Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day Fifty-Two

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…..

Bull Beggar or Bully Beggar

This is defined by the dictionary as “an imaginary being with which children are threatened by servants and nurses, like raw head and bloody bones”. Being a child in the late eighteenth century does sound a little bit of a nightmare….. The phrase is still in occasional use today and there’s a pub in North Carolina called the “Bull and Beggar”. It dates all the way back to at least the fifteenth century and it might derive from Wales and the old Welsh word ‘bwbach’ which is a scarecrow or goblin.