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10 March 2013

19th Century Vernacular

These terms, and quite a few more, can be found on The Art of Manliness.

Bunch Of Fives. The fist. Pugilistic.
Cat-heads. A woman’s breasts. Sea phrase.
Cut. To renounce acquaintance with any one is to cut him. There are several species of the CUT. Such as the cut direct, the cut indirect, the cut sublime, the cut infernal, etc. The cut direct is to start across the street, at the approach of the obnoxious person, in order to avoid him. The cut indirect is to look another way, and pass without appearing to observe him. The cut sublime is to admire the top of King’s College Chapel, or the beauty of the passing clouds, till he is cut of sight. The cut infernal is to analyze the arrangement of your shoe-strings, for the same purpose.
Fizzing. First-rate, very good, excellent; synonymous with “stunning.”
Gentleman of Four Outs. When a vulgar, blustering fellow asserts that he is a gentleman, the retort generally is, ” Yes, a Gentleman Of Four Outs”—that is, without wit, without money, without credit, and without manners.
Hugger-mugger. Underhand, sneaking. Also, “in a state of Hugger- Mugger” means to be muddled.
Job’s Turkey. “As poor as Job’s Turkey,” as thin and as badly fed as that ill-conditioned and imaginary bird.
Keep a Pig. An Oxford University phrase, which means to have a lodger.
Lay down the knife and fork. To die. Compare Pegging-out, Hopping The Twig, and similar flippancies.
Nose in the Manger. To put one’s nose in the manger, to sit down to eat. To “put on the nose-bag” is to eat hurriedly, or to eat while continuing at work.
O’clock. “Like One O’clock,” a favorite comparison with the lower orders, implying briskness; otherwise “like winkin’.” “To know what’s O’clock” is to be wide-awake, sharp, and experienced.
Saucebox. A pert young person, in low life also signifies the mouth.
Saw Your Timber. “Be off!” equivalent to “cut your stick.” Occasionally varied, with mock refinement, to “amputate your mahogany.”
Scandal-water. Tea; from old maids’ tea-parties being generally a focus for scandal.

1 comment:

Elderac said...

Somewhat off topic, but I notice you have Martian Marines on your table for painting. I am curious as to what figures you are using.