Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day 136

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….

Gamon and Patter

This is defined by the dictionary as meaning “common place talk of any profession; as the gamon and patter of a horse-dealer, sailor, etc”. The phrase is more commonly known as ‘gammon and patter’ with the first word coming from ‘gammin’, meaning nonsense or partly untrue, and there’s another phrase ‘gammon and spinach’ which means the same. The second word is also interesting, it’s from ‘Paternoster’, meaning the Lord’s Prayer, which got corrupted into ‘patter’, meaning to recite, talk or babble.

The phrase has now, perhaps sadly, fallen nearly entirely out of usage over the last 150 years.