A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785)Thirty years…

A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785)

Thirty years after Dr Johnson published his great Dictionary of the English Language (1755), Francis Grose put out A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785), a compendium of slang Johnson had deemed unfit for his learned tome.

Some highlights include:

ABBESS, or LADY ABBESS. A bawd, the mistress of a brothel.

ABIGAIL. A lady’s waiting-maid.

ABRAM. Naked.

ABRAM COVE. A cant word among thieves, signifying a naked or poor man; also a lusty, strong rogue.

ABRAM MEN. Pretended mad men.


ANGLERS. Pilferers, or petty thieves, who, with a stick having a hook at the end, steal goods out of shop-windows, grates, &c.; also those who draw in or entice unwary persons to prick at the belt, or such like devices.

ANKLE. A girl who is got with child, is said to have sprained her ankle.

ARBOR VITAE. A man’s penis.

AUTEM MORT. A married woman; also a female beggar with several children hired or borrowed to excite charity.

BABES IN THE WOOD. Criminals in the stocks, or pillory.

BACON FED. Fat, greasy.

BANGING. Great; a fine banging boy.

BANTLING. A young child.

BASTARD. The child of an unmarried woman.

BAWD. A female procuress.

BEAR LEADER. A travelling tutor.

BEAU-NASTY. A slovenly fop; one finely dressed, but dirty.

BEDIZENED. Dressed out, over-dressed, or awkwardly ornamented.

BELLYFULL. A hearty beating, sufficient to make a man yield or give out. A woman with child is also said to have got her belly full.

BENE. Good–BENAR. Better.

BENE BOWSE. Good beer, or other strong liquor.

BENE COVE. A good fellow.


BEN. A fool.

BETWATTLED. Surprised, confounded, out of one’s senses; also bewrayed.

BIDDY, or CHICK-A-BIDDY. A chicken, and figuratively a young wench.

BIENLY. Excellently. She wheedled so bienly; she coaxed or flattered so cleverly. French.

BITE. A cheat; also a woman’s privities. The cull wapt the mort’s bite; the fellow enjoyed the wench heartily.

BLACK BOX. A lawyer.

BOUNCER. A large man or woman; also a great lie.

BUCK. A blind horse; also a gay debauchee.

BUGAROCH. Comely, handsome.

BULL DOGS. Pistols.

BUNTER. A low dirty prostitute, half whore and half beggar.

BUSHEL BUBBY. A full breasted woman.

BUTTOCK. A whore.

BUTTOCK AND TONGUE. A scolding wife.


BUZMAN. A pickpocket.

BUZZARD. A simple fellow. A blind buzzard: a pur-blind man or woman.

BYE BLOW. A bastard.


CADDEE. A helper. An under-strapper.

CAKE, or CAKEY. A foolish fellow.

CANDY. Drunk.

CANK. Dumb.

CAPON. A castrated cock, also an eunuch.

CAPRICORNIFIED. Cuckolded, hornified.

CAPTAIN QUEERNABS. A shabby ill-dressed fellow.

CAPTAIN TOM. The leader of a mob; also the mob itself.

CARAVAN. A large sum of money; also, a person cheated of such sum.

CARBUNCLE FACE. A red face, full of pimples.

CARDINAL. A cloak in fashion about the year 1760.

CARROTS. Red hair.

CAT. A common prostitute. An old cat; a cross old woman.

CAT-HEADS. A Woman’s breasts.

CATHEDRAL. Old-fashioned. An old cathedral-bedstead, chair, &c.

CATTLE. Sad cattle: whores or gypsies. Black cattle, bugs.

CAUDGE-PAWED. Left-handed.

CHAP. A fellow; An odd chap; A strange fellow.

CHAW BACON. A countryman. A stupid fellow.

CHEESER. A strong smelling fart.

CLANKER. A great lie.

CLOVES. Thieves, robbers, &c.

CORNED. Drunk.

CORNY-FACED. A very red pimpled face.

COVENT GARDEN NUN. A prostitute.

CRACK. A whore.

CRUMMY. Fat, fleshy. A fine crummy dame; a fat woman. He has picked up his crumbs finely of late; he has grown very fat, or rich, of late.

DAPPER FELLOW. A smart, well-made, little man.

DICKED IN THE NOB. Silly. Crazed.

DICKEY. A sham shirt.

DIDDEYS. A woman’s breasts or bubbies.

DIRTY PUZZLE. A nasty slut.

DOG’S SOUP. Rain water.

DOWDY. A coarse, vulgar-looking woman.

DOXIES. She beggars, wenches, whores.

DRAB. A nasty, sluttish whore.

DUB LAY. Robbing houses by picking the locks.

DUB THE JIGGER. Open the door.

DUB O’ TH’ HICK. A lick on the head.

DUCK LEGS. Short legs.

DUGS. A woman’s breasts.

DUNAKER. A stealer of cows and calves.

DUSTMAN. A dead man: your father is a dustman.

EVIL. A halter. Also a wife.

EXECUTION DAY. Washing day.

FAMILY MAN. A thief or receiver of stolen goods.

FANCY MAN. A man kept by a lady for secret services.

FAT CULL. A rich fellow.


FAYTORS, or FATORS. Fortune tellers.

FAWNEY. A ring.

FEN. A bawd, or common prostitute.

FIZZLE. An escape backward.

FLAT COCK. A female.

FOOT PADS, or LOW PADS. Rogues who rob on foot.

FRIGATE. A well-rigged frigate; a well-dressed wench.

FUSSOCK. A lazy fat woman. An old fussock; a frowsy old woman.

FUSTY LUGGS. A beastly, sluttish woman.

GABBY. A foolish fellow.

GAWKEY. A tall, thin, awkward young man or woman.


GENTRY COVE. A gentleman.

GENTRY MORT. A gentlewoman.

GO BY THE GROUND. A little short person, man or woman.

GOLLUMPUS. A large, clumsy fellow.

GOOSECAP. A silly fellow or woman.

GORGER. A gentleman. A well dressed man. Mung kiddey. Mung the gorger; beg child beg, of the gentleman.

GULL. A simple credulous fellow, easily cheated.

GUNPOWDER. An old Woman.

HALF SEAS OVER. Almost drunk.

HARD AT HIS A-SE. Close after him.

HARK-YE-ING. Whispering on one side to borrow money.

HENPECKED. A husband governed by his wife, is said to be henpecked.

HEN. A woman. A cock and hen club; a club composed of men and women.

HORN WORK. Cuckold-making.

HORSE BUSS. A kiss with a loud smack; also a bite.

HORSE GODMOTHER. A large masculine woman, a gentlemanlike kind of a lady.

HORSE’S MEAL. A meal without drinking.

JEW. A tradesman who has no faith, i.e. will not give credit.

JINGLE BRAINS. A wild, thoughtless, rattling fellow.

JOB. Any robbery. To do a job; to commit some kind of robbery.

IRISH BEAUTY. A woman with two black eyes.

KIDDEYS. Young thieves.

LACED MUTTON. A prostitute.

LADYBIRDS. Light or lewd women.

LAND PIRATES. Highwaymen.

LIGHT HOUSE. A man with a red fiery nose.

LONG SHANKS. A long-legged person.

LOOBY. An awkward, ignorant fellow.

LULLY TRIGGERS. Thieves who steal wet linen.

MAWKES. A vulgar slattern.



MAN OF THE WORLD. A knowing man.

MILLER. A murderer.

MOLL. A whore.

MOON MEN. Gypsies.

NANNY HOUSE. A brothel.

NATTY LADS. Young thieves or pickpockets.

NATURAL. A mistress, a child; also an idiot. A natural son or daughter; a love or merry-begotten child, a bastard.

NOZZLE. The nose of a man or woman.


NUMBSCULL. A stupid fellow.

NUMMS. A sham collar, to be worn over a dirty shirt.

PAW PAW TRICKS. Naughty tricks: an expression used by nurses, &c. to children.

PEGO. The penis of man or beast.

PELL-MELL. Tumultuously, helter skelter, jumbled together.

PHARAOH. Strong malt liquor.

PIPER. A broken winded horse.

PISS MAKER. A great drinker, one much given to liquor.

PLUG TAIL. A man’s penis.

PLUMB. An hundred thousand pounds.

POGY. Drunk.

PRIGGING. Riding; also lying with a woman.

PRIGSTAR. A rival in love.

PUFF GUTS. A fat man.

PUNK. A whore; also a soldier’s trull.

QUEAN. A slut, or worthless woman, a strumpet.

RAG. A farthing.

RANK RIDER. A highwayman.

RAT. A drunken man or woman taken up by the watch, and confined in the, watch-house.

RATTLING MUMPERS. Beggars who ply coaches.

REP. A woman of reputation.


SAMMY. Foolish. Silly.

SANDY PATE. A red haired man or woman.

SAPSCULL. A simple fellow. Sappy; foolish.

SCAB. A worthless man or woman.

SCREW JAWS. A wry-mouthed man or woman.

SCROPE. A farthing.

SHOP. A prison. Shopped; confined, imprisoned.

SMABBLED, or SNABBLED. Killed in battle.

THOROUGH-GOOD-NATURED WENCH. One who being asked to sit down, will lie down.

THOROUGH GO NIMBLE. A looseness, a violent purging.

TICKLE TAIL. A rod, or schoolmaster. A man’s penis.

TRADESMEN. Thieves. Clever tradesmen; good thieves.

VAMPER. Stockings.

WATER SNEAKSMAN. A man who steals from ships or craft on the river.

WATERPAD. One that robs ships in the river Thames.

WHAPPER. A large man or woman.

WHEELBAND IN THE NICK. Regular drinking over the left thumb.

WHISKER. A great lie.

WHORE PIPE. The penis.

WIBBLE. Bad drink.

WRY NECK DAY. Hanging day.

YEA AND NAY MAN. A quaker, a simple fellow, one who
can only answer yes, or no.

YOKED. Married.