Ever wonder what they were saying? Wonder no more! Both French and English translations
(Many entries from GURPS Scarlet Pimpernel, by Lisa Evans and Robert Traynor)

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A

À bas le République!: Down with the Republic! Anything or anyone to be denounced can be substituted at the end; À bas les aristos! was especially popular, needless to say.

L'abbé: A priest, abbot

À la lantérne les aristos!: Hang the aristocrats from the lampposts!

À nous deux!: "To us two," reference frequently made by Chauvelin to the ongoing duel of wits between himself and the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Ancien régime: The old feudal society overthrown in the Revolution.

Aristo: Aristocrat or counter-revolutionary

Armées révolutionnaires: "people's armies", semi-regular units composed of popular militants, formed in 1793 and disbanded in early 1794, which were especially prominent in promoting economic and religious aspects of the Terror.

Assermentés: Priests who had sworn the oath of allegiance to the Civil Contitution

Assignat: Revolutionary paper currency; initially a government bond until 1790.

The Austrian, the Baker's Wife, Widow Capet: Marie Antoinette

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B

Barrières: customs posts surrounding Paris, erected by the Ferme Générale from 1784 and which were targets for crowd action in the crisis of July 1789.

Bart.: Abbreviation for baronet

Billet-doux: Love letter (literally, "sweet letter"; the reference is to continuing correspondance.)

Blancs: Royalists (term used especially in the Vendée wars)

Blast!:  Exclamation, curse. "Damn!"

Bon Mot: A witty remark

Bonnet phrygien, bonnet rouge: Red cap used decoratively from 1789 and which from mid 1791 became the fashionable coiffure of sans- culotte militants and a symbol of republican spirit. From 1792 it was also an official emblem of state.

Bourgeois: The middle-classes; originally, the citizen of a town; by the late eighteenth century, used (in opposition to peasants, nobles) to denote the urban notables, and in 1789 the upper fraction of the Third Estate.

Brassier: Day-labourer

Bureau de Police Générale: The infamous Police Bureau, specifically formed by Robespierre to spy and denounce other government officials.

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C

Ça ira: "It will come to pass"; song about the delights of murdering aristos, the unofficial marching song of the Parisian mob, first heard in 1790, and with violently anti-aristocratic verses added from 1793.

Calèche: A light vehicle usually pulled by a single horse, seating two passengers and having two wheels and a folding top, and a seat for a driver on a splashboard. Also a bonnet that folds back like the top of a calèche, worn by women in the 18th century.

Calotins: (from calotte, skull-cap), popular and denigratory name for priests, and by extension supporters of the non-juring clergy.

Carmagnole: Derisive song and accompanying dance ridiculing Louis XVI as "Monsieur Veto," imported by the fédérés from Marseille.

Certificats de civisme: (1) Certificates of residence, required of all citizens but especially applicable to Parisians. (2) Documentary proof of political orthodoxy and civic virtue delivered under the Terror, usually by comités de surveillance.

Ci-devant: "Former," applied to the French nobility; "Louis Capet, ci-devant King of France." Eventually, it was synonymous with nobility.

Citoyen/ne: "Citizen," standard title of address for fellow Frenchmen.

Cocarde: Cockade, used as an emblem of political opinion. The cocarde tricolore was the official red-white-and-blue cockade, originating in the July crisis of 1789, derived from the combination of the colours of Paris (red, blue) with that of the king (white).

Comité: Any governmental standing committee.

Comité de Salut Public: The all-powerful Committee of Public Safety

Comité de Sureté Générale: The Committee of General Security

Commune: The municipal government of the city of Paris

Congé: Letter of dismissal, usually referring to a love affair.

Cordeliers: Residents of the Cordeliers' district of Paris: later influential leftist political party led by Danton. Also known as "Indulgants."

Cravat: A necktie; a cloth, often made of or trimmed with lace, worn about the neck by men especially in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Culottes dorées: The "golden breeches": a sans-culotte way of referring to the better-off.

Cur: A mean and cowardly person; a mongrel, worthless, or unfriendly dog

Curé: A vicar, holder of a benefice or church; a parish priest. They held a "cure" for souls.

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D

Dandy: A man who is excessively concerned about his clothes and appearancel; a fop.

Dantoniste: Alleged supporter of Danton.

Dauphin: Title of the Crown Prince of France

Décade: The period of 10 days which replaced the week in the Revolutionary Calendar

Deputy: Member of the Assembly, later of the Convention; often rendered "Citizen-Deputy" in speech, deputé-representant in French.

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E

Emigrés: Individuals, not only nobles, who left France on political grounds; Refugees from France, typically to Austria, England, or in some cases Spain and Italy.

En Avant!: "Let's go!"

En regle: A document, usually referring to a Certificate of Safety or a passport, that is officially notarized and signed.

Enragés: Radical political party led by Hébert, devoted to violence. General term for a rabblerouser, or a political fanatic.

État civil: Registry, and registration, of births, marriages and deaths, which became a state monopoly by the law of 20 Sept 1792.

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F

Faubourg: Suburb of Paris; by extension, the labouring population of the faubourgs

Fédérés: Provincial members of the National Guard, originally from Marseilles; uniformly ruffians.

Fédération: Demonstration of patriotic fervour, the first of which occurred in the provinces in late 1789 and which became highly popular throughout France following the Fête de la Fédération in Paris in July 1790.

Feuillants: Constitutional monarchists, including Lafayette, Duport, Barnave, Bailly, the Lameth brothers, who split away from the Jacobin Club following the flight to Varennes and established their own organisation in a monastery of the Strict Bernardines (feuillants); also used from late 1791 to denote moderates and royalists

Fichu: A woman's kerchief or shawl, generally triangular in shape, worn draped over the shoulders or around the neck with the ends drawn together on the breast.

Fleur-de-lys: "Lily of the Valley," the stylized symbol of the Bourbon monarchy and of royalist France.

Fop: A man who is excessively vain and concerned about his dress, appearance, and manners

Foppish: Resembling or befitting a fop; excessively refined and fastidious in taste and manner

Freemasons: A widely distributed secret order having for its object the mutual assistance and the promotion of brotherly love among its members.

Frou-frou: Elaborate decoration, as frills, ribbons, or ruffles, especially on women's clothing; a rustling, particularly the rustling of silk, as in a woman's dress.

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G

Gadzooks!: An abbreviation of "God's hooks" ie. the nails of Christ's Cross. Used as an exclamation or mild oath. Also seen as odzooks, odzookers, or zooks.

Gazette de Paris: Parisian newspaper, backed by the Commune of Paris.

Gazette des Tribunaux: Newsletter published through the auspices of the Revolutionary Tribunal, detailing court proceedings.

Gendarmérie: The constabulary of the Commune of Paris; individuals are called "gendarmes."

Générale: Drum roll calling citizens to arms.

Gens sans aveu: Individuals unable to have a respectable person vouch for them: tramps, vagrants.

Girondins: Moderate political party, led by Brissot and Vergniaud.

Guillotine sèche: the 'dry guillotine': deportation, usually to Guiana, which was used against political offenders notably in the Thermidorian and Directorial periods.

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H

Hazzard: game played with two dice, an earlier and more complicated form of craps

Hôtel: Noble's palace, also used to refer to large municipal buildings or town-halls. The Paris Hôtel-de-Ville was the seat of the Commune.

HRH: Abbreviation for His Royal Highness

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I

Incivisme: Lack of civic virtue, an indictable offence under the Terror.

In the name of the people!, the Republic!: Salutation used by officials to gain entrance into towns, or into residences to conduct searches.

L'Incorruptible: Robespierre, so-called for his purported incorruptibility.

Incroyables: "Incredibles"; post-Thermidorean Frenchmen devoted to radical politics and extreme fashions.

Indulgents: Name given to Danton, Desmoulins and their followers who from late 1795 were calling for clemency and a relaxation of the Terror.

Insermentés: Priests who refused the oath of allegiance to the Civil Constitution

Insoumis: Absentee conscripts, 'draft-dodgers'

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J

Jacobins: Leading political party, ruling group during the Reign of Terror, led by Robespierre and Marat.

Jacquerie: Violent peasant insurrection.

Jabot: A decorative ruffle or other arrangement of lace or cloth attached at the neckline and extending down the front of a woman's blouse or dress or, formerly, of a man's shirt.

Jeunesse dorée: "gilded youth"; wealthy, stylish, sophisticated young people. These dandified gangs of youths organised after Thermidor, notably, in Paris, by Fréron, and went around attacking former militants and Jacobins.

Journalier: Day-labourer

Juring Priest: One signing the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, acknowledging the supreme authority of the Revolutionary Government. Also referred to as assermente or constinutionnel.

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K

Kent: A county in the Southeast of England near the coast.

Kerchief: A woman's square scarf worn as a covering for the head or around the shoulders.

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L

La!: An exclamation of wonder, surprise. Considered something of an affectation.

Liberté, Égalite, Fraternite, ou la Mort!: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death! -- the slogan of the Revolution.

Levée en masse: National conscription law inducting draftees into the army, August 23, 1793

Lettre de cachet: sealed administrative missive, signed by the monarch and countersigned by a minister containing a detention order against an individual: the order was to be executed swiftly, secretly and with no recourse to the courts.

Little Capet, the Baker's boy: The Dauphin.

Livre: The standard silver coinage of France; roughly equal to one twelfth of an English pound.

Loi des otages: Law of 12 July 1799 under which the relatives of émigrés resident in France could be held responsible for émigrés' subversive actions.

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M

Madame la Guillotine: The guillotine in the Place de la Revolution.

Madame Guillotine's Lover: Public executioner Sanson.

The Maiden: Synonym for the guillotine.

Marséillaise: Marching song of the fédérés written by Rouget de l'Isle, originally the 'Chant de guerre pour l'armée du Rhin' (1792). The song became the national anthem, July 14, 1795.

Merveilleuse: "Marvelous"; provocatively fashionable women of the Directorial period (e.g. Madame Tallien)

Moniteur Universel: Parisian newspaper, virtually a house organ of the Committee of Public Safety.

Milord, Milor: An English nobleman or gentleman, usually used as a term of address.

Mitrailleur: One of the participants in the mass shootings at Lyons.

Montagnards or "The Mountain": Radical sans-culotte political party, so called for the raised benches they sat on in the Assembly.

Morbleu!: French curse.

Monsieur Veto, the Baker, Citoyen Capet: Louis XVI

Mot d'ordre: Watch-word

Le Mouron Rouge: French for "The Scarlet Pimpernel"

Muscadins: "Dandies": royalist youths (term used from 1793 and applied to the jeunesse dorée in the post-Thermidor period).

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N

Née: "Born" - placed after the name of a married woman to introduce her maiden name.

Noblesse: Nobility

Non-juring priest: One who refused to sign the Civil Constitution of the Clergy; also called insermente or refractoire.

Noyades: "Drownages"; mass drownings of refractory priests and others in the mouth of the Loire outside Nantes organised by Carrier in late 1793 and early 1794.

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O

Od: A shortened form of "God" used interjectionally and in minced oaths. Used in such phrases as "Odd's fish!" or "Odd's my life!"

Odd Fellow: A member of a social and benevolent society that originated in England in the 18th century.

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P

Paillasse, palliasse: A mattress of straw; pallet.

Patriote: In this period, used to refer to a fellow countryman.

Philosophes: "Philosophers": the writers and thinkers of the French Enlightenment

Piteux: Feeble Jacobin pun, designating counter-rev supporters of William Pitt and individuals worthy of pity for their political stupidity.

Privilégiés: Privileged groups and individuals; by 1789, becoming synonymous with the nobles and clergy.

Punch: A beverage consisting of wine or spirits mixed with fruit juice, soda, water, milk, or the like, and flavored with sugar and spices

Purs: Hard-line royalists.

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R

Reign of Terror, Le Terreur: Applied commonly to the Revolutionary period, specifically to the six weeks prior to Thermidor.

Republican: Person devoted to the ideals of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and to the overthrow of the ancien régime.

Représentants du peuple: Members of the National Assembly in the 1790s.

Robe a la grecque: High-waisted gown based on classical Greek robes.

Royalist: Person devoted to the maintenance or reestablishment (depending on the time period) of the French monarchy.

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S

Sacre bleu! Sacre tonnére! Sacre calisse!: French curses (sacred blue, sacred thunder, sacred chalice) - less popular after official atheism, of course.

Sang-froid: Coolness; calm, collected and serene attitude

Sans-culotte: "Without breeches," term for the lowest classes of the Parisian mob, notorious for filth and slovenly ways.

Sans-culottides: The five last days of the year in the Revolutionary Calendar (6 in leap years), unattached to any of the 12 months.

Séigneur: French local country lord, equivalent to an English squire.

Septembriseur: Participant in the September Massacres; eventually a by-word for savagery.

Serment de haine à la royauté: Oath of allegiance demanded of all public functionaries in Aug 1792.

Serment du Jeu de Paume: 'Tennis Court Oath': collective oath taken by the Third Estate (with a single exception) at their meeting on 20 June 1789 not to disperse until a constitution had been agreed.

Sociétés fraternelles: "Fraternal societies": early radical clubs formed in Paris 1790-1, often as associates and affiliates of the Cordeliers Club.

Sink me!: English curse, especially popular amoung sailors.  Short for "Sink me to the devil!"

Snuff: A preparation of tobacco, either powdered and taken into the nostrils by inhalation or ground and placed between the cheek and gum.

Sou: French copper currency; 20 sous were worth one livre.

Suspect: In general terms, those whose political orthodoxy was in doubt; in particular terms, those categories of individuals (royalists, federalists, dismissed public functionaries, relatives of émigrés, etc) designated suspect by the law of 17 Sept 1793.

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T

Terrorist: Members and agents of the Committees of Public Safety and General Security.

Tory: British political party aligned with William Pitt. Weak and disorganized throughout the Revolutionary period.

Tricoleur: The tricolor flag of the Republic: red, white, and blue.

Tricolor Scarf: Red, white, and blue neckcloth worn by officials of the Republic. Display of the scarf usually guaranteed obedience.

Tricotteuses: "The knitter women"; ower-class women who attended sessions of the National Assembly, Paris Commune, and executions at the Place de la Revolution. A decree of the Commune on 26 Dec 1793 had allowed women to knit while attending sessions.

Tumbril: Wagon used to bear condemned prisoners from the Conciergerie to the guillotine for execution.

Tyran: Popular name for Louis XVI after 1791.

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U

Ultra, ultra-révolutionnaire: Revolutionary extremist (e.g. used by Robespierre of Hébert in Dec 1793).

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V

Vive le Roi!: Long live the King! Decidedly inflammatory; Vive le République was considerably more acceptable.

Valet: A male servant who attends to the personal needs of his employer, as by taking care of clothing or the like; manservant.

Vendémiaire: Popular, right-wing revolt in Paris, 5 Oct 1795

Visites domiciliaires: Domiciliary raids, house-to-house searches (especially for arms and suspects under the Terror).

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W

Whig: A member of the liberal patriotic party in Britain during the Revolutionary period led by Charles Fox; supporter of the Revolution.

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Y

Yacht: A vessel used for private cruising, racing, or other noncommerical purposes.

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Z

Zooks!: Abbreviation of Gadzooks, meaning "God's hooks"; an exclamation or mild oath.

Zounds!: Abbreviation of "God's wounds"; an exclamation or mild oath.

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