You are here: Archive Home > The Mikado > Glossary
The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive  


Act I

Town of Titipu: There is a town called Chichibu (which is very similar sounding to Titipu) in Japan. It is a centre for the manufacture of silk and cement, and is a few hours northwest of Tokyo by train.

Serried: Shoulder to shoulder.

A-trip: Clear of mud and ready to be hauled aboard.

A-lee: Away from the wind; ready for making sail.

Rumbelow: A meaningless combination of syllables, like ‘yeo-heave-ho’, used as a refrain by sailors when performing a routine or rhythmical task.

To lay aloft: To climb up into the rigging in order to raise or lower sails.

Connubially linked: Married.

Decapited: Gilbert’s shortened version of ‘decapitated’.

Pre-Adamite: Before Adam (and Eve).

Minion: Servant.

Imperfect ablutioner: One whose personal hygiene leaves something to be desired.

Cut a dash: Make a striking impression.

Aver: Declare.

Recognizances: Bond by which a person engages before a court or magistrate to observe some condition, such as paying a debt or keeping the peace.

Piano-organist: Operator of a piano-organ, a mechanical piano constructed like a barrel-organ.

Guy: A grotesquely dressed person.

Nisi Prius: A Latin term meaning literally‘unless before’ which was used in law for civil actions heard in local assize courts. Assize judges were known as ‘nisi prius’ judges.

Genius tutelary: Guardian spirit, guiding influence.

Marine Parade: Sea-side promenade, analogous to "the boardwalk" in the U.S.

Tremendous Swell: A distinguished person.

Lucius Junius Brutus: A Roman consul (500 B.C.) who condemned his two sons to death, for their part in plotting to restore the monarchy.

Con fuoco: Passionately. The phrase is Italian for "with fire".

Yam I should get toko: Yam is sweet potato."Toco" (toko) was Victorian schoolboy slang for punishment. This expression means “instead of something sweet, I shall receive punishment.”

Apostrophe: An exclamatory address to a person or thing.

Condign: Suitable.

Dock: The dock is the place occupied by the prisoner in a court, but can also mean a small enclosed space, or cell (originally, an animal cage).

Perform the Happy Dispatch: Commit suicide.

Equipoise: Equilibrium.

Dole: Share or portion.

Knell: The sound of a bell as at a death or funeral.

There’s lot’s of good fish in the sea: “There are plenty of good fish in the sea” means that you should not worry if you have missed one opportunity, there will soon be another.

O ni! bikkuri shakkuri to!: This choral outburst is variously translated. Some say it means "Demon, you surprise and shock us!" whilst others think that "hiccup" is involved somehow.

Gambado: Caper or escapade.

Act II.

Effulgent: Giving off a flood of light.

Tocsin: A warning bell.

Blue-bottle: A large fly.

Miya sama, etc.: This is a genuine Japanese war song of the Japanese Imperial Army.

Pent: Imprisoned, locked up.

Mystical Germans: A reference to evangelical German Lutherans who had been touring England shortly before The Mikado opened.

Buffer: A shock absorber between coaches on trains.

Parliamentary trains: An Act of Parliament of 1844 required that train companies run at least one train a day which stopped at every station with a fare of one penny per mile. These slow trains were called "Parliamentary trains."

Monday Pops: Popular series of classical music concerts organised by Chappell’s, the music publishers, and held in St. James’s Hall.

Finger stalls: Protective coverings for injured fingers.

Spot that’s always barred: In billiards, a spot-barred game is one in which successive pocketing of the red ball from a spot are disallowed.

Snickersnee: A knife or dagger.

Cervical vertebrae: The seven bones forming the upper part of the spine, the neck bones.

Verisimilitude: Appearance of truth.

This glossary may be freely reproduced in programmes for productions by amateur companies provided
The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive is credited.

Archive Home | The Mikado

Page modified 24 August, 2011 Copyright © 2008 The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive All Rights Reserved.