Regency Lexicon – We Are Up to “U” and “V”

Regency Era Lexicon – Now For “U” and “V”

union – short for a workhouse; usually built by a union of several individual parishes

up – used in referring to moving toward London; used in referring to coaches (and later to trains)

up – meant toward Oxford or Cambridge (to go up); in contrast, to be sent down was to be expelled from university


Bath Assembly Rooms - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Three chandeliers adorning the Tea Room

Bath Assembly Rooms – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Three chandeliers adorning the Tea Room

Upper Rooms – Bath possessed two large assembly rooms. The older Lower Rooms were near Bath Abbey in the lower part of the city. The Lower Rooms were destroyed by fire in 1820. The Upper Rooms were located near The Circus and Bennett Street in the upper part of the city. Although damaged by bombing in World War II, the Upper Rooms have been refurbished.

upper servants – those with the most senority in a household; included the butler, the housekeeper, valet, and the lady’s maid; the housekeeper was always addressed as “Mrs.”

uncouth—Johnson defines it as “Odd; strange; unusual.”

useTo treat, as in Pamela: “Mrs Jervis uses me as if I were her own daughter.”

usher – an assistant to a headmaster of a school

vacation – the period between terms at the universities or the terms for London’s high courts

vail – a form of gratuity given by a departing guest to the household servants who attended him

valet – the counterpart to a lady’s maid; the valet took care of a gentleman’s dress/clothing; referred to as a gentleman’s gentleman; the gentleman’s personal manservant. He dressed and undressed his master, shaved him, did his hair, kept his clothes neat and meticulously ironed, blacked his boots, sewed buttons as needed, and kept secret any flaws of his master’s figure that might need correction by means of a male corset, shoulder pads, or false calves. But most importantly of all, the valet had the solemn duty of starching and tying that showpiece of male attire—the cravat.

Vauxhall Gardens – an eleven-acre pleasure garden across the Thames from London; one of the leading venues for public entertainment in London from teh mid 17th Century to the mid 1800s

vellum – a parchment made from sheep or goat skin and used for fine quality writing paper

Venerable – a term of respect used when addressing an archdeacon of the Church of England

verger – the man who tended to the inside of a church

Vernon, Lady Susan – the main character in Austen’s Lady Susan novella; known as “the most accomplished coquette in England”

Very Reverend – form of respect/address for a dean in the Church of England

vestry – the room where the clergyman dressed for the service; also where the bride and groom signed the registry following the wedding ceremony; was often used to store sacred vessels or to conduct parish business

vicar – a parish priest appointed to the living by a landowner; he shared the tithes with the landowner; in contrast, a rector received all the tithes

vinaigrettevinaigrette – a small silver box containing vinegar; it was used to revive women who swooned or fainted; A small sealing box with a second pierced lid inside to contain gauze soaked in vinegar, lavender water, or other scent, the smelling of which was to revive when faint or to relieve from unpleasant odors. Carried inside a reticule or hung from a chatelaine, vinaigrettes were made by fine silversmiths.

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects (1792) – written by the 18th-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, is one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy. In it, Wollstonecraft responds to those educational and political theorists of the 18th century who did not believe women should have an education. She argues that women ought to have an education commensurate with their position in society, claiming that women are essential to the nation because they educate its children and because they could be “companions” to their husbands, rather than mere wives. Instead of viewing women as ornaments to society or property to be traded in marriage, Wollstonecraft maintains that they are human beings deserving of the same fundamental rights as men.

ving-et-un – a card game; basically, it was the equivalent of “21”; getting as close to 21 without going over

vicious—Given to vice, or related to vice—in other words, immoral, profligate. The modern sense, often applied to animals or people who behave fiercely, also dates from the eighteenth century, but was less common than the more generic sense of immoral.

virtuoso—A connoisseur or expert in antiquities and natural curiosities, or what we’d today call a scientist.

viscount – a peer ranking below an earl and above a baron; his wife is a viscountess; was spoken of or called the “Right Honourable” and addressed as Lord__________

visiting card – a card displaying one’s name; left when paying a call

visitation – when a bishop or archdeacon made a tour of a parish or a diocese

vizard—A mask.

Volume the First – one of the three sections of what is known as Jane Austen’s “Juvenilla”; it contains Austen’s “Jack and Alice” and “Henry and Eliza”; Austen copied many of her pieces in three volumes; the volumes are NOT in chronological order

Volume the Second – the earliest of Austen’s three volumes, likely completed when she was 14-15 years of age; it is marked with “Ex dono mei Patris” (From my father); it is dated in 1790; two of the better selections in this volume is “Love and Friendship” and “The History of England,” which made fun of Oliver Goldsmith’s History of England

Volume the Third – another of Austen’s “Juvenilla”; inside is written in her father’s handwriting “Effusions of Fancy by a very Young Lady Consisting of Tales in a Style entirely new”; this volume contains “Caatharine; or The Bower” and “Evelyn”

volumes – books during the Regency were published in volumes; most often the books were three-deckers (three separate volumes); in Jane Austen’s case, all her books are three-deckers, except Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, which were two volumes each

vulgar—Common, but not necessarily disgusting

Other fine sources of vocabulary online include: 

Sharon Lathan, Novelist: Regency Glossary

18th Century Vocabulary 

Georgette-Heyer: Regency Cant and Expressions 


About Regina Jeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and historical romantic suspense.
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