Town of Titipu – Actually, such a town exists (now the cement capital of Japan). It is a few hours northwest of Tokyo by train.
Serried ranks assembled – shoulder to shoulder
We’ll heave the capstan round – a manually operated reel for hauling in ropes aboard a ship (usually the anchor)
Her anchor’s a-trip and her helm’s a-lee – A-trip means clear of mud and ready to be hauled aboard. A-lee means away from the wind; ready for making sail.
and a rumbelow – nonsense word used in many sea-chanties
to lay aloft – to climb up into the rigging in order to raise or lower sails.
unless connubially linked – matrimonially (i.e., unless married)
Pre-Adamite ancestry – before Adam (and Eve)
I, a salaried minion! – servile underling
you very imperfect ablutioner – The implication is that the person addressed has not done a good job of washing himself (Okay, it does rhyme with “executioner”).
cut a dash on their wedding day – put on a showy display, to dance
she’ll toddle away, as all aver – declare
who dresses like a guy – Effigies of “gunpowder-plot” conspirator Guy Fawkes are burned each November 5; they are dressed in old clothes (like a scarecrow), i.e. bizarrely.
I don’t say that all these distinguished people couldn’t be squared – bribed
freed from its genius tutelary – guardian spirit, guiding influence
the Marine Parade – sea-side promenade, analogous to “the boardwalk” in America
Tremendous Swell – a very impressively distinguished person, a VIP
my father, the Lucius Junius Brutus of his race – A Roman consul (500 B.C.) who condemned his two sons to death, for their plotting to restore the monarchy
to embrace you thus con fuoco – Italian for “with fervor”
would distinctly be no gioco – Italian for game or joke
and for yam I should get toco – “Toco” is schoolboy slang for punishment; “toco for yam” is an expression meaning getting something bad in exchange for something good.
interrupted an apostrophe – an exclamatory address to a person or thing
with grief condign – suitable
in a dull, dark dock – small enclosed space, or cell (originally, an animal cage)
a cheap and chippy chopper – the headsman’s axe, apparently not of the best quality
perform the Happy Dispatch – suicide
Oh blind, that seest no equipoise – counterbalancing factor
O ni! bikkuri shakkuri to! – This choral outburst’s literal translation from the Japanese is, “Oh two, surprise, hiccup door!” A freer interpretation of the line’s intent, however, might render it as “Demon, you surprise and shock us!” or “Oh, we are surprised, are we not!?”
I’ll spoil your gay gambado – caper, from the French gambade, a leap or spring
He glories all effulgent – Giving off a flood of light
though the tocsin sound ere long – a warning bell
I never even killed a blue-bottle – a large fly
Miya sama, miya sama / On n’m-ma no mayé ni / Pira-Pira suru no wa / Nan gia na / Toko tonyaré tonyaré na? – This is the first verse of an actual Japanese song and was of fairly recent composition when Gilbert appropriated it for The Mikado. A war song of the Japanese Imperial Army, it was sung by the loyalist troops who put down a rebellion in 1877. Translations vary, but it can be understood as, “Oh noble Prince, what is that thing which is fluttering in front of your Highness’s horse?” The second verse of the song answers the question with another question, “Know you not it is the Imperial banner of silken brocade, the sign of punishment for rebels?”
Make each prisoner pent – locked up
Mystical Germans who preach from ten till four – evangelical German Lutherans who had recently been touring England
to ride on a buffer in Parliamentary trains – The buffer is the shock-absorbing bumper on British railroad cars. When an act of Parliament in 1844 required that at least one train a day run to every station on a line, for the purposes of making transportation available for the working classes. These slow trains were “Parliamentary trains.”
in fitless finger stalls – protective covering for an injured finger
and gurgled and guggled – a bubbling, choking noise
I drew my snickersnee – a long knife or small sword (from the Dutch)
compassing the death of the heir apparent – contriving, bringing about or becoming involved in any way
give artistic verisimilitude – appearance of truth
Cock-and-a-bull stories – unbelievable boastful fictions, from old fables in which animals carry on human conversations
Is this a time for airy persiflage? – from the French, persifler, to whistle
a little tom-tit – a small bird of the tit family, similar to chickdees
Dicky-bird – any small bird
from the Congo or the Niger – the general region of central, west and northwest Africa. There are actually no tigers in the Congo or the Niger as they are not indigenous to Africa, but India.
a man is told off to be killed – counted off, or selected, as an officer might from a line of soldiers