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#120403 - 01/18/04 09:19 PM Old words
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11613
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
I have just finished reading "The Reluctant Widow" by Georgette Heyer, and found several words/usages new to me. (It takes place in England, during the time of Bonaparte.) Can anyone explain any of the following?

-In the coach, she leaned back against the "squabs".
-When someone died, there was something called a "hatchment" put up over the front door.
-One of the servants was an "abigail".
-One of the (native to Sussex, I believe) servants said, "A dentical fine gentleman".
-Someone had gone to the "Peninsula".
-The old servant couple, fussing at each other, would say "Do-adone", or "Adone-do". (Hmm-be done with you?)
-I got that this meant telling a lie or a trick, but why "gammon"? (As in, "I'm not gammoning you.")
-What is a glass of "ratafia"?
-He wore very tight "inexpressibles" (no further hints).
-They had a "nuncheon" of cold meat, fruit and tea. I like this word! 'Minds me of "nuncle"!

#120404 - 01/18/04 10:00 PM Re: Old words
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dear Jackie: one definition of "squab" is a cushion:
See Def.#3 below:
Webster's 1913 Dictionary

Definition: \Squab\, a. [Cf. dial. Sw. sqvabb a soft and fat body,
sqvabba a fat woman, Icel. kvap jelly, jellylike things, and
and E. quab.]
1. Fat; thick; plump; bulky.

Nor the squab daughter nor the wife were nice.

2. Unfledged; unfeathered; as, a squab pigeon. --King.

\Squab\, n.
1. (Zo["o]l.) A neatling of a pigeon or other similar bird,
esp. when very fat and not fully fledged.

2. A person of a short, fat figure.

Gorgonious sits abdominous and wan, Like a fat squab
upon a Chinese fan. --Cowper.

3. A thickly stuffed cushion; especially, one used for the
seat of a sofa, couch, or chair; also, a sofa.

Punching the squab of chairs and sofas. --Dickens.

On her large squab you find her spread. --Pope.

\Squab\, adv. [Cf. dial. Sw. squapp, a word imitative of a
splash, and E. squab fat, unfledged.]
With a heavy fall; plump. [Vulgar]

The eagle took the tortoise up into the air, and
dropped him down, squab, upon a rock. --L'Estrange.

\Squab\, v. i.
To fall plump; to strike at one dash, or with a heavy stroke.

#120405 - 01/18/04 10:02 PM Re: Old words
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Abigail is a euphemism for a female servant. I think it is
from the Bible.

Webster's 1913 Dictionary

Definition: \Ab"i*gail\, n. [The proper name used as an
A lady's waiting-maid. --Pepys.

Her abigail reported that Mrs. Gutheridge had a set of
night curls for sleeping in. --Leslie.

#120406 - 01/18/04 10:11 PM Re: hatchment
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Webster's 1913 Dictionary

Definition: \Hatch"ment\, n. [Corrupt. fr. achievement.]
1. (Her.) A sort of panel, upon which the arms of a deceased
person are temporarily displayed, -- usually on the walls
of his dwelling. It is lozenge-shaped or square, but is
hung cornerwise. It is used in England as a means of
giving public notification of the death of the deceased,
his or her rank, whether married, widower, widow, etc.
Called also {achievement}.

His obscure funeral; No trophy, sword, or hatchment
o'er his bones. --Shak.

2. A sword or other mark of the profession of arms; in
general, a mark of dignity.

Let there be deducted, out of our main potation,
Five marks in hatchments to adorn this thigh.
--Beau. & Fl.

#120407 - 01/18/04 10:14 PM Re: Old words
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
From the date,'Peninsula" would refer to Wellington's
campaign in Portugal and Spain against Napoleon's forces.
(of course Arthur Wellesley wasn't yet made a Duke at that time.)

#120408 - 01/18/04 10:16 PM Re: Old words
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Gammon is slang for trick, deceit, deception.

#120409 - 01/18/04 10:21 PM Re: Old words
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Ratafia (ra-ta-FEE-a), is, at Alexis Bailly, a fortified wine made by combining red wine with a long-steeped combination of spirits, oranges, and top-secret spices.

#120410 - 01/18/04 11:09 PM Re: Old words
Bingley Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
inexpressibles = trousers or more likely at that time breeches. (Whether anyone actually used this term or whether it is read back from high Victorian prudery I'm not sure. And anyway somebody, I forget who (Dickens maybe) records avoidance of the word trousers as an American preference unknown in Britain).

nuncheon - what we would now call elevenses. Timing of meals was in a state of flux at this time with dinner moving later for the fashionable classes and luncheon and/or nuncheon being eaten at midday instead.


#120411 - 01/19/04 12:22 AM Abigail the Carmelite
Father Steve Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/06/00
Posts: 2788
Loc: Seattle, Washington, USA

"Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb." (1 Samuel 25:3 Authorized Version)

#120412 - 01/19/04 03:45 AM Re: Old words
dxb Offline

Registered: 03/06/02
Posts: 1692
Loc: UK
Dr Bill has done most of the job, I can only add that:

"Do-adone", or "Adone-do" are shortenings of "Do have done" and "Have done, do" meaning "Please do stop" ... whatever you are doing or saying.

"A dentical fine gentleman" I can only guess at (but the context should help) as being a shortening of 'identical'.

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