Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day Eighty-Five

The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue was first published at the end of the eighteenth century, and given that the Coronavirus crisis is giving too much time to read books, I thought I’d pick a daily word from it until I got bored…..

Coliander or Coriander Seeds

Defined in the dictionary simply as “money”, I don’t have much to add to this, although it’s slightly intriguing that the word used to have two forms of spelling. The root of the word is from the Greek ‘koriannon’, so the change from the ‘r’ to an ‘l’ must have been a confusion as the word evolved into English, but there are written references to its spelling as coliander for nearly 1,000 years.

As an aside, the use of the word ‘coriander’ has been relatively common in texts for nearly 300 years, albeit with a more recent surge in the usage over the last few decades.

Back to the meaning as money, Green’s Dictionary of Slang states that “seeds provide a form of growth necessary for life, thus figurative synonymn with money”, although this seems a bit convoluted as there are many different seeds and why would coriander be singled out?