Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for Cox and Box

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Evolution [there’s one evolution I should much like to see you perform]

A planned military movement.

Venerable [to get rid of that venerable warrior]

Worthy of respect by virtue of advanced years.

Rasher [I’ve got a rasher of bacon]

A thin slice.

Penny roll

An inexpensive roll; the smallest item of bread one may buy in a bakery. See also The Grand Duke.

Purloins [he purloins my coals]



A metal cooking device consisting of a frame supporting closely-spaced parallel bars, used to hold food over a fire.

Nid [Soon I’ll be nodding, nodding, nid]

One dictionary (108) assures us that this means “to nod slightly,” and quotes Burns as writing, “We’re a’ noddin, nid nid noddin.”

Phiz [on showing my phiz in his shop]

Short for “physiognomy,” or face.

Brighton [Visions of Brighton and back, and of Rosherville]

A well-known seaside resort in Sussex county. An English friend once told me it was a popular place for a “dirty weekend.”


The British cultural equivalent of Coney Island, later made famous by John Wellington Wells. See The Sorcerer.

Squash [already the squash I feel]

The press of the crowd.

Mackintosh [put on my mackintosh I will!]

A raincoat made of two layers of cloth held together by something like rubber cement. The fabric was invented by Charles Macintosh (1766-1843), who, you may notice, spelled his name without the K in the middle. See also Ruddigore and Cox and Box.

Dejunay [Now for my breakfast, my light dejunay]

Pronunciation: day-djun-A

A corruption of déjeuner, the French word for “lunch.” A “light dejunay” means breakfast.


An archaic oath, presumably a corruption of God’s wounds.

Tinder [lights it with a piece of tinder]

Usually scorched linen impregnated with saltpeter; used for kindling a fire from a spark.

Vociferate [I’ll instantly vociferate “Police!”]


Animosity [no violent animosity]

Strong hatred.

Antipathy [any rooted antipathy to you]

Intense dislike.

Mead [The buttercup dwells in the lowly mead]


Lay [to sing my lay]

A short poem intended to be sung.

Floweret [The floweret shines on the minaret fair]

A modest young flower, like Mad Margaret’s poor lonely violet in that nest of weeds and nettles.


One of those slender towers of a mosque from which the Islamic faithful are called to prayer. The word is derived from the Spanish word for “lighthouse.” Use that to impress your friends.


You may already know that this is a flower of the aster family. Perhaps you would also like to know that it was named for the eighteenth century Swedish botanist Anders Dahl.

Cockchafer [The cockchafer sighs in the midnight air]

A variety of beetle (of the coleopterous clan), well known in England.

Dicky bird

Any small bird (but none more famous than the one whose suicide is recounted by Ko-Ko).


A small musical instrument somewhat like an accordion.

Opera hat

A man’s tall silk hat, which can be collapsed. The stage directions call for Cox to play on the gridiron like a guitar, while Box uses an opera hat in imitation of a concertina.

Bradshaw [Have you read this month’s Bradshaw, sir?]

This line, following a tender serenade, is a gross non sequitur. The literary work to which Box refers is the British railroad timetable, Bradshaw’s Railway Guide, which was printed at monthly intervals from 1841 to 1961. My reference is a more interesting Bradshaw (50) slightly modified by (56). The turnabout here is based on the typical, stern Victorian husband who would not allow his wife to read spicy novels. Here’s a wife who won’t let her husband read a timetable. Sorry to beat this joke to death; let’s press on.

Bathing machines
Sketch of Penelope Ann Wiggins, Ltd., bathing machine

A horse-drawn wheeled vehicle used as a dressing room by modest Victorian bathers to enter the water without having to parade across the beach.

Defunct [I’ve been defunct for the last three years!]

Dead or extinct.