Wait, they had a word for that? Researching 1811 Slang

I recently finished the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, Gentle Reader, which was utterly fascinating. While I realized it is pre-Victorian, I figured slang usually hangs aroudn for a bit, so some might be relevant to my own writing. Too bad I only just found it or some might have leaked into Soap’s jargon in the Finishing School books. As it stands you will simply have to suffer through my delight over some of these words. Trust me, there will be more than one blog post on this subject.

However, to start off I am focusing on the specifics, particularly words and phrases so exact you wonder at the frequency of occurrence that they need a term for it! In one or two cases I’m delighted that they did, because I adore that I can criticize my dining companions for the lollop.

  • Chicken nabob ~ One returned from the East indies with but a moderate fortune of fifty or sixty thousand pounds.
  • Gutfoundered ~ Exceeding hungry.
  • Onion hunters ~ A class of young thieves who are on the look out for gentlemen who wear their seals suspended.
  • P.P.C. ~ An inscription on the visiting cards of our modern fine gentlemen, signifying that they have called POUR PRENDRE CONGE, i.e. ‘to take leave,’ thus has of late been ridiculed by cards inscribed D.I.O. ie “Damme, I’m off.”
  • Larry Dugan’s eye water ~ Boot Blacking. (Larry Dugan was a famous shoe-black at Dublin.)
  • Tiffing ~ Eating or drinking out of meal time.  [To be fair, I love this one so much I intend to encourage its return.]
  • Lollop ~ Lean with one’s elbows on the table. [This one too, so good!]
  • Rantallion ~ One whose scrotum is so relaxed as to be longer than his penis.
  • Tears of the tankard ~ The drippings of liquor on a man’s waistcoat.
  • Vice admiral of the narrow seas ~ A drunken man that pisses under the table into his companions’ shoes.

All right then, there’s something to think about.

Book News:
The Inky Bumblebee says of Curtsies & Conspiracies, “This series continues to be so much fun to read. It’s a brilliantly quirky, witty book that I felt improved on the first book, which is saying something considering how much I loved Etiquette & Espionage.”

Quote of the Day:

“Under the rose: privately or secretly. The rose was, it is said, sacred to Harpocrates, the God of silence, and therefore frequently placed in the ceilings of rooms destined for the receiving of guests; implying, that whatever was transacted there, should not be made public.”

~ 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue

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Posted by Gail Carriger

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  1. Anne D said:

    Thanks for posting about this – I've got it for my e-reader now. I love archaic slang too!

    I wonder if "tiffing" is the source of "tiffin", which is apparently an archaic word for lunch.

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