probably

pron.

pronounced; pronunciation

pub.

published

Pugh

Edwin Pugh, The Cockney at Home, 1914

Pugh (2)

Edwin Pugh, The Spoilers, 1906

q.v.

which see!

resp.

respective(ly)

s.

slang

sc.

supply!; understand!

S.E.

Standard English

Sessions

Session Paper of the Central Criminal Court, 1729–1913

Sinks

Anon., Sinks of London Laid Open, 1848

Slang

My Slang To-Day and Yesterday, revised ed., 1935

Smart & Crofton

B.C.Smart & H.T.Crofton, The Dialect of the English
Gypsies, revised ed., 1875

S.O.D.

The Shorter Oxford Dictionary

sol.

solecism; solecistic

Sp.

Spanish

Spy

C.E.Westmacott, The English Spy, 1825; vol. II, 1826

s.v.

see at

temp.

in or at the time of

Thornton

R.H.Thornton’s American Glossary, 1912

U.S.

The United States of America; American

v.

verb. Hence, v.i., intransitive; v.t., transitive

Vaux

J.H.Vaux’s ‘Glossary of Cant, 1812’, in his Memoirs, 1819

vbl n.

verbal noun

vulg.

vulgar(ism). I.e. a word, in no way slangy, avoided in
polite society

W.

Ernest Weekley’s Etymological Dictionary of Modern
English

Ware

J.Redding Ware’s Passing English, 1909

Weekley

see ‘W.’ above

Words!

My Words, Words, Words!, 1933

Yule & Burnell

Yule & Burnell, Hobson-Jobson, revised ed., 1903

− (before a date)

known to exist then and presumably used some years
earlier

+ (after a date)

in significant first use then, but still extant

†

obsolete; cf. ob.

=

equal(s); equal to; equivalent to

>

become(s); became

* (before a word)

a cant term

A date, unpreceded by ‘ca’, signifies that this is the earliest discovered record; it is well
to bear in mind, however, that in slang, cant, colloquialism, catch-phrase, and solecism,
the first use goes back generally a few, occasionally many, years earlier.

The boundary between historical and modern slang, for the purposes of the present
work, has been set at 1914.

A NOTE ON ARRANGEMENT
There are two main systems of arranging words in a dictionary. The strictly alphabetical;
the ‘something before nothing’. No system is wholly satisfactory; the arrangements in the
O.E.D., in Webster and, to compare small things with great, the present dictionary are
open to severe criticism—severe but unreasonable. No arrangement is, for no
arrangement can be, perfect.
Here, the ‘something before nothing’ system has been adopted—for the simple reason
that it is the most suitable to a dictionary of this kind. Thus A.B. precedes abaddon, but it
also precedes Aaron. Perhaps an example is more illuminating: a; A.B.; A.B.C.; ABC, as
easy as; a-cockbill; A.D.; a.f.; A from a windmill; A1; Aaron; abaa; abaddon. Further, all
come (or come-) terms, beginning with come, including come it, come out, come the…,
and ending with come Yorkshire, precede comedy-merchant. Phrases in which the
headword comes last precede those in which it comes first; thus bell, sound as a precedes
bell, book and candle. Phrases in which the headword is in the plural or in the genitive do
not immediately follow those where the headword is in the nominative singular, but take
their own alphabetical place; thus bells down follows bellowser (not bell-rope), and bull’s
eye follows bullocky (not bull-puncher). Terms that are spelt both as two words (e.g.
cock-tail) and as one (cocktail) present a difficulty; I give them as, e.g., cock-tail and at,
e.g., cocktail insert a cross-reference: to scholars, some of these precautions may seem
mere foolishness, but there are others to be considered. Cross-references to words
included elsewhere in this dictionary are set in small capitals; references in italics are to
S.E., dialect, or foreign words, or to modern colloquialisms, etc.

TECHNICAL TERMS
Back-slang
. See Slang, pp. 276–7. The earliest reference to it which I have seen occurs in
G.W.M.Reynolds’s Pickwick Abroad, 1839, p. 587 (footnote).

Cant
is the ‘secret’ speech of the underworld. This word cant dates from ca 1700—canting is
much earlier—and was long contemptuous and almost coll, as is the v., which dates from
ca 1600; likewise canter, canting. See my Slang; Grose, P.; O.E.D.; F. & H.; and
Weekley.

Centre slang
, see Slang, pp. 277–8.

Grafters’ slang
is the s. used by those who work a line at fair or market, e.g. as fortune-teller or quack
doctor. Some of it is Parlary, some Romany, some Yiddish, some rhyming s.; some of it,
too, verges on c. The authority on the subject is Mr Philip Allingham: see his fascinating
Cheapjack, 1934.

Hobson-Jobson
. The deliberate perversion of foreign words into approximately similar-sounding English
ones.

‘Inevitable’ nicknames
are of two classes: general; particular. The general denote nationality (FROG (2); IKEY;
JOCK; MICK; TAFFY) or a physical trait (BLUEY (4); SNOWY (2); TINY).
The particular, which are the ‘inevitable nicknames’ par excellence, attach themselves
to certain surnames; like the general, they are rarely bestowed on women.
They app. arose first in the Navy (see esp. PINCHER (3); cf. NOBBY (2) and TUG
(3)) and soon—by 1890 or so—reached the Army. They derive from the commonness of
some phrase, as in ‘Happy Day’ and ‘Hooky Walker’; from an historical or a vocational
association, as in ‘Pedlar Palmer’, ‘Dusty Miller’, and ‘Shoey Smith’; from a merely
semantic suggestion, as in ‘Lackery (or Timber) Wood’ and ‘Shiner White’; rarely from a
neat phrasal connection as in ‘Jumper Cross’ (jump across); occ. from a well-known
trade article or advertisement, as in ‘Blanco White’ and ‘Johnny Walker’; from a famous
personage, as in ‘Pincher Martin’, ‘Nobby Ewart’, ‘Spiky Sullivan’—the largest of the
ascertained-origin groups; and from some anecdotal cause or incidental (or local)
notoriety, as in ‘Pills Holloway’, ‘Rattler Morgan’.
F. & H.; Bowen; and personal research. For an article on the subject, see A Covey of
Partridge, 1937.

Lingua Franca
is a mixture of Italian, French, Greek, and Spanish used for inter-communication betweea
traders in the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East.

marrowskying
. The transposition of the initials of words (as in poke a smipe, smoke a pipe), with
variant adj. and n. marrowsky or mowrowsky: ca 1860–1900. In 1848 described by Albert
Smith as Gower Street dialect (cf. MEDICAL GREEK), it was affected by students of
London University and constitutes spoonerism before the letter. Perhaps ex the name of a
Polish count, as the O.E.D. suggests. See esp. Slang at ‘Oddities’.

Mumpers’ talk
is tramps’ c. Thus ‘No. 747’, The Autobiography of a Gipsy, speaks of ‘that strange
mixture of thieves’ Latin and mumpers’ talk which has so often done duty for genuine
Romnimus’ (Romany).

Oxford ‘-er’
. At Oxford, it began late in 1875 and came from Rugby School. By this process, the
original word is changed and gen. abridged; then -er is added. Thus, memorial >
memugger, the Radcliffe Camera > the Radder (for the is prefixed where the original has
the). Occ. the word is pluralized, where the original ends in s: as in Adders, Addison’s
Walk, Jaggers, Jesus College. This -er has got itself into gen. upper-middle class s. See
esp. Slang, revised ed. (1935), pp. 208–9.

Parlary
. The ‘Lingua Franca’—but actually as to 90% of its words, Italianate—vocabulary of
C.18–mid-19 actors and mid-C.19–20 costermongers and showmen: (orig. low) coll.
(How long the word itself has existed, I do not know: prob. not before ca 1850, when the
vocabulary was much enlarged and the principal users changed so radically, though
itinerant and inferior actors supply the link.) Ex It. parlare, to speak. cf. PALARIE and
see Slang, passim, and at ‘Circus Slang,’ and P.Allingham’s Cheapjack, 1934. e.g.
DONAH; LETTY; MADZA; MUNGAREE; NANTEE; OMEE; SALTEE; SAY; TRAY
(3).
A full account of this Cinderella among languages appears in my book of essays and
studies upon language, Here, There and Everywhere, 1949.
Parlary is more general than the less serviceable Parlyaree. In late C.19–early 20,
palarey or palary was very common, esp. among music-hall artists. Sydney Lester’s title
for his glossary, Vardi the Palary, means ‘Know Parlary’.

pidgin, rarely pidjun, often pigeon; occ. pidjin
. Pidgin- or pigeon-English, ‘the jargon, consisting chiefly of English words, often
corrupted in pronunciation, and arranged according to Chinese idiom, used for
intercommunication between Chinese and Europeans at seaports, etc.’, S.O.D.: coll abbr.
>: from ca 1855. (By itself, pidgin, etc., occurs in 1850.) A Chinese corruption of
business, perhaps via bidginess, bidgin; pigeon is an English ‘improvement’ on pidgin.

Rhyming slang
dates from ca 1840; originated among Cockneys, where now still commonest; eschewed
by the middle and upper classes, it had its apotheosis in the First World War. e.g.
ABRAHAM’S WILLING, a shilling; the second word is often (but by no means always)
suppressed, as in ELEPHANT’S (TRUNK), drunk. See my Slang, revised ed.

The entire question of rhyming s. has, for the first time, been adequately treated by
Julian Franklyn in Rhyming Slang, 1960: a history and a study, a glossary and even a
‘reverse’ glossary. This book covers Great Britain and Ireland, Australia and the U.S.

Romany
. The language of the English Gypsies. It contributes many words to c. and to low s., esp.
grafters’.

Shelta
is ‘a kind of cryptic Irish spoken by tinkers and confirmed tramps; a secret jargon
composed chiefly of Gaelic words disguised by changes of initial, transposition of letters,
back-slanging and similar devices’, F. & H. Discovered in 1876 by Leland, who
published his account of it in his Gypsies, 1882: considerable attention has been paid to it
since the Gypsy Lore Society started in 1889, its Journal in 1890. (See, e.g., TOBY.)

‘Travelling language’
is a C.18 term—it occurs, e.g., in Bampfylde-Moore Carew—for the s. of vagabonds and,
to a less degree, of criminals.

Ziph
. That ancient linguistic aberration which consists in saying, e.g., shagall wege gogo for
shall we go. See Slang, p. 278.

A
A.B.
An able-bodied seaman (–1875): coll by 1900. Chambers’s Journal, No. 627, 1875.

A.B.C.
An Aerated Bread Company’s tea-shop: from ca 1880; coll. 2. At Christ’s Hospital, C.19,
ale, bread and cheese on ‘going-home night’.

ABC, (as) easy as
. Extremely easy or simple to do: C.19–20. Adumbrated in 1595 by Shakespeare’s ‘then
comes answer like an Absey booke’. Always coll.

a-cockbill
. Free; dangling free; nautical coll (–1887).

The Routledge dictionary of historical slang

2

A.D.
A drink: male dancers’ coll (–1909) inscribed on dance-programmes; ob.

a.f.
Having met with (come across) a ‘flat’ (q.v.), who has, to the speaker’s advantage, laid
his bets all wrong: the turf (–1823); †by 1870.

A from a windmill or the gable-end, not to
know
. To be very ignorant, or illiterate: coll: resp. C.15, C.19–20 (ob.). See also B FROM…

A1
. Excellent, first-class: first of ships (Lloyd’s Register); then of persons and things,
Dickens, 1837. U.S. form: A No. 1. Variants, A1 copper-bottomed (Charles Hindley,
1876), now ob.; A1 at Lloyd’s (from ca 1850); first-class, letter A, No. 1 (–1860). 2. A
commander of 900 men: Fenian coll > j.: ca 1865–90. Erroneously No. 1. (A lower
officer was known as B.)

Aaron
*, in c., a cadger; the Aaron, a captain of thieves. ?C.17–19. cf. ABANDANNAD, a
pickpocket.

A-Z

3

abaa
. A non-unionist; hence, adj.: silly. Proletarian (–1903).

abaddon
*. A thief turned informer: c.: late C.19–20; ob. ?a pun on a bad’un and the angel
Abaddon.

abandannad
*. A thief specializing in BANDANNA handkerchiefs: c. (–1864). There is perhaps a pun
on abandoned. 2. Hence, any petty thief: c.: late C.19–20; virtually †.

abandoned habits
. The riding dresses of demi-mondaines in Hyde Park: ca 1870–1900.

abandonment
. Bankruptcy of a railway company: financiers’ and brokers’: ca 1880–1905.

abber
. At Harrow School, an abstract or an absit: from 1890s. Oxford -er, see p. 11.

The Routledge dictionary of historical slang

4

abbess
(1782+), Lady Abbess (–1785). The keeper of a brothel: late C.18–19. A procuress:
C.19. Ex Fr. abbesse, a female brothel-keeper. cf. ABBOT and see esp. F. & H. Peter
Pindar, John Wolcot (d. 1819):
So an old abbess, for the rattling rakes,
A tempting dish of hmnan nature makes,
And dresses up a luscious maid.

abbey lubber
. A lazy monk: ca 1538–1750: coll >, by 1600, S.E. 2. A lazy, thriftless person: nautical,
ca 1750–1900.

abbot
. The husband, or the preferred male, of a brothel-keeper (see ABBESS): C.19. cf. the old
S.E. terms, abbot of misrule, abbot of unreason, a leader in a disorderly festivity.

Abbott’s teeth
. A ca 1820–40 variant of ELLENBOROUGH’S TEETH. Pierce Egan, Life in London,
1821.

abdar
. A teetotaller: Anglo-Indian: from ca 1870. Ex Hindustani for a water-carrier.

A-Z

5

abel-w(h)ackets
, see ABLE-W(H)ACKETS.

Aberdeen cutlet
. A dried haddock: from ca 1870. By F. & H. denoted familiar, but definitely s. Ob. cf.
BILLINGSGATE PHEASANT; YARMOUTH CAPON.

Abergavenny
. A penny: rhyming: since ca 1880.

Abigail
. A lady’s-maid: from ca 1616, though not recorded fig. till 47 years later: coll >, by
1800, S.E. Ex the Bible. In Beaumont & Fletcher, Fielding, Smollett; coll from ca 1700.
Now outmoded literary.

abishag
*. Illegitimate child of a mother seduced by a married man: c.: from ca 1860; slightly ob.
Ex Hebrew for ‘the mother’s error’.

The Routledge dictionary of historical slang

6

able-w(h)ackets
, wrongly abel-w(h)ackets. A nautical card-game in which every lost point—or game—
entails a whack with a knotted handkerchief: coll: from ca 1780; †by 1883: witness Clark
Russell’s nautical dictionary.

Abney Park, to have gone to
. To be dead: proletarian London (–1909); very ob. Ex Abney Park Cemetery.

abnormality; abnormeth
. ‘A person of crooked ways, an informer, a deformed or humpbacked person’: resp. from
ca 1880 and ca 1840–80. By confusion of abnormal and enormity.

abo; Abo
. An aboriginal: Australian coll: mid-C.19–20, orig. journalistic. Jice Doone.

aboard of, fall
. To meet (a person): nautical coll (–1887).

A-Z

7

abominable
. A late C.19–20 sol., or jocular coll, for abdominal; esp. in abominable pains. 2. Very
unpleasant: coll, from ca 1860: the same with the adv. (-ably). cf. the S.E. senses and:

abominate
. To dislike ‘intensely’, i.e. very much: from ca 1875. Coll.

about, the other way
. (Fig.) precisely the contrary: gen. in reference to a statement just made. Coll, from ca
1860.

about one, have something
. ‘To show character or ability’; to be, in some undefined or intangible way, charming or,
perhaps because of some mystery, fascinating: coll (and dial.): from ca 1890 (?earlier).
E.D.D. (Sup.), ‘That fellow has something about him, I must admit.’ cf. the analogous
use of there’s something to (a person or a thing).

about proper
. An illiterate variant of PROPER, adv.

The Routledge dictionary of historical slang

8

about right
. Correct; adequate. Frank Smedley, 1850. Coll.

about the size of it
. Approximately (right): from ca 1870, coll; ?orig. U.S.

above board
. Openly; without artifice or dishonesty. Coll verging on, and occ. achieving, S.E. Ex
position of hands in card-playing for money. Earliest record, 1608.

above par
. In excellent health, spirits, money in hand, mild drunkenness. All from ca 1870, ex
stocks and shares at a premium. cf. below par.

abrac; Abrac
. Learning: ca 1820–50. Corruption of Arabic or abbr. of abracadabra.

A-Z

9

Abraham
. ‘A clothier’s shop of the lowest description’: chiefly East End of London and ex the
Jewish name; ca 1870–1920. 2. The penis: low: late C.19–20; ob. Whence Abraham’s
bosom, the female pudend.

Abra(ha)m, sham
, see ABRA(HA)MSHAM.

Abra(ha)m-cove or -man
*. A pseudo-madman seeking alms; a genuine lunatic allowed on certain days to leave
Bethlehem Hospital (whence bedlam beggar) to beg. The term flourished most ca 1550–
1700, A. cove being, however, unrecorded in C.16; this sense > archaic only ca 1830; ex
Luke xvii (Lazarus); described by Awdelay, Harman, Shakespeare, Massinger, B.E.,
Grose. 2. Also, in late C.18–19, a mendicant pretending to be an old naval rating cast on
the streets. cf. ABRAM. 3. (Only Abram man.) A thief of pocket-books: c. (–1823); †by
1870.

Abra(ha)m-sham
. A feigned illness or destitution: C.19. Ex sham Abra(ha)m, to pretend sickness (–1759),
in C.19 mainly nautical and often do Abra(ha)m; also—see ABRAHAM NEWLAND—
to forge banknotes, †by 1840.

Abraham Grains (or g-)
*. A publican brewing his own beer: c.: late C.19–20.

The Routledge dictionary of historical slang

10

Abraham Newland
. A banknote, ex the Bank of England’s chief cashier of 1778–1807: ca 1780–1830;
Glascock uses it in 1829. H., 2nd ed. (1860), records the c.p. (?orig, the words of a song),
sham Abraham you may, but you mustn’t sham Abraham Newland.

Abraham suit, on the
*. Engaged in any begging-letter dodge that will arouse sympathy: c.: from ca 1860: ob.

abraham (or abram) work
. Any sham or swindle, esp. if commercial: mid-C.19–20; ob. As adj.
abra(ha)m=spurious, as in c. ABRAHAM SUIT, false pretences or representations: C.19.

Abrahamer
. A vagrant: low (–1823); †by 1900. ‘Jon Bee’, who defines Abrahamers as ‘a lot, or
receptacle full of beggars, half naked, ragged, and dirty’: an ambiguous set of words.

Abraham’s balsam
. Death by hanging: C.18 low. Punning S.E. Abraham’s balm (tree).

A-Z

11

Abraham’s willing
. A shilling: rhyming s. (–1859).

abram
. A malingerer: C.19–20 nautical; ob. 2. As adj., c.: mad, C.16–17; naked, C.17–18, this
latter developing ex auburn corrupted, for (as in Shakespeare) abra(ha)m, later abramcoloured, =auburn, hence fair. cf. the abrannoi (naked) of Hungarian Gypsy. 3. For sham
Abram, see ABRA(HA)M-SHAM.

abram
, v. To feign sickness: ?ca 1840–90. Sinks, 1848. Perhaps rhyming s.

abram cove
*. ‘A Naked or poor Man, also a lusty strong Rogue’, B.E.; the latter being of the 17th
Order of the Canting Crew: c.: C.17–early 19. cf. ABRAM, 2.

Abram man
, see ABRAHAM-MAN. Abram-sham, see ABRAHAM-SHAM. abram work, See
ABRAHAM WORK.

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abridgements
. Knee-breeches. ?Nonce word: Bulwer Lytton’s play, Money, 1840.

abroad
. In error, wide of the mark (Dickens); earlier (Pierce Egan, 1821), all abroad, with
additional sense of ‘confused’; all abroad is, in the former sense, now ob. From ca 1860;
both coll. 2. Also, (of convicts) transported: ca 1810–90. 3. At Winchester College, C.19,
(come) abroad meant to return to work after being ill.

abroaded
. Living on the Continent as a defaulter from England: Society, 1860–90. 2. Sent to a
penal settlement whether at home or in the Colonies: police, ca 1840–80. cf. ABROAD
(2). 3. In c., imprisoned anywhere: ca 1870–1920.

abs
. At Winchester College in C.19, now ob.: absent; to take away; to depart (quickly). ca
1840, abs a TOLLY, to put out a candle; late C.19–20; to extinguish a candle demands
the ‘notion’ dump it. To have one’s wind absed is to get a ‘breather’ or ‘winder’.

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abscotchalater
*, see ABSQUATULATE.

absence without leave, give (one)
. To discharge (one) suddenly from employment: from ca 1820; ob.

absent without leave
. (Of one) having absconded: from ca 1860. 2. In c., escaped from prison: id.

absent-minded beggar
. A soldier: semijocular coll: 1899–1902. Ex Kipling’s poem.

absentee
. A convict: semi-euphemistic coll: ca 1810–60.

absolutely true
. Utterly false: Society: ca 1880. Ex title of book.

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absquatulate
. To depart, gen. hastily or in disgrace. Anglicized ca 1860, ob. by 1900; orig. U.S.
(1837). An artificial word: perhaps on abscond and squat, with a L. ending. Hence
absquatulating, -ize, -ation, -ator, not very gen.; and *abscotchalater, one in hiding from
the police. 2. v.t., rare: to cause to do so: 1844 (O.E.D.).

Abyssinian medal
. A button showing in the fly: military: ca 1896–1914. Ex the Abyssinian War (1893–6).

Ac, the
. The Royal Academy: artists’: from ca 1870; slightly ob.

academic nudity
. ‘Appearance in public without cap or gown’, Ware: Oxford University (–1909).

academician
. A harlot: ca 1760–1820. Ex academy, a brothel: c. of late C.17–18. In C.19, academy=a
thieves’ school: cf. Fagin in Oliver Twist. But in late C.19–20, academy is also a hardlabour prison and (–1823) its inmates are academicians.

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academics
. (University) cap and gown: from ca 1820; ob. Coll rather than s.; the j. would be
academicals.

Academite
. ‘A graduate of the old Royal Naval Academy at Portsmouth’: nautical coll: from ca
1870; ob. Bowen.

Academy
*. See ACADEMICIAN. 2. A billiard-room: ca 1885–1910. Ware, ‘Imported from Paris’.

Academy, the
. Platonism and Platonists: from the 1630s: academic s. >, in C.18 university coll >, by
1830, philosophic j. The other four of the chief schools of Greek philosophy are The
Garden (Epicureanism), The Lyceum (Aristotelianism), The Porch (Stoicism), and The
Tub (Cynicism): same period and changes of status. 2. A lunatic asylum: ca 1730–90.
Alexandcr Cruden in a pamphlet of 1754.

acater
. A ship chandler: nautical coll C.19–20; ob. A survival of †S.E. acatur, a purveyor: ex
Fr. acheteur, a buyer.

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acceleration
*. Starvation; esp. die of acceleration: vagrants’ c.; from ca 1880; ob. Also accelerator, a
Union relieving officer. id. Ex refusals ‘to give food to the dying outcast’.

accident
. An untimely, or accidental, call of nature: coll: 1899.

accident-maker
. A report dealing with accidents and disasters: London journalists’ (–1887).

accommodation house
. A brothel; a disorderly house; from ca 1820, now ob. Coll.

accommodator
*. One who negotiates a compounding of felonies or other crimes: c.: from ca 1870: ob.

according, that’s
. A coll abbr. of the cautious that’s according to, i.e. dependent on, the circumstances.
(Not in the sense, in accordance with.)

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according to Cocker
. Properly, correctly. From ca 1760, ex Edward Cocker (d. 1675). The U.S. phrase (partly
acclimatized in England by 1909: Ware) is according to Gunter, a famous
mathematician: the C.19 nautical, according to John Norie, the editor of a muchconsulted Navigators’ Manual. cf.:

according to Hoyle
. Correct; correctly: coll: late C.19–20. Ex Edmond Hoyle’s The Polite Gamester, 1752;
soon titled Mr Hoyle’s Games of Whist…, 12th edition, 1760; then as Hoyle’s Games
Improved, 1786; in C.19, there appeared innumerable re-editings, improvements,
enlargements, abridgements. cf. ACCORDING TO COCKER.

account, go on the
. To turn pirate, or buccaneer (–1812). Coll, †. Scott.

account for
. To kill: from ca 1840 (Thackeray, 1842). Sporting coll >, by 1890, S.E.

accounts, cast up one’s
. To vomit: C.17–19. A nautical variant, C.19–20: audit one’s accounts at the court of
Neptune. 2. In c., to turn King’s evidence: mid-C.19–20; ob.

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accumulator
. (Racing) a better carrying forward a win to the next event: from ca 1870.

ace, king, queen, jack
. A jocular non-Catholic description of the sign of the Cross: late C.19–20.

ace of spades
. A widow: C.19. 2. The female pudend: low: mid-C.19–20. F. & H., ‘Hence, to play
one’s ace and take the Jack=to receive a man’. 3. A widow: low (–1811); †by 1890. 4. A
black-haired woman: proletarian (–1903).

ace of, within an
. Almost: C.18–20: coll >, by 1800, S.E. ‘Facetious’ Tom Brown, 1704. Orig. ambs- or
ames-ace.

acid drop
. A rating that’s always either arguing or quarreiling or complaining: naval: since ca
1900. Granville.

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ack
! No! as the refusal of a request: Christ’s Hospital, C.19. cf. Romany ac!, stuff!

ackman
*, c., is a fresh-water thief: mid-C.18–19. Corruption of ARKMAN. F. & H. adduces also
ack-pirate and ack-riff.

acknowledge the corn
, v.i. Admit, ackknowledge (Sala, 1883); ob. Ex U.S. (–1840), to admit failure or
outwitting.

acorn, a horse foaled by an
*. The gallows; gen. as ride a horse…, to be hanged: c.: late C.17–mid-19. Motteux,
Ainsworth. cf. THREE- or WOODEN-LEGGED MARE.

acquaintance, scrape (an)
. To make acquaintance. Coll: Farquhar, 1698, ‘no scraping acquaintance, for Heaven’s
sake’.

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acre, knave’s
. A mid-C.16–early 17 variant of WEEPING CROSS. See also BEGGAR’S BUSH for a
very pertinent quotation.

Acres, Bob Acres
. A coward, esp. if boastful. Ex a character in Sheridan’s Rivals, 1775. Coll, †.

acrobat
. A drinking glass (–1903). Punning tumbler.

across, come
. To meet with accidentally: mid-C.19–20: coll.

act Charley More
. To act honestly; to do the fair thing. Naval: C.19–20. Granville. Charley More was a
Maltese publican whose house sign bore the legend ‘Charley More, the square thing’.

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21

act of parliament
. (Military) small beer perforce supplied free to a soldier: late C.18–early 19.

Acteon
. A cuckold: C.17–18. 2. To cuckold: late C.17–early 18. Coll. Ex legend of Diana and
Acteon, whose transformation involved horns.

acting dickey
. A temporary appointment: naval (–1806); ob. on acting order. 2. (often a. D.) A man
acting in the name of an enrolled solicitor: legal (–1903).

acting lady
. An inferior actress: ironic theatrical coll: 1883, Entr’acte (February). Mrs Langtry’s
social-cum-theatrical success in 1882 caused many society women to try their luck on the
stage; mostly with deplorable results.

acting the deceitful
. (Theatrical.) Acting: C.19. Duncombe.

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active citizen
. A louse: low (–1811); †by 1890. cf. BOSOM FRIEND.

actor’s Bible, the
. The Era: theatrical coll: ca 1860–1918. A fling at sacred matters prompted by the
sensation caused by Essays and Reviews.

actual, the
. Money, collectively, esp. if in cash: mid-C.19–20. At this word, F. & H. has an
admirable essayette on, and list of English and foreign synonyms for, money. In 1890
there were at least 130 English and 50 French synonyms.

ad
. An advertisement: printers’ coll: 1852 (Household Words, v., 5/2). Occ. advert, rarely
adver.

ad lib
. A coll abbr. of ad libitum, as much as one likes: C.19–20.

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23

adad
! An expletive: coll: ca 1660–1770. Prob. ex EGAD!

Adam
. A bailiff, a police sergeant: C.16–17. Shakespeare. 2. In mid-C.17–19 c., an accomplice:
with TILER following, a pickpocket’s assistant. 3. A foreman: workmen’s (–1903); ob.

Adam; adam
, v. (Gen. in passive.) To marry: c.: 1781, G.Parker, ‘“What, are you and Moll adamed?”
“Yes…and by a RUM TOM PAT too”’; †by 1850. Ex Adam and Eve.

Adam and Eve
. To believe: rhyming s. (–1914). 2. To leave: rhyming s.: late C.19–20.

Adam and Eve’s togs
. Nudity: proletarian London (–1909); slightly ob. cf. BIRTHDAY SUIT.

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Adamizing
. A cadet’s being lowered naked on to the parade ground at night, he being able to return
only by presenting himself to the guard: Sandhurst: ca 1830–55. Mockler-Ferryman,
1900.

Adam, not to know (someone) from
. Not to know at all: coll: mid-C. 18–20. Sessions Feb. 1784 (p. 400).

Adam’s ale
. Water. Coll. C.17–18; jocular S.E. in C.19–20, but now outworn. Prynne. The Scottish
equivalent is Adam’s wine (–1859).

Adam tiler
, see ADAM, n., 2.

add
. To come to the correct or wished for total: coll: 1850, Dickens.

added to the list
. i.e. of geldings in training; hence, castrated. Racing s. (–1874). Orig. a euphemism.

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addel
, see ADDLE.

Adders
. Addison’s Walk: Oxford University: late C.19–20. By the ‘Oxford -er’.

addition
. Paint or rouge or powder for the face: ca 1690–1770. Mrs Centlivre: ‘Addition is only
paint, madam.’ Society s. 2. See RULE OF THREE.

addle
; often spelt addel. Putrid drinking water: nautical: late C.19–20. Ex addled.

addle cove
. A fool; a facile dupe: late C.18–19. On addle-head or -pate.

addle-plot
. ‘A Martin Mar-all’, B.E.; a spoil-sport: coll: late C.17–18.

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addlings
. ‘Pay accumulated on a voyage or during a commission’: nautical, esp. naval: late C.19–
20. Bowen.

a-deary me
! Dear me!: lower-class coll (–1896) and dial. (–1865).

adept
*. A pickpocket; a conjuror: c.: C.18. 2. An alchemist: c.: mid-C.17–18.

adjective-jerker
. A journalist: literary: late C.19–20; ob. cf. INK-SLINGER.

adjutant’s gig
. (Military) a roller, esp. that of the barracks: ca 1870–1914.

Adkins’s Academy
*. A certain London house of correction: c. (–1823); †by 1860.

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27

administer
(a rebuke or blow). To give, deal: mid-C.19–20: jocular coll >, by 1900, S.E.

admiral, tap the
. (Nautical) to drink illicitly: mid-C.19–20; ob. cf. suck the MONKEY. The origin of the
phrase is ghoulish but interesting. A certain admiral whose name I cannot remember died
while in the West Indies and as it was desired to bury him in England his coffin was filled
with rum to preserve the body as was not uncommonly done in those days (about 1830–
40). A guard was mounted over the coffin during the journey and this guard was
frequently found drunk. Nobody could understand where the guard got the liquor until it
was found that the admiral had been tapped!

admiral of the blue
. A publican; a tapster: ca 1730–1860. (In C.17, the British Fleet was divided into the red,
white, and blue squadrons, a division that held until late in C.19.)

admiral of the narrow seas
. A drunk man vomiting into another’s lap: nautical: mid-C.17–mid-19.

admiral of the red
. A wine-bibber: C.19, mainly nautical. cf.:

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admiral of the white
. A coward: mid-C.19–20; ob. Never very much used.

admirals of the red, white, and blue
. Bedizened beadles or bumbles: C.19.

Admiralty ham
. Any tinned meat: naval: late C.19–20.

ado, dead for
. Dead and done with: C.16–17; coll > S.E.

ado, once for
. Once for all: C.17; coll > S.E.

adod
! A C.17 oath: coll cf. BEDAD; EGAD.

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Adonee
*. God: c.: ?ca 1550–1890; B. & L., vaguely classifying as ‘old cant’. Ex Hebrew.

adonis
. A kind of wig: ca 1760–1800: coll bordering on S.E. cf. Adonis (1765+), a beau.
(O.E.D.)

adonize
. (Of men) to adorn one’s person: C.17–19. Society s. that > Society j.

adore
. To like (very much): mid-C.19–20; (mostly Society) coll.

adrift
. Harmless (C. 17); discharged (C. 18–19); temporarily missing or absent without leave
(mid-C.19–20); wide of the mark, confused (C.20: coll). Nautical. B.E. has ‘I’ll turn ye
adrift, a Tar-phrase, I’ll prevent ye doing me any harm’; Bowen records the third sense.

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’ads
. God’s: a coll minced oath occurring in combination (Adsbody, adsheart): late C.16–
early 19. Congreve, Smollett. cf. ODS and UDS.

adventure(s), at (all)
. At random, wholly at risk: coll >, by 1600, S.E.; late C.15–18. Caxton, Berners, Locke.

advert
, see AD.

advertisement conveyancers
. Sandwich men: London society: ca 1883–5. Coined by Gladstone and ridiculed by
Society.

Adzooks
! A coll expletive or oath: mid-C.18–mid-C.19. i.e. God’s hooks > ’d’s hooks > adshooks
> Adzooks. cf. ’ADS.

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aeger
. A medical certificate; a degree taken by one excused for illness (1865): coll >, by 1890,
j. Ex aegrotat (–1794), the same—though always j.

Aetna
. ‘A small boiler for “brewing”’: Winchester: from ca 1860; ob.

afeard
. Afraid: C.16–20: S.E. until eariy C.18, then dial. and coll. Lit., afeared, terrified, ex
†afear. Also ’feard.

affair
. Of things, esp. buildings, machines: coll from ca 1800. Gen. with a preceding adj. or a
sequent adj. phrase, e.g. ‘The house was a crazy affair of old corrugated iron’. 2. Male or
female genitals: C.19–20. If used euphemistically, the term is ineligible; but if used
lazily, the term is s.

affair of honour
. A duel resulting in an innocent man’s death: ca 1800–70. Coll.

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affidavit men
. Professional witnesses ready to swear to anything: late C.17–18. (cf. KNIGHT OF THE
POST.)

affigraphy
, see AFFYGRAPHY.

afflicke
*, a thief, is either c. or low: C.17. Rowlands, in Martin Mark-all. But see FLICK.

afflicted
. Tipsy: coll: mid-C.19–20; ob. Orig. euphemistic.

afflictions
. Mourning clothes and accessories: chiefly drapers’, mid-C.19–20; ob. Hence, mitigated
afflictions, half-mourning.

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affygraphy, to an
. Exactly, precisely. Mid-C.19–20. Sol. Perhaps a confusion of affidavit and
autobiography. Also in an affygraphy, immediately: C.19–20. Moe. The Night Watch (II,
85), 1828. Perhaps influenced by (in) half a jiffy.

afloat
; with back teeth well afloat. Drunk: from late 1880s; ob.

afore and ahind (ahint)
, before and behind resp., have, since ca 1880, been either low coll or perhaps rather sol.
when they are not dial.

aft, get
. To be promoted from the lower deck to the rank of officer: naval coll: C.19–20.
Granville, ‘the officers’ quarters are in the after-part of the ship’.

aft through the hawse-hole
. (Of an officer) who has gained his commission by promotion from the lower deck:
Navy: mid-C.19–20. Granville. See HAWSE-HOLES.

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after-dinner, or afternoon(’s), man
. An afternoon tippler: resp.: C.19–20, C.17–19: coll verging on S.E. Overbury, Earle,
Smythe-Palmer.

after four, after twelve
. 4–5 p.m., 12–2 p.m.: C.19 Eton; the latter is in Whyte Melville’s Good for Nothing.
Perhaps rather j. than coll.

after you with the push
! A London street c.p. addressed with ironic politeness to one who has roughly brushed
past: ca 1900–14.

afternoon
! Good afternoon!: coll: mid-C.19–20. cf. DAY! and MORNING!

afternoon buyer
. One on the look-out for bargains: provincial coll (–1903).

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afternoon farmer
. A procrastinator: s. only in non-farming uses. Mid-C.19–20, ob.

afternoon man
, see AFTER-DINNER MAN.

afternoon tea
. Detention after 3 p.m.: Royal High School, Edinburgh (–1903).

afternoonified
. Smart: Society, esp. in London: 1897–ca 1914. Ware quotes an anecdote.

against
. Against (i.e. for) the time when: low coll when not dial.: mid-C.19–20. J. Greenwood,
‘If I don’t get the breakfuss ready against Jim comes in’.

against (the) collar
. In difficulties; at a disadvantage: ca 1850–1900.

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against the grain
. Unwilling(ly), unpleasant(ly): mid-C.17–19, coll; in C.20, S.E. Ray, Swift, Dickens.

agardente
. ‘Fiery spirits…smuggled on board in the Mediterranean’: naval coll: mid-C.19–20.
Bowen. Ex Sp. agua ardiente, brandy.

agate
. A very small person: late C.16–17; coll > S.E. Ex the tiny figures cut on agate seals.

aggerawator
, rarely agg(e)ravator; occ. hagrerwa(i)ter or -or. A well-greased lock of hair twisted
spirally, on the temple, towards either the ear or the outer corner of the eye; esp. among
costermongers: ca 1830–1910. For a very early mention, see Dickens’s Sketches by Boz.
cf. BOW-CATCHER; NEWGATE KNOCKER.

aggie
. A marble made of agate—or of something that, in appearance, resembles agate:
children’s: since ca 1880. The Manchester Evening News, 27 March 1939.

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Aggie, see
. To visit the w.c.: schools’: mid-C.19–20.

aggregate
, v.t. To amount, in aggregate, to: 1865 (O.E.D.): coll.

agility, show one’s
. (Of women) in crossing a stile, in being swung, to show much of the person: ca 1870–
1914. Perhaps a pun on virility.

agitate
, v.t. To ring (a bell): jocular coll; from ca 1830.

agitator
. A bell-rope; a knocker: ca 1860–1900. Ex preceding.

agony, pile up (or on) the
. To exaggerate. Ex U.S. (Haliburton, 1835), anglicized ca 1855.

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agony column
. The personal column in a newspaper’s advertisements (first in The Times). Laurence
Oliphant, in Piccadilly, 1870; W.Black, 1873. Coll by 1880.

agony in red
. A vermilion costume: London society: ca 1879–81. Ex Aestheticism.

agony-piler
. (Theatrical) an actor of sensational parts: ca 1870–1910.

agree like bells
. Explained by the fuller form, a.l.b., they want nothing but hanging: coll verging on
(proverbial) S.E.: 1630, T. Adams; 1732, Fuller; ob. cf. the C.18–20 (ob.) agree like
pickpockets in a fair.

agreeable ruts of life, the
. The female pudend: low ‘superior’ (–1903); ob.

aground
. At a loss; ruined: C.18–20. Coll > in C.19, S.E.

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ah, que je can be bete
! How stupid I am: ‘half-society’ (Ware): ca 1899–1912. Macaronic with Fr. je, I, and
bête, stupid.

ahind, ahint
, see AFORE.

aidh
. Butter: Shelta: C.18–20.

aim
. The person that aims: coll: from ca 1880. cf. S.E. shot.

ainoch
. Thing: Shelta: C.18–20.

ain’t it a treat
. Street: rhyming s.: from ca 1870.

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air, in the
. (Of news, rumours) generally known or suspected, but not yet in print: C.19 coll;
uncertain, problematic, remote or fanciful: C.19 coll.

air, take the
. To go for a walk: coll > S.E.: C.19–20. Also, make oneself scarce: coll; from ca 1880.

air and exercise
*. A flogging at the cart’s tail: c.: late C.18–early 19. 2. In C.19 c., penal servitude. 3. Ca
1820–40, ‘the pillory, revolving’, Bee.

air-hole
. ‘A small public garden, gen. a dismally converted graveyard’: London society: 1885–
95. Ware ascribes it to the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association.

air-man-chair
. A chairman: music-halls’: ca 1880–1900. By transposition of ch and the duplication of
air; a variation on central s.

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air one’s heels
. To loiter, dawdle about: mid-C.19–20: s. >, by 1900, coll.

air one’s vocabulary
. To talk for the sake of talking or for that of effect: coll: from ca 1820. Ob.

airing
. (The turf) a race run with no intention of winning: ca 1870–1914.

airing, give it an
. An imperative=take it away!; coll; from ca 1890.

airs, give oneself
. To put on SIDE or SWANK: coll in C.18, then S.E. Fielding,

airy-fairy
. As light or dainty as a fairy: coll, now verging on S.E.: 1869, W.S. Gilbert. Ex
Tennyson’s airy, fairy Lilian.

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Ajax
. A jakes, a water-closet: late C.16–18. A spate of cloacal wit was loosed by Harington’s
tract The Metamorphosis of Ajax, 1596.

ak dum
. At once: military: late C.19–20. Ex Hindustani ek dam.

Akerman’s hotel
. Newgate prison. ‘In 1787,’ says Grose, ‘a person of that name was the gaoler, or
keeper.’ †by 1850.

Akeybo
. As in ‘He beats Akeybo, and Akeybo beats the devil’: proletarian (–1874); ob. cf.
BANAGHAN; BANAGHER. Akeybo, however, remains an etymological puzzle. Is there
a connection with Welsh Gypsy ake tu!, here thou art! (a toast: cf. HERE’S TO YOU!)?

alacompain
. Rain: rhyming s. (–1859); ob. Also alla-, ali-, eli-. cf. FRANCE AND SPAIN.

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43

Albany beef
. North American sturgeon: nautical: mid-C.19–20. Ex that town.

albert
. Abbr. Albert chain, a kind of watchchain: from ca 1884; coll till ca 1901, then S.E. Ex
the name of the Prince Consort of Queen Victoria.

Albertine
. ‘An adroit, calculating, business-like mistress’: aristocratic: ca 1860–80. Ware. Ex the
character so named in Dumas the Younger’s Le Père Prodigue.

Albertopolis
. Kensington Gore, London: Londoners’: the 1860s. Yates, 1864; H., 1874, notes it as †.
Ex Albert Prince Consort, intimately associated with this district.

albonized
. Whitened: pugilistic, ca 1855–1900. Ex L. albus, white. cf. EBONY OPTIC.

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alderman
*. A half-crown: c.: from 1830s; ob. Ex its size. 2. A long pipe (= CHURCHWARDEN):
ca 1800–50. 3. A turkey, esp. if roasted and garnished with sausages: late C.18–early 20;
variant alderman in chains. George Parker, ca 1782, says it is c. 4. Late C.19 c., precisely
a ‘JEMMY’: see CITIZEN. Daily Telegraph, 14 May 1883. 5. A qualified swimmer:
Felsted School: ca 1870–90. Ex the Alders, a deep pool in the Chelmer. 6. A prominent
belly: from ca 1890. So many aldermen have one.

alderman, vote for the
. To indulge in drink: ca 1810–50. cf. LUSHINGTON, and:

alderman in chains
, see ALDERMAN, 3.

Alderman Lushington
. Intoxicants: Australian, ca 1850–1900. Ex Alderman LUSH- INGTON IS
CONCERNED, he is drunk: a c.p. of ca 1810–50.

aldermanity
. The quality of being an alderman; a body of aldermen. From ca 1625; in C.19–20, S.E.
Aldermanship is the regular form, aldermanity a jocular variant, a cultured coll after
humanity.

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alderman’s eyes
. (House) flies: rhyming s.: since ca 1890; ob.

alderman’s pace
. A slow and solemn gait: C.17 coll > S.E. Cotgrave; Ray.

Aldgate, a draught or bill on the pump at
. A bad bill of exchange: late C.18–19 commercial.

ale-draper
. An ale-house keeper (implied in 1592): jocular coll >, by 1750, S.E. †by 1850. This
jocular term actually occurs in the burial-entry of a Lincolnshire parish register of the
C.18.

ale-head wind, beatin(g) up against an
. Drunk: nautical: late C.19–20. i.e. ‘tacking all over the place’, esp. the pavement.

ale-knight
. A drunkard; a boon companion (1575): C.16–17: coll > S.E.

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ale-spinner
. A brewer; a publican. C.19.

ale-stake
. A tippler: coll, C.17–18. In S.E. ale-stake=ale-pole, a pole serving as an ale-house sign.

alecie, alecy
. Lunacy; intoxication: Lyly, 1598. Cited as an example of pedantic nonce-words, it may
be considered s. because of its derivation, after lunacy, from ale+cy. (N.B.: despite a
subconcious belief to the contrary, culture and/or pedantry do not prevent a word from
being s. or coll; indeed, culture and pedantry have their own unconventionalisms.)

alemnoch
. Milk: Shelta: C.18–20.

ales, in his
. In his cups, or rather his tankards of ale (ale orig. synonymous with beer): C.16–17; coll
Shakespeare.

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Alexander
. To hang (a person): Anglo-Irish coll: ca 1670–1800. Ex the merciless way in which Sir
Jerome Alexander, an Irish judge in 1660–74, carried out the duties of his office. F. & H.,
revised.

Alexandra limp
. The limp affected, as a compliment to the Princess of Wales, by Society ca 1865–80.
Coll Chambers’s Journal, 1876. cf. GRECIAN BEND.

Algerine
. (Theatrical) one who, when salaries are not paid, reproaches the manager. Also, an
impecunious borrower of small sums. ca 1850–1900. Perhaps ex the U.S. sense: a pirate
(1844).

Algie, -y
. Generic for a young male aristocrat (esp. if English): coll: from ca 1895.

alive, look
. (Gen. in imperative.) To make haste: coll: 1858, T.Hughes, ‘[He]…told [them] to look
alive and get their job done.’

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alive and kicking; all alivo
. Very alert and active. Coll: resp. from ca 1850 and ca 1840: see ALL SERENE.

alive or dead
. Head: rhyming s.: ? late C.19–20.

aliveo
. Lively; sprightly: (low) coll: late C.19–20. Ex ALL ALIVO.

all, and
, see AND ALL.

all a-cock
. ‘Overthrown, vanquished’, Ware: proletarian (–1909). Ware thinks that it derives either
ex knocked into a COCKED HAT or ex cock-fighting.

all a treat
. ‘Perfection of enjoyment, sometimes used satirically to depict mild catastrophe’, Ware:
London street coll (–1909).

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all abroad
, see ABROAD.

all afloat
. A coat: rhyming s. (–1859).

all alive
. (Tailors’) ill-fitting: ca 1850–1910.

all alivo
, see ALIVE AND KICKING.

all arms and legs
, see ARMS AND LEGS.

all at sea
. At a loss; confused: C.19–20; coll from ca 1890. cf. ABROAD.

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all brandy
. (Of things) excellent, commendable: non-aristocratic: ca 1870–1910.

all bum
. A street c.p. applied, ca 1860–1900, to a woman wearing a large bustle.

all callao (or -io)
. Quite happy: nautical: late C.19–20; ob. Perhaps ex alcohol.

all cando
. All right: naval: late C.19–20. Perhaps from all white, rhyming s. for right, by pun on L.
candidus, white.

all dick(e)y with
, see DICKY, adj.

all-fired
. Infernal; cursèd. Orig. (1835) U.S.; anglicized ca 1860. Euphemizes hell-fired. 2. Hence
the adv. all-firedly: U.S. (1860), anglicized ca. 1870; ob.

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all fours, be or go on
. To proceed evenly. C.19–20 coll.

all gay
*! The coast is clear: C.19c. cf. BOB, adj.

All Hallows
*. The ‘tolling place’ (?scene of robbery), in PRIGGING LAW (lay): c. of ca 1580–1630.
Greene, 1592.

all hands and the cook
. Everybody on the ship: nautical coll: mid-C.19–20. The cook being called on only in
emergency.

all-hands ship
. A ship on which all hands are employed continuously: nautical coll: mid-C.19–20.

all hands to the pump
. A concentration of effort: C.18–19; ob. by 1890. Coll rather than s.

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all harbour light
. All right: orig. (1897) and mostly cabbies’ rhyming s.; ob.

all his buttons on, have
. To be shrewd, alert, and/or active: London proletariat: ca 1880–1915.

all holiday at Peckham
. A mid-C.18–19 proverbial saying=no work and no food (pun on peck); doomed, ruined.

all-hot
. A hot potato: low (–1857); †by 1900.

all in
, adj. (Stock Exchange) depressed (of the market): coll: mid-C.19–20; opp. ALL OUT, 5.
These are also terms shouted by dealers when prices are, esp., falling or rising.

all in fits
. (Of clothes) ill-made: mid-C.19–20: tailors’.

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all jaw (like a sheep’s head)
. Excessively talkative; eloquent. From ca 1870; ob. Variant, all mouth: ca 1880–1910.

all languages
. Bad language: coll: ca 1800–40. Sessions, Dec. 1809.

all legs and wings
. (Of a sailing vessel) overmasted: nautical: late C.19–20; ob.

all Lombard Street to ninepence, to a china
orange
. Heavy odds: coll: 1819+, –1880 respectively. The former is †; the latter slightly ob. cf.
BET YOU A MILLION TO A BIT OF DIRT!, and see comment at LOMBARD
STREET…

all manner
. All kinds of things, ‘things’ usually being made specific to suit the context: lower
classes coll: from ca 1870.

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all my eye (and Betty Martin)
. Nonsense! ‘All my eye is perhaps the earliest form (Goldsmith has it in 1768), although
it is clear that Grose’s version’—that’s my eye, Betty Martin—‘was already familiar in
1785…cf. the Fr. mon œil!,’ Grose, P. The Betty Martin part, despite ingenious, too
ingenious, hypotheses (esp. that sponsored by ‘Jon Bee’ and silently borrowed by H.: ‘a
corruption…of…Oh, mihi, beate Martine’), remains a mystery. It is, however, interesting
to note that Moore the poet has, in 1819, all my eye, Betty, and Poole, in Hamlet
Travestied, 1811, has that’s all my eye and Tommy; this problematic tommy recurs in
HELL AND TOMMY. In The Phoenician Origin of Britons, Scots, and Anglo-Saxons,
1914, Dr L.A.Waddell derives the phrase from o mihi, Brito Martis, ‘Oh (bring help) to
me, Brito Martis’. She was the tutelary goddess of Crete, and her cult was that of, or
associated with, the sun-cult of the Phoenicians, who so early traded with the Britons for
Cornish tin.

all my eye and (my) elbow
. A London elaboration of the preceding: 1882. Ware, ‘One can wink with the eye and
nudge with the elbow at once’; he also points to the possibility of mere alliteration. cf.:

all my eye and my grandmother
. A London variant (–1887) of the preceding; ob. cf. so’s your grandmother!, which, in
late C.19–20, expresses incredulity: gen. throughout England.

all nations
. A mixture of drinks from all the unfinished bottles: late C.18–early 19. 2. A coat manycoloured or much-patched: C.19.

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all-night man
. A body-snatcher: ca 1800–50. See esp. Ramsay, Reminiscences, 1861.

all of a heap
. Astounded; nonplussed: C.18–20; coll by 1800. In Shakespeare, all on a heap.

all of a hough, or huh
. Clumsy; unworkmanlike: tailors’, ca 1870–1914. 2. Lopsided: ex Somerset dial., from
ca 1820. It occurs, as all of a hoo, in Glascock, The Naval Sketch-Book, II, 1829, and as
all ahoo in The Night Watch, II, 85, 1828.

all of a piece
. ‘Awkward, without proper distribution or relation of parts’: low coll (–1909); slightly
ob. Ware.

all one’s own
. One’s own master: London apprentices’: ca 1850–1905.

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all out
. Completely: from C.14; coll > S.E. by ca 1750. 2. Of a big drink, ex drink all out, to
empty a glass, C.17–19, coll. 3. In error: C.19–20. 4. (The turf) unsuccessful: ca 1870–
1900. 5. (Stock Exchange) improving, cf. ALL IN for period and status. 6. Exhausted:
athletics, ca 1880–1900; then gen. 7. Exerting every effort; since the early 1890s.

all over
, adj. Feeling ill or sore all over the body: coll: 1851, Mayhew, who affords also the
earliest English instance of ALL-OVERISH.

all over, be
. To be dead: lower classes’ coll: 1898, Edwin Pugh, Tony Drum.

all over grumble
. Inferior; very unsatisfactory: London proletarian: 1886, Referee, 28 March: ‘It has been
a case of all over grumble, but Thursday’s show was all over approval’; ob.

all over red
. Dangerous: ca 1860–1920. Ex the railway signal.

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all-over pattern
. A pattern that is either very intricate or non-recurrent or formed of units unseparated by
the ‘ground’: coll from ca 1880.

all over the shop
. Ubiquitous (G.R.Sims, 1883); disconcerted (1887).

all over with, it is
. (Of persons) ruined; disgraced; fatally ill or mortally wounded: from ca 1860; coll, soon
S.E. cf. the L. actum est de.

all-overish
. Having an indefinite feeling of general indisposition or unease: from ca 1840: coll.
Perhaps ex U.S., where it is recorded as early as 1833.

all-overishness
. The state of feeling ‘ALLOVERISH’: from ca 1840; coll. Early examples in Harrison
Ainsworth (1854) and John Mills (1841).

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all plopa
. Quite right; correct: pidgin: mid-C.19–20.

all right
. Virtuous: coll: late C.19–20. W. B.Maxwell, Hill Rise, 1908.

all right
! Yes!, agreed!; you needn’t worry! C.19–20; coll. As adj. and rare adv., all right is S.E.

all right up to now
. Serene, smiling: a c.p., mainly women’s: 1878–ca 1915. ‘Used by Herbert
Campbell…in Covent Garden Theatre Pantomime, 1878’, Ware, who adds that it is
derived ex ‘enceinte women making the remark as to their condition’.

all round my hat
. Indisposed: ca 1850–1900. As an exclamation (1834–ca 1890)= nonsense! (See all
around my HAT.) Hence, spicy as all round my hat (ca 1870–1900), sensational: 1882,
Punch.

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all-rounder
. A versatile or adaptable person, esp. at sport (–1887); coll >, by 1910, S.E. 2. A collar of
equal height all round and meeting in front (Trollope, 1857), unfashionable by ca 1885,
rarely worn after 1890.

all saints
, see MOTHER OF ALL SAINTS.

all serene
. Correct; safe; favourable: c.p., now ob. Sessions, 8 April 1852: policeman loq., ‘He said,
“It is all serene”—that means calm, square, beautiful.’

all-set
. (Of a rogue, a desperate character) ‘ready to start upon any kind of robbery, or other
mischief’, Bee, 1823: low or perhaps c. 2. Ready; arranged in order; comfortable: coll:
from ca 1870. Ex the all set?—ready!—go! used in starting those athletic races in which
the starter does not employ a pistol.

all(-)shapes
. Of irregular form: coll: late C.19–20.

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all Sir Garnet
, see SIR GARNET.

all smoke, gammon and pickles or spinach
. All nothing, i.e. all nonsense: ca 1870–1900.

all sorts
. Tap-droppings (‘Jon Bee’, 1823); cf. ALLS; ALL NATIONS.

all souls
, see MOTHER OF ALL SAINTS.

all spice, all-spice
. A grocer: mid-C.19–20; ob. The S.E. sense, aromatic herb, goes back to the early C.17.

all standing, brought up
. Unable to deal with a situation: naval coll: C.19–20. Granville.

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all-standing, sleep, or, gen., turn in
. ‘To turn in with one’s clothes on’: nautical coll: from ca 1800.

all t.h.
Good; correct. Tailors’ A1, att right: ca 1860–1910.

all the better for seeing you
! A c.p. reply to ‘How are you ?’: late C.19–20.

all the go
. Genuine; thoroughly satisfactory; esp. in demand, fashionable (see GO): from ca 1780;
ob.

all the way down
. Completely suitable or suited: coll, ca 1850–1910. Lit., from top to toe. 2. Hence, as
adv.: excellently. A coll of late C.19–20.

all the way there
. A variant, ca 1860–90, Of ALL THERE.

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all the world and his wife
, see WIFE, ALL THE…

all there
. Honest, reliable (—1860); ready-witted (1880); sane (late C.19–20). Also applied to
‘one with his whole thought directed to the occasion, totus in illis, as Horace says, and so
at his best’ (Notes and Queries, 24 April 1937): coll: from ca 1885.

all to pieces
. Collapsed, ruined: C.17–20 coll. 2. Out of form or condition: C.19–20, ob. 3. (Of a
woman) confined: mid-C.19–20. All three esp. with go.

all to smash
. Utterly (Cuthbert Bede, 1861); ob. 2. Ruined, bankrupt, mid-C.19–20. H., 1st ed.
Perhaps ex Somerset dial.

all U.P.
, see U.P.

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all up (with)
. Of things, projects: fruitless, ruined: late C.18–20. Of persons: bankrupt, utterly foiled,
doomed to die: C.19–20, as in Dickens’s ‘all up with Squeers’. Rarely up alone. The
nuance ‘utterly exhausted, virtually defeated’—e.g. in boxing—occurs in Boxiana, I,
1818. It’s all up occurs in vol. III, 1821. The sense ‘doomed to die’ appears in Sessions, 3
July 1843.

all very large and fine
. A c.p. indicative of ironic approval: coll: 1886; slightly ob. Ex ‘the refrain of a song
sung by Mr Herbert Campbell’ (Ware): cf. ALL RIGHT UP TO NOW.

all white
, see ALL CANDO.

all wind and piss
. A contemptuous c.p.: (probably) C.19–20. Ex the semi-proverbial C.18–20 like the
BARBER’S CAT, all…

all wool and a yard wide
. Utterly good and honest (person): late C.19–20. Ex drapery.

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allacompain
, see ALACOMPAIN.

allee samee
. Identical with, similar to, like: pidgin (–1883).

alleluia lass
. A Salvation Army girl: London proletarian: 1886; ob.

alleviator
. A drink. Coined by Mark Lemon in the 1840s. Ob.

all(e)y
. A marble of medium size: C.18–20 schoolboys’ coll > S.E. Defoe has it. Perhaps ex
alabaster. 2. A go-between: proletarian (–1909); virtually †. Ware derives ex Fr. aller, to
go.

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alley, (right) up one’s
. One’s concern, applied to what one knows or can do very well: coll: since ca 1905.
Deliberate variation of…STREET. 2. Hence, since ca 1910, applied to something
delightful.

allicholly
. Melancholy: jocular coll or deliberate s. in Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona:
punning ale+melancholy. Cf. LEMONCHOLY.

alligator
. See HALLIGATOR. 2. One who, singing, opens his mouth wide: ca 1820–50.

alligator pear
. An avocado pear: South African coll (–1892). By corruption.

allo
. All; every: pidgin: mid-C.19–20.

allow
. Weekly pocket-money: Harrow School, C.19–20; ob.

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alls
. Short for ALL NATIONS (tapdroppings); ca 1840–1914. 2. Also, ca 1850–1900, a
workman’s term—the American equivalent is, or used to be, bens—for his tools.

Allslops
. Allsopp & Sons’ ale: not upper-classes’: from ca 1900. It had a slump in quality at one
time; the name has unjustly stuck.

ally-beg
*. Comfort of a bed; a comfortable bed: c.: C.18–20; ob. Prob.= ‘pleasant little bed’.

almanach
. The female pudend: low: late C.19–early 20.

almighty
. Great(ly), might(il)y. A U.S. coll never properly acclimatized in Great Britain and now
ob. De Quincey, 1824: ‘Such rubbish, such almighty nonsense (to speak
transatlanticé)…’ 2. Grand; impressive: proletarian coll verging on sol.: mid-C.19–20.
Nevinson, 1895, makes a Shadwellite describe a picture having ‘somethink almighty
about it’.

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almighty dollar, the
. Wealth: coll (–1859) ex U.S. (1836). Probably coined by Washington Irving, after Ben
Jonson’s almighty gold, though the first printed record does not occur in Irving’s work. In
England the phrase is always satirical, nor is it yet S.E.: and frequently it connotes the
(supposed) American devotion to and absorption in money-making.

almond
. Penis: mostly Cockneys’: from ca 1890. An abbr. of almond rock, rhyming s. for the
same since ca 1880: on COCK.

almond rocks
. Socks: rhyming s.: late C.19–20.

aloft
. Dead: C.18–20; ob. Also coll is go aloft, to die: Dibdin’s Tom Bowling, 1790, contains
the verses:
Faithful below, Tom did his duty, And now he’s gone aloft.
At aloft, F. & H. has a fascinating synonymy for ‘to die’; see too the essay on
euphemisms in Words! cf. ALOW AND ALOFT.

alone, go
. To be experienced, wary, and alert: ca 1800–25.

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along, get
. An imperative=go away!: coll; C.19–20. Ordinarily, get along is S.E. and=get on, move
along.

along-shore boys
. Landsmen: nautical coll (–1823); †by 1910.

along with
. A coll weakening of with: late C.19–20.

aloud
, used fig., is coll: mid-C.19–20. (The O.E.D. record: 1872.)

alow and aloft
. ‘Below decks and aloft’; nautical coll: mid-C.19–20. Bowen. 2. Hence, ‘dead and alive’,
i.e. lethargic, dull: nautical: late C.19–20; ob. ibid.

Alsatia (the Higher)
*. Whitefriars. Alsatia the Lower, the Mint in Southwark, London. c. of ca 1680–1800;
afterwards, historical. From early in C.17 until 1697, when both liberties or asylums or

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sanctuaries were suppressed, these were the haunts of bankrupts, fleeing debtors,
gamesters and sharks. In Shadwell’s comedy, The Squire of Alsatia—the first record of
the term—occurs the illuminating: ‘Who are these? Some inhabitants of Whitefryers;
some bullies of Alsatia.’ Alsatia=Alsace, a ‘debateable ground’ province. In C.18–19
Alsatia meant any asylum for criminals, any low quarter, while squire of Alsatia
synonymized a sharper or a SHADY spendthrift. Besides Shadwell’s play, consult Scott’s
Fortunes of Nigel, Macaulay’s History at I, iii, E. Beresford Chancellor’s Annals of Fleet
Street, and M.Melville Balfour’s historical novel, The Long Robe.

Alsatia phrase
. A term in s. or, esp., in c.: Swift, 1704; †by 1750. Coll > very soon S.E.

Alsatian
*. Pertaining to ALSATIA; crimi-nal; debauched: c. of late C.17–18; then historical.
Whence the n.

alt, in
. Haughty: coll: 1748, Richardson; †by 1820. Ex altitude.

alta(or e or u)ma(or e)l(l)
. All together; altogether (adv.): late C.17–18. N., the total of a bill, an account: C.18.
Adj., nautical, esp. of s. and j.: C.18. Since the adv. and the n. are always, so far as I can
discover, spelt alta(or e)me(or a)l(l) and F. & H. derives them from Dutch altemal
(modern Dutch allemaal)—Hexham, 1658, ‘Al-te-mael, Wholly, or All at once’—and
since the O.E.D. derives the adj., always spelt altumal, from altum (mare)+al, the two
forms and derivations suggest, indeed they almost necessitate, two distinct origins.

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altar
. ‘Master’s desk in old Lower Senior Room’: Bootham School: late C.19–20. Ex the
shape.

alter the jeff’s click
. To make a garment regardless of the cutter’s chalkings or instructions: tailors’ (–1903).

altham
*, C.16 c., a wife; a mistress. Whence(?) the c. adj. AUTEM.

altitudes, in the (or his, my, etc.)
. In elevated mood (coll: Jonson, 1630); drunk (ca 1700). Both were †by 1840. cf.
ELEVATE.

altocad
. An oldish paid member who in the choir takes alto: Winchester College, from ca 1850.

altogether, the
. The nude: coll: 1894, Du Maurier. i.e. the altogether (wholly) naked.

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altogethery
. Drunk: Society: 1816, Byron. Ex altogether drunk.

always in trouble like a Drury Lane whore
. A late C.19–20 c.p.‘stigmatizing either self-pity or successive misfortunes to an
individual’ (Atkinson).

amazingly
. Very: coll; from ca 1790. Maria Edgeworth, ‘She speaks English amazingly well for a
Frenchwoman.’

ambassador
. A sailors’ trick upon new hands: mid-C.18–19. In a King-Neptune form, King Arthur. 2.
See:

ambassador of commerce
. A commercial traveller: coll: late C.19–20; ob.

Ambassador of Morocco
. A shoemaker: ca 1810–30. Punning morocco (leather).

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ambi, ambitious
. ‘Zealous, with a view to personal advantage; also foolishly zealous, asking for more
work, etc., etc.’, John Masefield, in the Conway, 1933. Conway Training Ship s., from ca
1880.

ambi(or o)dexter
. A double-dealing witness, lawyer or juror: C.16–19; coll; S.E. after 1800. 2. Any
double-dealer: from ca 1550, coll; by 1880 S.E.

ambrol
. A naval corruption of admiral: late C.17–18.

ambs-ace, ames ace
. Bad luck: M.E.– C.19. 2. Next to nothing: C.17–18. Lit. the double ace; and soon coll.
3. Within ambs-ace, almost: late C.17–early 19, coll in C.18–19.

amen-chapel
. ‘The service used in Winchester School [sic] upon Founder’s Commemorations, and
certain other occasions, in which the responses and Amens are accompanied on the
organ’, E.D.D., 1896.

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amen-curler
. A parish clerk: late C.18–19. A C.18 variant: amen-clerk. A mid-C.19–20 variant,
amen-bawler (Mayhew, 1851). cf. AMEN-WALLAH and:

araen-snorter
. A parson. Rare in England, frequent in Australia (ca 1880–1900).

‘amen’ to everything, say ‘yes’ and
. To agree to everything: coll: late C.18–mid-19. cf. AMENER.

amen-wallah
. A chaplain’s clerk: C.19–20. cf. AMEN-CURLER.

amener
. An assiduous assenter: C.19–20; ob. (Amen, the concluding word.)

American shoulders
. A coat cut square to give the appearance of broadness. From ca 1870; at first, tailors’ j.,
but s. by 1890.

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American tweezers
*. A burglar’s instrument for opening doors: from ca 1870; orig. c,

amidships
. On the solar plexus; in or on the belly. Nautical: C.18–20.

Aminidab, Aminadab
. A Quaker: C.18– early 19; derisive. Ned Ward, 1709; Grose.

ammunition
. Toilet paper: C.19–20; ob. cf. BUM-FODDER.

ammunition leg
. A wooden leg: military: C.19. (Ammunition=munition.)

ammunition wife
. (Gen. pl.) A harlot: nautical: ca 1820–70. cf. GUNPOWDER and ‘HOT STUFF’.

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amorosa
. A wanton: ca 1630–1720: Society, mainly. It. word, never acclimatized.

amoroso
. A (male) lover: ca 1615–1770; chiefly Society. An It. word never properly anglicized.

amourette
. A trifling love affair or, esp., amour: ca 1860–1914: Society coll. Directly ex Fr.; cf.
C.17 S.E. amorets, dalliance.

amours, in
. In love: gen. followed by with (some person): ca 1725–1800: Society s. > coll > S.E.

ampersand
. The posterior(s). ‘&’ used to come at the end of nursery-book alphabets: hence the
hinder parts. ca 1885–1914.

amputate one’s mahogany or timber
. To CUT (v., 4) one’s stick, to depart, esp. depart quickly: from the 1850s; ob. There is a
rich synonymy for rapid departure; see F. & H., also my Slang.

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amuse
*, in late C.17–18 c., is to throw dust, pepper, snuff, etc., in the eyes of the person to be
robbed; an amuser is one who does this.

amy
. ‘A friendly alien serving in a man-of-war’: naval: ca 1800–60. Bowen notes that in the
old days there were many foreigners serving in the British Navy. ?a mutilated blend of
enemy man or simply an adoption of Fr. ami, a friend.

anabaptist
. A pickpocket who, caught in the act, is ducked in pond or at pump: late C.18–early 19.

analken
. To wash: Shelta: C.18–20.

analt
. To sweep (with broom): id.

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anan
. ‘What do you say, Sir?’ in reply to an order or remark not understood: naval: C.18.
Perhaps anon corrupted.

anatomy
. An extremely emaciated—or skinny—person: late C.16–20. (Low) coll. cf. ATOMY.

anca
. A man; a husband or sweetheart: low: C.19. Price Warung, Tales, 1897 (p. 58). Ex
Greek anēr.

anchor, bring one’s arse to an
. To sit down: nautical: late C.18–mid-19. cf.:

anchor, swallow the
. To settle down—above all, to loaf—on shore, esp. if one is still active: nautical: late
C.19–20.

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anchor (oneself), come to an anchor
. To halt; sit down, rest; sojourn. Coll, C.18–20. 2. Hence anchor, an abode or a place of
residence: C.19–20 coll. At first nautical, both v. and n. soon > gen.

anchor to the windward of the law, let go
an
. To keep within the letter of the law: nautical: late C.18–mid-19.

ancient mariner
. A sea-gull: nautical: C.19–20. Sea-gulls are ‘supposed to possess the souls of dead
sailormen’, Bowen. cf. Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner.

ancient mariners
. At Oxford, an occasionally rowing group or crew of dons; at Cambridge, any graduates
who, still associated with the university, continue to row. From ca 1880; ob. Ware quotes
the Daily News of 7 Nov. 1884.

and all
. As well: lower-class coll tag implying a grumble: from ca 1860. cf. S.E. usage.

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(and) don’t you forget it
! A c.p. orig. U.S. (–1888) adopted in England ca 1890. An almost pointless intensive.

and he didn’t
! A tailors’ c.p. implying a discreditable action: ca 1870–1920.

and no error or mistake
! see MISTAKE, AND NO.

and no flies
. And no doubt about it: low c.p. tag: ca 1840–60. Mayhew, I, 1851.

and no mogue
! A tailors’ implication of slight incredulity=‘that’s true?’ From ca 1880. Possibly mogue
represents the Fr. moquerie: cf. the synonymous Fr. moque (C.15–16). More prob., as Mr
H.R. Spencer of Camberley, Surrey, has proposed, ex the German underworld and
Gypsies’ mogeln (long o, which would phonetically explain the -ue)—coming into Eng.
via Yiddish.

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and no whistle
. Another tailors’ implication: that the speaker is actually, though ostensibly not, speaking
of himself. ca 1860–1900.

and so he died
; and then she died. These Restoration-drama tags verge on c.pp.: See Dryden, ed.
Summers, I, 419.

and so she prayed me to tell ye
. An almost meaningless c.p. (with slight variations) rounding off a sentence: ca 1670–90.
e.g. in Duffett’s burlesque, The Mock-Tempest, 1675.

and the rest
! A sarcastic retort or comment: from ca 1860. The implication is that something has been
omitted.

and things
, see THINGS, AND.

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and welcome
! And you’re welcome to it; I’m glad (to let you have it, etc.): coll, non-aristocratic: late
C.19–20. Manchon.

Andrew
. A gentleman’s servant: coll > S.E.: 1698, Congreve; †by 1800. Because a very common
name. 2. In full, ANDREW MILLAB. A ship, esp. of war: rhyming s. (–1864); ob. 3.
Hence, a revenue cutter; Australian smugglers’: ca 1870–1900. But this, like sense 2,
may abbr. Andrew Miller’s (or -ar’s) lugger, ‘a king’s ship and vessel’, 1813 (sea cant), a
phrase †by 1880. 4. Abbr. ANDREW MILLAR, 2; always the Andrew.

Andrew Millar
. See ANDREW, 2. 2.The Royal Navy: hence, any Government department: naval: midC.19–20; ob. Ex ‘a notorious Press-gang “tough” who shanghaied so many victims into
the Navy that the sailors of the period thought it belonged to him’ (Granville).

Andy Cain
. Rain: rhyming s.: late C.19–20.

Angel
. A harlot plying near the Angel at Islington: low Cockney (–1909). cf. SLUKER.

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angel, flying angel
. A ride astride a person’s shoulders (James Greenwood, 1880): ca 1860–1900.

angel altogether
. A confirmed drunkard. Mainly West Indian: ca 1876–1914.

angel-maker
. A baby-farmer: proletarian: 1889; ob. Ware, ‘Because so many of the farmed babies
die.’ Probably ex the Fr. faiseuse des anges.

angelic, Angelica
. An unmarried girl. The former ca 1810–50, the latter ca 1840–1900. Moncrieff in Tom
and Jerry, 1821, speaks of ‘the angelics at Almack’s’.

angel’s food
. Strong ale: ca 1575–1620. Harrison’s England, II, viii.

angel’s foot-stool
. A sail carried over the moon-sail by American clippers: nautical coll: mid-C.19–20; ob.

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angel’s gear
. Women’s clothes: nautical: mid-C.19–20; ob.

angel’s oil
. Money employed in bribery. Variant, oil of angels. C.17. Punning angel, the small gold
coin struck in 1465.

angel’s suit
. Coat and waistcoat made in one, with trousers buttoned thereto. Tailors’, ca 1870–1885.
‘Neither garment nor name was extensively adopted,’ F. & H.

angel’s whisper
, see WHISPER, ANGEL’S.

angler
*. A pilferer who, with a hooked stick, steals from open windows and doors: mid-C.16–
early 19. cf. AREA SNEAK; HOOKER. 2. A hook: c. of ca 1580–1620. Greene.

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Anglican inch
. ‘The short square whisker …so much affected by the Broad Church party’: ritualistic
clergy’s: 1870; very ob.

angling cove
*. A receiver of stolen goods: C.19 c. In C.18–early 19 c., angling for farthings is
begging, with cap and string, from a prison window.

angry boy
. A BLOOD: late C.16–17. Greene; Beaumont & Fletcher.

Anguagela
. Language: central s. (–1909); ob., as all central s. is.

angular party
. A gathering or social group odd in number: coll, from ca 1870; ob.

Animal
. The Elephant and Castle Station: London Railway passengers’: ca 1860–1910. 2. The
Animal. ‘A disguised, or flippant, reference amongst boon companions to the tavern,

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used in common when the sign is zoological…but more esp. referring to the Elephant and
Castle …; until (1882) this place was exceptionally dubbed “Jumbo”,’ Ware.

animal, go the whole
. A U.S. phrase adapted by Dickens as go the extreme animal, by Sala as…entire…A
C.19 variant on the U.S. GO THE WHOLE HOG.

animal, mere
. ‘A very silly fellow’, B.E.: late C.17–18 coll. Wycherley.

animal spirits
. Liveliness of character, (gen. considerable) vivacity of manner and action, a healthy
animalism: coll; from ca 1810. Jane Austen.

ankle, have sprained one’s
. To have been seduced (cf. Fr. avoir mal aux genoux): late C.18–20; ob.

ankle-beater
. A boy specializing (ca 1820–80) in driving, to the slaughter-yard, the animals purchased
by the butcher. To avoid the damaging of flesh, only the beasts’ ankles were touched.
Also known as a PENNY-BOY.

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ankle-bone
. A crawfish: nautical: late C.19–20; ob.

ankle-spring warehouse
*. The stocks: Anglo-Irish c.: ca 1780–1830. But cf. SPRING-ANKLE WAREHOUSE.

Ann-chovey
, see CHOVEY.

Anna Maria
. A fire: rhyming s.: 1892, ‘Pomes’ Marshall, Sporting Times, 29 Oct.

annas of dark blood, have at least two
. To be of mixed parentage: Anglo-Indian coll (–1886). cf. COFFEE-COLOUR.

Anne’s fan
, properly Queen Anne’s fan. Thumb to nose and fingers outspread; intensified by
twiddled fingers or by addition of other hand similarly outspread: late C.18–19. Now
COCK SNOOKS at a person.

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anno domini
. Late middle, or old, age (1885); old (‘extremely old’ is B.C.); the passage of the years
(however young one is after early adulthood): from ca 1910. Coll. Ware, 1909, ‘“He must
be very anno domini, mustn’t he?” “A.D.? my dear fellow, say B.C.”’; B.C. is virtually †.
cf. anno domini ship, an old-fashioned whaler: whaling: from ca 1880; ob.

annual
. A holiday taken once a year: coll (–1903).

anodyne necklace
. A halter: mid-C.18– early 19. Goldsmith, 1766. (In C.17 simply NECKLACE.) One of
numerous synonyms (see HORSE-NIGHTCAP). In C.18 also a supposedly medicinal
amulet.

anoint
. To beat well, to thrash: C.17–20; ob. Adumbrated in M.E.

anoint a (or the) palm
. To bribe: C.16–18. cf. GREASE the palm.

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anointed
. Depraved, worthless, pejoratively ulter: late C.18–19; ?mainly Anglo-Irish. Prob. ex
ANOINT.

anonyma
. A demi-mondaine, esp. if a high-flyer. ca 1860–79, then less common; rare in C.20.
Sala, 1864, ‘Bah! There are so many anonymas nowadays.’

another, you’re
, see YOU ARE ANOTHER.

another acrobat
. Another drink: punning tumbler: ca 1870–1900.

another guess; another guess sort of man
. (A) FLY (man): C.19. Perhaps ex another gates, but prob. direct from U.S.

another point(, steward)
! Make that drink stronger!: nautical: from ca 1860. Glasgow Herald, 9 Nov. 1864. cf. the
NORTH drinking-terms.

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anser
, see GOOSE.

antagonize
, v.i. To compete; strive to win: sporting coll (–1887).

Anthony
; St Anthony’s pig; antony pig. The smallest pig in a litter: late C.16–20; ob. Coll by
1750. St Anthony the hermit was the patron of swineherds.

Ant(h)ony, cuff or knock
. To knock one’s knees together in walking: late C.18–19. Variant, cuff Jonas. 2.
Ant(h)ony Cuffin, a knock-kneed man: C.19.

anti
. A person opposed to a given opinion or party; one by nature a rebel, an objector: coll
(1889). Extheadj.

antidote
. ‘A very homely woman’, B.E.: jocular: late C.17–mid 18. Against lust.

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antimony
. Type: printers’ (–1890). F. & H., ‘Antimony is a constituent part’ of the metal.

antipodean
. With everything topsy-turvy: from ca 1850. Orig. jocularly pedantic S.E., then jocularly
coll.

Antipodes, the or her
. The female pudend: late C.19–20. 2. The backside: since ca 1840.

antiquated rogue
. An ex-thief; an out-of-date thief: ca 1660–1730. At the angle formed by three linguistic
regions: c., j., and S.E. Only in B.E.

Antony
, see ANTHONY.

any
. At all; s. (and dial.): late C.19–20. Kipling, 1890, ‘You don’t want bein’ made more
drunk any.’

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any, I’m not taking (–1903) or having
(from ca 1895). Not for me!; ‘not for JOE!’: c.p. Hence in ordinary constructions. The
earlier form occurs in J.Milne, Epistles of Atkins, 1902.

any how, anyhow
. Indifferently; badly: coll (–1859).

any racket
. A penny faggot: rhyming s., ca 1855–1910.

any road
, see ROAD, 3.

anything, as or like
. Very; much; vigorously. The as form, C.16–20; ob.; the like, C.18–20. Coll.

anythingarian
. A person of no fixed or decided views: from ca 1707, when coined by Swift; whence
anythingarianism, defined by Kingsley in 1851 as ‘modern NeoPlatonism’. Coll, soon
S.E.; ob.

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anywhere down there
! A tailors’ c.p. when something is dropped on the floor: ca 1860–1910.

apartments to let
. (With have) brainless; silly: from early 1860s. 2. In C.18, descriptive of a widow.

ape, make anyone his
. To befool: C.17–19 coll. Variant, put an ape into one’s hood or cap.

’apenny bumper
. ‘A two-farthing omnibus ride’: London streets’: ca 1870–1900. Ware.

’apenny dip
. A ship: rhyming s.: since ca 1860.

’apenny-lot day
. ‘A bad time for business’: costers’ (–1909); ob. Ware. Because on such a day the sales
total

d.

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93

apes in hell, lead
. To be an old maid: C.16–20; ob. ‘Euphues’ Lyly was one of the first to record the
phrase; Gascoigne was app. the first. Apperson. Whence, ape-leader, an old maid: midC.17–early 19.

ape’s paternoster, say an
. To chatter with cold. Recorded by Cotgrave in 1611. For the quaint proverbs and
proverbial sayings connected with the ape, see esp. G.L. Apperson’s English Proverbs,
1929.

apiece
. For each person: coll; C.19–20. (S.E. when applied to things.)

apostles
. ‘The knight-heads, bollards and bitts of a sailing-ship’: nautical: mid-C.19–20; ob.
Bowen. Why?

apostles, manoeuvre the
. To rob Peter to pay Paul: mid-C.18–20; ob.

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Apostles, the (Twelve)
. The last twelve on the degree list: Cambridge University: late C.18–19. Ex post alios,
after the others, is H.’s suggestion. Variant, the chosen twelve.

Apostle’s Grove, the
. St John’s Wood district, London: 1864. Variant, the Grove of the Evangelist: H., 5th
ed., 1874. Ex the numerous demi-mondaines living there ca 1860–1910. Ob.

apothecaries’ Latin
. Law Latin, dog Latin: late C.18–early 19 coll.

apothecary, talk like an
. To talk nonsense: mid-C.18–early 19: coll.

apothecary’s bill
. A long bill: mid-C.18– early 19.

app
. Apparatus: chemists’ (not druggists’) and chemical students’: from ca 1860.

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95

apple and pip
. To urinate: late C.19–20. Rhyming on SIP, back-s. for PISS. (Franklyn, 2nd.)

apple and pears
, see APPLES AND PEARS.

apple fritter
. A bitter (ale): rhyming s.: late C.19–20.

apple-cart
. The human body. Grose, 2nd ed., 1788, has ‘down with his apple-cart; knock or throw
him down’: cf. H., 1st ed., 1859, “‘down with his applecart,” i.e, upset him. North[ern.]’
In upset the applecart there seems to be a merging of two senses: body and, in dialect,
plan; originating app. ca 1800, this phrase > coll ca 1850.

apple-cart, upset the old woman’s
; upset the apple-cart and spill the gooseberries (or peaches). Variants, dating from ca
1880, of upset the apple-cart: see preceding entry.

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apple-dumpling shop
. A woman’s bosom: late C.18–19. cf. APPLE-MONGER.

apple-monger, apple-squire; apron-squire
. A harlot’s bully. Coll, respectively C.18, C.16–early 19, late C.16–19. Perhaps ex apple,
a woman’s breast. cf. APPLE-DUMPLINO SHOP.

apple-pie bed
. A bed short-sheeted: late C.18–20; coll by 1830; S.E. by 1880. Grose, 2nd ed., defines it
as ‘A bed made apple-pye fashion, like what is termed a turnover apple-pye’.

Apple-Pie Day
. That day on which, at Winchester College, six-and-six was, C.19, played. On this day,
the Thursday after the first Tuesday in December, apple-pies were served on ‘GOMERS’,
in College, for dinner.

apple-pie order
. Perfect order, impeccable precision (Scott, 1813): coll >, by 1900, S.E.

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apple-sauce
. Impudence: mostly lower middle class: late C.19–20. See SAUCE.

apple-squire
. A male bawd: orig. (–1591), c. Greene. See also APPLE-MONGER.

Appleby?, who has any lands in
. A c.p. addressed to ‘The Man at whose Door the Glass stands Long’ (B.E. at landlord):
late C17–mid 18. (cf. PARSON MALLUM and PARSON PALMER.) Perhaps orig. of
cider.

apples
. Testicles: low: C.19–20. cf. NUTMEGS. 2. See APPLES AND PEARS.

apples and pears
. Stairs (–1859). ‘Ducange Anglicus,’ 1st ed., and H., 1st ed., have apple and pears. Ware
records, for 1882, the abbr. apples, which has never > gen.

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apples swim! how we
. What a good time we have! C.17–20; ob. Clarke, 1639; Ray, 1678; FitzGerald, 1852. In
C.19 often tagged with quoth the horse-turd. The c.p. is applied to parvenus and
pretenders. It has been known in Germany since C.16, both in the Latin Nos poma
natamus and in the German Da schwimmen wir Apfel, sagte der Rossapfel und schwamm
mit den echten, Look at us apples swimming, said the ball of horse-dung, swimming with
the genuine apples. See HOW WE APPLES SWIM!

appro, on
. Coll: abbr. on approbation or approval (things), from ca 1870; on approbation
(persons): from ca 1900.

’appy dosser
, see DOSSER.

apricock (-) water
. Apricock, i.e. apricot, ale: 1728, Anon., The Quaker’s Opera.

April fools
. Tools: rhyming s.: late C.19–20. 2. Stools: mostly public-house rhyming s.: since ca
1910.

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April gentleman
. A man newly married: coll; C.16–17. Greene. Ex the popularity of marriages in April.

apron-rogue
. A labourer, an artisan: C.17 coll. (In C.17 S.E., apron-man.)

apron-squire
, see APPLE-MONGER.

apron-string hold or tenure
. An estate held only during a wife’s life: late C.17–19 coll. Ray, 1678, ‘To hold by the
apronstrings, i.e. in right of his wife.’

apron-strings, tied to (or always at) the (or
a woman’s)
. Dangling after a woman, C.18; under petticoat government, C.18–20.

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apron-up
. Pregnant: lower and lower-middle class coll: C.19–20; ob. Because modest women tend,
in pregnancy, to use their aprons as ‘disguise’.

apron-washings
. Porter: proletarian (—1903); ob. Ex brewers’ porters’ aprons.

aproneer
. A shopkeeper: ca 1650–1720; coll. During the Civil War, a Roundhead. On the other
hand, aproner (ca. 1600–40)= a barman, a waiter.

aqua pompaginis (or pump-)
. Apothecaries’ Latin for water from the well: C.18– early 19. Harrison Ainsworth,
drawing heavily on Egan’s Grose, uses the term several times.

aquarius
. ‘Controller of evening bath “set”’: Bootham School s. (late C.19–20) verging on j.

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aquatics
. A game of cricket played by the oarsmen; the playing-field used by them: Eton; mid
C.19–20.

Arab, city Arab, street Arab
. A young vagrant; a poor boy playing much in the streets. Coll >, by 1910, S.E.:
respectively—1872, 1848, ca 1855.

Arabs; Arab merchants
. ‘The Indian merchants and shopkeepers in Natal are locally, but erroneously, known by
these designations. They are chiefly Mohammedans and are also known as “Bombay
merchants”,’ Pettman: from early 1890s.

arbor vitae
. Lit., the tree of life, i.e. the penis: late C.18–20; ob. Pedantic.

Arbroath
! A Scottish sporting c.p. (from 6 Sept. 1885) to anyone boasting. Because on 5 Sept.
1885, Dundee Harp defeated Aberdeen Rovers by 35–0 and sent a telegram to their great
rivals Arbroath, ‘You can’t beat this’, to which Arbroath, having the same day defeated
Bon Accord, in a Scottish Cup Tie, by 36–0, replied, ‘Can’t we?’

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arch-cove or rogue
*. As c., the leader of a gang of thieves: from ca 1600 to 1800. The latter as s., a
confirmed rogue, from ca 1650; playfully, C.18–19. In c., arch= principal; confirmed;
extremely adept. Arch-doll or DOXY, however, is the wife of an arch-COVE: Grose, 2nd
ed.

archdeacon
. Merton ale, stronger brew: Oxford University, C.19–20; ob.

archduke
. A comical or an eccentric man: late C.17–18. Perhaps suggested by the Duke in
Measure for Measure.

Archer up
! (He, etc., is) safe; or, bound to win: London c.p.: 1881–6. Ex the famous jockey, Fred
Archer, who (d. 1886) sprang into fame in 1881.

ard
*. Hot, both of objects and of persons or passions: C.17–early 19 c. Ex Fr. ardent.

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ardelio(n)
. A busybody: C.17; coll. Never properly acclimatized. Florio; Burton. Ex L. ardelio ex
ardere, to be zealous.

ardent
. Spirituous liquor: Society: 1870. Abbr. ardent spirits.

area-sneak
. A sneak haunting areas in order to thieve (Vaux, 1812; Dickens, 1838). Coll; S.E. by
1880 at latest. For a lengthy list of English and Continental synonyms for a thief see F. &
H.

arer
. A Cockney term of ca 1900–15, as in Ware’s quotation, ‘We are, and what’s more, we
can’t be any arer,’ i.e. more so.

’arf-and-’arf
. Ale and porter mixed equally: Cockney; from ca 1830. cf.:

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arfarfanarf
. Drunk: Cockney (–1909); ob. Lit., half, half, and half; applied orig. to one who has had
many an ARF-AND-ARF.

arg
. To argue: low (–1903).

argal
; argol-bargol. In Shakespeare, argal=therefore: obviously corrupted from ergo. Argolbargol, unsound reasoning, cavilling—as v., to baody words—is of the C.19–20 (ob.) and
seems to be echoically rhyming after willy-nilly, HOCUS-POCUS, etc. Moreover, The
Times, in 1863, used argal as=quibble, and Galt, forty years earlier, employed the adj.
argol-bargolous, quarrelsome; argy-bargy (–1887) is mostly Scottish. Note, however,
that argle, to dispute about, dates from ca 1589.

argot
*. ‘A term used amongst London thieves for their secret…language’, H.: c. (–1859). The
Fr. argot, properly cant, loosely slang. 2. For its misuse as= ‘slang’, see introductory
chapter of Slang: 1843, Quarterly Review, ‘Some modern argot or vulgarism’.

argue the leg off an iron pot
. To be, on one occasion or many, extremely argumentative: coll: from ca 1880. Also
argue a dog’s tail off: coll (–1903).

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argufy
. To signify: mid-C.18–20: low coll and dial. 1726, Trial of Hester Jennings in Select
Trials from 1724 to 1732, 1735. In Hodgson’s National Songster, 1832, is an old song
entitled ‘What Argufies Pride and Ambition?’ 2. Hence, to pester with argument: id.:
1771, Smollett; ob. 3. Hence, v.i., to argue, wrangle: id.: 1800, Maria Edgeworth. The
commonest sense.

argy-bargy
, see ARGAL.

Aristippus
. Canary wine: C.17: Middleton, ‘rich Aristippus, sparkling sherry’. Ex the hedonistic
Greek philosopher.

aristo
. An aristocrat: dated by the O.E.D. Sup. at 1864, but perhaps rather from ca 1790 and
perhaps influenced by Fr. s.

aristocrat
. A SWELL, a TOFF: C.19–20; coll, but at no time at all gen.

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aristocratic vein
. (Gen. pl.) A blue vein: theatrical coll (–1909); ob. cf. S.E. blue blood.

Aristotle
. A bottle: rhyming s.: late C.19–20; ob.

ark
*, see ARKMAN. 2. A barrack-room chest: military coll (–1903); ob. A survival ex S.E.

ark and win(n)s
*. A sculler; a row-boat; c.: late C.18–mid 19. See ARKMAN.

ark-floater
. An aged actor: C.19. Ex Noah’s ark+floats, the footlights.

ark-pirate
*. A thief ‘working’ navigable rivers: nautical c. (–1823); †by 1900.

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arkman
*. A Thames waterman: C.18–19; c. or low. Ark, a boat, is not c. except perhaps ca 1750–
1850. Thence ark-ruff(ian), a fresh-water thief: c.; C.18–mid 19.

Arleens
. Orleans plums: Cockney coll. Recorded by Baumann, 1887.

arm, as long as one’s
. Very long: coll; late C.19–20.

arm, chance one’s
, see CHANCE YOUR ARM!

arm, make a long
. To stretch one’s arm after something: from ca 1880; coll.

arm, under the
. (Of a job) additional: tailors’ (–1903).

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arm-pits, work under the
*. To avoid being hanged, to commit only petty larcenies: c.: C.19.

arm-props
. Crutches: coll: from ca 1820; †by 1910. Moncrieff, 1821.

arm the lead
. ‘To fill a small cavity with tallow to bring up a sample of the bottom’ when sounding
the depth: nautical: mid-C.19–20: coll >, by 1900, j. Bowen.

armour, be in
. To be pot-valiant: late C.17–18. cf. Dutch courage and perhaps the C.17 proverbial
armour is light at table (Apperson).

armour, fight in
. To use a FRENCH LETTER: ca 1780–1840.

arms and legs (, all)
. Weak beer: without body. C.19–20.

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arm’s length, work at
. To work at a disadvantage; clumsily: coll > S.E.; C.19–20; ob.

arms of Murphy, in the
. Asleep: low (–1903). i.e. Morpheus.

arrah
! An Anglo-Irish expletive of emotion, excitement: coll: late C.17–20.

array
. To thrash, flog; afflict; disfigure, befoul: ironically or jocularly coll: late C.14–16. cf.
DRESS DOWN, DRESSING DOWN.

arri
! An exclamation of astonishment or vexation: Midland Districts of South Africa: coll:
from early 1880s. Ex Hottentot are.

’Arry and ’Arriet
. A typical costermonger and his, or any, coster lass; hence, any low-bred and lively (esp.
if not old) man and woman. Popularized by Milliken. From ca 1870; coll. Whence

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’Arryish, ‘costermongerish’, vulgarly jovial: coll; from ca 1880. Also, ‘Arry’s worrier, a
concertina: Cockney: 1885; ob.

ars musica
. The ‘musical’ ARSE, i.e. the podex: late C.18–19. Punning the L. for musical art.

arse
. Posterior; buttocks. Until ca 1660, S.E.; then a vulg. ca 1700–1930, rarely printed in
full: even B.E. (1690) on one occasion prints as ‘ar—’, and Grose often omits the r.

arse
, v.t. To kick: C.19–20: s.

arse, anchor one’s
. A C.19–20 variant of ANCHOR, BRING…

arse!, ask my
. I don’t know!: low: mid-C.19–20, See also ASK MINE…

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arse, grease a fat sow in the
, see GREASE …

arse, hang an or the
. To hold or hang back; to hesitate timorously: C.17–20 coll; ob.

arse!, my
; my foot! Expressions of marked incredulity; intense negatives: low: since ca 1880, ca
1860, resp.

arse!, so is my (†mine)
. A low c.p. of incredulity or contempt: C.17–20. Jonson. Also kiss †mine or my arse!:
C.18–20. Swift.

arse about
, v.i. In late C.18–19, to turn round: a vulgarism.

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arse and shite through his ribs, he would
lend his
. A c.p. applied to ‘anyone who lends his money inconsiderately’, Grose, 2nd ed.: ca
1780–1860.

arse-cooler
. (Women’s dress, C.19) a bustle.

arse-crawl
, v.i. To toady: low coll: late C.19–20.

arse-crawler or -creeper
. A sycophant: low coll: late C.19–20.

arse-foot
. A penguin: (nautical) coll (–1598); Florio, Goldsmith; †by 1880. Because its feet are
placed so far back.

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arse from one’s elbow, not to know one’s
. To be very ignorant: lower classes’: late C.19–20.

arse-hole
. Anus: a coll vulgarism: C.19 (?18)–20.

arse-hole crawler
; often simply CRAWLER. A sycophant: low: late C.19–20.

Arse-hole Square
. Boyish and youthful wit in parroted reply to ‘Where?’: mostly Cockneys’: late C.19–20.

arse-hole to breakfast time, from
. All the way; all the time: low: late C.19–20.

arse-holes to breakfast time
. Upside down: utterly confused: most unsatisfactory: Cockney: late C.19–20. Thus
‘Them ahses built all…’ or ‘Take no notice of him—he’s always…’

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arse-holes (to you)
! A low contemptuous interjection: late C.19–20. Ex ARSE-HOLE.

arse if it was loose, he would lose his
. A c.p. ‘said of a careless person’, Grose, 2nd ed.: ca 1780–1860; but in a more gen.
form C. 16. Nowadays we say…head…

arse off
. Depart: late C.19–20: s.

arse on…
, see BANDBOX.

arse over turkey
. Head over heels: low: late C.19–20.

arse upwards
. In good luck; luckily; coll: C.17–20. Esp. rise with one’s…

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arse-wonn
. ‘A little diminutive Fellow’, B.E.: late C.17–18.

arsty
! Slowly!; slow down!: Regular Army: late C.19–20. Ex Hindustani ahisti. Opp. JILDI.

arsy-varsy
, adv. Head over heels, esp. with fall, C.18–20; adj., preposterous, topsy-turvy, midC.17–19. Ex varsy, a rhyming addition, properly versy, L. versus (turned), and coll.

artesian
. Beer made in Australia: Australian: ca 1880–1914.

artful dodger
. A lodger: rhyming s. (–1857). 2. An expert thief: ca 1864–1900, perhaps ex the
character in Oliver Twist.

artful fox
. A theatre box: music-hall rhyming s.: 1882; †by 1916.

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Arthur, King
, see AMBASSADOR. Grose, 1st ed.

artichoke
, see HEARTY-CHOKE.

artichoke ripe
. To smoke a pipe; rhyming s.: ca 1855–80.

article
. A girl, a woman: ca 1810–70. 2. Contemptuous of any person: from ca 1856; coll. Ex
‘its common use in trade for an item of commodity, as in the phr[ase] “What’s the next
article?” of the mod. shopkeeper,’ E.D.D.

article, the (very)
. The precise thing; the thing (or person) most needed. Coll. From ca 1850. Trollope.

article of virtue
. Virgin: ca 1850–1914. Punning virtue, (objets de) vertu.

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articles
. Breeches, trousers; C.18–19. 2. In c. of 1780–1830, a suit of clothes.

artilleryman
. A drunkard: low (–1903). Ex noisiness.

artist
. A person, CHAP, ‘fellow’: from ca 1905.

arty-and-crafty
. Artistic but not notably useful or comfortable: coll: 1902.—as—. Very—; e.g. drunk as
drunk, very drunk: coll: mid-C.19–20. Perhaps ex—as can be.

as…as they make ‘em
. Utterly; very. Esp. with bad, drunk, fast, mad. From ca 1880. Coll.

as ever is
. A (mostly lower classes’) coll c.p. tag, emphasizing the preceding statement: mid-C.19–
20. Edward Lear (d. 1888) once wrote, ca 1873, ‘I shall go either to Sardinia, or India, or
Jumsibobjigglequack this next winter as ever is.’

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as much use as my arse
, often preceded by you’re. A low abusive c.p.: late C.19–20.

as you were
. ‘Used…to one who is going too fast in his assertions’ (–1864). Coll. Ex Army.

ash beans and long oats
. A thrashing: London streets’: C.19. Augustus Mayhew, Paved with Gold, 1857, ‘Give
him with all my might a good feed of “long oats” and “ash beans”.’

ash-cat
. A fireman in the Merchant Service: nautical, esp. naval: late C.19–20.

ash-plant
. A light cane carried by subalterns: military coll: 1870; ob. Ex its material.

Ashes, the
, ‘The symbolical remains of English cricket taken back to Australia’ (S.O.D.): 1882.
Also win, regain or recover, or lose the Ashes, to win or lose a series of test matches
(from the English point of view): 1883 (W.J.Lewis).

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Asia Minor
. Kensington and Bayswater (London, W.8 and W.2), ex the large number of retired
Indian Civil Servants there resident ca 1860–1910: London: ca 1880–1915.

asinego
, occ. assinego. A little ass: C.17. 2. A fool: C.17–18. Shakespeare has ‘An Asinico may
tutor thee; Thou…Asse.’ Ex Sp.

ask
. ‘A jockey is said to “ask”…a horse when rousing him to greater exertion’: turf: from ca
1860. B. & L.

ask another
! Don’t be silly!: Cockney c.p. addressed to one who asks a stale riddle: 1896; ob.

ask bogy
. An evasive reply: nautical mid-C.18–19. Sea-wit, says Grose, for ‘ask mine a–se’. cf.
BOGY, and GOOSEBERRY-GRINDER.

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ask for it
. To incur foolishly; be fooled unnecessarily, ludicrously: coll: C.20; the O.E.D. (Sup.)
dates it at 1909, but it is at least four years older. cf. BUY IT.

ask me (or my) behind
is a mid-C.19–20 variant of ask my (or me) ARSE.

ask mine, (in C.19–20) my, arse
! A low coll evasive reply: mid-C.18–20; orig. nautical.

ask out
. To invite to (an) entertainment: coll: from late 1880s.

asker
. A beggar: euphemistic s.: 1858, Reade; ob.

askew
*. A cup: c. of ca 1550–1650. ?etymology. Prob. from Fr. escuelle, a cup.

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asking, not you by your
. A c.p. reply (late C.18–early 19) to ‘Who owns this?’ cf. the late C.19–20 none the
better for your asking (health).

asking!, that’s
. i.e. when you shouldn’t, or when I shouldn’t reply: coll c.p.: late C.19–20.

ass
. A compositor: journalists’, ca 1850–1900. Variant, DONKEY. 2. A very stupid or
ignorant person: formerly S.E.; in C.20, coll. (N.B., make an ass of is going the same
way.) 3. Arse: dial. and late coll: C.19–20. This is the gen. U.S. pronunciation.

ass about
. To fool about: schoolboys’ (–1899). cf. ASS, 2.

assassin
. An ornamental bow worn on the female breast: ca 1900–14. Very KILLING.

assig
. An assignation, an appointment: ca 1680–1830.

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assinego
, see ASINEGO.

astarrakan
. Astrakhan (fur): jocular Cockney: late C.19–20.

aste
. Rare c. for money: early C.17. Nares. Ex It. asta, auction.

astronomer
. A drunkard ‘that knocks his head against a post, then looks up at the sky’: s. (–1650). 2.
A horse that carries its head high: C.19.

at that
, see THAT, AT.

at the Inn of the Morning Star
. (Sleeping) in the open air: coll, rather literary, verging on S.E.: from ca 1880; ob.
Suggested by Fr. à la belle étoile.

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atcha
! All right!: military: from ca 1860. Ex Hindustani accha, good.

atfler
, see HATFLER.

Athanasian wench
. ‘A forward girl, ready to oblige every man that shall ask her’, Grose. ca 1700–1830.
Variant, quicunque vult (whosoever desires)—the opening words of the Athanasian
Creed.

Athenaeum; gen. the A
. The penis: cultured (–1903); very ob. Perhaps ex Athenaeum, an association of persons
meeting for mutual improvement.

Atkins
, see TOMMY, 4.

Atlantic ranger
. A herring: coll: from ca 1880; ob. Variant, SEA-ROVER.

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atomy
. A very small, a small thin, a small deformed person: late C.16–19. Coll by 1700; from
mid-C.19, S.E.; slightly ob. Ex ANATOMY (variant OTOMY)—confused prob. by
atom. Shakespeare: ‘Thou atomy, thou!…you thin thing.’ Sala: ‘A miserable little atomy,
more deformed, more diminutive, more mutilated than any beggar in a bowl.’

atrocious
. Very bad; execrable; very noticeable: coll; from ca 1830. 2. adv. in -ly: 1831, Alford,
‘The letter had an atrociously long sentence in it.’

atrocity
. A bad blunder; an offence against good taste, manners, or morals. 1878.

attack
. To address oneself to; commence. From ca 1820, coll; after ca 1860, S.E. due to Gallic
influence.

attend to
. To thrash: coll; from ca 1800. cf. L. animadvertere.

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attic
; occ., not before ca 1850, and now ob., attic-storey. The head: pugilistic (–1823). By
1870 (Dean Alford), gen. cf. UPPER STOREY. 2. Esp. (be) queer in the attic, weakminded; rarely, mad: from ca 1870. Ex 3. Orig. (–1859), queer in the attic=intoxicated:
pugilistic; †by 1890. 4. The female pudend (attic only): low (–1903); ob.

attorney
. A goose or turkey drumstick, grilled and devilled: punning DEVIL, a lawyer working
for another: 1829, Griffin, ‘I love a plain beef steak before a grilled attorney’; ob.
(Attorney as a legal title was abolished in England in 1873.) 2. In c., a legal adviser to
criminals: late C.19–20, ob.

Attorney-General
. A drinker ‘so free that he will pledge all comers’: –1650: s.

Attorney-General’s devil
. A barrister doing a K.C.’s heavy work: ca 1860–1920.

au reservoir
! Au revoir. Orig. U.S., adopted ca 1880.

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auctioneer, deliver or give or tip (one) the
. To knock a person down: ca 1860–1930. Sala, 1863 (deliver); H., 5th ed. (tip). ‘Tom
Sayers’s right hand was known to pugilistic fame as the auctioneer’ (Sayers, d. 1865,
fought from 1849 to 1860, in which latter year he drew, miraculously, with Heenan);
Manchon.

audit
. Abbr. audit ale, a brew peculiar to Trinity College, Cambridge, and several other
Cambridge and Oxford colleges; made orig. for drinking on audit days: mid-C.19–20;
coll verging on S.E.Ouida, 1872.

audit one’s accounts
, see ACCOUNTS…

Auguste
. A minor circus-clown, a ‘feed’ to the JOEY (3) or Chief Clown: circus: late C.19–20.
Prob. from one so named.

Auld Hornie
. The devil. Mainly Scottish: C.18–20, ob. Ex his horn. For accounts of the devil’s names,
see Weekley’s Word and Names, 1932, and Words!, 1933. 2. The penis: Scots (–1903).
Apun on HORN, a priapism.

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Auld Reekie
. Orig. the old-town part of Edinburgh: late C.18–ca 1860. Then the whole city. Lit., ‘Oid
Smoky’; cf. THE GREAT SMOKE, London. Coll from ca 1890.

auly-auly
. (Winchester College) a game played ca 1700–1840 in Grass Court after Saturday
afternoon chapel. A collective game with an india-rubber ball. Supposedly ex haul ye,
call ye, but, in view of Winchester’s fame in Classics, prob. ex Gr.
quardrangle.

, a court or a

aunt
. A procuress, a concubine, a prostitute: C.17–ca 1830. Mine (or my) aunt, as in Grose,
1st ed. Shakespeare,
Summer songs for me and my aunts, While we lie tumbling in the hay.
2. Also, at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, a students’ name for ‘the sister
university’: C.17–18. Fuller, 1755. 3. A children’s coll for a non-related woman (cf.
uncle): C.19–20. cf.