Tuesday, September 22, 2015

word of the day: charabanc

… their places are taken by another population, with views about nature,
Brought in charabanc and saloon along arterial roads;
Tourists to whom the Tudor cafes
Offer Bovril and buns upon Breton ware
With leather-work as a sideline: Filling stations
Supplying petrol from rustic pumps.

W. H. Auden didn’t title his poems early in his career. The lines above are, according to editor Edward Mendelson, “from ‘The Dog Beneath the Skin’: 1932, ? 1934”.

definition: A kind of long and light vehicle with transverse seats looking forward. Also, a motor-coach.

What Americans would call a tour bus?

definition source: The Oxford English Dictionary

Auden uses “saloon” in a way unfamiliar to me. According to the OED, a saloon isn’t just another word for a drinking establishment but also “A type of motor car with a closed body for four or more passengers.” Among the exemplary quotes is the very line above.

I didn’t know “Bovril.” It’s “The proprietary name of a concentrated essence of beef, invented in 1889 by J. Lawson Johnston,” according to the OED. And, yes, the OED quotes the “Bovril and buns” line as an example of usage.

I’m following in the footsteps of the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary!

source for Auden lines: Selected Poems W. H. Auden, edited by Edward Mendelson
1979. Vintage Books / Random House, NY

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