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!
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