Ablutions
To wash or cleanse the body, originally for religious ritual.
Acrid
A strong, unpleasant, bitter smell or taste.
Adam’s Ale
Witty term for water, in terms of it being the only available drink for Adam in the garden of Eden.
Agate
A brightly coloured variety of quartz.
Aigrette
Plumes used for a headress or similar decoration, originally from the French word for egret (a white heron).
Amniotic
The protective fluid that surrounds a foetus in the womb.
Approbation
Strong approval.
Arcana
Secret or mystery; the collective name for the cards of the Tarot.
Aria
Italian for 'air'; generally a solo piece sung by one singer with musical accompaniment, especially in opera.
Arpeggio
Where all the notes in a musical chord are played rapidly in sequence, rather than simultaneously.
Athwart
From side to side; to thwart or oppose.
Auto-da-fé
Portuguese for 'Act of Faith'. Originally a public ceremony where the Spanish/Portuguese Inquisitions would pronounce sentence on heretics; can also refer to the burning at the stake of heretics.
Axiom
A truth that is self evident and requires no proof.
Baleful
Menacing, evil, threatening harm.
Balsam
Pleasant smelling products made from plant oils.
Baronial
Relating to, or suitable for, a Baron.
Baroque
Ornate artistic and architectural style from the 16th - 18th Centuries.
Barque
A sailing ship which has three or more masts.
Bedizened
To dress or adorn in a gaudy manner.
Benighted
Being in a state of mental darkness.
Billets-doux
French for 'short/sweet note', meaning a love letter.
Bourgeois
Characteristic of the social middle class; conformity.
Brindled
Traditionally a pattern in animal coats; denotes light brown or grey with darker streaks or marks of colour.
Brocade
Heavy fabric (traditionally silk) with an elaborate, raised design.
Cadenza
Italian for 'cadence'; a musical term for an elaborate flourish performed by soloists, sometimes improvised.
Calyx
The outermost group of sepals on a flower.
Canticles
Hymns taken from the Bible, excluding the Book of Psalms.
Carafe
A glass or bottle used for serving wine or water.
Carapace
The hard bony or chitinous covering that protects an animal's back, e.g. Turtles or armadillos.
Carillon
A musical instrument made of at least 23 bells, which is housed in a belfry or a bell tower.
Cartomancer
A form of fortune telling using a pack of cards.
Castellated
Styled with battlements or turrets as in the style of a castle; grooves or slots.
Centime
French word for 'cent'; small unit of currency.
Chaperonage
The protection offered by the chaperone of a young, unmarried woman.
Châtelaine
A woman (usually the wife) who has control or ownership over a large house; also the chain used to carry a large number of keys.
Che Bella
Italian for ‘How Beautiful’.
Chignoned
French term for a common type of bun hairstyle.
Chinoiserie
French term relating to Chinese artistic influences in European cultural styles.
Chthonic
Relating to spirits of the Underworld, especially within Classical Greek culture; on, in, or under the earth.
Ciliate
Realting to cilia; tiny, hairlike.
Circumambulatory
The action of walking around a sacred object, usually in a clockwise direction.
Citadel
The strongest part of a city's fortresses.
Conciliatorily
Words or gestures intended to placate or overcome negative sentiments in another.
Coup de grâce
A final blow intending to cause death, usually merciful.
Cudgels
Relating to matters of defence in the practice of law.
Cuneiform
One of the oldest forms of written expression, originating in Sumer (modern day Iraq) around 3,000 BC.
Cypress
Varieties of conifer shrubs and trees originating from northern temperate regions.
Deliquescent
To disappear as if by melting.
Depredations
Damage; the act of attack or plunder.
Desnuda
Spanish for ‘Naked’.
Diatonic
"Musical term describing the major or minor scales, consisting of 5 tones and 2 semitones without modulation by accidentals.
Disingenuously
Insincere, sly, deceptive or misleading.
Dolefully
Expressing sorrow or grief.
Ducats
Gold coins used as trade currency in Europe up until the early 20th Century.
Duenna
A Spanish term denoting an older female chaperone or governess to a young, unmarried woman.
Eddies
Currents of water or air which move in the opposite direction to the main current, usually around an obstacle.
Eldritch
Eerie; suggesting the presence of supernatural forces.
En déshabillé
French term describing partial or careless dressing.
Endive
Leaf vegetable from the daisy family, which can be cooked or eaten raw.
Enfer
French word for 'Hell'.
Engendering
To cause a feeling, or to beget offspring.
Entrez
French for 'Enter'.
Equine
Relating to horses, from the Latin word 'Equus'.
Equinoctial
Aviolent storm occurring around the time of an equinox.
Escritoire
A small writing or secretary desk.
Ethereally
Light, insubstantial; airlike.
Étude
From the French word for 'study': a challenging musical composition designed for practising a particular skill or technique.
Ewer
A vase shaped pitcher with a flaring spout.
Expostulating
Expressing strong disapproval or disagreement.
Eyrie
The nest of an eagle.
Falsetto
A high pitched singing voice, usually male.
Faux
French word for 'false' or 'fake'.
Festering
Rotting; becoming septic.
Fictive
Created by the imagination, as in 'fiction'.
Fiestas
Spanish term for 'festivals'.
Flaxen
The colour of pale yellow.
Flaying
The removal of skin from the body; sometimes as a form of torture or execution.
Fusillades
A series of shots fired, or missiles thrown, simultaneously or in rapid succession.
Gelid
Extremely cold.
Gendarmerie
French term for the building or agency of the national police force.
Genuflection
The action of bending a knee to the ground, as a gesture of respect to a superior. Similar to a bow or a curtsey.
Gibbered
Past tense of 'gibber', which means to speak rapidly and with little coherence due to shock or excitement.
Gourmand
An individual who greatly enjoys their food.
Gracile
Graceful and slender.
Grand seigneur
French for 'Great Lord', connoting an aristocratic man.
Gridirons
Parallel of metal bars for cooking fish or meat over a fire.
Guttering
Describes a flickering or unsteady flame.
Hirsute
Excessive body hair on a man or a woman.
Hobbledehoys
An awkward, gawky adolescent boy.
Hunkers
Describes sitting in a crouched or squatting position.
Illimitable
The impossibility of being limited; unable to impose a boundary.
Immolation
To sacrifice by setting on fire; cremation.
Impedimenta
Belongings which impede or obstruct, e.g. clothing, luggage.
Imperiousness
Egotistical, overbearing or domineering.
Inexorable
Something which cannot be prevented or stopped.
In flagrante
From the Latin term 'In flagrante delicto' meaning 'in blazing offence'; means being caught in a forbidden or illegal act whilst it is still taking place. Most commonly used in relation to sexual intercourse, which may or may not be illicit.
Ingénue
An innocent and naive young woman or girl; most commonly used in relation to characters depicted in literature, cinema, the theatre etc.
Ingenuous
Unworldly, unsuspecting, innocent, guileless.
Integument
A natural outer protective covering such as skin or the cuticle on the fingernail.
Interloper
A person who imposes themselves upon a situation where they are not welcome.
Interstices
A small or narrow space between objects.
Intractable
Hard to control; stubborn.
Intransigent
Unwillingness to change views or opinions.
Iridescent
To vary in colour according to the angle of the light.
Irremediable
Something that is irreparable or cannot be remedied.
Je vous attendais
French for 'I was waiting for you'.
Languorously
Lack of energy; a dreamy or lazy mood.
Leonine
Relating to lions; lion-like.
Licentious
Immoral or lawless behaviour, especially in sexual matters.
Lisle
A variety of cotton with a smooth finish.
Litany
A form of prayer use din church services; usually spoken by the clergy and repeated by the congregation.
Littermate
One of the animals born within a litter.
Loquacity
To be particularly talkative.
Loured
Angry or sullen; dark and threatening.
Lugs
Scottish word for ear.
Lugubrious
To look or sound sad and gloomy.
Lupine
Relating to wolves, from the Latin 'lupus' (wolf).
Lycanthrope
A werewolf; a human in wolf's form.
M'sieu
Monsieur.
Marron glacé
A chestnut candied in syrup and glazed.
Masticating
Another term for the action of chewing food.
Maudlin
Self-pitying or excessively sentimental.
Mauvish
A colour between violet and purple.
Menses
A woman's monthly flow of blood from the uterus.
Metamorphic
Relating to dramatic or significant transformation.
Missal
The book which contains all the instructions and text necessary for celebrating Mass throughout the year.
Moue
A pouting expression demonstrating annoyance.
Mountebank
Charlaton; con artist; quack.
Nacreous
Resembling mother of pearl.
Naïf
French word; another term for 'naive'.
Necrophiliac
A person who has sexual intercourse with corpses.
Nostrum
A usually ineffective remedy or medicine.
O'erflow
Overflow.
Obbligato
Italian for 'obligatory'; a musical term for a line of music that is essential within the piece.
Obsequies
Funeral rites.
Obsequiousness
Fawning; displaying excessive servility.
Occupé
French word for 'occupied' or 'busy'.
Octavo
Describes the format of a book by folding a large sheet of paper eight times to make sixteen pages.
Orisons
Prayers.
Osiers
Long twigs from a willow tree which are used to make baskets.
Palliasse
From 'paille', the French word for 'straw'. An uncomfortable straw mattress.
Pallor
Paleness of the skin.
Paroxysms
A sudden outburst of emotion or activity; the sudden recurance of the symptoms of an illness.
Parures
Coordinating sets of matching jewellery.
Pasturage
Relates to the pasture of animals.
Patina
A tarnish which forms on the surface of certain metals.
Pawns
The weakest piece in a game of chess; suggests subservient individuals with a powerful master.
Pellucid
Clear, translucent.
Permeable
Something that can be penetrated; in terms of objects, usually by liquid.
Perspicacious
To have keen understanding, perception or vision.
Petulant
Childishly sulky or grumpy.
Phalanges
The bones that form the fingers or toes.
Phosphorescent
Similar to fluorescence, except light is absorbed and released more slowly; characteristic of 'glow in the dark' products.
Photophobia
To be excessively sensitive to light, whether from the sun or artificial means.
Plangent
A loud, reverberating sound, often denoting sadness or melancholy.
Poste restante
French for 'post remaining'; the service whereby the post office holds onto mail until the recipient goes in to collect it.
Profane
To have contempt for, or abuse, items or beliefs held to be sacred.
Profligate
To be utterly immoral or dissolute.
Prothalamion
A song or poem which celebrates a marriage.
Pubescent
A person at, or approaching, the age of puberty.
Punctiliously
To be very precise and attentive to small details.
Purplish
Suggestive of being rich and heavy.
Quire
A set of 24 or 25 sheets of paper (of the same size); one twentieth of a ream.
Rakish
Dashing, slightly disreputable.
Rapacious
Aggressively greedy and predatory.
Reticule
A small drawstrong handback, used by a lady.
Retina
Light sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye.
Revenants
A ghost, vampire or animated corpse which returns to terrify the living.
Rime
A coating of ice.
Rococo
An ornate late 18th Century decorative style which evolved from Baroque.
Sabots
Shoes carved from single blocks of wood.
Sacrosanct
An idea or belief which is regarded and sacred and invioble.
Sanguinary
Involving, causing or desiring bloodshed.
Satyr
Lustful and drunken woodland gods in the Ancient Greek culture; a man with a high sexual appetite.
Sawbones
A doctor, particularly a surgeon.
Scullion
The servant assigned the most lowly kitchen tasks.
Sentience
Consciousness.
Sere
The entire sequence of ecological communities successively occupying an area from the initial stage to the climax.
Simian
Relating to monkeys.
Simulacra
An image or representation of a person, object or idea, often disappointing.
Somnambulist
Someone who sleepwalks.
Somnolent
Relating to sleep or drowsiness.
Sonorities
A scale used to rank speech sounds according to their amplitude.
Sonorous
Deep and full; often relates to sound or weight.
Squirearchal
Relating to Landowners, especially those of high social class and influence.
Stertorously
Breathing in a noisy and laboured way.
Subaqueous
Underwater.
Subfusc
Gloomy, dull.
Suivez-moi
French for 'Follow me'.
Supernumerary
A higher number than is expected.
Susurrate
A soft whisper or rustling sound; a murmer.
Tantivy
A hunting cry used to encourage a horse to gallop.
Tattoo
A military term. Describes the drumming used for exercises or to summon soldiers to duty.
Threnody
A poem or song expressing lament or mourning.
Tintinnabulation
A ringing or tinkiling sound.
Toujours discret
French for - 'Always discreet'.
Trivet
A metal stand, usually with three feet, used to support a hot plate when cooking or serving food.
Trompe l’oeil
French for ‘trick of the eye’; a term used within the visual arts to describe such fine detail that an object in a painting appears to be real.
Ululation
To howl or wail.
Unguents
An ointment or salve used for healing.
Vagabond
A wanderer, nomad or drifter. Someone without a fixed abode who moves from pace to place.
Valet
A gentleman’s manservant.
Vellum
A fine white parchment, usually made from calfskin, used in book binding.
Verminous
Relating to vermin.
Viscera
The internal organs of the body, especially around the stomach area.
Votive
Something given in the hope that a wish or prayer will be fulfilled.
Vous serez ma proie
French for - 'You will be my prey'.
Wainscoting
Wooden paneling that covers the lower part of the walls of a room.
Whey-faced
To have a pale face.