Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bene adj.

also bane, ben, been, bien
[Lat. bonus and Fr. bon, good]

(UK Und.) good; it can be conjugated as benar, better and benat, best.

[UK]Harman Caveat for Common Cursetours in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 86: What stowe you bene cofe and cut benar whyddes and byng we to Rome vyle to nyp a bounge [...] What holde your peace good fellowe and speake better wordes, and go we to London to cut a purse.
[UK] Groundworke of Conny-catching [as cit. c.1566].
[UK]Dekker Lanthorne and Candle-Light Ch. 1: Stowe you beene cofe: hold your peace good fellow. And cut benar whiddes: and speake better words.
[UK]Middleton & Dekker Roaring Girle V i: A gage of ben rom-bouse [...] Is benar then a caster, / Peck, pennam, lap, or popler.
[UK]R. Brome Jovial Crew II i: For all this bene Cribbing and Peck let us then, / Bowse a health to the Gentry Cofe of the Ken.
[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn) 169: Benar Better.
[UK]R. Holme Academy of Armory Ch. iii item 68c: Canting Terms used by Beggars, Vagabonds, Cheaters, Cripples and Bedlams. [...] Bien, brave. [Ibid.] Bene, good. Benar, better.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 195: Cut been Whids [Give good Words].
[UK]J. Hall Memoirs (1714) 11: Bien, Good.
[UK]Defoe Street Robberies Considered 30: Bien Whids, good Words.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Bene, (cant) good.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Benar. better. Cant.
[UK]Burns Lady Onlie in Works (1842) 181/2: Ladie Onlie, honest Lucky! Brews good ale at shore o’ Bucky [...] Her house sae bien, her curch sae clean, I wat she is a dainty chucky.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn) n.p.: Bene. Good—Benar. Better. Cant.
[UK] ‘Come under my Plaidy’ Garland of New Songs (32) 6: A bien house to bide in.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1796].
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc.
[UK]Lytton Pelham III 292: Egad, you carry a bane blink aloft.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 5: Bene – prime, good.
[UK]Punch 17 July I 7: The chaff predominates — (munch) — not bene by any means.
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 267: The brick house agin the bridge is bene if you can catch the ‘burerk’ (mistress) at home.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 5: BENE, good. Ancient cant; benar was the comparative.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 6/1: The first sight we saw was [...] ‘Squib Dixon,’ a tumbler of ale in one hand and a ‘bene cross moll’ in the other.
[US]J.D. McCabe Secrets of the Great City 359: The Detectives’ Manual gives a glossary of this language, from which we take the following specimens [...] Bene. – Good, first-rate.
[UK]B.M. Carew Life and Adventures.

In derivatives

benely (adv.)

(UK und.) well.

[UK]J. Taylor Crabtree Lectures 193: Mort. [...] And if thou want lower, budge to the next Vile, and there nip a Bung, or cloy a Culley; then budge to the bowsing Ken, and boose rumsie and beanely.

In compounds

bene bouse (n.) (also ben bouse, bene bowse, bien bowse) [bouse n.]

drink, lit. good liquor; thus bene-bowsy, tipsy (with good drink).

[UK]R. Copland Hye way to the Spyttel House Eiii: For the bene bouse my watch hath a wyn.
[UK]Harman Caveat for Common Cursetours in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 59: Yf their women haue any thing about them [...] they [...] sell it out right, for bene bowse at their bowsing ken.
[UK]Dekker Belman of London (3rd) J3: I will lage it off with a gage of bene bowse.
[UK]Middleton & Dekker Roaring Girle V i: I’ll [...] drink ben bouse, and eat a fat gruntling cheat, a cackling cheat, and a quacking cheat.
[UK]Beaumont & Fletcher Beggar’s Bush III iv: I crown thy nab with a gage of ben bouse.
[UK]J. Taylor Crabtree Lectures 191: Mort. [R]ather then want Rum-peck, or Beane boose, mill the Cacklers, coy the Quack, or Duds.
[UK]R. Brome Jovial Crew II i: This is Bien bowse, this is Bien bowse, / Too little is my Skew.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Bene-bowse, strong Liquor, or very good Drink.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) 202: Bene-Bowse, strong liquor, or very good drink.
[UK]New Canting Dict. n.p.: bene-bowse c. strong Liquor or very good Drink [...] bowse Drink [...] see Benbowse and Rumbowse.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. 1725].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Bene bowse, (cant), good beer, or other strong liquor.
[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795).
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 5: Bene bowse – good beer.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1835].
[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 10: bene-bouse Good drink.
[US]Trumble Sl. Dict. (1890).
bene cove (n.) [cove n. (1)] (UK Und.)

1. (also bene cofe) a friend, lit. ‘a good fellow’; thus in cant, a fellow criminal.

[UK]Dekker Lanthorne and Candle-Light Ch. 1: A Gentleman is called a Gentry Coue, or Cofe: A good fellow, is a Bene Cofe.
[UK]Middleton & Dekker Roaring Girle V i: A ben cove, a brave cove, a gentry cuffin.
[UK]Dekker O per se O Canting Song O2: Bein darkmans then, bouse, mort, and ken / the bien coue’s bingd a wast.
J. Taylor Crabree Lectures 191: Cove. I whid to thee: I budged to the bowsing Ken, & there I bowsed all my lower amongst the Beane Coves, and Doxes.
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue I 45: The bien Cove hath the loure.
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue [as cit. 1612].
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.
[UK]Hell Upon Earth 5: Stoe you bien Cove.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) 202: Bene-Cove, a good fellow.
[UK]New Canting Dict. n.p.: bene cove a good Fellow, a merry Companion.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. 1725].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 5: Bene cove – hearty fellow, a tramp.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved With Gold 265: I’ve brought a couple of bene coves, with lots of the Queen’s pictures in their sacks.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[US]Cairo Bull. (Cairo, IL) 5 Nov. 2/3: [from The Graphic, London] He’s in the ring, my bene-coves, / And fly on all the jerks.
[US]Trumble Sl. Dict. (1890).
[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 69/2: C.17–18.

2. a tramp.

[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
bene cull (n.) (also ben cull) [cull n.1 (4)]

a good fellow, a friend.

[UK]Lytton Paul Clifford I 23: ‘Paul, my ben cull,’ said she, ‘what gibberish hast got there?’.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. 73: BEN CULL, a friend, or ‘pal.’.
[UK](con. 1600s) M. Lemon Leyton Hall I 236: ‘A barnacle—a foist, I think you call him—hath eased me of my purse.’ ‘Oh!’ said Honest Joe [...] ‘So clapperclawed already? I trust by a ben cull of my ken.’.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[US]Trumble Sl. Dict. (1890).
[UK]Newcastle Courant 2 Sept. 6/5: Right you are, my Ben Cull, but stash the rust.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.
bene darkmans [darkmans n.; Partridge in DU suggests ‘ca. 1560 or even earlier. Not dictionaried, however, until 1698 (B.E.)’]

(UK Und.) good night.

[UK]Dekker O per se O Canting Song O2: Bein darkmans then, bouse, mort, and ken / the bien coue’s bingd a wast; / On chates to trine, by Rome-coves dine / for his long lib at last.
[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn).
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 196: [as cit. 1612].
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) 202: Bene-Darkman, good-night.
[UK]New Canting Dict.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Scoundrel’s Dict.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[US]Trumble Sl. Dict. (1890).
bene mort (n.) (also bien mort) [bene adj. + mort n.]

a pretty woman.

[UK]Dekker Belman of London (3rd edn) J4: A bene Mort, hereby at the sign of the Prauncer.
[UK]Rowlands Martin Mark-all 42: O Ben mort wilt thou pad with me, / One ben slate shall serue both thee & me.
[UK]Dekker Canting Song O per se O O1: Bing out bien Morts and toure.
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue I 45: Bing out bien Morts, and toure and toure.
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue [as cit. 1665].
[UK](con. early 17C) W. Scott Fortunes of Nigel II 131: ‘Tour out,’ said the one ruffian to the other; ‘tour the bien mort twiring at the gentry cove!’.
[US] ‘Hundred Stretches Hence’ Matsell Vocabulum 124: The bene morts, who sweetly sing, / A hundred stretches hence?
[UK]Vanity Fair (N.Y.) 9 Nov. 216: Take all my bob culls and my bené morts. / I’d hold high revel, sluice my gob alway.
[US]Trumble ‘On the Trail’ in Sl. Dict. (1890) 42: Why, Bell, is it yourself? Tip us your daddle, my bene mort.