Criminal slang: The Canting Academy


Criminal slang


  • Intro

    The word cant refers to the secret language spoken by professional thieves and beggars. The Canting Academy, or Devils Cabinet opened, by Richard Head, was first published in 1673. It records the customs, phrases and songs of urban villains and scoundrels. The book contains one of England's first dictionaries of criminal slang. The baffling language of the criminal underworld wove webs of deception around numerous victims, and The Canting Academy followed a tradition of books designed to warn the innocent city dweller against rogues, vagabonds, and pickpockets. 'I shall endeavour to give you an exect account of these Caterpillars,' wrote Head, 'with their hidden and mysterious way of speaking, which they make use to blind the eyes of those they have cheated or rob'd.'


    Shelfmark: 1551/63.

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