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

Indisposed for parleying

In no mood for debate or discussion.

Chit [To fit the wit of a bit of a chit]

A youngster, usually a girl. Often used contemptuously -- as in the present context.

To sulk in the blues

To act in a sullen, gloomy way.

Potentate [a peppery Potentate]

A ruler with great power. (That explains the capital P.)

Bate [Who's little inclined his claim to bate]

Abate, diminish, back down.

Wind [His menaces are idle as the wind]

Ida means wind, as in fast moving air, but clearly it should be pronounced the poetical way: winde. See also The Gondoliers.

Fratricide [the guilt of fratricide]

The murder of one's own brother or brothers.


Paynim [Struck his Paynim foe!]

An archaic term for an infidel, which to a Crusader usually meant a Muslim.

Martial [our martial thunder]



A statement that seems ridiculous but is, in fact, true. Alas, poor Frederic!

The Needful [We find the Needful comprehended]

Lady Blanche's paradox becomes clear when you understand that "needful" is an old slang term for money (115).

Fusiliers [My fusiliers, advance!]

Soldiers bearing lightweight flint-lock muskets. The word fusil derives from an old French word meaning "steel for striking fire" (250).

Fulminating [We can dispense with fulminating grains]

Exploding. Bradley (47) explains that the term derives "from the Latin word fulminare, meaning to send forth thunder and lightning."

Saltpetre [We can dispense with villainous saltpetre]

Potassium nitrate, used in making gunpowder. Asimov (11) mentions a line in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part I, in which occurs the phrase “villainous saltpetre,” and that has become a standard coupling, much like “damn Yankee.”

Blow them up

To scold.

Polemist [That brutalize the practical polemist]

Pronunciation: pah-LEM-ist

One who vigorously debates doctrines.

Dispensing chemist

What Americans call a pharmacist, the English call a dispensing chemist.

Cot [To Court and cot]


Bruisèd reed

The phrase comes from the Old Testament (2 Kings 18:21 and Isaiah 36:6) as a metaphor for something, or someone, treacherously unreliable (55).

Lath [My sword was but a lath]

A thin strip of wood of the sort used to form a rough base for plaster.