Regency Romance Era Thieves and Sporting Slang B

BACHELOR’S FARE. Bread and cheese and kisses.

BACHELOR’S SON. A bastard.

BACK BITER. One who slanders another behind his back, i.e. in his absence.

BACK UP. His back is up, i.e. he is offended or angry; an expression or idea taken from a cat; that animal, when angry, always raising its back.

BACON. He has saved his bacon; he has escaped.

BACON-FACED. Full-faced.

BACON FED. Fat, greasy.

BAD BARGAIN. One of his majesty’s bad bargains; a worthless soldier, a malingeror.

BADGERS. A crew of desperate villains who robbed near rivers, into which they threw the bodies of those they murdered.

BAGGAGE. Heavy baggage; women and children. Also a familiar epithet for a woman; as, cunning baggage, wanton baggage.

BALDERDASH. Adulterated wine.

BALLOCKS. The testicles of a man or beast. His brains are in his ballocks, a cant saying to designate a fool.

BALSAM. Money.

BAM. A jocular imposition, the same as a humbug. Also, to impose on any one by a falsity; also to jeer or make fun of any one.

BAMBOOZLE. To make a fool of any one, to humbug or impose on him.

BANBURY STORY OF A COCK AND A BULL, or BANBURY TALE. A roundabout, nonsensical story.

BANG UP. Quite the thing, hellish fine. Well done. Compleat. Dashing. In a handsome stile. A bang up cove; a dashing fellow who spends his money freely. To bang up prime: to bring your horses up in a dashing or fine style: as the swell’s rattler and prads are bang up prime; the gentleman sports an elegant carriage and fine horses.

BARKING IRONS. Pistols, from their explosion resembling the bow-wow or barking of a dog.

BAROUCHE. A four wheeled carriage with two seats facing one another.

BARREL FEVER. He died of the barrel fever; he killed himself by drinking.

BARTHOLOMEW BABY. A person dressed up in a tawdry manner, like the dolls or babies sold at Bartholomew fair.

BASKET. In the basket. An exclamation frequently made use of in cock-pits, at cock-fightings, where persons refusing or unable to pay their losings, are adjudged by that respectable assembly to be put into a basket suspended over the pit, there to remain during that day’s diversion.

BASSET. The game of Basset was considered only fit for persons of the highest rank to play, on account of the great losses or gains that might accrue on one side or the other.

BASTARDLY GULLION. A bastard’s bastard.

BASTING. A beating.

BAT. A common streetwalking prostitute: so called from moving out like bats in the dusk of the evening.

BATTLE-ROYAL. A battle or bout at cudgels or fisty-cuffs, wherein more than two persons are engaged: perhaps from its resemblance, in that particular, to more serious engagements fought to settle royal disputes.

BAUBLES, or BAWBLES. Trinkets.

BAWD. A female procuress.

BEAR-GARDEN JAW or DISCOURSE. Rude, vulgar language, such as was used at the bear-gardens.

BEAR LEADER. A travelling tutor.

BEAU-NASTY. A slovenly fop; one finely dressed, but dirty.

BEAU TRAP. A sharper, neatly dressed, lying in wait for raw country squires, or ignorant fops to take advantage of them.

BEDIZENED. Dressed out, over-dressed, or awkwardly ornamented.

BEGGAR’S BULLETS. Stones. The beggar’s bullets began to fly, i.e. they began to throw stones.

BELL, BOOK, AND CANDLE. They cursed him with bell, book, and candle; an allusion to the popish form of excommunicating and anathematizing persons who had offended the church.

BELLOWS. The lungs.

BELLOWER. The town crier.

BELOWSTAIRS. Servant’s quarters, or work areas for servants.

BILBOA. A sword.

BILK. To cheat.

BILLETS-DOUX. A love letter or sweet note.

BILLINGSGATE LANGUAGE. Foul language, or abuse, referring to the Billingsgate fish market where the language and the dealings were often foul.

BIRD-WITTED. Inconsiderate, thoughtless, easily imposed on.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER. Rogues of the same gang.

BISCUIT. Cookie served with tea.

BIT. Money. A bit is also the smallest coin in Jamaica, equal to about sixpence sterling.

BIT OF MUSLIN. A prostitute, generally above the common street level, more likely from the ranks of actresses, dancers or shopgirls.

BLACK BOOK. He is down in the black book, i.e. has a stain in his character. A black book is keep in most regiments, wherein the names of all persons sentenced to punishment are recorded.

BLACK GUARD. A shabby, mean fellow; a term said to be derived from a number of dirty, tattered roguish boys, who attended at the Horse Guards, and Parade in St. James’s Park, to black the boots and shoes of the soldiers, or to do any other dirty offices.

BLACKLEGS. A gambler or sharper on the turf or in the cockpit: so called, perhaps, from their appearing generally in boots.

BLACK SPY. The Devil.

>BLAST. To curse.

BLATER. A mooncalf, or untried and callow youth.

BLEACHED MORT. A fair-complexioned wench.

BLEATERS. Those cheated by Jack in a box.

BLEEDERS. Spurs. He clapped his bleeders to his horse.

BLEEDING CULLY. One who parts easily with his money, or bleeds freely.

BLIND. A feint, pretence, or shift.

BLIND EXCUSE. A poor or insufficient excuse. A blind ale-house, lane, or alley; an obscure, or little known or frequented ale-house, lane, or alley.

BLIND HARPERS. Beggars counterfeiting blindness, playing on fiddles.

BLINDMAN’S HOLIDAY. Night, darkness.

BLOCK HOUSES. Prisons, houses of correction.

BLOCKED AT BOTH ENDS. Finished. The game is blocked at both ends; the game is ended.

BLOOD. A riotous disorderly fellow.

BLOOD MONEY. The reward given by the legislature on the conviction of highwaymen, burglars.

BLOOD OF THE FIRST STARE. One who surpasses the rest of his companions in elegance and style.

BLOODY BACK. A jeering appellation for a soldier, alluding to his scarlet coat.

BLOODY. A favourite word used by the thieves in swearing, as bloody eyes, bloody rascal.

BLOWSE, or BLOWSABELLA. A woman whose hair is dishevelled, and hanging about her face; a slattern.

BLUESTOCKING. An Educated, or bookish woman.

BLUE DEVILS. Low spirits.

BLUNT. Money. To bear the blunt is to loan or give a gift of money.

BLUSTER. To talk big, to hector or bully.

BOB. A shilling.

BOBBED. Cheated, tricked, disappointed.

BOBBISH. Smart, clever, spruce.

BOB TAIL. A lewd woman, or an impotent man, or an eunuch. Tag, rag, and bobtail; a mob of all sorts of low people.

BOG LANDER. An Irishman; Ireland being famous for its large bogs, which furnish the chief fuel in many parts of that kingdom.

BOG TROTTER. The same.

BOG HOUSE. The necessary house. To go to bog; to go to stool.

BOLT UPRIGHT. As erect, or straight up, as an arrow set on its end.

BOLT. To run suddenly out of one’s house, or hiding place, through fear.

BOMBAZINE. Twill fabric of a silk or cotton and wool blend, usually dyed black for mourning wear.

BONES. Dice.

BONE BOX. The mouth. Shut your bone box; shut your mouth.

BONESETTER. A hard-trotting horse.

BOOKS. Cards to play with. To plant the books; to place the cards in the pack in an unfair manner.

BOOT CATCHER. The servant at an inn whose business it is to clean the boots of the guest.

BOOTS. The youngest officer in a regimental mess, whose duty it is to skink, that is, to stir the fire, snuff the candles, and ring the bell.

BOOTY. To play booty; cheating play, where the player purposely avoids winning.

BORACHIO. A skin for holding wine, commonly a goat’s; also a nick name for a drunkard.

BORDE. A shilling. A half borde; a sixpence.

BORE. A tiresome or country acquaintance, poor relation, a leg of mutton, a hackney-coach, children, or a family party. — Aristocratic Satire.

BORDELLO. A bawdy house.

BORN UNDER A THREEPENNY HALFPENNY PLANET, NEVER TO BE WORTH A GROAT. Said of any person remarkably unsuccessful in his attempts or profession.

BOTTLE-HEADED. Void of wit.

BOTTOM. A polite term for the posteriors. Also, in the sporting sense, strength and spirits to support fatigue; as a well-bottomed horse. Among bruisers it is used to express a hardy fellow, who will bear a good beating.

BOUGHS. He is up in the boughs; he is in a passion.

BOUNCER. A large man or woman; also a great lie.

BOUNCING CHEAT. A bottle; from the explosion in drawing the cork.

BOOSE. Drink.

BOOSEY. Drunk.

BOW STREET RUNNERS. Constables or policemen. These could also work as private detectives for hire.

BOWSING KEN. An ale-house or gin-shop.

BOWYER. One that draws a long bow, a dealer in the marvellous, a teller of improbable stories, a liar: perhaps from the wonderful shots frequently boasted of by archers.

BRACKET-FACED. Ugly, hard-featured.

BRAGGET. Mead and ale sweetened with honey.

BRAGGADOCIA. vain-glorious fellow, a boaster.

BRAN-FACED. Freckled. He was christened by a baker, he carries the bran in his face.

BRANDY-FACED. Red-faced, as if from drinking brandy.

BRAZEN-FACED. Bold-faced, shameless, impudent.

BREAK-TEETH WORDS. Hard words, difficult to pronounce.

BREAKING SHINS. Reluctantly borrowing money.

BREECHED. Money in the pocket, wealthy.

BREECHES. Evening or formal wear. Short, close-fitting trousers that fell just below the knee worn worn with stockings.

BREEZE. To raise a breeze; to kick up a dust or breed a disturbance.

BRISTOL MILK. A Spanish wine called sherry, much drunk at that place, particularly in the morning.


BROMIDE. Cliche.







BROTHER STARLING. One who lies with the same woman, that is, builds in the same nest.

BROUGHTONIAN. A boxer: a disciple of Broughton, who was a beef-eater, and once the best boxer of his day.

BROWN BESS. A soldier’s firelock. To hug brown Bess; to carry a firelock, or serve as a private soldier.

BROWN STUDY. Said of one absent, in a reverie, or thoughtful.

BRUISER. A boxer; one skilled in the art of boxing.

BRUSH OFF. To publically cut or ignore.

BRUSHER. A bumper, a full glass.

BUB. Strong beer.

BUBBLE. The party cheated, perhaps from his being like an air bubble, filled with words, which are only wind, instead of real property.

BUBBLER. A cheater.

BUCK. A masculine, fashionably young male.

BUCK OF THE FIRST HEAD. One who in debauchery surpasses the rest of his companions, a blood or choice spirit.

BUCK’S FACE. A cuckold.

BUCK FITCH. A lecherous old fellow.

BUCKEEN. A bully.

BUCKLES. Fetters.

BUCKSKINS. Tight fitting trousers made from deerskin. Most often worn by Corinthians and Whips.

BUDGE, or SNEAKING BUDGE. One that slips into houses in the dark, to steal cloaks or other clothes. Standing budge; a thief’s scout or spy.

BUDGET. A wallet. To open the budget; a term used to signify the notification of the taxes required by the minister for the expenses of the ensuing year.

BUFE NABBER. A dog stealer.

BUFF. To stand buff; to stand the brunt. To swear as a witness.

BUFFER. A man who takes an oath.

BUFFLE-HEADED. Confused, stupid.

BUGGY. A one-horse chaise.

BUGGER. A blackguard, a rascal, a term of reproach. Mill the bloody bugger; beat the damned rascal.

BULK AND FILE. Two pickpockets; the bulk jostles the party to be robbed, and the file does the business.

BULL. A crown piece. A half bull; half a crown.

BULL BEGGAR, or BULLY BEGGAR. An imaginary being with which children are threatened by servants and nurses, like raw head and bloody bones.

BULL CALF. A great hulking or clumsy fellow.

BULL DOGS. Pistols.

BULL’S EYE. A crown-piece.

BULL’S FEATHER. A horn: he wears the bull’s feather; he is a cuckold.

BULLY BACK. A bully to a bawdy-house; one who is kept in pay, to oblige the frequenters of the house to submit to the impositions of the mother abbess, or bawd; and who also sometimes pretends to be the husband of one of the ladies, and under that pretence extorts money from greenhorns, or ignorant young men, whom he finds with her.

BULLY COCK. One who foments, or instigates, quarrels in order to rob the persons quarrelling.

BULLY RUFFIANS. Highwaymen who attack passengers with paths and imprecations.

BULLY TRAP. A brave or powerful man with a mild or effeminate appearance, by whom bullies are frequently taken in.

BUM. The breech, or backside.

BUM’S RUSH. To arrest a debtor.

BUM TRAP. A sheriff’s officer who arrests debtors.

BUM BAILIFF. A sheriff’s officer, who arrests debtors; so called perhaps from following his prey, and being at their bums.

BUM FODDER. Soft paper for the necessary house.

BUMKIN. A raw country fellow.

BUMMED. Arrested.

BUMPER. A full glass.

BUNDLING. A man and woman sleeping in the same bed, he with his small clothes, and she with her petticoats on.

BUNTLINGS. Petticoats.

BURNT. Poxed or clapped. i.e Stricken with venereal disease.

BURR. A hanger on, or dependant; an allusion to the field burrs, which are not easily got rid of.

BUSHEL BUBBY. A full breasted woman.

BUZMAN. A pickpocket.

BYE BLOW. A bastard..

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