Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for The Grand Duke

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Act I

Muckled [the more I muckled]

Webster (306) tells us that muckle is a variation of mickle, one meaning of which is Scottish slang for “talking with a big mouth.” Another dictionary (108) defines mucklemouthed as “Having a large mouth.”

Fell [What folly fell]



A bungler. See also Utopia, Limited.

Candle snuff

“The charred or partly consumed portion of a candlewick” (250).

Gibbet [upon the Castle gibbet]

Pronunciation: JIB-ett

A frame for hanging criminals. It could be used either as a device for execution or for exhibiting those already dead. A good place to avoid in either event.


Italian for “duel.”

Parliamentary draftsman

A person who devises the wording for laws (142). See also Iolanthe.


Pronunciation: FAWL-shuns

A falchion is a short broad, curved sword, somewhere between a saber and a scimitar in shape. More generally: any sword. The word is derived from the Latin word for “sickle” (250).

Exigence [When exigence of rhyme compels, Orthography forgoes her spells:]

Urgent need.


The art of spelling. If you look carefully at the context again, you may smell a neat pun –– which I won’t spell out.



Legal fiction

Something assumed under the law even though it is obviously untrue in any literal sense. See also The Gondoliers.

Ipso facto [Dies, ipso facto, a social death]

Automatically. This is Latin for “by the act itself.”

Revising Barrister

“A barrister who was appointed to revise lists of voters in parliamentary elections. While this responsibility was vested, in 1896, in specially appointed barristers, it has since been transferred to other officials” (243).



King’s evidence [He is accepted as King’s evidence]

“British Law, evidence for the crown given by an accused person against his alleged accomplices” (250). In the United States it is called state’s evidence.


Vile and unprincipled scoundrel. The sort of blighter who would curse at his wife without first removing his hat.

Field of honour

The site where men may duel to defend their “honour.”

Mould [Each is laid in churchyard mould]

Soft, rich earth, gently mellowed by all those mouldering bodies.

Suppose [Who’d suppose the method old!]

In this context the expression means “Who would consider the old method?” That is one meaning of “suppose” (250).

Rubs [Fortune’s rubs]

“Rub” is a colloquialism for a difficulty or an obstacle (115). Hyder (162) reminds us of “ay, there’s the rub,” from Hamlet’s soliloquy (Act III, Scene I).

Troth [may keep their troth]

Wedding vows.

Prig [a miserable prig]

Someone who makes a big show of virtue. As Johnson (165) defines it: “A pert, conceited, saucy, pragmatical little fellow.”

Dissemble [We must dissemble]

Disguise the truth. See also HMS Pinafore.

Bread and cheese

The bare necessities of life (54). See also The Gondoliers.

Autonomy [of monarchial autonomy]


Bonhomie [I don’t indulge in levity or compromising bonhomie]

Pronunciation: Anglicize to rhyme with autonomy. Sorry!

French for “cheerful comradeship.”

Jape [I don’t see joke or jape any]

“Joke” and “jape” mean pretty much the same thing: a jest.


Pronunciation: …-HAY-p’ny

An Englishman’s way of saying “two-and-a-half cents.” It is a common expression implying disdain (234).

Snuff box

A small container for powdered tobacco. The powder, when inhaled, induces sneezing. It was often attended with elaborate ceremonial flourishes.