Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day 235

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….

Oil of Stirrup

The definition of this phrase is more sinister than it might initially appear, with Grose noting that it’s “a dose the cobler gives his wife whenever she is obstropulous”. The word ‘cobler’ is just another, now archaic, spelling of cobbler, or a shoemaker, hence the stirrup reference as that was one of their tools. The word ‘obstreperous’ is lovely in itself, but it means unruly or difficult. So, effectively, this is another phrase for wife beating, although it seems to have come into usage only briefly during the late eighteenth century and had pretty much disappeared again by the early nineteenth century.