Hugh Young's Lexicon of Polari

Hugh Young's Lexicon of Polari

Here is the Polari (etc.) wordlist. It is copyright © Hugh Young 1996 provisionally, though much of it is lifted from other copyright works, and I'll have to sort that out later if I get to publish it. It may be copied and used for educational purposes in the meantime (at least as far as I am concerned). The numbers begin anew for each letter (so an entry can be cited as A1, A2, etc.).

As you see, some of it (pronunciations, parts of speech - do they still call them that?) is incomplete, and some words lack derivations (choad? maung(ed)?). For the filling of any gaps, or any suggested additions, I will be very grateful. I have given words and phrases the benefit of the doubt, including some that may be, for example, no-one but Kenneth Williams' idiolect.

I would also be grateful for suggestions of, or offers from, generous foundations who would be prepared to finance a trip to England to study Polari first-hand.

A

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1acquawaterhacqua-nIt acqua--
-------Lingua Franca (LF) akwa--
---haqua------
2ajaxnearby ---a----
3alamo! I'm hot for you/him!d--excl-acr. LMO = Lick Me Out--
4arthurmasturbatek--virhyming slangJ Arthur Rank = wank--
5aspromale prostitutehaspro-nLF aspro 'money' (or E 'arse' + 'pro[stitute]' ?)---
---haspra------
6Aunt Nell ears a--n pl----
-Aunt Nell!Listen to me! a--excl----

B

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1bagadgapenishbagadga-nItbagaggio "baggage"--
---hbagaga------
2barclaysmasturbatek--virhyming slangBarclays Bank = wank--
3barkeysailorh---Itbarca "boat"--
4barnethair (perh. esp. highly coiffured and styled)ATH--nrhyming slangBarnet fair = hair"You can have any colour to match your barnet." - Julian and SandyBarnet fair, a large horse fair in Hertfordshire (Barnet is now part of Greater London)
5-head, brainpb--n--Use your barnet-
6batfoot a--n usu pl----
7-shoe--------
--shuffle or dance on stageh--v----
--shoebbatt-n usu pl----
8batteryknockh---Itbattere--
--strikeh-------
9battery carseyknock at a doorh-------
10benarbetterhbenar------
11benegoodhbenebi:n-Itbene "well"--
----ben------
12beyonekshillinghbeyonek'bjAnek-Itbianca "white"--
---hbeonebj@un-----
---h-bijoG-----
13bevvydrinkhbevvy-nItbev- "to drink"--
----bevie------
---hbivvy------
--pub, taverns-------
14bevvy omeedrunkardh--n----
15bijousmallb--aFr---
16bimbodupe, suckerh--nItbimbo "kid, infant, child"--
17bincokerosine flareh---Itbianca "white"--
18blagpick up (man)b--v i----
19bodbodydl-------
20boldoutrageous, flamboyant (and bold)ATHbold-aE-Oooh, 'e's bold! 'e's got the Polari off!" - ATH-
21bodegashoph--nItbotteca--
22bonagood-bona'b@un@aItbuono--
---wbonar-a----
----boner------
---hbono'b@un@ua----
23boner nochygood nighth-------
24bonar forattracted towbonar for-a--both bonar for Cecil-
25bonaroowonderful, excellentrbonaroo-a----

C

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1camisashirthcamisa--Itcamisa--
2campact in a stereotypically feminine wayk 1/2/50camp-v----
--stereotypically feminine, excessively showy---a----
3capelahat, capbcapela-nItcapella--
---rcapello-----but see kapello
---hkapella------
---nshap-----thieves' cant
---hsuppelar--Itsuppellettile "household fittings" ...?--
4carnishmeat, foodhcarnishka:niSnItcarne "meat"--
5carnish keneating househcarnish ken------
6cartesgenitalsb-------
7cartzopenish-'ka:ts@u-Itcazzo "thrust--
8carseyhouselcarsey--Itcasa--
--lavatory--------
--brothel--------
---hcarser------
---hcarzer------
9cateverbadhcatever--It cattivo--
----kerterver------
10charperseekhcharper--Itcercare-cf. sharpy
11charpering carseypolice stationhcharpering carsey'tSa:p@rin 'ka:zi:-----
12charverhave sexual intercourse-charvertSa:v@'-cf. Spchava "girl" chabacanada 'a very vulgar expression'--
---ph---Spcavolta "horsemanship"--
-------Romanycharva/charver "touch"--
----chauver'tSo:v@-----
13charvering donna(female) prostitutehcharvering donna------
14chaviechildl---Spchava "girl"--
---bl-------
15chaudpenis--------
16chickenyoung boydl-------
17chinkerfivelchinker--Itcinque--
---hchikwa------
18codviledl-------
19colinerectionk--nrhyming slang?---
20comissionshirth------see camisa
21cottagepublic loodl-------
--frequent c's in search of sex---vi----
22crimperhairdresserdl-------
23cullmaten------as in "mollying-cull" 18thC
--testiclen------18th C

D

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1deekobserve?r-------
2deanershillingh------see "dinarly"
3deweytwoldewey--Itdue--
----dooe------
----duey------
4dinarlymoneyldinarli-nSpdinero--
-------It dinaro--
-------Persiandinar--
---hdinarla------
---hdinarly------
5dishattractive maledl-------
6dizzyscatterbraineddl-------
7dollypleasantg--aIt dolce, "sweet"---
--smart and attractive young womanhdolly-nIt dolce, "sweet"---
---hdoll------
8donalady, landlady, womanhdona--Itdonna--
----donna------
----doner------
9doobpill (amphetamine)b-------
10doshmoneyw-------
11dowrya lot, muchhdowry--Itdare, "give"--
12dragclothesb-------
13dreardrearyk--a--all very tiring and d. - 12/4/50-
--dreary personk--nE-a group of British drears-
--behave drearilyk--vi--d.s along in perfect Cindarella fashion - 6/7/49-
14dredge?m-------

E

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1ecaffaceb--nE (backwards sp)---
-eekfaceATH--nE (contraction of the above) or---
-------It eche ("com- plexion"?)---
2+ette (suffix)diminutiveATH-----treazhette ("little treasure"), tour-ette, telegramme -ette - ATHMuch more frequent than standard English
3esongnosedl--nE (based on backward sp)---

F

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1fabfabulous, excellent, marvellous-fab------
2fabe-k 12/5/68fabe-aSpfabuloso = Eng. 'fabulous'--
----fabel------
3fakemake, dohfake-nItfaccio "I make"--
--artificial, false-fake-a----
4fakementthing, doing, actionhfakement-nItfaccio" + Eng '-ment'--
5fanny?ATH-----That singing polone, Brice:" "Fanny?" "Maybe to you but we were enthralled!" - ATH-
6fantabulosaexcellentATH---E fanta(stic) + Sp (f.)abuloso---
7fatchafacehfatcha--Itfaccia--
8feelyyoungbfeely-aIt. figlie, children---
--childhfeele-n----
---hfeelia------
---hfeelier------
---lfellier------
9ferricadoozaknock-down- blowhferricadooza--It ferire--
---hferrica douzer------
10filiomeunder-age youthhfiliome,fi:li'@umi:-Itfiglie" + "uomo"--
11flowerylodgings, accomodation, house entertainment----E. prison rhyming slang?flowery dell" = cell ?--
12foglehandkerchiefhfogle-nItfoglia "leaf"--
13foon?ATH-----Divine! Foon, very foon!" - ATH-

G

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1gamleghgam--LFgamba--
2gajostranger, non-Gypsyphgajo-n----
----gaujo-n----
3geltmoneydlgelt-nGer. via Yiddish?gelt "gold"--
4gentmoneyhgentdSent-Itargento "silver"--
5glossymagazinedlglosssy-n (usu. pl?)----
6guntaabusive: in your g.dgunta------
7gylrig(desirable?) malekgylrig-nE backlsang? Girlyg[irl]?-park where there was a fabulous g. but not available - 18/6/57-
--flirtation?k-------
--sexualk--a----

H

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1hambagmoneywhambag------
--presentsrhandbag------
2hermo sumi obrepenshomosexuality?k 2/4/47hermo sumi obrepens-nh.s. scan-rhyme for "homo-sexu" + quasi L. repere "to creep" cf. obreption "surprising by stealth, obtaining (gift) by false pretences"---
---k 27/2/47sermo humi obrepens-n----

IJ

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1jarryeat h--vtIt mangiare--
--foodh--n----
--fellate, have oral sex withb-------
2jew's eyeanything of valueh---It---
3joggerentertainhjogger------
---hjogar--Port.jogar "play"--
4joggering omeeentertainer (male), street musician--------
5jubebreastjcf. doob-n usu pl----

K

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1kaffiestrousersdlkaffies-n pl----
2kampgay man or lesbian-kamp-n---NZ 1960s, 70s. See also 'camp'
3kapellahat, caphkapella--Itcapella--
4kapellocloakh-------
5kenhouse h-----carnish kenusu. in combination: see also carsey''
6kerterver cartzovenereal diseaseh--n---See also 'catever'

L

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1lallyleg-lally-n usu pl----
---jlallipeg-n-E rhyming sl.?--
---rlyle-n usu plAnglo- Chineselai-lo, "come here"--
2lapperhandjlapper-n usu pl----
---pclupper-n usu pl--Rona lau your luppers up the strillers, bona! - ATH-
3latty, lattieshouse, home, lodgings, accommodationb, mlatty, latties-n----
----letties-nItlette--
4lettybedhletty-nItlette--
---ph---Itletti "beds"--
5lilhanddl--n (usu pl?)----
6lingolanguage (esp. foreign)h-------
7lucoddybodyg--nE rhyming sl.?---
8lupperfingerdllupper-n (usu pl?)----

M

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1madzerhalfhmadzer--Itmezzo--
---hmedzer------
-madzer caroonhalf a crown (two shillings and sixpence)hmadzer caroon--Itmezzo corona--
2manjalieeat, foodhmanjalie--Itmangiare--
-manjarieeat, foodhmanjarie--Itmangiare--
3mankybad, poor, tastelesshmanky--Itmancare, "lack, want for"--
4martinihanda--n----
5matiniringaw (andrea woelke)-----Vade the poloni with the matini. means look at the man* with the ring, i.e. look he's gay. * contraction of omi-poloni?-
6maungedbad lookingg-------
--destroy, damage?--------
7mazarinemezzanine, platform below stagehmazarine--Itmezzanino--
8measuresmoneybmeasures-n---See medzer
---lmetze------
---hmedzers------
---dlmetzas------
9medzerhalfpennyr--nItmezzo , "half"--
10meshignercrazydlmeshigner--Heb. via Yiddishmeshuga, crazy; meshuggener, crazy man--
11mishshirtn---It camisa-See camisa
12mollygay mannmolly------
---nmolly(ing)-cull------
---nmollying-bitch------
13muckstage makeuphmuck --Itmacchia "stain" / Eng. muck--
14multymany, a lothmulty--Itmolto --

N

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1nadanothingma---Sp.-Nada to varda in the larder - not well endowed-
2naffbadbnaff--E. acro:Normal As Fuck,-Acronyms probably back-formed
--drabdl-------
--------Not Available for Fucking--
---gb----Naffuckingood--
---ATHnaph------
3namyarieeat, foodhnamyarie--Itmangiare-See jarry
-nanyarieeat, foodhnanyarie-----See jarry
4nantino, nothing, not, don'thnanti--ItnienteNanti vardering the cartes - Don't look at his basket!-
---ma-----Nanti camp - here comes sharpy!-
---hnanty------
---hnantee------
-nanti riahbaldATH--a--I'm nanti riah - KH-
5nixno, not, do nothnix--Gernichts--
---lnish------
---dlnishta------
-nix-mungarleenothing to eat, no foodh-------
6nobberninehnobber--It35370--
---lnobba------
7nochynighthnochyn@utSi:-Spnoche (It notte, LF note)--

O

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1ogleeyeaogle'@ug@l-Itocchio, --
-------Eogle--
---jocal------
---aogale------
---hoogle'u:g@l-----
---jopal------
-ogale fakesspectaclesa-------
-ogle riahseyelashesb-------
2.olaintensive?k-----tradiola = tradeOr just to conceal meaning?
3omiman, landlord-omi-nItuomo--
---lomie------
---romee-n----
---homy------
4omi-palonigay mang-------
---homee-paloney------
--heterosexualc------logical ("man-[for]- women") but rare?
5oneyonehoney--Ituna--
6onknosedl----cf. esong, or onomat?--
7orbeyedlorb-n (usu pl)----
8ottereightlotter--It---

P

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1pannambreadhpannam--Lpanem (It. pane)--
---hpannum------
2palavertalk, argumenthpalaver-n----
--argue, discussh--v----
3palonigirl, young woman-palonip@'l@uninItpollone "chick"--
----palonep@'l@un-----
----paloney------
----pollone------
----polone------
4parkgive,hand overrpark-vItpartire "pay out"--
--paylparker------
5parniewaterphparnie----dowry of parnie" - ph-
--rain--------
6plate (of ham)fellatek 25/9/68--n, vtE rhyming slang gamahouche--
--feeddl-------
7pogysmall, a littlehpogy--Itpoco "little"--
---hpogey------
8pogey acquaa little waterhpogey acqua------
9pollwig--------
10poncepimphponce-n----
----pont--Frprostitute" + Eng. 'punk'--
11pontepound sterlinghponte--Itpondo "weight"--
---hpoona------
12PolarispeakhPolari-nIt.Parlare (pagliare "to speak" - ph)-Since 1970, as L>A> notes, 1976, 'gay' slang has come to be known in raffish, homosexual circles, as polari." - ph
--speech---n----
--language---n----
--secret language of gay men---n----
----Palary------
---hPanarly------
---hParlare------
---hParlaree------
---hParlary------
---hParlyaree-----h says Partridge distinguishes (gay) Polari from (circus) Parlyaree
13punkvirgin male, male homosexualb, h--n cf. US vt: "rape anally"E punk Sp punto, puto "male prostitute"---
--male--------
--male prostitute--------

Q

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1quattrofourlquattro--Itquattro--
---hquater--It---
---hquarter------
2quartereenfarthing, 1/4 of a pennyhquartereen-nItquattrino--
3Queer-Kenprison housen------thieves' cant
4queuehomosexualkqueue-aE queer or queen-she says Cyril Ritchard is q.!!! - k. 5/3/48-
----Q.-v--is the whole of London going q.ing? - k. 16/3/48-
------n--talked Q. [sic] for hours - k. 22/8/48-

R

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1riahhairgriahrai@ [ri@ ?]nE back spelling---
-------Sp raya "parting in the hair"--
---hraih------
---a, rriha------
2riah shusherhairdresserdl---riah + shusher = zhooh[er]---
3rona lau-pc-----Rona lau your luppers up the strillers, bona! - ATH-

S

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1salterone pennyhsalter--Itsoldi--
---h saltee------
---hsalty------
---hsaulty------
2savvyknow, understandhsavvy--LF, Port. sabir-prob from Pidjin through Eng.
3saysixlsay--Itsei--
---hsa------
4say dooeeighthsay dooe------
5say oneysevenhsay oney------
6say trayninehsay tray------
7scarperfleehscarper--Itscappare (Eng. rhyming slang: "Scapa Flow" go ?)--
---hscapali------
---hscarpy------
8screechmouthb---E---
--throatb-------
9screevewriteh--vItscrivere--
--written materialh--n----
10settersevenlsetter--Itsette--
11shamsh(e?)attractive mank 24/10/47--n (pl only?)Esmasher ?met 2 marines - very charming. Bonar s.-
12sharperpolicemanh--nItcercare + Eng. "sharp"--
13sharpypolicemanr-----Sharpy's deekin', luv: the police have you staked outcf. charper
14sharping-omeepolicemanr--n---cf. charpering omee
15sheesh?k 13/7/57-----..who looks the full s.-
16shycklewig rshykle-ncf. Yiddish shaytl, sheitel, from Ger. "crown of the head, parting"---
---dlshyker------
17shushsteal (from client)dl-Su;S?vcf. zhoosh---
18shush bagholdalldl-------
19slangperform on stagel------climb the slang-tree, perform on stage
----------slang a dolly to the edge, work a marionette on a small stage to attract an audience
20slapmakeupw--n----
21stampershoen------thieves' cant
22steamerprostitute's clientj--nE Rhyming slangsteam tug = mug--
23stishperformance?ATH--n-schtick?an audition, varda our stish"-
24strillmusical instrument, esp piano or violin---nItstrillare, cry out, shriek--
---ph---Neapolitan cantstrillante, "cornet"--
25strillerpiano key---n usu pl--Rona lau your luppers up the strillers, bona! - ATH-
26succey de bede?k 2/3/58, 11/7/58-------

T

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1tattatty thing(s)k--nEtatter--
2TBHsexually available (but not gay?)j---ETo Be Had--
--sexual interest------says she's got a big TBH with me - 16/11/50-
3thearticle, often used [redundantly,k-----going down on him for t. fellatio - 24/4/72-
4toberroadphtober-nIrish (back- formed)bother-to tailors and tramps
--circus-groundph------to circus people
5tober omeelandlordhtober omee------
6tosheroontwo shillings and sixpencehtosheroon------
---htusheroon------
---htusseroon------
7tradecasual sex, person offering it, esp. not gay-identified------we had t. chat - 10/5/58-
8traditionalconcerning tk-----a t.piece - 3/7/57-
---------in the hope of t. entertainment - 4/4/52-
9tradeyconcerning t------all very charming and t. - 12/6/52-
10traythreeltray--Ittre--
11trollgo, walk----E---
--esp. looking for tradedl-------

U

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1unaoneluna--Ituna--
---honey------

V

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1vaggeriego, leave, travelhvaggerie--Itviaggiare--
2valley dragstrousersa------lally drags?
3vardasee, look-varda-vcf. Venetianvardia "a look"--
---ph---It ult. f. Lvedo, I see, ult. f. video--
--a look---n----
----varder------
---hvardo-----but cf. also Romany vardo "Gypsy waggon"
---hvardy------
---rverda------
4vochevoicehvoche--Itvoce--
5voguecigaretteb-------

W

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1wallopdancehwallop--Itgallopare--
2walloperdancerhwalloper------

XYZ

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunci- ationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1zhooshstyle (hair)b-------
--throwb-------

NUMBERS

WordMeaningSourceAlternate SpellingsPronunciationPart of SpeechOriginal LanguageOriginal FormExampleComment
1unaoneluna--Ituna--
---honey------
2deweytwoldewey--Itdue--
----dooe------
----duey------
3traythreeltray--Ittre--
4quattrofourlquattro--Itquattro--
---hquater--It---
---hquarter------
5chinkerfivelchinker--Itcinque--
---hchikwa------
6saysixlsay--Itsei--
---hsa------
7settersevenlsetter--Itsette--
-say oneysevenhsay oney------
8ottereightlotter--It---
-say dooeeighthsay dooe------
9nobberninehnobber--It35370--
---lnobba------
-say trayninehsay tray------
10daituretenldaiture--Itdieci--
----dacha------
----deger'dedSa-----
11long-dedgerelevenhlong-dedger--Itundici--

SOURCE REFERENCES:

Gaytalk by Bruce Rodgers, Paragon, G028 ROD

The Homosexual Society by Hauser, Richard, Bodley Head 1962

Henry Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor (1861) e.g. Vol. 3, p. 47, "Punch Talk"

Robert Leach The Punch and Judy Show - the example here is from a privately recorded interview with an aging showman.

However Partridge does mention a lexicon Vardi the Parlary by Sydney Lester.

ATH - Around The Horne

BOK - Beyond Our Ken

a = Alcock in Walking Aftar Midnight, Routledge 1989, ISBN 0-415-02956-2

aw = Andrea Woelke, St Cuthbert's Society, Durham d.a.woelke@durham.ac.uk

b = Peter Burton, Parallel Lives, GMP 1985, ISBN-0-907040-65-9

bl = Sue Blackwell <BLACKWELLSA@VMS1.ACADEMIC-COMPUTING-SERVICE.BIRMINGHAM.AC.UK>

bo = Andrew Boniface boniface@math.ohio-state.edu)

c = Colin 1993

d = David, Awhina Centre 18/10/94

dl = Daniel Long <dlong@joho.osaka-shoin.ac.jp> quoting Polari by Chris Denning http://www.cygnet.co.uk/~cdenning/polari.html

g = Guardian article 29/7/90

gb = George C Bourne
15c Saunders Place
WANGANUI 5001

h = Ian Hancock "Shelta and Polari" in Language in the British Isles, ed. Trudgill, CUP 1984
N.B. this list was sorted and citations written in IPA.
My translation into ASCII phonetics.

j = John in Between the Acts, Kevin Porter ed., Routlege 1991, ISBN 0-415-00944-8 [an interviewee identified only as John in an oral history written/transcribed/edited by Porter, the Acts being those of 1885 and 1967]

k = The Kenneth Williams Diaries, Russell Davies ed., Harper Collins, ISBN 0 00 255023 7

l = Impertinent Decorum, Gay Theatrical Manouvres by Ian Lucas, Cassell 1994

m = Mike Atkinson mikea@dircon.co.uk

n = Mother Clap's Molly House, The Gay Subculture in England, 1700 - 1830, GMP 1992, quoted in l

pd = Eric Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, Macmillan

ph = Eric Partridge Here, There and Everywhere

pc = Philip Clark pclark@oldec1.agw.bt.co.uk

pg = Paul Giaccone k941319@kingston.ac.uk

r = Rodgers, The Queens' Vernacular, Blond and Briggs, Straight Arrow Books 1972, SBN 85634 018 9

s = "Sons of Sawdust" by Edward Seago, Language in the British Isles ed. Trudgill (CUP 1984)

© Hugh Young 1996 and David England 1997
E-mail us if you like on hugh@young.wn.planet.gen.nz and or go to the Pronunciation guide or David England's home page.