Regency Era Lexicon – “M” is for …

M.P. – a member of Parliament

macintosh – invented by Charles Macintosh in the 1820s; rubberized waterproof clothing; originally these smelled “terrible”

madeira – a sweet white wine

magic lantern – The magic lantern has a concave mirror in front of a light source that gathers light and projects it through a slide with an image scanned onto it. The light rays cross an aperture (which is an opening at the front of the apparatus), and hit a lens. The lens throws an enlarged picture of the original image from the slide onto a screen. Main light sources used during the time it was invented in the late 16th century were candles or oil lamps. These light sources were quite inefficient and produced weak projections. The invention of the Argand lamp in the 1790s helped to make the projected images brighter. The invention of the limelight in the 1820s made it even brighter.

magistrate – another term for a justice of peace; where justices were usually unsalaried country gentlemen, magistrates received a stipend

maid-of-all-work – a maid who performed all the chores in those households, which could afford only one servant

“making love” – During the Regency, this phrase held no physical or sexual connotations. It simply meant verbal flirting or visual flirting (as in a knowing glance across a crowded ballroom).

mail coaches – replaced the ill-conceived post boys in 1784; delivered the post to and from rural areas; was also a means of transportation for many

“making violent love” – is telling the person of the depth of one’s love (i.e., Mr. Elton in “Emma”)

male inheritance defines a “gentleman’s status” – a true gentleman was a man of property; very likely he inherited his country estate and manor from his father; no other requirements were needed to define a “gentleman”

mangle – A mangle (as it is called in the United Kingdom) or wringer (as it is called in the United States) is a mechanical laundry aid consisting of two rollers in a sturdy frame, connected by cogs and, in its home version, powered by a hand crank.

man-of-war – large ship built specifically for warfare

man-trap – used to catch poachers; steel traps weighing up to 80 pounds

mantua-maker - a term for a dressmaker, based on the type of gown she made

marchioness - wife or widow of a marquis

marl - soil used as a fertilizer; it contained clay

marquis - the second highest rank of the peerage after a duke

marriage – was more of a business arrangement than a romantic attachment; the girl’s father/guardian assured her financial protection

marriage settlement/articles – a contract between the future bride and groom, which stipulated how the gentleman’s money would be settled upon the wife and future children upon his death

Martin’s Day- Martinmas, November 11; “Martin’s summer” was used to describe a period of good weather continuing into the late autumn

Master of Ceremonies – employed to oversee the protocol of the large public assemblies (especially those held at the Upper and Lower Rooms in Bath); introduced young ladies and gentlemen to each other so they might dance together (i.e., Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland in “Northanger Abbey”); held knowledge of people’s backgrounds and shared information discreetly; Mr. James King was the MC for the Lower Rooms from 1785-1805, then moved to the Upper Rooms

Mayfair - a half mile square in London’s West End; bounded by Oxford Street on the north, Bond Street on the east, Piccadilly on the south, and Hyde Park on the west; contains Pall Mall, Grosvenor Square, and Berkeley Square; the most elite residential area of London

merino – a superior wool from Spain

mews – any lane or open area where a group of stables could be found

Michaelmas - the feast of St. Michael, which is held on September 29; one of the quarter days

Middlesex – the county in which London north of the Thames was located (to the south was Surrey)

Midsummer Day - another quarter day; celebrated on June 24, which was also the feast of John the Baptist

militia – volunteer soldiers; unlike the regular army, a man from a lower class could enter the militia as an officer

milliner - a maker of women’s hats

“Miss” - used with a surname meant the eldest of several sisters

“Mister” - used with the man’s surname to indicate a surgeon or apothecary; a physician was “Doctor”

mobcap - a standard indoor headgear; A mob cap or mob-cap is a round, gathered or pleated cloth (usually linen) bonnet consisting of a caul to cover the hair, a frilled or ruffled brim, and (often) a ribbon band, worn by married women in the era.

minuet – a French dance for two people

moor – a wild, desolate area in Yorkshire, which is usually covered by heather; a term used in northern England and southern Scotland to designate a boggy or marshy area

morning calls - ceremonial visits paid by the genteel to ladies “at home” in their drawing rooms between 3-5 P.M.

muslin - a fine quality of cotton; very thin material; some young women wore muslin dresses with damped down chemises underneath

mute - a person hired to attend a funeral and mourn

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4 Responses to Regency Era Lexicon – “M” is for …

  1. Krista says:

    love this post, I also like how “making love” had nothing to do with sex that was neat. Thanks for educating me on this I needed it. Wonderful:)

    • Yes, the “making love” phrase is one of which I wish I was aware in some of my early pieces. I misused it, but in my defense, my editor didn’t catch it either.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Chelsea says:

    Thanks for sharing and Happy Thanksgiving!

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