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Dictionary in the Vulgar Tongue

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It’s probably been more or less proven by now that I spend my days a) finding weird stuff in the past, b) getting angry at the past, and 3) teaching my students about weird stuff or evil people in the past. And that’s more or less true, along with writing about weird stuff and evil people in the past. The advantage of having this blog platform is that now I can force more people to listen to me go on like Texas about this stuff.

And this leads me to tonight’s joy, Francis Grose’s 1811 Dictionary in the Vulgar Tongue, produced by those saints at the Gutenberg Project who should all make $250,000 a year but probably make more like $2500. This is amazing. A few of these very English entries for your nightly pleasure. Actually, let’s go for an even 10.

1. “ADMIRAL OF THE NARROW SEAS. One who from drunkenness vomits into the lap of the person sitting opposite to him. SEA PHRASE.”

2. “HORSE’S MEAL. A meal without drinking.” Is this like vegetarianism or something?

3. “GAP STOPPER. A whoremaster.”

4. “HUCKLE MY BUFF. Beer, egg, and brandy, made hot.”

5. “IRISH LEGS. Thick legs, jocularly styled the Irish arms. It is said of the Irish women, that they have a dispensation from the pope to wear the thick end of their legs downwards.” There are a good number of anti-Irish bits in this.

6. “MACCARONI. An Italian paste made of flour and eggs. Also a fop: which name arose from a club, called the Maccaroni Club, instituted by some of the most dressy travelled gentlemen about town, who led the fashions; whence a man foppishly dressed, was supposed a member of that club, and by contraction styled a Maccaroni.”

7. “LOUSE LAND. Scotland.”

8. “TOKEN. The plague: also the venereal disease. She tipped him the token; she gave him a clap or pox.”

9. “MELTING MOMENTS. A fat man and woman in the amorous congress.”

10. And last, but most definitely not least: “GAYING INSTRUMENT. The penis.”

This may actually be the greatest book ever published.

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