Regency Romance Era Thieves and Sporting Slang P

A Very Merry Chase Regency Romance Era Lexicon Of Relevant Terms


PACKET. A false report.

PACKTHREAD. To talk packthread; to use indecent language well wrapt up.

PAD. The highway, or a robber thereon; also a bed. Footpads; foot robbers. To go out upon the pad; to go out in order to commit a robbery.

PAD BORROWERS. Horse stealers.


PADDINGTON FAIR DAY. An execution day, Tyburn being in the parish or neighbourhood of Paddington. To dance the Paddington frisk; to be hanged.

PADDY. The general name for an Irishman: being the abbreviation of Patrick, the name of the tutelar saint of that island.

PALAVER. To treaty, talk, or conference.

PALLIARDS. Those whose fathers were clapperdogens, or beggars born, and who themselves follow the same trade: the female sort beg with a number of children, borrowing them, if they have not a sufficient number of their own, and making them cry by pinching in order to excite charity; the males make artificial sores on different parts of their bodies, to move compassion.

PAP. Bread sauce; also the food of infants. His mouth is full of pap; he is still a baby.

PAPER SCULL. A thin-scull’d foolish fellow.

PATE. The head. Carroty-pated; red-haired.

PAUM. To conceal in the hand. To palm a die: to hide a die in the palm of the hand. He paums; he cheats. Don’t pretend to paum that upon me.

PAUNCH. The belly.

PAW. A hand or foot; look at his dirty paws.

PAW PAW TRICKS. Naughty tricks: an expression used by nurses to children.

PEAK. Any kind of lace.

PEAL. To scold.

PECCAVI. To cry peccavi; to acknowledge one’s self in an error, to own a fault. i.e. Mea Culpa.

PECK. Victuals. Peck and booze; victuals and drink.

PECKISH. Hungry.

PECULIAR. A mistress.

PEDDLER’S FRENCH. Slang or thieves cant.

PEDDLER’S PONY. A walking-stick.

PEEPER. A spying glass; also a looking-glass.


PEEPING TOM. A nick name for a curious prying fellow; derived from an old legendary tale, told of a taylor of Coventry, who, when Godiva countess of Chester rode at noon quite naked through that town, in order to procure certain immunities for the inhabitants, (notwithstanding the rest of the people shut up their houses) shly peeped out of his window, for which he was miraculously struck blind. His figure, peeping out of a window, is still kept up in remembrance of the transaction.

PELISSE. A full or three-quarter length ladies coat that buttons up the front, but is usually sleeveless more in the style of a cape.

PELL-MELL. Tumultuously, helter skelter, jumbled together.

PELT. A heat, chafe, or passion. What a pelt he was in!

PENANCE BOARD. The pillory.

PENNYWORTH. An equivalent. A good pennyworth; cheap bargain.

PENTHOUSE NAB. A broad brimmed hat.

PEPPERED. Infected with the venereal disease.

PEPPERY. Warm, passionate.


PET. In a pet; in a passion or miff.

PETTICOAT HOLD. One who has an estate during his wife’s life, called the apron-string hold.

PETTICOAT PENSIONER. One kept by a woman for secret services.

PETTY FOGGER. A little dirty attorney, ready to undertake any litigious or bad cause: it is derived from the French words petit vogue, of small credit, or little reputation.

PHAETON. A light, four-wheeled sporting carriage with one seat.

PHARAOH. Strong malt liquor.

PHILISTINES. Bailiffs, or officers of justice; also drunkards.

PHOENIX-MEN. Firemen belonging to an insurance office, which gave a badge charged with a phoenix: these men were called likewise firedrakes.

PHYSOG. The face. A vulgar abbreviation of physiognomy.

PHYZ. The face. Rum phyz; an odd face or countenance.

PICAROON. A pirate; also a sharper.

PICKING. Pilfering, petty larceny.

PICKTHANK. A tale-bearer or mischief maker.

PIDDLE. To make water, to urinate. A childish expression.

PIDDLING SORT. Derogatory term for a childish person.

PIECE. A wench. A damned good or bad piece; a girl who is more or less active and skilful in the amorous congress.

PIG. A police officer. A China street pig; a Bow-street officer.

PIG-WIDGEON. a simpleton.

PIG-HEADED. Obstinate.

PIGS WHISPER. A grunt, ‘a word ’twixt you and me’.

PIGEON. A dupe, or weak silly fellow easily imposed on. A gambler’s mark, to be cheated.

PIKE. To run away. Pike off; run away.

PIN BASKET. The youngest child.

PIN MONEY. An allowance settled on a married woman for her pocket expences.

PINCH. At a pinch; on an exigency.

PINCH. To go into a tradesman’s shop under the pretence of purchasing rings or other light articles, and while examining them to shift some up the sleeve of the coat.

PINCHERS. Rogues who, in changing money, by dexterity of hand frequently secrete two or three shillings out of the change of a guinea. This species of roguery is called the pinch, or pinching lay.

PINK. To stab or wound with a small sword: probably derived from the holes formerly cut in both men and women’s clothes, called pinking.

PINK OF FASHION. The top of the current mode, to be in high style.

PINS. Legs. Queer pins; ill shapen legs.

PIQUET. A card game where you acquire points according to the numbers on your cards.

PITCH-KETTLED. Stuck fast, confounded.

PLATE. Money, silver, prize.

PLATTER-FACED. Broad-faced.

PLUCK. Courage.

PLUMB. An hundred thousand pounds.

PLUMMY. It is all plummy; i.e. all is right, or as it ought to be.

PLUMP. Fat, full, fleshy. Plump in the pocket; full in the pocket.

PLUMP CURRANT. I am not plump currant; I am out of sorts.

PLUMPERS. Contrivances used to fake a full bosom.

POCKETS TO LET. Empty pockets, no money.

POCKET HOUSEWIFE. Small portable sewing kit.  Thanks to Regency Redingote for this explanation.

POCKET VENUS.  A beautiful, curvaceous woman of small stature.

POGY. Drunk.

POINT NON PLUS. At a standsill.

POKE. A blow with the fist. A poke likewise means a sack. To buy a pig in a poke, i.e. to buy any thing without seeing or properly examining it.

POKER. A sword.

POLISH A BONE. To eat a meal. Come and polish a bone with me; come and eat a dinner or supper with me.

POLT. A blow, give him a knock in the face.

POMMEL. To beat. Originally confined to beating with the hilt of a sword, the knob being, from its similarity to a small apple, called pomelle; in Spanish.

POMP. Formal.

PONEY. Money. Post the poney; lay down the money. £50

PONTIUS PILATE. A pawnbroker.

POP. To shoot, pawn or pledge.

POP OFF. To take a young girl to London for the season for the purpose of showing her off and finding a husband.

POPINJAY. A vain, pretentious person who excels at empty chatter. Also, a coxcomb or a fop.

POPS or POPPERS. Pistols. His means are two pops and a galloper; that is, he is a highwayman.

POPSHOP. A pawnbroker’s shop. To pop; to pawn: also to shoot. I popped my tatler; I pawned my watch. I popt the cull; I shot the man.

POSEY, or POESY. A nosegay.

POST CHAISE. A closed carriage used for travel or long journeys.

POT HUNTER. One who hunts more tor the sake of the prey than the sport.

POT VALIENT. Courageous from drink.

POTHOOKS AND HANGEKS. A scrawl, bad writing.

PRAD. A horse. The swell flashes a rum prad: the gentleman sports a fine horse.

PRANCER. A horse.

PRATE ROAST. A talkative boy.

PRATING CHEAT. The tongue.

PRATTS. Buttocks; also a tinder box.


PRATTLING BOX. The pulpit.


PRIG. A conceited coxcomical fellow.

PRIGGERS. Thieves in general. Priggers of prancers; horse stealers. Priggers of cacklers: robbers of hen-roosts.

PRIME. Bang up. Quite the thing. Excellent. Well done.

PRIME TWIG. High condition, doing well.

PRINCUM PRANCUM. Mrs. Princum Prancum; a nice, precise, formal madam.

PRINKING. Dressing over nicely. Primped or nicely dressed.

PRITTLE PRATTLE. Insignificant talk: generally applied to women and children.

PROPS. Crutches.

PROVENDER. He from whom any money is taken on the highway.

PRY. To examine minutely into a matter or business. A prying fellow; a man of impertinent curiosity, apt to peep and inquire into other men’s secrets.

PUBLIC LEDGER. A prostitute: because, like that paper, she is open to all parties.

PUCKER. All in a pucker; in a dishabille. Also in a fright; as, she was in a terrible pucker.

PUDDING-HEADED FELLOW. A stupid fellow, one whose brains are all in confusion.

PUFF, or PUFFER. One who bids at auctions, not with an intent to buy, but only to raise the price of the lot; for which purpose many are hired by the proprietor of the goods on sale.

PUFF GUTS. A fat man.


PUFFING. Praising any thing above its merits, for self-interested motives.

PUG. A lap-dog, also a general name for a monkey.

PUG CARPENTETER. An inferior carpenter, one employed only in small jobs.

PUG DRINK. Watered down cider.

PUGNOSED, or PUGIFIED. A person with a snub or turned up nose.

PUMP. A thin shoe. T

PUNCH. A liquor called by foreigners Contradiction, from its being composed of spirits to make it strong, water to make it weak, lemon juice to make it sour, and sugar to make it sweet.

PUNISH. To beat in fighting.

PUNISHER. Fist or one who beats another soundly.

PUNY. Weak. A puny child; a weak little child. A puny stomach; a weak stomach. Puny, or puisne judge; the last made judge.

PUPPY. An affected or conceited coxcomb.

PURBLIND. Dim-sighted.

PURL. Ale in which wormwood has been infused, or ale and bitters drunk warm.

PURL ROYAL. Canary wine; with a dash of tincture of wormwood.

PURSE PROUD. One that is vain of his riches.

PURSENETS. Goods taken up at thrice their value, by young spendthrifts, upon trust.

PURSY, or PURSIVE. Short-breathed, or foggy, from being over fat.

PUZZLE-CAUSE. A lawyer who has a confused understanding.

PUZZLE JUG. A special drinking mug made for pranks and drinking games. It was usually perforated so that it was difficult to drink from without get spilled, sloshed or dribbled upon.

PUZZLE-TEXT. An ignorant blundering parson.


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