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

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

Insults
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:
FUSTIAN

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".

3 comments:

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.