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

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Act I

Nominally [Nominally a despot]

In name only.

Viviparians [Ye South Pacific Island viviparians]

Viviparous refers to bringing forth living offspring rather than eggs. We may interpret viviparian as a creature so endowed. More specifically, any member of the human race will do. Gilbert was merely overreaching for a word to rhyme with barbarians and couldn’t twist the context to fit Rotarians. We shouldn’t try to read any deeper meaning into it.

Abstract [All, in the abstract, types]

“In theory rather than in practice” (290).

Types [types of courtly grace]

A meaning of the word that applies here is models of perfection (229).

Serried [In serried ranks assembles]

Shoulder to shoulder. If the expression sounds familiar, it should. See The Mikado.


Hurrah! (This seems to be pure Gilbertese.)

Logician [An eminent Logician]

An expert in logic, the science of reasoning.

Philologist [A marvellous Philologist]

Someone who is an expert in the science of language and knows all the meanings of words. You, too, will be a philologist after you have studied this book.

Scout [on any subject I can scout]

Reject with scorn, flout (250).

Solicitor [Depends on whose solicitor has given me my brief]

In this context a solicitor is a lawyer who acts as a middleman between a person involved in a higher court case and the barrister who will represent him or her in court. For a more complete explanation, see the entry “Barrister” in Trial By Jury.


A written outline of the facts in a court case. See also Trial By Jury.

County Council

See under “Characters” above.

Lord High Chamberlain

See entry for “Lord Chamberlain” under “Characters” above.

Presentations [and presentations scrutinize]

This can be interpreted in two ways: (i) any public showing, or (ii) formal introductions at the royal court. Lord Dramaleigh’s responsibilities (as already noted) include checking plays for moral content, but perhaps he also aspires to checking on the moral worth of individuals hoping to be presented at court.

County Rate

County tax.


Clean up.

And purify the Halls

Keep questionable entertainment out of the music halls.

Contango [Which teaches what Contango means and also Backwardation]

“In Stock Exchange parlance, the sum paid by the purchaser of stock to the seller, for the privilege of deferring the completion of the bargain till the next, or some future settling day” (54, 250). (The buyer is in effect betting that the market price will drop.)


Backwardation is the opposite of Contango. That is, it is a sum paid by the seller for the privilege of postponing completion of the transaction.

Leaven [a grand financial leaven]

One definition is: “Influence that, spreading silently and strongly, changes conditions” (290).