The Purple Dictionary of Historical Romance

When reading an historical romance, we are beguiled by the words that form the world our hero and heroine lives in. But what do all those words mean? If you’re anything like me, some of them cry out for translation. To facilitate easier reading, we have the honor of introducing The Purple Dictionary of Historical Romance. To fully appreciate this dictionary, one must read it after placing one’s tongue firmly in one’s cheek.

Barbarian – Non-Greek speaking person

Barons – In early times an iron rule stated that there are no good barons. Recently a few better ones have shown up, probably due to intermarriages. Barons believe in the combat, the whole combat and nothing but the combat.

Boar – Chatterbox, airhead, especially used about men.

Bodice – The upper, front part of feminine garments designed to be easily torn, or ripped, when handled, however lightly, by an attractive and marriageable man.

Bonnet – Dainty hat which covers most of the face in order to make the kissing of Ladies and Cits more of an adventure. A bonnet is excellent for keeping bees in it, in which case it also has a veil.

Bore – Wild swine, whose main food consists of hounds, hunters and their horses. Have tusks especially for this purpose, hence the name. The bore is commonly found trussed up and spitted in the kitchen or in the great fireplace of a medieval castle.

Cad – A kind of fish, cf cod-faced.

Chit – Voucher. During the Regency period a chit was necessary to enter the entertainment establishment of Almack’s, London.

Cit – A young and inexperienced girl, who wishes to make an advantageous marriage.

Cod piece – Fillet of cod, served rolled and protruding. Can be very filling.

Corded muscles – An older term for the muscular patterning which body builders try to achieve. The same effect can be accomplished by spraining, for instance a thigh.

Cousin – Relative, during the Regency period required to be stupid, greedy etc. The same personality required for stepbrothers, stepmothers etc.

Dastard – Villainous cad, but not so effective.

Deflowering – The weeding done by an incompetent gardener. Explains why English Ladies were always doing the gardening themselves, possibly with the expectation of meeting said gardener.

Destrier – First gay breed of horse, since they are all stallions.

Émigré – French immigrant to England after the French Revolution. Proves to have a Cockney background, and is mainly employed as a fashion designer and seamstress. Scarlet Pimpernel made a living rescuing Èmigrés. See Norman

Feisty – Descriptive of heroines wearing a so called madcap.

Flounce – 1) (verb) a feminine way of stalking off in a huff; 2) (noun) the edging of a dress that facilitates flouncing

Globes – Pairs of hemispheres attached to the front of females. Globes are larger and more protruding on female Villains. The word goblet derives from the diminutive globelet, a term for similarly shaped drinking vessels.

Hog – Pig, served grilled by medieval barons. Budget equivalent of Bore. Head emptied and used as a measure, cf. Hogshead of beer.

Hymen – A fraternal greeting

Lair – Correct term for a dragon’s home. Contains bedding of gold and other valuables. A prince should really marry a dragon instead of a princess – if he wanted to try her with a pea under a number of mattresses, a dragon who insists on sleeping on nothing but gold and jewelry should outrank such a tawdry creature by far!

Laird – Scottish for Lord. Not to be confused with lad or Lair

Lave – To wash by licking. Cats lave themselves.

Love grotto – Artificial cave, complete with tinkling waterfall, which pretentious parts of Regency nobility construct in their parks. Suitable for interludes.

Love juices – Drink which is served at the breakfast the morning after a romantic interlude.

Male Chauvinist Pig – A male Bore. Often attracted to excessive amounts of beer, see Hog.

Manroot – Carrot-shaped vegetable, reddish-purple. Becomes straighter when grown in the vicinity of Mound(s).

Moat – Donut-shaped pond that adorns a castle. Moats tend to be fairly shallow, but very muddy.

Mound – 1) Small pile of earth left in the garden by busy moles; 2) Ancient alternative to churchyard, often haunted. Mounds are commonly found in pairs, and tend to be cream colored, regardless of the type of soil at the location.

Norman – French immigrant to England during the Middle Ages. The Norman initially works in the military or serves the King. Later he turns to agricultural management and easy living. Marries only blonde English speaking heiress with lot of land, since there are no Norman ladies west of the English Channel. See Émigré.

Orbs – Pair of jewels adorning the heroine, often described as emerald or sapphire. There are no records of ruby orbs.

Pirate – Nautical bandit, wears sash around trim waist and a buckled swash. If he is not a hero, he may have a foul-mouthed parrot, an eye patch and a peg leg. No hero would ever risk leaving wood splinters along the heroine’s legs.

Rake – Long and rigid tool used for gardening. Cf deflowering.

Simper – The alluring smile used by female codfish to attract males and other prey. Often accompanied by a set of bubbles the scientists interpret as giggling.

Swash – A piece of attire attached to male garments by buckles. Has a habit of coming undone all the time, which provokes frantic action. Note: do not confuse with sash.

Throbbing – A series of bouncy blows struck while jousting. Cf thrusting.

Thrusting – Similar to throbbing, but with a straight forward motion. Mainly used with a lance.

Ton – The Regency society of ladies and gentlemen of such stature that corsets and whalebones had to be employed by its most prominent members, such as the Prince of Wales.

Viking – Early medieval pirate of Scandinavian origin. Renowned for his horned helmet and his furry vest, which is warm enough to allow him to go shirtless and thus display his pectorals even in winter.

Villain – Medieval agricultural laborer.

–Katarina Wikholm, editor

How accurate is this dictionary, and did your tongue stay firmly in cheeck or was your chipped after reading Katarina’s collection? Let us know on our Potpourri Message Board

Ferri Tales – There’s plenty of purple prose here! (And a return link to the PPP section as well)