Portraits of London's 19th century poor


#1

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#2

What is a "mackarel"? Google and Wikipedia aren't helping me.


#3

Probably a variant spelling of "mackerel", a kind of fish. According to the OED the word can also mean "one who ministers to sexual debauchery; a bawd, pimp, procurer or procuress". So the person in the picture is either a fishmonger or a pimp.


#4

Judging by the wicker basket on his/her head, I'm going to guess they're a minister of sexual debauchery.


#5

"MACKEREL. A bawd: from the French maquerel. Mackerel−
backed; long−backed."

The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue is actually really entertaining in it's own right, in addition to being an invaluable companion to the above books:
http://www.munseys.com/diskone/dcvgr.pdf


#7

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