by Jenna Dawlish
In 1785, Francis Grose published his dictionary of slang in Britain. It was the first of it's kind and contains a wonderful array of slang terms used back then. It shows a colourful and expressive time, and not only gives us a snapshot of language, it also helps us see how many words are still used to this day (in the UK at least):
Words/terms like: cat call, chubby, cockney, cow juice, cupboard love, dram, easy virtue, old fogey, hanker, peepers, paunch, riff raff, sick as a horse and slouch.
The full book is available free online here, it's outside copyright. You can also buy paperback versions.
Below are a few of the entries I liked to give you a taste but why not have a look at the full dictionary and see what you like:
ACCOUNTS: to cast up ones accounts - to vomit.
ACT OF PARLIAMENT: A military term for small beer, five pints of which, by an act of parliament, a landlord was formerly obliged to give to each soldier.
APPLE DUMPLING SHOP: A woman's bosom
BUCK FITCH: A lecherous old fellow
BUGABOO: A scare-babe, or bully-beggar
CAMBRIDGE FORTUNE: a woman without any but personal endowments
CAPTAIN QUEERNABS: a shabby, ill-dressed fellow
DOCK: to lie to a woman
DUB O' TH' HICK: A lick on the head
FAT CULL: A rich fellow
GREEN SICKNESS: The disease of maids occasioned by celibacy
JACK TAR: A sailor
MOON MEN: Gypsies
NUNNERY: A bawdy house
PEPPERED: Infected with the venereal disease
PIMP WHISKIN: A top trader in pimping
REP: A woman of reputation
SCALY FISH: A honest, rough, blunt sailor
TO TROLL: To loiter or saunter about
TURNPIKE MAN: A parson, because the clergy collect their tolls at the entrance into and exit from life.
USED UP: Killed: a military saying, originating from a message sent by the late General Guise on the expedition at Car-thagena, where he desired the commander in chief to order him some more grenadiers for those he had were all used up.