Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day 208

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….

Mite

This is a new one to me, Grose defines this as “a nick name for a cheesemonger; from the small insect of that name found in cheese”. Horrible as it sounds, cheese mites are used deliberately in the development of some cheeses, although I’m not sure how controlled this process was during the eighteenth century. This term for a cheesemonger dates from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth centuries, but I suspect (with no evidence, just one of my random guesses) that it pre-dates this. I’m not sure that cheesemongers would have particularly liked the term though, it doesn’t really highlight their work.