Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day Sixty-Five

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…..


Definitions don’t get much shorter than this, it simply means “left-handed”. There seems nearly no mention of this phrase in the printed record and I was hoping to work out how this quirky term had evolved. That plan failed, as all I can see is that it was in use between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.

I did discover though, whilst trying to see if this derived from cats paw somehow, that cats are left or right-handed. This, I have decided, is more interesting to me than what I had set out to find. So, I have no idea how this phrase evolved, but I will now watch cats to see whether they are left-handed or right-handed.