Green’s Dictionary of Slang

griffin n.1

also griff

1. (Anglo-Ind.) a newcomer to India who is ignorant of Anglo-Indian ways; orig. used of freshly arrived young officers but adopted through society; also attrib.

[UK]Major Child in Southey Life of A. Bell (1844) I 459: Wilks, who is on the spot [i.e. Pondicherry] and who will [...] lend you every assistance in forwarding these matters, in which, unless I am mistaken, you must, I presume, be a perfect griffin.
[Ind]G. Elliot in Minto Lord Minto in India (1880) 17: I was not prepared for the entire nakedness of the Gentoo inhabitants. [...] It seems really strange to a griffin – the cant word for a European just arrived.
[UK]Lit. Chron. (London) 22 May 335/2: All new comers in India are called Griffins, and they must be a twelvemonth and a day in the country, before they are considered free from the title.
[Ind][C. D’Oyly] Tom Raw, The Griffin 2: Our Griffin is an inexperienced youth, / A raw, bewildered boy, who seeks his fortune / In Asiatic climes.
[Ind][H.B. Henderson] Bengalee 260: Half bruised to death, confounded by the fall, / Ned, like a tortoise from it’sbatter’d shell, / Crept forth, ‘midst louder laughter; whilst a call / Of ‘Griff! ho Griff!’ re-echoed like the yell / Of foul tormentors, in some modern hell.
[Ind]E. Roberts Scenes & Characteristics of Hindostan I 143: The passage of such a cavalcade through the country is very amusing, but griffins only are seen to laugh.
[Ind]F.J. Bellew ‘Memoirs of a Griffin’ in Asiatic Jrnl & Mthly Register June 119: ‘A terrier bunnow,’ said I, ‘what’s that?’‘Why,’ rejoined the captain, ‘he’s a thorough Pariar docked and cropped to make him look like a terrier; it’s a common trick played upon griffs, and you’ve been taken in, that’s all’.
[Ind]Peregrine Pultuney I 111: ‘Ha! ha!’ returned Mr. Havethelacks, chuckling, ‘don’t you know Nicholas Fitz-simon, what a precious griff you must be!’.
[Ind]C. Acland Manners & Customs of India 19: [B]ut Mrs. Staunton laughs at me, and calls me a ‘griffin,’ and says I must learn to have patience and save my strength. (N.B. Griffin means a freshman or freshwoman in India).
[Ind]W.D. Arnold Oakfield I 38: There were three more cadets on the same steamer, going up to that great griff depôt, Oudapoor, as uninteresting as boys of seventeen, fresh from a private school, generally are.
[Ind]D. Forbes Dict. Hindustani & Eng. I 774/1: t?zawil?yat?, a new comer to India; in Anglo-Indian phraseology ‘a griffin,’ or more colloquially a ‘griff’.
[Ind]Bombay Qly Rev. V 134: ‘A thorough chor, Sir, is that fellow; – always puckerao-ing Griffs for that punch-khana of Rustomjee’s.
[Aus]Mercury (Hobart, Tas.) 19 Nov. 3/4: [from Sat. Review, London] So Prince George got his cadetship, and was sent to his distant country, where he is now what in India slang is called a ‘griff’.
[Ind]W.W. Knollys Misses and Matrimony 67: ‘That,’ said aunt, ‘why, you griffin, that’s only the jackals; you’ll soon get used to it’ [Ibid.] 69: ‘She said they “dicked” her so. Now, I didn’t like to ask what she meant, because people always laugh so, and call me a griff, as if one ought to learn all about Indian ways and expressions in the nursery’ .
[Ind]Bombay Gaz. 4 Sept. 3/4: My Parsee nickname may lead many of your griffin readers to suppose that it signifies ‘a runaway,’ and this error may damage my future prospeem in life.
[UK]H. Smart Breezie Langton I 92: ‘The youngest griffin there could have given me two stone and won in a canter’.
[Ind]A. Allardyce ‘The Anglo-Indian Tongue’ in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Mag. May 542/2: The person who does not know that ‘diggorydar’ means a decree-holder, or that ‘kabuliyut’ is the counterpart of a lease, will still be accounted a ‘griffin,’ though he may have passed years enough in India to qualify him for a pension.
[Ind]H. Hartigan Stray Leaves (1st ser.) 114: [T]he chief wondered which of the griffs had performed the feat.
[UK]Sporting Times 27 Sept. 2/5: Somebody happened to say there never had been such things as griffins, and then she fired up . ‘What nonsense. Why only yesterday Mr Rabbit was speaking of one he’d seen in India’.
[Ind]Civil & Milit. Gaz. (Lahore) 21 June 3/3: [T]hey convey a meaning patent to any griffin who has been ia the country twenty minutes.
[Ind]L. Emanuel Jottings [...] of a Bengal ‘qui hye’ 12: The young Griff, as Johnny Newcomes are often called.
[Ind]Yule & Burnell Hobson-Jobson 303/1: Griffin, Griff, s. (also Griffish, adj.). One newly arrived in India, and unaccustomed to Indian ways and peculiarities; a Johnny Newcome.
[US]F.M. Crawford Mr. Isaacs 158: ‘Why, you are quite a griffin, Katharine,’ said he, ‘how they will laugh at you in Bombay!’.
[US]G.H. Jessop ‘Dreams Go by Contraries’in McClure’s Mag. Sept. 320/1: If there are any ‘griffs’ in this company, I may explain for their benefit that a tonga is a kind of bullock wagon, and a bilewallah is the driver of the same.
[UK](con. 1860s) E.S. Mott Mingled Yarn 82: Can there have existed a more egregious, grass-green griffin than Ensign Edward Spencer Mott, when he landed on the ‘coral strand’.
[UK]Regiment 25 June 197/1: A griff born in the inland counties, and not well versed in nautical matters, was on his way to India.
[Ind]Civil & Milit. Gaz. (Lahore) 17 Jan. 7/3: [O]nly a griffin, a tourist or a travelling M. P. would fall into the error of imagining that the gaze’'s thoughts are centred on aught loftier than paisa, bakshish and the like.
[Ind]Civil & Milit. Gaz. (Lahore) 16 Apr. 10/1: The veriest griffin has heard of the intractable humour of the Abors.
‘The Griffin’ in Vernede British Life in India (1995) 7: Jones arrived, a youth unwived, at Bombay’s Ballard pier, / an unpretentious ‘Griffin’ at the start of his career.

2. outside India, any junior and/or newly arrived officer.

[UK]‘Old Calabar’ Won in a Canter I 69: ‘I hear the Colonel has the character of looking up the Griffs’.

In derivatives

griffinage (n.)

(Anglo-Ind.) the state of being a sense 1

[UK]Lit. Chron. & Wkly Rev. (London) 22 May 335/2: [I]t is to be observed that different names are given in different parts of India, to those whose term of Griffinage has expired.
[Scot]B. Hall Fragments of Voyages I 353: ‘What may Juwab mean?’ I begged to know. ‘Ask your neighbour,’ whispered he. I did so, in all the innocence of my griffinage, and said, ‘Pray, sir, what does the word Juwab mean? – they tell me you know well’.
[Ind]G. Colesworthy Anglo-Indian Domestic Sketch 68: Griffinage is the isthmus of a middle state between English and Indian life. It is the second infancy, as it were, of all who quit the ‘tight little island’ for the fervid shores of Ind.
[Ind]W.D. Arnold Oakfield II 292: I [...] am now returning to Ferozepore, feeling more solitary than I have ever done since the days of my griffinage.
[Aus]Queenslander (Brisbane) 6 July 6/4: We take up his career when Ensign Dedshot, of the Madras Native Infantry, had made himself a sporting name before he had emerged from his griffinage.
[Aus]Leader (Melbourne) 25 Nov. 29/2: This swagger array of footgear caught the major’s eye one morning on passing Jones’s door, and he immediately recalled an ancient joke that was passed off on him years ago in his ‘griffinage’.
griffinhood (n.)

(Anglo-Ind.) the state of being a sense 1

[Ind]‘Memoirs of a Griffin’ in Asiatic Jrnl & Mthly Review 33 38: Chapter I. Pleasant days of my Griffinhood!
[Ind]C. Campbell Rough Recollections II 249: George Barnes, a smart little cadet newly posted, and in the full flush of green griffinhood and a scarlet jacket.
[Ind]E. Roberts East India Voyager 105: [W]ithout a competent knowledge of Hindostanee he can never hope to succeed in any public department, or to emerge from a state of Griffinhood, as it is called.
[UK]W.H. Russell My Diary in India II 159: In griffinhood I admired the proportions of their establishments.
[UK]’An Indian Officer’ How I Spent My Two Years’ Leave 8: He put me up to no end of things, and helped me considerably in my green days of ‘griffin- hood,’ although I was often the subject of his jokes.
[Ind]Mrs M. Mitchell In Southern India 338: Mr. Hooker [...] has quite lately joined the band of workers here, and is by no means yet [...] out of his griffinhood.
[US]Eclectic Mag. 52/1: In the days of his griffinhood — those first perilous twelve months — how many rocks ahead there are on which his bark may go down.
griffinish (adj.)

(Anglo-Ind.) having the qualities of a sense 1

[UK]J. Johnson Influence of Tropical Climates 426: It is certainly laughable [...] to behold, for some time after each fresh importation from Europe, a number of griffinish sticklers for decorum, whom no persuasions can induce to cast their exuviæ.
[Ind]F.J. Bellew ‘Memoirs of a Griffin’ in Asiatic Jrnl & Mthly Register Sept. 38: [A] good-natured Englishman, who should present a Brahmin who worships the cow with a bottle of beef-steak sauce, would be decidedly ‘griffinish’.
[UK]T. Hood Poetical Wks 206: Not having knelt in Palestine, — / I feel None of that griffinish excess of zeal, / Some travellers would blaze with here in France.
[Ind]H. Hervey Ten Years in India II 40: To hoax and laugh at a new-comer are the delight of the oldsters ; but if the latter find out, that, in spite of his griffinish tricks and inexperienced blunders, he is at all events a really gentlemanly lad, possessing many good qualities [...] he very soon becomes a favourite.
[UK]W.H. Russell My Diary in India I 189: Next to my griffinish wonder at the want of white faces, has been my regret to perceive the utter absence of any friendly relations between the white and the black faces when they are together.
[Ind]F.E. W. Sketches of Native Life 143: [T]he jugglers [...] are warmed into enthusiasm by the applause of a griffinish, and appreciative audience.
[Aus]Wagga Wagga Advertiser (NSW) (Supp.) 15 Sept. 1/3: [M]ilitary fashions are set by griffinish commanding officers, whose theory is that a man can be ‘inured’ to the sun by freely exposing him to its full force.
griffinism (n.)

(Anglo-Ind.) behavior, or an act, befitting a sense 1

[Ind]Asiatic Jrnl & Mthly Register Jan.-Apr. 112: The most valuable persons attached to a Mofussil station [...] are the haughty, tyrannical, domineering individuals, whose impertinences and griffinisms furnish food for conversation and invective, to numbers who otherwise would be driven to their wits end to invent subject-matter for their daily banquets of scandal.
[Ind]F.J. Bellew ‘Memoirs of a Griffin’ in Asiatic Jrnl & Mthly Register Sept. 38: ‘Enlighten my griffinism a little, Tom,’ said I, ‘and expound the cause thereof’.
[Ind]Calcutta Rev. 9 299: [D]istributing his tracts among them, often with exquisite griffinism, unwittingly offending their prejudices, but always regarding them with the deepest feelings of commiseration and love.
[Ind]W.D. Arnold Oakfield I 59: To stick a brother officer, not only with a horse, but with any thing, – to clear out a griff at cards or billiards, – to get credit to the largest possible amount from the greatest possible number of tradesmen, without the slightest intention of any payment [...] – to get money from relations at home under false pretences, – to sponge upon a friend who, perhaps, could ill afford it; [...] these were the signs of a state from which all griffinism (which comprises the seven deadly sins) had been eradicated.
griffinship (n.)

(Anglo-Ind.) the state of being a sense 1

F.J. Bellew Memoirs of a Griffin 328: I [...] thrashed them soundly when they hesitated to plunge into an alligatorish-looking pool after a wounded dabchick, or capsized my griffinship, as happened once or twice, when staggering with me Scotch-cradle fashion, gun and all, through the shallows.
griffish (adj.)

(Anglo-Ind.) naively unversed in the niceties of Anglo-Indian life.

[Ind]Asiatic Jrnl & Mthly Register June 124: I might have taken refuge in the adjoining apartments; but I felt unwilling to appear griffish, as it is called, before the family.
[Ind]Peregrine Pultuney I 228: Very silly and griffish we were too, for we bought Burgundy, Champaign, and Curacao, (things quite unbecoming a subaltern) and took it into our heads to give tiffin parties.
[Ind]W.D. Arnold Oakfield I 51: ‘Why, you don’t mean to say that he’d allow you to pay his house rent?’ said Oakfield, with very griffish surprise.
see sense 1 above.
[Ind]Edith E. Cuthell In Tent and Bungalow 19: I gave vent to some griffish remark about preferring to stalk tigers on foot, which the older sportsmen jeered at.
griffishness (n.)

(Anglo-Ind.) the lack of local knowledge exhibited by a sense 1

J. Greenwood Late Victorious Campaigns in Affghanistan 44: There was no help for it, however; go back we must and purchase tents [...] and that with the certainty of being laughed at by our brother subs for our griffishness in going without such necessary appendages.
[Ind]W.D. Arnold Oakfield I 59: [H]e was still roughly civil; sometimes indeed grew quite cordial while comparing, with infinite complacency, his own knowingness with his chum’s griffishness.