Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day 101

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’.