ablutions
the act of washing oneself
abstracted
preoccupied; unable to concentrate
aft
at the rear part of a boat or ship; towards the stern
agent
estate manager
alabaster
a translucent gypsum (a soft white mineral made of calcium sulfate dihydrate), often used for carving ornaments
amidships
in the middle of a ship or boat
ante-room
a room at the entrance to another room; a waiting room
application
effort; giving something one's full attention
astern
at the rear of a boat or ship
asylum
an institution for the care of people who are mentally ill (referred to in the past as a 'lunatic asylum')
a-thump
thumping away; banging away
au fait (with)
familiar (with); conversant (with)
ballast
heavy material, such as gravel or sand, placed in a boat or ship to improve its stability
banting
slimming; trying to lose weight
barbed
designed to wound; deliberately hurtful
bastard
hybrid (mixture); inferior breed (of)
beau
admirer; boyfriend
between-maid
a maidservant who helps both the cook and the housemaid (sometimes known as a 'tweeny')
block
the piece of wood on which a condemned person places his/her head to be beheaded
boorish
ill-mannered; rude
boudoir
a small, elegantly-furnished room, which a woman has for her personal use, and for entertaining intimate friends
bracken
a mass of tall ferns
broadside
the whole of the side of a ship above its water-line; ('broadside on' means 'facing', or 'at rightangles to' the broadside)
camp-stool
a light folding stool, generally used out of doors
charades
a party-game in which players guess a word or phrase from the miming of another player
chintz
a fabric with a shiny finish, often printed with a floral design
clasp knife
a penknife (pocket knife) whose blade folds into the handle
colonnade
a row of columns, or trees, at regularly-spaced intervals
commissionaire
a uniformed attendant at the entrance to a hotel, theatre or shop
consumptive
suffering from a wasting disease, particularly pulmonary tuberculosis (TB)
contingency
a chance occurrence
distemper
a viral disease suffered by dogs (and some other animals) characterised by fever, coughing and catarrh
docketed
labelled
dressing-case
a small travelling case, for carrying brushes and toilet articles
ducks and drakes
a pastime whereby a flat stone is thrown across the surface of a stretch of water, the objective being to make it bounce as many times as possible (sometimes known as 'skimming stones')
Dutch courage
courage obtained through drinking alcohol
eau-de-Cologne
a perfume made of alcohol and various essential oils (manufactured originally at Cologne)
Eh bien, Blaize, je viens
(French) O.K. Blaize, I'm coming
en fête
(French) in holiday mood
entailed
organised (through a legal arrangement known as an 'entail') so that inheritance occurs in a particular, pre-defined way
faun
a god who is half man; half goat
fender
something that is hung over the side of a boat or ship to prevent it colliding with, or rubbing against, other vessels etc.
flagged
paved with flags/slabs (of stone or marble)
florid
having a red, or flushed, complexion
gaga
showing signs of mental deterioration through age
gaiter
a covering of cloth or leather extending from below the knee to the ankle; legging
galantine
cooked chicken, veal (or other white meat), taken off the bone and served in aspic (clear jelly)
gate-legged table
an extendable table, with legs folded beneath it, which can be brought out to support the extra leaves
gaucherie
awkwardness of manner
gauntlet gloves
sturdy gloves which cover part of the arm, as well as the hand - often used for driving.
give you what for
gave you a telling-off; reprimand
glass
barometer (instrument for predicting the weather through the measurement of atmospheric pressure)
gone a bust
? spent a lot of money
gossamer
a fine, filmy substance,consisting of cobwebs spun by small spiders
grotto
a decorated cave, or an artificial cave created in a garden and decorated with shell-work etc.
hangings
curtains
hawkers
costermongers; men who go from place to place selling goods
heel
a dishonourable or untrustworthy person; a 'rotter'
herded
massed together
hireling
someone who is available for 'hire' - i.e. to be employed for a wage
Home farm
the farm belonging to a country estate
hors d'oeuvre
first course; starter
hot
(as in 'I felt rather hot for her') embarrassed, upset
hot*
(*as in 'hot music') emotional music with a strong beat (often applied to jazz)
idiot
a person with mental impairment (learning disability)
impunity
exemption from punishment or censure
in camera
in a judge's private chambers
inducted
installed; formally introduced into a role (used for the introduction of clergymen to their livings)
insiduous
sly; treacherous; deceitful
interloper
an intruder; someone who does not fit in to a particular situation
inveterate
with long experience of doing something
jib
a triangular sail
knight-errant
a wandering knight in medieval romances who sought out opportunities for bravery and good deeds
labyrinth
an intricate, confused arrangement; entanglement
lay-figure
a jointed wooden model of the human body used by artists
leap-frog
a children's game in which one child bends over and others jump over him/her, by placing their hands on his/her back
lichen
a mixture of fungus and algae, usually greenish-grey in colour, which grows on stones and the bark of trees
lighter
type of flat-bottomed boat that is used for carrying goods unloaded from a ship
linnet
a small songbird of the finch family
live in my boxes
? live out of a suitcase
lorgnette
a pair of spectacles, held in the hand by a long handle attached to one of the frames;
mademoiselle
French term for an unmarried woman
mâitre d'hotel
manager of a hotel dining room; head waiter
marionettes
puppets controlled by strings
meets
the getting together of huntsmen and hounds in order to hunt a fox
megaphone
a large funnel-shaped item for amplifying the voice
memoranda
records; notes kept to aid memory
monocle
a single-lens eyeglass on a chain, held in place by the eye muscles
monogram
two or more interwoven letters (usually initials)
obtrude
to thrust forward; push outwards
on the razzle
out celebrating, or enjoying oneself, especially whilst drinking
pall
cloth cover, especially for a coffin
peeping Tom
a person who secretly watches other people, especially for sexual titillation
perjure
to lie under oath
pill
a tidal creek or cove (West Country term)
pince-nez
a pair of spectacles, kept in position by a spring which clips the nose
press
hurry; do something urgently
pungent
having a sharp, or strong, taste or smell
putty medals
worthless rewards for doing very little
questing
searching; seeking
quill
the shaft of a feather - used loosely for the feather itself
rakishly
jauntily; when used to describe a ship, sometimes implies a slightly pirate-like quality
rattled
agitated; upset; confused
reef
a narrow ridge of rocks lying just above or below the surface of the sea
rendezvous
a pre-arranged time and place to meet
right for'ard
(for a ship or boat) on a straight course
ripping
old-fashioned slang term for excellent or great or fantastic
rook
cheat; defraud
sable
a small animal like a marten; the fur of the sable
sacrilege
violation or abuse of something that is considered sacred
salver
a tray used for presenting refreshments, or for presenting letters and visiting cards
sand-shoes
canvas beach shoes, often with hemp or gutta-percha (a hard rubber-like substance) soles
sardonic
bitter, scornful, mocking
satyr
a woodland god who is part goat; part man, or part horse; part man
scrolled
decorated with curled or spiral ornamentation
scullery-maid
maid who does the most menial tasks in the kitchen (the scullery is the room where crockery and kitchen utensils are stored)
scuttled
deliberately sunk (by cutting, or opening holes in the hull of a boat)
scuttles
small covered holes on a ship's deck or hull which allow for communication or ventilation
sea-cock
a valve on the bottom of a boat which can be opened to allow water to enter, or to be got rid of
sepulchre
tomb or burial place
shaft
long, slender rod forming the body of a spear or arrow
shingle
pebbles on the seashore
shovel hat
a stiff, broad-brimmed hat, turned up at the sides, as worn by some English clergymen
shown the white feather
behaved in a cowardly way
sink
place of vice
slough
a bog or a swamp
sluice
a water channel controlled by a gate
sotto voce
in a subdued or low voice
sous le lavabo se trouve une vase
(French) there is a vase under the washbasin
spurious
illegitimate; false
squared
bribed
staccato
with each sound sharply detached or separated from another
standard lamp
a lamp supported by a tall pole fixed to a base
stigma
a mark of disgrace
stockinette
a soft, stretchy fabric
stocking cap
a knitted woollen cap, with a long tapered end hanging down, sometimes with a tassel attached
sweeps
? oars
tattoo
drum-beat
trousseau
clothes, linen and so on, put together by a bride-to-be
wagon-lit
a sleeping compartment on a continental train
whipping boy
originally, a boy educated with a young prince or royal personage who would take a whipping in place of his master; used figuratively: anyone who takes the blame/accepts a punishment on behalf of someone else
winkles
short for periwinkles, a type of edible marine mollusc