A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 27, 2004
Frog and Toe
"Frog and Toe" was a 19th century underworld nickname for New York City. Not much is known about it and it appears to have been rarely used. The term "Frog and Toe" was defined as "The City of New-York" in George Matsell's Vocabulum; or, the Rogue's Lexicon (1859). Matsell -- a New York City police chief -- borrowed heavily from British sources for his book. An earlier slang book called Vulgar Tongue (1857) had described "frog and toe" as "Thieves coming up to London with plunder."

From J. E. Lighter's Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, A-G (1994):

Frog and Toe n. Und. New York City. Cf. 1857 quot.
[*1857 "Ducange Anglicus" Vulgar Tongue: We will go to frog and toe. Thieves coming up to London with plunder.]
1859 Matsell Vocab.: Frog and Toe. The city of New-York.
1866 Nat. Police Gaz. (Nov. 3) 3: Dutch returned immediately to "frog and toe" with a gay set of whiskers, which he had raised in "stur," and a black plug "cady" on his "knob," which gave him the appearance of a superannuated "grabber."

17 November 1866, National Police Gazette, "'Dodger's' Expositions: Movements of Thieves," pg. 3, col. 2:
They were all "pulled;" Adamas and Brancoaler in "frog and toe," and Whitehouse, after "pinching" four "prancers," and "cracking" a half dozen "cribs," were "coppered" near the New York line in Massachusetts.

26 October 1867, National Police Gazette, "Toronto Correspondence," pg. 4, col. 1:
THey then sent to "frog-and-toe" for reinforcements, and two "gay and festive" "aids," in the persons of Alick Watson and Joe Gailard, another brace of operatives, came upon the scene.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNicknames/Slogans • Saturday, November 27, 2004 • Permalink