The Falconer

the Books!

I love it when a book introduces me to a handful of new words, so I was very pleasantly surprised by The Falconer by Elizabeth May!

This book is set in a sort of steampunk Scotland, which means it is full of words from previous centuries, and its main focus is faery, so there are a lot of Gaelic faery words within. I collected so many new words while reading this book that I decided to add a page to my lexicon here.

Per my usual MO, this list was created not only as a reference for me, but also as a reference for you, should you need a glossary while reading this book. If there is a word missing from these lists that you think should be on them, please let me know!

Period-Appropriate Terms

Overall, I found these to be a lot of fun, as they added to the atmosphere and setting quite nicely.

  • boor(16c) a bumpkin or unmannerly person
  • marchioness(18c) female marquis or wife of the marquis
  • reticule(18c) a small purse or bag
  • tozy – soft, liked teased wool
  • auld – Scot word for ‘old’
  • Raploch – a district of Stirling, in central Scotland
  • wynd(14c-15c) a narrow street or alley
  • bluestocking(17c) a woman with considerable scholarly, literary, or intellectual ability/interest (named so because many of them wore blue wool stockings instead of the typical black silk of the time)
  • Sassenach(18c) an English inhabitant of the British Isles, often used as a slur
  • schottische(19c) a round dance resembling the polka
  • bounder(16c) an obtrusive, ill-bred man
  • crabbit(14c) Scot version of ‘crabbed’; a crabby or morose person
  • counterpane(15c) bedspread (now obsolete)
  • ghaoil – Scottish Gaelic term of endearment
  • modiste(19c) fashionable dressmaker or milliner (hatmaker)
  • aurulent – golden in color

Scottish & Faery-Specific Terms

These were much more difficult to pin down. Not all of them seem to be actual words, although it is clear that they are at least rooted in / derived from / inspired by actual Gaelic terms and faerie lore. This section is based partly on what I could find online, and partly on my own educated guesses as far as pronunciation (based on faerie lore) and meaning (based on context within the book, as well as lore).

  • seilgflùr(seelg-fluhr) – fae flower
  • sgian-dubh(skee-ahn doo) – a small, single-edged dagger
  • buachailleen(boo-chill-een) – likely an alternate form of ‘buachaill’ – Irish for ‘boy’; I’m assuming this just means young boy faeries
  • baobhan sith(bah-van shee) – a banshee or succubus
  • cù sith(coo shee) – hound fae
  • daoine sith(deen-uh shee) – general/standard/common faery
  • caoineag(coo-nak) – A Scottish spirit, “the weeper,” a special banshee (baobhan sith); in this context, I assume it just means “weeping spirits” or “banshees”
  • sìthichean(sheeth-i-sheen) – faerykind
  • sìthiche(sheeth-eesh) – faery
  • sluagh(sloo-ah) – restless spirit, revenant
  • each-uisge(eech-oos-guh) – water horse, kelpie
  • clomhsadh(clom-shad) – Scottish Gaelic for an entrance or narrow passage
  • Sìth-bhrùth(shee-brooth) -the faery realm
  • iuchair(ee-oo-car) – Scottish Gaelic for something designed to open a lock, a key

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