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From A New Look at Old Words originally found in the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

Things to nouse.

Do you have the nouse.

Nouse: comprehension, perception. —Old, apparently from the Greek, νους

(I do wish John Camden Hotten had used that one in a sentence. I’m having trouble imagining how it was used. I did find this:

Nouse: know-how; practical skills
She was self-reliant and had the nouse to get the job done.)

 

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From A New Look at Old Words originally found in the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

A bit of Nose Em.

A bit of nose em.

Nose em or Fogus: tobacco.

Noser: a bloody or contused nose. —Pugilistic.

(Smoking was big business in the 1800s. There are twelve slang words for smoking paraphernalia included in A New Look at Old Words. A bit surprising. I would have expected more.

Violence, on the other hand, seems to have been pandemic. I’m guessing a noser was a regular occurrence. There are eighty-eight words for striking or beating someone or something – starting with anointing, and ending with a wipe. That’s more than any other category in the book. Plus there’s another thirty-two words for getting the better of someone. It’s easy to see what was on people’s minds.)

 

From A New Look at Old Words originally found in the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

An actual nose-bag.

An actual nose-bag.

Nose-bags: visitors at watering places, and houses of refreshment, who carry their own victuals. —Term applied by waiters.

(I love that one! I worked as a waitress for a number of years right out of college so I completely understand the sentiment. Waiters aren’t likely to get any tips from people who bring their own food.)

 

From A New Look at Old Words originally found in the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

"On the nose?"

“On the nose?”

Nose: a thief who turns informer, or Queen’s evidence; a spy or watch; “on the Nose,” on the look out.

Nose: “to pay through the nose,” to pay an extravagant price.

(I wonder why the second one has lasted but the first one has not. I also wondered where the second one came from. I found this possible – and disturbing derivation: 

Possibly it alludes to the Danish nose tax, imposed in Ireland in the 9th century, whereby delinquent taxpayers were punished by having their noses slit.

I would not want to see that tax man coming.)

 

From A New Look at Old Words originally found in the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

Nommus! Nommus!

Nommus! Nommus!

Nommus: be off. —See Namus.

Namus or namous: some one, i.e., “be off, somebody is coming,” —Back slang, but general. —See Vamos.

Vamos or Vamous: to go, or be off. Spanish, Vamos, “let us go!” Probably Namus or Namous the costermonger’s word, was from this, although it is generally considered back slang.

(I guess I can sort of get “someone” from “summon” ( Nommus backwards).

Back slang was invented and principally used by the costermongers or street sellers of London. The purpose was secrecy. They could speak in front of customers and policemen without being understood.

When John Camden Hotten wrote his book street sellers numbered between thirty and forty thousand people in London alone. That’s a lot of speaking backwards! Words are not always exact reversals, sometimes letters are changed to make them more pronounceable.)

 

From A New Look at Old Words originally found in the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

A few nobs or snobs mixed in with the mob.

A few nobs or snobs mixed in with the mob.

Nobby or nobbish: fine or showy; Nobbily, showily. —See Snob for derivation.

Snob: a low, vulgar, or affected person. Supposed to be from the nickname usually applied to a Crispin, or a maker of shoes; but believed by a writer in Notes and Queries to be a contraction of the Latin, Sine obolo. A more probable derivation, however, has just been forwarded by an ingenious correspondent. He supposes the Nobs, i.e., Nobiles, was appended in lists to the names of persons of gentle birth, whilst those who had not that distinction were marked down as S. Nob., i.e., sine nobilitate, without marks of gentility, —thus reversing its meaning. Another “word-twister” remarks that, as at college sons of nobleman wrote after their names in the admissions lists, fil nob., son of a lord, and hence all young noblemen were called Nobs and what they did Nobby, so those who imitated them would be called quasi-nobs, “like a nob,” which by a process of contraction would be shortened to si-nobs, and then Snob, one who pretends to be what he is not, and apes his betters. The short and expressive terms which many think fitly represent the three great estates of the realm, Nob, Snob and Mob, were all originally slang words. The last has safely passed through the vulgar ordeal of the streets, and found respectable quarters in the standard dictionaries.

(I love the three great estates of the realm, Nob, Snob and Mob. I imagine no one thought much of members of the other two estates.

I tried to find a definition for the Latin “sine obolo.” All I found was that “sine” in Latin meant “without” and “obol” in Latin meant “smell” or “odor.” I’m really not seeing how that makes sense.)

 

From A New Look at Old Words originally found in the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

I bet the Nobbler knows where the pea is.

I bet the Nobbler knows where the pea is.

Nobble: to cheat, to overreach; to discover.

Nobblers: confederates of thimble-rigs, who play earnestly as if strangers to the “RIG,” and thus draw unsuspecting persons into a game.

(Again I have to wonder if these slang words are a subtle dig at the nobs or nobles.

A Rig was a con of some kind. The Thimble-rig was none other then our modern game of hiding a ball under one of three cups and then moving the cups around and having someone guess which cup the ball is under. They used something more the size of a pea and put a thimble over it – hence the term. Although sometimes the pea was hidden under the con-man’s fingernail. So the Nobbler pretended not to know the con-man and played the game. The Thimble-rigger let the Nobbler win to make it look easy and lure unsuspecting members of the public to play.

I’m guessing it was both entertaining and lucrative since the practice has lasted this long.)

 

From A New Look at Old Words originally found in the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

George III - one of those who did most of the nobbing.

George III – one of those who did most of the nobbing.

Nobbing: collecting money; “what Nobbings?” i.e., how much have you got?

(Hmmm, could this come from “nob” the slang term for the nobility? The nobs did have most of the money and do most of the collecting. Seems a pretty safe bet.)

 

From A New Look at Old Words originally found in the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

Nova Saltee

Nobba Saltee

Nobba: nine. Italian, Nove; Spanish, Nova, —the b and v being interchangeable, as Sebastόpol and Sevastόpol.

Nobba Saltee: ninepence. Lingua Franca, Nove Soldi.

(They were fans of mangling other languages. Not sure when or how nine went for nova in Spanish to nueve or if the author John Camden Hotten just got it wrong. Probably the latter.)

 

From A New Look at Old Words originally found in the Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues first published in 1859.

Modern day Mop

Modern day Mop

Mop: a hiring place (or fair) for servants. Steps are being taken to put down these assemblies, which have been proved to be greatly detrimental to the morality of the poor.

(Okay, that only raises about a million questions. Why would what sounds like a job fair be detrimental to one’s morality? What was going on at these fairs? Were people trying to hire them to do illegal things? Like what? Who set the mops up in the first place? Why was it called a Mop?

Ah, if only I had a time machine.)

 

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