Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for Ruddigore

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Act I

To'-gall'n'm'st [strong as a to'-gall'n'm'st]

Pronunciation: tah-GAL-en-mist

Topgallant mast: the third (usually uppermost) segment of a mast above the deck. See drawing of nautical terms in HMS Pinafore, Item No. 13.

Fore-stay [taut as a fore-stay]

Part of the standing (i.e., non-moving) rigging of a ship, which prevents a mast from falling back. See drawing of nautical terms in HMS Pinafore, Item No. 2.


Dialectal for "baronet."

Diffident [I'm timid, Dick; shy -- nervous -- modest -- retiring -- diffident]

There! Gilbert has defined it for you.

Binnacle light

Compass light.

Bowline [sail ten knots on a bowline]

Pronunciation: BO-len

Drawing of Sailing on a bowline

To make good progress even when beating up wind. Sailing on a bowline means sailing close-hauled. Ten knots would be a little over eleven statute miles per hour, not bad for a sailing ship.

Becalmed under my lee [when she's becalmed under my lee]

Read when I'm in a position to speak to her.

Fish [fish you two together]

To splice or join, i.e., marry.


Rude, pushy, quarrelsome, and overly self-oriented. Not at all like you, dear reader.

Bos'n's mate

Pronunciation: BO-sun's mate

A sailor's way of saying "boatswain's mate." A boatswain is a non-commissioned officer who supervises work, usually as ordered by a higher ranking officer. A boatswain's mate is his assistant. But, how does Robin happen to know Richard's rank? This suggests that one of his sleeves should carry some sort of distinguishing emblem.

Addled [And hampered and addled]

Confused. If my dictionary (250) is telling the truth, the word derives from a cognate with an old German word meaning liquid manure. Isn't that romantic! See also Iolanthe.

Crichton [A Crichton of early romance]

Pronunciation: CRY-tun

James Crichton ("the Admirable Crichton"), a Scottish scholar, adventurer, and linguist of the sixteenth century. A true genius and a gentleman. A more complete sketch is to be found in Iolanthe.

Stump [You must stir it and stump it]

To boast or swagger, also to make stump speeches (115).

Blow your own trumpet

Alludes to the heralds who used to announce with a flourish of trumpets a knight entering a list (55).

Ovid [From Ovid and Horace to Swinburne and Morris]

Pronunciation: AH-vid

A Roman poet who lived from 43 B.C. to about A.D. 18. For details turn to Iolanthe under the heading "Ovidius Naso."


Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65-8 b.c.): Another famous Roman poet.


Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909): English poet and critic. One of the aesthetes whose mindless followers were lampooned in Patience.


William Morris (1834-1896): Another well-known Pre-Raphaelite. Although best remembered for his designs of furnishings, wall paper, and furniture, he was a poet as well. He and Swinburne both lived long after the time of the supposed setting for the opera: "Early in the nineteenth century." But, no matter.

Port Admiral

The naval officer in charge of managing a naval fleet stationed in a given harbor. He would assign mooring locations, arrange for supplying water and stores, and oversee necessary maintenance and repairs.

Tight [she's a tight little craft]

Carefully built, i.e., neat and shapely; in no way resembling a sack full of old shoes.