Language is a funny old thing. We take it for granted most of the time, but it’s incredible to think that countless people have come to almost the same understanding of what some randomly ordered letters refer to. It’s even stranger when you start looking at things like slang words, or words that were once on the tip of every tongue that no one even remembers anymore. Some of these words need to be brought back. Others need to be forgotten…


There are a few different versions of the word Abraham-man, but Abram, Abram-cove, and Abram-man all mean the same thing. You know what it is, too, because he’s still a pretty popular character in a certain type of movie. If you’ve seen any period piece with a shady-looking, scruffy beggar spouting a whole lot of lunacy, that’s an Abraham-man.
According to A Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial English, Abraham started out as a 16th-century term for a used clothing store, then turned into a reference to hard work that didn’t pay well. An Abraham-man was then a man who wore ragged clothes and roamed the Elizabethan countryside, but he was more than just a beggar. He was someone who was putting on an act that had some kind of falsehood about it, whether he was stealing as he begged or acting like a nutter to get people to offer handouts in exchange for his disappearance down the road. Hey, at least he was his own boss.
by Debra Kelly
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