in Barchester Towers

Chapter 43 – Mr. and Mrs. Quiverful are Made Happy. Mr. Slope is Encouraged by the Press

detur digniori

A Latin phrase meaning “Let it be given to the more worthy.”  The phrase occurs in the context of Mr. Harding and Mr. Quiverful’s competing claims to the appointment at Hiram’s Hospital.  Trollope explains:  “There were fourteen of them–fourteen of them living–as Mrs. Quiverful had so powerfully urged in the presence of the bishop’s wife. As long as promotion cometh from any human source, whether north or south, east or west, will not such a claim as this hold good, in spite of all our examination tests, detur digniori‘s and optimist tendencies?  It is fervently to be hoped that it may. Till we can become divine we must be content to be human, lest in our hurry for change we sink to something lower.”  As much as the ideal might be that promotions should go to the more worthy, in the case of Mr. Quiverful, need seems as fair a qualification for promotion as any, in Trollope’s opinion.  [TH 2005]


terra firma

Terra firma is a Latin phrase meaning “solid dry land.”  Terra firma can also refer to a landed estate.  [TH 2005]

Sources:  OED.


Hiram Redivivus

Redivivus is a Latin adjective meaning “alive again.”  The phrase “Hiram Redivivus” simply means that the hospital will be fully operational again.  [TH 2005]

Sources:  OED.


Greek play bishops

Editing a Greek play could put a clergyman in line for an appointment as bishop.  [TH 2005]

Sources:  Trollope, Barchester Towers.  Ed. Robin Gilmour.  London:  Penguin, 2003.  See Gilmour’s note on p. 524.



Virago is a Latin term meaning “female warrior.”  In English this term means “bold or impudent woman.”  It can also be used as a synonym for a scold–that is, a woman with offensive language or who has a habit of scolding her neighbors.  Mr. Slope now considers Eleanor a virago because of her reaction to his marriage proposal.  [TH 2005]

Sources:  OED.