Cracker Dictionary, 1830

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Thu Sep 13 23:34:42 UTC 2001

One of the inducements to pass my spare time in reading 180+ year old
newspapers has been that the crimes, follies and horrors related in them
 are far beyond preventing, assuaging or even regretting.  This was
never more true than now.

>From the New-York Evening Post, May 18, 1830, p. 2, col. 2.
   Confusion worse confounded. -- The Augusta Courier contains a
specimen of a "Cracker Dictionary," which makes us acquainted with some
very curious terms in use among the Southern Cockneys.  At the head of
the list we find the following words: -- Bodaciously, Catawampously,
Contraption, &c.  The definitions, in some instances, convey to us of
the north a not very clear idea of the meaning.  "Ramsquaddled," for
instance, is said to mean "Rowed up salt river."  ***

I note that Bodaciously is in Dictionary of Americanisms from 1846, so
that unless OED -- which I didn't check -- has an earlier date, this is
a 16 year antedating.
Catawampously is in Dictionary of American English from 1830.
Ramsquaddled is in Dictionary of Americanisms from 1830, also.
The phrase "rowed up salt river" is in Dictionary of Americanisms from
1830, and is there defined as "to overcome, to use up a person

I don't have access to the Augusta Courier from May, 1830.  It might be
interesting to see what other terms appear there.  I suppose that the
fact that three of these words have been first found in 1830 may mean
that that they were spread by this "cracker dictionary".


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998.

More information about the Ads-l mailing list