Homosexual Terms in 18th-century Dictionaries

NOTE: In the following selection of definitions from dictionaries published during the eighteenth century, the most common words relating to homosexuality are "sodomy" and "buggery", which of course is no surprise. I think we can safely assume that "buggery" is widely understood as meaning anal intercourse between males, but the word "sodomy" seems to have a rather broader meaning, i.e. sex of any sort between males. Indeed, in Cocker's English dictionary of 1704 sodomy is defined simply as "male venery", which is really as abstract as the modern synonym "male homosexuality". Incidentally, the word "catamite" is sometimes just a synonym for "sodomite", and was not always restricted to one who submits to sodomy. There are also some other surprises. For example, the word "molly" appeared in a Swedish/English dictionary in 1762, where it is simply defined as a sodomite, a buggerer, without effeminate connotations. "Molly" also appeared in a French/English dictionary in 1767, as well as in several slang (or "cant") dictionaries, along with other slang terms such as "madge". It is also interesting to see the less familiar terms given in dictionaries of Hindi, Persian, Spanish and Welsh. There is a good subject here for a major linguistic study.


Cocker's English Dictionary: Interpreting the most refined and difficult words, by Edward Cocker. London, 1704.
          Catamidiate, a putting to open shame for a notorious offence.
          Catamite, a boy hired to be used contrary to nature, for Sodomy.
          Cataphysick, aganst nature.
          Sodomitical, one gilty of the horrid sin of
          Sodomy, Male venery, or buggery: A
          Sodomite in which City of Sodom, this wickedness was first committed, that we read of.

The English Expositor Improv'd, by J.B. [John Bullokar], revised by R. B rowne. London, 1707.
          Catamite. A Ganymede, or Ingle; that is, a Boy hired to be us'd contrary to Nature, to commit Sodomy with.
          Sodomy. Masculine Venery, Buggery, first known to have been used among the People of Sodom.

Glossographia Anglicana Nova: Or, A Dictionary, Interpreting Such Hard Words of whatever Language, as are at present used in the English Tongue, with their Etymologies, Definition, &c., Second Edition, London, 1719:
          Catamite, a Boy kept for Sodomy.
          Ganymede, the Name of a Trojan Boy; now it commonly signifies any Boy loved for Carnal Abuse, or hired to be used contrary to Nature, to commit the Sin of Sodomy.
          . . . .
          Gomorrhean, (from Gomorrha,) Sodomite, a Buggerer.
          Sodomite, a Person given to Sodomy or Buggery, the Sin of Sodom, the chief of the five Cities in Palestine, which was destroy'd by fire from Heaven; the Territory where it stood being swallowed up in the Brimstone Lake, commonly called the Dead Sea.

Cocker's English Dictionary, by Edward Cocker, 3rd edition, London, 1724:
          Sodomy, Male-Venery, for which Sodom was destroyed.

A New English Dictionary: Or, A Compleat Collection Of the Most Proper and Significant Words and Terms of Art, Commonly used in the Language, Third Edition, By. J. K. [Kersey], London, 1731:
          A Sodomite, one that commits
          Sodomy, i.e. Buggery, a heinous Crime, so called because the Inhabitants of Sodom were notoriously guilty of it.

A New English Dictionary, Containing a Collection of Words in the English Language, Properly Explain'd and Alphabetically Dispos'd, By B. N. Defoe, Gent. [Benjamin Defoe], Westminster: 1735:
          SODOMITE, one who commits the Sin of Sodomy, a Buggerer.
          SODOMITICAL, belonging to Sodomy.
          SODOMY, a Sin of the Flesh against Nature, Buggery.

The New Royal and Universal English Dictionary, By J. Johnson, London, 1763:
          CATAMITE, n. s. a sodomite.

Encyclopædia Britannica; Or, A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, &c., Second Edition, Vol. X, Edinburgh, 1783:
          SODOM, formerly a town of Palestine in Asia, famous in scripture for the wickedness of its inhabitants, and their destruction by fire from heaven on account of that wickedness. The place where it stood is now covered by the waters of the Dead Sea, or the Lake Asphaltites.
          SODOMY, the unnatural crime of buggery, thus called from the city of sodom, which was destroyed by fire for the same. See BUGGERY.
          The Levitical law adjudged those guilty of this execrable crime to death; and the civil law assigns the same punishment to it. The law of England makes it felony. There is no statute in Scotland against Sodomy; the libel of the crime is therefore founded on the divine law, and practice makes its punishment to be burned alive.

A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, (by Grose), London, 1785:
          BACK GAMMON PLAYER, a sodomite.
          INDORSER, a sodomite; to indorse with a cudgel, to drub or beat a man over the back with a stick, to lay cane upon Abel.
          MOLLY, a miss Molly, an effeminate fellow, a sodomite.
          WINDWARD PASSAGE, one who uses, or navigates the windward passage, a sodomite.

A New Dictionary of All the Cant and Flash Languages, by Humphry Tristram Potter, London, n.d.:
          MADGE, a sodomite.
          MADGE CULL, a buggerer.
          MADGE COVE, a keeper of a house for buggerers.

Lingua Britannica Reformata: Or, A New English Dictionary, by Benjamin Martin, London, 1799:
          BUGGERY, sodomy, or sin against nature, as one man having copulation with another; or a man or woman with brute beast.
          PATHIC, sub. a catamite, sodomite, or one who suffers himself to be abused contrary to nature.
          SODOMITE (so called from the sin of Sodom) a buggerer, one that commits sodomy.
          SODOMITICAL, of, or belonging to the sin of sodomy.
          SODOMY, buggery, a sin of the flesh against nature; so called because committed by the inhabitants of Sodom.

Blackguardiana: Dictionary of Rogues, Bawds, Pimps, Whores, Pickpockets, &/;c. &c., [by James Caulfield], London, [1795]:
          BACK GAMMON PLAYER, a sodomite.
          BUD SALLOGH, shitten p—ck [prick]; an Irish appellation for a sodomite.
          INDORSER, a sodomite; to indorse with a cudgel, to drub or beat a man over the back with a stick, to lay cane upon Abel.
          WINDWARD PASSAGE, one who uses, or navigates the windward passage, a sodomite.

Dutch / English

A Large Dictionary English and Dutch   Groot Woordenboek der Engelsche en Nederduytsche   by W. Sewel, Amsterdam, 1717:
          to BUGGER, Boggeren.
          Buggerer, een Bogger.
          Buggery, Boggery, stomme zonde, Sodomitische zonde.
          . . . .
          SODOMITE, een Sodomyt, bogger.
          Sodomy, Sodomitische zonde, Sodomie.

French / English

The Law-French Dictionary, Alphabetically Digested; To which is added, The Law-Latin Dictionary, Collected out of the best Auithors, by F. O., London, 1701:
          Bougre, a Buggerer, bougerie, buggery.
          Buggery, Pæderastia, œ, f. Buggery committed with Mankind or Beast is Felony without benefit of Clergy, it being a sin against God, Nature, and the Law, and in ancient times such Offenders were to be burned by the Common-Law. There are two Statutes for it, 25. H. 8. revived 3. Eliz. 17. One describeth this offence to be Carnalis copula contra naturam & hæc sel per confusionem specierum, sc. A Man or a Woman with a Brute Beast, vel. , sc. A Man with a Man, a Woman with a Woman. See Levit. 18.22, 23. Fitz. Nat. brev. 269. B. Dalton.
          A Buggerer, Pæderastes.
          To commit Buggery, Pædico, art.
          Sodomy (or Buggery)   Sodemitæ., f.
          A sodomite (or buggerer)   Sodomita, æ, m. Pæderastes.

The Royal Dictionary English and French, Divided in Two Parts. By Mr. Boyer. The Second Part. Printed at the Hague, 1702:
          To BUGGER, V. Act. bougeronner.
          Buggered, Adj. bougeronné.
          Buggery, Subjt. Bougre, qui bougeronne.
          Buggery, Subst. Sodomie.
          . . . .
          Sodomite, Subst. (or Buggerer) Un Sodomite, un Bougre.
          Sodomical, Adj. De Sodomie.
          SODOMY. Subst. (or Buggery, a Sin of the Flesh against Nature) Sodomie.

A Compendious Dictionary of the French Language, chiefly Designed to teach the Pronunciation of it, by V. J. Peyton, London, 1764:
          Sodomie, N. S. pr. so-do-mee; sodomy; buggery.
          Sodomite, N. S. pr. so-do-miet; a sodomite; a buggerer.

A New Pocket Dictionary of the French and English Languages, by Thomas Nugent, London, 1767:
          Molly (sodomite)   s. bardache, m.

A New French Dictionary, by Thomas Deletanville, London, 1771:
          Pédéraste, f. m. .
          Pédérastie, f. f. pederasty, sodomy.
          Sodomie, f. f. sodomy.
          Sodomite, f. m. and f. a sodomite.
          Sodomitical, adj. de sodomie.
          Sodomita, f. sodomite, m.
          Sodomy, f. sodomie, f.

German / English

The New and Complete Dictionary of the German and English Languages, Composed chiefly after the German Dictionaries of Mr. Adelung and of Mr. Schwan, elaborated by John Ebers, Leipzig, 1798:
          Knabenschander, der,   a Buggerer, a Sodomite, a Pederast.
          Knabenschanderren, die,   Buggery, Buggering, Pederasty; the disgraceful or ignominious Amour among Men.
          Sodomit, der,   a Sodomite, a Buggerer, one that is guilty of Sodomy.
          Sodomiteren,   Sodomy, Buggery, a Sin against Nature.
          Sodomitisch, adj. & adv.   sodomitical.
stumme Sunden,   abominable Sins, as Sodomy, Buggery, Pederasty.

Hindi / English

A Dictionary, English and Hindoostanee: in which the words are marked with their distinguishing initials; as Hinduwee, Arabic, and Persian, by John Gilchrist, in Two Parts, Part II, Calcutta, 1790:
          SODOMITE, a. lootee; h. lounde-baz, liwatee; v. catamite.
          SODOMY, a. luwatut, ighlam; h. lounde-bazee.

Latin / English

A Dictionary, English-Latin, and Latin-English, by Elisha Coles, 8th edition, London, 1716:
          To Bugger, Pædicar.
          A Buggerer, Pæderastes.
          Buggery, Pæderastia.
          Sodomy, Sodomia, pæderastia, peccatum sodomiticum.
          A Sodomite, Sodomita, pæderastes.

The New Latin and English Dicgionary, Designed for the use of Grammar Schools, and Private Education, by John Entick, London, 1771:
          To bugger, pædicor.
          A buggerer, pædicator.
          Buggery, pæderastia.
          A sodomite, sodomita.
          Sodomy, sodomia.


A Compendious Vocabulary   English and Persian, by Francis Gladwin, Calcutta, 1783-86:

Portuguese / English

A Dictionary of the Portuguese and English Languages, by Anthony Vieyra Transtagana, London, 1773, Vol. II:
          To BUGGER, v. a. commetter o peccado nefando.
          BUGGERER, s. hum sodomita.
          BUGGERY, s. o peccado nefando.

Spanish / English

Nuevo Dicionario Español e Inglés e Inglés y Español, por Pedro Pineda, London, 1711:
          Bardájo, s. m.   a Bardish, a Boy that suffers Sodomy.
          Bardáxe, s. m.   a Sodomite.
          Bardáxo, vid. Bardájo.
          Bujarròn, s.m.   a Sodomite.
          Bujarrontàr, to play the Sodomite.
          Figòn, is also sometimes a Word of Reproach, signifying a Bardash, or one who has got the Piles by suffering the Act of Sodomy; from Ficus, the Piles, so call'd in Latin.
          Sodomy, s. sodomia.
          A Sodomite, s. sodomita.

Diccionário, Españól è Inglés, è Inglés y Españól, por Hto San Joseph Girál Delpino, London, 1763:
          BUGRE, s. m.   a buggerer, a sodomite.
          BUJARRON, s. m.   a sodomite.
          BUJARRONEAR, v. a.   to play the sodomite.

Swedish / English

An English and Swedish Dictionary, by Jacob Serenius, 2nd edition, Sweden, 1762:
          To BUGGER, V. A. begd Sodomiteri eller tidelag, PAEDICARE, COIRE DUM BESTIIS. Buggery, s. Sodomiteri eller tidelag. Buggerer, s. dranga-skindare, tidelagare. NB. Sa heter det i lagen; men huru det kallas e Skrifeen, Vid. sub.Abuse.
          MOLLY, S. en Sodomit. Vid. Buggerer.

Welsh / English

Geiriadur Saesoneg a Chymraeg. An English and Welsh Dictionary, by Thomas Jones, Chester and London, 1800:
          Buggerer, s. gwrryw-gydiwr; eydiwr ag anifail
          Buggery, sub. gwrryw-gydiad, sodomiaeth: anifeiligrwydd
          Sodomy, s. Edr. Buggery

Y Geirlyfr Saesneg a Chymraeg; Neu'r Saesnego flaen y Cymraeg, Sio Rhydderch [John Rodderick], 1737:
          Buggery. Anlladrwydd gyda bechgyn.
          A Buggerer. A wnel anlladrwydd gyda bechgyn, neu ag anifair.

SOURCE: Various dictionaries and encyclopedias, as cited above.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Homosexual Terms in 18th-century Dictionaries", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 13 May 2008, updated 15 July 2013, 29 July 2021 <http://www.rictornorton.co.uk/eighteen/diction.htm>.

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