When Enthusiasm Fizzles

I’m proofreading the galleys for a little novella about Percival and Esther Windham’s courtship, a perfectly charming tale that has me wanting to figuratively toss the Oxford English Dictionary into the Thames.

The difficulty is that Percy and Esther are cavorting and disporting way, way back thirty years before the Regency, in the 1780s, and in addition to fashions being different, words were different. The word taxidermy, for which I defy you to come up with a handy synonym, hadn’t been invented. Well.

Worse yet, the word fizzle–as in Her Grace’s objections fizzled–meant something else entirely. I’ll let the OED explain:


a. intr. To break wind without noise. Obs.

?1533   G. Du Wes Introductorie for to lerne Frenche sig. Hiv,   To fysel, uener.
1601   P. Holland tr. Pliny Hist. World II. 286   As for Onopordon, they say if Asses eat thereof, they will fall a fizling and farting.
1711   E. Ward Life Don Quixote vi. xxii. 415   He gap’d and fizzl’d twice or thrice.
1739   ‘R. Bull’ tr. F. Dedekind Grobianus 268   To fart and fizzle in the Time of Need.
Yikes! Ye olde Silent But Deadly might have visited my pages, and me all unknowing!


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