Potty mouths of the 17th century

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

Cut: Drunk

Deep Cut: very Drunk

Night-walker: a Bell-man; also a Light Woman, a Thief, a Rogue

Bog-houses: Privies

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.

Punch-houses: Bawdy-houses

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

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