John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey
the_gneech

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Happy Birthday, james_b!

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

ambia
Used in the South and West for tobacco juice. It is a euphemism for the spittle produced by this voluntary ptyalism. More commonly spelled and pronounced ambeer, probably from amber, denoting its color.
--James Bartlett's Dictionary of Americanisms, 1877


On this date in 1810, Napoleon Bonaparte completed his seizure of French tobacco companies. William Walsh's Handy-Book of Curious Information (1913) explained that after meeting the diamond-studded wife of a filthy-rich tobacco magnate, the little dictator could not restrain himself: "By the 20th of December a decree had appeared commanding that henceforth the manufacture and sale of tobacco should belong exclusively to the state. It has remained a government monopoly ever since, and the most important source of French revenue. This move was, on the whole, a beneficial one to lovers of the weed. As the use of tobacco has increased, it had been adulterated in every possible shape. Under its name, cabbage-leaves, walnut-leaves, seaweed, and hay were smoked. Bark, peat moss, and the roots of Iceland moss were pulverized into snuff."


-The Gneech
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