Word of the Day: arch

As an adjective it means mischievous, or roguish. It is sadly never used anymore.

My favorite reference for it is from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

After playing some Italian songs, Miss Bingley varied the charm by a lively Scotch air; and soon afterwards Mr. Darcy, drawing near Elizabeth, said to her:

“Do not you feel a great inclination, Miss Bennet, to seize such an opportunity of dancing a reel?”

She smiled, but made no answer. He repeated the question, with some surprise at her silence.

“Oh!” said she, “I heard you before, but I could not immediately determine what to say in reply. You wanted me, I know, to say Yes, that you might have the pleasure of despising my taste; but I always delight in overthrowing those kind of schemes, and cheating a person of their meditated contempt. I have, therefore, made up my mind to tell you, that I do not want to dance a reel at all–and now despise me if you dare.”

“Indeed I do not dare.”

Elizabeth, having rather expected to affront him, was amazed at his gallantry; but there was a mixture of sweetness and archness in her manner which made it difficult for her to affront anybody; and Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. He really believed, that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger.

Miss Bingley saw, or suspected enough to be jealous; and her great anxiety for the recovery of her dear friend Jane received some assistance from her desire of getting rid of Elizabeth.

And now I have tricked you into reading a bit of Pride and Prejudice. My good deed for the day.

One thought on “Word of the Day: arch

  1. Mark Levine

    While I have never heard the noun form “archness” (it sounds like a very clever monster living in a lake in scotland) I have heard people described as “arch.” Therefore I dispute that this word is “never used anymore.” For shame, Ms. Johnson, hyperbole is weak!

    🙂

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