26 October 2009

Victorianisms

Words often help make up one's style. One's manner of speaking is an important window through which one can see his personality. I myself enjoy using less common idioms and slang. It makes conversation all the more interesting. As a Neo-Victorian, a general knowledge of Victorian slang has been quintessential. I have compiled below, with the help of various sources, a sort of dictionary of Victorian slang. Enjoy!



Abbess: Female brothel keeper. A Madame.

Abbot: The husband, or preferred man of an Abbess.

Alderman: Half-Crown


Area: The below-ground servant's entrance in the front of many London town-houses.


Area Diving: A method of theft that necessitates sneaking down area steps, and stealing from the lower rooms of houses.


Bacca-pipes: Whiskers curled in small, close ringlets.


Barkers (Barking Irons): Guns. Pistols, esp. Revolvers.


Beak: Magistrate


Beak-hunting: Poultry stealing


Bearer up: Person that robs men who have been decoyed by a woman accomplice.


Beef: (1) (v) Raise hue-and-cry. (2) (n) Thief.


Bend: Waistcoat, vest


Betty: A type of lockpick


Billy: Handkerchief (often silk)


Bit Faker: A coiner. A counterfeiter of coins.


Blackleg: A person who will work, contrary to a strike.


Blag: To steal or snatch, usually a theft, often by smash-and-grab



Blob, on the (Blab): Begging by telling hardluck stories.



Bloke: This word has recently become popular to signify disrespectfully a man, a person, a party.

Blooming, Bloody (Blasted, etc.): are forms of profanity not heard in polite company


Blow: Inform.



Blower: Informer.



Bludger: A violent criminal; one who is apt to use a bludgeon.



Blue Bottle: A policeman



Boat, get the (Boated): To be sentanced to transportation. To receive a particularly harsh sentence.



Bone, Bene: Good or profitable.

Bonnet: A covert assistant to a Sharp


Brick: This expression implies the highest commendation of a man's character. "He's a regular brick," ie. the best of good fellows.

Broad Arrow: The arrow-like markings on a prison convict's uniform. "Wearing the broad arrow" = In prison.

Broads: Playing cards. Ex. "Spreading the broads" = playing a game of cards)


Broading: Cheating at cards


Broadsman: A card Sharper


Bruiser: A Boxer


Buck Cabbie: A dishonest cab driver



Bug hunting: Robbing, or cheating drunks. Esp. at night.


Bull: Five shillings



Bumper: A full glass or goblet.


Buor: A woman



Buttoner: A sharper's assistant who entices dupes.

Buzzing: Stealing, esp. Picking Pockets.


Cagg: To abstain for a certain time from liquor.


Candle to the devil, To hold a: To be evil



Cant: A present; a free meal or quantity of some article. Also the creole and jargon spoken by thieves and the "surplus population."



Cant of togs: A gift of clothing.



Caper: A criminal act, dodge or device.



Cash Carrier: A pimp, ponce or whore's minder.



Chapel, the: Whitechapel.

Chat: a Louse (a singular of Lice).



Chaunting: Singing; also informing



Chaunting lay: Street singing (hopefully for money)


Chavy: Child



Chink: Money


Chiv, shiv: Knife, razor or sharpened stick



Choker: Clergyman. "Gull a choker"


Christen: To remove identifying marks from, to make like new again. "Christen a watch."



Church: To remove identifying marks from, to make like new again. "Church a watch."


Cly faking: To pick a pocket, especially of its handkerchief (for which there was a ready market)



Cockchafer: An especially build treadmill in the 'Steel


Coiner: A coin counterfeiter



Cokum (n & adj): Opportunity, advantage, shrewd, cunning.


Cool: Look, look at this/it.



Coopered: Wornout, useless


Coopered Ken: A bad place for a stick up.



Cop, Copper: A policeman


Corned: Drunk, intoxicated

Corporal and Four, To mount a: to be guilty of onanism; the thumb is the corporal, the four fingers the privates.



Couter: Pound (money)


Cove: A man



Crabshells: Shoes


Cracksman: A Burgler, a safecracker. One who cracks or breaks locks. A whole genre of thief.



Crapped: hung, hanged.


Crib: A building, house or lodging. The location of a gaol.



Crimping shop: A waterfron lodging house, esp. one associated with the forcable impressment of seamen.


Crooked cross, to play the: To betray, swindle or cheat.



Crow: A doctor.


Crusher: A policeman



Dab: bed. "To dab it up with_____" = to engage in carnal acts with ___.


Dabeno: Bad



Daffy: A small measure, esp. of spiritous liquers.


Dander: To have one's dander up; to be incensed, angry, resolute, fierce.

Dark Cully: A married man that keeps a mistress, whom he visits only at night, for fear of discovery.



Deadlurk: Empty premises.


Deaner: A shilling. (Etymologially descended from the Dinarious, or ancient silver penny of Britain...)



Deb: Bed


Demander: One who gains monies through menace.



Derbies: (Pronounced Darbies). Handcuffed


Device: Tuppence



Deuce Hog (Duce Hog): 2 shillings

Devil's claws: The broad arrows on a convict's prison uniform.



Dewskitch: A beating


Didikko: Gypsies; half breed gypsies



Dillo: Old



Dimmick: A base coin, counterfeit


Ding: Throw away, pass on. Any object that has been so treated. Ex. "Knap the ding" or to take something that has been thrown out.


Dipper: Pickpocket


Dispatches: Loaded dice


Dobbin: Ribbon



Dollymop: A prostitute, often an amateur or a part-time street girl; a midinette.


Dollyshop: A low, unlicenced loan shop or pawn shop.

Don: A distinguished/expert/clever person; a leader



Dookin: Palmistry

Down: Suspicion. "To put down on someone" means to inform on that person's plans. While "To take the down of a ticker" means to Christen a watch.

Do Down: To beat someone badly, punishing them with your fists.


Downer: Sixpence.


Downy: Cunning, false.



Drag: (1) A three month gaol sentence. (2) A street


Dragsman: A thief who steals from carriages.



Drum: A building, house or lodging; the location of a gaol.


Dub: (1) Bad; (2) Key, lockpick



Duce: Tuppence


Duckett: A street hawker or vendor's licence.



Duffer: A seller of supposedly stolen goods. Also a Cheating Vendor or hawker.


Dumplin: A swindling game played with skittles



Dumps: Buttons and other Hawkers small wares.


Dunnage: Clothes



E.O.: A fairground gambling game


Escop (Esclop, Eslop): Policeman


Fadge: Farthing


Fakement: a Device or pretence (especially a notice or certificate to facilitate begging).



Fan: To delicately feel someone's clothing, while it is still being worn, to search for valuables.


Fancy, the: The brethren of the boxing ring.



Fawney: Ring


Fawney-dropping: A ruse whereby the villain pretends to find a ring (which is actually worthless) and sells it as a Possibly valuable article at a low price.



Fine wirer: A highly skilled pickpocket


Finny: Five pound note



Flag: An apron


Flam: A lie



Flash (v & adj): Show, Showy (as in "Show-off," or "Flashy"); smart; something special.


Flash house: A public house patronized by criminals.



Flash notes: Paper that looks, at a glance, like bank-notes


Flat: A person who is flat is easily deceived.



Flatch: Ha'penny


Flats: Playing cards, syn. Broads.



Flimp: A snatch pickpocket. Snatch stealing in a crowd.


Flue Faker: Chimney sweep



Flummut: Dangerous


Fly, on the: Something done quickly.

Flying the Blue Pidgeon: Stealing roof lead.



Flying the Mags: The game of "Pitch and Toss"



Fogle: A silk handkerchief


Fushme: Five shillings



Gaff: Show, exhibition, fair "Penny Gaff" - Low, or vulgar theatre.


Gallies: Boots


Gammon: Deceive



Gammy: False, undependable, hostile

Garret: Fob pocket in a waistcoat


Garrote: A misplaced piano wire, and how it was misplaced.



Gatter: Beer



Gattering: A public house

Gegor: Begger



Gen: Shilling

Giblets, To join: said of a man and woman who cohabit as husband and wife, without being married; also to copulate.

Glim: (1) Light or fire. (2) Begging by depicting oneself as having been burnt out of one's home. (3) Venereal Disease.



Glock: Half-wit


Glocky: Half-witted



Gonoph: A minor thief, or small time criminal


Granny: Understand or recognize

Gravney: A Ring



Grey, Gray: A coin with two identical faces


Griddling: Begging, peddling, or scrounging

Growler: A four wheeled cab



Gulpy: Gullible, easily duped.


Gum: Loud abusive language. "Let us have no more of your gum"

Half inch: Steal (From pinch)

Hammered for life: Married

Hard up: Tobacco

Haybag: Woman Haymarket



Hector: Pimp, ponce or whore's minder; especially around the areas of Haymarket and Leicester Squares.



Hoisting: Shoplifting



Holywater sprinkler: A cudgel spiked with nails.



Hookem-snivey: To feign mortal sickness, disease and infirmity of the body in the streets in order to excite compassion and obtain alms.



Hook it: be off!



Huey, Hughey: A town or village.


Huntley, to take the: Syn. To take the Cake or to take the Biscuit. Also to be most excellent, as in Huntley and Palmer's biscuits.



Hykey: Pride.

Ilted: Rejected by a woman who has encouraged one's advances.




Irons: Guns esp. Pistols or revolvers.

Jack: Detective


Jemmy: (1) Smart. (2) of Superior class. (3) an housebreaker's tool.


Jerry: A Watch


Jerryshop: Pawnbrokers


Joey: A fourpence piece


Jolly: Disturbance or Fracas


Judy: A woman, specifically a prostitute

Jug loops: Locks of hair brought over the temples and curled.Julking: Singing (as of caged songbirds)


Jump: A ground floor window, or a burglary committed through such a window.


Kanurd: Drunk


Kecks: Trousers


Ken: House or other place, esp. a lodging or public house.


Kennetseeno: Bad, stinking, putrid -- Malodorous.


Kennuck: Penny


Kidney, Of the same: alike, resemblant


Kidsman: An organizer of child thieves


Kife: Bed


Kinchen-lay (Kynchen-lay): Stealing from children


Kingsman: A coloured or black handkerchief.


Knap: To steal, take or receive


Knapped: Pregnant


Knob: "Over and under" a fairground game used for swindling.


Lackin, Lakin: Wife


Ladybird: A Prostitute


Lag: A convict or Ticket-of-leave man; To be sentenced to transportation or penal servitude.


Lamps: Eyes


Laycock, Miss (or Lady): Female sexual organs


Lavender, in: (1) To be hidden from the police, (2) to be pawned, (3) to be put away, (4) to be dead.


Lay: A method, system or plan


Left-Handed Wife: A concubine; an allusion to an ancient German custom, according to which, when a man married his concubine, or a woman greatly his inferior, he gave her his left hand.


Leg: A dishonest person, a sporting cheat or tout.


Lill: Pocketbook


London Particular: Thick London "Pea Soup" fog


Long-Tailed: A banknote worth more than 5 pounds is said to be "long tailed"


Luggers: Ear rings


Lumber: (1) Unused, or second-hand furniture. (2) To pawn. (3) To go into seclusion. (4) To be in lumber is to be in gaol.


Lump Hotel: Work House


Lurk: (1) A place of resorting to or concealment in. (2) A scheme or method


Lurker: A criminal of all work, esp. a begger, or someone who uses a beggar's disguise.


Lush: An alcoholic drink.


Lushery: A place where a lush may be had. A low public house or drinking den.


Lushing Ken: See Lushery


Lushington: A drunkard


Macer: A cheat


Mag: Ha'pence


Magflying: Pitch and toss


Magsman: An inferior cheat


Maltooler: A pickpocket who steals while riding an omnibus, esp. from women.


Mandrake: a Homosexual


Mary Blaine: to meet a train or to travel via railway.


Mauley: Handwriting, signature


Mecks: Wine or spirits


Milltag: Shirt


Miltonian: Policeman


Min: Steal


Mitting: Shirt


Mizzle: Quit, Steal, or Vanish


Mobsman: A swindler or pickpocket, usually well-dressed. Originally one of the "Swell Mob"


Mollisher: A woman, often a villain's mistress


Monkery: the Country


Monniker: Signature


Mot: Woman, esp. the proprietress of a lodging or public house


Moucher, Moocher: A rural vagrant. A gentleman of the road.


Mouth: (1) Blabber. (2) A Fool


Mug-hunter: A street robber or footpad. Hence the modern "Mugger"


Mumper: Begger or scrounger


Mutcher: A thief who steals from drunks


Muck Snipe: A person who is "down and out"


Nail: Steal


Nancy: Buttocks


Neb/Nib: The bill of a bird, and the slit of a pen. Figuratively, the face and mouth of a woman; as, She holds up her neb: she holds up her mouth to be kissed.


Nebuchadnezzar: Male sexual organs; "to put Nebuchadnezzar out to grass" means to engage in sexual intercourse.


Neddy: Cosh


Nemmo: Woman


Nethers: Lodging charges, rent


Newgate Knockers: Heavily greased side whiskers curling back to, or over the ears


Netherskens: Low lodging houses, flophouses


Nibbed: Arrested


Nickey: Simple in the head


Nobble: The inflicting of grievious bodily harm


Nobbler: (1) One who inflicts grevious bodily harm. (2) A sharper's confederate


Nommus!: Get away! Quick!


Nose: Informer or Spy


Nubbiken: A sessions courthouse


Nug: An endearing word; as, My dear nug; my dear love.


On the fly: While in motion or quickly


Onion: A watch seal


Out of twig: Unrecognized or in disquise


Outsider: An instrument, resembling needle nosed pliers, used for turning a key in a lock from the wrong side.


Pack: A night's lodging for the very poor


Paddingken: A tramp's lodging house


Pall: Detect


Palmer: Shoplifter


Patterer: Someone who earns by recitation or hawker's sales talk, esp. by hawking newspapers


Peter: A box, trunk or safe.


Pidgeon: A victim


Pig: A policeman, usually a detective


Pit: Inside front coat pocket


Pogue: A purse or prize


Prad: Horse


Prater: A bogus itinerate preacher


Prig: (1) A thief. (2) To steal


Prigstar: A rival in love


Puckering: Speaking in a manner that is incomprehensible to spectators


Punishers: Superior nobblers. Men employed to give severe beatings


Push: Money


Racket: Illicit occupation or tricks


Rampsman or Ramper: A tearaway or hoodlum


Randy, on the: On the Spree or otherwise looking for companionship


Ran-tan, To be on the: to be roaring drunk.


Rasher-wagon: Frying pan


Ray: 1/6 (one and six-pence)


Reader: Pocketbook or wallet


Ream: Superior, real, genuine, good.


Ream Flash Pull: A significant heist


Ream Swag: Highly valuable stolen articles


Reeb: Beer


Roller: A thief who robs drunks or a prostitute who steals from her clientele.


Rook: A type of jemmy


Rookery: Slum or ghetto


Rothschild, to come to the: To brag and pretend to be rich.


Rozzers: Policemen


Ruffles: Handcuffs


Saddle: Loaf


St. Peter's Needle: Severe discipline


Salt Box: The Condemned Cell


Sawney: Bacon


Scaldrum dodge: Begging by means of feigned, or self-inflicted wounds


Scran: Food


Screever: A writer of fake testimonials; a forger


Screw: Skeleton Key


Screwing: A sub-genre of Cracking; burglary by means of skeleton keys, waxing keys, or picking locks.


Screwsman: A burglar versed in screwing


Scroby: Flogging in gaol


Scurf: An exploitive employer or gang-leader


Servant's lurk: A lodging or public house used by shady or dismissed servants.


Shake lurk: Begging under the pretence of being a shipwrecked seaman.


Shallow, work the: Begging while half naked.


Shant: A pot or tumbler


Sharp: A (card) swindler


Shevis: A shift, a type of garment.


Shine: A disturbance, a row; "don't kick up a shine;" shindy, a domestic disturbance; a quarrel.


Shinscraper: The Treadmill


Shirkster: A layabout


Shiver and shake: A cake


Shivering Jemmy: A half naked begger


Shoful: (1) Bad or counterfeit. (2) An hansom cab Shofulman: A coiner or passer of bad money.


Skipper: One who sleeps in hedges and outhouses


Slang cove: A showman


Slap-Bang Job: A night cellar (pub) frequented by thieves, and where no credit is given.


Slate: To beat, a good slating, a severe beating.


Slum: (1) False, sham, a faked document, etc. (2) To cheat . (3) To pass bad money.


Smasher: Someone who passes bad money.


Smatter Hauling: Stealing Handkerchiefs


Snakesman: A slightly built (boy) criminal used in burglary and housebreaking.


Snells: A hawker's wares


Snide: Counterfeit; counterfeit coins or jewels.


Snide pinching: Passing bad money


Snoozer: A thief that specializes in robbing hotel rooms with sleeping guests.


Snowing: Stealing linen, clothes, etc, that have been hung out to dry.


Soft: Paper money (i.e., "to do some soft" means to pass bad paper money.)


Speeler: Cheat or a gambler


Spike: Workhouse


Sprat: Six pence


Spreading the Broads: Three card monte.


Square rigged: Soberly and respectfully dressed.


Swell: An elegantly, or stylishly dressed gentleman.


Tantrums: Violent fits of bad temper.


Tatts: Dice, False Dice


Tea Leaf: Thief


Terrier Crop: Short, bristly haircut (denoting a recent stay in a prison or a workhouse)


Teviss: Shilling


Thicker: A Sovereign or a Pound


Thick 'Un: A Sovereign


Tightener: A meal. "To do a Tightener," to take a Meal.


Titfer/Titfertat: Hat


Toff: An elegantly, or stylishly dressed gentleman.


Toffken: A house containing well-to-do occupants.


Toke: Bread


Tol: Lot, a Share.


Toolers: Pickpockets


Tooling: Skilled Pickpocket


Toper: Road


Topped: Hung


Topping: A hanging


Translators: Secondhand apparel, especially Boots.


Trasseno: An evil person


Tuppeny (Tuppeny Loaf): Head


Twiddle-Diddles: Testicles


Unrigged: Undressed, or stripped. Unrig the drab=strip the wench.


Twirls: Keys, esp skeleton keys.


Twist (Twist and Twirl): Girl


Vamp: To Steal or Pawn. "In for a vamp" to be jailed for stealing


Velvet, To tip the: to put one's tongue into a woman's mouth.


Voker: Speak. "Voker Romeny?" (Pardon me, but do you speak Thieve's Cant?)


Weeping Willow: Pillow


Whirlygigs: Testicles


Whistle and Flute: Suit


Whither-Go-Ye: A wife; wives being sometimes apt to question their husbands whither they are going.


Wife in Water Colours: A mistress, or concubine; water colours being, like their engagements, easily effaced, or dissolved.


Work Capitol: Commit a crime punishable by death.


Yack: A watch


Yennap: A Penny.

2 comments:

  1. Sir,

    As much as I admire and encourage an attempt to bring back some good old-fashioned Victorian values, I should like to point out that this language is that of the Lower Orders and Criminal Classes and therefore not befitting a Gentlemen, or Honest Burgher.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good sir,

    You are quite right and I thank you in full for pointing out that which I failed to mention. These words are indeed quite risqué and I should most certainly have posted a caveat in the introduction. While I myself do not use such words I felt the article would be a rather amusing addition, albeit a bit racy. Much obliged.

    P.

    ReplyDelete

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