The slang dictionary; etymological, historical, and anecdotal
Slang, like everything else, changes much in the course of time; and though but fifteen years have elapsed since this Dictionary was first introduced to the public, alterations have since then been many and frequent in the subject of which it treats.
The first issue of a work of this kind is, too, ever beset with difficulties, and the compiler was always aware that, though under the circumstances of its production the book was an undoubted success, it necessarily lacked many of the elements which would make that success lasting, and cause the " Slang Dictionary" to be regarded as an authority and a work of reference not merely among the uneducated, but among people of cultivated tastes and inquiring minds.
For though the vulgar use of the word Slang applies to those words only which are used by the dangerous classes and the lowest grades of society, the term has in reality and should have as everyone who has ever studied the subject knows a much wider significance. Bearing this in mind, the original publisher of this Dictionary lost no opportunity of obtaining information of a useful kind, which could hardly find a place in any other book of reference, with the intention of eventually bringing out an entirely new edition, in which all former errors should be corrected and all fresh meanings and new words find a place.
His intention always was to give those words which are familiar to all conversant with our colloquialisms and locutions, but which have hitherto been connected with an unwritten tongue, a local habitation, and to produce a book which, in its way, would be as useful to students of philology, as well as to lovers of human nature in all its phases, as any standard work in the English language.
The squeamishness which tries to ignore the existence of slang fails signally, for not only in the streets and the prisons, but at the bar, on the bench, in the pulpit, and in the Houses of Parliament, does slang make itself heard, and, as the shortest and safest means to an end, understood too.
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