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The First English Dictionary of Slang 1699 Hardcover – 14 Sep 2010


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: The Bodleian Library (14 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851243488
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851243488
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 474,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

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Review

"An invaluable guide to the argot of seventeenth-century low London." - Peter Ackroyd "Gives us a sense of how rich a mine the English language is and how ingenious its users. Slang is eternal." - Alexander Theroux, Wall Street Journal "A fascinating insight into a bygone linguistic age." - David Crystal

About the Author

John Simpson is Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. He edited (with Edmund Weiner) the Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, published to great acclaim in 1989. Together with John Ayno, he is also co-editor of the Oxford Dictionary of Slang. He is a world expert on proverbs and slang, has edited dictionaries and regularly lectures and broadcasts on the English language

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Maigrait on 21 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book after reading an article in a newspaper thinking it would be interesting & amusing to re-ignite some english expressions. Todate I have not had a great deal of oppurtunity as I am abroad so much. But I gleefully annoy my wife with wonderful expressions. If you have a wicked sense of humour or an academic interest in language I think you would find this book engaging. Good reading
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By cb on 10 Feb. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very handy resource book for anyone writing about the 17th century. Many of the slang terms are similar to what is used today.
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By Ian Chappell on 17 Aug. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Not as interesting as i thought it would be
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Guide to Historic Rogues' Talk 17 Mar. 2011
By R. Hardy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
On the local news a few nights ago, the anchorman commented on a criminal caught shoplifting, referring to the culprit as being "light-fingered." This is a lovely term, almost poetic and even containing a bit of sarcastic compliment. I bet, though, that the anchorman had no idea that he was using a term recorded as slang over three hundred years ago. "Light Finger'd," defined as "Thievish" can be found in _A New Dictionary of the Terms Ancient and Modern of the Canting Crew, In its several Tribes of Gypsies, Beggers, Thieves, Cheats, &c. with An Addition of some Proverbs, Phrases, Figurative Speeches, &c. Useful for all sorts of People, (especially Foreigners) to secure their Money and preserve their Lives; besides very Diverting and Entertaining, being wholly New_, which was published in London in 1699. This has now been reissued by the Bodleian Library, Oxford, as _The First English Dictionary of Slang 1699_, even though there was nothing known as slang in 1699; that term was first recorded in 1756. What the compiler of the dictionary would have said was that he was collecting not slang, but "cant terms," the jargon of thieves and beggars. To this he added naval terms, hunting terms, words for sexual activity, and plenty of insults. It is no longer "wholly New," but it is decidedly "Diverting and Entertaining."

The introduction to the volume is by John Simpson, who is the chief editor of _The Oxford English Dictionary_. He explains that we know almost nothing about the compiler of this dictionary, who is identified only on the title page as B. E. Gent, with that "Gent" not being his name but his claim to be a gentleman. B. E. included plenty of terms besides "light-fingered" that we still use today. "Banter" is defined as "a pleasant way of prating, which seems in earnest, but is in jest, a sort of ridicule." A "biggot" is "an obstinate blind Zealot." There are plenty of terms for drinking, starting with an amusing term for non-alcohol, "Adam's-Ale," which simply means water. We might say now that someone is high on alcohol, and in those days he was "in his Altitudes." You could call someone a dullard, a word included here, but just beneath it is "Dulpickle," which is defined as meaning the same as dullard. I was delighted to find "jobbernoll" here for "a very silly Fellow." I have actually heard that one used, by that lover of exotic words, W. C. Fields, in _The Bank Dick_: "Don't be a jobbernoll! You're not one of those, are you?" With intent merely to designate and not to impugn, many criminals are listed by enterprise. "Anglers," for instance, were "Cheats, petty Theivs, who have a Stick with a hook at the end, with which they pluck things out of Windows, Grates, &c." A "Clank-napper" stole silver tankards.

Simpson calls the dictionary "in many ways a masterpiece," and says it is "`entertaining' enough for dipping into, but also short enough to make a sequential read enlightening." B. E., whoever he was, promised it to be "diverting and entertaining," and it surely is; I don't think there are other dictionaries I'd care to read beginning to end. To read the book whole is to have a good opportunity to wonder at the mysteries of how some words which were coined for criminal or roguish jargon have become common stock English today, and how some have never made it out of the narrow streets, dark taverns, and debtors' prisons of 17th-century London.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Wordsmith's dream 29 Oct. 2010
By Shaun K. Thornhill - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an informative and handy book, for those who like words and their usage. Every page, I see words I use every day meaning different things. It is history and etymology all in one. I can't put it down. Now, I have to go back and study this tome.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Slang in the 17th century makes for a fun read. 28 Sept. 2012
By OLT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This dictionary was first published in 1699 with the name A NEW DICTIONARY OF THE TERMS ANCIENT AND MODERN OF THE CANTING CREW by B.E. Gent. It was written to help "all sorts of people (especially foreigners)" understand the words of "gypsies, beggars, thieves, cheats, etc." in order to "secure their money and preserve their lives".

Well, it may not be helping me secure my money or my life but it is serving its stated secondary purpose of being "diverting and entertaining". It's decidedly fun to read, just to see what words from then have stuck with us, even becoming mainstream vocabulary, and what has faded into disuse. For example, I can't know for sure if anyone still calls a dog a "bufe" but I rather doubt it. Is a homely woman an "antidote" nowadays? To "fleece" as in to "rob" is still around today but using the term "coliander-seed" for money must have lost its usefulness. And if someone called me a "dim-mort" today, I'd probably take offense, but that was a "pretty wench" back in the day.

So this is fun. It's not a book to settle down with and finish in one sitting, but it's quite "diverting and entertaining" in bits and pieces.
A gold mine of ancient jargon 24 May 2013
By Maurice Robkin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this little book is full of 'cant', slang of centuries ago, some of which has survived to this day. the only limitation is that it focusses on the English island itself. I would have found a lot more use for it if it had included the seventeen century slang of the seafaring men. For the price, however, it is a valuable resource for the writer.
Good but a bit confusing 5 Dec. 2013
By Alley Kat - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got this book to aid me in writing a historical novel and it has worked quite well. My only complaint is that I wish it were better organized or had a glossary at the end.
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