Regency Romance Era Thieves and Sporting Slang C

CABBAGE. Cloth, stuff, or silk purloined from one’s employer.

CADGE. To beg. Cadge the swells; beg of the gentlemen.

CAKE, or CAKEY. A foolish fellow.

CALLE. A cloak or gown.

CAMBRIDGE FORTUNE. A wind-mill and a water-mill, used to signify a woman without no fortune, only personal endowments.

CANARY BIRD. A jail bird, a person used to be kept in a cage.

CANT. An hypocrite, a double-tongue palavering fellow.

CANTERS, or THE CANTING CREW. Thieves, beggars, and gypsies, or any others using the canting lingo.

CANTERBURY STORY. A long roundabout tale.

CAP. To support another’s assertion or tale. To assist a man in cheating.

CAP ACQUAINTANCE. Persons slightly acquainted, or only so far as mutually to salute with the hat on meeting. A woman who endeavours to attract the notice of any particular man, is said to set her cap at him.

CAPTAIN QUEERNABS. A shabby ill-dressed fellow.

CAPTAIN SHARP. A cheating bully, or one in a set of gamblers, whose office is to bully any pigeon, who, suspecting roguery, refuses to pay what he has lost.

CAPTAIN TOM. The leader of a mob; also the mob itself.

CARAVAN. A large sum of money; also, a person cheated of such sum.

CAROUSE. To drink freely or deep.

CARRIERS. A set of rogues who are employed to look out and watch upon the roads, at inns, in order to carry information to their respective gangs, of a booty in transit.

CARRION HUNTER. An undertaker.

CARROTTY-PATED. Ginger-hackled, red-haired.

CARRY WITCHET. A sort of conundrum, puzzlewit, or riddle.

CARTING. The punishment formerly inflicted on bawds, who were placed in a tumbrel or cart, and led through a town, that their persons might be known.


CAT, or SHOOT THE CAT. To vomit from drunkenness.

CAT CALL. A kind of whistle, chiefly used at theatres, to interrupt the actors, and damn a new piece.

CAT’S FOOT. To live under the cat’s foot; to be under the dominion of a wife hen-pecked.

CAT’S PAW. To be made a cat’s paw of; to be made a tool or instrument to accomplish the purpose of another: an allusion to the story of a monkey, who made use of a cat’s paw to scratch a roasted chesnut out of the fire.

CATAMARAN. An old scraggy woman; from a kind of float made of spars and yards lashed together, for saving ship-wrecked persons.

CATCH PENNY. Any temporary contrivance to raise a contribution on the public.

CATCH POLE. A bum bailiff, or sheriff’s officer.

CATCHING HARVEST. A dangerous time for a robbery, when many persons are on the road, on account of a horse-race, fair, or some other public meeting.

CATER COUSINS. Good friends.

CATERWAULING. Going out in the night in search of intrigues, like a cat in the gutters.

CATHEDRAL. Old-fashioned. An old cathedral-bedstead, chair.

CATTLE. Horses for drawing carriages.


CAUDGE-PAWED. Left-handed.

CAW-HANDED, or CAW-PAWED. Awkward, not dextrous, ready, or nimble.

CENT PER CENTER. An usurer. A loan shark.

CHAFED. Well beaten.

CHALKERS. Men who in the night amuse themselves with cutting inoffensive passengers across the face with a knife.

CHALKING. The amusement above described.

CHAP. A fellow.

CHAPERON. A respectable older female companion to an unmarried or younger lady.

CHAPPED. Dry or thirsty.

CHARM. A picklock.

CHATTER BOX. A loquacious or overly talkative person.


CHAW BACON. A countryman. A stupid fellow.

CHEAPSIDE. He came at it by way of Cheapside; he gave little or nothing for it, he bought it cheap.

CHEEK BY JOWL. Side by side, hand to fist.


CHEESE IT. Be silent, do not be overheard.

CHICKEN-BREASTED. Said of a woman with scarce any breasts.

CHICKEN-HEARTED. Fearful, cowardly.

CHICKEN NABOB. One returned from the East Indies with but a moderate fortune of fifty or sixty thousand pounds.

CHINK. Money.

CHIT. An infant, baby, or young lady, not yet, or just barely introduced to society.

CHIT-FACED. Baby-faced; said of one who has a childish look.

CHOKE PEAR. Figuratively, an unanswerable objection: also a machine formerly used in Holland by robbers; it was of iron, shaped like a pear; this they forced into the mouths of persons from whom they intended to extort money; and on turning a key, certain interior springs thrust forth a number of points, in all directions, which so enlarged it, that it could not be taken out of the mouth: and the iron, being case-hardened, could not be filed: the only methods of getting rid of it, were either by cutting the mouth, or advertizing a reward for the key, These pears were also called pears of agony.

CHOICE SPIRIT. A thoughtless, laughing, singing, drunken fellow.

CHOP. A blow. Boxing term.

CHOP AND CHANGE. To exchange backwards and forwards, i.e. trade.

CHOUSE. To cheat or trick: he choused me out of it.

CHRISTENING. Erasing the name of the true maker from a stolen watch, and engraving a fictitious one in its place.

CHRISTIAN. A tradesman who has faith, i.e. will give credit.

CHRISTMAS. That time of year when extended families, servants, tradesmen, and boys from school, become particularly troublesome. — Aristocratic Satire

CHUB. He is a young chub, or a mere chub; i.e. a foolish fellow, easily imposed on: an illusion to a fish of that name, easily taken.

CHUCKLE-HEADED. Stupid, thick-headed.

CHURCHYARD COUGH. A cough that is likely to terminate in death.

CHURL. A rude, surly, boorish fellow.

CICISBEO. A married lady’s escort or admirer.

CINDER GARBLER. A servant maid, from her business of sifting the ashes from the cinders.

CIT. A citizen of London, usually refers to a merchant.

CLAMMED. Starved.

CLANKER. A great lie.

CLAP ON THE SHOULDER. An arrest for debt; whence a bum bailiff is called a shoulder-clapper.

CLAPPER CLAW. To scold, to abuse, or claw off with the tongue.

CLAPPERDOGEON. A beggar born.

CLARET. French red wine; figuratively, blood.

CLERKED. Soothed, funned, imposed on. The cull will not be clerked; i.e. the fellow will not be imposed on by fair words.

CLEYMES. Artificial sores, made by beggars to excite charity.

CLOAK TWITCHERS. Rogues who lurk about the entrances into dark alleys, and bye-lanes, to snatch cloaks from the shoulders of passengers.

CLOD HOPPER. A country farmer, or ploughman.

CLOD PATE. A dull, heavy booby.

CLOD POLE. The same.

CLOSE-FISTED. Covetous or stingy.

CLOUD. To blow a cloud of tobacco. Also, under a cloud; as in adversity.

CLOVES. Thieves, robbers.

CLUTCH FIST. Covetous, stingy.

COACH WHEEL. A half crown piece is a fore coach wheel, and a crown piece a hind coach wheel; the fore wheels of a coach being less than the hind ones.

COB. A Spanish dollar. A hired riding horse.

COBBLE. To mend, or patch; likewise to do a thing in a bungling manner.

COBBLERS PUNCH. Treacle, vinegar, gin, and water.

COBBLED STREETS. Streets paved with large, set stones.

COCK AND A BULL STORY. A roundabout story, without head or tail, i.e. beginning or ending.

COCK-A-WHOOP. Elevated, in high-spirits, transported with joy.

COCK BAWD. A male keeper of a bawdy-house.

COCK ROBIN. A soft, easy fellow.

COCK-SURE. Certain: a metaphor borrowed front the cock of a firelock, as being much more certain to fire than the match.

COD. A cod of money: a good sum of money.

CODGER. An old codger: an old fellow.

COG. To cheat with dice; also to coax or wheedle.

CORKER. A lie.

COLLEGE. Newgate or any other prison.

COOL TANKARD. Wine and water, with lemon, sugar, and burrage.

COLT. A boy newly initiated into roguery.

COLT’S TOOTH. An old fellow who marries or keeps a young girl, is said to have a colt’s tooth in his head.

COMB. To scold any one.


COMPANY. To seek company; to enter into a course of prostitution.

COUNTRY DANCE. A dance where the dancers of the different sexes stand opposite each other, instead of side by side, as in the minuet, rigadoon, louvre.

CONVENIENT. A mistress.

COQUET. A jilt, or a flirt.

CORINTHIAN. A male member of the ton that is both fashionable and sporting and thereby epidomizes the most admirable traits. Top of the Trees.

CORK-BRAINED. Light-headed, foolish.

COSSET. A foundling. Cosset colt or lamb; a colt or lamb brought up by hand. Generally means to spoil.

COT, or QUOT. A man who meddles with women’s household business, particularly in the kitchen. The punishment commonly inflicted on a quot, is pinning a greasy dishclout to the skirts of his coat.

COVE. A man, a fellow, a rogue. The cove was bit; the rogue was outwitted.

COVENT, or CONVENT GARDEN, vulgarly called COMMON GARDEN. Anciently, the garden belonging to a dissolved monastery; famous for being the chief market in London for fruit, flowers, and herbs. The theatres are situated near it. In its environs are many brothels, the lodgings of the demi-monde or second order of ladies of easy virtue were either there, or in the purlieus of Drury Lane.


COVENT GARDEN AGUE. The venereal disease. He broke his shins against Covent Garden rails; he caught the venereal disorder.

COVENT GARDEN NUN. A prostitute.

COVEY. A group of prostitutes.

COUCH A HOGSHEAD. To lie down to sleep.

COURT CARD. A gay fluttering coxcomb.

COURTESAN. A royal mistress or a high-flying prostitute or paramour associated with noblemen or men of wealth.

COW-HANDED. Awkward, often applied to one who does not handle horses adroitly.


COXCOMB. A fop, or vain self-conceited fellow, unually overdressed to the extreme. The antithesis of a Corinthian.

CRABBED. Sour, ill-tempered, difficult.

CRACK. To boast or brag.

CRACK, or ALL THE CRACK. The latest trend, or the epitomy of current fashion.

CRACKING TOOLS. Implements of house-breaking, such as a crowbar, a wedge or skeleton key.


CRACKSMAN. A house-breaker.

CRANK. Gin and water.

CRAVAT. A stylish gentleman’s neckcloth or tie made from starched linen and elaborately tied around the neck.

CREW. A knot or gang.

CRIB. To purloin, or appropriate for one’s own use, part of any thing entrusted to one’s care.

CRIBBAGE-FACED. Marked with the small pox, the pits bearing a kind of resemblance to the holes in a cribbage-board.

CRIMCON MONEY. Damages directed by a jury to be paid by a convicted adulterer to the injured husband for criminal conversation with his wife.

CROAKER. One who is always foretelling some accident or misfortune: an allusion to the croaking of a raven, supposed ominous.

CROCODILE’S TEARS. The tears of a hypocrite. Crocodiles are fabulously reported to shed tears over their prey before they devour it.

CROKER. A groat, or four pence.

CRONE. An old ewe whose teeth are worn out; figuratively, a toothless old harridan.

CRONY. An intimate companion, a comrade; also a confederate in a robbery.

CROOK BACK. Sixpence.

CROOK SHANKS. A nickname for a man with bandy legs.

CROPPED. To be condemned to be hanged.

CROPPER. To come a cropper is to meet an end or to be hanged.

CROW. To brag, boast, or triumph.

CRUISERS. Beggars, or highway spies, who traverse the road, to give intelligence of a booty; also rogues ready to snap up any booty that may offer, like privateers or pirates on a cruise.

CRUSTY BEAU. A man that uses paint and cosmetics to obtain a fine complexion.

CRUSTY FELLOW. A surly fellow.

CUB. An an unformed, ill-educated young man, a young nobleman or gentleman on his travels. Also, a new gamester.

CUCKOLD. The husband of an unfaithful wife.

CULL. A man, honest or otherwise. A bob cull; a good-natured, quiet fellow.

CULLABILITY. A disposition liable to be cheated, an unsuspecting nature, open to imposition.

>CULLY. A fog or fool: also, a dupe to women: from the Italian word coglione, a blockhead.

CUNNING MAN. A cheat, who pretends by his skill in astrology to assist persons in recovering stolen goods: and also to tell them their fortunes, and when, how often, and to whom they shall be married; likewise answers all lawful questions, both by sea and land. This profession is frequently occupied by ladies.

CUNNING SHAVER. A sharp fellow, one that trims close, i.e. cheats ingeniously.

CUNNY-THUMBED. To double one’s fist with the thumb inwards, like a woman.

CUP OF THE CREATURE. A cup of good liquor.

CUP-SHOT. Drunk.

CUPS. In the cups, drunk.

CUR. A surly fellow.

CURMUDGEON. A covetous old fellow.

CURRY. To curry favour; to obtain the favour of a person be coaxing or servility.

CURRICLE. A small two-wheeled, open or sporting carriage drawn by two horses abreast. .

CURTAIN LECTURE. A woman who scolds her husband when in bed, is said to read him a curtain lecture.

CUSTOM-HOUSE GOODS. The stock in trade of a prostitute, because fairly entered.

CUT. To renounce acquaintance with any one is to CUT them. There are several species of the CUT.

CUT DIRECT. To directly cut someone is to cross the street at their approach in order to deliberately avoid them.

CUT INDIRECT. To indirectly cut someone is to look another way, and pass without appearing to observe them.

CUT SUBLIME. The cut sublime is to admire the rooftops or the beauty of the passing clouds, till he or she is out of sight.

CUT INFERNAL. The cut infernal is to analyze the arrangement of your shoe-strings, for the same purpose.

CUTTY-EYE. To look out of the corners of one’s eyes, to leer, to look askance. The cull cutty-eyed at us; the fellow looked suspicious at us.

CYPRIAN. A courtesan or mistress, usually stylish or sophisticated and kept by men of wealth.


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