aegis
a shield in Greek mythology; protection or defence
aesthete
a person who has, or claims to have, a special appreciation of beauty
aigrette
a tuft of feathers worn in the hair (particularly egret feathers); a bejewelled hair ornament
argot
jargon or slang belonging to a particular group
arpeggios
the notes of a chord played in rapid succession, rather than together
asperities
harshness or bad temper in speech or behaviour
asset-stripping
the buying of an unsuccessful company for a low price, and the selling of its assets for profit (thus not making any attempt to save the company)
atrium
a central hall in a public building, often with a glass roof, and having galleries at various levels from which rooms lead off
Augustinian
belonging to a monastic order which follows the religious teachings of St. Augustine
bandolier
a strap worn crossways over the chest, fitted with loops, for holding gun ammunition or rolls of film
banquette
an upholstered bench-like seat
bender
slang term for a male homosexual (generally considered offensive)
billet-doux
old-fashioned term for a love letter
bloody Mary
a cocktail made with vodka and tomato juice, usually with a splash of Worcester sauce
bluff
a steep cliff
borlotti
a variety of kidney bean, with pink and cream mottled skins, which turn brown when cooked
camber
an upward bulge in a road or other surface
cantilever
a projecting bracket or beam used as a supporting structure
carmine
a bright red pigment made from cochineal, which has given its name to a crimson colour
catechism
a set of questions, given as a test
chamfered
i) having a right-angled corner cut down to 45 degrees; ii) having ridges or grooves
charlie
a slang term for cocaine
chasséing
making movements with the feet, as in the dancestep known as a chassé, where one foot repeatedly displaces the other
chocoholic
a white person who is sexually attracted to black people
cobalt
deep blue colour
codicil
supplement or addition
costive
carried out slowly or reluctantly; uncommunicative; meagre; constipated
curlicues
decorative curls or twists
deliquescence
a melting away; the repeated branching of a stem or trunk into ever-smaller branches
denizens
occupants; inhabitants
diaposon
a full, deep, rich burst of sound
dirt-bikes
motorcycles made for riding on rough ground, and used in motocycle scrambling; also known as trail bikes
disembarrassed
relieved of a burden or problem
division
the physical separation of members of a legislative body into two groups depending on how they wish to vote on a particular issue; in the British House of Commons, Members of Parliament pass through two Division Lobbies on either side of the House
double-take (as in 'do a double-take')
to give a second reaction to a situation, after the first one seems inappropriate for some reason; to take a second, more detailed look
doublets
close-fitting tunics, with or without sleeves, worn by men from the 14th to the 18th century
drays
low carts without sides used for carrying heavy loads, especially beer barrels
ego
a high opinion of oneself; egotism
eights
boats which hold eight oarsmen
electrolier
an ornamental (often hanging) light fitting with a number of electric lamps
elided
passed over in silence; suppressed; struck out
enfilade (as in 'in enfilade')
the arrangement of a suite of rooms so that the doors line up with each other, thus creating a vista when they are all open
epithet
a descriptive word or phrase, often used as a name, which draws attention to a perceived characteristic of the thing or person described
facer
a difficulty or obstacle
fag
slang term for a male homosexual (generally considered offensive) - a shortened version of the word faggot
fagioli
Italian word for 'beans'
farinaceous
made from flour, meal, or other starchy substance
fatuity
silliness; stupidity; idiocy
filimandering
a compound word derived from 'filibuster' and 'gerrymander' - to 'filibuster' is to use delaying tactics in a legislative assembly, usually by talking for too long; to gerrymander is to manipulate the boundaries of electoral constituencies in order to gain an unfair advantage
finials
ornaments placed on various parts of a building's exterior, such as the roof apex, or the corners of a tower
flunkey
a footman; a lackey
fob
a tab on a keyring
folios
large books
fruit
slang term for a male homosexual (generally considered offensive)
gambit
opening move designed to gain an advantage
gate-piers
a pair of brick or masonry supports between which a gate is hung
gerrybustering
a compound word derived from 'gerrymander' and 'filibuster' - to 'gerrymander' is to manipulate the boundaries of electoral constituencies in order to gain an unfair advantage; to 'filibuster' is to use delaying tactics in a legislative assembly, usually by talking for too long
gourd
the hollowed out, and dried out skin of a large fruit known as a gourd;
green room
a room in a theatre for actors to relax in when they are not on stage
hack
a poor-quality writer or journalist
heavily scored
a description of musical notation which has many expression markers, which indicate how it should be played
hyperbole
extravagant or exaggerated language intended to create an effect and not meant to be taken literally
imbroglio
a confused, complicated, or difficult situation
india-paper
a thin, tough, opaque paper, often used for printing bibles on
ineffable
beyond words; not capable of expression in words
Jacobean-style
the style that was in vogue during the reign of James 1st over a united England and Scotland (1603-1625)
kingwood
a wood with violet coloured streaks obtained from the Brazilian tree species Dalbergia cearensis
lebkuchen
a biscuit/cake baked with spices and honey, which originated in Germany
Levantine
pertaining to countries in the Eastern Mediterranean area, including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Israel
loggia
a gallery or arcade with one or more sides open to the air
mana
power or authority; a supernatural force
maudlin
tearful; weepy; mawkishly sentimental
maverick
an independently-minded person who does not always toe the party line
mawkish
sentimental in a slightly sickly way
mensch
a person of integrity; an honourable person
meretricious
beautiful or attractive in a superficial or showy way
minatory
expressing or conveying a threat
montage
the putting together of separate sections of film to form a continuous whole
moquette
a hard-wearing, velvety fabric used for carpets and upholstery
mordant
biting; caustic; having a sharp or critical quality
moue
a pout
Mylar (as in Mylar sleeve)
proprietary name for polyester covering used to protect documents etc.
neo-Georgian
connected with a revival of the Georgian style of architecture; the Georgian style belonged to the period 1714-1830 when George I,II, III, and IV were on the British throne
nexus
a connected group or series
nice
precise, careful; subtle
obelisks
tall, four-sided tapering columns with a pyramidal top - term used loosely for any columns or pillars
oche
the line behind which a thrower must stand when playing darts
Omnia Vincit Amor
Latin for 'Love Conquers All'; it may also be written 'Amor Vincit Omnia'
onyx
a semi-precious stone that has stripes, or bands, of different colours
Oxonian
of, or belonging to, Oxford
oyster
an oval piece of wood cut from small boughs of specifc trees, and used as a veneer on furniture
packet
slang term for the male genitalia
palazzo
a palatial residence, or a large, imposing public building
pannier
a bag or box, one of a pair fitted on either side of the rear wheel of a bicycle
parterre
a level space in a garden containing an ornamental display of flower beds
pasticcio
Italian word for 'mess'; a medley or hotchpotch of ingredients
patina
a film or incrustation which forms on old bronze, or a shine which forms on old wood through age and polishing. Used figuratively, it means an impression, or appearance
pazzo
Italian word for 'crazy' or 'mad'
pediment
a triangular portion on the upper front part of a building, or a triangular portion above the door, window, or other part of a building
percussions
the striking of solid objects against each other with some degree of force
periphrasis
a roundabout way of speaking or writing; the using of many words where a few would do
philistine
having no interest in, or knowledge of, cultural and artistic matters, or showing hostility towards them
pied-à-terre
a small house, usually in a city, for occasional use by people who have another home elsewhere
pilastered
having rectangular columns, especially of the type that project outwards from a wall
pizzicato
the plucking of the strings of a stringed instrument with the fingers rather than with the bow
podium
base or platform
ponce
a male homosexual; a lazy effeminate man; a vague generalised term of abuse
preppy
behaving and dressing like a young person who has attended private school (i.e. preparatory school) is traditionally assumed to behave and dress
prince-bishops
bishops who are also princes, and have both religious and secular powers; for example, between 1075 and 1836, the Bishop of Durham was a prince-bishop
probity
integrity; sincerity; moral excellence
puerile
silly and childish
pullulate
to breed rapidly; to sprout or bud; to teem with, or swarm with
puncheons
short piercing tools - the term is used in the text for items similar to the pair of poultry forks, or lifting forks, which are used to lift and move cooked poultry or joints of meat
purled
flowed with a swirling motion
queen
a flamboyant or effeminate gay man
rampant
unrestrained; unchecked; aggressive
ramparts
mounds of earth created for defensive purposes, wide enough on top for transport to travel, and usually having a parapet
regalia
clothing and ornaments worn on formal occasions as a symbol of status
reprehension
the act of censuring or rebuking
returning officer
the official whose duty it is to preside over an election, and report the result to the relevant authority
roiled
agitated or disturbed
rubato
often 'tempo rubato' - a musical direction to indicate that the music should be occasionally slowed down, or quickened, for effect
ruck
a heap or pile
rustication
to cut or shape masonry blocks in such a way that they have a 'countrified' feel, with bevelled edges and rough-hewn surfaces
sacrilegious
that which violates something sacred, or is irreverent towards something sacred
saliences
projecting parts
sartorial
concerning clothes or fashion
sashayed
walked ostentatiously and provocatively
sciocco
Italian word for 'foolish'
scrimmed
veiled or screened
scull
a boat propelled with a scull or a pair of sculls (oars)
serifs
a typographical term for small lines which are added to the endpoints of a stroke in a letter or symbol
shirtlifter
slang term for a male homosexual (generally considered offensive)
sibilant
having a hissing sound, like the sound of the letter 's'
signet ring
a ring with an initial or design carved into it
simulacra
something which mimics with appearance of something else, without possessing its substance or true quality
Sloanish
like a Sloane Ranger (an amalgam of Sloane/Lone Ranger), an upper-class and fashionable, but conventional, young woman of the type who might frequent the Sloane Street/Square area of London's Knightsbridge
slops
the contents of prisoners' chamber pots
sommelier
a wine waiter
spirelet
a small spire, especially one erected from a church tower or turret
spurs
mountains; hills, or parts which project outwards from mountains or hills
stacks
shelving in a library where reference books are often kept
stucco
plaster used on walls, or for making decorative architectural features
swags
chains or garlands of flowers hung in a curve; festoons
switchers
bisexuals
syncopation
the placing of stresses or rhythms in a piece of music in places where they wouldn't normally occur
tailgate
the hinged back of a lorry
toke
an inhalation of smoke from a cigarette or pipe containing marijuana
toot
cocaine, especially a small amount snorted at one time
tout court
simply; without qualification or addition
tracery
ornamental stone openwork, particularly in the upper part of a Gothic window
traction engine
a steam-engine used for drawing loads along a road (as opposed to a railway)
transgressive
going beyong the limits or bounds of something; breaking a rule or command
trou de gloire
a Frenchification of the English term 'glory hole', a room or drawer where things are just heaped together, and no attempt is made at tidiness
two-step
a ballroom dance in 2/4 time, characterised by long sliding steps
uxorious
showing excessive or doting fondness for one's wife
vertiginous
causing vertigo (dizziness) through being very high or steep
vituperators
those who censure, blame, or disparage
Vivacissimamente
a musical direction to play a piece of music in a very lively and brisk manner, more so than is indicated by the direction 'Vivace'
wagons-lit
sleeping compartments on continental trains
whatnot
an unspecified object, often something one can't remember the name of
whatsit
thingummyjig - something one can't remember the name of, or doesn't want to name; slang for a penis. In the text, the suggestion is that 'whatsit' is slang for a male homosexual
wing collar
a high stiff collar with the upper corners turned down
wrap (as in 'wrap of cocaine')
cocaine wrapped up in paper folded into an envelope-like shape