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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Rude, Crude, and Socially Unacceptable

Yesterday, I was asked to research the etymology of a particular four-letter word for a friend. The Reference Department actually has quite a few books dealing with this subject: Modern American Slang, The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang, The Slang of Sin, etc... It's always such fun to look at these that I usually end up spending entirely too much time flipping through the interesting entries. Here are a few from The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue that tickled my funny bone:
Scandal Broth - Tea

Fice, or Foyce - A small windy escape backwards, more obvious to the nose than ears; frequently by old ladies charged on their lap-dogs.

Nicknackatory - A toy shop

Gutfoundered - Exceedingly hungry

Huckle my Buff - Beer, egg, and brandy, made hot

Nit Squeeger, i.e., Squeezer - A hair-dresser

Randle - A set of nonsensical verses, repeated in Ireland by schoolboys, and young people, who have been guilty of breaking the wind backwards before any of their companions; if they neglect this apology, they are liable to certain kicks, pinches, and fillips, which are accompanied with divers admonitory couplets.

Lawful Blanket - A wife

By the way, the subtitle of this outstanding book is A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence. Doesn't that just make you want to swoon with delight?

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