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

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Act II

Socratic [in the period Socratic]

Pertaining to the Greek philosopher Socrates (469?-399 b.c.).

Recherché [on a recherché cold ἄριστον]

Pronunciation: ruh-SHARE-shay

French for “choice” i.e., tasty.

ἄριστον (ariston)

Pronunciation: AIR-iss-tahn or ah-RISS-tun

This transliterates ariston, meaning roughly “breakfast.” (66).

τρέπεσθαι πρός τόν πότον (trepesthai pros ton poton)

Pronunciation: TREPP-iss-tie prahs TAHN POT-ahn

Translates “Turn toward the drink, or to imbibe” (66). Gilbert explains it in the next line as [the way they went at] “a steady and a conscientious drink” in Attica.

Corybantian [Corybantian maniac kick]

Pronunciation: CORE-eh-BANN-tee-en

Refers to the Corybants, priests of the goddess Cybele, whose worship was conducted with wild orgies and frenzied dances.

Dionysiac or Bacchic

Pertaining to the alternative names for the Greek god of wine.


Refers to the dithyramb, an ancient Greek hymn sung at grape-harvesting festivals in honor of Dionysus. The inference can be made that this was no stately mass, but a wild and boisterous revel. Yesh indeed.

Mrs. Grundy

A character referred to (“What will Mrs. Grundy say?”) in Thomas Morton’s comedy Speed the Plough (1798). Her name has come to represent conventional mores (223).

Macintoshes [For they hadn’t macintoshes]

Coats made of a waterproof material invented by Charles Macintosh. Oddly enough, the preferred spelling in the OED (228) is “Mackintosh.” See also Ruddigore and Cox and Box.


What Americans call galoshes (from the French galoshe): waterproof overshoes that come up over the ankles. See also Thespis.

Played the very deuce

Played the very devil, i.e., caused great mischief.

Coan [their dress of Coan silk]

Pronunciation: Sounds more or less like “Cohen”

Refers to silk from the Greek island of Cos or Koa, just off the Turkish coast (103). As Ludwig leeringly points out, Coan silk was rather transparent and hardly fit for Victorian ladies’ attire.

“Altogether” [something like the “altogether”]

Being in the nude. It is supposedly derived from Middle English altogeder (11).

Assiduously [you must assiduously watch:]



Almond toffee; a kind of candy.

Hoity-toity [hoity-toity vixenish viragoes]

A colloquialism for “peremptory, waspish, and quarrelsome” (115). We might say “pretentious.”


Like a vixen, which is a female fox. The word as used here is a colloquialism for an ill-natured, snarling female.


Pronunciation: vih -RAY-goes or vih-RAH-goes

Bad-tempered, scolding women. (The phrase “hoity-toity vixenish viragoes” forms a prolix plethora of tautologies arising from Gilbert’s legal training.) See also Princess Ida.




Pronunciation: IN-jen-oo

Sketch of an Ingenoo

Ingénue: An actress who plays the role of an artless, naive young woman.