Academie de Saint-Cyr: Military academy of the French Monarchy in the 18th century
Achaean: pertaining to certain groups of ancient Greeks, of Homeric times.
Adamic: pertaining to Adam, the first man.
Adelino Canepa: Farmer who was Belbo's Uncle Carlo's tenant.
Adolphe Menjou: Famous actor of the 1930s-50s. Usually played a dapper, slick gentleman.
adynata - A figure of speech, a form of hyperbole that has been exaggerated to the point of impossibility.
Aeolipile of Hero of Alexandria: Globe with spouts which when heated with water inside would spin because of escaping steam, invented by the ancient Greek scientist Hero or Heron of Alexandria.
Agarttha: supposed underground Tibetan world control center.
Agliè Character in the book; Casaubon first meets him in Brazil.
Ahasuerus: King of Persia in the Old Testament; used in the book as a name for the Wandering Jew, who supposedly insulted Christ just before the crucifixion and must wait for the Second Coming to die. Like the Comte Saint Germain and Cagliostro, a man who lives for many generations.
Alcuin: 8th century scholar, born in England, at the court of Charlemagne,
Alembiques: French for alembics (see above)
Aleksandr Nevski: Russian hero famous for turning back the Teutonic Knights at the Battle of Lake Peipus, 1242.
Allumeuse: French for a flirt, a tease.
Alopecia areata: Bald spot.
Ambrosiana: library in Milan, esp. noted for rare books.
ammonoids: ammonites, prehistoric sea creatures.
amor fati : Latin, love of fate, resignation.
ampules: glass or other closed containers for small amounts of liquid or powder.
Annibale Cantalamessa: character, boy who couldn't learn to play bombardon. Name means "sings the Mass."
Anselm of Canterbury: Italian-born bishop and theologian of the 11th century. Famous for trying to prove God's existence.
antediluvian: from before Noah's flood, very old.
Aquiline: like an eagle, often said of a beaky profile.
Ariosto: 15th-century Italian author
Ascalon: variant spelling of Avalon, a popular name
Askesis: or ascesis, process of enlightenment, often through some specific kind of discipline.
Assassins of Alamut
Astrologiam: Latin form of the word for Astrology.
Avalon: Mystical place in Arthurian stories, sometimes located in Burgundy, Glastonbury, the far North, or America.
Avicenna: Arab philosopher
Avunculogratulation: The act of meeting uncles.
Bacon: Francis Bacon, Elizabethan writer, sometimes credited with writing Shakespeare's plays - a theory Eco plays with.
Baconian: In the story, a member of an imaginary group of esoteric plotters supposedly founded by Bacon, and mostly English.
Balneum Mariae: a large pot or kettle full of hot water into which a smaller pot with food (or alchemical contents) is placed in order to cook it gently.
Baphomet: ugly idol supposedly worshipped by the Templars, according to the historical documents of their trial.
benedictive: with a blessing
Bibelots: collectible decorative objects.
bombardon: a brass instrument resembling a tuba, but with a lower pitch
caboclo - a person of mixed Brazilian Amerindian and European descent. a specific type of mestiço.
caftan - A (cotton or silk) cloak with full sleeves and sash reaching down to the ankles; worn by men in the eastern Mediterranean
Cagliostro: Joseph or Giuseppe Balsamo, an 18th-century con man who claimed mystical powers and a very long life.
canter - A smooth 3-beat gait; between a trot and a gallop
caparisoned - Clothed in finery (especially a horse in ornamental trappings)
carbuncle - An infection larger than a boil and with several openings for discharge of pus; or, a beautiful red-colored stone popular in medieval legend.
Carmelite scapular: Piece of cloth worn by Carmelite nuns and priests, but also a small version worn by laymen.
catafalque - A decorated bier on which a coffin rests in state during a funeral
Catechism: boiled-down easy-to-memorize doctrine of the church.
catechist - One who instructs catechumens in preparation for baptism
cathar/catharism:an adherent of a dualist view of the universe, condemned as a heresy in medieval Europe.
Celine: Louis-Ferdinand Celine, French author.
centenarian - Someone who is at least 100 years old
centenary - The 100th anniversary
chanoine Docre - a satanic priest
Chartres Cathedral: holds a famous relic, the Sancta Camisa, said to be the tunic worn by the Virgin Mary at Christ's birth.
chasuble - a liturgical vestment
chelae - A structure like a pincer on the limb of a crustacean or other arthropods, A Hindu disciple of a swami
Cheops: Egyptian ruler who built a pyramid.
Chez Guermantes: "The Guermantes Way," part of Proust's novel; the Guermantes family is aristocratic.
chthonian - Of the underworld
cloister - Residence that is a place of religious seclusion (such as a monastery), A courtyard with covered walks (as in religious institutions)
Combray: Town where the narrator of Proust's //Remembrance of Things Past// spent his childhood.
compunction - A feeling of deep regret (usually for some misdeed)
Comte de Champagne: Count of Champagne. Very powerful position in the Middle Ages.
Comte Saint Germain: 18th-century gentleman who was supposed to be a magician and also immortal.
concatenation - The state of being linked together as in a chain; union in a linked series, The linking together of a consecutive series of symbols or events or ideas etc, A series of things depending on each other as if linked together, The act of linking together as in a series or chain
contretemps - A situation that conflicts with what one wants to do
Copernican- relating to Copernicus's model of the universe, with the sun at the center of our solar system.
Cossack: members of military communities in Ukraine and southern Russia
Couchette: train compartment where there are pull-down bunks for sleeping.
countenance - Formal and explicit approval The appearance conveyed by a person's face
Cyclotron: an accelerator in which charged particles are propelled and move in a circle by an alternating electric field and a constant magnetic field perpendicular to it
damask - A fabric of linen or cotton or silk or wool with a reversible pattern woven into it
De Gaulle(Charles) - French president.
Demiurge - divine creative principle, divine mind, the first emanation of "the One."
demur - Take exception to
detritus - The remains of something that has been destroyed or broken up
dissimulation - The act of deceiving
dolmen - A prehistoric megalith typically having two upright stones and a capstone
Druids: the religious leaders of the ancient Gauls and probably the British as well. Revived in modern times both as an initiatory society, as a set of neo-pagan rituals, and also as a philosophy of protecting the ecology and ancient monuments.
ecclesiastical - Of or associated with the Christian Church
Ein Sof - Jewish infinity
elect - An exclusive group of people
eleusinian - Pertaining to the mystery cult of Eleusis, in or near Athens.
embouchure - The aperture of a wind instrument into which the player blows directly. Also, the musculature which the player acquires in his/her mouth by playing the particular instrument, which enables him/her to play well.
Ennoia -another name for Sophia, the female creative principle, virgin and whore.
entomologist - A zoologist who studies insects envoûtement - bewitchment
eolopile: see Aelophile
Epicurean - sensual, devoted to culinary or fleshly pleasures. Ancient Epicureans believed that nothing was real but matter, and that all things, even life and spirit, could be reduced to the shape, motion, etc., of ultimate particles (atoms). Named after Epicurus (Greek), made famous by the De Rerum Natura of Lucretius (Roman).
Epistolary: in the form of letters.
equitation - A rider's ability to ride correctly with a strong, supple position and effective aids.
The Essenes: Jewish sect which flourished at the time of Christ and who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Esthetes: or aesthetes. People for whom beauty is morally important.
Etruscan - Civilization that flourished briefly on the Italian peninsula before the rise of Rome
Eucharist - A Christian sacrament commemorating the Last Supper by consecrating bread and wine
evanescent - Tending to vanish like vapor
evince - Give expression to
exculpate - Pronounce not guilty of criminal charges
expurgate - Edit by omitting or modifying parts considered indelicate
ex-voto - a votive offering to a saint or divinity
Fabian -British socialist group founded in 1884.
Famuli: Latin for "servants", used also of witches' familiars.
fauteuil: A style of open-arm chair with a primarily exposed wooden frame originating in France in the early eighteenth century
finis austriae: eastern limits, Eastern ends of the earth.
firedamp - A mixture of gases (mostly methane) that form in coal mines and become explosive when mixed with air
Fulcanelli: a pseudonym assumed, in the early 20th century, by a French alchemist and esoteric author, whose identity is still debated.
gendarme - A French policeman
geomancy - Divination by means of signs connected with the earth (as points taken at random or the arrangement of particles thrown down at random or from the configuration of a region and its relation to another)
Geronimo - Apache chief who led resistance to US.
goety - witchcraft. See goetia.
Grand Guignol -Very bloody and bizarre theatrical spectacle. Named after a French theatre famous for such.
grimoire: magician's handbook.
Guenonism: doctrine of Rene Guenon, that all religions are based on a truth which can be understood without them.
gymnosophy - The doctrine of a sect of Hindu philosophers who practiced nudity and asceticism and meditation
halcyon adj. Idyllically calm and peaceful; suggesting happy tranquillity
hallouines - French spelling of "Halloweens" though in context it seems to refer to a Druid priestess.
hauteur - Haughty manner or spirit; haughtiness; pride; arrogance
Hepatoscopy: looking at livers. A form of prophecy, divining by sacrificing animals and examining their livers.
Hermetic - Completely sealed; completely airtight. Also, pertaining to the alchemical tradition (from Hermes Trismegistus).
Herostratus: or Erostratus, said to have burned down the great Temple of Ephesus in order that people would remember his name.
hieratic - A cursive form of Egyptian hieroglyphics; used especially by the priests
Hofmannsthal: Hugo von Hofmannsthal(1874-1929), Austrian poet & dramatist
Homeopathy: a supposed cure by the 'hair of the dog' method.
homunculus - tiny man (or human). One theory of human reproduction in ancient and modern times was that the sperm contained a homunculus which grew inside the woman's womb.
Hydromantium: divining or prophesying the future by looking at water.
hylic: from the Greek term hylos, meaning "forest"; refers to the material world or the chaos of physical matter without spiritual content.
Hyperboreal - To the far north; literally beyond the north wind. Ancient Greeks thought there might be a warm and sunny land there.
ibises - Wading birds of warm regions having long slender down-curved bills
idee fixe: French for "fixed idea", a dominant mania.
ignominy - A state of dishonor
impotentia coeundi- sexual impotence, inability to copulate (Latin)
incredulous - Not disposed or willing to believe; unbelieving infula: A ritual headband worn by priests or dignitaries
Ingolf Document: piece of paper on which a character in the book named Ingolf copied a laundry list he found in a well beneath the Tithe Barn (Grange-aux-dimes) in Provins, France.
insufflate - Breathe or blow onto as a ritual or sacramental act, esp. so as to symbolize the action of the Holy Spirit, Treat by blowing a powder or vapor into a bodily cavity, Blow or breathe hard on or into
internecine - Characterized by bloodshed and carnage for both sides
inviolable - Not capable of being violated or infringed
ipsissimus: Latin, meaning something like "extremely identical with itself" or "exactly the same."
Isis - A goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world
ithyphallic - Lustful; lewd; salacious; indecent; obscene
Kali Yuga: the last of the four stages that the world goes through as part of the cycle of yugas described in the Indian scriptures.
Kelley: Edward Kelley, an associate of John Dee in the time of Elizabeth I. He claimed to be a great alchemist and was said to have no ears.
Keter: first of the Sefirot.
King Dagobert: one of the Merovingian kings of France.
Konigsberg: former name for the Russian city, Kaliningrad.
Krupskaya: the name of Vladimir Lenin's wife.
languorous - Lacking spirit or liveliness
lapis exillis: or lapis ex caelis. A term used by the medieval German poet Wolfram von Eschenbach to refer to the Grail in his romance Parzival. It means a stone of exile or from the sky.
Laplace: French philosopher.
le vierge le vivace et le bel aujourd'hui: "The virginal lively and lovely today," a line of poetry by Stephane Mallarme.
legerdemain - An illusory feat; considered magical by naive observers. Translation for "Lightness of Hand" or "Light of hand"(French), and misheard and misused in the English as "Sleight of Hand".
lepidopteral: relating to butterflies.
lethargy - A state of comatose torpor (as found in sleeping sickness)
libertinage - The quality of being lewd and lascivious Licentiousness
Lilith the Talmudic: a wife of Adam according to Hebrew legend.
litany - Any long and tedious address or recital
liturgy - A rite or body of rites prescribed for public worship
locus (pl. loci) - The scene of any event or action (especially the place of a meeting)
Louche: improper, off-color, naughty (French)
Lourdes: famous shrine in France, where the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette; known for healing waters.
Ludibrium - plaything
Lumpenproletariat: the poor, considered socially beneath the proletariat or working class.
Machu Picchu: an Inca city in Peru.
macumba - A Brazilian religious ritual of African origin
Magiam: Latin for magic.
majolica - Highly decorated earthenware with a glaze of tin oxide
Manel Tekel Phares: or mene tekel upharsin, mysterious words written on the wall by a hand with no body in the Old Testament book of Daniel.
Mannerism - style of painting which followed Michaelangelo's achievments, often exaggerating parts of the anatomy.
Marlowe: Christopher Marlowe, playwright, contemporary of Shakespeare, author of Faust.
Marzipan: almond-paste candy made at Christmas time, often shaped and tinted in very bright colors.
massacre of Tsarskoye Selo: the shooting of the Russian emperor Nicholas II and his family by Russian revolutionaries.
Mayakovski: Russian revolutionary poet.
menhir: large stone, taller than it is wide, erected in ancient times, particularly in the northwest part of France.
mentula-Latin for the male genitalia.
mercurial chemistry: alchemy, Mercury being the Roman name of the Greek god, Hermes.
mésalliance - marriage with a person of inferior social position.
metempsychosis - After death the soul begins a new cycle of existence in another human body
Middlemarch:Middlemarch is a novel by George Eliot, a pseudonym for the female author Mary Ann Evans. Reverend Edward Casaubon is a character in the book
Moebius: a moebius strip is a piece paper twisted and glued so that both sides of the paper form a single surface. Belbo adopts the pseudonym Dr. Moebius to write reviews.
Mondrian: Piet Mondrian, painter who developed a style dependent on perpendicular lines.
Morass: marsh, bog
Morgan le Fay-sister of King Arthur, a sorceress who often opposed him in the stories but took him away to Avalon when he was mortally wounded.
mot juste: (French) "right word"
Mountebank: fraud, scoundrel.
mythomane-French term, meaning "mythomaniac", a psychological disorder characterised by lies, pretence and a tendency to concoct fantastical scenarios
naiad - Submerged aquatic plant having narrow leaves and small flowers; of fresh or brackish water .(Greek mythology) a nymph of lakes and springs *and rivers and fountains
nave - The central area of a church
necromancy - Conjuring up the dead, especially for prophesying
Nefertiti: Egyptian queen, wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten
neophyte - A new convert being taught the principles of a religion. Any new participant in some activity.
New Atlantis - Francis Bacon's book describing a utopia: a prototypical scientific research community
Nibelungs: or Niblungs, Niflungs. A legendary Germanic family to whose saga belong the stories of Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer, the early Burgundians, and even Attila the Hun. Wagner's four Ring operas are based on the legend.
Nostradamus - author of cryptic prophesies in the Middle Ages
nought - nothing, zero
noxious - toxic, poisonous, harmful
numinous - Evincing the presence of a deity
obsequious - Attempting to win favor from influential people by flattery, Attentive in an ingratiating or servile manner Ogã - a man with a position of responsibility in a house of candomblé (Chapter 27)
onomancy: probably divining or predicting the future based on names.
Ontological - pertaining to the ground of being, what really exists
Opus Dei - God's work, God's creation. The name of a Catholic organization founded by Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer (1902-1975), similar to the Jesuits in that it answers to the Pope.
Ordo Templi Orientis
ordure - excrement, dung
orgone: human erotic energy, as described by the psychologist (?) Wilhelm Reich, who built boxes in which people were to sit to concentrate and accumulate their orgone.
orthogonal - Having a set of mutually perpendicular axes; meeting at right angles
Osiris - An Egyptian god, usually called the god of the Afterlife, underworld or dead
ostentatious - showy, extravagant
Oxossi - the deity or Orisha, (also spelt, Orisa or Orixa), of the forest, and one of the three warrior Orishas "Ibori" in the Yoruba religion
pai-de-santo - ? (chapter 26)
paleography - The study of ancient forms of writing (and the deciphering of them)
Pancho Villa: Mexican revolutionary.
Pantagruelian: like Pantagruel, the jolly but wise giant who is the hero of Francois Rabelais' novels. He drinks a lot and has a huge appetite.
Pape Satan Pape Satan Aleppe: Nonsense spoken by Pluto in Hell, Dante's Inferno canto 7. Possibly means "Pope Satan Pope Satan Aleppo".
Parmenides - A presocratic Greek philosopher born in Italy; held the metaphysical view that being is the basic substance and ultimate reality of which all things are composed; said that motion and change are sensory illusions (5th century BC)
parricide - Murder of your own parents
pedantic - Marked by a narrow focus on or display of learning especially its trivial aspects
penumbra A fringe region of partial shadow around an umbra; Almost complete darkness
perennial - Recurring again and again
pergola - A framework that supports climbing plants
philately - The collection and study of postage stamps
Philistine: one of a Biblical people inhabiting present-day Gaza, also a barbarian
philologist - A humanist specializing in classical scholarship
philology - The humanistic study of language and literature
philosophers stone: a substance sought after by alchemists
pieds noirs: people of French nationality who had been born in or lived a long time in French Africa and came back to live in France, but were nostalgic for Africa.
Pilade: character in the book, owner of a bar in Milan.
Pio Bo: character in the book, another kid who can't play the bombardon from Belbo's childhood.
plexus - A network of intersecting blood vessels or intersecting nerves or intersecting lymph vessels
pneumatic: related to the breath, hence spiritual, mystical.
pogrom - Organized massacre of an ethnic group (especially Jews in Russia)
pointillism - A genre of painting characterized by the application of paint in dots and small strokes; developed by Georges Seurat and his *followers in late 19th century France
polygenesis - origin from multiple sources: origin from more than one species, line of ancestors, or source
polyphony - Music arranged in parts for several voices or instruments
pompiers: firemen (French).
Pontos: a ancient kingdom in Asia Minor.
proboscis - the human nose (especially when it is large)
prefect - A chief officer or chief magistrate
prehensile - Adapted for grasping especially by wrapping around an object. Having a keen intellect. Immoderately desirous of acquiring e.g. *wealth preto-velho - spirits that are presented in the body of old Africans that lived in the slave quarters
priory - Religious residence in a monastery governed by a prior or a convent governed by a prioress
provost - A high-ranking university administrator
psychopomp: deity who leads the soul to the other world after death.
Psychopompe: French for psychopomp.
puerile - Of or characteristic of a child
Pute: French slang for whore.
pyramid of Cheops: pyramid built by Cheops (Khufu), the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Pyromantiam: divining or predicting the future by looking at fire.
qelippa - shell (pl. qelippot)
quatrefoil - Having four leaves. A design having four lobes or leaflike structures radially arranged about a center.
querulous - Habitually complaining
queste du graal: "The Grail Quest."
rachitic - Of or relating to or resulting from rickets
Ratatouille - a vegetable stew with eggplant and tomatoes.
Rebis: "thing-two", a word for a hermaphrodite or person both male and female.
redivivus: come to life again.
reliquaries - A container where religious relics are stored or displayed (especially relics of saints)
residuum - Something left after other parts have been taken away
revelatory - Prophetic of devastation or ultimate doom
Rosicrucian: a secret society of mystics, allegedly formed in late medieval Germany
Rotary: an international club for community service.
Sacerdotalism - A belief that priests can act as mediators between human beings and God
Sacerdotal - Associated with the priesthood or priests
Sacristies - A room in a church where sacred vessels and vestments are kept or meetings are held
Sagacious - Acutely insightful and wise. Skillful in statecraft or management
Saint Martin-des-Champs: church in Paris.
Sanhedrin: A Sanhedrin (Hebrew: סנהדרין; Greek: συνέδριον, synedrion, "sitting together," hence "assembly" or "council") is an assembly of 23 judges Biblically required in every city.
sapiential: having to do with wisdom.
satyr - Man with strong sexual desires
Sclerotic - Of or relating to the sclera of the eyeball. Relating to the hardening of tissue.
Sefer Yesirah: One of the oldest of the Qabalistic texts.
Sefirah: The ten attributes that God created through which he can project himself to the universe and man.
sepulcher - A chamber that is used as a grave
Simoom - A hot wind
Simsun: or zimzum, the breathing of God which creates the world.
somnambulism - Walking by a person who is asleep
Solomon's Temple: the first temple of Jerusalem, built by King Solomon in the 10th century B.C. and destroyed about 400 years later.
Solon - Politician and law-giver of ancient Athens.
Sorbonne - Europe's premier theological school in the Middle Ages, in Paris. The Renaissance writer * Rabelais satirized the Sorbonne theologians mercilessly.
sorcelery: Frenchified way of saying sorcery or magic spell.
Sostoris: mentioned in Belbo's fictional fragments about Kelley. She originates as a fortune-teller in T S Eliot's The Wasteland and these passages "plagiarise" Eliot several times - ironically since Kelley claims to be plagiarised by Shakespeare.
speleologist - A person who explores caves
Spinoza: (Baruch) a Jewish philosopher who promoted pantheism.
steep - Engross (oneself) fully
Striate – To mark with any of a number of tiny parallel grooves such as: the scratches left by a glacier on rocks or the streaks or ridges in muscle tissue
Sub umbra alarum tuarum: (Latin) "Under the shadow of thy wings"
sumptuous - Rich and superior in quality
sycophant - A person who tries to please someone in order to gain a personal advantage
Synarchy: "harmonious rule", said to be the goal of Martinist secret societies (incidentally a phrase used by American political theorist, Lyndon La Rouche).
Syncretism - the mixing together of belief systems
tatterdemalions - A dirty shabbily clothed urchin
telluric - Of or relating to or inhabiting the land as opposed to the sea or air, Of or relating to or containing the chemical element tellurium. Teluric currents are low-frequncy currents in the Earth's crust.
temple of Karnak - ancient Egyption temple
terraqueous: on land and sea terreiro - a piece of land that lies in front a farm house
tesseract: a four-dimensional space.
tete-a-tete: conversation between two people.
Tetragramaton: the name of God as written in four Hebrew letters (Yahweh).
thaumaturgy - The act or art of performing something wonderful; magic; legerdemain
thurible: elaborate device involving a ball with burning incense inside and a set of chains, used to perfume a church service.
topology - science of shapes and surfaces
Trier region: place in Germany. In the text this occurs as a reference to the birthplace of Karl Marx which describes Marxism as a millenarian cult.
umbra - A region of complete shadow resulting from total obstruction of light
unassailable - Able to withstand attack
urchin - Poor and often mischievous city child
varicolored - Having sections or patches colored differently and usually brightly
verdigris - A green patina that forms on copper or brass or bronze that has been exposed to the air or water for long periods of time
Verdurin salon - a fictional group in Paris society in the novels of Marcel Proust.
verulam - Francis Bacon. Bacon was granted the title Baron Verulam when he was made Lord Chancellor in 1618.
vice anglais: French for "the English vice," meaning homosexuality.
Vichy: A French town. The government which collaborated with the Nazis during World War II had its capital in Vichy, so it often refers to that government. Vichy is also famous for springs of digestive water.
vicissitude - A variation in circumstances or fortune at different times in your life or in the development of something. Mutability in life or nature (especially successive alternation from one condition to another) vieux jeu - old-fashioned.
votive - Dedicated in fulfillment of a vow
Voyante: a woman who sees the future.
Zhivago: hero of Boris Pasternak's novel Doctor Zhivago. He is a gentle observer of the Russian Revolution.
Zohar, The: the foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah.