Green’s Dictionary of Slang

gammon n.2

[gammon v.]

1. the language or jargon of thieves, i.e. cant.

[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 30: The Files go before the Cull, and try his Cly; and if they feel a Bit, cry Gammon; then two or three of us hold him up whilst some Prads or Rattlers come by.
[UK]G. Parker Life’s Painter 180: Gammon and Patter. Jaw talk, etc. A fellow that speaks well, they say he gammons well, or he has a great deal of rum patter.
[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795).
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 131: Rum slum—Gammon—queer talk or action, in which some fraudulent intentions are discoverable or suspected.
[UK]Manchester Courier 29 June 2/3: ‘Stash your gammon,’ said a little sharp visaged personage.

2. (also gammin) nonsense, lies, humbug; thus gammoner, gammoning.

Chester Plays i 202: This gammon shall begin [F&H].
[UK]G. Parker Life’s Painter 136: They begin now to drop the glanthem. I must tip ’em some rum gammon.
[UK]Sporting Mag. May XVIII 77/2: [heading] Some Account of the Game of Bar-Gammon, As occasionally played at Westminster, the Old Bailey, &c.
[Aus]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 242: gammon: flattery; deceit; pretence; plausible language; any assertion which is not strictly true, or professions believed to be insincere, as, I believe you’re gammoning, or, that’s all gammon, meaning, you are no doubt jesting with me, or, that’s all a farce.
[UK]D. Carey Life in Paris 357: What Mr. Sovong said was all sheer gammon to try and do her into giving a large sum for some worthless bauble.
[UK] ‘Cock Salmon’ in Frisky Vocalist 41: But when he look’d at her, she said, and no gammon, / ‘Tho’ I’m fond of fish, I don’t want cock salmon’.
[UK]‘The Vicked Costermonger’ in Flash Olio in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 188: The Costermonger gammon pitching, / Says, ‘I ne’er beheld a gal / So captiwating.
[US]Boston Blade 17 June n.p.: You’re a pack of hypocrites, / And all your creeds are gamon [sic].
[UK]G.W.M. Reynolds Mysteries of London II (2nd series) 125: Oh, that’s all gammon.
N.Y. Pick (NY) 21 Feb. n.p.: It’s all gammon and moonshine [...] not one word of truth.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 8 Oct. 3/1: When the blood of an Englishman is up, there’s no gammon in him.
[Ind]Delhi Sketch Bk 1 Apr. 40/2: Did you ever hear such gammon? / It’s really quite absurd!!
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 154: It’s all gammon [...] I’ve seen fellows handle them [i.e. rats] as coolly possible.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 19 July 3: He emphatically declared [it] the real thing and no gammon.
[UK] ‘Universal Spelling Book’ in C. Hindley Curiosities of Street Lit. (1871) 70: G — was the Gammon for the People invented.
[Ire] ‘Blarney’ in Yankee Paddy Comic Song Book 5: That’s a little bit of clerical blarney. Flattery, gammon and blarney.
[UK] ‘’Arry on Politics’ in Punch 11 May 205/2: No treacle-tub gammon for us, mate, nor no cosmypolitan gush.
[UK]J. Greenwood Odd People in Odd Places 135: We had nothing but crusts and cold taters for dinner on Christmas day, which was the gammon my old lady pitched ’em.
[Aus]H. Nisbet Bushranger’s Sweetheart 135: Why, she’s a proper sort, and no gammon.
[UK]G.M. Fenn Sappers and Miners 128: Not a bit of it. It’s all gammon.
[UK]G.B. Shaw John Bull’s Other Island Act I: I don’t want to interrupt you, Larry; but you know this is all gammon.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 19 June 1/1: One unfortunate swallowed Gregory’s gammon and wandered West for work .
[US]E.W. Townsend Sure 59: ‘Cut de gammon [...] and get to de evidence’.
[UK]Gem 16 Sept. 11: Don’t give me any of your gammon.
[UK](con. 1835–40) P. Herring Bold Bendigo 122: ‘Rum go this and no gammon,’ he said shaking his head.
[Aus]X. Herbert Capricornia (1939) 131: No-more gammon. I’m in dead earnest.
[UK]E. Hill Territory 444: Gammon: False, a lie.
[US]Randolph & Wilson Down in the Holler 247: gammon: n. Idle talk, untruths.
[Aus]Aus. Word Map 🌐 gammon [...] deecitful nonsense.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 17: gammon (or gammin) [...] has a complex etymology, being derived from colonial pioneering slang, by way of 18th century Cockney and cant, and now commonly used in the Northern Territory for anything that is of dubious authenticity or truth.

3. chatter.

[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 2: Whatever your gammon, whatever your talk.
[Scot]D. Haggart Autobiog. 51: Bagrie called the woman of the house, kept her in gammon in the back-room, while I returned and brought off the till.
[UK]C. Reade It Is Never Too Late to Mend III 8: Hold your gammon! Are we writing a book together? Answer me this in English.
[UK]A. Day Mysterious Beggar 212: Som’tim’s y’r gammon strikes a gait that’s gibberish t’ me.

4. persuasive talk.

[UK]Egan Bk of Sports 297: He proved inexorable to all the gammon that was pitched to him.
[UK]G.W.M. Reynolds Mysteries of London II (2nd series) 31: That ’ere sneaking feller [...] began a pitching into she all kind of gammon.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 31: Gammon, a plausible, but untrue story.

In derivatives

gammonacious (adj.)


[UK]New Sporting Mag. May 14: I feared he might want it for the purpose of inflicting summary punishment on his ‘gammonacious’ friend of the previous evening.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Jorrocks Jaunts (1874) 119: There was nothing gammonacious, as I calls it, about his toggery. [Ibid.] 121: Never was so done in all my life—a gammonacious fellow!

In compounds

buttered gammon (n.) [a play on the foodstuffs + butter v. (2)]

persuasive nonsense.

[UK]‘Old Calabar’ Won in a Canter II 268: ‘[G]entlemen riders — none of yer half and half swells, but the genuine article who are above bribery, buttered gammon and don’t bet’.
gammon and patter (n.) [patter n.]

1. criminal cant.

[UK]G. Parker View of Society II 49: After the Rider has stood all this Gammon and Patter, he asks the hostler what he shall give to boot betwixt their horses.
[UK]G. Parker Life’s Painter 150: Gammon and patter is the language of cant; when one of them speaks well, another says he gammons well, or he has got a great deal of rum patter.

2. any form of jargon or ‘professional slang’.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Gamon and Patter. Common place talk of any profession; as the Gammon and Patter of a Horse Dealer, &c.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn) n.p.:
[UK] ‘Modern Dict.’ in Sporting Mag. May XVIII 100/2: Gammon and Patter.-Common place talk of horse-dealers, &c.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Sporting Mag. May 70/1: Our lucubrations are most especially intended for the benefit of those provincials who are not sufficiently awake to the gammon and patter of the long town.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

3. verbose chatter.

[UK]G. Parker Life’s Painter 143: What’s all this gammon and patter about?
Blighted Ambition III 111: In all the gammon and patter between a younker ycleped Weston and me, about bub and grub [etc.].
E.H. Fowler Life of Henry Hartley Fowler 654: With cheap gammon and patter about the evils of party, I think he had no sort of sympathy.
gammon and spinach (n.) (also gammon and jalap) [pun on SE; for jalap see ety. at jollop n.]

nonsense, rubbish, humbug.

G. Colman Yngr ‘Heigho! says Thimble’ in Killing No Murder n.p.: With her roley, poley, / Gammon and spinnage; / Heigho! says Thimble.
[UK]‘Sheep’s Eyes’ in Universal Songster I 13/2: Gammon and spinage, quoth Neddy.
[UK]Dickens Oliver Twist (1966) 134: ‘Toor rul lol loo, gammon and spinnage, the frog he wouldn’t, and high cockolorum,’ said the Dodger.
[UK]Dickens Bleak House (1991) 200: Death, Cunning, Folly, Words, Wigs, Rags, Sheepskin, Plunder, Precedent, Jargon, Gammon, and Spinach.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Plain or Ringlets? (1926) 132: ‘Sivin and four’s elivin and sivinty-sivin’s eighty-eight, on the gammon and spinach tack’.
[UK] in Punch 15 Oct. 170: BULL’s fame, in a boat, seems all gammon and spinach.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘A Ramble in Aphasia’ in Strictly Business (1915) 136: Oh, gammon and jalap!
[UK]‘John le Carré’ Honourable Schoolboy 525: ‘Gammon and spinach!’ Connie stormed.

In phrases

come the gammon (v.)

to wheedle.

F.C. Adams Manuel Pereira cap. xi: The Captain [...] wanted to come the gammon game with him, and pass him for a white man; but sure he couldn't come that game over meself.
A. Sketchley Brown Papers 95: She was up for the murder of her infant, as was six months old, only she come the gammon that strong [...] the jury let her off.
gammon-patter (v.)

(UK und.) to over-rule, to out-talk (by the use of professional jargon).

New Flash Song [broadside ballad] We gammon’d hard our lives to saves / And to the old beak gossip gave / But our prosecutor was so hard / [...] / We ere gammon-patter’d, to Newgate sent.
pitch gammon (v.)

to concoct a story, to ‘tell the tale’.

[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London II 88: He can pitch the gammon to the wine merchant, and induce him to stand the nonsense.
[UK]Paul Pry 26 Mar. 3/3: Paul Advises [...] The Chubby auctioneer not to pitch too much gammon when selling the Hale man’s horses, &c.
stand the gammon (v.)

1. to accept that one has been tricked.

[Ire]Spirit of Irish Wit 100: The wits found they were completely had [...] and therefore agreed [...] to stand the gammon.

2. (UK Und.) to withstand interrogation.

[UK]W. Perry London Guide 79: He was conveyed to the watch house in Bunhill Row. Here he [...] stood the gammon as well as I ever saw.
stow-all-gammon (adj.)

very good, incontrovertibly.

[UK]Mons. Merlin 18 Oct. 6/2: A crowded ball-room a ‘first-rate,’ ‘tip-top,’ ‘no-mistake,’ ‘stow-aIl-gammon,’ kind of ‘turn-out’ in a word (and that the chief in the vocabulary) quite the Stilton.
tip the gammon (v.)

to ‘shoot a line’, to attempt seduction.

[UK] ‘She’s Gentle as a Tiger’ in Rakish Rhymer (1917) 41: But when the gammon to her I tip, / While out upon the spree, / She blushes like the scarlet flower.
up to gammon (adj.)

(UK Und.) aware, knowing, capable.

[UK]W. Collins Memoirs of a Picture I 223: Damme, he was up to gammon, as sharp as any of us.
[UK]Lytton Paul Clifford III 244: Harry spoke up for you, and said as ’ow though you had just gone on the town, you was already prime up to gammon.
[US]D. Corcoran Picking from N.O. Picayune 78: The lapidary, who is a regularly initiated member of the Sawyer’s Company, was at once ‘up to gammon’.