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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 hardluck 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 disrepectful 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 sentanced 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.
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 (r)
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 waterfron lodging house, esp. one associated with the forcable impressment of seamen.
Crooked cross, to play the: To betray, swindle or cheat.
Crow: A lookout. A doctor.
Crusher: A policeman
(cb). "To dab it up with_____" = to engage in carnal acts with ___.
Dabeno: Bad (cb)
Daffy: A small measure, esp. of spiritous liquers.
Deadlurk: Empty premises.
Deaner: A shilling. (Etymologially 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 (r). (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, unlicenced 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.
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
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
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.
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 (a hairstyle that thankfully died out later in the period).
Julking: Singing (as of caged songbirds)
Jump: A ground floor window, or a burglary committed through such a window.
Ken: House or other place, esp. a lodging or public house.
Kennetseeno: Bad, stinking, putrid -- Malodorous. (r)
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
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
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
Magflying: Pitch and toss
Magsman: An inferior cheat
Maltooler: A pickpocket who steals while riding an omnibus, 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.
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 grievious bodily harm
Nobbler: (1) One who inflicts grevious 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 disquise
Outsider: An instrument, resembling needle nosed pliers, used for turning a key in a lock from the wrong side.
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 itinerate 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
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 exploitive employer or gang-leader
Servant's lurk: A lodging or public house used by shady or dismissed servants.
Shake lurk: Begging under the pretence 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.
To Steal or Pawn. "In for a vamp" to be jailed for stealing
Voker: Speak (r). "Voker Romeny?" (Pardon me, but do you speak Thieve's Cant?)
Whistle and Flute: Suit (cr)
Work Capitol: Commit a crime punishable by death.
Yennap: A Penny. (cb)
As for the picture, it is actually a scene of Evan Jay Newman as Gavroche, Tom Zemon as Grantaire, and "the Company", from the Broadway production of "Les Misérables" (obtained from that site's photo database). By the way, before it was a musical, this was an inspired play and novel by Victor Hugo, and a sobering comment on real-life France in the beautiful Victorian era. Of course, in New Europa, life is so much gentler that there is no apparently Communes Revolt in 1871. Still, let's keep in mind that aspect...
I. Marc Carlson
26 January 1994
All my own material is Copyright (c) by David Crowhurst
All other material is Copyright (c) the original authors
Note on the latter: The above Web address has changed to http://homepages.tcp.co.uk/~gentloser/gentlose.html, but at the time of writing (May 1998), the links to the Gentleman Loser fanzine's Castle Falkentein pages were disconnected.