Filed under Regency Words

Regency Lexicon: Swell

If you asked a person on the street the meaning of swell, they might mention a puffed up injury or as an expression like “Gee, that’s swell!” But Reg Rom readers would recognize an alternative definition, referring to a Pink of the Pink. The meaning “wealthy, elegant person” is first recorded 1786; hence the adj. … Continue reading

Regency Literature: The Novel

Oh the novel. We might guess at its pulp status from the very lips of Jane, herself, speaking about her heroine in Northanger Abbey: “Yes, novels; – for I will not adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom, so common with novel writers, of degrading by their contemptuous censure the very performances, to the number of … Continue reading

Regency Culture and Society: Graffiti

Don’t you hate it when media gives the modern age credit for all the black eyes on humanity?!  As if violence, crime, and other social ills were proprietary to contemporary culture. On one of my many year abroad late night tramps across the Midland country side, one of our favorite haunts was Kenilworth Castle. What … Continue reading

Regency Customs: The Cut

“For one person to look directly at another and not acknowledge the other’s bow is such a breach of civility that only an unforgivable misdemeanor can warrant the rebuke. Nor without the gravest cause may a lady “cut” a gentleman. But there are no circumstances under which a gentleman may “cut” any woman who, even … Continue reading

Regency Lexicon: Fustian

Did you know that fustian is actually a thick cotton and flax (linen) woven fabric?  I actually pride myself in knowing quite a bit about textiles, but I had never heard the word. Pronounced something like fust-chien, the word is also synomous with bombast (which also can mean cotton wool blend or pompous, inflated speech or writing) and … Continue reading

Regency Lexicon: fudge

Oh fudge.  Now, we know you as an alternative curse word or a delicious chocolatey treat. But back in the Regency era, a fudge would be a falsehood. Here is a little etymological breakdown of the word: “put together clumsily or dishonestly,” 1610s, perhaps an alteration of fadge “make suit, fit” (1570s), of unknown origin. … Continue reading

Regency Words: Monkey and money

When a gentleman said he bet a monkey, what did he mean? 500 pounds, of course. A gentleman close to the River Tick might have only afforded a pony (25 pounds sterling…which later, through rhyming slang, became macaroni). Although no one is quite sure where the term monkey (in reference to $500) came from, there … Continue reading

Regency Lexicon: Cuckold

Regencies describing adulterous females are wont to use the word cuckold.  Where does the term come from? mid-13c., kukewald, from O.Fr. cucuault, from cocu (see cuckoo) + pejorative suffix -ault, of Germanic origin. So called from the female bird’s alleged habit of changing mates, or her authentic habit of leaving eggs in another bird’s nest. … Continue reading

Regency Lexicon: Mawkish

mawk·ish (môksh) adj. 1. Excessively and objectionably sentimental. 2. Sickening or insipid in taste.  Sense of “sickly sentimental” is first recorded 1702. [From Middle English mawke, maggot, variant of magot; see maggot.] mag·got (mgt) n. 1. The legless, soft-bodied, wormlike larva of any of various flies of the order Diptera, often found in decaying matter. 2. Slang … Continue reading

Regency Lexicon: Chit

The word chit, used to refer to a saucy or impertinent young girl, is commonly found in the pages of hist-ro. Our rakehell hero might raise his lorgnette while admiring our heroine, “an impudent chit”. Or he might tell his mates down at the club that he met “The most peculiar chit.” So we guess … Continue reading