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Dictionary tidbits

Dictionary tidbits published on No Comments on Dictionary tidbits

There’s something about Clement Skitt that you probably don’t know because he hasn’t shown evidence of it yet: he is obsessed with slang.  And, since he time travels wherever he wants, he’s picked up some pretty obscure and outdated vocabulary.  Writing a character like this means I’ve returned to one of my favorite childhood pastimes of reading dictionaries.  It’s amazing to find slang from the 1800s that is common usage today and also to see how it evolves over time.  For instance, in 1811 England ‘games’ were “thin, ill-shaped legs:  a corruption of the French word jambes”  (Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue) by the 1920’s, ‘gams’ were simply ‘women’s legs.’

Another thing you might get from reading the dictionary is historical tidbits.  Like this from  the 1891 American Slang Dictionary by James Maitland:


Silly me, I knew the Mormons had faced opposition in a few of the states they attempted to set up shop, but I didn’t know about the killing.  In addition to above, the Danites, were not approved of by Joseph Smith, Mormon founder, but may have evolved from the militia he created known as the “Armies of Israel.”  They were most active during the Missouri Mormon War of 1838.  Seems they had a war in just about every state they tried to settle:  See the Utah War and the ‘lesser known’ Illinois Mormon War.  Though the Danites are thought to have ended after the Missouri Mormon War.

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