Cariboo Slang

On August 6, 1863, during the Cariboo gold rush, The Daily Colonist printed a list of words and phrases that were commonly heard in the Cariboo in the form of a miners’ proclamation. Here is my shortened list of ‘Cariboo Slang’ that was originally compiled by a miner named William Hazeltine.

“fizzled,” “played out,” “petered,” “caved,” and “gone up a flume” – a worthless claim or a person that is ruined, helpless, dead, or in debt
“pile,” “the dust,” Spondulix,” the colour,” and “bottom dollar” – legal tender
“honest miner” – every person entitled to mine
“on it” – a willingness to buy, sell, or get drunk
“on the make” – a determination to make money honestly
“on the sell” – a willingness to sell
“on the buy” – a willingness to purchase
“you bet your boots” –  equivalent to “you bet your life”
“chain lightning” – very ardent spirits;
“mountain howitzer” – liquor that kills at over 1000 yards
“grey backs” – the gold escort
“in a horn” and  “in a hog’s eye” – refusal; equivalent to “no you don’t”
“vamoose the ranch,” “slope,” and “make tracks” – individual has left for parts unknown
“got the dead wood on him” – when someone has an advantage over someone else
“spotted” – a person is being watched
“sock it to him” and “give him fists” – punish
“jawbone” – credit provided
“nare a color” and “nare a red” – dead broke
“gone up a flume” – in trouble
“slum-gullion” – clay
“pay-dirt” – dirt containing gold
“good prospect” – where there is plenty of “pay dirt”
“wash boulders” “wash gravel” “bedrock pitching” – indications of gold
“jumper” a person who takes another miner’s claim because it is paying