- Courtney Ferguson
- Move your nockandro! That's a Shanghai tunnel!
Continuing my Blogtown series, where I peruse my favorite book in the world, the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume II, H-O by J.E. Lighter.
This week's slang is brought to you by the letter "N."
Nantucket sleigh ride n. Whaling. an instance of the towing of a whaling boat by a harpooned whale.
1873: "Before we could get into action, the whale started to run and we were off on a 'Nantucket sleigh ride,' but it was not very fast." [I thought a whale ride would be faster.—Eds.]
neck oil n. beer or strong liquor.
1883: "We were treated to a small allowance of pelos cochos—two Greek words signifying neck oil—the midshipmen of my time said."
the whole nine yards [the orig. ref. of the phr. remains obscure; var. hypotheses relating it to e.g. football yardage, cloth length in suit manufacture, or capacity of cement mixers have been shown to be unfounded. The fact that nine yards is a customary length for a burial shroud, as shown in the 1958 quot. ref. to Appalachian folklore, is provacative, but this suggestion cannot be shown to be related] everything possible; the works.
1958: "I'll weave nine yards of other cloth/For John to have and keep,/He'll need it where he's going to lie,/To warm him in his sleep."
nockandro n. the buttocks.
1653: "'My foul nockandrow all bemerded." [The word "bemerded" is the shit!—Eds.]