British Parliamentary Slang and Terminology

7 terms


to take a surreptitious nap; sleep generally, from the ordinary meaning of the term; stopping leaks, repairing damages, so as to come out as good as new.—Sea term.


sb. figureVariants: figour, uigour, figures, (of speech)Etymology: Anglo-French figure; Latin figura

figure : E. S. Gould and other critics object to the use of the word in the sense of an amount stated in numbers, as “Goods at a high figure.” But Dean Alford is content to give his sanction to its use, and the literary and general public have followed him.

“to cut a good or bad figure ,” to make good or indifferent appearance; “what's the figure ?” how much is to pay? Figure-head , a person's face.—Sea term.

Massacre of the innocents

when the leader of the House of Commons goes through the doleful operation of devoting to extinction a number of useful measures at the end of the session, for want of time to pass them. Vide Times, 20th July, 1859: Mr. C. Foster, on altering the time of the legislative sessions.—Parliamentary Slang.


to follow or dog a person; to watch, to notice.

Casser sa pipe (pop.) = To kick the bucket; To hop the twig; To die.

“to put one's pipe  out,” to traverse his plans, “to take a rise” out of him. When any one meets with a rebuff or a sharp answer, he is often told to “put that in his pipe  and smoke it,” i.e., to digest it carefully.

to shed tears, or bewail; “pipe  one's eye.”—Sea term.

“He first began to eye his pipe.And then to pipe  his eye.”—Hood.

Metaphor from the boatswain's pipe, which calls to duty.


a long-winded speaker.—Parliamentary.


drunk, or intoxicated.—Sea term. When a vessel changes the tack, she, as it were, staggers, the sails flap, she gradually heels over, and the wind catching the waiting canvas, she glides off at another angle. The course pursued by an intoxicated, or slewed , man, is supposed to be analogous to that of the ship.


a re-election without opposition.—Parliamentary, but derived from the turf, where a horse which has no rivals walks over  the course. See dead heat.