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Term Definition Source
Abigail A lady's maid. Named for a character in Beaumont and Fletcher's The Scornful Lady. www.thenonesuch.com
Activities Of The Ton Types of Social Events Enjoyed by the Ton
Balls - a social assembly for the purpose of dancing;
Card-party - gathering of friends to play whist, basset and other games of chance;
Garden party - breakfast out of doors;
Masquerade - considered a rather daring party;
Musicale - social entertainment with music as the leading feature;
Rout - a fashionable gathering or assembly, a large evening party or reception;
Soiree - an evening party;
Water-party - on a boat with pauses to view gardens;
Venetian breakfast - an afternoon party that could last well into evening.
Gambling.  When one consideres the leisure pursuits of the ton, gambling, in its many forms, cannot be ignored.  For those with a serious addiction to gambling, a game of hazard, faro or even whist at a gentleman's club could result in entire fortunes lost and social ruin.  Failure to pay a gambling debt, at least to an aristocratic creditor, was a serious dishonor.  
Affair Of Honor  A duel. www.candicehern.com
Almack'S Assembly rooms on King Street in London. Private, very exclusive subscription balls were held there each Wednesday night of the Season. Its important patronesses (in 1814 they were Lady Castlereigh, Lady Jersey, Lady Cowper, Lady Sefton, Mrs. Drummond-Burrell, Princess Esterhazy, and Countess Lieven) determined who was allowed to purchase subscription vouchers. Captain Gronow called Almack's "the seventh heaven of the fashionable world," and said, "The gates were guarded by the lady patronesses whose smiles or frowns consigned men and women to happiness or despair. --- In Miss Lacey's Last Fling, Rosie scandalized the patronesses by dancing the waltz without permission, as was thereafter barred from admittance.  www.candicehern.com
Almack'S Exclusive assembly rooms in London. One required vouchers from one of the Patronesses in order to attend. www.thenonesuch.com
Ape-Leader A spinster or old maid. According to an old saying, their fate is leading apes in hell. www.thenonesuch.com
Ape-Leader  An old maid or spinster. Their punishment after death for failing to procreate, it was said, would be to lead apes in hell.  www.candicehern.com
Apoplexy A stroke. www.candicehern.com
Assembly Rooms Halls where dances, concerts and other social events were held. Most towns had assembly rooms. The most famous is Almack's in London. www.thenonesuch.com
Astley'S Royal Amphitheatre A circus in London featuring horseback riding, acrobats, clowns and the like. www.thenonesuch.com
Bacon-Brained Foolish, stupid. www.thenonesuch.com
Banbury Tale  a nonsensical story. www.candicehern.com
Banbury Tale A roundabout, nonsensical story. www.thenonesuch.com
Bandeau A narrow band of (usually) stiffened fabric worn on the head to confine the hair. www.candicehern.com
Banns - Reading The Banns A notice of an impending marriage given on three consecutive Sundays in one's parish church. If no one objected to the match during this period, the marriage could procede. www.thenonesuch.com
Banyan A loose-skirted coat worn by men as a dressing gown.  www.candicehern.com
Barking Irons Pistols. www.candicehern.com
Barouche A four-wheeled carriage with two facing seats, the forward facing seat having a collapsible hood. It had a driver's box seat in front and could be pulled by two or four horses. The barouche was the preferred carriage for aristocratic ladies (it was an expensive vehicle) during good weather when the hood could be pushed down. www.candicehern.com
Barouche A type of carriage with four wheels, a folding hood, and two seats facing each other inside. www.thenonesuch.com
Barrister A lawyer who argues cases in court. See also solicitor. www.thenonesuch.com
Bartholomew Baby A person dressed up in a tawdry manner, like the dolls sold at Bartholomew Fair (a two-week festival celebrating the Feast of St. Bartholomew).  www.thenonesuch.com
Bath Chair Wheelchair. Probably named because they were used by many invalids taking the waters in Bath. www.thenonesuch.com
Batman An orderly assigned to a military officer. www.candicehern.com
Bear Leader A travelling tutor, who leads his charges as if they were trained bears.  www.thenonesuch.com
Bedlam An insane asylum in London. The full name was the Hospital of Saint Mary of Bethlehem. www.thenonesuch.com
Bit O'Muslin A woman of who gives sexual favors in exchange for payment. www.thenonesuch.com
Bluestocking A woman with unfashionably intellectual and literary interests. The term is explained in Boswell's "Life of Dr. Johnson", as deriving from the name given to meetings held by certain ladies in the 18th century, for conversation with distinguished literary men. A frequent attendee was a Mr. Stillingfleet, who always wore his everyday blue worsted stockings because he could not afford silk stockings. He was so much distinguished for his conversational powers that his absence at any time was felt to be a great loss, and so it was often remarked, "We can do nothing without the blue stockings." Admiral Boscawan, husband of one of the most successful hostesses of such gatherings, derisively dubbed them 'The Blue Stocking Society'. Although both men and women, some of them eminent literary and learned figures of the day, attended these meetings, the term 'bluestocking' became attached exclusively, and often contemptuously, to women. This was partly because women were instrumental in organizing the evenings, but also because they were seen as encroaching on matters thought not to be their concern. --- In Once a Scoundrel, Edwina's uncle refers to her as a bluestocking.  www.candicehern.com
Bluestocking A lady interested in books, learning and scholarly pursuits. From the so-called "Blue Stocking Society" which a group of society ladies began in the 1750's to discuss literature and other matters. Interestingly, the "blue stockings" were worn by a man -- Benjamin Stillingfleet, who was asked to attend the group, but since he did not own formal evening dress including the requisite black silk stockings, he wore his informal clothes along with blue worsted stockings. www.thenonesuch.com
Blunderbuss A blunderbuss is a muzzle-loading firearm with a flared, trumpet-like barrel which discharges lead shot upon firing. It is a kind of fowling piece or shotgun. Most of these weapons are mid-sized, being smaller than most shoulder-fired arms, but larger than a pistol. Although fitted with a butt, the dimensions suggest that most were not really intended to be fired from the shoulder and were instead fired from the hip. wikipedia
Blunt Money; ready cash. www.candicehern.com
Blunt Money. www.thenonesuch.com
Bombazine A twilled fabric with a very dull finish.   It was commonly dyed black, making it an ideal fabric for mourning garments. www.candicehern.com
Bombazine A twilled or corded cloth made of silk and wool or cotton and wool, often dyed black and used for mourning clothes. www.thenonesuch.com
Bond Street Beau A fashionable gentleman, as one might find on Bond Street in London. www.thenonesuch.com
Bow Street Runner The precursor of the metropilitan police, the Bow Street Runners were established in the mid-18th century by the magistrate of the Bow Street court, who happened to be the novelist Henry Fielding at that time. The runners were professional detectives who pursued felons across the country. They could also be hired by private individuals if the magistrate approved and could spare them. www.candicehern.com
Bow Street Runners A small force of detectives attached to the court at Bow Street who investigated crimes. The Bow Street Runners were created by Henry and John Fielding in 1753. They were disbanded under the Police Act of 1839. See also constables. www.thenonesuch.com
Breach Of Promise If one's intended broke off the engagement, one could sue for breach of promise and receive moderate financial compensation. www.thenonesuch.com
Breeches Short, close-fitting trousers that fastened just below the knees and were worn with stockings. www.thenonesuch.com
Brown - Doing It Much Too Brown To be roasted (i.e., browned), deceived, taken in. www.thenonesuch.com
Brown Study Said of one absent, in a reverie, or thoughtful. From the French expression "sombre réverie." Sombre and brun both mean sad, melancholy, gloomy, dull. www.thenonesuch.com
Buckskins Fashionable trousers made from the skin of deer. www.thenonesuch.com
Bumblebroth A tangled situation; a mess. www.thenonesuch.com
Burnished Panels Wood panels which have been rubbed rubbed down its grain until a glossy sheen comes up, and the wood will becomes slick. Burnishing does not protect the wood like a varnish does, but you do not have to wait for a burnished piece of wood to dry as you would if you had varnished it. wikipedia
Busk  A flat length of wood, bone, whalebone, or steel used to stiffen the front of a bodice. Generally the busk was inserted into a busk sheath down the front of a corset. Sometimes a busk was carved with emblems or romantic symbols and presented as a love token. Sailors, for example, often carved whale bone busks to give their sweethearts back home. www.candicehern.com
By-Blow An illegitimate child. www.thenonesuch.com
Cambric A very fine, thin linen. www.candicehern.com
Cap - Set One'S Cap Try to catch a sweetheart or a husband. A lady puts on her most becoming cap to attract the gentleman's attention and admiration. www.thenonesuch.com
Caper Merchant Dancing instructor. www.candicehern.com
Capote A transitional form between a cap (soft, unstructured) and a bonnet (rigid, shaped). The brim is made of stiffened fabric, but the crown is of soft fabric shaped into a sort of pouch. The capote first made an appearance in the 1790s and continued throughout the 19th century, with the brim or poke becoming larger over time. It was meant for outdoor wear, though in the early years of the 19th century evening capotes were occasionally worn, though the brims would have been abbreviated. www.candicehern.com
Caps - Pull Caps To quarrel like two women, who pull each other’s caps. www.thenonesuch.com
Carriage A wheeled vehicle for people, usually horse-drawn. It is especially designed for private passenger use and for comfort or elegance, though some are also used to transport goods. It may be light, smart and fast or heavy, large and comfortable. Carriages normally have suspension using leaf springs, elliptical springs (in the 19th century) or leather strapping. wikipedia
Cast Up One'S Accounts To vomit. www.thenonesuch.com
Cent Per Center Moneylender. From the French meaning "100 for every 100," in other words interest equal to the amount of the principal. www.thenonesuch.com
Chaise A light, open carriage, usually with a folding top. They generally had two wheels and sat two people and were drawn by one horse. www.thenonesuch.com
Chaise A chair used for lounging www.christianregency.com
Chariot A traveling chariot was a small privately owned vehicle, the equivalent of the rented post chaise. [See definition of Post Chaise, below, for details.] --- In Once a Dreamer, Simon and Eleanor use his traveling chariot in their chase across the country after her runaway niece.  www.candicehern.com
Chatelaine A set of decorative and useful items hung at the waist, recreating the concept of the medieval chatelaine or lady of the castle wearing her keys at her waist. Keys were still a part of a housekeeper's utilitarian chatelaine, but they were also worn for strictly decorative purposes by fashionable ladies, and might include a watch and watch key, various etuis holding sewing or writing implements, vinaigrettes, pens, ivory leaves for notes, seals, and tiny coin purses. They were usually held at the waist with a chain, like a watch chain. Also referred to as waist-hung equipages.  www.candicehern.com
Cheltenham Tragedy To make a Cheltenham tragedy out of something is to make a big deal out of nothing, or blow a situation out of proportion. This may be a reference to the melodramas that were performed at Cheltenham spa. www.thenonesuch.com
Chemise A loose-fitting, long, straight shirt with short sleeves worn under the corset as an undergarment. The term shift is also used for this garment, though it was considered a somewhat vulgar term. www.candicehern.com
Chemisette A sleeveless shirt, much like a dickey, used to fill in the neckline of a gown.   www.candicehern.com
Chère-Amie A gentleman's mistress. From the French for "dear friend." www.thenonesuch.com
Chit A young girl www.candicehern.com
Chit A saucy, forward girl. www.thenonesuch.com
Church Of England Officially established Christian church in England, the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the oldest among the communion's thirty-eight independent national churches. The Church of England considers itself to be both Catholic and reformed: Reformed insofar as many of the principles of the early Protestant reformers as well as the subsequent Protestant Reformation have influenced it via the English Reformation and also insofar as it does not accept Papal supremacy or the Counter-Reformation.
Catholic in that it views itself as being an unbroken continuation of both the early apostolic and later mediæval universal church, rather than as a new formation, and in that it holds and teaches the historic Catholic Faith. In its customs and liturgy it has retained more of the Catholic tradition than most other churches touched by the Protestant Reformation. 
Cicisbeo A married lady's admirer and escort. From the Italian. www.thenonesuch.com
Cit A contemptuous term for a member of the merchant class, one who works in or lives in the City of London, ie the central business area of London. www.candicehern.com
Cit A resident of the City, the area of London where banks and businesses are located. The term is used for members of the middle or merchant class, often in a derogatory manner. www.thenonesuch.com
Claret - Draw Someone'S Claret Give someone a bloody nose. www.thenonesuch.com
Climbing Boy A boy used by chimney sweeps to climb up into small, hard-to-reach places. Regency heroines frequently rescue them. www.thenonesuch.com
Cock Up One'S Toes To die. www.candicehern.com
Come Out A young lady's first entry into society. She would first be presented at the Royal Court, and a ball would usually be held in her honor. Then she would be free to attend society events and seek a husband. www.thenonesuch.com
Come Up To Scratch Make an offer of marriage. Diligent mamas are often hoping their daughters can bring a certain gentleman up to scratch. www.candicehern.com
Congé To give someone her congé is to dismiss her. Especially used for gentlemen and their mistresses. From the French meaning notice or leave. www.thenonesuch.com
Consols Short for Consolidated Annuities. These were government securities that paid a fixed rate of interest each year. www.thenonesuch.com
Constables Peacekeeping officers appointed by the local magistrate to arrest criminals. See also Bow Street Runners. www.thenonesuch.com
Corinthian  Fashionable man about town, generally a sportsman. www.candicehern.com
Corinthian A gentleman who is fashionable and adept at sporting activities. It originally meant profligate, after the apparently elegant yet dissipated lifestyle in ancient Corinth. www.thenonesuch.com
Cork-Brained Foolish, stupid. www.thenonesuch.com
Corn Laws Laws passed to put tariffs on imported corn in order to protect domestic farmers. The result was exorbitant food prices that made it difficult for working people to feed their families. The laws were repealed in 1846. www.thenonesuch.com
Cotillion A French dance for four or more couples with complicated steps and much changing of partners, led by one couple. www.thenonesuch.com
Country-Dance A dance of rural English origin in which partners face each other in two long lines. www.thenonesuch.com
Coxcomb A vain, conceited person. It formerly meant "fool," from the caps fools wore with bells and a piece of red cloth on the top, in the shape of a cock's comb. www.thenonesuch.com
Cravat A gentleman's neckcloth made of starched linen that could be tied in a variety of styles. www.thenonesuch.com
Cups - In One'S Cups Inebriated, drunk. www.thenonesuch.com
Curate A clergyman who assists a pastor, rector or vicar. www.thenonesuch.com
Curricle A fashionable open-air two-wheeled sporting vehicle designed for a pair of horses and seating for two (ie the Regency equivalent of a two-seater convertible sports car). See illustration below with the definition of "tiger."  www.candicehern.com
Curricle A fashionable, sporty, two-wheeled carriage pulled by two horses. www.thenonesuch.com
Cut Direct A deliberate and public snub. www.candicehern.com
Cut, Cut Direct To cut someone is to refuse to recognize that person socially. The cut direct was the most blatant way -- one would look the other person directly in the face but pretend not to know him. The cut indirect involved simply looking another way, the cut sublime involved looking up at the sky until the person passed, and the cut infernal involved looking at the ground or stooping to adjust one's shoes. www.thenonesuch.com
Cyprian A woman of who gives sexual favors in exchange for payment; a mistress or courtesan. Named for the island of Cyprus, famous for the worship of Aprhrodite, goddess of love. www.thenonesuch.com
Dandy A gentleman who is fastidious about his appearance, especially his clothing. He is not, as is often believed, a flashy or even flamboyant dresser, as was his 18th century predecessor, the Macaroni. George "Beau" Brummell eptomized the Dandy. He was concerned with perfect tailoring and fabrics, cleanliness, and simplicity of dress. He believed that good fashion should be understated and elegant, not eye-catching. www.candicehern.com
Dandy A gentleman who is overly concerned with his dress and appearance. www.thenonesuch.com
Darken One'S Daylights To give a black eye. www.candicehern.com
Demi-Monde Literally "half world"; a class outside of proper Society. Generally used to refer to those of questionable reputation. www.candicehern.com
Demimonde, Demimondaine A demimondaine is woman of who gives sexual favors in exchange for payment; a mistress or courtesan. The demimonde refers to this class of women. From the French literally meaning half world, or underworld. www.thenonesuch.com
Derby The major horse race in England, held at Epsom Downs in late May or early June. Pronounced "Darby." www.thenonesuch.com
Dernier Cri The latest thing; the newest fashion. From the French meaning "the last word." www.thenonesuch.com
Diamond Of The First Water A very beautiful woman. From the term used for the jewel meaning a diamond of the best color and most brilliant luster. www.thenonesuch.com
Disguised Inebriated, drunk. www.thenonesuch.com
Domino A short hooded cloak usually worn with a mask at masquerades. It was worn over evening attire by both men and women.  www.candicehern.com
Dowager A term used to refer to the widow of a peer -- e.g., the Dowager Countess of Essex. Generally the term is only used if the current holder of the title is married and therefore the female title (e.g., Countess of Essex) is in use. www.thenonesuch.com
Dower House A relatively small house on an estate to which the dowager would retire when the new heir took up residence. www.thenonesuch.com
Duenna Chaperone. From the Spanish. www.thenonesuch.com
Dun Territory In debt. The tradition is that it refers to Joe Dun, a famous bailiff of Lincoln in the reign of Henry VII, who was famous for his skill at collecting debts. Also possibly from the Anglo-Saxon "dunan" meaning din or clamour. www.thenonesuch.com
Regency Period From 1811 to 1825 in England. Covers the reign prior to Queen Victoria. Often expanded to 1795 to 1837. wikipedia
Entail To limit the inheritance of property or title to a specific line of heirs so that it cannot be passed to anyone else. An entailed estate usually passes to the eldest son. www.thenonesuch.com
Facing Material of a different color that shows when the cuffs and collar are folded over. In the military, different colored facings implied different regiments. www.thenonesuch.com
Faradiddle Variation of "taradiddle" -- a falsehood or lie. www.thenonesuch.com
Faro A card game in which players bet on the order that cards will appear when dealt from the bottom of the deck. www.thenonesuch.com
Fichu A length of fabric, usually triangular, worn around the neck and shoulders. Sometimes tucked inside the neckline of the bodice, sometimes crossed over the bodice. The "pouter pigeon" style of fichu fell out of fashion during the Regency years, though the term was resurrected c.1816 to refer to various sorts of bodice tuckers.  www.candicehern.com
Fichu A piece of lace, muslin, or other cloth worn about the neck to preserve a lady's modesty. From the French meaning neckerchief. www.thenonesuch.com
Fleet Prison, Fleet Marriages Fleet Prison was a prison for debtors. Fleet marriages were clandestine marriages that were performed at the prison without the need for licenses or banns during the 17th and 18th centuries. The practice was ended with the Marriage Act of 1753. www.thenonesuch.com
Flintlock Flintlock is the general term for any firearm based on the flintlock mechanism. Introduced about 1630, the flintlock rapidly replaced earlier firearm-ignition technologies, such as the matchlock and wheellock mechanisms. It continued to be in common use for over two centuries, replaced by percussion cap and, later, cartridge-based systems in the early-to-mid 19th century. wikipedia
Flounce An ornamental row of decorative trim at the edge of a skirt. www.candicehern.com
Footpads Thieves in the streets, muggers. www.thenonesuch.com
Fop A gentleman who dresses in excessively elaborate clothes and has affected manners. www.thenonesuch.com
Four-In-Hand Driving a carriage pulled by four horses, an exercise requiring skill. The Four-in-Hand Club was a notable club for gentlemen who were excellent drivers. www.thenonesuch.com
Foxed Inebriated, drunk. www.thenonesuch.com
Frank A Member of Parliament, including peers in the House of Lords, could frank letters -- mail them free of charge -- by affixing his personal seal along with the word "frank" or "free." This practice continued until 1840, when cheap postal rates were introduced. www.thenonesuch.com
Freebooters A person who robs and plunderers, especially pirates and smugglers. From the Dutch "vrijbuiter" and the German "freibeuter," meaning to rove freely. www.thenonesuch.com
French Leave To take French leave is to go off without taking leave of the company: a saying frequently applied to persons who have run away from their creditors.The allusion is to the French soldiers, who in their invasions take what they require, and never wait to ask permission of the owners or pay any price for what they take. www.thenonesuch.com
Fribble An effeminate fop; a name borrowed from a celebrated character of that kind, in the play Miss in her Teens (1746) by David Garrick.  www.thenonesuch.com
Friday-Faced A dismal countenance. Friday was a day of abstinence. www.thenonesuch.com
Funds Government securities that could be purchased by investors. See also consols. www.thenonesuch.com
Fustian A coarsely textured cotton fabric imitating the more expensive silk velvet. www.candicehern.com
Fustian Bombast; made up of pompous, high-sounding language. Also a coarse, heavy cloth made of cotton and flax. www.thenonesuch.com
Gambling Gambling debts, during the Regency, were sacrosanct and had to be paid at once: voluntary exile or even suicide were preferable to dishonour.
However, debts to trademen were a different matter. Tradesmen, in fact, were made to wait for their money for years during the Regency, even if their businesses went bankrupt in consequence. Note: Some of the links accompanying this reference summary may be moved to separate reference summaries in the future.  For now, this is a holding place for most leisure and social aspects of the time period.
Gammon Nonesense, humbug (noun). To deceive, to tell lies (verb). www.thenonesuch.com
Gig A light, two-wheeled, one-horse carriage especially used in the country. www.thenonesuch.com
Greatcoat An outdoor overcoat usually with one or several capes around the shoulders. www.thenonesuch.com
Green Girl A young, inexperienced girl. www.thenonesuch.com
Gretna Green A town in Scotland just over the border from England where couples would elope. A marriage could be obtained without a license, a clergyman, a waiting period, or parental consent. The couple simply had to declare their intention to marry in front of witnesses. The blacksmith in Gretna Green was a popular place for marriages, hence the phrase "married over the anvil." www.thenonesuch.com
Grigs - Merry As Grigs  A grig is a young eel.  Possibly an allusion to their liveliness. There was also a class of vagabond dancers and tumblers who visited ale-houses called grigs. www.thenonesuch.com
Groat An old English silver coin worth fourpence; a very small sum. "I don't care a groat" = "I don't care at all." www.thenonesuch.com
Gudgeon One who is easily imposed on or taken in. From the fish of that name, which is easily caught. www.thenonesuch.com
Gull, Gulled A person who is easily cheated (noun). Deceived, cheated, imposed on (verb). www.thenonesuch.com
Gypsy Hat A wide-brimmed straw hat with ribbons passing from the crown over the brim and tied in a bow under the chin or at the back of the neck. www.candicehern.com
Habit Shirt  A short linen or muslin shirt, originally part of a riding costume, it was also worn to fill in a wide-necked bodice for day wear. Sometimes with a stand-up collar or ruff. Also called a chemisette.  www.candicehern.com
Hackney A coach for hire. The Regency equivalent of a taxi-cab.  www.candicehern.com
Hackney Carriage A carriage for hire. A hackney is a horse for ordinary riding or driving, from the town of Hackney near London known for its horses. www.thenonesuch.com
Ha-Ha A landscaping element consisting of a trench or ditch that cannot be seen until one approaches it. Presumably named for the exclamation of surprise one utters on encountering it. www.thenonesuch.com
Half Pay A military officer who was not on active duty received half his usual pay. www.thenonesuch.com
Handle The Ribbons  To drive a coach or carriage.  www.candicehern.com
Harridan A bad-tempered, disreputable old woman. Probably from the French word "haridelle" meaning a worn-out horse. www.thenonesuch.com
Haute Society See Ton  
Hell (I.E. Gaming Hell) A gambling establishment. Sort of a casino without all the neon lights and loud music. A young "pigeon" was more likely to fall victim to a dishonorable "shark" at a hell than at an elite gentleman's club.  www.candicehern.com
Hessian Boots High boots coming to just below the knee that have tassels on the top. Named for the German soldiers called Hessians who introduced them. www.thenonesuch.com
Hessians A style of man's riding boot that is calf-length in the back and curves up in front to a point just below the knee, from which point hangs a tassel.  Generally made of black leather, they sometimes had a narrow border at the top in a different color, eg white-topped Hessians. www.candicehern.com
High In The Instep Arrogant; snobbish; overly proud. www.candicehern.com
High In The Instep Haughty or proud. www.thenonesuch.com
High Ropes To be on the high ropes; to be in a passion. www.thenonesuch.com
Hoby A popular gentleman's bootmaker. www.thenonesuch.com
Hoby A popular gentleman's bootmaker. www.thenonesuch.com
Hoyden  A girl who is boisterous, carefree, or tomboyish in her behavior.  www.candicehern.com
Hoyden A tomboy; a girl who behaves in a boisterous and unladylike manner. www.thenonesuch.com
In One'S Black Books Out of favor.  www.candicehern.com
Inexpressibles A man's very tight (and very revealing) trousers or breeches.  Also called unmentionables. www.candicehern.com
Inexpressibles Breeches. So called because it was not considered polite for ladies to mention them by name. www.thenonesuch.com
Jarvey The driver of a hackney coach. www.candicehern.com
Jericho A place of concealment. To "wish someone at Jericho" is to want them out of the way. The manor of Blackmore, near Chelmsford, was called Jericho, and was one of the houses where Henry VIII visited his courtesans. www.thenonesuch.com
Jointure A financial provision for a widow. Typically the amount is negotiated based on the portion she brought to the marriage, and is generally established as part of the marriage settlement. www.candicehern.com
Klismos Chair Ancient Greek chair form characterized by a broad top rail and curved back (stiles and legs). Revived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Light, elegant chair developed by the ancient Greeks. Perfected by the 5th century BC and popular throughout the 4th century BC, the had four curving, splayed ("saber") legs and curved back rails with a narrow concave backrest between them. Often illustrated on Greek pottery, the design was resurrected in the French Directoire, Empire, English Regency, and Duncan Phyfe styles. Most klismos chairs have flaring saber legs placed in oppostion to one another (as opposed to the illustration above which has only two rear saber legs). www.buffaloah.com
Landau A four-wheeled carriage with two inside seats facing each other and a top made in two parts that could be folded back. Named after Landau, the German town where it was first made. www.thenonesuch.com
Lappets Two long strips of material, most often lace, that hang down from the top of the head. They can be extensions of a cap band. Lappets were a required element of female court dress.  www.candicehern.com
Leading Strings Strips of fabric on children's clothes to hold onto them and help them walk. "Since I was in leading strings" = "Since I was a child." www.thenonesuch.com
Leg-Shackled Married. www.thenonesuch.com
Light Skirt Prostitute. www.candicehern.com
Little Season A smaller version of the Season, when London society attended a variety of entertainments. The Little Season took place from September to mid-November. See also Season. www.thenonesuch.com
Long Meg A very tall woman. Long Meg of Westminster was a notorious woman from the time of Henry VIII about whom a number of ballads and stories were written. www.thenonesuch.com
Loo A card game in which players who fail to take a trick pay forfeits into a pool. www.thenonesuch.com
Loose Fish An unreliable sort. www.thenonesuch.com
Maggot In One'S Head A strange notion or whim. www.thenonesuch.com
Mail Coach Coaches with regular routes and schedules that carried both mail and passengers around the country. www.thenonesuch.com
Make A Cake Of Oneself Make a fool of oneself. Possibly from "half-baked." www.thenonesuch.com
Mantle A short cloak. www.candicehern.com
Mantua-Maker A dressmaker. A mantua is an old type of gown, no longer worn in Regency times. www.thenonesuch.com
Marriage Mart A term used for the London Season, when young ladies would seek mates. www.thenonesuch.com
Mill A boxing match. The term can also be used to refer to a less formal bout, ie a barroom brawl or fist-fight.  www.candicehern.com
Mill A boxing match or fight. www.thenonesuch.com
Missish Squeamish, prim, prudish, ie behavior befitting a young miss. www.candicehern.com
Mitts Also mittens. Gloves with open fingers and thumbs. Though gloves were removed during meals, mitts could be worn for informal meals like tea. www.candicehern.com
Modiste A dress-maker or fashion designer. Always female. www.candicehern.com
Modiste A dressmaker. From the French "mode" meaning style. www.thenonesuch.com
Monkey £500 www.thenonesuch.com
More Hair Than Wit Not very smart. www.thenonesuch.com
Mushroom A person suddenly come into wealth; an upstart; an allusion to the fungus that starts up in the night.  www.candicehern.com
Mushroom, Pushing Mushroom A person or family suddenly raised to riches and eminence: an allusion to the fungus, which starts up in a night. www.thenonesuch.com
Nabob A very rich man, especially one who acquired his fortune in India. From the Hindustani word "nawab," term for a ruler in the Mogul Empire. www.thenonesuch.com
Nankeen A corruption of "Nanking." A yellowish brown sturdy cotton fabric used for men's work breeches or children's play clothes. www.candicehern.com
Nankeen A strong, yellow or buff cotton cloth, originally made in Nanking, China. www.thenonesuch.com
New! Pink Of The Ton Also Pink of Fashion. The term is generally applied only to males and refers to a man at the height of fashion. A dandy. Per the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue:  "the top of the mode." www.candicehern.com
Newgate Prison The main prison in London, attached to the Old Bailey, where public executions took place. www.thenonesuch.com
Nonesuch One who is unequalled. There is none such as he. www.thenonesuch.com
On Dit French phrase meaning, "It is said" or "One says". In Regency slang, it meant gossip, eg "the latest on dit." www.candicehern.com
On Dit Gossip. From the French meaning "they say." www.thenonesuch.com
On The Shelf Beyond marriageable age; no longer wanted. Used in reference to a spinster, never a man who, one assumes was always wanted, regardless of age. www.candicehern.com
Original A lady with a unique style. www.thenonesuch.com
Ormolu Gilded treatment; Any of several copper and zinc or tin alloys resembling gold in appearance and used to ornament furniture, moldings, architectural details, and jewelry.
 An imitation of gold.
www.christianregency.com, www.thefreedictionary.com
Pantaloons In reference to male fashion, pantaloons are close-fitting tights or leggings that end just below the calf. They were typically worn with boots, as in the picture at right showing Hessians. www.candicehern.com
Parson'S Mousetrap Marriage. www.thenonesuch.com
Parti A person considered as a matrimonial match. From the French meaning party or match. www.thenonesuch.com
Patroness Of Almack'S One of the society ladies who could give vouchers to hopefuls seeking entree into the hallowed halls of Almack's. The patronesses were: Lady Castlereagh; Lady Cowper; Mrs. Drummond Burrell; Princess Esterhazy; Countess Lieven; Lady Jersey, and Lady Sefton. www.thenonesuch.com
Pelisse An outdoor coat-like garment worn over a dress. Ankle-length or ¾-length. www.candicehern.com
Pelisse A coat with armholes or sleeves worn by ladies over their dresses, buttoning up the front, usually either full or three-quarter length. www.thenonesuch.com
Phaeton Fashionable open-air four-wheeled sporting vehicle with seating for two. A popular version was the high-perch phaeton (see example at right) with its exaggerated elevation. Phaetons could accommodate two or four horses. www.candicehern.com
Phaeton A light, four-wheeled carriage with open sides, with or without a top, with one or two seats, drawn by one or two horses. A high-perch phaeton was a particularly dashing vehicle. From the Greek myth of Phaëthon, who tried to drive the chariot of his father the Sun and nearly destroyed the earth. www.thenonesuch.com
Pianoforte An early incarnation of the piano, developed in about 1730. Keyboard instruments prior to that time could be played with precision but without variation of volume. The pianoforte allowed more versatility by producing notes at different volumes depending on the amount of force used to press the keys. It could be played softly (piano) or loudly (forte) -- the full Italian term for the original instrument was gravicèmbalo col piano e forte (literally harpsicord with soft and loud). --- In Once a Gentleman, Prudence is given the gift of a new Broadwood pianoforte. The English firm of Broadwood was the first to make a 5-octave pianoforte, and was considered one of the best instruments of the time. www.candicehern.com
Plant A Facer To hit someone in the face.  www.candicehern.com
Pocket A flat, slitted pouch or bag worn beneath the dress, tied sround the waist with tapes. Generally about 12" or more long. They were accessed via a pocket slit in the side seam of a skirt. Common during the 18th century before reticules (purses) came into popularity, pockets fell out of use when the skirts narrowed during the Regency. However, muslin gowns c1805 in the collection of the Museum of Costume in Bath include pocket slits, so they did continue in use for the early years of the new century, but must have been reduced in size to avoid a bulky look. www.candicehern.com
Pockets To Let Broke; without money.  www.thenonesuch.com
Pony £25 www.thenonesuch.com
Post Chaise The post chaise or traveling chariot was a small carriage pulled by two or four horses, and was owned or hired by those wishing to travel privately, that is not on a large public conveyance like a stage coach or mail coach. Hired post chaises were most often traveling chariots that had been discarded by gentlemen -- sort of like a fleet of used rental cars. The hired chaises were generally painted yellow, hence the nickname Yellow Bounder. They were quite small, usually with only one forward seat facing a large glass window. There was often an outside bench seat in the back, over the rear wheel, where servants rode. Luggage was carried on a little forward platform between the front springs, and could also be strapped on the roof. The post chaise was "steered" by postillions, or post boys, seated upon the horses. There was no seat for a driver, and none was needed. One post boy was engaged to drive each pair of horses, ie a team of four horses was driven by two post boys, a lead-boy and a wheel-boy.  www.candicehern.com
Post Chaise Each rode on the left side of a pair, and wore iron guards on his right leg and foot to protect against injury from the center pole. The wheel-boy was generally the more experienced of the two. New post boys were trained by riding the lead team with the wheel-boy calling out instructions from behind. When the horses were changed along the route, new post boys were hired with them. Boys in name only, these riders were generally small, hardy little men, like jockeys, and were often colorful characters nattily dressed in "uniforms" associated with specific posting inns. They almost always wore white leather breeches and short jackets with large brass buttons, and tall beaver hats in which they kept their possessions. Private postillions were kept by those who traveled frequently and used their own traveling chariots.  www.candicehern.com
Post Chaise A small closed carriage that could be rented for long journeys. www.thenonesuch.com
Pump Room The room at a watering place where one drank the curative mineral waters and gossiped. The most famous is in Bath. www.thenonesuch.com
Quadrille A dance in square formation for four couples that usually has five parts or movements. www.thenonesuch.com
Quality The upper class of society. www.thenonesuch.com
Quarter Day The day at the end of each quarter during the year when rents were due and allowances were received. www.thenonesuch.com
Queer In The Attic Peculiar or crazy. www.thenonesuch.com
Queer Street To be of doubtful solvency. To be one marked in a tradesman’s ledger with a quære (inquire), meaning, make inquiries about this customer. www.thenonesuch.com
Quizzing Glass  A monocle dangling from a neck chain or ribbon, worn as a fashionable accessory by both men and women.  www.candicehern.com
Quizzing Glass A single eyeglass or monocle. One used it to examine, or quiz, objects or persons. www.thenonesuch.com
Rag-Mannered Ill-mannered. Presumably so named because one behaves with the poor manners of lower classes. www.thenonesuch.com
Rake This is a somewhat subjective term often used in historical romances to describe the hero. Webster defines a rake as "a dissolute person; a libertine" -- in other words, not a very nice character. In romance novels, however, a rake seldom exhibits behavior that puts him beyond the pale. The term "rake" is most often used in the same way as "playboy" or "womanizer" but without the other implications of drinking, debauchery, and general lechery which inform the literal definition. A typical rakish hero will often have a number of women in his past, but the love of one special woman will cause him to give up the field forever. www.candicehern.com
Rake, Rakehell A dissolute, profligate gentleman; one who indulges in vices such as drinking, gambling and especially sexual conquests. From the Anglo-Saxon "rakel" or "rackle" meaning rough and hasty. Possibly also a reference to the fact that these gentlemen will rake, or search, hell in the afterlife. www.thenonesuch.com
Regency Time Period From 1811 to 1825 in England. Covers the reign prior to Queen Victoria. Often expanded to 1795 to 1837.  
Reticule  A lady's purse. More properly called a ridicule, probably because it seemed a ridiculous notion in the late 18th/early 19th century to carry outside the dress those personal belongings formerly kept in large pockets beneath the dress. When waists rose and skirts narrowed, bulky pockets could no longer be accommodated without spoiling the line of the the dress, and so the ridicule became an essential accessory. The term "reticule" seems to have come into use around the mid-19th century. www.candicehern.com
Reticule A purse usually made of cloth, often beaded, with a drawstring closure. www.thenonesuch.com
River Tick To be punting on the River Tick is to be in debt. In the seventeenth century, ticket was the ordinary term for the written acknowledgment of a debt, and one living on credit was said to be living on tick. www.thenonesuch.com
Rotten Row A path for horse riding in the southern part of Hyde Park. A corruption of the phrase "route de roi" meaning King's Row in French. www.thenonesuch.com
Round Gown A dress with the bodice and skirt joined in a single garment(during the Regency and earlier, these pieces were generally separate), with the skirt closed all around, ie not opened to expose an underskirt. www.candicehern.com
Rout A crowded party, akin to a modern cocktail party. An American visitor to London in 1810 described it like this:  "Great assemblies are called routs or parties ... The house in which this takes place is frequently stripped from top to bottom; beds, drawers, and all but ornamental furniture is carried out of sight to make room for a crowd of well-dressed people, received at the door of the principal apartment by the mistress of the house, who smiles at every new comer with a look of acquaintance. Nobody sits; there is no conversation, no cards, no music; only elbowing, turning, and winding from room to room; then, at the end of a quarter of an hour, escaping to the hall door to wait for the carriage, spending more time upon the threshold among footmen than you had done above stairs with their masters. From this rout you drive to another where, after waiting your turn to arrive at the door, perhaps half an hour, the street being full of carriages, you alight, begin the same round, and end it in the same manner." --- In Her Scandalous Affair, Isabel runs into Richard at a rout the day after she had stolen her brooch back from him.  www.candicehern.com  http //laura.chinet.com//html/titles02.html 
Sarsnet A twilled fabric which uses different colors in the warp and weft, thus allowing the fabric to subtly change colors as the fabric moves. Though it is sometimes spelled sarsenet or sarcenet, the fahsion magazines of the time almost always use the spelling sarsnet. www.candicehern.com
Sawyer - Top Sawyer One who excels at driving horses. www.thenonesuch.com
Season The social "Season" is generally described as beginning in early spring and lasting until the end of June. The season had some relation to the sitting of Parliament. It convened each January, so those involved in the goverment would head back to town at that time. No doubt their ladies spent the next couple of months updating their wardrobes and planning their social calendars for the spring.  www.candicehern.com
Season The prime time for social events for high society in London. The Season began after Easter and lasted through June. A variety of entertainments were held during this time, and it was a way for ladies to meet potential mates. www.thenonesuch.com
Season The London Season was a relatively short period of time beginning shortly after Easter, when Parliament opened, and ending on August 12, when Parliament went into recess.  The peak of the Season was the fortnight in June between the Derby and the Ascot. More than any other time of the year, the Season was a time when society came out to play - and, of course, to attend to the business of finding suitable mates for their sons and daughters. www.historylink.info
Sixes And Sevens Confused or unsettled. From the Hebrew phrase “Six, yea seven,” meaning an indefinite number, as in Job (v. 19), “He [God] shall deliver thee in six troubles, yea in seven.”  www.thenonesuch.com
Small Clothes Knee-breeches, especially close-fitting ones. www.thenonesuch.com
Smithfield Bargain A bargain whereby the purchaser is taken in. It is also used for marriages contracted solely for monetary gain, a reference to women being bought and sold like cattle in Smithfield. www.thenonesuch.com
Snuff A powdered tobacco, often scented, usually taken into the nose. It was usually carried in small, decorated containers called snuffboxes. www.thenonesuch.com
Solicitor A lawyer who handles wills and estate matters. See also barrister. www.thenonesuch.com
Sovereign In addition to the ruling monarch, a sovereign was also a gold coin worth a pound. www.thenonesuch.com
Spanish Coin False flattery.  www.candicehern.com
Spanish Coin Flattery. www.thenonesuch.com
Special License A license obtained from the Archbishop of Canterbury or his office in Doctor's Commons in London, that granted the right to marry at any convenient time or place. They were valid for 3 months. Without a special license, marriages could only take place between 8:00am and noon in a parish in which one of the parties has resided for a minimum of 4 weeks. www.candicehern.com
Special License A license issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury for a fee that allowed a couple to marry at any time or place.  www.thenonesuch.com
Spencer A short, waist-length jacket, with or without sleeves. Generally an outdoor garment worn in the morning or afternoon, but could also be part of an evening ensemble. See example at right. www.candicehern.com
Spencer A short jacket worn by ladies. www.thenonesuch.com
Stays A corset. www.candicehern.com
Stick One'S Spoon In The Wall To die. It originally meant "took up residence," from the fact that in primitive times a leather strap was often nailed to the wall near the fireplace as a place to keep items like spoons. It eventually came to mean "die," presumably from taking up permanent residence in the afterlife. www.thenonesuch.com
Tabby An old maid; either from Tabitha, a formal antiquated name; or else from a tabby cat, old maids being often compared to cats. www.thenonesuch.com
Take A lady who did not "take" during her Season did not win any admirers or suitors. www.thenonesuch.com
Taradiddle A falsehood or lie. www.thenonesuch.com
Tattersall'S A popular horse market in London. www.thenonesuch.com
The City The area of London where the Bank of England, the Royal Exchange and other financial institutions are located. It is bordered on the south by the Thames and extends east to the Tower and west to the Temple Bar, covering one square mile. Historically, it is the site of the original Roman settlement of Londinium. www.thenonesuch.com
Tiger A liveried groom, generally small, generally young. An owner-driven curricle or phaeton typically had a groom's seat between the springs on which the tiger sat. (See the illustration at right.) The single-horse cabriolet had a platform at the rear on which the tiger stood. He also managed the horses when his master ascended to or descended from the seat, and sometimes took the reins to exercise the horses while his master temporarily left the vehicle. A small, lightweight tiger was preferred in order to maintain the proper balance. In fact, it was something of a status symbol to have the smallest possible tiger.  www.candicehern.com
Tippet  An abbreviated cape. Similar to what might today be called a stole or a boa. www.candicehern.com
Titles The British peerage, in order of precedence is  duke/duchess, marquess/marchioness, earl/countess, viscount/viscountess, baron/baroness. The next two ranks, baronet and knight, are not peers. www.candicehern.com
Toad Eater  Flatterer; toady. www.candicehern.com
Toad Eater A sychophant or flatterer; a toady. Either from the Spanish "todita," meaning factotum, or from the practice of charlatans who would have their assistants eat toads in order to "cure" them of poison. www.thenonesuch.com
Ton Fashionable Society, or the fashion. From the French bon ton, meaning good form, ie good manners, good breeding, etc. A person could be a member of the ton, attend ton events, or be said to have good ton (or bad ton). www.candicehern.com
Ton upper crust of english society; The members of the ton were largely made up of the aristocracy, and they enjoyed the Season on a grand scale with seemingly infinite avenues of entertainment; British society known, in Regency slang, as the ton - a shortened form of the French term haute ton or haute monde.   In English the term translates to "high society"  www.christianregency.com, www.historylink.info
Ton The ton was the high society of the Regency period. It is pronounced like "tone," and it comes from the French word ton meaning "tone, style." A person or action described as good ton was accepted by Society. A person or action described as bad ton violated the unwritten rules of Society and was deemed unacceptable. www.thenonesuch.com
Touched In The Upper Works Crazy. www.thenonesuch.com
Town With a capital T, this always refers to London. www.thenonesuch.com
Town Bronze Polish or style.  www.thenonesuch.com
Under The Hatches Without funds; in debt. www.candicehern.com
Upper Orders The highest level of society. www.thenonesuch.com
Vandyke Named after the painter Anthony Van Dyke (1599-1641), a style of collar or trimming with a dentate (ie sawtooth) border in lace or fabric. www.candicehern.com
Vauxhall Gardens A pleasure garden across the Thames from fashionable London that offered a variety of entertainments including music, dancing and elaborate fireworks displays. There were also numerous dark walks suitable for assignations. www.thenonesuch.com
Vex To annoy - [Origin: 1375–1425; late ME vexen < OF vexer < L vexāre to shake, jolt, harass, annoy, freq. of vehere to carry, convey] dictionary.com
Vicar A pastor or priest of a local or missionary parish. An apostolic vicar is a bishop or priest who heads a missionary particular church that is not yet ready to be a full diocese - he stands as the local representative of the Pope, in the Pope's role as bishop of all unorganized territories. A vicar capitular, who exercises authority in the place of the diocesan chapter, is a temporary ordinary of a diocese during a sede vacante period.
Vicars exercise authority as the agents of the bishop of the diocese. Most vicars, however, have ordinary power, which means that their agency is not by virtue of a delegation but is established by law. Vicars general, episcopal vicars, and judicial vicars exercise vicarious ordinary power; they each exercise a portion of the power of the diocesan bishop (judicial for the judicial vicar, executive for the others) by virtue of their office and not by virtue of a mandate. A vicar forane, also known as an archpriest or dean, is a priest entrusted by the bishop with a certain degree of leadership in a territorial division of a diocese or a pastoral region known as a vicarate forane or a deanery. A parochial vicar is a priest assigned to a parish in addition to, and in collaboration with, the pastor of the parish. He exercises his ministry as an agent of the parish's pastor.
Vingt-Et-Un The card game known as "21" or blackjack, where the object is to take cards until one is as close as possible to 21 without going over. From the French meaning twenty-one. www.thenonesuch.com
Vouchers Vouchers were required to gain admittance to Almack's Assembly Rooms. They could only be given out by one of the Patronesses. www.thenonesuch.com
Vowels An IOU.  www.candicehern.com
Vowels Papers indicating a debt that is owed. From the term I.O.U. www.thenonesuch.com
Waltz The waltz was considered somewhat shocking because of the contact maintained between the partners when it was introduced in England, but it soon became quite popular. A lady required the consent of one of the Patronesses of Almack's for her first waltz. www.thenonesuch.com
Waters - Taking The Waters The waters in spa towns such as Tunbridge Wells and most notably Bath were thought to have healing powers, so to "take the waters" means to either drink or bathe in these mineral waters. www.thenonesuch.com
Wear The Willow To mourn the loss of a love or to be lovelorn. The willow tree is associated with sorrow, e.g.: weeping willow. Willow garlands were symbols of being forsaken in love. www.thenonesuch.com
Weston A popular gentleman's tailor. www.thenonesuch.com
Whist A card game somewhat like bridge for two players. www.thenonesuch.com
Yard Of Tin The horn, generally a yard or so long, used by the guard of a mail coach or stage coach to warn of approach and departure.  www.candicehern.com