The dictionary you never knew you needed. But you do.
Surely, all of us at Reasonish can appreciate the diversity of the word ‘fuck’, as common pop culture so readily demonstrates.
Be that the scene from Boondock Saints or the somewhat less recent, but never out-of-style classic from the hands of Monty Python itself or even – dare we reference it (yes. Yes we do) – Limp Bizkit angry-rapping “fuck’s just a word and it’s all fucked up“. For reasons that allude us, that song is called Hot Dog. From the album “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavoured Water”. That’s not what this post is about, but it shouldn’t have gone without saying that nothing in that title makes sense. In fact, before we go on, let’s address this. We’re sorry, you can skip this part if you like.
Nothing chocolatey about it
Now, a starfish is, of course, a type of sea animal. Yes, indeed you youngsters: Patrick from Spongebob is a Starfish. And while we’re sure that there are chocolate star fishes out there, that is not what this is about. Apparently, it is about Fred Durst. He’s the main man in Limp Bizkit, which name itself sounds like either erectile dysfunction or a tea and biscuits incident involving Megan Mharkle.
Anyway, everybody apparently calls Durst an asshole. We’re supposing that’s probably because he is. And that led him to nickname himself Chocolate Starfish. And this is the part that we don’t get. The little brown pecker at your backside may be creatively referred to as a star from time to time, but it’s not a starfish. And the brown stuff is not chocolate. And then there’s the hot dog. We don’t know about it. It simply doesn’t make sense in the context of a song that’s basically 46 ‘fucks’ with words cramped in between it.
And even less sense is made by the ‘Hot Dog Flavoured Water’. It doesn’t say why. It’s not a thing. And nobody in their right mind would want it. But we’ve digressed. A lot.
This post started with fuck
Indeed. To be precise: it started with the diversity of the word ‘fuck’. We appreciate it, but don’t you feel like you sometimes long for some diversity? Like you want to get away from fuck, shit, ass and balls and the occassional goddamn?
Well, we have some great news from you, but it isn’t exactly news. It’s not fake news, though, it’s just not that.. well, new. You see, in 1785 a man called Captain Grose finished a project to visit venues of the common folk. Venues that weren’t as distinguished as his social circle with a university upbringing.
Now Grose made a point of documenting slang from these bar brawlers and pickpockets and he created a dictionary of it. He called it “the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue”. But that’s not all. After his death, some in the university circles noticed that university crowd had upped their game in terms of vulgarity and were now quite proficient at it. So, they took the 1785 Dictionary and started to add to it.
The result is vulgar
The result became the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. Do we want to quote from it? Don’t mind if we do.
Let’s start with a familiar one, because this one stuck around:
BEAR. One who contracts to deliver a certain quantity of sum of stock in the public funds, on a future day, and at stated price; or, in other words, sells what he has not got, like the huntsman in the fable, who sold the bear’s skin before the bear was killed. As the bear sells the stock he is not possessed of, so the bull purchases what he has not money to pay for; but in case of any alteration in the price agreed on, either party pays or receives the difference. Exchange Alley.
Of course, that is now stocktrader jargon rather than vulgar use of the English language. Interesting how that works, isn’t it. Now let’s get classy.
BOH. Said to be the name of a Danish general, who so terrified his opponent Foh, that he caused him to bewray himself. Whence, when we smell a stink, it is custom to exclaim, Foh! i.e. I smell general Foh. He cannot say Boh to a goose; i.e. he is a cowardly or sheepish fellow. There is a story related of the celebrated Ben Jonson, who always dressed very plain; that being introduced to the presence of a nobleman, the peer, struck by his homely appearance and awkward manner, exclaimed, as if in doubt, “you Ben Johnson! why you look as if you could not say Boh to a goose!” “Boh!” replied the wit.
Of course we had to include one that mentions shit. Don’t worry, we’ll stay classy (will we? .. nah)
There’s no way we’re staying classy
TO BOX THE JESUIT, AND GET COCK ROACHES. A sea term for masturbation; a crime, it is said, much practised by the reverend fathers of that society.
Think about that one the next time you’re trying to rub one out. And then there’s this story about a drunk wife, an abusive husband and a six-legged sow that was really the innocent victim here.
DAVID’S SOW. As drunk as David’s sow; a common saying, which took its rise from the following circumstance: One David Lloyd, a Welchman, who kept an alehouse at Hereford, had a living sow with six legs, which was greatly resorted to by the curious; he had also a wife much addicted to drunkenness, for which he used sometimes to give her due correction.
One day David’s wife having taken a cup too much, and being fearful of the consequences, turned out the sow, and lay down to sleep herself sober in the stye. A company coming in to see the sow, David ushered them into the stye, exclaiming, there is a sow for you! did any of you ever see such another? all the while supposing the sow had really been there; to which some of the company, seeing the state the woman was in, replied, it was the drunkenest sow they had ever beheld; whence the woman was ever after called David’s sow.
For all of its’ purpose, the dictionary of the vulgar tongue is not without shame. We are, but this was 1785 and some things were just not done. However, it being a dictionary of the vulgar tongue, the authors simply used a replacement word indicative of the word that was (apparently) so vile that, unlike arse – simply spelled a-se – it could really not be directly named by anything other than “the monosyllable”.
That’s worse than ‘fuck’ gets treated – IT still gets to keep one letter. Cunt simply didn’t get mentioned, other than by this reference. Words that mean ‘cunt’ however, do. There’s a couple of them. We’re going to name them. Yes, all.
BROWN MADAM, or MISS BROWN
BUCKINGER’S BOOT. Matthew Buckinger was born without hands and legs; notwithstanding which he drew coats of arms very neatly, and could write the Lord’s Prayer within the compass of a shilling; he was married to a tall handsome woman, and traversed the country, shewing himself for money.
BUN. A common name for a rabbit, also for the monosyllable. To touch bun for luck; a practice observed among sailors going on a cruize.
EVE’S CUSTOM-HOUSE, where Adam made his first entry.
MOTHER OF ALL SAINTS
MOTHER OF ALL SOULS
MOTHER OF ST. PATRICK
Well, there you have it. Didn’t we say this was the dictionary you didn’t think you needed, but do? Well, here’s the good news: it’s free. The Gutenberg project digitized the entire thing and since it’s so old, copyrights have long expired. You can get the ebook here. You’re welcome.