Regency and Research

Glossary of Wacky Words I Love (And Use)

This week’s post is technically just about the Regency Period. Instead, I wanted to provide a brief glossary of words I enjoy, and which I use (sometimes to the confusion of others).ย  Please forgive my definitions, as any mistakes are certainly my own.

Bow Street – reference to the Bow Street Runners or Bow Street offices, which were formed in the late eighteenth century and disbanded by 1827 with the arrival of the London Metropolitan Police. They were somewhere between a private detective company, thief-takers, and formed one of the primary methods of crime investigation prior to Robert Peel’s Metropolitan Police.

breeches – a type of men’s clothing, these were often a very tight pair of pants (guess skinny jeans have brought that back), and if “knee-breeches” came just below the knee, often help up with bracing. Black breeches were an essential part of formal attire for a good portion of the Regency era, especially in more conservative settings, before thankfully being replaced by black trousers (thanks to the style of Beau Brummel).

chocolate house – chocolate finally reached England in the 1650s, and the cost meant it was a treat only for the wealthy. There were shops dedicated to serving this as a beverage (the drink formed from blocks of solid cocoa), served alongside ale, beer, snacks, and coffee. One of the most famous Gentleman’s Clubs, White’s, originated as a chocolate house when it first opened in 1693.

flip – a hearty drink consisting of beer plus some variety of stronger alcohol mixed with sugar than energized by a red-hot iron thrust into the middle of it.

gold sovereign – not just gold-painted royalty (sorry, couldn’t resist), this was a description for a one pound coin, a decent amount of money at the time.

greatcoat – although this can reference other types of men’s clothing, when I use it inย  a Regency setting this refers to a multi-caped long coat (with sleeves, it wasn’t a cape) that was an essential in most Regency bucks wardrobes. This is a generic term, describing coats that were long and room, had big pockets, and were usually waterproof (handy in London).

hell – in Regency terms, this could refer to both the Christian hell, and a place of gaming and vice, that is, a “gaming hell.”

rake – not useful for clearing leaves, this was a slang term for men during the Regency (a shortened form of “rakehell”) who were known for their vices, especially seducing and bedding numerous women. From this reputation, despite the modern romantic connotations, I suspect they were also rife with various STDs.

sidhe – in the most basic of terms, a fairy. Pronounced “see-lee.” This harkens back to mythology and different groups of fairies, amongst them the Tuatha, and you had the “seelie” and “unseelie” court.

The Watch – Another form of law enforcement / prevention in England and London.ย  These were men who were on guard to “watch” for crime and take reports of fires and other crime when it came to them in their watch-boxes, positioned throughout London. While they had a reputation for being inept and essentially useless, there were some men within the Watch who were very effective at their duty.

topper – another slang term used to describe a beaver hat, ie the classic black top hat.

รผber – actually a German word, but used in informal English as a prefix usually for emphasis. It means above, over, or across, but can also be meant as the best, ultimate, superiority or excess.

So what about you – any favorite words? What about those that people confuse or misunderstand all the time? Do share, so then we won’t make the same mistake!

Thanks for reading, and wishing you a fantastic week.

Regency and Research

Strange But Fun Research Books

I’m taking a break from the Regency for this week and instead showing off some of my favorite weird-ass books that I have on my shelves for research. You know the kind: they’re kind of unexpected, they’re not exactly the kind of book you use as everyday reference, they can become an enormous time-suck, but boy are they fun to poke around in. Yep, some of those. ๐Ÿ™‚

weaponsbookThe Complete Encyclopedia of Arms and Weapons. Eds. Leonid Tarassuk & Claude Blair.

This dear book has been a long and dutiful friend, ever handy when I’m feeling rather blood-thirsty. It’s an old guy that I picked up at a library book sale, but it’s a great reference for actually looking up weapons … or if you just want to compare different suits of armor, or maybe look for a neat-looking dagger your heroine might use. Or you know, play. ๐Ÿ™‚

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: Dungeon Master Guide: Arms and Equipment Guide.

I confess that I haven’t used this book as often as I might, but when a friend’s hubby said he was giving away books, well, first, who says no to a free book? and second, this one looked handy when it came to describing things I wasn’t familiar with. There are lots of pictures and descriptions of those pictures so you can understand what different weapons are, different costumes, etc. Again, a fair bit of fun to thumb through.

bodylangThe Definitive Book of Body Language. By Allan and Barbara Pease.

This was purchased in relation to writing, and because it was really interesting when I read through it somewhat randomly the first time (have no idea why I picked it up). As well as being handy for understanding body language so you can write about it, try reading it and then go out for dinner with friends, or especially with people you don’t know very well. It’s great fun all dinner long to read what their body language is saying, so much more interesting than the conversation. ๐Ÿ™‚

You Can Read Anyone: Never Be Fooled, Lied To, or Taken Advantage of Again. By David J. Lieberman.

Yep, I got hooked on body language books, which is why I followed up the Peases’ book with this one. Also interesting, it delves into a bit more detail, and is especially used for kind of criminal profiling – though it also goes into why a read can be flawed on the basis of nervousness, etc. I, for example, swear I look like the most guilty person in the airport, because though I’m not doing anything wrong, I’m terrified I’ll be caught doing something and miss my flight.

bookromeTraveller’s Guide to the Ancient World: Rome in the Year AD 300. By Ray Laurence.

This was a bargain pick-up, and because someday, I swear I’m going to write a book with Ancient Rome in it. This one is a lot of fun because it’s formatted just like a modern travel book, which makes is super easy to find all kinds of information you’d be hard pressed to otherwise. I haven’t read – or double-checked – the sources and authenticity since I haven’t had to, but if you want it for actual reference, that would probably be a good idea. I’m not entirely certain how factual it is, but it is fun.

A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits. By Carol K. Mack and Dinah Mack.

I did mention these were weird and rather random books, right? This is an interesting book in how it’s written – as though you’re actually out encountering or hunting down demons. A bit strange, but definitely interesting for the perspective.

Planet Cat: A cat-alog. By Sandra Choron, Harry Choron, and Arden Moore.planetcat

I like cats, which is where this book originates. But I found, to my surprise, that it’s also a great source for weird cat-trivia which could come in handy if you happen to have a feline character. There’s tons of myth, famous cats, history, cat in context to said history, that sort of thing. No, you probably aren’t going to find a use for most (all?) of the info in here, but more fun than you’d probably expect.

birthdayencycThe Element Encyclopedia of Birthdays: know your birthday, discover your true personality, reveal your destiny. By Theresa Cheung.

Ah, and at last we end on my favorite weird-ass book. It grabbed the attention of my husband and I in the bookstore, and despite it’s price tag, it came home with us. It’s also often flipped through by friends when they see it, and I confess to looking up most of my friends and family to see what it has to say. (Oh, and characters for books too – though again, less research, more play.)

So what the heck is it, you ask? It’s an encyclopedia of birthdays, breaking it down by zodiac, numerology and other systems, so you can look at general “sign” information, as well as just look up your birthday and read an assessment of your personality. For example, if your birthday were today, July 26, you’d find (p297):

“this is the birthday of self-assurance.

“People born on July 26 tend to be charming and strong individuals with an almost unshakable belief in themselves. … Other people tend to listen when these dominant personalities speak because they have an air about them which others respect and admire. … From the age of twenty-seven, they have an increasing desire for more practical order, efficiency, and analysis in their lives. In the years that follow, it is important for their pscyhological growth that they don’t become over-confident …”

“On the dark-side: over-confident, tactless, uncompromising.”

“At your best: honest, authoritative, confident.”

Neat, huh? Trust me, lots of time can vanish just playing with this book.

So, what are your favorite weird-ass books – whether they live in your home or not? Why do they make your list? What makes them special?

Thanks for reading, and speaking of vanishing time, I better get back to work. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you have a great week, and hey, if you liked this post, why not follow the blog? Have a good one. ๐Ÿ™‚