1. illiterate, ‘low’ language.
|Don Qixote in Eng. 47: My lord Slang is one of the merriest men you ever knew in your life; he has been telling me a parcel of such stories!|
|Squire Badger 12: This is Lord Slang of Slango-Hall, in Slangshire.|
|Choice of Harlequin I viii: I think my flashy coachman, that you’ll take better care, / Nor for a little bub come the slang upon your fare.|
|Monthly Rev. xx 543–4: The personages have mostly the manners and language of elegant middle life, removed alike from the rant of tragedy or the slang of farce [F&H].|
|Salmagundi (1860) 247: They complain of that empty sarcastical slang.|
|Patronage III 70: The total want of proper pride and dignity in his deportment – a certain slang and familiarity of tone, gave superficial observers the notion that he was good-natured.|
|Life in London (1869) 41: Above all, steer clear from the slang, except, indeed, where the instances decidedly call it forth.|
|Poetical Works (1906) 608/2: The smallest urchin whose tongue could tang, / Shock’d the dame with a volley of slang.‘Tale of a Trumpet’|
|Night Side of London 212: The young hopefuls come in [...] do their pale ale, and adopt the slang and the vices of their betters.|
|(con. 1840s–50s) London Labour and London Poor III 396/2: When the cadgers saw a stranger, they used their slang.|
|Story of a Lancashire Thief 12: I never even heard him talk workmen’s slang.|
|Life and Growth of Lang. vii n.p.: There are grades and uses of slang whose charm no one need be ashamed to feel and confess; it is like reading a narrative in a series of rude and telling pictures instead of in words [F&H].|
|Poor Nellie I 110: ‘George,’ said Charles, testily, ‘you do talk slang! Shocking bad form!’.|
2. nonsense, rubbish.
|Life and Character of Moll King 12: I heard she made a Fam To-night, a Rum one, with Dainty Dasies, of a Flat from T’other Side; she flash’d half a Slat, a Bull’s-Eye, and some other rum Slangs.|
|Orators in Works (1799) I 192: Foote.: Have you not seen the bills? Scamper.: What, about the lectures? ay, but that’s all slang, I suppose.|
|Whole Art of Thieving 26: Nap my kelp, whilst I stall at the jegger to nap the slangs from the cull or moll; that is, Take my hat whilst I stop at the door to take the things from the man or woman.|
3. (also slango) a line of work, an occupation; thus on/upon the slang, involved in one’s own profession or job.
|Canting Academy, or the Pedlar’s-French Dict. 117: You, Fellow-traveller, what do you do for your living? You, Cole, What Slango do you go upon?|
|Life’s Painter 140: moll.: How do you work now? tolobon nan.: O, upon the old slang, and sometimes a little lully-priging.|
|‘The Christening of Little Joey’ in Corinthian in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 45: [as 1789].|
4. cant, i.e. the jargon of criminals.
|Hist. of the Two Orphans I 68: Thomas Throw had been upon the town, knew the slang well; [...] and understood every word in the scoundrel’s dictionary.|
|Absent Man n.p.: Person [...] Captain Slang, Mr. J. Palmer.|
|School for Wives (1775) 58: We don’t understand Latin, Sir [...] there is a language we sometimes talk in, call’d Slang.|
|‘The Flash Man of St. Giles’ in Musa Pedestris (1896) 74: We threw off our slang at high and low.|
|Gent.’s Mag. lxxxvi 418: Unwilling to be a disciple of the stable, the kennel, and the sty, as of the other precious slang, the dialect of Newgate.|
|N.-Y. Statesman 21 June 2/4: The mayor asked witness if Ann took out with her when walking the bootle (slang word for a bundle of forged notes.) Here A. C. [Ann Carter, defendant] laughed and said to the mayor, ‘I see your honor is up to the slang.’.|
|King’s Own II 113: His greatest pride and his constant study was ‘slang’.|
|Swell’s Night Guide 68: I fancy I can come that slang rumbo and patter gospel slap.|
|Yokel’s Preceptor 31: The slang or flash patter differs much according to the parties by whom it is used.|
|Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 155/1: Why, if I’d let you keep on talking with that old woman you’d have put her ‘fly’ to all the ‘slang’ in use among us.|
|Eng. Lakes Vistor 4 Oct. 6/3: He knew the Code Crimina [...] and was well up in slang, and he ventured blandly to correct the judge whenever he erred.|
5. attrib. use of sense 3.
|Hist. of Life of J. Wild (1840) lxxix: The master who teaches them should be a man well versed in the cant language, commonly called the Slang Patter, in which they should by all means excel.‘Plan for Hospital for Decayed Thief-Takers’ in Fielding|
|Life’s Painter 152: The slang language, which is the same as flash and cant.|
6. a form of contrivance, e.g. within a puppet-show, designed to trick onlookers.
|History of the Fortune-teller 85: While mankind feel themselves pleased at the representation of a puppet-shew, or a juggler’s sleight of hand, they are not at all anxious to discover the wires of the slang that moves them, or the artifices made use of.|
7. banter, teasing; abuse, thus throw off slang, to tease, to abuse.
|‘The St Giles’s Flash Man’ in Busy Bee II 122: We threw off our slang at high and low / And we were resolved to breed a row.|
|‘Kilmainham Minit’ in A. Carpenter Verse in Eng. in 18C Ireland (1998) 436: Wid a tip a de slang we replied.|
|Bacchanalian Mag. 43: When Poll and I walk thro’ the streets, / We throw off slang on all we meet.|
|Diary (1893) I 22 Feb. 68: We had some prime slang on the road, and [...] blew up every spoony fellow we could meet.|
|‘The St Giles’s Flash Man’ in Facetious Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 250: [as c.1790].|
|Mr Sponge’s Sporting Tour 25: Leather, though as impudent a dog as any of them, and far more than a match for the best of them at a tournament of slang [...] thought it best to be civil.|
|Truth (Brisbane) 11 Jan. 6/7: He burst into the plaintiffs room, and after slanging, him some he gave him a punch or two to rub in the slang.|
8. the criminal fraternity.
|Attic Misc. 116: A very knowing rig in ev’ry gang, / Dick Hellfinch was the pink of all the slang.‘Education’ in|
|‘Sonnets for the Fancy’ Boxiana III 621: A very knowing rig in ev’ry gang, / Dick Hellfinch was the pick of all the slang.|
|‘Dick Hellfinch’ in Rummy Cove’s Delight in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 105: [as 1791].|
9. a travelling show; a single performance or ‘house’ in a travelling show.
|Autobiog. 62: On the Thursday evening of the races we went into the slangs, [...] seeing a conish cove ogling the yelpers. [Ibid.] 121: slangs shows.|
|Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 94: slang a travelling show.|
|(con. 1840s–50s) London Labour and London Poor III 93/2: I’m not talking of a big pitch, when we go through all our ‘slang,’ as we say.|
|, ,||Sl. Dict. 23 4: SLANG, a travelling show.|
|Musa Pedestris (1896) 176: Dead–lurk a crib, or do a crack; / Pad with a slang, or chuck a mag.‘Villon’s Straight Tip’ in Farmer|
10. a performance (e.g. in a public house) .
|New Sprees of London 20: Morton Box takes the chair in the back lumber here, supported by some first rate talented chanters. We can recommend this crib [...] There is a bona slang in this slum, and manty [sic] queerums.|
11. a set of counterfeit scales, as used by cheating costermongers, counterfeit measures; thus the slang quart, a measure with a false bottom that actually holds only 1½ pints (855ml); the slang pint, ¾ pint (428ml) etc; work slang, to use such weights and measures.
|Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 94: slang counterfeit or short weights and measures. A slang quart is a pint and a half. slang measures are lent out at 2d. per day. The term is used principally by costermongers.|
|(con. 1840s–50s) London Labour and London Poor I 32/2: One candid costermonger expressed his perfect contempt of slangs, as fit only for bunglers, as he could always ‘work slang’ with a true measure. [...] The slang quart is let out at 2d. a day [...] The slang pint holds in some cases three-fourths of the just quantity, having a very thick bottom; others hold only half a pint, having a false bottom.|
12. a legal warrant.
|Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 265: slang [...] a warrant, license to travel, or other official instrument.|
|Morn. Advertiser (London) 2 Oct. 4/2: These ladies had quarrelled about a ‘swell buz-man’ and [...] the lady who had received the worst of the battle appealed to the Office for ‘a slang’ (the flash term for an assault warrant) against the more successful combatant.|
|Bk of Sports 188: A slang had been issued against Brown, and to make his lucky was the best advice he could take.|
13. a hawker’s licence; thus out on the slang, working as an itinerant hawker.
|, ,||Sl. Dict. 234: ‘Out on the slang,’ i.e. to travel with a hawker’s licence.|
|Life and Adventures of a Cheap Jack 264: Unless you produce your hawker’s licence – your ‘slang’ as you chaps call it – I’ll ike you off to the Beak.|
|Autobiog. of a Gipsey 28: We were stopped by some constables who wanted to see our slangs.|
|Tinkler-Gypsies of Galloway 184: ‘That’s the wee slangs’ (pedlar’s license) [...] ‘That’s the big slangs’ (waggon licence).|
|Down and Out in Complete Works I (1986) 176: These (omitting the ones that everyone knows) are some of the cant words now used in London: [...] A slang — a hawker’s licence.|
14. a salesman’s or showman’s speech to attract customers; also as bad slang, an exaggerated but successful speech and performance to attract the public.
|Life and Adventures of a Cheap Jack 201: They could do no business, because they did not understand a bit the working of the ‘slang’ or getting the people in. [Ibid.] 205: Roderick Palsgrave was considered by all who knew him to be the best showman of a ‘bad slang’ that ever travelled.|
one who can speak underworld cant.
|Life’s Painter 134: Ye slang-boys all, since wedlock’s nooze, / Together fast has tied.|
|‘Rowling Joey & Moll Blabbermums’ in Corinthian in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 42: [as 1789].|
1. a showman.
|Life’s Painter 152: To exhibit anything in a fair or market, such as a tall man, or a cow with two heads, that’s called slanging, and the exhibiter is called the slang cull.|
|Morn. Advertiser (London) 27 Dec. 3/3: [H]e is well known in the country as a ‘slanging cove,’ and delights the rustics with his feats of ground and lofty tumbling and tight-rope dancing, as manager of a fashionable booth that yearly graces Bartholomew Fair with its spangled elegance.|
|(con. 1840s–50s) London Labour and London Poor I 353/2: I don’t suppose it would be any go, seeing as how the ‘slang coves’ (the showmen), have done so, and been refused.|
2. (UK Und.) a cheat.
|Chester Courant 16 May 4/4: Even the slang coves have Downie and Fellowes.|
(UK Und.) the robbery of homosexuals.
|Account 31 July 🌐 she asked me to go along with her upon the *Slang-Madge [...] *Biting the Mollies.|
a cheapjack’s stall; thus the stock it holds.
|Sl. and Its Analogues.|
to stand by ready to remove stolen articles after a robbery.
|Account 18 Mar. 🌐 She was appointed [...] to stand Miss Slang all upon the Safe, (that is, to stand safe at a Distance as if not one of the Gang, in order to receive the Things stollen.).|