Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for Ruddigore

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Enter part of a term; e.g., "gill" for Gillow's.

Act II


Valet-de-chambre, i.e., personal servant. Only in comic operas do we find a pure and blameless peasant who can afford one of these.

Steward [As steward I'm now employed]

Estate manager.

Dickens [The dickens may take him]

A euphemism for the devil. Shakespeare used the word in The Merry Wives of Windsor (115).

Paramount [a … man's oath is paramount]

Of supreme importance.

Creep under my lee

Come under my protection.

Immure [would immure ye in an uncomfortable dungeon]

Imprison. Did you need to be told that the dungeon would be uncomfortable?

Union Jack

The national flag of the United Kingdom, comprising the superimposed crosses of St. George, St. Andrew, and St. Patrick. "Jack" has many meanings, one of which is a flag flown on a ship to show her nationality.

Solicitous [we're solicitous very]

Eager and concerned.


A slippery way of wiggling out of a difficult situation.

Cloying [from your cloying guiltiness]

Satiated, perhaps even disgustingly so.


A wretched coward. It may be derived from the French poltron or the Italian poltro, both meaning lazy (75).


Gilbert's creative word meaning a person who is squeamish, i.e., easily shocked or sickened.

Grisly [set on thee his grisly hand]

Gruesome, inspiring horror.

Hearsèd [Dead and hearsèd, all accursèd!]

Carried off in a hearse. This is from one of the first-night choruses no longer used (3).


A ghost or apparition.

Alas, poor ghost!

Here Robin, in speaking to his uncle's ghost, echoes a remark made by Hamlet to his father's ghost. Hyder (162) labels this "a bit of Gilbertian whimsy."

Chimney cowls

Hooded tops for chimneys.

Funeral shrouds

Winding sheets for corpses, and popular every-night attire for ghosts.

Footpads [when the footpads quail]

Robbers who travel the highways on foot. One meaning of "pad" is a highwayman, i.e., a highway robber (250).

Fen [the mists lie low on the fen]

Low marshy land or bog.