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Archive for August, 2015

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

Lubber's hole goes through the center, the shrouds go around the edges of the top.

Lubber’s hole goes through the center, the shrouds go around the edges of the top.

Lubber’s hole: an aperture in the maintop of a ship, by which a timid climber may avoid the difficulties of the “futtock shrouds” —hence, a sea term for a cowardly way of evading duty.

(Also a test to see what a new recruit is made of. Of course, failing the test and falling from the futtock shrouds means a fifty to one hundred foot drop either to a hard deck- and most likely death- or into the ocean – also likely death since most sailors couldn’t swim. )

 

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

Let's make a deal.

Let’s make a deal.

Luck: “down on one’s Luck” wanting money, or in difficulty.

Lucky: “to cut one’s Lucky,” to go away quickly. —See Strike.

Strike me Lucky!: an expression used by the lower orders when making a bargain, derived from the old custom of striking hands together, leaving in that of the seller a Luck Penny as an earnest that the bargain is concluded. In Ireland, at cattle markets, &c., a penny, or other small coin, is always given by the buyer to the seller to ratify the bargain. —Hudibras. Anciently this was called a God’s Penny.

“With that he cast him a God’s Peny.” —Heir of Linne.

The origin of the phrase being lost sight of, like that of many others, it is often corrupted now-a-days into Strike me silly.

(The first one is old hat – very old apparently. The second is curious. Could it refer to getting away before one’s luck wears out? If that’s the case, there are lots of gamblers who could learn a thing or two.

I hadn’t heard of a Luck Penny or God’s Penny before. Interesting custom. These days you have to put a little more than a penny down to seal just about any deal. We still have the concept of a lucky penny though. Whenever I find one in the street a still hear the old rhyme in my head-

Find a penny
Pick it up.
All day long
You’ll have good luck.

I guess it doesn’t rhyme all that well.)

 

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

Playing the lubber.

Playing the lubber.

Lubber: a clown, or fool. —Ancient cant, Lubbare.

(So now you know where the famous seaman’s insult –landlubber– comes from.)

 

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

Feeling behind the eight-ball today.

Feeling behind the eight-ball today.

Love: at billiards, “five to none” would be “five Love,” —a Love being the same as when one player does not score at all.

Loveage: tap droppings, a mixture of spirits, sweetened and sold to habitual dram-drinkers, principally females. Called also Alls.

(I’m not a billiards player. I had no idea it was scored similar to tennis at one time. Do they still do that?

I think I’ll pass on the loveage. Sounds horrible, though I’m pretty sure I drank the same thing with a different name in college.)

 

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

Now that's lousy.

Now that’s lousy.

Louse-trap: a small toothed comb. —Old cant. —See Catch ‘em alive.

Catch em alive: a trap, also a small-toothed comb.

(Yuck! Makes me itch just thinking about it.)

 

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

Lour or Lowr: money; “gammy Lowr,” bad money. —Ancient cant, and Gipsey.

Ah, the famous lour tree, very difficult to cultivate.

Ah, the famous lour tree, very difficult to cultivate.

(I’m guessing it’s pronounced like flour. After a little research I found this definition:

From Middle English lour (“sad or frowning countenance” ), louren (“to frown or scowl; to be dark or overcast; look askant, mistrust; wither, fade, droop; lurk, skulk” ), Old English lowren, luren. Compare Dutch loeren, German lauern (“lurk, be on the watch” ), and English leer and lurk.

 I have no idea how that relates to money.  Money doesn’t generally make me frown or scowl. Though the lack of it sure does.)

 

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

What do you think? Just "loud" or "howling bags?"

What do you think? Just “loud” or “howling bags?”

Loud: flashy, showy, as applied to dress or manner. See Bags.

Bags: trowsers. Trowsers of an extensive pattern, or exaggerated fashionable cut, have lately been termed Howling Bags, but only when the style has been very “loud.” The word is probably an abbreviation for b-mbags. “To have the Bags off,” to be of age and one’s own master, to have plenty of money.

(Loud has definitely stood the test of time. Since that-upon-which-we-sit was the bum, bumbags was a perfect name for a pair of pants. And I love howling bags.

Sorry I haven’t posted for a few days. I broke my ankle back on the 8th of August and had surgery to pin my fibula back together on the 13th. I’ve been feeling terribly helpless since then- especially since just getting to the bathroom and back has been an ordeal, but I’m starting to feel a little better. So as they say, I’m back, baby.)

 

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

I bet he was known to "tie one on" on occasion.

I bet he was known to “tie one on” on occasion.

Lord: “drunk as a Lord,” a common saying, probably referring to the facilities a man of fortune has for such a gratification; perhaps a sly sarcasm at the supposed habits of the “haristocracy.”

Lord: a humpbacked man. See My Lord.

My Lord: a nickname given to a hunchback.

Lord of the manor: a sixpence.

(Well, the “lower orders” as Mr. Hotten called them, were an irreverent bunch. I love the first one! Though, I don’t think the sarcasm was all that “sly.” :-))

 

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

That's a lot of loot!

That’s a lot of loot!

Loot: swag, or plunder. —Hindoo.

(We’d call Hindoo Hindi. I found this:

1780-90; < Hindi lūṭ, akin to Sanskrit luṇṭhati (he) steals

I would never have guessed that derivation. So the word was already in use in England for going on 80 years when the Dictionary was written. That means it’s been around about as long as the U.S. Not bad.

We also get the slang term “Bloak” or “Bloke” from Hindi.)

 

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

Tough line of work.

Tough line of work.

Loof faker: a chimney-sweep. —See Flue faker.

Flue fakers: chimney sweeps; also low sporting characters, who are so termed from their chiefly betting on the Great Sweeps.

(I get flue faker for a chimney sweep since they’re cleaning the flue, but why loof faker?

One source I found suggests that loof is back-slang for flue. Back slang, just like it sounds, was speaking approximately backwards – though words were changed a bit so they were easily pronounceable. I guess it’s as good a guess as any for loof.)

 

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