baa-lamb A child’s pet name for a lamb.
baby-house A common name for a dollhouse, since dolls were often called babies. At the Manhattan Fair of the SANITARY COMMISSION in New York on April 14, 1864, a Mrs. Chauncey sold her “baby-house” for $500.
back-out A slang word for cowardice or a lack of courage; e.g., “The sergeant has a severe case of back-out.”
back talk The common term for replying to a superior officer in an insolent way.
bad A slang word meaning the opposite, good. Incorrectly considered to be a modern usage, it was part of a slave’s GULLAH vocabulary, expressing approval of another slave who had done something bad in their master’s opinion. It was pronounced long—“baaaad.”
bad blood A common euphemism for syphilis.
bad-box A person was in a bad predicament when he was “in a bad-box.” A soldier caught asleep on picket duty might tell his fellows he was now in a bad-box.
bad egg A dishonest, good-for-nothing, or evil person, e.g., “They shot Yates for desertion, but he wasn’t such a bad egg.”
bad nigger A complimentary term originally used by southern slaves and northern blacks for a black person, usually a man, who resisted white oppression. This was a hopeless and dangerous gesture on plantations but won the special admiration of the slave community.
baggage smasher A humorous slang name for a rough and careless type of person.
bag of wind A derogatory nickname for loud or pompous talkers. It was secretly given to Union Major General John Pope by his fellow officers.
bag the enemy To capture the enemy. The expression was often applied to a surprise flanking movement and march into the rear of the enemy, whose cannons are pointing away from the attack. The theory was good, but the “bagging procedure” seldom worked if the enemy had a larger force. Trains and military equipment could also be “bagged.”
bail one’s own boat To take care of one’s own fate or business without waiting for