Cheese your patter
October 2, 2014 2:38 PM   Subscribe

A Dictionary of Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words, by A London Antiquary. If Lord Palmerston is known by name to the tribes of the Caucasus and Asia Minor as a great foreign diplomatist, when the name of our Queen Victoria is an unknown title to the inhabitants of those parts—as was stated in the Times a short time ago,—I have only to remark that amongst the costers and the wild inhabitants of the streets he is better known as PAM.
posted by orrnyereg (10 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Another example of terms being in use longer than we realize:
STOP—if you have what they want, they will buy. They are pretty “fly” (knowing).
"Fly" was in use circa 1860, about 140 years before it was used by The Offspring and others as common slang.

Here's a revised (1874) edition of A Dictionary of Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words on

See also: The Book of Vagabonds and Beggars: With a Vocabulary of Their Language (1860), edited by Martin Luther in the year 1528, translated into English, with an introduction and notes by John Camden Hotten, who also edited the above-mentioned Dictionary of Slang.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:04 PM on October 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

Pfft, we all know England's greatest prime minister was Pit the Elder.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:41 PM on October 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:45 PM on October 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:19 PM on October 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

This article is as crimulast as a flirpy snood.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:54 PM on October 2, 2014

This just won't fadge!
posted by Kitteh at 7:02 PM on October 2, 2014

That's so fetch!
posted by Bella Donna at 11:34 PM on October 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Among other things, this paints a picture of highly specialized criminality, for example:
AREA-SNEAK, a boy thief who commits depredations upon kitchens and cellars.
LITTLE SNAKES-MAN, a little thief, who is generally passed through a small aperture to open any door to let in the rest of the gang.
LULLY PRIGGERS, rogues who steal wet clothes hung on lines to dry.
PUDDING SNAMMER, one who robs a cook shop.
SNEEZE LURKER, a thief who throws snuff in a person’s face and then robs him.
STOOK HAULER, or buzzer, a thief who takes pocket-handkerchiefs.
SUCK THE MONKEY, to rob a cask of liquor by inserting a straw through a gimlet hole, and sucking a portion of the contents.
TAIL BUZZER, a thief who picks coat pockets.
THIMBLE TWISTERS, thieves who rob persons of their watches.
Would sneeze lurkers ever suck the monkey if the opportunity arose? Might an area sneak resort to pudding snammery at a pinch? And I never knew stook hauling was such a concern that some would wear a kidment (‘a pocket-handkerchief fastened to the pocket, and partially hung out to entrap thieves’) having formerly perhaps had their fogles (‘silk handkerchiefs’) end up in Field-lane (‘a low London thoroughfare, leading from the foot of Holborn-hill to the purlieus of Clerkenwell […] formerly the market for stolen pocket handkerchiefs’).
posted by misteraitch at 3:57 AM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Lord Palmerston and Queen Victoria swingin' on the flippity-flop.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:31 AM on October 3, 2014

> AREA-SNEAK, a boy thief who commits depredations upon kitchens and cellars.

Area here means (in the words of the OED) "An enclosed court, spec. a sunken court, shut off from the pavement by railings, and approached by a flight of steps, which gives access to the basement of dwelling-houses"; here are some citations:
1712 R. Steele Spectator No. 454. ⁋6 One of the Windows which opened to the Area below.
1810 Duke of Wellington Dispatches (1838) VI. 9 To go, like gentlemen, out of the hall door..and not out of the back door, or by the area.
1838 Dickens Oliver Twist I. x. 150 Pulling the caps from the heads of small boys and tossing them down areas.
In North America this has apparently been replaced by areaway.
posted by languagehat at 6:38 AM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

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