aboulia
the inability to act
absolvitur
one who gives absolution
adze
a tool like a small axe with a curved blade
aetiology
the study of causes and origins
à la lettre
like the letter
alberghi
Italian inns
amanuensis
an assistant who takes dictation
ammonitiferous
containing ammonite fossils
ante
before
antediluvian
literally: from before the flood. Very old.
apostrophize
to address a person or thing in the form of an exclamation
ashlar
square-hewn stone slabs
ashplant
a walking staff made from an ash sapling
asseverate
to affirm
augustly
grandly
bantam
a small type of chicken, or small boxer
barque
a kind of ship
bas-bleus
blue-stockings: women with an interest in learning and literature
battledore
badminton
begad
by god
billycock
a round hat with a low crown and a brim turned up at all sides, similar to a bowler hat
bistre
dark greyish brown
blackguard
scoundrel
bombazine
a material made of cotton and silk, frequently used for mourning clothes
botanist
one who studies plants
bouderies
pouting
bowdlerized
censored to remove offensive content
browns
copper coins
bullfinch
a kind of hedge; metaphorically, an obstacle
cant
empty words, things said but not genuinely meant
carbolic
disinfectant
chlorotic
anaemic
commode
a non-flushing toilet
contretemps
disagreements
conversazioni
evening social gatherings held by a specialist group for the purpose of exhibiting their work through demonstrations, lectures and exhibitions
coup de grâce
the final blow
coverts
thickets of plants which could give cover to animals
cromlech
a prehistoric set of three standing stones, arranged in gate-form
curate
assistant priest
cutty
a short pipe for smoking tobacco
dell
a small hollow or valley
demi-monde
the social group of women on the outskirts of society but not generally prostitutes: examples of such women would include actresses and artists' models
de rigueur
necessary
déshabille
partially undressed
draper
a merchant dealing in cloth
duenna
an older woman acting as a chaperone to a younger man and woman
éclaircissement
clarification
effete
ineffectual
eleemosynary
charitable
en passage
passing through
escritoire
a writing desk
etiolated
withered
eunuchistic
in the manner of a eunuch - a man who has been castrated
exempli gratia
for example, commonly abbreviated "e.g."
farded
glossed over
faute de mieux
for lack of anything better
fenestrated
with holes, patchy
florin
a coin
funked
backed out of
furze
a spiky shrub
fusees
matches
gill
a quarter of a pint
grisette
a young working class French woman, often a shop assistant or seamstress. Frequently also an artist's model and/or lover.
half-hunter
a pocket watch with a glass front through which the hands can be seen, and a solid metal back
helot
a lower-class person who is a servant or near-slave
hidebound
narrowminded
homologue
equivalent
Hottentot
a savage
huckster
a pedlar or stall-owner
hyperbole
exaggeration
infra dig
beneath one's dignity
introit
music played at the start of a Christian mass
jarvey
a coach horse
khans
Arab lodging houses for travellers
lance
to let something out by making an incision or cut
liassic
to do with lias (a type of rock)
littoral
coast
maceration
damage to the flesh, often done as a kind of penace
malachite
a semi-precious green stone
Manchester goods
cottons or cotton goods made in Manchester
matins
morning prayer service
mealy-mouthed
afraid to speak one's mind
menagerie
a collection of wild animals in cages, like a zoo
menhir
a single prehistoric standing stone
metonymia
a figure of speech in which a thing is referred to by the name of something closely associated with it
milieux
social groups
morocco
a fine flexible leather used to bind books
moue
a pout, expressing mocking disapproval
myopic
short-sighted
neo-ontologist
one who studies species of plants and animals that still exist
nereids
sea-nymphs
nonce
moment
non sequitur
a comment that has no obvious connection with the previous conversation
oblique
indirect
octoroon
a mixed-raced person who is seven-eighths white and one-eighth black
ornithologist
one who studies birds
ostler
stableman at an inn
oubliette
an extremely small prison cell
oxymoron
a figure of speech in which two opposites are used together
packet
a boat that travels regularly between two ports carrying post, but also passengers and goods
palaeontology
the study of fossils and extinct species of plants and animals
panatella
a long thin cigar
parfit
perfectly virtuous
parturitional
relating to childbirth
paterfamilias
the stereotypical male head of a family or household
peccadilloes
minor mistakes
peignoir
a light dressing gown
penchant
fondness
penny-gaffs
cheap theatres or music halls
penumbral
shadowy
peregrinated
travelled in a roundabout way
pique
anger, irritation or resentment
plutocratic stratification
a division into a hierarchy based on wealth
portmanteau
a large luggage trunk
preux chevaliers
gallant knights
prevarication
indecisiveness
prie-dieu
a prayer stool or seat
prima facie
at first glance
primum mobile
the original cause of an action
puella
girl
punctiliousness
scrupulous attention to etiquette
quod est demonstrandum
thus it is demonstrated
rentier
someone whose income comes from property or investments
savoir-vivre
Knowledge of how to live a life in the ways considered correct by high society; worldly-wisdom
scuts
the short erect tails of hares or rabbits
seigneurially
in the manner of the lord of the estate
self-adjurations
solemn swearing of oaths to oneself
seminary
school
setts
square paving stones
soirées
fashionable evening parties hosted and attended by the upper classes
soubrette
a stock comic character in plays: a gossipy, pert, flirtatious female servant or confidante to the heroine
soupirant
suitor
spooning
flirtation
stogy
a type of cigar
Stygian
shadowy and dark, like the region around the Styx, a mythical river running through the classical underworld
sub tegmine fagi
under the shade of beech trees
syncopal
connected to the stopping or suspension of the heart-beat
tract
a short religious pamphlet designed to inform or convert
truckle-bed
a low bed on wheels
tumbril
a ducking stool
turncocks
water official responsible for turning water supplies on and off at the mains
verdure
flourishing grass
viragos
bold, impudent, mannish women
vulpine
wolf-like
withers
a part of a horse's back
Yankee
a slang term for Americans from anywhere in the USA, not just the north