Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Etiquette and a Regency Era Lexicon


I read for research, and rarely is it from a novel.

Making sense of "Sense and Sensibility" and other works of the Regency Era


I recently read a novel. I read "Sense and Sensibility" by Jane Austen. Now, I rarely read novels. And by "rarely," I mean I read one every ten or twenty years. Don't get me wrong... I read a lot. Daily. But when I read, I am reading for research, from my old etiquette books and news archives.

I am surrounded by old etiquette books. I currently have 6 sitting by my nightstand and 3 sitting on my bed, next to the remote control. I have 6 or 7 on my other nightstand, and just recently moved a bookshelf out of the master bedroom entirely, so I would no longer feel like I should be on the television show, "Hoarders." I moved it into our guest room, next to the other 2 bookcases. I dare not say how many books are downstairs. Let's just assume I could open an etiquette library.

My point is, that I read "Sense and Sensibility" in full, and want to read Jane Austen's other books. I have actually read parts of them before, along with parts of other Regency Era works. Those were simply small portions though, while looking for quotes.

Now that I have decided to actually sit and read these books, I thought I should come up with a "Regency Era Dictionary" of sorts, in an effort to make sense of Jane Austen's writings, as they are filled with archaic phrases and words. The following is my list up to this point in time:



"To be well received, you must always be circumspect at table, where it is exceedingly rude, to scratch any part of your body, to spit, or blow your nose, (if you can't avoid it, turn your head,) to eat greedily, to lean your elbows on the table, to sit too far from it, to pick your teeth before the dishes are removed, or leave the table before grace is said." ~ John Tusler 1791

Apes leader: an old maid or a spinster 

Alacrity: briskness


Banditti: wild outlaws, bandits


Batman: an orderly assigned to a military officer

Bluestocking: an academic female


Consumption: a wasting away, a bout of tuberculosis

"Corinthian" can also mean "a rake."
Corinthian: a dandy, a fashionable man, who is also good at sports. It can also mean "a rake." But originally, it meant profligate and derived from the elegant but dissipated lifestyle led in Ancient Corinth.

Coxcomb: a conceited and vain person. In origin, it meant "fool" as fools used to wear caps with bells and a piece of red cloth on top which was shaped like a cock's comb


Cry rope on someone: give them away, to tell secrets

Dilatoriness: slowness, procrastination


Dovecote: small house or box with compartments for nesting doves or pigeons


Drive unicorn: to drive a vehicle with three horses, one in front and the other 2 behind

Lions and tigers and bears... The Exeter Exchange was most famous for the menagerie that occupied its upper floors for over 50 years, from 1773 until it was demolished in 1829.
Exeter Exchange: a wild animal exhibit

Foxed: tipsy, drunk


Flying one's colors: blushing


Frank: a piece of mail marked with an official signature, so that it can be mailed for free


Mr. Darcy had bad breath... from a lack of oral hygiene? Surely this is a false rumour! Austen once wrote of 3 women who called on her: ‘I was as civil to them as their bad breath would allow me.’
"Tooth powder was advertised to whiten and preserve teeth but, of course, they decayed - which led to other advertisements for false ones. The best false teeth were human, usually extracted from corpses. Body snatchers could sell a set of canines for five guineas. Gruesome though it seems, battlefields were a rich source of teeth plundered from fit young bodies."
From The Mail Online, 7/4/13
Fudge: a false rumor

Fustian: bombast, pompous language, pretentious speech

Gammon: nonsense (noun), to deceive or lie (verb)

Green Girl: a girl who is young and inexperienced


Glebe House, near Oxted
Glebe: church land to be used by the rector

Gudgeon: it derives from the name of a fish that gets easily caught and means someone who is easily duped or imposed upon


Hard by: nearby or near by

Jarvey: driver of a hackney coach  


Jointure: settlement to a wife from her husband throughout her life, which will then transfer to her children

Everyone lushing some slop.
Lush some slop: to drink some tea.

Moiety: one of two parts, not necessarily equal


Mohurs: 19th & 20th century gold coins used in British India


"Perhaps," said Willoughby, "his observations may have extended to the existence of nabobs, gold mohrs, and palanquins." from Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility"
Nanob: it comes from the Hindustani word "nawab" which was the name for the ruler in the Mogul Empire and means a rich man, a person of great wealth and prominence, especially one who made his fortune in India.

Nonpareil: a leader of fashion. Also known as a nonesuch.

A palanquin or sedan chair.

Palanquins: enclosed litters borne on the shoulders of men by means of poles.


Pinkest of the Pinks: a very fashionable man.


Round Game: game, as in cards, on which each plays on his or her own account.


Reticule: a woman's handbag closed with a draw string.


Snuff: a powdered, often scented, tobacco that was taken into the nose.  It was usually carried around in small and decorated boxes.

Sponging House ~ A place of temporary confinement for debtors in the United Kingdom. 
Sponging House: debtors' quarters before being taken to jail.  

Stewponds: fishponds

  
Town Tabby: an aristocratic dowager  

Two-penny post: In 1801, the charge for mailing letters locally went from one pence (a penny), to two


Wooly bandits are known to steal picnic foods from the unsuspecting.
Wooly bandits: wild sheep who steal picnic baskets

Whist: a card game in which two pairs of players try to take a majority of tricks, with the trump suit being determined by the last card dealt; a forerunner of bridge

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