Do You Speak Jane Austen? (Part 3)

The last third of the alphabet was a bit of a challenge. The letters “x” and “z” were less than cooperative. I searched Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Mansfield Parkfor the letters, but was, generally, unsuccessful. “X” was impossible to find, and “Z” did not willing make an appearance, but below, one may find part 3 of “Do You Speak Jane Austen?”

(The quotes are from Pride and Prejudice unless so noted.)

Q
quadrille
 – a historic dance performed by four couples in a square formation, a precursor to traditional square dancing

(but in Pride and Prejudice, Austen used the word not for the dance, but to mean)

quadrille – a card game popular during the 18th century, played by four people with a deck of 40 cards

She had been graciously pleased to approve of both of the discourses which he had already had the honour of preaching before her. She had also asked him twice to dine at Rosings, and had sent for him only the Saturday before, to make up her pool of quadrille in the evening. (Chapter 14)

querulous–given to complaint; grumbling; questioning

Mrs. Bennet was restored to her usual querulous serenity; and, by the middle of June, Kitty was so much recovered as to be able to enter Meryton without tears; an event of such happy promise as to make Elizabeth hope that by the following Christmas she might be so tolerably reasonable as not to mention an officer above once a day, unless, by some cruel and malicious arrangement at the War Office, another regiment should be quartered in Meryton. (Chapter 42)

R
reel
–a type of Scottish dance

“Do not you feel a great inclination, Miss Bennet, to seize such an opportunity of dancing a reel?” (Chapter 10)

rapacity–extreme gluttony; greed

When the tea-things were removed, and the card-tables placed, the ladies all rose, and Elizabeth was then hoping to be soon joined by him, when all her views were overthrown by seeing him fall a victim to her mother’s rapacity for whist players, and in a few moments after seated with the rest of the party. (Chapter 54)

S
sanguine–optimistic

The sanguine hope of good, however, which the benevolence of her heart suggested had not yet deserted her; she still expected that it would all end well, and that every morning would bring some letter, either from Lydia or her father, to explain their proceedings, and, perhaps, announce their marriage. (Chapter 47)

saucy–insolent; bold

Oh! how heartily did she grieve over every ungracious sensation she had ever encouraged, every saucy speech she had ever directed towards him. (Chapter 52)

sennight– one week (from “seven nights”)

“Indeed I am. I shall entreat his pardon for not having done it earlier. I believe him to be Lady Catherine’s nephew. It will be in my power to assure him that her ladyship was quite well yesterday se’nnight.” (Chapter 18)

subjoin–add to the end

“And will you give yourself the trouble of carrying similar assurances to his creditors in Meryton, of whom I shall subjoina list according to his information?”

(Chapter 50)

supercilious – overly proud

For, though elated by his rank, it did not render him supercilious; on the contrary, he was all attention to everybody. (Chapter 5)

T
tractable – obedient; changeable; flexible

“I never heard any harm of her; and I dare say she is one of the most tractable creatures in the world.” (Chapter 33)

threadbare – worn; frayed

They found Mary, as usual, deep in the study of thorough-bass and human nature; and had some extracts to admire, and some new observations of threadbare morality to listen to. (Chapter 12)

U
unabashed
 – unapologetic; shameless

Lydia was Lydia still; untamed, unabashed, wild, noisy, and fearless. (Chapter 51)

ungovernable – incapable of being controlled

She was not of so ungovernable a temper as Lydia; and, removed from the influence of Lydia’s example, she became, by proper attention and management, less irritable, less ignorant, and less insipid. (Chapter 61)

untinctured – lacking color; without a trace of vestige as in “untinctured condescension”; not to infuse (as with a quality)

On this point she was soon satisfied; and two or three little circumstances occurred ere they parted, which, in her anxious interpretation, denoted a recollection of Jane not untinctured by tenderness, and a wish of saying more that might lead to the mention of her, had he dared. (Chapter 44)

V
vexatious
 – annoying

Were the same fair prospect to arise at present as had flattered them a year ago, every thing, she was persuaded, would be hastening to the same vexatious conclusion. (Chapter 53)

Vingt-et-un – blackjack

“Yes; these four evenings have enabled them to ascertain that they both like Vingt-et-un better than Commerce; but with respect to any other leading characteristic, I do not imagine that much has been unfolded.” (Chapter 6)

W
white soup
 – a soup made of broth and eggs

“If you mean Darcy,” cried her brother, “he may go to bed, if he chooses, before it begins—but as for the ball, it is quite a settled thing; and as soon as Nicholls has made white soup enough, I shall send round my cards.” (Chapter 11)

whist – a four-person card game similar to bridge

When the card-tables were placed, he had the opportunity of obliging her in turn, by sitting down to whist. (Chaper 16)

X
(In the three novels I surveyed, there were no words beginning with the letter X.)

Y
York
 – a borough of Northern England

“Aye, there she comes,” continued Mrs. Bennet, “looking as unconcerned as may be, and caring no more for us than if we were at York, provided she can have her own way.” (Chapter 20)

Z
(In Pride and Prejudice, I found no words beginning with “Z,” and in Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility, I found only the usual “zeal” and “zealous.” I fear I did not check Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, or Emma for either “X” or “Z.” Perhaps, someone else knows more than I on those three Austen classics. Yet, here a few examples of “Z” from MP and from S&S.)

Mrs. Norris was most zealous in promoting the match, by every suggestion and contrivance likely to enhance its desirableness to either party; and, among other means, by seeking an intimacy with the gentleman’s mother, who at present lived with him, and to whom she even forced Lady Bertram to go through ten miles of indifferent road to pay a morning visit. (MP, Chapter 4)

Maria, with only Mr. Rushworth to attend to her, and doomed to the repeated details of his day’s sport, good or bad, his boast of his dogs, his jealousy of his neighbours, his doubts of their qualifications, and his zeal after poachers, subjects which will not find their way to female feelings without some talent on one side or some attachment on the other, had missed Mr. Crawford grievously; and Julia, unengaged and unemployed, felt all the right of missing him much more. (MP, Chapter 7)

He deprecated her mistaken but well-meaning zeal. (MP, Chapter 23)

In the promotion of this object she was zealously active, as far as her ability reached; and missed no opportunity of projecting weddings among all the young people of her acquaintance. (S&S, Chapter 8)

But this did not last long; Elinor had hardly got their last visitors out of her head, had hardly done wondering at Charlotte’s being so happy without a cause, at Mr. Palmer’s acting so simply, with good abilities, and at the strange unsuitableness which often existed between husband and wife, before Sir John’s and Mrs. Jennings’s active zeal in the cause of society, procured her some other new acquaintance to see and observe. (S&S, Chapter 21)

So, what are some of your favorite Regency era words?

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About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and contemporary novels.
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2 Responses to Do You Speak Jane Austen? (Part 3)

  1. Janet says:

    HI Regina, I am enjoying reading the meanings of all these Regency era words and I like that you put them in context afterwards. I used one of them from a previous post in part of the description of my new blog. I needed one for my participation in the Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge. I will be trying to play a little catch up on some other reviews too! The title of my blog is ‘More Agreeably Engaged’ and the description is ‘Austen-inspired Illustrations and Effusions’. After reading your post that had effusions, that settled my mind on that part of the title. As soon as I get my pre-ordered copy of ‘The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy’ and read it, I will write a review and post it. I will let you know when I do. Can’t wait to get the book!

    Thanks for your ‘unknowing’ help with my title! 🙂

  2. Good morning, Janet. I am pleased my list helped you. Heck, it helps me to go to some of these words. I had a review a long time ago where the person said my language sounded as if I were writing at the beginning of the 19th Century. I can’t even remember which review that was, but I do recall the reviewer thought of that as a “negative,” whereas, I took the comment as a “positive.” After all, I write Austen-inspired novels and Regency romances.

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