Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day Nine

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…..

Badgers

The dictionary defines this as “a crew of desperate villains who robbed near rivers, into which they threw the bodies of those they murdered”. Used as slang in the criminal fraternity, I can’t imagine that this was ever very common. It’s perhaps something which used to keep communities in fear as the books I’ve looked at suggest that the murder rate was relatively low in the eighteenth century. It’s an intriguing phrase though….