A glossary of useful terms, slang, and sayings particular to Pern. This is intended as a reference, not a study guide. It is broken into three sections — General, Dragonrider, and Slang terms.
WARNING: Please keep IC and OOC information separate.
- Agenothree – (Nitric Acid or HNO³). A chemical loaded into portable tanks, used by the riders in the Queen’s Wing and thread-fighting ground crews to destroy any thread that reached the ground.
- Apprentice – The lowest rank of crafter, often studying at a Craft Hall. They are split into Junior and Senior ranks. Children typically apprentice at age 12.
- Belior – The larger and more distant of two moons. The other is Timor.
- Blackrock – Coal.
- Bloodfish – A parasitic fish that hooks onto other fish, rendering them inedible.
- Broomtree – Strong, stubby trees that look like upside-down brooms. They have prickly leaves and intertwining branches.
- Bubbly – A hand-sized, one crust berry pie.
- Canine – A dog.
- Cothold – A small vassal hold, usually an extended family living near the fields, pasture, or other sites of agricultural pursuits.
- Crackdust – Silly fantasy, ridiculous exaggeration, or an outright lie.
- Craft – One of 12 vocations that has a training Hall; Beastcraft, Farmcraft, Glasscraft, Harpercraft, Healercraft, Minecraft, Seacraft, Smithcraft, Tannercraft, Weavercraft, Winecraft, and Woodcraft. Seacraft is sometimes called Fishercraft. Runners consider themselves the first Craft but have no Hall.
- Craftmaster – The leader of a Crafthall and senior expert of a particular craft.
- Craftsecond – The assistant and likely successor of a Craftmaster.
- Crawlers – A small, six-legged, gecko-looking creature with a stinging mouth.
- Day Sisters/Dawn Sisters – A trio of unusually bright stars, named Joko, Burain, and Baynos. They are more often called Dawn Sisters in the west.
- Dragon’s Tongue – A native succulent Pernese plant which produces a gel similar to Terran aloe.
- Dragonkind – Refers to dragons, firelizards, and sometimes watch whers.
- Draybeast – An ox or mule.
- Drudge – A worker engaged in the lowest levels of manual labor or upkeep of a Weyr, Crafthall, or Hold.
- Drum Code – Sequences of beats that convey a message, not unlike Morse code.
- Drum Heights – An acoustically shaped chamber at the highest point of a hold where message drums are kept.
- Dueling Code – Rules that regulate dueling and help prevent vendettas.
- Fair – A group of firelizards. A social group will have no more than one adult gold.
- Fall – A six-hour window of time in which Thread falls somewhere on Pern.
- Feather Herb – A short, bushy plant with broad leaves and tiny clusters of blue flowers found in rocky areas; the source of medicine used for fevers and bleeding.
- Featherfern – A bushy fern with yellow-green fronds found in swamps and the source of analgesic powder.
- Feline – A predatory animal, similar to a cross between a cheetah and lion.
- Fellis – A short tree with spearhead-shaped leaves which produces a juice that is used as a power sedative.
- Feverease – A perennial with daisy-like flowers in red, orange, and yellow that can be made into an insect repellent or medicine for fevers.
- Firehead Fever – A dangerous, sometimes fatal fever accompanied by a tight throat, skin sensitivity to sunlight, delirium, and nightmares. It runs its course in three weeks but full recovery can take six additional weeks.
- Fireheights – A flat, paved area at the highest point of a hold or nearby hill, where beacon fires can be set and dragons can land.
- Firelizard – Similar to a dragon with a cat-sized body.
- First Crossing – Refers to the initial arrival of settlers on the Southern continent. No one knows how this was accomplished, but a nautical reference is used.
- Fish – The most commonly eaten species are Fingertails, Flatfish, Packtails, Redfin, Specklers, Whitefish, Yellow-stripe, Yellowtail, and sea eels.
- Fly-by – A small flying insect much like a gnat.
- Gamester – A person in charge of a betting office, or someone who is continuously encouraging people to place bets, also called gamesman.
- Gather – A three-day celebration at a major Hold, attended by residents of all affiliated holds and cotholds, usually held in late Spring and Autumn.
- Ging – A tree with supple fronds. The sap is used as glue.
- Glitterfly – A small winged beetle whose abdomen glows with a luminescent light. Looks a bit like the Terran firefly, but tends to glow in different colors.
- Glow – A fungal light source kept in airtight baskets that are mounted to a wall or carried by hand. When exposed to air, the marble-sized fungi give off light.
- Glowbasket – An airtight basket that preserves the life of a glow when not in use.
- Glovecap – Similar to digitalis, a blood-pressure reducer, the crushed leaves make a decoction which eases cardiac contractions.
- Great Hall – A large chamber used for formal occasions.
- Great Hold – The largest Hold of a region, where the Lord and his family reside.
- Grub – A type of millipede known for eating Thread and having a beneficial effect on the plants around them.
- Headwoman – Manager in charge of day-to-day domestic operations.
- Heard And Witnessed – A traditional confirmation phrase uttered when someone else makes an oath, confirming the intent to see that it is carried out.
- Herdbeast – Cattle.
- Herdsman – A member of the Beastcraft.
- High Hold – A slightly pejorative term for Great Hold.
- Hold – The place where all the dragonless folk of Pern live. Originally carved out of Thread-defensive rocky cliffs, they have grown to include seats of government, commerce, and agriculture.
- Inner Hold – The portion of a Hold built deep inside stone, without windows.
- Interval – A 200-year stretch in which the Red Star shines dull and no threadfall occurs.
- Journeyman/Journeywoman – A craft rank between Apprentice and Master. They are split into Junior and Senior ranks. Apprentices typically reach Journeyman rank between the ages of 15 and 16.
- Klah – A beverage similar to coffee, brewed from the bark of the Klah tree. Its taste has hints of chocolate and cinnamon.
- Kyte – A six-limbed flying squirrel.
- Lady Holder – Title for wife of Lord Holder or a woman who rules a Hold in her own right.
- Lord Holder – The governmental head of a major Hold.
- Lord Holder’s Conclave – A meeting of the majority of Lord Holders to decide important matters, called when need arises, such as when a new Lord Holder must be confirmed in his honors.
- Looks To – Implies the bond of impression. A firelizard looks to its owner, a dragon looks to its rider.
- Loudhailer – A cone-shaped speaking horn, used to increase the volume and range of the speaker’s voice.
- Mark – A coin worth approximately $16, stamped with a Hall’s heraldry. Smaller denominations are fractional (IE: a quarter mark) and are called “pieces”. The smallest denomination (1/32) is sometimes called a “bit”.
- Master Crafter – Someone who has worked their way up to the highest rank of a craft. Most Journeymen are between the ages of 18 and 21 when they are promoted.
- Month – Four sevendays.
- Moonflower – A climbing vine that produces an edible, sweet, orange-red fruit, most common in Nerat.
- Mosstea – A useful antibiotic when packed into an infected wound, also somewhat effective when drunk.
- Needlethorn – A succulent plant whose hollow thorns can be used as hypodermic needles. The thorns can be picked in Autumn when the flowers have opened and the plant is dormant. Otherwise, it shoots poisonous needles when it senses living creatures are near.
- Nighthearth – The hearth left burning at night in case of need.
- Numbweed – A thick, spongy, thorny plant that contains a strong analgesic which is made into a cream that numbs small wounds completely and dulls the pain of larger wounds. It causes blisters in raw form and smells horrible during preparation.
- Nut fruit – Similar to a coconut, picked from a short tree with large, useful fronds.
- Oilbrush – A bush that makes a particular hot-burning fire.
- Outer Hold – The non-subterranean portion of a Hold.
- Outholder – Someone who lives in an exterior building near a hold.
- Overlord – A Lord in control of more than one major Hold.
- Packtail – A tasty, but dangerously barbed fish, similar to a monkfish.
- Pass – A 50-year stretch in which the Red Star shines bright and threadfall occurs.
- Posting – The Weyr, Hall, or Hold that someone has been assigned to work at.
- Queen – Alternate term for the senior gold firelizard, watch-wher, or dragon.
- Rebels – A variant of Chess with a Lord, Lady, Steward and Headwoman (rooks), two Harpers (bishops), two Captains (knights), and eight Guards (pawns).
- Red Star – A menacing red star that shines dull during Intervals and bright during Passes.
- Redfruit – Similar to apples with high water content.
- Runner – Craftspeople responsible for carrying messages across the continent, the main form of long-distance communication. They follow “traces”, stopping at runner stations along the way. Messages are logged and tracked.
- Runnerbeast – A horse.
- Second Crossing – The relocation to the Northern continent during the cataclysm, caused by erupting volcanoes and earthquakes.
- Sevenday – A week.
- Shipfish – Dolphins.
- Skybroom – A tree with exceptionally hard and durable wood.
- Spinner – Spider that produces silk. Gossamer spinner silk can be made into cloth.
- Springs – Insects that hang in spiral loops until they find someone or something to cling to. They have an irritating, prickly bite.
- Starsmith – An astronomer. Their greatest duty is to track Threadfall.
- Station Master – The manager of a runner station. He accepts parcels and collects fees.
- Steward – Manager in charge of day-to-day administrative operations of a hold or hall.
- Sticklebush – A fruit-bearing plant with sharp, hairlike thorns. Berries can be harvest in Autumn to make jam, but the sap is harmful the rest of the year.
- Stone-clean – The traditional state of being free of greenery near living areas.
- Sweetoil – A skin and hair conditioner.
- Sweetroot – Similar to ginger, an infusion can treat coughs, colds, and sinus congestion. As a tea, it helps with nausea and morning sickness. The powdered form treats motion sickness.
- Sweetsand – A washing scrub used instead of soap. It foams when wet.
- Swift – A six-legged lizard with a 1′ long body, found in mountainous terrain.
- Thread – Highly acidic parasites that look like grey, wriggling, snakes without eyes or scales. They drop from the sky in clumps during Passes, but do not fall during Interval years.
- Thread-lost – Being out in the open while Thread is falling, often fatal.
- Threadscore – An injury caused by Thread. A “brush” is minor contact, “lacing” is a solid score, and “burning” is a serious wound.
- Timor – The smaller and closest of two moons. The other is Belior.
- Trundlebug – A useful agricultural insect with elaborate camouflage.
- Tuft Grass – A grass that grows in bush-like clumps in marshy areas. The heart of the plant, just above the root ball, is dried and made into a power that treats firehead fever.
- Tunnel Snake – Reptilian vermin with six limbs that infest underground places.
- Turn – A year.of 362 days, with a “leap Turn” every six years having an extra day. There are 12 months of 30 days, with two days of Turnover at the end filled with celebrations.
- Veetol – A furry insect with double pairs of wings that moves like a dragonfly.
- Walking The Tables – Advancement from one craft rank to the next.
- Watch-wher – Small, ugly dragons weighing 600-800 lbs. They are loyal guardians and extremely nocturnal.
- Watergrass – A variant of rice.
- Wedge Formation – The most common wing formation, a V-shape.
- Weyr – A Hold for dragons and their riders.
- Weyrbrat – A derogatory or humorous term for a child raised at a Weyr.
- Wherhide – Leather made from a wherry.
- Wherry – A squat, fat avian, about the size of an ostrich, not unlike a draco-turkey.
- Whersport – A small, featherless wherry, delicious when cooked properly. They are less aggressive and dangerous than wherries.
- Withies – An aquatic plant found along riverbanks, used for weaving baskets and furniture. It is common for an entire Hold’s population to go gathering them in Spring.
- Yellowtail – A large, edible fish, similar to a tuna.
- Belly-bloated – A dragon or firelizard too full of meat to fly.
- Bend A Tail – A euphemism for defecating. Only true for dragons but also refers to humans.
- Between – An area of nothingness and sensory deprivation between “here” and “there.” Dragons and their riders spend moments between as they travel between two points in space. It is extremely cold with no breathable atmosphere.
- Blood – To kill a herdbeast and drink its blood without eating the meat or hide.
- Blooded – A dragonrider who has been wounded by Thread in combat and survived.
- Candidate – Someone selected by a Search Rider to try to Impress at a hatching.
- Cast Outward – Sense something beyond one’s immediate location.
- Council Chamber – The official meeting room adjacent to the Weyrwoman’s weyr or Weyrleader’s quarters, open by invitation only.
- Crackdust – Also called blackdust. The debris left by Thread that freeze at extremely high altitude. A fully frozen Fall can create a dust storm.
- Double Fall – Two Falls in a row within the coverage area of one Weyr.
- Dragonet – Refers to young dragons between the age of 4 and 40 weeks, also an affectionate slang term for firelizard.
- Ducking Thread – An aerial maneuver performed to avoid the burning strands or seared remains of a clump.
- Echo – A vague sense of another dragon in response to an attempt at communication, which usually occurs when the target is sleeping or far away.
- Faranth – The first gold dragon, ridden by Sorka.
- Firestone – A phosphine bearing rock. Dragons and fire lizards can chew it to produce phosphorus gases which are ignited to burn Thread out of the sky.
- Flame [verb] – Using dragon fire as a utility, such as clearing underbrush or while training weyrlings.
- Flamestone – A highly volatile variant of firestone, capable of exploding into flame upon contact with moisture. Mistakenly used as firestone throughout the Second Interval.
- Flight – An organizational group of three wings.
- Flying wing tip – Flying in formation at the outermost end.
- Hatchling – A dragon in its first month of life.
- Holdbrat – A derogatory name for a child raised in a Hold, used only by weyrbrats.
- Impression – The moment of bonding between a newly hatched baby dragon or firelizard and their life partner.
- Klick – Ancient word for Kilometre.
- Leading Edge – The farthest forward location at which Thread is falling. The opposite end of fall is called the trailing edge.
- Living Cavern – A massive underground cavern with a high ceiling which serves as a common space and public dining hall.
- Lower Caverns – The quarters where weyrfolk live and work.
- Mating Flight – An event that occurs when a female dragon is ready to mate with a male. The female leads interested males on a wild chase, testing their physical prowess and determination. She eventually mates with a male skilled enough to catch her or allows her chosen male to catch her.
- Oldtimer – Dragonriders who are too old to fight Thread, but still useful to the Weyr.
- Open Flight – A gold mating flight open to all bronzes, including those from other Weyrs. The goal is to strengthen the blood and improve the breed.
- Pass – The 50-year span when the Red Star comes close enough to Pern for Threadfall to occur.
- Patrol – One or more riders checking on the well-being of the area under their protection, not related to Threadfall.
- Proddy – A female dragon acting territorial and angry in the days before her mating flight. Sometimes also said of green riders but never politely of a gold rider.
- Scoring – A burn caused by contact with thread, similar to an acid burn.
- Sear – Using dragon fire in an aggressive way such as fighting Thread, but not for clearing underbrush or other purposes.
- Search Rider – A dragonrider selected to seek out candidates to present to hatchlings at the next hatching and bring them to the Weyr.
- Solstice Gathering – An annual gathering of Weyrleaders.
- Sorka – The first weyrwoman and rider of gold Faranth.
- Stand – A candidate stands at Hatching, hoping to be selected by a hatchling. A candidate “stands the sands” or “stands to the egg”.
- Star Smith – A crafter, usually a smith, who tracks and studies the stars.
- Starting to chew firestone – Said of weyrlings that have completed their basic training.
- Surveillance Altitude – An altitude low enough to see details on the ground but high enough not to alarm domestic animals.
- Sweeprider – A rider assigned to patrol for Thread infestations.
- Sweeps – Patrols sent out after a Fall to check for Thread infestations, flown at surveillance altitude.
- Thread-Sign – Indication that Thread has burrowed underground, becoming an infestation. Signs include toppled trees and disturbed vegetation.
- Watchdragon – The dragon who rider has pull watch duty on the Weyr roster. A Watch is generally four hours long. Essentially Weyrs are military camps. Sentries are part of the ethos. During a Pass, they watch for any chance erratic Fall of Thread, and for anyone entering or leaving the Weyr.
- Wave – A Fall is divided into two 3-hour waves. Green dragons, young blues, weyrlings, wounded dragons or riders, and the elderly fly one wave.
- Weyr – Either a place that is home to many dragons (Weyr) or the resting place of an individual dragon (weyr).
- Weyr Council – A meeting of all the Weyrleaders to discuss global Weyr matters.
- Weyr Games – Also Spring Games, events in which wings compete against each other. This includes mock threadfall with colored yarn.
- Weyrbred – The offspring of one or more dragonriders.
- Weyrfolk – People who live and work at the Weyr other than dragonriders.
- Weyrharper – The senior Harper in a Weyr who is not a dragonrider.
- Weyrleader – The senior dragonrider of a Weyr, responsible for managing it with the Weyrwoman.
- Weyrling – A newly impressed youth who has not graduated to full dragonrider.
- Weyrlingmaster – A dragonrider in charge of training weyrlings.
- Weyrmate – A dragonrider in a serious relationship outside of mating flights, similar to a spouse.
- Weyrsinger – The senior Harper in a Weyr who is also a dragonrider.
- Weyrwoman – The rider of the senior queen who is responsible for managing the Weyr, along with the Weyrleader. Sometimes also applied to any gold rider.
- Wing – A unit that fights thread together, between 12 and 33 dragons.
- Wingleader – The dragonrider in command of a wing of at least 12 dragons, usually a bronze rider.
- Wingsecond – The second in command of a wing, usually a bronze or brown rider. A large wing has two.
- Chit – An annoying girl.
- Deadglow – A numbskull, stupid. Derived from “glow.”
- Dented kettle – Someone being dense.
- Dimglow – Someone who isn’t very bright. The term is derived from “glow”, which loses its lightning abilities gradually, so a “dim glow” does not shed much light.
- Hidebound – Set in one’s ways, unwilling to accept new information.
- Holdbound – Provincial, untravelled, or having a narrow world view.
- Light-skirt – Easy, slutty.
- Lummox – Awkward and clumsy.
- Sand head – An idiot.
- Twirl-skirt – A tease.
- Milksop – A weak and/or weak-willed person.
- Wher-fathered – Very ugly.
- Wherry-headed – Easily distractible, flighty, or silly person.
- Wool-headed – Not paying attention, unobservant, or sleep-deprived.
Maledicta (curses, curse words etc.)
- Ashes – Similar to “argh”.
- Blast the shell and sear the skin – a minor exclamation of frustration.
- Blasted – Similar to “damn”.
- Bloody – Preface to another word to make it more vehement.
- Fardles – Similar to “darn”.
- Flaming – Preface to another word to make it more potent.
- Great Faranth – Similar to “good God”.
- Great shells and stars: an expletive indicating annoyance or disbelief.
- Scorch it: Similar to “f- it”.
- Shards – Similar to “shit”.
- Sheep swallop – Something nasty or potently unpleasant.
- Shells – Similar to “heck”.
- By Faranth’s first egg…
- By my dragon’s egg…
- By the egg…
- By the Egg of Faranth…
- By the First Egg…
- By the golden shell of the queen…
- By the shards of my dragon’s egg…
- By the shell of the First Egg…
- By the Void that spawned us…
- In the name of the Egg…
Sayings and Slang
- A hard roll to eat – Something necessary but unpleasant.
- A hunk of firestone, all gas and ash — Said of a braggart or a blowhard.
- A temper like Young Mountain – A volcanic temper.
- Acting like a green in heat – Acting randy or sexually explicit.
- Acting [or other verb] like a suncrazed wherry – Lashing out blindly or being out of control.
- As good as between – Lost in thought or not paying attention.
- Betting against a Bitran – Doing something that is destined to fail, taking on an impossible task.
- Betting with Bitran odds – Expecting a high chance of success.
- Bitran odds – Odds that may be skewed by cleverness or cheating.
- Born under the Red Star – Said of someone who is evil, generally disliked or (very) unlucky.
- Bronze interests – If you have bronze interests, you’d tap that, usually meant humorously.
- By the Egg – An exclamation of surprise but also used as a mild kind of an oath. Example: By the Egg, I will succeed this time.
- Cracking your shell over…
- Faceted as dragon eyes – Something (or someone) that has many sides to it, like a difficult case or someone’s character.
- Flying winglight – Not enough people or resources to be sure of achieving the goal.
- For the Egg’s sake – Similar to “for heaven’s sake”.
- For the love of little (green) dragons
- For the love of little green apples
- Free-marked – Free of any charge or obligation.
- Giving Bitran odds – Good odds of success.
- Gone between in thought – Lost in thought or daydreaming.
- Good hatching [day] – A common well-wish given on hatching day.
- Gracious goodness – Just like goodness gracious.
- Harper tricks – A Harper using their training in oration to relate news in a way that evokes emotions or a certain point of view.
- Harper’s winter tale – A fairy tale, an untrue story not meant to be believed literally.
- Harpertrue – True enough to stake one’s honor and reputation on.
- Has a dragon’s two stomachs – Said of someone who has an endless appetite.
- Has a warrior’s heart – Said of someone who suffers from PTSD.
- Begging the Egg – Similar to “praying to God”.
- It will be a warm day between before [event] – Similar to “a cold day in hell”.
- It won’t matter a grain of sand in Igen – It won’t matter one bit.
- If the skies fell, we’d not be bothered by Thread – There’s always a silver lining.
- Left out for Thread – Being abandoned, fending for yourself in a bad way. Said when someone needed help (very badly) but did not get it.
- Live to tell the Harper – Caution is better than rash bravery.
- Long in the eye – Having extremely good eyesight.
- Making every mistake in the Record – Similar to “making every mistake in the book”.
- Marks for [expression] – Compliment, respect, or credit. For example: Marks for that fine ballad, well sung!
- May it be a warm night between before [event] – Example: May it be a warm night between before you catch one.
- My duty to you [Lords, Masters, Weyrleaders, all] – A formal farewell from someone of rank to others of rank.
- Of the Blood – Someone with good breeding and mental discipline.
- Of the Old Blood – Descendant of the original noble bloodlines.
- Smooth as Benden (wine) – High quality.
- Sounding like a wherry – Talking fast, shrill, or in an annoying way.
- Southern sized – Unusually big, large or even meaning out of proportion.
- Stripling – A boy, almost grown to a man.
- Sun-dreams – Something imaginary or a daydream.
- Taking a short dragon-ride – A euphemism for the ending of an unwanted pregnancy. The extreme cold of between can cause spontaneous abortion. This process is most accepted among dragonriders. As a result of this risk, female green riders fight Fall with the queen’s wing (where they will not need to jump between) when they are pregnant and want to keep the baby.
- Talking like a Harper – Sounding smart or wise, sometimes derogatory.
- Thank the Shell – Similar to “thank God”.
- That’s well dusted – Said of something that is nasty or unpleasant.
- The lady breaks bread first – A custom and saying implying the value of tradition.
- Thread will come and get you – A phrase to frighten children into behaving.
- When the moons turn green – Never.
- Wherry teeth – That’s nonsense or I don’t believe you. Wherries have beaks, not teeth.
- Why, in the name of the egg?
- Why, under the double moons?
- Wing-full – Plenty of people to do the job.
- Ugly as a (watch)wher – Especially ugly or malformed.
- A good rider makes a good beast – Diligent effort has obvious rewards.
- Blood will tell – Meaning that one’s true nature will eventually reveal itself.
- Catch two fish on one hook.
- Each egg hatches its own way, but a crack at the right time speeds things up.
- If you are hungry enough, even tunnel snake tastes good – Under dire circumstances people will do things they normally wouldn’t.
- Like dragon, like rider.
- Maybes seldom are.
- More than one way to skin a wherry – There are more ways than one to get the result you want.
- Necessity hatches many a tough shell.
- New brooms sweep clean.
- Solve one problem and five more appear from between.
- Surrender the mark – Stop procrastinating or pondering and take action.
- The hindmost falls between – Nobody remembers the last or least.
- The more to look, the quicker to find.
- The sea breeds stern souls.
- Through Fall, Fog and Fire – Under any circumstance, no matter what, or always.
- What affects the dragon, affects its rider.
- Who watches the watchwher?