Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for Patience

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

Act II

Placidity [your placidity emetical]



An emetic is a medicine used to induce vomiting.


Pertaining to the eye. Here Gilbert means the eye itself. To "stick an eyeglass in his ocular" means to wear a monocle. Asimov (11) cites this as an example of how cultures change. Bunthorne wants Grosvenor to do that so he will look commonplace. Today, a monocle would have the opposite effect.

Quiddity [full of quibble and of quiddity]

Trifling niceties of speech, resulting usually in pompous and boring drivel (7).

Roly-poly pudding

The OED (229) defines roly-poly as "a kind of pudding, consisting of a sheet of paste covered by jam or preserves, formed into a roll and boiled or steamed." This would not be at all attractive to a fussy aesthete.

Upbraid [we hope you won't upbraid]


Struck [to be "struck" so]

To be immobilized (as in casting a statue). Coins, in manufacture, are said to be "struck."

Inner Brotherhood

The leading Pre-Raphaelite aesthetes often referred to themselves as the Inner Brotherhood (47).

Consummately utter

See "Jolly utter" below.




Pertaining to Sandro Botticelli (1447-1510), an early Italian Renaissance painter. Although Botticelli and Fra Angelico were much admired by the aesthetes, one shouldn't try to find any real meaning in Lady Saphir's ejaculation other than "How arty!"

Fra Angelican

Pertaining to the friar Fra Angelico (1387-1455), another early Italian Renaissance painter.

Jolly utter

A popular bit of semi-meaningless jargon actually affected by the mindless followers of the aesthetes (318). MacPhail (194) says that such expressions were spotlighted by du Maurier's Punch cartoons lampooning the aesthetes. Stedman (274) adds that "utter" was an authentic Pre-Raphaelite affectation, but "jolly" was a Philistine word.


Hard-hearted; stubborn; unyielding (75).

Sketch of Something like this sort of thing

There is considerable debate about whether to pronounce the word in the usual way, or as "sympa-THIGH" (to rhyme with "die"). Existing D'Oyly Carte recordings make it the former and that makes sense; it doesn't rhyme, but it's easier to understand. David Bamberger (23) finds reason to think that in Gilbert's day both pronunciations were in use, so "simpuh THIGH" may have been what Gilbert had in mind. (He was, after all, a perfectionist in nearly all his rhyming.) So directors can take their choice and have it pronounced "simpuh THIGH" for artistic integrity, or "simpuh THEE" for clarity of meaning; and we suspect Gilbert himself would have found the decision difficult (260).

Narcissus [Ah, I am a very Narcissus]

In Greek mythology Narcissus was an exceedingly vain young fellow who was condemned to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. He died of unrequited love or, in another version, he drowned when he tried to embrace his own reflection.

Premium [insipidity has been at a premium]

In great demand.

Back parting

According to Hyder (161) this is a hair style with the parting going down the back of the head, with the hair on each side combed forward, rather than the now-standard fore-and-aft parting atop the head. In Bradley's view (48) "This would have struck the Pre-Raphaelites as appallingly philistine and prosaic. If they parted their hair at all, it was generally in the middle."

Unmanned [I must not allow myself to be unmanned]

Disheartened, lacking in resolution, and (most unmanly of all) reduced to tears.

Nephew's curse

Don't take this expression too seriously. It's just something Bunthorne borrowed from nineteenth century melodrama to frighten Grosvenor. Or is it? Chambers (72) sees a connection with the apparently beloved aunt whose memory had so affected Bunthorne a few moments earlier.


Unyielding, hard as a diamond (like Princess Ida's castle).

Paste [distinguish gems from paste]

Artificial gems made from finely ground glass. Asimov (11) suggests that we interpret this in the figurative sense of telling authentic art from fraudulent.


Embodying simple perfection, perhaps in an elevated and polished style. Exigence of rhyme compels us to pronounce this as "iddle," which in England is acceptable as a second choice to rhyming with idle.

Stick and a pipe

A walking stick and a pipe for smoking tobacco.

Black-and-tan [And a half-bred black-and-tan]

A Manchester terrier crossed, in this case, with a who-knows-what.

Hops [Who thinks suburban "hops"]

Dance halls popular with the lower middle class (245).

Monday Pops

A series of weekly concerts of light, popular music. Sullivan and Jullien, the eminent musico, both conducted such series. Bradley (47) tells us they were organized by Chappells, the music publishers, and were held in St James's Hall.


A civic holiday (usually a Monday) in Britain. They date back to just a decade before the opera was written (48). They were initiated by the banks as days in which the doors were closed while they undertook a quarterly review of the books. They were soon turned into a general day-off from work and then became civic holidays (118). The implication here is that we have a nose-to-the-grindstone fellow who cannot readily escape from work but who likes to mix with the other Philistines on those long, crowded weekends. Not at all like those free-flying aesthetes.

Japanese [A Japanese young man]

Asimov (11) explains that Bunthorne is alluding to his affected admiration for "all one sees that's Japanese."

Lank [A haggard and lank young man]

Drooping; weak and thin (75).