A Guide for the Perplexed

Translations of All Non-English Phrases in Patrick O'Brian's Sea-Tales


1st Alphabetic Edition

edited by

Anthony Gary Brown


© 1996, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2016



Click Here for the Classic Page-by-Page Version of Perplexed


Click Here for a Free Download of Alphabetic Perplexed in  Printable Word Processor Files




The Chief Translators

The work of translating has been a cooperative effort, and relatively little is the work of a single hand. The translators, with their special expertises, are:

David Bird
Latin, Greek

Gary Brown
French, Italian, Latin; Editor

Anna Ravano
Italian, Latin, French, Spanish


Francis Miles
a multi-linguist who contributed extensively to the 2002 revision of the 1996 original

In addition, the 2002 revision could not have proceeded without the extensive research help of the following:  E.K.B., Jeffrey Charles, Susan Wenger, Isabelle Hayes, Bruce Trinque, Adam Quinan, Rowen84, Lois Montbertrand, and Samuel Bostock


If you've ever been perplexed by Patrick O'Brian's flow of Latin, French, Irish, Greek, and Spanish (not to talk of Catalan, Turkish, Polynesian and a few other tongues) then here, we hope, is your essential vade mecum. Accurate translations of all - well, almost all - the 'foreign' in O'Brian, easy as kiss-my-hand.

The entries are arranged in strict alphabetic order (so all groups of words are treated as if spelled as one:  hence afflatus precedes a fortiori) and are given as written by O’Brian (so la garce is in the ‘l’ section, not under ‘g’).  The page references are all to the Norton first USA editions (which are identical to all but the earliest UK Collins / Fontana first editions). We've included all 20 Aubrey / Maturin books, from Master and Commander through to Blue at the Mizzen, and added the early sea-tales The Golden Ocean and The Unknown Shore at the end.

Our General Guidelines:

  • We have attempted literal, even pedantic, accuracy rather than literary elegance (which we happily leave to O'Brian). We believe that whilst O'Brian's readers may occasionally need assistance with the words themselves, they seldom need assistance with the wider meaning. To this end we have tried to provide English translations that follow the word order of the foreign original, even at the risk of some stiffness of expression.  However we have occasionally made notes on the context of the phrase where a literal translation either remains obscure or has proved impossible
  • We have omitted most medical and botanical terms, where literal translation is so often unhelpful even when possible. Kerry Webb maintains an informative and enjoyable guide - Maturin's Medicine -  to all the medical terms found in O’Brian.
  • We have omitted most single 'foreign' words that can be found in a decent English dictionary

  • Almost all ‘foreign looking’ words that you cannot find here in ‘Perplexed’ are in fact archaic English and can thus be found in decent dictionaries
  • We have translated even those passages that O'Brian himself translates, in these cases being particularly literal in our contribution
  • Where we don't know the meaning for sure, we have tried to avoid guesswork. We rely on you to help us out!
  • We have not attempted to draw attention to every single typo in the published novels, although they are common in the 'foreign'. However many of Aubrey's errors are, of course, both deliberate and witty on O'Brian's part - we have usually drawn attention to these. Also, note that O'Brian's French is often highly idiomatic, with the spelling itself capturing how everyday, rapid and casual French is spoken.  [Note: Larry Breed has started a new project identifying slips and typos in the printed O’Brian works:  Errata in the Aubrey / Maturin Canon.  Larry welcomes contributions from readers.]

If you want even more information or discussion than we've provided in our Guide for the Perplexed, then you can find civilized, witty and erudite conversation about O'Brian's finer points in the Patrick O'Brian Archive . And if you want to know how to pronounce the Latin in the Roman rather than the English Style, and perhaps even learn a little about how Latin is constructed, then mure hic stimulate precor .

There are also other entertaining and informative web sites relating to Patrick O'Brian that you may care to visit: Gibbons Burke hosts pages that are a virtual cornucopia of POBiana , including one detailing all the many musical references in the Aubrey / Maturin series; Ian Rowan hosts an excellent non-fiction bibliography of works pertaining to sailing, warfare and the early 19th century.  Anna Ravano has added a fun site – POB’s Riches – listing all the various literary quotations in O’Brian.  Enjoy!


L ..........Latin
F .........French
E .........English
S .........Spanish
It .........Italian
Ir .........Irish Gaelic
Scots....Scots Dialect
Gk .......Greek
Lit: …..Literally


The Books

M&C                      Master and Commander  (1969)
PC                          Post Captain  (1972)
HMS                       HMS Surprise   (1973)
TMC                       The Mauritius Command  (1977)
DI                            Desolation Island  (1978)
FW                          The Fortune of War  (1979)
SM                          The Surgeon’s Mate  (1980)
IM                           The Ionian Mission  (1981)
TH                           Treason’s Harbour  (1983)
FSW                       The Far Side of the World  (1984)
RM                          The Reverse of the Medal  (1986)
LM                          The Letter of Marque  (1988)
TGS                        The Thirteen Gun Salute  (1989)
NC                          The Nutmeg of Consolation  (1991)
C/T                         Clarissa Oakes (UK title) / The Truelove (USA title)  (1992)
WDS                       The Wine Dark Sea  (1993)
COM                      The Commodore  (1994)
YA                           The Yellow Admiral  (1996)
HD                          The Hundred Days  (1998)
BM                          Blue at the Mizzen  (1999)
’21’                         21: The Final Unfinished Voyage (2004 fragment)

GO                          The Golden Ocean  (1956)
US                           The Unknown Shore  (1959)

Don't forget that most net browsers have a 'find' or 'search' option on the menu bar. So you can just look up particular phrases or words that are just rattling round in your minds or which you've heard on the several complete audio recordings of O'Brian, for example those produced by Books on Tape .

There are certain to be omissions and errors in our work; these are undoubtedly due to the sloth, ignorance, fecklessness and misspent youth of your Editor. But please do let me know of any gaps in our labours. If you are genteel enough to pretend that you are pointing out a very mere slip of pen or attention, then you will be entered on the 'Roll of Honour' of those who have helped better the final document. We intend to publish revised editions from time to time, so contributions are always welcome. Don't forget: even if you have no idea what a 'foreign' phrase we've missed out means in English, please send it to us for translation and inclusion.

If you have comments, please e-mail me direct.

Folks Who Have Helped Out:  Roll of Honour

(Occasional Contributors, Correctors and Omission-Spotters, in random order)

Gibbons Burke (with especial thanks for his expertise and labour in attending to the HTML code for this site); Cathal O'Brien; Richard Ellis; Ed Kane; Allan Janus; Jack Merton; Randy Johnson; Deborah Whitman; Scott Powell; Philip Anderson; Adam Quinan; Richard Benedict; Elisabeth Shields; Gerry Strey; Eldad Ganin; Rafael Landin; Ema Nemes; Tim Sterrett; Don Goyette; Donal O'Sullivan; Richard Ward; Alex Frakt; Eric Raymond; David Van Baak; Roger Giner-Sorolla ; Richard Ward; Bob Frewen; Andy Evans; Pierangelo Celle; Mary Stolzi; Chris Moseley; Francis Miles; Bob Bridges; Juan Francisco Castilla Conejo; Don Seltzer; Lindsay Hubert; John Blumel; Jim Whiting; Brian Tansy; Patrick Cullinan; Patrick McGinness.

**In addition, the following helped out greatly with the 2002 revision of the site; indeed Your Editor could not have proceeded without them – E.K.B., Jeffrey Charles, Susan Wenger, Isabelle Hayes, Bruce Trinque, Adam Quinan, Rowen84, Lois Montbertrand, Samuel Bostock, Bill Nyden.






à bas, Buonaparte [TMC 132]

down with Buonaparte (F)


absit omen [FW 52]; absit, o absit omen [HMS 368]

let it not be an omen;

                let it not, O let it not be an omen! (L)


abune [NC 58]

above  (Scots dialect)


Académie des Sciences  [COM 210]

The Academy of Sciences  (F)


accoucheur  [SM 41, 141, 330]

a male midwife, or obstetrician (F)


ace and trey;  deuce and cinque  [C/T 114]

one and three;  two and five  (from Old F)


a cuishle [GO 193]; acuisle [YA 39]; acushla  [PC 447, IM 14]

                lit: pulse or heartbeat; i.e. 'Darling' (Ir)


acullico [FSW 160]

a chewed up wad of coca leaves  (Sp)


adagio [TH 81, WDS 61, COM 265, YA 127]

lit.: at ease;  musically, a slow pace  (It)


ad captandum vulgus  [HMS 155]

to deceive the rabble (L)


adieu [YA 201];  adieux  [PC 85, WDS 121]

goodbye; farewells (F; lit: 'to God')


à-Dieu-va  [TH 326, LM 30]

lit.: may you go with God  (F)


a droit  [FW 240, 241]

to the right (F)


aegis  [HMS 10; BM 232]

shield; patronage (L, Gk;  originally only refers to the shield of either Jupiter or one of the other gods)


aetat  [SM 316]

at the age of (L)


afflatus  [IM 208, 273]

                lit.: a breeze; inspiration (L)


a fortiori [TMC 210, FW 98, IM 328]

                even more so (L)


a gauche, je te dis [FW 240, 241]

to the left, I tell you (F)


âge ingrat [NC 93]

that awkward age (F)


agent provocateur [FW 181, SM 150, 352]

one who acts to provoke (F; a secret agent who induces his enemies to commit an illegal or revealing act)


agnus [TH 59]

lamb (of God) (L)


a gradh  [GO 25, 34, 49, 81, 153, 197, 199, 244]

my dear (Ir)


agricolas  [PC 154]

farmers (L)


aguardiente  [M&C 265; PC 492,  BM 225]

brandy  (Sp; lit.: burning water)


a haon, a dó, a trí, a ceathir, a cúig, a sé, a seacht, a horcht, a naoi, a deich, a haon déag, a do dhéag   [COM 62]

                numbers 1 - 12 (Ir)


Ah tutti contenti saremo cosí  [LM 240, 284]

Ah, then we shall all be happy (It; the final chorus of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro)


aid de con [BM 150]

an attempt at aide de camp, lit: an assistant in the camp, the assistant to a senior officer  (F;  con means idiot, though it’s now often used as a rather more vulgar insult)


aide-memoire  [FW 231]

a memory aid (F)


aides-de-camp  [NC 92]

lit.: assistants in the camp; assistants to a senior officer  (F)


aiguillettes  [COM 160]

slivers (F)


akvavit  [LM 265]

lit.: water of life (Danish; distilled liquor)


al fresco   [GO 173]

outdoors; lit.: in the fresh air  (It)


aliquid amari   [M&C 32]

something bitter (L; from Lucretius, De Rerum Natura: medio de fonte leporum surgit aliquid amari quod in ipsis floribus angat,  'from the very centre of a fountain of delights arises something bitter that chokes us in our prime [lit: in our very flowering]’)


allegro  [WDS 63]

lit: merry;  musically, quick and lively  (It)


allegro vivace   [WDS 228]

merry and lively  (It; musical term for a brisk and lively beat)


alley-tor   [GO 133]

a marble, the children’s game of marbles  (archaic Eng.;  perhaps derived from ‘alabaster’, of which ‘marbles’ may once have been made)


allez, allez!   [FW 240, 241]

go, go! (F)


altiplano   [WDS 204]

the high plateau  (Sp; land above c. 12,000 ft)


a luggit corpis sweenie   [M&C 144]

(perhaps Scots, but perhaps simply an O'Brian joke: many correspondents have hazarded translations – usually involving ears, epaulettes, bodies and pigs – but AGB remains unconvinced by their admittedly inspired guesswork)


amitié amoureuse   [TH 237]

a loving friendship (F)


amor vincit omnia   [SM 339]

love conquers everything (L; properly omnia vincit amor, Virgil Eclogues)


amo amas amat   [YA 25]

I love, you love, s/he loves (L; often the first words of Latin learned at school)


amour   [DI 23]

love affair (F)


ampullae   [SM 334]

little glass bottle (L)


anan   [PC 419, HD 119]

say again? (Archaic English slang)


ancien régime   [HMS 80]

the old system (ie: pre-revolutionary France)  (F)


andante   [TGS 163, WDS 20]

at a walking pace (It; musical term)


Angustam, amici, pauperiem pati Robustus acri militia puer Condiscat   [GO 124]

My friends, let a robust young man thoroughly learn to endure gripping poverty by means of  keen military service (Horace  Odes III)


anno domini   [IM 111, RM 22]

                in the year of the lord; ie, advancing age (L)


An, si quis atro dente me petiverit inultus ut flebo puer?   [GO 92]

If someone attacks me with malevolent ill-will [lit: 'black tooth'], shall I wail like a frustrated child? (L; Horace Epodi 1)


apparatus   [TH 279]

serving dishes (a reference to Horace Odes I:  persicos odi puer apparatus, ‘I don't like fancy Persian food, boy’)


appropriatissimo   [C/T 216]

very apt, very appropriate (It)


à propos  [DI 321, SM 374]

exactly to the point;  with particular regard to (F)


aqua regia   [HMS 100]

royal water (L;  a 50-50 mix of nitric and sulphuric acids)


aqua vitae    [GO 218]

the water of life (L; a common way of referring to strong distilled liquors, eg, Irish whiskey, Scandanavian akavit, French clear grape spirit)


Arabia Felix   [PC 344, FW 21]

Fortunate Arabia (L; the ancients knew of the bountiful coasts and inland oases of the Arabian peninsular; these days the phrase usually applies to modern Yemen)


arbutus   [YA 10]

the wild strawberry bush (L; not related to the edible strawberry)


arcades ambo   [FW 54]

[they are] both Arcadians (L; Virgil, Eclogues, VII, where it is used to describe two perfect, almost identical youths from the idealised rustic province of Arcadia, sometimes known as the 'Greek Switzerland'. The phrase came to mean 'much of a muchness')


arcus senilis   [HMS 184]

old man's ring (L;  the pale ring that appears around the eye’s iris in the elderly)


arma virumque cano   [PC 255, HMS 359]

of arms (i.e. weapons) and the man I sing (L; the opening line of Virgil's Aeneid)


arré   [FW 240, 241]

the word used to get a horse moving (F; usually arrí)


As a wee bairn McLean first skelpit a mickle whaup his daddie has whangit with a stane, and then ilka beastie that came his way   [FW 61]

As a young boy McLean first skinned a whimbrel his father had hit with a stone, and then any creature that came his way (Scots: a whimbrel is a small bird; skelpit usually means 'hurried' but O'Brian presumably thinks it a word for 'scalped'.)


Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo.... Hyssopo et super nivem dealbabor.'   [HMS 188]

Full quote: Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor. 'Sprinkle me with the hyssop twigs, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.' (L; Psalms 51:7)


ast illi solvuntur frigore membra vitaque cum gemitu fugit indignata sub umbras   [HMS 360]

...but his limbs became numb with the cold and his life, distaining to bear this, fled down into the shadows with a sigh. (L; the final two lines of Virgil's Aeneid)


ataraxy    [HMS 374]

indifference (Gk)


athesphatos oinos    [HD 85]

wonderful wine  (Gk;  Homer Odyssey)


attaché   [NC 55]

lit.: attached;  a member of a diplomatic staff  (F)


au courant   [HMS 93, TMC 102]

up to date (F)


auctor   [WDS 46]

author, originator (L)


aurora australis   [DI 324]

the southern lights (L)


automata   [C/T 218]

self-moving machines (Gk)


autos, autee, auto ... kyrie eleison   [FSW 109]

he, she, it (Gk; beginning of a declension learned quite early in Greek study) ... Lord, have mercy (Gk; the most common snippet of ecclesiastical Greek in the Latin Mass)


autres pays, autre merde   [HMS 206]

other countries, other shit (F; Aubrey intends ... autres moeurs, ie,  'other customs'.)


Ave Maria   [TH 249]

Hail Mary (L)


aviso   [YA 193, GO 267]

a small messenger-boat  (It, Sp)









babirussa   [NC 12]

boar-deer  (Malay; a wild boar with a pair of horn-like tusks)


bach   [M&C 345]

my dear (Welsh; lit.: 'little')


bagnio   [PC 458, TH 189]

bath-house or Turkish Bath (It; correct is bagno)


bahadur   [HMS 214]

sir / lord (Hindi)


balsa   [WDS 222]

raft  (Sp)


bandito   [LM 130]

a bandit / outlaw (It)


bannière de partance   [HMS 50]

departure flag; ie the 'Blue Peter' (F)


banyan   [C/T 44]

meatless  (naval expression derived from Hindi Banyan / Banian, a name for a sect of vegetarian traders)


baraka   [HMS 76]

an innate, God-given, spiritual force (Arabic)


bar mitzvah   [PC 165]

lit.: Son of the Commandment - the ceremony marking the 13th birthday of a Jewish boy (Hebrew)


bas blue   [C/T 94]

a blue-stocking (F)


bashi-bazouk / s [IM 340, HD 21]

                lit.: wild head; soldiers in an irregular unit  (Turkish)


basso profundo   [BM 235]

lowest bass  (It)


beau   [RM 147]

lit.: fine, handsome; an admirer, boyfriend (F)


begar   [FSW 252]

by God  (Anglo-Irish slang)


béguin   [PC 55]

a fancy (F)


Belle Poule   [HMS 7, 158]

Pretty Hen (F; poule also means 'a racy girl')


bello soleil   [M&C 16]

beautiful sun (bello is It; soleil is F)


bhang   [HMS 194];  bhang;  betel;  qat   [COM 188]

hashish (Hindi);  hashish (Hindi); a nut, mildly stimulative when chewed (Hindi); a mildly stimulative leaf, very commonly chewed in Yemen  (Arab.)


bidpai chhatta    [HMS 221]

? (Hindi; chaat is a term for various types of spicy appetizers, eg aloo chaat - potato, murgh chaat, chicken; Bidpai is a Hindi word for the author of a set of Persian fables, and usually has no food associations)


bien, Monsieur   [WDS 30]

very well, Sir  (F)


billets doux   [DI 141, FW 28]

lit.: sweet notes; love letters (F)


bisque [IM 19, YA 199]; ... de hommard [FW 204]

a rich seafood soup; ... of lobster (F)


bistouries   [PC 436, COM 12]

small surgical knives, often folding (F)


bitchady pawdle   [DI 106]

sent across the sea (Romany)


blanquette de veau   [TMC 22]

veal in white sauce (F)


blateroon   [SM 316]

a blow-hard (Anglo-Irish)


boletus   [PC 110]; ... edulis [M&C 35]

fungus / mushroom; ... edible f.  (L; a mushroom known as the cèpe in F, the 'penny bun' in Eng. and funghi porcini in It and American English )


bombe glacée   [IM 21]

                an ice-cream dish made in a bombe, which is the traditional rounded pudding-bowl (F)


bona creatura   [M&C 341]

pretty creature (Minorcan Catalan dialect)


bon cop de falç   [SM 278]

a good stroke of the sickle (Catalan; forming part of the refrain of the Catalan national anthem Els Segadors [The Reapers]: bon cop de falç, bon cop de falç, defensors de la terra [a good stroke of the sickle .... defenders of the land.)


bonheur du jour   [YA 190]

a small dressing-table with many compartments and folding mirrors  (F)


bonjour, mademoiselle   [TMC 223]

good day, Miss (F)


bon mot   [IM 120]

                lit.: good word; a witticism (F)


bonne mot   [HMS 41]

lit.: good word, a witticism (F; should be bon mot)


bonne bouche   [TMC 162]

lit.: good mouth; ie,  final touch / little extra (F)


bonnehomme   [IM 293]

                chap, fellow (F)


bonny-clabber   [IM 80]

                sour cream (Anglo-Irish)


bonus nullius   [HMS 195]

a piece of property belonging to no-one (L)


borda   [WDS 175]

shepherd’s hut (Basque, but common in Sp and French)


Boreas   [LM 27]

 the north-east wind (Gk; Boreas is often depicted as a horse)


boreen   [NC 73]

a country lane  (Ir)


bothies   [GO 161]

cottages  (Ir)


bouillabaisse   [LM 167]

a rich fish stew  (F)


brawly feckit   [HMS 253]

bravely done (Scots)


Buidhe Connail   [NC 75]

The Connail Yellow (Ir., usually translated as ‘the yellow plague’, but more properly meaning ‘the yellowness that came from Tir-Connail’, i.e. modern Donegal)


buldoo-panee   [PC 122]

?-water (Hindi pani / panee is 'water'; buldoo looks like a Tamil word, but we cannot ascertain its meaning in this context)










ca'hoopit   [PC 394]

? (Scots)


Cacafuego   [M&C 204 and many subsequent references]

shit-fire (Sp; quite often used as an actual ship's name by the Spanish)


cacothymia   [PC 156]

bad spirit, malevolence (Gk)


calculus / calculi   [COM 216, US 234]

a build up of minerals, producing a stone or surface film / stones (L)


calidarium   [YA 260]

the hot bath room  (L; also caldarium)


Calle de los Mercadores   [WDS 146]

Street of the Merchants  (Sp)


calliphora   [YA 97]

fly (Gk)


calor, rubor, dolor   [TH 77]

heat, redness, pain (L;  the classic signs of underlying infection)


Camara de Lobos   [HMS 372]

Chamber of Wolves (Portuguese)


cannonières   [PC 358]

gunboats (F)


canty   [NC 59]

lively (Scots and Nth English dialect)


Capitaine de Vaisseau   [PC 93]

Captain of Vessel, i.e. Post-Captain (F; the French edition of 'Post Captain' is titled Capitaine de Vaisseau)


capitan   [M&C 14]

captain (Sp)


capitan manyac   [IM 201]

                Perhaps Mercedes' bad English for 'Captain Jack'?


capitano   [TH 273]

captain (It)


carcinoma; lupus; sarcoma   [HMS 119]

malignant tumour; skin disease (lit. 'wolf'); tumour (L, L, Gk)


carina   [WDS 87]

keel-like part (L)


carpe diem   [TMC 193]

use / enjoy the day (L; Horace, Odes I. The sense in Horace is not 'Seize the Moment!' [still less 'Go For It!'] but rather, 'Make the Best Use of Today, for who knows what the Heavens have planned for our Tomorrow’.)


carte, tierce, sagoon    [PC 302]

parries and thrusts in fencing (from old F)


cartilago ensiformis;  pectoralis major   [US 138]

the sword-shaped cartilage; the larger chest muscle (L)


caruncula lachrymalia   [SM 42]

lit.: the tear-like little pieces of flesh (L; the protrusion of the tear-ducts in the inner corner of the eye)


Casa de la Inquisición   [WDS 143]

House of the Inquisition  (Sp)


casus belli   [PC 464; ‘21’ 32]

the opportunity / justification for war (L)


catastrophié   [LM 261]

devastated  (F)


causse   [PC 107]

limestone ridge (F)


ceilidhe   [GO 24]

a country dance party (Ir.)


cepas   [M&C 35]

a mushroom (Catalan; known as the cèpe in F, the 'penny bun' in E, and funghi porcini in It. and American English)


chaconne   [IM 155]

                a slow dance (F; orig. Basque)


chamade   [TMC 232]

a drum call for a parley (F)


chance   [PC 92]

luck (F)


chasse-marées   [PC 140, 153; LM 116; BM 70]

lit.: chase-tides; usually coastal privateers, often rigged as a luggers, but can just refer to similar fishing vessels (F)


chéri   [IM 14]

                my dear (F)


chez le Colonel   [HMS 72]

at the Colonel's house / with the Colonel (F)


chienne   [SM 314]

bitch (F)


chimaera   [TMC 327]

a fabled monster (L + Gk - originally meant a she-goat)


chit   [HMS 217]

a piece of paper (Hindi)


chocolato    [PC 492]

chocolate (Sp)


cholera morbus   [RM 180]

the deadly plague cholera (L)


Christe eleison ... kyrie eleison   [M&C 54, WDS 116; also see FSW 109]

Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy (Gk; from the Latin Mass)


cicindelidae   [RM 272]

tiger beetles  (L)


cinco platos   [M&C 34]

five courses (Sp)


cingulum colchicum   [US 139]

lit..: a bandage made of a poisonous plant (L; either invented or facetious)


cingulum   [C/T 200]

lit.: a belt (L;  medical for a tightly-wound bandage)


ciotóg   [YA 113]

a left-hander (Ir)


cithogue   [GO 161]

presumably a version of ciotóg, a left-hander (Anglo-Ir., based on Ir)


Città Vecchia   [TH 303]

Old Town(It)


civet de lapin   [SM 332]

rabbit stew (F)


claddach   [GO 19]

perhaps a drained and cleared peat-bog  (Ir., Scots Gaelic)


clo-, clo-, clo   [COM 36]

presumably an English stammer -  ‘clo- close’ -  rather than an Irish one for Padeen in this case


cloisonné   [COM 16]

partitioned off (F)


cochons   [HMS 73]

pigs (F)


cogit amare jecur   [C/T 17]

the liver knows how to love (L; for the Romans the liver was the seat of affections and emotions;  Lactantius Divine Institutes)


cognoscento   [PC 173]

a person of discernment (It, properly cognoscente)


 coitus interruptus   [LM 17]

                interrupted copulation  (L; interrupted by male withdrawal)


coleoptera   [LM 124]

beetles  (L)


Coll'astuzia, coll'arguzia col giudizio, col criterio ....

Con un equivoco, con un sinonimo qualche garbuglio si troverà   [SM 130]

With cunning, with wit, with judgment, with discernment...

With a quibble, with a well chosen word [lit.: 'synonym'] I'll be able to concoct some sort of plot.

(It; Dr Bartolo in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro Act I)


collops   [NC 58]

slices of meat, cut across the grain;  usually veal or venison  (Scots dialect;  derived from F escallope)


compassé   [HMS 338]

formal or stiff (F)


compline   [IM 327]

final  (derived from Latin and French: part of the cycle of monastic daily prayer as laid down by the rule of St Benedict)


confectio Damocritis   [C/T 143]

Damocritis’ preparation (L;  the reference is obscure)


conjugo   [SM 69]

I join (L, the key word in the Latin marriage ceremony)


Conn Céad Cathach   [NC 297]

Conn of the Hundred Battles (Ir; an ancient Irish king after whom County Connaught is named.)


consuetudo loci est observanda   [YA 32]

the custom of the place must be observed (L)


Contessa perdono ... perdono  [LM 240, 266]

Countess, forgive me ... forgive me  (It; Count Almaviva in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro)


continuo   [NC 119]

continuous  (It.; abbreviation of basso continuo, continuous bass, an improvised accompaniment around a simple written bass line.  It can be played on a variety of instruments)


contre-coup   [FW 245]

lit.: repercussion (F; in English medical usage, this refers to brain damage on the opposite side to where an injury occurred, caused by the impact of the moving brain tissue on the inside of the hard skull)


copito;  aguardiente   [M&C 265]

large glass; 'burning water', i.e. brandy (Sp)


coq / côq au vin   [PC 96, FW 137]

cock / chicken in wine (F; usually no accent over the 'o')


corpo di Baccho   [TH 65]

by the body of Bacchus! (It; correct would be Bacco)


corpus vile   [TMC 91]

foul / dirty body (L; often means 'the body as a mere object', derived from the early Christian equation of physicality with filth.)


cosare   [M&C 14]

sew (bad S; correct is coser)


cosí   [NC 121]

cousin  (Catalan)


coup de filet   [TH 75]

a round up (F; lit.: cast of the net)


coup de main   [TMC 137, FW 224]

punch, slap; a decisive blow; can also mean ‘a surprise attack’ (F; lit.: blow of the hand)


coup d'état   [LM 122, NC 73]

lit.: 'blow against state'; an overthrow of the government (F)


 court-bouillon   [PC 90]

                lit.: short broth (F; a light fish or vegetable stock, with herbs)


crackit gaberlunzie   [TH 11]          

 a half-witted beggar (Scots; gaberlunzie carries the slightly affectionate sense of 'a ne'er-do-well')


crapula   [HD 160]

in Greek usually a hangover-headache;  in Latin usually severe drunkenness itself (Gk, L)


craubeen   [GO 23]

pig’s foot  (Ir., usually crubeen)


creta alba   [M&C 229]

white chalk (L)


crim. con.   [COM 60]

‘criminal conversation’, an English legal term for an illicit sexual relationship

critici  [‘21’ 34]
critical cases / symptoms (medical L)

croagh   [GO 105]

crag, mountain  (Ir)


croutons   [LM 168]

small pieces of bread, fried or roasted to a crisp (F; also just means ‘bread-crusts)


crubeens   [NC 14]

pig’s feet, cooked or pickled  (Ir)


crux   [HD 10]

a cross;  fig. trouble or torment;  an important or puzzling point  (L)


cuatro groupos, cinco minutos   [HMS 69]

four groups, five minutes (Sp)


cuisine bourgeoise   [SM 332]

home cooking (F)


curragh / s   [GO 34, 66, 73]

very small fishing boat / s (Ir)









Danneborg   [M&C 260]

the Danish flag (Danish)


darse   [PC 95]

a sheltered dock or mooring area (F)


Dato   [NC 63]

tribal chief  (Malay)


datura stramonium   [YA 24]

the toxic ‘jimsonweed’  (L)


davy  [‘21’ 78]
affidavit (English slang for legal Latin)

debellare superbos   [LM 129, 130]

to tame the proud (L; Virgil Aeneid, VI 853) The reference is to public duty: "Remember, Roman, these will be your arts: to teach the ways of peace to those you conquer,  to spare defeated peoples, to tame the proud." (as translated by Allen Mandelbaum)


décolletés [NC 96]

lit.: without collars;  dresses cut low to reveal neck and shoulders  (F)


De Consolatione Philosophiae   [FSW 249]

On the Consolation of [provided by] Philosophy (L; a work by Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, c. 480-524 CE; one of the most popular works during the Medieval period.)


defecator   [IM 54]

                impurity-remover (L)

deformes  [‘21’ 34]
cripples (medical L)

dégagé / e   [DI 119, US 66]

relaxed, loose-limbed, free moving (F; can also mean ‘unobstructed’, an in a view)


Deh vieni   [M&C 76, 302];  Deh vieni, non tardar   [HMS 54]

Do come

Do come, do not delay. (It; sung by Susanna in Act IV of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro)


déjà-vu   [PC 433]

lit.: already seen (F)


de jure   [FSW 361]

from a legal point of view (L)


delirium tremens   [DI 215]

the shaking fever (L; medical term for the effects of withdrawal from chronic alcoholic poisoning)


de lue venera   [C/T 76]

concerning Venus' plague (L; ie, syphilis)


demi-lune   [TMC 232]

half- moon (F;  a detached outwork built by a besieged army)


demonios   [BM 220]

devils  (Sp)


de non apparentibus et non existentibus eadem est ratio   [RM 251]

our reasoning is identical as regards what does not appear and and what does not exist (L)


dénouement   [TH 83]

outcome (F)


de ossibus   [DI 85]

concerning bones (L)


désirer   [M&C 14]

want, desire (F)


diga me   [M&C 341]

 tell me (Sp)


de situ orbis   [COM 238]

Concerning the Description of the Globe (L; a work by Pomponius Mela, a 1st c. AD geographer)


désolé / e   [TMC 140, SM 47, TGS 216]

extremely sorry (F)


deus ex machina   [PC 461, 462;  RM 258]

a god from the overhead crane (L; refers to the practice in ancient drama of all problems being finally resolved by the appearance of a God, lowered in on a crane [Gk  mechane] from what we now call the Fly Tower, or Flies, above the visible stage area.)


Devin du Village   [WDS 89]

The Village Soothsayer  (F; a short opera written by the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, first performed in 1752)


Dies Irae   [LM 254]

The Day of Wrath (L; title and opening of Mediaeval Latin hymn on Judgment Day; see also The Hundred Days, p 139)


digitalis   [YA 226],  digitalis purpurea   [YA 197]


purple foxglove (L)


dilletanto   [COM 76]

an art lover (It; correct is dilettante)


Director Supremo   [BM 210]

Supreme Director  (Sp)


doldrums   [BM 143]

depression / dullness;  a weather depression  (Eng; an invented word probably based on ‘dull’, and mimicking ‘tantrum’)

dolorosa  [‘21’ 34]
pains (medical L)

Domestique, monsieur   [M&C 217, PC 91]

Your (domestic) servant, Sir (F. Aubrey's approximate French leads him to choose the wrong one of two words for servant: polite 18th C. usage was Votre serviteur)


Don;  Cosí   [NC 121]

Lord / Sir;  Cousin  (Sp.; Catalan)


dona nobis pacem   [TH 59]

give us peace (L)


douanniers   [PC 114]

customs men (F)


douceur / s   [M&C 24; NC 85, 269;  COM 34]

lit.: a sweetener; a bribe or gratuity (F)


drabogues   [FW 224]

sluts, whores (Ir)


droit de seigneur   [YA 35, 37]

the right of the lord (F;  usually means the mythical right to copulate with local brides on the wedding day)


Droits de l'Homme   [YA 108]

The Rights of Man (F)


ducat   [COM 7]

a Venetian gold coin (It.)


duces tecum   [SM 147]

bring it with you (L; a writ ordering a party to 'bring with you' a document at the next court hearing)


ductus choledocus communis   [NC 16]

common bile duct  (L; choledochus is more usual)


dudong   [NC 48]

a sea-cow  (Malay)


dulce loquentem, dulce ridentem   [HMS 221]

full quote: dulce ridentem Lalagen amabo dulce loquentem, 'I shall love Lalage, who laughs and talks so sweetly' (L; Horace, Odes I)


dum sola et casta fuerit   [TMC 165]

while she will have been alone and chaste (L)


duodecimpunctatus   [RM 272]

twelve-spotted  (L)


dura mater   [M&C 138]

lit.: hard mother (L; ie,  the outer coating of the brain)


dyak   [NC 26]

a native of Borneo (Malay; lit.: ‘untamed’)









eau-de-vie    [GO 218]

the water of life  (F; a common way of referring to strong distilled liquors, eg, Irish whiskey, Swedish aquavit, French clear grape spirit)


éclaircissement   [SM 123]

elucidation (F)


éclat   [FW 206, WDS 77]

a burst of noise or light; an outburst or sharp disturbance  (F)


égards   [DI 57]

special considerations (F)


eh bien   [PC 104]

oh well (F)


eh, pardi   [M&C 224]

you don't say! (F, colloquial for pas dire; note Alexandre Dumas' use of this phrase as a common exclamation)


eh, parlez ....   [PC 280]

so, call for.... (F)


élan   [TMC 170]

dash, enterprise (F)


elevato in grado   [TH 273]

raised in rank (It)


Els Set Dolors   [IM 198]

                The Seven Sorrows (Catalan; ie, the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary)


embarras de choix   [C/T 94]

an embarrassment [surfeit] of choice (F)


emigrés   [C/T 165]

emigrants (F; refers generally to supporters of the former Royalist regime who left France)


en clair   [FW 35]

in clear / uncoded [language] (F)


en flute   [SM 180]

in the manner of a flute (F; ie, with few or no guns [in order to free up deck space], so that, like the keys of a flute, the gunports have only air behind them)


engouement   [HMS 80]

sudden passion (F)


En Maragall, valga'm Deu   [HMS 72]

Maragall, Sir, my God! (Catalan)


en route, en route, les prisonniers!   [PC 105]

on our way, on our way, prisoners! (F)


epergne   [LM 130]

an elaborate dining-table center-piece, often fitted with dishes for fruits and sweets (F)


epocha   [PC 301, IM 96]

                a fixed moment in time, or 'turning point' (Gk)


Eratosthenes redivivus   [M&C 361]

Eratosthenes come back to life (L; Maturin is saying that the Latin author Strabo had merely copied the subsequently lost works of the Greek philosopher Eratosthenes)


Erin go bragh   [HMS 114]

Ireland for Ever (Ir)


escota   [WDS 223]

sheet  (Sp; i.e., nautical term for a rope attached to the bottom of a sail)


espèce de fripouille   [HMS 154]

you silly cad (F; espèce is lit.: 'type', but espèce d'idiot is 'silly idiot')


est summum nefas fallere   [IM 73]

                it is the most wicked thing to deceive (L)


état d’âme   [BM 165]

state of mind [lit. ‘soul’]  (F)


ethos   [BM 49]

character, or the distinctive spirit of a community  (Gk)


Eupator Ingens   [NC 247, COM 30]

 lit.: the great / distinguished Eupator; ie, some sort of beetle  (Eupator is a Greek noble surname; ingensis L)

evacuatorii  [‘21’ 34]
vomiters (medical L)

ex Africa surgit semper aliquid novo,- novi   [TMC 104]

there's always something new coming from Africa (L; Pliny the Elder, Historia Naturalis 5. ‘novi’ is correct.)


Examen de Pyrrhonisme   [COM 9]

An Investigation of Scepticism (F; Phyrrho of Elis, a contemporary of Aristotle, founded the sceptical school of philosophy)

exanthematici  [‘21’ 34]
skin eruptions (medical L)

excellentissimo   [BM 252]

most excellent (haphazard Sp)


ex gratia   [HMS 26]

out of grace, without obligation (L)


Expeditio in Sinas   [US 194]

 Expedition to Sinae (L)


exulans   [NC 118]

wandering, exiled  (L)










facies   [M&C 275, SM 42]

 face;  ie, outward appearance, revealed character (L)


fait accompli   [TMC 327, FW 248, IM 261, WDS 168, US 24]

a done deed (F)


faldetta   [TH 308]

a hooded black cape worn by Maltese women (Maltese)


falsum in uno, falsum in omnibus   [PC 268]

false in one instance, [therefore] false in every instance (L)


Familles Naturelles des Plantes   [RM 107]

The Natural Families of Plants (F)


farden skiff   [US 51]

a farthing skiff; i.e. a small river boat that can be hired for a farthing  (Archaic Eng.)


fas and nefas   [C/T 88]

right and wrong (L)


faubourg   [SM 138]

suburb (F)


faukit   [NC 58]

perhaps intended as Scots pronunciation of ‘fucking’?


faute de mieux   [TMC 159]

for lack of anything better (F)


fedais   [HD 21]

the devoted ones (Arabic)


felix   [M&C 266]

happy (L; he means 'feliz', Sp)


fenum habent in cornu   [M&C 344]

lit.: they have hay on the horn (L; Horace, Satires 1. The hay was used on oxen inclined to gore people, as both a padding and visible 'danger sign'; Horace uses the phrase (with the singular habet) to mean 'he's a dangerous man'. Maturin's use of this quotation is also a clever pun on the 'cuckold's horn' in respect of Admiral Harte.)


festino lente   [SM 289];  festino lento   [DI 131]

make haste slowly (L; should be festina lente. Suetonius Divus Augustus)


fiamme   [TH 84]

flames (It)


fianna Eirion   [C/T 211]

 the forces of the Nation of Ireland (Ir)


fibula   [HMS 194]

lit: a brooch or clasp;  here meaning that a fastener has been used to close Dil’s sexual organs, to ensure her chastity  (L)


filibeg   [LM 60]

little kilt (Gaelic)


filioque   [WDS 43]

and the son  (L; the reference is to the profound and continuing argument between Roman and Orthodox Christians as to whether the Holy Ghost proceeds from God the Father and his son Jesus considered as a single divine entity [the Roman position], or whether the Holy Ghost proceeds from God the Father alone, as does His son Jesus [the Orthodox position])


finis   [SM 59]

end (L)


firbolgs   [GO 73]

in myth, the original inhabitants of Ireland (Ir.)


firman   [IM 261]

                an edict issued by the Sultan of Turkey (Persian)


flambeaux   [PC 159]

flaming torches (F)


flauto d'amore   [TH 78]

lit.: flute of love (It)


flèche   [FW 16]

arrow (F)


flocci-nauci-nihili-pilification   [M&C  302]

setting something at a minimal value (English but based on L, following a humorous literary practice of long, compound words. Flocci = pieces of straw; nauci = trifles; nihil = nothing; pili = pieces of hair; fication based on L facere = to make)


flora and fauna   [PC 350;  NC 74]

plants and animals (L)


Flora Peruvianae et Chilensis   [WDS 201]

The Flowers of Peru and Chile (L)


fluor albus   [C/T 76]

the white flux (L)


foch   [HMS 69]

fire (Catalan)


foeda est in coitu et brevis voluptas   [C/T 165]

there is a dirtiness in copulation, and [only] a quick pleasure (L; Petronius Carmina)


foie gras   [SM 315]

lit.: fat liver; the liver of force-fed geese (F)


folie circulaire   [FW 148]

recurring madness (F; ie,  manic depression)


fons et origo   [TMC 91]

the spring and the source (L)


force majeure   [FSW 14]

lit.: superior force;  usually means that usual arrangements are overridden by more compelling circumstances or orders  (F)


force hyperméccanique   [TGS 189]
lit: a beyond-mechanical force (F; the ‘vital force’ of the 18th century ‘Vitalists’, a force existing beyond both mind, body and spirit)


formatge duro   [HD 104]

hard cheese (Minorcan Catalan)


fornicatores   [COM 75]

fornicators (L)


fortissimo   [IM 344]

                as loudly as possible (It)


fortunatos nimium.....   [IM 20]

lit.: 'happy to an excessive degree...'. (L; full quote is O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint, agricolas,  'O how very happy farmers could be, if only they would count their blessings [lit.: know their possessions]! (L; Virgil, Georgics II)


fouette;  fouette, toujours   [FW 240, 241]

crack the whip! keep whipping (F)


fragilis ratis   [FW 23]

a fragile craft (L; Horace, Odes passim)


francus bancus   [TMC 165]

free seat (dog L)


fu-fu   [COM 270]

a glutinous preparation of crushed roots, either yam, plantain or cassava  (Ghanaian)


fui non sum non curo   [PC 449]

 I did exist; I don't exist now; I care not.  (L; [nb should probably be non fui, 'I didn't exist': see M&C 232] a common tomb inscription [in the non fui version] with the sense of 'I came from nowhere, and now I've gone - what does such a fleeting life matter anyway?')


furcula;  carina; ramus / i;  scapula   [WDS 87]

lit.: a forked prop; keel-like part; branching part / s; shoulder blade  (L)


furor uterinus   [PC 58]

lit.: frenzy of the uterus (L)









ganger   [GO 106]

a foot-traveller  (archaic Eng.)


garçon manqué   [HMS 194]

 would-be boy; a 'tom-boy' (F)


garde impériale   [TH 59]

imperial guard (F)


gastrocnemius   [YA 123]

belly-leg  (Gk;  the bulging calf muscle)


generale   [NC 105]

the general call to arms  (It)


ghee   [HMS 319]

clarified butter (Hindi)


gigot en croûte   [PC 90]

lit.: leg of lamb in a [pastry] crust (F)


gingall   [NC 35]

a big musket or small cannon, swivel-mounted on a portable rest  (Hindi; also gingal, jingal)


glacis   [HMS 220]

a sloping apron built at the foot of a fort wall (F, Eng)


glauk eis Athenas   [TMC Dedication, printed in Greek script]

An Owl to Athens (Gk; The phrase means 'an insignificant addition to an already great amount', rather like the English saying, 'Carrying Coals to Newcastle')  See also The Hundred Days, p197 for a reference to this phrase.


gluteus maximus   [COM 86]

the largest buttock-muscle (L)


gnosce teipsum   [PC 198, SM 63]

know yourself (L; translates the Greek gnothi seauton which was famously inscribed upon the temple of Apollo at Delphi)


gombeen-man   [GO 26]

middle-man, or local moneylender  (Ir.; often means a local trader who controls both the supply and distribution of necessary goods, and thus the price)


gralloch   [NC 13]

the guts; to eviscerate  (Ir; Scots Gallic)


grande nation   [SM 317]

a great nation (F)


gratin   [SM 315]

traditionally = topped with breadcrumbs;  often = a cooked cheese topping (F)


gratis pro Deo   [NC 75, WDS 2]

free, for the sake of God (L)


gregale   [M&C  349]

north east wind (It)


grego   [YA 213]

a hooded jacket  (Portuguese, derived from ‘Greek’, the supposed origins of the garment)


grosso modo   [LM 44]

in a general way  (It)


guacharo   [WDS 177]

the oilbird  (Sp)


guano   [BM 189]

naturally composted excrement, usually of birds or bats (Quichua / Sp)


guerilleros   [BM 214]

irregular warriors  (Sp)


gummata   [PC 335, TMC 189]

lesions, usually associated with syphilis (L)


gymnosophist   [HMS 194]

naked sage (Gk)









habeas corpus   [IM 269]

                lit.: you may have the body; a writ releasing somebody from custody (L)


Halte là. Qui vive? Le docteur Ralph   [IM 219]

                Stop there. Who is it [lit.: who lives]?  Doctor Ralph (F)


hammam   [TH 189]

Turkish bath (Arabic)


hapax phenomenon   [SM 268]

a unique event (Gk)


harmattan   [COM 255, 257]

a hot wind, originating in the deserts of northern West Africa  (Arab.)


haud crede colore   [HMS 285]

don't trust the colour (L)


hauteur  [HMS 156]
haughtiness (F)


haut relievo   [HMS 39]

a good tang or savor (F+I; lit.: 'high relief')


Heautontimoroumenos   [HMS 265]

The Self-Tormenting One (Gk; the title of a Latin play by Terence, an adaptation of an earlier Greek work)


hein   [FW 132]

eh?, what? (F)


Heisa, heisa vorsa, vorsa vou, vou         [TGS 28]

a chant from a sea-shanty (perhaps Old E or Norse; the words may be meaningless - a mid-16th century version, heard by a lowland Scot being sung on an English vessel, runs: heisa, heisa; vorsa, vorsa; vou, vou; one long pull, more power, young blood, more mud...... However, the words also bear some similarity to colloquial Italian, issa, issa; forza, forza; su, su, which means heave, heave; come on, come on; up, up)


helot   [FSW 256]

a serf (from L and Gk; specifically, the peasant class among the Spartans who had absolutely no rights.)


hemi-demi   [COM 39];  hemi-demi-semi   [LM 44, NC 72]

cumulative repetitions of ‘half’ (the prefixes all occur in various Greek and Latin derived forms;  in music a hemi-demi-semiquaver is a 64thnote)


hemicrania   [LM 55]

severe headache, migraine  (Gk /L)


herético pálido   [WDS 189]

pale heretic (Sp)


heuch / heugh   [TH 74, HD 11];  heuch, ablins   [TH 12]

well ;  well, perhaps   (Scots)


hiburan buah pala   [NC 80]

the nutmeg of consolation (Malay; as translated by Maturin)


hic, haec, hoc   [FW 224, FSW 61, 108, 109]

this (L; masculine, feminine and neuter inflexions, respectively. A common piece of early rote learning.)


hic, hac, horum   [GO 15]

this [masc], this [fem], of these (L)

hijos de puta  [HMS 65]
sons of a whore (Sp)

histiophori pulchellus   [C/T 88]

the beautiful little marlin (L)


Histoire Générale des Voyages   [FW 49]

A Complete History of Voyages (F)


Ho aia-owa   [C/T 157]



homo hominis lupus   [WDS 95]

man is a wolf to man  (L;  a comon proverb, often given in this form though strictly hominis should be homini)


homoiousian ... homoousian   [TH 130]

of like essence ... of similar essence (Gk)


honi soit qui mal y pense   [RM 48]

shame to him who thinks evil of it (old F; the motto of the English Order of the Garter)


Honneur and Patier   [HMS 53] 

intended to be 'honneur and patrie', i.e. French for Honour and the Fatherland


horchata   [YA 41, HD 32]

a drink made from water and chufa (tiger) HD  nuts in Spain or water, rice and nuts in South America (Sp)


hortus siccus   [M&C  180, TH 113, COM 61]

a dried garden (L; ie a collection of dried plants and flowers)


Hôtel   [SM 139]

mansion / hall (F)


Hôtel-Dieu   [DI 85, SM 330, WDS 63]

lit.: Mansion of God (F for hospital)


houario   [HD 155]

a type of ship (Arabic)


huachua   [WDS 181]

Andean goose (Sp / Quichua)


huitième   [RM 216, TGS 274]

eighth (F)


hula   [C/T 253]

a folk dance (Hawaiian)


hummums   [PC 458]

Turkish baths (E, from Arabic hammam, hot)


hunes de perroquet   [HMS 50]

lit.: tops of the topgallants (F; presumably the cross-trees at the junction of the topmast and topgallant masts; perroquetis literally ‘little parrot’, but is a t’gallant in nautical parlance)


hybris   [TGS 273]

overweening pride (Gk; often transcribed as 'hubris')


hydropericardium   [YA 196]

fluid in the cavity around the heart (mixed Gk and L)










Ile des Cygnes   [SM 137]

Island of Swans (F)


il faut que le prêtre vive de l'autel   [C/T 75]

the priest must live off his altar (F; ie, 'a priest should be provided for by his parishioners'.)


il faut souffrir pour être beau   [FSW 298]

one must suffer in order to be beautiful  (F)


Illi robur et aes triplex circa pectus erat,

 qui fragilem truci commisit pelago ratem primus --        [GO 54]

there was both oak and a triple layer of bronze around the heart

of he who first launched a frail craft on the savage open sea

(L; Horace Odes 1) See also The Hundred Days, p 86 for a reference, in English, to this verse.


impostumes   [NC 157]

cysts, abscesses  (Old F, Medical Eng)


indisposèe   [M&C  270]

indisposed (F; ie, a reference to her period)


in omnium   [RM 130]

in total (L; should be in omnia)


in posse   [HMS 37]

potentially (L)


Institute de France   [SM 35]

The Institute of France (F)


intermissa, Venus diu, rursus bella moves   [FW 53]

Venus, again you provoke wars long since abandoned (L; Horace, Odes VI. Nb: the comma after diu is misplaced, and should instead follow Venus. The line precedes parce, precor, precor quoted in SM 176)


intermittance de coeur   [FW 199]

irregular heartbeat (F)


in terrorem   [TMC 210]

in fear (L)


Io triumphe   [HMS 266, DI 206]

Hurrah for the Triumph! (L; the phrase chanted by the principal celebrant - known as The Triumph - of the religious procession commemorating past victories)


ipecacuanha   [BM 89]

an emetic prepared from plant roots (Quichua)


ipso facto   [WDS 121]

by that fact itself (L)


iradé   [IM 261, 336]

                a written decree from the Sultan (Arabic-Turkish) IM 336


iris   [FSW 63]

rainbow (Gk)


is minic Gall maith   [DI 314]

there's usually some good in a foreigner (Ir)

ita, missa est  [‘21’ 43]
go, it has been sent forth (L; the final words of the priest to his congregation at the end of the mass indicating that the divine work has been published to the world once more, with the word ‘mass’ itself often being said to derive from the phrase)








j'ai failli attendre    [FW 49]

I nearly had to wait (F)


J'ai pris mon bien là où je l'ai trouvé    [M&C Author’s Note]

I've taken my riches from anywhere I found them (F; often attributed in this exact form to the 17th C. playwright Jean-Baptiste Molière, but it was also the motto of the Pleiade school of French poets of the 16thcentury.)


J'arrive, mon capitaine    [HMS 71]

I'm coming, Captain. (F)


jabalí    [M&C 35]

wild boar (Sp)


jackeens    [NC 274]

talkative, pretentious fools  (Anglo-Ir. slang;  now used almost exclusively as a phrase of mild contempt  for Dubliners, some of whom take pride in the appellation and contrast themselves with the culchies  - country bumpkins -  living beyond the capital city)


jalap    [BM 88]

a laxative (Sp, from xalapa, a name given to several plants with roots suitable for preparation of the drug)


Je préserve - j'ai - le plus vivid rémembrance de vos combatte à Ushant à bord le Pong, en vingt-quatre neuf    [PC 91]

I guard - I have - the most 'vivid' reorganisation of your fight off Ushant on board the Peacock, in twenty-four nine (very bad F; 'vivid' is not a F word at all;  'Pong' is the approximate pronunciation of F Paon; quatre-vingt neuf would be correct F for [17]89)


jeune fille en fleur    [LM 260]

a young girl in bloom (F)


 joes   [COM 7]

a Portuguese gold coin, the Johannes, named for Kings of that country (L / Port.)


Journal des Sçavans    [TGS 110]

The Scholars' Journal (F; sçavans is an old spelling of savants; a journal of the humanities and sciences founded in 1665)


ju-ju    [COM 201, BM 122; ‘21’ 44]

a charm;  magical or spiritual practices / atmosphere (various West African languages)


junta    [BM 193]

a ruling council or committee (Sp)


Jupiter Tonans    [DI 160]

Jupiter / Jove the Thunderer (L)










kapok   [NC 34]

fibrous surround of the seeds of the kapok tree  (Malay)


katno aiss' vizmi   [FW 139]

 (Well.... it might be Iroquois!)


kava   [C/T 241]

the root of a Polynesian plant, made into a relaxing drink (Polynesian)


kesegaran mawar, bunga budi bahasa   [NC 80]

rose of delight, flower of courtesy (Malay; these translations are given in The Thirteen Gun Salute, though ‘rose of freshness’ is a more literal translation.  In The Nutmeg of Consolation p 29 the female Dyak warrior is called Kesegaran)


kilaggen   [GO 56]



kyrie eleison   [M&C 54, FSW 109, WDS 116]

Lord have mercy (Gk; from the Latin Mass)


koekjes   [FW 11]

little cakes (Dutch)


krees   [NC 26]

a dagger, often with a wavy edge and wavy (ie damascene) decoration  (Malay; often seen as kris)


kreng   [WDS 95]

carcass (Dutch)









la bêtise c'est de vouloire conclure   [NC 256]

it's stupid to want to bring things to a conclusion (F; from Gustav Flaubert’s Correspondence)


la casa   [IM 200]

                the house (It, Sp, Catalan)


La Clemenza di Tito   [TGS 110]

Tito's Mercy (It; Mozart's last opera)


lacuna   [DI 179]

gap (L)


la garce   [FW 247]

the bitch (F)


langouste   [PC 90]

spiny lobster (F)


lapilli    [C/T 178]

pebbles  (L)


lapis lazuli   [HMS 221]

lit.: stone of azure (L)


lapsus calami   [TGS 138]

a slip of the pen (L)


lapsus linguae   [DI 192]

a slip of the tongue (L)


larvae;  calliphora   [YA 97]

grub; fly (L; Gk)


La Sublime Porte   [IM 336]

                The Heavenly Gate [the centre of Turkish administration in Constantinople] (F)


latibule   [DI 130]

hiding place (L)


leanaí sídhe   [COM 65]

child fairies (Ir)


Le Astutzie Femminili   [PC 466, PC 469]

Women's Wiles (It)


le club des lions   [HD 189]

the lion’s club  (F;   ‘den’ is repaire)


legato arpeggio   [DI 180]

a smoothly connected chord played as a 'run' (It)


Le monsieur est touché.

Mauvaisement blessay?

Sais pas, commandant. Il parle plus: je crois bien que c'est un macchabée à présent. Y a du sang partout.

Vous voulez pas me faire passer une élingue, commandant?   [PC 280]

The gentleman is hit.

Badly wounded?

Don't know, skipper. He's stopped talking: I'm pretty sure he's a stiff now. There's blood everywhere.

Won’t someone pass me a line, skipper?' (F; a mix of colloquial and bad)


Le Nozze di Figaro   [LM 240]

The Marriage of Figaro (It; the title of an opera by Mozart)


le perfide Sir Blaine   [HMS 81]

the faithless Sir Blaine (F)


lepidoptera   [M&C 36]

lit.: dainty wings; i.e. butterflies and moths (Gk)


le pork inentamé   [SM 153]

the pig not yet cut up (F)


le pot au noir   [BM 143]

lit.: pot / jug for black stuff  (F)


les agissements néfastes de Sir Blaine   [HMS 81]

the wicked machinations of Sir Blaine (F)


les bout-dehors des bonnettes du petit perroquet   [WDS 80]

lit.: the extreme outside ends of the little caps of the little parrot  (F;  Maturin is absolutely correct in his use of these marine French terms-of-art:  bout-dehors  = boom; bonnette = stun’sail; petit perroquet = t’gallant sail)


Les Deux Frères   [YA 159]

The Two Brothers (F)


lèse-majesté   [LM 208]

high treason  (F; lit. ‘encroachment upon royal authority’)


Les hommes, c'est difficile de s'endormir sans   [COM 53]

Men! It's difficult to fall asleep without them (F)


les plus sages   [FSW 151]

the most wise [people] (F)


levator anguli scapulae   [TH 278]

lit.: the raiser of the corner of the shoulder-blades (L)


levee   [HD 114]

lit.:  a getting-up;  in French, a morning assembly;  but in English an afternoon assembly for men only hosted by the Sovereign or a Prince  (F)


le voilà   [FW 239]

there he is (F)


libeccio   [M&C 110]

south-west wind (It)


Libellus de Natura Scorbuti   [M&C  67]

A Pamphlet on the Characteristics of Scurvy (L)


lictor   [DI 267]

a Roman official armed with a ceremonial rod (L)


lieutenant de vaisseau   [TMC 52]

first lieutenant (F)


lignum vitae   [WDS 49]

lit.: wood of life (L; an exceptionally dense hardwood, black in colour)


lingua franca   [HMS 126; IM 155, 312; HD 117, 119, 217]

a common tongue (L; an everyday mix of F, Sp, It and other Mediterranean languages)


liquor ammoniae acetates   [IM 208]

                solution of ammonium acetate (L)


listie   [TH 74]

little list (Scots)


litera scripta manet   [TH 253]

the written word endures (L)


livré   [PC 91]

an attempt by Aubrey at 'booked' (F; livrer, delivered / surrendered / betrayed; also livrer la bataille, 'to join battle'; Aubrey is thinking of livre, 'a book')


lizardi percalidi   [DI 124]

Aubrey's attempt at 'very hot lizards' (L; percalidus could certainly mean 'very hot'; a lizard is lacerta in L: hence lacertae percalidaewould have been more accurate)


llipta   [WDS 132]

a hard paste of burnt bone, herbs and spices, often mixed with sugar or salt  (Sp)


los perros Ingleses   [GO 190]

the English dogs  (Sp)


louis d'or   [SM 352, COM 7]

a golden louis [coin] (F)


lucus a non lucendo   [RM 180]

 [called] a grove for being unlit (L; more or less impossible to translate, but meaning 'a contradiction in terms, often with facetious intent'; often attributed to Quintilian, who quotes the phrase as already well-known) The word lucus ('a grove', i.e. that part of a wood where dappled sunlight breaks dimly through)  is derived from the verb lucere, 'to light', from which lucendo is also derived. The force of the phrase is "it is called 'a bright place', though usually pretty dark", or in the O'Brian, "it is called a rose garden though it usually has no roses"


lues venera   [DI 178]

the plague of Venus (L; ie,  syphilis)


lupus   [HMS 119]

skin disease (L; lit.: 'wolf')


lustra decem   [SM 176]

ten five-year religious cycles (L; ie,  50 years)









Mac na h'Oighe slan   [FW 299]

Hail to the Son of the Maiden (Ir)


Madam Chose   [SM 33]

Mrs Thing / What's-her-name (F)


magma   [HMS 139]

thick ointment (Gk)


main forte   [PC 467]

brute force (F; lit.: 'strong hand')


mais, qu'est-ce qui se passe?   [LM 194]

but, what's going on? (F)


Mala soluta navis exit alite

ferens olentem Maevium

 ut horridus utrumque verberes latus

 auster, momento fluctibus

niger rudentes Eurus, inverso mari,

fractosque remos differat....

O quantos instat [navitis] sudor tuis

 tibique pallor luteus

et illa non virilis ejulatio

preces et adversum ad Jovem   [GO 178, 179]

An evil, winged omen is unleashed, and the ship bearing the foul Maevius sets out.

O South Wind, make sure you pound her on both her sides with savage waves!

May the black North Wind, with the sea in a turmoil,  carry away her rigging and smashed oars! [4 couplets omitted]

Oh, what a sweat there will be on your sailors!

 For you what a bilious-yellow pallor and such an unmanly yowl, with prayers to the hard-hearted Jupiter!  (L; Horace Epodi 10. Maevius was a wretched poetical contemporary of Virgil. In line 3 O'Brian's horridus should be horridis; in line 7 the word navitis is missing.  In the final line adversum is lit. 'unregarding'.)


malleolus   [NC 54]

 the protruding ankle bone (L; lit. a small hammer, or the tongue of a shoe buckle)


mammalia   [NC 313]

the class of mammals (L)


mammothrept   [M&C  275]

brought up by a grandmother (Gk; ie, 'mummy's boy')


manger   [M&C 14]

to eat (F)


mangiare   [M&C 14]

to eat (It)


marelle   [SM 137]

hopscotch (F)


mari complaisant   [LM 279]

an indulgent husband (F)


Mariae Duodecies Sacrum   [LM Dedication]

Dedicated Twelve Times Over to Mary (L; Letter of Marque is the 12th book of the series)


Mariae lembi nostri duci et magistrae do dedico   [M&C Dedication]

 I present and dedicate [this book] to Mary, the commander and mistress of our yacht (L)


Mariae Sacrum   [SM, IM, TH, NC Dedications]

Dedicated to Mary (L)


mariage blanc   [FW 213]

lit.: white marriage; a marriage in name alone (F)


Marlbrouk s'en va-t-en guerre,

mironton, mironton, mirontaine

Marlbrouk ne revient plus   [FW 263]

Marlborough is off to war,

mironton etc.

Marlborough is never coming back

(F; mironton is a nonsense word, perhaps imitating a drum-roll; apparently sung to the tune of 'For he's a jolly good fellow')


marque   [LM 57]

mark, sign of authority  (F;  originally, privateers’ enabling documents were known either as ‘letters of marque [authority]’ or ‘letters of reprisal’, ie a document enabling seizure of enemy vessels.  Gradually the document became known as a ‘Letter of Marque and Reprisal’, a somewhat unhandy phrase that incorrectly suggests that ‘marque’ and ‘reprisal’ are two different paths of action.)


marrano   [WDS 189]

pig  (Sp; usually a reference to Jews who adopted Christianity either under duress or for commercial convenience)


más mató la cena que curó Avicena   [US 234]

the supper-table killed more men than Avicena ever cured (Sp; Avicenna was an 11th C Arab physician and philosopher)


mate   [WDS 176, BM 194]

herb tea  (South Am. Sp., from local Quichua language term for the gourd from which it is traditionally drunk)


matins and lauds;  prime;  terce;  sext;  nones;  vespers;  compline    [IM 327]

                morning and praise;  first hour;  third hour;  sixth hour;  ninth hour;  evening;  final

(All derived from Latin and French: the cycle of monastic daily prayer as laid down by the rule of St Benedict)


mea culpa, mea maxima culpa   [C/T 216]

my fault, my grievious fault  (L; from the Roman Catholic Act of Confession)


medang   [NC 48]

a type of tree (Malay;  used for a large variety of species, with the meaning depending on location)


megrims   [BM 157]

depression (Archaic Eng. slang)


melée   [PC 214; TMC 226; NC 35; WDS 118; COM 148, 264; YA 67]

general fight  (F)


membrum virile   [M&C 345; NC 186]

virile limb (L; ie,  penis)


memorate   [TH 27]

commit to memory (bad English: Italian would be mandare a memoria)


ménage   [HMS 199]

household (F)


ménage-a-trois   [C/T 167]

a threesome household  (F)


menarche   [HMS 194]

onset of menstruation (Gk)


mens rea   [M&C 176]

a guilty mind (L)


menstruum    LM 270]

fluid suspension  (scientific L)


menus plaisirs   [LM 119]

small pleasures (F)


merci   [M&C 221]

thank you (F)


merde à celui qui le lit   [TH 209]

a turd on whoever reads this (F)


merde d'oie   [SM 33]

lit.: goose shit  (F; a bronze green/brown colour)


mésalliance   [PC 52]

a socially mis-matched marriage (F)


messiers les prisonniers   [PC 145]

you gentlemen prisoners (F)


Messieurs les Anglais; tirez les premiers   [HD 128]

You English gentlemen fire the first [shots]   (F;  as said by General d’Anterroche to General Hay at the Battle of Fontenoy, 1745)


misaine   [HMS 50]

foremast (F)


Missa Brevis   [M&C 251]

lit.: The Short Mass; often trans. as The Low Mass (L)


mocha   [YA 210, 223]

high grade coffee (Arabic, from the Yemeni port of Mocha)


modicum   [WDS 46]

a small amount (L)


mohur   [COM 7]

                a Persian / Indian gold coin (Persian)


moidores   [GO 134, 171]

Portuguese gold coins (Port.) GO


molter vivace   [FSW 141]

in a very lively style (It; correct is molto vivace)


monophysite   [TH 130]

of a single nature (Gk)


Monsieur, j'ai l'honneur de introduire une amie, le Dr Maturin: Dr Maturin, l'espagnole capitaine, don Garcio...   [PC 492]

Sir, I have the honour to introduce a girlfriend, Doctor Maturin: Dr Maturin, the Spanish lady captain, don Garcio.... (bad F)


Monsieur, je prends le commandement de ce vaisseau   [WDS 30]

Sir, I take command of this ship  (F)


monsieur le sergent   [PC 104] sergeant, sir (F)


mors in olla, vir Dei: mors in olla   [COM 279]

death in the pot, o man of God: death in the pot (L; 2 Kings 4)

motorii  [‘21’ 34]
convulsions (medical L)

M’puta or Mputa [RM 36; ‘21’ 48]
far away (various west and southern African languages; N.b., the word only appears as the surname of the young Jack Aubrey's sometime lover Sally, and as the later surname of their son, Sam Panda)

Mr Richards, bach   [M&C 345]

Mr Richards, my dear (Welsh bach is lit. 'little')


muc   [C/T 154]

pig  (Irish)


munera navium saevos inlaqueant duces   [TH 245]

gifts may ensnare the savage leaders of ships (L; Horace Odes III)


murias hydrargi corrosivus   [WDS 76]

the corrosive solution of mercury (L)


musha   [GO 109]

O dear!  (Ir.)


mutatis mutandis   [COM 219]

by changing what needs to be changed (L; a technical device in presenting an argument,  indicating that one situation differs from another only on points of detail)









naevus   [NC 58]

                a mole, blemish or spot  (L)


nagin   [PC 339]

perh. ‘a half-pint’ (Ir. where it is literally a disagreeably small bottle of spirits, and figuratively ‘a person low down in the pecking order, of little consequence’.  The suggested English slang is probably a more generous quantity of liquid!)

   [SM 352]

                a napoleon [coin] (F)


nata mecum consule Buteo   [SM 117]

born with me, under Bute's consulate (L; Romans referred to past dates, such as birth-years, by the name of the Consul who had served his one year term at that time - eg, Horace, Odes III: nata mecum consule Manlio, addressed, as in O'Brian's text, to a bottle of wine. John Stewart, 3rd Earl of Bute, was Prime Minister for 12 months in 1762-3)


navium duces   [TH 299]

lit.: leaders of ships (L)


neeps   [PC 123]

turnips or swedes (Scots and North English dialect)


neeps hackit with balmagowry   [TH 74]

swedes / turnips mashed up with ?curdled milk (Scots)


nepenthe   [FW 128]

antidote to grief (Gk)


nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior   [FW 128]

the entire poem is:  Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requieris. nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior. ‘I hate and I love. Why should I do this, perhaps you ask. I don't know, but I feel it happening and I am racked with pain’

                (L; Catullus Carmina LXXXV)


nicht;  thocht;  pairson   [NC 58]

night;  thought;  person  (Scots dialect)


nil desperandum   [NC 114]

there's nothing to cause despair (L; note: 'never give up' is nunquam desperate)


ni vu ni connu   [YA 135]

 neither seen nor known about (F)


Nix Mangiare   [TH 101, 299]

nothing to eat (colloquial Maltese / It; taken from the cry of beggars meeting the crews of incoming ships)


nocturna versate manu, versate diurna   [FW 233]

 turn over [the pages] by night and by day (L; a quote from Horace's Art of Poetry where he advises close study of Greek verses)


nodi decem   [C/T 74]

a ten knot [breeze] (L)


non amo te, Sabidi   [M&C 174]

I do not love you, Sabidius (L; Martial, Epigrammata I; continues  '... I cannot tell you why. I can say this though, I certainly don't love you.' A famous 17th century translation, by Thomas Brown, begins, 'I do not love thee, Dr Fell..'. Brown was threatened with expulsion from Oxford by Dr John Fell, Dean of Christ Church, but was offered a chance to redeem himself if he could translate the Martial epigram impromptu; which he did.)


non fui, non sum, non curo   [M&C 232]

I didn't exist; I don't exist now; I care not. (L; a common tomb inscription with the sense of 'I came from nowhere, and now I've gone - what does such a fleeting life matter anyway?'; see also PC 449 for a variant beginning ‘fui....’)


non olet   [SM 265]

it doesn't stink (L. Refers to an argument between the Emperor Vespasian and his son Titus. Vespasian imposed a tax on public urinals; Titus protested, accusing him of being excessively grasping. Vespasian thrust a coin under Titus' nose and asked whether it nauseated him. When he replied that it did not, the Emperor growled, pecunia non olet atque e lotio est - 'this money doesn't stink, but it comes from piss!' Suetonius Lives of the Caesars)


non omnia possumus omnes   [PC 386]

we can't all do everything (L; Virgil Eclogues)


nonpareil   [TMC 203]

has no equal (F)


non sum qualis eram   [C/T 110]

I am not what I used to be (L; Horace Odes VI)


nones   [IM 327]

ninth hour  (derived from Latin and French: the cycle of monastic daily prayer as laid down by the rule of St Benedict)


no porco, pas porcono    [IM 293]

                no pig, no pig (several languages combined)


Nossa Senhora das Necessidades   [RM 40]

Our Lady of the Necessities  (Portuguese)


n'oubliez pas l'ours, messieurs-dames   [PC 105]

don't forget the bear, ladies and gents (F)


novena   [DI 244]

a devotion of prayers said on nine successive days (Church L)


nunc dimittis   [IM 269, WDS 175]

now you are releasing (L; from the Catholic Mass, and ultimately from the hymn of Simeon in Luke II: nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine secundum verbum tuum in pace ...;  ‘Now Lord, in keeping with your word, you are releasing you servant in peace ...’)


nunc est bibendum   [LM 183]

now is the time for drinking (L; Horace Odes I;  see also the next entry for the line immediately following)


nunc et in hora mortis nostrae   [HMS 238]

now and at the hour of our death (L; nostrate in some editions is a typo; from the Catholic Ave Maria / 'Hail Mary' prayer)

nuncio  [‘21’ 38]
lit. a messenger (church L [classical L would be ‘nuntio’]; the Pope’s spiritual and political ambassador to a designated sovereign state).

nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus   [US 283]

now is the time for pounding the floor with a wild foot (Horace Odes 1;  see also the preceding entry for the line immediately before)










ochone;  begar   [FSW 252]

alas;  by God  (Ir;  Anglo-Irish slang)


oedema   [YA 196]

a fluid-based swelling (Gk)


o fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint, agricolas   [PC 153]

O how extremely happy could farmers be, if only they would count their blessings [lit.: understand their possessions]! (L; Virgil, Georgics II)


Ohé, de la barca   [HMS 65]

Ahoy, in the boat (Sp)


Ohé, du bâteau.

Ohé, La Diane, où ce qu'elle se trouve à présent?

Au quai toujours, nom de Dieu. T'es Guillaume?

Non. Etienne.

Ben. Je m'en vais. Qu'est-ce que tu as là?

 Des galériens.

Ah, les bougres. Bon. Au plaisir, eh.

Au plaisir, et je te souhaite merde, eh?   [LM 192]

Ahoy, the boat.

Ahoy: the Diane, where's she at the moment?

At the dock, as usual, in God's name. Are you William?

No, Stephen.

OK. I must be off. What have you got there?


Ah, those poor fellows. OK. Goodbye, then.

Goodbye, and I wish you shit, eh? (colloquial F;  to “wish someone shit” is slang for wishing luck)


olla podrida   [BM 208]

a stew of mixed meats  (Sp; lit.: ‘rotten pot’;  can also be figuratively ‘a literary miscellany’)


omadhaun   [GO 140]

a fool  (Ir.)


omnia perdidimus, tantummodo vita relicta est,

praebeat at sensum materiamque mali   [RM 108]

                we have lost everything, and to the extent that life is left,

it offers just the sense and substance of evil. (L; Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto IV)


omnium   [SM 142]

of everything (L;  a pool of capital assembled from several sources, rather like a mutual fund or unit trust)


omnium gatherum   [HMS 5]

a gathering of everyone (dog Latin)


opisthotonos   [IM 109]

                head drawn back, spine curved (Gk; refers to the effects of tetanus)


ossements fossiles   [SM 158]

fossilised bones (F)


otros cincuenta   [M&C  331, 332]

fifty more (Sp)


outré   [M&C 347; PC 173; HMS 204, 279; SM 47; COM 60]

showy, excessive (F)


owlers   [GO 83]

wool-smugglers  (archaic Eng.; presumably because owls and smugglers both work at night)









padri   [SM 258]

godfather (Catalan)


pairson   [NC 58]

person  (Scots dialect)


pandit   [HMS 215]

scholar (Hindi)


parama-hamsa   [HMS 193]

lit.: supreme soul; an ascetic of utmost sanctity (Hindi)


parce, precor, precor   [SM 176]

spare me, I beg, I beg (L; Horace Odes IV.  The line immediately follows “intermissa, Venus, diu rursus bella moves” quoted in FW 53)


parlez-vous français?   [HMS 65]

do you speak French? (F)


partite   [IM 154]

                an alternative word for musical 'suites' (It)


Pas gin. Niente debaucho   [TH 223]

                No gin.  No debauchery.  (approximate F, Eng., It.)


pas morto   [TH 273]

not dead  (F + bad It)


passade   [SM 58]

passing fancy (F)


patella   [NC 302]

knee-cap  (L)


patereros   [GO 277]

small cannon (Sp)


paternoster   [NC 78]

our father (L; the beginning of the Christian Lord’s Prayer)


patois   [M&C 35]

local dialect (F)


patoo-patoo   [FSW 274]

a war-club  (Hawaiian;  the term is commonly found in the journals of Captain James Cook and Sir Joseph Banks, though it may in fact refer to the material out of which the club was made, a dense hardwood from the far southern Polynesian islands)


pattarero   [GO 212]

a small cannon  (Sp; usually paterero)


pavillion de beaupré   [HMS 50]

bowsprit flag (F)


pax romana   [TH 59]

Roman peace (L)


peccatum illud horribile inter Christianos non nominandum   [TMC 141]

that wretched sin, which must not be called by name amongst Christians (L; the usual legal euphemism for sodomy)


peccavi   [SM 77, COM 163]

I have sinned (L; the sense of 'to cry peccavi' in English is 'to ask for mercy')


peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo et opere   [HMS 346]

 I have sinned beyond measure in thought, word and deed (L; part of the Roman Catholic confession)


pectoralis major   [US 138]

the larger chest muscle (L)


pediculo capito   [SM 249]

head louse (bad L)


pediculo vestimento   [SM 249]

clothes' louse (bad L)


pediculus capitis   [PC 180, 181;  SM 249]

head louse (L) SM 249


pediculus vestimenti   [PC 180, 181;  SM 249]

clothes' louse (L)


pelisse   [LM 112, YA 252]

an outer robe, often of fur-lined silk  (F)


penetralia   [LM 37]

inner sanctuary  (L)


pénétré   [M&C 217, TMC 100]

touched, earnestly grateful (F; can literally mean 'wounded')


peripateia / péripétie   [LM 178]

ups and downs of life  (Gk / F)


permettez-moi de présenter   [SM 263]

allow me to present (F)


Persian apparatus   [TH 279]

Persian dishes (a reference to Horace Odes I:  persicos odi puer apparatus, ‘I don't like fancy Persian food, boy’)


persona   [M&C 181]

mask (L; ie,  character)


petits fours   [FW 189; COM 37, 39]

little oven-cooked things;  small, sweet cakes (F)


pharmacopoeia   [SM 321; LM 55, 270; C/T 16]

a 'receipe book' for medical preparations; a stock of drugs (L, from Gk)


philosophe   [M&C 41, WDS 170]

a learned man (F)

phlogistici  [‘21’ 34]
inflammations  (medical L)

phthisis   [US 234]

a shrinking or wasting (Gk)


Physiologie du Goût   [FW author’s note]

The Physiology of Taste (F)


pianissimo   [HMS 279]

as quietly as possible (It)


pilaff   [LM 152, 153]

a seasoned rice dish, always with added fat or oil, and usually with chopped vegetables or meats (Persian; lit.: ‘cooked rice’)


pis aller   [PC 330]

a stop-gap; can also be ‘a last resort’ (F)


pistole;  mohur;  ducat;  louis d’or;  joes   [COM 7]

a Spanish gold coin (Sp.; a double pistole was called the doubloon); a Persian / Indian gold coin (Persian); a Venetian gold coin (It.); ‘golden Louis’, a French gold coin named for Kings of that country (F);  a Portuguese gold coin, the Johannes, named for Kings of that country (L / Port.)


pizzicato   [DI 142, NC 223]

plucked, pinched (It., a plucked note on a string instrument)


placebo   [HMS 264, HD 16]

lit.: I shall be pleasing / acceptable (L; ie, a drug whose effects are psychological rather than physiological)


platina   [COM 127, YA 27]

platinum metal (Sp, also archaic Eng)


podarkees Achilles   [GO 15]

swift-footed Achilles  (Gk; Homer Iliad)


poetica   [LM 179]

the subject of poetry (Gk, L)


point device   [TH 223]

very properly dressed (E, from Old F  à point devis, 'to the point arranged' ; see also Shakespeare's Rosalind in As You Like It, III, iii)


pollo   [M&C 4]

chicken (It / Sp)


pooja   [PC 118]

a Hindu act of propitiation or worship, in which a small sacrifice of food is made to a phallic object (Sanscrit  pujah)


pootoo-pootoo   [C/T 158]



porco   [BM 50]

pig  (Portuguese)


posse   [TH 59]

potential (L)


posse navitatum   [PC 244]

the posse comitatus (L; lit.: 'the force of the county')  was the local militia.  Aubrey presumably means to say 'ship's militia', which would be posse navis in Latin. However he has nearly said posse navitatis (L;  lit.: 'a force of zeal')  which would be a reasonable, if somewhat awkward, phrase in the circumstances


Possibile è la cosa, e naturale, E se Susanna vuol, possibilissima   [M&C 144]

The matter is possible, and natural; and if Susanna wants to, then very possible indeed.     (It; sung by Figaro in Act II of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro)


possibilissima   [M&C 144]

perfectly possible (It)


post mortem   [YA 196]

after death (L)


pot au noir   [FSW 103; BM 143]

lit.:  pot / jug for black stuff  (F;  = an uncertain and possibly dangerous situation)


poteen   [GO 47]

illegal potato liquor  (Ir.)


poule au pot   [SM 332]

lit.: chicken in a pot; chicken stew (F)


Poupette   [SM 361]

Little Doll (F)


pourparlers   [TH 331]

negotiations (F)


praecordia    [COM 225, 230]

the sac surrounding the heart  (L)


pravum est cor omnium   [FSW 250]

above all else the heart is perverse  (L;  from the Book of Jeremiah Chapter 17)


précis   [TH 228]

a summary (F)


prime   [IM 327]

first hour  (derived from Latin and French: the cycle of monastic daily prayer as laid down by the rule of St Benedict) IM 327


primo secundo tertio   [NC 227]

 firstly secondly thirdly  (L)


Priorato   [YA 231]

a wine producing area in Catalonia (Sp; lit.: ‘Priory’;  Priorat in Catalan)


proa   [NC 26]

a sailing vessel with a lateen sail and an outrigger  (Malay)


procellaria gigantean of Mumpsimus   [US 136]

 the giant wind-borne one of Mumpsimus  (L; Mumpsimus is a joke name)


prodromi   [DI 130]

advance signs (L, Gk)


pro hac vice   [PC 475]

for this purpose / mission (L)


promotides   [TH 273]

raised upwards  (Aubrey's Greek invention)


pronator radii teres   [US 69]

a muscle in the forearm; lit.: the smooth, bowed part belonging to the forearm bone (L)


protégé / s   [PC 225, 441; HMS 121; COM 49, 105; YA 3; BM 30; US 264]

a favorite or dependent (F)


pro. tem.   [GO 137]

                abbrev. of pro tempore, for the time being (L)


psychopannychia   [LM 80]

sleep of the soul  (Gk;  ‘sleep’ here implies a state halfway between wakefulness and death. The concept, popular with the 16th century Anabaptist sect, is more usually associated with John Calvin, who wrote a book of the same title arguing against the belief, than with the 17th century English divine Dr John Gauden)


pulvis   [RM 239]

dust, powder (L)


puna   [WDS 176]

high grasslands (South Am. Sp., from local Quichua language)


punkah   [HMS 224]

ceiling fan (Hindi)


putain   [M&C 35]

prostitute (F)


puuhona   [C/T 229]

place of refuge (Hawaiian)









qu'est-ce que ce remue-ménage?    [HMS 71]

what's this commotion? (F; lit.: 'household-disturbance')


qua    [C/T 163, COM 179]

[purely] as a  (L)


quackeens    [DI 153]

little quack doctors (Anglo-Irish)


quaere    [M&C 181, 380; PC 57; DI 128]

consider, investigate; a query (L)


quasi pannus menstuate    [RM 241]

like a menstrual cloth (L)


qué barca está    [WDS 242]

what ship is that?  (Sp)


quelle connerie    [TGS 249]

what a piece of damned stupidity (F)


qué nave?;  que entregue en seguida;  somos Ingleses    [GO 174]

what ship is that?  surrender immediately; we are English  (bad Sp.)


que no haya novedad    [FSW 220]

may no new things arise (Sp)


querido    [M&C 266]

my darling (Sp)


que vengan    [M&C 263]

let them come (Sp)

quietales  [‘21’ 34]
corpses (medical L)

quietus    [NC 69, YA 206]

rest;  usually means ‘death’ in English  (L)


qui ferox bellotamen inter arma

sive iactatem religarat udo litore navim

et Lycum nigris oculis nigroque crine decorum                              [FW 284]

{Nb, the poet is addressing his lyre - a musical instrument - and Broke / Maturin skip over some lines crucial for the overall sense}

[It was Alcaeus the stout patriot from Lesbos who tuned his lyre,]

when he had just been in the fighting at war,

or had anchored his storm-tossed ship on the damp shore.

 [He sang of the Muses, of Bacchus and fair Venus, and of Cupid, still her pageboy]

and also to Lycus, with back eyes and black hair adorned. (L; Horace Odes I)


quinua / quinoa    [WDS 181]

the staple grain of South America  (Sp / Quichua)


quipu    [WDS 208]

knots in cords (Quichua)


qui venit    [C/T 248]

who has come (L; probably the phrase 'Blessed is he who has come in the name of the Lord'.)


quod volunt credere    [PC 198]

 that which they want to believe (L)


quo me rapis?    [PC 57, FSW 52]

where are you carrying me off to? (L: alludes to Horace Odes III.25.1-2, Quo me Bacche rapis tui plenum, ‘Where, O Bacchus, are you carrying me off to, so full [of your wine]?’)


quoniam tu solus sanctus, tu solus dominus, tu solus altissimus    [RM 179]

since you alone are holy, you alone are the lord, you alone are the highest (L; from the Gloria of the Latin sung Mass)


quorum    [TGS 96]

lit.: of whom; ie, the number required to be present to constitute a meeting (L; a very shortened form of a phrase such as 'there shall be 10 members of the committee, of whom six must be present to constitute a meeting')









râble de lièvre    [FW 137]

saddle of hare (F; usually no accent over the 'a')


radix serpentariae Virginianae    [COM 225]

root of Virginia creeper (L)


ragots    [SM 59]

gossip (F)


raison d'État    [M&C 175, DI 60, IM 111, LM 46, COM 102]

                [justified by] reasons of State (F)


râle    [FW 175]

rasp, rattle (F; often a 'death rattle')


Ramadan    [NC 76]

 lit:  the hot month  (Arabic; the ninth month of the Moslem year, in which the faithful fast during daylight)


ramus / i   [WDS 87]

branching part / s  (L)


raparee    [LM 116]

a bandit or thief  (usually rapparee, from Ir rappaire, a pike carried by irregular soldiers)


raptores    [M&C 36]

birds of prey (F)


rara avis in mara, maro    [DI 75]

a rare bird at sea (L; should be mare; reflects rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cycno, 'a rare bird on earth, just like the black swan', from Juvenal, Satires VI)


ratafia    [YA 123]

ground almonds, or almond oil (F)


recompenso de tua tia    [M&C 342]

a reward for your aunt (combined, and approximate, Sp and L)


reculing pour mew sauter    [HMS 317]

drawing back to make a better leap (bad F - correct is reculer pour mieux sauter)


regalo para vous    [M&C 342]

a present for you (the words are It+Sp, Sp, F respectively)


régime    [COM 109]

ruling faction  (F)


regrediar    [M&C 233]

I shall return (L)


relievo    [M&C  363]

 tang, or savour (It; rilievo lit.: 'relief; prominence; remark')


Rem facias, rem si possis, recte, si non, quocumque modo, rem    [YA 204]

Make money. Make money fairly if you can; but if not, make money any way possible. (L; Horace Ars Poetica)


remigium alarum    [TGS 135]

the beating of wings, or the rowing of oars (L; a cleverly turned phrase containing both these meanings at once, found in Vergil Aeneid I)


remue-ménage    [FW 179]

commotion (F; lit.: 'household-disturbance')


rencontre    [FW 303, COM 245]

duel, encounter (F)


render    [IM 364]

                to give up (F; rendez-vous,  'surrender!')



Jé mé rendre .... Parola!

Capitaine, cessez effusion sang. Rendezvous. Hommees desertés. Rendezvous!

Jamais monsieur!

Capitaine, en bas, dessous, s'il vous plaît.Toutes officiers dessous.   [PC 375, 376]


I give up ... I give my word of honour [correct I,F would be Parole]!

Captain, stop flow blood. Give up. Men have deserted. Give up!

Never, Sir!

Captain, below, beneath, please. All officers beneath.  (Mostly rather bad F)


rendezvous    [YA 116, 132, 164, 168]

a meeting (F)


renegado    [GO 14]

an outlaw  (Sp)


requies Nicholai    [M&C 319]

Nicholas' relief (L; mentioned in Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy of 1621 as a ‘last refuge’ sleep-aid, possibly an opium-based bolus; the origin of the name is obscure)


res angusta    [M&C 42]

constrained means (L; usually as res angusta domi, ‘limited wealth at home’, from Juvenal Satires III)


ricercare    [HD 88]

lit.: to seek out; ie, musical term for an elaborate contrapuntal composition  (It)


rigor mortis    [NC 133]

the stiffness of death  (L)


riposte;  counter-riposte;  parry;  tierce    [LM 183]

counter-stroke following a parry; an attack following the parry of a riposte; a defensive movement with one’s own blade engaging that of the attacker; a form of parry [the third / tierce of the standard modes] (Old F)


risus sardonicus    [IM 109]

                the mocking smile (L; refers to strained grin due to facial spasms)


rivière    [SM 34, 58, 153; FW 204, 246]

necklace, especially one set with many jewels (F) FW 204


roi de trente-six parapluies, et très illustre seigneur de mille éléphants    [HMS 262]

king with thirty six umbrellas, and illustrious lord of a thousand elephants (F)


rondo    [YA 127]

round  (It.; properly rondó; musically, a form in which a section is periodically repeated)


rouge et noir    [DI 30]

red and black (F)


rouleaux    [PC 337]

a roll (F)


Rue des Neuf  Fiancées    [SM 332]

 Street of the Nine Engaged Ladies (F)


ruse / s de guerre    [M&C 255; PC 341, 390; HMS 20; FSW 338; HD 101]

trick / s  in war (F) SM 162









sal ammoniac    [C/T 144]

ammonium chloride  (L / Eng)


salaud    [TMC 132]

the shit / the bastard (colloquial F)


sale comme un peigne    [LM 30]

dirty as a comb (F)


saline enemata    [NC 23]

salt water enema  (Eng. derived from L; Gk)


salle d'armes    [LM 183]

lit.: room of weapons; a fencing-room (F)


Salve Regina    [SM 254, RM 41]

Hail to the Queen [of Heaven]  (L; a hymn especially associated with sailors from Catholic nations)


sal volatile    [US 20]

volatile salt, ie, smelling salts, or ammonium carbonate  (L)

sanbenitos  [‘21’ 38]
sack-cloth robes with a cross painted on, worn by heretics about to be burned (Sp)

sancta simplicitas    [RM 153]

holy simplicity  (L)


sangria colda    [M&C 342]

                sangria is Sp for wine punch; in It  calda is hot and  fresca cold


sans revanche    [PC 337]

without a return game (F)


sans souci    [DI 55]

without a care (F)


sarcoma   [HMS 119]

tumour (Gk)


sardana    [BM 203]

the traditional dance-music of Catalonia (Cat.)


sassenach    [GO 186]

lit.: a Saxon; ie, English  (Scots Gallic)


satietas vitae    [PC 109]

a loathing of / boredom with life (L)


savants    [SM 157]

learned men (F)


scapula   [WDS 87]

shoulder blade  (L)


scoliosis    [SM 61]

curvature of the spine (Gk)


scoriae;  lapilli    [C/T 178, WDS 25]

metal dross or slag;  pebbles  (L)


scoutie-allen    [FW 61]

 ? (presumably Scots)


scriptorium    [WDS 205]

a writing room (L)


scrutoire    [NC 167]

writing desk  (Eng. adaptation of F escritoire)


Scylla / Charybdis    [LM 63]

Scylla was a great sea-monster, stationed at the foot of the cliffs opposite Charybdis, a fearsome whirlpool  (Gk / L;  we assume Aubrey was attempting some more flattering comparison)


sebi confectio discolor    [C/T 110]

a mottled concoction of suet (L)


secret du roi    [SM 322]

lit.: the King's secret; the King's private intelligence force (F)


sedes libera    [TMC 165]

free seat (L)


sengler    [M&C 35]

wild boar (Cat.)


senhor    [BM 50]

sir (Portuguese)


sensu stricto    [TMC 92, DI 104]

in the strict sense (L)


septième    [RM 216; TGS 274]

seventh (F)


septum    [BM 200]

the bone and cartilage between the nostrils  (Medical L; lit.: ‘a separated thing’)


sequelae    [PC 335, HMS 76, DI 155, IM 228, YA 201]

consequences, symptoms (L)


sequi me    [HMS 100]

follow me (L)


serricunnium    [DI 178]

chastity belt (medieval L)


sext   [IM 327]

sixth hour (derived from Latin and French: the cycle of monastic daily prayer as laid down by the rule of St Benedict)


shebeen    [PC 196, NC 250, WDS 140, GO 24]

unregulated liquor outlet  (Ir., Scots Gallic)


shieling    [WDS 175]

shepherd’s hut (Old Norse, but common in Scots and Northern Eng.)


shoneen    [LM 146]

a pretend gentleman (Ir)


si la personne qui s'intéresse au pavillon de partance voudrait bien donner rendez-vous en laissant un mot chez Jules, traiteur à Frith  Street, elle a aurait des nouvelles    [RM 273]

if the person who has an interest in the 'departure flag' would like to arrange a meeting by leaving a word with Jules, the caterer located in Frith  Street, he or she will receive some news (F)


sic erimus cuncti postquam nos auferet Orcus

 ergo vivamus dum licet esse, bene    [C/T 200]

Thus we will all be, after Orcus [god of the underworld] bears us off. 

Therefore let us live well, for so long as it is allowed

(L; Oakes speaks Clarissa's translation of this at C/T 194: 'So long as we may, let us enjoy this breath For naught doth kill a man so soon as death.' Petronius Satyricon)


Sidheán na Gháire    [COM 142]

the fairies of laughter (Ir.)


similia similibus    [BM 89]

usually similia similibus curantur, similar things are cured by similar things  (L)


singula de nobis anni praeduntur euntes eripuere jocos, Venerem, convivia, ludum.    [COM 10]

The years, slipping by us one at a time, are robbers,  snatching away jokes, Venus [ie sexual love], good company, fun.  (L; Horace, Epodi II)


siriasis    [TH 189]

sun-stroke (Gk)


sirocco    [HD 209]

a hot wind that blows from north Africa across the Mediterranean  (Sp;  from Arabic sharaqa, that which rises)


sí, señor    [COM 189]

yes, sir (Sp)


skillygallee    [NC 216, COM 140]

oatmeal and boiling water  (Ir., Scots Gallic.  Also skilligalee and variants;   the word later came to connote a rather different dish, crumbled hard biscuit, fried in pork fat and sweetened with sugar or molasses)


slainte    [GO 244]

to your health  (Ir)


soif    [M&C 342]

thirst (F)


soirée    [TH 76]

an evening party (F)


solanum anthropophagorum    [C/T 77]

 the ‘cannibal’s tomato’, a red tuber native to Fiji  (L)


sole normande    [PC 96]

sole, Normandy style (F)


solis deprivatio    [PC 84]

a lack of sunshine (L)


solvet saeculum in favilla    [HD 139]

the world will dissolve into ashes  (L; Thomas of Celano  Analecta Hymnica;  the line follows Dies irae, the Day of Wrath;  see also LM 254)


sonata    [IM 155]

                a musical piece for instruments alone [as opposed to the cantata for voices] (It)


sopor, coma, ..... , carus    [TH 116]

sleepiness, unconsciousness, .... , my dear.... (L)


Sor Luisa    [NC 14]

Sister Louise (Cat.)


sortie    [YA 46, 218]

an expedition  (F)


sotto voce    [IM 48, COM 59]

in a quiet voice (It)


sotto i pini    [PC 270, C/T 88]

beneath the pine trees (It; sung by Susanna and the Contessa in Act III of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro)


soupe anglais    [SM 363]

lit.: English soup (F, should be anglaise; if it is the same as the It. zuppa inglese, it is a kind of runny trifle)


souviens-toi    [FW 180]

remember (F)


specimen animalium    [M&C 379]

evidence of animal Life (L)


spica    [YA 123]

a ear of wheat  (L; in medical terms means an interwoven bandage)


squireen    [GO 71]

lit.: a little squire;  a man who is a working farmer, with pretensions to be a squire [i.e., non-working land-owner] (Anglo-Ir.)


stadium    [COM 226]

stage (L)


stare    [TH 63]

to be; to stay (It)


stertor    [M&C 138]

heavy breathing (L)


storgé    [FW 172]

parental love (Gk)


Strada Reale    [TH 299]

Royal Street (It)


stratum    [COM 102]

layer, level  (L)


stupor mundi    [TMC 334]

wonder of the world (L)


suave mare magno    [IM 132]

[it is] pleasant [to watch] in a great sea

Full quote: Suave, mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis, e terra magnum alterius spectare laborem, ‘It is pleasant to watch from the land the great struggle of another in a sea made great by rushing winds...’ 

(L; Lucretius De Rerum Natura II.1-2. The sentiment is not an expression of delight in the suffering of others, but  a comparison of those secure in the truth of philosophy to those who are not)


sub deo    [HMS 346]

under God ['s protection] (L)


sudor insignis    [TMC 169]

exemplary sweat (L)


summum bonum    [HMS 120]

the highest good (L)


superiores priores    [YA 128]

senior officers first (bad L)

supressio veri  [BM 34]
suppression of the truth (L)

supressorii  [‘21’ 34]
men under restraint (medical L)

sus barbirussa;  sus barbatus    [NC 191]

the red-bearded pig; the bearded pig (L)


Swiving Monachorum    [HMS 84]

a convincing-looking English placename, but in fact meaning 'Fucking of the Monks' (Old E + L)


syce    [HMS 213]

groom (Anglo-Indian, from Arabic saa'is)


Symphonie Funèbre    [COM 129]

Funeral Symphony (F)


syncope    [HMS 185]

stroke (Gk)









taboo    [FSW 276, C/T 230]

prohibited by religious law (Polynesian)


tabor    [YA 129]

a drum (perh. Persian in origin)


tace     [PC 475,  FW 219, C/T 45, COM 171, GO 231]

be quiet (L;  the phrase ‘tace is Latin for a candle’, meaning ‘keep it quiet’ is obscure in origin, but relatively common in 19th century English literature. The correct word in Latin for a candle is candelatace is the singular, imperative tense of the usual verb for ‘be silent’)


taedium vitae    [C/T 28]

weariness of / disgust with life (L)


t'anam an dial, omadhaun    [GO 13]

your soul to the Devil, you fool! (Ir.)


tangalung    [NC 88]

a Java civet cat  (Malay)


tantum religio potuit suadere malorum    [DI 322]

religion can induce such a degree of wickedness [in people]  (L; Lucretius, On the Nature of the Universe, I)


tapirus americanus    [NC 192]

the American tapir (L)


tapirus indicus    [NC 199]

the East Indian tapir (L)


taro    [NC 202]

an edible root of the arum family (Tahitian)


taula d'en Xatart    [M&C 296]

Mr Xatart's tablet (Catalan)


Te Deum    [HMS 310, TH 224, WDS 185]

To you, God (L; The start of the hymn of praise and thanksgiving beginning  ‘We praise you, God’)


tendre    [PC 55, DI 164]

loving feeling, soft spot (F)


tenesmus    [TMC 41]

chronic, painful constipation, both vesical and rectal (Gk)


teniente    [M&C 12, 14]

lieutenant (Sp)


terce   [IM 327]

third hour  (derived from Latin and French: the cycle of monastic daily prayer as laid down by the rule of St Benedict)


terminus a quo;  terminus a quo and a terminus ad quem    [US 308;  YA 116]

the point from which;  a point from which and a point to which (L)


tertii in tabulatum mali    [C/T 74]

to the upper floor of the third mast (L)


tes moeurs crapuleuses    [HMS 154]

your sordid morals / habits (F)


tesoro    [TH 82]

treasure, darling (It)


testudo aubreii    [HMS 362, NC 88]

Aubrey's tortoise (L)


tête-a-tête    [TMC 241, DI 273, SM 162, WDS 64]

 lit.: head to head; an intimate meeting (F)


t'hanam an dial    [GO 91]

your soul to the Devil! (Ir)


thocht   [NC 58]

thought  (Scots dialect)


thon southron loons didna ken cleanliness ... a puir wombly set of boggerts    [FW 64]

those southern idiots don't understand cleanliness ... a poor unfortunate set of scarecrows (Scots; boggerts can just mean 'fellows'.)


tic douloureux    [LM 26]

unhappy twitch  (F; a type of exceptionally painful facial neuralgia)


Tir nan Og  /  Tir na 'nOg   [PC 485, GO 161]

lit.: The Land of Youth;  Paradise (Ir)


topi-wallah    [HMS 209]

lit.: 'hat man'; generally means 'a European' (Hindi)


tori    [HD 79]

lit.: knots / rounded edges;  a circular moulding at the base of a column  (L)


tormina    [TMC 169]

colic or the gripes (L)


tourniquet    [YA 123]

a twisted bandage  (F; lit. any form of turning mechanism, such as a turnstile, an axle)


Tractatus de Novae Febris Ingressu    [DI 85]

A Treatise on the Early Stages of a New Fever (L)


tramontana    [M&C 16]

north wind (It)


tranquillitas animi et indolentia corporis    [PC 449]

peace of mind and insensibility of body (L)


transiens per medium illorum ibat    [TH 164] [Jesus]

departed, passing though the middle of them (L; Luke 4:30)


trapassato remoto    [TH 27]

the pluperfect tense (It; eg: 'she had kissed')


travail de Bénédictin    [FW 52]

the work of a Benedictine (F; Benedictine monk scholars were, and are, famous for the length and thoroughness of their works)


trismus    [IM 109]

                lock-jaw (Gk)


tromba marina    [NC 98]

lit.: marine trumpet  (L;  in fact, not any sort of trumpet at all, but a stringed instrument. The origin of the name is both obscure and disputed, but seems likely to derive from the instrument’s distinctive tone.)


trompe-couillon    [HMS 227]

lit.: cheat-the-testicles (F; ie, a trick to take in 'suckers'; couillon being a vulgar term for 'a gullible fool')


tsarfetim     [IM 341]

                (?; ?Turkish)


tu  [FOW 189]
you (F; the intimate form of ‘you’ in contrast to the more formal ‘vous’)


tuan    [NC 95]

lord, sir  (Malay)


Tuatha De Danaan    [GO 15]

the children of Danu  (Ir.;  Danu was the mother of the legendary tribe that led the fifth of the twelve waves of invaders found in Irish mythology)


tu cherches à corrompre mon paresseux    [HMS 154]

 you are trying to corrupt my sloth (F)


tu es là, Jean-Paul?    [FW 249]

are you there, Jean-Paul (F)


tulle    [HD 8]

a fine silk netting, named after the town of Tulle (F)


tumor, rubor, dolor    [SM 61]

swelling, redness, pain (L;  the classic signs of underlying infection)


turlough    [YA 31]

a seasonal lake (Ir)









uishge beatha;  aqua vitae;  eau-de-vie   [GO 218]

the water of life (Ir, L, F respectively; a common way of referring to strong distilled liquors, eg, Irish whiskey, Scandanavian akavit, French clear grape spirit)


ultima ratio regum    [IM 328]

                the final argument of kings (L; from the tag 'war is the final argument of kings'.)


Ultima Thule    [US 26]

Furthest Thule (L)


un gentilhomme est toujours gentilhomme    [HMS 263]

a gentleman is always a gentleman (F)


upsilon    [TGS 273]

Greek letter equivalent to 'u' or 'y'. (Gk; because Greek does not have a separate letter for ‘h’, upsilon is the first letter of hybris)


urinator    [TH 203]

a diver (L)


utile    [M&C 352]

useful (L)









vade retro;  vade retro, satanas    [DI 90; COM 107]

get back / behind;  get behind me, Satan  (L;  Vade retro / Retro vade, Satanas are words Jesus uses to repel the temptations of  Satan [Luke, 4:8] and Peter [Matthew 16:23; Mark 8:33], both of whom are offering the possibility of his avoiding his destiny on earth)


va donc, eh, salop    [HMS 154]

come on then, you bastard (F)


vae victis    [WDS 84]

woe to the vanquished  (L; a relatively common phrase in Latin histories that became chillingly famous when it was supposedly uttered by the Gaul Bennus when he captured Rome)


vali    [IM 261]

                the civil governor of a Turkish province (Turkish)


Venerem omitte    [PC 387]

lit.: avoid Venus; i.e. 'no sex' (L)


vespers   [IM 327]

final  (derived from Latin and French: the cycle of monastic daily prayer as laid down by the rule of St Benedict) IM 327


veuve    [SM 331]

widow (F)


vice    [M&C  39]

in place of (L)


viento blanco    [WDS 224]

white wind  (Sp)


vi et armis    [TH 146]

with force and weapons (L)


vino    [M&C 14]

wine (It / Sp)


vino, chocolato, aguardiente    [PC 492]

wine, chocolate, brandy (Sp)


virgoes intactoes    [IM 287]

intact virgins (sort of L;  correct L would be virgines intactae: the singular is virgo, whence Aubrey's error. In his Latin attempts, Aubrey generally tries to achieve the necessary agreement of the parts of speech by making the endings identical.)


vis-à-vis    [C/T 192, NC 237, WDS 43]

lit.: face to face; can also mean, immediately opposite (as at a dining table), or compared to (F)


visage de porco    [M&C 34]

pig's face (F + It)


viscacha    [WDS 210]

a burrowing rodent  (Quichua)


viscera    [COM 245]

guts  (L)


Vite, vite, à gauche. Tu l'attraperas    [FW 240, 241]

Quick, quick, to the left. You'll trap him (F)

vitia  [‘21’ 34]
degenerates (medical L; usually means sodomites)

viva voce    [TGS 136]

in his or her own live voice (L)


Vive l’Empereur!    [C/T 138, HD 127]

[Long]  Live the Emperor!  (F)


vixi puellis nuper idoneus    [SM 176]

recently I led a life congenial to girls (L; Horace, Odes III)


vol-au-vent    [LM 73]

fly-in-the-wind  (F; a very light, small pastry case)


volto sciolto, pensieri stretti    [IM 110, FSW 249]

open face, concealed thoughts (It; lit.: sciolto = untied; stretto = tied up. Sir Henry Wooton [1568-1639] attributed a similar phrase - pensieri stretti, viso sciolto - to the courtier Alberto Scipioni. O'Brian's version is taken from the late 18th C. Letters of Lord Chesterfield)


vou' savez faire    [M&C 224]

d’you know how to... (F)


vous êtes un officier anglais, monsieur?    [HMS 71]

are you an English Officer, Sir? (F)


vous l'avez voulu, George Dandin    [TGS 176]

you asked for it, George Dandin (F; from Molière's Georges Dandin, ou le Mari Confondu of 1668. The peasant Dandin marries above his station and, cuckolded out of his pretty young wife, repeatedly mutters this phrase. It has become a way of saying, 'you've only got yourself to blame for what you're complaining about')


vox et praeterea nihil    [FSW 206]

a voice, and nothing else (L; Plutarch Apophthegmata Laconica)









wahu    [FSW 274]

tahu wahu wai is often given in English as a Hawaiian war chant, but I’m far from sure this is how it is understood by native speakers


wee glippet    [TH 74]

little / quick glance (Scots)


what's yon snotty bairn a-greeting at?    [M&C 144]

what's that grubby child crying about (Scots)


why you had crackit yon wee bairn’s leg

heuch, heuch, you must have thocht me a puir slow witted gowk    [NC 58]

 why you had broken  that little child’s leg.  

well, well, you must have thought me a poor slow witted fool  (Scots dialect)


wisha    [GO 34, 197, 199]

? well  (Ir.) GO 197 / 199










y aquí    [M&C 342]

and here (Sp)


ye thrawn ill-feckit gaberlunzie    [HD 12]

you twisted, ill-made ne’er do well  (Scots)


[ylauk …]

                see “glauk eis Athenas” above










zeta    [TGS 273]

the sixth letter of the Greek alphabet, which sounds and looks like English Z (Gk. Aubrey means he started to learn the alphabet, which at first proceeds in a way parallel to the English alphabet: alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon - but then zeta. Many a neophyte Greek scholar has stopped at this point, confused, though glad, that the Greek alphabet seems so very short.)





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