Ah, ‘A Clockwork Orange’ – probably the most challenging (and best) book I ever read in high school. And certainly one of the best films ever made. A standout feature of both book and film is, of course, the fictional language, Nadsat, influenced majorly by Russian. Now, a lost dictionary of Nadsat slang is lost no more. Real horrorshow.
With several hundred entries across letters A, B and Z, the dictionary remnants were discovered by archivists in a file held by the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, a staggering 45 years after the author’s death. A lexicographer specialising in slang is currently studying the entries, some of which you can feast your glazzies on below.
Abdabs (the screaming) – Fit of nerves, attack of delirium tremens, or other uncontrollable emotional crisis. Perhaps imitative of spasm of the jaw, with short, sharp screams.
Abdicate – In poker, to withdraw from the game, forfeiting all money or chips put in the pot.
Abfab – Obsolescent abbreviation of absolutely fabulous, used by Australian teenagers or ‘bodgies’.
Abortion – Anything ugly, ill-shapen, or generally detestable: ‘You look a right bloody abortion, dressed like that’; ‘a nasty little abortion of a film’ (Australian in origin).
Abyssinia – I’ll be seeing you. A valediction that started during the Italo-Abyssinian war. Obsolete, but so Joyceanly satisfying that it is sometimes hard to resist.
Abfab, indeed. A really great discovery – bravo, archivists.