Study Help Full Glossary for The Mayor of Casterbridge


Adulam haven for people with troubles and difficulties.

aeolian modulations Aeolus, in Greek mythology, was god of the winds. The aeolian harp was a stringed instrument constructed to produce musical sounds when exposed to the action of the wind.

Alastor a deity of revenge.

amaze amazement.

"And here's a hand . . . thine" from Robert Burns's well-known song, "auld Lang Syne." "Fiere" means friend or companion, and "gie's" is a dialect contraction for "give us."

antipodean absences absences on the other side of the world. Probably the phrase refers to Australian penal colonies.

Argus eyes mythological figure with one hundred eyes. When Argus was killed the eyes were placed on the tail of Juno's sacred peacock.

ashlar a roughhewn square block of stone.

Ashton . . . Ravenswood Characters in Scott's Bride of Lammermoor. Ashton sees Ravenswood disappear (having sunk into quicksand).

assize town a town where civil and criminal cases are tried by jury.

Austerlitz in 1805, the battle in which Napoleon defeated the Russians and the Austrians.

ballet ballad.

begad By God! A slightly toned down oath.

bell-board a table or board on which were placed small bells that were rung at the appropriate time by a number of ringers. (Thus, the tune depended on each ringer; hence, Casterbridge depended on the surrounding villages and hamlets for its commerce.)

Bellerophon character in Greek legends who killed his brother and fled from the society of mankind.

be-right truly; by-right.

Botany Bay penal colony in Australia.

bruckle not trustworthy.

butter-firkins a firkin is a wooden vessel for holding butter or lard. Its capacity is usually the equivalent of one-fourth of a barrel. A butter-firkin is also termed as a unit of measurement approximating 55 or 56 pounds.

Cain in genesis: for killing his brother Abel, Cain was branded (Mark of Cain) and cursed by God to wander among men, and to be shunned by them.

Calpurnia's cheek was pale In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Brutus remarks that the cheek of Caesar's wife — Calpurnia — is pale. The reference is that Farfrae (equivalent to a Caesar among the crowd) has his Brutus.

Capharnaum from Matthew; place of darkness.

carkings disturbing, worrisome, vexing. This usage is archaic.

carrefour crossroads, open square (French).

chassez-déchassez chassé, a quick set of gliding, sideward movements in dancing, always led by the same foot; from the French chasser. Hence, chassez-déchassez, a French dance from right to left.

chine a ridge or strip of wood; refers to such a strip on the bottom of a cask, on which the workman turns the cask, thus moving it without tipping it over.

chiney china, dishes.

éclat distinction or brilliance (French).

cleavers . . . rams'-horns Old musical instruments or noisemakers; a "croud" would be a fiddle and "humstrums" would be cranked instruments similar to a hurdy-gurdy.

Comus a masque by Milton.

the Constantines Emperors of Rome, father and son. Constantine the Great moved the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome To Byzantium, whose name was changed to Constantinople. Constantine II ruled for a short time after his father's death.

corn-factor a factor is a commission merchant. In Scotland the meaning may be applied to a managing agent of an estate.

Correggio famous Italian artist (1494-1534).

cow-barton a cow-yard.

cyma-recta an architectural term: a curved profile partly concave and partly convex, the convex part nearest the wall (often referring to a curved molding).

Dan Cupid Roman god of love. "Dan" is applied humorously to mean "Sir."

dand The word "dandy" is left uncompleted.

danged damned (used as an expletive).

Diana Multimammia many-breasted Diana. The sense is that the burial-mounds appeared to be the many breasts.

diment diamond.

dogs the iron bars on which the logs are placed in a fireplace.

doxology the character means "theology," but even then "theology" would not be the appropriate word.

dungmixen dung-heap, dunghill.

'en dialect for "him."

espaliers trellises or stakes on which small fruit trees or plants are trained to grow in a flattened-out state.

the evil scrofula. A toad-bag contained the legs of frogs, and was worn around the neck. This superstition held that the toad-bag was a cure for scrofula (sometimes called "the king's evil").

fall a veil attached to the hat which women wore as a custom of modesty when walking in public.

Family Bible, Josephus, Whole Duty of Man three works considered indispensable in every respectable household. The Family Bible was a large Bible which usually contained a page in the front for recording marriages, births, deaths; Josephus Flavius (A.D. 37-100?), Jewish historian and statesman. His History of the Jewish War and other work shed much valuable light upon the occurrences of the Bible; Whole Duty of Man, 1658, of anonymous origin. A book of devotions.

Faust the main character in Goethe's monumental drama.

fête carillonnée a celebration complete with the pealing of bells (French).

Flemish ladders ladders whose sides become narrower toward the top.

forward stripling upstart youngster.

fretted my gizzard worried.

fustian coarse cotton.

gaberlunzie wandering beggar.

Gallows Hill a reference to the English Civil War incident in the seventeenth century which resulted in the sentencing to death of about 300 people.

gawk-hammer way awkward, ridiculous.

get it in train to get it started.

gibbous rounded, seemingly hunch-backed.

giddying in a rotating or whirling fashion.

go snacks wi'en go snacks with him; to eat at his table; to live with him.

growed wheat underdeveloped, poor wheat which looks developed to the untrained eye.

Gurth's collar a swineherd in Scott's Ivanhoe who wore a brass ring around his neck, which could only be filed through to free him of the collar.

Hannah Dominy from Latin Anno Domine (A.D., in the year of our Lord). A slight bit of satirizing of the rather ignorant type of justice of the peace. The word "instinct" which precedes the corruption of the legal phrase should be "instance."

'a he.

hontish high-handed, haughty.

it mid be it might be.

"Jack's as good as his master" a proverb. The meaning is that the servant has become as good as the employer.

"John Gilpin" a ballad by William Cowper (1731-1800).

Jotuns giants in Norse mythology.

jowned jolted. The expression would seem to mean, "Damn it, so am I," or "Be damned, so am I!"

jumps or night-rail jumps would be equal to corset-stays, and a night-rail equivalent to a night-gown.

Juno's bird peacock.

Karnac In Brittany: Carnac. Over two miles of parallel monoliths.

keacorn dialect for throat.

kerb curb.

kerseymere fine wool woven so that diagonal lines appear on the material.

lammigers lame people.

larry commotion or disturbance.

leery tired.

a less scrupulous Job The biblical character Job, who only lived to do right, cursed the day of his birth when he was punished by God for no apparent reason. Hence, Henchard, not quite as conscientious in his desire to do good, also curses himself as Job did.

Life-holders, copy-holders Life-holders held a lifetime lease to their homes and land. Copy-holders did not own original legal deeds.

"like Job, I could curse the day that gave me birth." from the Book of Job, in which Job, in the midst of his suffering, actually curses the day of his birth.

list a strip, or steak.

locus standi accepted or recognized standing (Latin).

Lucifer the planet Venus when it appears as the morning star.

Mai Dun a large fortress of the ancient Britons.

manna-food the food which God supplied to the Children of Israel during their wanderings in the desert.

Martinmas summer late or Indian summer; that is, Susan's life became more bearable in her later years.

Martin's Day November 11th.

Minerva-eyes . . . face The sense is that Elizabeth-Jane has acquired wisdom, and that she imparts the spirit of wisdom in her movements.

"Miss M'Leod of Ayr" a tune that Hardy knew when a child.

modus vivendi working arrangement; a way of living (Latin).

mon ami étourderie mon ami, my friend; étourderie, lack of concern — thoughtless action; thoughtlessness (French).

mullioned a vertical dividing strip in an opening or a window. The sense of the passage is that the vertical strips on the windows should be perpendicular to the ground, but they are not. Thus, the building looks quaintly out of kilter.

mun Scotch and British dialect: must.

must start genteel must begin in a manner appropriate to a well-bred person.

Nathan tones The prophet Nathan was damning in his onslaught against King David's marriage to Bath-Sheba.

netting fish-seines making fishing nets; also, fixing or repairing the nets.

netting making netting, the groundwork for delicate embroidery.

no'thern a dialect word; wandering in mind, or incoherent.

Novalis Baron Friedrich von Hardenburg (1772-1801) whose pen-name was Novalis; poet and novelist.

'od shortened from the exclamation, "God!," so as to avoid profanity.

of aught besides of anything else, also.

oven-pyle chips of wood for lighting a fire.

Ovid famous Latin poet (43 B.C.-18 A.D.). The line is from his Metamorphoses: "Though I approve of the better things I see, I follow after the worse."

pari passu at the same speed (Latin).

a pensioner of Farfrae's wife to be put on relief by Farfrae's wife, or to be financially dependent on Farfrae's wife.

pier-glass mirror.

pis aller the last resource (French).

pixy-ring a fairy-ring. A term given to the area or ring on the meadow where a different type of grass is growing.

plim blown up, swollen.

Prester John in mythology, a king who was punished by the gods. He was condemned to have his food snatched from him by harpies, half-woman, half-birdlike creatures who acted as the gods' avengers.

Princess Ida in Tennyson's poem The Princess.

the prophet Baruch in the Apocrypha. The sense is that Elizabeth-Jane was not considered a truly great beauty adulated by all.

quickset hawthorn hedges.

randy Scotch dialect: boisterous, fun-loving. The sense is that Donald's character is one that loves merry-making, as opposed to Henchard's more staid personality.

rantipole rubbish rough or boisterous language or verses sung to accompany a procession which contains an acted out scene of a man beating his wife ( the rantipole ride).

rheumy sniffling, runny-nose. The word refers to having a cold.

the Ring referring to Maumbury Rings in Dorchester, which served as the public gallows for the first half of the 18th century. Its history goes back many centuries. Under the Romans it was an arena for gladiatorial and wild beast displays. there is a certain unwholesome aura surrounding the Ring due to its history.

Rochefoucauld French author whose philosophy states that human conduct is motivated by selfishness.

rosette an ornament resembling a badge similar to a rose.

rouge-et-noir from the French: red and black.

Royal unicorn part of the Royal emblem, or coat-of-arms of Great Britain.

rub o't rub of it: a problem, hindrance, doubt.

ruddy polls ruddy — reddish, healthy glow; poll — top or back of the head. Hence shiny bald heads visible through the shutters of the Inn.

rummers a tall stemless glass for drinking.

sacrarium the sanctuary, or the place before the altar.

Samson shorn from Judges. A strong man who has been robbed of his strength.

scantling a little bit, a tiny piece.

schiedam gin (named after the town in Holland where it had been made).

Schwarzwasser black-water. It is also the name of a river in Poland (German).

seed-lips baskets for seeds.

sequestrated taken over for the purpose of settling claims.

sequestration seclusion.

"the Seven Sleepers had a dog" referring to a portion found in the Koran: Seven sleepers in a cave, and their dog the eighth.

"shaken a little to-year" disturbed or bothered this year.

Shallow and Silence in Shakespeare's King Henry IV, Part II. They are comic characters and serve as country justices of the peace.

"She'll wish her cake dough . . . " She'll wish she hadn't done it.

skimmity-ride skimmington-ride: a rowdy procession which is intended to make fun of a man whose wife is shrewish or unfaithful.

skipping on the small skipping in small "skips."

small table ninepenny cheap drinks.

sniff and snaff haven't agreed to more than accepting his gentlemanly attentions (especially in regard to matrimonial plans), would be the sense of the expression.

solicitus timor a worrisome fear (Latin).

sotto voce under one's breath, in a low voice (Italian).

spencer a bodice.

St. Helier large town in Jersey.

staddles a raised frame, or a platform used for stacking hay or straw to avoid contamination from moisture or vermin.

Stonehenge a famous monument dating back to prehistoric times, consisting of stone pillars placed in a circular fashion.

strook struck.

stunpoll stone head.

swingels part of a flail.

swipes weak beer.

terpsichorean figure Terpsichore, Greek Muse of the dance; figures in dance positions.

the Thames Tunnel completed in 1843. Hardy might be referring to toys that represented the tunnel. He might also be referring to the stereoscope, a viewing device that represented pictures in seemingly three-dimensional perspective.

thill horse the horse which is harnessed between the shafts of the wagon.

thimble-riggers tricksters, conjurers. The expression may refer to the trick of trying to guess under which of three thimbles a pea is hidden. The hand of the "thimble-rigger" was, of course, faster than the eye of the spectator.

Titian famous Venetian artist (1477-1576).

to close with Henchard to engage Henchard in combat.

to see that lady toppered to see that lady brought low — brought to shame.

trap a trap-door.

turmit-hit turnip-head, turnip-top, idiot.

twanking whining; in this sense weak and helpless.

varnished for 'natomies skeleton bones sold, varnished, and used in colleges or schools for the study of anatomy.

'vation salvation.

via road, path (Latin).

victorine a scarf worn over neck and shoulders.

viva voce by voice, oral; that is, Henchard kept almost no business books or records (Italian).

voot foot.

waggon-tilts the canvas coverings of wagons.

wambling weaving, wobbling.

was with child an old form of saying "was pregnant."

water-tights boots.

weir an obstruction or dam placed in a stream to divert or raise the waters.

well-be-doing a man who is well off, doing well.

Weltlust enjoyment or love of worldly pleasure (German).

"We've let back our strings . . ." We've loosened the strings (on the instruments).

Weydon-Priors a village in upper Wessex, probably the fictitious name for Weyhill in northwest Hampshire.

wheel ventilator a fan which revolves by the action of the wind.

wimbling boring a hole, or piercing as with a wimble.

winnowing machine a machine used to separate grain from the chaff.

wo'th a varden worth a farthing.

Yahoo in Gulliver's Travels, by Swift. An animal that looks like man, but behaves like a dumb, vicious beast.

yard of clay a long clay pipe.

"you son of a bee," "dee me if I haint" The constable does not want to swear in court.

"you would have zeed me!" you would have seen me.

zilver-snuffers silver snuffers; a snuffer is a scissors-like instrument used for clipping the wick of a candle.

zwailing swaying, shifting.