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A Glossary of Game of Thrones Terms

January 6, 2015

Game of Thrones is a series of books written by George R. R. Martin. They are set in a fictional world filled with dragons, spells and walking dead. Nevertheless, to distinguish this work as fantasy, the author was compelled to use an artful lexicon of archaic words, which may confuse us modern speaking readers at first. If so, use this glossary of words you may encounter as a guide.

  • Eddard- a male name that may be abbreviated as “Ned” (just like “Edward”).
  • Milk of the poppy- an opiate-based drink to treat pain. Appears often and never abbreviated, as this world has not yet invented slang for their drugs. But if I were in Westeros, I’d surely call it “moppy.”
  • Nuncle – it means uncle, but with an inexplicable n in front.
  • Northron- northern, somehow spelled in an outdated Scottish way.
  • Pease- peas.
  • Robb- a male name, pronounced the same as “Rob.” God save us when Game of Thrones fans start naming their real children after these characters (see Eddard).
  • Ser- used to address a knight, but in the same way we might use the word “Sir.” In other words, misspelled.
  • Southron- see Northron.
  • Smallclothes- underwear. Actually an 18th century word for breeches, even though Westeros more resembles 11th century.
  • Strongwine- literally means “strong wine.”
  • Summerwine- literary tip: conjoin any adjective with wine to be swept away to a fantasy world.
  • Sweetcorn- a husked vegetable that grows in ears, with high sugar content.
  • Two and twenty- twenty-two. Ages are expressed least significant digit first because fuck knows why.

At first I thought most these words were made-up, but most can be found in references as archaic (and all from inconsistent centuries at that). However, there’s also a strong propensity to create words by simply joining two words. But despite this, it’s important to know that you can NEVER combine the word “break” with “fast.” In Game of Thrones, despite the number of joined words, breakfast is not a word. However “break your fast” appears a shitload.

I really like the stories told in Game of Thrones, but there’s nothing like encountering an archaic word to rouse you out of the fiction and back into “why am I reading this again?” I imagine the intent is to immerse the reader in the world, but it has the opposite effect on me–it’s not fooling me into thinking I’m reading a 16th century tome, it’s just annoying me.

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