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Archive for January, 2014

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

 custome lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomelesse

Weed: a cigar; the Weed, tobacco generally.

(Well, that one has changed slightly. Now we call something else Weed. But tobacco was the Weed of its time. And apparently it has always been controversial among Europeans…

In 1571, a Spanish doctor named Nicolas Monardes wrote a book about the history of medicinal plants of the new world. In this he claimed that tobacco could cure 36 health problems. Sir Walter Raleigh is credited with taking the first “Virginia” tobacco to Europe, referring to it as tobah as early as 1578. In 1595 Anthony Chute published Tabaco, which repeated earlier arguments about the benefits of the plant and emphasized the health-giving properties of pipe-smoking.

The importation of tobacco into Europe was not without resistance and controversy in the 17th century. Stuart King James I wrote a famous polemic titled A Counterblaste to Tobacco in 1604, in which the king denounced tobacco use as “[a] custome lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomelesse.” In that same year, an English statute was enacted that placed a heavy protective tariff on every pound of tobacco brought into England.

Personally, when it comes to cigars, I agree with King James.)

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

Wedge-feeder

Wedge-feeder

Wedge: silver. Old Cant.

Wedge-Feeder: silver spoon.

(How random. But that was the point. A Cant language is “the jargon of a group, often implying its use to exclude or mislead people outside the group.” Heck, they could discuss what they wanted to steal right in front of someone “proper” who’d be none the wiser.)

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

combwattleillustrationWattles: ears.

(Ha! I love it! Not very flattering I suppose, but there are a few similarities – on the side of the head, fleshy… If they happen to be bright red because the owner is cold they’d be dead ringers.)

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

Where is the Pluck?

Where is the Pluck?

Watch and Seals: a sheep’s head and pluck.

(I don’t care what you call it, it sounds disgusting. The sheep’s head was singed with a hot poker to take off the hair, split in two to remove the brain – which was cooked separately – and stewed for a couple days. Pluck is apparently the liver, heart, kidney, and possibly lungs and intestines of the sheep. I can’t find anything on how they cooked the pluck except that the Scottish use it to make haggis.

Nowadays the pluck is more often used for anatomy students to dissect. Still disgusting.)

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

Otter-Wax-Regular-Bar-1Waxy: cross, ill-tempered.

(Hmmm, I don’t get it. Wax is generally used to smooth things down. I suppose I’d be cross and ill-tempered if I were covered in the stuff though.

Any Brits out there know where this one came from?)

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

Gin and tonic with a lime wedgeWater of Life: Gin.

(They must really love their gin.

I did read that at one point in history the water in the Thames was so polluted and diseased that most of the citizens of London, men, women, and children, drank gin. It was better for you. Or – at least it wouldn’t kill you right off.)

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

The same tea bag, 6 brews.

The same tea bag, 6 brews.

Water-Bewitched: very weak tea, the third brew (or the first at some houses), grog much diluted.

(Ah, an apt term. It’s not tea or grog, just water with a touch of something. Rather insulting to witches… )

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

Is she going for a watch?

Is she going for a watch?

Watchmaker: a pickpocket, or stealer of watches.

(So, what did they call someone who actually made watches?

Still working on that time machine…)

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

russia-3Wash: “it won’t Wash,” i.e., will not stand investigation, is not genuine, can’t be believed.

(As in, if it comes from a politicians mouth, it probably won’t Wash.)

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

Not that whopping...

Not that whopping…

Wapping or Whopping: of a large size, great.

(Yup, still works. Although Whoppers, either the burger or the candy, really aren’t.)

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