Rumble in (British) English slang

Reply Tue 18 Feb, 2014 05:17 am
I have had a look at various dictionaries and have yet to see the word "rumble" as used in the sense of "being discovered" having a separate etymology to the standard word.

I was struck by this from a quick read through an extract from "The Canting Academy" from 1674 ( a dictionary of the Thieves' Cant) and noticed the word "Rumboyle" was Cant for a Ward or Watch(man). This was followed later by the following:

"Romboyl’d Sought after with a Warrant"

This encapsulates the meaning of the slang word "rumble" as in "You've been rumbled, mate." familiar to anyone brought up on the Sweeney. (Itself from a later version of Cant, Cockney Rhyming Slang: Sweeney, Sweeney Todd, Flying Squad. Would you Adam an' Eve it?). There does not appear to be a rhyming element in cant, as the "rum" part seems to recur with a meaning of "well-to-do" or similar.

To me this would mean that this usage of the word rumble deserves its own dictionary entry with a separate etymology. I tried going onto the OED to see if they have this etymology but balked at paying for the privilege.

Source: http://www.bl.uk/learning/timeline/item104313.html

Any thoughts?
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Reply Sun 23 Feb, 2014 12:21 am
I wish could help but I'm only familiar with the American slang usage, in the 1950's it meant street fight, (see Westside Story), but I think it stopped being used by street thugs once they found out about Westside Story with all the singing dancing and finger snapping. I'm familiar with the 'rumbling' around town, usually means gossip or yapping about something.

You might have better luck at the library, checking out a reference book on English Slang. Hopefully that won't cost you anything but time. Online reference sites are all starting to charge fees.

Good luck with your search.
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