Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue

A dictionary of the slang of the British underworld produced in 1811.

This was based on an earlier book by Francis Grose, which I have not found on-line.

Francis Grose in turn may have used the 1736 dictionary of Theiving Slang which I have transcribed myself. Entries in the online edition of the 1811 dictionary have links back to the earlier work by Nathan Bailey in many cases.

You might also be interested in The Antiquities of England and Wales which Captain Francis Grose also wrote.

The title page of The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue reads as follows:

Lexicon Balatronicum

A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit and Pickpocket Eloquence.

Compiled originally by Captain Grose.

And now considerably altered and enlarged, with The modern [1811] changes and improvements, by a member of the Whip Club.

Assisted by Hell-Fire Dick, and James Gordon, Esqrs. of Cambridge; and William Soames, Esq. of the Hon. Society of Newman's Hotel.

London: Printed for C. Chappel, Pall-Mall;
Sold by J. Johnston, Cheapside; Goddard, Pall-Mall, and all other booksellers.


The title, Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, appears above the start of the definitions. The proper short title of this book is Lexicon Balatronicum, or Dictionary For Jesters.

I should note that Project Gutenberg also has a text transcription of this dictionary. I have compared their edition in some detail to the printed book, and when I am done I will send them the differences so that they may benefit. Until then, note that most other online editions are copies of the Project Gutenberg one and contain the same errors.

I have not transcribed the Preface.

If you plan on mirroring this text, or want a copy of the XML file, let me know; please do not try to use wget or work offline or other tools, because they hammer the server and also because there are links to generated pages, and you can download hundreds of gigabytes if you are not very very careful!