A Victorian Dictionary

Victorian Dictionaries are all about the words they used that make modern readers feel like Inigo Montoya – “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

The Victorianachronists

In the back of my Harper Collins E-book version of North and South, there’s an appendix called “Classic Literature: Words and Phrases, adapted from the Collins English Dictionary.”  Skimming through, I noted that there were a number of words that have modern meanings quite different from the definition listed.  Some of these have confused me in the past when I’ve come across them in novels, so I thought I’d share a few with you.

The following text is from “Gaskell, Elizabeth.  North and South, Harper Press Collins Classics, London 2012.”

Artificially ADJ artfully or cleverly

bait VERB to stop on a journey to take refreshment, “They stopped to bait the horse…”

basin NOUN a cup without a handle “who is drinking his tea out of a basin” (this one could be a bit confusing – someone is moon-shining in the tub?)

by hand PHRASE a common expression meaning that…

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