Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day 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…..

Apple-Pye Bed

This is of course an expression still in use today, the practice of doubling up sheets so that someone can’t get into bed. The dictionary notes that “it’s a common trick played by frolicsome country lasses on their sweethearts, male relations or visitors”.

I was also intrigued at the spelling of the word pye, I thought that had gone out of use earlier than it had, it was still persisting in the nineteenth century given the above graph. For those fascinated by the evolution of language, there are two distinct possibilities of how this term came about. Some thing that it’s from an apple pie turnover, where the pastry is folded over. Others say it’s from the French nappe pliee, which is a folded sheet.