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 L
LACED MUTTON. A prostitute.
LACING. Beating. I'll lace your jacket handsomely.
LADDER. To go up the ladder to rest; to be hanged.
LADY. A crooked or hump-backed woman.
LADY OF EASY VIRTUE. A woman of the town, an impure, a prostitute.
LADYBIRDS. Light or lewd women.
LADY DACRE'S WINE. Gin.
LAG. A man transported. The cove was lagged for a drag.
The man was transported for stealing something out of a
LAG FEVER. A term of ridicule applied to men who being
under sentence of transportation, pretend illness, to avoid
being sent from gaol to the hulks.
TO LAG. To drop behind, to keep back. Lag last; the
last of a company.
LAGE. Water. CANT.
LAGE OF DUDS. A buck of linen.
LAID ON THE SHELF, or LAID UP IN LAVENDER. Pawned.
To LAMB, or LAMBASTE. To beat. Lamb pye; a beating: from lambo.
LAMB'S WOOL. Apples roasted and put into strong ale.
LAMBSKIN MEN. The judges: from their robes lined and
bordered with ermine.
LAMP. An eye. The cove has a queer lamp. The man
has a blind or squinting eye.
LAND. How lies the land? How stands the reckoning?
Who has any land in Appleby? a question asked the man
at whose door the glass stands long, or who does not
circulate it in due time.
LAND LOPERS, or LAND LUBBERS. Vagabonds lurking
about the country who subsist by pilfering.
LAND PIRATES. Highwaymen.
LANK SLEEVE. The empty sleeve of a one armed man.
A fellow with a lank sleeve; a man who has lost an arm.
LANSPRISADO. One who has only two-pence in his pocket. Also a lance, or deputy corporal; that is, one doing the duty without the pay of a corporal. Formerly a lancier, or horseman, who being dismounted by the death of his horse, served in the foot, by the title of lansprisado, or lancepesato, a broken lance.
LANTHORN-JAWED. Thin-visaged: from their cheeks being almost transparent. Or else, lenten jawed; i.e. having the jaws of one emaciated by a too rigid observation of Lent. Dark lanthorn; a servant or agent at court, who receives a bribe for his principal or master.
LAP. Butter-milk or whey. CANT.
LARK. A boat.
LARK. A piece of merriment. People playing together jocosely.
LARRY DUGAN'S EYE WATER. Blacking: Larry Dugan was a famous shoe-black at Dublin.
LATCH. Let in.
LATHY. Thin, slender. A lathy wench; a girl almost as
slender as a lath.
LATITAT. A nick-name for an attorney; from the name of
LAVENDER. Laid up in lavender; pawned.
LAUGH. To laugh on the wrong side of the mouth; to cry.
I'll make him laugh on the wrong (or t'other) side of his
LAUNCH. The delivery, or labour, of a pregnant woman;
a crying out or groaning.
LAW. To give law to a hare; a sporting term, signifying to give the animal a chance of escaping, by not setting on the dogs till the hare is at some distance; it is also more figuratively used for giving any one a chance of succeeding in a scheme or project.
LAWFUL BLANKET. A wife.
LAY. Enterprize, pursuit, or attempt: to be sick of the lay. It also means a hazard or chance: he stands a queer lay; i.e. he is in danger. CANT.
LAYSTALL. A dunghill about London, on which the soil brought from necessary houses is emptied; or, in more technical terms, where the old gold collected at weddings by the Tom t—d man, is stored.
LAZY. As lazy as Ludman's dog, who leaned against the
wall to bark. As lazy as the tinker, who laid down his
budget to f—t.
LAZY MAN'S LOAD. Lazy people frequently take up more
than they can safely carry, to save the trouble of coming
a second time.
LAZYBONES. An instrument like a pair of tongs, for old or
very fat people to take any thing from the ground without
LEAF. To go off with the fall of the leaf; to be hanged: criminals in Dublin being turned off from the outside of the prison by the falling of a board, propped up, and moving on a hinge, like the leaf of a table. IRISH TERM.
TO LEAK. To make water.
LEAKY. Apt to blab; one who cannot keep a secret is said to be leaky.
LEAPING OVER THE SWORD. An ancient ceremonial said to constitute a military marriage. A sword being laid down on the ground, the parties to be married joined hands, when the corporal or serjeant of the company repeated these words:
Leap rogue, and jump whore,
And then you are married for evermore.
Whereupon the happy couple jumped hand in hand over
the sword, the drum beating a ruffle; and the parties were
ever after considered as man and wife.
LEAST IN SIGHT. To play least in sight; to hide, keep
out of the way, or make one's self scarce.
LEATHER. To lose leather; to be galled with riding on horseback, or, as the Scotch express it, to be saddle sick. To leather also meant to beat, perhaps originally with a strap: I'll leather you to your heart's content. Leather-headed; stupid. Leathern conveniency; term used by quakers for a stage-coach.
LEERY. On one's guard. See PEERY.
LEFT-HANDED WIFE. A concubine; an allusion to an ancient German custom, according to which, when a man married his concubine, or a woman greatly his inferior, he gave her his left hand.
LEG. To make a leg; to bow. To give leg-bail and land security; to run away. To fight at the leg; to take unfair advantages: it being held unfair by back-sword players to strike at the leg. To break a leg; a woman who has had a bastard, is said to have broken a leg.
LEGGERS. Sham leggers; cheats who pretend to sell smuggled goods, but in reality only deal in old shop-keepers or damaged goods.
LENTEN FARE. Spare diet.
LETCH. A whim of the amorous kind, out of the common way.
LEVITE. A priest or parson.
TO LIB. To lie together. CANT.
LIBBEGE. A bed. CANT.
LIBBEN. A private dwelling-house. CANT.
LIBKEN. A house to lie in. CANT.
TO LICK. To beat; also to wash, or to paint slightly over. I'll give you a good lick o' the chops; I'll give you a good stroke or blow on the face. Jack tumbled into a cow t—d, and nastied his best clothes, for which his father stept up, and licked him neatly.—I'll lick you! the dovetail to which is, If you lick me all over, you won't miss—.
LICKSPITTLE. A parasite, or talebearer.
LIFT. To give one a lift; to assist. A good hand at a dead lift; a good hand upon an emergency. To lift one's hand to one's head; to drink to excess, or to drink drams. To lift or raise one's elbow; the same.
LIFT. See SHOPLIFTER, &c.
LIFTER. A crutch.
LIG. A bed. See LIB.
LIGHT BOB. A soldier of the light infantry company.
LIGHT-FINGERED. Thievish, apt to pilfer.
LIGHT-HEELED. Swift in running. A light-heeled wench; one who is apt, by the flying up of her heels, to fall flat on her back, a willing wench.
LIGHT HOUSE. A man with a red fiery nose.
LIGHT TROOPS. Lice; the light troops are in full march; the lice are crawling about.
LIGHTMANS. The day. CANT.
LIGHTNING. Gin. A flash of lightning; a glass of gin.
LIKENESS. A phrase used by thieves when the officers or turnkeys are examining their countenance. As the traps are taking our likeness; the officers are attentively observing us.
LILIPUTIAN. A diminutive man or woman: from Gulliver's
Travels, written by Dean Swift, where an imaginary
kingdom of dwarfs of that name is described.
LILY WHITE. A chimney-sweeper.
LILY SHALLOW. (WHIP SLANG) A white driving hat.
LIMBS. Duke of limbs; a tall awkward fellow.
LIMB OF THE LAW. An inferior or pettyfogging attorney.
LIMBO. A prison, confinement.
To LINE. A term for the act of coition between dog and bitch.
LINE OF THE OLD AUTHOR. A dram of brandy.
LINE. To get a man into a line, i.e. to divert his attention
by a ridiculous or absurd story. To humbug.
LINGO. Language. An outlandish lingo; a foreign tongue.
The parlezvous lingo; the French language.
LINEN ARMOURERS. Taylors.
LION. To tip the lion; to squeeze the nose of the party tipped, flat to his face with the thumb. To shew the lions and tombs; to point out the particular curiosities of any place, to act the ciceroni: an allusion to Westminster Abbey, and the Tower, where the tombs and lions are shewn. A lion is also a name given by the gownsmen of Oxford to an inhabitant or visitor. It is a standing joke among the city wits to send boys and country folks, on the first of April, to the Tower-ditch, to see the lions washed.
LIQUOR. To liquor one's boots; to drink before a journey: among Roman Catholics, to administer the extreme unction.
LITTLE BARBARY. Wapping.
LITTLE BREECHES. A familiar appellation used to a little boy.
LITTLE CLERGYMAN. A young chimney-sweeper.
LITTLE EASE. A small dark cell in Guildhall, London, where disorderly apprentices are confined by the city chamberlain: it is called Little Ease from its being so low that a lad cannot stand upright in it.
LITTLE SNAKESMAN. A little boy who gets into a house through the sink-hole, and then opens the door for his accomplices: he is so called, from writhing and twisting like a snake, in order to work himself through the narrow passage.
LIVE LUMBER. A term used by sailors, to signify all landsmen on board their ships.
LIVE STOCK. Lice or fleas.
LOAF. To be in bad loaf, to be in a disagreeable situation,
or in trouble.
LOB. A till in a tradesman's shop. To frisk a lob; to rob
a till. See FLASH PANNEY.
LOB. Going on the lob; going into a shop to get change
for gold, and secreting some of the change.
LOB'S POUND. A prison. Dr. Grey, in his notes on Hudibras, explains it to allude to one Doctor Lob, a dissenting preacher, who used to hold forth when conventicles were prohibited, and had made himself a retreat by means of a trap door at the bottom of his pulpit. Once being pursued by the officers of justice, they followed him through divers subterraneous passages, till they got into a dark cell, from whence they could not find their way out, but calling to some of their companions, swore they had got into Lob's Pound.
LOBCOCK. A large relaxed penis: also a dull inanimate fellow.
LOBKIN. A house to lie in: also a lodging.
LOBLOLLEY BOY. A nick name for the surgeon's servant on board a man of war, sometimes for the surgeon himself: from the water gruel prescribed to the sick, which is called loblolley.
LOBONIAN SOCIETY. A society which met at Lob Hall, at
the King and Queen, Norton Falgate, by order of Lob the
LOBSCOUSE. A dish much eaten at sea, composed of salt
beef, biscuit and onions, well peppered, and stewed
LOBSTER. A nick name for a soldier, from the colour of his clothes. To boil one's lobster, for a churchman to become a soldier: lobsters, which are of a bluish black, being made red by boiling. I will not make a lobster kettle of my ****, a reply frequently made by the nymphs of the Point at Portsmouth, when requested by a soldier to grant him a favour.
LOCK. A scheme, a mode. I must fight that lock; I must try that scheme.
LOCK. Character. He stood a queer lock; he bore but an indifferent character. A lock is also a buyer of stolen goods, as well as the receptacle for them.
LOCK HOSPITAL. An hospital for venereal patients.
LOCK UP HOUSE. A spunging house; a public house kept by sheriff's officers, to which they convey the persons they have arrested, where they practise every species of imposition and extortion with impunity. Also houses kept by agents or crimps, who enlist, or rather trepan, men to serve the East India or African company as soldiers.
LOCKERAM-JAWED. Thin-faced, or lanthorn-jawed. See
LOCKSMITH'S DAUGHTER. A key.
LOGGERHEAD. A blockhead, or stupid fellow. We three loggerheads be: a sentence frequently written under two heads, and the reader by repeating it makes himself the third. A loggerhead is also a double-headed, or bar shot of iron. To go to loggerheads; to fall to fighting.
LOLL. Mother's loll; a favourite child, the mother's darling,
LOLL TONGUE. He has been playing a game at loll tongue; he has been salivated.
LOLLIPOPS. Sweet lozenges purchased by children.
TO LOLLOP. To lean with one's elbows on a table.
LOLLPOOP. A lazy, idle drone.
LOMBARD FEVER. Sick of the lombard fever; i.e. of the idles.
LONG ONE. A hare; a term used by poachers.
LONG. Great. A long price; a great price.
LONG GALLERY. Throwing, or rather trundling, the dice
the whole length of the board.
LONG MEG. A jeering name for a very tall woman: from
one famous in story, called Long Meg of Westminster.
LONG SHANKS. A long-legged person.
LONG STOMACH. A voracious appetite.
LONG TONGUED. Loquacious, not able to keep a secret.
He is as long-tongued as Granny: Granny was an idiot
who could lick her own eye. See GRANNY.
LONG-WINDED. A long-winded parson; one who preached
long, tedious sermons. A long-winded paymaster; one
who takes long credit.
LOO. For the good of the loo; for the benefit of the company
LOOBY. An awkward, ignorant fellow.
LOOKING AS IF ONE COULD NOT HELP IT. Looking like a simpleton, or as if one could not say boh! to a goose.
LOOKING-GLASS. A chamber pot, jordan, or member mug.
LOON, or LOUT. A country bumkin, or clown.
LOONSLATE. Thirteen pence halfpenny.
LOOPHOLE. An opening, or means of escape. To find a loophole in an act of parliament; i.e. a method of evading it,
LOP-SIDED. Uneven, having one side larger or heavier than
the other: boys' paper kites are often said to be lop-sided.
TO LOPE. To leap, to run away. He loped down the dancers;
he ran down stairs.
LORD. A crooked or hump-backed man. These unhappy people afford great scope for vulgar raillery; such as, 'Did you come straight from home? if so, you have got confoundedly bent by the way.' 'Don't abuse the gemman,' adds a by-stander, 'he has been grossly insulted already; don't you see his back's up?' Or someone asks him if the show is behind; 'because I see,' adds he, 'you have the drum at your back.' Another piece of vulgar wit is let loose on a deformed person: If met by a party of soldiers on their march, one of them observes that that gentleman is on his march too, for he has got his knapsack at his back. It is said in the British Apollo, that the title of lord was first given to deformed persons in the reign of Richard III. from several persons labouring under that misfortune being created peers by him; but it is more probably derived from the Greek word [GREEK: lordos], crooked.
LOUSE. A gentleman's companion. He will never louse a grey head of his own; he will never live to be old.
LOVE BEGOTTEN CHILD. A bastard.
LOUNGE. A loitering place, or gossiping shop.
LOUSE BAG. A black bag worn to the hair or wig.
LOUSE HOUSE. The round house, cage, or any other place of confinement.
LOUSE LADDER. A stitch fallen in a stocking.
LOUSE LAND. Scotland.
LOUSE TRAP. A small toothed comb.
LOUT. A clumsy stupid fellow.
LOWING RIG. Stealing oxen or cows.
LOW PAD. A footpad.
LOW TIDE, or LOW WATER. When there is no money in a man's pocket.
LOWRE. Money. Cant.
LUBBER. An awkward fellow: a name given by sailors to landsmen.
LUCK, or GOOD LUCK. To tread in a surreverence, to be bewrayed: an allusion to the proverb, Sh-tt-n luck is good luck.
LUD'S BULWARK. Ludgate prison.
LUGS. Ears or wattles. See WATTLES.
LULLABY CHEAT. An infant. Cant.
LULLIES. Wet linen. Cant.
LULLY TRIGGERS. Thieves who steal wet linen. Cant.
LUMB. Too much.
LUMBER. Live lumber; soldiers or passengers on board a ship are so called by the sailors.
LUMBER TROOP. A club or society of citizens of London.
LUMBER HOUSE. A house appropriated by thieves for the
reception of their stolen property.
To LUMP. To beat; also to include a number of articles
under one head.
To LUMP THE LIGHTER. To be transported.
LUMPERS. Persons who contract to unload ships; also
thieves who lurk about wharfs to pilfer goods from ships,
LUMPING. Great. A lumping penny worth; a great quantity
for the money, a bargain. He has'got a lumping penny-worth;
frequently said of a man who marries a fat woman.
LURCH. To be left in the lurch; to be abandoned by one's
confederates or party, to be left in a scrape.
LURCHED. Those who lose a game of whist, without scoring five,
are said to be lurched.
LURCHER. A lurcher of the law; a bum bailiff, or his setter.
LURRIES. Money, watches, rings, or other moveables.
LUSH. Strong beer.
TO LUSH. To drink.
LUSHEY. Drunk. The rolling kiddeys hud a spree, and got bloody lushey; the dashing lads went on a party of pleasure, and got very drunk.
LYE. Chamber lye; urine.
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