|KATE. A picklock. ‘Tis a rum kate; it is a clever picklock.
KEEL BULLIES. Men employed to load and unload the coal vessels.
KEELHAULING. A punishment in use among the Dutch seamen, in which, for
certain offences, the delinquent is drawn once, or oftener, under the
ship’s keel: ludicrously defined, undergoing a great hard-ship.
TO KEEP. To inhabit. Lord, where do you keep? i.e. where are your rooms?
ACADEMICAL PHRASE. Mother, your tit won’t keep; your daughter will not
preserve her virginity.
TO KEEP IT UP. To prolong a debauch. We kept it up finely last night;
metaphor drawn from the game of shuttle-cock.
KEEPING CULLY. One who keeps a mistress, as he supposes, for his own use,
but really for that of the public.
KEFFEL. A horse. WELSH.
KELTER. Condition, order. Out of kelter; out of order.
KEMP’S MORRIS. William Kemp, said to have been the original Dogberry in
Much ado about Nothing, danced a morris from London to Norwich in nine
days: of which he printed the account, A. D. 1600, intitled, Kemp’s Nine
Days Wonder, &c.
KEMP’S SHOES. Would I had Kemp’s shoes to throw after you. BEN JONSON.
Perhaps Kemp was a man remarkable for his good luck or fortune; throwing
an old shoe, or shoes, after any one going on an important business, being
by the vulgar deemed lucky.
KEN. A house. A bob ken, or a bowman ken; a well-furnished house, also a
house that harbours thieves. Biting the ken; robbing the house. .
KEN MILLER, or KEN CRACKER. A housebreaker. .
KENT-STREET EJECTMENT. To take away the street door:
a method practised by the landlords in Kent-street, Southwark, when their
tenants are above a fortnight’s rent in arrear.
KERRY SECURITY. Bond, pledge, oath, and keep the money.
KETCH. Jack Ketch; a general name for the finishers of the law, or
hangmen, ever since the year 1682, when the office was filled by a famous
practitioner of that name, of whom his wife said, that any bungler might
put a man to death, but only her husband knew how to make a gentleman die
KETTLEDRUMS. Cupid’s kettle drums; a woman’s breasts, called by sailors
chest and bedding.
KETTLE OF FISH. When a person has perplexed his affairs in general, or any
particular business, he is said to have made a fine kettle of fish of it.
KICKS. Breeches. A high kick; the top of the fashion. It is all the kick;
it is the present mode. Tip us your kicks, we’ll have them as well as your
lour; pull off your breeches, for we must have them as well as your money.
A kick; sixpence. Two and a kick; half-a-crown. A kick in the guts; a dram
of gin, or any other spirituous liquor. A kick up; a disturbance, also a
hop or dance. An odd kick in one’s gallop; a strange whim or peculiarity.
To KICK THE BUCKET. To die. He kicked the bucket one day: he died one day.
To kick the clouds before the hotel door; i.e. to be hanged.
KICKERAPOO. Dead. NEGRO WORD.
KICKSHAWS. French dishes: corruption of quelque chose.
KID. A little dapper fellow. A child. The blowen has napped the kid. The
girl is with child.
TO KID. To coax or wheedle. To inveigle. To amuse a man or divert his
attention while another robs him. The sneaksman kidded the cove of the
ken, while his pall frisked the panney; the thief amused the master of the
house, while his companion robbed the house.
KID LAY. Rogues who make it their business to defraud young apprentices,
or errand-boys, of goods committed to their charge, by prevailing on them
to execute some trifling message, pretending to take care of their parcels
till they come back; these are, in terms, said to be on the kid lay.
KIDDER. A forestaller: see CROCKER. Kidders are also persons employed by
the gardeners to gather peas.
KIDDEYS. Young thieves.
KIDDY NIPPERS. Taylors out of work, who cut off the waistcoat pockets of
their brethren, when cross-legged on their board, thereby grabbling their
KIDNAPPER. Originally one who stole or decoyed children or apprentices
from their parents or masters, to send them to the colonies; called also
spiriting: but now used for all recruiting crimps for the king’s troops,
or those of the East India company, and agents for indenting servants for
the plantations, &c.
KIDNEY. Disposition, principles, humour. Of a strange kidney; of an odd or
unaccountable humour. A man of a different kidney; a man of different
KILKENNY. An old frize coat.
KILL CARE CLUB. The members of this club, styled also the Sons of Sound
Sense and Satisfaction, met at their fortress, the Castle-tavern, in
KILL DEVIL. New still-burnt rum.
KILL PRIEST. Port wine.
To KIMBAW. To trick, cheat or cozen; also to beat or to bully. Let’s
kimbaw the cull; let’s bully the fellow. To set one’s arms a-kimbaw,
vulgarly pronounced a-kimbo, is to rest one’s hands on the hips, keeping
the elbows square, and sticking out from the body; an insolent bullying
KINCHIN. A little child. Kinchin coes; orphan beggar boys, educated in
thieving. Kinchin morts; young girls under the like circumstances and
training. Kinchin morts, or coes in slates; beggars’ children carried at
their mother’s backs in sheets. Kinchin cove; a little man. .
KING’S PLATE. Fetters.
KING’S WOOD LION. An Ass. Kingswood is famous for the great number of
asses kept by the colliers who inhabit that place.
KING’S BAD BARGAIN. One of the king’s bad bargains; a malingeror, or
soldier who shirks his duty.
KING’S HEAD INN, or CHEQUER INN, IN NEWGATE STREET. The prison of Newgate.
KING JOHN’S MEN. He is one of king John’s men, eight score to the hundred:
a saying of a little undersized man.
KING OF THE GYPSIES. The captain, chief, or ringleader of the gang of
misrule: in the language called also the upright man.
KING’S PICTURES. Coin, money.
KINGDOM COME. He is gone to kingdom come, he is dead.
KIP. The skin of a large calf, in the language of the Excise-office.
KISS MINE A-SE. An offer, as Fielding observes, very frequently made, but
never, as he could learn, literally accepted. A kiss mine a-se fellow; a
KISSING CRUST. That part where the loaves have touched the oven.
KIT. A dancing-master, so called from his kit or cittern, a small fiddle,
which dancing-masters always carry about with them, to play to their
scholars. The kit is likewise the whole of a soldier’s necessaries, the
contents of his knapsack: and is used also to express the whole of
different commodities: as, Here, take the whole kit; i.e. take all.
KIT-CAT CLUB. A society of gentlemen, eminent for wit and learning, who in
the reign of queen Anne and George
I met at a house kept by one Christopher Cat. The portraits of most of the
members of this society were painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller, of one size;
thence still called the kit-cat size.
KITCHEN PHYSIC. Food, good meat roasted or boiled. A little kitchen physic
will set him up; he has more need of a cook than a doctor.
KITTLE PITCHERING. A jocular method of hobbling or bothering a troublesome
teller of long stories: this is done by contradicting some very immaterial
circumstance at the beginning of the narration, the objections to which
being settled, others are immediately started to some new particular of
like consequence; thus impeding, or rather not suffering him to enter
into, the main story. Kittle pitchering is often practised in confederacy,
one relieving the other, by which the design is rendered less obvious.
KITTYS. Effects, furniture; stock in trade. To seize one’s kittys; to take
KNACK SHOP. A toy-shop, a nick-nack-atory.
KNAPPERS POLL. A sheep’s head. .
KNAVE IN GRAIN. A knave of the first rate: a phrase borrowed from the
dyehouse, where certain colours are said to be in grain, to denote their
superiority, as being dyed with cochineal, called grain. Knave in grain is
likewise a pun applied to a cornfactor or miller.
KNIGHT OF THE BLADE. A bully.
KNIGHT OF THE POST. A false evidence, one that is ready to swear any thing
KNIGHT OF THE RAINBOW. A footman: from the variety of colours in the
liveries and trimming of gentlemen of that cloth.
KNIGHT OF THE ROAD. A highwayman.
KNIGHT OF THE SHEERS. A taylor.
KNIGHT OF THE THIMBLE, or NEEDLE. A taylor or stay-maker.
KNIGHT OF THE WHIP. A coachman.
KNIGHT OF THE TRENCHER. A great eater.
KNIGHT AND BARROW PIG, more hog than gentleman. A saying of any low
pretender to precedency.
KNOB. The head. See NOB.
KNOCK. To knock a woman; to have carnal knowledge of her. To knock off; to
conclude: phrase borrowed from the blacksmith. To knock under; to submit.
KNOCK ME DOWN. Strong ale or beer, stingo.
KNOT. A crew, gang, or fraternity. He has tied a knot with his tongue,
that he cannot untie with his teeth: i.e. he is married.
KNOWING ONES. Sportsmen on the turf, who from experience and an
acquaintance with the jockies, are supposed to be in the secret, that is,
to know the true merits or powers of each horse; notwithstanding which it
often happens that the knowing ones are taken in.
KNOWLEDGE BOX. The head.
KNUCKLES. Pickpockets who attend the avenues to public places to steal
pocket-books, watches, &c. a superior kind of pickpockets. To knuckle to,
TO KNUCKLE ONE’S WIPE. To steal his handkerchief.
KNUCKLE-DABS, or KNUCKLE-CONFOUNDERS. Ruffles.
KONOBLIN RIG. Stealing large pieces of coal from coalsheds.
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