Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day 153

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….


The dictionary defines this as “stingy, hard of delivery; a poet poor in invention, is said to have a hidebound muse”. The word evolved with Middle English and was with reference to emaciated cattle (thereby having its back and ribs wrapped tightly by its hide), but then got extended to also meaning humans in a more general sense. It then became to mean ‘narrow in outlook’, before evolving into what the dictionary refers to as “hard of delivery”.

Since the eighteenth century, the word has evolved again into meaning someone or something which is unwilling to change and has fixed opinions, back to the narrow in outlook meaning. With that, there has been been an increase in the word’s usage over the last two centuries and it’s usually used in a negative sense.