"Dipe" in "Dipe-ducat" (subway ticket) in 1922 "Flappers' Dictionary

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Sun Dec 12 06:31:00 UTC 2004

On Sun, 12 Dec 2004 00:53:48 -0500, Douglas G. Wilson <douglas at NB.NET> wrote:

>>In a Sept. 27, 2003 ads-l message, Barry Popik presented a Flappers'
>>Dictionary (14 Sept. 1922 _Edwardsville Intelligencer_ (Edwardsville,
>>Several items call for attention, but none so much as "Dipe" in
>>"Dipe-ducat -- a subway ticket." I checked the microfilm. The spelling
>>really is "Dipe."
>>    But what does this word mean?
>I cannot find it elsewhere (except in the same piece printed in another
>newspaper of the time).
>The only word "dipe" which I find immediately is a casual contraction of

There's also the pickpocketing slang "go on the dipe" that appears in Mark
Twain's _Life On The Mississippi_.  Twain quotes a letter supposedly
written by an ex-convict to a current convict and provides parenthetical
glosses for the "thieves' argot":

   The afternoon of the 3rd day I spent my last 10 cts for moons
   (LARGE, ROUND SEA-BISCUIT) & cheese & i felt pretty rough & was
   thinking i would have to go on the dipe (PICKING POCKETS) again,
   when i thought of what you once said about a fellows calling on
   the Lord when he was in hard luck...


--Ben Zimmer

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