milk-walk (1872)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Sep 21 15:42:43 UTC 2007

On 9/21/07, Barnhart <barnhart at> wrote:
> While perusing the Historical NYT for _gadget_, I came across the
> following quote from March 17, 1872, p 4, in an article titled "The
> Beggar's Banquet."
> There they are, all seated in their places, waiting for the master of the
> feast, and wiling away the time by exchanging cherry but generally slangy
> salutations.  "Sal, old gal, how goes it?"  "How's the milk-walk, Jerry?"
> (Milk-walk is the slang for begging district.)  "Music (benevolence of the
> public) in tune to-day, Cully?"  "What's the price of gold?"
> "Organ-grinding lively?"  "Earned house and lot to-day?" and a dozen
> inquiries of similar import were made and responded to in the same strain.
> The term milk-walk is unfamiliar to me.  I did not find it in the few
> slang dictionaries at hand.  Is anyone familiar with it or have further
> evidence?

Cassell's gives it as "[late 19C] (US Und.) a beggar's 'beat'."

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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