Cantering Through Cant (6)

I enjoy wearing a hat, but you need to make sure that your titfer is the real McCoy.

To bug, according to Francis Grose’s A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785), was “a cant word used among journeymen hatters, signifying the exchange of some of the dearest materials of which a hat is made for others of less value. Hats are composed of the furs and wools of divers animals, among which is a small portion of beever’s fur. Bugging is stealing the beever and substituting in lieu thereof an equal weight of some cheaper ingredient”.  

To bug a writ, though, was when a bailiff took “money to postpone or refrain the serving of a writ”.

The Irish used the term bug to describe an Englishman, “bugs having, as it is said, been introduced into Ireland by the English”.

A bug-hunter was an upholsterer and, given the materials they used, probably an apt description.

Bugs, be gone!

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