Slang Dictionary of Victorian London: A

Abbess: Female brothel keeper. A Madame.

Abbot: The husband, or preferred man of an Abbess.

Acushla: An Irish term of endearment

Albert-chain: A heavily linked watch-chain

Alderman: Half-Crown

Alehouse: Where only malt liquors can be sold.

Area: The below-ground servant’s entrance in the front of many London town-houses. (Not underworld slang)

Area Diving: A method of theft that necessitates sneaking down area steps, and stealing from the lower rooms of houses.


Bacca-pipes: Whiskers curled in small, close ringlets.

Banyan days – This phrase is employed by sailors to denote the days when no animal food is served out to them.

Barkers (Barking Irons): Guns. Pistols, esp. Revolvers.

Barney:  A noisy argument; a row

Bang: Drug.  From Bhang (more bang for your buck?)

Barney: a noisy argument; a row

Beak: Magistrate

Beak-hunting: Poultry stealing

Bearer up: Person that robs men who have been decoyed by a woman accomplice.

Beef: (1) (v) Raise hue-and-cry.  (2) (n) Thief. (cr) = Hot Beef! = Stop Thief!

Bend: Waistcoat, vest

Betty: A type of lockpick

Bile-shot:  Ill-tempered

Billet:  A situation of employment

Billy: Handkerchief (often silk)

Bit Faker: Remember six bits?  A coiner.  A counterfeiter of coins.

Blackleg: a scab

Blag: To steal or snatch, usually a theft, often by smash-and-grab

Blob, on the (Blab): Begging by telling hardluck stories.