Idioms & Phrases

Amnian Adages & Aphorisms
Moon - Common:- A Muranni term meaning a month, or three tendays, originating from centuries of strong Selune worship. Though the term’s roots are in the city of Murann, its usage has spread all across Amn. Example: “I’ll contact you in a moon’s time about the stowaway’s fate.”

Tenday - Common:- The Calendar of Harptos divides the thirty-day months into three blocks of ten days each, or simply put, "tendays". Other terms used synonymously with tendays included eves and weeks.

Anyroad - Common:- A phrase meaning in any case; at any rate; nevertheless; anyhow. Also at times applied to say something is done in a careless or haphazard manner.

Bell(s) - Common:- A Faerunian term meaning an hour, originating from the ringing of a city or town bell. Once water-clocks were invented, cities/temples could chime hour bells (known just as "bells") instead of just "city gate opening/closing bell" or "time for this religious service." Example: “We’ll meet in two bells at the Drunken Deckhand.”

Length of a long song/a long song - Common:- A Faerunian term for short time periods (e.g. a minute) you'll hear expressions like "length of a long song" (or most commonly just "a long song") which is a commonly-used rhyme lasting about a minute. This is what folk in the Realms are used to, as what we might see as the imprecision of precise chronology doesn't bother them, with how much of their lives are governed by available light, and that "Sets the time."

Quarter of a Candle - Common:- An Faerunian term used for ambiguous expression of time, originating from the often unpredictable durability of candles. Candles are a widely-used but widely variant making of time, because candles themselves vary. Some places have small candles that take about an hour to burn entirely; others (most temples) have big fat candles that have time markings down the sides, and burn so much in an hour. Example: “When does the tide ebb, Bill? Give it a quarter of a candle.”

"Good business!" - Common:- This is a general greeting use by everyone for "Hello," "Goodbye," "That's nice," or (in abrupt dismissal) "Good day!"

The Passed - Common:- An Amnian phrase for those who have died. "The Passed walk among us, beware!" or "The Passed gnaw upon my mind. Could we have done more for them?"

The Veil - Common:- An Amnian phrase, the veil between the living and dead. Many Amnians believe firmly that a veil exists between this life and the next, and that it is a tenuous one, often thin and tangible to those with a connection to spirits and death. Sites of death - such as battlefields or defiled burial grounds - in particular are believed to be where the Veil is weakest, and thus why hauntings, spirits, and corruption of all kinds come into being.

Teeth - Common:- The Small Teeth is the tallest mountain range in Southern Amn, and can easily be seen on clear days from much of the Swordbelt. It is such an evident sight that it is part of daily life in the Southern capital of Murann, clear day or no; "I swear on the Small Teeth / I swear on the Teeth!" and, "I swear on my teeth!" are common oaths among the lower classes of not only Murann, but all of Southern Amn. At times Amnians speak of the teeth of others to indicate trustworthiness or lack thereof, for example: "He swore by his teeth!" or, "That tosser swears by his teeth like they grow on trees!" This is where the phrase "lying through your teeth" originates from in Amn. The oath often refers to both the sight of the Small Teeth that is obvious and difficult to miss, thus implying something is clear or an undeniable truth, as well as to one's physical teeth - the implication of which in less savory circles puts them at stake should one be caught lying. Lack of teeth unsurprisingly is commonly seen as a sign of dishonesty in an individual. Similar to the "Speartop" alternative of Northern Amnians, this saying is a simple way of determining which part of Amn locals come from, though those close to the Small Teeth in Northern Amn are also known to refer to the Small Teeth.

"Knock on wood" - Common:- The phrase ‘to knock on wood’ is a common one in Amn, referring to the wood of a willow tree (which most Amnians fear and avoid out of superstition). It relates to the supposed secret-keeping capacity of the willow. Those with secrets to keep yet seeking relief or absolution would tell a willow, braving their ordinarily unwanted and feared presence, believing it’ll trap secrets in its wood. This is commonly attributed to supposed fey and spirits inhabiting trees, supposedly sustaining themselves on the secrets of mortals. Examples: "You'd best knock on wood afore your past devours you alive," or "You've been knocking on wood, haven't you? You look like a burden's been lifted from your shoulders."

Speartop - Common:- Mt. Speartop is the tallest mountain in the Cloud Peaks, and can easily be seen on clear days from Athkatla. It is such a stunning sight that it was part of daily life in the former capital of Athkatla, clear day or no; "I swear on Speartop" is a common oath among the lower classes of not only Athkatla, but all of Northern Amn. Similar to the "Teeth" alternative of Southern Amnians, this saying is a simple way of determining which part of Amn locals come from, though those close to the Small Teeth in Northern Amn are also known to refer to the Small Teeth.

"Imnel’s gambit" - Common:- The phrase (“Now tha’ is an Imnel’s gambit iffin I e’er saw one!”) comes from the Ogre Wars when Prince Imnel split his troops at the crossroads and sent troops West and South to surround and destroy the Small Teeth ogres at Imnel’s Scar (known as Imnescar in modern days before its destruction), unaware of their true numbers and the locations of potential concentrated defenses.

"Arbas take/mend ye!" - Common:- Feared and hated even to this day, Arbas “the Black Usurper” Torlath’s name is commonly used throughout Amn as a curse. Stories of him vary, enough to make the roots of this curse difficult to track down. This phrase essentially means "serves you right" or "you deserve it".

"Delosar’s Fingers!" - Common:- While little more than a crossroads of two caravan routes, Trademeet stands out as the Town of Merchant's Peace. All deals made in this town are honest, aboveboard, and fair. In the Year of Great Riches (920 DR), Waukeen is said to have appeared on Shieldmeet at highsun within the stone circle at Trademeet. She wandered the markets and saw only false deals, poor products, and lying merchants. Enraged, she turned the dishonest High Merchant's hands into gold and doled his fingers out to wronged parties (hence the Amnian curse of "Delosar's Fingers!").

"So, what's in your other books/clean books/true book" - Common:- These terms refer to a corrupt business practice in which embezzlers keep a second set of account books containing unaltered, actual figures. In conversation, such references can express astonishment and disbelief ("True book?" for "No kidding?"), derision ("Yeah, what's your clean book say?"), an accusation of lying ("Right. Now read from your other books, lest I lose my temper."), or a request for the truth ("Give me the true book!), depending on phrasing and tone. A grievous insult is to ask if one's true book is written in red ink.

Crimson/Red ink – Common:- Most commonly known as bad luck and an ill omen. Red ink is bad luck; crimson ink is the worst possible luck. "The ink couldn't get redder," is used to describe a situation where things could not be worse. Supposedly refers to ancient Amnian bloodshed and butchery that took place in a civil war, led by an erstwhile King of Amn, Arbas “the Black Usurper” Torlath. Amn was said to be his canvas, and his sword the quill. Example: "He lost his house and family to the fire... His life is written in red ink." or "That man's got crimson ink written all o'er his aura, I tell ya."

A lie spread often enough with money to attend it becomes as much truth as a coin is round” – Common:- an Amnian saying about purposely spreading rumours.

Book – Common:- Used with an adjective such as clean, other or true, to imply that someone is being dishonest. What is in your clean book? is a request for the truth, as are give me the true book and read from your other book. The terms refer to a corrupt business which keeps two copies of account books.

Buy – Common:- "Buy," like "sell," is influenced by a mercantile mindset; it indicates acceptance of a deal, explanation, or plan. Example: "Did you see his pale mug? The damn fool actually bought it, he actually thought the tale was real!" or "Did you buy that? I sure as shite don't, the plan's as feeble as a crippled hin!"

Dragon/Drake – Common:- To Amnians, a 'dragon' is a rich miser who spends money rarely but well. A 'dragon' is used for the elderly, and a 'drake' for the young. The roots of the phrase come from the many folk tales and legends of dragons hoarding treasure, though the usage of 'drake' derives from misunderstanding; draconic creatures that were distantly related to wyverns, once upon a time having been a more common sight. Though used with a modicum of respect, the term carries a subtle hint that the person isn't showing enough wealth to maintain his or her current status, and thus lacks spirit or is uncooperative. Example: "Ain't seen her move a single taran in favour of the poor. She's a bit of a drake, isn't she?" or "He spends like a dragon, just the other eve I caught him reluctantly hiring sellswords for his own hide, ruined his mood - I could tell!"

Finance – Common:- To gain something beyond one's monetary means or something undeserved.

Foreclose – Common:- One of the most overused words in Amn, "foreclose" can mean virtually anything, depending on its context. Generally it means to stop, rule out, take over, take from someone else, steal, or hijack, but it can also refer to killing. The now-dead deity Myrkul was once known in this country as the Black Forecloser, though never in jest. Example: "I'd love to foreclose that grinning miser."

Kobold – Common:- Often used to mean a miser who hoards money, spending little or none of it, though it is also used as a derogatory term implying stupidity. Example: "He could've been swimming in taran if he had taken the risk with his business, he truly has a kobold's heart." or "He thought the Council of Six would grant him a personal audience, what a damned kobold!"

Outbid – Common:- To beat or be more impressive.

Pearl – Common:- "I found the pearl!" or "Lost the pearl, did you?" Euphemisms for good and bad luck, respectively. Pearls are so strongly identified with luck in Amn that clerics of Tymora use coins and pearls (preferably black) as their goddesses' symbols; Tymoran clerics elsewhere regard this practice as bordering on heresy. Used to personify luck. A lucky gain can be called a delivery by pearl.

Sell – Common:- Sell is used instead of 'convince' or 'influence'. "Anyone can be sold," say Amnian merchants and politicians, whose words can be wrongly misinterpreted by foreigners as approving of slavery. Example: "Sold!" or "You mean to pummel that rake of a fool? You've sold me on your plans!"

Take delivery – Common:- To take delivery is to gain, receive, or acquire by skill or work. Gains by chance are delivered by pearl. Example: "He took delivery of the entire New Amn pottery trade and now thrives like never before."

"You're only as tall as your last deal" – Used to imply that a person in Amn can't coast on fame or notoriety for long. Loosely translated, it means: "What have you done for me lately?"

“About as bold as ditchweed” – Common:- an Amnian expression of disgust at cowardice.

Brawn – Common:- The polite term used in Amn and Waterdeep for cannon fodder..

Emptyheads – Common:- One of the less polite terms common in Sembia, Amn, Tethyr, and the Heartlands caravan routes for cannon fodder.

Serrus – Uncommon:- A term for "great general" in an ancient local Amnian dialect.

Western Heartlands – Common:- something of a catchall for a broad swath of land between Amn and the North, stretching from the Sword Coast to the Dragon Coast of the Inner Sea (its arbitrary borders are subject to debate).

Yarting – Common:- A guitar, growing in popularity through Faerūn after coming out of Amn and Calimshan sometime in the past forty or fifty years.

Social Status Aphorisms
These terms and slang expressions are typical of the speech used every day by Amnians speaking in Common. Chondathan is used when engaging in formal, polite business. Players with Amnian characters are free to develop similar expressions derived from phrases used in modern business (e.g., "let's do lunch" is used for "let's meet" or "let's attack"), as such terms accurately reflect a typical Amnian mindset and speech patterns.

The 'low' terms are often used in curses thrown at enemies; favorable terms are often used in reference to persons or items valued by the speaker. These terms can also be used in commentary on a person's status ("You were born steel, and that's the best you'll ever be!"), skills ("Your swordplay is as keen as mithral!"), or value to the speaker ("Your word is gold to me."). Strangely, an adamantine item is taken to be of less worth (in conversation only) than a mithral one, though the former is more valuable on the actual market. Adamantine items, however, are alloyed with steel, and mithral ones are usually pure metal, hence the distinction in speech.

Ore—(Bad) Lowest rank, worst quality, unrefined, filthy, criminal.

Bronze—(Poor) Working class; also, low-rank imposter posing as high, cheap alloy.

Copper—(Acceptable) Good worker, low but pure status, potential for business.

Steel—(Good) Highest rank for working class, used in reference to elite military units; reliable, tough (solid as steel).

Silver—(Very Good) Up-and-coming merchant or other individual, potential for greatness.

Gold—(Fine) Inherited money (or higher rank with little business sense).

Platinum—(Very Fine) Heads of mercantile houses and other notable figures of authority, consistently fine quality.

Adamantine—(Excellent) Self-made successes' highest rank, first-generation money at highest rank; alloy status implies that, despite wealth or success, it is not the best.

Mithral—(Exceptional) Highest quality and rank, untarnished, old money with great talent, pure and perfect.

Less Prevalent Aphorisms
These aphorisms are more universal throughout the Realms, employed by various nationalities and ethnic groups.

Newcoin – Common:- A pejorative that refers to those that are newly rich and spending to show it off.

Brightcoin – Common:- Used for the socially rising, it's usually a polite term.

Bright-fisted-coin – Common:- Refers to one who is ramming one's own success down the throats of others.

Thrusters – Common:-Tirelessly ambitious social climbers. No arrogance is necessarily implied; this term characterizes someone that will do anything to advance in standing.

Highmantle – Common:- is used for someone who is successfully superior or refined in manners, as in someone who is politely haughty, not sneeringly over-the-top offensively haughty.

Highnose – Common:- Describes anyone who displays a general haughtiness; also known as "nose-worthy".

Swirlcloaks – Common:- Those trying to copy the accents, phrases, fashions, gestures, and pastimes of the nobility.