a key language or old-fashioned slang particular to thieves tramps and vagabonds flash
- a characteristic language of a specific group (as among thieves)
- A secret language or mainstream slang peculiar to thieves, tramps, and vagabonds; flash.
1860, from French argot (17c.) "the jargon of Paris rogues and thieves," earlier "the business of beggars," from center French argot, "group of beggars," origin unknown. Gamillscheg implies an association to Old French argoter "to cut-off the stubs left in pruning," with a connecting sense of "to have a grip on." Ideal English equivalent is probably cannot. The German equivalent is Rotwelsch, virtually "Red Welsh," but the first element can be connected with Middle High German decay "beggar." Earlier in English ended up being pedlar's French (1520s) "language of thieves and vagabonds."
- army slang
(letter.) A secret language or traditional slang peculiar to thieves, tramps, and vagabonds; flash.