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A Mini Holiday Glossary

7 Dickensian Words You Should Know

The holiday season is right around the corner and so is the world premiere of Mr. Dickens and his Carol. This thrilling stage adaptation is a new seasonal classic you won’t want to miss! 

Get to know Charles Dickens—one of the most well-regarded novelists of the Victorian era—by checking out 7 Dickensian words you should know from Mr. Dickens and His Carol. Let’s get started! 

 1) "Chuzzelwit"

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In 1826, Charles Dickenson wrote *cue drumroll* The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzelwit. Did you know that Dickens wrote this novel after a (negatively) impressionable visit to the U.S.?

2) "Alms"

Giving money, provisions or other items to the poor. During the holiday season, Dickens noticed people are more willing to give alms than the rest of the year. In Mr. Dickens and His Carol, many characters ask Dickens and his publishers for alms (including Dickens' his own father).

3) "Chintz"

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Originally imported from India, chintz textiles became popular in France and England in the late 17th century. Chintz is known for printed florals and vibrant designs. Did you know that the name "chintz" comes from the Hindi word for "spotted? 

4) "Nosegay"

"I found a nosegay at my door, and assumed..." - Eleanor Lovejoy in Mr. Dickens and His Carol

Did you guess correctly? Anosegay” is a small arrangement of flowers – who knew! Fun fact, the word "nosegay" made a few appearances in the works of Jane Austin and Louisa May Alcott 

5) "Fishmonger"

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A word for someone who sells fish. Something about this word does seem a little fishy, doesn’t it? 

 6) "Vetivert"

There was frankincense, rose, and now vetivert! Inhaling the root part of this plant through essential oils helps reduce panic, restlessness, and anxiety. 

7) "Bough"

A large tree branch. In this case, a kissing bough in Mr. Dickens and his Carol. A kissing bough was common during the holidays and hung in doorways or on walls to welcome visitors. It is known for its spherical shape with two or four hoops, differentiating itself from the tradition of displaying mistletoe.


  • Did you know Dickens is credited for inventing many slang terms, such as: “butter-finger,” “fairy story” (“fairy tale”), and “natural-looking?”
  • Check out What The Dickens?! Distinctly Dickensian Words and How To Use Them by Bryan Kozlowski on Seattle Book Review.

Get into the holiday spirit by incorporating Dickensian words into your everyday vocabulary! And hear them in action in Mr. Dickens and His Carol, running Nov. 25 - Dec. 23 at Seattle Rep.

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