Glossary

I have compiled the following glossary of 1970s slang words and phrases, plus the occasional Latin expression. Where it has been possible to track their etymology, it is included in my notes to each chapter.

 

A

Adam and Eve - believe (rhyming slang).

Ad infinitum - again and again.

Ad nauseam - to an excessive or sickening degree.

Arse over tip - head over heels, or upside down.

 

B

Bingo - an exclamation expressing satisfaction at a desired outcome.

Blimey - an expression of surprise or excitement, contracted from God blind me.

Bogof (pronounced “bogoff”) - an acronym for buy one, get one free.

Bung - a backhander or bribe.

Burn the candle at both ends - to be unsustainably sociable and/or hard-working.

Butcher’s - a look (rhyming slang from butcher’s hook).

 

C

Codswallop - nonsense or rubbish.

Come a cropper - literally to take a bad fall, though this phrase can also be figuratively applied to any misadventure or failure.

Cor blimey - see Blimey

 

D

Dog-end - a cigarette butt.

Drawers - an alternative term for knickers.

 

E

Eff and jeff - to swear profusely - hence effing and jeffing, the act of doing so.

 

F

Fag - a cigarette

Filth - the filth is a slang term for the police, particularly, though not exclusively, the Metropolitan Police.

 

G

Give over - either to stop an annoying activity, or an exclamation expressing disbelief.

Gizmo - a device or gadget, particularly one whose name is not known.

Gorblimey - see Blimey

Go through the deck - to engage in a comprehensive range of sexual practices.

 

H

Hair of the dog that bit me - the practice of taking a small amount of alcohol as a hangover cure.

Half-inch - to steal (rhyming slang for pinch, which is also a slang term for arrest).

 

I

Inter alia - amongst other things.

 

J

Jaw - to talk or gossip, often at length.

Joanna - piano (rhyming slang from pianna).

 

K

Kip - sleep, either as a noun or a verb.

Knock off - to steal.   

Knock it off - most commonly means stop it, but depending on the context may mean to steal.

 

L

Lose one’s rag - to lose one’s temper.

 

M

Marigolds - rubber gloves often worn when washing-up, or performing other household tasks.

Moniker - a personal name or nickname.

 

N

Nick - to steal, or to arrest.

Nip in the bud - to stop something at an early stage.

Nose out of joint - to have one’s nose out of joint is to be irritated or annoyed.

 

P

Peaky - pale and sickly.

Peg out - to die.

Pinch - to steal.

Play pocket billiards - to play with one’s penis through one’s trouser pocket.

Pop one’s clogs - to die.

Prat -a fool or idiot.

Pro tem - for the time being.

Pull - to get off (or cop off) with someone.

 

Q

Queer Street - a fictitious street where people live when they are in difficulty (often financial difficulty).

Quickie - either a swift drink, or a swift act of sexual intercourse.

 

S

Shiner - a black eye.

Shirty - annoyed or bad-tempered

Skint - penniless, broke (orginally a contraction of skinned).

Snuff it - to die.

Stinking bishop - a particularly pungent cheese.

Stone me - an exclamation of shock or surprise.

Strike while the iron is hot - to take advantage of an opportunity or situation.

Swimmingly - smoothly, without difficulty.

 

T

Take the biscuit - something that takes the biscuit is the worst, most extreme or egregious example of its kind.

Tea-leaf - thief (rhyming slang)

Tosser - an abusive and disdainful term for an idiot, often a vain, self-important one, from tossing (a slang term for masturbation). See also wanker below.

 

U

Up and down like a whore’s drawers - to go up and down frequently.

 

W

Wanker - a fool or idiot, derived from wanking (a slang term for masturbation). See also tosser above.

Wind up - to deliberately provoke or irritate someone or, as a noun (wind-up), a trick or prank designed to produce that effect.