Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for The Mikado

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Act I

Cloy [delights that never cloy]

Grow tiresome.

Fleest [Oh fool, that fleest my hallowed joys]

Pronunciation: FLEE-est



Archaic form of hallow, meaning sacred. "Hallowed joys" presumably means wedded bliss.

Equipoise [Oh blind, that seest no equipoise]

A counter-balancing factor, e.g., a fascinating right elbow to offset a caricature of a face. In his children's book (133) Gilbert adds this footnote: "I fancy that she meant by this that Nanki-Poo was so short-sighted as not to perceive that her moral and social qualities were an adequate compensation for the drawbacks of advanced age and damaged personal appearance. But when people lapse into poetry you never can be sure what they mean." Anyone who aspires to publish a G&S lexicon will particularly appreciate that last sentence.

Judgest, grudgest, etc.

Presumably pseudo-archaic forms of judges and grudges (or begrudges). The same for rulest, foolest, scornest, and warnest in Katisha's second verse.

Dole [Love's lightest dole]

An allocation.

Lore-laden years

Years spent in soaking up knowledge.

Smooth tongue


Knell [Thy knell is rung]

Slow tolling of a bell to signal a death. Katisha, we hope, does not mean this to be taken literally. Or does she? Prestige (245) thinks so.

Rue [this insult you shall rue!]


Sue [on your knees you'll sue]

Make an appeal.

O ni! bikkuri shakkuri to!

This is the chorus's uproar for drowning out Katisha's exposé. Many authorities (21, 145, 147, 149, 157, 209, 210, 286) have proposed translations, but there emerges no consensus. As for Gilbert, he says only that it is a humorous song (133), and that ought to be good enough for us.

Gambado [I'll spoil -- your gay gambado]

Pronunciation: Rhymes with Mikado.

The OED (229) defines this as, among other things, any sudden or fantastic action.

Oya! oya!

Meaningless filler words for the final repetition of O ni! bikkuri shakkuri to!

Owl [Ill-omened owl]

As one definition of the word, the OED (229) gives us: "Applied to a person in allusion to … figurative repugnance of light." In a single word, Karr (170) suggests "baleful." Walters (301) tells us "the owl was traditionally a bird of ill omen and its appearance was supposed to herald a great tragedy."

Act II

Bridal toilet [seated at her bridal toilet]

The act of dressing and last-minute titivating in readiness for a wedding. (Perhaps you should know that the original meaning of "toilet" was a dressing table.)

Raven [Braid the raven hair]

Glossy black.

Deck [Deck the maiden fair]


Coral [Dye the coral lip]


Roe [Like a frightened roe]

A small, agile Old World deer (250).