Lingo of No Man's Land

A World War I Slang Dictionary

Lorenzo N. Smith

Lingo of No Man's Land

Lorenzo N. Smith

Distributed for British Library

With an Introduction by Julie Coleman
112 pages | 25 halftones | 6 x 8 | © 2014
Cloth $15.00 ISBN: 9780712357340 Published July 2014 For sale in North and South America only
In 1915 Massachusetts native Lorenzo N. Smith, roused by the newspaper reports of desecrated Belgium and France, crossed the Canadian border and joined the Wesmount Rifles. After stints with the First Canadian Contingent at Ypres, Festubert, Givenchy, Ploegsteert, and Messines, where he was, according to the original foreword, struck by a piece of shrapnel and removed from combat, Sgt. Smith joined the British-Canadian Recruiting Mission. Smith’s recruiting addresses were frequently followed by questions from the floor—“What d’ye mean by Blighty?’” and “What’s a ‘Whizbang?’”—and as a result, he compiled the Lingo of No Man’s Land, his dictionary of World War I slang.       
Originally published in 1918, Lingo of No Man’s Land provides fascinating contemporary insights into the soldier’s experience of the Great War. Among the terms and phrases defined within are “Cage–A wire enclosed structure to hold Fritz”; “Coote–A species of lice with extraordinary biting ability”; “Poultice wallopers–Hospital orderlies”; and “Rat poison–Affectionate term for cheese. The trench rats which swarm about are fed on cheese.” What is perhaps surprising for the modern reader is the number of words and phrases that Smith felt the need to define but are now considered commonplace—aerial photography, armored car, bomb, camouflage, concussion, and crater—a testament to how much English comes from World War I.
Published again to coincide with the centennial of World War I, Lingo of No Man’s Land offers a unique perspective of life on the front lines and will be compulsory reading for all American and European history buffs.


Julie Coleman


Lingo of No Man’s Land

Review Quotes
Boston Globe Brainiac Blog
“A surprisingly intimate and full portrait of life at the front of the first great war.”
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