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A way with words

27 July 2019

9:00 AM

27 July 2019

9:00 AM

From ‘Low talk’ by John Daniel, 19 July 1963: Everybody has heard of Dr Johnson’s dictionary, which is now not much more than a curiosity piece, while few know Grose’s dictionary, which provides a unique anthology of 18th-century underworld slang… He collected words he remembered from his reading and his night-time excursions about Drury Lane and Covent Garden, and although he suggests in a preface that his work will be useful to foreigners and provincials, there is more of the wit than the pedagogue in his glosses. For example: ‘Whore-monger: a man that keeps more than one mistress. A country gentleman who kept a female friend, being reproved by the parson of the parish, and styled a whore-monger, asked the parson whether he had cheese in his house; and being answered in the affirmative, “Pray,” says he, “does that one cheese make you a cheese-monger?”’


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