Vocabulary in Miss Brill

Vocabulary Examples in Miss Brill:

Miss Brill 3

"the ermine toque..."   (Miss Brill)

An ermine toque is a type of fur hat, and in this instance it is also being used to identify the woman that Miss Brill encounters. Using this article of clothing to identify a character illustrates Miss Brill’s impulse to consider clothing as an adequate indicator of societal status. This tendency is exemplified in her comparison of the hat to the woman’s hair—both of which have faded or gone “shabby.”

"a fried whiting..."   (Miss Brill)

A whiting fish is a common and unremarkable fish that is commonly served fried. The girl uses this comparison to quickly describe and then dismiss Miss Brill. The girl's statement suggests that Miss Brill is also commonplace, unremarkable, and, therefore, undesirable. She blends into society, and no one would miss her if she weren’t there.

"ma petite chere..."   (Miss Brill)

ma petite chère [French]—"my little dear"
This is a French term of endearment in that can generally be used between loved ones. The boy uses it here to try and return his conversation with the girl back to romantic topics and away from Miss Brill.