Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Such Language! Part 9

More linguistic shenanigans from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue! I usually have fun coming up with silly sentences to use the words and phrases in it, but in some cases the definitions themselves are such fun or are so interesting that they need no help from me. Here’s a few of those:

Kimbaw: to trick, cheat, or cozen; also to beat or bully. To set one’s arms a-kimbaw, vulgarly pronounced a-kimbo, is to rest one’s hands on one’s hips, keeping the elbows square, and sticking out from the body, an insolent, bullying attitude.

Fieri Facias: A red-faced man is said to have been served with a writ of fieri facias.

Bag of Nails: He squints like a bag of nails; i.e. his eyes are directed as many ways as the points of a bag of nails.

Firing a gun: Introducing a story by head and shoulders. A man wanting to tell a particular story, said to the company, Hark! Did you not hear a gun?—but now that we are talking of a gun, I will tell you a story of one.

Gluepot: A parson: from joining men and women together in holy matrimony.

Flummery: Oatmeal and water boiled to a jelly; also, compliments, neither of which are over-nourishing.

Pitt’s Picture: A window stopped up [bricked over] from the inside, to save the window tax imposed in that gentleman’s administration.

Cherry-colored cat: A black cat, there being black cherries as well as red.

Boh: He cannot say Boh! to a goose; i.e. he is a cowardly or sheepish fellow. There is a story related of the celebrated Ben Jonson, who always dressed very plain; on being introduced to the presence of a nobleman, the peer, struck by his homely appearance and awkward manner, exclaimed, as if in doubt, “You, Ben Jonson! Why, you look as though you could not say boh to a goose!” “Boh!” replied the wit.


Gillian Layne said...

What a hoot! Here's a couple of my favorites:

AFTER-CLAP. A demand after the first given in has been
discharged; a charge for pretended omissions; in short,
any thing disagreeable happening after all consequences of
the cause have been thought at an end.

CROPPING DRUMS. Drummers of the foot guards, or Chelsea
hospital, who find out weddings, and beat a point of
war to serenade the new married couple, and thereby
obtain money.

I could (and do) loose a lot of time getting lost in those pages. :)

Marissa Doyle said...

Good ones, Gillian! And then there are the totally unsuitable-for-a-family-audience entries that are just as hilarious...