Modern Flash Dictionary


  • Intro

    Despite claims of being original, George Kent’s Modern Flash Dictionary was compiled from several earlier sources, including the Flash Dictionary of 1821 and Pierce Egan’s 1823 edition of A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. As a boxing enthusiast, Kent aimed to cover criminal cant, sporting slang and ‘flash phrases now in vogue’. This cheap pamphlet was aimed at young working men interested in sport, gambling and drinking.



    On these pages


    In the early 19th century, the word flash had several meanings. A fashionable man about town was commonly referred to as a flash cove and a similar meaning survives today in the phrase flash Harry. Kent’s dictionary also includes 60 categories of prime coves (top-class rogues). The list includes figures we would recognise, including fencers and shoplifters and unfamiliar terms, such as priggers (pickpockets) and spicers (highwaymen).


    Shelfmark: 1490.d.52.

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