Thursday 14 October 2010

The Reputations of London

A search of the Oxford English Dictionary to find whether London's districts are associated with anything in particular. The answer, albeit often rather obscurely, is yes.

Here's London as you don't know it (with the possible exceptions of Whitechapel and Hackney, ahem).

Summary: Meh.
Battersea enamel.

Summary: Literary and political
Bloomsbury group (also 'Bloomsberries')   |   Bloomsbury gang ("a political party that appeared in July 1765")

Summary: Antiques.
Bow china

Summary: An interesting range.
Chelsea bun  |  Chelsea porcelain  |  Chelsea pensioner  |  Chelsea boots   |  Chelsea tractor

Summary: Religious and proverbial
Clapham sect ("a name applied derisively early in the 19th c. to a coterie of persons of Evangelical opinions and conspicuous philanthropic activity, some of whom lived at Clapham")  |  "the man on the Clapham omnibus"

Summary: A quirky one-off, albeit with disputed etymology
A loaded die.

Summary: Suitably nautical.
Greenwich barber ("a retailer of sand")  |  Greenwich goose ("a pensioner a Greenwich hospital")  |   Greenwich stars ("those used for lunar computations")  |   Greenwich time (Greenwich mean time)   |  Greenwich meridian  

Summary: Whoredom and horses.
"a horse for ordinary riding"   |    "a horse kept for hire"   |   "a common drudge, fag, slave"    |    "a woman that hires herself, a prostitute"    |    "Hackney coach, a carriage for hire"   |   anything for hire    |   "Worn out, like a hired horse, by indiscriminate or vulgar use; threadbare, trite, commonplace; hackneyed."

Summary: Mineralological.
Highgate resin ("a mineral resin similar to copal found in Highgate Hill.")

Summary: New labourite.
attrib. "relating to a middle-class, socially aware person with centre-left or left-wing views supposedly characteristic of Islington residents. esp. in Islington Man, Islington Person."

Summary: Needlework.
Kensington stitch ("a needlework stitch")

Summary: Pottery and dance.
Lambeth Walk  |  Lambeth earthenware

Summary: Political.
vb. "To make fiery speeches such as Mr. Lloyd George made at Limehouse in 1909."

Summary: Golden age of crime.
Mayfair boys = gentleman crooks  c.1940s

Summary: Drink and clothing.
"A type of strong ale brewed at the Pimlico Tavern in Hoxton in the first decade of the 17thC."  |   "A kind of drinking vessel, perh. waisted or marked with a hoop on the inner surface."  |   "A white fabric used for clothing"

Summary: Parliamentary and educational.
A pupil at Westminster school   |   Westminster chimes/quarters ("the pattern of chimes struck at successive quarters by Big Ben")   |   Westminsterism (" the principles characteristic of the Westminster Assembly of 1643.")

Summary: Squalid, poor.
adj. low, vulgar (eg. "The humiliation of the party by the Whitechapel scene of Tuesday.")   |   Whitechapel portion  ("two torn Smocks, and what Nature gave.")   |   Whitechapel breed   ("fat, ragged, and saucy")     |    Whitechapel beau   ("dresses with a needle and thread, and undresses with a knife.")   |    Whitechapel, or Westminster Brougham    ("a costermonger's donkey-barrow.")   |     Whitechapel shave  ("whitening judiciously applied to the jaws")   |    Whitechapel fortune ("a clean gown and a pair of pattens.")   |   Whitechapel play ("irregular or unskilful play in whist or billiards")   |   Whitechapel needle (type of needle, US)   |   Whitechapel cart ("a light, two-wheeled spring cart")

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