Here follows a selection of slang used in my gaslamp fantasy novels and role-playing game. It is taken from my advanced Gaslamp book. The book is not complete, and will not be appearing any time soon. But I hope that this selection of slang terms, garnered from various sources, may be a useful resource to other people.
Note that the words Mandrake and Ogre are specific to my world, and were not used in real Victorian times.
Abbess: A madam.
Abbot: Madam’s boyfriend.
Alderman: Half a crown.
All Gay: Call used by lookouts to indicate that coast is clear.
Angler: a thief who uses a hook tied to a pole to steal from open windows.
Ape leader: an old maid.
Arab: A street urchin.
Arbor vitae: Penis.
Area: The below-ground servant’s entrance in the front of many London town-houses.
Area Diving: Theft; sneaking down area steps, and stealing from the lower rooms of houses.
Aunt: A madam or prostitute.
Bacca-pipes: Whiskers curled in small, close ringlets.
Backgammon Player: sodomite.
Badger: a riverside thief who throws his victim into the Thames after overpowering or killing them.
Bang-up: Very good, fine.
Barney: Lark, criminal spree, or argument.
Beak: A magistrate or judge.
Beak-hunting: Stealing poultry.
Beano: Rowdy festivities or fun.
Bearer up: Person that robs men who have been decoyed by a woman accomplice.
Beef: Raise an alarm.
Bene: Good (pronounced Bennay).
Betty: A type of lock pick.
Bird: A woman.
Bit faker: Coin counterfeiter.
Blackchapel Brougham: A costermonger’s cart.
Blackleg: A strike-breaker.
Blag: To steal or snatch, usually a theft, often by smash-and-grab.
Bleached mort: A fair-complexioned young woman.
Blind Cupid: Buttocks.
Blob, on the: Begging by telling hard luck stories.
Blow: Inform the police.
Bludger: A violent criminal.
Blue boar: A venereal wart.
Blue bottle: A policeman.
Blue pigeon, flying the: Stealing lead from roofs.
Boat, get the: To receive a particularly harsh sentence.
Bonnet: A covert assistant to a Sharp.
Bouncer: somebody who steals from a shopkeeper while pretending to be a customer.
Brass Donkey: A police horse automaton (an insult).
Break: Collection for somebody just come out of prison.
Break a drum: To commit burglary.
Brick: A good fellow.
Broad arrow: The arrow-like markings on a prison convict’s uniform. “Wearing the broad arrow”: In prison.
Broads: Playing cards.
Bruiser: A boxer.
Buck’s face: A cuckold.
Bug hunters: People who rob drunkards returning from the pub late at night.
Bull: Five shillings.
Bulldog with six teeth: gun
Bumper: a full glass or cup.
Bunter: A very common prostitute.
Burking: Murdering by strangulation.
Bushel bubby: A full-breasted woman.
Buttoner: One who traduces somebody into playing a crooked game, such as loaded dice.
Cab: a brothel.
Cabbage: To steal.
Caddee: A lowly underling or assistant to a thief.
Cagg: To abstain from alcohol.
Caper: A criminal act, dodge or device.
Cash carrier: A pimp.
Chancery, in: In an awkward spot.
Chapel, the: Blackchapel.
Chat: a Louse.
Chaunting: Singing; also informing
Chaunting lay: Street singing (hopefully for money)
Chicken-breasted: Small-breasted (woman).
Chiv: A knife.
Choker: Clergyman. “Gull a choker”
Christen: To remove identifying marks from, to make like new again. “Christen a watch.”
Christening Jack: To remove identifying marks from, to make like new again; specifically a watch.
Church: To remove identifying marks from, to make like new again. “Church a watch.”
Churching Jack: To remove the innards from a watch, and replace with inferior ones.
Civilian: a non-criminal.
Claim: To steal
Click: Robbery, theft.
Cly faking: To pick a pocket, especially of its handkerchief (for which there was a ready market)
Cock Alley: Vagina.
Cockchafer: An especially built treadmill in the ‘Steel
Cocker: Friend, pal.
Cock Lane: Vagina.
Coffin nail: Cigarette.
Coiner: A coin counterfeiter
Cokum (n & adj): Opportunity, advantage, shrewd, cunning.
Cool: Look, look at this/it.
Coopered: Worn out, useless
Coopered Ken: A bad place for a stick up.
Cop: (1) To steal.
Cop: (2) Policeman
Corinthians: A frequenter of brothels.
Couter: a pound note.
Cove: a man.
Covey: a collection of prostitutes.
Crack a case: To commit burglary.
Crack a crib: To commit burglary.
Cracksman: Lock breaker and safecracker.
Crib: A building, house or lodging. The location of a gaol.
Crib-cracker: A burglar.
Crimping shop: A waterfront lodging house.
Crinkum-crankum: a woman’s nether regions.
Croak: To die.
Crooked cross, to play the: To betray, swindle or cheat.
Crow: a lookout. A doctor.
Crusher: A policeman.
Cupid’s kettle-drums: Breasts.
Dabbed about: Thrown.
Daffy: A small measure, spirits.
Dander: To have your dander up is to be angry.
Dead lurk: Empty premises.
Deaner: A shilling.
Demander: One who gains monies through menace.
Deuce Hog: 2 shillings
Devil’s claws: The broad arrows on a convict’s prison uniform.
Dewskitch: A beating
Dicky: A woman’s under-petticoat.
Didikko: Gypsies; half breed gypsies.
Dimmick: A base coin, counterfeit
Dinah: Favourite girl.
Ding: (v & n) Throw away, pass on. Any object that has been so treated. Ex. “Knap the ding” or to take something that has been thrown out.
Dispatches: Loaded dice
Dollymop: A prostitute, often an amateur or a part-time street girl..
Dollyshop: A low, unlicensed loan shop or pawn shop.
Don: A distinguished/expert/clever person; a leader
Doss: a bed or resting-place.
Down: Suspicion. “To put down on someone” means to inform on that person’s plans. While “To take the down of a ticker” means to christen a watch.
Do Down: To beat someone badly, punishing them with your fists. (b)
Downy: Cunning, false.
Drag: (1) A three month gaol sentence.
Drag: (2) A street
Dragsman: A thief who steals from carriages.
Drop, the: The gallows.
Drum: A building, house or lodging; the location of a gaol.
Dry Room: A cell.
Dub: (1) Bad.
Dub: (2) Key, lock pick
Duckett: A street hawker or vendor’s licence.
Duffer: A seller of supposedly stolen goods. Also a Cheating Vendor or hawker.
Dugs: A woman’s breasts.
Dumplin: A swindling game played with skittles
Dumps: Buttons and other Hawkers small wares.
Eye: The place where a fence hides stolen goods.
Factory, The: Scotland Yard.
Fakement: a Device or pretence (especially a notice or certificate to facilitate begging).
Fall: To be arrested.
Family, the: The criminal Underworld, also Family People.
Fan: To delicately feel someone’s clothing, while being worn, to search for valuables.
Fancy, the: The brethren of the boxing ring.
Fanlight-jumping: Burglary through a fanlight.
Fawney-dropping: A ruse whereby the villain pretends to find a ring (which is actually worthless) and sells it as a possibly valuable article at a low price.
Fetch mettle, to: Masturbation.
Find The Wizard: A form of three card monte. Packs of cards in this world use wizards instead of jacks.
Fine wirer: A highly skilled pickpocket
Finny: Five pound note
Fire ship: A woman with VD.
Fitter: A locksmith specialising in making burglary tools.
Flag: An apron
Flam: A lie
Flap dragon: VD.
Flash (v & adj): Show, Showy (as in “Show-off,” or “Flashy”); smart; something special.
Flash house: A public house patronized by criminals.
Flash notes: Paper that looks, at a glance, like bank-notes
Flat: A person who is flat is easily deceived.
Flats: Playing cards.
Flimp: A snatch pickpocket. Snatch stealing in a crowd.
Flue Faker: Chimney sweep
Fly, on the: Something done quickly.
Flying cove: Seller of false information concerning stolen goods.
Flying the Blue Pigeon: Stealing roof lead.
Flying the Mags: The game of “Pitch and Toss”
Fogle: A silk handkerchief.
French disease: VD.
Fully: To send somebody for trial.
Fushme: five shillings.
Gaff:Show, exhibition, fair “Penny Gaff” – Low, or vulgar theatre.
Gagger: Conman specialising in hard luck stories.
Gammy: False, undependable, hostile
Garret: Fob pocket in a waistcoat
Gattering: A public house
Gay: To do with (female) prostitutes.
Gaying instrument: Penis.
Gift: Stolen property sold cheaply.
Glim: (1) Light or fire.
Glim: (2) Begging by depicting oneself as having been burnt out of one’s home.
Glim: (3) Venereal Disease.
Go out: To thieve.
Gonoph: A minor thief, or small time criminal
Gorblimies, the: The Seven Dials area of London.
Gospel grinder: A missionary or Bible reader.
Grampus: A fat or obese man.
Granny: Understand or recognize
Gravney: A Ring
Green Eye: The Magick Lanterns of the police.
Grey: A coin with two identical faces
Griddling: Begging, peddling, or scrounging
Growler: A four wheeled cab
Growler-shover: A cabbie.
Grub Street: the gutter press.
Gum: Loud, abusive language.
Half a bar: Ten shillings.
Half inch: steal.
Hallelujah lass: Salvation army girl
Hammered for life: Married
Hard up: Tobacco
Haymarket Hector: Pimp; especially around the areas of Haymarket and Leicester Squares.
Hempen Fever: Hanged.
Holywater sprinkler: A cudgel spiked with nails.
Hookem-snivey: To feign illness in order to obtain alms.
Hook it!: Be off!
Huey: A town or village.
Hughey: A town or village.
Huntley, to take the: To take the Biscuit. To be excellent, as in Huntley & Palmer’s biscuits.
Hustling: robbing in pairs.
Ikey: A Jew.
Indorser: A male homosexual.
James: A crowbar. A housebreaker’s tool.
Jemmy: (1) Smart.
Jemmy: (2) of Superior class.
Jemmy: (3) A housebreaker’s tool.
Jerry: A Watch
Jew, to: To drive a hard bargain.
Joey: A four pence piece
Jolly: Disturbance or Fracas
Judy: A woman, specifically a prostitute
Jug loops: Locks of hair brought over the temples and curled
Julking: Singing (as of caged songbirds)
Jump:A ground floor window or a burglary committed through such a window.
Kate: Skeleton key.
Ken: House or other place, esp. a lodging or public house.
Kennetseeno: Bad, stinking, putrid — Malodorous.
Kettledrums: Women’s breasts.
Kidney, of the same: Alike
Kidsman: An organizer of child thieves
Kinchen-lay (Kynchen-lay): Stealing from children
Kingsman: A coloured or black handkerchief.
Kip: Somewhere to sleep.
Knap: To steal, take or receive
Knob: “Over and under” a fairground game used for swindling.
Know life, to:To be knowledgeable in criminal ways
Laced mutton: A prostitute.
Ladybird: A Prostitute
Lady Green: The prison chaplain.
Lag: A convict or Ticket-of-leave man; to be sentenced to transportation or penal servitude.
Lam: To beat up.
Lawful blanket: A wife.
Laycock, Miss (or Lady): Female sexual organs
Lavender, in: (1) to be hidden from the police.
Lavender, in: (2) to be pawned.
Lavender, in: (3) to be put away.
Lavender, in: (4) to be dead.
Lay: A method, system or plan
Leaving shop: An unlicensed pawnbrokers.
Left-handed wife: A concubine.
Leg : A dishonest person, a sporting cheat or tout.
Lever: Lever watch
Life-preserver: a short, weighted club.
Lobcock: A large, flaccid penis.
Lock hospital: VD hospital or ward.
London Particular: Thick London “Pea Soup” fog
Long-Tailed: A banknote worth more than 5 pounds is said to be “long tailed”
Lucky, cut one’s: Make a clean getaway.
Luggers: Ear rings
Lumber: (1) Unused, or second-hand furniture.
Lumber: (2) To pawn.
Lumber: (3) To go into seclusion.
Lumber: (4) To be in lumber is to be in gaol.
Lump Hotel: Work House
Lurk: (1) A place of resorting to or concealment in.
Lurk: (2) A scheme or method
Lurker: A criminal of all work, esp. a beggar, or someone who uses a beggar’s disguise.
Lush: An alcoholic drink.
Lushery: A place where a lush may be had. A low public house or drinking den.
Lushing Ken: See Lushery.
Lushinton: A drunk.
Macer: a cheat.
Mag, on the: To engage in confidence trickery.
Magflying: Pitch and toss
Magsman: An inferior cheat
Maltooler: A pickpocket who steals while riding an omnibus, esp. from women.
Mandrake: (1) A Homosexual.
Mandrake: (2) A wizard who is a fop or dandy.
Mark: The victim
Mary Blaine: Railway Train; to meet a train or to travel via railway.
Mauley: Handwriting, signature
Mazzard: Head, face.
Mecks: Wine or spirits
Mizzle: Quit, Steal, or Vanish
Mobsman: A swindler or pickpocket, usually well-dressed.
Mollisher: A woman, often a villain’s mistress
Monkery: the Country
Moocher: A rural vagrant. A gentleman of the road.
Mot: Woman, esp. the proprietor of a lodging or public house
Moucher: A rural vagrant. A gentleman of the road.
Mouth: (1) Blabber.
Mouth: (2) A Fool
Mud lark: A scavenger in the Thames.
Mug-hunter: A street robber or footpad. Hence the modern “Mugger”
Mumper: Beggar or scrounger
Mutcher: A thief who steals from drunks
Mucksnipe:A person who is “down and out”
Nark: Informer. Or to inform.
Narking dues: Arrested because of being narked on.
Nebuchadnezzar: Male sexual organs; “to put Nebuchadnezzar out to grass” means to engage in sexual intercourse.
Nethers: Lodging charges, rent
Newgate Knockers: Heavily greased side whiskers curling back to, or over the ears
Netherskens: Low lodging houses, flophouses
Nickey: Simple in the head
Nobble: The inflicting of grievous bodily harm
Nobbler: (1) One who inflicts grievous bodily harm.
Nobbler: (2) A sharper’s confederate
Nobby: Smart, stylish.
Nommus!: Get away! Quick!
Nose: Informer or Spy
Nubbiken: A sessions courthouse.
Ogre: A thug, particularly a stupid one.
Old bird: An experienced thief.
On the fly: While in motion or quickly.
On the game: Thieving.
Onion: A watch seal
Out of twig: Unrecognized or in disguise
Outsider:An instrument, resembling needle nosed pliers, used for turning a key in a lock from the wrong side.
Pack: A night’s lodging for the very poor.
Paddingken: A tramp’s lodging house
Patterer: Someone who earns by recitation or hawker’s sales talk, esp. by hawking newspapers
Peter: A box, trunk or safe.
Pig: A policeman, usually a detective
Pigeon: A victim
Pinch a bob: To rob a shopkeeper’s till.
Pipe: A private detective.
Pit: Inside front coat pocket
Plant: A victim
Pogue: A purse or prize
Pop: To pawn.
Prater: A bogus itinerate preacher
Prig: (1) A thief.
Prig: (2) To steal
Prop: A tie pin or brooch or similar.
Puckering: Speaking in a manner that is incomprehensible to spectators
Punishers: Superior nobblers. Men employed to give severe beatings
Quail-pipe: A woman’s tongue.
Queer screens: Forged banknotes.
Quiff: A trick or ploy.
Racket: Illicit occupation or tricks
Rampsman or Ramper: A tearaway or hoodlum
Randy, on the: On the Spree or otherwise looking for companionship
Ran-tan, on the: Roaring drunk.
Rasher-wagon: Frying pan
Raws: Bare fists
Ray: 1/6 (one and six-pence)
Razzo: A red nose.
Reader: Pocketbook or wallet
Readers: Marked cards.
Ready: Money, cash.
Ream: Superior, real, genuine, good.
Ream Flash Pull: A significant heist
Ream Swag: Highly valuable stolen articles
Red clock: Gold watch.
Rhino: The share of the proceeds of a robbery.
Roller: A thief who robs drunks or a prostitute who steals from her clientele.
Rook: A type of jemmy
Rookery: Slum or ghetto
Rorty: Dashing, lively.
Rothschild, to come to the: To brag and pretend to be rich.
Row: a fight.
Saddle: a loaf.
St. Peter’s Needle: Severe discipline
Salt Box: The Condemned Cell
Sapphist: A lesbian.
Scaldrum dodge: Begging by means of feigned, or self-inflicted wounds
Scoot, do a: Flee.
Scratch an itch: Bitch
Screever: A writer of fake testimonials; a forger
Screw: (1) Skeleton Key
Screw: (2) To break into.
Screwing: A sub-genre of Cracking; burglary by means of skeleton keys, waxing keys, or picking locks.
Screwsman: A burglar versed in screwing
Scroby: Flogging in gaol
Scurf: An exploitive employer or gang-leader
Servant’s lurk: A lodging or public house used by shady or dismissed servants.
Shake lurk: Begging under the pretence of being a shipwrecked seaman.
Shallow, work the: Begging while half naked.
Shandy-gaff: a mixture of ale and gin; or ale and ginger beer.
Shanker: A venereal wart.
Shant: A pot or tumbler
Sharp: A (card) swindler
Shevis: A shift, a type of garment.
Shindy: a domestic disturbance
Shine: A disturbance or a row.
Shinscraper: The Treadmill
Shirkster: A layabout
Shiv: A knife.
Shiver and shake: A cake
Shivering Jemmy: A half naked beggar
Shoful: (1) Bad or counterfeit.
Shoful: (2) An hansom cab
Shofulman: A coiner or passer of bad money.
Sinker: Bad money.
Skilly: thin soup or gruel.
Skinner: A thief specialising in robbing children.
Skipper: One who sleeps in hedges and outhouses
Skyrocket: Pocket (rarely used)
Slang: A watch chain.
Slang cove: A showman
Slap-Bang Job: A night cellar (pub) frequented by thieves, and where no credit is given.
Slate: To beat physically.
Slating, a good: A severe beating.
Slavey: A maid of all work.
Slum: (1) False, sham, a faked document, etc.
Slum: (2) To cheat.
Slum: (3) To pass bad money.
Smasher: Someone who passes bad money.
Smatter Hauling: Stealing Handkerchiefs
Smoke, the: London.
Smug: to steal.
Snakesman: A slightly built (boy) criminal used in burglary and housebreaking.
Sneak: To steal.
Snells: A hawker’s wares
Snide: Counterfeit; counterfeit coins or jewels.
Snide pitching: Passing bad money
Snidesman: Coiner of counterfeit money.
Snoozer: A thief that specializes in robbing hotel rooms with sleeping guests.
Snowing: Stealing linen, clothes, etc, that have been hung out to dry.
Soft: Paper money (i.e., “to do some soft” means to pass bad paper money.)
Soiled dove: A fallen woman.
Speeler: Cheat or a gambler
Split: informer; to inform the police.
Sprat: Six pence
Spreading the Broads: Three card monte.
Spring the rattle: Call the police.
Square rigged: Soberly and respectfully dressed.
Stall-farming: Assisting pickpockets.
Stand the racket: Take the rap for a fellow thief.
Starring the glaze: Breaking a pane of glass.
Step short: Hurry up.
Sticker: A knife.
Stramash: Rough and tumble.
Swag: Stolen property, loot.
Swank: Behave ostentatiously or swagger.
Swell: An elegantly, or stylishly dressed gentleman.
Tail: A prostitute.
Tatts: Dice, False Dice
Tea Leaf: Thief
Tea Leafing: Petty theft.
Terrier Crop: Short, bristly haircut (denoting a recent stay in a prison or a workhouse)
Thicker: A Sovereign or a Pound
Thick ‘Un: A Sovereign
Throttle: Throat (noun).
Ticker: A watch.
Tiddlywinker: A cheat.
Tightener: A meal. “To do a Tightener,” to take a Meal.
Timber merchant: Street matchstick seller.
Tipping the velvet: Cunnilingus.
Toff: An elegantly, or stylishly dressed gentleman.
Toffer: A superior whore.
Toffken: A house containing well-to-do occupants.
Tol: Lot, a Share.
Tom: A tomboyish lesbian.
Tom Sawyer: Lawyer.
Tombstone: A pawn ticket.
Tooling: Skilled Pickpocket
Topper: Something of outstanding quality.
Topping: A hanging.
Toy: A watch.
Toy and tackle: Watch and chain.
Toy getter: A watch thief.
Translators: Second-hand apparel, especially boots.
Trasseno: An evil person
Trotter cases: Boots.
Tuppeny (Tuppeny Loaf): Head
Twirls: Keys, especially skeleton keys.
Twist (Twist and Twirl): Girl.
Uncle: A pawnbroker.
Under and Over: A fairground game that’s easy to swindle people with.
Unfortunate women: Prostitutes.
Vamp: To Steal or Pawn.
Vamp, in for a: to be jailed for stealing
Vampsman: a robber.
Venus’s curse: VD.
Virtue Rewarded: taken away in a police van.
Voker: Speak. “Voker Romeny?” (Pardon me, but do you speak Thieves Cant?)
Wagtail: A lewd woman.
Wasp: An infected prostitute.
Weed: To steal
Weeping Willow: Pillow.
Welsh: to inform.
Wet: Ale or similar drink.
Whistle and Flute: Suit.
Whore pipe: The penis.
Wobbler: An egg.
Work Capitol: Commit a crime punishable by death.
Work the mace: Obtain goods on false pretences.
Yack: A watch
Yennap: A Penny.