The Words, They are a-Changing

Piratewords Pirate Billie (you’ll see the relevance later) and I are delighted to bring you John Dierdorf as a guest. I’ve know John for a long time through our mutual admiration of Dorothy Dunnett, but he’s also a reader of historical romance who’s been entertaining my chat list for years with his interest in the meanings and derivation of words, especially in a historical context. If you think that sound dry, boy are you wrong.Jdsmall

So, heeeeeeeeeeeers John! In his own words. *G*

The Words, They are a-Changing

The Regency was only 200 years ago, and we tend to think that the English language of 1800 was more or less like ours — certainly nothing like the changes from Shakespeare’s time, let alone Chaucer’s. A surprising number of our words didn’t exist in 1800, however; I have a whole list of them on my web page. Some are very innocent-looking: "switch", for example. It is railroad slang from the 1830’s and had no
meaning except a slender wooden branch before then. Several color words are from 1850 or later — magenta, tangerine, ecru, beige. The first use of "sex" to mean "sexual relations" — have sex, great sex, and so on — was in the 1920’s. (Not surprisingly, the first recorded user of this sense was D.H. Lawrence.)  Intransigent is from 1880. Flamboyant, 1870. There were no orphanages until about 1850; before that they were orphan asylums or foundling homes.

Amusingly, some common words and phrases in Regency Romances have evidently never existed in English.  Georgette Heyer was not above making up a plausibly archaic expression now and then, and some of her coinages are now part of what Jo calls "Prinnyworld". For example, "town bronze", "barque of frailty", "bit of muslin", and "first stare" [of fashion] were unknown before Heyer’s books. "Delope" in a Georgian or Regency also is due to Heyer; it was recorded once in about 1830 and then not until her novels in the 1950’s. "Widgeon" has the opposite history. The last recorded instance of calling a silly person a widgeon was in 1741; the word was completely unknown in Georgian and Regency speech. Heyer used it frequently, though.

Widgeon
(Jo: A widgeon is actually a bird, though whether it’s stupid or not as birds go, I don’t know. I borrowed this image from this page. Another bird there is a coot, which could be a male widgeon, perhaps?)

Even more insidiously, quite a few words have changed meaning, so that a phrase could be perfectly correct in its historical context but make a modern reader get the wrong idea. Here are a few examples of sentences from a hypothetical 19th-century novel which would cause most present-day readers to jump.

• Lord Redstart was so fastidious he would only drink wine which had been defecated by his butler.
(It meant to purify or remove sediment.) 

• The governess reported to Lady Redstart that her four-year-old daughter had a spectacular orgasm that morning.
(Until the 20th century it meant "fit of passion" with no sexual  connotation. In modern terms the little girl threw a tantrum.)

• Everyone knows that Prime Minister Disraeli and Cardinal Newman are perverts.
(A pervert was a religious apostate — a convert seen from the rear.)

• Sir Walter Scott wrote stirring romances about the Albanians.
(No, Loretta, you were not the first. 🙂 Well into the 1800’s, an Albanian meant either a resident of Scotland (Albion, Latin Alba) or of the Adriatic country. A romance was an adventure novel until  about 1920.)

• Lady Redstart has extremely enormous eyes.
(It meant "unusual" — she had mismatched eyes, one emerald green and one brown.)

• In the parlor, Miss Andrews performed a song which consisted mainly of expletives.
(An expletive is a filler word — tra, la, la and so on. She was  singing "Deck the Halls".)

• The vicar’s sermon was on one of the most improper passages of the Bible.
(Improper meant metaphorical; the text was the 23rd Psalm. Pilgrim’s  Progress is an extremely improper novel.)

• The governess informed the countess that she had very measly  children.
(You got it — they had the measles.)

• Lord Redstart threatened the highwayman with his dick.
(You have a very dirty mind; it meant a riding whip until about 1900.)

• Lady Redstart’s head protruded from an embroidered velvet toilet while her maid dressed her hair.
(A toilet was a small decorative cloth; it’s more recognizable if  spelled "towelette".)

• The noted sportsman Sir S—— was killed by an enraged bugle. He  had been distracted by several muskets flying overhead.
(A bugle was a wild ox, while a musket was a small hawk.)

• The countess was horrified to see a midget sitting in the parlor and  ordered a footman to kill it.
(Until the late 19th century, it was a small fly — a midge-ette.)

• Viscount C—– is no longer admitted to polite society for having demoralized a girl he met at Almack’s. It is even rumored he is an amphibian.
(In Regency times, demoralize didn’t mean lower the morale, it meant lower the morals; to debauch or corrupt. Amphibious is straight Greek for "double life", and the implication was that he was  bisexual.)

• Miss Andrews looked delicate, but she could tackle a horse.
(It meant to saddle; c.f. "tack".)

Over time, I have built up a book-length web page on English word origins. Click here to visit. You are welcome  to check it out if only to find out how "porcelain" comes from a Latin obscenity connected to pigs, how pencil is the same word as penicillin, and how Guinevere came to share a syllable with aAdeliepenguin
penguin.

Queen_guinevere
‘ll finish up this little essay with the following quote, which I leave as an exercise for the reader to translate into modern English. It looks like the start of a Monty Python routine, but I promise it is a perfectly serious sentence:

"The terrific pirate brandished a naked brown sable he had withdrawn from his vagina, while the rest of his bloodthirsty tangerines advertised their pernicious trombones."

Jo: Thank you, John. That’s wonderful.

Now, have a go at that paragraph, folks. Those of you from my list can’t play, because you know the translation, but please do participate in all other ways.

Have you come across words in historicals and wondered if they were appropriate for the time and place? Or simply wondered about the origins of a odd one. Here’s your chance to find out. As a reader, how important is it for writers to get the words right, or
do you prefer language that’s more comfortable for you? Would you, for example, rather have
characters talk about having sex, even though it’s  an anachronism, or
have them mention  carnal intimacy, or use terms like swiving or
tupping?Llfront

I’m offering a book as prize to the most interesting or entertaining comment to John’s blog. This will be a completely subjective decision made by John and me late tomorrow — Thursday– night. The prize will be an Advance Reading copy of the April reissue of two of my traditional regency romances — The Fortune Hunter and Deirdre and Don Juan. I’m sure they’re jam-packed with anachronisms and such. I know so much more now. Enough to terrify a writer, really.

You can read excerpts on my web page. For links, Read my newsletter here.

Jo

 

335 thoughts on “The Words, They are a-Changing”

  1. Words! The ultimate intoxicant.
    The terrifying pirate brandished a saber he had withdrawn from its sheath, while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans displayed their deadly lances.
    Which list do you mean, Jo?
    I always prefer words that are more difficult for me, because then I get to look them up! However, I think ideally an author should pick and choose her anachronisms so readers will get not only the historical atmosphere but the human immediacy of the story. (Diana Norman does this beautifully.) To take an extreme example, the movie version of Romeo and Juliet that starred Leonardo diCaprio and Claire Danes forces the viewer to equate the feud with modern gang warfare. The fire in the gas station, right at the opening, very effectively sets the scene for really stupid, but definitely real, hatred and violence – as it was then, so it is now. If an author can enhance the immediacy of a story by using a somewhat anachronistic word – early 20th C instead of 17th, for example – I say she should go for it.
    I am more likely to be thrown out of a story if the thoughts and actions of the characters are too modern. Phrases like “being her own person” drive me nuts in historicals (but that doesn’t mean I won’t read them, if the stories are well-written and entertaining). I’m not saying some women didn’t want independence or to think for themselves, but an extremely independent woman PLUS a modern phrase doesn’t work for me. She’s not a historical character anymore, but a modern girl in costume.
    My favorite new word this year: bedswerver. It was posted on A.Word.a.Day some time ago. I’ve never seen it anywhere else, but it’s one fabulous word.

    Reply
  2. Words! The ultimate intoxicant.
    The terrifying pirate brandished a saber he had withdrawn from its sheath, while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans displayed their deadly lances.
    Which list do you mean, Jo?
    I always prefer words that are more difficult for me, because then I get to look them up! However, I think ideally an author should pick and choose her anachronisms so readers will get not only the historical atmosphere but the human immediacy of the story. (Diana Norman does this beautifully.) To take an extreme example, the movie version of Romeo and Juliet that starred Leonardo diCaprio and Claire Danes forces the viewer to equate the feud with modern gang warfare. The fire in the gas station, right at the opening, very effectively sets the scene for really stupid, but definitely real, hatred and violence – as it was then, so it is now. If an author can enhance the immediacy of a story by using a somewhat anachronistic word – early 20th C instead of 17th, for example – I say she should go for it.
    I am more likely to be thrown out of a story if the thoughts and actions of the characters are too modern. Phrases like “being her own person” drive me nuts in historicals (but that doesn’t mean I won’t read them, if the stories are well-written and entertaining). I’m not saying some women didn’t want independence or to think for themselves, but an extremely independent woman PLUS a modern phrase doesn’t work for me. She’s not a historical character anymore, but a modern girl in costume.
    My favorite new word this year: bedswerver. It was posted on A.Word.a.Day some time ago. I’ve never seen it anywhere else, but it’s one fabulous word.

    Reply
  3. Words! The ultimate intoxicant.
    The terrifying pirate brandished a saber he had withdrawn from its sheath, while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans displayed their deadly lances.
    Which list do you mean, Jo?
    I always prefer words that are more difficult for me, because then I get to look them up! However, I think ideally an author should pick and choose her anachronisms so readers will get not only the historical atmosphere but the human immediacy of the story. (Diana Norman does this beautifully.) To take an extreme example, the movie version of Romeo and Juliet that starred Leonardo diCaprio and Claire Danes forces the viewer to equate the feud with modern gang warfare. The fire in the gas station, right at the opening, very effectively sets the scene for really stupid, but definitely real, hatred and violence – as it was then, so it is now. If an author can enhance the immediacy of a story by using a somewhat anachronistic word – early 20th C instead of 17th, for example – I say she should go for it.
    I am more likely to be thrown out of a story if the thoughts and actions of the characters are too modern. Phrases like “being her own person” drive me nuts in historicals (but that doesn’t mean I won’t read them, if the stories are well-written and entertaining). I’m not saying some women didn’t want independence or to think for themselves, but an extremely independent woman PLUS a modern phrase doesn’t work for me. She’s not a historical character anymore, but a modern girl in costume.
    My favorite new word this year: bedswerver. It was posted on A.Word.a.Day some time ago. I’ve never seen it anywhere else, but it’s one fabulous word.

    Reply
  4. Words! The ultimate intoxicant.
    The terrifying pirate brandished a saber he had withdrawn from its sheath, while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans displayed their deadly lances.
    Which list do you mean, Jo?
    I always prefer words that are more difficult for me, because then I get to look them up! However, I think ideally an author should pick and choose her anachronisms so readers will get not only the historical atmosphere but the human immediacy of the story. (Diana Norman does this beautifully.) To take an extreme example, the movie version of Romeo and Juliet that starred Leonardo diCaprio and Claire Danes forces the viewer to equate the feud with modern gang warfare. The fire in the gas station, right at the opening, very effectively sets the scene for really stupid, but definitely real, hatred and violence – as it was then, so it is now. If an author can enhance the immediacy of a story by using a somewhat anachronistic word – early 20th C instead of 17th, for example – I say she should go for it.
    I am more likely to be thrown out of a story if the thoughts and actions of the characters are too modern. Phrases like “being her own person” drive me nuts in historicals (but that doesn’t mean I won’t read them, if the stories are well-written and entertaining). I’m not saying some women didn’t want independence or to think for themselves, but an extremely independent woman PLUS a modern phrase doesn’t work for me. She’s not a historical character anymore, but a modern girl in costume.
    My favorite new word this year: bedswerver. It was posted on A.Word.a.Day some time ago. I’ve never seen it anywhere else, but it’s one fabulous word.

    Reply
  5. Words! The ultimate intoxicant.
    The terrifying pirate brandished a saber he had withdrawn from its sheath, while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans displayed their deadly lances.
    Which list do you mean, Jo?
    I always prefer words that are more difficult for me, because then I get to look them up! However, I think ideally an author should pick and choose her anachronisms so readers will get not only the historical atmosphere but the human immediacy of the story. (Diana Norman does this beautifully.) To take an extreme example, the movie version of Romeo and Juliet that starred Leonardo diCaprio and Claire Danes forces the viewer to equate the feud with modern gang warfare. The fire in the gas station, right at the opening, very effectively sets the scene for really stupid, but definitely real, hatred and violence – as it was then, so it is now. If an author can enhance the immediacy of a story by using a somewhat anachronistic word – early 20th C instead of 17th, for example – I say she should go for it.
    I am more likely to be thrown out of a story if the thoughts and actions of the characters are too modern. Phrases like “being her own person” drive me nuts in historicals (but that doesn’t mean I won’t read them, if the stories are well-written and entertaining). I’m not saying some women didn’t want independence or to think for themselves, but an extremely independent woman PLUS a modern phrase doesn’t work for me. She’s not a historical character anymore, but a modern girl in costume.
    My favorite new word this year: bedswerver. It was posted on A.Word.a.Day some time ago. I’ve never seen it anywhere else, but it’s one fabulous word.

    Reply
  6. I love, love, LOVE word people! Barbara, I’ve never heard of bedswerver, either. Now you have to tell us what it means! My favorite new word is “nacreous,” as in nacreous clouds in a blue sky. (Nacreous – pearlescent or mother-of-pearl in appearance)
    John, your interview was delightful, and no way would I have gotten the word riddle. I’m in awe of Barbara M’s interpretation.
    When we were kids, my mom always said we were “spinorty” (spin-OR-tee) when we were goofing off and feeling our oats. I grew up thinking it was a real word that meant “frisky.” I had no idea Mom had made up the word! One day, when I used it in conversation at work, a co-worker asked me how it was spelled. I rattled off, “s-p-i-n-o-r-t-y,” but to be sure, I looked it up in the dictionary. It wasn’t there!
    One of my favorite word-related things is mondegreens. Some of them are hilarious, and I’ve even pulled a few mondegreens myself. Thank you for a delightfully intertaining interview, John!

    Reply
  7. I love, love, LOVE word people! Barbara, I’ve never heard of bedswerver, either. Now you have to tell us what it means! My favorite new word is “nacreous,” as in nacreous clouds in a blue sky. (Nacreous – pearlescent or mother-of-pearl in appearance)
    John, your interview was delightful, and no way would I have gotten the word riddle. I’m in awe of Barbara M’s interpretation.
    When we were kids, my mom always said we were “spinorty” (spin-OR-tee) when we were goofing off and feeling our oats. I grew up thinking it was a real word that meant “frisky.” I had no idea Mom had made up the word! One day, when I used it in conversation at work, a co-worker asked me how it was spelled. I rattled off, “s-p-i-n-o-r-t-y,” but to be sure, I looked it up in the dictionary. It wasn’t there!
    One of my favorite word-related things is mondegreens. Some of them are hilarious, and I’ve even pulled a few mondegreens myself. Thank you for a delightfully intertaining interview, John!

    Reply
  8. I love, love, LOVE word people! Barbara, I’ve never heard of bedswerver, either. Now you have to tell us what it means! My favorite new word is “nacreous,” as in nacreous clouds in a blue sky. (Nacreous – pearlescent or mother-of-pearl in appearance)
    John, your interview was delightful, and no way would I have gotten the word riddle. I’m in awe of Barbara M’s interpretation.
    When we were kids, my mom always said we were “spinorty” (spin-OR-tee) when we were goofing off and feeling our oats. I grew up thinking it was a real word that meant “frisky.” I had no idea Mom had made up the word! One day, when I used it in conversation at work, a co-worker asked me how it was spelled. I rattled off, “s-p-i-n-o-r-t-y,” but to be sure, I looked it up in the dictionary. It wasn’t there!
    One of my favorite word-related things is mondegreens. Some of them are hilarious, and I’ve even pulled a few mondegreens myself. Thank you for a delightfully intertaining interview, John!

    Reply
  9. I love, love, LOVE word people! Barbara, I’ve never heard of bedswerver, either. Now you have to tell us what it means! My favorite new word is “nacreous,” as in nacreous clouds in a blue sky. (Nacreous – pearlescent or mother-of-pearl in appearance)
    John, your interview was delightful, and no way would I have gotten the word riddle. I’m in awe of Barbara M’s interpretation.
    When we were kids, my mom always said we were “spinorty” (spin-OR-tee) when we were goofing off and feeling our oats. I grew up thinking it was a real word that meant “frisky.” I had no idea Mom had made up the word! One day, when I used it in conversation at work, a co-worker asked me how it was spelled. I rattled off, “s-p-i-n-o-r-t-y,” but to be sure, I looked it up in the dictionary. It wasn’t there!
    One of my favorite word-related things is mondegreens. Some of them are hilarious, and I’ve even pulled a few mondegreens myself. Thank you for a delightfully intertaining interview, John!

    Reply
  10. I love, love, LOVE word people! Barbara, I’ve never heard of bedswerver, either. Now you have to tell us what it means! My favorite new word is “nacreous,” as in nacreous clouds in a blue sky. (Nacreous – pearlescent or mother-of-pearl in appearance)
    John, your interview was delightful, and no way would I have gotten the word riddle. I’m in awe of Barbara M’s interpretation.
    When we were kids, my mom always said we were “spinorty” (spin-OR-tee) when we were goofing off and feeling our oats. I grew up thinking it was a real word that meant “frisky.” I had no idea Mom had made up the word! One day, when I used it in conversation at work, a co-worker asked me how it was spelled. I rattled off, “s-p-i-n-o-r-t-y,” but to be sure, I looked it up in the dictionary. It wasn’t there!
    One of my favorite word-related things is mondegreens. Some of them are hilarious, and I’ve even pulled a few mondegreens myself. Thank you for a delightfully intertaining interview, John!

    Reply
  11. [quote] The terrifying pirate brandished a saber he had withdrawn from its sheath, while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans displayed their deadly lances. [/quote]
    Some right, some wrong, some missing. 🙂
    [quote] Which list do you mean, Jo? [/quote]
    I introduced the terrific pirate on Jo’s mailing list a few months ago.

    Reply
  12. [quote] The terrifying pirate brandished a saber he had withdrawn from its sheath, while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans displayed their deadly lances. [/quote]
    Some right, some wrong, some missing. 🙂
    [quote] Which list do you mean, Jo? [/quote]
    I introduced the terrific pirate on Jo’s mailing list a few months ago.

    Reply
  13. [quote] The terrifying pirate brandished a saber he had withdrawn from its sheath, while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans displayed their deadly lances. [/quote]
    Some right, some wrong, some missing. 🙂
    [quote] Which list do you mean, Jo? [/quote]
    I introduced the terrific pirate on Jo’s mailing list a few months ago.

    Reply
  14. [quote] The terrifying pirate brandished a saber he had withdrawn from its sheath, while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans displayed their deadly lances. [/quote]
    Some right, some wrong, some missing. 🙂
    [quote] Which list do you mean, Jo? [/quote]
    I introduced the terrific pirate on Jo’s mailing list a few months ago.

    Reply
  15. [quote] The terrifying pirate brandished a saber he had withdrawn from its sheath, while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans displayed their deadly lances. [/quote]
    Some right, some wrong, some missing. 🙂
    [quote] Which list do you mean, Jo? [/quote]
    I introduced the terrific pirate on Jo’s mailing list a few months ago.

    Reply
  16. Here are a few more quotations to ponder:
    “I do not wish to have anything to do with Viscount M——; he is so humorous he beats his wife and children.”
    “Whenever Lord Redstart told his wife how much he loved her, she resented his words and retaliated.”
    “Those who have studied the amazing creature called Stonehenge are certain that it is an organism.”
    Have fun…

    Reply
  17. Here are a few more quotations to ponder:
    “I do not wish to have anything to do with Viscount M——; he is so humorous he beats his wife and children.”
    “Whenever Lord Redstart told his wife how much he loved her, she resented his words and retaliated.”
    “Those who have studied the amazing creature called Stonehenge are certain that it is an organism.”
    Have fun…

    Reply
  18. Here are a few more quotations to ponder:
    “I do not wish to have anything to do with Viscount M——; he is so humorous he beats his wife and children.”
    “Whenever Lord Redstart told his wife how much he loved her, she resented his words and retaliated.”
    “Those who have studied the amazing creature called Stonehenge are certain that it is an organism.”
    Have fun…

    Reply
  19. Here are a few more quotations to ponder:
    “I do not wish to have anything to do with Viscount M——; he is so humorous he beats his wife and children.”
    “Whenever Lord Redstart told his wife how much he loved her, she resented his words and retaliated.”
    “Those who have studied the amazing creature called Stonehenge are certain that it is an organism.”
    Have fun…

    Reply
  20. Here are a few more quotations to ponder:
    “I do not wish to have anything to do with Viscount M——; he is so humorous he beats his wife and children.”
    “Whenever Lord Redstart told his wife how much he loved her, she resented his words and retaliated.”
    “Those who have studied the amazing creature called Stonehenge are certain that it is an organism.”
    Have fun…

    Reply
  21. Greetings, John,
    I am always delighted to be part of a community where you share your knowledge.
    One of my favorite writers of historical Regencies used “patio” in one of her novels. I was convinced that it was an error, but to my chagrin, when I checked the OED, I discovered that “patio” was in use during the time of the novel’s setting. What a relief that I checked before emailing the writer.
    I am not bothered by terms like “swiving” or “tupping” if the contexts suggest that f****** would be a good translation. I don’t know if my response is purly personal, but it is the way I read the terms. If something beyond the merely physical is implied, I’d rather see another term. I do admit that Eloisa James’s character “Tuppy” in her first Duchess series always makes melaugh.
    A question for John: The OED doesn’t always tell us how or why meanings changed. Do you know how “tittup changed from a horse’s canter to a hussy?

    Reply
  22. Greetings, John,
    I am always delighted to be part of a community where you share your knowledge.
    One of my favorite writers of historical Regencies used “patio” in one of her novels. I was convinced that it was an error, but to my chagrin, when I checked the OED, I discovered that “patio” was in use during the time of the novel’s setting. What a relief that I checked before emailing the writer.
    I am not bothered by terms like “swiving” or “tupping” if the contexts suggest that f****** would be a good translation. I don’t know if my response is purly personal, but it is the way I read the terms. If something beyond the merely physical is implied, I’d rather see another term. I do admit that Eloisa James’s character “Tuppy” in her first Duchess series always makes melaugh.
    A question for John: The OED doesn’t always tell us how or why meanings changed. Do you know how “tittup changed from a horse’s canter to a hussy?

    Reply
  23. Greetings, John,
    I am always delighted to be part of a community where you share your knowledge.
    One of my favorite writers of historical Regencies used “patio” in one of her novels. I was convinced that it was an error, but to my chagrin, when I checked the OED, I discovered that “patio” was in use during the time of the novel’s setting. What a relief that I checked before emailing the writer.
    I am not bothered by terms like “swiving” or “tupping” if the contexts suggest that f****** would be a good translation. I don’t know if my response is purly personal, but it is the way I read the terms. If something beyond the merely physical is implied, I’d rather see another term. I do admit that Eloisa James’s character “Tuppy” in her first Duchess series always makes melaugh.
    A question for John: The OED doesn’t always tell us how or why meanings changed. Do you know how “tittup changed from a horse’s canter to a hussy?

    Reply
  24. Greetings, John,
    I am always delighted to be part of a community where you share your knowledge.
    One of my favorite writers of historical Regencies used “patio” in one of her novels. I was convinced that it was an error, but to my chagrin, when I checked the OED, I discovered that “patio” was in use during the time of the novel’s setting. What a relief that I checked before emailing the writer.
    I am not bothered by terms like “swiving” or “tupping” if the contexts suggest that f****** would be a good translation. I don’t know if my response is purly personal, but it is the way I read the terms. If something beyond the merely physical is implied, I’d rather see another term. I do admit that Eloisa James’s character “Tuppy” in her first Duchess series always makes melaugh.
    A question for John: The OED doesn’t always tell us how or why meanings changed. Do you know how “tittup changed from a horse’s canter to a hussy?

    Reply
  25. Greetings, John,
    I am always delighted to be part of a community where you share your knowledge.
    One of my favorite writers of historical Regencies used “patio” in one of her novels. I was convinced that it was an error, but to my chagrin, when I checked the OED, I discovered that “patio” was in use during the time of the novel’s setting. What a relief that I checked before emailing the writer.
    I am not bothered by terms like “swiving” or “tupping” if the contexts suggest that f****** would be a good translation. I don’t know if my response is purly personal, but it is the way I read the terms. If something beyond the merely physical is implied, I’d rather see another term. I do admit that Eloisa James’s character “Tuppy” in her first Duchess series always makes melaugh.
    A question for John: The OED doesn’t always tell us how or why meanings changed. Do you know how “tittup changed from a horse’s canter to a hussy?

    Reply
  26. The terrifying pirate brandished the naked blade he had withdrawn from its scabbard while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans (from Tangiers) waved their deadly blunderbusses.
    Oh how I love things abut words. Thank you so much for this post. One of my favorite new words is vagulate. It was apparently used only once, by Virginia Woolf, but I would love to see it come into general use. It means to wander around vaguely, something I have been known to do, and I would like to have a respectable term to describe my actions. “Mom’s walking into the furniture again” doesn’t do much for my ego.
    I find it disconcerting to encounter anachronistic terms (and attitudes) in historical novels of any sort. It jolts me out of the story when a Regency gentleman refers to “grace under pressure.” (But I would find it even more disconcerting to have the footman kill the midget!)
    I think what I expect most in historical romances is a certain consistency. It seems unlikely that a gentleman who is too formal to sit in a lady’s presence would utter obscenities before her. But then, that may be my age showing. In my youth, young men would apologize for saying damn if a woman was present.

    Reply
  27. The terrifying pirate brandished the naked blade he had withdrawn from its scabbard while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans (from Tangiers) waved their deadly blunderbusses.
    Oh how I love things abut words. Thank you so much for this post. One of my favorite new words is vagulate. It was apparently used only once, by Virginia Woolf, but I would love to see it come into general use. It means to wander around vaguely, something I have been known to do, and I would like to have a respectable term to describe my actions. “Mom’s walking into the furniture again” doesn’t do much for my ego.
    I find it disconcerting to encounter anachronistic terms (and attitudes) in historical novels of any sort. It jolts me out of the story when a Regency gentleman refers to “grace under pressure.” (But I would find it even more disconcerting to have the footman kill the midget!)
    I think what I expect most in historical romances is a certain consistency. It seems unlikely that a gentleman who is too formal to sit in a lady’s presence would utter obscenities before her. But then, that may be my age showing. In my youth, young men would apologize for saying damn if a woman was present.

    Reply
  28. The terrifying pirate brandished the naked blade he had withdrawn from its scabbard while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans (from Tangiers) waved their deadly blunderbusses.
    Oh how I love things abut words. Thank you so much for this post. One of my favorite new words is vagulate. It was apparently used only once, by Virginia Woolf, but I would love to see it come into general use. It means to wander around vaguely, something I have been known to do, and I would like to have a respectable term to describe my actions. “Mom’s walking into the furniture again” doesn’t do much for my ego.
    I find it disconcerting to encounter anachronistic terms (and attitudes) in historical novels of any sort. It jolts me out of the story when a Regency gentleman refers to “grace under pressure.” (But I would find it even more disconcerting to have the footman kill the midget!)
    I think what I expect most in historical romances is a certain consistency. It seems unlikely that a gentleman who is too formal to sit in a lady’s presence would utter obscenities before her. But then, that may be my age showing. In my youth, young men would apologize for saying damn if a woman was present.

    Reply
  29. The terrifying pirate brandished the naked blade he had withdrawn from its scabbard while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans (from Tangiers) waved their deadly blunderbusses.
    Oh how I love things abut words. Thank you so much for this post. One of my favorite new words is vagulate. It was apparently used only once, by Virginia Woolf, but I would love to see it come into general use. It means to wander around vaguely, something I have been known to do, and I would like to have a respectable term to describe my actions. “Mom’s walking into the furniture again” doesn’t do much for my ego.
    I find it disconcerting to encounter anachronistic terms (and attitudes) in historical novels of any sort. It jolts me out of the story when a Regency gentleman refers to “grace under pressure.” (But I would find it even more disconcerting to have the footman kill the midget!)
    I think what I expect most in historical romances is a certain consistency. It seems unlikely that a gentleman who is too formal to sit in a lady’s presence would utter obscenities before her. But then, that may be my age showing. In my youth, young men would apologize for saying damn if a woman was present.

    Reply
  30. The terrifying pirate brandished the naked blade he had withdrawn from its scabbard while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans (from Tangiers) waved their deadly blunderbusses.
    Oh how I love things abut words. Thank you so much for this post. One of my favorite new words is vagulate. It was apparently used only once, by Virginia Woolf, but I would love to see it come into general use. It means to wander around vaguely, something I have been known to do, and I would like to have a respectable term to describe my actions. “Mom’s walking into the furniture again” doesn’t do much for my ego.
    I find it disconcerting to encounter anachronistic terms (and attitudes) in historical novels of any sort. It jolts me out of the story when a Regency gentleman refers to “grace under pressure.” (But I would find it even more disconcerting to have the footman kill the midget!)
    I think what I expect most in historical romances is a certain consistency. It seems unlikely that a gentleman who is too formal to sit in a lady’s presence would utter obscenities before her. But then, that may be my age showing. In my youth, young men would apologize for saying damn if a woman was present.

    Reply
  31. From A.Word.A.Day:
    bedswerver (bed-SWUR-vuhr) noun
    An unfaithful spouse.
    [From Old English bedd (bed) + sweorfan (to rub, to file away).]
    Sherrie, what’s a mondegreen?
    Maybe the pirate was waving another kind of implement around:
    The terrifying pirate brandished a naked brown cock he had withdrawn from his sheath, while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans displayed their vile members. 🙂
    John, I hope you will post the correct translation later… needless to say I’m dying to see it.

    Reply
  32. From A.Word.A.Day:
    bedswerver (bed-SWUR-vuhr) noun
    An unfaithful spouse.
    [From Old English bedd (bed) + sweorfan (to rub, to file away).]
    Sherrie, what’s a mondegreen?
    Maybe the pirate was waving another kind of implement around:
    The terrifying pirate brandished a naked brown cock he had withdrawn from his sheath, while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans displayed their vile members. 🙂
    John, I hope you will post the correct translation later… needless to say I’m dying to see it.

    Reply
  33. From A.Word.A.Day:
    bedswerver (bed-SWUR-vuhr) noun
    An unfaithful spouse.
    [From Old English bedd (bed) + sweorfan (to rub, to file away).]
    Sherrie, what’s a mondegreen?
    Maybe the pirate was waving another kind of implement around:
    The terrifying pirate brandished a naked brown cock he had withdrawn from his sheath, while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans displayed their vile members. 🙂
    John, I hope you will post the correct translation later… needless to say I’m dying to see it.

    Reply
  34. From A.Word.A.Day:
    bedswerver (bed-SWUR-vuhr) noun
    An unfaithful spouse.
    [From Old English bedd (bed) + sweorfan (to rub, to file away).]
    Sherrie, what’s a mondegreen?
    Maybe the pirate was waving another kind of implement around:
    The terrifying pirate brandished a naked brown cock he had withdrawn from his sheath, while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans displayed their vile members. 🙂
    John, I hope you will post the correct translation later… needless to say I’m dying to see it.

    Reply
  35. From A.Word.A.Day:
    bedswerver (bed-SWUR-vuhr) noun
    An unfaithful spouse.
    [From Old English bedd (bed) + sweorfan (to rub, to file away).]
    Sherrie, what’s a mondegreen?
    Maybe the pirate was waving another kind of implement around:
    The terrifying pirate brandished a naked brown cock he had withdrawn from his sheath, while the rest of his bloodthirsty Moroccans displayed their vile members. 🙂
    John, I hope you will post the correct translation later… needless to say I’m dying to see it.

    Reply
  36. “The terrific pirate brandished a naked brown sable he had withdrawn from his vagina, while the rest of his bloodthirsty tangerines advertised their pernicious trombones.”
    The accomplished plagiarist wore an unlined coat he had pulled from his satchel, while the rest of his hungry tabby cats looked at their excess paperclips.
    “I do not wish to have anything to do with Viscount M——; he is so humorous he beats his wife and children.”
    I hope for his family’s sake that he was prone to phlegm as well as choler!

    Reply
  37. “The terrific pirate brandished a naked brown sable he had withdrawn from his vagina, while the rest of his bloodthirsty tangerines advertised their pernicious trombones.”
    The accomplished plagiarist wore an unlined coat he had pulled from his satchel, while the rest of his hungry tabby cats looked at their excess paperclips.
    “I do not wish to have anything to do with Viscount M——; he is so humorous he beats his wife and children.”
    I hope for his family’s sake that he was prone to phlegm as well as choler!

    Reply
  38. “The terrific pirate brandished a naked brown sable he had withdrawn from his vagina, while the rest of his bloodthirsty tangerines advertised their pernicious trombones.”
    The accomplished plagiarist wore an unlined coat he had pulled from his satchel, while the rest of his hungry tabby cats looked at their excess paperclips.
    “I do not wish to have anything to do with Viscount M——; he is so humorous he beats his wife and children.”
    I hope for his family’s sake that he was prone to phlegm as well as choler!

    Reply
  39. “The terrific pirate brandished a naked brown sable he had withdrawn from his vagina, while the rest of his bloodthirsty tangerines advertised their pernicious trombones.”
    The accomplished plagiarist wore an unlined coat he had pulled from his satchel, while the rest of his hungry tabby cats looked at their excess paperclips.
    “I do not wish to have anything to do with Viscount M——; he is so humorous he beats his wife and children.”
    I hope for his family’s sake that he was prone to phlegm as well as choler!

    Reply
  40. “The terrific pirate brandished a naked brown sable he had withdrawn from his vagina, while the rest of his bloodthirsty tangerines advertised their pernicious trombones.”
    The accomplished plagiarist wore an unlined coat he had pulled from his satchel, while the rest of his hungry tabby cats looked at their excess paperclips.
    “I do not wish to have anything to do with Viscount M——; he is so humorous he beats his wife and children.”
    I hope for his family’s sake that he was prone to phlegm as well as choler!

    Reply
  41. Jane O: You have it correctly except for why the sable was BROWN.
    Re: Uttering obscenities in mixed company. I don’t know how many Regencies I have read where the hero said “bloody” in front of a lady. During the period in question, he would no more have said that than he would have said “f—ing”. As late as 1913, Shaw almost caused a riot by having the semi-reformed Eliza Doolittle say “not bloody likely” on stage in Pygmalion. (Amusingly, by the time of My Fair Lady fifty years later, the word had lost all its shock value, and so the Ascot scene in the movie has her yell “Move your arse” at a horse instead.)
    Janga: That one’s got me unless it was a pun. Tittup as a horse’s gait is definitely from the sound of the hooves. “Tit”, meanwhile, meant anything small (titmouse, etc.), and while it was usually used of girls it could also be applied to boys. I’d guess the meaning of hussy or minx was no relation, but rather a pun on “titty-up” in the breast sense.

    Reply
  42. Jane O: You have it correctly except for why the sable was BROWN.
    Re: Uttering obscenities in mixed company. I don’t know how many Regencies I have read where the hero said “bloody” in front of a lady. During the period in question, he would no more have said that than he would have said “f—ing”. As late as 1913, Shaw almost caused a riot by having the semi-reformed Eliza Doolittle say “not bloody likely” on stage in Pygmalion. (Amusingly, by the time of My Fair Lady fifty years later, the word had lost all its shock value, and so the Ascot scene in the movie has her yell “Move your arse” at a horse instead.)
    Janga: That one’s got me unless it was a pun. Tittup as a horse’s gait is definitely from the sound of the hooves. “Tit”, meanwhile, meant anything small (titmouse, etc.), and while it was usually used of girls it could also be applied to boys. I’d guess the meaning of hussy or minx was no relation, but rather a pun on “titty-up” in the breast sense.

    Reply
  43. Jane O: You have it correctly except for why the sable was BROWN.
    Re: Uttering obscenities in mixed company. I don’t know how many Regencies I have read where the hero said “bloody” in front of a lady. During the period in question, he would no more have said that than he would have said “f—ing”. As late as 1913, Shaw almost caused a riot by having the semi-reformed Eliza Doolittle say “not bloody likely” on stage in Pygmalion. (Amusingly, by the time of My Fair Lady fifty years later, the word had lost all its shock value, and so the Ascot scene in the movie has her yell “Move your arse” at a horse instead.)
    Janga: That one’s got me unless it was a pun. Tittup as a horse’s gait is definitely from the sound of the hooves. “Tit”, meanwhile, meant anything small (titmouse, etc.), and while it was usually used of girls it could also be applied to boys. I’d guess the meaning of hussy or minx was no relation, but rather a pun on “titty-up” in the breast sense.

    Reply
  44. Jane O: You have it correctly except for why the sable was BROWN.
    Re: Uttering obscenities in mixed company. I don’t know how many Regencies I have read where the hero said “bloody” in front of a lady. During the period in question, he would no more have said that than he would have said “f—ing”. As late as 1913, Shaw almost caused a riot by having the semi-reformed Eliza Doolittle say “not bloody likely” on stage in Pygmalion. (Amusingly, by the time of My Fair Lady fifty years later, the word had lost all its shock value, and so the Ascot scene in the movie has her yell “Move your arse” at a horse instead.)
    Janga: That one’s got me unless it was a pun. Tittup as a horse’s gait is definitely from the sound of the hooves. “Tit”, meanwhile, meant anything small (titmouse, etc.), and while it was usually used of girls it could also be applied to boys. I’d guess the meaning of hussy or minx was no relation, but rather a pun on “titty-up” in the breast sense.

    Reply
  45. Jane O: You have it correctly except for why the sable was BROWN.
    Re: Uttering obscenities in mixed company. I don’t know how many Regencies I have read where the hero said “bloody” in front of a lady. During the period in question, he would no more have said that than he would have said “f—ing”. As late as 1913, Shaw almost caused a riot by having the semi-reformed Eliza Doolittle say “not bloody likely” on stage in Pygmalion. (Amusingly, by the time of My Fair Lady fifty years later, the word had lost all its shock value, and so the Ascot scene in the movie has her yell “Move your arse” at a horse instead.)
    Janga: That one’s got me unless it was a pun. Tittup as a horse’s gait is definitely from the sound of the hooves. “Tit”, meanwhile, meant anything small (titmouse, etc.), and while it was usually used of girls it could also be applied to boys. I’d guess the meaning of hussy or minx was no relation, but rather a pun on “titty-up” in the breast sense.

    Reply
  46. RFP: “I do not wish to have anything to do with Viscount M——; he is so humorous he beats his wife and children.”
    I hope for his family’s sake that he was prone to phlegm as well as choler!
    Very Good!

    Reply
  47. RFP: “I do not wish to have anything to do with Viscount M——; he is so humorous he beats his wife and children.”
    I hope for his family’s sake that he was prone to phlegm as well as choler!
    Very Good!

    Reply
  48. RFP: “I do not wish to have anything to do with Viscount M——; he is so humorous he beats his wife and children.”
    I hope for his family’s sake that he was prone to phlegm as well as choler!
    Very Good!

    Reply
  49. RFP: “I do not wish to have anything to do with Viscount M——; he is so humorous he beats his wife and children.”
    I hope for his family’s sake that he was prone to phlegm as well as choler!
    Very Good!

    Reply
  50. RFP: “I do not wish to have anything to do with Viscount M——; he is so humorous he beats his wife and children.”
    I hope for his family’s sake that he was prone to phlegm as well as choler!
    Very Good!

    Reply
  51. So, if a convert is an apostate from the rear, is a “prevert” an apostate from the front? LOL
    I prefer understandability to correctness if a word’s meaning has changed dramatically. Otherwise the author will be forced to explain what should be understood and it stops the action.
    What about “gudgeon”? I have read that term in Heyer but nowhere else. It is a proper term for a connecting part of a tiller/rudder to the stern of a boat. But it’s hard to imagine how a person could be a gudgeon.

    Reply
  52. So, if a convert is an apostate from the rear, is a “prevert” an apostate from the front? LOL
    I prefer understandability to correctness if a word’s meaning has changed dramatically. Otherwise the author will be forced to explain what should be understood and it stops the action.
    What about “gudgeon”? I have read that term in Heyer but nowhere else. It is a proper term for a connecting part of a tiller/rudder to the stern of a boat. But it’s hard to imagine how a person could be a gudgeon.

    Reply
  53. So, if a convert is an apostate from the rear, is a “prevert” an apostate from the front? LOL
    I prefer understandability to correctness if a word’s meaning has changed dramatically. Otherwise the author will be forced to explain what should be understood and it stops the action.
    What about “gudgeon”? I have read that term in Heyer but nowhere else. It is a proper term for a connecting part of a tiller/rudder to the stern of a boat. But it’s hard to imagine how a person could be a gudgeon.

    Reply
  54. So, if a convert is an apostate from the rear, is a “prevert” an apostate from the front? LOL
    I prefer understandability to correctness if a word’s meaning has changed dramatically. Otherwise the author will be forced to explain what should be understood and it stops the action.
    What about “gudgeon”? I have read that term in Heyer but nowhere else. It is a proper term for a connecting part of a tiller/rudder to the stern of a boat. But it’s hard to imagine how a person could be a gudgeon.

    Reply
  55. So, if a convert is an apostate from the rear, is a “prevert” an apostate from the front? LOL
    I prefer understandability to correctness if a word’s meaning has changed dramatically. Otherwise the author will be forced to explain what should be understood and it stops the action.
    What about “gudgeon”? I have read that term in Heyer but nowhere else. It is a proper term for a connecting part of a tiller/rudder to the stern of a boat. But it’s hard to imagine how a person could be a gudgeon.

    Reply
  56. John said: Jane O: You have it correctly except for why the sable was BROWN.
    Is it an “os marron”?
    Alternatively, is it coated with dried blood?

    Reply
  57. John said: Jane O: You have it correctly except for why the sable was BROWN.
    Is it an “os marron”?
    Alternatively, is it coated with dried blood?

    Reply
  58. John said: Jane O: You have it correctly except for why the sable was BROWN.
    Is it an “os marron”?
    Alternatively, is it coated with dried blood?

    Reply
  59. John said: Jane O: You have it correctly except for why the sable was BROWN.
    Is it an “os marron”?
    Alternatively, is it coated with dried blood?

    Reply
  60. John said: Jane O: You have it correctly except for why the sable was BROWN.
    Is it an “os marron”?
    Alternatively, is it coated with dried blood?

    Reply
  61. Thank you John and Jo. You gave me a laugh this morning. I haven’t really thought about it but it must be a bit of a tightrope for the historical romance author. You want to avoid words and phrases that were not around at the time of your story but using some of the common words would create confusion for the reader and when you substitute words and phrases you have to watch out for accusations of purple prose.

    Reply
  62. Thank you John and Jo. You gave me a laugh this morning. I haven’t really thought about it but it must be a bit of a tightrope for the historical romance author. You want to avoid words and phrases that were not around at the time of your story but using some of the common words would create confusion for the reader and when you substitute words and phrases you have to watch out for accusations of purple prose.

    Reply
  63. Thank you John and Jo. You gave me a laugh this morning. I haven’t really thought about it but it must be a bit of a tightrope for the historical romance author. You want to avoid words and phrases that were not around at the time of your story but using some of the common words would create confusion for the reader and when you substitute words and phrases you have to watch out for accusations of purple prose.

    Reply
  64. Thank you John and Jo. You gave me a laugh this morning. I haven’t really thought about it but it must be a bit of a tightrope for the historical romance author. You want to avoid words and phrases that were not around at the time of your story but using some of the common words would create confusion for the reader and when you substitute words and phrases you have to watch out for accusations of purple prose.

    Reply
  65. Thank you John and Jo. You gave me a laugh this morning. I haven’t really thought about it but it must be a bit of a tightrope for the historical romance author. You want to avoid words and phrases that were not around at the time of your story but using some of the common words would create confusion for the reader and when you substitute words and phrases you have to watch out for accusations of purple prose.

    Reply
  66. You don’t like my coats, tabby cats, and paperclips, do you? Sigh.
    http://www.strangelove.net/~kieser/Russia/KMC3.html
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=tangerine
    http://french-word-a-day.typepad.com/motdujour/2005/02/un_trombone.html
    “A pervert was a religious apostate — a convert seen from the rear.”
    This reminds me of an old Tarzan novel set in a forgotten city of Crusaders. The warring factions are the Fronters (who wear a cross in front, signifying their desire to press on to the Holy Land) and the Backers (who wear a cross at the back, indicating they’ve already found the Valley of the Holy Sepulcher). They’re eternally stuck in a small valley, as neither side will let the other proceed.
    http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0600681h.html

    Reply
  67. You don’t like my coats, tabby cats, and paperclips, do you? Sigh.
    http://www.strangelove.net/~kieser/Russia/KMC3.html
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=tangerine
    http://french-word-a-day.typepad.com/motdujour/2005/02/un_trombone.html
    “A pervert was a religious apostate — a convert seen from the rear.”
    This reminds me of an old Tarzan novel set in a forgotten city of Crusaders. The warring factions are the Fronters (who wear a cross in front, signifying their desire to press on to the Holy Land) and the Backers (who wear a cross at the back, indicating they’ve already found the Valley of the Holy Sepulcher). They’re eternally stuck in a small valley, as neither side will let the other proceed.
    http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0600681h.html

    Reply
  68. You don’t like my coats, tabby cats, and paperclips, do you? Sigh.
    http://www.strangelove.net/~kieser/Russia/KMC3.html
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=tangerine
    http://french-word-a-day.typepad.com/motdujour/2005/02/un_trombone.html
    “A pervert was a religious apostate — a convert seen from the rear.”
    This reminds me of an old Tarzan novel set in a forgotten city of Crusaders. The warring factions are the Fronters (who wear a cross in front, signifying their desire to press on to the Holy Land) and the Backers (who wear a cross at the back, indicating they’ve already found the Valley of the Holy Sepulcher). They’re eternally stuck in a small valley, as neither side will let the other proceed.
    http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0600681h.html

    Reply
  69. You don’t like my coats, tabby cats, and paperclips, do you? Sigh.
    http://www.strangelove.net/~kieser/Russia/KMC3.html
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=tangerine
    http://french-word-a-day.typepad.com/motdujour/2005/02/un_trombone.html
    “A pervert was a religious apostate — a convert seen from the rear.”
    This reminds me of an old Tarzan novel set in a forgotten city of Crusaders. The warring factions are the Fronters (who wear a cross in front, signifying their desire to press on to the Holy Land) and the Backers (who wear a cross at the back, indicating they’ve already found the Valley of the Holy Sepulcher). They’re eternally stuck in a small valley, as neither side will let the other proceed.
    http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0600681h.html

    Reply
  70. You don’t like my coats, tabby cats, and paperclips, do you? Sigh.
    http://www.strangelove.net/~kieser/Russia/KMC3.html
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=tangerine
    http://french-word-a-day.typepad.com/motdujour/2005/02/un_trombone.html
    “A pervert was a religious apostate — a convert seen from the rear.”
    This reminds me of an old Tarzan novel set in a forgotten city of Crusaders. The warring factions are the Fronters (who wear a cross in front, signifying their desire to press on to the Holy Land) and the Backers (who wear a cross at the back, indicating they’ve already found the Valley of the Holy Sepulcher). They’re eternally stuck in a small valley, as neither side will let the other proceed.
    http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0600681h.html

    Reply
  71. I was a little late, I agree with
    Barbara for the most part.
    On a personal note: You have gone from the radar in Dunnettland. We do miss our old friends.
    Great article, I enjoyed reading.
    Mickey

    Reply
  72. I was a little late, I agree with
    Barbara for the most part.
    On a personal note: You have gone from the radar in Dunnettland. We do miss our old friends.
    Great article, I enjoyed reading.
    Mickey

    Reply
  73. I was a little late, I agree with
    Barbara for the most part.
    On a personal note: You have gone from the radar in Dunnettland. We do miss our old friends.
    Great article, I enjoyed reading.
    Mickey

    Reply
  74. I was a little late, I agree with
    Barbara for the most part.
    On a personal note: You have gone from the radar in Dunnettland. We do miss our old friends.
    Great article, I enjoyed reading.
    Mickey

    Reply
  75. I was a little late, I agree with
    Barbara for the most part.
    On a personal note: You have gone from the radar in Dunnettland. We do miss our old friends.
    Great article, I enjoyed reading.
    Mickey

    Reply
  76. I enjoyed the article-very interesting. I am an avid reader and I do not like to read a book with my dictionary within reach. I like to be able to figure out what the word is or at least recognize what it infers. If I am reading a book that takes place in a specific time period I do like to see words that I would recognize as being from that time period. I can feature Daniel Boone say “There’s a bar” and undersand it is a bear he means. And the dialogue is important,too. Somehow I can’t recognize when a suitor would whisper in my ear “I want to tup you” as being very romantic. Oh well

    Reply
  77. I enjoyed the article-very interesting. I am an avid reader and I do not like to read a book with my dictionary within reach. I like to be able to figure out what the word is or at least recognize what it infers. If I am reading a book that takes place in a specific time period I do like to see words that I would recognize as being from that time period. I can feature Daniel Boone say “There’s a bar” and undersand it is a bear he means. And the dialogue is important,too. Somehow I can’t recognize when a suitor would whisper in my ear “I want to tup you” as being very romantic. Oh well

    Reply
  78. I enjoyed the article-very interesting. I am an avid reader and I do not like to read a book with my dictionary within reach. I like to be able to figure out what the word is or at least recognize what it infers. If I am reading a book that takes place in a specific time period I do like to see words that I would recognize as being from that time period. I can feature Daniel Boone say “There’s a bar” and undersand it is a bear he means. And the dialogue is important,too. Somehow I can’t recognize when a suitor would whisper in my ear “I want to tup you” as being very romantic. Oh well

    Reply
  79. I enjoyed the article-very interesting. I am an avid reader and I do not like to read a book with my dictionary within reach. I like to be able to figure out what the word is or at least recognize what it infers. If I am reading a book that takes place in a specific time period I do like to see words that I would recognize as being from that time period. I can feature Daniel Boone say “There’s a bar” and undersand it is a bear he means. And the dialogue is important,too. Somehow I can’t recognize when a suitor would whisper in my ear “I want to tup you” as being very romantic. Oh well

    Reply
  80. I enjoyed the article-very interesting. I am an avid reader and I do not like to read a book with my dictionary within reach. I like to be able to figure out what the word is or at least recognize what it infers. If I am reading a book that takes place in a specific time period I do like to see words that I would recognize as being from that time period. I can feature Daniel Boone say “There’s a bar” and undersand it is a bear he means. And the dialogue is important,too. Somehow I can’t recognize when a suitor would whisper in my ear “I want to tup you” as being very romantic. Oh well

    Reply
  81. Barbara M: Re “brown”.
    Nope and nope. Sorry.
    This is tricky, because color words are very changeable. Purple once meant what we now call scarlet (Cardinals’ robes are “royal purple”). Blue once meant greyish yellow. Primroses were originally white, not yellow. Black, bleak, and bleach are all the same word. In the mid-19th century, a beige dress could be any color at all, because it referred to a fabric type, not a color.
    For that matter, “miniature” once meant “bright red”!

    Reply
  82. Barbara M: Re “brown”.
    Nope and nope. Sorry.
    This is tricky, because color words are very changeable. Purple once meant what we now call scarlet (Cardinals’ robes are “royal purple”). Blue once meant greyish yellow. Primroses were originally white, not yellow. Black, bleak, and bleach are all the same word. In the mid-19th century, a beige dress could be any color at all, because it referred to a fabric type, not a color.
    For that matter, “miniature” once meant “bright red”!

    Reply
  83. Barbara M: Re “brown”.
    Nope and nope. Sorry.
    This is tricky, because color words are very changeable. Purple once meant what we now call scarlet (Cardinals’ robes are “royal purple”). Blue once meant greyish yellow. Primroses were originally white, not yellow. Black, bleak, and bleach are all the same word. In the mid-19th century, a beige dress could be any color at all, because it referred to a fabric type, not a color.
    For that matter, “miniature” once meant “bright red”!

    Reply
  84. Barbara M: Re “brown”.
    Nope and nope. Sorry.
    This is tricky, because color words are very changeable. Purple once meant what we now call scarlet (Cardinals’ robes are “royal purple”). Blue once meant greyish yellow. Primroses were originally white, not yellow. Black, bleak, and bleach are all the same word. In the mid-19th century, a beige dress could be any color at all, because it referred to a fabric type, not a color.
    For that matter, “miniature” once meant “bright red”!

    Reply
  85. Barbara M: Re “brown”.
    Nope and nope. Sorry.
    This is tricky, because color words are very changeable. Purple once meant what we now call scarlet (Cardinals’ robes are “royal purple”). Blue once meant greyish yellow. Primroses were originally white, not yellow. Black, bleak, and bleach are all the same word. In the mid-19th century, a beige dress could be any color at all, because it referred to a fabric type, not a color.
    For that matter, “miniature” once meant “bright red”!

    Reply
  86. Brown as in shining or burnished? This is a lot of fun.
    Thanks for the info re “bloody”… Which swear words would be less unlikely to slip out in the presence of ladies in the 18th and 19th centuries?

    Reply
  87. Brown as in shining or burnished? This is a lot of fun.
    Thanks for the info re “bloody”… Which swear words would be less unlikely to slip out in the presence of ladies in the 18th and 19th centuries?

    Reply
  88. Brown as in shining or burnished? This is a lot of fun.
    Thanks for the info re “bloody”… Which swear words would be less unlikely to slip out in the presence of ladies in the 18th and 19th centuries?

    Reply
  89. Brown as in shining or burnished? This is a lot of fun.
    Thanks for the info re “bloody”… Which swear words would be less unlikely to slip out in the presence of ladies in the 18th and 19th centuries?

    Reply
  90. Brown as in shining or burnished? This is a lot of fun.
    Thanks for the info re “bloody”… Which swear words would be less unlikely to slip out in the presence of ladies in the 18th and 19th centuries?

    Reply
  91. JOYE: “I enjoyed the article-very interesting. I am an avid reader and I do not like to read a book with my dictionary within reach. I like to be able to figure out what the word is or at least recognize what it infers.”
    Heyer was wonderful at dialogue that used all sorts of strange words but somehow made sense.
    Science fiction authors have an even harder time trying to introduce alien words and get them to make sense in context. Some readers get frustrated with C.J. Cherryh, for example, because her narrative style normally means that the reader knows only what the character knows. Since her protagonists tend to be puzzled and out of their depth, this means she might introduce a term in chapter one and finally make it clear in context in chapter ten. Or in the next book of the series.

    Reply
  92. JOYE: “I enjoyed the article-very interesting. I am an avid reader and I do not like to read a book with my dictionary within reach. I like to be able to figure out what the word is or at least recognize what it infers.”
    Heyer was wonderful at dialogue that used all sorts of strange words but somehow made sense.
    Science fiction authors have an even harder time trying to introduce alien words and get them to make sense in context. Some readers get frustrated with C.J. Cherryh, for example, because her narrative style normally means that the reader knows only what the character knows. Since her protagonists tend to be puzzled and out of their depth, this means she might introduce a term in chapter one and finally make it clear in context in chapter ten. Or in the next book of the series.

    Reply
  93. JOYE: “I enjoyed the article-very interesting. I am an avid reader and I do not like to read a book with my dictionary within reach. I like to be able to figure out what the word is or at least recognize what it infers.”
    Heyer was wonderful at dialogue that used all sorts of strange words but somehow made sense.
    Science fiction authors have an even harder time trying to introduce alien words and get them to make sense in context. Some readers get frustrated with C.J. Cherryh, for example, because her narrative style normally means that the reader knows only what the character knows. Since her protagonists tend to be puzzled and out of their depth, this means she might introduce a term in chapter one and finally make it clear in context in chapter ten. Or in the next book of the series.

    Reply
  94. JOYE: “I enjoyed the article-very interesting. I am an avid reader and I do not like to read a book with my dictionary within reach. I like to be able to figure out what the word is or at least recognize what it infers.”
    Heyer was wonderful at dialogue that used all sorts of strange words but somehow made sense.
    Science fiction authors have an even harder time trying to introduce alien words and get them to make sense in context. Some readers get frustrated with C.J. Cherryh, for example, because her narrative style normally means that the reader knows only what the character knows. Since her protagonists tend to be puzzled and out of their depth, this means she might introduce a term in chapter one and finally make it clear in context in chapter ten. Or in the next book of the series.

    Reply
  95. JOYE: “I enjoyed the article-very interesting. I am an avid reader and I do not like to read a book with my dictionary within reach. I like to be able to figure out what the word is or at least recognize what it infers.”
    Heyer was wonderful at dialogue that used all sorts of strange words but somehow made sense.
    Science fiction authors have an even harder time trying to introduce alien words and get them to make sense in context. Some readers get frustrated with C.J. Cherryh, for example, because her narrative style normally means that the reader knows only what the character knows. Since her protagonists tend to be puzzled and out of their depth, this means she might introduce a term in chapter one and finally make it clear in context in chapter ten. Or in the next book of the series.

    Reply
  96. Jo popping in for a moment. Interesting comments, everyone.
    Interesting question about gudgeon. As an Englishwoman who sometimes did a bit of tame angling, I know what a gudgeon is. As a writer, I try to be aware of what North Americans might not know, but it’s hard.
    Mind you, I was once gobsmacked — to use a good English term — when a reader said my book Lord of My Heart would have been clearer if she’d known Normandy was across the sea, not a part of England. A very unusual point of ignorance, I think. Perhaps I’ll blog more about this later in the month.
    I now return you to your scheduled topic!And get back to my book, which started in Yorkshire and is now in London and Wiltshire.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  97. Jo popping in for a moment. Interesting comments, everyone.
    Interesting question about gudgeon. As an Englishwoman who sometimes did a bit of tame angling, I know what a gudgeon is. As a writer, I try to be aware of what North Americans might not know, but it’s hard.
    Mind you, I was once gobsmacked — to use a good English term — when a reader said my book Lord of My Heart would have been clearer if she’d known Normandy was across the sea, not a part of England. A very unusual point of ignorance, I think. Perhaps I’ll blog more about this later in the month.
    I now return you to your scheduled topic!And get back to my book, which started in Yorkshire and is now in London and Wiltshire.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  98. Jo popping in for a moment. Interesting comments, everyone.
    Interesting question about gudgeon. As an Englishwoman who sometimes did a bit of tame angling, I know what a gudgeon is. As a writer, I try to be aware of what North Americans might not know, but it’s hard.
    Mind you, I was once gobsmacked — to use a good English term — when a reader said my book Lord of My Heart would have been clearer if she’d known Normandy was across the sea, not a part of England. A very unusual point of ignorance, I think. Perhaps I’ll blog more about this later in the month.
    I now return you to your scheduled topic!And get back to my book, which started in Yorkshire and is now in London and Wiltshire.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  99. Jo popping in for a moment. Interesting comments, everyone.
    Interesting question about gudgeon. As an Englishwoman who sometimes did a bit of tame angling, I know what a gudgeon is. As a writer, I try to be aware of what North Americans might not know, but it’s hard.
    Mind you, I was once gobsmacked — to use a good English term — when a reader said my book Lord of My Heart would have been clearer if she’d known Normandy was across the sea, not a part of England. A very unusual point of ignorance, I think. Perhaps I’ll blog more about this later in the month.
    I now return you to your scheduled topic!And get back to my book, which started in Yorkshire and is now in London and Wiltshire.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  100. Jo popping in for a moment. Interesting comments, everyone.
    Interesting question about gudgeon. As an Englishwoman who sometimes did a bit of tame angling, I know what a gudgeon is. As a writer, I try to be aware of what North Americans might not know, but it’s hard.
    Mind you, I was once gobsmacked — to use a good English term — when a reader said my book Lord of My Heart would have been clearer if she’d known Normandy was across the sea, not a part of England. A very unusual point of ignorance, I think. Perhaps I’ll blog more about this later in the month.
    I now return you to your scheduled topic!And get back to my book, which started in Yorkshire and is now in London and Wiltshire.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  101. hi not Sherrie, but this what a mondegreen is:
    Mondegreen
    A series of words that result from the mishearing or misinterpretation of a statement or song lyric. For example, I led the pigeons to the flag for I pledge allegiance to the flag.
    There are tons on google. Some are really funny.
    Mickey

    Reply
  102. hi not Sherrie, but this what a mondegreen is:
    Mondegreen
    A series of words that result from the mishearing or misinterpretation of a statement or song lyric. For example, I led the pigeons to the flag for I pledge allegiance to the flag.
    There are tons on google. Some are really funny.
    Mickey

    Reply
  103. hi not Sherrie, but this what a mondegreen is:
    Mondegreen
    A series of words that result from the mishearing or misinterpretation of a statement or song lyric. For example, I led the pigeons to the flag for I pledge allegiance to the flag.
    There are tons on google. Some are really funny.
    Mickey

    Reply
  104. hi not Sherrie, but this what a mondegreen is:
    Mondegreen
    A series of words that result from the mishearing or misinterpretation of a statement or song lyric. For example, I led the pigeons to the flag for I pledge allegiance to the flag.
    There are tons on google. Some are really funny.
    Mickey

    Reply
  105. hi not Sherrie, but this what a mondegreen is:
    Mondegreen
    A series of words that result from the mishearing or misinterpretation of a statement or song lyric. For example, I led the pigeons to the flag for I pledge allegiance to the flag.
    There are tons on google. Some are really funny.
    Mickey

    Reply
  106. I’m afraid I can’t contribute anything very original as a comment, so I will simply say that this post was delightful. When I write a period piece I want to know that I am using verbiage correct for that period. You have given me a LOT about which to think! I see myself devouring your web sites in the very near future.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  107. I’m afraid I can’t contribute anything very original as a comment, so I will simply say that this post was delightful. When I write a period piece I want to know that I am using verbiage correct for that period. You have given me a LOT about which to think! I see myself devouring your web sites in the very near future.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  108. I’m afraid I can’t contribute anything very original as a comment, so I will simply say that this post was delightful. When I write a period piece I want to know that I am using verbiage correct for that period. You have given me a LOT about which to think! I see myself devouring your web sites in the very near future.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  109. I’m afraid I can’t contribute anything very original as a comment, so I will simply say that this post was delightful. When I write a period piece I want to know that I am using verbiage correct for that period. You have given me a LOT about which to think! I see myself devouring your web sites in the very near future.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  110. I’m afraid I can’t contribute anything very original as a comment, so I will simply say that this post was delightful. When I write a period piece I want to know that I am using verbiage correct for that period. You have given me a LOT about which to think! I see myself devouring your web sites in the very near future.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  111. Barbara M: “Shining” is correct.
    I think we’ve gotten the whole sentence at this point.
    “The terrifying pirate brandished the naked shining sabre he had withdrawn from his sheath, while his bloodthirsty crew from Tangier brandished their deadly blunderbusses.”
    Terrific once meant the same as its cousins terrible and terrifying — causing terror. (Ivan the Terrible was so-called because he was FEARSOME, not inept.)
    “Sable” is the original form of the weapon now spelled “sabre” or “saber” in English. Even so, it ought to be “shaber” — c.f. German sabel, Italian sciabla, Hungarian szablya, and Scottish shabble, all with an /SH/ sound.
    “Brown” once meant “shiny” and was often applied to swords — c.f. “burnish”. (By the way, nobody knows why the other sable came to mean “black”; the animal is quite definitely brown in the modern sense.)
    Vagina is the normal Latin word for “sheath” or “scabbard” and was used that way in English well before the anatomical sense. (BTW, vanilla is shortened down from “vaginilla”, literally “little vagina”, from the shape of the pods.)
    Tangerine meant someone or something from Tangier; the fruit was a Tangerine orange.
    To advertise was to show or call attention to, not much different from today.
    Pernicious means “thoroughly deadly” and is still used that way by doctors — c.f. pernicious anemia. Noxious is a relative.
    A trombone is literally a “large horn” just as a trumpet is a small one. As Jane said, it was slang for a blunderbuss, from the flaring barrel of the gun.
    Nothing to it. 🙂

    Reply
  112. Barbara M: “Shining” is correct.
    I think we’ve gotten the whole sentence at this point.
    “The terrifying pirate brandished the naked shining sabre he had withdrawn from his sheath, while his bloodthirsty crew from Tangier brandished their deadly blunderbusses.”
    Terrific once meant the same as its cousins terrible and terrifying — causing terror. (Ivan the Terrible was so-called because he was FEARSOME, not inept.)
    “Sable” is the original form of the weapon now spelled “sabre” or “saber” in English. Even so, it ought to be “shaber” — c.f. German sabel, Italian sciabla, Hungarian szablya, and Scottish shabble, all with an /SH/ sound.
    “Brown” once meant “shiny” and was often applied to swords — c.f. “burnish”. (By the way, nobody knows why the other sable came to mean “black”; the animal is quite definitely brown in the modern sense.)
    Vagina is the normal Latin word for “sheath” or “scabbard” and was used that way in English well before the anatomical sense. (BTW, vanilla is shortened down from “vaginilla”, literally “little vagina”, from the shape of the pods.)
    Tangerine meant someone or something from Tangier; the fruit was a Tangerine orange.
    To advertise was to show or call attention to, not much different from today.
    Pernicious means “thoroughly deadly” and is still used that way by doctors — c.f. pernicious anemia. Noxious is a relative.
    A trombone is literally a “large horn” just as a trumpet is a small one. As Jane said, it was slang for a blunderbuss, from the flaring barrel of the gun.
    Nothing to it. 🙂

    Reply
  113. Barbara M: “Shining” is correct.
    I think we’ve gotten the whole sentence at this point.
    “The terrifying pirate brandished the naked shining sabre he had withdrawn from his sheath, while his bloodthirsty crew from Tangier brandished their deadly blunderbusses.”
    Terrific once meant the same as its cousins terrible and terrifying — causing terror. (Ivan the Terrible was so-called because he was FEARSOME, not inept.)
    “Sable” is the original form of the weapon now spelled “sabre” or “saber” in English. Even so, it ought to be “shaber” — c.f. German sabel, Italian sciabla, Hungarian szablya, and Scottish shabble, all with an /SH/ sound.
    “Brown” once meant “shiny” and was often applied to swords — c.f. “burnish”. (By the way, nobody knows why the other sable came to mean “black”; the animal is quite definitely brown in the modern sense.)
    Vagina is the normal Latin word for “sheath” or “scabbard” and was used that way in English well before the anatomical sense. (BTW, vanilla is shortened down from “vaginilla”, literally “little vagina”, from the shape of the pods.)
    Tangerine meant someone or something from Tangier; the fruit was a Tangerine orange.
    To advertise was to show or call attention to, not much different from today.
    Pernicious means “thoroughly deadly” and is still used that way by doctors — c.f. pernicious anemia. Noxious is a relative.
    A trombone is literally a “large horn” just as a trumpet is a small one. As Jane said, it was slang for a blunderbuss, from the flaring barrel of the gun.
    Nothing to it. 🙂

    Reply
  114. Barbara M: “Shining” is correct.
    I think we’ve gotten the whole sentence at this point.
    “The terrifying pirate brandished the naked shining sabre he had withdrawn from his sheath, while his bloodthirsty crew from Tangier brandished their deadly blunderbusses.”
    Terrific once meant the same as its cousins terrible and terrifying — causing terror. (Ivan the Terrible was so-called because he was FEARSOME, not inept.)
    “Sable” is the original form of the weapon now spelled “sabre” or “saber” in English. Even so, it ought to be “shaber” — c.f. German sabel, Italian sciabla, Hungarian szablya, and Scottish shabble, all with an /SH/ sound.
    “Brown” once meant “shiny” and was often applied to swords — c.f. “burnish”. (By the way, nobody knows why the other sable came to mean “black”; the animal is quite definitely brown in the modern sense.)
    Vagina is the normal Latin word for “sheath” or “scabbard” and was used that way in English well before the anatomical sense. (BTW, vanilla is shortened down from “vaginilla”, literally “little vagina”, from the shape of the pods.)
    Tangerine meant someone or something from Tangier; the fruit was a Tangerine orange.
    To advertise was to show or call attention to, not much different from today.
    Pernicious means “thoroughly deadly” and is still used that way by doctors — c.f. pernicious anemia. Noxious is a relative.
    A trombone is literally a “large horn” just as a trumpet is a small one. As Jane said, it was slang for a blunderbuss, from the flaring barrel of the gun.
    Nothing to it. 🙂

    Reply
  115. Barbara M: “Shining” is correct.
    I think we’ve gotten the whole sentence at this point.
    “The terrifying pirate brandished the naked shining sabre he had withdrawn from his sheath, while his bloodthirsty crew from Tangier brandished their deadly blunderbusses.”
    Terrific once meant the same as its cousins terrible and terrifying — causing terror. (Ivan the Terrible was so-called because he was FEARSOME, not inept.)
    “Sable” is the original form of the weapon now spelled “sabre” or “saber” in English. Even so, it ought to be “shaber” — c.f. German sabel, Italian sciabla, Hungarian szablya, and Scottish shabble, all with an /SH/ sound.
    “Brown” once meant “shiny” and was often applied to swords — c.f. “burnish”. (By the way, nobody knows why the other sable came to mean “black”; the animal is quite definitely brown in the modern sense.)
    Vagina is the normal Latin word for “sheath” or “scabbard” and was used that way in English well before the anatomical sense. (BTW, vanilla is shortened down from “vaginilla”, literally “little vagina”, from the shape of the pods.)
    Tangerine meant someone or something from Tangier; the fruit was a Tangerine orange.
    To advertise was to show or call attention to, not much different from today.
    Pernicious means “thoroughly deadly” and is still used that way by doctors — c.f. pernicious anemia. Noxious is a relative.
    A trombone is literally a “large horn” just as a trumpet is a small one. As Jane said, it was slang for a blunderbuss, from the flaring barrel of the gun.
    Nothing to it. 🙂

    Reply
  116. Oh my goodness. I published my comment at exactly the same time (9:55) as Mr. Dierdorf! I had just found the “burnished” definition of “brown” in my Oxford English Dictionary of Etymology! I think I’ll pat myself on the back!

    Reply
  117. Oh my goodness. I published my comment at exactly the same time (9:55) as Mr. Dierdorf! I had just found the “burnished” definition of “brown” in my Oxford English Dictionary of Etymology! I think I’ll pat myself on the back!

    Reply
  118. Oh my goodness. I published my comment at exactly the same time (9:55) as Mr. Dierdorf! I had just found the “burnished” definition of “brown” in my Oxford English Dictionary of Etymology! I think I’ll pat myself on the back!

    Reply
  119. Oh my goodness. I published my comment at exactly the same time (9:55) as Mr. Dierdorf! I had just found the “burnished” definition of “brown” in my Oxford English Dictionary of Etymology! I think I’ll pat myself on the back!

    Reply
  120. Oh my goodness. I published my comment at exactly the same time (9:55) as Mr. Dierdorf! I had just found the “burnished” definition of “brown” in my Oxford English Dictionary of Etymology! I think I’ll pat myself on the back!

    Reply
  121. To expand slightly on a Mondegreen, the origin of the term comes from an anecdote about the Scottish ballad, “The Bonnie Earl of Moray”:
    One of the lines is, “They have slain the Earl of Moray, and laid him on the green.” It was misunderstood as “They have slain the Earl of Moray, and Lady Mondegreen.” The author spent a long time trying to figure out who Lady Mondegreen had been and what she had to do with the Earl.
    PS — Since we seem to have a few Dunnett fanatics here, the Earl is a semi-prominent character in the later Lymond books.

    Reply
  122. To expand slightly on a Mondegreen, the origin of the term comes from an anecdote about the Scottish ballad, “The Bonnie Earl of Moray”:
    One of the lines is, “They have slain the Earl of Moray, and laid him on the green.” It was misunderstood as “They have slain the Earl of Moray, and Lady Mondegreen.” The author spent a long time trying to figure out who Lady Mondegreen had been and what she had to do with the Earl.
    PS — Since we seem to have a few Dunnett fanatics here, the Earl is a semi-prominent character in the later Lymond books.

    Reply
  123. To expand slightly on a Mondegreen, the origin of the term comes from an anecdote about the Scottish ballad, “The Bonnie Earl of Moray”:
    One of the lines is, “They have slain the Earl of Moray, and laid him on the green.” It was misunderstood as “They have slain the Earl of Moray, and Lady Mondegreen.” The author spent a long time trying to figure out who Lady Mondegreen had been and what she had to do with the Earl.
    PS — Since we seem to have a few Dunnett fanatics here, the Earl is a semi-prominent character in the later Lymond books.

    Reply
  124. To expand slightly on a Mondegreen, the origin of the term comes from an anecdote about the Scottish ballad, “The Bonnie Earl of Moray”:
    One of the lines is, “They have slain the Earl of Moray, and laid him on the green.” It was misunderstood as “They have slain the Earl of Moray, and Lady Mondegreen.” The author spent a long time trying to figure out who Lady Mondegreen had been and what she had to do with the Earl.
    PS — Since we seem to have a few Dunnett fanatics here, the Earl is a semi-prominent character in the later Lymond books.

    Reply
  125. To expand slightly on a Mondegreen, the origin of the term comes from an anecdote about the Scottish ballad, “The Bonnie Earl of Moray”:
    One of the lines is, “They have slain the Earl of Moray, and laid him on the green.” It was misunderstood as “They have slain the Earl of Moray, and Lady Mondegreen.” The author spent a long time trying to figure out who Lady Mondegreen had been and what she had to do with the Earl.
    PS — Since we seem to have a few Dunnett fanatics here, the Earl is a semi-prominent character in the later Lymond books.

    Reply
  126. Totally fascinating! I have skipped all the other comments in order to have a virginal try at translating the peculiar paragraph, but I admit right up front that I’m almost entirely guessing!
    “The terrifying pirate brandished a naked sabre he had withdrawn from its sheath while the rest of his bloodthirsty men from Tangiers flourished their dangerous muskets.”
    Was I even close?

    Reply
  127. Totally fascinating! I have skipped all the other comments in order to have a virginal try at translating the peculiar paragraph, but I admit right up front that I’m almost entirely guessing!
    “The terrifying pirate brandished a naked sabre he had withdrawn from its sheath while the rest of his bloodthirsty men from Tangiers flourished their dangerous muskets.”
    Was I even close?

    Reply
  128. Totally fascinating! I have skipped all the other comments in order to have a virginal try at translating the peculiar paragraph, but I admit right up front that I’m almost entirely guessing!
    “The terrifying pirate brandished a naked sabre he had withdrawn from its sheath while the rest of his bloodthirsty men from Tangiers flourished their dangerous muskets.”
    Was I even close?

    Reply
  129. Totally fascinating! I have skipped all the other comments in order to have a virginal try at translating the peculiar paragraph, but I admit right up front that I’m almost entirely guessing!
    “The terrifying pirate brandished a naked sabre he had withdrawn from its sheath while the rest of his bloodthirsty men from Tangiers flourished their dangerous muskets.”
    Was I even close?

    Reply
  130. Totally fascinating! I have skipped all the other comments in order to have a virginal try at translating the peculiar paragraph, but I admit right up front that I’m almost entirely guessing!
    “The terrifying pirate brandished a naked sabre he had withdrawn from its sheath while the rest of his bloodthirsty men from Tangiers flourished their dangerous muskets.”
    Was I even close?

    Reply
  131. Elaine: As you’ve figured out by now, you were almost perfect — everything but the “brown”.
    That was intentionally sneaky, since “brown sable” looks like a unit, and when people went scrambling to find out that “sable” was the older spelling of “sabre”, they easily overlooked the “brown”.

    Reply
  132. Elaine: As you’ve figured out by now, you were almost perfect — everything but the “brown”.
    That was intentionally sneaky, since “brown sable” looks like a unit, and when people went scrambling to find out that “sable” was the older spelling of “sabre”, they easily overlooked the “brown”.

    Reply
  133. Elaine: As you’ve figured out by now, you were almost perfect — everything but the “brown”.
    That was intentionally sneaky, since “brown sable” looks like a unit, and when people went scrambling to find out that “sable” was the older spelling of “sabre”, they easily overlooked the “brown”.

    Reply
  134. Elaine: As you’ve figured out by now, you were almost perfect — everything but the “brown”.
    That was intentionally sneaky, since “brown sable” looks like a unit, and when people went scrambling to find out that “sable” was the older spelling of “sabre”, they easily overlooked the “brown”.

    Reply
  135. Elaine: As you’ve figured out by now, you were almost perfect — everything but the “brown”.
    That was intentionally sneaky, since “brown sable” looks like a unit, and when people went scrambling to find out that “sable” was the older spelling of “sabre”, they easily overlooked the “brown”.

    Reply
  136. I am so enjoying this post! I love the information about colors. Even with descriptions it’s hard to know wht color people meant when the available dyes were so different.
    And I love the word “gobsmacked” — it does so sound like the way one feels when confronted with invincible ignorance. I remember standing there with my jaw hanging when I realized that the young teacher I was talking to thought that Japan had been the ally of the Unitd States in World War II.

    Reply
  137. I am so enjoying this post! I love the information about colors. Even with descriptions it’s hard to know wht color people meant when the available dyes were so different.
    And I love the word “gobsmacked” — it does so sound like the way one feels when confronted with invincible ignorance. I remember standing there with my jaw hanging when I realized that the young teacher I was talking to thought that Japan had been the ally of the Unitd States in World War II.

    Reply
  138. I am so enjoying this post! I love the information about colors. Even with descriptions it’s hard to know wht color people meant when the available dyes were so different.
    And I love the word “gobsmacked” — it does so sound like the way one feels when confronted with invincible ignorance. I remember standing there with my jaw hanging when I realized that the young teacher I was talking to thought that Japan had been the ally of the Unitd States in World War II.

    Reply
  139. I am so enjoying this post! I love the information about colors. Even with descriptions it’s hard to know wht color people meant when the available dyes were so different.
    And I love the word “gobsmacked” — it does so sound like the way one feels when confronted with invincible ignorance. I remember standing there with my jaw hanging when I realized that the young teacher I was talking to thought that Japan had been the ally of the Unitd States in World War II.

    Reply
  140. I am so enjoying this post! I love the information about colors. Even with descriptions it’s hard to know wht color people meant when the available dyes were so different.
    And I love the word “gobsmacked” — it does so sound like the way one feels when confronted with invincible ignorance. I remember standing there with my jaw hanging when I realized that the young teacher I was talking to thought that Japan had been the ally of the Unitd States in World War II.

    Reply
  141. Thanks, Jo, for introducing us to John Dierdorf. I spent quite some time the other evening enjoying his site and expect to spend more time, particularly in the “You Can’t Say That” pages.
    Novels that send me to the Internet or my Pocket Oxford for definition/clarification can be delightful. It is always fun to learn a new word or phrase or bit of history. However, some writers of historical fiction can be so immersed in sounding authentic that the whole flow of the novel is too choppy for my taste. On the other hand, you have the historical author who has you muttering, “That word was not in use till at LEAST the ‘50s.” (1950s, that is) The writers I enjoy the most manage to strike a happy balance between these two extremes.
    Here is a phrase I have come across in dialogue in a few novels, “He put his spoon in the wall”, meaning he died. But I have been unable to find anyone who speaks confidently to the issue of the origins of this phrase (which makes me wonder if someone in the 20th century just thought it sounded good and others picked up on it). So, John or Jo: do you have any thoughts on the origin of this phrase?
    Pat

    Reply
  142. Thanks, Jo, for introducing us to John Dierdorf. I spent quite some time the other evening enjoying his site and expect to spend more time, particularly in the “You Can’t Say That” pages.
    Novels that send me to the Internet or my Pocket Oxford for definition/clarification can be delightful. It is always fun to learn a new word or phrase or bit of history. However, some writers of historical fiction can be so immersed in sounding authentic that the whole flow of the novel is too choppy for my taste. On the other hand, you have the historical author who has you muttering, “That word was not in use till at LEAST the ‘50s.” (1950s, that is) The writers I enjoy the most manage to strike a happy balance between these two extremes.
    Here is a phrase I have come across in dialogue in a few novels, “He put his spoon in the wall”, meaning he died. But I have been unable to find anyone who speaks confidently to the issue of the origins of this phrase (which makes me wonder if someone in the 20th century just thought it sounded good and others picked up on it). So, John or Jo: do you have any thoughts on the origin of this phrase?
    Pat

    Reply
  143. Thanks, Jo, for introducing us to John Dierdorf. I spent quite some time the other evening enjoying his site and expect to spend more time, particularly in the “You Can’t Say That” pages.
    Novels that send me to the Internet or my Pocket Oxford for definition/clarification can be delightful. It is always fun to learn a new word or phrase or bit of history. However, some writers of historical fiction can be so immersed in sounding authentic that the whole flow of the novel is too choppy for my taste. On the other hand, you have the historical author who has you muttering, “That word was not in use till at LEAST the ‘50s.” (1950s, that is) The writers I enjoy the most manage to strike a happy balance between these two extremes.
    Here is a phrase I have come across in dialogue in a few novels, “He put his spoon in the wall”, meaning he died. But I have been unable to find anyone who speaks confidently to the issue of the origins of this phrase (which makes me wonder if someone in the 20th century just thought it sounded good and others picked up on it). So, John or Jo: do you have any thoughts on the origin of this phrase?
    Pat

    Reply
  144. Thanks, Jo, for introducing us to John Dierdorf. I spent quite some time the other evening enjoying his site and expect to spend more time, particularly in the “You Can’t Say That” pages.
    Novels that send me to the Internet or my Pocket Oxford for definition/clarification can be delightful. It is always fun to learn a new word or phrase or bit of history. However, some writers of historical fiction can be so immersed in sounding authentic that the whole flow of the novel is too choppy for my taste. On the other hand, you have the historical author who has you muttering, “That word was not in use till at LEAST the ‘50s.” (1950s, that is) The writers I enjoy the most manage to strike a happy balance between these two extremes.
    Here is a phrase I have come across in dialogue in a few novels, “He put his spoon in the wall”, meaning he died. But I have been unable to find anyone who speaks confidently to the issue of the origins of this phrase (which makes me wonder if someone in the 20th century just thought it sounded good and others picked up on it). So, John or Jo: do you have any thoughts on the origin of this phrase?
    Pat

    Reply
  145. Thanks, Jo, for introducing us to John Dierdorf. I spent quite some time the other evening enjoying his site and expect to spend more time, particularly in the “You Can’t Say That” pages.
    Novels that send me to the Internet or my Pocket Oxford for definition/clarification can be delightful. It is always fun to learn a new word or phrase or bit of history. However, some writers of historical fiction can be so immersed in sounding authentic that the whole flow of the novel is too choppy for my taste. On the other hand, you have the historical author who has you muttering, “That word was not in use till at LEAST the ‘50s.” (1950s, that is) The writers I enjoy the most manage to strike a happy balance between these two extremes.
    Here is a phrase I have come across in dialogue in a few novels, “He put his spoon in the wall”, meaning he died. But I have been unable to find anyone who speaks confidently to the issue of the origins of this phrase (which makes me wonder if someone in the 20th century just thought it sounded good and others picked up on it). So, John or Jo: do you have any thoughts on the origin of this phrase?
    Pat

    Reply
  146. Dad –
    Nice to know that you are now inflicting our dinnertime conversation from my childhood on others! LOL
    Great article.
    Karin

    Reply
  147. Dad –
    Nice to know that you are now inflicting our dinnertime conversation from my childhood on others! LOL
    Great article.
    Karin

    Reply
  148. Dad –
    Nice to know that you are now inflicting our dinnertime conversation from my childhood on others! LOL
    Great article.
    Karin

    Reply
  149. Dad –
    Nice to know that you are now inflicting our dinnertime conversation from my childhood on others! LOL
    Great article.
    Karin

    Reply
  150. Dad –
    Nice to know that you are now inflicting our dinnertime conversation from my childhood on others! LOL
    Great article.
    Karin

    Reply
  151. I second Pat–thanks for introducing us to John. The post and comments have been such fun.
    Sometime, I’d love to hear from Jo and the other authors about how you make your historical vocabulary decisions. Do you ever use words knowing they’re not strictly from the time period? Like “sex”–it’s fairly common knowledge that the current usage is modern, but I see it show up in historicals on a regular basis, and I have to say I can’t always blame the writers for wanting to be direct. Sometimes the word you want is the word you need.
    How far do you take your concern for historical (and cultural) authenticity? Of course, often it’s obvious when a word or phrasing is too modern, but a word like “switch”–would you even think to question it? How do you keep yourselves sane if you have to second-guess so much? Or maybe you’re so immersed (and brilliant, of course!) it just comes naturally?

    Reply
  152. I second Pat–thanks for introducing us to John. The post and comments have been such fun.
    Sometime, I’d love to hear from Jo and the other authors about how you make your historical vocabulary decisions. Do you ever use words knowing they’re not strictly from the time period? Like “sex”–it’s fairly common knowledge that the current usage is modern, but I see it show up in historicals on a regular basis, and I have to say I can’t always blame the writers for wanting to be direct. Sometimes the word you want is the word you need.
    How far do you take your concern for historical (and cultural) authenticity? Of course, often it’s obvious when a word or phrasing is too modern, but a word like “switch”–would you even think to question it? How do you keep yourselves sane if you have to second-guess so much? Or maybe you’re so immersed (and brilliant, of course!) it just comes naturally?

    Reply
  153. I second Pat–thanks for introducing us to John. The post and comments have been such fun.
    Sometime, I’d love to hear from Jo and the other authors about how you make your historical vocabulary decisions. Do you ever use words knowing they’re not strictly from the time period? Like “sex”–it’s fairly common knowledge that the current usage is modern, but I see it show up in historicals on a regular basis, and I have to say I can’t always blame the writers for wanting to be direct. Sometimes the word you want is the word you need.
    How far do you take your concern for historical (and cultural) authenticity? Of course, often it’s obvious when a word or phrasing is too modern, but a word like “switch”–would you even think to question it? How do you keep yourselves sane if you have to second-guess so much? Or maybe you’re so immersed (and brilliant, of course!) it just comes naturally?

    Reply
  154. I second Pat–thanks for introducing us to John. The post and comments have been such fun.
    Sometime, I’d love to hear from Jo and the other authors about how you make your historical vocabulary decisions. Do you ever use words knowing they’re not strictly from the time period? Like “sex”–it’s fairly common knowledge that the current usage is modern, but I see it show up in historicals on a regular basis, and I have to say I can’t always blame the writers for wanting to be direct. Sometimes the word you want is the word you need.
    How far do you take your concern for historical (and cultural) authenticity? Of course, often it’s obvious when a word or phrasing is too modern, but a word like “switch”–would you even think to question it? How do you keep yourselves sane if you have to second-guess so much? Or maybe you’re so immersed (and brilliant, of course!) it just comes naturally?

    Reply
  155. I second Pat–thanks for introducing us to John. The post and comments have been such fun.
    Sometime, I’d love to hear from Jo and the other authors about how you make your historical vocabulary decisions. Do you ever use words knowing they’re not strictly from the time period? Like “sex”–it’s fairly common knowledge that the current usage is modern, but I see it show up in historicals on a regular basis, and I have to say I can’t always blame the writers for wanting to be direct. Sometimes the word you want is the word you need.
    How far do you take your concern for historical (and cultural) authenticity? Of course, often it’s obvious when a word or phrasing is too modern, but a word like “switch”–would you even think to question it? How do you keep yourselves sane if you have to second-guess so much? Or maybe you’re so immersed (and brilliant, of course!) it just comes naturally?

    Reply
  156. This is great! I love etymology; it is totally fascinationg how words have changed their meanings over the years and how they came into being in the first place! I have a question for you experts though – is there a good, affordable etymological dictionary of English you can recommend? I have one for German (my mother tongue) but not for English. And I do want a “proper” linguistic dictionary not a “popular” one – any suggestions? Thanx a lot!

    Reply
  157. This is great! I love etymology; it is totally fascinationg how words have changed their meanings over the years and how they came into being in the first place! I have a question for you experts though – is there a good, affordable etymological dictionary of English you can recommend? I have one for German (my mother tongue) but not for English. And I do want a “proper” linguistic dictionary not a “popular” one – any suggestions? Thanx a lot!

    Reply
  158. This is great! I love etymology; it is totally fascinationg how words have changed their meanings over the years and how they came into being in the first place! I have a question for you experts though – is there a good, affordable etymological dictionary of English you can recommend? I have one for German (my mother tongue) but not for English. And I do want a “proper” linguistic dictionary not a “popular” one – any suggestions? Thanx a lot!

    Reply
  159. This is great! I love etymology; it is totally fascinationg how words have changed their meanings over the years and how they came into being in the first place! I have a question for you experts though – is there a good, affordable etymological dictionary of English you can recommend? I have one for German (my mother tongue) but not for English. And I do want a “proper” linguistic dictionary not a “popular” one – any suggestions? Thanx a lot!

    Reply
  160. This is great! I love etymology; it is totally fascinationg how words have changed their meanings over the years and how they came into being in the first place! I have a question for you experts though – is there a good, affordable etymological dictionary of English you can recommend? I have one for German (my mother tongue) but not for English. And I do want a “proper” linguistic dictionary not a “popular” one – any suggestions? Thanx a lot!

    Reply
  161. LizA, I have quite good book called Origins, by Partridge, I think. (It’s tucked away somewhere, hiding from me.) It traces the roots of a lot of words quite well and I don’t think it was expensive.
    Jo

    Reply
  162. LizA, I have quite good book called Origins, by Partridge, I think. (It’s tucked away somewhere, hiding from me.) It traces the roots of a lot of words quite well and I don’t think it was expensive.
    Jo

    Reply
  163. LizA, I have quite good book called Origins, by Partridge, I think. (It’s tucked away somewhere, hiding from me.) It traces the roots of a lot of words quite well and I don’t think it was expensive.
    Jo

    Reply
  164. LizA, I have quite good book called Origins, by Partridge, I think. (It’s tucked away somewhere, hiding from me.) It traces the roots of a lot of words quite well and I don’t think it was expensive.
    Jo

    Reply
  165. LizA, I have quite good book called Origins, by Partridge, I think. (It’s tucked away somewhere, hiding from me.) It traces the roots of a lot of words quite well and I don’t think it was expensive.
    Jo

    Reply
  166. No unusual words for today.
    I answer to the question, I prefer original language for Regencies and modernized language for Medieval/Ren stories. Not only because the Medieval/Ren language would ruin any relaxation opportunity, but because langauge was so intriccal to Regency life. The composed letter which took days to perfect. Speech and writing often determined have people viewed your character. It would seem our of character for the Regency characters to speak in our colloquialisms.
    For fun – Try the website Free Rice. It is a word guessing game which provides rice for hungry people based on how many questions you answer correctly. I find my score is much higher now that I have been reading Regencies.

    Reply
  167. No unusual words for today.
    I answer to the question, I prefer original language for Regencies and modernized language for Medieval/Ren stories. Not only because the Medieval/Ren language would ruin any relaxation opportunity, but because langauge was so intriccal to Regency life. The composed letter which took days to perfect. Speech and writing often determined have people viewed your character. It would seem our of character for the Regency characters to speak in our colloquialisms.
    For fun – Try the website Free Rice. It is a word guessing game which provides rice for hungry people based on how many questions you answer correctly. I find my score is much higher now that I have been reading Regencies.

    Reply
  168. No unusual words for today.
    I answer to the question, I prefer original language for Regencies and modernized language for Medieval/Ren stories. Not only because the Medieval/Ren language would ruin any relaxation opportunity, but because langauge was so intriccal to Regency life. The composed letter which took days to perfect. Speech and writing often determined have people viewed your character. It would seem our of character for the Regency characters to speak in our colloquialisms.
    For fun – Try the website Free Rice. It is a word guessing game which provides rice for hungry people based on how many questions you answer correctly. I find my score is much higher now that I have been reading Regencies.

    Reply
  169. No unusual words for today.
    I answer to the question, I prefer original language for Regencies and modernized language for Medieval/Ren stories. Not only because the Medieval/Ren language would ruin any relaxation opportunity, but because langauge was so intriccal to Regency life. The composed letter which took days to perfect. Speech and writing often determined have people viewed your character. It would seem our of character for the Regency characters to speak in our colloquialisms.
    For fun – Try the website Free Rice. It is a word guessing game which provides rice for hungry people based on how many questions you answer correctly. I find my score is much higher now that I have been reading Regencies.

    Reply
  170. No unusual words for today.
    I answer to the question, I prefer original language for Regencies and modernized language for Medieval/Ren stories. Not only because the Medieval/Ren language would ruin any relaxation opportunity, but because langauge was so intriccal to Regency life. The composed letter which took days to perfect. Speech and writing often determined have people viewed your character. It would seem our of character for the Regency characters to speak in our colloquialisms.
    For fun – Try the website Free Rice. It is a word guessing game which provides rice for hungry people based on how many questions you answer correctly. I find my score is much higher now that I have been reading Regencies.

    Reply
  171. LizA: I don’t know your definition of “affordable”, but I can recommend the Chambers Dictionary of Etymology as a good compromise between scholarly and readable. Amazon has it for under $30 US. If you can afford a second book, get The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots by Calvert Watkins. That one is $13.60; it’s not usable by itself, because it’s basically nothing but a huge cross-reference of words by root. (For instance, it tells you that “muscatel” is from the Sanskrit word for “testicle”, but it doesn’t tell you WHY. The Chambers dictionary will.)
    Karin: Before this descends to the level of serpent’s teeth and such, let me point out that I have a heck of a lot of embarrassing pictures of you as a kid that I COULD post on my web site. 🙂

    Reply
  172. LizA: I don’t know your definition of “affordable”, but I can recommend the Chambers Dictionary of Etymology as a good compromise between scholarly and readable. Amazon has it for under $30 US. If you can afford a second book, get The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots by Calvert Watkins. That one is $13.60; it’s not usable by itself, because it’s basically nothing but a huge cross-reference of words by root. (For instance, it tells you that “muscatel” is from the Sanskrit word for “testicle”, but it doesn’t tell you WHY. The Chambers dictionary will.)
    Karin: Before this descends to the level of serpent’s teeth and such, let me point out that I have a heck of a lot of embarrassing pictures of you as a kid that I COULD post on my web site. 🙂

    Reply
  173. LizA: I don’t know your definition of “affordable”, but I can recommend the Chambers Dictionary of Etymology as a good compromise between scholarly and readable. Amazon has it for under $30 US. If you can afford a second book, get The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots by Calvert Watkins. That one is $13.60; it’s not usable by itself, because it’s basically nothing but a huge cross-reference of words by root. (For instance, it tells you that “muscatel” is from the Sanskrit word for “testicle”, but it doesn’t tell you WHY. The Chambers dictionary will.)
    Karin: Before this descends to the level of serpent’s teeth and such, let me point out that I have a heck of a lot of embarrassing pictures of you as a kid that I COULD post on my web site. 🙂

    Reply
  174. LizA: I don’t know your definition of “affordable”, but I can recommend the Chambers Dictionary of Etymology as a good compromise between scholarly and readable. Amazon has it for under $30 US. If you can afford a second book, get The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots by Calvert Watkins. That one is $13.60; it’s not usable by itself, because it’s basically nothing but a huge cross-reference of words by root. (For instance, it tells you that “muscatel” is from the Sanskrit word for “testicle”, but it doesn’t tell you WHY. The Chambers dictionary will.)
    Karin: Before this descends to the level of serpent’s teeth and such, let me point out that I have a heck of a lot of embarrassing pictures of you as a kid that I COULD post on my web site. 🙂

    Reply
  175. LizA: I don’t know your definition of “affordable”, but I can recommend the Chambers Dictionary of Etymology as a good compromise between scholarly and readable. Amazon has it for under $30 US. If you can afford a second book, get The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots by Calvert Watkins. That one is $13.60; it’s not usable by itself, because it’s basically nothing but a huge cross-reference of words by root. (For instance, it tells you that “muscatel” is from the Sanskrit word for “testicle”, but it doesn’t tell you WHY. The Chambers dictionary will.)
    Karin: Before this descends to the level of serpent’s teeth and such, let me point out that I have a heck of a lot of embarrassing pictures of you as a kid that I COULD post on my web site. 🙂

    Reply
  176. LizA: One more comment on affordable reference books. Check to see if your local library is doing something useful with your tax money and providing free on-line access to the complete Oxford English Dictionary, the Encyclopedia Britannica, etc. The OED, for those unfamiliar with it, is 20 volumes and lists for $995. It tries to have EVERY meaning of EVERY word that has EVER existed in English since 1000 AD. Each set of word meanings is sorted chronologically and supported by quotations every few decades, making it REALLY easy for me to claim that “have sex” was an anachronism in the Regency. Here’s the OED’s first citation in that sense, cut and pasted from the web site:
    1929 D. H. LAWRENCE Pansies 57 If you want to have sex, you’ve got to trust At the core of your heart, the other creature.
    The OED is also why I could claim “widgeon” was first attested in 1612 and obsolete after 1741.

    Reply
  177. LizA: One more comment on affordable reference books. Check to see if your local library is doing something useful with your tax money and providing free on-line access to the complete Oxford English Dictionary, the Encyclopedia Britannica, etc. The OED, for those unfamiliar with it, is 20 volumes and lists for $995. It tries to have EVERY meaning of EVERY word that has EVER existed in English since 1000 AD. Each set of word meanings is sorted chronologically and supported by quotations every few decades, making it REALLY easy for me to claim that “have sex” was an anachronism in the Regency. Here’s the OED’s first citation in that sense, cut and pasted from the web site:
    1929 D. H. LAWRENCE Pansies 57 If you want to have sex, you’ve got to trust At the core of your heart, the other creature.
    The OED is also why I could claim “widgeon” was first attested in 1612 and obsolete after 1741.

    Reply
  178. LizA: One more comment on affordable reference books. Check to see if your local library is doing something useful with your tax money and providing free on-line access to the complete Oxford English Dictionary, the Encyclopedia Britannica, etc. The OED, for those unfamiliar with it, is 20 volumes and lists for $995. It tries to have EVERY meaning of EVERY word that has EVER existed in English since 1000 AD. Each set of word meanings is sorted chronologically and supported by quotations every few decades, making it REALLY easy for me to claim that “have sex” was an anachronism in the Regency. Here’s the OED’s first citation in that sense, cut and pasted from the web site:
    1929 D. H. LAWRENCE Pansies 57 If you want to have sex, you’ve got to trust At the core of your heart, the other creature.
    The OED is also why I could claim “widgeon” was first attested in 1612 and obsolete after 1741.

    Reply
  179. LizA: One more comment on affordable reference books. Check to see if your local library is doing something useful with your tax money and providing free on-line access to the complete Oxford English Dictionary, the Encyclopedia Britannica, etc. The OED, for those unfamiliar with it, is 20 volumes and lists for $995. It tries to have EVERY meaning of EVERY word that has EVER existed in English since 1000 AD. Each set of word meanings is sorted chronologically and supported by quotations every few decades, making it REALLY easy for me to claim that “have sex” was an anachronism in the Regency. Here’s the OED’s first citation in that sense, cut and pasted from the web site:
    1929 D. H. LAWRENCE Pansies 57 If you want to have sex, you’ve got to trust At the core of your heart, the other creature.
    The OED is also why I could claim “widgeon” was first attested in 1612 and obsolete after 1741.

    Reply
  180. LizA: One more comment on affordable reference books. Check to see if your local library is doing something useful with your tax money and providing free on-line access to the complete Oxford English Dictionary, the Encyclopedia Britannica, etc. The OED, for those unfamiliar with it, is 20 volumes and lists for $995. It tries to have EVERY meaning of EVERY word that has EVER existed in English since 1000 AD. Each set of word meanings is sorted chronologically and supported by quotations every few decades, making it REALLY easy for me to claim that “have sex” was an anachronism in the Regency. Here’s the OED’s first citation in that sense, cut and pasted from the web site:
    1929 D. H. LAWRENCE Pansies 57 If you want to have sex, you’ve got to trust At the core of your heart, the other creature.
    The OED is also why I could claim “widgeon” was first attested in 1612 and obsolete after 1741.

    Reply
  181. In terms of etymology, how does the Merriam-Webster on line compare with the OED (apart from being a lot cheaper)? I have longed for my own copy of the full OED since I worked in a library years ago and browsed in it on my breaks, but I’m wondering if, for my writerly needs, the M-W is good enough.
    I’ve heard pros and cons about the Online Etymology Dictionary… It has the advantage of being free, but I wonder how accurate it is. I don’t feel bound by the date when a word was first recorded. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t in use before that date. I assume one can go back at least 10 or 20 years, if not longer. Any opinions?

    Reply
  182. In terms of etymology, how does the Merriam-Webster on line compare with the OED (apart from being a lot cheaper)? I have longed for my own copy of the full OED since I worked in a library years ago and browsed in it on my breaks, but I’m wondering if, for my writerly needs, the M-W is good enough.
    I’ve heard pros and cons about the Online Etymology Dictionary… It has the advantage of being free, but I wonder how accurate it is. I don’t feel bound by the date when a word was first recorded. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t in use before that date. I assume one can go back at least 10 or 20 years, if not longer. Any opinions?

    Reply
  183. In terms of etymology, how does the Merriam-Webster on line compare with the OED (apart from being a lot cheaper)? I have longed for my own copy of the full OED since I worked in a library years ago and browsed in it on my breaks, but I’m wondering if, for my writerly needs, the M-W is good enough.
    I’ve heard pros and cons about the Online Etymology Dictionary… It has the advantage of being free, but I wonder how accurate it is. I don’t feel bound by the date when a word was first recorded. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t in use before that date. I assume one can go back at least 10 or 20 years, if not longer. Any opinions?

    Reply
  184. In terms of etymology, how does the Merriam-Webster on line compare with the OED (apart from being a lot cheaper)? I have longed for my own copy of the full OED since I worked in a library years ago and browsed in it on my breaks, but I’m wondering if, for my writerly needs, the M-W is good enough.
    I’ve heard pros and cons about the Online Etymology Dictionary… It has the advantage of being free, but I wonder how accurate it is. I don’t feel bound by the date when a word was first recorded. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t in use before that date. I assume one can go back at least 10 or 20 years, if not longer. Any opinions?

    Reply
  185. In terms of etymology, how does the Merriam-Webster on line compare with the OED (apart from being a lot cheaper)? I have longed for my own copy of the full OED since I worked in a library years ago and browsed in it on my breaks, but I’m wondering if, for my writerly needs, the M-W is good enough.
    I’ve heard pros and cons about the Online Etymology Dictionary… It has the advantage of being free, but I wonder how accurate it is. I don’t feel bound by the date when a word was first recorded. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t in use before that date. I assume one can go back at least 10 or 20 years, if not longer. Any opinions?

    Reply
  186. Barbara: The OED really isn’t an etymological dictionary. It gives relatively cursory etymologies, usually only back to Latin or Greek. It’s really for shades of meaning over time.
    That said, I’ve only looked at the M-W briefly, but the etymologies I’ve checked seem pretty good, although quite brief. More “what” than “why”.
    I’m a “pro” regarding the Online Etymology Dictionary. IMHO it gives accurate information, in greater detail than M-W or the OED, but less than a dedicated book like Chambers.
    Agreed on the dates of use. The OED citations are from when the word first appeared IN PRINT in a document someone has read and reported to them. Depending on the word’s informality, it could be quite a bit older in dialect or casual speech, and of course there might be books or letters lurking somewhere that would extend the history of a word much further back in time.
    There is a whole cottage industry of obsessive people trying to find earlier citations for OED entries, to the extent that the OED’s web site says, “If you found it via Google, don’t bother telling us. We already know.”

    Reply
  187. Barbara: The OED really isn’t an etymological dictionary. It gives relatively cursory etymologies, usually only back to Latin or Greek. It’s really for shades of meaning over time.
    That said, I’ve only looked at the M-W briefly, but the etymologies I’ve checked seem pretty good, although quite brief. More “what” than “why”.
    I’m a “pro” regarding the Online Etymology Dictionary. IMHO it gives accurate information, in greater detail than M-W or the OED, but less than a dedicated book like Chambers.
    Agreed on the dates of use. The OED citations are from when the word first appeared IN PRINT in a document someone has read and reported to them. Depending on the word’s informality, it could be quite a bit older in dialect or casual speech, and of course there might be books or letters lurking somewhere that would extend the history of a word much further back in time.
    There is a whole cottage industry of obsessive people trying to find earlier citations for OED entries, to the extent that the OED’s web site says, “If you found it via Google, don’t bother telling us. We already know.”

    Reply
  188. Barbara: The OED really isn’t an etymological dictionary. It gives relatively cursory etymologies, usually only back to Latin or Greek. It’s really for shades of meaning over time.
    That said, I’ve only looked at the M-W briefly, but the etymologies I’ve checked seem pretty good, although quite brief. More “what” than “why”.
    I’m a “pro” regarding the Online Etymology Dictionary. IMHO it gives accurate information, in greater detail than M-W or the OED, but less than a dedicated book like Chambers.
    Agreed on the dates of use. The OED citations are from when the word first appeared IN PRINT in a document someone has read and reported to them. Depending on the word’s informality, it could be quite a bit older in dialect or casual speech, and of course there might be books or letters lurking somewhere that would extend the history of a word much further back in time.
    There is a whole cottage industry of obsessive people trying to find earlier citations for OED entries, to the extent that the OED’s web site says, “If you found it via Google, don’t bother telling us. We already know.”

    Reply
  189. Barbara: The OED really isn’t an etymological dictionary. It gives relatively cursory etymologies, usually only back to Latin or Greek. It’s really for shades of meaning over time.
    That said, I’ve only looked at the M-W briefly, but the etymologies I’ve checked seem pretty good, although quite brief. More “what” than “why”.
    I’m a “pro” regarding the Online Etymology Dictionary. IMHO it gives accurate information, in greater detail than M-W or the OED, but less than a dedicated book like Chambers.
    Agreed on the dates of use. The OED citations are from when the word first appeared IN PRINT in a document someone has read and reported to them. Depending on the word’s informality, it could be quite a bit older in dialect or casual speech, and of course there might be books or letters lurking somewhere that would extend the history of a word much further back in time.
    There is a whole cottage industry of obsessive people trying to find earlier citations for OED entries, to the extent that the OED’s web site says, “If you found it via Google, don’t bother telling us. We already know.”

    Reply
  190. Barbara: The OED really isn’t an etymological dictionary. It gives relatively cursory etymologies, usually only back to Latin or Greek. It’s really for shades of meaning over time.
    That said, I’ve only looked at the M-W briefly, but the etymologies I’ve checked seem pretty good, although quite brief. More “what” than “why”.
    I’m a “pro” regarding the Online Etymology Dictionary. IMHO it gives accurate information, in greater detail than M-W or the OED, but less than a dedicated book like Chambers.
    Agreed on the dates of use. The OED citations are from when the word first appeared IN PRINT in a document someone has read and reported to them. Depending on the word’s informality, it could be quite a bit older in dialect or casual speech, and of course there might be books or letters lurking somewhere that would extend the history of a word much further back in time.
    There is a whole cottage industry of obsessive people trying to find earlier citations for OED entries, to the extent that the OED’s web site says, “If you found it via Google, don’t bother telling us. We already know.”

    Reply
  191. Jane: I guess 125 years ago qualifies as “not exactly the most recent”, but some of the OED goes back that far, too. (The OED was published in pieces from about 1880 to 1930. Then they published several supplements covering words that had entered the language during that 50 years. Then they computerized everything and merged the supplements into the main text to form the so-called “2nd Edition”. As far as I know, they’ve now given up on print editions entirely — the current version is computer-only and is revised and updated on the fly.)
    This does mean that the online OED has “blog”, “spam”, the verb “to google”, and so on.

    Reply
  192. Jane: I guess 125 years ago qualifies as “not exactly the most recent”, but some of the OED goes back that far, too. (The OED was published in pieces from about 1880 to 1930. Then they published several supplements covering words that had entered the language during that 50 years. Then they computerized everything and merged the supplements into the main text to form the so-called “2nd Edition”. As far as I know, they’ve now given up on print editions entirely — the current version is computer-only and is revised and updated on the fly.)
    This does mean that the online OED has “blog”, “spam”, the verb “to google”, and so on.

    Reply
  193. Jane: I guess 125 years ago qualifies as “not exactly the most recent”, but some of the OED goes back that far, too. (The OED was published in pieces from about 1880 to 1930. Then they published several supplements covering words that had entered the language during that 50 years. Then they computerized everything and merged the supplements into the main text to form the so-called “2nd Edition”. As far as I know, they’ve now given up on print editions entirely — the current version is computer-only and is revised and updated on the fly.)
    This does mean that the online OED has “blog”, “spam”, the verb “to google”, and so on.

    Reply
  194. Jane: I guess 125 years ago qualifies as “not exactly the most recent”, but some of the OED goes back that far, too. (The OED was published in pieces from about 1880 to 1930. Then they published several supplements covering words that had entered the language during that 50 years. Then they computerized everything and merged the supplements into the main text to form the so-called “2nd Edition”. As far as I know, they’ve now given up on print editions entirely — the current version is computer-only and is revised and updated on the fly.)
    This does mean that the online OED has “blog”, “spam”, the verb “to google”, and so on.

    Reply
  195. Jane: I guess 125 years ago qualifies as “not exactly the most recent”, but some of the OED goes back that far, too. (The OED was published in pieces from about 1880 to 1930. Then they published several supplements covering words that had entered the language during that 50 years. Then they computerized everything and merged the supplements into the main text to form the so-called “2nd Edition”. As far as I know, they’ve now given up on print editions entirely — the current version is computer-only and is revised and updated on the fly.)
    This does mean that the online OED has “blog”, “spam”, the verb “to google”, and so on.

    Reply
  196. I now have mascara all over my cheeks and fingers and my son thinks I’m loony, but thanks for the laugh provided by your example sentences. Karin, I grew up in a household which tortured its children in similar manner. You have my sympathy.
    I now challenge any of you Wenches to include that indomitable Miss Andrews in a new novel!

    Reply
  197. I now have mascara all over my cheeks and fingers and my son thinks I’m loony, but thanks for the laugh provided by your example sentences. Karin, I grew up in a household which tortured its children in similar manner. You have my sympathy.
    I now challenge any of you Wenches to include that indomitable Miss Andrews in a new novel!

    Reply
  198. I now have mascara all over my cheeks and fingers and my son thinks I’m loony, but thanks for the laugh provided by your example sentences. Karin, I grew up in a household which tortured its children in similar manner. You have my sympathy.
    I now challenge any of you Wenches to include that indomitable Miss Andrews in a new novel!

    Reply
  199. I now have mascara all over my cheeks and fingers and my son thinks I’m loony, but thanks for the laugh provided by your example sentences. Karin, I grew up in a household which tortured its children in similar manner. You have my sympathy.
    I now challenge any of you Wenches to include that indomitable Miss Andrews in a new novel!

    Reply
  200. I now have mascara all over my cheeks and fingers and my son thinks I’m loony, but thanks for the laugh provided by your example sentences. Karin, I grew up in a household which tortured its children in similar manner. You have my sympathy.
    I now challenge any of you Wenches to include that indomitable Miss Andrews in a new novel!

    Reply
  201. ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves. .
    I love words! John and Jo, your post and all these comments have made me just–well, happy.
    John, what about the word “contact”? (or its close cousin, the phrase “get in touch with”?) I have seen both in historicals (and the “Persuasion” shown a few weeks ago on PBS used “contact”–“has Captain Wentworth not attempted to contact you?”). My gut tells me these are both of modern vintage. . .
    I must also ask about the word “quaint” which a professor at college claimed was related to a-female-anatomy-word-that-rhymes-
    with-hunt. (But how?)
    John, I love the fact that Heyer made up words when it suited her. I’ve been wondering about Heyer recently, ever since I listened to “Oliver Twist” on CD and found Dickens using a LOT of Heyer’s common “cant” and “cockney” phrases. Perhaps that’s where she got some of them? Did Dickens make up words, too?
    And finally, my very favorite words that Need No Translation come from Yiddish–kvetch, plotz, verklempt, nosh. . .(hope I spelled them right!)…
    Thank you again John and Jo!

    Reply
  202. ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves. .
    I love words! John and Jo, your post and all these comments have made me just–well, happy.
    John, what about the word “contact”? (or its close cousin, the phrase “get in touch with”?) I have seen both in historicals (and the “Persuasion” shown a few weeks ago on PBS used “contact”–“has Captain Wentworth not attempted to contact you?”). My gut tells me these are both of modern vintage. . .
    I must also ask about the word “quaint” which a professor at college claimed was related to a-female-anatomy-word-that-rhymes-
    with-hunt. (But how?)
    John, I love the fact that Heyer made up words when it suited her. I’ve been wondering about Heyer recently, ever since I listened to “Oliver Twist” on CD and found Dickens using a LOT of Heyer’s common “cant” and “cockney” phrases. Perhaps that’s where she got some of them? Did Dickens make up words, too?
    And finally, my very favorite words that Need No Translation come from Yiddish–kvetch, plotz, verklempt, nosh. . .(hope I spelled them right!)…
    Thank you again John and Jo!

    Reply
  203. ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves. .
    I love words! John and Jo, your post and all these comments have made me just–well, happy.
    John, what about the word “contact”? (or its close cousin, the phrase “get in touch with”?) I have seen both in historicals (and the “Persuasion” shown a few weeks ago on PBS used “contact”–“has Captain Wentworth not attempted to contact you?”). My gut tells me these are both of modern vintage. . .
    I must also ask about the word “quaint” which a professor at college claimed was related to a-female-anatomy-word-that-rhymes-
    with-hunt. (But how?)
    John, I love the fact that Heyer made up words when it suited her. I’ve been wondering about Heyer recently, ever since I listened to “Oliver Twist” on CD and found Dickens using a LOT of Heyer’s common “cant” and “cockney” phrases. Perhaps that’s where she got some of them? Did Dickens make up words, too?
    And finally, my very favorite words that Need No Translation come from Yiddish–kvetch, plotz, verklempt, nosh. . .(hope I spelled them right!)…
    Thank you again John and Jo!

    Reply
  204. ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves. .
    I love words! John and Jo, your post and all these comments have made me just–well, happy.
    John, what about the word “contact”? (or its close cousin, the phrase “get in touch with”?) I have seen both in historicals (and the “Persuasion” shown a few weeks ago on PBS used “contact”–“has Captain Wentworth not attempted to contact you?”). My gut tells me these are both of modern vintage. . .
    I must also ask about the word “quaint” which a professor at college claimed was related to a-female-anatomy-word-that-rhymes-
    with-hunt. (But how?)
    John, I love the fact that Heyer made up words when it suited her. I’ve been wondering about Heyer recently, ever since I listened to “Oliver Twist” on CD and found Dickens using a LOT of Heyer’s common “cant” and “cockney” phrases. Perhaps that’s where she got some of them? Did Dickens make up words, too?
    And finally, my very favorite words that Need No Translation come from Yiddish–kvetch, plotz, verklempt, nosh. . .(hope I spelled them right!)…
    Thank you again John and Jo!

    Reply
  205. ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves. .
    I love words! John and Jo, your post and all these comments have made me just–well, happy.
    John, what about the word “contact”? (or its close cousin, the phrase “get in touch with”?) I have seen both in historicals (and the “Persuasion” shown a few weeks ago on PBS used “contact”–“has Captain Wentworth not attempted to contact you?”). My gut tells me these are both of modern vintage. . .
    I must also ask about the word “quaint” which a professor at college claimed was related to a-female-anatomy-word-that-rhymes-
    with-hunt. (But how?)
    John, I love the fact that Heyer made up words when it suited her. I’ve been wondering about Heyer recently, ever since I listened to “Oliver Twist” on CD and found Dickens using a LOT of Heyer’s common “cant” and “cockney” phrases. Perhaps that’s where she got some of them? Did Dickens make up words, too?
    And finally, my very favorite words that Need No Translation come from Yiddish–kvetch, plotz, verklempt, nosh. . .(hope I spelled them right!)…
    Thank you again John and Jo!

    Reply
  206. RevMelinda:
    Re Contact: You are correct. The word was first used in the sense of “get in touch with” in 1927. “In touch with” itself is attested only from the 1880’s.
    Re Quaint: Quaint is not etymologically related to the obscenity, but until fairly recent times the two were PRONOUNCED the same, rhyming with “hunt”. This means that Marvell’s well-known poem “To His Coy Mistress” contains a dirty pun:
    Thy beauty shall no more be found
    Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
    My echoing song: then worms shall try
    That long preserv’d virginity:
    And your quaint honour turn to dust;
    And into ashes all my lust.
    The grave’s a fine and private place,
    But none I think do there embrace.
    More puns were due to the fact that coney, a rabbit, rhymed with “honey” until the late 19th century. This led to puns about “coney-catching” in Shakespeare and elsewhere, and there was a joke that dealers in poultry and rabbits had the same business motto as prostitutes: “No money, no coney.”
    BTW, “countess” used to be pronounced with a short-/U/, leading to even more puns which presumably were not used in the hearing of the local earl.
    It must be pointed out that our ancestors were not nearly as delicate as our refined modern age. A city directory of London in 1230 had a street called Gropecunte Lane.

    Reply
  207. RevMelinda:
    Re Contact: You are correct. The word was first used in the sense of “get in touch with” in 1927. “In touch with” itself is attested only from the 1880’s.
    Re Quaint: Quaint is not etymologically related to the obscenity, but until fairly recent times the two were PRONOUNCED the same, rhyming with “hunt”. This means that Marvell’s well-known poem “To His Coy Mistress” contains a dirty pun:
    Thy beauty shall no more be found
    Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
    My echoing song: then worms shall try
    That long preserv’d virginity:
    And your quaint honour turn to dust;
    And into ashes all my lust.
    The grave’s a fine and private place,
    But none I think do there embrace.
    More puns were due to the fact that coney, a rabbit, rhymed with “honey” until the late 19th century. This led to puns about “coney-catching” in Shakespeare and elsewhere, and there was a joke that dealers in poultry and rabbits had the same business motto as prostitutes: “No money, no coney.”
    BTW, “countess” used to be pronounced with a short-/U/, leading to even more puns which presumably were not used in the hearing of the local earl.
    It must be pointed out that our ancestors were not nearly as delicate as our refined modern age. A city directory of London in 1230 had a street called Gropecunte Lane.

    Reply
  208. RevMelinda:
    Re Contact: You are correct. The word was first used in the sense of “get in touch with” in 1927. “In touch with” itself is attested only from the 1880’s.
    Re Quaint: Quaint is not etymologically related to the obscenity, but until fairly recent times the two were PRONOUNCED the same, rhyming with “hunt”. This means that Marvell’s well-known poem “To His Coy Mistress” contains a dirty pun:
    Thy beauty shall no more be found
    Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
    My echoing song: then worms shall try
    That long preserv’d virginity:
    And your quaint honour turn to dust;
    And into ashes all my lust.
    The grave’s a fine and private place,
    But none I think do there embrace.
    More puns were due to the fact that coney, a rabbit, rhymed with “honey” until the late 19th century. This led to puns about “coney-catching” in Shakespeare and elsewhere, and there was a joke that dealers in poultry and rabbits had the same business motto as prostitutes: “No money, no coney.”
    BTW, “countess” used to be pronounced with a short-/U/, leading to even more puns which presumably were not used in the hearing of the local earl.
    It must be pointed out that our ancestors were not nearly as delicate as our refined modern age. A city directory of London in 1230 had a street called Gropecunte Lane.

    Reply
  209. RevMelinda:
    Re Contact: You are correct. The word was first used in the sense of “get in touch with” in 1927. “In touch with” itself is attested only from the 1880’s.
    Re Quaint: Quaint is not etymologically related to the obscenity, but until fairly recent times the two were PRONOUNCED the same, rhyming with “hunt”. This means that Marvell’s well-known poem “To His Coy Mistress” contains a dirty pun:
    Thy beauty shall no more be found
    Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
    My echoing song: then worms shall try
    That long preserv’d virginity:
    And your quaint honour turn to dust;
    And into ashes all my lust.
    The grave’s a fine and private place,
    But none I think do there embrace.
    More puns were due to the fact that coney, a rabbit, rhymed with “honey” until the late 19th century. This led to puns about “coney-catching” in Shakespeare and elsewhere, and there was a joke that dealers in poultry and rabbits had the same business motto as prostitutes: “No money, no coney.”
    BTW, “countess” used to be pronounced with a short-/U/, leading to even more puns which presumably were not used in the hearing of the local earl.
    It must be pointed out that our ancestors were not nearly as delicate as our refined modern age. A city directory of London in 1230 had a street called Gropecunte Lane.

    Reply
  210. RevMelinda:
    Re Contact: You are correct. The word was first used in the sense of “get in touch with” in 1927. “In touch with” itself is attested only from the 1880’s.
    Re Quaint: Quaint is not etymologically related to the obscenity, but until fairly recent times the two were PRONOUNCED the same, rhyming with “hunt”. This means that Marvell’s well-known poem “To His Coy Mistress” contains a dirty pun:
    Thy beauty shall no more be found
    Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
    My echoing song: then worms shall try
    That long preserv’d virginity:
    And your quaint honour turn to dust;
    And into ashes all my lust.
    The grave’s a fine and private place,
    But none I think do there embrace.
    More puns were due to the fact that coney, a rabbit, rhymed with “honey” until the late 19th century. This led to puns about “coney-catching” in Shakespeare and elsewhere, and there was a joke that dealers in poultry and rabbits had the same business motto as prostitutes: “No money, no coney.”
    BTW, “countess” used to be pronounced with a short-/U/, leading to even more puns which presumably were not used in the hearing of the local earl.
    It must be pointed out that our ancestors were not nearly as delicate as our refined modern age. A city directory of London in 1230 had a street called Gropecunte Lane.

    Reply
  211. John, thank you! And in the “indelicacy of our ancestors” vein, there was one thing about Oliver Twist that practically made me spit coffee all over the car every time I heard it on the CD–I never got used to it–the boy with the last name Bates who is constantly referred to as “Master Bates.” Is that just my modern ears, or did Dickens mean that to be a pun?

    Reply
  212. John, thank you! And in the “indelicacy of our ancestors” vein, there was one thing about Oliver Twist that practically made me spit coffee all over the car every time I heard it on the CD–I never got used to it–the boy with the last name Bates who is constantly referred to as “Master Bates.” Is that just my modern ears, or did Dickens mean that to be a pun?

    Reply
  213. John, thank you! And in the “indelicacy of our ancestors” vein, there was one thing about Oliver Twist that practically made me spit coffee all over the car every time I heard it on the CD–I never got used to it–the boy with the last name Bates who is constantly referred to as “Master Bates.” Is that just my modern ears, or did Dickens mean that to be a pun?

    Reply
  214. John, thank you! And in the “indelicacy of our ancestors” vein, there was one thing about Oliver Twist that practically made me spit coffee all over the car every time I heard it on the CD–I never got used to it–the boy with the last name Bates who is constantly referred to as “Master Bates.” Is that just my modern ears, or did Dickens mean that to be a pun?

    Reply
  215. John, thank you! And in the “indelicacy of our ancestors” vein, there was one thing about Oliver Twist that practically made me spit coffee all over the car every time I heard it on the CD–I never got used to it–the boy with the last name Bates who is constantly referred to as “Master Bates.” Is that just my modern ears, or did Dickens mean that to be a pun?

    Reply
  216. Isn’t language fun? Technology has led to some rapid evolution- especially text messaging and the internet. The blog, cuteoverload.com hasintroduced “Snorgle” to my vocabulary, and BFF, OMG, and other abbreviations are pretty common now.
    I agree with those who hate anacronisms that are obvious- but some are not so obvious. I only recognize “contact” as a verb being an anachronism because Rex Stout’s fictional detective Nero Wolfe ( himself a word lover who read the OED for pleasure) used to berate that use of “contact”. The novels were set in the thirties and forties, and so I knew it was too new for the Regency.
    Jo, love the example of the reader who couldn’t locate Normandy. There’s a blog topic here- my sister once worked with a woman who, upon being informed of China’s “one Child” policy, exclaimed,”They can’t do that! What about peoples’ rights!” She apparently thought the whole world followed American laws…

    Reply
  217. Isn’t language fun? Technology has led to some rapid evolution- especially text messaging and the internet. The blog, cuteoverload.com hasintroduced “Snorgle” to my vocabulary, and BFF, OMG, and other abbreviations are pretty common now.
    I agree with those who hate anacronisms that are obvious- but some are not so obvious. I only recognize “contact” as a verb being an anachronism because Rex Stout’s fictional detective Nero Wolfe ( himself a word lover who read the OED for pleasure) used to berate that use of “contact”. The novels were set in the thirties and forties, and so I knew it was too new for the Regency.
    Jo, love the example of the reader who couldn’t locate Normandy. There’s a blog topic here- my sister once worked with a woman who, upon being informed of China’s “one Child” policy, exclaimed,”They can’t do that! What about peoples’ rights!” She apparently thought the whole world followed American laws…

    Reply
  218. Isn’t language fun? Technology has led to some rapid evolution- especially text messaging and the internet. The blog, cuteoverload.com hasintroduced “Snorgle” to my vocabulary, and BFF, OMG, and other abbreviations are pretty common now.
    I agree with those who hate anacronisms that are obvious- but some are not so obvious. I only recognize “contact” as a verb being an anachronism because Rex Stout’s fictional detective Nero Wolfe ( himself a word lover who read the OED for pleasure) used to berate that use of “contact”. The novels were set in the thirties and forties, and so I knew it was too new for the Regency.
    Jo, love the example of the reader who couldn’t locate Normandy. There’s a blog topic here- my sister once worked with a woman who, upon being informed of China’s “one Child” policy, exclaimed,”They can’t do that! What about peoples’ rights!” She apparently thought the whole world followed American laws…

    Reply
  219. Isn’t language fun? Technology has led to some rapid evolution- especially text messaging and the internet. The blog, cuteoverload.com hasintroduced “Snorgle” to my vocabulary, and BFF, OMG, and other abbreviations are pretty common now.
    I agree with those who hate anacronisms that are obvious- but some are not so obvious. I only recognize “contact” as a verb being an anachronism because Rex Stout’s fictional detective Nero Wolfe ( himself a word lover who read the OED for pleasure) used to berate that use of “contact”. The novels were set in the thirties and forties, and so I knew it was too new for the Regency.
    Jo, love the example of the reader who couldn’t locate Normandy. There’s a blog topic here- my sister once worked with a woman who, upon being informed of China’s “one Child” policy, exclaimed,”They can’t do that! What about peoples’ rights!” She apparently thought the whole world followed American laws…

    Reply
  220. Isn’t language fun? Technology has led to some rapid evolution- especially text messaging and the internet. The blog, cuteoverload.com hasintroduced “Snorgle” to my vocabulary, and BFF, OMG, and other abbreviations are pretty common now.
    I agree with those who hate anacronisms that are obvious- but some are not so obvious. I only recognize “contact” as a verb being an anachronism because Rex Stout’s fictional detective Nero Wolfe ( himself a word lover who read the OED for pleasure) used to berate that use of “contact”. The novels were set in the thirties and forties, and so I knew it was too new for the Regency.
    Jo, love the example of the reader who couldn’t locate Normandy. There’s a blog topic here- my sister once worked with a woman who, upon being informed of China’s “one Child” policy, exclaimed,”They can’t do that! What about peoples’ rights!” She apparently thought the whole world followed American laws…

    Reply
  221. RevMelinda, “Master Bates” brought back some fun memories. Of Dickens, that is.
    Gretchen F, yes, that’s a big topic. I had a co-worker who didn’t understand why the company needed a “no porn” policy. In his view, “the censors” shouldn’t allow porn on the internet at all.
    John, I’m re-reading the sample sentences in your post. Great examples. “A song which consisted mainly of expletives” reminds me of a former writing teacher’s admonition: “We don’t use expletives because they reveal that we don’t have anything intelligent to say.”

    Reply
  222. RevMelinda, “Master Bates” brought back some fun memories. Of Dickens, that is.
    Gretchen F, yes, that’s a big topic. I had a co-worker who didn’t understand why the company needed a “no porn” policy. In his view, “the censors” shouldn’t allow porn on the internet at all.
    John, I’m re-reading the sample sentences in your post. Great examples. “A song which consisted mainly of expletives” reminds me of a former writing teacher’s admonition: “We don’t use expletives because they reveal that we don’t have anything intelligent to say.”

    Reply
  223. RevMelinda, “Master Bates” brought back some fun memories. Of Dickens, that is.
    Gretchen F, yes, that’s a big topic. I had a co-worker who didn’t understand why the company needed a “no porn” policy. In his view, “the censors” shouldn’t allow porn on the internet at all.
    John, I’m re-reading the sample sentences in your post. Great examples. “A song which consisted mainly of expletives” reminds me of a former writing teacher’s admonition: “We don’t use expletives because they reveal that we don’t have anything intelligent to say.”

    Reply
  224. RevMelinda, “Master Bates” brought back some fun memories. Of Dickens, that is.
    Gretchen F, yes, that’s a big topic. I had a co-worker who didn’t understand why the company needed a “no porn” policy. In his view, “the censors” shouldn’t allow porn on the internet at all.
    John, I’m re-reading the sample sentences in your post. Great examples. “A song which consisted mainly of expletives” reminds me of a former writing teacher’s admonition: “We don’t use expletives because they reveal that we don’t have anything intelligent to say.”

    Reply
  225. RevMelinda, “Master Bates” brought back some fun memories. Of Dickens, that is.
    Gretchen F, yes, that’s a big topic. I had a co-worker who didn’t understand why the company needed a “no porn” policy. In his view, “the censors” shouldn’t allow porn on the internet at all.
    John, I’m re-reading the sample sentences in your post. Great examples. “A song which consisted mainly of expletives” reminds me of a former writing teacher’s admonition: “We don’t use expletives because they reveal that we don’t have anything intelligent to say.”

    Reply
  226. RfP:
    People are often surprised to find out that “expletive” doesn’t mean a naughty word.
    It was actually a term used in poetry for a word which was there only for the sake of the rhyme or rhythm, without adding anything to the meaning, from the Latin “explere”, to fill out. (The same “fill” root is in plus, plural, plenty, replenish, and so on.)
    The move from an extraneous word to an obscenity or profanity is easy to see — “So I told the f****** cop I wasn’t going over the f****** speed limit, no matter what his f****** radar said, but the m*****f****** bastard wrote me a f****** ticket anyway.” This tale of woe reads exactly the same with all expletives deleted.

    Reply
  227. RfP:
    People are often surprised to find out that “expletive” doesn’t mean a naughty word.
    It was actually a term used in poetry for a word which was there only for the sake of the rhyme or rhythm, without adding anything to the meaning, from the Latin “explere”, to fill out. (The same “fill” root is in plus, plural, plenty, replenish, and so on.)
    The move from an extraneous word to an obscenity or profanity is easy to see — “So I told the f****** cop I wasn’t going over the f****** speed limit, no matter what his f****** radar said, but the m*****f****** bastard wrote me a f****** ticket anyway.” This tale of woe reads exactly the same with all expletives deleted.

    Reply
  228. RfP:
    People are often surprised to find out that “expletive” doesn’t mean a naughty word.
    It was actually a term used in poetry for a word which was there only for the sake of the rhyme or rhythm, without adding anything to the meaning, from the Latin “explere”, to fill out. (The same “fill” root is in plus, plural, plenty, replenish, and so on.)
    The move from an extraneous word to an obscenity or profanity is easy to see — “So I told the f****** cop I wasn’t going over the f****** speed limit, no matter what his f****** radar said, but the m*****f****** bastard wrote me a f****** ticket anyway.” This tale of woe reads exactly the same with all expletives deleted.

    Reply
  229. RfP:
    People are often surprised to find out that “expletive” doesn’t mean a naughty word.
    It was actually a term used in poetry for a word which was there only for the sake of the rhyme or rhythm, without adding anything to the meaning, from the Latin “explere”, to fill out. (The same “fill” root is in plus, plural, plenty, replenish, and so on.)
    The move from an extraneous word to an obscenity or profanity is easy to see — “So I told the f****** cop I wasn’t going over the f****** speed limit, no matter what his f****** radar said, but the m*****f****** bastard wrote me a f****** ticket anyway.” This tale of woe reads exactly the same with all expletives deleted.

    Reply
  230. RfP:
    People are often surprised to find out that “expletive” doesn’t mean a naughty word.
    It was actually a term used in poetry for a word which was there only for the sake of the rhyme or rhythm, without adding anything to the meaning, from the Latin “explere”, to fill out. (The same “fill” root is in plus, plural, plenty, replenish, and so on.)
    The move from an extraneous word to an obscenity or profanity is easy to see — “So I told the f****** cop I wasn’t going over the f****** speed limit, no matter what his f****** radar said, but the m*****f****** bastard wrote me a f****** ticket anyway.” This tale of woe reads exactly the same with all expletives deleted.

    Reply
  231. This is great! I’m probably not the first to ask, but I didn’t see it anywhere. What did one say in Regency times that would mean “have sex?”

    Reply
  232. This is great! I’m probably not the first to ask, but I didn’t see it anywhere. What did one say in Regency times that would mean “have sex?”

    Reply
  233. This is great! I’m probably not the first to ask, but I didn’t see it anywhere. What did one say in Regency times that would mean “have sex?”

    Reply
  234. This is great! I’m probably not the first to ask, but I didn’t see it anywhere. What did one say in Regency times that would mean “have sex?”

    Reply
  235. This is great! I’m probably not the first to ask, but I didn’t see it anywhere. What did one say in Regency times that would mean “have sex?”

    Reply
  236. I’m no expert on Kay’s question, so I’ll leave it to those of you who are. 🙂 I DO know that I hate historical novels that call sex “making love.” That phrase didn’t mean sexual relations until quite recently, I believe.
    And back to Miss Andrews for a moment, if I may. I forgot to include my reason behind lobbying for her: any miss who can sing expletives in the parlor and tackle horses in the stable is worthy of heroine status. Don’t you think?

    Reply
  237. I’m no expert on Kay’s question, so I’ll leave it to those of you who are. 🙂 I DO know that I hate historical novels that call sex “making love.” That phrase didn’t mean sexual relations until quite recently, I believe.
    And back to Miss Andrews for a moment, if I may. I forgot to include my reason behind lobbying for her: any miss who can sing expletives in the parlor and tackle horses in the stable is worthy of heroine status. Don’t you think?

    Reply
  238. I’m no expert on Kay’s question, so I’ll leave it to those of you who are. 🙂 I DO know that I hate historical novels that call sex “making love.” That phrase didn’t mean sexual relations until quite recently, I believe.
    And back to Miss Andrews for a moment, if I may. I forgot to include my reason behind lobbying for her: any miss who can sing expletives in the parlor and tackle horses in the stable is worthy of heroine status. Don’t you think?

    Reply
  239. I’m no expert on Kay’s question, so I’ll leave it to those of you who are. 🙂 I DO know that I hate historical novels that call sex “making love.” That phrase didn’t mean sexual relations until quite recently, I believe.
    And back to Miss Andrews for a moment, if I may. I forgot to include my reason behind lobbying for her: any miss who can sing expletives in the parlor and tackle horses in the stable is worthy of heroine status. Don’t you think?

    Reply
  240. I’m no expert on Kay’s question, so I’ll leave it to those of you who are. 🙂 I DO know that I hate historical novels that call sex “making love.” That phrase didn’t mean sexual relations until quite recently, I believe.
    And back to Miss Andrews for a moment, if I may. I forgot to include my reason behind lobbying for her: any miss who can sing expletives in the parlor and tackle horses in the stable is worthy of heroine status. Don’t you think?

    Reply
  241. Thank you for the recommendations! I wish my library would have the OED, but alas, being in Austria, they only suscribe to German/Austrian things. Too bad. German has its equivalent to the OED, the “Grimm” (which was started by one of the brothers Grimm of Fairy Tale Fame). However it is only affordable for libraries and University Professors. For everyday sholarly use, we have the “Kluge” which is full of fascinating information. It will be interesting to see the different developements of similar words- some took quite a different path!
    Also thank you for the free rice website. I had to check it out immediately but that’s when a non-native speaker starts to reach the limit – too many words I’d never heard in my life! A good reason to go back and to donate lots of rice…. a hurrah for words!

    Reply
  242. Thank you for the recommendations! I wish my library would have the OED, but alas, being in Austria, they only suscribe to German/Austrian things. Too bad. German has its equivalent to the OED, the “Grimm” (which was started by one of the brothers Grimm of Fairy Tale Fame). However it is only affordable for libraries and University Professors. For everyday sholarly use, we have the “Kluge” which is full of fascinating information. It will be interesting to see the different developements of similar words- some took quite a different path!
    Also thank you for the free rice website. I had to check it out immediately but that’s when a non-native speaker starts to reach the limit – too many words I’d never heard in my life! A good reason to go back and to donate lots of rice…. a hurrah for words!

    Reply
  243. Thank you for the recommendations! I wish my library would have the OED, but alas, being in Austria, they only suscribe to German/Austrian things. Too bad. German has its equivalent to the OED, the “Grimm” (which was started by one of the brothers Grimm of Fairy Tale Fame). However it is only affordable for libraries and University Professors. For everyday sholarly use, we have the “Kluge” which is full of fascinating information. It will be interesting to see the different developements of similar words- some took quite a different path!
    Also thank you for the free rice website. I had to check it out immediately but that’s when a non-native speaker starts to reach the limit – too many words I’d never heard in my life! A good reason to go back and to donate lots of rice…. a hurrah for words!

    Reply
  244. Thank you for the recommendations! I wish my library would have the OED, but alas, being in Austria, they only suscribe to German/Austrian things. Too bad. German has its equivalent to the OED, the “Grimm” (which was started by one of the brothers Grimm of Fairy Tale Fame). However it is only affordable for libraries and University Professors. For everyday sholarly use, we have the “Kluge” which is full of fascinating information. It will be interesting to see the different developements of similar words- some took quite a different path!
    Also thank you for the free rice website. I had to check it out immediately but that’s when a non-native speaker starts to reach the limit – too many words I’d never heard in my life! A good reason to go back and to donate lots of rice…. a hurrah for words!

    Reply
  245. Thank you for the recommendations! I wish my library would have the OED, but alas, being in Austria, they only suscribe to German/Austrian things. Too bad. German has its equivalent to the OED, the “Grimm” (which was started by one of the brothers Grimm of Fairy Tale Fame). However it is only affordable for libraries and University Professors. For everyday sholarly use, we have the “Kluge” which is full of fascinating information. It will be interesting to see the different developements of similar words- some took quite a different path!
    Also thank you for the free rice website. I had to check it out immediately but that’s when a non-native speaker starts to reach the limit – too many words I’d never heard in my life! A good reason to go back and to donate lots of rice…. a hurrah for words!

    Reply
  246. Jo here. I haven’t had time to read most of today’s comments — glad you’re all having fun with this! — but I wondered if John had commented on “car” and “hello”, which I mentioned in one of my teaser posts about this blog.
    That is, can my Regency hero have a car, and can my heroine wish people a cheery hello? There’s also “computer”, of course.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  247. Jo here. I haven’t had time to read most of today’s comments — glad you’re all having fun with this! — but I wondered if John had commented on “car” and “hello”, which I mentioned in one of my teaser posts about this blog.
    That is, can my Regency hero have a car, and can my heroine wish people a cheery hello? There’s also “computer”, of course.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  248. Jo here. I haven’t had time to read most of today’s comments — glad you’re all having fun with this! — but I wondered if John had commented on “car” and “hello”, which I mentioned in one of my teaser posts about this blog.
    That is, can my Regency hero have a car, and can my heroine wish people a cheery hello? There’s also “computer”, of course.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  249. Jo here. I haven’t had time to read most of today’s comments — glad you’re all having fun with this! — but I wondered if John had commented on “car” and “hello”, which I mentioned in one of my teaser posts about this blog.
    That is, can my Regency hero have a car, and can my heroine wish people a cheery hello? There’s also “computer”, of course.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  250. Jo here. I haven’t had time to read most of today’s comments — glad you’re all having fun with this! — but I wondered if John had commented on “car” and “hello”, which I mentioned in one of my teaser posts about this blog.
    That is, can my Regency hero have a car, and can my heroine wish people a cheery hello? There’s also “computer”, of course.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  251. John: I much enjoyed your post yesterday. I was just visiting your web site and I have a question about the t-shirt in one of the photos – the one that says “I can stop anytime I want”. Do you know where I can find one?
    TYIA
    Jackie

    Reply
  252. John: I much enjoyed your post yesterday. I was just visiting your web site and I have a question about the t-shirt in one of the photos – the one that says “I can stop anytime I want”. Do you know where I can find one?
    TYIA
    Jackie

    Reply
  253. John: I much enjoyed your post yesterday. I was just visiting your web site and I have a question about the t-shirt in one of the photos – the one that says “I can stop anytime I want”. Do you know where I can find one?
    TYIA
    Jackie

    Reply
  254. John: I much enjoyed your post yesterday. I was just visiting your web site and I have a question about the t-shirt in one of the photos – the one that says “I can stop anytime I want”. Do you know where I can find one?
    TYIA
    Jackie

    Reply
  255. John: I much enjoyed your post yesterday. I was just visiting your web site and I have a question about the t-shirt in one of the photos – the one that says “I can stop anytime I want”. Do you know where I can find one?
    TYIA
    Jackie

    Reply
  256. Jo: Well, as long as you’re willing to be the planted shill in the audience…
    Sure your Regency hero can have a car. It has meant a wheeled vehicle since about 1350. (In Regency times it had a connotation of grandeur — “the king’s car”, or “Wellington was carried in a car in the parade”.)
    “Hello” was invented by the Bell Telephone company about 1880 as the suggested way to answer their new-fangled telephone. (The problem, of course, was that the person on the other end was quite possibly someone to whom you had not been properly introduced.)
    Caroline Herschel was a well-known personal computer in Regency times. (She did all the math for her brother, the famous astronomer.) Computer was a recognized job title well into the 20th century. Incidentally, Miss Herschel was of enormous stature — she was four foot three. Here’s a picture of her STANDING at a desk while her brother does his thing. http://www.io.com/~dierdorf/caro.jpg
    BTW, your Georgian or Regency characters could discuss the fact that Miss C—- was anorexic. Anorexia and bulemia go back to 1598! They could also eat ravioli, play shuffleboard (but NOT croquet — that’s from 1858) and have a barbecue in the back yard.)

    Reply
  257. Jo: Well, as long as you’re willing to be the planted shill in the audience…
    Sure your Regency hero can have a car. It has meant a wheeled vehicle since about 1350. (In Regency times it had a connotation of grandeur — “the king’s car”, or “Wellington was carried in a car in the parade”.)
    “Hello” was invented by the Bell Telephone company about 1880 as the suggested way to answer their new-fangled telephone. (The problem, of course, was that the person on the other end was quite possibly someone to whom you had not been properly introduced.)
    Caroline Herschel was a well-known personal computer in Regency times. (She did all the math for her brother, the famous astronomer.) Computer was a recognized job title well into the 20th century. Incidentally, Miss Herschel was of enormous stature — she was four foot three. Here’s a picture of her STANDING at a desk while her brother does his thing. http://www.io.com/~dierdorf/caro.jpg
    BTW, your Georgian or Regency characters could discuss the fact that Miss C—- was anorexic. Anorexia and bulemia go back to 1598! They could also eat ravioli, play shuffleboard (but NOT croquet — that’s from 1858) and have a barbecue in the back yard.)

    Reply
  258. Jo: Well, as long as you’re willing to be the planted shill in the audience…
    Sure your Regency hero can have a car. It has meant a wheeled vehicle since about 1350. (In Regency times it had a connotation of grandeur — “the king’s car”, or “Wellington was carried in a car in the parade”.)
    “Hello” was invented by the Bell Telephone company about 1880 as the suggested way to answer their new-fangled telephone. (The problem, of course, was that the person on the other end was quite possibly someone to whom you had not been properly introduced.)
    Caroline Herschel was a well-known personal computer in Regency times. (She did all the math for her brother, the famous astronomer.) Computer was a recognized job title well into the 20th century. Incidentally, Miss Herschel was of enormous stature — she was four foot three. Here’s a picture of her STANDING at a desk while her brother does his thing. http://www.io.com/~dierdorf/caro.jpg
    BTW, your Georgian or Regency characters could discuss the fact that Miss C—- was anorexic. Anorexia and bulemia go back to 1598! They could also eat ravioli, play shuffleboard (but NOT croquet — that’s from 1858) and have a barbecue in the back yard.)

    Reply
  259. Jo: Well, as long as you’re willing to be the planted shill in the audience…
    Sure your Regency hero can have a car. It has meant a wheeled vehicle since about 1350. (In Regency times it had a connotation of grandeur — “the king’s car”, or “Wellington was carried in a car in the parade”.)
    “Hello” was invented by the Bell Telephone company about 1880 as the suggested way to answer their new-fangled telephone. (The problem, of course, was that the person on the other end was quite possibly someone to whom you had not been properly introduced.)
    Caroline Herschel was a well-known personal computer in Regency times. (She did all the math for her brother, the famous astronomer.) Computer was a recognized job title well into the 20th century. Incidentally, Miss Herschel was of enormous stature — she was four foot three. Here’s a picture of her STANDING at a desk while her brother does his thing. http://www.io.com/~dierdorf/caro.jpg
    BTW, your Georgian or Regency characters could discuss the fact that Miss C—- was anorexic. Anorexia and bulemia go back to 1598! They could also eat ravioli, play shuffleboard (but NOT croquet — that’s from 1858) and have a barbecue in the back yard.)

    Reply
  260. Jo: Well, as long as you’re willing to be the planted shill in the audience…
    Sure your Regency hero can have a car. It has meant a wheeled vehicle since about 1350. (In Regency times it had a connotation of grandeur — “the king’s car”, or “Wellington was carried in a car in the parade”.)
    “Hello” was invented by the Bell Telephone company about 1880 as the suggested way to answer their new-fangled telephone. (The problem, of course, was that the person on the other end was quite possibly someone to whom you had not been properly introduced.)
    Caroline Herschel was a well-known personal computer in Regency times. (She did all the math for her brother, the famous astronomer.) Computer was a recognized job title well into the 20th century. Incidentally, Miss Herschel was of enormous stature — she was four foot three. Here’s a picture of her STANDING at a desk while her brother does his thing. http://www.io.com/~dierdorf/caro.jpg
    BTW, your Georgian or Regency characters could discuss the fact that Miss C—- was anorexic. Anorexia and bulemia go back to 1598! They could also eat ravioli, play shuffleboard (but NOT croquet — that’s from 1858) and have a barbecue in the back yard.)

    Reply
  261. *scribble*scrabble*scritch*scratch*pop!
    The Mole resurfaces!
    I’m fond of “chryselephantine”–which I would happily use if only someone would present me with something made of gold and ivory.
    I am very fond of words myself, and own something like 48 dictionaries (of course this includes encylopedias and dictionaries of stuff like costumes, classical antiquity, and art). A favorite expression of mine is the description of St. Paul’s Cathedral, attributed to Dr. Johnson, as “artificial and awful”–by which he meant that it was a work of art and awe-inspiring.
    I wonder what you writers feel about inappropriate words in the mouth of the omniscient narrator, as opposed to the characters, in a historical. I remember one Regency in which there was a reference to a character not grasping something “until the penny dropped.” I’m reasonably sure they didn’t have pay toilets (or phones, depending on which was the real origin of the phrase) in the Regency. And what about inappropriate made-up words like “mentress”–a supposed female version of “mentor”? The latter comes from a proper name and can’t legitimately be feminized.
    Two of my favorite books to play with are by Eric Partridge: The Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English and Origins, an etymological dictionary. The entries are like potato chips or cats–you can’t stop at just one. I especially like the way that in the latter book, I can trace my favorite four-letter word, mole, all the way to “verse.” All existence aspires to the condition of poetry!
    And, John, don’t forget that Mr. Darcy was described as “repulsive.”
    And I can’t miss the opportunity to recommend Dr. Bowdler’s Legacy by Noel Perrin, a fascinating history of censorship. He describes the practice of “castration with anesthesia”–glossing an obscene word with a completely wrong definition. This is apparently how Robert Browning got the notion that “twat” meant some sort of female ecclesiastical headgear. He used it in a poem and had no idea of the real meaning until the OED wrote to ask him what he meant by it!
    If I remember my Beowulf correctly, brown is from brun, meaning “burnished.”
    Have any of you read Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun? Four volumes with more unfamiliar words per square inch than I’ve seen since the last time I picked up the Dutch DuCange!
    The term “mondegreen” was coined by Sylvia Wright in an article in Harper’s Magazine. It was later reprinted in a collection of her essays, Get Away from Me with Those Christmas Gifts.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondegreen
    And there are also out-of-period names, which drive me nuts: as I have often said–and will say again, no doubt–9th century Viking jarls did not name their daughters “Kimberley”!
    Of course Sir James Murray, of OED fame, gave his 11 children the likes of Aelfric, Oswyn, and Rosfrith as names. I have a notion that the Murray kids learned to fight quite early in their lives….
    Incidentally, the word “gunsel” originally meant the same as “catamite.” Raymond Chandler used to like to slip in such words to trick his editors, while also including things that sounded much worse that they could take out. In this particular book, it was “on the gooseberry lay,” which sounds gross but actually means stealing clothes from a clothesline, while “gunsel” passed as “armed henchman” and in fact has now acquired that meaning.
    Finally, language to me is the world described by Robert Graves in the poem “Warning to Children”:
    Children, if you dare to think
    Of the greatness, rareness, muchness
    Fewness of this precious only
    Endless world in which you say
    You live, you think of things like this:
    Blocks of slate enclosing dappled
    Red and green, enclosing tawny
    Yellow nets, enclosing white
    And black acres of dominoes,
    Where a neat brown paper parcel
    Tempts you to untie the string.
    In the parcel a small island,
    On the island a large tree,
    On the tree a husky fruit.
    Strip the husk and pare the rind off:
    In the kernel you will see
    Blocks of slate enclosed by dappled
    Red and green, enclosed by tawny
    Yellow nets, enclosed by white
    And black acres of dominoes,
    Where the same brown paper parcel –
    Children, leave the string alone!
    For who dares undo the parcel
    Finds himself at once inside it,
    On the island, in the fruit,
    Blocks of slate about his head,
    Finds himself enclosed by dappled
    Green and red, enclosed by yellow
    Tawny nets, enclosed by black
    And white acres of dominoes,
    With the same brown paper parcel
    Still untied upon his knee.
    And, if he then should dare to think
    Of the fewness, muchness, rareness,
    Greatness of this endless only
    Precious world in which he says
    he lives – he then unties the string.
    *Mole returns to burrow*

    Reply
  262. *scribble*scrabble*scritch*scratch*pop!
    The Mole resurfaces!
    I’m fond of “chryselephantine”–which I would happily use if only someone would present me with something made of gold and ivory.
    I am very fond of words myself, and own something like 48 dictionaries (of course this includes encylopedias and dictionaries of stuff like costumes, classical antiquity, and art). A favorite expression of mine is the description of St. Paul’s Cathedral, attributed to Dr. Johnson, as “artificial and awful”–by which he meant that it was a work of art and awe-inspiring.
    I wonder what you writers feel about inappropriate words in the mouth of the omniscient narrator, as opposed to the characters, in a historical. I remember one Regency in which there was a reference to a character not grasping something “until the penny dropped.” I’m reasonably sure they didn’t have pay toilets (or phones, depending on which was the real origin of the phrase) in the Regency. And what about inappropriate made-up words like “mentress”–a supposed female version of “mentor”? The latter comes from a proper name and can’t legitimately be feminized.
    Two of my favorite books to play with are by Eric Partridge: The Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English and Origins, an etymological dictionary. The entries are like potato chips or cats–you can’t stop at just one. I especially like the way that in the latter book, I can trace my favorite four-letter word, mole, all the way to “verse.” All existence aspires to the condition of poetry!
    And, John, don’t forget that Mr. Darcy was described as “repulsive.”
    And I can’t miss the opportunity to recommend Dr. Bowdler’s Legacy by Noel Perrin, a fascinating history of censorship. He describes the practice of “castration with anesthesia”–glossing an obscene word with a completely wrong definition. This is apparently how Robert Browning got the notion that “twat” meant some sort of female ecclesiastical headgear. He used it in a poem and had no idea of the real meaning until the OED wrote to ask him what he meant by it!
    If I remember my Beowulf correctly, brown is from brun, meaning “burnished.”
    Have any of you read Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun? Four volumes with more unfamiliar words per square inch than I’ve seen since the last time I picked up the Dutch DuCange!
    The term “mondegreen” was coined by Sylvia Wright in an article in Harper’s Magazine. It was later reprinted in a collection of her essays, Get Away from Me with Those Christmas Gifts.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondegreen
    And there are also out-of-period names, which drive me nuts: as I have often said–and will say again, no doubt–9th century Viking jarls did not name their daughters “Kimberley”!
    Of course Sir James Murray, of OED fame, gave his 11 children the likes of Aelfric, Oswyn, and Rosfrith as names. I have a notion that the Murray kids learned to fight quite early in their lives….
    Incidentally, the word “gunsel” originally meant the same as “catamite.” Raymond Chandler used to like to slip in such words to trick his editors, while also including things that sounded much worse that they could take out. In this particular book, it was “on the gooseberry lay,” which sounds gross but actually means stealing clothes from a clothesline, while “gunsel” passed as “armed henchman” and in fact has now acquired that meaning.
    Finally, language to me is the world described by Robert Graves in the poem “Warning to Children”:
    Children, if you dare to think
    Of the greatness, rareness, muchness
    Fewness of this precious only
    Endless world in which you say
    You live, you think of things like this:
    Blocks of slate enclosing dappled
    Red and green, enclosing tawny
    Yellow nets, enclosing white
    And black acres of dominoes,
    Where a neat brown paper parcel
    Tempts you to untie the string.
    In the parcel a small island,
    On the island a large tree,
    On the tree a husky fruit.
    Strip the husk and pare the rind off:
    In the kernel you will see
    Blocks of slate enclosed by dappled
    Red and green, enclosed by tawny
    Yellow nets, enclosed by white
    And black acres of dominoes,
    Where the same brown paper parcel –
    Children, leave the string alone!
    For who dares undo the parcel
    Finds himself at once inside it,
    On the island, in the fruit,
    Blocks of slate about his head,
    Finds himself enclosed by dappled
    Green and red, enclosed by yellow
    Tawny nets, enclosed by black
    And white acres of dominoes,
    With the same brown paper parcel
    Still untied upon his knee.
    And, if he then should dare to think
    Of the fewness, muchness, rareness,
    Greatness of this endless only
    Precious world in which he says
    he lives – he then unties the string.
    *Mole returns to burrow*

    Reply
  263. *scribble*scrabble*scritch*scratch*pop!
    The Mole resurfaces!
    I’m fond of “chryselephantine”–which I would happily use if only someone would present me with something made of gold and ivory.
    I am very fond of words myself, and own something like 48 dictionaries (of course this includes encylopedias and dictionaries of stuff like costumes, classical antiquity, and art). A favorite expression of mine is the description of St. Paul’s Cathedral, attributed to Dr. Johnson, as “artificial and awful”–by which he meant that it was a work of art and awe-inspiring.
    I wonder what you writers feel about inappropriate words in the mouth of the omniscient narrator, as opposed to the characters, in a historical. I remember one Regency in which there was a reference to a character not grasping something “until the penny dropped.” I’m reasonably sure they didn’t have pay toilets (or phones, depending on which was the real origin of the phrase) in the Regency. And what about inappropriate made-up words like “mentress”–a supposed female version of “mentor”? The latter comes from a proper name and can’t legitimately be feminized.
    Two of my favorite books to play with are by Eric Partridge: The Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English and Origins, an etymological dictionary. The entries are like potato chips or cats–you can’t stop at just one. I especially like the way that in the latter book, I can trace my favorite four-letter word, mole, all the way to “verse.” All existence aspires to the condition of poetry!
    And, John, don’t forget that Mr. Darcy was described as “repulsive.”
    And I can’t miss the opportunity to recommend Dr. Bowdler’s Legacy by Noel Perrin, a fascinating history of censorship. He describes the practice of “castration with anesthesia”–glossing an obscene word with a completely wrong definition. This is apparently how Robert Browning got the notion that “twat” meant some sort of female ecclesiastical headgear. He used it in a poem and had no idea of the real meaning until the OED wrote to ask him what he meant by it!
    If I remember my Beowulf correctly, brown is from brun, meaning “burnished.”
    Have any of you read Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun? Four volumes with more unfamiliar words per square inch than I’ve seen since the last time I picked up the Dutch DuCange!
    The term “mondegreen” was coined by Sylvia Wright in an article in Harper’s Magazine. It was later reprinted in a collection of her essays, Get Away from Me with Those Christmas Gifts.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondegreen
    And there are also out-of-period names, which drive me nuts: as I have often said–and will say again, no doubt–9th century Viking jarls did not name their daughters “Kimberley”!
    Of course Sir James Murray, of OED fame, gave his 11 children the likes of Aelfric, Oswyn, and Rosfrith as names. I have a notion that the Murray kids learned to fight quite early in their lives….
    Incidentally, the word “gunsel” originally meant the same as “catamite.” Raymond Chandler used to like to slip in such words to trick his editors, while also including things that sounded much worse that they could take out. In this particular book, it was “on the gooseberry lay,” which sounds gross but actually means stealing clothes from a clothesline, while “gunsel” passed as “armed henchman” and in fact has now acquired that meaning.
    Finally, language to me is the world described by Robert Graves in the poem “Warning to Children”:
    Children, if you dare to think
    Of the greatness, rareness, muchness
    Fewness of this precious only
    Endless world in which you say
    You live, you think of things like this:
    Blocks of slate enclosing dappled
    Red and green, enclosing tawny
    Yellow nets, enclosing white
    And black acres of dominoes,
    Where a neat brown paper parcel
    Tempts you to untie the string.
    In the parcel a small island,
    On the island a large tree,
    On the tree a husky fruit.
    Strip the husk and pare the rind off:
    In the kernel you will see
    Blocks of slate enclosed by dappled
    Red and green, enclosed by tawny
    Yellow nets, enclosed by white
    And black acres of dominoes,
    Where the same brown paper parcel –
    Children, leave the string alone!
    For who dares undo the parcel
    Finds himself at once inside it,
    On the island, in the fruit,
    Blocks of slate about his head,
    Finds himself enclosed by dappled
    Green and red, enclosed by yellow
    Tawny nets, enclosed by black
    And white acres of dominoes,
    With the same brown paper parcel
    Still untied upon his knee.
    And, if he then should dare to think
    Of the fewness, muchness, rareness,
    Greatness of this endless only
    Precious world in which he says
    he lives – he then unties the string.
    *Mole returns to burrow*

    Reply
  264. *scribble*scrabble*scritch*scratch*pop!
    The Mole resurfaces!
    I’m fond of “chryselephantine”–which I would happily use if only someone would present me with something made of gold and ivory.
    I am very fond of words myself, and own something like 48 dictionaries (of course this includes encylopedias and dictionaries of stuff like costumes, classical antiquity, and art). A favorite expression of mine is the description of St. Paul’s Cathedral, attributed to Dr. Johnson, as “artificial and awful”–by which he meant that it was a work of art and awe-inspiring.
    I wonder what you writers feel about inappropriate words in the mouth of the omniscient narrator, as opposed to the characters, in a historical. I remember one Regency in which there was a reference to a character not grasping something “until the penny dropped.” I’m reasonably sure they didn’t have pay toilets (or phones, depending on which was the real origin of the phrase) in the Regency. And what about inappropriate made-up words like “mentress”–a supposed female version of “mentor”? The latter comes from a proper name and can’t legitimately be feminized.
    Two of my favorite books to play with are by Eric Partridge: The Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English and Origins, an etymological dictionary. The entries are like potato chips or cats–you can’t stop at just one. I especially like the way that in the latter book, I can trace my favorite four-letter word, mole, all the way to “verse.” All existence aspires to the condition of poetry!
    And, John, don’t forget that Mr. Darcy was described as “repulsive.”
    And I can’t miss the opportunity to recommend Dr. Bowdler’s Legacy by Noel Perrin, a fascinating history of censorship. He describes the practice of “castration with anesthesia”–glossing an obscene word with a completely wrong definition. This is apparently how Robert Browning got the notion that “twat” meant some sort of female ecclesiastical headgear. He used it in a poem and had no idea of the real meaning until the OED wrote to ask him what he meant by it!
    If I remember my Beowulf correctly, brown is from brun, meaning “burnished.”
    Have any of you read Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun? Four volumes with more unfamiliar words per square inch than I’ve seen since the last time I picked up the Dutch DuCange!
    The term “mondegreen” was coined by Sylvia Wright in an article in Harper’s Magazine. It was later reprinted in a collection of her essays, Get Away from Me with Those Christmas Gifts.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondegreen
    And there are also out-of-period names, which drive me nuts: as I have often said–and will say again, no doubt–9th century Viking jarls did not name their daughters “Kimberley”!
    Of course Sir James Murray, of OED fame, gave his 11 children the likes of Aelfric, Oswyn, and Rosfrith as names. I have a notion that the Murray kids learned to fight quite early in their lives….
    Incidentally, the word “gunsel” originally meant the same as “catamite.” Raymond Chandler used to like to slip in such words to trick his editors, while also including things that sounded much worse that they could take out. In this particular book, it was “on the gooseberry lay,” which sounds gross but actually means stealing clothes from a clothesline, while “gunsel” passed as “armed henchman” and in fact has now acquired that meaning.
    Finally, language to me is the world described by Robert Graves in the poem “Warning to Children”:
    Children, if you dare to think
    Of the greatness, rareness, muchness
    Fewness of this precious only
    Endless world in which you say
    You live, you think of things like this:
    Blocks of slate enclosing dappled
    Red and green, enclosing tawny
    Yellow nets, enclosing white
    And black acres of dominoes,
    Where a neat brown paper parcel
    Tempts you to untie the string.
    In the parcel a small island,
    On the island a large tree,
    On the tree a husky fruit.
    Strip the husk and pare the rind off:
    In the kernel you will see
    Blocks of slate enclosed by dappled
    Red and green, enclosed by tawny
    Yellow nets, enclosed by white
    And black acres of dominoes,
    Where the same brown paper parcel –
    Children, leave the string alone!
    For who dares undo the parcel
    Finds himself at once inside it,
    On the island, in the fruit,
    Blocks of slate about his head,
    Finds himself enclosed by dappled
    Green and red, enclosed by yellow
    Tawny nets, enclosed by black
    And white acres of dominoes,
    With the same brown paper parcel
    Still untied upon his knee.
    And, if he then should dare to think
    Of the fewness, muchness, rareness,
    Greatness of this endless only
    Precious world in which he says
    he lives – he then unties the string.
    *Mole returns to burrow*

    Reply
  265. *scribble*scrabble*scritch*scratch*pop!
    The Mole resurfaces!
    I’m fond of “chryselephantine”–which I would happily use if only someone would present me with something made of gold and ivory.
    I am very fond of words myself, and own something like 48 dictionaries (of course this includes encylopedias and dictionaries of stuff like costumes, classical antiquity, and art). A favorite expression of mine is the description of St. Paul’s Cathedral, attributed to Dr. Johnson, as “artificial and awful”–by which he meant that it was a work of art and awe-inspiring.
    I wonder what you writers feel about inappropriate words in the mouth of the omniscient narrator, as opposed to the characters, in a historical. I remember one Regency in which there was a reference to a character not grasping something “until the penny dropped.” I’m reasonably sure they didn’t have pay toilets (or phones, depending on which was the real origin of the phrase) in the Regency. And what about inappropriate made-up words like “mentress”–a supposed female version of “mentor”? The latter comes from a proper name and can’t legitimately be feminized.
    Two of my favorite books to play with are by Eric Partridge: The Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English and Origins, an etymological dictionary. The entries are like potato chips or cats–you can’t stop at just one. I especially like the way that in the latter book, I can trace my favorite four-letter word, mole, all the way to “verse.” All existence aspires to the condition of poetry!
    And, John, don’t forget that Mr. Darcy was described as “repulsive.”
    And I can’t miss the opportunity to recommend Dr. Bowdler’s Legacy by Noel Perrin, a fascinating history of censorship. He describes the practice of “castration with anesthesia”–glossing an obscene word with a completely wrong definition. This is apparently how Robert Browning got the notion that “twat” meant some sort of female ecclesiastical headgear. He used it in a poem and had no idea of the real meaning until the OED wrote to ask him what he meant by it!
    If I remember my Beowulf correctly, brown is from brun, meaning “burnished.”
    Have any of you read Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun? Four volumes with more unfamiliar words per square inch than I’ve seen since the last time I picked up the Dutch DuCange!
    The term “mondegreen” was coined by Sylvia Wright in an article in Harper’s Magazine. It was later reprinted in a collection of her essays, Get Away from Me with Those Christmas Gifts.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondegreen
    And there are also out-of-period names, which drive me nuts: as I have often said–and will say again, no doubt–9th century Viking jarls did not name their daughters “Kimberley”!
    Of course Sir James Murray, of OED fame, gave his 11 children the likes of Aelfric, Oswyn, and Rosfrith as names. I have a notion that the Murray kids learned to fight quite early in their lives….
    Incidentally, the word “gunsel” originally meant the same as “catamite.” Raymond Chandler used to like to slip in such words to trick his editors, while also including things that sounded much worse that they could take out. In this particular book, it was “on the gooseberry lay,” which sounds gross but actually means stealing clothes from a clothesline, while “gunsel” passed as “armed henchman” and in fact has now acquired that meaning.
    Finally, language to me is the world described by Robert Graves in the poem “Warning to Children”:
    Children, if you dare to think
    Of the greatness, rareness, muchness
    Fewness of this precious only
    Endless world in which you say
    You live, you think of things like this:
    Blocks of slate enclosing dappled
    Red and green, enclosing tawny
    Yellow nets, enclosing white
    And black acres of dominoes,
    Where a neat brown paper parcel
    Tempts you to untie the string.
    In the parcel a small island,
    On the island a large tree,
    On the tree a husky fruit.
    Strip the husk and pare the rind off:
    In the kernel you will see
    Blocks of slate enclosed by dappled
    Red and green, enclosed by tawny
    Yellow nets, enclosed by white
    And black acres of dominoes,
    Where the same brown paper parcel –
    Children, leave the string alone!
    For who dares undo the parcel
    Finds himself at once inside it,
    On the island, in the fruit,
    Blocks of slate about his head,
    Finds himself enclosed by dappled
    Green and red, enclosed by yellow
    Tawny nets, enclosed by black
    And white acres of dominoes,
    With the same brown paper parcel
    Still untied upon his knee.
    And, if he then should dare to think
    Of the fewness, muchness, rareness,
    Greatness of this endless only
    Precious world in which he says
    he lives – he then unties the string.
    *Mole returns to burrow*

    Reply
  266. Talpianna, what a wonderful post. Thank you.
    And huge thanks to John, who’s provided us all with much entertainment and enlightenment. And, of course, there’s more on his web page.
    He and I will discuss a winner for Lovers and Ladies, and of course, I’ll have to find him a stupendous virtual gift.
    Ah, yes, I know just the thing. I’ll post about it on Sunday, with picture.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  267. Talpianna, what a wonderful post. Thank you.
    And huge thanks to John, who’s provided us all with much entertainment and enlightenment. And, of course, there’s more on his web page.
    He and I will discuss a winner for Lovers and Ladies, and of course, I’ll have to find him a stupendous virtual gift.
    Ah, yes, I know just the thing. I’ll post about it on Sunday, with picture.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  268. Talpianna, what a wonderful post. Thank you.
    And huge thanks to John, who’s provided us all with much entertainment and enlightenment. And, of course, there’s more on his web page.
    He and I will discuss a winner for Lovers and Ladies, and of course, I’ll have to find him a stupendous virtual gift.
    Ah, yes, I know just the thing. I’ll post about it on Sunday, with picture.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  269. Talpianna, what a wonderful post. Thank you.
    And huge thanks to John, who’s provided us all with much entertainment and enlightenment. And, of course, there’s more on his web page.
    He and I will discuss a winner for Lovers and Ladies, and of course, I’ll have to find him a stupendous virtual gift.
    Ah, yes, I know just the thing. I’ll post about it on Sunday, with picture.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  270. Talpianna, what a wonderful post. Thank you.
    And huge thanks to John, who’s provided us all with much entertainment and enlightenment. And, of course, there’s more on his web page.
    He and I will discuss a winner for Lovers and Ladies, and of course, I’ll have to find him a stupendous virtual gift.
    Ah, yes, I know just the thing. I’ll post about it on Sunday, with picture.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply

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