January 24th is Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day.
Dagnabbit! ‘Nother one o’ them highfalutin’ special ‘talk like’ days from back East?
(Bunch a lazy no-good claim-jumpin’ noaccounts [mublemumble])
On January 24, 1848, James Marshall discovered gold while building a sawmill for John Sutter in Coloma, California.
Here are a few phrases to get you talking like an old Grizzled Prospector.
An all-purpose curse word.
It meant both the entirety of something, as well as an all-purpose curse word.
If a claim is dumfungled, it’s been all used up—no gold to be found.
A productive mine that gave lots of gold.
A mine that was a total dud—no gold to be found.
Underground gold mines.
A claim could only be, well, claimed, if somebody was working it. That meant a lot of wealthy investors from the East Coast would buy a claim out in California and hire a laborer to dig for gold on it. Workers were paid for their efforts in food (grub) and a share (stake) of any gold they discovered.
A hand-truck used to move ore out of mines.
A promising cavity in a rock formation—a half-dug hole, in other words.
To dig with a shovel.
No mucking for these guys—this phrase describes a miner who made holes quickly with the use of dynamite.
A lazy gold miner.
A miner new to the camp.
A mining camp doctor.
The mining camp cook.
Blackjack and Sow Bosom
These two slang terms refer to breakfast foods: coffee and bacon, respectively.
A lunch break. (What was on the menu? Probably strawberries.)
Don’t think you can subtly drop grizzled prospector talk into everyday speech? Here’s how!
Apple Store clerk:
“Yessir! We got a whole passel o’ these here MacIntosh computator boxes. Belly up to one an’ give ‘er a go, young feller!”
“So,… How’s it make ya feel to git raised up by a mother who’s a horn-swogglin’, four-flushin’, ornery sidewinder?”
“We’ll have that cyst out o yer neck faster’n a jackrabbit on a hot rock.”
“There’s GOLD in them thar display cases! GOLD, I tell ye!! And a selection of less expensive alloys! Euuuuureka!”
Siobhan O’Shea is a freelance writer. She writes about pretty much everything but especially likes to bring readers’ attention to new tech, marketing, human behavior, and other oddities.