An acclaimed slang expert investigates the long and venerable history of the language of criminals, crooks, and con-men
The vocabulary of crime has a long history, in fact the first dictionary of words specifically used by criminals, Hye-Way to the Spittel House, dates from as early as 1531. This survey looks at 500 years of crooks and conmen, from the hedge-creepers and counterfeit cranks of the 16th century to the blaggers and burners of the 21st. It also takes a substantial detour behind bars into the world of prisons, and, of course, the swag, the hideouts, the getaway vehicles, and allied "tools of the trade"not forgetting the cops, peelers, fly cops, and all the other varieties of the boys in blue. Arranged thematically, the book shows where particular words came from, how they have evolved, and why they mean what they do. For anyone who has ever wondered when the police were first referred to as pigs (the 18th century), why prison guards became known as redraws ("warders" backwards), or what precisely the subtle art of dipology involves (pickpocketing), this book has all the answers.