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Dicky

(A), in George III.'s time, meant a flannel petticoat. It was afterwards applied to what were called false shirts —i.e. a shirt front worn over a dirty shirt, or in lieu of a shirt. These half-shirts were first called Tommies.

A hundred instances I soon could pick ye -
Without a cap we view the fair,
The bosom heaving also bare,
The hips ashamed, forsooth, to wear a dicky.

Peter Pindar: Lord Auckland's Triumph.

So again: -

And sister Peg, and sister Joan,
With scarce a flannel dicky on ...

Middlesex Election, letter iv.

(Hair, whalebone, or metal vestments, called dress-improvers, are hung on women's backs, as a “dicky” is hung on a coach behind.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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