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….
This not very politically correct term is defined by the dictionary as meaning “one pitted with the small pox”, which also doesn’t suggest a great deal of understanding for the afflicted. The usage of this phrase has shifted since the late eighteenth century, it later became a more generic term for those with a pot-marked face, then more recently it means someone with an unfriendly or hostile look.
Even in the early part of the twentieth-century there were smallpox outbreaks in the UK, a disease that caused great fear in communities and was dangerous particularly to children. Fortunately, this is one of the diseases that has since been eradicated.