Monday, November 29, 2010


Slang is a poor man’s poetry. - John Moore

Thanks to my sister I have to admit I started my wish list for Santa already. She emailed me an article from the Wall Street Journal about The First English Dictionary of Slang, 1699, and now I feel I must own the actual book.

I’m aware that each generation develops their own slang. I wrote a blog about modern slang phrases added to the Urban Dictionary. I don’t write historical fiction. Working any of the words or phrases into a contemporary novel would be challenging. However, none of these logical things dampen my desire to add it to my collection of reference books.

Terms Ancient and Modern of the Canting Crew was uncovered and recently republished under the new name. Canting, by the way, was the language of thieves and ruffians. The book was to educate the upper London classes in case they found themselves in the ‘wrong’ parts of town. Or perhaps, so that those rich enough to have servants could understand them. The dictionary also includes military slang and colloquialisms.

A few of the words you’ll find are:

Anglers - Cheats, petty Thieves, who have a Stick with a hook at the end, with which they pluck things out of Windows, Grates, &c. also those that draw in People to be cheated.
Blind-man’s-holiday - when it is too dark to see to work.
Blobber-lippd - means having lips that are very thick, hanging down, or turning over
Cackling-farts - Eggs.
Chouter - to talk pertly, and sometimes angrily
Conveniency – wife; also a mistress
Fubbs –a fond word for children
Fuddle – an excellent tipple
Grumbletonians -Malecontents, out of Humour with the Government, for want of a Place, or having lost one.
Rum-bluffer – an excellent host
Rum-bung – a full purse

Another interesting and rather ironic tidbit I got from my internet research of the book is that there is no agreed etymology for the word “slang.” I think I’ll have to make this a topic for another blog.

Before closing, I’d like to thank Stephen Tremp of Breakthrough Blogs for the Supernova Award for simply hosting him during his virtual book tour which was a pleasure for me to do. If you missed his post on Promoting and Marketing, you can find it here.

For any booklovers on your Christmas list, I’d also like to mention that personalized signed copies of The Ride will be available this holiday season for only $20.00. Simply email me at for details.

Are there any reference books you hope Santa brings you this year?

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope to see you again next week.

Tags: John Moore, The First English Dictionary of Slang , canting, slang, Stephen Tremp, The Ride,


Joanne said...

I hadn't really considered reference books as a gift, but what a nice way to build a library supporting our craft. I know the few reference books I have now, I do turn to for advice or suggestions from time to time. It's nice to have them on hand.

Jan Morrison said...

I love any books on where words come from. My Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable is a favorite.
Even in a modern novel you can have characters who love arcane words!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Interesting! I've always been fascinated by slang and what makes it come in and out of fashion. Thanks for sharing these tidbits with us, Jane!

Carol Kilgore said...

I think they're still around today.

These are great words.

Old Kitty said...

What a brilliant book!!! I love it!!! Cackling farts is so my favourite!!! I may add this to my wishlist too - the book not the cackling farts (although I wouldn't mind a boiled one every so often!!!) :-)

Have a great week too! Take care

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Joanne, I find most of my reference books I use more for my entertainment than for advice – which might have something to say about my collection of reference books.

Jan, I haven’t heard of the Brewer’s Dictionary, but it sounds interesting and I plan to check it out. I like your idea of a modern character wh loves arcane words.

Elizabeth, we share the same fascination.

Carol, I think they’re still around, too and that we should bring back the term grumbletonians.

Old Kitty, I’m glad it’s the book on your wish-list and not the cackling farts!)

Sally Crawford said...

Thanks for this.

The First English Dictionary of Slang, 1699

What you write gives me such a mind-picture of London in 1699, just over 30 years after the Great Fire when the City of London was rebuilding. :D

Arlee Bird said...

Those are some pretty funky word examples. I try to be very careful about using too much slang when I write--mostly using it only in dialog.

There was a book I had in college called Anatomy of Dirty Words which gave origins of those words and other slang. I was living at home at the time and my father found it and disapproved of it and tore it to shreads--he did stuff like that sometimes. It was actually interesting to discover where some of the words that we think of as dirty originally came from. That book or another slang dictionary like you describe might make a nice addition to my writing library.

Tossing It Out

Linda Leszczuk said...

I have a couple reference books on police procedures and such but anything having to do with words is always so much fun. Maybe I'll add some of the titles from here to my wish list.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jane .. I certainly like the sound of these books .. interesting about the Canting Crew .. and the first dictionary of slang .. amazing isn't it - that we still learn and words change their meanings over time.

Love the ones you've listed .. eg anglers - who'd have thought it .. and conveniency .. who'd have ever thought it?!

Enjoy the week .. Hilary

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Sally, Dickens came a bit later, but these words reminded me of him and his stories of life in London.

Lee, I think I’d like that book your father objected to. I find word origins fascinating regardless of the word.

Linda, I bet the police procedure books are interesting to flip through.

Hilary, “conveniency” struck me as funny and “anglers” seems very logical. I guess slang is a fairly practical “language.”

Hart Johnson said...

A Conveniency!? Oh, that's BEAUTIFUL. Mr. Tart has a new title! I LOVE words... and these seem to all have some tongue in cheek humor, or should I say humour... Definitely a bonus!

DazyDayWriter said...

Hi Jane, good to know about the book of slang. Words are fascinating and I often wonder, when writing, if a certain word is "okay" or not! The younger generations create new words all the time, but some of them have a short lifespan, I've noticed. Not sure I'm pining for a new reference book right now, but they are great to have on the shelf when needed. Enjoy your week!

Darcia Helle said...

Jane, I'm going to pay careful attention to your next book. I want to see you work some of these words in! I would love to have a Rum-bung. However, that sounds more like a drink someone would order in a trendy bar than a full purse!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Those are some funny slang terms!
And I'm hoping for Orson Scott Card's book on writing science fiction. Yeah, better late than never!

Christina Rodriguez said...

I'm going to be totally immature here: Ha! You said "cackling farts" on your blog! :)

Such strange slang. One would think it easier to just say "eggs." Fewer syllables!

Helen Ginger said...

Love the "cackling farts." Definitely a book to wish for.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

You could use those old slang terms and start a new trend!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Hart, I think 'conveniency' might be a good term to let go by the wayside unless used tongue in cheek.

Daisy, I have to admit I’m not too familiar with today’s teen slang and have a feeling I’d need a dictionary to figure it out, too, though I think most of it is acronyms.

Darcia, my next book is with the publisher so it’ll have to be the one after that – though I may want to try in out with a short story first. I like your definition of a rum-bang. Maybe you should consider giving some more of the old slang words a modern meaning.

Alex, it’s never to late for reference books, though it sounds to me like you know what you’re doing already when it comes to writing sci-fi.

Christina, thanks for the laugh! I was rather surprised I selected that term to use in my blog – I must have been feeling a bit immature when I wrote it. It is much easier to simply say “eggs.”

Helen, that seems to be one of the more popular of the terms I selected.

Diane, maybe I’ll pick one or two slang terms and give it a try!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an interesting book to check out.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Just stopping by to say hi and hope you're doing great. I'd probably go for a new Guide to Literary Agents...but with so much information online now, it seems like a waste to buy the book.

The Old Silly said...

Fun post. I'd not heard of a lot of those slang words, lol.

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world