Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day 140

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….

Gilly Gaupus

This phrase is defined by the dictionary as “a Scotch term for a tall awkward fellow” and it’s also spelled as one word, so gillygaupus. As Grose notes, this was mostly a Scottish term of insult, with the Gilly just emphasising the ‘gaupus’ or ‘gawpus’ section, which in itself means someone vacant or not quite with it. I can’t unfortunately add much to this definition, the phrase was so rarely used it doesn’t come up on Google Ngram, but it has a certain ring to it…