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A tosher is someone who scavenges in the sewers, a sewer-hunter, especially in London during the Victorian era. The word tosher was also used to describe the thieves who stripped valuable copper from the hulls of ships moored along the Thames. The related slang term "tosh" referred to valuables thus collected, both are of unknown origin.[1][2]

Other meanings[edit]

"Tosher" was also recorded from a slightly earlier period as undergraduates' slang for "an unattached or non-collegiate student at a university having residential colleges."[3]

A similar-sounding term from the same period, "tosheroon" has been applied to a tosher in error, but denotes a piece of pre-decimal British currency: the crown.[4]

In fiction[edit]

A tosher in Victorian London is the profession of the title character in Dodger, a 2012 novel by Terry Pratchett.[5]

The character Murky John is a Tosher in Year of the Rabbit Series 1 Episode 2.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 1851, H. Mayhew, London Labour, vol. II, p 150/2: "The sewer-hunters were formerly, and indeed are still, called by the name of ‘Toshers’, the articles which they pick up in the course of their wanderings along shore being known among themselves by the general term ‘tosh’, a word more particularly applied by them to anything made of copper."
  2. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Tosh". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2012-12-03.
  3. ^ Recorded from 1839. The Oxford Universal Dictionary Illustrated, Little, William; Fowler, H.W; Coulson, J; Rev. and Ed. Onions, C.T. OUP., 1965
  4. ^ 1859, J. C. Hotten Dictionary of Slang, p. 112 : "Tusheroon, a crown piece, five shillings."
  5. ^ Doubleday. ISBN 9780385619271

External links[edit]