Into the Smog
c = Cant
cb = (Cockney) Back-slang
cr = (Cockney) Rhyming slang
sh = Shelta, or Tinker
r = Romany (n.b., not true Rom, but linguistically descended from it)
b = Boxing
Abbess: Female brothel keeper. A Madame.
Abbot: The husband, or preferred man of an Abbess.
Area: The below-ground servant’s entrance in the front of many London town-houses. (Not underworld slang)
Area Diving: A method of theft that necessitates sneaking down area steps, and stealing from the lower rooms of houses.
Bacca-pipes: Whiskers curled in small, close ringlets.
Barkers (Barking Irons): Guns. Pistols, esp. Revolvers.
Beak-hunting: Poultry stealing
Bearer up: Person that robs men who have been decoyed by a woman accomplice.
Beef: (1) (v) Raise hue-and-cry. (2) (n) Thief. (cr) = Hot Beef! = Stop Thief!
Bend: Waistcoat, vest
Betty: A type of lockpick
Billy: Handkerchief (often silk)
Bit Faker: A coiner. A counterfeiter of coins.
Blackleg: A person who will work, contrary to a strike. In the Colonies they are called Scabs.
Blag: To steal or snatch, usually a theft, often by smash-and-grab
Blob, on the (Blab): Begging by telling hard-luck stories.
Blooming, Bloody (Blasted, etc.): are forms of profanity not heard in polite company (Today they’ve been replaced in prestige with “Fucking”, which is really too bad.)
Blower: Informer. Also a disrespectful term for a girl.
Bludger: A violent criminal; one who is apt to use a bludgeon.
Blue Bottle: A policeman
Boat, get the (Boated): To be sentenced to transportation (obs.). To receive a particularly harsh sentence.
Bone, Bene: (Pronounced Bone and Benneh?) Good or profitable.
Bonnet: A covert assistant to a Sharp
Broad Arrow: The arrow-like markings on a prison convict’s uniform. “Wearing the broad arrow” = In prison.
Broads: Playing cards. Ex. “Spreading the broads” = playing a game of cards)
Broading: Cheating at cards
Broadsman: A card Sharper
Bruiser: A Boxer (b)
Buck Cabbie: A dishonest cab driver
Bug hunting: Robbing, or cheating drunks. Esp. at night.
Bull: Five shillings
Buor: A woman
Buttoner: A sharper’s assistant who entices dupes.
Buzzing: Stealing, esp. Picking Pockets.
Candle to the devil, To hold a: To be evil
Cant: A present; a free meal or quantity of some article. Also the creole and jargon spoken by thieves and the “surplus population.”
Cant of togs: A gift of clothing.
Caper: A criminal act, dodge or device.
Cash Carrier: A pimp, ponce or whore’s minder.
Chapel, the: Whitechapel.
Chat: a Louse (a singular of Lice).
Chaunting: Singing; also informing
Chaunting lay: Street singing (hopefully for money)
Chiv, shiv: Knife, razor or sharpened stick®
Choker: Clergyman. “Gull a choker”
Christen: To remove identifying marks from, to make like new again. “Christen a watch.”
Church: To remove identifying marks from, to make like new again. “Church a watch.”
Cly faking: To pick a pocket, especially of its handkerchief (for which there was a ready market)
Cockchafer: An especially build treadmill in the ‘Steel
Coiner: A coin counterfeiter
Cokum (n & adj): Opportunity, advantage, shrewd, cunning.
Cool: Look, look at this/it. (cb)
Coopered: Wornout, useless
Coopered Ken: A bad place for a stick up.
Cop, Copper: A policeman
Couter: Pound (money)
Cove: A man
Cracksman: A Burgler, a safecracker. One who clracks of breaks locks. A whole genre of thief.
Crapped: hung, hanged.
Crib: A building, house or lodging. The location of a gaol.
Crimping shop: A waterfront lodging house, esp. one associated with the forcible impressment of seamen.
Crooked cross, to play the: To betray, swindle or cheat.
Crow: A lookout. A doctor.
Crusher: A policeman
Dab: bed (cb). “To dab it up with_____” = to engage in carnal acts with ___.
Dabeno: Bad (cb)
Daffy: A small measure, esp. of spirituous liquors.
Deadlurk: Empty premises.
Deaner: A shilling. (Etymologically descended from the Dinarious, or ancient silver penny of Britain…)
Deb: Bed (cb)
Demander: One who gains monies through menace.
Derbies: (Pronounced Darbies). Handcuffed
Deuce Hog (Duce Hog): 2 shillings
*Devil’s claws:* The broad arrows on a convict’s prison uniform.
Dewskitch: A beating
Didikko: Gypsies; half breed gypsies®. (From Didikai, a Rom contraction of Dik akai, or “look here”)
Dillo: Old (cb)
Dimmick: A base coin, counterfeit
Ding: (v & n) Throw away, pass on. Any object that has been so treated. Ex. “Knap the ding” or to take something that has been thrown out.
Dispatches: Loaded dice
Dollymop: A prostitute, often an amateur or a part-time street girl; a midinette.
Dollyshop: A low, unlicensed loan shop or pawn shop.
Don: A distinguished/expert/clever person; a leader
Down: Suspicion. “To put down on someone” means to inform on that person’s plans. While “To take the down of a ticker” means to Christen a watch.
Do Down: To beat someone badly, punishing them with your fists. (b)
Downy: Cunning, false.
Drag: (1) A three month gaol sentence. (2) A street
Dragsman: A thief who steals from carriages.
Drum: A building, house or lodging; the location of a gaol.
Dub: (1) Bad (cb); (2) Key, lockpick
Duckett: A street hawker or vendor’s licence.
Duffer: A seller of supposedly stolen goods. Also a Cheating Vendor or hawker.
Dumplin: A swindling game played with skittles
Dumps: Buttons and other Hawkers small wares.
E.O.: A fairground gambling game
Escop (Esclop, Eslop): Policeman (cb)
Fakement: a Device or pretence (especially a notice or certificate to facilitate begging).
Family, the: The criminal Underworld, also Family People.
Fan: To delicately feel someone’s clothing, while it is still being worn, to search for valuables.
Fancy, the: The brethren of the boxing ring.
Fawney-dropping: A ruse whereby the villain pretends to find a ring (which is actually worthless) and sells it as a Possibly valuable article at a low price.
Fine wirer: A highly skilled pickpocket
Finny: Five pound note
Flag: An apron
Flam: A lie
Flash (v & adj): Show, Showy (as in “Show-off,” or “Flashy”); smart; something special.
Flash house: A public house patronized by criminals.
Flash notes: Paper that looks, at a glance, like bank-notes
Flat: A person who is flat is easily deceived.
Flats: Playing cards, syn. Broads.
Flimp: A snatch pickpocket. Snatch stealing in a crowd.
Flue Faker: Chimney sweep
Fly, on the: Something done quickly.
Flying the Blue Pidgeon: Stealing roof lead.
Flying the Mags: The game of “Pitch and Toss”
Fogle: A silk handkerchief
Fushme: Five shillings
Gaff: Show, exhibition, fair “Penny Gaff” – Low, or vulgar theatre.
Gammy: False, undependable, hostile
Garret: Fob pocket in a waistcoat
Garrote: (v & n) A misplaced piano wire, and how it was misplaced.
Gattering: A public house
Glim: (1) Light or fire. (2) Begging by depicting oneself as having been burnt out of one’s home. (3) Venereal Disease.
Gonoph: A minor thief, or small time criminal
Granny: Understand or recognize
Gravney: A Ring
Grey, Gray: A coin with two identical faces
Griddling: Begging, peddling, or scrounging
Growler: A four wheeled cab
Gulpy: Gullible, easily duped.
Half inch: Steal (From pinch) (cr)
Hammered for life: Married
Hard up: Tobacco
Haymarket Hector: Pimp, ponce or whore’s minder; especially around the areas of Haymarket and Leicester Squares.
Holywater sprinkler: A cudgel spiked with nails.
Huey, Hughey: A town or village.
Huntley, to take the: Syn. To take the Cake or to take the Biscuit. Also to be most excellent, as in Huntley and Palmer’s biscuits.
Irons: Guns esp. Pistols or revolvers.
Jemmy: (1) Smart. (2) of Superior class. (3) an housebreaker’s tool.
Jerry: A Watch
Joey: A fourpence piece
Jolly: Disturbance or Fracas
Judy: A woman, specifically a prostitute
Jug loops: Locks of hair brought over the temples and curled.
Julking: Singing (as of caged songbirds)
Jump: A ground floor window, or a burglary committed through such a window.
Kanurd: Drunk (cb)
Ken: House or other place, esp. a lodging or public house.
Kennetseeno: Bad, stinking, putrid — Malodorous.®
Kidsman: An organizer of child thieves
Kinchen-lay (Kynchen-lay): Stealing from children
Kingsman: A coloured or black handkerchief.
Knap: To steal, take or receive
Knob: “Over and under” a fairground game used for swindling.
Know life, to: To be knowledgable in criminal ways
Lackin, Lakin: Wife
Ladybird: A Prostitute
Lag: A convict or Ticket-of-leave man; To be sentenced to transportation or penal servitude.
Laycock, Miss (or Lady): Female sexual organs
Lavender, in: (1) To be hidden from the police, (2) to be pawned, (3) to be put away, (4) to be dead.
Lay: A method, system or plan
Leg: A dishonest person, a sporting cheat or tout.
London Particular: Thick London “Pea Soup” fog, in UHM the thick smogs
Long-Tailed: A banknote worth more than 5 pounds is said to be “long tailed”
Luggers: Ear rings
Lumber: (1) Unused, or second-hand furniture. (2) To pawn. (3) To go into seclusion. (4) To be in lumber is to be in gaol.
Lump Hotel: Work House
Lurk: (1) A place of resorting to or concealment in. (2) A scheme or method
Lurker: A criminal of all work, esp. a begger, or someone who uses a beggar’s disguise.
Lush: An alcoholic drink.
Lushery: A place where a lush may be had. A low public house or drinking den.
Lushing Ken: See Lushery
Lushington: A drunkard
Macer: A cheat
Magflying: Pitch and toss
Magsman: An inferior cheat
Maltooler: A pickpocket who steals while riding an omnibus or train, esp. from women.
Mandrake: a Homosexual
Mark: The victim
Mary Blaine: Railway Train (cr); to meet a train or to travel via railway.
Mauley: Handwriting, signature
Mecks: Wine or spirits
Mizzle: Quit, Steal, or Vanish
Mobsman: A swindler or pickpocket, usually well-dressed. Originally one of the “Swell Mob”
Mollisher: A woman, often a villain’s mistress
Monkery: the Country
Mot: Woman, esp. the proprietress of a lodging or public house
Moucher, Moocher: A rural vagrant. A gentleman of the road. Now also used to represent those Aristocrats who’s estates are too corrupt to live on permanently.
Mouth: (1) Blabber. (2) A Fool
Mug-hunter: A street robber or footpad. Hence the modern “Mugger”
Mumper: Begger or scrounger
Mutcher: A thief who steals from drunks
Muck Snipe: A person who is “down and out”
Nebuchadnezzar: Male sexual organs; “to put Nebuchadnezzar out to grass” means to engage in sexual intercourse.
Nemmo: Woman (cb)
Nethers: Lodging charges, rent
Newgate Knockers: Heavily greased side whiskers curling back to, or over the ears
Netherskens: Low lodging houses, flophouses
Nickey: Simple in the head
Nobble: The inflicting of grievous bodily harm
Nobbler: (1) One who inflicts grievous bodily harm. (2) A sharper’s confederate
Nommus!: Get away! Quick! (cb)
Nose: Informer or Spy
Nubbiken: A sessions courthouse
On the fly: While in motion or quickly
Onion: A watch seal
Out of twig: Unrecognized or in disguise
Outsider: An instrument, resembling needle nosed pliers, used for turning a key in a lock from the wrong side.
Pack: A night’s lodging for the very poor
Paddingken: A tramp’s lodging house
Patterer: Someone who earns by recitation or hawker’s sales talk, esp. by hawking newspapers
Peter: A box, trunk or safe.
Pidgeon: A victim
Pig: A policeman, usually a detective
Pit: Inside front coat pocket
Plant: A victim
Pogue: A purse or prize
Prater: A bogus itinerant preacher
Prig: (1) A thief. (2) To steal
Puckering: Speaking in a manner that is incomprehensible to spectators
Punishers: Superior nobblers. Men employed to give severe beatings
Racket: Illicit occupation or tricks
Rampsman or Ramper: A tearaway or hoodlum
Randy, on the: On the Spree or otherwise looking for companionship
Rasher-wagon: Frying pan
Ray: 1/6 (one and six-pence)
Reader: Pocketbook or wallet
Ream: Superior, real, genuine, good.
Ream Flash Pull: A significant heist
Ream Swag: Highly valuable stolen articles
Reeb: Beer (cb)
Roller: A thief who robs drunks or a prostitute who steals from her clientele.
Rook: A type of jemmy
Rookery: Slum or ghetto
Rothschild, to come to the: To brag and pretend to be rich.
St. Peter’s Needle: Severe discipline
Salt Box: The Condemned Cell
Scaldrum dodge: Begging by means of feigned, or self-inflicted wounds
Scratch an itch: (cr) Bitch
Screever: A writer of fake testimonials; a forger
Srew: Skeleton Key
Screwing: A sub-genre of Cracking; burglary by means of skeleton keys, waxing keys, or picking locks.
Screwsman: A burglar versed in screwing
Scroby: Flogging in gaol
Scurf: An exploitative employer or gang-leader
Servant’s lurk: A lodging or public house used by shady or dismissed servants.
Shake lurk: Begging under the pretense of being a shipwrecked seaman.
Shallow, work the: Begging while half naked.
Shant: A pot or tumbler
Sharp: A (card) swindler
Shevis: A shift, a type of garment.
Shinscraper: The Treadmill
Shirkster: A layabout
Shiver and shake: (cr) A cake
Shivering Jemmy: A half naked begger
Shoful: (1) Bad or counterfeit. (2) An hansom cab
Shofulman: A coiner or passer of bad money.
Skipper: One who sleeps in hedges and outhouses
Skyrocket: (cr) Pocket (rarely used)
Slang cove: A showman
Slap-Bang Job: A night cellar (pub) frequented by thieves, and where no credit is given.
Slum: (1) False, sham, a faked document, etc. (2) To cheat . (3) To pass bad money.
Smasher: Someone who passes bad money.
Smatter Hauling: Stealing Handkerchiefs
Snakesman: A slightly built (boy) criminal used in burglary and housebreaking.
Snells: A hawker’s wares
Snide: Counterfeit; counterfeit coins or jewels.
Snide pinching: Passing bad money
Snoozer: A thief that specializes in robbing hotel rooms with sleeping guests.
Snowing: Stealing linen, clothes, etc, that have been hung out to dry.
Soft: Paper money (i.e., “to do some soft” means to pass bad paper money.)
Speeler: Cheat or a gambler
Sprat: Six pence
Spreading the Broads: Three card monte.
Square rigged: Soberly and respectfully dressed.
Swell: An elegantly, or stylishly dressed gentleman.
Tatts: Dice, False Dice
Tea Leaf: Thief (cr)
Terrier Crop: Short, bristly haircut (denoting a recent stay in a prison or a workhouse)
Thicker: A Sovereign or a Pound
Thick ’Un: A Sovereign
Tightener: A meal. “To do a Tightener,” to take a Meal.
Titfer/Titfertat: Hat (cr)
Toff: An elegantly, or stylishly dressed gentleman.
Toffer: A superior whore.
Toffken: A house containing well-to-do occupants.
Tol: Lot (cb), a Share.
Tooling: Skilled Pickpocket
Topping: A hanging
Translators: Secondhand apparel, especially Boots.
Trasseno: An evil person
Tuppeny (Tuppeny Loaf): Head (cr. from Loaf of Bread)
Twirls: Keys, esp skeleton keys.
Twist (Twist and Twirl): Girl (cr)
Under and Over: A fairground game that’s easy to swindle people with.
Vamp: To Steal or Pawn. “In for a vamp” to be jailed for stealing
Voker: Speak®. “Voker Romeny?” (Pardon me, but do you speak Thieve’s Cant?)
Weeping Willow: Pillow (cr)
Whistle and Flute: Suit (cr)
Work Capitol: Commit a crime punishable by death.
Yack: A watch
Yennap: A Penny. (cb)