You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


ambages, circuitous, roundabout ways

atrementous, black as ink

bait, to stop for rest and refreshment

boutade, a sudden motion,  like a kick from a horse's hind legs

butter weight, good measure, 18 or more ounces to the pound

cockle, the weed corn cockle, whose seeds had to be sifted out of the seed corn; the task gave rise to several proverbs

cully, a simpleton, gull

ends, shoemakers' threads pointed with bristles

exploded, clapped or hissed off the stage

garnish, money extracted from a gaoler for better treatment, particularly allowing light manacles, or freedom of movement within the prison

gossips, the women friends invited to be present at a birth

hic multa desiderantur, a great deal is missing here

horsed for discipline, placed piggy-back to be flogged on the posteriors by a school master

jordan. chamber-pot

kennel, the open drain or gutter in a street, usually in the middle

mopus, a stupid or moping person

pinner, coif (q.v.) with two long hanging strips pinned on each side, worn by ladies of rank

pure bite, completely successful hoax

put, (country) bumpkin, 'buffer'

rubs, disagreeable experiences

sack-posset, a drink made of hot curdled milk, white wine, and perhaps spices

smock, fornicate

stews, brothels

tentiginous humour, an inclination to lust (from the L tentigo, an erection)

truckling, subservient, obsequious

vapours, hysterics

Selected from the glossary to
Jonathan Swift. Major Works,  
ed. by Angus  Ross and David Woolery
Oxford University Press

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