Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day Sixty-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…..

Captain Lieutenant

Quite a long definition, the dictionary notes that this is defined as “meat between veal and beef, the flesh of an old calf; a military simile, drawn from the officer of that denomination, who has only the pay of lieutenant, with the rank of captain; but so is not entirely one or the other, but between both”.

It seems a rather long phrase to describe meat, a bit clunky for a butcher to have to write out on their display or for a customer to ask for. And on that basis, I also can’t find much evidence that this phrase was much used, but there’s something very precise about the term that I like. It’s perhaps a shame that Morrison’s to this day doesn’t use the phrase in their market street butchers…..