Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Joseph n.

[all are biblical]

1. (also Joseff) a (usu. woman’s) overcoat or cloak; thus rum Joseph, a first-rate overcoat; queer joseph, a tattered, worn-out cloak [Joseph’s ‘coat of many colours’].

[UK]Dekker Canters Dict. Eng. Villainies (9th edn).
[UK]Catterpillers of this Nation Anatomized 4: If he chance to espy a (Ioseph) cloak, hang in a shop any thing likely to be fil’d, it will go hard if it escape him.
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue I 48: Joseph, A Cloak.
[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn).
[UK]T. Shadwell Squire of Alsatia II iv: Hide me; give me my joseph.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Joseph c. a Cloak or Coat. A Rum Joseph, a good Cloak or Coat. A Queer Joseph, c. a coarse ord’nary Cloak or Coat; also an old or Tatter’d one.
[UK]J. Hall Memoirs (1714) 12: Joseph, a Close Coat.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) 207: Joseph, a cloak or coat. A rum Joseph, a good cloak or coat. A queer Joseph, a coarse, ordinary, old or tattered cloak or coat.
[UK]Defoe Street Robberies Considered 32: Joseph, Cloak.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Smollett Faithful Narrative in Henley Works (1901) xii 184: For snabbling his peter and queer Joseph [F&H].
[UK]O. Goldsmith Vicar of Wakefield (1883) 103: Olivia would be drawn as an Amazon, sitting upon a bank of flowers, dressed in a green joseph.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Joseph, a woman’s great coat.
[UK] ‘The Bowman Prigg’s Farewell’ in Wardroper (1995) 283: My smish and my joseph I leave / And the rest of my duds all behind me.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]W. Scott Rob Roy (1883) 321: To see how a trot-cosey and a joseph can disguise a man.
[US]J. Neal Brother Jonathan III 7: So as to betray, with every swing of her body, the rich dress, underneath her ‘Joseff’.
[US]Bartlett Dict. Americanisms.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 47: joseph A coat that’s patched.

2. (also Jos, Josephus) a bashful young man [Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife].

[UK]Mercurius Fumigosus 12 16–23 Aug. 113: She broak his lusty Cod-piece Point, making a second Joseph of the man, who fled from her with his Breeches about his heels.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]New Sprees of London : Why, my tulip, if you think my palary is queerums, if you've not got faith, it's no use to yatter to a Jos.
[UK]Reynolds’s Newspaper 6 Feb. n.p.: You appear to have been a regular Joseph [F&H].
D. Buel ‘Bohunkus’ in New Yale Song-Book (1918) 26: There were two boys that were two sons, [...] Bohunkus had his father’s smile, / Josephus had his grin.

3. (UK juv.) a dreamer [Joseph’s dream].

[UK]I. & P. Opie Lore and Lang. of Schoolchildren (1977) 201: A ‘Joseph’ (after Joseph’s dream) is a person who has his mind on other things.