Green’s Dictionary of Slang

pox n.1

[the SE pocks or eruptive pustules on the skin that are a sign of syphilis; SE pox is smallpox; syphilis was also called the great or grand pox, to distinguish it from ‘lesser’ venereal diseases]

1. syphilis.

[[UK]Hickscorner Biii: God punyssheth full sore with grete sekeness As pockes pestylence purple and ares].
[UK]Roy & Barlow Rede me and be nott wrothe (1895) 32: He had the pockes, without fayle, Wherefore people on hym did rayle.
[UK]‘Mr. S’ Gammer Gurton’s Needle II ii: The pox light on her whore’s sides.
[UK]G. Whetstone Mirrour for Magestrates of Citties (2nd edn) H2: They goe to some blind brothel-house wher [...] the imbracement of a paynted Harlot, and the French Pockes for a reckoning, the Punie payeth fortie shillings.
[UK]‘Little Robin’ in May & Bryson Verse Libel 117: But surely here they have earthed the foxe, / That lothsomely stancke and died of the poxe.
[UK]Greene Disputation Betweene a Hee and a Shee Conny-Catcher (1923) 37: They say the Poxe came from Naples, some from Spaine, some from France, but wheresoeuer it first grew, it is so surely rooted now in England .
[UK]Beaumont & Fletcher Knight of the Burning Pestle V i: Her breath is yet inflamed: besides, there is a maine fault in the touch-hole, it runnes, and stinketh; [...] Ten such touch-holes would breed the Pox in the Army.
[UK]Jonson Bartholomew Fair II vi: The hole in the nose here [...] is caused from tobacco, the mere tobacco! when the poor innocent pox, having nothing to do there, is miserably, and most unconscionably slander’d.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘Discovery by Sea’ in Nares Glossary (1901) II 29: And so I leave her to her hot desires, / ’Mongst pimps and pandars, and base apple-squires, / To mend or end, when age or pox will make [...] whore-masters all forsake her.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘Travels of Twelve-pence’ in Works (1869) I 69: She gaue me to the Surgeon, for some Lotion, [...] For Plaisters, and for oyntments in a Box, / And so I left my Mistris, with a Pox.
[UK]T. Heywood Royal King and Loyal Subject III iii: Away you rogues! [...] Do I keep house to entertain tatterdemalions, with a pox?
[UK]Bartholomew Faire in C. Hindley Old Bk Collector’s Misc. 4: If you take not heed of them [i.e. whores] they will give you fairings with the pox.
[UK]Urquhart (trans.) Gargantua and Pantagruel (1927) I Bk II 224: But what shall I say of those poor men that are plagued with the pox and the gout?
[UK] ‘Sensual Delight’ in Wardroper (1969) 226: Let the pox be your friend and the plague be your end.
‘P.R.’ Whores Dialogue 7: I think I should stink so of my Pox that no body would indure me.
[UK] ‘On George Villiers’ in Ebsworth Bagford Ballads (1878) II 642: The pox upon Pox has Eaten by Bits, / His T—.
[UK]Rochester (attrib.) Sodom III i: Hold, hold, no more, I cann no longer beare: / Im borne by Pox to fall and will fall here.
[UK]C. Gildon Dialogue from Hell of Cuckoldom 14: We are all French-men, and therefore you need not doubt the cause, the Pox, and our Wives, Ma foy.
[UK]T. Brown Amusements Serious and Comical in Works (1744) III 51: The grand pox eat this buffoon, says the serious wary husband.
[UK]J. Dunton ‘The He-Strumpets’ Athenianism – Project IV 95: He-Whore! The Word’s a Paradox; But there’s a Club hard by the Stocks, Where Men give unto Men the Pox.
[UK]Penkethman’s Jests 130: Fornication and Perjury go as often together, as Paint and the Pox.
[UK]Proceedings at Sessions (City of London) Apr. 23/2: [advert] This Day is Published [...] A Practical Treatise [...] II. On the Virilent Gonorrhoea, or Clap. III. On the Venereal Lues, or the Grand Pox.
[UK]Thief-Catcher 10: They begin to walk the Streets [...] picking up drunken, unthinking Men and Apprentices, whom they decoy into Bawdy-houses [...] and often give them the Pox.
[UK]Bridges Homer Travestie (1764) I 205: There is a man, who well can do, / For scratches, burns, and poxes too.
[UK]Smollett Humphrey Clinker (1925) I 58: The scurvy, the cancer, and the pox.
[WI]J.B. Moreton West India Customs and Manners 31: Should you at any time be affected with these stages of the p-x, be very studious to get yourself [...] properly cured.
[UK] ‘The Phlegm Pot’ No. 32 Papers of Francis Place (1819) n.p.: Low whoring brings the pox.
[UK] ‘The Young English Blowen’ Cockchafer 8: And this fine young English blowen of a butcher caught the p-x.
[UK] ‘The Fine Young Common Prostitute’ Cuckold’s Nest 40: She tramped it out at night, / By the East India Docks, / And all the tars she took on board, / She gave to them the p-x.
[US] in T.P. Lowry Stories the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell (1994) 30: It is the Pocks and the Clap [...] Company A has got one officer toillin with the Pock and one private with the Clap.
[UK]Cythera’s Hymnal in Pearsall (1969) 375: Claps that set at nought and sold him, / Pox that burned him grievously.
[UK]‘Walter’ My Secret Life (1966) I 48: Suddenly the fear of the pox came over me, I went up to the bedroom, soaped and washed my prick.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 179: Maladie (la). The lues veneris; ‘the pox’.
[UK] ‘Cats on the Rooftops’ in Bold (1979) 48: Dogs on the seashore, dogs on the rocks / Dogs with gonorrhea, dogs with pox.
[US]R. Bradford This Side of Jordan 138: She got de big pox.
[UK](con. 1914–18) Brophy & Partridge ‘She was Poor, but She was Honest’ Songs and Sl. of the British Soldier 88: Now she’s standing in the gutter, / Selling matches penny-a-box: / While he’s riding in his carriage / With an awful dose of —.
[UK] ‘Christopher Columbo’ in Bold (1979) 53: They’d caught a pox from every box / That syphilised all Europe.
[UK](con. 1954) J. McGrath Events While Guarding the Bofors Gun I i: Bloody hell he’s got syphylitic teeth [...] Here — how do you manage to catch pox there.
[Aus](con. 1940s–60s) Hogbotel & ffuckes ‘The Ringadangdoo’ in Snatches and Lays 17: There came to town a son of a bitch / Who had the pox and the seven-year-itch.
[UK]F. Pitt-Kethley Sky Ray Lolly 33: Fig-leaves I’m sure, are prettier far than cocks, / And only suffer greenfly not the pox.
[Ire](con. 1930s) L. Redmond Emerald Square 217: I could have told her all about ‘the pox’, Liberties style for syphilis.

2. constr. with the, a synon. for fuck/hell etc, esp. in interrog. phrs., e.g. who the..., how the...

[UK]L. Barry Ram-Alley I i: w. sm.: My Punk’s my Punke, and noble Letchery Sticks by a man when all his friends forsake him. bou.: The Poxe it will, art thou so sencelesse.
[UK]C. Cotton Virgil Travestie (1765) Bk I 31: She that I ask for is my Sister, / I wonder how the Pox you miss’d her.
[UK]W. Davenant Siege IV i: Who, the pox, made you fight?
[UK]Behn Rover II i: Blunt. Her Name? [...] what care I for Names. She’s fair! young! brisk and kind! [...] What a Pox care I for knowing her by any other Title.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Noted Highway-men, etc. I 67: Who the Pox is oblig’d to tire a good Horse to carry your Load?
[UK]Bridges Homer Travestie (1764) I 70: Son of an ugly squinting bitch, / Pray who the pox made you a witch? [Ibid.] 120: Our wives without it won’t remain; / Pray how the pox should they contain?
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 12: Pray who the pox made you a witch?

3. any venereal disease.

[UK]Dekker Lanthorne and Candle-Light Ch. 3: If the poore dumb dice be but a little out of square, the pox and a thousand plagues breake their neckes out at window.
[UK]Beaumont & Fletcher Scornful Lady III ii: A primitive pox in his bonesswearing, cheating, / So many heauy curses, plagues and poxes.
[UK]Massinger Emperour of the East IV iii: For the gonorrhea, or if you will heare it In a plainer phrase, the pox.
[UK]T. Lucas Lives of the Gamesters (1930) 135: The barber reply’d [...] I am to search you for the pox.
[UK]Smollett Peregrine Pickle (1964) 374: The second affirmed, that it was no other than a confirmed pox.
[UK] ‘The Ball of Kirriemuir’ in Bold (1979) 15: The village postman he was there / Scared to death of pox.
[Ire]Joyce Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man 274: Kind gentlewomen in Covent Garden wooing from their balconies with sucking mouths and the poxfouled wenches of the taverns and young wives.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses (1960) 317: There’s a bloody sight more pox and pax about that boyo. Edward Guelph-Wettin!
[UK]J. Franklyn This Gutter Life 176: The whole of this pox-rotten world is poncing on its neighbours!
[Aus]K. Tennant Joyful Condemned 379: Scared of getting the pox?
[UK]C. Lee diary 20 Nov. in Eight Bells & Top Masts (2001) 184: He had to give one of the deckhands a jab for pox .
[Ire]T. Murphy Whistle in the Dark Act II: Anytime I got pox or crabs, it wasn’t off the ones I thought I’d get it off.
[UK]S. Berkoff East in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 76: Never knew what the pox was in those days.
J. Atkins Sex in Lit. 4 58: A bit vague, but presumably he got pox, like so many did.

In derivatives

poxed (adj.) (also poxed-up)

venereally diseased, esp. suffering from syphilis; also used fig.

[UK]Jonson Bartholomew Fair II v: I hope to see ’em plagu’d one day (pox’d they are already, I am sure).
[UK]T. Killigrew Parson’s Wedding (1664) I i: If thou should’st turn honest, would it not vex thee to be chaste and Paxat [sic] – a Saint without a Nose?
[UK] ‘The Prentices’ Answer to the Whores’ Petition’ in Ebsworth Bagford Ballads (1878) II 509: You ate your doors doe stand Poxed and Painted.
[UK]Head Nugae Venales 15: A Young Maid [...] was courted by a Person of Quality, whom she understood was Poxt.
[UK]Rochester ‘A Satire Upon the Times’ Works (1721) 19: But Punk-rid Ratcliffe’s not a greater Cully, / Now tawdry Isham, intimately known / To all pox’d whores, and famous Rooks in Town.
[UK]J. Dunton Night-Walker 27: Such [whores] as were [...] Sick, Poxt, or Old she would turn out of doors.
[UK] ‘The Poor Whores Complaint’ in Holloway & Black I (1975) 217: You know you’re all poxt and so am I.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Noted Highway-men, etc. I 59: You double Poxt Salivated B—h.
‘Whipping-Tom’ Satyr against Pride II 45: Altho’ her Poxed Breath infects the Air; Decoying Cully with inchanted Charms, As grasping him within her circling Arms.
[UK]Low Life Above Stairs I i: Her Ladyship has been poxed as often as any Drab in Drury-lane.
[UK]Bridges Homer Travestie (1764) II 172: May he be pox’d if he has kiss’d her.
[UK]Derby Mercury 3 Aug. 4/1: What are the odds, F—e, whether you are hanged or poxed first?
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 78: Then how the rogues will wish they’d box’d, / Instead of running to get pox’d.
[UK] ‘Nursery Rhymes’ in Pearl 6 Dec. 29: He preferred tom-cat’s piss, / Which he kept a pox’d nigger to frig in.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 20: Attraper quelque chose. To be ‘poxed’ or ‘clapped’.
[UK](con. WW1) P. MacDonald Patrol 232: ‘Festering lot of poxed-up niggers! I will get ’em’.
[UK]S. Murphy Stone Mad (1966) 185: Remember that if you knock out a corner, the stone is poxed.
[US]E. Hemingway letter 13 Sept. in Baker Sel. Letters (1981) 780: La puta mar that [...] has clapped us all and pox-ed us too.
[UK]C. Lee diary 13 Nov. in Eight Bells & Top Masts (2001) 179: Don’t they get diseases? Oh yes, he said. They’ll be poxed up to the eyeballs by the time we sail.
[UK]J. McClure Spike Island (1981) 140: Now, listen son [...] this one is poxed to the eyeballs.
[Ire]J. Murphy Picture of Paradise in McGuinness Dazzling Dark (1996) Act I: While he’s at it, let him curse all the poxed horses you put your money on.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Birthday 204: Ceasing to rebel against the toffee-nosed poxed up loudmouthed swivel-eyed fuckpigs.

In compounds

pox doctor (n.)

a doctor specializing in venereal diseases.

[UK]J. Dalton Narrative of Street-Robberies 57: Steal a Horse, and go upon the Highway [...] that will sooner wean your Mind from whoring, than either the Advice of a Priest, a Prig, or a Pox-doctor.
Medico-chirurgical Rev. 34 627: Your mad doctor, heart doctor, water doctor, and pox doctor are descendants of the ancient brood.
R. Dunglison Medical Lexicon 836/1: syphilidiater [...] A pox doctor. One who occupies himself in treating syphilis.
[as cite 1851].
Medical World 19 169: [M]any practitioners treat these cases carelessly because they [...] dread the reputation of being a ‘pox- doctor’.
R. Bates Lean Men I 148: ‘[T]hey won't turn out the civil guard to stop a common pox doctor from getting knocket over the head’.
E.S. Turner Call the Doctor 108: Dr Tom Saffold, heelmaker turned pox-doctor, was one of many who sought to fascinate potential patients by skill at doggerel.
(ref. to 1850) H.S. Glasscheib March of Medicine 48: [I]n 1850 the well-known Parisian pox doctor Ricord could boast that [...] he had treated about 300,000 cases of syphilis.
D. Lambert Great Land 72: ‘They reckon he was a pox doctor back in San Francisco’.
[Aus]B. Humphries Traveller’s Tool 118: I reckon every loving husband and devoted family man owes it to his nearest and dearest to slap his walloper on the pox doctor’s desk at least one [sic] a month.
H. Cook Lords of the Sword 52: ‘You’d better see a pox doctor.’ ‘For what?’ ‘For a cure for love’.
(con. 1500) B.O. States et al. Great Pox 141: [H]is remedies had to be distinctive if he was going to enhance his reputation as a pox doctor.
(ref. to 1678) F. Linnane Lives of Eng. Rakes 63: In July 1678 Savile wrote to Rochester from a pox doctor’s in Leather Lane.
pox-doctor’s clerk (n.)

see separate entry.

poxhead (n.)

see separate entry.

pox hospital (n.)

a hospital or clinic specializing in sexually transmitted diseases .

[UK]J. Franklyn This Gutter Life 16: I suppose it’s in the pox hospital ye’ll be!
[Aus](con. 1940s) T.A.G. Hungerford Sowers of the Wind 141: She’ll be pleased to know that he’s been in the pox hospital twice.
[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Borstal Boy 304: That’s the pox-hospital.

In phrases

In exclamations

pox on —! (also pox of —! pox to —! pox upon —!) [20C+ use is historical or ironic]

a general oath.

[UK]Three Lords and Three Ladies of London D: And you are Mast. Fraud too, a pox on your worship.
[UK]Lyly Man in the Moone IV i: A poxe of all false Prouerbes.
[UK] G. Harvey Trimming of Thomas Nashe 24: Hold ope your eyes, with a pox to ye.
[UK]Jonson Cynthia’s Revels IV i: A pox of all cockatrices!
[UK]Tourneur Revenger’s Tragedy (1967) I ii: duke: Hold, hold, my lord. spu.: Pox on’t.
[UK]Shakespeare Tempest I i: A pox o’ your throat, you bawling, blasphemous, incharitable dog!
[UK]J. Taylor ‘A Kicksey Winsey’ in Works (1869) II 37: A pox upon him.
[UK]J. Mabbe (trans.) Life of Guzman Pt I Bk I 30: Now a pockes of all ill lucke: pardon me [...] for I sweare unto you.
[UK]Beaumont & Fletcher Beggar’s Bush III i: Pox o’ their prestoes.
[UK]Dekker Wonder of a Kingdom IV i: Pox on your Catts guts.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘In praise of cleane Linnen’ in Works (1869) II 167: And I conclude, A pox of all strait smockes.
[UK]R. Brome New Academy III i: Pox of your Lobster-claws.
[UK]T. Rawlins Rebellion I i: But pox o’ the fashion.
[UK] a catch in Wardroper (1969) 192: A pox of care! What need we to spare? / My father has made his will.
[UK]New Brawle 5: [I] fed him with Caviarre and Potato Pie with a Pox to him.
[UK]‘Basilius Musophilus’ Don Zara Del Fogoy 47: A Pox upon thee, and they Sea-born Mother.
[UK]Dryden Wild Gallant IV i: If ever man play’d with such cursed fortune, I’ll be hanged, and all for want of this damned ace – there’s your ten pieces, with a pox to you, for a rooking beggarly rascal as you are.
[UK]Dryden Sir Martin Mar-all I i: Pox on’t, now I think on’t.
Etherege She Would if She Could I i: Well, a pox of this tying man and woman Together, for better, for worse!
[UK]J. Lacy Old Troop I i: A pox on you, Rascal.
[UK]F. Fane Love in the Dark II i: Pox o’ this dull memory of mine.
[UK]T. Shadwell Squire of Alsatia I i: Pox o’ th tatts for me!
[UK]J. Dunton Night-Walker Dec. 7: A Pox on your Advice, says she, I desire none of it.
[UK]T. Brown Letters from the Dead to the Living in Works (1760) II 182: Pox on him for a raw-head and bloody-bones.
[UK]Humours of a Coffee-House 27 Aug. 11: A Pox upon the French.
[UK]N. Ward Compleat and Humorous Account of Remarkable Clubs (1756) 283: A pox of her Picture, cries merry Moll Bunch.
[UK]Swift letter iii Journal to Stella (1901) 12: Pox on these declining courtiers!
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy I 79: A Pox of your race of high Flyers.
[UK]Penkethman’s Jests 55: Pox o’ that new Name, says a blunt Fellow, the old one was WHORE.
[UK]C. Coffey Devil to Pay I i: A pox on her, for a fanatical Jade!
[UK]Fielding Tom Jones (1959) 179: Pox o’ your sorrow.
[UK]Fielding Amelia (1926) I 58: Pox on’t, it is unlucky this was done in a room.
[UK]Foote Mayor of Garrat in Works (1799) I 173: This plaguy peace, with a pox to’t, has knocked up all the trade of the Alley.
[UK]H. Brooke Fool of Quality I xxviii: A Pox upon their Ambition.
[Ire]J. O’Keeffe The She-Gallant 11: Phaw! pox on her rout.
[UK]G. Stevens ‘To Drink’ Songs Comic and Satyrical 67: A pox on Reflection, be jolly.
[UK]G. Parker Humorous Sketches 141: A pox, I say, on both their houses.
A York Dialogue between Ned and Harry 15: A pox on your old friends, says she.
[UK]Egan Bk of Sports 46: Neal may now say, in the words of Shakespeare, ‘A pox on both your houses!’.
[US]Mencken letter 29 Dec. in Riggio Dreiser-Mencken Letters I (1986) 173: A pox upon the English!
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 380: But they can go hang, says he, with a wink, for me with their bully beef, a pox on it.
[US]H.A. Smith Life in a Putty Knife Factory (1948) 98: I didn’t believe in spiritualism [...] if that was Theodore Roosevelt, a pox on him. What a thing to do!
[UK]D. Reeve Smoke in the Lanes 189: Pox on you, boy!
[US]L. Bruce How to Talk Dirty 145: A pox upon you, Christ and Moses.
[US]L. Bruce Essential Lenny Bruce 36: A pox on you.
[US]T. Berger Who is Teddy Villanova? 175: A pox on you!
[Aus]J. Morrison Share House Blues 17: A pox on Mrs Macmillan and all her fellow housewives!
[UK]Internat. Independent 19 July 33/5: Many have characterised it as millionaires vs billionaires and declared ‘a pox on both your houses’.
pox take —!

a general oath of dismissal.

[UK]R. Edwards Damon and Pithias (1571) Biii: A Pockes take these Maryner knaues.
[UK]Rowlands Diogenes Lanthorne 18: That doe salute them whom they entertaine, With A pox take you till we meete againe.
[UK]Fletcher Women Pleased III ii: Pox take ye foole.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘World runnes on Wheeles’ in Works (1869) II 238: But (a Pox take em all) whither doe my wits run after whores and knaues?
Mennis & Smith et al. ‘A Song’ Wit and Drollery 87: Pox take you, Mistris! I’ll be gone, I have freinds to wait upon.
[UK]Dryden Sir Martin Mar-all I i: Now, the Pox take you, Sir, what do you mean?
[UK] ‘Lilliburlero’ in Ebsworth Bagford Ballads (1878) I 372: Now a Pox tauke me, what dost dow tink, / De English Confusion to Popery drink.
[UK]‘A Song’ in Ebsworth Merry Drollery Compleat (1875) 304: Pox take you Mistris I’ll be gone.
[UK]Congreve Way of the World III i: A pox take you both!
[UK]N. Ward Compleat and Humorous Account of Remarkable Clubs (1756) 29: A Pox take you, replied an old Snuffler, for the Son of a Dripping-Pan!
[UK]S. Centlivre Wonder! V iii: A pox take his fists!
[UK]J. Gay Beggar’s Opera I vi: I had a fair tug at a charming Gold Watch. Pox take the Taylors for making the Fobs so deep and narrow.
[UK]Laugh and Be Fat 32: Thou may’st ev’n take them, and a Pox take thee; and the Devil take the Dog.
L. Pilkington Memoirs (1928) I 88: He said P-x take me for a dunce.
[UK]J. Townley High Life Below Stairs II i: Pox take it, face it out.
[UK]Smollett Sir Launcelot Greaves I 148: Pox rot thee, Tom Clarke, for a wicked laayer!
[UK]Foote Devil Upon Two Sticks in Works (1799) II 259: Pox take him! he is so devilish quick.
[UK]‘Peter Pindar’ ‘Lyric Odes’ Works (1794) I 105: P-x take me if I ever read the story Of Michael Angelo, without some swearing.
[UK]‘Peter Pindar’ ‘Subjects for Painters’ Works (1794) II 274: No more the marriage chain I’ll wear, P-x take me if I do!
[US]R. Coover Public Burning (1979) 417: It’s them poxtaked Japs, the shiftless cusses.
what a pox! (also how a pox! with a pox!)

a general excl. of annoyance, irritation; also as an interrog.

[UK]W. Haughton English-Men For My Money C: What a pox care I.
[UK]Otway Friendship in Fashion IV i: What a pox, you thought to put the Mistress upon Truman! Truman has put the Cuckold upon you.
T. Shadwell True Widow II i: Why what a Pox should one do?
[UK]T. Shadwell Squire of Alsatia IV i: What, a pox, can he give her her maidenhead again?
[UK]Character of the Beaux 31: How now Jack-Scribble? What a pox are you going so Sparkish?
[UK] ‘Song’ in Playford Pills to Purge Melancholy I 205: What-a-pox, you’re no Whig.
[UK]Humours of a Coffee-House 2 July 59: What a Pox is the matter with them?
[UK]T. Lucas Lives of the Gamesters (1930) 218: Crying out Cloak! Cloak! what a pox must we cloak for now?
[UK]C. Walker Authentick Memoirs of Sally Salisbury 47: D--n you matt, What a P-x has brought you hither this Morning?
[UK]C. Johnson Hist. of Highwaymen &c 349: How a Pox came you here from your Post already?
[UK]Fielding Amelia (1926) I 23: What a pox, are you such a fresh cull that you do not know this fellow?
[UK]Midnight Rambler 58: What a pox, says Will.
[UK]Partridge DSUE 1179: late C16–mid-19.