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A secret jargon used by traditionally itinerant people in Great Britain and Ireland, based on systematic inversion or alteration of the initial consonants of Gaelic words. Also called Cant, Gammon.

[From Shelta Sheldrū, perhaps alteration of Irish Gaelic béarla, language, English, from Old Irish bélrae, language, from bél, mouth.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(Languages) a secret language used by some itinerant tinkers in Ireland and parts of Britain, based on systematically altered Gaelic
[C19: from earlier sheldrū, perhaps an arbitrary alteration of Old Irish bēlre speech]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈʃɛl tə)

a private language, based in part on Irish, used among Travelers in the British Isles.
[1875–80; orig. uncertain]
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