Criminal Word Origins

Monday, May 23, 2011

From the start, to tip meant to give somebody money, but four hundred years ago the money was given for a slightly different reason. It was part of the thieves' cant, a language used by the criminal underworld in Britain. You've probably used some of their secret code words today. The verb to "tout," which now means "praise something highly" started out meaning "to keep lookout and warn everybody if you saw the one time coming." They even gave us the idea to use "kid" to mean to joke with somebody (to them, it was treating somebody like a child).

Read more here. The first few are actually more surprising.