Vocabulary Rocks!

Steward: -noun 1) a person who manages another’s property or financial affairs; one who administers anything as the agent of another or others.

There are other usages of the term/title ‘Steward’ as in one who manages the domestic concerns on a ship, or the train and plane employees who attends to the needs of the passengers. All allude to the same basic idea, which is to assist someone else. In English culture the position was an extension of the Middle Ages officer in nobleman’s castles, the Seneschal. The etymology is from the Old English stiweard: house warden or keeper.

This quote from Dinah Hazell’s article “Trewe Man” regarding the role of the Steward in Middle English culture sums up the origins nicely:

“Historically, stewards were very powerful and carried great responsibilities. On the estate, the steward directed the management of land, crop and livestock productivity and manorial finances, and might oversee village judicial proceedings. At court, in addition to the administrative steward, there was the household steward in charge of domestic affairs and perhaps others with various duties. The king had a high steward, constable, and marshal, all hereditary positions held by earls. Some high stewards considered the title honorary, while others were involved in political affairs, although their responsibilities and benefits were not always clearly defined.”

By Regency years the Butler and Housekeeper positions had assumed the task of overseeing household affairs, leaving the Steward to strictly manage the estate, financial issues. Law enforcement duties, those that went beyond immediate estate disputes, would be handled by municipal police officials. The important fact to remember is that unlike most of the servants, the Steward was an educated gentleman of independent means. He was of a higher class than the average household staff member, University schooled, and very well paid.

Incandescent: -adjective 1) glowing or white with heat. 2) characterized by ardent emotion, intensity, purpose, or brilliance. Origin: 1794, from the Latin incandescentem – become warm, glow, kindle; from in– “within” + candescere “begin to glow, become white,” inceptive of candere “to glow, to shine.” Same root used for the word ‘candle’

Grotto: -noun 1) a cave or cavern. 2) an artificial cavernlike recess or structure. Origin: 1617, from Italian grotta, ultimately from Latin crypta “vault, cavern,” and the Greek krypte “hidden place.”

Most famous grottos, such as the Grotta Azzura at Capri and the Tiberius Grotto in Naples, are natural structures formed within rock and revolve around natural springs or tidal zones. Water is always involved, even in those man-made garden areas such as Villa Castello and Boboli Gardens near Florence or the Kuskovo estate Summer Grotto in Moscow, and are often utilized as baths.

I am aware that grottos technically are at least partially underground and lined by rock formations, but decided that the hidden glade and pond on Pemberley grounds would have that same otherworldly, isolated atmosphere. Especially to the active imagination of a young boy. Plus, I just liked the romantic sound of grotto!


2 Comments for Vocabulary Rocks!

  1. Thanks Sharon. Always love reading these facts. You certainly take a great deal of time and trouble to keep us all well informed. Much appreciated. 🙂

    TSBO devotee

  2. I noticed they used the word incandescent in the movie Becoming Jane. Made me snicker!

    I had no idea stewards were so powerful. Interesting! Thank you Sharon. I have been missing my History lesson from you! <wink, wink>

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