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…. NB, this is actually day 255 of the lockdown, so I’ve managed to get a few days behind, but am slowing catching back up (I can’t believe someone has noticed I was posting twice a day to catch up, one of my loyal three readers….).
And with this definition, Grose verges into practical jokes and japes…. He defines the word as “to catch the owl; a trick practised upon ignorant country boobies, who are decoyed into a barn under pretence of catching an owl, where, after divers[e] preliminaries, the joke ends in their having a pail of water poured upon their heads”. I have nothing to add to this definition, primarily as I’m not sure it was that widespread, but it’s nice to know that practical jokes aren’t anything new.