Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day Thirty-Three

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…..

Blue Pigeons

The dictionary defines this as criminal slang for “thieves who steal lead off houses and churches”, or to “fly a blue pigeon” means committing the same crime. An irritating and heinous crime which has unfortunately taken place over the last few centuries, although I’ve found some references to this phrase in the late eighteenth century which refers to “fly a blue pigeon” as meaning deceitful behaviour. The blue refers to the old nickname for lead and although I can’t find much evidence of this phrase in literature or the media, if it was a criminal phrase then I assume it would have mostly been spoken.