Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Glossary and Notes

ABHORRENCE - The act or state of hating something.

ADZ - An axlike tool used to carve wood.

ANNO DOMINI OF THEIR CONSTRUCTION - The year it was made ("Anno Domini" is usually abbreviated "A.D.")

APPREHEND - Understand.

BAGAMON - Unknown. The presence of a table could suggest this is a backgammon table, but such an item would be a rare luxury in a house like this.

BASON - A drinking vessel, usually made of pewter.

BESTIR - To become active.

BOWEL - In this case, Carter is using an old (and now seldom used) meaning of the word: a sense of pity or tenderness.

BUSHWHACKER - A person accustomed to beating about or making his way through bushes; a backwoodsman.

CAPITALISTS - Those who invest money, or "capital," in business.

CHINTZ - A form of cotton worn by the working classes.

CHURL - A rude person.

COLD STILL - Equipment for distilling liquids.


CONTEMPTIBLE - Deserving to be despised or hated; worthless.

COSSAC - Cossack; Eastern European.

CROSSCUT SAW - A special saw used to cut across the grain of wood.

CURRY KNIFE - A currier's knife; a two-handled knife used to strip away bark or an animal's hide.

DAME - Woman.

DANIEL BOONE - A description for a brave and adventurous person; so named after American frontiersman Daniel Boone (1734-1820), who traveled through the Cumberland Gap to and guided settlers into Kentucky.

DEBAUCHERY - Immoral behavior.

DECORUM - Proper behavior.

DILAPIDATIONS - Run-down features.

DENIZENS - Residents.

DIPLOMA - Display.

EDIFICE - Building.

ENTHRALLED - Under a spell.

EX TEMPORE - A Latin phrase, meaning "without preparation" or "improvised."

EXPLOITS - Deeds or acts, especially notable or heroic acts.

FARE - Food.

FODDER - Livestock food, usually corn stalks and hay.

FOLLY - A foolish act or idea; lacking good sense.

FOWLINGPIECE - A shotgun used to shoot birds.

GALLIGASKINS - Loose breeches, extending just below the knee.

GLISTENING WITH PEWTER PLATES - Paulding is joking here. Pewter is a dull metal that does not shine. He is referring to the pride these people take in their humble belongings.

HOMESPUN - Simple; made at home.

IMPERTINENCE - Irrelevant; not important.

IMPUTED - Caused by.

INTERSTICES - Small spaces between two objects.

JUSTIFICATIONS - Reasons or excuses.


LICENSES - Excuses.

LINSEYWOOLSEY - A rough, thick fabric made of cotton or linen and wool that was worn by working classes and slaves.


LOOM - A frame or machine used to weave cloth.

LUCRE - Money.

MYNHEER VAN SCHIMMELPENNICK, OR VANDER SCHLEGEL - Paulding is creating exaggerated, stereotypical German names. "Mynheer" is an intentional misspelling of "mein herr," which is German for "Mister."

OBSTINACY - Stubbornness.

PANTALOONS - Pants extending from the waist to the ankle.

PETTY - Having little or no importance; minor.

POSTERITY - All future generations.

POVERTY - Having few material possessions; poor.

PRO TEMPORE - A Latin phrase, meaning "for the time being."

PROPENSITIES - Characteristics, traits, or qualities.

PROVOKE - To stir up; to make angry.

PULL THE FLAX - Pulling the threads of a flax plant into cloth.

QUARREL - To find fault; argue.

QUICKENING - Stimulating.

REDUNDANT IN LINSEYWOOLSEY - Another joke by Paulding. A person wearing expensive clothes is often said to be "resplendent," or flashy. But people wearing rough, uncolored linseywoolsey are, to Paulding's eyes, "redundant," or dull.

ROGUE - In this case, the word describes a playful person.

RUDDY - Healthy.

SALUTARY - Wholesome.

SINGED - Burned.

SMITTEN - Attracted to; fascinated by.

STIFF - Dry and hard.

STILLYARDS - Usually spelled steelyards; a weighing device that uses a pulley and counterweight.

SUPERSTRUCTURE - All the parts of a building above the foundation.

TEDIOUS - Boring.

TEMPESTS - Storms.

THE CORN IS YELLOW - Carter is referring to the dried-out corn stalks, which should be green.

TRIFLE - A small, almost insignificant amount.

UNOSTENTATIOUS - Simple, without flashy display.

WEDGE - A triangular object inserted to widen a cut in wood.

WHIP SAW - A narrow cross-cut saw that is pulled back and forth by two people.

YFFROW - "Frau"; German for "woman."



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