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Archive for July, 2015

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

Shot to the lobb.

Shot to the lobb.

Lolly: the head. —See Lobb. —Pugilistic.

Lobb: the head. —Pugilistic.

(I wish he gave us the derivation of Lolly. One wonders if that’s where the term lollypop comes from. They are basically a head on a stick.

As a boxer I imagine you got your lolly addled often.)

 

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

Yup. Lobster works for me.

Yup. Raw lobster works for me.

Lobster: a soldier. A policeman from the colour of his coat is styled an unboiled , or raw Lobster.

Lobster box: a barrack, or military station.

(Odd that the poor lobster would go from the color of a bobby’s coat and hat (navy blue) to the color of the soldier’s red coat in the process of cooking. I imagine most of the “lower orders” as Mr. Hotten called them enjoyed the symbolic gesture of eating lobster when they could get it.)

 

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

Pirate Patter on my fridge.

Pirate Patter on my fridge.

Lobs: words. —Gipsey.

(One wonders how Lob went from a word to a high, arching throw or hit.

The image is from the Slang Magnetic Poetry set I’m making as one of the rewards for the kickstarter for my new book of 1600s – 1800s slang, A New Look at Old Words. I’ll let you know when the kickstarter is up and running. Soon!)

 

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

Not a job I'd want!

Not a job I’d want!

Loblolly Boy: a derisive term for a surgeon’s mate in the navy.

Loblolly: gruel. —Old: used by Markham as a sea term for grit gruel, or hasty pudding.

(Okay, I can see how being called pudding boy is insulting, especially if you’re 30 years old, though usually they began much younger, as boys. The name comes from one of the mate’s duties – feeding gruel sometimes laced with meat or vegetable to the patients too sick or injured to feed themselves. 

The loblolly boy’s duties also included undertaking any medical tasks that the surgeon was too busy (or too high in station) to perform. These included restraining patients during surgery, obtaining and cleaning surgical instruments, disposing of amputated limbs, and emptying and cleaning toilet utensils. The loblolly boy also often managed stocks of herbs, medicines and medical supplies.

You’d think, given the danger involved in sailing any kind of vessel, and therefore their need for medical help, the sailors would treat the surgeon’s mate better. But maybe that’s just me.

One of the main characters in my novel Lady Blade is an eleven-year-old loblolly boy named Carter.)

 

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

I think maybe it lost something in translation.

I think maybe it lost something in translation.

Knowing: a slang term for sharpness, “Knowing codger,” or “a Knowing blade,” one who can take you in, or cheat you, in any transaction you may have with him. It implies also deep cunning and foresight, and generally signifies dishonesty.


Who, on a spree with black eyed Sal, his blowen,
So swell, so prime, so nutty and so Knowing.”
                                                                   Don Juan

 

(A Blowen is defined as a thief’s paramour, I suppose today we would say his girlfriend. So I wonder if it was Don Juan on the spree or someone else. Guess I’ll need to read Don Juan to find out.)

 

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

Any Knock-outs in the crowd?

Any Knock-outs in the crowd?

Knock-outs or Knock-ins: disreputable persons who visit auction rooms and unite to buy the articles at their own prices. One of their number is instructed to buy for the rest, and after a few small bids as blinds to the auctioneer and bystanders, the lot is knocked down to the Knock-out bidders, at a nominal price —the competition to result from an auction being thus frustrated and set aside. At the conclusion of the sale the goods are paid for, and carried to some neighbouring public house, where they are re-sold or Knocked-out, and the difference between the first purchase and the second —or taproom Knock-out —is divided amongst the gang. As generally happens with ill-gotten gains, the money soon finds its way to the landlord’s pocket, and the Knock-out is rewarded with a red nose or a bloated face. Cunning tradesmen join the Knock-outs when an opportunity for money making presents itself. The lowest description of Knock-outs, fellows with more tongue than capital, are termed Babes, —which see.

Babes: the lowest order of Knock-outs (which see), who are prevailed upon not to give opposing biddings at auctions, in consideration of their receiving a small sum (from one shilling to half-a-crown), and a certain quantity of beer. Babes exist in Baltimore, U.S., where they are known as blackguards and “rowdies.”

(The “Lower Orders” as John Camden Hotten called them seemed to have more than their share of scams. I’ve got 33 listed in my new book A New Look at Old Words based on John Camden Hotten’s work. This one ranks right up there with the slimy ones. I wonder if this still goes on today. Can’t say I’ve visited any auction houses lately. Most of the auctions I’ve gone to have been for charity, so no Knock-outs there hopefully. You’d have to be pretty “low” indeed to scam a charity auction.)

 

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

I wonder if it's a knock-in.

I wonder if it’s a knock-in.

Knock off: to give over, or abandon. A saying used by workmen about dinner, or other meal times, for upwards of two centuries.

Knocked up: tired, jaded, used up, done for. In the United States, amongst females, the phrase is equivalent to being enceinte, so that Englishmen often unconsciously commit themselves when amongst our Yankee cousins.

Knock-in: the game of loo.

(We’ve got a threefer today.

Amazing to think that people have been knocking off of work for going on four centuries now.

Knocked up still works. They were very touchy back then about the word “pregnant.” Mr. Hotten used the word “enceinte” instead a couple of times in his book.

I found this on the game of loo or lanterloo:

Loo was a trivial and once disreputable trick-taking game for five or more players. It was equally popular as a gambling game, when it could get quite vicious, or as a mild domestic pastime, such as it appears in the novels of Jane Austen. Its twofold personality extends equally to its form, there being two closely related games of the same name, one being played with three cards and the other with five. Both reached England from France probably with the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

Loo, under various spellings, is short for Lanterloo, which in turn (under equally various spellings) is from the French lenturlu, a meaningless refrain used in lullabies, equivalent to ‘lullay, lulloo’. The Oxford English Dictionary quotes a modern use of it from Auden and Kallman’s The Rake’s Progress (1951):

The sun is bright, the grass is green:
   Lanterloo, lanterloo.
The King is courting his young Queen.
   Lanterloo, my lady.

You can find more info and the rules of the game here, History of Loo.)

 

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

That ought to about do it.

That ought to do it.

Knock Down or Knock Me Down: strong ale.

(That sounds about right.)

 

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

Don't hog that bub, hand it around.

Don’t hog that bub, hand it around.

Knock about the bub: to hand or pass about the drink.

Bub: drink of any kind. —See Grub. Middleton, the dramatist, mentions Bubber, a great drinker.

Grub: meat, or food, of any kind, —Grub signifying food, and Bub, drink.

(So Bub doesn’t necessarily mean alcohol, but there are 185 terms listed for alcohol in the slang book I’m working on, including 54 for being drunk and only 12 words under non-alcoholic drinks. I’m guessing not much has changed in the last 156 years. We’re still big fans of Knocking about the bub.)

 

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

A mighty Knight of the Thimble.

A mighty Knight of the Thimble.

Knight: a common and ironical prefix to a man’s calling, —thus, “Knight of the whip,” a coachman; “Knight of the thimble,” a tailor.

(So as a writer, does that make me a “Knight of the pen.” I’ve heard it is mightier than the sword.)

 

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