Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day Ninety-One

The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue was first published at the end of the eighteenth century, and given that the Coronavirus 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 “a knot or gang; also a boat or ship’s company. The canting crew are thus divided into twenty-three orders” and these are then listed:


  1. Rufflers
  2. Upright Men
  3. Hookers or Anglers
  4. Rogues
  5. Wild Rogues
  6. Priggers of Prancers
  7. Palliardes
  8. Fraters
  9. Jarkmen or Patricoes
  10. Fresh Water Mariners or Whip Jackets
  11. Drummerers
  12. Drunken Tinkers
  13. Swaddlers or Pedlars
  14. Abrams


  1. Demanders for Glimmer or Fire
  2. Bawdy Baskets
  3. Morts
  4. Autem Morts
  5. Walking Morts
  6. Doxies
  7. Delles
  8. Kinching Morts
  9. Kinching Coes”

Some list and I’ll come onto some more of these definitions in future weeks as I stumble across them in the dictionary. But the aim of this list was to place criminals into some sort of order in how they were respected by the rest of the canting, or criminal, community. I’m not entirely sure why some of these categories managed to get themselves to the top, the ‘rufflers’ are a group who pretend to be former soldiers. But, I like some of the phrases, some of them sound like rivals to the Bullingdon Club.