Q: "swear by forty"& "slab"(adj), 1831

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Aug 20 16:48:44 UTC 2013

19th Century U.S. Newspapers has the same article a little earlier --
May 21, 1831, Daily National Journal, still credited to the N.Y. Constellation.


At 8/20/2013 12:40 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>I don't get the meanings of "swear by forty"and "slab" (although I
>can guess about the latter!) in the following quotation.  And where
>should they appear in the OED?
>"A captain of militia was in the habit of swearing 'by forty.'  He
>had, like many other officers who commanded 'slab' companies, a
>troublesome set of fellows to deal with."
>GBooks has this in _The Casket. Flowers of Literature, Wit, &
>Sentiment_, Philadelphia: Atkinson, No. 6, June 1831, p. 288 (957 in
>PDF).  It is attributed to the New York Constellation.
>The title page for this issue (909 in PDF) is _Atkinson's Casket.
>Gems of Literature, Wit and Sentiment_.  Apparently it was considered
>more valuable by Issue 6.
>I do not find any other (useful)  instances of "swear by forty" in
>Google Books or Web besides printings of the same article.  Except
>perhaps Samantha Dias's use of "swear by forty swords" in a poem
>dated Dec 5, 2011.
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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