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

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Act II

Sepulchral [ain’t his eyes sepulchral!]

Pertaining to sepulchers (graves) and by extension: deep and gloomy.

Bogy [Haunted by a technical bogy]

Pronunciation: Pronounce it with a hard g

A bogy is any sort of a frightening apparition. Ernest, being technically dead, is therefore a technical bogy. Rees (251) adds that Gilbert probably was punning on “technical bogy,” meaning a flaw in a carelessly drafted Act of Parliament or other regulation –– about equivalent to “technical boo-boo.” After all, it was an Act of Parliament, so to speak, that declared Ernest to be dead.

Chaff [but I don’t chaff bogies]

To tease or make fun of.

Dodge [the meanest dodge]

Colloquial for “a clever trick or ruse.”

Cry off [But you don’t mean to say that you’re going to cry off!]

British slang meaning to back out of an agreement.

Lay [won’t anything lay thee?]

Lay to rest, bury.

Gainsay [to deny or gainsay thee]

To contradict or dispute.

Spectre [So, spectre appalling]

Apparition or ghost.


State of being a ghost.

Magnum [In a magnum of merry champagne]

A two-quart bottle. (This entry and the next five are from a song by the baroness that is omitted in most versions of the libretto.)


A drinking song. See also The Sorcerer.

Bumpers [Come, bumpers –– aye ever so many]

A glass filled to the brim –– as in “pirate bumpers.”

Pommery [Pommery, seventy-four]

An 1874 vintage champagne of particular acclaim (and another anachronism).

Panacea [old wine is a true panacea]

Cure-all, from a Greek word meaning “universal remedy” (26).

Cut-orange ball [A sandwich and cut-orange ball]

Stedman (273) recalls that Dickens refers to sliced oranges with powdered sugar in Martin Chuzzlewit. The implication is that the baroness’s party was an austere affair.

A-poaching [Some rascal come a-poaching]

A variant on poaching: to intrude on another’s property, usually to take game or fish without permission.

Auric’lar [By word of mouth auric’lar]

Short for auricular: pertaining to the ear or hearing.


Theater extras for non-speaking roles or mob scenes.

Bated [in a whisper bated]

Abated, i.e., lessened.

Obdurate [an obdurate bootmaker]

Unyielding, pig-headed.

Train de luxe

Pronunciation: TREN duh LOOX

Luxurious train (French).

Job-lot [a pretty job-lot]

A “quantity of goods bought or sold together, often containing several different kinds of things usually of inferior quality” (290). Usually sold at a low price (56).

Tol-lol [I should say tol-lol, my love]

Just so-so (115).

Riviera [the Duke of Riviera]

A resort area and stretch of coast on the Mediterranean, encompassing south-eastern France and north-western Italy.

Sandwich boards

A pair of advertising posters carried front and back over the shoulders of some poor devil who is paid to parade them around town.


One interested in the scientific study of coins and medals (75). (The word is omitted from some editions.)

Prettily footed

Well danced.

Lead over [I’ll give you a lead over]

A broad hint.

Do you take?

Short for “Do you take my meaning?” (237).

Little doddle doddle

Tiny toddler.