The words ton, landau and rake may sound like utter gibberish, but they’re essential terms for fans of Netflix period drama Bridgerton.
And with the highly-anticipated second season of the Regency romp set to be released by the streaming service on March 25, now is the time to swot up up on some period-appropriate language.
Bridgerton, which has garnered more than 82 million views worldwide since its Christmas Day 2020 release, is based on a series of books of the same name by Julia Quinn set in the Regency era.
Language experts and historians have shared their tips on some of the slang of that time with Mail On Sunday readers.
The cast of Bridgerton will return to the small screen on March 25th, when Netflix will release season 2 of the hit show. Pictured, left to right: Hyacinth Bridgerton (Florence Emilia Hunt), Lady Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell), Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton), Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) and Benedict Bridgerton (Luke Thompson)
Ahead of the second season, experts have revealed some Regency slang, so viewers can work out if their favourite characters are ‘tons’ or ‘rakes’ (pictured L-R: Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma, Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton)
Historians advise viewers not to take historical dramas too literally, saying that they often ‘reinvent’ the past in many ways
‘Ton’ is one of the terms used most frequently in Bridgerton, which was set in 1813 in the Regency era when George IV ruled as King ‘regent’ for his mentally-ill father.
It may sound like the modern word ‘town’ but it is actually a specific phrase coined in the 1700s from the French phrase ‘le bon ton’, which translates to ‘good form or etiquette’.
Dr Hannah Greig is a historian at the University of York, and one of the academic consultants to Bridgerton.
She said: ‘In Regency London the “ton” were the celebrities of the day and their stages were the vast houses, parks and new streets of the West End.
‘Also referred to as the ‘world of fashion’ and ‘the beau monde’, they were an exclusive social set who combined wealth and status with dazzling displays of fashion and individual charisma.’
Season 2 of Bridgerton will follow Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) as he sets out to find a suitable wife, but ends up in a love triangle
The show’s protagonist Anthony gets caught up in a love triangle with two sisters, Edwina (Charithra Chandran, left) and Kate (Simone Ashley, right) during season 2 of the show
Dr Greig said the closest modern equivalent was the phrase ‘it factor’, meaning an elusive quality essential to fame.
Another key term Bridgerton fans must know is ‘landau’, referring to a horse-drawn, four-wheeled carriage with a raised outside seat for the driver.
According to Taylor Hermerding, a cultural expert at leading language learning platform Babbel, the term originates in 1743 from Landau, a city in south-western Germany, where the carriages were first made.
BRIDGERTON SEASON 2: THE BED-HOPPING LORD SEEKS A WIFE
The main love story for Bridgerton’s second season moves on to Viscount Anthony Bridgerton, played by Jonathan Bailey, and his search for a wife.
From the moment we saw Anthony’s bare bottom in the very first scene of season one, it was clear this was no Mr Darcy.
‘He’s incredibly complicated,’ says Jonathan. ‘He’s experienced such trauma with his father dying and his mum not being able to handle that, and then having to take on the responsibility of becoming a viscount.
‘And this series can really take the time to dig into the psychology of a man of that era.’
After his messy break-up with opera singer Siena Rosso in series one, it’s back to the marriage mart for Anthony in season two – the balls, the courtship, the etiquette, the jealousies and the heaving bosoms that we saw as Daphne and Simon conducted their will-they-won’t-they courtship.
Anthony finds himself in a love triangle with the Sharma sisters who have just returned from India. His eyes alight on girl-of-the-moment Edwina, but her wily sister Kate may have other ideas.
There’s one change you’re sure to note in Anthony. ‘The sideburns have gone!’ says Jonathan.
Showrunner Chris Van Dusen decided to ditch Anthony’s mutton chops to show that he’s no longer the ‘rakish party boy’. It’s time for the viscount to get serious.
‘You will not find the ton travelling in anything less auspicious than a landau for fear of public ridicule,’ added Ms Hermerding.
Bridgerton fans can also expect ‘rakes’ to play a key role in the upcoming series. The term does not refer to a horticultural tool, but rather a carefree, aristocratic man.
Ms Hermerding said the handsome Duke of Hastings, played by Simon Basset in series one, was ‘the perfect example of a rake’ because he had numerous relationships and refused to follow moral standards.
But if a rake puts a foot wrong, he may be labelled as ‘high in the instep’.
This bizarre phrase is a cutting Georgian insult referring to anyone who comes across as arrogant or acting above their station.
‘While it may seem odd, it refers to the idea that the upper classes would have stronger foot arches than other people at the time as a result of higher quality shoes,’ said Ms Hermerding.
Another insult viewers can expect to hear is being ‘barely out of leading strings’ a disparaging way of saying someone is very young.
The phrase, used in series one, refers to cloth strips sewn into children’s clothing to stop them falling when learning to walk.
The ‘strings’ were controlled by an accompanying adult.
A man barely out of leading strings is unlikely to attract a ‘diamond of the first wate’.
This phrase referred to the most beautiful young woman ‘in the ton’ and likely carried a lot of social pressure.
In the context of diamonds, the ‘first water’ is used to describe the clearest or highest-quality gems.
Babble’s experts credit Bridgerton for including a plethora of Regency-era terminology, but Penelope Corfield, a professor of history specialising in the Georgian era, reminds viewers not to take the upcoming series too literally.
‘I am a great fan of TV historical fiction like Bridgerton but it reinvents the past – and often for good reasons.
‘For example many people in the Regency era had terrible teeth from eating too much West-Indian sugar, so the gleaming white teeth in Bridgerton are anachronistic.
‘But viewers wouldn’t really switch on to see people smiling with black stumps and rotting gums!’
Bridgerton season 2 will be released on March 25th on Netflix – and a teaser for the programme suggests the new season will be as racy as the last
Earlier this month, Netflix gave fans a glimpse of what they can expect to see in season 2, releasing a teaser trailer.
This season will follow Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) as he sets out to find a suitable wife – but in true Bridgerton fashion, ‘a considerable scandal’ is promised to ensue when he gets caught up in a love triangle with two sisters.
And the new season of the show seems to be as racy as the last, with scenes of a naked Anthony covering his modesty in his bedroom and in wet clothing after falling in the river as the result of some flirtatious behaviour.
This second instalment will see Viscount Anthony, driven by his duty to uphold the family name, search for a debutante who meets his impossible standards to marry.
‘It is only only out of the greatest love for my family I aim to choose a bride with my head and not my heart’, he says.
Bridgerton season two will be released on Netflix on Friday March 25th.