The Sky Devil Glossary
Stories from the Golden Age reflect the words and expressions used in the 1930s and 1940s, adding unique flavor and authenticity to the tales. While a character’s speech may often reflect regional origins, it also can convey attitudes common in the day. So that readers can better grasp such cultural and historical terms, uncommon words or expressions of the era, the following glossary has been provided.
accouterments: pieces of military equipment carried by soldiers in addition to their standard uniform and weapons.
Ahaggar Plateau: a highland region in the central Sahara, located in southern Algeria. It is an arid, rocky upland region and the home of the formerly nomadic Tuareg.
aileron: a hinged flap on the trailing edge of an aircraft wing, used to control banking movements.
Alexandria: the second largest city in Egypt and its largest seaport, extending about twenty miles along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in north central Egypt.
attap: a type of palm, the fronds of which are used in the making of buildings.
Berbers: members of a people living in North Africa, primarily Muslim, living in settled or nomadic tribes between the Sahara and Mediterranean Sea and between Egypt and the Atlantic Ocean.
boot: saddle boot; a close-fitting covering or case for a gun or other weapon that straps to a saddle.
bowsprit: a spar projecting from the upper end of the bow of a sailing vessel, for holding and supporting a sail.
club: airplane propeller.
djellaba: a long loose hooded garment with full sleeves, worn especially in Muslim countries.
ducks: slacks or trousers; pants made of a heavy, plain-weave cotton fabric.
Fijis: the Fiji Islands, a South Pacific nation comprised of 322 islands. About 100 are inhabited, while the balance remain nature preserves. They were once known as the Cannibal Isles because of the ferocious natives. The majority of the Fiji Islands are mountainous (volcanic in origin), with several peaks exceeding 3,000 feet. The balance of the smaller islands are a mixture of coral and limestone. In 1874 Fiji became a British colony, and gained its independence in 1970, after nearly a century of British control.
flimflam: to trick, deceive, swindle or cheat.
forty-five or .45: a handgun chambered to fire a .45-caliber cartridge.
G-men: government men; agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
godown: a warehouse; a commercial building for storage of goods.
ground loop: to cause an aircraft to ground loop, or make a sharp horizontal turn when taxiing, landing or taking off.
hard-boiled: tough; unsentimental.
howitzer: a cannon that has a comparatively short barrel, used especially for firing shells at a high angle of elevation for a short range, as for reaching a target behind cover or in a trench.
ifrīt: (Arabic) a powerful evil jinnī, demon or monstrous giant in Arabic mythology.
imajeghen: (Tamasheq) the Tuareg noble class.
imghad: (Tamasheq) the Tuareg vassal class that serves the nobles.
jinnī or jinn: (Arabic) jinnī singular, jinn plural; in Muslim legend, a spirit often capable of assuming human or animal form and exercising supernatural influence over people.
keel: a lengthwise structure along the base of a ship, and in some vessels extended downwards as a ridge to increase stability.
Lake Maracaibo: an inlet of the Caribbean Sea in northwestern Venezuela. The largest natural lake in South America, it occupies an area of 5,130 square miles.
Liberia: a country on the west coast of Africa, bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire. Liberia, which means “Land of the Free,” was founded as an independent nation with support of the American government, for free-born and formerly enslaved African-Americans.
lugger: an old, slow cargo vessel.
Malay: a member of the race of people who inhabit the Malay Peninsula and portions of adjacent islands of southeast Asia.
mameluke: (Arabic) a member of a military caste, originally made up of slaves, that ruled in Egypt from 1250 until 1517 and remained powerful until 1811.
mana: (Polynesian) one with power; an authority.
Marianas: Mariana Islands; a group of fifteen islands in the western Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines. It consists of two groups: a northern group of ten volcanic main islands, of which only four (Agrihan, Anatahan, Alamagan and Pagan) are inhabited; and a southern group of five islands (Rota, Guam, Aguijan, Tinian and Saipan), of which all are inhabited save Aguijan.
marid: a jinnī of the most powerful class, gigantic in size.
Melanesian: a member of a people native to a division of Oceania in the southwest Pacific Ocean, comprising the islands northeast of Australia and south of the equator. It includes the Solomon Islands. The Melanesian people primarily fish and farm, and supplement their economy by exporting cacao, copra (coconut) and copper.
muezzin: a man who calls Muslims to prayer from the minaret (a slender tower with a balcony) of a mosque.
noa: common people; a Polynesian term used in place of the actual name of someone.
orang kaya: headman; before the arrival of Europeans, the people of Banda had a form of government led by orang kaya (powerful men).
Papuans: a member of any of the indigenous people of New Guinea and neighboring islands.
petcock: a small valve used to control the flow of gas.
pink tea: formal tea, reception or other social gathering usually attended by politicians, military officials and the like.
pipe-clayed: clean and smart; pipe clay is a fine white clay used in whitening leather. It was at one time largely used by soldiers for making their gloves, accouterments and clothes look clean and smart.
Polynesian: a native or inhabitant of Polynesia, a large grouping of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean.
quirt: a riding whip with a short handle and a braided leather lash.
Salonika: also Thessaloniki; city and port located in northeastern Greece. It is the second largest city and the capital of the Greek region of Macedonia.
Savile Row: a street in Great Britain renowned for exquisite custom tailoring of men’s clothing.
saw-grass: grass named because the edges of the leaves are notched like a saw with teeth.
Scheherazade: the female narrator of The Arabian Nights, who during one thousand and one adventurous nights saved her life by entertaining her husband, the king, with stories.
schooner: a fast sailing ship with at least two masts and with sails set lengthwise.
scimitar: a curved, single-edged sword of Oriental origin.
seal of Solomon: a magical signet ring said to have been possessed by King Solomon, a wise ruler of an empire centered on the United Kingdom of Israel, which gave him the power to command demons (or jinn), or to speak with animals. The signet consists of two equilateral triangles, interlaced so as to form a star, and surrounded by a circle. This symbol is thought to have the power to drive away demons.
Shanghai: city of eastern China at the mouth of the Yangtze River, and the largest city in the country. Shanghai was opened to foreign trade by treaty in 1842 and quickly prospered. France, Great Britain and the United States all held large concessions (rights to use land granted by a government) in the city until the early twentieth century.
slipstream: the airstream pushed back by a revolving aircraft propeller.
Societies: Society Islands; an island group within French Polynesia in the South Pacific, originally claimed in 1843. Considered “Paradise on Earth,” they were explored by Captains Cook and Bligh. Divided into the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands, they were given their name by Captain James Cook in 1769, when he named them after England’s Royal Society. Most of these rugged islands are volcanic in origin, with a few small coral atolls mixed in. Of these, the most recognizable names are the legendary islands of Bora Bora, Huahine, Moorea and Tahiti.
Solomons: Solomon Islands; a group of islands northeast of Australia. They form a double chain of six large islands, about twenty medium-sized ones and numerous smaller islets and reefs.
Southern Cross: four bright stars in the southern hemisphere that are situated as if to form a cross and used for navigation.
Springfield: any of several types of rifle, named after Springfield, Massachusetts, the site of a federal armory that made the rifles.
Sudanese: people of Sudan, the largest country in Africa, bordered by Egypt to the north and the Red Sea to the northeast.
Tamasheq: a Berber language spoken by the Tuareg.
Tārgi: (Arabic) inhabitant of Targa, the Tuareg name of a southwestern desert region and a former province of Libya.
tender: a small boat used to ferry passengers and light cargo between ship and shore.
trepang: a sea cucumber of the southern Pacific and Indian oceans, dried or smoked for use as an ingredient in soup.
Tuaregs: members of the nomadic Berber-speaking people of the southwestern Sahara in Africa. They have traditionally engaged in herding, agriculture and convoying caravans across their territories. The Tuaregs became among the most hostile of all the colonized peoples of French West Africa, because they were among the most affected by colonial policies. In 1917, they fought a vicious and bloody war against the French, but they were defeated and as a result, dispossessed of traditional grazing lands. They are known to be fierce warriors; European explorers expressed their fear by warning, “The scorpion and the Tuareg are the only enemies you meet in the desert.”
Vatu Luli: a sacrificial stone.
windage: the amount of adjustment needed in the aiming of a projectile to counter wind deflection.
wingover: also known as the Immelmann turn; an aerial maneuver named after World War I flying ace Max Immelmann. The pilot pulls the aircraft into a vertical climb, applying full rudder as the speed drops, then rolls the aircraft while pulling back slightly on the stick, causing the aircraft to dive back down in the opposite direction. It has become one of the most popular aerial maneuvers in the world.
witch doctor: a person who is believed to heal through magical powers.
yawl: a sailing vessel rigged fore and aft with a large mainmast and a smaller mizzenmast (the third mast on a vessel having three or more masts) toward the stern.