Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for The Mikado

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

Act II

Fates [See how the Fates their gifts allot]

In classical mythology the three goddesses who were supposed to preside over the course of human life. One held the distaff and fibers, from which the second spun the thread of life, and the third cut the thread when life ended.

Chaffing

Teasing in a good-natured way.

Nectar [Nectar quaffing]

In classical mythology the life-giving drink of the gods.

Quaffing

To drink heartily, copiously, and without reserve. Urp!

Fortune [If I were Fortune]

Fortuna, the ancient Roman goddess of luck.

Corroborative [Merely corroborative detail]

Confirming or certifying.

Verisimilitude [artistic verisimilitude]

The appearance of truth.

Cock-and-a-bull stories

Unbelievable boastful fictions. The origin of the term is uncertain, but Knight (178) cites a tale by one L. Fisher from 1660 in which is mentioned a tale as strange as a cock and a bull transformed into a single animal. For more details see the entry for "Cock and bull" in The Yeomen of the Guard.

Put in your oar

To meddle or interfere in other people's business. The expression dates back at least to the sixteenth century (115).

Reprieved [you're reprieved]

Legally cleared and out of trouble.

Honeymoon

Surely you all know what this means; but there's a nice story that goes with its derivation. It means literally "honey-month." It seems the ancient Teutons had the custom of drinking honey wine for thirty days after their marriage. Moreover, you may also be interested to learn that Attila the Hun drank so much of the stuff at his wedding feast that he died. Let that be a lesson to you.

Persiflage [Is this a time for airy persiflage?]

Banter. Shipley (266) says the word derives from the French persifler, to whistle.

Connoisseurs

Expert judges, especially in the fine arts.

Pin my heart

The allusion is to the chivalric custom of pinning to one's sleeve some token given by one's lady love. This was indicative of a pledge to do or die (55).

Caricature [with a caricature of a face]

Pronunciation: CARE-ik-ahchir suits the score.

Cartoon.

Sepulchre

A tomb, a grave, or burial vault.

Miscreant

Originally the word meant "false believer." Now we apply it to any vile and unprincipled wretch; one who sneers at the Savoy operas.

Suppliant [behold a suppliant at your feet!]

A humble petitioner.

Palate [only the educated palate]

Literally the roof of the mouth. The meaning here is in the figurative sense of intellectual taste or liking.

Tom-tit

A bird of the tit family, all being cute little chickadee-like rascals. Brewer (56) and the noted ornithologist Michael Walters (302) both agree that Tom implies not male, but small, as in Tom Thumb. This being so, was Gilbert careless when referring to "a little tom-tit"? In any event, the context clearly implies a small male bird.

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