Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day 115

The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue was first published at the end of the eighteenth century, and given that the current health crisis is giving too much time to read books, I thought I’d pick a daily word from it until I got bored….

Elbow Grease

Some of the phrases in this dictionary remain in common usage today, but I would have otherwise assumed that they perhaps had a more recent origin. This phrase is defined in the dictionary in the same way as it would be today, “labour, elbow grease will make an oak table shine”. Indeed, the phrase is much older even than the late eighteenth century when this dictionary was published, it was being used as early as the sixteenth century and likely before then. There is a direct French equivalent, “huile de coude” which means the same.