[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/AMER12.HTM

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

[To previous page]

[Transcriber's notes: Bartlett uses a long i and an i with a breve in the discussion of the word "Sliver"; I've used html codes and have spelled out the words. Several letters in the Greek words in the definition of "Sophomore" (p. 320) are accented with acute and grave accents; they are presented here unaccented, but with a link to a scanned image of this passage.]

-----
p. 304

SCARY, or SKEARY. Frightened.

I got a little scary, and a good deal mad; there I was perched up on a sawyer, bobbin' up and down in the water.--Robb.

SIXES AND SEVENS. 'To be at sixes and sevens,' is to be in a state of disorder and confusion. A ludicrous expression that has been long in use.--Johnson.

John once turned his mother out of doors, to her great sorrow; for his affairs went on at sixes and sevens.--Arbuthnot.

California is less than ever attached to the central authority of Mexico[.] Everything is at sixes and sevens.--N. O. Paper, Sept. 7, 1845.

In Mr. Johnson's arrangement of the mails, he throws everything into pi, and all are at sixes and sevens under his vigilant administration.--N. Y. Com. Adv., Jan. 10, 1848.

TO SIZZLE. To hiss from the action of fire.--Forby.

From the ends of the wood the sap fries and drips on the sizzling coals below, and flies off in angry steam.--Margaret, p. 159.

SKEERSOME. Frightful.

It's cruel skeersome about there.--Margaret, p. 275.

SKETCHILY. In a sketchy manner.

The short papers in Mr. W. A. Jones's Essays are generally analytical, political, or sketchily descriptive.--Southern Quart. Rev., March, 1837.

TO SKEW. To walk obliquely.--Todd.

Child, you must walk strait, without skiewing and shailing to every step you set.--L'Estrange.

Thus linked, sideling, skewing, filing as they could through the trees and brush, they soon emerged in the road.--Margaret, p. 27.

The sleds skewed, brushed, and bumped along.--Ibid.

SKID. A piece of light timber from ten to twenty feet in length, upon which heavier timber is rolled or slid from place to place.

SKILTS. A sort of brown tow trowsers formerly worn in New England, very large, and reaching just below the knees.

The lad's skilts, through which were thrust his lean dry shanks, gave him a semblance to a peasant of Gascony on stilts.--Margaret, p. 22.

SKIN-FLINT. A niggardly, close-fisted person--one so parsimoniously mean, that he would perform that operation were it possible.--Brockett's North County Words.

TO SKINK. (Ang. Sax. scencan.) To serve drink. Dr. Johnson says this word is wholly obsolete in England.

-----
p. 305

Come, crush a glass with your dear papa, and all this nice company. You have skinked long enough.--Margaret, p. 300.

SKIPPER. The cheese maggot.--Webster.

SKRIMMAGE. A corruption of skirmish, used in the Western States; probably of Irish origin.

We felt confident that we should meet with large bands of Indians, with whom we should have an occasional "skrimmage."--Kendall's Santa Fé Expedition, Vol. I. p. 66.

SKUNK. (Mephitis putorius.) A small, carnivorous American quadruped, allied to the weasel and badger, and very fetid. An aboriginal or Indian term.--Worcester.

SKUNK CABBAGE. (Lat. Ictodes foetidus.) A strong-scented, repulsive plant, exceedingly meritorious of the name it bears. The odor depends on a volatile principle not separable by distillation. This plant has been found useful in asthma and some other diseases.--Bigelow's Plants of Boston.

SKUNKHEAD. The popular name, on the sea-coast, of the Pied Duck of ornithologists.--Nat. Hist. of New York.

TO SKY A COPPER. To toss up a cent.

Didge said he was like skying a copper--head or tail.--Crockett, Tour.

SKY-RACKET. The vulgar pronunciation of sky-rocket.

SLANG-WHANGER. This curious word is defined by Mr. Pickering, as signifying "a writer or noisy talker, who makes use of that sort of political or other cant, which amuses the rabble, and is called by the vulgar name of slang." The word frequently occurs in Paulding's Salmagundi; but it is now seldom or never heard.

SLANG-WHANGING. Political cant.

Part of the customary slang-whanging against all other nations is habitual to the English press.--N. Y. Com. Adv., Oct. 10, 1845.

TO SLAB OFF. I do not know the exact meaning of this expression.

You must take notice that I am slabb'd off from the election, and am nothing but a "voter;" and this gives me a right to dictate to the rest.--Crockett, Tour, p. 212.

SLAB. The outside of a piece of timber or log sawn off at a mill. As the bark is on one side, it is useless as merchandise.

-----
p. 306

The same term is employed in England, and is noticed by Ray and Grose.

SLANTENDICULAR. Aslant; oblique. Used in low language.

Pony got mad and sent the Elder right slap over his head slantendircularly, on the broad of his back into the river.--Sam Slick in England, ch. 28.

SLAP-JACKS. Pancakes made of the whole size of the frying-pan or spider. A country girl formerly was not considered eligible for marriage until she could make a shirt, and toss a slap-jack fairly right into the middle of the pan. In Norfolk, England, they are called flap-jacks.

SLAT. A narrow piece of board or timber, used to fasten together large pieces; as, the slats of a cart or chair.--Webster. Mr. Worcester calls it "an American corruption of the word sloat."

TO SLAT. A word of uncertain derivation, signifying to throw down with violence.--Toone's Glossary.

Slatted his brains out, then soused him in the briny sea.--Old Play, The Malcontents.

With that, I handed him my axe, and he slatted about the chamber a spell.--Maj. Downing's Letters. p. 200.

Suz alive! but warn't my dander up to hear myself called a flat? down I slat the basket and upsot all the berries.--Lafayette Chronicle.

Aunt Nancy would retire to the kitchen, and, taking up the dipper, would slat round the hot water from a kettte.--N. Y. Com. Adv., May 15, 1846.

SLAZY. A corrupt pronunciation of sleazy or sleezy; i. e. weak, wanting substance; thin; flimsy. It is also pronounced so in some parts of England.

SLED. A carriage or vehicle moved on runners; much used in America for conveying heavy weights in winter, as timber, wood, stone, and the like.--Webster.

SLEDDING. The means of conveying on sleds; snow sufficient for the running of sleds.--Webster.

TO SLEEP. Sometimes used as an active verb; as, 'This steamboat can sleep three hundred passengers,' i. e. can furnish sleeping accommodations for them. We have heard of a landlady who said 'she could eat fifty people in her house, but could not sleep half the number.'

-----
p. 307

SLEIGH. A vehicle moved on runners, and greatly used in America for transporting persons or goods on snow or ice.--Webster. In England it is called a sledge. During the winter of 1844, after a fall of snow in London, an English newspaper observed that "the Queen was making preparations for sledge-driving," which in America few would understand to mean, that Her Majesty was about taking a sleigh-ride.

SLEIGHING. The state of the snow which admits of running sleighs.-- Webster. As, 'good sleighing,' 'bad sleighing;' and in the winter when there is no snow, we say there is 'no sleighing.'

2. The act of riding in a sleigh.--Webster.

SLEIGH-BELL. A small hollow ball, made of bell-metal, having a hole in it that passes half round its circumference, and containing a small solid ball, of a size not to escape. These bells are fastened to leathern straps, which commonly pass round the necks of horses. They were formerly, by the Dutch, attached to small plates, which were buckled to various parts of the harness; but this caused a motion annoying to horses.--Cooper, Satanstoe, Vol. I. p. 216.

SLEIGH-RIDE. Used both as a noun and as a verb.

In winter we sleigh-ride, coast, skate, and snow-ball.--Margaret.

TO SLEW, or SLUE. In seaman's language, to turn anything, as a barrel, &c., about its perpendicular axis; to turn around.

SLEWED. Moderately drunk. A common expression in the United States, and also used in Yorkshire, England.

SLICE. A common name in parts of New York and Canada for a large fire-shovel formed of a bar of iron flattened at one end.

SLICK. The popular pronunciation of sleek, and so written by some authors.--Webster. It is also used adverbially in vulgar language, like many other adjectives.

"This word," says Todd, "was formerly written slick; and slick or slicken is still our northern word." It is also provincial in Kent, while, in other parts of England, the verb

-----
p. 308

to slick, to comb or make sleek the hair, is provincial.--Holloway's Prov. Dict.

Dr. Jamieson also notices it as used in Scotland, slik, smooth, slippery, for sleek.

Her flesh tender as is a chicke,
With bent browes, smooth and slike.--Chaucer, Rom. of the Rose.

When silver bow'd Apollo bred, in the Pierian mead,
Both slicke and daintie, yet were both in war of wound'rous dread.--Chapman, Homer.

Glass attracts but weakly; some slick stones, and thick glasses indifferently.--Brown, Vulgar Errors.

That the bodie thereof is not all over smoothe and slicke (as we see in birds' eggs), is shewed by good arguments.--Holland, Trans. of Pliny.

The rail-road company, out of sheer parsimony, have neglected to fence in their line, which goes slick through the centre of your garden.--Blackwood's Mag., July, 1847 [Letter from a Rail-way Witness].

Well! one comfort is, that there ain't many folks to see how bid you look here in the woods! We ain't used to seein' folks look so dreadful slick,--so it don't matter--Mrs. Clavers's Forest Life, Vol. 1. p. 114.

Singin' is a science which comes pretty tough at first; but it goes slick afterwards.--Peter Cram of Tinnecum, Knick. Mag., 1841.

Then here's to women, then to liquor;
There's nothing swimmin' can be slicker.--Boatman's Song.

The Senate could not pass Mr. Stevenson through for England. The reason was, he was a-going through right slick, till he came to his coat-pockets, and they were so full of papers written by Ritchie ,that he stuck fast, and hung by the flaps.--Crockett, Tour, p. 120.

TO SLICK UP. To dress up; to make fine.

Mrs. Flyer was slicked up for the occasion, in the snuff-colored silk she was married in.--Mrs. Clavers, A New Home, p. 211.

The house was all slicked up as neat as a pin, and the things in room all sot to rights.--Maj. Downing, May-day, p. 43.

The caps most in vogue then were made of dark, coarse, knotted twine, like a cabbage-net, worn, as the wives said, to save slicking up, and to hide dirt.--Carlton, The New Purchase, Vol. I. p. 72.

SLICK AS A WHISTLE. A proverbial simile, in common use throughout the United States. To do anything as slick as a whistle, is to do it very smoothly, perfectly, adroitly.

You know I told you in my last letter, I was going to bring Miss Mary up to the chalk at Christmas. Well, I done it as slick as a whistle.--Maj. Jones's Courtship, p. 94.

-----
p. 309

SLICK AS GREASE. Another classical expression, conveying the same idea as the foregoing.

TO LET SLIDE. To let go; as, 'that fish you have hooked is not fit to eat; let him slide.'

SLIM. Weak; slight; slender; feeble; worthless.--Worcester.

The church of Rome indeed was allowed to be the principal church. But why? Was it in regard to the succession to St. Peter? No, that was a slim excuse.--Barrow on the Pope's Supremacy.

Now how vain and slim are all these [arguments of fatalists], if compared with the solid and manly encouragement which our religion offers.--Killingbeck, Sermons, p. 376.

From this central spot, the condition of things is more apparent, and could Mr. Calhoun's friends see the truth, they might readily discover how slim was his chance for election.--Newspaper.

Gen. What! not homesick, are you?

Doolittle. I guess I be; for I feel pretty slim. But how to get hum is the devil on't, as Jack the sailor says.--D. Humphreys, The Yankee in England.

SLIMSEY. Flimsey; frail. Most frequently applied to cotton or other cloth.

The building is old and slimsy.--Margaret, p. 329.

SLING. A drink composed of equal parts of rum and water sweetened.--Rush.

SLINK. A sneaking fellow.

I despise a slink--Chron. of Pineville, p. 139.

SLINKY. Thin; lank.

SLIP. 1. The opening between wharves or in a dock.--Webster.

This word is peculiar to New York, where we have Peck Slip, Burling Slip, Old Slip, Coenties Slip, etc.

2. In New England, a long seat or narrow pew in a church.--Webster. When there is a door, they are called pews; when without doors and free to all, slips. This, I believe, is the difference between them.

SLIP. An escape; a desertion.--Johnson. 'To give one the slip,' means to escape, or run away.

The more shame for her goody-ship,
To give so near a friend the slip.--Hudibras.

-----
p. 310

The daw did not like his companion. and gave him the slip, and away into the woods.--L'Estrange.

SLIPE. A distance.

Well, I've got a long slipe off from my steambeat, the Hunter; and I had better look up the Captain.--Crockett, Tour, p. 145.

SLIPPER-DOWN. A vulgar name in some parts of Connecticut for hasty pudding. The etymology is obvious.

SLIPPERY. Uncertain; changeable.--Johnson. That man's a slippery fellow; i. e. no dependence can be placed in him. One who is disposed to cheat or obtain undue advantage, is called a slippery fellow. It is used alike in England and America.--See Grose, Prov. Dict.

Merchants who resort to drumming as a means for selling their goods are apt to he considered as very slippery fellows.--Perils of Pearl Street.

SLIVER. A piece of any substance; as wood torn or split off. This word is, in this country, commonly pronounced slĭver [note: it's spelled "sl i-breve ver"]; but the English orthoëpists all pronounce it slīver [note: spelled "sl long-i ver"].--Worcester.

When frost will not suffer to dike and to hedge,
Then get thee a heat, with thy beetle and wedge;
Once Hallomas come, and a fire in the hall,
Such slivers do well for to lie by the wall.--Tusser, Husbandry.

Alas! that he all hole or of him some slivers
Should have his refute in so digne a place,
That Jove, him sone out of your herte race.--Chaucer, Troil. and Cress. B. 3.

In New England this word is used as a verb as well as a noun.

As there was nothin' else to get hold of; I just slivered a great big bit off the leg of the chair, and made a tooth-pick of it.--Sam Slick in England.

TO LET SLIVER. To let slip, let fly, i. e. to fire.

Old Yelp smelled the bar; and as soon as I clapped peeper on him, I let sliver, when the varmint dropped.--Robb, Squatter Life.

SLOMMACK. A slattern.

TO SLOPE. To run away. A new but very common vulgarism.

As the officers approached, some hid themselves in their ovens, some under their beds; but a majority sloped without hats, shoes, or coats.--N. Y. Com. Adv., Nov. 3, 1845.

-----
p. 311

The instant an English mob sees two dragoons coming, they jist run like a flock of sheep afore a couple of bull-dogs, and slope off, properly skeered.--Sam Slick in England, ch. 27.

The editor of the Eagle cannot pay his board bill, and fears are entertained that he will slope without liquidating the debt.--Robb, Squatter Life.

The constables appeared with attachments; each person interested seized his own goods, while the master and clerk sloped to parts unknown.--Baltimore Patriot, July 10, 1846.

SLOPS. Large and loose trowsers, from which loose clothing is called slops. The word, says Todd, was formerly used in the singular; as in Chaucer:

His overest slop is not worth a mite.

Slop-clothing is the term now universally applied to ready made clothing for seamen. It was so used in 1691.

The slop-seller is a person crept into the navy, I mean to monopolize the vending of clothing only, but since the restoration of King Charles the Second.--Maydman, Naval Speculat. (1691).

SLOP-SHOP. A place where slop-clothing is sold.

SLUMP. A favorite dish in New England, called an apple slump, is made by placing raised bread or dough around the sides of an iron pot, which is then filled with apples and sweetened with molasses. Called in other parts of the country an apple pot-pie.

TO SLUMP. To slip or fall into a wet or dirty place.--Brockett's North County Words. Provincial in various parts of England, and also used in New England. Mr. O. Wendell Holmes, in describing the school-boy, in a short poem read at the late festival in Berkshire, Massachusetts, says:

By the side of yon river, he weeps and he slumps,
His boots filled with water, as if they were pumps,
Till, sated with rapture, he steals to his bed
With a glow in his heart and a cold in his head.

SLUMPY. Marshy; easily broken through.--Jamieson. Worcester.

We came back by another path that's slumpier than t'other [in consequence of the rain.]--Sam Slick in England, ch. 23.

SLUNG (the pret. of sling), is often heard instead of swung.

We swung round the wharf; and when the captain told the people who I was, they slung their hats and gave three cheers.-- Crockett, Tour down East, p. 37.

-----
p. 312

SLUNG-SHOT. An offensive weapon formed of two leaden or iron bullets fastened together by a piece of rope five or sit inches long. One bullet is held in the hand, while the other hangs outside by the rope which passes between the second and third fingers. A blow from it on the head will fell the strongest man.

SLUSH. Grease or fat from salt meat.--Worcester. The refuse grease from cooking on board ship, which is one of the perquisites of the cook.

SLUSH, or SLOSH. This term is often used by the people of New England, in speaking of the state of the roads, when they are covered with snow, and a thaw takes place. It is very common to hear people say, 'the roads are sloshy; it is very sloshy going,' &c. None of the English dictionaries have this word; but all of them, I believe, except Bailey's, have the term sludge and define it as Dr. Johnson does--'Mire, dirt mixed with water.' Grose has sludge in the same sense, as a provincial term, peculiar to the North of England. Marshall also has sludge among his provincialisms of the Midland counties, sluss among those of Norfolk, and slush among those of Yorkshire; and he defines them all nearly in the same words.--Pickering.

It sometimes happens that a fall of snow in the night time will cover the deep water where the feiths are, with snow and slush.--State, Leslie of Powis, 1803.

SLUSHY. Consisting of soft mud, or of snow and water.--Webster.

SMALL FRY. Young children; persons of little importance.

Let there be any question to be decided, which Gen. Jackson has set his heart on, and you will see all the small fry as busy as pismires, and the big bugs drumming up the drones, &c.--Crockett, Tour down East, p. 20.

SMALL POTATOES. An epithet applied to persons, and signifying mean, contemptible; as, 'He is very small potatoes.' Small potatoes are not fit for eating, and except for the feeding of hogs and cattle,, are worthless; hence the expression as applied to men. It is sometimes put into the more emphatic form of small potatoes and few in a hill; see Sam Slick in England for an explanation of the latter, ch. 6.

-----
p. 313

Give me an honest old soldier for the Presidency--whether a Whig or Democrat--and I will leave your small potato politicians and petty-fogging lawyers to those who are willing to submit the destiny of this great nation to such hands.--N. Y. Herald, Dec. 13, 1846.

The very incidents of the meeting, and the names of the speakers [noticed by the Washington Union], induce a strong suspicion that it was rather small potatoes.--N. Y. Com. Adv., April 15, 1848.

SMART. Quick; active; intelligent. 'He is a smart business man.' The word appears to be not now used in this sense in England, although Johnson gives several meanings very nearly allied to it. The corresponding English term is clever.

SMART CHANCE. A good opportunity; a fair chance. A vulgar expression.

He has a smart chance of getting a better character.--S. Slick in England, ch. 9.

Says I, "Friend Wolfe," for I seed there was a smart chance of a row, "play I wont."--S. Slick, 3d Ser. p. 117.

SMART CHANCE. A good deal; a large quantity; large company; a great number. A singular expression used in the Southern and Western States, but never heard in the Eastern.--Sherwood's Georgia.

I don't pretend to say, stranger, what sort of cattle you have in your country, but I reckon there's a right smart chance of self-conceit among you Yankees.--Letter from the South, N. Y. Journ. of Com.

There's a smart chance of cigars there in the bar, stranger, if you'll try some of them, said one of the hooshiers.--Hoffman, Winter in the West.

We had a "smart chance" of snow on Thursday; it fell during the day to the depth of two inches, which makes a considerable snow-storm in this part of the world.--Wilmington, N. C. Commercial, Dec. 10.

SMART SPRINKLE. A good deal; a good many. Used in the interior of the Western States.

In answer to some query about snakes, our landlord said there was a smart sprinkle of rattlesnake on Red Run; and a powerful nice day to sun themselves.--Carlton, The New Purchase, Vol. I. p. 85.

SMASHER. A low word denoting anything very large, or larger than another of the same kind. It is used in the same sense in the North of England.--Brocket's Glossary.

Put up your benefit for that night; and if you don't have a smasher, with

-----
p. 314

at least six wreaths, say I don't understand managing the theatres.--Field, Drama at Pokerville.

SMEAR-CASE. (Dutch, Smeer-kaas.) A preparation of milk made to be spread on bread, whence its name; otherwise called Cottage-cheese.

TO SMOKE. To find any one out; to discover anything meant to be kept secret.--Halliwell.

The two free-booters, seeing themselves smoaked, told their third brother he seemed to he a gentleman and a boone companion; they prayed him, therefore, to sit down with silence, and sethence dinner was not yet ready, he should heare all.--Dekker's Lanthorne, 1629.

The fellow takes me for a country dealer. Good! I'll smoke him. Ahem! sir, how do you sell iron feather beds by the gross?--Perils of Pearl Street, p. 77.

SMOOTH. A meadow, or grass field.

Get some plantain and dandelion on the smooth for greens.--Margaret.

TO SMOUTCH. To gouge; to take unfair advantage. Colloquial in New York.

TO SMOUZE. To demolish, as with a blow. Used in Ohio.

SMUDGE. A heap of damp combustibles placed on the wind ward side of the house and partially ignited, that the inky steam may smother or drive away mosquitoes.--Mrs. Clavers.

I have had a smudge made in a chafing dish at my bedside, after a serious deliberation between choking and being devoured at small mouthfuls; and I conscientiously recommend choking.--Mrs. Clavers's Forest Life.

TO SMUTCH. To blacken with smoke, soot, or coal.--Webster. 'I have smutched my fingers.' The word is provincial in England, and is found in the old writers. In the United States, as in Scotland, it is pronounced smootch, and is never heard except colloquially.

Thou hast smutched thy nose.--Shakspeare, Winter Evening Tale, I. 2.

Have you mark'd but the fall of snow,
Before the soil hath smutched it.--Ben Jonson, Wanderer.

SNAG. A tree having its roots fastened in the bottom of a river; or a branch of a tree thus fastened. These are common in the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, and frequently destroy steamboats which come in contact with them by piercing their bows, or sides. This word is not a new one, and is defined by Johnson as "a jag or sharp protuberance."

-----
p. 315

SNAGGED. Run against a snag, or projecting branch of a sunken tree.

SNAKE-HEAD. An object of dread to travellers on railways. The end of an iron rail, which sometimes is thrown up in front of the car wheels, and passes through the cars. Serious accidents have been caused by them. They occur, however, only with flat rails.

The road to Petersburg consists of an iron strap laid upon pine timber, and is beautifully diversified with that peculiar half horizontal, vibrating rail known as "snake's head." Frequently, during our short ride, an iron snake would strike his heavy head against the iron fenders of our car; and then, as we rolled on unharmed, he would shake himself as if in wrath awaiting another opportunity for vengeance.--N. Y. Tribune.

TO SNAKE. To crawl like a snake. A common expression at the West. A fine example of the use of this term is given in the N. Y. Tribune, from one of the Western newspapers:

In Iowa, as in other new countries, the duties of a judge often begin before a court-house or place of shelter has been provided. Not long since, Judge Williams was obliged to hold his first court beneath the shade of a large tree, where logs were rolled up for seats, a larger one being provided for the Judge. The clerk used a shingle on his knee for a desk; and the jury, after being charged by the judge, were sent in care of a sheriff to a hollow, or ravine, where they could sit in conclave beyond the view of the court or spectators.

The grass grew very tall in the neighborhood, and the jurymen lay down in a ring in the grass, where they could more perfectly exclude themselves from observation. The jury had not been long in their quarters, when a tall, raw-boned fellow, rose up and addressed the judge as follows:

"May it please your honor, I wish to speak to you." "Order, sir; what is it?" "Judge," continued he, with the utmost gravity, "is it right for fellows to snake in the grass?" "How? what is that, sir?" "Why, you see," said the Yankee, "there's some fellows who's tarnal fraid the Grand Jury will find something agin 'em, which they desarve, and they are snaking up to the Grand Jury, on their bellies in the grass, kind of trying to hear what the Jury are talking about." "No," responded the Judge, with as much gravity as he could command, "I do not allow of snaking. Here, Mr. Sheriff, go station a guard around each Jury's hollow, and if a man is found 'snaking' have him brought before me, and I will cause him to be punished. Indeed, if thls snaking is persisted in, I shall recommend a special act to be passed, making it a misdemeanor."

The fact was, as the Judge said, there were present at the time some

-----
p. 316

barefooted, vagrant rascals, who were, probably, justly suspected of horse-stealing, and had "snaked it" on the Grand Jury, in order to find out whether the Jury intended to present them; and, if so, to gain time by this clandestine warning, and flee the jurisdiction of the Court by escaping into Missouri.

TO SNAKE OUT. To drag out; to haul out, as a snake from its hole. A farmer in clearing land, attaches a chain to a stump or log, whereby to draw it out; this he calls, snaking it out. Maj. Downing says, in speaking of a person who fell into the river:

We snaked him out of that scrape as slick as a whistle.--Letters, p. 14.

I went down again and found the cow as dead as a herrin'. We skinned her and snaked her out of the barn upon the snow.--Evidence before a Court in Boston, Daily Adv., March, 1848.

SNAP. Applied to the weather; as, 'a cold snap,' i. e. a period of sudden cold weather. A common expression.

SNAPS. Young kidney-beans in the pod.

SNAPPED. Drunk. Used at the South.

I like to forgot to tell you 'bout cousin Pete. He got snapt on egg-nog when he heard of my engagement.--Maj. Jones's Courtship, p. 102.

SNAPPING-TURTLE. (Genus, chelonura.) A reptile common to all parts of the United States, so named from its propensity to snap at everything within its reach.

SNARL. An entanglement, as a twisted thread; a quarrel; an angry contest. Provincial in England, and colloquial in the United States.--Worcester.

Her mother gets her to pick a snarl out of the yarn she is winding.--Margaret, p. 160.

This gallant officer and estimable man [Sir John Harvey] has been transferred from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland, where Lord Falkland had got into a snarl.--Com. Adv., April 1, 1846.

The members of the House of Representatives got themselves into a most admirable snarl on Saturday afternoon, by their proceedings in reference to the recent case of resistance to the serving of a habeas corpus writ.--Boston Traveller, Feb. 12.

Men, you have all got into a sort of snarl, as the militia Captain said to his men, when he could not keep them in line.--Georgia Scenes, p. 149.

SNATCH. A hasty repast; a snack. Scottish.--Jamieson.

Our kind host and hostess would not go before taking a snatch, as they called it; which was in truth a very good dinner.--Boswell's Journal.

-----
p. 317

The most relishing snatch of slumber out of bed, is the one which a tired person takes, before he retires for the night, while lingering in his sitting-room.--Leigh Hunt, Indicator, ch. 21.

SNATHE.}
SNEAD.} The crooked handle of a mowing scythe. An agricultural term common with the farmers both of England and of this country.

This is fixed on a long sneed, or strait handle.--Evelyn, B. II. ch. 6.

When stormy days constrain to quit the field,
The house or barn may useful business yield;
There crooked snathe of flexile sallow make,
Or of tough ash, the fork-stall and the rake.--Scott, Amæbæan Ecl.

SNEAKING NOTION. To have a sneaking notion for a lady, is to have a timid or concealed affection for her.

Well, I always used to have a sort of a sneakin' notion of Mary Stallins.--Maj. Jones's Courtship, p. 11.

An army such as me would fright the devil--
What are ye giggling at? Can't ye be civil?
There--that's well done; now I've a sneaking notion--
When I git hum--I'll git some grand promotion.--D. Humphreys, The Yankee in England, p. 102.

TO SNICKER, or SNIGGER. To laugh slily, wantonly, or contemptuously; to laugh in one's sleeve.--Johnson.

Then I heard the gals snickering and laughing in the next room, and I began to see how it was.--Maj. Jones's Courtship, p. 18.

Ha, ha, ha! snickered out the woman, more afraid of paper money than the doctor's knife.--Margaret, p. 273.

Never mind, says the General, if you can't get them 'are pantaloons mended, the State'll give you a new pair. And then we all snorted and snickered.--Maj. Downing's Letters, p. 15.

A hyst is bad enough, without being snickered at.--Neal's Sketches.

TO SNIGGLE. A method of fishing for eels in small streams and ponds.

Sniggling is thus performed. In a warm day, take a small strong hook, tied to a string about a yard long; and then into one of the holes, where an eel may hide herself, with the help of a short stick, put in your bait leisurely, and as far as you may, conveniently; if within the sight of it, the eel will bite instantly, and as certainly gorge it; pull him out by degrees.--Izaak Walton, Angler.

In the darkest nights we rowed across the pond and sniggled for eels.--Margaret, p. 234.

-----
p. 318

SNIPPER-SNAPPER. An effeminate young man; a trifler.

SNIPPY. Finical; and substantively, a finical person. A woman's word. In the South they use the word sniptious.

SNIPSNAP. Tart dialogue; with quick replies.--Todd's Johnson.

Dennis and dissonance., and captious art,
And snipsnap short, and interruption smart.--Pope, Duncid.

Plucks snipsnaps with his wife, cracks on Hash, shows his white teeth to Margaret.--Margaret, p. 161.

TO SNOOP. (Dutch, snoepen.) Applied to children, servants, and others, who clandestinely eat dainties or other victuals which have been put aside, not for their use. A servant who goes slyly into a dairy-room and drinks milk from a pan, would be said to be snooping. The term is peculiar to New York.

SNOOZE. Sleep; as 'he lay in a drunken snooze.'

SNOOZER. A thief who follows the business of robbing the boarders at hotels. He takes hoard and lodgings, and endeavors to share a room and become familiar with some country merchant; after which, by various tricks, he succeeds in robbing him. The police reports of New York exhibit frequent cases of this system of depredation.

SNORE. I snore! An exclamation used in New England.

I hain't lived in the woods to be skeered at owls, I snore.--Margaret.

SNORE. (Dutch, Snoer.) A string with a button on one end to spin a top with. This term is retained by the boys of New York.

TO SNORT. To laugh outright.--Brockett's Glossary. Used in low language in New England.

We all snorted and snickered.--Maj. Downing Letters, p. 15.

SNORTER. A dashing, riotous fellow. A vulgar Western term.

"I'm a roaring earthquake in a fight," sung out one of the half-horse, half-alligator sort of fellows, "a real snorter of the universe. I can strike as hard as fourth proof lightning, and keep it up, rough and tumble, as long as a wild cat.'--Thorpe's Backwoods, p. 183.

SNOWBALL. A jeering appellation for a negro.

-----
p. 319

TO SNUGGLE. To lie close for convenience or warmth.--Johnson. Seldom used except in familiar language.

SO is often improperly used for such, as in the phrase:

Prof. W----, who has acquired so high distinction in teaching the elements of music and singing.--N. Y. Tribune.

TO SOAK. To bake thoroughly. It is particularly applied to bread, which, to be good, must be macerated, as it were, in the caloric of the oven. If it be dough-baked, the complaint is, that it has not been sufficiently soaked.--Holloway, Forby's Vocabulary. This word is used in the same sense in New England.

TO SOAK. To drink intemperately.--Johnson.

Let a drunkard see that his health decays, his estate wastes, yet the habitual thirst after his cups drives him to the tavern, though he has in his view the loss of health and plenty; the least of which he confesses is far greater than the tickling of his palate with a glass of wine, or the idle chat of a soaking- club.--Locke.

SOAKER. A great drinker. In low language.--Johnson. 'An old soaker,' is a common name for a drunkard. Groses's definition is, "one that moistens his clay to make it stick together."

SOAP-LOCK. A lock of hair made to lie smooth by soaping it. Hence also a name given to a low set of fellows who lounge about the markets, engine-houses, and wharves of New York, and are always ready to engage in midnight rows or broils. It is, in fact, but another name for a Rowdy or Loafer. The name comes from their wearing long side locks, which they are said to smear with soap, in order to give them a sleek appearance; whence the name.

The way my last letter has cradled off the soaplocks, and imperials, and goat-knots, and musty shows, is truly alarming.--Maj. Jones's Courtship.

SOCIETY. In Connecticut, a number of families united and incorporated for the purpose of supporting public worship, is called an ecclesiastical society. This is a parish, except that it has not territorial limits. In Massachusetts such an incorporated society is usually called a parish, though consisting of persons only, without regard to society.--Webster.

SOCDOLAGER. A patent fish-hook, having two hooks which

-----
p. 320

close upon each other by means of a spring as soon as the fish bites.

TO SOCK. To press by a hard blow a man's hat over his bead and face. Used in Rhode Island. I have never heard it elsewhere. The New York term is, to crown.

SOFT SOAP. Flattery; blarney. A vulgar phrase, though much used.

TO SOFT SOAP. To flatter; to blarney.

I am tired of this system of placemen soft-soaping the people, telling them just before an election what fine, honest, noble, generous fellows they are, and then, just after election, turning their backs on them.--Mike Walsh, Speech, Sept. 1843.

SOFT SAWDER. Flattery; blarney.

Then he did a leadin' article on slavery and non-intervention, and spoke a little soft-sawder about America.--Sam Slick in England. ch. 20.

The Washington Union cracks the whip gently about the ears of the Democracy, and winds up with a counter-application of soft-sawder, in the shape of appeals to patriotism.--N. Y. Com. Adv., Jan. 6, 1847.

TO SOFT SAWDER. To flatter.

I don't like to be left alone with a gall; it's plaguy apt to set me a soft-sawderin' and a courtin'.--Sam. Slick in England, p. 19.

SOME. Somewhat; something. Ex. 'He is some better than he was;' 'it rains some,' &c. Used chiefly by the illiterate.--Pickering's Vocabulary.

SOPHOMORE. [image of passage] This word has generally been considered an American barbarism, but was probably introduced into our country at a very early period from the University of Cambridge, England. Among the cant terms at that University, as given in the Gradus ad Cantabrigiam, we find Soph-Mor as the next distinctive appellation to Freshman. It is added, that a writer in the Gentleman's Magazine thinks Mor an abbreviation of the Greek μωρια introduced at a time when the Encomium Moreæ, the Praise of Folly by Erasmus, was so generally used. The ordinary derivation of the word, from σοφος and μωρος would seem, therefore, to be incorrect. The young Sops at Cambridge appear, formerly, to have received the adjunct mor, μωρος to their names, either as one they courted for the reason mentioned above, or as one given them

-----
p. 321

in sport for the supposed exhibition of inflated feeling in entering upon their new honors. The term thus applied, seems to have passed at a very early period from Cambridge in England to Cambridge in America, as the next distinctive appellation to Freshmen, and thus to have been attached to the second of the four classes in our American Colleges, while it has now almost ceased to be known, even as a cant word, at the parent institution in England, from whence it came. This derivation of the word is rendered more probable by the fact that the early spelling was, to a great extent at least, Sophimore, as appears from the manuscripts of President Stiles of Yale College, and the records of the Harvard College, down to the period of the American Revolution. This word would be perfectly natural if Soph or Sophistu was considered as the basis of the word, but can hardly be explained if the ordinary derivation had then been regarded as the true one.--Prof. Goodrich, new ed. Webster's Dic.

SOSSLE, or SOZZLE. A lazy or sluttish woman. Provincial in Connecticut.

Mr. Todd gives this word, which he defines as a lazy fellow, on the authority of Cotgrave and Sherwood. In the south of England, a soss-brangle is a slatternly, lazy wench. This is precisely the sense in which sossle is used with us.

TO SOZZLE. To loll; to lounge; to go lazily or sluttishly about the house. A term used by housekeepers in certain parts of Connecticut. 'This woman sozzles up her work.' To sozzle is provincial in England, and means the same as lo soss; i. e. to lounge, to loll.

A sandpiper glided along the shore; she ran after it, but could not catch it; she sat down and sozzled her feet in the foam.--Margaret, p. 8.

SPACK AND APPLEJEES. (Dutch.) Pork and apples, cooked together. An ancient Dutch dish made in New York.

SPAKE. (Preterite of speak.) This antiquated word is still heard occasionally from the pulpit, as well as in conversation.--Pickering's Vocab.

SPAN. A span of horses consists of two of nearly the same color, and otherwise nearly alike, which are usually harnessed

-----
p. 322

side by side. The word signifies properly the same as yoke, when applied to horned cattle, for buckling or fastening together. But in America, span always implies resemblance in color at least; it being an object of ambition with gentlemen, and with teamsters, to unite two horses abreast that are alike.--Webster. This use of the word is not mentioned in any of the English dictionaries or glossaries.

TO SPAN. To agree in color, or in color and size; as, 'The horses span well.' New England.--Webster.

SPAN-CLEAN.}
SPANDY-CLEAN.} Very clean; perfectly clean.

TO SPARK IT. To court. Used chiefly in New England.

You were a nation sight wiser than brother Jonathan, sister Keziah, poor little Aminadab, and all the rest; and above all, my owny, towny Lydia, the Deacon's darlin darter; with whom I've sparked it, pretty often-times, so late.--D. Humphrey, The Yankee in England.

SPARKING. 'To go a sparking,' is to go a courting; a common expression in the Northern States.

Mr. Justice Crow was soon overtaken; Lieut. Col. Simcoe accosted him roughly, called him "Tory," nor seemed to believe his excuses; when, in the American idiom for courtship, he said, "he had only been sparking."--Simcoe, Military Journal, p. 73.

He rolled his eyes horribly, and said that that was the way the young men cast sheep's eyes when they went a sparking.--Mrs. Clavers's Western Clearings, p. 16.

SPARROW GRASS. A vulgar pronunciation of asparagus both in England and America. Hence the celebrated charade by a certain alderman:

"My first is a little thing vot hops,--(sparrow)
My second brings us good hay crops,--(grass)
My whole I eats with mutton chops,"--(sparrow grass.)--Pegge, Anecdotes of the Eng. Lang., p. 54.

SPAT. A petty combat; a little quarrel or dissension. A vulgar use of the word in New England.--Webster.

The National Bank and the Mechanic's Banking Association have hid a standing spat for some time.--N. Y. Com. Adv.

We do not believe that Messrs. Buchanan and Walker have resigned their seats in the cabinet. There has been a spat of course; but there may be many more before either of the Secretaries will resign $6000 a year.--N. Y. Tribune.

-----
p. 323

TO SPAT. To dispute; to quarrel. A low word. New England.

TO SPAT THE HANDS. To slap the hands.

The little Isabel leaped up and down spatting her hands.--Margaret.

SPEC. A bit; in the least.

I doubled up my fist, for I did not like the treatment a spec.--S. Slick in England, ch. 2.

SPEC, for speculation; as, 'He made a good spec in flour.'

TO SPEECHIFY. To make a speech; to harangue.--Webster. A rather low word, and seldom heard except among bar-room politicians. It is not peculiar to America, though not in any English dictionary.

The treaties continually going on in the bazaar for buying and selling are carried on by speechifying, rather than by mere colloquies.--Eöthen.

We'll forth in posse comitatus,
And take the Fox, ere he escape us;
Without a moment's pause he dies;--
We'll hang him ere he speechifies!--Reynard the Fox, p. 143.

The Dyaks of Borneo are very fond of speechifying.--Keppel's Borneo.

SPELL. (From Ang. Sax. spelian, to supply another's room; to act or be proxy for.--Bosworth.) A turn of work; a vicissitude of labor.--Todd's Johnson. It is often used in a secondary sense, to denote a short turn; a little time; about; a fit; and is applied particularly to work, to sickness, or to the weather. Provincial in England and colloquial in the United States.

Their toil is so extreme as they cannot endure it above four hours in a day, but are succeeded by spells; the residue of their time they wear out at coytes and kayles.--Carew.

Come, thou's had thy spell, it's now my time to put in a word.--Carr's Craven Glossary.

Josiah Norton said he had come home from the South, where he had been pedling a spell.--Crockett, Tour, p. 90.

Spain has obtained a breathing spell of some duration from the internal convulsions which have, through so many years, marred her prosperity.--President Tyler's Message to Congress, 1844.

I and the General have got things now pretty considerable snug; public affairs go on easier than they did a spell ago, when Mr. Adams was President.--Maj. Downing's Letters, p. 35.

During the same spell of weather, two waggoners and some oxen were frozen on the prairie.--Hoffman, Winter in the West, Let. 26.

SPIDER. A cast iron frying-pan with three legs.

-----
p. 324

SPIKE TEAM. A waggon drawn by three horses, or by two oxen and a horse, the latter leading the oxen or span of horses.

SPILL. A strip of paper rolled up to light a lamp or [a cigar]. Provincial in England.

SPITTOON. A spitbox; a box or vessel to spit in.--Worcester.

Now, Caudle, I won't have my dear child lost by any of your spittoon acquaintance, I can tell you.--Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures.

SPLENDIFEROUS. Splendid; fine. A make-believe word used only in jest.

A splendiferous white horse, with long tail and flowing mane.--S. Slick in England, ch. 13.

An itinerant gospeller was holding forth to a Kentuckian audience, on the kingdom of Heaven:

"Heaven, my beloved hearers," said he, "is a glorious, a beautiful, a splendiferous, an angeliferous place. Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, it has not entered into the imagination of any cracker in these here diggins what carrying on the just made perfect have up thar.'

SPLIT. A division.

The fiery spirit which has occasioned a split among the British Archæologists, would appear not yet to have burnt itself out, &c.--London Athenæum, p. 840.

There was a split in the Democratic Convention in Baltimore, caused by the Old Hunkers and Barnburners of New York.--Newspaper.

The split in the Whig organization, if it come to anything serious, will extend beyond the Presidential election.--Letter from Boston, N. Y. Herald, June 21, 1848.

SPLIT. A rapid pace or rate of going. 'He went full split,' i. e. as hard as he could drive. 'To go like split,' is a common expression in New England.

There was no ox-teams [in New York] such as we have in Downingville; but there was no end to the one-hoss teams, goin' like split all over the city.--Maj. Downing, May-day in New York, p 64.

TO SPLIT. To go at a rapid pace; to drive along. Used in the phrase, 'As hard as he could split.'

The thing tuk first rate, and I set the niggers a drummin' and fifin' as hard as they could split right afore the cabin door.--Maj. Jones's Courtship.

TO SPLURGE. To make a blustering demonstration in order to produce an effect. A term in common use at the South and West.

-----
p. 325

Cousin Pete was thar splurgin about in the biggest, with his dandy-cut trowsers and big whiskers.--Maj. Jones's Courtship, p. 101.

Well, them was great times, but now the settlements is got too thick for them to splurge.--Porter's Tales of the South-west, p. 54.

SPLURGE. A great effort; a demonstration.

Members of Congress should not forget when Senator Benton was shinning around, making what they call in Missouri a great splurge to get gold.--N. Y. Com. Adv., Dec. 13. 1845.

SPOOK. (Dutch.) A ghost; hobgoblin.

SPOONEY. A man who has been drinking till be becomes disgusting. A stupid or silly fellow.--Grose. We use the word only in the latter sense. The Hon. Mr. Preston, in his remarks on the Mexican war, thus quotes from Tom Crib's remonstrance against the meanness of a transaction, similar to our cries for more vigorous blows on Mexico when she is prostrate:

Look down upon Ben--see him, dunghill all o'er,
Insult the fallen foe that can harm him no more.
Out, cowardly spooney! Again and again,
By the fist of my father, I blush for thee, Ben.

Ay, you will see all the spooneys, that ran, like so many dunghill champions, from 54 40, stand by the President for the vigorous prosecution of the war upon the body of a prostrate foe.--N. Y. Tribune, 1847.

I shall escape from this beautiful critter, for I'm gettin' spooney, and shall talk silly presently.--Sam Slick.

TO SPORT. To exhibit; to make a show of; as, 'Mr. A sported a new carriage yesterday;' 'I shall sport a new coat to-day.' "The word sport in this sense," says Grose, "was in great vogue in the years 1873 and 1784."

SPORTSMAN. A term often applied to a gambler.

SPOSH. A mixture of mud and water. See Slush. The New York Tribune, in speaking of the falling of rain and snow, at the same time, adds:

The morning was blue and streaked, and the streets were one shining level of black sposh.--Nov. 25, 1845.

SPOTTED TREES. Equivalent to blazed trees, which see. Maine.

TO SPOUT. To make a speech, especially in debating-clubs, etc.

-----
p. 326

SPREE. A merry frolic.--Halliwell.

A spree is to come off to-night.--Neal's Sketches.

SPRINKLING. A small quantity scattered.--Todd.

[Infidels] by giving a sprinkling of irreligion to all their literary productions, aim to engross the formation of the public mind.--Robert Hall, Modern Infidelity.

There is a good sprinkling of distinguished personages at Saratoga Springs.--N. Y. Com. Adv., July 10, 1845.

TO SPRUCE UP. To dress oneself sprucely. In Sussex (England) they say, to sprug up, in the same sense.

To-night we're goin' to a quiltin' at Uncle Josh's. The Deacon's eldest daughter is sprucin' up for it.--Maj. Downing, Letters, p. 27.

"What! would you not have the child exhilarate and spruce up a little?["] cried the father.--Margaret, p. 28.

SPRY. Having great power of leaping or running; nimble; active; vigorous.--Webster.

This word is much used in familiar language in New England. It is not in the English dictionaries, but Jennings notices it among the provincialisms of Somersetshire.

In a Fable by R. W. Emerson, "The Mountain and the Squirrel," Squirrel says:

If I'm not so large as you,
You are not so small as I,
And not half so spry.

She is as spry as a cricket.--Margaret, p. 58.

"How are you, Jeremiah?" "Why, I'm kinder sorter midlin', Mr. Slick, what you call considerable nimble and spry."--Sam Slick.

SPUNK. Mettle; spirit; vivacity.--Brockett's Glossary. A colloquial word, considered in England extremely vulgar.

I admire your independent spirit, Doolittle. I like to have people think well of themselves. You have convinced me of your spunk. I am your friend.--D. Humphreys, The Yankee in England.

SPUNKY. Sparkling; fresh; spirited.--Brockett's Glossary. Forby also mentions the word as provincial in Norfolk.

SPUR. A mountain that shoots from any other mountain or range of mountains, and extends to some distance in a lateral direction, or at right angles.--Webster.

SQUADDY. Short and fat. A vulgar word formed from squat.

-----
p. 327

I had hardly got seated, when in come a great, stout, fat, squaddy woman.--Maj. Downing, May-day.

SQUALLY. Windy; gusty. A sailor's word.--Johnson. It is often used by us in a figurative sense; so that to look squally, means to bode a quarrel; and especially as applied to political meetings and debates.

TO SQUALE. To throw a stick or other thing with violence, and in such a manner that it skims along near the ground. New England.--Pickering's Vocabulary.

According to Grose, it is provincial in the west of England, and means, "to throw a stick, as at a cock."

TO SQUARE UP. To put oneself in an attitude fit for boxing. Provincial in various parts of England.--Halliwell.

You will remember that Mr. Polk asserted that our title to Oregon was clear and unquestionable." Well, how was that settled? There were Polk and Cass fidgeting and squaring up to Queen Victona, one declaring that unless England or the United States backed out, war was "inevitable."--Speech at a Whig Meeting in Baltimore, June, 1848.

TO SQUAT. To squeeze; to press. Ex. The boy has squat his finger. Used by the vulgar in New England.--Pickering's Vocabulary.

Mr. Todd has this word in his dictionary from Barret (1580): "To bruise or make flat by letting fall." Provincial in the south of England.

TO SQUAT. In the United States, to settle on another's lands, or on public lands, without having a title.--Worcester.

On either side of the bank the colonists had been allowed to squat on allotted portions until the survey of the town should be completed.--Wakefield's Adventures in New Zealand in 1844.

SQUATTER. In the United States, one that settles on new land without a title.--Webster.

When I was at Prairie du Chien, there were several of the officers who had been cited to appear in court, for having, pursuant to order, removed squatters from the Indian lands on the Mississippi.--Hoffman, Winter in the West, Let. 29.

The Western squatter is a free and jovial character, inclined to mirth rather than evil; and when he encounters his fellow-man at a barbecue, election, log-rolling, or frolic, he is more disposed to join in a feeling of hilarity, than to participate in wrong or outrage.--Robb, Squatter Life.

-----
p. 328

The London Spectator has the following remarks on this word, occasioned by the removal of a number of the occupants of Glenculvie, in Scotland, who had squatted there as under-tenants:

The term "squatter" is very ambiguous. In America it denotes a ragged rascal without a cent in his pockets, and with a rifle or woodman's axe in his hand. In Australia, it designates a young Oxonian or retired officer of the army or navy, possessed of stock to the value of some thousands. In Scotland it seems to designate a person very differently circumstanced from either of the preceding .... The Scotchmen who "squat under tenants," are men who have followed their fathers and grandfathers for unknown generations in the occupancy of their huts and kail-yards. Their families are of older standing in the district than those of the tacks-men or the lairds. The Scotch squatter is no clandestine intruder upon the soil; he stands in the place of his forefathers, and the act which ejects him is a violent innovation on the customs of the country--a forcible change in a mode of tenancy, sanctioned by the "use and wont" of all ages.--June 7, 1845.

SQUAW. (Narragansett Indian.) An Indian woman. Mr. Duponceau, after giving a list of the languages and forms in which this word occurs, observes: "On voit que la famille de cc mot s'étend depuis les Knisténaux en Canada, et les Skoffies et Montagnards d'Acadie, jusqu'aux Nanticokes sur les confins de la Virginie."--Mém. sur les Langues d'Amérique du Nord, p. 333.

SQUAW-ROOT. (Lat. macrotys racemosa.) A medicinal plant put up by the Shakers. It is recommended for correcting the secretions, and possesses narcotic properties.

SQUAW-WEED. (Lat. senecio obovatus.) A medicinal plant used for diseases of the skin.

SQUETEAGUE, or SQUETEE. (Labrus Squeteague.) A very common fish in the waters of Long Island Sound and adjacent bays. It never visits rivers, and is similar in habits to the tautog. In New York it is called Weak-fish, owing to the feeble resistance it makes when caught with a hook.

TO SQUIB. To throw squibs; to titter sarcastic or severe reflections; to contend in petty dispute; as, 'two members of a society squib a little in debate.' Colloquial.--Webster. This word is not in the English dictionaries.

-----
p. 329

TO SQUIGGLE. To move about like all eel. New England. Often figuratively used in speaking of a man who evades a bargain as an eel eludes the grasp.--Pickering.

Forby's Glossary of Norfolk contains the word in the sense of "to shake a fluid about the mouth."

TO SQUIRM. To wriggle or twist about, as an eel. Provincial in England, and colloquial in the United States.--Bailey. Worcester.

TO SQUIRM. To climb by embracing and clinging with the hands and feet, as to a tree without branches. Johnson writes this word swarm; and this is probably the original word. Bailey writes it squirm.--Webster.

SQUIRT. A foppish young fellow; a whipper-snapper. A vulgar word.

If they won't keep company with squirts and dandies, who's going to make a monkey of himself?--Maj. Jones's Courtship, p. 160.

SQUIRTISH. Dandified.

It's my opinion that these slicked up squirtish kind a fellars ain't particular hard baked, and they always goes in for aristocracy notions.--Robb, Squatter Life, p. 73.

SQUSH. To crush. A vulgarism.

The next time I meet the critter, I'll take my stick and kill it--I'll sqush it with my foot.--Neal's Charcoal Sketches.

STADDLE. A young tree; a tree left to grow when others are cut; standard.--Worcester.

Leave growing for staddles the likeliest and best,
Though seller and buyer despatched the rest.
In bushes, in hedge-row, in grove, and in wood,
This lesson observed, is needful and good.--Tusser, Husbandry.

At the edge of the woods a rude structure had been thrown up, of staddles interlaced with boughs.--Margaret, p. 274.

STAFF. 'To have the staff in one's own hand,' is to keep possession of one's own property, and, consequently, to retain authority and obedience. A very common expression used in good language. Mr. Carr has it in his Craven Glossary.

STAG. In the New York courts, a stag is the technical name

-----
p. 330

for a man who is always ready to aid in proving an alibi, of course "for a consideration."

STAG-DANCE. A dance performed by males only, in barrooms, &c. Also called a bull-dance.

STAGE. A carriage for conveying passengers; a stage-coach.--Worcester. We sometimes use mail-stage for mail-coach, which is hardly allowable.

To pay my duty to sweet Mrs. Page,
A place was taken in the Stamford stage.
Our coachman, Dick, the shades of night to shun,
Had yok'd his horses long before the sun.--Hawkes, The Stage Coach.

STAGE DRIVER. A stage-coachman.

STAGING. Scaffolding. Used in New England, and I believe in other parts of the United States.--Pickering.

STAMPEDE, or STAMPADO. (Span. estampado, foot-steps, noise of stamping feet.) A general scamper of animals on the Western prairies, generally caused by a fright. Mr. Kendall gives the following interesting account of them:

'A stampede!' shouted some of the old campaigners, jumping from the ground and running towards their frightened animals; 'a stampede! look out for your horses, or you'll never see them again!' was heard on every side.

It is singular, the effect that sudden fright has, not only upon horses, but oxen, on the prairies. The latter will, perhaps, run longer and farther than the former; and although not as difficult to 'head,' because they can not run so fast, their onward course it is impossible to stay. Oxen have been known to run forty miles without once stopping to look back. Not one in fifty of them has seen the least cause of fear, but each simply run because his neighbor did. Frequent instances have occurred where some worthless but skittish horse has caused the loss of hundreds of valuable animals.

Nothing can exceed the grandeur of the scene when a large cavallada, or drove of horses, take a 'scare.' Old, weather-beaten, time-worn, and broken-down steeds--horses that have nearly given out from hard work, or old age--will at once be transformed into wild and prancing cults. When first seized with that indescribable terror which induces them to fly, they seem to have been suddenly endowed with all the attributes of their original wild nature. With heads erect, tails and manes streaming in the air, eyes lit up, and darting beams of fright, old and jaded hacks will be seen prancing and careering about with all the buoyancy of action which character-

-----
p. 331

izes the antics of young colts. The throng will sweep along the plain with a noise which may be likened to something between a tornado and an earthquake, and as well might feeble man attempt to arrest either of the latter.

Were the earth rending and cleaving beneath their feet, horses, when under the terrifying influence of a stampede, could not bound away with greater velocity, or more majestic beauty of movement.--Santa Fé Expedition, Vol. I. p. 96.

The boys leaped and whooped, flung their hats in the air, chased one another in a sort of stampede, &c.--Margaret, p. 120.

After him I went, and after me they came, and perhaps there wasn't the awfullest stampede down three pair of stairs that ever occurred in Michigan!--Field, Western Tales.

TO STAMPEDE. To cause to scamper off in a fright.

Col. Snively was on the point of marching in pursuit of the Mexicans, when an incident occurred which frustrated the purposes of the expedition. This was effected by a war party of Indians, who succeeded in stampeding a large band of the army horses.--Scenes in the Rocky Mountains, p. 268.

STANCHEOUS. Strong; durable. Western.

I tell you what, it's a mighty stancheous looking building, and looks far off at a distance when you're going up to it.--Maj. Jones's Courtship, p. 33.

TO STAND IN. To cost. 'This horse stands me in two hundred dollars.'

TO STAND IN HAND. To concern; to behoove.--Holloway, Prov. Dict. This phrase is a colloquial one in New England. Ex. 'It stands you in hand to attend to your business.'

STAND-POINT. (Germ. stand-punkt.) Place of standing; point of view. An expression lately introduced from the German.

TO STAND UP TO THE RACK. A metaphorical expression of the same meaning as the like choice phrases, 'to come to the scratch;' 'to toe the mark.'

I begun a new campaign at Washington. I had hard work, but I stood up to the rack, fodder or no fodder.--Crockett, Tour, p. 137.

By making a great rush upon these free-thinkers, we can whip them back into the party, and make them stand up to the rack, fodder or no fodder.--Ibid., p. 212.

It was the hottest night's work ever old Wolf undertook and it tuck a mighty chance of hollerin' to make him stand up to his rack' as well as he did.--Maj. Jones's Courtship, p. 64.

[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