Ware's Victorian Dictionary of Slang and Phrase (Hardcover)

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Acutely aware of the changes affecting English at the end of the Victorian era, writer and journalist J. Redding Ware set out to record words and turns of phrase from all walks of life, from the curses in common use by sailors to the rhyming slang of the street and the jargon of the theater dandies. In doing so, he extended the lifespan of words like “air-hole,” “lally-gagging,” and “bow-wow mutton.”

First published in 1909 and reproduced here with a new introduction by Oxford English Dictionary editor John Simpson, Ware’s Victorian Dictionary of Slang and Phrase reflects the rich history of unofficial English. Many of the expressions are obsolete; one is not likely to have the misfortune of encountering a “parlour jumper.” Order a “shant of bivvy” at the pub and you’ll be met with a blank stare. But some of the entries reveal the origins of expressions still in use today, such as calling someone a “bad egg” to indicate that they are dishonest or of ill-repute. While showing the significant influence of American English on Victorian slang, the Dictionary also demonstrates how impressively innovative its speakers were.

A treasure trove of everyday language of the nineteenth century, this book has much to offer in terms of insight into the intriguing history of English and will be of interest to anyone with a passion for words.

About the Author

J. Redding Ware (1832–1909) was a journalist and lexicographer. Under the pseudonym Andrew Forrester, he was also an author of detective stories, including The Private Detective,Revelations of the Private Detective, and The Female Detective, the last published by the British Library.

Praise For…

“Nobody who appreciates the history and color of the English language can fail to enjoy the Bodleian Library’s new facsimile edition of Ware’s masterpiece.”
— Inside Higher Ed
Product Details
ISBN: 9781851242627
ISBN-10: 1851242627
Publisher: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
Publication Date: May 15th, 2013
Pages: 288
Language: English