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Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day 183

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 word is defined by Grose as “a nick-name for an attorney; from the name of a writ”. The word comes from the Latin which means “he lies hidden” or “he lurks” and it was a writ that was issued with the assumption that the person it was directed at was in hiding. This legal device wouldn’t be used now, as a court would subpoena anyone who needed to attend proceedings. I’m not sure why the word became used to describe an attorney, but it mainly seems to be Grose putting this theory forwards. As an aside, it’s a rather lovely word.