Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Meaning: whip-bearing; used humorously* of British schoolmasters.

Usefulness: 1 ("Morning boss; looking particularly mastigophorous today." "You should all know that my approach to this year's budget will be mastigophorous."  Can obviously also be applied to jockeys, rodeo riders and other less savoury occupations.)

Logofascination: 1 (From the Greek for 'whip' and 'carrying', it's the sort of word Sir Thomas would have invented.)

In the wild: I discovered it on LTA, in an amusing extract from Sydney Smith on the pointlessness of reading Latin dictionaries. I forgot entirely that the Inky Fool had mentioned it in a post a year and a half ago, which includes further discussion on words flagellatory.

Degrees: 2

Connections: mastigophorous - whip

Which is used in: G&P, Gargantua (Book the First) VIII: How they apparelled Gargantua. The citation is for whipcan - there was one for whip, but this passage is more interesting, so that's what you're getting.
For his coat were taken up eighteen hundred ells of blue velvet, dyed in grain, embroidered in its borders with fair gilliflowers, in the middle decked with silver purl, intermixed with plates of gold and store of pearls, hereby showing that in his time he would prove an especial good fellow and singular whipcan.
Cotgrave defines this indirectly in defining Bourrachon: "a tipler, quaffer, tossepot, whip-canne." A whipcan is someone who whips back the can, just as a tosspot** tosses back the pot. Regarding the embroidery on the coat, Rabelais and Frame have baby vines (vignettes) and silver pint-pots as the decoration. For some reason Sir Thomas has gilliflowers and purl (embroidery in silver thread), which makes the connection to whipcan a little confusing.

*If you consider inventing Latin words for things humorous, which Sir Thomas and I certainly do.
**Adapted in Australian slang as a ruder insult.

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