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Archive for December, 2014

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

Some well worn thrummers.

Some well worn thrummers.

Thrums: Threepence.

Thrummer: A threepenny bit.

Thrups: Threepence.

(Here’s a threepence threefer. A threepence and a threepenny bit are the same thing.)

 

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

That's a mark for someone. Who threw those?

That’s a mark for someone. Who threw those?

Three-up: a gambling game played by costers. Three halfpennies are thrown up , and when they fall all “heads,” or all “tails,” it is a mark; and the man who gets the greatest number of marks out of a given amount three, five, or more wins. The costers are very quick and skillful at this game, and play fairly at it amongst themselves; but should a stranger join in they invariably unite to cheat him.

(Now there’s a simple game. All you need is three coins. The “costers” are, of course, costermongers, people who sell their wares in the streets.)

 

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

Hmmm, they don't have three sheets...

Hmmm, I doubt they have three sheets…

Three Sheets in the Wind: unsteady from drink. Sea

(I think many of us have heard this one. Here’s what I found about it’s origins:

Derived from sailing ships. The ‘sheet‘ in the phrase uses the nautical meaning of a rope that controls the trim of sail. If a sheet is loose, the sail flaps and doesn’t provide control for the ship. Having several sheets loose (“to the wind”) could cause the ship to rock about drunkenly. Before settling on the standard usage of “three sheets”, a scale used to be employed to rate the drunkenness of a person, with “one sheet” meaning slightly inebriated, and “four sheets” meaning unconscious. A better description relates this phrase to a square rigged ship sailing on the wind, on a bowline as they say. With the three windward sheets hauled all the way forward, in or to the wind, the ship will stagger like a drunken sailor as she meets the waves at an angle of 60 degrees to the beam. For loose sheets to have this effect there would have to be six loose sheets, three to windward and three to leeward. Also, unless all the upper sails secured to the yards were also loosed having the course sheets loose would not produce any change in a ship’s motion except to reduce its forward speed a bit.)

 

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

Wouldn't it be nice if people had warning signs.

Wouldn’t it be nice if people had warning signs.

Thinskinned: over nice, petulant, apt to get a “raw.”

(That one still works. I do like the mental image it draws of a person without  thick enough emotional protection.)

 

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

Oxford

Oxford

Scout: a college valet, or waiter, Oxford. See Gyp.

Gyp: an undergraduate’s valet at Cambridge. Corruption of Gypsy Joe (Saturday Review); popularly derived by Cantabs from the Greek, Gyps, a vulture, from their dishonest rapacity. At Oxford they are called Scouts.

(So, boys at college had servants. And those servants were trying to rip them off. Interesting. Of course, only those with lots of money got schooling.)

 

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

yup, looks like it's taking place "on the turf."

yup, looks like it’s taking place “on the turf.”

Scratch-Race: (on the Turf), a race where any horse, aged, winner, or loser, can run without any weights; in fact, a race without restrictions. At Cambridge a boat-race, where the crews are drawn by lot.

(So this is a race for all the horses Scratched from the other race I take it.

 I like the term On the Turf for horse racing. I know little about that world. Does anyone know if it’s still used?)

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

wow, they've scratched almost everything off their list. I'm jealous.

wow, they’ve scratched almost everything off their list. I’m jealous.

Scratch: a fight, contest, point in dispute; “coming up to the Scratch,” going or preparing to fight in reality, approaching the line usually chalked on the ground to divide the ring. Pugilistic

Scratch: “no great Scratch,” of little worth.

Scratch: to strike a horse’s name out of the list of runners in a particular race. “Tomboy was Scratched for the Derby, at 10, a.m., on Wednesday,” from which period all bets made in reference to him (with one exception) are void. See P.P. Turf.

(Here’s a Thursday Threefer.

Funny that the first two are pretty much gone but the third one has become more widely used. We scratch something off lists all the time, not just horses. I wonder how that comes about.)

 

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

From the days of Rome, a water closet for a king.

From the days of Rome, a water closet for a king.

Scraping Castle: a water-closet.

(Ewww. Since a water-closet only held a toilet, and toilet paper was not common among the masses, it’s pretty easy to guess what was being scraped and from where.

Toilet paper was first invented in China in the 6th Century AD. But according to Wikipedia:

Elsewhere, wealthy people wiped themselves with wool, lace or hemp, while less wealthy people used their hand when defecating into rivers, or cleaned themselves with various materials such as rags, wood shavings, leaves, grass, hay, stone, sand, moss, water, snow, maize, ferns, many apple plant husks, fruit skins, or seashells, and corncobs, depending upon the country and weather conditions or social customs. In Ancient Rome, a sponge on a stick was commonly used, and, after usage, placed back in a bucket of saltwater. Several talmudic sources indicating ancient Jewish practice refer to the use of small pebbles, often carried in a special bag, and also to the use of dry grass and of the smooth edges of broken pottery jugs (e.g., Shabbat 81a, 82a, Yevamot 59b). These are all cited in the classic Biblical and Talmudic Medicine by the German physician Julius Preuss (Eng. trans. Sanhedrin Press, 1978).

The 16th-century French satirical writer François Rabelais, in Chapter XIII of Book 1 of his novel-sequence Gargantua and Pantagruel, has his character Gargantua investigate a great number of ways of cleansing oneself after defecating. Gargantua dismisses the use of paper as ineffective, rhyming that: “Who his foul tail with paper wipes, Shall at his ballocks leave some chips.” (Sir Thomas Urquhart‘s 1653 English translation). He concludes that “the neck of a goose, that is well downed” provides an optimum cleansing medium.

In many parts of the world, especially where toilet paper or the necessary plumbing for disposal may be unavailable or unaffordable, toilet paper is not used. Also, in many parts of the world such as India, people consider using water a much cleaner and more sanitary practice than using paper.Cleansing is then performed with other methods or materials, such as water, for example using a bidet, a lota, rags, sand, leaves (including seaweed), corn cobs, animal furs, sticks or hands; afterwards, hands are washed with soap.

Scraping indeed.)

 

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

Looks like toast and scrape.

Looks like toast and scrape.

Scrape: a difficultly; Scrape, low wit for a shave.

Scrape: cheap butter; “bread and Scrape.” the bread and butter issued to school-boys so called from the butter being laid on, and then scraped off again, for economy’s sake.

(Does any one have a clue what “low wit for a shave” means, because I sure don’t. I do love “bread and scrape” though. That one I get.)

 

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

Looks like scran to me.

Looks like scran to me.

Scran: pieces of meat, broken victuals. Formerly the reckoning at a public-house. Scranning, begging for broken victuals. Also, an Irish malediction of a mild sort, “Bad Scran to yer!”

(Are they talking leftovers? Must be. Not sure what else “broken victuals” would be. That is a pretty mild malediction, “Bad leftovers to you!”)

 

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