A-Z of Sherlockian Phraseology - Here are a couple of "D's"

Posted by Rahul Parihar on

An extract from 'The Adventure of the Wordy Companion: An A-Z guide to Sherlockian Phraseology' by Nicko Vaughan

Here are just five of the 'D's referenced in Nicko's Wordy Companion:

Decrepitude – something which is worn out and ruined, aged or elderly. In The Boscombe Valley Mystery it is used to describe murder suspect Mr John Turner “His slow, limping step and bowed shoulders gave the appearance of decrepitude, and yet his hard, deep-lined, craggy features, and his enormous limbs showed that he was possessed of unusual strength of body and of character.”

Danseuse – a term for a female ballet dancer and the former occupation of Miss Flora Millar, who was arrested in connection with the vanishing of Miss Hatty Doran in The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor, “It appears that she was formerly a danseuse at the Allegro, and that she has known the bridegroom for some years.”

Desultory - something which is lacking in enthusiasm and is how Watson describes the chat en route to the case with Mr Alexander Holder in The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet. “Our client appeared to have taken fresh heart at the little glimpse of hope which had been presented to him, and he even broke into a desultory chat with me over his business affairs.” Also found in The Adventure of the Greek interpreter. “It was after tea on a summer evening, and the conversation, which had roamed in a desultory, spasmodic fashion”

Deuce - often heard and repeated is the phrase, “what the deuce” it can be found in many period dramas. Deuce is an old euphemism for the devil and used to express annoyance or surprise. It was certainly apt when the cry came from Count Negretto Sylvius in The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone when Holmes snatched the diamond from his grasp. “The Count’s bewilderment overmastered his rage and fear. ‘But how the deuce—?’ he gasped.”

Diadem - a jewelled headband or crown and another name for the coronet. It is used by Holmes as he examines it in during The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet. “He opened the case, and taking out the diadem he laid it upon the table. It was a magnificent specimen of the jeweller’s art.” It can also be found in The Adventure of the Musgrove Ritual on the unearthing of the ancient crown of the kings of England, “There can, I think, be no doubt that this battered and shapeless diadem once encircled the brows of the royal Stuarts.”


What would you buy in slop-shop? What would you put in your lumber room? And what on earth does the obliquity of the ecliptic actually mean? This A-Z of Sherlockian Phraseology can help you find out. A handy guide to those “wordy words” and references found within the pages of Arthur Conan Doyle’s books featuring the world’s only consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes.

This book gives explanations and definitions of the language and references used in all 60 of the original stories, a companion book, much like a paper Watson, following wherever the complete Holmes goes, dutifully explaining and narrating his meanings to the reader. Whether you’re a lifelong fan of Sherlock Homes, completely new to the books or just somebody who enjoys learning new and interesting words, this book will guide you to some of the interesting language of the time.

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