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(DVT1811) the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue
(AHD) The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
(Brewer) Brewer's Phrase and Fable
(EB1911) Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition
A B C D E F G H I J K L M
N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Barque of Frailty: a lady of easy virtue, as so often the case with words for prostitutes originally a term of approbation or respect.
Blue Ruin: gin, particularly cheap gin. Possibly from a blue riband said to be applied to gin bottles (DVT1811); (Brewer) claims that some gin was coloured blue, though the putative reason for this is not clear.
Cyprian: a lady of easy virtue, from Cyprus, held sacred as the birthplace of Aphrodite.
Cytherian: a lady of easy virtue, from Kythira (also transliterated as Kythera and Cythera), an Ionian island held to be sacred to Aphrodite.
gammon, an untruth; as a verb, to deceive someone. Also to pitch the gammon, to lie.
Haymarket ware, low-class prostitutes; Haymarket, the street, was something of a centre for prostitution until the middle of the 19th century.
malt above the water, to have: to be drunk (malt as in the ingredient of beer, an odd usage since beer was still predominantly a lower-class drink).
muslin: in British use, a sheer and finely-woven cotton cloth; note that American "muslin" is approximately British "calico".
muslin, bit of: a lady of easy virtue, from the muslin dresses that were an acceptable way of showing off a lady's shape (and, when "accidentally" damped, somewhat more).
orgeat: a syrup made from almonds and barley-sugar (in the modern day almonds, sugar, and rose- or orange-flower-water), and the sweet drink obtained by diluting it.
Paphian: a prostitute, from Paphos, the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite in Cyprus.
ratafia, also ratafee: a usually-sweet cordial flavoured with fruit kernels or almonds, sometimes alcoholic but usually not; or a light macaroon-like biscuit, with the same flavouring. The term seems to have had a very broad meaning, including at some points practically any fruit-based liqueur. It may originate in French West Indian Creole ("araq" + "tafia", arrack and rum). (AHD, EB1911) The hydrogen cyanide content of peach and cherry kernels, and particularly of bitter almonds, makes this concoction potentially lethal.
reticule: a lady's drawstring handbag or purse, originally made of netting (hence the name); the term was also used for containers of the same shape made from other materials, often silk. Some examples here: http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2007/10/07/the-reticule-a-fashionable-accessory-in-the-regency-period/
shoot the cat, to: to vomit, particularly from excess of liquor.
Yellow Boys: Guineas, so named for their yellow colour.