A Collection of the Canting Words and Terms, both ancient and modern,
used by Beggars, Gypsies, Cheats, House-Breakers, Shop-Lifters, Foot-Pads,
Taken from The Universal Etymological English Dictionary, by N.
Bailey, London, 1737, Vol. II, and transcrib'd into XML Most Diligently by
I don't have a slang word of the day yet, but this online dictionary of
thieving slang is more than
just a list of slang words and their meanings.
There are examples of how the slang words and phrases were used,
and I have added lots of links between the entries so you can use
it as a slang thesaurus too.
Most of the links here are from lists of resources for
writers, and if you are writing about the late 1600s or early 1700s in
England (especially with London slang) you'll find a lot of ideas here.
Nathan Bailey published this slang glossary in 1737, and he
didn't hold back: there are sex slang terms along with prison slang
and even eighteenth century urban slang phrases! Is it a slang dictionary
or a slang glossary? The author called it a dictionary of canting terms,
and it's certainly more than just a list of slang words and their meanings.
If you are looking for a modern British dictionary of slang, or
for elizabethan slang, look elsewhere. This is vulgar slang from
Note: English spelling has evolved greatly since this
dictionary was publish'd. In the Eighteenth Century, Capital Letters were
generally used for Nouns, and the spelling of a word could vary from one
occurrence to the next. Cloaths, Clothes and Cloathes
all seem to have been used, for example.
You'll just have to deal with it.
Note also that i and j are treated as if they were the
same letter, as are u and v: that Urchin appears in
the dictionary quite a way after Vamp since the U is sorted as if it
were a V.
There is also a scanned page image for one double-page spread.
I produced these pages by typing the dictionary by hand (since OCR
generally does not work well with books this old) and read the results
through several times to try to weed out the errors. I marked the text
up originally in SGML, and later converted that to XML. The Web pages
were created by a Perl script that automatically added links within
I put one word per Web page so people could link to the definitions
more easily. I have also added adverts (Jan 2005) as an experiment, and
links to some books that I thought might interest people looking at the