Vocabulary survival guide for Victorian London

Bill Sikes from ‘Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens

Vocabulary you’ll need to survive in Victorian London

Perusing the Public Domain Review you may eventually stumble upon The London Guide & Stranger’s Safeguard against the Cheats, Swindlers, and Pickpockets (1819).

‘A comprehensive guide to help the unwitting visitor avoid falling victim to the various and nefarious crimes abound in early 19th-century London.’

The book features a useful glossary of key vocabulary to enable the intrepid traveller to avoid coming a cropper. I was interested to see many words from Latin/Greek. Some of the words you may already be familar with – perhaps because, (1) you’re a keen reader, (2) you mix in the wrong circles, (3) you used to watch the vintage BBC TV police series The Sweeney. Such as:-

Bolt (to start off), Dive (to enter the pocket), Floor (to knock down), Gob (the mouth), Grab (to snatch up), Had Up (police examination), Slang (covert language of thieves), Seedy (Shabby dress, no money), Spar (fighting demonstration) and Whop (a blow or slap).

But here are a selection you might not be as familiar with:


Do any of these tickle your fancy? Are there any that you’ll be adding to your own word arsenal? I have made a mental note of Toggery, Roost and Covess – you never know when they might come in handy.

7 thoughts on “Vocabulary survival guide for Victorian London

Add yours

  1. I found the Botanical excursion extremely funny! Vowed to use this today and did! Hilarious 🙂
    This is somewhat of an old post though it seems, but since I got a new phone and was cleaning up my Bloglovin’ list I’ve added you and it was the newest post, it seems. Are you planning any new content? Would love to hear from you 🙂

    I’ve joined a holidays read-a-thon too! Maybe you want to join? I think it would be great fun. It’s also got this little bingo chart for topics! It’s pretty lovely. Come on, join me 🙂 we have got to get you moving! 🙂


    1. Ha – thanks v much for adding me to Bloglovin’ :smile:. Oh dear, yep – nothing since October! Only 3 posts since the summer. Bit of a shock, I didn’t realise it had been so long :shock:. And I do love writing. The reality is that I don’t seem able to read AND blog. When I was blogging regularly, I wasn’t reading much Victoriana – but since I slowed down/stopped the blogging, I’ve been racing through the books.

      I dare not take on another reading challenge though, until I’ve caught up on the Classics Club stuff. Your encouragement is much appreciated, the kick I need to do a dozen speedy reviews. A New Year’s resolution maybe? 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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