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Victorian Slang of the Week

Volume 1, A-G, J.E.Lighter Editor

Volume 1, A-G, J.E.Lighter Editor

Deadwood: a coffin, 1845.  Only one reference for this term.  2) a sure thing, as in a bet–1850 a couple of references to this 3) genuine–1876.  Only one reference to this as well.  As in “Is that the deadwood truth?” 4) have the deadwood on–to have at once’s mercy or a critical advantage over.  This has many reference from 1850’s on, which would lead a writer to believe that the other definitions were used more often, at least in speech.   “If you bring a knife to a gunfight, the gunowner has the deadwood over the knife owner.”  I used this once or twice in The Wild Half : “Looked to me like Lilah had the deadwood on you”

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1 Comment

  1. Interesting! Of course, it you used it in a novel, the reader would have a hard time figuring that one out. lol

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