Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Such Language!, Part V

Time for a new vocabulary lesson!

Surveyor of the Highways: An extremely drunk person, presumably because he would stagger from one side of a road to the other. (“Thomas came home from dinner with his friends in such a state that Papa declared him the veriest Surveyor of the Highways.”)

Lollop: To lean with one’s elbows on the table. (“Cynthia’s lolloping on the table like that makes her look like a dying houseplant.”)

Croaker: Someone who always foretells doom and a dire outcome to any endeavor. (“I am quite afraid to tell Aunt Griselda about Sally’s engagement to a mere second son, even though they’re madly in love—you know what a croaker she is.”)

Dry-boots: A sly, humorous person (“Did you hear what that dry-boots Letitia said about Mrs. Muckinfeather’s new hat? She wanted to know if an ostrich had escaped from the Zoological Gardens and had a fatal meeting with her carriage.”)

Nigmenog: A dolt or fool. (“If Freddy Hinkle thinks I shall let him take me driving in that clap-trap phaeton of his, he’s a bigger nigmenog than I’d thought.”)

Curtain Lecture: A discreet scold, usually given by a wife to a husband. (“Did you overhear the curtain lecture Lady Pinch gave her husband last night at their rout? She was quiet enough, but I’m surprised his ears didn’t burst into flames!”)

Bartholomew Baby: One who is dressed in a cheap, tawdry way. From the Bartholomew Fair, an annual carnival-like event that was enormously popular with lower-class Londoners. (“Mary got into the attics and found some of great-great-grandmother’s court dresses, and wore one to dinner last night. Mama told her that she looked a perfect Bartholomew Baby, and I must say that I agree. But one must make allowances for twelve-year-olds, I suppose.”)

4 comments:

Evie S. said...

I love the vocabulary lesson! My favorite word out of it is nigmenog. I like how it sounds, and what it means.

+Evie S.

Addie said...

Those words are so much fun to use!

Gillian Layne said...

As usual, wonderful! I love the photos you use as well. And I wonder, the "Dry boots" makes me think of "Sly boots". Which came first, do you think?

Croaker cracks me up. :)

Marissa Doyle said...

Thank you!

Gillian, according to my copy of "A Dictionary of Slang and Unconvential English" (5th edition), "dry boots" and "sly-boots" are contemporaneous. "Sly-boots" is defined earlier on as a person who seems simple but is actually subtle or shrewd, while "dry boots" gives the definition I have. Subtle difference, but I've seen sly-boots much more frequently than dry boots.

The illustrations are scans from my collection of fashion plates. I love 'em too!