Asked • 05/22/19

What does "toby" mean, in London slang of Orwell's time?

In the George Orwell poem ["A Dressed Man and a Naked Man"](, two men are haggling for the clothes of one of them (the other is naked). After a little research into the [pounds/shillings/pence system]( for the terms I'd forgotten, I figured out the amounts they were proposing: "Ten bob" is 10 shillings, "One dollar" is 5 shillings, "Eight and a tanner" is 8.5 shillings, "Take seven" means 7 shillings, and "One tanner more" makes 7.5 shillings. The only thing left to understand is the verb "*toby*", which appears twice in the poem: > [‘]Turnips, apples, hops and peas, And the spike when times are slack, Fifty years I’ve tobied it For these clothes upon my back.’ > [...] > [‘]Now pull my shirt over my head, I’m naked sole to crown, And that’s the end of fifty years Tobying up and down.’ **What does the slang verb "toby" mean?** Does it refer to some kind of low-paid work, perhaps? I tried searching online for this, but couldn't find any answer that fits.

1 Expert Answer


Marty R. answered • 09/09/20

5 (3)

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