antimonial

Suhaser

Member
Turkish
Hello, I’m translating Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist, but haven’t understood the word "antimonial" which I quoted below. Would you help me please?

‘Oh, it’s sickening,’ replied the beadle. ‘Antimonial, Mr. Sowerberry!’
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Antimony was used as an emetic, and so it would be literally "sickening" (it would make one sick).

    I have no idea whether this was coined by Dickens or whether it was something that people of the time used to say.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    No he didn’t coin it, the OED has examples which pre-date this novel. Seems to have been used for a sort of poison in wine.

    My guess is it would not have been very common in Dickens’ time and this is meant to be amusing.

    Hard to translate if your target language doesn’t have an unusual synonym for “sickening”. Try looking up emetic/ emetical in your bilingual dictionary.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Almost no native speakers today would understand this. From chemistry I know the name 'antimony', but many people would not even know that. I've never seen the adjective, and never heard of any uses of antimony, so the pharmaceutical idea is something that's been entirely lost between Dickens's day and our own.
     

    Suhaser

    Member
    Turkish
    Thank you for your reply "Suzi br"; we have both a word for "sickening" and for "emetic". I have given in the Turkish text "Antimonial" and told in a footnote that Antimonial was a pre-modern drug used in nineteenth century medicine as emetic purposes.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    It seems it is still used, more in veterinary applications. The wiki article uses the word antimonial.
    (WhenI saw the title, I thought someone had created a new word for a scathingly negative testimonial :D)

    Great idea!

    Certainly when I saw the title I thought is was a new coinage and certainly not something I knew without looking it up.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I thought it was a mangled version of antinomial.:oops:

    Antimony was used in antiquity in cosmetics.

    Ancient Egyptians may have been the first to plaster on killer cosmetics. Their exaggerated eye makeup (which trumped even the late Tammy Faye) was made of malachite (a green ore of copper), galena (lead sulfide), and, most famously, kohl, a paste made of soot, fatty matter and metal (usually lead, antimony, manganese or copper).
    Suffering for beauty has ancient roots
     
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