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Archive for April, 2014

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

Literally...

Literally…

Fin: a hand; “come, tip us your Fin,” viz., let us shake hands. Sea.

(Anyone who grew up watching Flipper like I did gets that.)

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

I can't help it. That's who I think of when I hear deep and artful. Wax on. Wax off.

I can’t help it. That’s who I think of when I hear deep and artful. Wax on. Wax off.

File: a deep, or artful man, a jocose name for a cunning person. Originally a term for a pickpocket, when To File was to cheat or rob. File, and artful man, was used in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

(I like the idea of a deep or artful man. Guess they would also have called him a Knowing Cove.)

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

Now there's a good Fimble-Famble!

Now there’s a good Fimble-Famble!

Fimble-Famble: a lame prevaricating excuse. Scand.

(The dog ate my homework. So and so made me do it. I couldn’t help it. We’ve all given someone a Fimble-Famble at one time or another.)

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

Looks like he may be giving her a fillibrush.

Looks like he may be giving her a fillibrush.

Fillibrush: to flatter, praise ironically.

(I wonder if this word is related to horses, fillies to be precise, and the brushing there of. Or, in french fille means girl. Not sure exactly how that would follow. I also thought that perhaps it is related to the word Filibuster, which, as it turns out, comes from the Spanish filibustero, which mean Pirate or to Rob. (In legislative terms I guess it means you’re stealing a bill. ) Now there’s a real possibility. I guess we’ll never know.)

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

some yummy fruit if she'll just read her letter somewhere else.

some yummy fruit if she’ll just read her letter somewhere else.

Filch: to steal, or purloin. Originally a cant word, derived from the Filches, or hooks, thieves used to carry, to hook clothes, or any portable articles from open windows. Vide Decker. It was considered a cant or Gipsy term up to the beginning of the last century. Harman had “Fylche, to robbe.”

(Cool! I had no idea where it came from. Definitely a fun word. And where do I get one of those hooks?)

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

the-ships-figureheadFigure-Head: a person’s face. Sea term.

(The Figure-Head on a ship was the carving, typically a bust or a full-length figure, set at the prow. It was, in many ways, the face of the ship. So this makes perfect sense – in a piratey sort of way.)

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

powerful-boxing-punches-31Digs: hard blows.

(Yup. We still might say “He got his digs in,” meaning “He delivered some hard blows.” Of course, these days, a dig might be psychological as well.)

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

85529945Dickey: a donkey.

Dickey: formerly the cant for a worn out shirt, but means now-a-days a front or half-shirt, Dickey was originally Tommy (from the Greek, rofirj, a section), a name which I understand was formerly used in Trinity College, Dublin. The students are said to have invented the term, and the GYPS changed it to Dickey, in which dress it is supposed to have been imported to England.

Dickey: bad,sorry, or foolish; food or lodging is pronounced Dickey when of a poor description; “it’s all Dickey with him,” i.e., all over with him.

(Here’s a Monday threefer for you! And here I thought these half-shirts were a new invention. I’ve no idea how you get Tommy from rofirj. I swear I copied it exactly from the original. I can’t even imagine what sort of typo would be involved in that particular transformation. )

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

article-new-thumbnail-ehow-images-a08-8q-ma-size-spurs-800x800Diggers: spurs; also, the spades on cards.

(They were so literal in a charming way. Though I suppose the horses weren’t so charmed.)

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

piratespeech_lgDies: last dying speeches, and criminal trials.

(Why is it that everyone loves a good death scene? Nowadays we just get it on TV. Check the listings for any evening and see how many murder investigation shows or murder trial shows are on. Used to be you could either go to the trial or the execution, or read about it in the broadsides.

 

From the Harvard Law School Library:

Just as programs are sold at sporting events today, broadsides — styled at the time as “Last Dying Speeches” or “Bloody Murders” — were sold to the audiences that gathered to witness public executions in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain. These ephemeral publications were intended for the middle or lower classes, and most sold for a penny or less. Published in British towns and cities by printers who specialized in this type of street literature, a typical example features an illustration (usually of the criminal, the crime scene, or the execution); an account of the crime and (sometimes) the trial; and the purported confession of the criminal, often cautioning the reader in doggerel verse to avoid the fate awaiting the perpetrator.

 

The Library’s collection of more than 500 broadsides is one of the largest recorded and the first to be digitized in its entirety. The examples digitized here span the years 1707 to 1891 and include accounts of executions for such crimes as arson, assault, counterfeiting, horse stealing, murder, rape, robbery, and treason. Many of the broadsides vividly describe the results of sentences handed down at London’s central criminal court, the Old Bailey, the proceedings of which are now available online at http://www.oldbaileyonline.org.)

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