The Slang Dictionary from 1874

Dear Reader,

As you may know by now I am fond of language and languages. On Ebook-Friendly I have discovered this little gem I really want to share with you:

The Slang Dictionary from 1874 is hilarious (and you can download it for free)

Do you know what “pin” is according to slang dictionary from 1874? Used in an expression “to put in the pin,” it means “to refrain from drinking.”

Written 140 years ago by John Camden Hotten, The Slang Dictionary: Etymological, Historical and Anecdotal, is a tremendous catalog of mostly forgotten slang words and phrases, that are cool enough to bring them back to our technology, hashtag-driven world. Interestingly, some of these words, like “twitter”, “button”, “poll”, or the above-mentioned “pin”, are being used widely, but their meaning from the past is rarely decoded.

The book was first issued in 1859, and republished by London’s Chatto & Windus in 1874 and later in 1913. It was digitized by Google Books and has just been added to Project Gutenberg online ebook catalog. It’s available for free in many ebook formats, including epub (for Nook, iBooks, and Kobo) and mobi (Kindle).

In a review of the dictionary H.T. Buckle said: “Many of these words and phrases are but serving their apprenticeship, and will eventually become the active strength of our language.” Indeed, the slang from the past can be a great refreshment to how the contemporary language is being shaped by social media or user-generated word catalogs like the Urban Dictionary.

The words from the past might not always carry the original meaning, but they may be recreated to describe what’s new in our life. Let’s take the word “e-fink”. In 1874 it meant “a knife”. The word, however, might be a great description for high-resolution e-ink display (that is still to come). And this is just a drop in the sea of possibilities!

Once again, one the most tremendous benefits of ebooks speaks very loudly. We wouldn’t be able to access many great publications from the past, if they weren’t digitized and became available online on sites like Project Gutenberg or Internet Archive.

Project Gutenberg

The Slang Dictionary (1874) – selected words & phrases

article derisive term for a weak or insignificant specimen of humanity

cool to look

devil’s books a pack of playing-cards; a phrase of Presbyterian origin

pin “to put in the pin,” to refrain from drinking. From the ancient peg tankard, which was furnished with a row of pins, or pegs, to regulate the amount which each person was to drink. Drunken people are often requested to “put in the pin,” from some remote connexion between their unsteadiness and that of a carriage wheel which has lost its linch-pin. The popular cry, “put in the pin,” can have no connexion with the drinking pin or peg now, whatever it may originally have had. A merry pin, a roysterer

elephant’s trunk drunk

shif fish

gentleman of three ins –that is, in debt, in danger, and in poverty

poll a female of unsteady character; “polled up,” means living with a woman in a state of unmarried impropriety. Also, if a costermonger sees one of his friends walking with a strange woman, he will say to him on the earliest opportunity, “I saw yer when yer was polled up”

zeb best

tattoo a pony

button a decoy, sham purchaser, &c. At any mock or sham auction seedy specimens may be seen. Probably from the connexion of buttons with Brummagem, which is often used as a synonym for a sham

four-eyes a man or woman who habitually wears spectacles

commission [mish], a shirt

school a knot of men or boys; generally a body of idlers or street gamblers. Also, two or more “patterers” working together in the streets

St. Martin’s-le-Grand the hand

twitter ”all in a twitter”, in a fright or fidgety state

Thank you, Ebook-Friendly!

Stunning idea: digital library on the Bucharest subway station

As found on

The walls are being covered with large format posters, from top to bottom. Bucharest commuters who enter the station suddenly discover that they’re in an impressive library. The brightest idea comes here: you can use your smartphone to scan QR codes visible on the spines of the books – to actually start reading a book in no time.

Once you grab the code, you’ll be redirected to a mobile site powered by Humanitas. It’s a Vodafone Digital Library from where you can download free samples of 49 ebooks (epub or pdf format) and 10 audiobooks. The download is available to anyone, no matter the telecom provider they have.

One title is available for free download, the full version of Mateiu I. Caragiale’s Under the seal of mystery. If users would like to purchase any other title from Vodafone Digital Library in full version, they will be redirected to Humanitas website, where they proceed to check out.

Vodafone’s digital library on the Victoria subway station is a part of the new communication platform launched by Vodafone in May 2012.

Via Universign.

Amazon Is Going to Sell Ebooks Outside the Kindle Store

Kindle Store
Photo: Amazon

Paid Content shared the news, that Amazon is planning to publish a series of short biographies, called Amazon Liveswhich won’t be exclusive to Kindle Store.

In other words: they will be available for sale at other etailers.

This is a beginning of the big thing. This series is just a little sign of it. The first book will be published in June 2013, so it’s a long time to go, but the intentions of the online giant are clear. Amazon wants to sell as much content as possible – and to do that they are willing to open up.

Unlike all of the other e-books that Amazon has published so far, the “Amazon Lives” series will not be exclusive to the Kindle Store. The NYT first reported this and Amazon confirmed it, telling me, “The books will be available to be sold everywhere in all formats.”

Other ebookstores don’t usually support mobi format. One thing this move means is that the books for open distribution will be prepared in epub format as well.

But it also can mean, and I very much hope it will happen, that Amazon on their way to openness, will bless epub for Kindle ecosystem.

Via paidContent, via EbookFriendly.

Kindle Devices: Availability and Prices for International Users

Kindle 4


In this post I’ll track changes in prices and availability of Kindle devices for non-US customers.

I’ll update it every time a price will change or a new model will become available.

The chart below lists devices in Kindle Stores localized in six countries: US, UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Kindle devices from US store are shipping to over 170 countries and destinations – here is the country list for Kindle 4.

However, the recently added Kindle Touch can’t be bought by users from 5 countries where there are local Kindle Stores: UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. This fact leaves non-US users confused as to what is available, for which price, and in which store. This post gathers all info from different stores to show a clear picture.

Versions with special offers are excluded from a list, as they are offered only for US customers. Kindle Touch WiFi has replaced Kindle Keyboard WiFi in US store. In fact, the last model has disappeared from the offer at all. If you’re desperate to buy it, you can get it… from a German store.

At today’s currency rates (07.02.2012), the cost of Kindle 4 in localized stores converted to dollars is:
– $132 (€99) for Germany, France, Italy and Spain ( 1 EUR = 1.33 USD )
– $142 (£89) in United Kingdom ( 1 GBP = 1.59 USD )

I’ve checked if this is possible for users in one of the 5 countries to order the device in Kindle Store US, even when this particular model is available in their local store. To do that I’ve added a shipping address in France. First, I double-checked Kindle Touch and confirm – it’s not possible.

When it comes to Kindle 4 – you can order it from Kindle Store US. Shipping and handling from US to France is $20.98, plus import fees deposit $25.48. Total to pay is $155.46. It looks like for users in countries with their own Kindle Stores, it’s more cost-effective to buy in the local store.

(Post courtesy of, thank you Piotr Kowalczyk)