Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Beau

Jeeves and Wooster, The Code of the Woosters, Beau

BEAU

Noun. Plural beaux, beaus. Late 17th century.
[French, use as noun of adjective, ult. from Latin bellus fine, beautiful.]

1. A fashionable man, a ladies' man; a fop, a dandy. L17

2. A lady's male companion, a suitor; a boyfriend, a lover. Now chiefly N.American. E18


What ho chaps! I would like to introduce you to my good friend Bertie Wooster who, if you haven't made his acquaintance already, is from the classic Jeeves and Wooster series by P.G Wodehouse. Old Bertie, you see, is something of a beau and therefore smashingly illustrates today's word. Unfortunately for him, and despite being an absolute corker of a chap, he is always managing to somehow get himself into a pickle with the ladies, and throughout the entire series of books gets himself engaged more times than I've had hot crumpets. It's hardly a surprise that he keeps landing in this rather awkward posish, as what fine society lady wouldn't want to marry him? He's a man of means at the highest level of the beau monde and he's a jolly loyal friend to boot (it's usually his ill-considered beaux gestes that land him in such dashed fixes). It's true that perhaps he's not the brightest of fellows (his valet Jeeves was once heard to remark that he's 'mentally negligible') but that's a minor quibble and a lady need pay no heed to such things. Old Bertie is the absolute beau ideal of a man and a beau sabreur on the battlefield of love!

If you're wondering what the bally hang I've been waffling on about, I decided to included a few extra beau words that I thought were rather splendid. Anyway, that's enough rummy talk from me - all this writing has made me rather peckish so I'm off for some eggs and b. Tinkerty tonk!


Jeeves and Wooster, Beau, Posh, Rich, Hugh Laurie
Hugh Laurie in the beau rôle as Bertie Wooster in the ITV adaptation of Jeeves and Wooster

Also:

BEAU GESTE
Noun. Plural beaux gestes
[French = splendid gesture]
A display of magnanimity; a generous act.

BEAU IDEAL
Noun phrase.
[French = ideal beauty]
One's highest or ideal type of excellence or beauty; the perfect model.

BEAU MONDE
Noun phrase.
[French = fine world]
(The world of) fashionable society.

BEAU RÔLE
Noun phrase. Plural beaux rôles.
[French = fine role]
A fine acting part; the leading part.

BEAU SABREUR
Noun phrase. Plural beaux sabreurs.
[French = fine (or handsome) swordsman]
A gallant warrior, a handsome or dashing adventurer.

12 comments:

  1. It's kind of superficial, no? I always feel like, when someone calls another woman's lover a "beau" (they never call their own lover one), it's derogatory, as if there's nothing about this guy but his good looks. He's fun to hang out with for a while, but there's no long-term plan, no possibility of a long-lasting relationship.

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    1. Yes, I think so. I had to think long and hard about this and whether or not I thought Bertie Wooster could be rightly described as a 'beau' because, as I said, he is an exceedingly nice and good-natured chap. However, a lot of his engagements are superficial and his friends (or backfriends) often try and take advantage of his magnanimity. Some of his girlfriends, even after it's become clear that their engagement was all a big misunderstanding, even hold him in a kind of reserve position - someone to marry if their present relationship falls through. I could therefore well imagine him being described as someone's 'beau'.

      (Woah! Why didn't I write the entry like that, in modern English? It was considerably easier!) : o D

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    2. Now I'm wondering how an engagement can be a misunderstanding... "Oh, you wanted to know if I wanted pizza? I thought you asked if I wanted to marry you!"


      That sounded funnier in my head.

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    3. Bibi: you *must* read some Jeeves and Wooster. They're some of the funniest stories I've ever read. I mean that - simply genius.

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  2. People wouldn't take Bertie Wooster so lightly if Hugh Laurie said those lines in the gruff Dr. House voice he lifted from Keith Carradine. They'd think he was being bitingly sarcastic.

    Actually that might be pretty funny.

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    1. It's funny because his character is supposedly a bit dim, certainly in comparison to Jeeves. However, as Bertie is the narrator in all the stories and the stories are told in the most clever and colourful language, he must be (linguistically at least) very smart. So yes ... he would be master of the biting sarcasm if so wanted.

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  3. Replies
    1. A fop? A dandy? You are a beau, Dillon; you know you are.

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  4. Chapter 21, Sense and Sensibility, Miss Steele:
    "I'm sure there's a vast many smart beaux in Exeter; but you know, how could I tell what smart beaux there might be about Norland; and I was only afraid the Miss Dashwoods might find it dull at Barton, if they had not so many as they used to have. But perhaps you young ladies may not care about the beaux, and had as lief be without them as with them. For my part, I think they are vastly agreeable, provided they dress smart and behave civil. But I can't bear to see them dirty and nasty. Now there's Mr. Rose at Exeter, a prodigious smart young man, quite a beau, clerk to Mr. Simpson, you know, and yet if you do but meet him of a morning, he is not fit to be seen.— I suppose your brother was quite a beau, Miss Dashwood, before he married, as he was so rich?"

    "Upon my word," replied Elinor, "I cannot tell you, for I do not perfectly comprehend the meaning of the word. But this I can say, that if he ever was a beau before he married, he is one still for there is not the smallest alteration in him."

    "Oh! dear! one never thinks of married men's being beaux—they have something else to do."

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    1. Well, well, well. Elinor Dashwood didn't "perfectly comprehend the meaning" of beau? What a bally shame she wasn't a follower of Lexicolatry; she would have been most agreeably informed : o )

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  5. I must say, as a Canadian, I find the way you express yourself fascinating and fun! Not only am I educated, but entertained as well! I can't say I have ever heard "bally hang" or "waffling" before!
    I may have to try to start a trend here haha.
    Thanks!

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    1. Thank you Kara, although I was trying to write in the styles of a Jeeves and Wooster story - I don't talk like that IRL, of course. Oh, well actually - I would say waffle. And I love crumpets. And I do say chap. Oh dear. I'm a living stereotype!

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