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King of the Beggars - APPENDIX


A Dictionary of the Cant Language.

            As the Language of the Community of Gypsies is very expressive, and different from all others, we think we shall gratify the curious by publishing a specimen of it.

ABRAM, naked, without clothes, or scarce enough to cover the nakedness.

Ambi-dexter, one that goes snacks in gaming with both parties; also a lawyer that takes fees of a plaintiff and defendant at once.

Alel-Wackets, blows given on the palm of the hand with a twisted handkerchief, instead of a ferula; a jocular punishment among seamen, who sometimes play at cards for wackets, the loser suffering as many strokes as he has lost games.

Abram Cove, among thieves signifies a naked or poor man; also a lusty strong rogue.

Adam-Tiler, a pickpocket's associate, who receives the stolen goods.

Air and Exercise. He has had air and exercise, i.e., has been whipped at the cart's tail; or, as it is generally expressed, at the cart's a—se.

Alls, the Five Alls is a country sign, representing five human figures, each having a motto under him. The first is a king in his regalia; his motto, I govern all: the second a bishop in his pontificals; motto, I pray for all: third, a lawyer in his gown; motto, I plead for all: fourth, a soldier in his regimentals, fully accoutred; with the motto, I fight for all: and the fifth, a poor countryman with his scythe and rake; motto, I pay for all.

Amen Curler, a parish clerk.

Anodyne Necklace, a halter.

Arch Rogue, or Dimber Damber Upright Man, the chief of a gang of Gypsies.

Arch Dell, or Arch Doxy, signifies the same in rank among the female canters or Gypsies.

Ard, hot.

Autem Mort, a married woman; also a female beggar with several children hired or borrowed to excite charity.

Autem, a church; also married.

Autem bawler, a preacher, or parson of any sect.

Autem cacklers or Autem prick-ears, dissenters of whatever denomination.

Autem divers, church pickpockets; but often used for churchwardens, overseers of the poor, sides-men, and others, who manage the poor's money.

Autem jet, a parson.

Babes in the Wood, criminals in the stocks.

Back'd, dead.

Badge Coves, parish pensioners.

Balsam, money.

Bam, a jocular imposition, the same as humbug.

Bandog, a bailiff, or his followers; a sergeant, or his yeomen; also a fierce mastiff.

Bandero, a widow's mourning peak; also a musical instrument.

Baptised, or Christened, rum, brandy, or any other spirits that have been lowered with water.

Barker, a salesman's servant that walks before the shop, and cries, coats, gowns, &c., what d'ye buy?

Barking irons, pistols, from their explosion resembling the barking of a dog.

Barnacles, a good job, or a snack easily got; also, the irons worn by felons in gaols.

Barrel Fever, he died of the barrel fever; he killed himself by drinking.

Battner, an ox.

Bawbee, a halfpenny.

Baudrans, a cat.

Beak, a justice of peace, or magistrate.

Beard splitter, a whoremaster, or a beadle.

Beater cases, boots.

Bellows, the lungs.

Belly cheat, an apron.

Bill of sale, a widow's weeds.

Bing, to go, bing avast; get you gone. Binged avast in a darkmans; stole away in the night. Bing we to Rumville?; shall we go to London?

Bingo, brandy, or other spirituous liquor.

Bingo boy, a dram drinker.

Bingo mort, a female dram drinker.

Bingawaste, get you hence.

Black fly, the greatest drawback on the farmer is the black fly, i.e. the parson.

Bleating rig, sheep-stealing.

Blind harpers, beggars counterfeiting blindness, playing on fiddles, &c.

Black box, a lawyer.

Black Indies, Newcastle, from whence the coals are brought.

Black spy, the devil.

Blind cheek, the breech.

Blowen, a mistress, also a whore.

Bluffer, a host, innkeeper, or victualler.

Boarding school, Bridewell, Newgate, or any other prison, or house of correction.

Bob, a shoplifter's assistant, or one that receives and carries off stolen goods. All is bob, all is safe.

Bob ken, or a Brownmanken, a good or well furnished house.

Bone, to apprehend, seize, or arrest.

Bone box, the mouth. Shut your bone-box, shut your mouth.

Bone Darkmans, a good night.

Bone setter, a hard-trotting horse.

Booby hutch, a one-horse chaise, noddy, buggy, or leathern bottle.

Borde, a shilling.

Bouncing cheat, a bottle.

Bracket face, ugly, ill-favoured.

Buck's face, a cuckold.

Bufe, a dog.

Bull's eye, a crown, or five shilling piece.

Bung, a purse, pocket, or fob.

Bur, a hanger-on, a dependant.

Bum bailiff, a sheriff's officer who arrests debtors; so called perhaps from following his prey, and being at their bums, or as the vulgar phrase is, hard at their a—ses. Blackstone says it is a corruption of bound bailiff, from their being obliged to give bond for their good behaviour.

Bum brusher, a schoolmaster.

Bus-napper, a constable.

Bus-napper's kenchin, a watchman.

Bye blow, a bastard.

Calle, a cloak or gown.

Cank, dumb.

Canniken, the plague.

Cap, to swear.

Captain Queernabs, a fellow in poor clothes or shabby.

Caravan, a good round sum of money about a man.

Case, a house, shop, or warehouse.

Caster, a cloak.

Calfskin fiddle, a drum. To smack calfskin; to kiss the book in taking the oath. It is held by the St. Giles's casuists, that by kissing one's own thumb instead of smacking calfskin, the guilt of taking a false oath is avoided.

Canticle, a parish clerk.

Canting, preaching with a whining affected tone, perhaps a corruption of chaunting; some derive it from Andrew Cant, a famous Scotch preacher, who used that whining manner of expression. Also, a kind of gibberish used by thieves and Gypsies, called, likewise, pedlar's French, the slang, &c. &c..

Catamaran, an old scraggy woman; from a kind of float, made of spars and yards lashed together, for saving shipwrecked persons.

Catch Club, a member of the catch club; a bum bailiff.

Chanticleer, a cock.

Charactered, or Lettered, burnt in the hand. They have palmed the character upon him, they have burned him in the hand.

Charm, a picklock.

Chates, the gallows.

Chats, lice.

Chanter culls, grub-street writers, who compose songs, carols, &c. for ballad singers.

Cherubims, peevish children, because cherubim and seraphim continually do cry.

Chife, a knife, file, or saw.

Chosen Pells, highwaymen who rob in pairs, in the streets and squares of London; to prevent being followed by the sound of their horses' shoes on the stones, they shoe them with leather.

Chuck farthing, a parish clerk.

Clank napper, a silver tankard.

Clickman Toad, a watch; also, an appellation for a West-countryman, said to have arisen from the following—a Westcountry-man, who had never seen a watch, found one on a heath near Pool, which, by the motion of the hand, and the noise of the wheels, he concluded to be a living creature of the toad kind; and, from its clicking, he named it a clickman toad.

Clowes, rogues.

Cloy, thief, robber, &c.

Cloyes, thieves, robbers, &c.

Cly, money; also, a pocket. He has filed a cly; he has picked a pocket.

Cold burning, a punishment inflicted by private soldiers, on their comrades, for any trifling offences of their mess laws; it is administered in the following manner—the prisoner is set against the wall, with the arm which is to be burned tied as high above his head as possible; the executioner then ascends a stool, and having a bottle of cold water, pours it slowly down the sleeve of the delinquent, patting him, and leading the water gently down his body, till it runs out at the bottom of his trowsers—this is repeated to the other arm, if he is sentenced to be burned in both.

Cloak, a silver tankard.

Coach wheel, or a fore coach wheel, half-a-crown; a hind coach wheel, a crown.

Cobblecotter, a turnkey.

Collar day, execution day.

Colquarron, a man's neck.

Comefa, a shirt, or shift.

Commission, a shirt.

Comfortable impudence, a wife.

Cooler, a woman.

Costard, the head.

Court card, a gay fluttering coxcomb.

Cow's baby, a calf.

Cow-handed, awkward, not dextrous.

Crab shells, shoes.

Cramp words, sentence of death passed on a criminal by a judge:—he has just undergone the cramp word; sentence has just been passed upon him.

Crew, a knot or gang: the canting crew are thus divided into twenty-three orders:—


1. Rufflers.

2. Upright Men.

3. Hookers, or Anglers.

4. Rogues.

5. Wild Rogues.

6. Priggers or Prancers.

7. Pailliardes.

8. Fraters.

9. Jarkmen, or Patricoes.

10. Fresh Water Mariners or Whip Jackets.

11. Drummerers.

12. Drunken Tinkers.

13. Swaddlers, or Pedlars.

14. Abrams.


1. Demanders for Glimmer or Fire.

2. Bawdy Baskets.

3. Morts.

4. Autem Morts.

5. Walking Morts.

6. Doxies.

7. Delles.

8. Kinchin Morts.

9. Kinching Coes.

Crackmans, hedges.

Crook, sixpence.

Croker, a groat, or fourpence.

Croppen, the tail of anything.

Cucumbers, tailors.

Culp, a kick, or blow.

Cup hot, drunk.

Cursitors, broken pettifogging attorneys, or Newgate solicitors.

Cussin, a man.

Darbies, fetters.

Darby, ready money.

Dace, twopence;—tip me a dace; lend me twopence.

Dag, a gun.

Damber, or Dimber, a rascal.

Dancers, stairs.

Darkmans, night.

Dash, a tavern drawer.

Dawbe, a bribe or reward for secret service.

Decus, a crown.

Degen, a sword.

Diddle, gin.

Diggers, spurs.

Dimber Damber, a top-man among the canting crew; also the chief rogue of the gang, or the completest cheat.

Dimbermort, a pretty wench.

Doash, a cloak.

Dobin rig, stealing ribbons from haberdashers early in the morning, or late at night, generally practised by women in the disguise of maid-servants,

Doctor, milk and water, with a little rum and some nutmeg; also the name of a composition used by distillers, to make spirits appear stronger than they really are.

Doctors, loaded dice that will run but two or three chances—they put the doctors upon him; they cheated him with loaded dice.

Dodsey, a woman; perhaps a corruption of Doxey.

Drumbelow, a dull fellow.

Dunaker, a stealer of cows and calves.

Eriffs, rogues just initiated, and beginning to practise.

Eternity box, a coffin.

Facer, a bumper without lip room.

Families, rings.

Famms, hands.

Fastener, a warrant.

Fawney, a ring.

Feeder, a spoon:—to nab the feeder; to steal a spoon.

Fermerdy beggars, all those who have not the sham sores or clymes.

Ferret, a pawnbroker or tradesman, that sells goods to young spendthrifts upon trust, at excessive rates, and then hunts them without mercy, and often throws them into jail, where they perish for their debt.

Fidlam Ben, general thieves; called also St. Peter's sons, having every finger a fish-hook.

Flag, a groat.

Flash, a periwig.

Flaybottomist, a bum-brasher, or schoolmaster.

Flicking, to cut, cutting; as flick me some panea and cassan, cut me some bread and cheese.

Flicker, a drinking-glass.

Flute, the recorder of London, or any other town.

Flyers, shoes or boots.

Fogus, tobacco: tip me a gage of fogus; give me a pipe of tobacco.

Frummagemmed, choked, strangled, or hanged.

Froglanders, Dutchmen.

Furmen, aldermen.

Gan, a mouth.

Gans, the lips.

Gage, a pot, or pipe.

George, a half-crown piece. Yellow George, a guinea. Brown George, an ammunition loaf.

Gem, a fire.

Gentry cove, a gentleman.

Gibberish, the cant language of thieves and Gypsies, called pedlars's French, St. Giles's Greek, and the Flash tongue: also the mystic language of Geber, used by chemists. Gibberish likewise means a sort of disguised language, formed by inserting any consonant between each syllable of an English word; in which case it is called the gibberish of the letter inserted; if f, it is the f gibberish; if g, the g gibberish; as in the sentence, How do you do? Howg dog youg dog?

Gigg, a nose: snitchell his gigg; fillip his nose: grunter's gigg; a hog's snout. Gigg is also a high one-horse chaise.

Gypsies, a set of wandering vagrants found in the country. When a fresh recruit is admitted into this fraternity, he is to take the following oath, administered by the principal maunder, after going through the annexed forms:—

First, a new name is given him, by which he is ever after to be called; then standing up in the middle of the assembly, and directing his face to the dimber damber, or principal man of the gang, he repeats the following oath, which is dictated to him by some experienced member of the fraternity:

I, Crank Cuffin, do swear to be a true brother, and that I will in all things obey the commands of the great tawney prince, and keep his council, and not divulge the secrets of my brethren.

I will never leave nor forsake the company, but observe and keep all the times of appointment, either by day or night in every place whatever.

I will not teach anyone to cant, nor will I disclose any of our mysteries to them.

I will take my prince's part against all that shall oppose him, or any of us, according to the utmost of my ability: nor will I suffer him, or any one belonging to us, to be abused by any strange abrams, rufflers, hookers, pailliards, swaddlers, Irish toyles, swigmen, whip jacks, jarkmen, bawdy baskets, domerars, clapper dogeons, patricoes, or curtals; but will defend him or them, as much as I can, against all other outliers whatever. I will not conceal aught I win out of libkins, or from the ruffmans, but I will preserve it for the use of the company. Lastly, I will cleave to my doxy-wap stiffly, and will bring her duds, margery praters, goblers, grunting cheats, or tibs of the buttery, or any thing else I can come at, as winnings for her wappings.

Gigger, a door.

Globe, pewter.

Glue pot, a parson; from joining men and women together in matrimony.

Glaziers, eyes.

Glim, a dark lantern.

Glimfenders, hand-irons.

Glimstick, a candlestick.

Gaoler's coach, a hurdle.

Goose Riding: a goose, whose neck is greased, being suspended by the legs to a cord tied to two trees or high posts, a number of men on horseback, riding full speed, attempt to pull off the head; which if they effect, the goose is their prize. This has been practised in Derbyshire within the memory of persons now living.

Grannan gold, old hoarded coin.

Green bag, a lawyer.

Grig, a farthing.

Gropers, blind men.

Gutter-lane, the throat.

Hammer, a great lie, a rapper.

Halberhead, a silly foolish fellow.

Half nab, at a venture, unsight, unseen, hit or miss.

Half-bord, sixpence.

Hams, breeches.

Hamlet, a high constable.

Hanktel, a silly fellow, a mere cod's-head.

Hansan kelder, a jack in the box, the child in the womb, or a health to it.

Harman, a constable.

Harmans, the stocks.

Harmanbeck, a beadle.

Hawk, a sharper.

Hazel gold, to beat anyone with a hazel stick, or plant.

Hearingcherts, ears.

Heaver, the breast.

Hell, the place where the tailors lay up their cabbage or remnants, which are sometimes very large.

Hempen widow, one whose husband was hanged.

Henfright, those commanders and officers who are absolutely swayed by their wives.

High tide, when the pocket is full of money.

Hocus, disguised in liquor, drunk.

Hodmendods, snails in their shells.

Hoggrubber, a close-fisted, narrow-minded, sneaking fellow.

Hop-merchant, a dancing-master.

Hum-box, a pulpit.

Humpty-dumpty, ale boiled with brandy.

Hums, persons at church.

Huskylour, a job, a guinea.

Iron doublet, a parson.

Itchland, Scotland.

Jackrum, a licence.

Jack Adams, a fool.

Jack-a-dandy, a little insignificant fellow.

Jack in a box, a sharper or cheat.

Jack at a pinch, a poor hackney parson.

Jacobites, sham, or collar shirts.

Jark, a seal.

Jet, a lawyer

Ken, a house.

Kicks, breeches.

Kill devil, rum.

Kinchin, a little child.

King's pictures, money of any description.

Laced mutton, a woman.

Lag, last.

Lage, water.

Lage duds, a buck of clothes.

Lambskin men, the judges of several courts.

Lansprisado, he that comes into company with only two-pence in his pocket.

Lantern. A dark lantern, the servant or agent that receives the bribe at court.

Libben, a private dwelling-house.

Libbege, a bed.

Lifter, a crutch.

Lightmans, the day, or day-break.

Line of the old author, a dram of brandy.

Little Barbary, Wapping.

Lop'd, run away; he lop'd up the dancers, he whipped up the dancers.

Loge, a watch.

Louse-trap, a comb.

Low-tide, when there's no money in a man's pocket.

Lushy cove, a drunken man.

Mannikin, a dwarf or diminutive fellow.

Maunders, beggars.

Maundering breath, scolding.

Meggs, guineas.

Meet, to spend money.

Millclapper, a woman's tongue.

Mist, a contraction of commission, signifying a shirt, smock or sheet.

Mishtopper, a coat or petticoat.

Moabites, sergeants, bailiffs, and their crew.

Moon-curser, a link-boy.

Mower, a cow.

Muck, money, wealth.

Muttonmonger, a lover of women.

Mutton in long coats, women; a leg of mutton in a silk stocking, a woman's leg.

Nab, a hat, cap, or head; also a coxcomb.

Ne'er a face but his own, not a penny in his pocket.

Nim gimmer, a doctor, a surgeon, an apothecary.

Nubbing cheat, the gallows.

Nut-crackers, a pillory.

Oak, a rich man of good substance and credit.

Ogles, eyes.

Old flick a knowing fellow.

One in ten, a parson.

Panum, bread.

Panter, a heart.

Pantler, a butler.

Peeper, a looking-glass.

Peter, a portmanteau, or cloak-bag.

Peg tandrums, as, gone to peg tandrums, dead.

Penance boards, a pillory.

Penthouse nab, a very broad-brimmed hat.

Periwinkle, a peruke or wig.

Philistines, sergeants, bailiffs, and their crew.

Porker, a sword.

Property, a mere tool or implement to serve a turn; a cat's foot.

Quail pipe, a woman's tongue.

Queer cuffin, a justice of peace, also, a churl.

Rabbit suckers, young spendthrifts, taking goods on tick of pawnbrokers or tallymen, at excessive rates.

Rattling cove, a coachman.

Red rag, a tongue; your red rag will never lie still, your tongue will never be quiet.

Regraters, forestallers in markets.

Ribben, money.

Rotan, a coach, or wagon, or anything that runs upon wheels, but principally a cart.

Royster, a rude roaring fellow.

Ruffin, the devil.

Ruffmans, the woods or bushes.

Rumbeck, a justice of peace.

Rumbo, a prison or gaol.

Rumboozling welts, bunches of grapes.

Rum clank, a large silver tankard.

Rum degen, a silver-hilted or inlaid sword.

Rumdropper, a vintner.

School butter, a whipping.

Sconce, to run in debt, to cheat.

Seeds, poor, moneyless, exhausted.

Setters, or setting-dogs, they that draw in bubbles for old gamesters to rook; also a sergeant's yeoman, or bailiff's follower; also an excise-officer.

Sharper's tools, false dice.

Shot, clapped or poxed.

Shove the tumbler, whipped at the cart's tail.

Skin-flint, a griping, sharping, close clown; also, the same as flat.

Smear, a painter, or plasterer.

Smeller, a nose.

Smelling cheat, a nosegay; also an orchard, a garden.

Smiter, an arm.

Smug, a blacksmith, also neat and spruce.

Smite, to wipe or slap.

Snitch, to eye or see anybody; the cub snitches, the man eyes or sees you.

Snout, a hogshead.

Sack, a pocket.

Son of prattlement, a lawyer.

Soul driver, a parson.

South-sea mountain, geneva.

Sow's baby, a pig.

Spanish money, fair words and compliments.

Spanks, money, gold or silver.

Specked wiper, a coloured handkerchief.

Spiritual flesh-broker, a parson.

Split figs, a grocer.

Splitter of causes, a lawyer.

Spoil pudding, a parson who makes his morning sermon too long.

Squirrish, foolish.

Stamps, legs.

Stampers, shoes, or carriers.

Stick flams, a pair of gloves.

Stoter, a heavy blow.

Strommel, straw or hair.

Strum, a periwig, Rum strum, a long wig.

Stubble it, hold your tongue.

Suit and cloak, good store of brandy, or agreeable liquor.

Supouch, a hostess or landlady.

Swag, a shop. Rum Swag, full of riches.

Tagmans, a gown or cloak.

Tears of the tankard, drops of good liquor that falls aside.

Thrums, threepence.

Tip of the buttery, a goose.

Tip, to give or lend.

Top diver, a lover of women.

Topping cheat, the gallows.

Topping cove, the hangman.

Topt, to go out sharp, to be upon one's guard.

To twig, to disengage, to sunder, to snap, break off.

To twig the darbies, to knock off the irons.

Track, to go.

Trees, wins threepence.

Trib, a prison.

Trine, to hang, also Tyburn.

Troch, a drunkard.

Trooper, a half-crown.

Trundles, peas.

Tumbler, a cart.

Turkey merchant, driver of turkeys.

Vampers, stockings.

Velvet, a tongue.

To tip the velvet, to tongue a woman.

Vinegar, a cloak.

Wattles, ears.

Whack, a share.

Whids, words.

Whipshire, Yorkshire.

Whoball, a milkmaid.

Whisker, a great lie.

White wool, silver.

Whibble, sad drink.

Whiddle, to tell or discover: he whiddles, he peaches: he whiddles the whole scrap, he discovers all he knows: the cull whiddled because they would not tip him a snack, the fellow peached because they would not give him a share: they whiddle beef and we must brush, they cry out thieves and we must make off.

Whinyard, a sword.

Whip off, to run away, to drink off greedily, to snatch. He whipped away from home, went to the alehouse, where he whipped off a full tankard, and coming back whipped off a fellow's hat from his head.

White swelling, a woman big with child is said to have a white swelling.

Witcher, a silver bowl.

Womblety cropt, the indisposition of a drunkard after a debauch in wine or other liquors.

Wooden Ruff, a pillory; he wore the wooden ruff, he stood in the pillory.

Word-pecker, one that plays with words, a punster.

Yam, to eat heartily, to stuff lustily.

Yarmouth-capon, a red herring.

Yarum, milk, or food made of milk.

Yellow George, a guinea.

Yelper, a town-crier; also one subject to complain or make pitiful lamentations of trifling incidents.

Znees, frost, or frozen.

Zneesy weather, frosty weather.