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 'H's referenced in Nicko's Wordy Companion:
Harum-scarum - a person who is reckless, impetuous or irresponsible. Henry Wood explains his past self to Holmes and Watson before he became the twisted wreck of a man in The Adventure of the Crooked Man. “I was a harum-scarum, reckless lad, and he had had an education, and was already marked for the sword-belt”
Heeled - a slang word meaning armed, most likely with a gun. Abe Slaney recalls to Holmes the events of the tragic night at Ridling Thorpe Manor in The Adventure of the Dancing Men. “I was heeled also, and I held up my gun to scare him off and let me get away. He fired and missed me”
Henri Murger's Vie de Bohem – this is the book which Watson passes his time reading as he waits for Holmes to return from following the crooked old lady in A Study in Scarlet. It is an unconventional novel which follows, loosely, a number of tenuously related stories set in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1840s. “I had no idea how long he might be, but I sat stolidly puffing at my pipe and skipping over the pages of Henri Murger's Vie de Bohem.”
Heraldic - something which relates to heraldry and how coats of arms are described. These form part of Watson's description of the gateway to Charlington Hall in The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist. “There was a main gateway of lichen-studded stone, each side pillar surmounted by mouldering heraldic emblems.”
Hippocratic smile - a Hippocratic face is a term sometimes used to describe the change in expression after death. Specifically, the ‘smile’ is a term used to describe the sustained spasming of the face muscles. In The Sign of Four, Holmes asks Watson to place his hands on the body of unfortunate Bartholomew Sholto for his medical opinion on the man’s death. “Coupled with this distortion of the face, this Hippocratic smile, or ‘risus sardonicus,’ as the old writers called it, what conclusion would it suggest to your mind?”
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.