[To "Voices from 19th-Century America"]

Dictionary of Americanisms, by John Russell Bartlett (1848)

John Russell Bartlett (1805-1886) was well educated in history and literature before he and a partner opened a bookstore that became popular with scholars and literary figures. Bartlett also helped to found the American Ethnological Society. A stint as boundary commissioner wasn't as successful as his many years as Rhode Island's Secretary of State or his work as an historian and compiler of the Dictionary of Americanisms.

The Dictionary of Americanisms went through at least four editions between 1848 and 1877. As a record of the "colloquial language of the United States," it's a fascinating look at the words that actually came out of the mouths of early 19th-century Americans. It's also a window into U. S. history, with tiny essays on early political parties, economics, and culture; its collection of quotes offers later readers examples from a wide variety of early-19th-century works.

My copy is of the first edition, which is also available on microcard as part of the Library of American Civilization (LAC 12141).

[This table of contents is not in the original:

"Introduction" | "Dialects of England" | "American Dialects"
a | b | c | d | e | f | g | h | i | j | k | l | m | n | o | p | q | r | s | t | u | v | w | y
"Appendix A"]

http://www.merrycoz.org/voices/bartlett/AMER06.HTM

Dictionary of Americanisms, by John Russell Bartlett. (NY: Bartlett and Welford, 1848)

[To previous page]

-----
p. 121

DOVE. Dived. Very common among seamen.

DOWD. A woman's night-cap, composed of two pieces of cloth, the seam running from the forehead to the neck. It is sometimes called a "squaw-shaped cap." New York.

DOWN IN THE MOUTH. Dispirited, dejected, disheartened.--Brockett's Glossary.

DOWN UPON. To be down upon, is to seize with avidity, as a bird of prey would pounce down upon its victim. Alluding to the state of the poultry market, the New York Tribune says:

The boarding-house keepers are down upon geese.

This phrase is also used to express disapprobation, dislike, or enmity; as "I'll be down upon you," i. e. I'll come up with you or pay you off for some injury or insult, &c. A common expression at the West is, "I'll be down upon you like a thousand of brick."

TO DOXOLOGIZE. To give glory to God, as in doxology.--Webster.

No instance is to be found in which primitive Christians doxologized the spirit of God as a person.--Christian Disciple, Vol. II. p. 295.

Mr. Pickering says he "never met with the word in any other American work, nor in any English publication; but that it may possibly be a part of the professional language of divines." Mr. P. farther observes, that he found it in the early editions of the dictionaries of Ash and Bailey, from which it was afterwards discarded. Mr. Worcester has inserted the word in his new dictionary.

TO DRABBLE. To draggle; to make dirty by drawing in dirt and water; to wet and befoul; as, to drabble a gown or cloak. A word common in New England.--Webster.

Dr. Jamieson calls drabble a Scottish word. The sense here is the same as in Scotland.

DRAGGED OUT. Fatigued; exhausted; worn out with labor.

DRAT. A good-humored sort of half oath, as Moor calls it in his Suffolk Words. It is probably an abbreviation of od rot,

-----
p. 122

and originally God rot. The expression is only heard at the South.

"A wolf! a wolf!" they cry, "have at him!
If he escape us this time, 'drat him!"--Reynard the Fox, p. 69.

Your bag! says Pete, drat your infernal picter, who told you to hang up a bag, for white folks to get into?--Maj. Jones's Courtship, p. 194.

'Drot it! what do boys have daddies for, any how? 'Taint for nothin' but jest to beat 'em and work 'em.--Simon Suggs.

DRATTED. A Southern word, derived from the former. It is an expletive, and means very, exceeding, etc.

I never was so dratted mad; for the fellows were coming in in gangs, and beginnin' to ca]l for me to come out and take the command.--Maj. Jones's Courtship, p. 22.

It was about eleven o'clock before the dratted thing came along.--Ibid.

You may thank me that you have got eyes left in yer dratted head to look for yer blind horse.--Chronicles of Pineville, p. 108.

DREADFUL. Very, exceedingly. This and the words awful, terrible, monstrous, &c., are indiscriminately used by uneducated people for the purpose of giving emphasis to an expression.

There was a swod of fine folks at Saratoga, and dreadful nice galls.--Maj. Downing's Letters, p. 35.

It's a fact, Major, the public has a dreadful cravin' appetite for books.--Ibid. May-day in N. Y., p. 4.

The young ladies thought Mr. Harley's new storekeeper a dreadful nice young man, if he hadn't such a horrid nose.--Chronicles of Pineville.

She was a dreadful good creature to work.--Mrs. Clavers.

It is used in the same way in England, in the Westmoreland and Cumberland dialects:

I send to this an, to tell thee amackily what dreadful fine things I saw i' th' road tuv at yon Dublin.--Poems and Glossary, p. 125.

TO DRIVE A BARGAIN. To make a bargain. A common colloquial expression, as old as the language.

This bargain is ful drive, for we ben knit;
Ye shal be paied trewely by my troth.--Chaucer, Franklin's Tale.

DRIVER. An overseer of slaves.

DRIVER. He or that which drives; a coachman, a carman.--Worcester. The English always call a driver of a carriage a coachman.

-----
p. 123

TO BE DRIVING AT. 'What are you driving at?' that is, what are you about? what object have you in view? A colloquial expression, in very common use.

We confess that we are exceedingly puzzled to know exactly what our long-cherished friend is driving at, in his repeated discussions of the question above involved.--N. Y. Com. Advertiser.

People ludicrate my situation, and say they don't know what the deuce I'm driving at.--Neal's Charcoal Sketches.

I have heard enough now, said the Recorder, to know what you and he would be driving at.--Pickings from the Picayune, p. 135.

TO DRIVE WELL. A Southern phrase, thus explained by Mr. Lavis: This gentleman applied for a situation as teacher in a college in South Carolina, when the following dialogue took place:

Planter. Can you drive well, Sir.

Tutor. Drive, Sir, did you say ? I really do not comprehend you.

Planter. I mean, Sir, can you keep your scholars in order?

The phrase, adds our author, is used by the overseer on a plantation, who, in preserving subordination among the negroes, is said to drive well.--Davis's Travels in the United States.

DROGER. Lumber droger; cotton droger, etc. A vessel built solely for burden, and for transporting cotton, lumber, and other heavy articles.

DROUTH, or DROWTH. (Ang. Sax. drugothe.) Dry weather; want of rain; drought. This is the oldest pronunciation of the word, and is still heard in some parts of England and in Scotland, as well as amongst us.

Great drouths in summer, lasting till the end of August; some gentle showers upon them, and then some dry weather.--Bacon.

As torrents in the drowth of summer fail.--Sandys.

He speaks in his drink, what he thought in his drouth.--Scottish Proverb.

DROWNDED, for drowned. Often used by illiterate people in England and America.--Craven Glossary.

Then rising up he cried amain,
Helpe, helpe! or else I am drownded.--Baffled Knight.

DRUMMING, in mercantile phrase, means the soliciting of customers. It is chiefly used in reference to country merchants, or those supposed to be such. Instead of patiently waiting for these persons to come and purchase, the merchant or his

-----
p. 124

clerk goes to them and solicits their custom. In this manner the sale of goods is often expedited; and though the practice of drumming is held by some to be neither very modest nor very dignified, still it must be owned to add very largely, in certain cases, to the amount of goods sold. Indeed, without drumming, it is suspected that sundry houses, which make a remarkable show and noise, would do very little business.

The expenses of drumming amount to no small sum. Besides employing extra clerks and paying the extra price for their board at the hotels, the merchant has to be very liberal with his money in paying for wine, oyster-suppers, theatre tickets, and such other means of conciliating the favor of the country merchant, as are usually resorted to by drummers.

Another part of the system of mercantile drumming is to "become all things to all men." Drummers are apt to be exceedingly flexible in matters of religion, and of morals too--being orthodox with the orthodox, and heterodox with the heterodox; going to church with those who incline churchward, and to the theatre with those who prefer the theatre; taking cold water with those who are opposed to brandy, and drinking brandy with those who eschew cold water.--Perils of Pearl Street, ch. 9.

DUBERSOME. Doubtful. A vulgarism common in the interior of New England.

I have been studyin' Tattersall's considerable, to see whether it is a safe shop to trade in or no. But I'm dubersome; I don't like the cut of the sporting folks here.--Sam Slick in England, ch. 28.

LAME DUCK. A Wall-street phrase for a Broker or Stock Jobber, who is unable to pay his losses or differences. He is short in his payments; he is a lame duck. It is among the rules of the Stock Exchange, that a broker ceases to be a member when he cannot or will not meet his engagements.

The same phrase is employed at Exchange Alley in London, where the delinquent is said to "waddle out of the Alley, not to appear again till his debts are paid; should he attempt it, he would be hustled out by the fraternity."--Grose, Slang Dictionary.

DUDS. (Gaelic, dud.) Rags; old clothes. A common word,

-----
p. 125

which is used in the same sense in various parts of England and the United States.

Sae I pack'd up my duds when my quarter was out,
And wi' weage i' my pocket, I saunter'd about.--Westmorland and Cumb. Dialect, p. 226.

Give a man time to take off his duds, and then lick him if you can.--Crockett's Tour, p. 193.

DUG-OUT. The name in the Western States for a canoe or boat, hewn or dug out of a large log. They are common in all the rivers and creeks of the United States and Canada. In the latter country they are called log canoes.

After a fashion I got to my dug-out, with no weapon along but the paddle. Snags were plenty. I felt strong as a hoss, too; and the dug-out hadn't leaped more'n six length afore--co-souse I went--the front eend jest lifted itself agin a sawyer and emptied me into the element.--Robb, Squatter Life.

DULL MUSIC. A term applied to anything tedious.

DUMB-FOUNDED. Stupefied; struck dumb with fear and confusion. This word is in the English provincial glossaries and in Webster's Dictionary.

DUMMY. A dumb, i. e. silent person; a stupid person. We use the word most frequently to denote a silent partner at cards. To play dummy, is to play with one person less than the requisite number.

Auld Gabbi Spec wha was sae cunning,
To be a dummie ten years running.--Allan Ramsay.

TO DUMP. To unload wood, coal, &c. from a cart by tilting it up. A word very common in New York, and probably of Dutch origin.

Why, nothing in all creation can come up to blackberrying, but gettin' dumped out of a sleigh into a snow-bank.--Lafayette Chronicle.

DUMPS. Sorrow; melancholy; sadness.--Johnson. We say of a person who is dull or sad, 'He has the dumps,' or 'is in the dumps.'

Sudden dumps, and dreary sad disdain
Of all worlds' gladness, more my torment feed.--Spenser.

Edwin, thus perplexed with troubled thoughts, in the dead of the night, sate solitary under a tree in dumps, musing what was best to be done.--Speed. Chronicle.

-----
p. 126

DUMPISH. Sad; melancholy.--Johnson.

The life which I live at this age is not a dead, dumpish, and sour life; but cheerful, lively, and pleasant.--Herbert.

But I fear now I have overcharged the reader's mind with doleful, dumpish, and uncomfortable lines.--Camden, Remains.

DUMPY. Short and thick. Provincial in various parts of England, where, as with us, it is generally applied to a person who is both short and fat.

Whenever he was wih me, his short, dumpy, gouty, crooked fingers, were continually teazing my spinnet, to his own harmonious croaking.--Student, 2, 225.

TO DUN. (Ang. Sax. dynan, to clamor.) To urge for payment; to demand a debt in a pressing manner.--Johnson.

But you have something to add, Sancho, to what I owe your good will also on this account, and that is to send me the subscription money, which I find a necessity of dunning my best friends for before I leave town.--Sterne, Works, Let. 94.

DUNDERHEAD. Blockhead; dolt. The same as the English provincialisms dunder-knoll and dummer-head.

DUNFISH. (From dun, a dark yellow color.) Codfish cured in a particular manner, by which they retain a dun color. They command a higher price, and are much superior to those cured in the ordinary way.

DUNNING. A peculiar operation for curing codfish.--Webster. Fish for dunning are caught early in the spring, and often in February. At the Isles of Shoals, off Portsmouth, in New Hampshire, the cod are taken in deep water, split and slacksalted; then laid in a pile for two or three months, in a dark store, covered, for the greatest part of the time, with salt hay or eel-grass, and pressed with some weight. In April or May they are opened and piled as close as possible in the same dark store, till July or August, when they are fit for use.--J. Haven.

DUST. 'To kick up a dust,' is to make a row, to cause a great disturbance. A phrase common in England and the United States.

DUTIABLE. Subject to the imposition of duties or customs.--Webster. This is a very convenient word, and is in common

-----
p. 127

use, both by the officers of the customs, and by merchants having transactions with them. Instead of saying that certain articles of merchandise are subject to duty, the common terms are dutiable and free.

DYED IN THE WOOL. Ingrained; thorough.

The Democrats, on the authority of Mr. Cameron's letter, are beginning to claim General Taylor as a democrat dyed in the wool, as a democrat of the Jeffersonian order of 1798.--N. Y. Com. Adv. May 24,1847.



E.

EAGLE. A gold coin of the United States, of the value of ten dollars.

EARS. To be by the ears. A familiar and very old phrase, denoting to quarrel or fight. It alludes to the practice of dogs, which, when fighting, seize each other by the ears.

Poor naked men belabored one another with shagged sticks, or daily fell together by the ears, at fisty-cuffs.--More.

She used to carry tales from one to another, till she had set the neighborhood together by the ears.--Arbuthnot.

EASY. A word in common use among merchants and bankers. 'Our bank is easy,' meaning that its loans are not extended, or that money is plentiful. 'The money market is easy;' i. e. loans of money may easily be procured.

TO EAT, v. a. To supply with food. A Western sense of the word. Comp. Subsist.

Hooshier. Squire, what pay do you give?

Contractor. Ten bits a day.

Hooshier. Why, Squire, I was told you'd give us two dollars a day and eat us.--Pickings from the Picayune, p. 47.

TO EDGE. To move sideways; to move gradually.--Webster.

Well, says I, I must be a goin'; I can't think of paying eighty dollars. And I began to edge along a little.--Maj. Downing, May- day.

I danced with her at some on the balls, and thar I gin to edge up and talk tender at her, but she only laughed at my sweetnin'.--Robb, Squatter Life.

EDUCATIONAL. Pertaining to education; derived from education; as, educational habits.--Webster. The authority cited by Webster for the use of this word is "Smith"--a rather

-----
p. 128

indefinite one. Mr. Pickering says the word was new to him until he saw it in the following extract:

It is believed that there is not an individual of the college who would, if questioned, complain that he has, in any instance, felt himself pressed with opinions which interfered with his educational creed.--Dr. Grant's Report to the College of New Jersey, 1815.

EEL-GRASS. (Zostera marina.) A plant thrown ashore in large quantities by the sea. It is also called Sea-wrack.

EEL-SPEAR. A sort of trident for catching eels.

E'EN A'MOST, for almost. A vulgarism.

The repudiation of debts by several of our States, has lowered us down e'en a'most to the bottom of the shaft.--Sam Slick in England, ch. 14.

He knows the Catechism, and has got the whole Bible eeny most by heart.--Margaret, p. 113.

The village boys would raise a party of gals, and start off early in the morning for Toad-hill, where the blackberries was e'en a'most as plentiful as mosquitoes in these diggings.--Lafayette Chronicle.

LEND, for end. A vulgar pronunciation of the word. It is also common in various parts of England.

ELBOW-GREASE. Persevering exercise of the arms, exciting perspiration; hard rubbing.--Glossaries of Brockett and Carr.

These were the manners, these the ways,
In good Queen Bess's golden days;
Each damsel owed her bloom and glee
To wholesale elbow-grease and me.--Smart, Fable 5.

TO ELECT. To prefer, to choose, to determine in favor of.--Webster. This sense of the word is not noticed by Johnson or Todd. It is not common with us. President Polk used it thus:

In pursuance of the joint resolution of Congress, "for annexing Texas to the United States," my predecessor, on the third day of March, 1845, elected to submit the first and second sections of that resolution to the Republic of Texas, as an overture, on the part of the United States, for her admission as a State into our Union. This election I approved.--Message to Congress, Dec. 1, 1845.

TO ENERGIZE. To give strength or force to; to give active vigor to.--Webster. To excite action.--Todd. This word is not found in Johnson's Dictionary, and is of modern origin. Mr. Pickering says, the use of it in the British Spy, published

-----
p. 129

in Virginia, was censured in the Monthly Anthology, as unauthorized.

Instead of aiding and energizing the police of the college.--British Spy.

Bishop Horsley uses the word energizing; also Harris:

As all energies are attributes, they have reference, of course, to certain energizing substances.--Harris, Hermes, i. 9.

ENLIGHTENMENT. Act of enlightening; state of being enlightened or instructed.--Webster. Used by the Quarterly Review, Oct. 1837.

ESQUIRE. In England this title is given to the younger sons of noblemen, to officers of the king's courts and of the household, to counsellors at law, justices of the peace while in commission, sheriffs, and other gentlemen. In the United States, the title is given to public officers of all degrees, from governors down to justices and attorneys. Indeed, the title, in addressing letters, is bestowed on any person at pleasure, and contains no definite description. It is merely an expression of respect.--Webster.

The New York Commercial Advertiser, in an article on the subject of titles, had the following remarks on esquire: "In our own dear title-bearing, democratic land, the title of esquire, officially and by courtesy, has come to include pretty much everybody. Of course everybody in office is an esquire, and all who have been in office enjoy and glory in the title. And what with a standing army of legislators, an elective and ever-changing magistracy, and almost a whole population of militia officers, present and past, all named as esquires in their commissions, the title is nearly universal."

EULOGIUM. On this word Mr. Pickering has the following remarks: "A writer in the Monthly Anthology (Vol. I. p. 609) observes that 'eulogium is not an English word.' But the writer is certainly mistaken. It is in common use with all the English and Scottish reviewers; and occurs much oftener, I think, than the Anglicized term eulogy."--Pickering's Vocabulary.

It is singular that this word is not to be found in either edition of Johnson's Dictionary, nor in the additions of Mr. Todd, or Mason. Walker did not insert it until his fourth

-----
p. 130

edition in 1806. Mr. Jodrell has inserted the word in his Philology on the English Language, and gives examples of its use; it may also be found in the 9th edition (1840) of Knowles's English Dictionary.

The epitaph on Cragg's monument, in Westminster Abbey, is an eulogium on that statesman, taken from Pope's Epistle to Addison.--Sir John Hawkins, Life of Johnson, p. 538.

I cannot make a higher eulogium of Mrs. Stanley, than to say that she is every way worthy of the husband whose happiness she makes.--Cœlebs, Vol. I. p. 142.

To prevent posterity being deceived by the pompous eulogiums bestowed on this bridge, which has been styled the wonder of the world, &c.--London and Environs, Vol. IV. p. 143. (1761).

TO EVENTUATE. To issue; to come to an end; to close; to terminate.--Webster. This word is not in any of the English dictionaries, except Knowles's 9th edition, London, 1840; and Mr. Pickering says, "it is rarely, if ever, used by English authors."

EVERLASTING. Very; exceedingly.

New York is an everlasting great concern.--Maj. Downing, May-day in New York.

EVERY-DAY. Common; usual.

Men of genius forget things of common concern, which make no slight impression on every-day minds.--Shenstone.

EVERY NOW AND THEN. Repeatedly, at intervals. This phrase is common with us, and is used also in England.

[The young woman] looks demurely on the ground, a smile playing on her lips, every now and then turning on her swain such sparkling glances from her bright eyes.--Kingston, Lusitanian Sketches.

EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE. A singular though very common expression, signifying the same as every now and then.

EVIDENTIAL. Affecting evidence; clearly proving.--Webster.

Dr. Webster cites Scott as his authority, but gives no example. Mr. Pickering has the following example from an English work:

Equivalent to that belief itself, and evidential of it.--Christian Observer, Vol. XIII. p. 765.

-----
p. 131

TO EVOKE. To call forth.--Todd. Webster. Several newspapers criticised the use of this word hy the Hon. J. Q Adams in a letter to the Hon. H. G. Otis:

Every phantom of jealousy and fear is evoked.

The following examples will show that it has been used by English writers. Mr. Todd says, it is in Cockeram's old Vocabulary, but that he has not found it in use till near a century later.

I had no sooner evoked the name of Shakspeare from the rotten monument of his former editions, &c.--Bp. Warburton to Hurd (1749), Let 6.

The only business and use of this character, is to open the subject in a long prologue, to evoke the devil, and summons the court.--Warton, Hist. of Eng. Poetry.

He was so subjugated by them, as frequently to pass many hours of the night inchurchyards, engaged in evoking and attempting to raise apparitions.--Wraxall, Hist. Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 178.

EXCHANGEABILITY. The quality or state of being exchangeable.--Webster.

Though the law ought not to be contravened by an express article admitting the exchangeability of such persons.--Washington.

THE EXECUTIVE. The officer, whether king, president, or other chief magistrate, who superintends the execution of the laws; the person who administers the government; executive power or authority in government.--Webster.

TO EXPECT, instead of suspect. To suppose, think, imagine. A very common corruption.

In most parts of the world people expect things that are to come. But in Pennsylvania, more particularly in the metropolis, we expect things that are past. One man tells another, he expects he had a very pleasant ride, &c. ...... I have heard a wise man in Gotham say, he expected Alexander, the Macedonian, was the greatest conqueror of antiquity.--Port Folio, 1809.

Nor is it confined to ourselves. It is not only provincial in England, but we are even startled at meeting with it in the London Athenæum. In an article on the Penny Cyclopedia, a writer says:

The most sustained departments are those of mathematics, classical literature, astronomy, geography, topography, geology, materia medica, and agriculture. In the articles on these subjects we expect that one hand has written or one head has guided the whole series, and thus completeness has been obtained.--Athen. No. 858.

-----
p. 132

F.

FACTORY. (Contracted from manufactory.) This word is not in Johnson's Dictionary or in any other before his time. It is now common both in England and the United States, and is applied to a place where anything is made.

FAGGED OUT. Fatigued; worn out.

FAIR SHAKE. A fair trade; a satisfactory bargain or exchange. A New England vulgarism.

FALL. The fall of the leaf; autumn; the time when the leaves drop from the trees.--Todd's Johnson. Webster.

This beautifully picturesque expression, which corresponds so well to its opposite spring, has been said to be peculiar to the United States. Mr. Pickering notices the following remark in Rees's Cyclopedia: "In North America the season in which the fall of the leaf takes place, derives its name from that circumstance, and instead of autumn is universally called the fall."--Art. Deciduous Leaves. It is used, however, in England in the same sense, though autumn is as generally employed there, as fall is in the United States.

What crowds of patients the town doctor kills,
Or how last fall he raised the weekly bills.--Dryden's Juvenal.

Hash worked the farm, burnt coal in the fall, made sugar in the spring, drank, smoked, &c.--Margarel, p. 13.

TO FALL. To fell, to cut down; as, 'to fall a tree.'--Webster. This use of the word is now common in America, although it has been condemned as a barbarism. It is found in the English dictionaries of Ash, Sheridan, Walker, and Knowles; but many others leave it out. Besides the dictionaries, there are other authorities for the use of this word, sufficient to elevate it above the rank of a barbarism. For a fuller account of it, see Mr. Pickering's Vocabulary.

FANCY STOCKS. A species of stocks which are bought and sold to a great extent in New York. Unlike articles of merchandise, which may be seen and examined by the dealer, and which always have an intrinsic value in every fluctuation

-----
p. 133

of the market, these stocks are wholly wrapped in mystery; no one knows anything about them, except the officers and directors of the companies, who, from their position, are not the most likely men to tell you the truth. They serve no other purpose, therefore, than as the representative of value in stock gambling. Nearly all the fluctuations in their prices are artificial. A small fluctuation is more easily produced than a large one; and as the calculations are made on the par value, a fluctuation of one per cent. on stock worth $20 a share, is just five times as much on the amount of money invested, as it would be on a par stock. Consequently, if a "Flunkie" can be drawn in, he may be fleeced five times as quick in these, as in good stocks.--Week in Wall St. p. 83.

FARZINER. A vulgar contraction of far-as-I-know, extensively used through New England and New York, including Long Island.

FEAST. (A corruption of the Dutch vies, nice, fastidious.) 'I am feast of it,' is a literal translation of the Dutch Ik ben 'er vies van, i. e. I am disgusted with, I loathe it. A New York phrase, mostly confined to the descendants of the Dutch.

FEAT. Ready, skilful.--Johnson. This word is now only known as a provincialism in England and America.

Never master had a page so kind, so diligent;
So feat, so nurse-like.--Shakspeare, Cymbeline.

The following will illustrate its use in New England:

She was so feat and spry, and knowing, and good-natured, she said she could be of some use to somebody.--Margaret, p. 21.

TO FEATHER ONE'S NEST. To collect riches together; alluding to birds which collect feathers, among other materials, for making their nests.--Johnson.

Tradition says he feathered his nest
Through an agricultural interest,
In the Golden Age of Farming.--Hood's Miss Killmansegg.

FEDERAL CURRENCY. The legal currency of the United States. Its coins are the gold eagle of ten dollars, half and quarter eagles of proportionate value. The silver dollar of one hundred cents, its half, quarter, tenth, and twentieth parts. The coin of ten cents value is called a dime, that of five cents, a half-dime. The lowest coin in common use is the

-----
p. 134

copper cent. Half-cent coins have been made, but none of late years. In the commercial cities and along the sea-board, Spanish coins of a dollar and the fractional parts of a dollar are very common, and pass currently for their original value, except at the Custom Houses and Post Offices, where, by a recent ordinance, the quarter dollar and its parts are only received at twenty-five per cent. discount.

Previous to the adoption of our Federal currency, pounds, shillings, and pence were used. But this currency became unstable, in consequence of the great depreciation which took place in the paper money issued by the colonies.

In the year 1702, exchange on England was 33 1/3 per cent. above par; and silver and gold bore the same relative value to paper money. The depreciation in the latter continued to increase until, in the year 1749, £1100 currency was only equal to £100 sterling, or eleven for one. In 1750, a stop was put to the farther depreciation of the money of the province of Massachusetts by a remittance from England of £183,000 sterling, in Spanish dollars, to reimburse the expense the province had been at in the reduction of Cape Breton in the old French war. The depreciated money was then called in, and paid off at the rate of a Spanish dollar for 45 shillings of the paper currency. At the same time a law was made fixing the par of exchange between England and Massachusetts at £133 1/3 currency for £100 sterling, and 6 shillings to the Spanish dollar.

The difference of exchange, or depreciation of the paper money, regulated in the same manner the currencies of the other colonies. Throughout New England, as has been before stated, it was 6s. to the dollar of 4s. 6d. sterling. In New York, 8s., or about 75 per cent. depreciation. Pennsylvania, 7s. 6d., or about 66 per cent. depreciation. In some of the Southern States it was 4s. 6d. to the dollar, and accordingly no depreciation. In Halifax currency, including the present British provinces, it was 5s. to the dollar, or about 11 per cent., etc. etc. The old system of reckoning by shillings and pence is continued by retail dealers generally; and will continue, as long as the Spanish coins remain in circulation.

-----
p. 135

In consequence of the above named diversity in the colonial currencies, in New England the Spanish real of 1/8 of a dollar or 12 1/2 cents is called ninepence; in New York, one shilling; in Pennsylvania, elevenpence or a levy; and in many of the Southern States, a bit. The half real of 1/16 of a dollar is called in New York a sixpence; in New England, fourpence ha'penny, or simply fourpence; in Pennsylvania, a fip; and at the South, a picayune.

FEDERALIST. An appellation in America given to the friends of the Constitution of the United States, at its formation and adoption; and to the political party which favored the administration of President Washington.--Webster.

TO FEDERALIZE. To unite in compact, as different States; to confederate for political purposes.--Webster.

FEEZE. 'To be in a feeze,' is to be in a state of excitement.

When a man's in a feeze,' there's no more sleep that hitch.--Sam Slick in England, ch. 2.

FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN. This word is often used by public speakers. It is improper, as the last word expresses the meaning of both. Mr. Pickering however mentions an example of the use of the word by Southey in his Life of Nelson.

FELLOWSHIP. Companionship; consort; society.--Johnson. With us it is often used in religious writings and discourses instead of the word communion, to denote "mutual intercourse or union in religious worship, or in doctrine and discipline."

TO FELLOWSHIP. A verb formed from the preceding noun. To fellowship with, is to hold communion with; to unite with in doctrine and discipline. This barbarism now appears with disgusting frequency in the reports of ecclesiastical conventions, &c., and in the religious newspapers generally. Mr. Pickering, in the Supplement to his Vocabulary, says he had just become acquainted with the word. The following is the first example which he gives:

We considered him heretical, essentially unsound in the faith; and on this ground refused fellowship with him.--Address to the Christian Public, Greenfield, 1813.

If the Christian Alliance could not fellowship with the Southern slaveholders for gain, they ought to say so outright.--Speech at the Christian Alliance Conference, May 8, 1847.

-----
p. 136

ON THE FENCE. In politics, to be on the fence, is to be neutral, or to be ready to join the strongest party, whenever it can be ascertained which is so. A man sitting on the top of a fence, can jump down on either side with equal facility. So with a politician who is on the fence; selfish motives govern him, and he is prepared at any moment to declare for either party.

FETCH. (Ang. Sax. facen, fraud, trick, deceit.) A trick, or invention to deceive.--Grose. This word is in several of the English glossaries. In the United States it is never heard except colloquially.

An envious neighbor is easy to find,
His cumbersome fetches are seldom behind;
His fetch is to flatter, to get what he can;
His purpose once gotten, a pin for thee then.--Tusser, Husb.

     It is a fetch of wit;
You laying these slight sullies on my son,
As 'twere a thing a little soil'd i' th' working.--Shakspeare.

FETTICUS.}
VETTIKOST.} Vulg. Fáttikow. (Bot. Valerianella; Fedia olitoria. Fr. Doucette, mache.) Corn-salad, or lamb's-lettuce. A word used in New York.

TO FETCH UP. To stop suddenly. This sense of the word is not noticed in the English dictionaries, nor by Webster. We often hear the phrase 'He fetched up all standing,' that is, he made a sudden halt. It is a nautical vulgarism, the figure being that of a ship which is suddenly brought to, while at full speed and with all her sails set.

FEVER BUSH. (Laurus benzoin.) An aromatic shrub with a flavor resembling Benzoin.--Bigelow's Flora Bostoniensis.

FID OF TOBACCO. A chew, or quid of tobacco. A word only used by those who make use of the weed. It is also used in England, according to Grose.

TO HANG UP ONE'S FIDDLE, is to desist from any labor or project; a metaphor derived from a musician, who, when he ceases playing, is supposed to hang up his fiddle.

FIDDLE FADDLE. Trifling discourse; nonsense.--Grose. Johnson. Also used adjectively and as a verb.

-----
p. 137

She said that her grandfather had a horse shot at Edgehill, and their uncle was at the siege of Buda; with abundance of fiddle faddle of the same nature.--Spectator.

She was a troublesome fiddle faddle old woman, and so ceremonious that there was no bearing of her.--Arbuthnot.

----  Ye may as easily
Outrun a cloud, driven by a northern blast,
As fiddle faddle so.--Ford, The Broken Heart, Act I. Scene 3.

FIDDLER. A kind of small crab, with one large claw and a very small one. It lives on the salt meadows, where it makes its burrows. Used in New York and New Jersey.

TO PLAY SECOND FIDDLE, is to take an inferior part in any project or undertaking. A metaphor borrowed from a musical performer who plays the second or counter to the one who plays the first or the "air."

On the question of removing the seat of government from Kingston to Montreal, the population of which is chiefly French, a paper in the former city observes that--

We had rather become a portion of the United States, much as we detest that government, and rank with the Western States of Michigan and Iowa, than play second fiddle to the French.

FIDGET. Restless agitation. 'He has the fidgets,' is said of one who cannot sit long in a place.--Todd. Grose.

Why, who can the Viscountess mean?
Cried the square hoods in woeful fidget;
The times are altered quite and clean.--Gray, Long Story.

But sedentary weavers of long tales
Give me the fidgets, and my patience fails.--Cowper, Con.

I was in a fidget to know where we could possibly sleep.--Mrs. Clavers, A New Home, p. 13.

FIDGETING, or FIDGETY. Restless; impatient. A low word.--Todd.

Fungus is one of those fidgeting, meddling quidnuncs with which this unhappy city is pestered.--Paulding, Salmagundi, Vol. 1. p. 40.

Peter seemed monstrous fidgety, and bimeby he allowed it was time to go.--Maj. Jones's Courtship, p. 191.

TO FIDGET. To be restlessly active.--Richardson.

It was evident that there was something on his mind, as he fidgetted before the glass.--J. C. Neal, P. Ploody, p. 21.

-----
p. 138

FIGURE. Amount of a reckoning. 'What's the figure?' a flash expression for, What is to pay?--Grose.

BIG FIGURE. See Big.

FILLIPEEN or PHlLLIPINA. (Germ. Vielliebchen.) There is a custom common in the Northern States at dinner or evening parties when almonds or other nuts are eaten, to reserve such as are double or contain two kernels, which are called fillipeens. If found by a lady, she give some of the kernels to a gentleman, when both eat their respective kernels. When the parties again meet, each strives to be the first to exclaim, Fillipeen! for by so doing he or she is entitled to a present from the other. Oftentimes the most ingenious methods are resorted to by both ladies and gentlemen to surprise each other with the sudden exclamation of this mysterious word, which is to bring forth a forfeit.

In a recent book on German life and manners, entitled "A Bout with the Burschens, or, Heidelberg in 1844," is an account of the existence of this custom in Germany, which at the same time furnishes us with the etymology of the word:

Among the queer customs and habits of Germany, there is one which struck me as being particularly original, and which I should recommend to the consideration of turf-men in England ; who might, perhaps, find it nearly as good a way of getting rid of their spare cash as backing horses that have been made safe to lose, and prize fighters who have never intended to fight. It is a species of betting, and is accomplished thus: Each of two persons eats one of the kernels of a nut or almond which is double. The first of the two who, after so doing, takes anything fiom the hand of the other, without saving Ich denke, 'I think,' has to make the other a present, of a value which is sometimes previously determined, and sometimes left to the generosity of the loser. The presents are called Vielliebchens, and are usually trifles of a few florins value; a pipe, riding-whip, or such like.

FILLS. A common pronunciation for thills, the shafts of a waggon or chaise.

FINDINGS. The tools and materials which a journeyman shoemaker is to furnish in his employment.--Webster.

TO FIND ONE'S SELF. To provide for one's self. When a laborer engages to provide himself with victuals, he is said to find himself, or to receive day wages.--Craven Glossary.

-----
p. 139

In the advertisements of our steamboats and ships, it is stated that passengers are taken for so much and found, that is, provided with their meals.

The singing master's proposals were to keep twenty evenings for twenty dollars and found or for thirty and find himself.--Maj. Downing, p. 109.

FINEFIED. Made fine; dandified.

If this new judge is the slicked up, finefied sort on a character they pictur' him, I don't want to see him.--Robb, Squatter's Life, p. 73.

FINICAL. Nice; foppish; pretending to superfluous elegance.--Johnson.

Be not too finical, but yet be clean;
And wear well-fashioned clothes like other men.--Dryd. Ov. Art of Love.

At nineteen he painted his own portrait, in the finical manner of Denner, and executed the heads of an old man and woman in the same style afterwards.--Walpole, Anecdotes of Painting, Vol. IV.

FIPPENNY BIT, or contracted, FIP. Fivepence. In the State of Pennsylvania, the vulgar name for the Spanish half-real. (See Federal Currency.) Fippence, for fivepence is also provincial in England.

TO FIRE. To fling with the hand, as a stone or other missile.

TO HAVE ONE'S FAT IN THE FIRE, is to have one's plans frustrated. A vulgar expression borrowed from the vocabulary of the kitchen.

But take care that you don't, like the Paddy, touch off your machine at the wrong end; for the consequence, being unlooked for, might be bad, perhaps fatal, and then the fat would be in the fire, and you would be where the devil could give more reliable information about you than any other of your near relations.--N. Y. Herald.

TO FIRE AWAY. To begin; to go on. An expression borrowed from the language of soldiers and sailors.

A well-known auctioneer in Pearl street, when putting up an article, says: "Come gentlemen, give us a bid, fire away;" that is, go on.

The Chairman rose and said: "We are not ready yet, we must go on in order." Calls for Mr. H---. Mr. H--- from the midst of the audience said, 'Gentlemen, I beg to be excused, I came here to listen, not to speak." (Loud cries of 'Go ahead," Out with it," "Fire away.") Whereupon he commenced.--N. Y. Herald, Sketch of a Political Meeting.

TO FIRE INTO THE WRONG FLOCK, is a metaphorical

-----
p. 140

expression used at the West, denoting that one has mistaken his object, as when a sportsman fires at a different flock from what he intended.

I said, when General J--- cocked his gun and began his war upon the Senate, he would find he had fired into the wrong flock.--Crockett's Speech, Tour, p. 81.

FIRE-NEW. New from the forge; brand-new.--Johnson. This old and nearly obsolete expression is sometimes used by us.

You should then have accosted her; and with some excellent jests, fire-new from the mint, you should have banged the youth into darkness.--Shakspeare, Twelfih Night, III. 2.

The Democracy of Washington, both in and out of Congress, huzzaed, sang, flaunted torches, held mass-meetings, to exult over the liberation of the French; they virtually insisted that this was all their thunder, and that Whigs had no business to participate in their rejoicings; but when the liberaton of Americans from a much severer and more abject bondage came under consideration, they were and are ferocious for the punishment, by law or violence, not of the enslavers, but of the liberators! Instantly they are seized with a fire-new reverence for the Constitution and laws!--as if the French Revolution had not been effected in defiance of the constituted authorities--as if the serfs of Metternich and Esterhazy were not as rightfully and truly theirs as those of Calhoun, Hope Slatter, and Mrs. M---.--N. Y. Tribune, April 25th, 1848.

FIRST RATE. Of the first class or order; superior; superexcellent. An expression now in very common use, applied, as most superlatives are in the United States, with very little discrimination. It was formerly said of large and important things, as 'a first rate ship.' Now we hear of 'first rate pigs,' 'first rate liquors,' 'first rate lawyers.' It is also used adverbially; thus if we ask a person how he is, he replies, 'I am first rate,' i. e. in excellent health, very well.

The first rate importance of the subject, and the real merits of the work, are deserving of a portion of our space.--Westminster Rev. July, 1847.

A young woman wants a situation as a chambermaid. She is a first rate washer and ironer, and plain sewer.--Adv. in N. Y. Tribune.

Well, there's some men whose natural smartness helps them along first rate.--Major Jones's Courtship, p. 31.

Mary liked all the speakers first rate, except one feller who gin the galls all sorts of a shakin.--Ibid. p. 168.

-----
p. 141

FIRSTLY. Mr. Pickering remarks that this adverb is frequently used by American writers. It is not noticed by Dr. Webster or any of the English lexicographers. The following is the only instance where Mr. P. found it in an English work:

They will in some measure be enabled to determine, firstly, &c.--British Critic, Vol. XLIV. p. 577.

FIRST-SWATHE. First quality; first chop. A New York word.

Nothing'll serve you but a first-swathe mug, about twenty-three years old.--C. Mathews, Puffer Hopkins.

FISH. 'To have other fish to fry,' is a common colloquial expression denoting that a person has other occupations, or other objects which require his attention.

But as it seems they were more wary,
They'd other fish to fry than tarry.--Maro, p. 62.

FISH FLAKE. A frame covered with faggots for the purpose of drying fish.--New England.

FIT. Any short return after intermission; a turn; a period or interval.--Webster.

The houses in many parts of Italy are unprepared for winter; so that when a fit of cold weather comes, the dismayed inhabitant presents an awkward image of insufficiency and perplexity.--Hunt's Indicateor, ch. 3.

BY FITS AND STARTS. At short and sudden intervals interruptedly.

As prayer is a duty of daily occurrence, the injunction implies that it is ready to be imparted to Christians, not by fits and starts, or at distant intervals, but in a stated regular course.--Robert Hall, Works, Vol. I. p. 445.

FIX. A condition; predicament; dilemma.

Some feller jest come and tuck my bundle and the jug of spirits, and left me in this here fix.--Chron. of Pineville, p. 47.

The gentleman must be stronger in the faith than ourselves, if he does not find himself in an awkward fix.--N. Y. Com. Adv. Oct. 18, 1845.

Are you drunk too? Well, I never did see you in that fix in all my live-long born days.--Georgia Scenes, p. 163.

TO FIX. In popular use, to put in order; to prepare; to adjust; to set or place in the manner desired or most suitable.--Webster.

-----
p. 142

Mr. Lyell, in his late book of Travels in North America, chap. iii. has the following remarks on this word: "At one of the stations where the train stopped, we heard one young woman from Ohio exclaim, 'Well, we are in a pretty fix!' and found their dilemma to be characteristic of the financial crisis of these times, for none of their dollar notes of the Ohio banks would pass here. The substantive 'fix' is an acknowledged vulgarism; but the verb is used in New England by well-educated people, in the sense of the French 'arrange,' or the English 'do.' To fix the hair, the table, the fire, means to dress the hair, lay the table, and make up the fire; and this application is, I presume, of Hibernian origin, as the Irish gentleman, King Corney, in Miss Edgeworth's tale of Ormond, says, 'I'll fix him and his wounds.'"

In Upper Canada this word is equally common, where it was probably introduced by the American settlers:

One of their most remarkable terms is to fix. Whatever work requires to be done must be fixed. 'Fix the room,' is to set it in order. 'Fix the table,' 'Fix the fire,' says the mistress to her servants and the things are fixed accordingly.--Backwoods of Canada, p. 82.

FIX IT. A vulgarism of recent origin, but now very common. It is heard in such phrases as, 'I will not do so and so any how you can fix it,' or still worse, 'no how you can fix it,' i. e. not in any way that you can arrange it; not by any means.

A wet day is considerable tiresome, any way you can fix it.--Sam Slick in England, ch. 2.

If I was an engineer, I'd clap on steam--I'd fire up, I tell you; you wouldn't get me to stop the engine, no way you could fix it.--Pickings from the Picayune.

The master called them up, and axed them the hardest questions he could find in the book, but he couldn't stump 'em no how he could fix it.--Maj. Jones's Courtship, p. 36.

Workin' aint genteel nor independent, no how you can fix it.--Pickings from the Picayune, p. 74.

TO FIX ONE'S FLINT, is a phrase taken from backwoods life, and means the same as to settle; to do for; to dish.

"Take it easy, Sam," says I, "your flint is fixed; you are wet through;" and I settled down to a careless walk quite desperate.--Sam Slick in England, ch. 2.

-----
p. 143

The Bluenose haute the tools; and if he had, he couldn't use them. That's the reason any one a'most can "fix his flint for him."--Ibid.

FIXED FACT. A positive or well established fact.

The Boston Post, in speaking of the trial of Capt. Stetson for piratically running away with a ship and cargo, says:

That he did dispose of a large quantity of oil, and afterwards desert from the vessel, are fixed facts.--June, 1847.

FIXINGS. A word used with absurd laxity, especially in the South and West, to signify arrangements, embellishments, trimmings, garnishings of any kind.

A man who goes into the woods as one of these veteran settlers observed to me, has a heap of little fixin's to study out, and a great deal of projecting to do.--Judge Hall, Letters from the West, Let. 18.

The theatre was better filled, and the fixings looked nicer than in Philadelphia.--Crockett, Tour down East, p. 38.

All the fellows fell to getting grapes for the ladies; but they all had their Sunday fixins on, and were afraid to go into the brush.--Maj. Jones's Courtship, p. 42.

"Ah!" exclaimed the teamster [to a gentleman who had a good deal of luggage], "what anybody on earth can want with such lots of fixins, I'm sure's dark to me."--Mrs. Clavers, Forest Life, Vol. I. p.97.

One half of the country is overflowed in the winter, and t'other half, which is a darned sight the biggest, is covered with cane, pimento, and other fixins.--Porter's South-western Tales, p. 123.

The following advice was given to the editor of a new Western paper:

Advertise our doins in gineral, such as we got to sell, and throw yourself wide on the literary fixins and poetry for the galls; and, Mister, if you do this with spirit, the whole town will take your paper.--Robb, Squatter Life, p. 31.

For a use of the term as applied to food, see Chicken Fixings.

TO FIZZLE OUT. To be quenched, extinguished; to prove a failure. A favorite expression in Ohio.

The factious and revolutionary action of the fifteen has interrupted the regular business of the Senate, disgraced the actors, and fizzled out!--Cincinnati Gazette.

Is the new hotel [one called the Burnet House] to be given up, or to go on? To go on. It cannot be possible, after all that has been said and done about a "splendid hotel," that our enterprising business men will let it fizzle out.--Ibid.

-----
p. 144

FLAP-JACK. A fried cake; a pan-cake; a fritter. A word used alike in England and the United States, where it is also called slap-jack. See Chicken fixings.

We'll have flesh for holidays, fish for fasting-days, and moreo'er, puddings and flap-jacks.--Pericles, II. 7, Supplement to Shakspeare.

Until at last, by the skill of the cook, it is transformed into the form of a flap-jack, which, in our translation, is called a pancake.--Taylor's Jack-a-lent, I. p. 115.

TO FLARE UP. To blaze out; to get excited suddenly; to get into a passion.

It is expected that this grand discussion will take place soon; and then, if any member of the Cabinet chooses to flare up, he will have a fair chance, and may anticipate by resignation the ostracism of the Senate.--N. Y. Com. Adv. Nov. 20, 1847.

TO FLASH IN THE PAN. To fail of success. A metaphor borrowed from a gun, which, after being primed and ready to be discharged, flashes in the pan.

FLAT. In cant language, a foolish fellow; a simpleton.--Worcester.

The London Times, of Sept. 5, 1847, in speaking of the letters of Mr. Tyler and Gen. Houston, showing by what means Texas was annexed to the United States, says:

Oh! Messrs. Tyler, Donelson, and the rest, what flats you are all made to appear, by this revelation from the man in the blanket coat!

FLAT. In America this word is applied to low alluvial lands. "The Mohawk flats" is a term universally applied to the valley of the Mohawk river, on either side of which are alluvial lands. See Bottom Lands. It is also applied to river shoals, where they are of much extent.

FLAT. A species of flat-bottomed boat, used on the Mississippi and other rivers.

TO FLAT OUT. To collapse; to prove a failure. A Western phrase applied to a political meeting, as, 'The meeting flatted out.'

FLAT-FOOTED. Firm-footed, resolute; firmly, resolutely. A term belonging to the Western political slang with which the halls of Congress, as well as the newspapers, are now deluged.

-----
p. 145

Col. M--- attempted to define his position, but being unable, exclaimed: I'm an independent, flat-footed man, and am neither for nor against the mill-dam.--Tennessee Newspaper.

Mr. Pickens, of South Carolina, has come out flat-footed for the administration--a real red-hot democrat, dyed in the wool--denounces Mr. Calhoun--and is ready now to take any high office. But the mission to England is beyond his reach.--N. Y. Herald, June 30, 1846.

A Washington correspondent of the New York Commercial Advertiser, in speaking of the opinions to be advanced by President Polk in his Message, says:

The ground taken is to be flat-footed for the Sub-Treasury--flat-footed for the repeal of the Tariff of 1842, and the substitution of a 20 per cent. maximum, &c.

FLEA-BANE. (Erigeron Canadense.) One of the most hardy and common weeds. It propagates itself rapidly, and since the discovery of America, has been introduced and spread through most countries in Europe.--Bigelow's Flora Bost.

This plant is sold by the Shakers for its medicinal properties, which are astringent and diuretic.

FLINDERS. Shreds; splinters; broken pieces.--Brockett. Used also in New England.

Smate with sic fard, the airis in flendris lap.--Douglas, Virgil.

The tough ash spear, so stout and true,
Into a thousand flinders flew.--Lay of the Last Minstrel, ch. 3, 6.

Sure enough, when the General came to take off his boots, there was his best gold-rim specs, all broke to flinders.--Maj. Downing's Letters, p. 125.

Old Harley skeered the horse, upset the cart, and like to mashed every thing all to flinders.--Chronicle of Pineville, p. 122.

FLING. A sneer; a contemptuous remark.--Todd's Johnson.

No little scribbler is of wit so bare,
But has his fling at the poor wedded pair.--Addison.

Nay, if that had been the worst, I could have borne it; but he had a fling at your ladyship too, and then I could not hold; but, faith, I gave him his own.--Congreve, The Way of the World, Act 3.

FLITTER. A corruption of the word fritter, a pan-cake.

FLOOR. Used in Congress, in this expression, to get the floor; that is, to obtain an opportunity of taking part in a debate. The English say, to be in possession of the House.--Pickering's Vocabulary.

-----
p. 146

FLOP. (Another form of the word flap.) Souse; plump; flat. Ex. 'His foot slipped, and down he came flop.'--Forby's Vocabulary.

TO FLOP. To flap.

Fanny, during the examination, had flopped her hat over her eyes, which were also bathed in tears.--Fielding, Joseph Andrews.

TO FLOUR. To grind and bolt; to convert into flour.--Webster. A word used in those parts of the country where there are mills for grinding wheat. Ex. 'This mill can flour two hundred barrels a day,' i. e. it can make so many barrels of flour.

FLOURING-MILL. A grist mill.

FLUFF. Any light, feathery, downy substance; flue.

FLUFFY. Covered with fluff or flue.

FLUMMERY. (Welsh, llymru.) A kind of food made by coagulation of wheat-flour or oat-meal; and hence, flattery.--Johnson. We use it only in the latter or figurative sense.

I allow of orange and buttermilk possets, of roasted apples, flummery, or any other light and cooling thing they call for.-- Boyle, Works.

In wrath the king:  "Cease, hypocrite!
Your flummery helps you not a whit!"--Reynard the Fox.

TO FLUMMUX. To perplex; embarrass; put to a stand. A very common vulgarism.

Prehaps Parson Hyme didn't put it into Pokerville for two mortal hours; and prehaps Pokerville didn't mizzle, wince, and finally flummix right beneath him.--Field, Drama in Pokerville.

TO FLUNK OUT. To retire through fear; to back out.

Why, little one, you must be cracked, if you flunk out out before we begin.--J. C. Neal.

FLUNKY. A servant in livery. A term now used contemptuously.-- Jamieson.

Our laird gets in his racked rents,
His coals, his kain, and a' his stents;
He rises when he likes himsel';
His flunkies answer at the bell.--Burns, iii. 3.

FLUNKY. A class of people, who, unacquainted with the manner in which stocks are bought and sold, and deceived by appearances, come into Wall street without any know-

-----
p. 147

ledge of the market. The consequence is, they make bad investments, or lose their money. These the brokers call flunkies.--A Week in Wall Street, p. 81.

A broker who had met with heavy losses, exclaimed, "I'm in a bear-trap--this won't do. The dogs will come over me. I shall be mulct in a loss. But I've got time I'll turn the scale, I'll help the bulls operate for a rise and draw in the flunkies."--Ibid. p. 90.

FLUSH. Full of, abounding in; applied especially to money.

Lord Strut was not very flush in ready, either to go to law, or clear old debts; neither could he find good bail.--Arbuthnot.

FLUSTER. Heat; glow; agitation; confusion; disorder.--Webster.

When Caska adds to his natural impudence the fluster of a bottle, that which fools called fire when he was sober, all men abhor as outrage when he is drunk.--Tattler, No. 150.

The parish need not have been in such a fluster with Molly. You might have told them, child, your grandmother wore better things new out of the shop.--Fielding's History of a Foundling.

FLUSTERED. Heated with liquor; agitated; confused.--Webster.

---- He pretended to grow flustered, and gave the Barmecide a good box on the ear.--Addison, Guardian, No. 162.

FLUSTERATION. Heat; hurry; confusion.--Brockett's Glossary. A vulgar word also heard among ourselves.

TO FLY AROUND. To stir about; to be active. A very common expression.

Come, gals, fly round, and let's get Mrs. Clavers some supper.--A New Home, p. 13.

TO FOB OFF. To delude by a trick.--Johnson.

A low word now seldom used, though we have good authority for it.

You must not think to fob off our disgrace with a tale.--Shakspeare, Othello.

In speaking of the retirement of Mr. Buchanan from the Cabinet, the New York Tribune observes:

Pennsylvania insists on having a representative in the Cabinet, and will not be fobbed off with a six months' taste of honors.

FOGY. A stupid fellow; as, 'He is an old fogy.'

-----
p. 148

FOLKS. This old word is much used in New England instead of people or persons. 1. For the persons in one's family; as in this common phrase, 'How do your folks do?' that is, your family. 2. For people in general; as in expressions of this kind: 'What do folks think of it?' &c. Dr. Johnson observes that "it is now only used in familiar or burlesque language."--Pickering.

Old good man Dobson of the green
Remembers he the tree has seen,
And goes with folks to shew the sight.--Swift.

FOOL-FISH. (Genus, monocanthus. Cuvier.) The popular name of the long-finned file-fish. "Our fishermen apply to it the whimsical name of Fool-fish," says Dr. DeKay, "in allusion to what they consider its absurd mode of swimming with a wriggling motion, its body being sunk, and its mouth just on a level with the water."--A Nat. Hist. of New York.

FORE-HANDED. To be fore-handed is to be in good circumstances; to be comfortably off. The expression is much used in the interior parts of the country.

Many of the new houses which have been built, have been built by mechanics, fore-handed men, as we say in New England, who have accumulated small sums.--Providence Journal.

Mrs. Ainsworth made so long a visit among her Eastern friends, who are now fore-handed folks, that she has come back imbued most satisfactorily with a loving appreciation of the advantages of civilization.--Mrs. Clavers, Forest Life, Vol. I. p. 50.

TO FORK OVER. To hand over; to pay over, as money. A common expression in colloquial language.

He groaned in spirit at the thought of parting with so much money. There was, however, no help for it, so he forked over the five dollars.--Knickerbocker Mag.

A would-be prophet down South, lately said in one of his sermons, that "he was sent to redeem the world and all things therein." Whereupon a native pulled out two five dollar bills of a broken bank, and asked him to fork over the specie for them.--Newspaper.

We want money in our treasury; and as you are making a small sprinklin' off the place with your panorama, you might as well leave a little on it behind; so fork over the license money.--Newspaper.

FORKS. In the plural, the point where a road parts into two; and the point where a river divides, or rather where two

-----
p. 149

rivers meet and unite in one stream. Each branch is called a fork.--Webster.

FORNENT. Opposite to. This Scottish word is now much used in Pennsylvania and the Western States.

FORTED IN. Intrenched in a fort.

A few inhabitants forted in on the Potomac.--Marshall's Washington.

FORTINER. (For-aught-I-know.) This remarkable specimen of clipping and condensing a phrase, approaches the Indian method of forming words. The word is very common through New England, Long Island, and the rest of New York. See Farziner.

TO FOURFOLD. To assess in a fourfold ratio. Mr. Pickering quotes this word from Webster's Dictionary, and observes that it is peculiar to the State of Connecticut. Dr. Webster afterwards expunged it.

FORWARDING MERCHANT. One whose business it is to receive and forward goods for others. The internal navigation and trade of the United States, with the great extent of our country, requires forwarding merchants in all the principal towns.

TO FOX BOOTS. To foot boots, i. e. to repair boots by adding new soles, and surrounding the feet with new leather.--Worcester. Of American origin; at least it does not appear in the English glossaries.

FOXED. A common term among booksellers. A book is said to be foxed when the paper, owing to some fault in its manufacture, becomes spotted with light brown or yellow spots. Many books printed in England between the years 1802 and 1812 have become spotted in this manner.

FOXY. A term applied in Maine to timber partially rotten.

FREESTONE. Red sandstone, so called from the ease with which it is cut and wrought.

FRENCH LEAVE. 'To take French leave,' is to depart without taking leave; to run away.

And Love, who on their bridal eve
Had promised long to stay,
Forgot his promise--took French leave--
And bore his lamp away.--Halleck's Poems, Domestic Happiness.

-----
p. 150

FRESHET. A flood or overflowing of a river, by means of heavy rains or melted snow; an inundation.--Webster.

This word is used in the Northern and Eastern States. That it is an old English word is evinced by the following extract from the Description of New England, written and published in England, in 1658:

Between Salem and Charlestown is situated the town of Lynn, next to a river, whose strong freshet at the end of the winter filleth all her banks, and with a violent torrent vents itself into the sea."--p. 29.

This word appears to be now confined to America; but the word fresh is still used in the north of England and in Scotland in precisely the same sense.

FROE. An iron wedge. New England.

The shingle-maker stands with froe in one hand and mallet in the other, endeavoring to rive a billet of hemlock on a block--Margaret, p. 159.

"He beat his head all to smash with a froe," said one. "No, it was with an axe," said another.--Ibid. p. 323.

FROST-FISH. (Genus, morrhua.) A small fish which abounds on our coast during the winter months. It is also called tom-cod.--Storer, Fishes of Massachusetts.

FROSTWORT. (Cistus Canadensis.) A medical plant prepared by the Shakers and used for its astringent and tonic properties.

FROUGH.}
FROUGHY.} Frough is provincial in the north of England, and means anything loose, spongy, or easily broken; often applied to wood, as brittle is to mineral substances.--Brockett's Glossary. 'Froughy butter,' is rancid butter.

The latter of these words is in common use in many parts of New England. It is doubtless a corruption of frough, which is sometimes used here.--Pickering.

FROWCHEY. (Dutch, vrouw, a woman.) A furbelowed old woman. Local in New York and its vicinity.

FRUMP. To mock; to insult. A very old word, occurring in the dictionaries of Cotgrave and Minshew.

I was abas'd and frump'd, sir.--Beaumont and Fletcher.

This old word, though long out of use in England, still lin-

-----
p. 151

gers among the descendants of the first settlers in New England.

The sleighs warped from side to side; the riders screamed, cross-bit, frumped, and hooted at each other.--Margaret, p. 174.

FUDDLED. Tipsy; drunk. This word is common in England and the United States, but is only heard in familiar language.

I am too fuddled to take care to observe your orders.--Steele, Epist. Corresp.

     The table floating round
And pavement faithless to the fuddled feet.--Thomson.
Mull'd yell and punch flew round lyke steyfe,
The fiddlers a' got fuddled.--Westmoreland Dialect, p. 147.

FUDGE. An expression of contempt, usually bestowed on absurd or talking idlers; common in colloquial language.--Todd.

I should have mentioned the very impolite behavior of Mr. Burchard, who, during this discourse, sat with his face turned to the fire, and, at the conclusion of every sentence, would cry out fudge!--Vicar of Wakefield.

FUFFY. Light; puffy; soft. Used in Yorkshire, England, and preserved in some parts of New England.

She mounted the high, white, fuffy plain; a dead and unbounded waste lay all about her.--Margaret, p. 168.

FULL BUTT. With sudden collision. The figure is taken from the violent encounter of animals, such as rams or goats, which butt with their heads.

He and the babler, or talker, I told ye of, met full butt; and after a little staring one an other in the face, upon the encounter, the babler opened.--L'Estrange, Tr. of Quevedo.

FULL CHISEL. At full speed. A modern New England vulgarism.

Oh yes, sir, I'll get you my master's seal in a minute. And off he set full chisel.--Sam Slick in England, ch. 2.

The moose looked round at us, shook his head a few times, then turned round and fetched a spring right at us full chisel.--John Smith's Letters.

At that the boys took arter them full chisel, and the galls run as if a catamount had been arter them.--Downing, May-day in New York, p. 46.

FULL DRIVE. At full speed. A very common and very old phrase.

-----
p. 152

This bargain is full-drive, for we ben knit;

Ye shul be paied trewely by my troth.--Chaucer, Franklin's Tale.

Joe Dobson ran off tappy-luppy; an' just as he turned the nook of Anderson's byre, he came full-drive against owd Babby Bell.--Westmoreland Dialect, p. 352.

FULL SPLIT. With the greatest violence and impetuosity.--Craven Glossary. In common use in the United States in familiar language.

I after him full-split,--he was clippin it across the orchard, so you might put an egg on his coat-flap, and it wouldn't fall off.--Maj. Downing, Let.

FULL SWING. Full sway; complete control.

If the Loco-Focos have full swing, they will involve the country in war for the small strip in dispute in Oregon.--N. Y. Tribune.

FUNKIFY. To frighten; to alarm. New England.

Scared! says he, serves him right then; he might have knowed how to feel for other folks, and not funkify them so peskily.--Sam Slick in England, ch. 8.

TO MAKE THE FUR FLY. To claw; scratch; wound severely. Used figuratively.

Mr. Hannegan was greatly excited, which proved most conclusively that Mr. B. had made the fur fly among the 54 40 men.--N. Y. Tribune.

FUSSY. Bustling about as if much was to be done and was doing; consequential; very nice or particular in household or other matters. Used in familiar conversation with us as 'a fussy fellow.' It is provincial in England.--Hunter's Glossary.

You see the fussy European adopting the East, and calming his restlessness with the long Turkish pipe of tranquillity.--Eöthen.

FUZZY. Rough and shaggy.--Forby's Vocabulary.

I inquire, whether it be the thin membrane, or the inward and something soft and fuzzy pulp that it contains, that raises and represents to itself these arbitrarious figments and chimeras.--Dr. Henry More.

FYKE. (Dutch, fuyk, a weel, bow-net.) The large bow-nets in New York harbor, used for catching shad, are called shadfykes.

[To next page]


Copyright 1999-2006, Pat Pflieger
To "Nineteenth-Century American Children & What They Read"
Some of the children | Some of their books | Some of their magazines
To "Voices from 19th-Century America"
Some works for adults, 1800-1872

To Titles at this site | Subjects at this site | Works by date
Map of the site