That moment when the French and Latin word for death becomes Thieves’ Cant slang for woman.
Woman or wench; also a yeoman’s daughter; when used by itself, denotes a girl or woman of loose morals; canting jargon of unknown origin from at least 1560s.
Maybe the connection to the word for death has something to do with the morality, or lack thereof, associated with this slang. Loose morals usually meant a worker in the sex trade, which usually meant an unfortunate association with mortality – early death. No matter the derivation, it’s not a flattering term in the least.
Well, just as we discovered with cove for gentlemen, when you add the right adjective, the character of women called mort becomes more apparent:
autem mort ~ a married woman; also a female beggar who hired or borrowed children for larger gain
bingo mort ~ a female dram drinker; one who spirituous liquors in small amounts
bleached mort ~ a fair complexioned wench
dimber mort ~ a pretty wench
filching mort ~ a woman thief
gentry mort ~ a gentlewoman
kinchin mort ~ a young girl, usually an orphan, trained as a thief
nazy mort ~ a drunken woman
queer mort ~ a diseased strumpet; also queere mort
rome or rum mort ~ a queen or great lady
strolling mort ~ beggar or peddler pretending to be a widow
mort wap-apace ~ a woman of experience, or very expert at the sport of copulation