Filthie's Mobile Fortress Of Solitude

Filthie's Mobile Fortress Of Solitude
Where Great Intelligence Goes To Be Insulted

Monday, 16 September 2019

Bun Stranglers: Increase Ya Vocabulary

Any fever, such as malaria, that recurs at regular intervals (from Medieval Latin febris acuta, literally, sharp fever)
ammunitions Boots (later usage)
beef, beer, and lust What British civilians thought British soldiers were too full of.
beer, bum, and bacca Pleasures of the sailor's life, circa 1870, "bacca" being tobacco.
black death The plague. A virulent contagious bacteria often found in rats. Humans can get the disease from fleas.
black water fever A type of African malaria that causes anemia and brown or black urine due to the destruction of red blood cells.
blimey From Gorblimey!, meaning "God blind me"
blue jacket British sailor
BOR British Other Ranks, non-officers
brew Tea
brevet A temporary higher rank, for example, a captain being a brevet colonel.  It was not unusual for British colonial officers on loan to another regiment to be temporarily classed as a higher rank in that regiment but to paid for the lesser rank of their actual regiment. (Old French, diminutive of brief letter)
brollly Umbrella, circa 1873

bun strangler Non-drinker
caravan Travelers on a journey through hostile regions (Italian caravana, from Persian karwan).
catarrh An inflammation of the nose and air passages that produces drainage (from Greek katarrhein to flow down).
char Tea.  (Hindustani char)
charpoy A bed, frame strung with tapes or light rope (Hindustani carpai)
cinematrograph Early motion pictures c. 1900. Also known as viagraph or bioscope.
chee-chee Half-caste, mixed race of British and Indian. Also the sing-song accent of same, from the early influence of Welsh missionaries.
cheroot Cigar (from Tamil, curuttu, roll. [About 1679])
cholera belt A body wrapping of flannel worn to supposedly prevent cholera. Used in India until about 1920.
chota peg Small drink, a gin and tonic
chota wallah Little guy
class regiment Indian Army regiment whose members were all recruited from one ethnic group such as Sikhs, Gurkhas, etc.
clobber Uniform, clothing
college Prison (as in, "I've been to college.")
Pulmonary tuberculosis or any other wasting-away disease that "consumed" its victims.
croaker A dying person, a corpse, or someone who has given up.
cushy Easy (Hindi khush pleasant, from Persian khush [1915]
daisy-roots Boots
dekko To take a look (Hindi, deckna, to look)
dhobi  wallah Indian who did the washing
dhoolie wallah Indian dhoolie carrier
D. O. British District Officer
doggo To lie doggo, to hide. Probably from "dog" [1893]
donkey walloper Infantry disparaging term for cavalry
dyspepsia Indigestion (Latin, from Greek, from dys- + pepsis digestion )
enteric fever Typhoid fever
Fishing Fleet Unmarried British women sent to India each year by their parents during the cool weather to find  husbands.
fossick To search for gold or gemstones typically by picking over abandoned workings (Australian and New Zealand)
galloper Officer used by commanders to carry messages. 
Gardner Gun (machine gun) A one- to five-barreled machine gun used by the British Army from 1880. Operated by turning a crank which loaded and fired each barrel in sequence.
General Services Enlistment Act One of the causes of the Indian Mutiny. It required Indian troops in British service to to go overseas, if required. Hindus would break caste if they did so. 
graft Work
god wallah Priest or chaplain
goolie Testicle, late 19th century (Hindi gooli, a pellet)
grippe Influenza (from French, seizure)
havelock Cloth cap cover that hung on the back to  protect the neck from sunlight (named after Sir Henry Havelock)
heliograph Communication device using mirrors to flash sunlight.
hot or cold Ways of attacking. By shooting (hot) or by bayonet (cold);
Imperial Yeomanry British volunteer cavalry force recruited from locals for the Boer war. Little or no training, but they had much enthusiasm.
kip Bed (Danish kippecheap tavern)
liberty-men Sailors on shore leave.
loot Plunder (Hindi lut  [c.1788])
malaria A disease transmitted by mosquitoes that causes periodic severe attacks of chills and fever, thought at one time to be caused by miasma (Italian [1740], from mala aria, bad air)
matlow Self-adopted name of British sailors (blue-jackets)[1880](from French matelot, sailor)
Maxim Gun British - .303 caliber. Recoil-operated machine gun. First used in Matabele war of 1893-94. Bought and copied by almost all nations, although often under other names. The standard MG during the Great War. Named after the British (American-born) inventor, Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim.
miasma A heavy vapor emanation or atmosphere believed to cause malaria or other diseases common in swampy areas (Greek, defilement, from miainein to pollute [1665])
murrain A plague that infects domestic animals (from Latin mori, to die)
Mussulman A Moslem or Muslim (Turkish müslüman, Persian musulman, modification of Arabic muslim)
nappy wallach Barber
Nordenfelt Gun Although Nordenfelt produced other types of guns, when used in a colonial setting the term usually refers to a multi-barreled machine gun (2 to 10 barrels) operated by a lever which was moved back and forth. First used in the 1880's.
old sweat Veteran
on the cot Changing one's ways
on the peg Under arrest
paddy Rice field (Malay padi [1623])
P. and O. Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Company. The main line for British travelers to India and the East
pannier Donkey load. A large basket or container carried on the back of an animal or on the shoulders of a person (13th century, Latin, panis, bread
piquet A small guard post with about 12 men or less.
Per mare, per terram "By land, by sea", motto of the Royal Marines. AKA "Poor Mary on the terrace"
pith helmet Sun helmet made of cloth-covered cork.
Pom or Pommie Derisive Australian soldier's term for British officers or British men in general (from pomade - hair dressing)
poodle-faker A man who spent too much time in the society of women, engaging in such activates as tea parties, balls, etc.
pop-wallah Non-alcohol drinker, a drinker of soda pop
pukka Genuine, authentic, first-class (Hindi pakka cooked, ripe, solid, from Sanskrit pakva)
pukka sahib Excellent fellow (used for Europeans only)
puggaree Muslin cloth wrapped around a pith helmet ( Hindi pagri turban)
punk Inferior, as in "played a punk game", "feeling punk" (ill) (1896)
punkah wallah Indian employed to work a fan, usually by a string attached to their toe or thumb.
pusher Girl friend
Queen's shilling, the Bounty paid to a new recruit for joining the army.
R.M.L.I. Royal Marine Light Infantry
rooky New recruit
sawney Scotsman (circa 1700 on)
shako Stiff, tall military hat (French, from Hungarian csákó)
shrapnel Anti-personnel shell that exploded in the air and scattered small lead balls. Also, later on, any piece of metal from any type shell. (After the inventor, Henry Shrapnel [1806])
skof Food
sleeping sickness A serious disease transmitted by tsetse flies, common in much of tropical Africa. Sleeping sickness saved parts of Africa from being settled by Europeans in the 19th century because it killed their cattle and horses.
slingers Hard tack and coffee
snotty Midshipman [Royal Navy]
spyglass Telescope
stoppages Money deducted from a soldier's pay ("stopped") as a punishment
subaltern A junior officer in the British army, just below lieutenant.
swaddy Soldier.
Ticker Soldier who owned his own personal watch (early usage)
tiffin Lunch or snack (obsolete English tiff to eat between meals)
to fire into the brown Originally referred to hunters firing into a covey of game birds without aiming at any particular bird, but was later used for soldiers firing into a charging mass of natives.
topee Helmet (Hindi topi)
Tommy Tommy Atkins. Name for the British common soldier
vapors A Victorian belief that emanations from bodily organs (such as the stomach) could affect the physical and mental condition of people, especially women. Vapors were often blamed for women fainting, although fashions that included binding women's bodies so tight that they could barely breathe would seem to be a more likely cause.
VC The Victoria Cross, the highest British medal
vedettes Mounted sentries
wad Cake
wallah Person associated with an activity--for example, god wallah for priest
wizard Excellent, as in "a wizard time"
wet Tea, as in, "have a wet", 
wog Derogatory term for Indians or Arabs. Sometimes also Wiley Oriental Gentleman or Westernized Oriental Gentleman (Origin uncertain. Either Westernized Oriental Gentleman or from Golliwogg, a living black doll in children's books by the American writer Bertha Upton.)
yellow fever A disease transmitted by mosquitoes that causes jaundice, among many other symptoms
yellow jack Yellow fever

For those of you still with us at the end of this educational post - these are terms and slang used by Victorian riflemen of the 19th century. I thought some of them were a hoot.


  1. You have a lot of time on your hands, Glen...

  2. learned some words thought a charpoy was a table for the tea urn!!
    great and great great grandfathers were in india under the raj with the east india company g g g pa was doctor mid 1800's i believe was irish but became british by getting in amongst our brown brethren!
    so became 'white' [british]and able to rub shoulders with the conquering race what snobs we mortals be

    1. How are you holding up these days, Deb? Things starting to settle down around there a bit? I hope all is well.

  3. Hilaire Belloc. "Whatever happens, we have got
    The Maxim gun, and they have not."

  4. Lately I have been just smitten with the lore and history of the Victorian riflemen. I love the guns, and costumes of those times. Back then a soldier not only had to know how to fight, he had to look good doing it!

    Thanks for stopping by you guys.