Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day 221

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….


I think that this is one of the more beautiful words in Grose’s dictionary, it’s defined simply as “a toyshop”. It’s derived from the phrase ‘knick-knack’ which originally meant a trick, but then evolved to mean something without much actual function. This meant that toys were seen as knick-knacks, hence why this became an alternative name for toyshops in the late eighteenth century.

The phrase lingered on until the early nineteenth century, but then, unfortunately, fell out of usage.