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

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Act II

To give the deuce her due

“Deuce” here is a euphemism for devil. “To give the devil his due” means to give a disliked person such credit as he (or, in this case, she) may merit (54).

O, jiminy

Jiminy is “a mild exclamation of surprise, emotion, or awe.” Possibly derived from Gemini (250).


Excessively affected or fastidious. The roots of the word are explained in Patience.

Millstone nether

Flour is made from grain that is ground between two stones (one of which is turning). The lower one is the “millstone nether.”

Leman [The lily-white laughing leman!]

Pronunciation: Rhymes with demon

A paramour in two syllables.

Corse [O cold unpleasant corse]

A corpse.

Chimerical [With fancies wild –– chimerical]

Pronunciation: keh-MEER-eh-kell

The chimera was a fabulous fire-breathing monster with a lion’s head, goat’s body, and a dragon’s tail; hence any wildly imaginative or impossible creation.

Countenance [never saw her countenance before]


Super [She’s as sulky as a super]

Short for “supernumerary,” a stage extra. Since many supers are thwarted would-be stars, one may expect them to be sulky. Stedman (273) notes that when Gilbert wrote reviews of plays he often made fun of supers who stood around like zombies instead of reacting to developments on stage.

Trooper [swearing like a trooper]

A cavalry soldier.

Tribulation [grief and tribulation]

Great trouble.


A colloquialism for a “commotion or uproar” (115).


A baroque version of “hub-bub,” meaning confused voice or voices (115).

A la mode [No doubt it’s an expression à la mode]

This has nothing to do with ice cream. It is French for “style” or “manner.” An expression à la mode is one that is new and possibly ephemeral.

Matrimonially matrimonified

Tauto-logically married (and perhaps one day to be divorcedly divorced).

Tol the riddle lol!

Nonsense words reflecting mock sorrow (12F).




Promotion. See also The Gondoliers.

Frump [Old frump]

A woman who is in shabby, out-of-date attire, and probably experiencing a bad hair day.

Civil death [that’s only a civil death]

An imaginary death based on a legal sleight-of-hand.


Blessing. See also Ruddigore and The Yeomen of the Guard.

Epithalamia [Let festive epithalamia resound]

Pronunciation: EPP-eh-thal-A-me-uh

Plural of epithalamium: “A nuptial song … especially among the Greeks and Romans” (75). Bradley (48) adds that the songs were performed by young men and women outside the door of the wedding chamber. One supposes the newlyweds had the foresight to plug the key hole.

Broach [Broach the exhilarating Marsala]

Open, or tap.


A wine from Marsala, in Sicily. Walters (301) tells us it is somewhat like Madeira wine. Our wino-readers will appreciate these details, we are sure.

Reck [you little reck]

An archaic term for “care” or “heed.” (Now you know the roots of “reckless.”) Gilbert is perhaps using it as short for “reckon” in the sense of understanding the value of something.

Fidgets [she fidgets me]

Read: she gets on my nerves, or she bugs me.

Plighted [every promise plighted]

A promise plighted is a promise promised or a pledge pledged. (Gilbert’s legal training is showing again.) In case you want to know, the word “plight” comes from the German Pflicht: duty.

Repining [No good ever came of repining]

Sad reflections on the past or present. See also The Yeomen of the Guard.

Viva [So viva Tomorrow!]

Pronunciation: vee-VAH

Roughly equivalent to “give three cheers.”