The Slang Dictionary, By John Camden Hotten


To “lay down one’s knife and fork,” to “peg out,” or “give up,” are variations of this type of euphemism. Snitch, to offer information to the police, to turn approver. Snipe, an extended bill or account; also a time period for attorneys,—a race with a exceptional propensity for lengthy payments. Snam, to snatch, or rob from the person. Mostly used to describe that kind of theft which consists in picking up something lying about, and making off with it quickly. Smutty, obscene,—vulgar as applied to conversation.

From “kid,” a toddler, and “nab” (corrupted to “nap”), to steal, or seize. If the word Jehanum be added, it varieties a peremptory order to go to a spot unmentionable to ears polite.—Anglo-Indian. Our phrase, “Go to Jericho,” is probably a modification of the Jehanum enterprise.

Peggers, people who constantly stimulate themselves by the use of brandy and soda-water. Peach, an informer against omnibus conductors and drivers, one especially hired by the proprietors to rely passengers and stoppages. The term is in frequent use amongst omnibus-men. This is about the one instance known of the verb getting used as a substantive. That letter to Mr. So-and-so” is a very common course to a Chinese servant.—Anglo-Chinese. Patteran, a gipsy trail, made by throwing down a handful of grass often, particularly where they have turned off from the main highway.

Is my washpot” (Ps. lx. 8), which latter article the hat in question was imagined to resemble.—University. Merkin, a time period normally utilized to a woman’s privities. Originally false hair for those elements. Marry, a really old term of asseveration, initially a mode of swearing by the Virgin Mary; q.d., by Mary. Lights, a worthless piece of meat; utilized metaphorically to a idiot, a delicate or silly individual. Term on this sense a lot used by thieves.

“So batter-fanged and belabour’d with tongue mettle, that he was weary of his life.”—Taylor’s Works. Battells, the weekly bills at Oxford. Probably originally wooden tallies, and so a diminutive of bâton.—University. Barge, a term used among printers to indicate a case in which there is an undue proportion of some letters and a corresponding shortness of these which are most valuable. Barber’s Cat, a half-starved sickly-looking person. Term used in connexion with an expression too coarse to print.

The word, as initially pronounced, is used by East-end Jews to describe any type of spirits, and the Gentiles get as near as they’ll. Slate, to knock the hat over one’s eyes, to bonnet.—North. Slate, to pelt with abuse, to beat, to “lick;” or, in the language of the reviewers, to “cut up.” Also, among bettors, to put heavily in opposition to a specific man or animal in a race.

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Cabby, popular name for the driving force of a cab. This title has virtually supplanted the more historic one bettie page tattoos of jarvey. Termed by Johnson a “cant word,” but adopted by later lexicographers as a good time period.

“Hard Punchers” are caps worn by London roughs and previously by men in coaching. They are a modification of the frequent Scotch cap, and have peaks. In the times when the term was most in use sixpences weren’t stored in the excellent state of preservation peculiar to the currency of the present day.

Broad and Shallow, an epithet utilized to the so-called “Broad Church,” in contradistinction to the “High” and “Low” Churches.See HIGH and DRY. Brim, a violent irascible woman, as inflammable and ugly as brimstone, from which the word is contracted. Break One’s Back, a figurative expression, implying chapter, or the crippling of a person’s means. “Tin” can be used, and so are most types of metallic. When a bookmaker backs a horse in the center of his regular enterprise, it is as a result of he has laid too much towards him, and finds it handy to share the danger with different bookmakers.