Domesticated slang

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM
Fri Aug 8 19:21:11 UTC 2014

From: Randy Alexander

You're not even giving an example of a word that "started out as slang but
then became accepted as standard".  (John Baker guesses you might accept

Some possibilities ...

                DECOY    (OK, it's arguable whether this did begin life as 
                TIP    (becomes SE 'a gratuity')
                BOOZE    (if this is now SE)
                SEEDY -- - down-at-heel

Then there's SNAFFLE, which the OED implies is still 'dial. or slang', but
I'd feel was now pretty much SE.

OED Sense 1 is defined as "To steal, purloin", and has the first (of only
three) cites in this sense from the _New Canting Dictionary_ (1725).    This
probably ought rather to be "Frisky Moll's Song" from the opera (?)
_Harlequin Sheppard_ performed and published earlier the same year, which is
where the editor of the NCD picked up the term (along with reprinting the

Actually, it appears earlier, along with the first occurrence of SEEDY, in
"John Sheppard's Last Epistle", printed on 16 November 1724, the day Jack
Sheppard was hanged.

To be noted, the examples I've given above begin as criminal argot, which
isn't quite the same as slang.  IMHO.

Robin Hamilton 

The American Dialect Society -

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