My wife suggested I take a break from the depressing reading I’ve been doing (Andrew Meier’s excellent but bleak Black Earth), so I pulled Flashman off my shelves. It was recommended to me many years ago by my friend Dave, and it seemed just the sort of rollicking nonsense to lighten my mood. Not only is the plot fun (although larded with the casual misogyny of an earlier day), but the dialogue is full of delightful archaic words. The first that struck me came on page 44: “‘Deloped, by God!’ roared Forest. ‘He’s deloped!’” The OED explains that to delope is “Of a duellist: to fire into the air, deliberately missing one’s opponent.” A very useful word back when duels were a common occurrence. Once the (anti)hero gets to India, there are plenty of words straight out of Hobson-Jobson: rissaldar “A native captain in an Indian cavalry regiment” (from Persian risāla ‘troop of horse’), huzoor “An Indian potentate; often used as a title of respect” (from Arabic ḥuḍūr ‘presence (employed as a title)’), and the like. And while we’re on the subject of loanwords from Arabic, I ran across a surprising one the other day: Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, means ‘little horseshoe’ and is a diminutive of nal, Turkic ‘horseshoe,’ itself from Arabic نعل na’l.