Query: "Frog and Toe" (London; New York City; 19C. cant)

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at MST.EDU
Fri Dec 31 03:29:19 UTC 2010

A journalist has asked me about "Frog and Toe" as a 19th century nickname for New York City.  This is a real mystery.
 Cockney rhyming slang has "frog and toad" (= road), but how this might have developed to "London" (and then "New York City") is unclear. Would anyone here have any inspirations?  Meanwhile, here's what Barry Popik has about the nickname on his website (barrypopik.com):
Entry from November 27, 2004
Frog and Toe
"Frog and Toe" was a 19th century underworld nickname for New York City. Not much is known about it.
>From J. E. Lighter's Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, A-G (1994):
Frog and Toe n. Und. New York City. Cf. 1857 quot.
[*1857 "Ducange Anglicus" Vulgar Tongue: We will go to frog and toe. Thieves coming up to London with plunder.]
1859 Matsell Vocab.: Frog and Toe. The city of New-York.
1866 Nat. Police Gaz. (Nov. 3) 3: Dutch returned immediately to "frog and toe" with a gay set of whiskers, which he had raised in "stur," and a black plug "cady" on his "knob," which gave him the appearance of a superannuated "grabber."

Gerald Cohen

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

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