May 12th, 2006

Mad Red

Happy Birthday, nicodemusrat!

For your present, here's today's Forgotten English!

cow's thumb
Done to a cow's thumb, done exactly.
--Capt. Francis Grose's A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1796


Death of Francis Grose (1731-1791),
English antiquarian, classically trained painter, and collector of unusual words and phrases. First ublish in 1785, his wickedly amusing dictionary encompassing English dialect, rogues' cant, and street slang has become a classic reference. Pierce Egan's Life in London: Exhibiting a Living Picture of Fashionable Character, Manners, and Amusements in High and Low Life (1821) described how Grose, accompanied by his servant Batch, began his arduous literary gathering: "Batch and his master used frequently to start at midnight from the King's Arms in Holborn in search of adventures. The back slums of St. Giles's were explored again and again, and the Captain and Batch made themselves affable and jolly as the rest of the motley crew among beggars, cadgers, thieves, etc., who at that time infested [that district]. It was from these nocturnal sallies and the slang expressions which continually assailed his ears that Grose was first induced to compile A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue."

Mmm ... vulgar tongue...

-The Gneech
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