Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for Princess Ida

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Enter part of a term; e.g., "gill" for Gillow's.

Act II

Rule the roast

Dominate and order others about. Often mistakenly transmuted into "rule the roost." Brewer (54) states that the expression was common in the fifteenth century. Shakespeare used the term, too.

Malice [Replete with malice spiteful]

Active ill-will, wishing to do harm.


Unreasonable refusal to do what's right.

Hoity-toity [Sing, hoity-toity!]

A derisive reference to people who affect airs. Brewer (56) says it derives from the French hoit-comme-toit, meaning flightiness.

Marry come up

Brewer (54) gives this interpretation: "May Mary come up to my assistance, or to your discomfort!"

Plantagenet [although a born Plantagenet]

Family name of a long succession of English kings, from Henry II (1154) through Richard III (1485). Brewer (56) says the name derives "from planta genista (broom plant), the family cognisance first assumed by the Earl of Anjou, the first of his race, during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, as a symbol of humility." Readers may note that the humility did not take root.

Worm will turn

Brewer (54) explains this is an old expression meaning that even "the most abject of creatures will turn upon its tormentors if driven to extremity."

Are men [but “are men” stuck in her throat]

A pun on Shakespeare's “amen stuck in my throat” (in Macbeth Act II, Scene 2). Better it should have stuck in Gilbert’s throat.

Asphodel [Here in meadow of asphodel]

A collective term for lilies or daffodils. In Greek mythology, asphodel were the ever-blooming flowers that grew in the Elysian fields. Bunthorne found them attractive, too, if you'll recall.

Booby [And is the booby comely?]

Dunce. Ida isn't being personally insulting here. All men are dunces, at best, in her view.


Pronunciation: Rhymes with dumbly.


Consisted [Consisted with my maiden modesty]


Staid [downcast and staid]

Sober and sedate.


Grave, shy, or seemingly modest (75).

Flaunting [Flaunting it in brave array]

Impudently displaying.

Own [For his intrusion we must own]


Desecration [Shame and desecration]

Violation of something sacred.

Execration [female execration]

Refers to the women's uttered curses.

Beard [To beard a maiden in her lair]

A take-off of "to beard a lion in his lair," meaning to settle an issue with an imposing person face-to-face on his or her own grounds. Ida, we fear, has mangled her metaphor, but she had all too little time to get her thoughts (or dripping hair) in order. See also Iolanthe.