Glossary of terms used in Forman’s and Napier’s casebooks

The majority of Forman’s and Napier’s records are written in English. Spelling, punctuation and grammar have all changed considerably since their day (Napier, for instance, frequently omits the final ‘e’ from words ending in ‘ence’), but this should not normally present insuperable problems to modern English-speaking readers. This page provides a list of archaic and technical terms, or highly variant spellings, that may be confusing to non-specialists.

Both men also sometimes used Latin, especially for certain stock phrases or for entries of a personal or sensitive nature. This glossary does not attempt to give a comprehensive account of all the Latin terms used in the casebooks, which would require an entire dictionary. It simply explains the Latin words and phrases that recur most frequently.

English | Latin

English Terms

bag, baggerNapier’s habitual spellings of ‘beg’ and ‘beggar’
bandbond, in the sense of security or bail
boymay mean son or male child, but more often means young male servant or apprentice
brought abed of/withdelivered of (a child)
burdeus, burdeuxBordeaux
bwyForman’s habitual spelling of ‘buy’
cast upvomit
cossen, cozencheat, swindle (as a verb)
cours, coursemenstrual period
cousinany relation by blood or marriage beyond the immediate nuclear family
dizshort for ‘disease’, i.e. any medical condition (or anything construed by the practitioner as a medical condition)
docters, thethe London College of Physicians, qualified medical practitioners with authority to grant licences to other physicians, and who repeatedly attempted to ban the unlicensed Forman from practising
evil tongue(s)enchantment, witchcraft
fairy-pinchedhaving unexplained superficial injuries imputed to the action of malign spirits. Normally but not exclusively used with reference to small children.
fitmay mean attack or seizure, but ‘by fits’ means ‘intermittently’
flowersmenstrual period(s)
frantic, frantickfrenzied, delirious
gossip tobe godparent to
gealeNapier’s habitual spelling of ‘gaol’
go(e) to grounddefecate
Goodwife, Goodya term of address for a married woman of middling social status (generally speaking, below ‘Mistress’ but above someone referred to with no honorific at all, though there is some overlap at both ends of the spectrum)
green sicknessa wasting disease typically affecting relatively young women of post-puberal age, sometimes retrospectively diagnosed as chlorosis
halek, halkForman’s private code-word for ‘had/have/is having/has had/will have sex with’ or ‘the sex act’
hickets, hickocks, hitchcockshiccups
hollanda type of coarse linen fabric
Indians, theeither the East Indies, i.e. the Indian subcontinent and south-east Asia, or the West Indies, i.e. the Americas. It is clear from the context that Forman uses this term to refer to the geographical areas, not their inhabitants.
kinsman, kinswomanbasically the same as ‘cousin’ above, but gender-specific
leekeNapier’s habitual spelling of ‘like’
lying inThe ‘lying-in period’ was the ritual period during which an expectant or recent mother was confined to bed. This lasted from shortly before the birth to approximately a month after it.
maid, maiden (usually spelled ‘mead’ or ‘meaden’ by Napier)may mean female servant, virgin and/or unmarried woman
make waterurinate
maneither ‘man’ in the modern sense or ‘male servant’
megrim(e), megrym(e)migraine
mistressmost commonly used as a prefix to the name of a female of relatively high social status (above ‘Goodwife’ but below ‘Lady’). As such, it is normally abbreviated as ‘Mrs’ or ‘Mres’ and given in the normalised view of Casebooks transcriptions as ‘Mrs’, but note that it is not an indicator of marital status and is quite often applied to children of below marriageable age. The term may also mean ‘female employer’ or (much less often) ‘female lover’.
morphew, morpheusskin eruption
onNapier’s habitual spelling of ‘one’
oncNapier’s habitual spelling of ‘once’
pocks, poxany ailment characterised by pock-marks, often retrospectively diagnosed as either smallpox or venereal disease
questoquestion (or, in Latin, quaestio)
quicka term used by Napier (among others) to describe a pregnant woman who can feel her unborn child moving. Some writers use it simply to mean ‘pregnant’, but Napier explicitly distinguishes between the two (e.g. MS Ashmole 239, f. 92v: ‘20 weekes since with child quick a fortnight’).
running of the reinsas used by Forman and Napier, male or female genital discharge; gonorrhoea. Later practitioners applied the term to genital or urinary problems more generally.
sennetsevennight, i.e. week
sicknes(s), womans sicknes(s)menstrual period(s)
spicespecies, type
spritespirit, in the sense of supernatural agency
suetsuit, in any of the senses of lawsuit, marriage suit, or petition for favour or preferment from an authority figure
toyed headedmentally disturbed
walles, wallsWales
wench, wentchyoung woman or female child of relatively low social status
whersometimes means ‘where’, but in Forman’s notes normally means ‘whether’
whites, thebloodless vaginal discharge, often retrospectively diagnosed as leucorrhoea
wickesForman’s habitual spelling of ‘weeks’
with childpregnant
wordl, wordleForman’s habitual spellings of ‘world’
yardpenis, or groin more generally

Latin Terms

abscondita, absconditus(having) run away or disappeared
ad hoc tempusat this time
amissa, amissuslost, missing
amoto love
cond[uco]to marry
dominamistress, in the sense of female employer (but especially if spelled with a capital D may also be a prefix to the name of a female of relatively high social status)
dominusmaster (but especially if spelled with a capital D may also mean ‘Mr’ or ‘God’)
ego, ego ipseI, I myself
eodem temporeat the same time
filia, filiusdaughter, son
furata, furatusstolen
hora (often abbreviated to ‘h.’ or ‘hor’)literally ‘at the hour of’, or in modern English simply ‘at’
lues venereavenereal disease
mi., min.abbreviation for medieval Latin ‘minuta’ (minutes)
mine sang[uinem]let blood
morbusdisease, illness
morbus Gallicuslit. ‘the French disease’, i.e. syphilis, or venereal disease more generally. (In French, the same condition was often referred to as ‘la maladie anglaise’, i.e. ‘the English disease’.)
nata, natusborn
necne, nec nonor not
obeoto die
profor, about (in the sense of who or what a question is about)
profluvium renum‘running of the reins‘ (q.v.)
profluvium seminislit. ‘overflow of seed’, i.e. male or female genital discharge
pro rebus amissis/furatisfor things lost/stolen
quid indeliterally, ‘then what?’. A formula used by Forman to mean ‘what will the outcome/consequence be?’, sometimes expanded as ‘quid inde accidet’, ‘quid inde evenit’, ‘quid inde sequitur’, meaning ‘what will happen next?’ or ‘what will follow?’.
sectumsuit, in any of the senses of lawsuit, marriage suit, or petition for favour or preferment from an authority figure
serva, servusservant (female and male respectively)
turbaimpending trouble of a non-medical nature
utrum sit gravidawhether she is pregnant
veneficata, veneficatusbewitched
vidua, viduuswidow, widower
viva aut mortua, vivus aut mortuusalive or dead
vivit aut moriturwill live or die
vulnerata, vulneratuswounded, injured

Document last modified: 22 September 2016

Cite this as: Casebooks Project (Glossary of terms),, accessed 2018-08-17.