Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day 137

The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue was first published at the end of the eighteenth century, and given that the current health crisis is giving too much time to read books, I thought I’d pick a daily word from it until I got bored….


This sounds like a word that has recently been made up, a beautiful term which is defined by the dictionary as “sights; any thing to feed the eye. I am come [sic] abroad for a little gapeseed”. More widely, it’s something which is worth seeing, something of note, or indeed, someone who is looking at such an interesting thing.

The word was first used in the late sixteenth century, combining the two words ‘gape’ and ‘seed’. ‘Gape’ is actually from the Norse word ‘gapa’ meaning a wide opening, and of a similar derivation to the word ‘gap’, which evolved into something like ‘an open-mouthed stare’ and ‘seed’ is from the Germanic word ‘saed’ meaning to sow.

It is though another word seemingly lost to the English language, now fallen out of usage.