rich man and the kingdom of Heaven Pip is uncomfortable because the clergyman in church reads this Bible passage right after Pip finds out he has come into wealth. The Bible reference is Matthew 19:24: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
rimy morning a morning with frost all over anything that was damp the night before.
rush-light a cheap candle made from the pith of the stem of a rush that has been dipped in grease and fat instead of wax. At Hummums, these were put in a perforated tin holder that left a dotted pattern of light on the walls.
savoury the British spelling of the word "savory," which means appetizing.
sententious tending to use a lot of maxims or proverbs and often inclined to moralize more than is appreciated.
serpentine something that twists or coils like a snake.
set fire to their prisons . . . improving the flavour of their soup prison conditions were terrible in the early 1800s and reform was years off. By 1861, the outrage and reform had gone in the other direction, with prisoners rioting because they did not like their food. This pun refers to the fact that, at the time of this story, everyone's food was bad, whether prisoner, soldier, or pauper, so prisoners had not gotten to the point of rioting to "improve the flavour of their soup." Flavour is the British spelling for the word "flavor."
settle a long wooden bench with a back and armrests.
shark-headed screws round-headed screws.
sluice-keeper sluices were floodgates that controlled the flow of water through the marshes. The sluice-keeper was responsible for managing these gates. Orlick lodges with the sluice-keeper near the forge.
Smithfield a large, open square that was London's main cattle-market until 1852.
Spanish-liquorice-water a sweet drink of liquorice-flavored water. There is no alcohol in it.
squally troubling or disturbing.
state parlour a formal parlor that is never open at any time of year except Christmas.
stile a step or set of steps used in climbing over a fence or wall. Another definition is a turnstile or post with revolving horizontal bars, placed in an entrance to allow the passage of persons but not of horses, cattle, and so on. Pip and Biddy are walking on the marshes near the sluice-gate, which is a gate that controls the flow of water onto the marshes. Either definition — a turnstile or a wall with steps climbing over the wall — works here because either one may be used to prevent animals and unaware persons from getting hurt near the sluice-gate.
subterfuge any plan, action, or device used to hide one's true objective or evade a difficult or unpleasant situation. When Jaggers discounts Wopsle's conclusions about a murder Wopsle is discussing, the rest of the people listening start to question whether Wopsle has an ulterior motive in drawing the conclusions he has.
superscription something, such as an address or name, written at the top or on an outer surface of an envelope or similar item.
supposititious case hypothetical case.
swab a lowly seaman.
Tag and Rag and Bobtail riff-raff or rabble.
taken Time by the forelock seize the opportunity and act. The reference is Greek, from the philosopher Thales of Miletus (around 624-546 BC).
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