‘Vulgar Dictionary’ Archive

In 1811 slang, what was Bay Fever?

A term of ridicule applied to convicts, who sham illness, to avoid being sent to Botany Bay.

Who was Richard Snary?

An old joke based on a pun. It is a dictionary. A country lad, having been reproved for calling persons by their christian names, being sent by his master to borrow a dictionary, thought to shew his breeding by asking for a Richard Snary.

What does it mean to Lie Rough?

To lie rough is to lie all night in one’s clothes. called also roughing it. Likewise to sleep on the bare deck of a ship, when the person is commonly advised to ch00se the softest plank.

This had the nickname “Snow” but was not cold.

 Snow is a nickname for linen hung out to dry or bleach. Spice the snow: to steal the linen.

What was referred to as a Solo Player?

A Solo Player is a miserable performer on any instrument, who always plays alone, because no one will stay in the room to hear him.

What Does it Mean to Pay Your Debts by the Top Sail?

He paid his debts at Portsmouth with the topsail, i.e. he went to sea and left them unpaid. Some soldiers are said to pay off their scores with the drum; that is, by marching away.

What were known as Babes in the woods?

Babes in the woods were criminals in the stocks, or pillory. Note: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stocks and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pillory for more information

What is a Lazy Bones?

A Lazy Bones is an instrument like a pair of tongs, for old or very fat people to take any thing from the ground without stooping.

What is a Glazier?

A glazier in 1811 slang is one who breaks windows and shew-glasses, to steal goods exposed for sale. Glaziers; eyes. CANT.– Note:  shew-glasses probably refers to glass display cases in shops. Also: Is your father a glazier; a question asked of a lad or young man, who stands between the speaker and the candle, or  fire. If it [...]

What does it mean if you say someone is a Fly-By-Night?

You old fly-by-night is an ancient term of reproach to an old woman, signifying that she was a witch, and alluding to the nocturnal excursions attributed to witches, who were supposed to fly abroad to their meetings, mounted on brooms.