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


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.

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.