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Archive for May, 2013

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

Fish Face

Now there’s a face with gills… (Photo credit: the justified sinner)

Gills: the lower part of the face. Bacon. “To grease one’s Gills,” “to have a good feed,” or make a hearty meal.

Gills: shirt collars.

(I did get to use Gills in Lady Blade. When Francesca’s crew mates won’t let her eat with them her twelve-year-old friend Carter says “I hear Old Nob won’t let ya grease yer Gills.”

I had a great time incorporating some of the slang into the book. But the book wasn’t terrible useful as it was – you needed to know a word and look up the definition whereas I had a definition and wanted to look up a word. So I spent 3 months typing most of the book into the computer and putting it into useful categories such as; Parts of the Body, Insults, Exclamations, Jobs, etc… It was a lot of work, but hugely useful. When I wanted a bit of slang in the dialog I’d just go to appropriate category and have tons to choose from.)

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

English: Benjamin Franklin wearing spectacles

English: Benjamin Franklin wearing spectacles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Giglamps: Spectacles. In my first edition I stated this to be a University term. Mr Cuthbert Bede, however, in a communication to Notes and Queries, of which I have availed myself in the present edition, says “If the compiler has taken this epithet from Verdant Green, I can only say that I consider the word not to be a “University” word in general, but as only due to the inventive genius of Mr. Bouncer in particular.” The term, however, has been adopted, and is now in general use.

(I also found this, which seems a likely source:

A gig was a small light carriage pulled by one horse. It was lit at night by two oil lamps with thick glass, called gig-lamps. These gave a double halo effect in the dark as it approached. Today some types of glasses can be called gig-lamps when they have very thick glass like the original lamps and I’ve seen the term used as slang for spectacles.

So gig-lamps were the original headlights – and became the slang term for glasses.)

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

Gift: any article which has been stolen and afterwards sold at a low price.

(Exactly who is this a gift for? The person it was stolen from doesn’t think it’s a gift. The person who stole it didn’t get a gift from the stealee. So it must be a gift to the person it was sold to cheap. )

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

Depiction of a gentleman pirate at the Pirates...

Depiction of a gentleman pirate at the Pirates of Nassau museum in Nassau, The Bahamas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gen: a shilling. Also, Gent, silver. Abbreviation of the French, Argent.

Gent: a contraction of “gentleman,” in more senses than one. A dressy, showy, foppish man, with a little mind, who vulgarises the prevailing fashion.

Gent: silver. From the French, Argent.

(I love that line: a contraction of “gentleman,” in more senses than one. I didn’t realize that Gent was an insult. I shall have to learn to use it as such. Hmm, now who can I try it on…. :-))

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

an old pirate ship.

Here the bow sail is hanging pretty low.. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gib-face: properly the lower lip of a horse; “To hang one’s Gib,” to pout the lower lip, be angry or sullen.

(I’m assuming this is pronounced “jib” and refers to the triangular sail at the bow that hangs lower than the other sails. Not sure why it’s spelled Gib. I looked up Gib and the definition I found is a castrated male cat or ferret. So I’m guessing that’s not where it comes from.)

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

Get-up: a person’s appearance, or general arrangements. Probably derived from the decorations of a play.

“There’s so much Getting Up to please the town, It takes a precious deal of coming down.”

Planches Mr. Buckstone’s Ascent of Parnassus.

(I do seem to recall my parents occasionally asking me if I really intended to wear that Get-up to some event or another.

What do you know, Mr. Buckstone’s Ascent of Parnassus is available on Amazon. It was first performed at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, on Easter Monday, March 28th, 1853. It appears to be a one-act play.)

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

English: The Gowk Stane, Low Overmuir, Darvel,...

English: The Gowk Stane, Low Overmuir, Darvel, East Ayrshire, Scotland. View looking north (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gawky: a lanky, or awkward person; a fool.  Saxon, Geac;  Scotch, Gowk.

(Interesting to see the origins of such an old one that’s still well used.

When I looked up Gowk I found the Gowk Stone, random standing stones in Scotland left by the glaciers.  This is what they said about the term:

Gowk in Scots means a Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), but also a stupid person or fool. The word derives from the Old Norse ‘gaukr’, a cuckoo. Other explanations and origins for the term are also found.[2] The word derives from Anglo-Saxon (Old English) ‘gouk’ and was replaced in the south and central England by the French loan word ‘coucou’ after the Norman Conquest. The Cuckoo family gets its English and scientific names from the call of the bird.

The Scottish Gaelic names are Coi: Cuach: Cuachag (poetical name): Cuthag.[3] The Welsh for cuckoo is cog.

Cuckoo Folklore

Celtic mythology in particular is rich in references to cuckoos and the surviving folklore gives clues as to why some stones were given the ‘Gowk’ name.

The term Gowk is perhaps best known in the context of the old Gowk’s Day, the Scottish April Fools Day, originally held on April 13 when the cuckoo begins to call, and when children were sent on a Gowk Hunt, a harmless prank involving pointless errands.[4]

Gowk meant both cuckoo & fool, the latter were thought to be fairy-touched. The call of the cuckoo was believed to beckon the souls of the dead, and the cuckoo was thought to be able to travel back and forth between the worlds of the living & the dead.[5]

It was once commonly thought that the first appearance of a Cuckoo also brought about a ‘Gowk Storm’, a furious Spring storm.[6]

Cuckoos were said to have the power of prophesy and could foretell a person’s lifespan, the number of their children and when they would marry.[7]

It has also been suggested that the Gowk or Fool originated in the Dark Ages as a name for the Britons, given by the Saxons invaders, & carried some of the meaning of the “Devil” in the context of an arch foe, who is likened to the Fool.[8]

In the Outer Hebrides a Cuckoo’s call heard when a person was hungry was bad luck, however the opposite was true if the person had recently eaten.[9])

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

Staubexplosion

Staubexplosion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gassy: liable to “flare up” at any offence.

(Ha! I like that one. Like Gas, it can refer to someone with an abundance of hot air. But  I do  like the mental image of a natural gas flame flaring up. I know a few people like that, people that you continually walk on eggshells around because you don’t want to set them off. Living like that is way too much work if you ask me, but at least now I’ve got a name for it.)

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

The Fruit and Vegetable Costermonger, by Louis...

The Fruit and Vegetable Costermonger, by Louise Moillon, 1631 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gawfs: cheap red-skinned apples, a favorite fruit with costermongers, who rub them well with a piece of cloth, and find ready purchasers.

(I think I’ve had those apples, the really mealy ones that disappoint when you bite into them.

I wonder what they charged for an apple back in the day. I also wonder if the costermongers grew the stuff themselves or bought it from a local farmer and then resold it. In any case, I suppose in those days everyone ate local. And probably organic too.)

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

 

Gatter: beer; “shant of Gatter,” a pot of beer. A curious street melody, brimful and running over with slang, know in Seven Dials as Bet, the Coaley’s Daughter, thus mentions the word in a favorite verse;

But when I strove my flame to tell
Says she, ‘Come, stow that patter,’ If you’re a core wot likes a gal
Yy don’t you stand some Gatter? In course I instantly complied
Two brimming quarts of porter, With four goes of gin beside,
Drained Bet the Coaley’s daughter.

(I like Bet. There’s a girl with her head screwed on straight.)

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