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

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Act I


People who might be described as dissolute, depraved, abandoned to vice, and shamelessly immoral. Individuals of this desription have never been known to form G&S societies.

Double-first [Double-first in the world’s university]

Rees (254) explains the term in these words:

“The last year of study for a Baccalaureate (the ‘Honours’ year) ends with an examination in which the marks are not revealed. Instead the candidates are graded into First Class, Upper Second, Lower Second, Third Class and Unclassified. A double-first would mean receiving top grades in two Honours classes. Not bad!” The OED (228) defines double first as “A place in the first class in each of two final examinations in different subjects.” (“Subjects” here means a broad field such as theology or science.) Several authorities (116, 142, 173, 245, 257, 271) endorse the OED definition. Others (98, 314) aver that the examinations are not necessarily in two different fields, but occur in successive years––about equivalent to the junior and senior years in an American university. Everyone can agree, however, that “Double-first in the world’s university” means being a world-class intellectual wizard.

Cornucopia [Cornucopia is each in his mental fertility]
Sketch of Scaphio & Phantis

Any abundant, overflowing supply. Based on classical mythology, it was “a horn containing food, drink, etc. in endless supply, said to have been a horn of the goat Amalathaea or of the goat belonging to the nymph Amalathaea, or of Achelous, who lost it when he fought in the form of a bull with Hercules” (250). Now there is a cornucopia of useless information.

Lore [In every mental lore]

Knowledge or learning.

‘Utility’ [We’re wasted on ‘utility’]

Playing miscellaneous minor roles in theatrical productions.

Illicities [Upon our King’s illicities]

Unlawful, dishonest, or immoral acts.

Auriculars [A pound of dynamite explodes in his auriculars]


P’s and Q’s [He minds his P’s and Q’s]

A colloquialism: “To be careful or circumspect in behavior; to be exact” (115). Nobody knows the origin of the term.

Brewer (54) suggests four alternatives: (i) an admonition to children in learning the alphabet to be careful not to mix the lower-case P’s and Q’s, (ii) a similar admonition to printers’ apprentices when handling type, (iii) a saloon keeper’s accounting shorthand: P for pints, Q for quarts, and (iv) during the reign of Louis XIV dancing masters would warn their pupils to mind their P’s (i.e., pieds, feet) and Q’s (i.e., queues, wigs) lest the latter fall off when executing a deep bow. Atkinson (14) suggests that English lawyers are expected to appear in court properly fitted with perukes (wigs), and a century ago would also have needed quill pens to record the proceedings. If their work involved much travel, they had to take particular care that they damaged neither perukes (P) nor quills (Q), since replacements might be hard to find in the hinterlands. Had enough? Let’s move on.

Requited [is your affection requited?]

Returned in like kind and equal measure.

Royal shoes

Presumably an allusion to King Paramount.

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.