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Your's truely at the "Battle of Worcester" event, Staunton VA, 1997: Ensign

A Cross-disciplinary
Glossary of Terms
for Historical Hobbyists

All jokes and insults are just meant in good fun.
Since my wife and I appear at a number of historical events portraying a range of eras, I thought it would be fun to define some of the lingo that various historical hobbyists use. I have made note of the "origin" of most terms, these are simply the source where I first heard the term and may not be the definitive origin. Also, usage may vary around the country. I have tried to make some note of this, but some definitions may reflect the "Midwestern usage" since Minnesota is where we are based. Feel free to E-mail with others to add

For the terms that have been submitted to me, I have usually left the definitions in the language in which they were provided to me by the source.
I've also included some serious definitions in regard to historical interpretation.


Latest Additions

Cider Space (UK, Roman) a virtual reality inhabited by alcoholoics. Watching re-enactors getting slowly drunk on home-made cider they tend to glaze over and drift off into this 'dimension'.

Rat Pucking: Renfaire. A game played at a few Renaissance fairs
"The basic Rat Puckin' shot starts with your rat lying upon the ground. You then address you rat by putting the tip of your stick under your rat and using your foot to settle your rat upon the end of your stick. The rat is then pucked, or flung, toward the target with one motion of the stick." More info at http://www.thewildhunt.com/thegreen/ratpuck.shtml

AWI American War of Independence.

RevWar: American Revolutionary War.

Nappy: Napoleonic Wars.

Silly War: Used by non ACW reenactors to describe the American Civil War. A reference to the butchery of the original war.

Green Meanies: AWI loyalist reenactors. A reference to their green coats.

Stitch-Nazi: Someone thought to be obsessed with authenticity. A relative term.

RenRat: Derogatory term used by reenactors to describe those who attend Renaissance Fairs.

Plastic Privy: Port-o-John.

War Porn: Illustrated publications which cater to reenactors and other uniform-obsessed types. Examples: Skirmish Magazine, Osprey Books, etc...

Death Star: Light WWII-era vehicles (trucks, jeeps, half-tracks) armed with an inauthentic, overabundance of small-arms.

Dog & Pony Show: A small, local, town fair or festival which is perceived as silly and inauthentic for reenacting purposes.

Staff Infection: Large gathering of reenacting officers. Typically a lot of talk and show with little progress being made.

Baggage: Campfollowers.

'Flanker! (left) (right)': A code word given when a reenactor spots an attractive spectator on the sidelines.

Stupid Stick: Spontoon (aka espontoon or pike) carried by AWI officers. A reference to some of these men not being up to the job or just plain old confused.

Liquid Sutler: Liquor store.

Tent Mall: Collection of vendors at a reenactment.


Main Glossary
Act-urbation: Renfaire (TRF) It's the same definition as Mastubation theater, but more acceptable in mixed company or in front of the public.

ACW: American Civil War. That's pronounced "Amurican," also known as the War of Northern Agression., and Not to be confused with ECW.

Apple Pie (Apple Jack): Fur Trade An occasionally flamable concoction of apple cider and alcoholic items spiced to taste deceptively like Mom's/Gramma's/Aunt Betty's State Fair Blue Ribbon Pie.

Authenticity Fachist British- same as costume nazi, authenticity police etc.

Authenticity Police: SCA. An anal-retentive SCA member. Contrary to popular belief among "Serious" re-enactors, that is not always an oxymoron, there are SCA members who are serious about their history -and who don't wear duct tape. See also "Thread Counter" & "Costume Nazi."

Authentitent: (UK) Any form of accommodation made of canvas, rather than nylon. By extension, "Authenti-" can be applied to any object to distinguish it from its cheaper modern equivalent (e.g. Authentishoe) From the days when "Living History" was beginning to take over from pure battle re-enactment in the UK. Also used for the kit vetting expert, known as an AuthentiNazi.

Autocrat (s): The organizer/ coordinator for SCA events, as opposed to their "royalty" who are choosen through combat and therefore may lack organizational abilities, as well as common sense.

Beads & Roadkill: A Merchant/Trader who caters mainly to the Furtrade community, i.e. offers little of interest to military Reenactors (who are looking for musket parts/tools, or tinware to take the place of the stuff he left at home, etc.)

Being shown the blue goldfishBritish - once used to a nieve 13 year old who was asked "did he want to go and see the blue goldfish?". He replied yes and was then taken and had his head flushed down a portaloo. Also known as a blue rinse.

Big hats: ECW,Officers at ECW events

Bodice Burn(s): Renfaire. The distinctive sunburn/tanline a woman receives on her chest from wearing a low-cut bodice and chemise.

Bog-trotters: (UK) Infantry (from a cavalry viewpoint)

Booshway: Fur Trade, from the French "bourgeois." The event coordinator, or person who signs the checks, and is responsible for everything that goes wrong, from the weather, to the loud and drunk French Marines' encampment.

Boothie(s): Someone who works for a craftsperson in a booth at a Ren Fair.

Bread and butter event:Napoleonic Association (UK), An undemanding small event, usually a flat battle field and little or no living history scenes required.

Brick Farmhouse:British. The flushie constructed of cinderblock that's convenietly located near your otherwise period camp.

Brick tent: ECW, Hotel

Button Pisser: ACW. A "hard-core" reenactor who uses urine to tarnish brass buttons so they don't look new.

Camp Herpes: (Fur Trade) As in you've "contracted Camp Herpes" -a Rendezvous friend needs a place to sleep "just until I find a new place" because he/she got fired/ split with the spouse/were evicted/truck broke down etc... and it turns into a nine- month stay by a freeloading slob who refuses to help around the house or get a job that pays enough to contribute anything to he household. Renfairs: "you've contracted 'Hippies'".

Century-impaired (Era-impaired): dressing historically accurate for one century and attending an event that portrays another century. A few years ago, while attending a Scottish festival (in civies), I watched a couple dressed in American Civil War clothing trying to "blend in" with a group of Highlanders.

Circuit: The circuit of Renaissance fairs around the country. Except for a gap over the Christmas season (filled in some areas by Dickens Christmas events) these occur around the country throughout the year and vary from one weekend events to 8-weekend runs on semi-permanent sites.

Clobber: a berry derived cousin of apple pie.

Confessional: Renfaires (west coast). Portable toilets. Every morning, 2-3 of our members would plant themselves in the privies as the gates opened, and the first patrons in the area would be treated by confessions between the toilets. "Damn, Padre, this wafer tastes AWFUL!"

Congealed snot British- the Sealed Knot

Costume Nazi: Ren Fair. The Costume Director, or anyone who makes it their business to point out all the historical errors in someone elses clothing or accoutrements, See also "Thread Counter" & "Authenticity Police."

'Dane: Renfaires/SCA. See Mundane.

Deedle: F & I. A Daniel Day Lewis Lookalike. Similar to Moose & Squirrell, a disparaging term for the guys in the hunting frocks and bandanas, toting American long rifles styling themselves as "long hunters".

Dilligaf: British, "Does it look like I give a Fu*k." Pronounced as it's written and used by an over-worked re-enactment organiser.

DismountedCavalryFarbs - (ACW, esp. Confederate) one word, as in damnyankee: Reenactors who free themselves from the bonds of discipline and drill, wear lots of yellow, plumes, and dead animal parts, and carry two or three pistols and a shotgun. No two dressed alike. They've "Jined the cavalry" but not bought a horse.

Documentary interpretation.: The portrayal of an actual historical figure. This is used at some historic sites such as Plimouth Plantation where the interpreters portray the known, historical inhabitants of the settlement. For example, you could research Ben Franklin, his life and writings, and portray Franklin himself. At times, it is closer to acting than interpretation -but that's a debate itself among some "professional" interepreters as to what is the exact relationship between acting and re-enacting. See also Representative Interpretation

Dog Soldiers: Fur Trade. Participants who volunteer to provide overnight security at events. "-I don't know officer... he must have been lurking around camp last night, and tripped and landed on a tent stake -three, or four times..." (comes from a term for Native Americans who worked for the U.S. Army.)

Donkey Derby ShowAlso "Dog & Pony Show." British - any show at a village fete, school fund raiser etc...

Ducks: buckskinners who can be counted on to show up for an event no matter how bad the weather may be. I picked up this term at a rendezvous in Spirit Lake, North Idaho. The best day was when it only rained, there was no hail, and the wind didn't knock any limbs out of the trees!

Dumb Patron Story (question): The universal dumb questions/comments the general public makes when talking to historical hobbyists of all kinds. "Is that a real fire/gun/sword? Aren't you hot in all that clothing?" "They didn't have nails back then!" -"No ma'am they put Christ on the cross with duct tape." The ultimate dumb patron come-back story.

Donkey-walloper:: (UK) Cavalry (from an infantry viewpoint)

ECW: English Civil War. Not to be confused with ACW, and politically-correct circles sometimes now called the "British Civil War" since it did involve Scotland.

ECWA: English Civil War in America. A loosely associated group of English Civil War re-enactors, mostly based on the East, (or "right") coast.

Edu-tainment: A catch phrase, or buzzword. Used by management of Renfaires when they want to think they provide educational value, or by directors of historic sites who think their presentations are entertaining.

Essential Idiots:: (British, ECW). Those who have an influence on the running of an event.

Faire: Renaissance Fair(e) also RenFair(e), or RenFest depending on the name of the local event. In Minnesota it's more commonly RenFest after the "MN Renaissance Festival", whereas on the " Left Coast" it is Renfaire, due to the large "Renaissance Pleasure Faires" in California. Most should NOT be confused with historical re-enactments or re-creations, but are best considered Renaissance "theme fairs."

Faire Brat: Renfaire The brood that were conceived, born, and raised with a pewter spoon in their mouths, invariably running around pell mell, weaned on Watney's and bread, usually covered head to toe in dust and burlap fibers. Never found less than 1/2 mile from their parents.

Fair Weather Mountain Man Association (FWMMA): an unofficial group of buckskinners who refuse to attend events that coincide with rain, snow, hail, or any other sort of inclement weather. At rendezvous, they are usually the ones with spotless, gleaming-white lodges (even the smoke flaps are white). Mud is to the FWMMA as kryptonite is to Superman. They are despised by ducks.

Farb: Civil War. An anachronism. Comes from a phrase used by thread counters starting with the phrase "FAR Be it for me to say anything, but..." Also "To FARB," -as in those who, no matter how often they are told, seem oblivious to major errors in their dress and equipment. For example: percussion cap weapons on an 1812 field; "furtrade" types with a mixture of clothing dating from mid-18th Century to ACW.

Farberware: F & I (French & Indian war) The touristy junk trinkets some merchants sell on sutler's row at any given event. Wooden swords, "dream catchers". See also FARB

Farbie Dolls:: Civil War. Women who wear elaborate ball gowns in the woods where there are no houses and no roads bigger than a footpath. See also FARB

Festie: See Rennie.

Filing Cabinet - Portaloo

Filk(song): SCA. A parody of a traditional folksong, also common at "Cons": science fiction, or gaming conventions.

First-Person Interprtation:Portraying a person from the past who has no knowledge of modern life, and without dropping character.

Flatlanders: Furtrade. The visiting public.

Flushies:Furtrade/CivWar. Toilets that actually flush, offering those who otherwise "hold it" for the entire weekend a chance to relieve themselves.

Fuzzies: Term used by military re-enactors for those portraying Fur Traders, Mountain Men, etc.

Garb:SCA. Historical clothing, or "costuming" among Renfaire participants. "Serious" re-enactors and costumers avoid the term garb so they are not mistaken for SCAdians.

Garb Snark: SCA. Someone who picks out all the inaccuracies in your historical clothing. See also "Thread Counter" & "Costume Nazi," Authenticity Police

Gig: Napoleonic Association(UK), Battle. (ie 'It's a 40 minute gig) .

Greybeard: (UK) Long-established member of a society, probably now on the governing body.

Grid: Renfaire. The overall schedule of performers at a Renfaire including actual stages, as as well as "informal" locations around the site. -Its what keeps musicians who are not big enough to perform on a stage from coming to blows over the best informal performing spots.

Hard Faire:Renfair. An event that has permanent buildings as opposed to a Soft Faire.

Harvey: Renfaire. See Privie Monster

Hat-Pass: Renfaire. Contrary to public opinion not everybody passes the hat for tips at a Renfaire. It is a privilage at most faires, not a right. Often only performers who have approval in their contracts have the right to "pass the hat" after performing. For rookie performers, this is sometimes the only pay they receive for a ten-hour day.

Hey Noney Nonies::a British WW2 re-enactor term to all groups from pre 1850.

Hooter(s): Civil War/Fur Trade. a non-flushing portable toilet / portalet / satellite. See "War of the Hooters"

Jameson's Disease: Renfaire. The after-effects of an overdose of Irish whiskey, aka, the "bottle flu."

Jubbly or jubblies British - used as a term for women's breasts (as "a lovely pair of jubberlies) but later came to mean anyone in inauthentic clothing
The origin of this word is the title of a product in the UK at the end of the 1950s and 60s. It started as an orange drink in a pyramid shaped carton. Not too successful until someone had the bright idea of freezing it, when it became absolutely lovely for kids. Lovely Jubbly was the advertising catch phrase. It later moved into (mainly) London slang for anything that was excellent (Jubblies for breasts seems a good example of this!). It was popularised throughout the rest of the UK by being used in the TV show "Only Fools and Horses".

K-Mart:Fur Trade. The discount store of fur trade merchants who sells everything from tourist trinkets and pseudo-Native American junk made in Taiwan, to Pakistani knives to cheap get-you-started period clothing.

Knotters: See Sealed Knot Society

Magic Lantern Show: SCA. Also "Puppet show," -the entertainment provided by watching the silhouettes that the neighbors camped next door unknowngly cast on the wall of their tent by candlelight.

Masturbation Theater: Renfaires. Skits, pranks, or inside jokes that are only entertaining to other participants, or fail to entertain the public because there is no way they can know the background of the prank without being a participant.

Merchants: Renfaires call them Crafters; Fur Traders call them: Traders; Military re-enactors call them: Sutlers.

Merchantocrat: SCA The person in charge of organizing and taking reservations for the merchants at a SCA event.

Moose & Squirrel: Military reenactors. The rugged individualist buckskinner type, made fun of by militray reenactors for looking like roadies for a heavy metal band and want to join in battle reenactments saying they are "militia."

Motel Militia - equivalent to Ramada Rangers: (ACW) Reenactors who sleep in a motel and not in camp.

Mundane: SCA. Non-members who lead boring, mundane lives with 9-5 jobs and 1.7 children -as opposed to spending weekends believing you are the incarnation of your D&D character. It's not always pejorative, although its use in the phrase "putrid scum-sucking mundanes" comes close.

Muster Fairies or Muster Pixies: (UK) The providers of the site, beer tent, toilets and firewood which have all appeared as if by magic for the convenience of the average re-enactor.

My time/ Your Time: A form of historical interpretation where the historical character is aware he has a modern audience. "In my time we didn't know as much about the health effects of good sanitaion as you do in your time..." Because they "know" about modern times as well as the past, they are less subject to pilgrim bating as a first person interpreter, and are sometimes better able to communicate to visitors who can't play along with a first person interpretation.

Naugahider(s): A term used by "serious" historical re-enactors for buckskinners, or mountain men, especially those who dress in buckskins and sit in front of a teepee on an aluminum lawn chair drinking beer from a can.

NMP - Not My Problem British (used when informed that the wood/water/porta-loos/keys are not available and the organiser stands there with a helpless expression on their face)

Officer's Quarters Civil War. A non-flushing portable toilet / portalet / satellite.

Our Lady of the Blue Waters: A term coined by your host. a non-flushing portable toilet / portalet / satellite. As in "-Excuse me it's time for my devotions at Our Lady of the Blue Waters..."

PASStapo or PASSholes: Renfaire The inbred maggots hired from the local populace that are armed with a maglite and 3 functioning brain cells, and will demand your driver's license in addition to your gatepass (which HAS a photo and your name on it), to confirm you really belong there (because the 90 pounds of clothing, boots and weapons are how you spend a Sunday fishing in the pond across from the faire. ) Terms coined at the Southern CA Renaissance Pleasure Faire.

Patron(s): Renfaire. The visiting public who have paid to come in. Not to be confused with a "patron of the arts" who is a financial supporter of a museum.

Pilgrim Baiting: A term originating at Plimoth Plantation living history museum. Because the staff uses the First Person interperetive style, certain annoying visitors try to bait the staff into dropping their 17th century characters.

Plank: ECW, Musket of very crude manufacture

Plastic City:A British WW2 re-enactor term for any encampment that is less than 100% authentic.

Playtrons: Renfaire. Patrons who attend in costume, ranging from those who are better dressed than the royalty, to Klingons, vampires, and bunny-fur wearing barbarians.

Polycotton tunic : SCA. Used disparagingly by those who care about the historical aspects of what they do to describe people who have no interest in researching any part of their persona or gear.

Porto-castle SCA. A non-flushing portable toilet / portalet / satellite.

Portillo British (Michael Portillo was a member of the conservative party, who used to run this country ... mainly into the ground.)

Powder magazine: F & I. A brick latrine at the park with running water and flush toilets.

Privie: Renfaires. A non-flushing portable toilet / portalet / satellite.

Privie Monster: Renfaire. The thing living under the seat... Also known as "Harvey." (Watch the "Flukeman" episode of The X-files.) A story behind the term..... Privy Monster: Once upon a time, at the old Southern Faire in Agoura, there were reports of a "privy monster" lurking in the dark depths of the pit toilets. After a few days of the unrest, an individual was finally arrested, armed with a wetsuit, mask, snorkel, and camera, for depositing himself in the sludge, and taking photos for posterior's... er... uh... posterity's sake, to fulfill his personal fetish.

Pubic or Pubes British- General Public

Purse holder: Renfaire. A urinal in a privie Comes from a dumb patron story: "Mary, isn't it nice they have those purse holders on the wall of the portalet so you don't have to put your purse on the dirty floor...?"

Ramada Rangers: Civil War. Re-enactors who "camp out" in the nearest hotel

Rennie: A renaissance festival hippie, often one who travels the circuit. Also sometimes "Festie." In conservative communities they are know by the public as "Long-haired-pot-smokin-daughter-stealin-rennie-hippy-freaks." Although on the West Coast, one of my sources explained that" Rennies" are participants who are interested in the history, whereas "Festies" are those who are just out to party, imbibe recreational substances, and get laid.

Responsibilityitis: a reoccurring condition that can cripple any buckskinner at any time of the year. This ailment is always directly linked to an event or series of events outside of the rendezvous world. For example, taking the kids to softball practice, attending weddings, visits from the in-laws, pulling a fallen tree off your roof, sumping a flooded basement, or having a 9 to 5 job (the most severe case). Among the less politically correct members of the local rendezvous', it is known as "thewifes". As in, "Knapper's a no-show this weekend. The wife's got him retiling the bathroom."

Representative Interpretation: Attempting to accurately portray a character who did not actually exist, but is based on historical research and represents someone who could have existed. Portraying "a colonial silversmith" as opposed to a documented silversmith such as Paul Revere. (See also "Documentary Interpretation")

Roadkill: refers to any period skins (caps, boots, leggins, shirts, etc.) made from the hide of an animal (deer, coyote, skunk, fox, raccoon, etc.) that was peeled off the local state highway.

Rondyflu: furtrade/ F&I That sick feeling you get in the winter when there are no rendezvous to attend, also calling in sick to work so you can go to a rendezvous.

Sabre Fairies: Civil War. Cavalry soldiers - especially when a thousand cavalrymen show up to re-enact a battle that was historically 100% infantry

SCAdian: SCA, or Society for Creative Anachronism (http://www.sca.org) member. Made fun of by "serious" historical re-enactors for using the phrase: "but if they had it at that time they would have used it..." and a reliance on duct tape.

SCArkAn Australian Term for an SCA member

Sealed Knot Society: The huge organization of re-enactors in Great Britain who portray the ECW. Sometimes refer to themselves as "Knotters," and refered to as "Knotties" by other reenactors.

Push of pike Members of Clann Tartan Historical Re-enactment (in grey) in a Sealed Knot Society-style "Push of Pike" at the Battle of Worcester Re-enactment, Staunton, Virginia, Sept. 1997.

Sharp: ECW, Sharp edged weapon unsuitable for battlefield use

Soap eater - (ACW) Mythical hard-core reenactors who have tried eating soap like starving soldiers.

Soft Faire:Renfair. An event situated in a Florida swamp. - Actually a soft faire and event that is made up only of temporary structures and tents. See also Hard Faire.

Stick/Sword jock: SCA. A sword jock is a Scadian whose interest is only in fighting, not in any gentler art using weapons made of rattan and duct-tape (for safety reasons), and armor made up of everything from full gothic plate to old, used hockey equipment, depending upon their level of ambition (or lack thereof) to look "period"

Sword Blessing: Renfaire. The act of having your sword placed down the front of a woman's Bog dress, driving the point into the ground, and then having her perform a full curtsey. Legend has it that after a Sword Blessing, you'll never get hit in the Battle Pageant (or at the very least, you'll get a group of men offering you a quarter to "sniff your sword")

Sword Waglers::a British WW2 re-enactor term to all groups from pre 1850.

Ten-foot rule: SCA/Westcoast Renfaires, An unwritten but widely-accepted yardstick by which to measure the period appearance of one's clothing/equipment/etc., as in: "from ten feet away, it looks period" Sort of like using vinyl instead of real leather, etc.

Thread Counter: Civil War. An anal-retentive re-enactor, as in "there are too many threads per inch in the weave of the cloth of that uniform," or "Those buttons were not issued to the Union Army until Jan 13, 1861. -The time is not documented, but it was after Grant moved his bowels on that day..." Despite their great declarations of authenticity, they almost invariably are incapable of properly performing the basic Manual of Arms. (They aren't to be found during drill sessions, but will appear in time for the battle - although lately these people find it hard to be accepted into the line.) Also more recently "Stitch Nazi". See also Authenticity Police and Costume Nazi

3-Finger Rule: Renfaire. An unwritten rule at some faires that womens' bodices should not expose more than three finger's width of cleavage. Don't you wish it also applied to plumbers?

Tin Teepee:: Tent Trailer or RV; term used by those who favour the "Period encampment" on weekends.

Tin tent: ECW, mobile home/recreational vehicle/sleeping in the car

Touron: F & I. tourist-moron...The general public, ie the dumber section of the population. -You need to add a little clorine to that gene pool...

Turdis: ECW, large blue chemical toilet common in the UK (From the TARDIS in Dr Who)

'Voo Babies: Fur trade/F&I As in "rendezvous babies." Those who were concieved at, and raised their entire lives reenacting and can name the event our parents concieved us at.

War of the Hooters: a Civil War battle re-enactment where the hooters were placed on one end of the battlefield so it looked like they were being defended as part of the battle.

War Whores: SCA. Refers (disparagingly) to the people who only live to fight (especially the heavy fighters) and generally have no interest in any historical aspects of what they're doing or making any service contributions to the working of the SCA as a whole. (These are also some of the worst offenders in the polycotton tunic brigade.)

Weekenders: Renfaire participants who live in the area, and are on site only on weekends, as opposed to gypsy Rennies who live on site and travel the circuit, living in their booth, tent, RV, converted school bus, or gypsy vardo.

White House: American, midwestern rendezvous. Refers to the white portable toilets. Has also spawned the phrase, "going to speak to the President" and variations thereof.

Whooshbang mix: (UK) Gunpowder

Wire weenie: an SCA term for fencing enthusiasts within the SCA.

Yuppie Larva: Furtrade. The children of the visiting public


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