Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day 164

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….

Hush Money

Little has changed with the meaning of this phrase, defined by Grose as “money given to hush up or conceal a robbery, theft, or any other offence, or to take off the evidence from appearing against a criminal”. This does perhaps feel like a more modern construction, but it dates back to at least the beginning of the eighteenth century.

‘Hush’ comes from ‘huisht’, meaning to be quiet or still, with the ‘t’ at the end likely going missing over time as people mis-took it for being in the past tense.

The phrase has remained in common usage over the last three centuries, becoming more frequently used over the last few decades.