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Then let him take the slang word " top-lights," meaning eyes. If he were to find in the old language a word having some resemblance in form and bearing the identical meaning of eyes he would have to reject it.But when he finds the mme word signifying the iqjper lanterns of a ship, he may adopt it without hesitation, because the metaphor forms a connection link and furnishes a safe clue.

Now, the dialect alluded to above was, centuries ago, almost the only slang — and there are men so much behind the times that it is vi Preface. We put in the qualifying " almost " because there always have been certain conditions, such as emigra- tion to savage countries, which have bred new circumstances, with a corresjjonding development of language.

So far we have spoken rather as if slang were a kind of outlaw or Bedouin with every man's hand against it, but of late years many judicious and intelligent writers have recognised that there is a vast number of words which, while current, are still on probation, Preface.

ix like emigrants in quarantine, awaiting the time when they are to be admitted to the regiilar haven of the Standard Dictionary.

It sometimes occurs that a technical word comes to be used figura- tively in an humorous and sarcastic sense.

Sailors talk slang when they say of a drunken man that his " mainbrace is well spliced," or that he is " two sheets in the wind." Occasionally a class slang word is adopted by the public, and swells the vocabulary of general or " society " slang.

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