Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day 146

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 is defined by the dictionary as “a cat: mawkin signifies a hare in Scotland”. A ‘grimalkin’, or ‘greymalkin’, is an archaic word for a cat and this sounds a much more appropriate word for the animal. The ‘malkin’ bit of the word was used in a derogatory manner to describe an uncultured woman and it’s also where the name Matilda came from. The Grimalkin was used to describe cats and old women, being a reasonably common word in the nineteenth century before going out of usage.