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’.
Here are some examples to whet your appetite:
Cackling-farts, c. Eggs.
Farting-crackers, c. Breeches.
Grumbletonians, Malecontents, out of Humour with the Government, for want of a Place, or having lost one.
Mutton-in-long-coats, Women. A Leg of Mutton in a Silk-Stocking, a Woman’s Leg.
You can view the definitions of Arsworm, Bumfodder, Dandyprat, Humptey-Dumptey, and many more at the Bodleian Library link.
Link, via The Centered Librarian.