Regency Romance Era Thieves and Sporting Slang L

A Very Merry Chase Regency Romance Era Lexicon Of Relevant Terms


LADYBIRD. A woman of easy virtue, one who usually trades her favors for money or gifts.

LADY OF EASY VIRTUE. A woman of the town, an impure, a prostitute.

LADYBIRDS. Light or lewd women.



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.

LAND PIRATES. Highwaymen.

LANDAU. A four-wheeled carriage with two facing seats and a folding roof.

LANSPRISADO. 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.

LARK. A piece of merriment. People playing together jocosely.

LATHY. Thin, slender. A lathy wench; a girl almost as slender as a lath.

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.


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.

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 stooping.

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.

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.


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.


LIBBEN. A private dwelling-house.

LIBKEN. A house to lie in.

LICK. To beat.

LICKSPITTLE. A parasite, or talebearer.

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.

LIGHTSKIRT. A prostitute, demi-rep or otherwise unvirtuous woman of light morals who is generally willing to trade her favors for money.

LIGHTNING. Gin. A flash of lightning; a glass of gin.

LILY WHITE. A chimney-sweeper.

LILY SHALLOW. 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.

LINE. To get a man into a line, i.e. to divert his attention by a ridiculous or absurd story. To humbug.

LITTLE BREECHES. A familiar appellation used to a little boy.

LOBCOCK. A dull inanimate fellow.

LOBKIN. A house to lie in: also a lodging.

LOCK. A buyer of stolen goods, as well as the receptacle for them.

LOCK UP HOUSE. A jail. Also houses kept by agents or crimps, who enlist, trepan or kidnap, men to serve the East India or African company as soldiers.


LOGGERHEAD. A blockhead, or stupid fellow.

LOLL. Mother’s loll; a favourite child, the mother’s darling,

LONG. Great. A long price; a great price.

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-WINDED. A long-winded parson; one who preached long, tedious sermons.

LOOBY. An awkward, ignorant fellow.

LOO. A card game in which forfeits are paid into a pool.

LOOPHOLE. An opening, or means of escape. To find a loophole in an act of parliament; i.e. a method of evading it,

LOPE. To leap, to run away.


LOUNGE. A loitering place, or gossiping shop.

LOUT. A country bumkin, or clown.

LOW PAD. A footpad, mugger or thief.

LOW TIDE, or LOW WATER. When there is no money in a man’s pocket.

LOWER ORDERS. Anyone not of the Aristocracy.


LULLIES. Diaper or swaddling clothes.

LUMPING. Great. A lumping penny worth; a great quantity for the money, a bargain.

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.

LUSH. Strong beer, or term for a heavy drinker or alcoholic.

LUSHEY. Drunk.

Do you love old-fashioned Regency Romance novels?

Will a genuinely old-fashioned Regency Romance that was actually written 35 years ago-but has only been recently published-that includes a wealthy, slightly older, not-so-helpless fine lady who curses (lightly), regularly insults the hero, knows how to ride, shoot, drink, throw a punch and darn well rescue herself when necessary, suffice?  If so, you might want to check out my Regency Romance novel A Very Merry Chase. Is it great literature for the generations? Probably not-but it is a fun read in the tradition of the comedy of errors/manners vein that will, amuse and entertain. The first chapter is available online for free.

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