Gargantua and Pantagruel

Gargantua and Pantagruel Glossary

Amerciaments

In legal terms, the amount of money one pays as a fine to the courts. It can also be the amount of money paid to a wronged party, as determined by a judge or jury.

Bastinadoes

Either the stick used to beat the soles of people’s feet, or the act of beating the soles of people’s feet with a stick or cane.

Bissextiles

Either a leap year or a reference to several different leap years.

Chirurgeon

An archaic form of the modern word 'surgeon'.

Coleworts

A middle English word that may refer to cabbage, collard greens, or kale.

Contrapunctums

A lewd reference to women’s sexual organs.

Culbutizing Exercise

In French, the literal translation of culbuter is to tumble around, usually one on the other. According to Gordon Williams, the word may have been a slang term for covert sexual acts. Within the text, Rabelais may have implied that women often consider every gesture made by a man as an attempt to instigate sex. He may have also meant that women put far too much significance behind every gesture during sexual relations with men.

Decretals

An official decree made by the Pope that more thoroughly explains an aspect of canon law.

Dried Neat's Tongues

In general, neat is an archaic word that refers to cows. Therefore, any neat dishes mentioned in the text refer to parts of a cow, and, in this case, dried cow’s tongue.

Fanfreluched

In French, fanfreluches translates into frills on a napkin, or extra accessories. A modern idiom to explain the meaning further could include, “My new device came with all the bells and whistles.” In the context of the story, it could imply that the soldiers were filled with energy and were fresh with wartime excitement at the start of their mission.

Frumperies

The word frumple from Middle English means to wrinkle or just wrinkle. During the mid-16th century, the word may have also implied a mocking form of speech or action. Thus, frumperies could imply mocking tones that cause people to wrinkle their brows in anger.

Fundament

The technical definition refers to an object’s foundation or the basis of an idea. It comes from the Latin word fundare, which means “to found.” In more humorous discourses, fundament generally refers to a person’s buttocks.

Livery

In many instances, livery was used to refer to the distinctive clothing servants wore to represent their masters. Colors or designs were often associated with certain family names. Livery could also refer to the amount of supplies given to servants, and those supplies could include clothing, shelter, and food.

Metagrabolized

From the middle French matagraboliser, this archaic word means to be puzzled, confused, or greatly perplexed.

Mole-catcher

The term mole was slang for penis, therefore mole-catcher is a lewd way of referring to a vagina.

Pannier

In old French, panier refers to a basket, and it was usually a basket meant to store bread.

Pelf-lickers

The word pelf in Anglo-French refers to stolen goods. Thus, people who licked or kissed there stolen goods would no doubt be thieves, so pelf-licker is a derogatory synonym for thief.

Physeter

Technically, this term refers to a sperm whale. These types of whales were categorized under the family Physeteridae, which may account for the term physeter. In the story, the narrator describes these whales as having three horns, but the only known species of horned whales are Narwhals, and they only have one horn.

Sempiternal

An everlasting or eternal state of being.

Sempiternous Crone

A woman who is eternally old and withered, and generally in reference to a witch or soothsayer.

Sercroupierizing

In French, croupier implies the act of riding from behind, such as riding a horse. In Portuguese, ser is the verb “to be.” Thus the word implies to be riding from behind, and, judging by its context, this word refers to sex of a more scandalous nature.

Sophister-doctor

A man skilled in the art and craft of teaching.

Squinancy

A flower, Asperula cynanchica, noted for its medicinal value with providing relief to people suffering from severe sore throats. In the late 14th century, the malady of a severe sore throat was referred to as quinsy.

Torchecul

In French, torche is the verb that means to wipe, and cul is a slang term often used to refer to the butt. Therefore, torchecul is the bawdy term for toilet paper.