1811 Dictionary in the Vulgar Tongue, by Francis Grose is part of HackerNoon’s Book Blog Post series. You can jump to any chapter in this book here: [LINK TO TABLE OF LINK]. Section K
KATE. A picklock. 'Tis a rum kate; it is a clever picklock.
KEEL BULLIES. Men employed to load and unload the coal
KEELHAULING. A punishment in use among the Dutch seamen, in which, for certain offences, the delinquent is drawn once, or oftener, under the ship's keel: ludicrously defined, undergoing a great hard-ship.
TO KEEP. To inhabit. Lord, where do you keep? i.e. where are your rooms? ACADEMICAL PHRASE. Mother, your tit won't keep; your daughter will not preserve her virginity.
TO KEEP IT UP. To prolong a debauch. We kept it up
finely last night; metaphor drawn from the game of shuttle-cock.
KEEPING CULLY. One who keeps a mistress, as he supposes,
for his own use, but really for that of the public.
KEFFEL. A horse. WELSH.
KELTER. Condition, order. Out of kelter; out of order.
KEMP'S MORRIS. William Kemp, said to have been the original
Dogberry in Much ado about Nothing, danced a morris
from London to Norwich in nine days: of which he
printed the account, A. D. 1600, intitled, Kemp's Nine
Days Wonder, &c.
KEMP'S SHOES. Would I had Kemp's shoes to throw after
you. BEN JONSON. Perhaps Kemp was a man remarkable
for his good luck or fortune; throwing an old shoe, or shoes,
after any one going on an important business, being by the
vulgar deemed lucky.
KEN. A house. A bob ken, or a bowman ken; a well-furnished
house, also a house that harbours thieves. Biting
the ken; robbing the house. CANT.
KEN MILLER, or KEN CRACKER. A housebreaker. CANT.
KENT-STREET EJECTMENT. To take away the street door: a method practised by the landlords in Kent-street, Southwark, when their tenants are above a fortnight's rent in arrear.
KERRY SECURITY. Bond, pledge, oath, and keep the money.
KETCH. Jack Ketch; a general name for the finishers of the law, or hangmen, ever since the year 1682, when the office was filled by a famous practitioner of that name, of whom his wife said, that any bungler might put a man to death, but only her husband knew how to make a gentleman die sweetly. This officer is mentioned in Butler's Ghost, page 54, published about the year 1682, in the following lines:
Till Ketch observing he was chous'd,
And in his profits much abus'd.
In open hall the tribute dunn'd,
To do his office, or refund.
Mr. Ketch had not long been elevated to his office, for the
name of his predecessor Dun occurs in the former part of
this poem, page 29:
For you yourself to act squire Dun,
Such ignominy ne'er saw the sun.
The addition of 'squire,' with which Mr. Dun is here
dignified, is a mark that he had beheaded some state criminal
for high treason; an operation which, according to custom
for time out of mind, has always entitled the operator to
that distinction. The predecessor of Dun was Gregory
Brandon, from whom the gallows was called the Gregorian
tree, by which name it is mentioned in the prologue to
Mercurius Pragmaticus, tragi-comedy acted at Paris, &c.
This trembles under the black rod, and he
Doth fear his fate from the Gregorian tree.
Gregory Brandon succeeded Derrick. See DERRICK.
KETTLEDRUMS. Cupid's kettle drums; a woman's breasts, called by sailors chest and bedding.
KETTLE OF FISH. When a person has perplexed his affairs in general, or any particular business, he is said to have made a fine kettle of fish of it.
KICKS. Breeches. A high kick; the top of the fashion. It is all the kick; it is the present mode. Tip us your kicks, we'll have them as well as your lour; pull off your breeches, for we must have them as well as your money. A kick; sixpence. Two and a kick; half-a-crown. A kick in the guts; a dram of gin, or any other spirituous liquor. A kick up; a disturbance, also a hop or dance. An odd kick in one's gallop; a strange whim or peculiarity.
To KICK THE BUCKET. To die. He kicked the bucket one day: he died one day. To kick the clouds before the hotel door; i.e. to be hanged.
KICKERAPOO. Dead. NEGRO WORD.
KICKSHAWS. French dishes: corruption of quelque chose.
KID. A little dapper fellow. A child. The blowen has napped the kid. The girl is with child.
TO KID. To coax or wheedle. To inveigle. To amuse a man or divert his attention while another robs him. The sneaksman kidded the cove of the ken, while his pall frisked the panney; the thief amused the master of the house, while his companion robbed the house.
KID LAY. Rogues who make it their business to defraud young apprentices, or errand-boys, of goods committed to their charge, by prevailing on them to execute some trifling message, pretending to take care of their parcels till they come back; these are, in cant terms, said to be on the kid lay.
KIDDER. A forestaller: see CROCKER. Kidders are also persons employed by the gardeners to gather peas.
KIDDEYS. Young thieves.
KIDDY NIPPERS. Taylors out of work, who cut off the waistcoat pockets of their brethren, when cross-legged on their board, thereby grabbling their bit. CANT.
KIDNAPPER. Originally one who stole or decoyed children or apprentices from their parents or masters, to send them to the colonies; called also spiriting: but now used for all recruiting crimps for the king's troops, or those of the East India company, and agents for indenting servants for the plantations, &c.
KIDNEY. Disposition, principles, humour. Of a strange kidney; of an odd or unaccountable humour. A man of a different kidney; a man of different principles.
KILKENNY. An old frize coat.
KILL CARE CLUB. The members of this club, styled also the Sons of Sound Sense and Satisfaction, met at their fortress, the Castle-tavern, in Paternoster-row.
KILL DEVIL. New still-burnt rum.
KILL PRIEST. Port wine.
To KIMBAW. To trick, cheat or cozen; also to beat or to bully. Let's kimbaw the cull; let's bully the fellow. To set one's arms a-kimbaw, vulgarly pronounced a-kimbo, is to rest one's hands on the hips, keeping the elbows square, and sticking out from the body; an insolent bullying attitude. CANT.
KINCHIN. A little child. Kinchin coes; orphan beggar boys, educated in thieving. Kinchin morts; young girls under the like circumstances and training. Kinchin morts, or coes in slates; beggars' children carried at their mother's backs in sheets. Kinchin cove; a little man. CANT.
KING'S PLATE. Fetters.
KING'S WOOD LION. An Ass. Kingswood is famous for the great number of asses kept by the colliers who inhabit that place.
KING'S BAD BARGAIN. One of the king's bad bargains; a
malingeror, or soldier who shirks his duty.
KING'S HEAD INN, or CHEQUER INN, IN NEWGATE
STREET. The prison of Newgate.
KING JOHN'S MEN. He is one of king John's men, eight
score to the hundred: a saying of a little undersized man.
KING OF THE GYPSIES. The captain, chief, or ringleader
of the gang of misrule: in the cant language called also the
KING'S PICTURES. Coin, money.
KINGDOM COME. He is gone to kingdom come, he is dead.
KIP. The skin of a large calf, in the language of the
KISS MINE A-SE. An offer, as Fielding observes, very
frequently made, but never, as he could learn, literally
accepted. A kiss mine a-se fellow; a sycophant.
KISSING CRUST. That part where the loaves have touched
KIT. A dancing-master, so called from his kit or cittern, a small fiddle, which dancing-masters always carry about with them, to play to their scholars. The kit is likewise the whole of a soldier's necessaries, the contents of his knapsack: and is used also to express the whole of different commodities: as, Here, take the whole kit; i.e. take all.
KIT-CAT CLUB. A society of gentlemen, eminent for wit and learning, who in the reign of queen Anne and George I. met at a house kept by one Christopher Cat. The portraits of most of the members of this society were painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller, of one size; thence still called the kit-cat size.
KITCHEN PHYSIC. Food, good meat roasted or boiled. A little kitchen physic will set him up; he has more need of a cook than a doctor.
KITTLE PITCHERING. A jocular method of hobbling or bothering a troublesome teller of long stories: this is done by contradicting some very immaterial circumstance at the beginning of the narration, the objections to which being settled, others are immediately started to some new particular of like consequence; thus impeding, or rather not suffering him to enter into, the main story. Kittle pitchering is often practised in confederacy, one relieving the other, by which the design is rendered less obvious.
KITTYS. Effects, furniture; stock in trade. To seize one's kittys; to take his sticks.
KNACK SHOP. A toy-shop, a nick-nack-atory.
KNAPPERS POLL. A sheep's head. CANT.
KNAVE IN GRAIN. A knave of the first rate: a phrase borrowed from the dyehouse, where certain colours are said to be in grain, to denote their superiority, as being dyed with cochineal, called grain. Knave in grain is likewise a pun applied to a cornfactor or miller.
KNIGHT OF THE BLADE. A bully.
KNIGHT OF THE POST. A false evidence, one that is ready to swear any thing for hire.
KNIGHT OF THE RAINBOW. A footman: from the variety of colours in the liveries and trimming of gentlemen of that cloth.
KNIGHT OF THE ROAD. A highwayman.
KNIGHT OF THE SHEERS. A taylor.
KNIGHT OF THE THIMBLE, or NEEDLE. A taylor or stay-maker.
KNIGHT OF THE WHIP. A coachman.
KNIGHT OF THE TRENCHER. A great eater.
KNIGHT AND BARROW PIG, more hog than gentleman. A saying of any low pretender to precedency.
KNOB. The head. See NOB.
KNOCK. To knock a woman; to have carnal knowledge of her. To knock off; to conclude: phrase borrowed from the blacksmith. To knock under; to submit.
KNOCK ME DOWN. Strong ale or beer, stingo.
KNOT. A crew, gang, or fraternity. He has tied a knot with his tongue, that he cannot untie with his teeth: i.e. he is married.
KNOWING ONES. Sportsmen on the turf, who from experience and an acquaintance with the jockies, are supposed to be in the secret, that is, to know the true merits or powers of each horse; notwithstanding which it often happens that the knowing ones are taken in.
KNOWLEDGE BOX. The head.
KNUCKLES. Pickpockets who attend the avenues to public places to steal pocket-books, watches, &c. a superior kind of pickpockets. To knuckle to, to submit.
TO KNUCKLE ONE'S WIPE. To steal his handkerchief.
KNUCKLE-DABS, or KNUCKLE-CONFOUNDERS. Ruffles.
KONOBLIN RIG. Stealing large pieces of coal from coalsheds.
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Grose, Francis. 2004. 1881 Dictionary in the Vulgar Tongue. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved April 2022 from https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/5402/pg5402.html
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