See Advertisements


Explanatory Essays

Personal Profiles





Glossary of Terms Used in the Runaway Advertisements

Many of the terms used in the 18th- and 19th-century advertisements had different meanings than today's terms. The following is designed to aid the student in understanding the earlier menaings of the words used in the advertisements. Please send any suggestions of words that need to be added to

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


calamanco: a woolen fabric, checked on one side, glossy on the other, originated in Flanders, common in the 18th century
calico: name for a variety of cotton cloths imported from the east, often dyed in vibrant colors, originally named for an Indian port; later used for plain cotton, bleached or unbleached
callimanco: version of calamanco
camblet: cloth made of wool and silk, originally mixture of silk and camel hair, also camlet
copperas: a compound of iron or iron-sulphate, used in dyeing or tanning cloth, or making ink; normally green, blue, or blue-green
crocus: a  yellow dye from the crocus or saffron flower, or the fabric (coarse linen made from flax or hemp), dyed yellow, used mainly to clothe slaves or servants
cupping: a medical term indicating the practice of drawing blood through a glass or ceramic cup applied to scarified skin using a vacuum


damask: an expensive silk fabric containing elaborate designs, usually in a veriety of colors, later applied to any fabric (wool, cotton, or linen) woven with similar designs
dimity: a ridged cotton cloth, usually fine, sometimes classed with silk and satin
do.: abbreviation for ditto; the same
drab: a thick, heavy wool fabric, of a dull color, brown or yellow-brown
drugget: a coarse wool, or a mixture of wool and silk or wool and linen, later used for floor coverings, or table cloths
duffill: variation of duffel; a coarse wool with a thick nap, named for Duffel, a town in Brabant, Holland
duroy: a coarse wool, similar to tammy


fustian: a coarse cloth, made of cotton and flax, sometimes dyed olive or other dark color
fretten: spotted, as in pock-fretten, marked by the smallpox
frock: a long outer garment worn mainly by men


gaol: variation of jail, sometimes written as goal
goal: see gaol


hemp: a coarse fabric made of the fiber of the hemp plant
hempen: made of hemp or pertaining to hemp, coarse


instant: a convention in writing indicating the same month as the date of the letter or advertisement, abbreviated inst. See also ultimo


K.P.G.: in captured ads, abbrevation for "Keeper of the Public Gaol (Jail)"
kersey: a coarse woolen cloth, often ribbed, perhaps named for English village of Kersey in Suffolk


likely: suitable, able, well fitted
lusty: healthy, strong, active


mulatto: descendant of a white parent and a black parent, or light brown in color, the appearance of a mulatto


nankeen: a cotton cloth, named for Nanking, China, sometimes dyed yellow


osnaburg: a coarse linen, named for Osnabruck, a town in Germany, used to clothe slaves and servants; also osnabrig, osnabrug, oznabrig, oznabrigg, oznabrug, oznaburg


pettiauger: a small boat, similar to a canoe, variation of pirogue; also petty-augre
pistole: a Spanish coin, worth around 18 shillings. See essay on currency
plains: similar to flannel; plain cloth


sagathy: a wollen cloth
sensible: capable of or easily understood
shalloon: a coarse wool, used sometimes for linings


taminy: version of tamin or tammy
tammy: a worsted cloth of good quality, sometimes with a shiny finish; the term not much used after mid-nineteenth century


ultimo: a convention in writing, meaning the month prior to the date of the letter or advertisement, abbreviated ult. See also instant