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Archive for October, 2012

From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

 

Make: a successful theft, or swindle.

Make: to steal.

 

 

(Yeah, we still say someone is “on the make.” I had no idea it went back so far.)

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From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

 

Madza: half. Italian, Mezza. This word enters into combination with various cant phrases, mainly taken from the Lingua Franca, as Madza Caroon, half a crown, two and sixpence; Madza Saltee, a halfpenny; Madza Poona, half a sovereign; Madza Round the Bull, half a pound of steak, &c.

 

(Lingua Franca was often spoken in port towns and among sailors from different countries so they could understand each other.  From Wikipedia about Lingua Franca:)

“Lingua franca” is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic history or structure of the language: though pidgins and creoles often function as lingua francas, many such languages are neither pidgins nor creoles. Whereas a vernacular language is used as a native language in a single speaker community, a lingua franca goes beyond the boundaries of its original community, and is used as a second language for communication between communities. For example, English is a vernacular in the United Kingdom, but is used as a vehicular language (that is, a lingua franca) in the Philippines.

Etymology

The original Lingua Franca was a mixed language composed mostly (80%) of Italian with a broad vocabulary drawn from Turkish, French, Greek, Arabic, Portuguese and Spanish. It was in use throughout the eastern Mediterranean as the language of commerce and diplomacy in and around the Renaissance era. At that time, Italian speakers dominated seaborne commerce in the port cities of the Ottoman empire. Franca was the Italian word for Frankish. Its usage in the term lingua franca originated from its meaning in Arabic and Greek, dating from before the Crusades and during the Middle Ages, whereby all Western Europeans were called “Franks” or Faranji in Arabic and Phrankoi in Greek during the times of the late Eastern Roman Empire.The term lingua franca is first recorded in English in 1678.

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From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

 

Mag: a halfpenny. Ancient cant, Make, Meggs were formerly guineas.

Mag: to talk. A corruption of Nag. Old; hence Magpie.

Magsman: a street swindler, who watches for countrymen and “gullable” persons.

 

(Hmmm, so does that mean that the term Nag comes from Magpie?  And I suppose a magsman is someone who talks people out of their hard earned money…)

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From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

 

Mace: to spunge, swindle, or beg, in a polite way; “give it him (a shopkeeper) on the Mace,” i.e., obtain goods on credit and never pay for them; also termed “striking the Mace.”

 

(I take it that’s sort of like a deadbeat. I like the way he spelled “spunge” as well. I suppose that would be “sponge” today.)

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From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

Main-Toby: the highway, or the main road.

(According to Wikipedia Toby was also used as a name for a tramp or hobo, which makes sense since they would tramp on the main-toby.)

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From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

 

Mang: to talk.  Scotch

 

 

(I take it that’s not to talk about scotch, but that the term was Scottish. Too bad, scotch is one of my husbands favorite topics.)

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From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

 

Mare’s Nest: a Cockney discovery of marvels, which turn out no marvel at all. An old preacher in Cornwall, up to very lately employed a different version, viz.: “a cow calving up in a tree.”

 

 

(I see, so if someone tells you they’ve seen Bigfoot you can tell them “Yeah, and I’ve seen a mare’s nest.”)

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From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

 

Mahogany: “to have one’s feet under another man’s Mahogany,” to sit at his table, be supported on other than one’s own resources; “amputate your Mahogany,” i.e., go away, or “cut your stick.”

 

 

(I get the first one. It makes perfect sense, but amputate your Mahogany?)

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From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

 

Maggotty: fanciful, fidgetty. Whims and fancies were formerly termed Maggots, from the popular belief that a maggot in the brain was the cause of any odd notion or caprice a person might exhibit.

 

(Ewww. That’s just gross!)

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From the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

 

Mab: a cab, or hackney coach.

 

(I tried to find more info. Apparently Mab was a fair Queen, and M.A.B. makes up forty different acronyms, and .mab is a file extension, but I couldn’t find out anything about it’s origins. They did like rhyming back then, perhaps its origins have to do with the rhyme between mab and cab.)

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