Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day Seventy-Eight

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…..

Cleymes

There’s not much to be written about this word, which is defined as “artificial sores, made by beggars to excite charity”, although it’s of note perhaps that this practice has been going on for hundreds of years. The word origins are unknown, one dictionary says that it’s a London slang for ‘claim’, as in to make a claim on someone’s pity. The word was used between at least the mid-sixteenth and early-nineteenth centuries and a similar phrase used during the same period was “sham sores”.