Thieves’ Cant.

I don’t normally post about commercial websites, whether they’re promoting books or other products, but Pascal Bonenfant’s site for his book Cant: A Gentleman’s Guide slipped past my defenses with a sneaky added feature:

I have used three sources: Collection of Canting Words from Nathan Bailey’s 1737 The New Canting Dictionary and the 1811 Lexicon Balatronicum based on Francis Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue and the glossary from the Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux, published in 1819. […] I have put both dictionaries into a Cant Database Search facility. This has the complete (or nearly complete) contents of both Bailey and The Lexicon but a lot of the 1811 ones will appear in the “Uncategorised” category.

It’s loads of fun. If you put in “cant,” for example, you get a dozen entries ranging from CANT OF DOBBIN ‘a roll of riband’ to RANTUM SCANTUM ‘making the beast with two backs.’ Thanks, Paul!


  1. Can’t anyone leave a comment on this?

  2. Thanks, the post was feeling forlorn and neglected!

  3. Who is Paul?

  4. A frequent commenter here who sends me links from time to time.

  5. (I’m another Paul.) I didn’t comment because I didn’t have anything I thought useful or interesting to say. That said, I do appreciate Stephen Hart’s efforts in creating the book and the database. I also wrote a few sentences about them in Hebrew and submitted same to Ruvik Rosenthal’s Language Arena, where I have been granted a weekly ‘corner.’ Ruvik may or may not use it, and in any case, neither site is commercial and there is scarcely any reader overlap.

  6. Walker Casamayor says

    It takes time and practice to learn the extensive vocabulary and the process of forming sentences. The advanced form of the Thieves’ Cant is used among Thieve’s Guild high officials.

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