John Defined

Pope John XXI, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Pope John XXI, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Among the long line of disastrous JOHNs is a list of popes ranging from JOHN I to JOHN XXIII. Many of these JOHNs were either nonentities or suffered some sort of bad luck. For instance, Pope JOHN I died in jail, as did JOHN X, JOHN XI, and JOHN XIV. At least one JOHN, Pope JOHN XII, was assassinated and Pope JOHN XXI (who decided to skip XX and become XXI) was crushed to death when his apartment at the papal palace at Viterbo collapsed, crushing him. There was also Pope JOHN VIII who was imprisoned by a duke, later mocked for his effeminacy, and finally poisoned to death.

But Popes named JOHN were not the only unlucky ones. There was also a slew of royalty named JOHN that suffered calamities or bad luck. For instance, JOHN STUART ascended the throne in Scotland in 1390 and changed his name to Robert (becoming Robert III of Scotland) but that did not stop the calamities and infirmities that befell him. JOHN OF ENGLAND suffered a bad reign resulting in the baronial revolt that ultimately resulted in his sealing the Magna Carta. There is also Yohannes IV, Emperor of Ethiopia, but known as KING JOHN to the English, who suffered bad luck. As he was fighting the Madhis in 1889 and victory was going his way, he behaved rashly, went behind enemy lines, and died from a mortal wound. Continue reading

Jane Austen’s Vocabulary From Northanger Abbey

Catherine Morland at the Pump Room, Northanger Abbey
Catherine Morland at the Pump Room, Public Domain

Northanger Abbey was one of the first books Jane Austen completed. It was originally published as Memorandum, Susan, but later changed, retitled, and the character Susan renamed Catherine. After Austen died, the book was retitled again and published in December of 1817 as Northanger Abbey. As with all of Austen’s books, Northanger Abbey transports the reader to another world. Austen accomplishes this with delightful, descriptive, and interesting words, and fifteen select words from Northanger Abbey are below:

Auspices: Omen.
Chapter 2: “Under these unpromising auspices, the parting took place, and the journey began.” Continue reading

Jane Austens Vocabulary From Mansfield Park

Mary Crawford Plays Her Harp, Public Domain
Mary Crawford Plays Her Harp, Public Domain

Mansfield Park was Jane Austen’s third novel. It was published in 1814 and is likely her most controversial novel because of Fanny Price, a character who some nineteenth century readers found timidity, priggish, and unlikable. Additionally, while it is a morally wholesome novel, Austen avoided many of the important issues of the day, such as the Napoleonic War, the Industrial Age, and abolishing the slave trade.

While Austen may have been indifferent to the happenings in the outside world, the world she created inside her book took readers on a journey of of love and romance. Helping in this romantic endeavor were the interesting words she chose when writing her book. Fifteen of the words found in Mansfield Park are described and defined below. Continue reading

Jane Austen’s Vocabulary From Persuasion

Anne Elliott and Henrietta Musgrove, Public Domain
Anne Elliott and Henrietta Musgrove, Public Domain

Jane Austen’s Persuasion was published posthumously in 1818. This novel focuses on the fashionable watering-place of Bath and is different from some of Austen’s other books because of the biting satire directed at some of the novel’s characters.

In Persuasion, Austen also demonstrates brilliantly how women are at the mercy of males. Similar to Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, the heroine, Anne Elliot, leaves behind her old life and her old connections. She also marries for love and thereby gains a stimulating intellectual, social, and emotional life worthy of her character.

To more fully appreciate Austen and her ability to create a moving love story, despite the novel’s simple plot, it helps to look at her word choice. Therefore, fifteen interesting words from Austen’s Persuasion are defined and quoted below: Continue reading

Regency Horse Terms H-Z

Regency horse
Hackney Coach, Author’s Collection

HACKNEY was a term used to refer to a hired horse that pulled a carriage.
Any horse that was not a thoroughbred was known as a HALF-BRED.
A HANDGALLOP refers to a slow easy gallop.
The part of the bridle that covered the head was known as the HEADSTALL.
A horse was said to be HIDEBOUND when its skin stuck so hard to its ribs and back you could not pull it up or loosen it.
A person who tamed horses to the saddle was known as a HORSEBREAKER.
Continue reading

Regency Horse Terms A-G

Ballotade, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Ballotade, Courtesy of Wikipedia

AIRS or AIRS OF A HORSE were certain equestrian movements or cadence made by a horse for pleasure or for self-defense and involved the horse being off the ground.
An AMBLE was an intermediate horse gait and slower than a canter.
AMBLE FREE was a horse that ambled but without a halter.

BALLOTADE was one such air position where the horse was off the ground. In this instance, the horse’s forefeet were drawn up (as if leaping) and its back feet raised to show its shoes. See illustration to the right.
A carriage for training horses was called a BRAKE.
The BRIDLE HAND is a horseman’s left hand
A BRUSH GALLOP implied a very fast gallop but not equal to the horse’s topmost speed. Continue reading

Jane Austen’s Vocabulary From Emma

Emma, Public Domain
Emma, Public Domain

Emma was a novel that Jane Austen first published in December of 1815. Similar to Austen’s other novels, it is about a genteel woman of the Georgian-Regency Era and the follies of love. The lead character, meddlesome Emma Woodhouse, is described as “handsome, clever, and rich,” but she is also full of youthful hubris. While some critics at the time found the book lacking in story, it is packed with interesting words, and 15 of those words are define and quoted below:

Acquiesced: Accept something reluctantly but without protest.
Chapter 55: “She could not bear to see him suffering, to know him fancying himself neglected; and though her understanding almost acquiesced in the assurance of both the Mr. Knightleys, that when once the event was over, his distress would be soon over too, she hesitated — she could not proceed.” Continue reading

Jane Austen’s Vocabulary From Sense and Sensibility

François-Antoine de Boissy d’Anglas
The Dashwood Sisters

Jane Austen wrote English romance fiction in the early 1800s. Among her more popular books was Sense and Sensibility. It is a novel written in 1811 about the Dashwood sisters—Elinor and Marianne. The story is set in the late 1700s and examines the sister’s romances, loves, and heartbreaks. This novel, similar to other Austen novels, contains words that help to engage the readers and transport them back to those times. Fifteen of the more interesting words used in this novel are listed below:

Abstruse: Obscure or difficult to understand.
Chapter 19: “‘But I had no inclination for the law, even in this less abstruse study of it, which my family approved.'” Continue reading

Jane Austen’s Vocabulary From Pride and Prejudice

Picture of Jane Austen Drawn by Her Sister Cassandra, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Picture of Jane Austen Drawn by Her Sister Cassandra, Courtesy of Wikipedia

The English novelist Jane Austen is a powerful force in history, both with scholars and critics. Her works of romantic fiction have made her one of the most widely read English authors. Part of Austen’s success can be related to her use of words, which encourage readers to read and reread her books. Some of the wonderful words found in Austen’s 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice are listed below:

Alacrity: Brisk and cheerful readiness.
Chapter 55: “Yes, he had no engagement at all for to-morrow; and her invitation was accepted with alacrity.” Continue reading

Popular Millinery and Millinery Ornament Terms for the 1870s

Millinery 1870s, Author's Collection
Millinery 1870s, Author’s Collection

aigrette—a French word used to denote the plume or feathery tuft on top of a bird’s head. “Hence the term came to…designate the long, delicate…feathers which being stuck upright in a lady’s headdress…[gave] a majestic appearance to the person.” The word also came to be associated with jeweled ornaments shaped as feathers and worn on a woman’s head during the eighteenth century, but, by the nineteenth century, almost any plume, even if flowers, were noted to be an aigrette. Additionally, during the nineteenth century, an aigrette was attached to a woman’s hat during the day and worn alone as a headdress at night.
Alsatian—refers to the Alsace region of France and was sometimes spelled Alsacian in the 1800s.
Alsatian bow—a flat, enormous bow with a loose knot. Continue reading