|RABBIT. A Welch rabbit; bread and cheese toasted, i.e. a Welch rare
bit. Rabbits were also a sort of wooden canns to drink out of, now out of
RABBIT CATCHER. A midwife.
RABBIT SUCKERS. Young spendthrifts taking up goods on trust at great
RACK RENT. Rent strained to the utmost value. To lie at rack and manger;
to be in great disorder.
RACKABACK. A gormagon. See GORMAGON.
RAFFS. An appellation given by the gownsmen of the university of Oxford to
the inhabitants of that place.
RAG. Bank notes. Money in general. The cove has no rag; the fellow has no
RAG. A farthing.
TO RAG. To abuse, and tear to rags the characters of the persons abused.
She gave him a good ragging, or ragged him off heartily.
RAG CARRIER. An ensign.
RAG FAIR. An inspection of the linen and necessaries of a company of
soldiers, commonly made by their officers on Mondays or Saturdays.
RAG WATER. Gin, or any other common dram: these liquors seldom failing to
reduce those that drink them to rags.
RAGAMUFFIN. A ragged fellow, one all in tatters, a tatterdemallion.
RAILS. See HEAD RAILS. A dish of rails; a lecture, jobation, or scolding
from a married woman to her husband.
RAINBOW. Knight of the rainbow; a footman: from being commonly clothed in
garments of different colours. A meeting of gentlemen, styled of the most
ancient order of the rainbow, was advertised to be held at the
Foppington’s Head, Moorfields.
RAINY DAY. To lay up something for a rainy day; to provide against a time
of necessity or distress.
RAKE, RAKEHELL, or RAKESHAME. A lewd, debauched fellow.
RALPH SPOONER. A fool.
RAM CAT. A he cat.
RAMMISH. Rank. Rammish woman; a sturdy virago.
RAMMER. The arm. The busnapper’s kenchin seized my rammer; i.e. the
watchman laid hold of my arm. .
TO RAMP. To snatch, or tear any thing forcibly from the person.
RAMSHACKLED. Out of repair. A ramshackled house; perhaps a corruption of
RANSACKED, i.e. plundered.
RANDLE. A set of nonsensical verses, repeated in Ireland by schoolboys,
and young people, who have been guilty of breaking wind backwards before
any of their compa-nions; if they neglect this apology, they are liable to
certain kicks, pinches, and fillips, which are accompanied with divers
RANDY. Obstreperous, unruly, rampant.
RANGLING. Intriguing with a variety of women.
RANK. Stinking, rammish, ill-flavoured; also strong, great. A rank knave;
a rank coward: perhaps the latter may allude to an ill savour caused by
RANK RIDER. A highwayman.
RANTALLION. One whose scrotum is so relaxed as to be longer than his
penis, i.e. whose shot pouch is longer that the barrel of his piece.
RANTIPOLE. A rude romping boy or girl; also a gadabout dissipated woman.
To ride rantipole; the same as riding St. George. See ST. GEORGE.
RANTUM SUM. Playing at rantum sum; making the beast with two backs.
To RAP To take a false oath; also to curse. He rapped out a volley; i.e.
he swore a whole volley of oaths. To rap, means also to exchange or
barter: a rap is likewise an Irish halfpenny. Rap on the knuckles; a
RAPPAREES. Irish robbers, or outlaws, who in the time of Oliver Cromwell
were armed with short weapons, called in Irish RAPIERS, used for ripping
RAPPER. A swinging great lie.
RAREE SHEW MEN. Poor Savoyards, who subsist by shewing the magic lantern
and marmots about London.
RASCAL. A rogue or villain: a term borrowed from the chase; a rascal
originally meaning a lean shabby deer, at the time of changing his horns,
penis, &c. whence, in the vulgar acceptation, rascal is conceived to
signify a man without genitals: the regular vulgar answer to this
reproach, if uttered by a woman, is the offer of an ocular demonstration
of the virility of the party so defamed. Some derive it from RASCAGLIONE,
an Italian word signifying a man. without testicles, or an eunuch.
RAT. A drunken man or woman taken up by the watch, and confined in the,
watch-house. . To smell a rat; to suspect some intended trick, or unfair
RATS. Of these there are the following kinds: a black rat and a grey rat,
a py-rat and a cu-rat.
RATTLE. A dice-box. To rattle; to talk without consideration, also to move
off or go away. To rattle one off; to rate or scold him.
RATTLE-PATE. A volatile, unsteady, or whimsical man or woman.
RATTLE-TRAPS. A contemptuous name for any curious portable piece of
machinery, or philosophical apparatus.
RATTLER. A coach. Rattle and prad; a coach and horses.
RATTLING COVE. A coachman. .
RATTLING MUMPERS. Beggars who ply coaches. .
RAWHEAD AND BLOODY BONES. A bull beggar, or scarechild, with which foolish
nurses terrify crying brats.
READER. A pocket-book. .
READER MERCHANTS. Pickpockets, chiefly young Jews, who ply about the Bank
to steal the pocket-books of persons who have just received their
READY. The ready rhino; money. .
REBUS. A riddle or pun on a man’s name, expressed in sculpture or
painting, thus: a bolt or arrow, and a tun, for Bolton; death’s head, and
a ton, for Morton.
RECEIVER GENERAL. A prostitute.
RECKON. To reckon with one’s host; to make an erroneous judgment in one’s
own favour. To cast-up one’s reckoning or accounts; to vomit.
TO RECRUIT. To get a fresh supply of money.
RECRUITING SERVICE. Robbing on the highway.
RED FUSTIAN. Port wine.
RED LANE. The throat. Gone down the red lane; swallowed.
RED RIBBIN. Brandy.
RED LATTICE. A public house.
RED LETTER DAY. A saint’s day or holiday, marked in the calendars with red
letters. Red letter men; Roman Catholics: from their observation of the
saint days marked in red letters.
RED RAG. The tongue. Shut your potatoe trap, and give your red rag a
holiday; i.e. shut your mouth, and let your tongue rest. Too much of the
red rag (too much tongue).
RED SAIL-YARD DOCKERS. Buyers of stores stolen out of the royal yards and
RED SHANK. A Scotch Highlander.
REGULARS. Share of the booty. The coves cracked the swell’s crib, fenced
the swag, and each cracksman napped his regular; some fellows broke open a
gentleman’s house, and after selling the property which they had stolen,
they divided the money between them.
RELIGIOUS HORSE. One much given to prayer, or apt to be down upon his
RELIGIOUS PAINTER. One who does not break the commandment which prohibits
the making of the likeness of any thing in heaven or earth, or in the
waters under the earth.
THE RELISH. The sign of the Cheshire cheese.
RELISH. Carnal connection with a woman.
REMEDY CRITCH. A chamber pot, or member mug.
REMEMBER PARSON MELHAM. Drink about: a Norfolk phrase.
RENDEZVOUS. A place of meeting. The rendezvous of the beggars were, about
the year 1638, according to the Bellman, St, Quinton’s, the Three Crowns
in the Vintry, St. Tybs, and at Knapsbury: there were four barns within a
mile of London. In Middlesex were four other harbours, called Draw the
Pudding out of the Fire, the Cross Keys in Craneford parish, St. Julian’s
in Isleworth parish, and the house of Pettie in Northall parish. In Kent,
the King’s Barn near Dartford, and Ketbrooke near Blackheath.
REP. A woman of reputation.
REPOSITORY. A lock-up or spunging-house, a gaol. Also livery stables where
horses and carriages are sold by auction.
RESCOUNTERS. The time of settlement between the bulls and bears of
Exchange-alley, when the losers must pay their differences, or become lame
ducks, and waddle out of the Alley.
RESURRECTION MEN. Persons employed by the students in anatomy to steal
dead bodies out of church-yards.
REVERENCE. An ancient custom, which obliges any person easing himself near
the highway or foot-path, on the word REVERENCE being given him by a
passenger, to take off his hat with his teeth, and without moving from his
station to throw it over his head, by which it frequently falls into the
excrement; this was considered as a punishment for the breach of delicacy,
A person refusing to obey this law, might be pushed backwards. Hence,
perhaps, the term, SIR-REVERENCE.
REVERSED. A man set by bullies on his head, that his money may fall out of
his breeches, which they afterwards by accident pick up. See HOISTING.
REVIEW OF THE BLACK CUIRASSIERS. A visitation of the clergy. See CROW
RIB. A wife: an allusion to our common mother Eve, made out of Adam’s rib.
A crooked rib: a cross-grained wife.
RIBALDRY. Vulgar abusive language, such as was spoken by ribalds. Ribalds
were originally mercenary soldiers who travelled about, serving any master
far pay, but afterwards degenerated into a mere banditti.
RIBBIN. Money. The ribbin runs thick; i.e. there is plenty of money. .
Blue ribbin. Gin. The cull lushes the blue ribbin; the silly fellow drinks
To RIBROAST. To beat: I’ll ribroast him to his heart’s content.
RICH FACE, or NOSE. A red pimpled, face.
RICHAUD SNARY. A dictionary. A country lad, having been reproved for
calling persons by their christian names, being sent by his master to
borrow a dictionary, thought to shew his breeding by asking for a Richard
RIDER. A person who receives part of the salary of a place or appointment
from the ostensible occupier, by virtue of an agreement with the donor, or
great man appointing. The rider is said to be quartered upon the
possessor, who often has one or more persons thus riding behind him. See
RIDGE. A guinea. Ridge cully; a goldsmith. .
RIDING ST. GEORGE. The woman uppermost in the amorous congress, that is,
the dragon upon St. George. This is said to be the way to get a bishop.
RIDING SKIMMINGTON. A ludicrous cavalcade, in ridicule of a man beaten by
his wife. It consists of a man riding behind a woman, with his face to the
horse’s tail, holding a distaff in his hand, at which he seems to work,
the woman all the while beating him with a ladle; a smock displayed on a
staff is carried before them as an emblematical standard, denoting female
superiority: they are accompanied by what is called the ROUGH MUSIC, that
is, frying-pans, bulls horns, marrow-bones and cleavers, &c. A procession
of this kind is admirably described by Butler in his Hudibras. He rode
private, i.e. was a private trooper.
RIFF RAFF. Low vulgar persons, mob, tag-rag and bob-tail.
RIG. Fun, game, diversion, or trick. To run one’s rig upon any particular
person; to make him a butt. l am up to your rig; I am a match for your
RIGGING. Clothing. I’ll unrig the bloss; I’ll strip the wench. Rum
Rigging; fine clothes. The cull has rum rigging, let’s ding him and mill
him, and pike; the fellow has good clothes, let’s knock him down, rob him,
and scour off, i.e. run away.
RIGHT. All right! A favourite expression among thieves, to signify that
all is as they wish, or proper for their purpose. All right, hand down the
jemmy; every thing is in proper order, give me the crow.
RIGMAROLE. Roundabout, nonsensical. He told a long rigmarole story.
RING. Money procured by begging: beggars so called it from its ringing
when thrown to them. Also a circle formed for boxers, wrestlers, and
cudgel-players, by a man styled Vinegar; who, with his hat before his
eyes, goes round the circle, striking at random with his whip to prevent
the populace from crowding in.
TO RING A PEAL. To scold; chiefly applied to women.
His wife rung him a fine peal!
RING THE CHANGES. When a person receives silver in change to shift some
good shillings and put bad ones in their place. The person who gave the
change is then requested to give good shillings for these bad ones.
RIP. A miserable rip; a poor, lean, worn-out horse. A shabby mean fellow.
RIPPONS. Spurs: Rippon is famous for a manufactory of spurs both for men
and fighting cocks.
ROARATORIOS AND UPROARS. Oratorios and operas.
ROARING BOY. A noisy, riotous fellow.
ROARER. A broken-winded horse.
ROARING TRADE. A quick trade.
TO ROAST. To arrest. I’ll roast the dab; I’ll arrest the rascal.—Also to
jeer, ridicule, or banter. He stood the roast; he was the butt.—Roast meat
clothes; Sunday or holiday-clothes. To cry roast meat; to boast of one’s
situation. To rule the roast; to be master or paramount.
ROAST AND BOILED. A nick name for the Life Guards, who are mostly
substantial house-keepers; and eat daily of roast and boiled.
ROBERT’S MEN. The third old rank of the ing crew, mighty thieves, like
ROBY DOUGLASS, with one eye and a stinking breath. The breech.
ROCHESTER PORTION. Two torn smocks, and what nature gave.
ROCKED. He was rocked in a stone kitchen; a saying meant to convey the
idea that the person spoken of is a fool, his brains having been
disordered by the jumbling of his cradle.
ROGER. A portmanteau; also a man’s yard. .
ROGER, or TIB OF THE BUTTERY. A goose. . Jolly Roger; a flag hoisted by
TO ROGER. To bull, or lie with a woman; from the name of Roger being
frequently given to a bull.
ROGUES. The fourth order of ers. A rogue in grain; a great rogue, also a
corn chandler. A rogue in spirit; a distiller or brandy merchant.
ROGUM POGUM, or DRAGRUM POGRAM. Goat’s beard, eaten for asparagus; so
called by the ladies who gather cresses, &c. who also deal in this plant.
ROMBOYLES. Watch and ward. Romboyled; sought after with a warrant.
ROME MORT. A queen.
ROMEVILLE. London. .
ROMP. A forward wanton girl, a tomrig. Grey, in his notes to Shakespeare,
derives it from arompo, an animal found in South Guinea, that is a man
eater. See HOYDEN.
ROOK. A cheat: probably from the thievish disposition of the birds of that
name. Also the name for a crow used in house-breaking. To rook; to cheat,
particularly at play.
ROOM. She lets out her fore room and lies backwards:
saying of a woman suspected of prostitution.
ROOST LAY. Stealing poultry.
ROPES. Upon the high ropes; elated, in high spirits, cock-a-hoop.
ROSE. Under the rose: privately or secretly. The rose was, it is said,
sacred to Harpocrates, the God of silence, and therefore frequently placed
in the ceilings of rooms destined for the receiving of guests; implying,
that whatever was transacted there, should not be made public.
ROSY GILLS. One with a sanguine or fresh-coloured countenance.
ROTAN. A coach, cart, or other wheeled carriage.
ROT GUT. Small beer; called beer-a-bumble—will burst one’s guts before it
will make one tumble.
ROVERS. Pirates, vagabonds.
ROUGH. To lie rough; to lie all night in one’s clothes:
called also roughing it. Likewise to sleep on the bare deck of a ship,
when the person is commonly advised to chuse the softest plank.
ROUGH MUSIC. Saucepans, frying-paps, poker and tongs, marrow-bones and
cleavers, bulls horns, &c. beaten upon and sounded in ludicrous
ROULEAU. A number of guineas, from twenty to fifty or more, wrapped up in
paper, for the more ready circulation at gaming-tables: sometimes they are
inclosed in ivory boxes, made to hold exactly 20, 50, or 100 guineas.
ROUND DEALING. Plain, honest dealing.
ROUNDHEADS. A term of reproach to the puritans and partizans of Oliver
Cromwell, and the Rump Parliament, who it is said made use of a bowl as a
guide to trim their hair.
ROUND ROBIN. A mode of signing remonstrances practised by sailors on board
the king’s ships, wherein their names are written in a circle, so that it
cannot be discovered who first signed it, or was, in other words, the
ROUND SUM. A considerable sum.
ROUND ABOUT. An instrument used in housebreaking. This instrument has not
been long in use. It will cut a round piece about five inches in diameter
out of a shutter or door.
ROUND MOUTH. The fundament. Brother round mouth, speaks; he has let a
ROUT. A modern card meeting at a private house; also an order from the
Secretary at War, directing the march and quartering of soldiers.
ROW. A disturbance; a term used by the students at Cambridge.
ROW. To row in the same boat; to be embarked in the same scheme.
ROWLAND. To give a Rowland for an Oliver; to give an equivalent. Rowland
and Oliver were two knights famous in romance: the wonderful achievements
of the one could only be equalled by those of the other.
ROYAL SCAMPS. Highwaymen who never rob any but rich persons, and that
without ill treating them. See SCAMP.
ROYAL STAG SOCIETY. Was held every Monday evening, at seven o’clock, at
the Three tuns, near the Hospital Gate, Newgate-street.
ROYSTER. A rude boisterous fellow; also a hound that opens on a false
TO RUB. To run away. Don’t rub us to the whit; don’t send us to Newgate.
.—To rub up; to refresh: to rub up one’s memory. A rub: an impediment. A
rubber; the best two out of three. To win a rubber: to win two games out
RUBY FACED. Red-faced.
RUFF. An ornament formerly worn by men and women round their necks. Wooden
ruff; the pillory.
RUFFIAN. The devil. .—May the ruffian nab the cuffin queer, and let the
harmanbeck trine with his kinchins about his colquarren; may the Devil
take the justice, and let the constable be hanged with his children about
his neck. The ruffian cly thee; the Devil take thee. Ruffian cook ruffian,
who scalded the Devil in his feathers; a saying of a bad cook. Ruffian
sometimes also means, a justice.
RUFFLERS. The first rank of ers; also notorious rogues pretending to be
maimed soldiers or sailors.
RUFFMANS. The woods, hedges, or bushes. .
RUG. It is all rug; it is all right and safe, the game is secure. .
RUG. Asleep. The whole gill is safe at rug; the people of the house are
RUM. Fine, good, valuable.
RUM BECK. A justice of the peace. .
RUM BITE. A clever cheat, a clean trick.
RUM BLEATING CHEAT. A fat wether sheep. .
RUM BLOWEN. A handsome wench. .
RUM BLUFFER. A jolly host. .
RUM BOB. A young apprentice; also a sharp trick.
RUM BOOZE. Wine, or any other good liquor. Rum boozing welts; bunches of
RUM BUBBER. A dexterous fellow at stealing silver tankards from inns and
RUM BUGHER. A valuable dog. .
RUM BUNG. A full purse. .
RUM CHUB. Among butchers, a customer easily imposed on, as to the quality
and price of meat. .
RUM CHANT. A song.
RUM CLOUT. A fine silk, cambric, or holland handkerchief.
RUM COD. A good purse of gold. .
RUM COLE. New money, or medals.
RUM COVE. A dexterous or clever rogue.
RUM CULL. A rich fool, easily cheated, particularly by his mistress.
RUM DEGEN. A handsome sword. .
RUM DELL. See RUM DOXY.
RUM DIVER. A dextrous pickpocket. .
RUM DOXY. A fine wench. .
RUM DRAWERS. Silk, or other fine stockings. .
RUM DROPPER. A vintner. .
RUM DUBBER. An expert picklock.
RUM DUKE. A jolly handsome fellow; also an odd eccentric fellow; likewise
the boldest and stoutest fellows lately among the Alsatians, Minters,
Savoyards, and other inhabitants of privileged districts, sent to remove
and guard the goods of such bankrupts as intended to take sanctuary in
those places. .
RUM FILE. See RUM DIVER.
RUM FUN. A sharp trick. .
RUM GAGGERS. Cheats who tell wonderful stories of their sufferings at sea,
or when taken by the Algerines, .
RUM GHELT. See RUM COLE. .
RUM GLYMMER. King or chief of the link-boys. .
RUM KICKS. Breeches of gold or silver brocade, or richly laced with gold
or silver. .
RUM MAWND. One that counterfeits a fool.
RUM MORT. A queen, or great lady. .
RUM NAB. A good hat.
RUM NANTZ. Good French brandy. .
RUM NED. A very rich silly fellow. .
RUM PAD. The highway. .
RUM PADDERS. Highwaymen well mounted and armed.
RUM PEEPERS. Fine looking-glasses.
RUM PRANCER. A fine horse.
RUM QUIDS. A great booty.
RUM RUFF PECK. Westphalia ham.
RUM SNITCH. A smart fillip on the nose.
RUM SQUEEZE. Much wine, or good liquor, given among fiddlers.
RUM TILTER. See RUM DEGEN.
RUM TOL. See RUM DEGEN.
RUM TOPPING. A rich commode, or woman’s head-dress.
RUM VILLE. See ROMEVILLE.
RUM WIPER. See RUM CLOUT.
RUMBO. Rum, water, and sugar; also a prison.
RUMBOYLE. A ward or watch.
RUMFORD. To ride to Rumford to have one’s backside new bottomed: i.e. to
have a pair of new leather breeches. Rumford was formerly a famous place
for leather breeches. A like saying is current in Norfolk and Suffolk, of
Bungay, and for the same reason.—Rumford lion; a calf. See ESSEX LION.
RUMP. To rump any one; to turn the back to him: an evolution sometimes
used at court. Rump and a dozen; a rump of beef and a dozen of claret; an
Irish wager, called also buttock and trimmings. Rump and kidney men;
fiddlers that play at feasts, fairs, weddings, &c. and live chiefly on the
RUMPUS. A riot, quarrel, or confusion.
RUN GOODS. A maidenhead, being a commodity never entered.
RUNNING HORSE, or NAG. A clap, or gleet.
RUNNING SMOBBLE. Snatching goods off a counter, and throwing them to an
accomplice, who brushes off with them.
RUNNING STATIONERS. Hawker of newspapers, trials, and dying speeches.
RUNT. A short squat man or woman: from the small cattle called Welsh
RUSHERS. Thieves who knock at the doors of great houses in London, in
summer time, when the families are gone out of town, and on the door being
opened by a woman, rush in and rob the house; also housebreakers who enter
lone houses by force.
RUSSIAN COFFEE-HOUSE. The Brown Bear in Bow-street, Covent Garden, a house
of call for thief-takers and runners of the Bow street justices.
RUSTY. Out of use, To nab the rust; to be refractory; properly applied to
a restive horse, and figuratively to the human species. To ride rusty; to
be sullen; called also to ride grub.
RUSTY GUTS. A blunt surly fellow: a jocular misnomer of RESTICUS.
RUTTING. Copulating. Rutting time; the season, when deer go to rut.
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