canister–like calabash, this was used for head. From 1832 on. It seems to have originated in England, and based on the references seems to be a mostly an Eastern usage. That my inference, however and was not from the dictionary. “The boxer took a left to his stomach, but managed to knock his opponent in the canister, which won the fight.”
calico–often a “piece of” calico. The dictionary defines it as a woman or young woman, but the references seem to refer more to women of loose morals, than a more generic definition. I read somewhere, I don’t remember where, that prostitutes were referred to as Calico Queens, which works with that definition. First reference was 1848 and used throughout the period.
calf-rope, as in to “cry” or “holler” calf-rope–surrender, plead for mercy. Mostly South and West. 1859. There are three references from the 19th century, many more in the 20th century. I used this in Running Wild, because it felt very much like western, cowboy slang to me.
calabash–the head. 1821-1856. Obviously, this is from early in the Victorian period and seemed to peter out somewhere in the late 1850′s. The last reference was from 1856 in the Dictionary of American English.
cake–a foolish person. I’ve read this many times, probably in Georgette Heyer novels (one of my favorite writers). She’s a regency writer, and the word goes back to 1785. However, it seems to be mostly used in the U.S. after about 1837. “He was so crazy over the girl, he dressed all in green, her favorite color, and made a regular cake of himself.”
What interested me mostly about “cake” as slang was the phrases I’d never heard of.
hurry up the cakes–to make haste, 1848. “If you want to make it to the play on time, you’ll have to hurry up your cakes.”
take the cake–1)to be awarded a prize or be triumphant. Also, rake the cakes 1842. “With that speed demon horse of his, he’ll rake in the cakes for sure in the races tomorrow.” 2) to surpass, often, but not always, in an annoying or brash way. As early as 1864. “He couldn’t fight worth a damn, but when it came to shooting contests, he took the cake.”
Interestingly, with all of these definitions, one we use commonly today. for something to be a “piece of cake” as in easy, is strictly a 20th century use.
Caesar, as in Great Caesar’s Ghost–an exclamation of shock and alarm. First written occurrence in the dictionary was from Mark Twain’s Roughin’ It 1871. The second was from Tom Sawyer, 1876, so it’s possible Twain started it. It was quoted in another source by 1883, however.
cabby–cabdriver. This is a little surprising to me. I’d figure this would have a much later beginning, but it goes back as far as 1852, in England. The next reference was new York, 1865.
cabbage–to steal or pilfer. I’ve never heard of this, but it appears to be used fairly extensively from 1806 on. “While Henry checked the traps, Jeremy discovered his blanket was soaked and cabbaged Henry’s.”