Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Post-Colonial Cussing

Let me preface this by saying my husband is really good at distracting himself, and sometimes, he distracts me, too. He sent me this link, and I went questing for more.

For the entire book, "The 1811 Dictionary in the Vulgar Tongue" by Francis Grose, visit the lovely Gutenberg Project.

Here are some particular favorites of mine:

ACORN. You will ride a horse foaled by an acorn, i.e. the
gallows, called also the Wooden and Three-legged Mare.
You will be hanged.—See THREE-LEGGED MARE.

ALE POST. A may-pole.

ALL NATIONS. A composition of all the different spirits
sold in a dram-shop, collected in a vessel into which
the drainings of the bottles and quartern pots are emptied.

BABES IN THE WOOD. Criminals in the stocks, or pillory.

BACON FED. Fat, greasy.

BAKERS DOZEN. Fourteen; that number of rolls being allowed
to the purchasers of a dozen. (when did it become thirteen?)

BAPTIZED, OR CHRISTENED. Rum, brandy, or any other
spirits, that have been lowered with water.

FLY-BY-NIGHT. You old fly-by-night; 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.

TO FUZZ. To shuffle cards minutely: also, to change the pack.

GOOSECAP. A silly fellow or woman.

And one I wish I could use on my students:
GUM. Abusive language. Come, let us have no more of
your gum.

I think I might have to peruse this further. Perhaps I need to craft a character from 1811 just so he could say some of these things!

1 comment:

  1. Fun! You can order an "All Nations" in bars today -- just ask for a New Jersey Turnpike ( :)