19th Century
December 17, 2005 3:09 PM   Subscribe

A Dictionary of Amercanisms by John Russell Bartlett, published 1848. A "vocabulary of the colloquial language of the United States" during the mid-19th century. As noted by jmorrison at the nonist (the source for this link), it is interesting to see much of what we find so common today " called out as 'americanisms' not yet included in the dictionary." The site has other goodies too, such as The Slave's Friend, a Christian anti-slavery tract, and Memoirs of a Captivity Among the Indians of North America, by John Dunn Hunter, published in 1823 and 1824 and recounting his life after being captured as a young boy and raised by Native American tribes. It provides an intimate, inside look at their societies, customs and battles.
posted by caddis (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Very nice -- thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 3:29 PM on December 17, 2005

I am in love with this. I love obselete language.
posted by Alison at 3:40 PM on December 17, 2005

Bartlett has my favorite Dutch/American word (cookie/cookey.) Sweet!
posted by Opposite George at 3:41 PM on December 17, 2005

This is great -- I'm only through the "A's" at present. Interesting that words like "afeard" and "afore" aren't really simple malapropisms, but rather descendents of Old English and Saxon words that have fallen out of favor in Standard English.
posted by killdevil at 3:42 PM on December 17, 2005

This is a neat post, thanks.
posted by interrobang at 3:45 PM on December 17, 2005

Too cool.
posted by snsranch at 3:57 PM on December 17, 2005

There's a lot more at that site, by the way:

Voices from 19th Century America

19th Century Children and What They Read

posted by killdevil at 4:05 PM on December 17, 2005

Some cherce browsin' here, caddis:
GRASS. A vulgar contraction of sparrow-grass, i.e. asparagus. Further than this the force of corruption can hardly go.
SANCTIMONIOUSLYFIED. This queer word explains itself.
MISS NANCY. A name given to an effeminate man. —Craven Glossary.

... and this was in 1848!!
posted by rob511 at 4:08 PM on December 17, 2005

TO TROLL. A method of fishing, by a long line attached to the stern of a boat, which is set in motion by sails or muffled oars. A piece of tin, or a strip of red and white cloth, is attached to the hook, which, passing rapidly along the surface of the water, is seized by the fish. Bass are generally caught in this way.

Great post! I can use this in my classes.
posted by LarryC at 4:40 PM on December 17, 2005


Tee hee. And the definition's great, too: "Unexpected events happening after an affair is supposed to be at an end."

Oh, and the usage examples!
Let that man, who can be so far taken and transported with the present pleasing offers of a temptation, as to overlook those dreadful afterclaps which usually bring up the rear of it.--South, Sermons, VI.

She wyll thee graunt it liberally perhappes;
But for all that, beware of afterclaps.--Sir Thomas More.
Ah hahahahahaha
posted by rkent at 5:02 PM on December 17, 2005

and this was in 1848!!

I love this response every time I see it or hear it. The core of language changes much, much less rapidly than we think. Even most slang is persistent. I like to tell people to go look up "crib" in the Oxford English Dictionary, where there you'll see it has a long history of being used to mean "house."
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:56 PM on December 17, 2005

mo nickles ... i was surprised to learn that people spoke of "pirating" books ... not to mention "shining deer" ... which i always thought you needed car headlights to do ... (people still do that, but it's quite illegal)
posted by pyramid termite at 6:24 PM on December 17, 2005

Great post! Much appreciated. Thanks!
posted by trip and a half at 7:38 PM on December 17, 2005

Thank you! There goes my sleep over xmas! Great post.
posted by keijo at 9:24 PM on December 17, 2005

Oh my. This may be the most hilarious thing I have read in a very long time.

TO APE ONE'S BETTERS. To imitate one's superiors.

The negroes are good singers; they are an imitative race, and it is not to be wondered at that in this, as in other things, they ape their betters.--Newspaper.

Also, in this day and age, offensive on so many levels.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:45 AM on December 18, 2005

Good post. Thanks.
posted by luckypozzo at 1:52 PM on December 18, 2005

Best word ever! ABSQUATULATE (v):To run away, to abscond.

I'm gonna make a real effort to start using that one, e.g. "Have you guys seen Phil this afternoon? Nah, I think he absquatulated right after lunch." or "I hate to fornicate and absquatulate, but I've got an early meeting tomorrow."
posted by idontlikewords at 7:45 PM on December 18, 2005

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