1811 – Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – H

On April 20, 2013 by Lazer Horse

1811 - 19th Century Boxers Topless Sketch

Here’s installment number six in my labour of love: the slow and steady trawl through the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by the prolific Captain Grose. Grose was an English antiquary, draughtsman, and lexicographer and authored more than 15 books. But my favourite (and the only one I’m reading) has to be this little dictionary of vulgar terms of the time. I’ve never read a dictionary cover to cover before and it’s quite time consuming, unsurprisingly. But I’m sure you don’t want to hear my winging, my main aim here is to try and reintroduce some olden day terms. The OED grows yearly with new words and phrases being born all the time, but what’s wrong with a bit of recycling? So here’s my favourite entries from the H section…

“HABERDASHER OF PRONOUNS: A schoolmaster, or usher.”

“HAIR SPLITTER: A man’s yard.”

“HALF SEAS OVER: Almost drunk.”

“HAT: Old hat; a woman’s privities: because frequently felt.”

“HEARTY CHOAK: He will have a hearty choak and caper sauce for breakfast; i.e. he will be hanged.”

“HOBBLEDYGEE: A pace between a walk and a run, a dog-trot.”

“HODDY DODDY, ALL A-SE AND NO BODY: A short clumsy person, either male or female.”

“HOITY-TOITY: A hoity-toity wench; a giddy, thoughtless, romping girl.”

“HOOP: To run the hoop; an ancient marine custom. Four or more boys having their left hands tied fast to an iron hoop, and each of them a rope, called a nettle, in their right, being naked to the waist, wait the signal to begin: this being made by a stroke with a cat of nine tails, given by the boatswain to one of the boys, he strikes the boy before him, and every one does the same: at first the blows are but gently administered; but each irritated by the strokes from the boy behind him, at length lays it on in earnest. This was anciently practised when a ship was wind-bound.”

“HOP-O-MY-THUMB: A diminutive person, man or woman. She was such a-hop-o-my thumb, that a pigeon, sitting on her shoulder, might pick a pea out of her a-se.”

“HOT STOMACH: He has so hot a stomach, that he burns all the clothes off his back; said of one who pawns his clothes to purchase liquor”

“HUM DURGEON: An imaginary illness. He has got the humdurgeon, the thickest part of his thigh is nearest his arse; i.e. nothing ails him except low spirits.”

“HYP, or HIP: A mode of calling to one passing by. Hip. Michael, your head’s on fire; a piece of vulgar wit to a red haired man.”

There you go, my little hoddy doddy, don’t let that pigeon pick a pea out of your arse now will you? See you next time….

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