[Ads-l] _get some pecks_ "go home for dinner"

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM
Wed Nov 23 04:03:18 UTC 2016

A few comments here ...

"Peck" is, in origin, specifically Rural Vagabond Cant -- As GDoS illustrates,
it's first recorded by Thomas Harman in 1567.  At  this point (later is another
matter), the language of Professional London Criminals differed quite markedly
from that of Rural Vagabonds.

In the definition, "food, often meat" should be qualified, as "meat" at this
time (and at least as late as the early seventeenth century) most often referred
to "food in general" rather than "animal flesh in particular".   The "peck=meat"
correspondence, widely apparent in the citations given, is tricky, as the
citations seem to me to be pretty consistently using the term "meat" in the
broader sense.  Harman himself in 1567 distinguishes between "ruff peck" (bacon)
and "peck" (meat, in the sense of food generally).

The term seems to have persisted longer in various registers of US English than
it did in UK English, and one of the citations suggests that it may also have
been part of (show business) Polari, but Polari isn't my strong suit, so maybe
someone else on the list -- Jon? -- could comment on this.

As Oxford [ritually, we curse them] *still* won't allow us access to HDAS after
the letter "O", I defer further comment on the US aspect to Jon Lighter.

[Query to Wilson -- Did "peck(s)" by itself have any currency in p-w StL, or was
it specific to the phrase, "get some pecks"?  R.]

Robin Hamilton

(Resisting the temptation to dive back into the depths of the Electric GDoS and
chase pecking chickens all over the land.)

>     On 23 November 2016 at 01:32 Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>     This was a popular expression in the post-war years in StL. Since my
>     friends and I were early adolescents and pre-adolescents, there was no
>     occasion for us to go anywhere to eat, after a couple of hours or so of
>     after-school play, other than home for dinner.
>     Green's:
>     peck n.
>     [SE peck, to eat (of a bird); the concepts of food and business are
> closely
>     allied here]
>     1. [mid-16C+] (orig. UK Und.; later use US black/gang, also _pecks_) food,
>     often meat.
>     --
>     -Wilson
>     -----
>     All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
>     come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
>     -Mark Twain
>     ------------------------------------------------------------
>     The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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