Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day 182

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….

Land Lopers or Land Lubbers

There appears to have been something of a change in the meaning of Land Lubbers (or Landlubbers) since Grose wrote his dictionary. He defined these terms as “vagabonds lurking about the country who subsist by pilfering”. The word comes from the Dutch ‘landloper’, or land-runner and this evolved into meaning a vagrant. But, there’s a separate evolution of the term here as ‘lubber’ meant a foolish person in Middle English, which then became known as a term for a seaman, without the word ‘land’ before it. Gradually though, the two terms merged in meaning and now the common word is ‘landlubber’.

Land lopers wasn’t common enough to appear in Google Ngram, but this shows how the usage of “land lubber” and “landlubber” has changed over the last two centuries.