Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day 123

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….


Back to food and drink definitions, this is a “small beer, brandy and sugar: this mixture, with the addition of a lemon, was [used] by sailors, formerly called Sir Cloudsly, in memory of Sir Cloudsly Shovel, who used frequently to regale himself with it”.

Cloudesley Shovell (1650-1707), as his name is spelled today at least, was the Admiral of the Fleet between 1705 and 1707 and he also found time to be a Member of Parliament for Rochester. As an aside, he was involved with the Scilly naval disaster of 1707, one of the worst maritime disasters for the British navy, with perhaps as many as 2,000 sailors losing their lives.

The flip is still a cocktail today and it appears to have originated in the late seventeenth century, so the Shovell link is perhaps possible. Wikipedia notes that:

“It’s a mixture of beer, rum, and sugar, heated with a red-hot iron (“Thus we live at sea; eat biscuit, and drink flip”). The iron caused the drink to froth, and this frothing (or “flipping”) engendered the name. Over time, eggs were added and the proportion of sugar increased, the beer was eliminated, and the drink ceased to be served hot.”

I’m very slightly amused (it doesn’t take much) that over time the drink bears nearly no resemblance to the original drink and there’s a bit of Trigger’s broom about this……