Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day Eighty-Four

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…..

Cold Pig

This cheery little phrase is defined as “to give cold pig is a punishment inflicted on sluggards who lie too long in bed: it consists in pulling off all the bed clothes from them, and throwing cold water upon them”. The phrase was relatively common in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, then started to fade away and instead meant damaged or returned goods. The phrase is still used today by some shops who use the term to mean seconds or returns, but the original definition of cold water seems to have been lost.