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Archive for March, 2014

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

Pocketbook_-_-_American_Folk_Art_Museum,_NYC_-_IMG_5863Dee: a pocket book, term used by tramps. Gipsy.

(Well, I found this:

Pocketbook was originally just that: a small book that could be carried in the pocket. The OED shows that by 1685 it was understood also to be a “book for notes, memoranda, etc., intended to be carried in the pocket; a notebook; also, a book-like case of leather or the like, having compartments for papers, bank-notes, bills, etc.”

Pocket books were originally carried around by women and became what we now call a purse. Although I think the term could also be used for books that men carried where they kept accounts of who owed what to whom. So I suppose they are the precursor of a man’s wallet as well. Who knew the humble pocketbook would turn into such a huge industry. Really, who would be caught dead without one?)

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

20100316_093638_cd16caucus3Caucus: a private meeting held for the purpose of concerting measures, agreeing upon candidates for office before an election, &c. See Pickerings’s Vocabulary.

(So Caucus was a low slang word that’s gotten itself respectable. I wonder how that came about. Who decides if a word is slang or proper? I may have to do some digging.)

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

The_Time_Machine_Classics_Illustrated_133Catchy: (similar formation to touchy), inclined to take an undue advantage.

(Hmm, not sure I get this one. Inclined to take an undue advantage of what or whom? What exactly is an undue advantage? If only I could get my time machine working I could answer all these nagging questions. Alas.)

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

cave_3Cave or Cave In: to submit, shut up. American. Metaphor taken from the sinking of an abandoned mining shaft.

(I would have guessed this one was much more recent since it’s still so common today. Guess you never can tell.

I suppose mining in one form or another goes back nearly as far as humans do.)

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

Some Old Tom called Old Peter.

Some Old Tom called Old Peter.

Cats Water: old Tom, or Gin.

(Boy, they must really have hated Gin. It’s not my favorite, but I wouldn’t call it cat pee. And who was Old Tom anyway?)

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

Seem quite comfortable there...

Seem quite comfortable there…

Cat-in-the-Pan: a traitor, a turn-coat derived by some from the Greek, Karairav, altogether; or from cake in pan, a pan cake, which is frequently turned from side to side.

(Whatever the derivation, I like it. But perhaps it has to do with how quickly a cat can jump into and out of any situation. I had the lid off an aquarium once when the cat tried to jump on top. Once she hit the water, I’ve never see an animal move so fast!)

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

The Flea Circus

The Flea Circus

Catch-Penny: any temporary contrivance to obtain money from the public, penny shows, or cheap exhibitions.

(Bearded ladies and sword-swallowers spring to mind. I think PT Barnum was an expert at the Catch-Penny. Of course, he may have been at the top of a very large heap.

I wouldn’t mind catching a few pennies myself if I could come up with a good idea.)

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

Not so tough to sneak that cat away.

Not so tough to sneak that cat away.

Cat and Kitten Sneaking: stealing pint and quart pots from public-houses.

(Hmm, I wonder if the pots were full or empty when stolen? Funny that people did it often enough that it had a name.

Not so great for the Public-Houses or Pubs as we’d call them. I wonder how many pots they went through in a month?)

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

cat-drinking-water-high-resCat-Lap: a contemptuous expression for weak drink.

(Makes sense, our cat Pippin has never been a fan of the hard stuff. Thank goodness!)

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

KAMARAS8955Catgut-Scraper: a fiddler.

(Yup, the strings were made of cat gut. Must be why cats flee when one is played. I would if they were human gut scrapers.)

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