Dead crook and running the rabbit: the larrikin vernacular

21 Jun

Trawling through local Melbourne newspapers from the early 1900s these past few days, I’ve come across a few suggestibve examples of larrikin slang:

Two teenage girls, Ivy Maine and a friend, were arrested for being drunk with a couple of so-called ‘buck larrikins’ in Yarra Park. A constable approaches them and asks if they’ve been drinking. The girls admit to quaffing some shandygaff, and that the boys have been ‘running the rabbit’. What does that mean, the magistrate asks? It means the boys have been bringing the girls beer in a bottle, Your Worship.

A young man called James Newbold comes into the Railway Hotel in Swan Street, Richmond, with a male friend. They’re barred from ordering drinks because Newbold’s friend has previously caused a rumpus in that same pub. ‘What sort of dead crook hotel is this?’ Newbold asks. ‘Come outside in the yard for five minutes, and I will put you in your place’.

Henry Mosley, an illiterate 17 year-old youth, is seen skylarking with a crowd of others his age in Green Street, Richmond, one Sunday night in 1910. A policeman once more approaches. ‘Cold pig to you!’ Mosley calls to him insultingly.


Richmond Guardian (Melbourne), 1 June 1912, 1; 1 April 1910, 2; 16 July 1910, 2.

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