The Three Ladies of London

Hard Words

Word Definition
a-paid contented
all mealy covered with fine meal or flour
anglers fishermen, or in thieves’ slang, thieves who use hooks attached to long rods to steal from otherwise inaccessible places
apace swiftly
arms coat of arms
arrantly notoriously or abominably
array outfit
as far as knave go as unscrupulously as a villain might do
assize session held periodically in each county of England for the purpose of administering civil and criminal justice by judges acting under certain special commissions (chiefly judges of the superior courts)
avaunt get away from me or else
ay victorious forever
bag-pudding pudding boiled in a bag
banqueting short service of wine and sweet cakes or savouries
bar barrier behind which is the judge's bench and presinct, and may include barristers' benches and the jury's enclosure
barbers people who trim or cheat their customers
base mind morally low, selfish, or craven mind
baseness low rank (possibly illegitimacy)
baubles child’s playthings
bawling bellowing or crying loudly
bear sway hold influence
bear their sale deliver
beguile charm or distract
belike very likely, probably
bend at our beck bend with our bowing extra low
benefice a living
bewray divulge or reveal (secrets) prejudicially
Bifrons two-faced demon
bill (for hedging) implement used for pruning, cutting wood, lopping trees, hedges, etc., having a long blade with a concave edge, often ending in a sharp hook
black jack large, tar-coated leather jug for beer
blazed shone conspicuously through brilliance of character and talent
boldacious a combination of bold and audacious, like the word bodacious
bolden embolden or encourage
bolstering maintaining or upholding; almost always in bad sense
bots (insult) a pox
brave well-dressed or fashionable; spiffy; handsome
breach rupture, break-up of friendly relations
breaking one day defaulting on a loan bond by not paying back on the stipulated day
broker fence
buckler a small round shield usually carried by a handle at the back
bugles (as in beads) tube-shaped glass bead, usually black
burgess citizen of a borough, specifically a representative elected to a deliberative or legislative body
buskins calf-high or knee-high boot
captious designed to entrap by subtlety
carl fellow of low birth or rude manners
cast (as in 'sleight and subtle cast') contrivance, trick
catch round-song sung by two or more, each joining in from the beginning after a set count of bars (eg, 'Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream…')
cauled Having or adorned with a caul. Cauls refer to cabbage (so possibly cauled countenance cabbage headed) but to be born with a caul (membrane around the head) was considered a good omen. Lawyers purchased cauls from midwives to gain eloquence.
chandler candlemaker
check rebuke
cheer food and drink
church money tithes (one-tenth of income to the church)
churl OED i 4 “A countryman, peasant, rustic, boor” or 5 “Used as a term of disparagement or contempt; base fellow, villain. In modern times usually: rude low-bred fellow”.
clinchpoop drudge term of contempt for someone who is ‘anal-retentive’
clip and coll hug and kiss
clubbish clownish (with pun on the suit of clubs in a deck of cards)
cog cheat or deceive
cogging cheating or deceiving
color of conscience trick of conscience
competually combination of completely and perpetually
consider pay a finder's fee, give money in exchange for information
conspatch [Simplicity] dispatch
conveyance (thieves’ term) underhand dealing, sleight of hand
cope barter or make a bargain
could (as in “could his occupation”) knew the tricks of his trade
cozening cheating or deceiving
crank through a window metaphorical term for fishing objects out of a low window
crown head; money with an impression of the crowned monarch
daunt vanquish, subdue
degree social rank
denier French coin, used as the type of a very small sum
descry declare or reveal
Dissimulation the act of concealing what really is under a false pretence of something different
doughty formidable
dress ye (like an elf) give you a thrashing or scolding as if I were a fearful demon. Usury is the elf (demon) giving the thrashing to Hospitality
drudge employed in servile or distasteful work
ducats gold coin
durance durable woollen cloth (used in prison clothing which will last you as long as your sentence)
elf (see dress ye) fearful demon
entertainment wages or other support for persons in service or employment
erewhile some time ago
errant [Simplicity] errand
espied discovered by spying or looking out
estates social ranks from workers to tradesmen, professionals, to nobility
fain gladly
fare food
fee-simple estate belonging to the owner and heirs forever without limitation
feign fashion factiously
fifteens rosary beads used as coins to pay taxes or rents
fig something small, valueless, or contemptible
filching petty thieving
firmable affirmable
flouted insulted
foist allege fraudulently or introduce surreptitiously
for the nonce for a particular purpose
frame benefit
Friar Austin Saint Augustine
from the coff get away with a scheme
gear (this) all these unnecessary taxes
glimmering twinkling
glozing flattering, cajoling
goodfellows drinking buddies and thieves in a gang of some kind
goodman householder, woman’s husband, or man of wealth or social standing who is not a member of the gentry (that Love calls him her “good man” suggests that she is not accepting all of the implications of the term “goodman”, rejecting the marital connotations)
gramercy thank you
Gravesend a town in northwest Kent
Green-headed raw, inexperienced
groat a coin worth 4 pence
hale haul
hand (as in “at any hand) account or case
hedger landscape worker who makes and maintains hedges
hempen halter halter made of hemp, ie a noose
hie go quickly
huff a sound to scare something away (like ‘shoo!’)
husband (n) business manager; to husband is to manage a property
husbandman farmer
importunate pressing in solicitation
in gage as collateral
in respect of in comparison with, relative to
it skills not it matters not
iwis truly
Jack Drum's entertainment a rough reception, turning an unwelcome guest out of doors
jade (horse) contemptuous name for a horse that’s wearied, ill-tempered, or of an inferior breed
jeopard a joint take a risk, including a broken bone
jet glossy black stone for jewelry
kettles game of ninepins
kith and kin persons known and familiar
knave (as in cards) the card in each suit bearing the representation of a knight or soldier, normally used as the lowest face card. Originally the knight was a gentleman; later he was a varlet or villain.
Limbo the region bordering Hell which houses unbaptized infants and pure souls of those who died before Christ could redeem them
lime-twigs twigs smeared with birdlime to catch birds, implying that the fingers in question are the sticky fingers of a thief
list wish or desire
livings incomes (with house and church) for parish priests
loose one release one, possibly a fart
love from the teeth forward speak about love but not feel it inside
lusty can mean full of healthy vigour or full of lust
malapert a presumptuous or saucy person
Mass [as an oath] shortened for of “By the Mass”, expresses a speaker’s rusticity or ignorance
maze (as in “in a maze) state of bewilderment
motley multi-colored (for fabric: patches of various colours sewn together to make the costume of a jester)
nice scrupulous
nice superficial in taste, overly refined as a pretence of 'class'
oft-times frequently
ostler a stableman at an inn
Pagan himself (the) Sultan of Turkey who was head of state and head of Islam in the 16th c.
parliament [Simplicity] apparelment, meaning the Ladies’ gowns
particolored head partly of one color and partly of another or others (of a dog or animal: having a coat with two or more distinct patches of color)
passant heraldry term for a four-legged animal walking and looking ahead, with three paws on the ground and the dexter forepaw raised
passing surpassing
pat in a manner that exactly fits the purpose
patch foolish person, a clown or rustic good for nothing
Paul's St Paul's Cathedral, the largest structure in London, where many business transactions took place
payings payments
pelf booty (money or riches obtained unsavourily and which corrupt)
Pendent heraldry term for a small escutcheon that hangs like jewelry, with a pun on ‘pendant’, which means hanging
penury dearth or want of something
peradventures adventures
perforce of necessity
perjury breaches of oath
Peter pence annual tax of one penny from each householder having land of a certain value paid to the papal see in Rome until the Reformation
pettifogger person given to underhand practices for the sake of gain, contemptuous term for a lawyer of a low class
pickery petty theft
plaguey pestilential, excessive (used as an intensifier)
Pluto’s Pensive Pit the underworld (ruled by Pluto)
ply work hard
poll top of the head
poll pence payment made at a memorial service
polling plundering, cheating (also clipping the hair, later a metaphor for robbing)
prating chattering
preferment advancement to an office or position
preferred put in a privileged position
presently quickly
profession (double meaning) (1) something claimed as knowledge or skill, to which one owes allegiance (whether doctor, lawyer, political office, religion, etc); (2) sly reference to prostitution
proffer act of offering or presenting something for acceptance, or of making a proposal
puling whining
purse-ring two sliding rings with which a purse may be closed
quail intimidate
railed (at) ranted (at)
rampant heraldry term for a four-legged animal standing on sinister hind foot with forepaws in the air
rated at scolded
reckoning settlement of accounts
reddy ruddy (reddish)
repariment [Simplicity] repayment
resort of with the collection of
rhetoric learned, elaborately artificial bombastic language
rod staff carried as a symbol of office, authority, or dignity. An instrument of
rolling racks possibly a mass of clouds rolling in quickly
rope and cart beadle’s punishment for petty theft and fraud as well as prostitution and adultery. Offenders were tied to the back of a cart and paraded through town, with noise of drum (rough music)
rope-ripe ripe for a hanging, false and inflated
rout crowd
ruffian a swaggering bully or thug recognizable by their extravagant dress and long hair
ruffling (cards and crime) a thief
scald scurvy, scabby (an insult for a contemptible person)
scall shurl disparaging northern insult for a low born, rude person (see churl) who suffers from skin diseases
Scoggin Buffoon, in reference to a fictitious book of jests called Scoggin’s Jests printed in 1566
scot nor lot neither a shot, a payment of any reckoning, nor any fees
scragging starveling that is nothing but skin and bone, also barren and foolish
scribed signed
scutcheon escutcheon, a heraldry term for the shield-shaped surface on which a coat of arms is depicted
searcher customs officer who searches for contraband or dutiable articles
secretary one employed to assist with correspondence, keep records, and do business for another person
semblation something that exists only in appearance; hypocritical
shoon [Simplicity] shoes
Sir Jack Sauce saucy or impudent fellow
sitten defiled with excrement (ie, shitten), disgusting or contemptible
sleight craft or cunning employed so as to deceive
smaragdines precious stone of a bright green colour, an emerald
smoke-pence a tax paid by each householder to the church, thought to vanish into a priest’s pocket
so stout firm in resolve, obstinate
sounding signalling with trumpet, bell, or bugle sound
souse parts of pig or other animal
speed succeed
sprights disembodied spirits or supernatural beings
St. Luke’s Horn cuckold’s horns
stay thing or person that affords support
steeped (of brooms) soaked
stock deck or pack of playing cards
straight immediately
straightway immediately, by a direct course straight from or to a place
subsidies taxes that go to subsizor or tax-collector
swad an insulting term for a country bumpkin or clownish fellow
swap up strike a bargain
swash swaggerer or swashbuckler
swelt (his heart) overheat or exert oneself to the utmost
testern worth less than it seems; a tester is a very small coin
three trees a gallows
thresher agricultural worker who separates grain from straw by beating it with a flail a tool for threshing corn by hand, consisting of a wooden staff or handle at the end of which a shorter pole or club hangs
to make my repair to make my journey
told the crowns counted out the coins in payment
tossed disturbed
trimmed [our stall] trade metaphor – theatre as market
triple crown three-fold crown, associated with the three-tiered papal tiara
troth truth
turkasir turquoise
tush an exclamation of impatient contempt of disparagement
tut an exclamation expressing impatience with a notion and contemptuously dismissing it
ultra posse non et esse Latin for “we cannot do more than is in our power”
upbraid bring forward a matter as a ground for censure
utter put goods out for sale
vaunt boast or brag
venetians style of breeches or leggings from Venice
victuals provisions
wand walking stick
warrant (as action) be without guile or fraud; give assurance; (as legal document or testimony) assurance or promise (eg, of arrest; of repaying debts; or of eviction)
washing-block wooden block on which clothes are beaten while being washed
whence from what place?
whit very insignificant amount
wot knew