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 'F's referenced in Nicko's Wordy Companion:
Forenoon - as the name suggests, something which precedes Afternoon and is really just another word for late morning. In The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist, this is the time of day when Miss Violet Smith rides her bike. “You must know that every Saturday forenoon I ride on my bicycle to Farnham Station in order to get the 12.22 to town.”
Fog-girt – girt means to be surrounded by or closed in by. In The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans, this is how Watson describes the room in which Holmes had previously been restlessly agitated within as he waited for a fresh problem to solve. Fog-girt is a reference to the terrible weather which was described earlier in the story. “He was a different man from the limp and lounging ﬁgure in the mouse-coloured dressing-gown who had prowled so restlessly only a few hours before round the fog-girt room”
Foolscap - a shortened term for Foolscap folio which was the traditional paper size used in the UK and Europe before the A4 standardisation. Widely available, Foolscap writing paper would have measured 8 x 13 inches and you can find references to it in a large number of Sherlock Holmes Stories. In The Adventure of the Six Napoleons, “As we left the room, we heard his pen travelling shrilly over the foolscap” and again in The Hound of the Baskervilles, “He was carefully examining the foolscap, upon which the words were pasted, holding it only an inch or two from his eyes.”
Four-in-hand - this is a carriage with four horses driven by one driver which was a popular sport in the 1800s. So much so that a “Four-in-Hand” Driving Club was founded in 1872 when there was a popular revival for the sport. It is mentioned in His Last Bow as Von Bork and Baron Von Herling talk about the nature of the Englishman. “You yacht against them, you hunt with them, you play polo, you match them in every game, your four-in-hand takes the prize at Olympia.”
Forecastle - The forward part of a ship below the deck, usually where the crew's living quarters can be found. In the Adventure of the Cardboard Box, James Browner talks of Alec Fairbairn, who became a frequent visitor to his home. “...he had wonderful polite ways with him for a sailor man, so that I think there must have been a time when he knew more of the poop than the forecastle.”
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.