some word questions

Emma Comerford emmaco at
Sun Aug 22 02:18:50 EDT 2004

At 11:28 PM 20/08/2004 -0600, you wrote:

>> >Yes, "pikey" is (derogatory) slang for gypsy (or vagabond, or tramp).  It's
>> >strictly British; I've never heard it here in Ireland.  A swift trip to my
>> >Brick (otherwise known as the New Shorter OED) tells me that it seems to be
>> >a variant of "piker" (both forms from the mid-19th century), which in turn
>> >is apparently (OED's word) derived from "'pike', a turnpike road.  Freq. in
>> >'come down the pike', appear on the scene; come to notice."  Presumably the
>> >word originally referred to the people's wandering habits.
>>In *The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue*, "To pike" and "Pike off" are
>>given as "to run away".  I'd suppose that comes from the pike-road,
>Oh, and hence "pikers": people who run away and/or chicken out of things.

This is also used as a verb around here, "to pike out". "You aren't going 
to pike out on us are you?"

Emma :) 

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