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11 Delightful Words From Washington Irving’s Autumn Stories

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There’s no better time of year than autumn to revisit two timeless and cherished tales of Washington Irving. Both "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle" unfold during the harvest season in New York’s Hudson Valley, amid the season in which, as Irving puts it, “Nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always associate with the idea of abundance.”

Writing in the early 1800s, Washington Irving was one of America’s first writers to achieve truly mass appeal, contributing to a unique literary voice coming from the young, revolutionary republic that garnered recognition on the world stage. In these two stories, which are among Irving's best-known today, the author also encapsulated an idyllic image of Dutch country life along the Hudson, which was already waning in the post-independence period. 

Another treasure to be found within these pages: A delightful set of words and phrases that add color and texture to these early years of the American nation, not to mention the timeless joys of the season. Try spicing your fall with a few of these rustic charmers.

1. ROISTER (OR ROYSTER)

To engage in noisy, drunken, riotous behavior; a synonym for carouse. By extension, this verb can also mean to walk with a swaying motion. One acting in such a state, as you might find at seasonal festivities, can be labeled a roisterer. (Irving uses the derivatives “roystering and “roysterers” in these stories.)

2. HIGGLEDY-PIGGLEDY

An adjective describing a state of confusion or disorder, usually in regard to objects. While of uncertain origin, other nonsense rhyme couplets serve similar roles (think of the slightly more common “willy-nilly”).

3. MADCAP

Impulsive, hasty, or reckless, used especially to describe adventurous activities or personages. Attested as far back as the 1580s in England, this adjective derives from the sense of "cap" as "head," so it's literally "crazy in the head."

4. GAMBOL

A playful walk or frolic, interchangeable as a verb as well as a noun. Just such a jovial meander started Rip Van Winkle on his unforgettable encounter in the Catskills. For a particularly heedless frolic, combine with the above adjective, as Irving did in his The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.

5. GALLIGASKINS

Large, loose-fitting breeches fashionable in the 16th and 17th centuries. This term was used by Irving to describe the attire Rip Van Winkle's son wears in the story. Whatever these pantaloons are, they sound as cozy as they are fun to pronounce.

6. HARANGUE

An impassioned, disputatious public speech or rant. Additionally, haranguing can connote forceful admonitions or drawn-out tirades. To be avoided at all costs at your next county-wide social gathering.

7. RANTIPOLE 

A term for an unruly, rude young person. Notably, the roots of the term seem to be similar to madcap in that "poll" or "pole" was once a term for one’s head, and "ranty" used to describe a directionless nature. There was apparently no shortage of ways to describe different brands of crazy in Ichabod Crane’s time.

8. MYNHEER

A salutation of reverence for a Dutchman (and by extension, the Dutch-American inhabitants of the Hudson Valley). Equivalent to “Sir” in English, and perfectly applicable when raising a glass to one such gentleman.

9. AKIMBO

Probably from Middle English “in kene bowe,” meaning sharply bowed. This state describes a posture of hand placed on hip with elbow turned outward. Given the prevalence of the stance (particularly during a particularly long haranguing), it’s a wonder so apt a term isn't used more often. 

10. RUBICUND

A synonym for ruddy, describing a reddish complexion. In "Rip Van Winkle," Irving thus describes “a portrait of His Majesty George the Third,” but today the term could be just as readily applied to color that rises with spirits.

11. GALLOWS AIR

This phrase, used to describe the forlorn appearance of Rip Van Winkle’s canine companion, appears to be of Irving’s own making. It's just one example of the keen wit displayed within these stories.

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Here's the Right Way to Pronounce Kitchenware Brand Le Creuset

If you were never quite sure how to pronounce the name of beloved French kitchenware brand Le Creuset, don't fret: For the longest time, southern chef, author, and PBS personality Vivian Howard wasn't sure either.

In this video from Le Creuset, shared by Food & Wine, Howard prepares to sear some meat in her bright orange Le Creuset pot and explains, "For the longest time I had such a crush on them but I could never verbalize it because I didn’t know how to say it and I was so afraid of sounding like a big old redneck." Listen closely as she demonstrates the official, Le Creuset-endorsed pronunciation at 0:51.

Le Creuset is known for its colorful, cast-iron cookware, which is revered by pro chefs and home cooks everywhere. The company first introduced their durable pots to the world in 1925. Especially popular are their Dutch ovens, which are thick cast-iron pots that have been around since the 18th century and are used for slow-cooking dishes like roasts, stews, and casseroles.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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25 Great Insults From 18th Century British Slang
Francis Grose
Francis Grose
Wikimedia Commons// Public Domain

For history buffs with a personal score to settle, "You jerk" just doesn't have the same ring as "You unlicked cub," an insult from Georgian England. And there's more where that came from if you browse through English lexicographer Francis Grose's A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, first published in 1785 and recently spotted by the Public Domain Review. The anthology is filled with slang words and terms of the kind dictionary scribe Samuel Johnson had previously deemed unfit for his influential A Dictionary of the English Language (1755). Below are some of the tome's most hilarious, vivid, and archaic insults, arranged in alphabetical order for your put-down pleasure. (And if you need more inspiration, here's some Victorian slang for good measure.)

1. ADDLE PATE

"An inconsiderate foolish fellow."

2. BEARD SPLITTER

“A man much given to wenching,” or consorting with prostitutes.

3. A BLOWSE, OR BLOWSABELLA

An unkempt woman. "A woman whose hair is dishevelled, and hanging about her face; a slattern."

4. BLUNDERBUSS

“A stupid, blundering fellow.”

5. BOB TAIL

“A lewd woman, or one that plays with her tail; also an impotent man, or an eunich.”

6. BULL CALF

"A great hulkey or clumsy fellow."

7. CORNY-FACED

"A very red pimpled face."

8. DEATH'S HEAD UPON A MOP-STICK

“A poor, miserable, emaciated fellow."

9. DUKE OF LIMBS

“A tall, awkward, ill-made fellow.”

10. FUSSOCK

"A lazy fat woman … a frowzy old woman."

11. GOLLUMPUS

"A large, clumsy fellow."

12. GUNDIGUTS

"A fat, pursy fellow."

13. HANG IN CHAINS

"A vile, desperate fellow.”

14. HEDGE WHORE

An itinerant prostitute, "who bilks the bagnios and bawdy houses, by disposing of her favours on the way side, under a hedge; a low beggarly prostitute.”

15. JACKANAPES

"An ape; a pert, ugly, little fellow."

16. JUST-ASS

"A punning appellation for a justice," or a punny name for a judge.

17. LOBCOCK

“A large relaxed penis, also a dull inanimate fellow.”

18. PUFF GUTS

"A fat man."

19. SCRUB

"A low mean fellow, employed in all sorts of dirty work."

20. SHABBAROON

"An ill-dressed shabby fellow; also a mean-spirited person."

21. SHAG-BAG

"A poor sneaking fellow, a man of no spirit."

22. SQUIRE OF ALSATIA

"A weak profligate spendthrift."

23. TATTERDEMALLION

“A ragged fellow, whose clothes hang all in tatters.”

24. THINGUMBOB

"A vulgar address or nomination to any person whose name is unknown ... Thingum-bobs, testicles."

25. UNLICKED CUB

“A rude uncouth young fellow.”

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