Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for Utopia, Ltd.

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Act I

Cull [cull the roses]

Select the best and leave the rest.

Poses [our King no longer poses]

This is one of the tougher nuts to crack in the lexicographic vise. It is a word of many meanings. The one that seems best to fit the context is “to rest” (229). In short, the King is now up and about and ready to greet his subjects.

Far niente [Sing the songs of far niente!]

Short for dolce far niente, the Italian expression for “sweet idleness.”

Ireland [some add––but others do not ––Ireland]

This is presumably an allusion to the long-festering question of Irish independence. Huston (158) mentions that shortly before the opera was written the House of Lords defeated a bill that would have given Ireland some political autonomy.

Finished [who have been ‘finished’ by an English lady]

Finish is used in the sense of perfecting something, as in a finishing school where girls learn the social graces.

Furlongs [By furlongs far]

A furlong is one-eighth of a mile, or 220 yards. The term is archaic, but still used in horse racing (294).


George Eastman’s earliest cameras (which he named “Kodaks”) appeared in 1888 and were advertised with the slogan “You press the button, we do the rest” (89). This is why Gilbert has Nekaya and Kalyba sing, “… you only need a button press –– and we do all the rest.”

Ranger [Bold-faced ranger]
Sketch of Go away, young bachelor!

A rover or wanderer (228).

Settlements [Hints at settlements]

Equivalent to marriage contracts, with clauses protecting the rights of both parties. In this case the emphasis is on the wife’s rights if she becomes a widow.


The formal meaning pertains to worthless matter. Stedman (273) points out, however, that the word was often used to mean money –– especially by Gilbert’s characters who pretended to despise it. Belinda in Engaged is such a one.

Toss [they toss!]

Flip a coin.

Cogent [this cogent moral]

Powerful and convincing, like this lexicon.


The underlying meaning of a story or lesson.

Manet King

A stage direction meaning the king stays on stage.

Junius Junior

See text under “Senex Senior” below.

Senex Senior

Senex is Latin for “old man.” Cameron (66) adds these comments: “Adding Senior is a pleonastic joke. The reference is to the pseudonymous letters to the Times (like the famous letters of Junius) signed with Latin designations.”

Ribald [“Ribald Royalty”]

Indecent, scurrilous, vulgar, and irreverent –– all rolled into one.

Mephistopheles [Mephistopheles Minor]

Faust’s devil or any other fiend.

Trenchant [Biting, trenchant sarcasm]


Sub-acid [delicately sub-acid, are they not?]

A bit tart, but not overdone.