"WALKER"

Oxford English Dictionary XII: 44. "More fully, Hookey Walker. [Always written with initial capital; probably a use of the surname Walker.] An exclamation expressive of incredulity, Also occasionally as a sb. (= 'humbug'), as in 'That is all Walker.'

1811 Lex. Balatronicum, Hookee Walker, an expression signifying that the story is not true, or that the thing will not occur.

Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1949) 403.

Hooky Walker! A phrase signifying that something either is not true or will not occur: (low) colloquial, from ca. 1810. Lex. Bal. Also Hook[e]y!, as in Bee, and by hooky!, as in Manchon.‹2. Be off! (low) coll. from ca. 1830. Since ca. 1840, gen. abbr. to Walker! . . . . Acc. to Bee, ex. John Walker, a prevaricating hook-nosed spy.

40. "Walker" A Christmas Carol, Stave Four (p. 11)

The boy from whom Scrooge orders the prize turkey responds with suitable incredulity, for "Walker" was a nineteenth-century colloquialism equivalent in meaning to "humbug"(see entry for page three), as in "That is all Walker." This would seem to be a specialized use of a surname, since more fully the expression is "Hookey Walker," and the "W" is always capitalized.

Victorian colloquialisms

Mid-nineteenth-century English was somewhat different from the English we speak today — not in its usage but in its vocabulary. The following colloquialisms all come from A Christmas Carol:

Ebenezer: 'the stone of help' (I Samuel vii. 12); used as a name of a particular Methodist or Baptist chapel, and afterwards contemptuously to mean "dissenting chapel" (1856).

Scroudge: 'a crush, squeeze, or crowd' (1839), from such dialects as those spoken in Kent and Cornwall.

Bob: a pet form of Robert; also, London slang for a coin worth 1.5 pence in the 14th c., and by 1837 a shilling.

Cratchet: a dilemma, a tool used by thatchers, the stomach‹hence, to eat heartily.

Crotchet: a whimsical fancy, a peculiar notion held by an individual in opposition to popular opinion (1831).

Jacob: in 1662 a Jacobus was a gold coin; otherwise, the name alludes to the biblical patriarch who in Genesis 30: 40 made the inferior sheep he had been given breed faster.

Marley: from marl (soil); in Yorkshire, sleet.

Come Down: an expression meaning "to lay down money"; in 1822, Chrystal II. 248: "I'll make them come down, and handsomely too, or they shall repent for it."

Humbug: colloquially, a hoax, imposition, fraud, or sham (1751); used interjectionally to mean "stuff and nonsense" (1825); in slang, to deceive or cheat.

Situation: post or employment (1813).

Bedlam: the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, founded as a priory in 1247; by 1402, it was a hospital or asylum for lunatics; by extension, any madhouse (1663); hence, any scene of mad confusion (1667).

Sovereign: a gold coin originally worth 22s. 6d., but latterly worth only 10 or 11 shillings; by royal proclamation in 1817 the coin's value was fixed at twenty shillings.

Copper: a vessel made of copper. particularly a large boiler for cooking or laundry purposes, but now more often made of iron (1833).

'Change: a place of (financial or commercial) exchange, as in the King's or Queen's Exchange (1601); a money changer's office (1569); the 'Burse' or Exchange built in London by Sir Thomas Gresham in 1566 received from Queen Elizabeth I the name of the Royal Exchange.

Griping: The action of grip[p]ing, clutching, grasping, or seizing tenaciously, especially with the hands, arms, claws, and the like.

Prize Turkey: Although we associate Victorian Christmas festivities with roast goose, for those who could not afford it the meatier turkey was preferable. The North American M. gallopavo had already been domesticated in Mexico, and shortly after the Spanish discovery of that country in 1518 was introduced to Europe for the table (OED XI, 480).

Skreeks: from Screech (also screik, screak, skreigh), to utter a loud, shrill cry.

Fusty: That which has lost its freshness, stale-smelling, musty, as of a wine-cask; of bread, corn, meat, etc., smelling of mould or damp (1491); hence, that which has lost its interest.


Victorian Web Overview Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol

Last modified 6 June 2001

Last modified 8 June 2007