The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue was first published at the end of the eighteenth century, and given that the Coronavirus crisis is giving too much time to read books, I thought I’d pick a daily word from it until I got bored….
Dance Upon Nothing
There are quite a few definitions in this book which aren’t particularly cheery and this is another, being defined as “to be hanged”. This was sometimes used in a precautionary sense, so children might be told to behave, or they’d be doing a ‘dance upon nothing’ later in their life. There are other slightly more colourful phrases with the same meaning, such as the ‘Tyburn Jig’ and the ‘Paddington Frisk’.