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The American Malefactor’s Dictionary: bit

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– 1. the old Spanish “real” coin and then a dime; 2. money of any kind; 3. a share of the booty; 4. outwitted; 5. a prison sentence.


  • Barrère, Albert and Charles G. Leland. A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon, and Cant. [London]: The Ballantyne Press, 1889.
  • Matsell, George W. Vocabulum: Or, the Rogue’s Lexicon.. New York: George W. Matsell, 1859.
  • Mount, Thomas. “The Confession, &c. of Thomas Mount” [1791]. Williams, Daniel. Pillars of Salt: An Anthology of Early American Criminal Narratives. Madison, WI: Madison House, 1993.
  • Partridge, Eric. A Dictionary of the Underworld. New York: Bonanza Books, 1961.

Note: See “Cant: The Language of the Underworld” to learn more about the background of the American Malefactor’s Dictionary.

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