Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Cutting a wheedle with a mawkish chawbacon who smells of April and May

I'm a big fan of Georgette Heyer, especially her Regency novels. Those (and Agatha Christie's detective novels) are basically the only things I can read for enjoyment at the moment without getting a headache, after spending maybe ten hours a day plowing through history books.

One of my favourite things about Georgette Heyer novels is the rich and enchanting vocab she used. And so I thought today I'd write a post about some of my favourite words-that-are-used-in-Heyer-novels and which I want to bring back into circulation.

Bluestocking ::: a woman with considerable scholarly, literary, or intellectual ability or interest. In Heyer novels, this is usually used as an insult by some nitwit male. The word came from a mid-18th century London literary circle, according to dictionary.com.
To cut a wheedle ::: to deliberately lead astray or decoy by flattery and insinuation
In a dudgeon ::: angry, in a bad mood
To outrun the constable ::: live beyond your means, overspend
Mawkish ::: falsely sentimental, insipid or nauseating
Flummery ::: false compliments, ie "Don't you try to flummery me!"
Plumper ::: an arrant lie. Possibly from the false cheeks worn in previous centuries.
Swimming in lard ::: very wealthy
Smoky ::: suspicious, curious
All the crack ::: in the mode
Gammon ::: to pretend, lie or deceive; nonsense, lies
Smelling of April and May ::: madly in love
Gulled ::: duped, fooled

In his altitudes ::: drunk
Bosky ::: drunk
Eaten Hull cheese ::: drunk
Foxed ::: drunk
Making indentures ::: drinking
Shoot the cat ::: to vomit

Clunch ::: a clownish person, awkward, foolish
Wet goose ::: simple or stupid person
Chawbacon ::: country bumpkin or stupid man
Loose fish ::: unreliable, someone of dissipated habits, a lecher or a drunk
Mutton-head ::: stupid person
A bit of muslin ::: a girl/attractive female, usually willing to be seduced or taken as a mistress

The thing I love about all these words is how expressive, how imaginative they are.
But my favourite word of all is:

Simplest meaning: pompous rubbish.
According to dictionary.com, this can mean:
* inflated or turgid language in writing or speaking
* pompous or bombastic, as language
* worthless; cheap

Someone says something you think is a load of rubbish?
You shout, "Fustian!"
Someone says something that is clichéd, overly sentimental or wordy?
You shout "Fustian!"

It's the best word ever!

[I got a lot of these meanings from Jennifer Kloester's book Georgette Heyer's Regency World. A highly recommended book for any other Georgette Heyer fans!]

Oh, and by the way: latest issue of Halfway Down the Stairs is out, for those who are interested. Both Stacy and I contribute to it. This issue's theme is "Bon Appétit". Anyone else who writes... we accept submissions! The theme for our next issue is "Twists of Fate".


Trish Ryan said...

New lingo AND a new issue of HDTS...great stuff :)

Stacy said...

I keep meaning to read Georgette Heyer. She just went back into print in the States so I have no excuse.

Sarakastic said...

The other night this guy who had eaten hull cheese called me a bluestocking & I yelled back that he was a chawbacon.