A-Z of Sherlockian Phraseology - Here are a couple of "G'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 'G's referenced in Nicko's Wordy Companion:

Garrulous - a person who talks excessively about nothing in particular, especially on trivial or unimportant matters. In The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist, this is used to describe the Landlord of the country pub where he goes to glean information. “I was in the bar, and a garrulous landlord was giving me all that I wanted.”

Gadabout - a person who is constantly seeing pleasure. An insult thrown at Holmes by an irritated and gruff Silas Brown, owner of Mapleton Stables, in Silver Blaze. “I’ve no time to talk to every gadabout. We want no stranger here. Be off, or you may find a dog at your heels.”

Gasogene - sometimes called a seltzogene, this was a Victorian device for carbonating water which looked like two balls on top of each other. The bottom sphere contained water and the top contained tartaric acid and sodium bicarbonate which would create carbon dioxide. Almost like a late Victorian Soda Stream. It was mentioned in The Adventure Of The Mazarin Stone by Holmes as he urges Watson to make himself comfortable at 221b Baker Street once more. “But we may be comfortable in the meantime, may we not? Is alcohol permitted? The gasogene and cigars are in the old place. Let me see you once more in the customary armchair.”

Growler - a slang word for a four-wheeled, horse-drawn carriage. In the conclusion to A Study in Scarlet, as Holmes is revealing his deduction methods to Watson, he talks of how he managed to identify the carriage which had been at the crime scene. “I satisfied myself that it was a cab and not a private carriage by the narrow gauge of the wheels. The ordinary London growler is considerably less wide than a gentleman’s brougham.”

Guaiacum test – the first test used for detecting blood stains. It involved using the resin from the Guaiacum plant mixed with hydrogen peroxide to detect the presence of bloodstain by a change in colour. Holmes comments upon its unreliability in A Study in Scarlet in favour of his newer method. “The old guaiacum test was very clumsy and uncertain. So is the microscopic examination for blood corpuscles. The latter is valueless if the stains are a few hours old.


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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