Ware's Victorian Dictionary of Slang and Phrase

J. Redding Ware

J. Redding Ware

Distributed for Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

With an Introduction by John Simpson
288 pages | 49 halftones | 5 x 7 3/4 | © 2013
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9781851242627 Published May 2013 For sale in North America only
Acutely aware of the changes affecting English at the end of the Victorian era, writer and journalist J. Redding Ware set out to record words and turns of phrase from all walks of life, from the curses in common use by sailors to the rhyming slang of the street and the jargon of the theater dandies. In doing so, he extended the lifespan of words like “air-hole,” “lally-gagging,” and “bow-wow mutton.”

First published in 1909 and reproduced here with a new introduction by Oxford English Dictionary editor John Simpson, Ware’s Victorian Dictionary of Slang and Phrase reflects the rich history of unofficial English. Many of the expressions are obsolete; one is not likely to have the misfortune of encountering a “parlour jumper.” Order a “shant of bivvy” at the pub and you’ll be met with a blank stare. But some of the entries reveal the origins of expressions still in use today, such as calling someone a “bad egg” to indicate that they are dishonest or of ill-repute. While showing the significant influence of American English on Victorian slang, the Dictionary also demonstrates how impressively innovative its speakers were.

A treasure trove of everyday language of the nineteenth century, this book has much to offer in terms of insight into the intriguing history of English and will be of interest to anyone with a passion for words.
Inside Higher Ed
“Nobody who appreciates the history and color of the English language can fail to enjoy the Bodleian Library’s new facsimile edition of Ware’s masterpiece.”
Contents
Introduction
      John Simpson

Facsimile of James Redding Ware's Passing English of the Victorian Era: A Dictionary of Heterodox English, Slang, and Phrase
    Preface
    Abbreviations Used
    Passing English
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