Jonathon Green slang at ABECEDARY.NET
Sat Jun 10 15:21:06 UTC 2006

Joel S. Berson wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      "Angel-maker"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> "Angel-maker" is not in OED2.  (However, it appears s.v. "patrist" in
> the title of a book by G. R. Taylor.  I have heard/read it in English
> somewhere/sometime.
> Joel
I can offer this:


1. [late 19C–1900s] a baby-farmer, a woman who took in (usu.
illegitimate) babies on the pretext of bringing them up in return for a
fee; thus _angel-making_, the starving to death of such unwanted children
1892 newspaper cutting in Ware (_Passing English of the Victorian Era_,
1909) ‘ANGEL-MAKING’ Another case of ‘baby-farming’ or ‘angel-making’
[...] has just been discovered by the Lemberg police, who have arrested
three women on charges of systematically starving to death infants
committed to their care.
1896 Daily Telegraph (London) 7 Dec. Every day a fresh charge is laid at
their doors, and some people have even gone so far as to describe them
as [...] what Parisians call ‘angel-makers.’

2. an abortionist.
1994 N. Lewis _The Book of Babel_ ‘Abortionist’ (or _faiseur d’ anges_,
‘angel-maker’ in French)
2002 Leif’s Page of Various Things [Internet] Margot also works as a
backstreet abortionist, a profession also known as angel maker

It is possible that the 1896 citation - offered by Ware - misinterprets
the French, and that the 1994 one is the only correct translation.The
Oxford/Hachette French Dictionary (3 edn 2001) terms it 'a backstreet

Jonathon Green

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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