Canting Dictionary [thieving slang], 1736

A Collection of the Canting Words and Terms, both ancient and modern, used by Beggars, Gypsies, Cheats, House-Breakers, Shop-Lifters, Foot-Pads, Highway-Men, &c;

Taken from The Universal Etymological English Dictionary, by N. Bailey, London, 1737, Vol. II, and transcrib'd into XML Most Diligently by Liam Quin.

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Nearby: Dictionary of Proverbs by Nathan Bailey; Piggot's Political Dictionary (1795); Kent's 1718 Grammar of Heraldry

Francis Grose's 1811 Dictionary of Slang

Also, Extracts from Dictionaries

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 the 1720s.

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.


all bawd entries   all crime entries   all money entries   all person entries   all phrase entries   all place entries   all punishment entries   all thing entries

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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 the dictionary.

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 dictionary.

The dictionary occurs as an appendix in a copy of Nathan Bailey's Universal Etymological Dictionary that was given to me. I have also transcribed some entries from another copy of the Universal Etymological Dictionary if you are interested.


This page is also linked to from:

It's also mentioned by Shrapnel Games.


Related books that might interest you:

Francis Grose: Provincial Glossary
Everyday Live in the 1800s
Chambes English Dictionary
The Stories of English
Provincial Glossary
by Francis Grose (1811)
Everyday Life in the 1800s: A Guide for Writers, Students & Historians
by Marc McCutcheon
Chambers British English Dictionary The Stories of English
by David Crystal