Acadian descendant of the French Canadians who in 1755 left Acadia, a former French colony (1604-1713) on the northeast coast of North America.
alacrity eager willingness or readiness, often manifested by quick, lively action.
“Allez vous-en! Sapristi!” French phrases meaning “Go away! For God’s sake!”
appointments furniture; equipment.
arbitrary not fixed by rules, but left to one’s judgment or choice; discretionary.
atelier a studio or workshop, especially one used by an artist.
au revoir goodbye.
banquette a raised way; sidewalk.
Baratarians natives of the Baratarian Islands, located off the Louisiana coast east of Caminada Bay and Grand Isle.
Bedlam any place or condition of noise and confusion.
Better a dinner of herbs Refers to the biblical passage Proverbs 15:17: Better a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fattened ox and hatred therewith.
blaguer! farceur! grose bete, va! Comedian! Clown! Silly beast, away with you!
Bon Dieu Good God.
bon garcon good boy (or good waiter).
Bonne nuit, ma reine, soyez sage Good night, my queen, behave well.
bouillon a clear broth, usually of beef.
bourgeois middle-class; also used variously to mean conventional, smug, materialistic, and so on.
camaraderie loyalty and warm, friendly feeling among comrades; comradeship.
car here, streetcar.
Carondelet Street the center of New Orleans’ financial district.
Ce que tes yeux me disent What your eyes are saying to me.
chambres garnies furnished rental rooms.
Cheniere Caminada a small island lying between Grand Isle and the Louisiana coast.
Chopin [Frederic] Francois Chopin (1810-1849); Polish composer and pianist, lived in France after 1831.
close here, confined or confining; narrow.
collar a cloth band or folded-over piece attached to the neck of a garment.
cologne water eau de cologne.
colored altered, influenced, distorted, or exaggerated to some degree.
commodious offering plenty of room; spacious; roomy.
compass here, amount.
condition here, the condition of being pregnant.
consuming wasting away; perishing.
coquetry the behavior or act of a coquette; flirting.
countenance the look on a person’s face that shows one’s nature or feelings.
coup d’etat the sudden, forcible overthrow of a ruler or government, sometimes with violence, by a small group of people already having some political or military authority.
coupe a closed carriage seating two passengers, with a seat outside for the driver.
court bouillon an aromatic liquid used especially for poaching fish and made by cooking together white wine, water, onions, celery, carrots, and herbs.
cover a tablecloth and setting for a meal, especially for one person.
crash a coarse cotton or linen cloth with a plain, loose weave, used for towels, curtains, clothes, and so on.
cravat a necktie.
Creole a person descended from the original French settlers of Louisiana, especially of the New Orleans area.
Dante Dante Alighieri (1265-1321); Italian poet: wrote The Divine Comedy.
darky an African-American; a derogatory or contemptuous term.
Daudet Alphonse Daudet (1840-1897), a French novelist of the naturalist school.
dedicated to the Blessed Virgin committed by their parents at birth to become nuns.
dispose to arrange (matters); settle or regulate (affairs).
drag a type of private stagecoach of the nineteenth century, with seats inside and on top, drawn by four horses.
eiderdown a quilt stuffed with the soft, fine breast feathers or down of the eider duck.
Emerson Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882); U.S. essayist, philosopher, and poet.
en bon ami as a friend.
en bonne menagere as a good housewife.
entre-mets a dish served between the main courses or as a side dish.
Esplanade Street a mansion-lined street in New Orleans, populated primarily by upper-class Creoles.
ether the upper regions of space; clear sky.
fashion-plate a fashionably dressed person.
frescoing painting with watercolors on wet plaster.
futures a contract for a specific commodity bought or sold for delivery at a later date.
gaiter a cloth or leather covering for the instep and ankle, and, sometimes, the calf of the leg; spat or legging.
gallery a veranda or porch.
gelding a gelded animal; especially, a castrated male horse.
Goncourt Edmond Louis Antoine Huot de Goncourt (1822-1896); French novelist and art critic.
grand esprit great spirit.
Grand Isle an island off the Louisiana coast, about fifty miles south of New Orleans.
Grande Terre a nearby island.
Grieg Edvard Grieg (1843-1907); Norwegian composer.
Griffe person with one mulatto parent and one black parent.
grosbec any of various passerine birds with a thick, strong, conical bill. Usually spelled grosbeak.
grotesque ludicrously eccentric or strange; ridiculous; absurd.
held controversies conducted a lengthy discussion of an important question in which opposing opinions clash.
houri a seductively beautiful woman.
indulgence a partial or complete remission, under conditions specified by the Catholic church, of divine temporal punishment that may otherwise still be due for sin committed but forgiven.
Isolde the Irish princess of medieval legend who was betrothed to King Mark of Cornwall and loved by Tristram, the king’s nephew. The legend was made into a famous opera by Richard Wagner.
jessamine any of various tropical and subtropical plants of the olive family, with fragrant flowers of yellow, red, or white, used in perfumes or for scenting tea. Typically spelled jasmine.
a Jeudi until Thursday.
Jockey Club a luxurious social club limited to a select group of the New Orleans upper class.
la belle dame beautiful woman.
lateen a triangular, fore-and-aft-rigged sail suspended on a slant from a portion of the ship’s mast.
lawn sleeves sleeves made from lawn, a fine, sheer cloth of linen or cotton.
les convenances social conventions; protocol.
lorgnette a pair of eyeglasses attached to a handle.
Lucullean as in the banquets of Lucius Lucinius Lucullus (circa 110-57 B.C.); Roman general and consul: proverbial for his wealth and luxurious banquets.
lugger a small vessel equipped with a lugsail or lugsails.
ma chere my dear.
Ma foi! Indeed! (literally “my goodness”).
ma reine my queen (or my love).
mais ce n’est pas mal! elle s’y connait, elle a de la force, oui But that’s not bad at all! She knows what she’s doing, she has a talent.
marron glace marrons in syrup or glazed with sugar; candied chestnuts.
matting a woven fabric of fiber, as straw or hemp, for mats, floor covering, wrapping, and so on.
menage a household; domestic establishment.
mets main dish or main course.
mulatresse female mulatto.
mulatto a person who has one black parent and one white parent.
mules lounging slippers that do not cover the heels.
multitudinous very numerous; many.
muslin any of various strong, often sheer cotton fabrics of plain weave; especially a heavy variety used for sheets, pillowcases, and so on.
nom de guerre a pseudonym.
on her mettle roused or prepared to do her best.
parterre an ornamental garden area in which the flower beds and path form a pattern.
party call Women were expected to visit a party’s hostess within a week of the party to thank her, if they have not attended one of her parties before.
passez! adieu! allez vous-en! Go on! Good-bye! Go away!
pates meat pies.
pathos the quality in something experienced or observed that arouses feelings of pity, sorrow, sympathy, or compassion.
patois a form of a language differing generally from the accepted standard, as a provincial or local dialect.
pauvre cherie poor dear.
peignoir a woman’s loose, full dressing gown; like a negligee.
pension a term used in France and other continental countries for a boardinghouse.
perambulation a walking about; a stroll.
personalities here, personal matters.
pigeon house small bird house for domesticated pigeons.
pirogue a dugout canoe.
pirogue a dugout canoe.
plumb perfectly vertical; straight down.
The Poet and the Peasant an operetta by Franz von Suppe (1819-1895), Austrian conductor and composer of popular operettas.
pompano any of various edible, marine North American and West Indian jack fishes.
porte cochere a large entrance gateway into a courtyard.
programme the acts, speeches, and musical pieces that make up an entertainment or ceremony.
prunella a strong worsted twill, used, especially formerly, as for clerical gowns, shoe uppers, and so on.
quadroon a person who has one black grandparent; child of a mulatto and a white.
Quartier Francais French Quarter, also known as the Old Quarter; the oldest part of New Orleans and the area in which most New Orleans’ Creoles lived.
recapitulate to repeat briefly, as in an outline; summarize.
reception day one day each week, an upper-class woman was expected to stay home and receive visitors. The day of the week was established when a woman married, and custom demanded she entertain on that day from then on.
Regime (1766-1803) the period of time when the Spanish ruled the territory containing New Orleans.
repose to lie at rest.
rockaway a light horse-drawn carriage with four wheels, open sides, and a standing top.
scantling a small beam or timber, especially one of small cross section, as a two-by-four.
scintillant that gives off sparks; that flashes or sparkles.
sea-drift driftwood, wood drifting in the water, or that has been washed ashore.
Sevres a type of fine French porcelain.
shallow-pate a person lacking depth or intelligence.
snuggery a snug or comfortable place, room, and so on.
soiree musicale a party or gathering in the evening.
soiree musicale an event or party dedicated to musical performance.
souffrante suffering or ill; here, a reference to the late stage of pregnancy.
sunshade a parasol used for protection against the sun’s rays.
tabouret a low, upholstered footstool. Also spelled taboret.
telling her beads praying on her rosary.
tete montee hot-headed person.
Tiens! Voila que Madame Ratignolle est jalouse! Finally! It appears that Madame Ratignolle is jealous!
tignon a Creole word for bun: the hair is wrapped in a scarf and the scarf is wrapped around the head.
toddy a drink of brandy or whiskey with hot water, sugar, and often, spices.
treadle a lever or pedal moved by the foot as to turn a wheel.
Vespers the sixth of the seventh canonical hours; evening prayer.
vingt-et-un a card game called “twenty one.”
vouchsafe to be gracious enough or condescend to give or grant.
Zampa an opera written by Ferdinand Herold in which a character drowns at sea.