Glossary & Vocabulary

A glossary is a collection of unusual words or terms related to a particular subject. This glossary is intended to highlight some of the 18th century language which appears in The Accidental Highwayman, along with some relatively uncommon words in modern English, and words from the faerie languages.

Words in bold were invented for this story (or borrowed from the fey folk).

The Accidental Highwayman is the first novel in which a few of these words or meanings have been used in over two hundred years.

Did we miss one? If you found an odd word that isn't defined here or in a standard dictionary, email or tweet your find!

abaft
To the rear
abated
Reduced, lessened
abed
In bed
ablutions
Washing of oneself
abominable
Worthy of revulsion
abutment
The part of a bridge touching the shore; also any supporting member such as a column
abyss
Unimaginably deep place
aether
One of the Classical Elements; the invisible medium around us
affianced
Pledged to be married
aforenamed
As named before
agrarian
Rural and farming life, farmland
albion
The oldest surviving name of Britain
antagonist
Opponent, rival, or enemy
avuncular
Like an uncle
bade
Past tense of 'bid', to wish or command
bailiff
A person entrusted by legal authorities with carrying out various duties
baint
Norfolk slang equivalent to 'ain't'
baize
Coarse woolen or cotton cloth
baleen
The 'combs' inside a filter-feeding whale's mouth, once used for corset-stays
basilisks
Mythical serpent with deadly gaze; also a real lizard which can run on water
beamish
A nonce word (only appearing on this occasion) meaning very broad through the lower parts, as of a wide-beamed boat
beau
Borrowed from the French: a male lover or suitor
bedeviling
Tormenting
bedighted
Unenlightened, ignorant. Also overtaken by nightfall
bedighted
Ornamented
bedizened
Gaudily decorated
bedoubled
Doubled (archaic)
bedraggled
Damp, unkempt; rode hard and hung up wet
bee-skep
A skep is a man-made beehive, often woven of reeds
befuddlement
Confusion
befuddlement
Confusion
bemusement
Puzzlement, confusion, dazed fascination
bequeath
To give or leave something by one's will
beseeching
Begging, imploring
betimes
Early, on time, soon
betwixt
Between
bewigged
Wearing a wig
bewrayed
Originally meant exposed; by the 18th century it was a mild slang term for soiling oneself
biffed me upon the conk
Punched me on the nose
blackguard
A bad person deserving of scorn (pronounced 'blaggerd')
bleating
The crying of a sheep, or speech of the same character
blunderoon
A bumbling fool; from the beetle of the same name in Faerie, which often collides with other flying folk
boot-turndowns
The folded-over top of a tall boot, as pirate or riding boots
borigium
A caster's map; a magical chart showing not only landmarks but future events
bounder
A man of poor behavior, a cad
brace
Two of something
brails
Soul-moths. Physical manifestation of fey folk's spirits upon death
cad
A bad fellow of low morals
cajoled
To persuade, usually with praise
callous
Uncaring of the feelings of others, thoughtless
calumnies
Insults, slanders
cannily
With cunning, shrewdly
caprizel
A magical effect, as from use of a comprimaunt
caprizels
Magical effects, the results of magical efforts
case-clock
Any pendulum-driven clock with enclosed weights
churnish
Stirred up, murky
clapper
The tongue in a bell which swings and strikes the sides
comportment
Manner of behavior, composure
comprimaunts
Magical abilities or talents, especially of specific types
confounded
Bewildered or frustrated. Also an oath ("confound this thing!")
conniving
Scheming
consternation
Dismay, shocked concern
consumptive
Suffering from tuberculosis
cony
A rabbit
costermongers
A salesman with a wheelbarrow for a shop
craven
Cowardly
crockery
Earthenware vessels such as plates and bowls
cudgel
Club
culverts
A drain running under a road
dale
Valley
debauchery
Wild, pleasure-seeking behavior
decamped
To leave camp, to depart suddenly
decommissioned
Turned out of service
decrepitude
denounced vehemently
Accused or rejected with intense feeling
devilfish
An octopus (also rays and gray whales)
disarray
A mess, confusion
disembodied
Without material source
dissemble
Lie
divers
Archaic spelling of 'diverse'; varied
doffing
Lifting or removing
drover
A mover of groups of animals
duckings
immersions in water
eldritch
Eerie, otherworldy
elixirs
Potions or tonics
exonerate
Prove not guilty
extinguishment
A nonce word for 'the point of being extinguished'
farthing
One quarter of a penny
felt-fullery
A place where wool felt is cleaned and processed. Wool felt was often used for inexpensive hats.
fencing-foils
Slender-bladed swords, generally with a hand guard
feyín
Faerie people with insect wings
firkin
A small barrel of 9 gallon capacity
fisticuffs
Fistfighting
flotsam
Floating debris
for the nonce
For the present or particular occasion ('nonce word')
ford/forded
A river crossing, on foot through the water
forestall
To put off or obstruct something in advance
fortnight
Two weeks
fugue
A state of madness
fusillade
A barrage, as of insults or guns
fustilarian
A scoundrel
galligaskins
Trousers or leggings
gibbering
Making incoherent noises
gibberish
Nonsense writing or talk
gilt
Gold-covered
gloaming
Twilight
gob
Slang for mouth; also a blob or wad
Goblings
Correct Faerie spelling of 'goblins'
gorblimey
Archaic slang for 'God blind me'
greatcoats
Long outer jacket
grenadoes
Hand grenades
grobian
A boor, lout, or slob (may also mean heavy)
gryphon
Archaic spelling of 'griffin'
guano
Bird or reptile droppings
gutfoundered
Extremely hungry
gyring
Whirling
hang his head
Let his head droop in shame or sorrow
haring
Running off quickly (as of hares)
hedgerow
A margin of shrubs or small trees forming a fence
hex
Cast a spell
hippodrome
An arena for equestrian events
hobnailed
Studed with nails, particularly boot soles
hornpipe
A reeded instrument a bit like a clarinet; a dance named after the same, like a jig
ignominious
Disgraceful
ignominy
Disgrace and shame
inclosure acts
Between 1604 and 1914, nearly 11,000 square miles of land in England and the UK were legally switched from common (public) use to private ownership. This was excellent policy for the landowners and titled classes and not so good for anybody else.
infusions
Doses
insolently
With deliberate disrespect
irresolute
Uncertain, unresolved
jaguundi
An enchanted cloak that allows the wearer to adopt almost any appearance at will
jeers
Spoken or shouted ridicule, scorn
jerrycummumble
To tumble or shake about
jolly-boat
A ship's boat
kine
Cow or cows
knaves
Low-quality fellows, tricksters, or male servants, depending on use
lee
The sheltered side, particularly from wind or weather
liaison
Appointment, usually private; communication
lubber
From 'land-lubber', sailor slang for non-sailors
lumpen
A nonce word meaning lumpy, shapeless ('Lumpen' in modern usage means people cast out of their social class)
macrobian
Long-lived
maledictions
A magical phrase or curse of evil intent
manling
Human
mannekin
Miniature person
manse
A large house; also a Presbytery
mantigorns
Man-headed vultures with human arms instead of legs
marrows
Innermost parts, bone marrows
marzipan
Confectionary almond paste, candies made from same
mettle
Spirit, strength of character, determination of will
miasma
An unwholesome fog or vapor
mob-cap
A bonnet for women, often tied under the chin.
modicum
A modest amount
motley
Made of diverse parts (a motley crowd) or patchwork (a motley garment)
myriad
A thousand; also a large, undefined number
ne’er-do-well
Person of bad character, especially a lazy one
nethermost
Lowest, farthest back
nettlesome
Irritating, distressing
nobbut
British dialect meaning 'nothing but'
noxious
Unwholesome, sickening
noxious
Foul, poisonous
obeisance
A gesture of respect
obstinacy
Stubbornness
oubliette
A dungeon, an isolation pit (from the French)
pandemonium
Dreadful chaos
paragon
A shining example
parapet
Low wall around roof or balcony, also defensive screen atop ramparts of fortifications
parchment
A thin sheet of sheep's leather used for writing upon (far superior to paper)
penultimate
Second to last
perforce
Compelled by circumstances, necessary
periwig
A wig; 'wig' is a contraction of 'periwig'. From the French 'perruque'
pesade
A dressage term for a stationary horse reared up on its hind legs
phantasms
Specters, imaginary visions
phantolorum
A device enchanted to communicate between Faerie and Earth
piqued
To excite interest; also to wound the pride
planchette
A type of Ouija board
plenitudinous
Full in quantity
pomanders
Scent-charged accessories to ward off unpleasant smells or diease
posthumous
After death
postilion
A coach driver mounted on one of the horses rather than the coachman's seat
poxy
Diseased
prithee
Archaic word meaning 'I pray you', used much as 'please' is used today
propriety
Conforming to good behavior and morals
quivers
Containers for arrows or darts worn upon the body
rake-hell
A wild, careless fellow
rakes
Libertines; loose-living, pleasure-seeking types
rapscallion
Obsolete variation of 'rascal', a scoundrel
redingote
Riding coat; a coat with voluminous tails
rejoinder
Reply - in the sense of a snappy retort or comeback
retailed
To re-tell, to explain (obsolete usage)
rheumy
Cloudy or mucousy
rictus
Gaping or grinning mouth
rod
A unit of length: 5 1/2 yards
ruckins
From 'to do a ruckins'; to suddenly disappear and reappear elsewhere
ruffian
A rowdy fellow, brute
scalawag
A troublemaker (often young)
schooner
A ship with main- and fore-masts, with fore-and-aft sails on lower masts
scourged
flogged or whipped
scrimmage
A scuffle or small battle
scrying-stone
A crystal ball, but of translucent, not transparent material (often quartz or opal)
scurfed
Scaled, incrusted, or covered in bits
seethed
Endured barely controlled anger (also boiled)
semaphores
Signalling devices, as flags or lights
senescence
Aging
serpicore
An enormous and exceptionally stupid predator in the Faerie world
serpicore
An enormous Faerie predator of notoriously slow wits
shako hats
A tall, cylindrical military hat, usually with a brim. The guards at Buckingham Palace wear bearskin shakos.
shamaan
A doctor of magic (from which we get the human word 'shaman')
shilling
A twelve-penny coin
shivered
Can mean not only involuntary shaking, but also splintered, shattered
sigilantum
A magical device acting as a remote signal
silver-bullion
Silver braid, as on a uniform
silver-gilt
Silver overlaid with gold; also silver leaf (a thin film of the metal)
slubberdegullion
A disgusting slob
smite
Strike
sobriquets
From the French; nicknames
sojourning
Staying somewhere temporarily
sough/soughed
Moaning, rustling, or rushing sound, as of wind or waves
spate
A flood; a waterfall (archaic)
spatterdashes
Spats, shoe coverings
stark mad
An early version of 'stark, raving mad', meaning wildly insane
starvelings
Ones who are starving
staunchly
Loyally, with commitment
steadfastly
Resolutely; fixed in purpose
stile
Vertical member of a door or gate; also steps leading over a barrier
stinkard
A vile person, a stinker
stipend
A salary or allowance
stock
A decorative cloth wound around the neck
stood at port arms
A military drill position in which the rifle is held diagonally against the body, muzzle pointed upward left
superstructure
Anything built above the main deck, as on a ship or bridge
swazzle
A kazoo-like instrument held in the mouth, used to make the Punch puppet's voice
tatterdemalion
Person dressed in rags
taunts
provocations, ridicule
thingummy
Thing, whatnot
thither
Toward that place
threescore
Sixty
thrice
Three times
thruppence
Three pennies
treble
Consisting of three parts, multiplied threefold
trifle
A tiny amount, a small thing; also to tease or toy with; also boozy sponge cake
tristesse
From the French; sweet sadness
tuppence
Two pennies
uncanny
Eerie, strange, unearthly
vanguard
The front of an army or movement
ventricose
Grossly swollen
vitriol
Vicious words; also sulphuric acid ('oil of vitriol')
wain
A wagon
waylaid
Intercepted, accosted
wended
Traveled along a route
weskit
Waistcoat, vest
whence
From where
whitewashed
Painted with a mixture of slaked lime, chalk, and a binder such as casein
wocklebear
A flying, carnivorous creature from Faerie
worsted
Woolen cloth woven from tightly twisted yarns
wot
To know
yrs
Contracted form of 'yours' used in salutations in correspondence