I’ve come across a wonderful book entitled The First English Dictionary of Slang, 1699 (Bodleian Library, 2010). This book was originally written by a man named B.E. Gent in 1699 under the title of A New Dictionary of Terms, Ancient and Modern, of the Canting Crew, and its purpose was to educate the more refined London classes as to the language of thieves and ruffians—called ‘canting’. The book also contains common slang used by sailors, soldiers, laborers, and lower domestic households.
Ready for a few of these words and phrases? Here we go, and I’ve written them exactly as they are in the book:
Handy Blows: Fisty-cuffs
Puke: to Spue
Fresh-man, a Novice, in the University
Baggage / Crack: a Whore or Slut
Deep Cut: very Drunk
Night-walker: a Bell-man; also a Light Woman, a Thief, a Rogue
Nooz’d, or caught in a Nooze: married; also Hanged
Hart: the Sixth year, A Stag, the fifth Year. A Staggard, the fourth. A Brock the third. A Knobber, the second.
Hind Calf, or Calf, the First
Rayn-deer: a Beast like a Hart, but has his Head fuller of Antlers.
Rot-gut: very small or thin Beer
Scab: a sorry Wench, or Scoundril-Fellow
Slubber-degullion: a slovenly, dirty, nasty Fellow
Stubble-it: hold your Tongue
Bil-boa / Degen: a Sword
Bagonet or Bionet: a Dagger
Dag: a Gun
Twitter: to Laugh much with little Noise; also to Tremble
Vain-glorious, or Ostentatious Man: one that Pisses more than he Drinks
Clack: a Woman’s Tongue
Cull: a Man, a Fop, a Rogue; Fool or Silly Creature
Dells: young bucksome Wenches, ripe and prone to Venery, but have not lost their virginity, which the upright man pretends to, and seizes: Then she is free for any off the Fraternity; also a common Strumpet
Darkmans: The night
Dock: to lie with a Woman. The Cull Dockt the Dell in the Darkmans, the rogue lay with a Wench all night.
Oliver’s Skull: a Chamber-pot
Totty-headed: Giddy-headed, Hare-brain’d
Nug: A Word of Love, as, my Dear Nug, my Dear Love
Antidote: a very homely Woman, also a medicine against Poyson