Sunday, July 11, 2010

Interesting terms from the Napoleonic Era

Words and terms that seem to be worthy of further development for "The Chasseurs"

A relatively small house on an estate to which the dowager would retire when the new heir took up residence.
Material of a different color that shows when the cuffs and collar are folded over. In the military, different colored facings implied different regiments.
Variation of “taradiddle” — a falsehood or lie.
A card game in which players bet on the order that cards will appear when dealt from the bottom of the deck.
A person who robs and plunderers, especially pirates and smugglers. From the Dutch “vrijbuiter” and the German “freibeuter,” meaning to rove freely.
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.
An effeminate fop; a name borrowed from a celebrated character of that kind, in the play Miss in her Teens (1746) by David Garrick.
A dismal countenance. Friday was a day of abstinence.
half pay
A military officer who was not on active duty received half his usual pay.
A bad-tempered, disreputable old woman. Probably from the French word “haridelle” meaning a worn-out horse.
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.
high in the instep
Haughty or proud.
parson’s mousetrap
pockets to let
Broke; without money.
queer in the attic
Peculiar or crazy.
sawyer – top sawyer
One who excels at driving horses.
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.
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.
touched in the upper works
Town bronze
Polish or style.
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.

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