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Archive for June, 2015

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

hog

Now I’m intrigued. Just what is the extraordinary potential of pigs?

Hog: “to go the whole Hog,” to do anything with a person’s entire strength, not “by halves,” realized by the phrase “in for a penny in for a pound.” Bartlett claims this to be a pure American phrase; whilst Ker, of course, give it a Dutch origin. —Old.

Hog: a shilling. —Old cant.

(“Whole hog” still works, although it is rather odd. What was it hogs did with their entire strength to inspire this saying? Or was is something hog farmers did that inspired it? Butchers perhaps? I wish he’d tell us a bit more.

I’m a big fan of the phrase, “in for a penny in for a pound” and got to use it in my latest book. Though I suppose here in the U.S. it should be “in for a penny in for a buck.” Just doesn’t have the same ring to it.)

 

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

Monty Python's John Cleese as the Village Idiot.

Monty Python’s John Cleese as the Village Idiot.

Hodge: a countryman or provincial clown. I don’t know that it has been elsewhere remarked, but most country districts in England have one or more families of the name of Hodge; indeed, Giles and Hodge appear to be the favourite hobnail nomenclature. Not in any way writing disrespectfully, was the slang word taken from Hog with the g soft, which gives the dg pronunciation? In old canting dictionaries Hodge stands for a country clown; so, indeed, does Roger, another favourite provincial name. —Vide Bacchus and Venus.

(I suppose the Hodges’ could have been hog farmers, like Shoemakers and Millers were named after their occupations.

As I understand it, the cant language was invented by Gipsies and thieves so they could talk in front of the people they wanted to rob without them understanding.  If their “marks” were often named Hodge or Roger – simply because they were popular names – it makes sense that those names became slang words for people who aren’t that bright. )

 

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

Hocus Pocus in Hollywood.

Hocus Pocus in Hollywood.

Hocus Pocus: Gipsey words of magic, similar to the modern “Presto fly.” The Gipseys pronounce “Habeas CorpusHawcus paccus (see Crabb’s Gipsey’s Advocate, p.18); can this have anything to do with the origin of Hocus Pocus? Turner gives Ochus Bochus, an old demon. Pegge, however, states that it is a burlesque rendering of the words of the unreformed church service at the delivery of the host, Hoc est corpus, which the early Protestants considered as a species of conjuring, and ridiculed accordingly.

(How cool to see where Hocus Pocus comes from. Now I want the origin of Presto Fly! We have the Gipsies to thank for lots of words it seems. Funny that Hocus Pocus has held together, but we lost the “fly” on Presto fly. I suppose Hocus Pocus has lasted because of the rhyme.)  

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

Just don't mix them together.

Just don’t mix them together.

Hocus: to drug a person, and then rob him. The Hocus generally consists of snuff and beer.

(Sounds horrible. I imagine that has to be some strong beer for people not to notice the taste of the snuff. Though I suppose someone who has already had a few is not likely to notice.)

 

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

Yup, I granny Russell Brand.

Yup, I granny Russell Brand.

Granny: to know, or recognise; “do ye Granny the bloke?” do you know the man?

(I granny the fact that the word has changed dramatically. How would you granny a bloke today? Give him a wig and a crochet shawl?

Our spelling of recognize has changed too.)

 

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

Now that looks like an honest day's work.

Now that looks like an honest day’s graft.

Graft: to work; “where are you Grafting?” i.e., where do you live, or work?

(Hmm, I wonder how it went from meaning honest work to meaning dishonest work. Here is a current definition:

the acquisition of money, gain, or advantage by dishonest, unfair, or illegal means, especially through the abuse of one’s position or influence in politics, business, etc.
Then again, “honest” was a pretty relative term among most of the street sellers and “lower order” as they’re called in the book.)

 

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

Very grace-ful.

Very grace-ful.

Grace-card: the ace of hearts.

(Is that because gamblers sometimes pray for it? Is it the top card in some particular game? Or is it the whole heart/love angle that makes it the grace card? Inquiring minds want to know!

Wait til you see the names of some of the other cards.)

 

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

Those look like some hard working grabbers.

Those look like some hard working grabbers.

Grabb: to clutch, or seize.

Grabbed: caught, apprehended.

Grabbers: the hands.

(Hard to imagine the first two were slang words, they’re so common now. I grab stuff all the time. Glad that no longer makes me a “low” person.

I do enjoy grabbers. I’ll have to use that one and see what reaction I get.)

 

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

He stole the show in my opinion. And whatever else he could get his hands on.

Mr. Doolittle stole the show in my opinion. And whatever else he could get his hands on.

Governor: a father, a master or superior person, an elder; “which way, Guv’ner, to Cheapside?”

(Anyone who’s seen My Fair Lady is familiar with that one. I got a kick out of Eliza’s father.)

 

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

Not  sign I'd want to be reading.

Not a sign I’d want to be reading.

Government signpost: the gallows.

(Well that one’s pretty clear.)

 

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