The first dictionary of slang, out of print for 300 years, is being published by the Bodleian Library from a rare copy unearthed in its collections.
Originally entitled A New Dictionary of Terms, Ancient and Modern, of the Canting Crew, its aim was to educate the polite London classes in ‘canting’ – the language of thieves and ruffians – should they be unlucky enough to wander into the ‘wrong’ parts of town.
With over 4,000 entries, the dictionary contains many words which are now part of everyday parlance, such as ‘Chitchat’ and ‘Eyesore’ as well as a great many which have become obsolete, such as the delightful ‘Dandyprat’ and ‘Fizzle’. […]
Playfully highlighting similarities and contrasts between words, B.E. [the anonymous author] includes entries ranging from rogues’ cant, through terms used by sailors, labourers, and those in domestic culture, to words and phrases used by the upper classes.
The Sample Entries include Arsworm “a little diminutive Fellow,” Buffenapper “a Dog-stealer, that Trades in Setters, Hounds, Spaniels, Lap, and all sorts of Dogs, Selling them at a round Rate, and himself or Partner Stealing them away the first opportunity,” and Grumbletonians “Malecontents, out of Humour with the Government, for want of a Place, or having lost one.” Thanks for the link, AJP!