100% faithful: The Traitors unofficial glossary

Just when you think we’ve had enough of reality TV, the entertainment industry comes swooping in with a brand-new show that has millions of viewers in the palm of its hand. The Traitors is the latest offering, moving away from sun-drenched love affairs and jungle antics to a spooky castle. After huge popularity in the UK, it is now set to launch in the US.

But what is The Traitors? Described as the ‘Highland Hunger Games’, this psychological thriller of a gameshow is set in Scotland’s Ardross Castle, built as a hunting lodge in the late 1700s. Against this atmospheric backdrop, 22 strangers arrive for a chance to win a prize pot of £120,000. All they have to do is figure out which of the players are Traitors.

To help you get up to speed ahead of the US launch, we’ve created the unofficial Traitors glossary, from faithful and traitors to roundtables.


Example: ‘I’d like you meet our host, Alan Cumming.’

If you’ve ever read Agatha Christie or joined a murder mystery party, you’ll be familiar with the concept of a host. A host is the person at a party, dinner or event who invites the guests and provides the entertainment. Host comes from the Old French hoste, which itself comes from the Latin hospes, which can mean stranger, guest or host.

In the UK version of The Traitors, our illustrious host is Claudia Winkleman and in the US, Scottish actor Alan Cumming is set to rule the roost. In this game, the host is more than just a ceremonial figure. They are responsible for selecting the traitors. Each of the players are blindfolded and traitors are initiated with a secret tap on the shoulder, much like the primary school game ‘Heads down, thumbs up’. This gives the host ultimate power.


Example: ‘I promise you I’m 100% faithful.’

The word ‘faithful’ first appears in English around the mid-14th century. If you are faithful, you are considered to be true, honest and trustworthy. In The Traitors, everyone begins as a Faithful, somebody who is honest and works together with the other players to build and split the prize pot. The role of the Faithful is to identify and weed out the Traitors in the group before the end of the game. If they are successful, they get to walk away with the prize money.

The idea of faithfulness in modern day language is often tied to relationships, both romantic and platonic. The Traitors brings an interesting dynamic to the show by choosing to use the words Faithful and Traitors for their players, bringing a medieval sense of jeopardy to the show which is reflected in how each set of players are portrayed. More on that shortly…


Example: ‘I can’t believe Amanda was a Traitor!

So, what about Traitors? Giving the show its name and the most villainous of all, according to Twitter fans, the Traitors are chosen by the host. Traitor carries strong connotations in the English language, given the number of people executed over the centuries for betraying their monarch, their country, or even their religion. History’s most infamous traitors include Judas Iscariot, Guy Fawkes, and Roman conspirators Cassius and Brutus.

The Traitors in the show have a conspiratorial air around them, donning hooded cloaks and skulking around firepits like true medieval plotters. The Traitors does a wonderful job of evoking the past to make things even more atmospheric. If the Faithful are not able to identify and banish the Traitors among them, they’re at risk of being ‘murdered’ or losing all of the money at the end of the game. High stakes indeed.  

Round Table

Example: ‘I’m not sure who to vote for at the Round Table tonight.’

In English legend, the Round Table belonged to King Arthur, the mythical and much-admired King of Britain. His Round Table was a famed meeting place for Arthur and his famous knights. Due to its lack of head, it gave each knight equal status in decision-making and discussion, and the Round Table is closely associated with chivalry and democracy.

In The Traitors, everyone comes together each evening to figure out who should be banished. The Round Tables are particularly tense, as each player passionately discusses who they think is most likely to be a Traitor. Once the Round Table discussion comes to an end, each player votes privately. The person who receives the most votes is eliminated from the game and must reveal whether they were Faithful or a Traitor. Faithfuls have been banished for talking too much, not talking enough, or just getting on other people’s nerves.


Example: ‘I vote to banish Alyssa.’

In the 15thcentury, if you were banished, you would be condemned to leave the country and never return. It was considered an official decree by many courts of justice, and often used as a punishment for unruly subjects or particularly troublesome aristocrats. Banish comes from the Old French banir, which means to announce, proclaim or forbid an outlaw.

In The Traitors, it’s slightly less dramatic. You might not be going home with the prize money, but you can actually go home. If a player is banished at a Round Table by the other players, they are eliminated from the game and kicked out of the castle. The problem with banishment in The Traitors is if you accidentally banish the wrong person. If you do manage to banish a Traitor, the remaining Traitors have the ability to approach a remaining Faithful and try to tempt them over to the dark side.


Example: ‘Claire was murdered last night.’

Cosy crime is all the rage in the literary world, and it turns out, we like it on reality TV as well (under the right circumstances). Murder is defined as the deliberate and illegal killing of a person. In The Traitors, a murder is an opportunity for the Traitors to get revenge.

Most evenings, the remaining Traitors meet in secret and are able to choose one Faithful to ‘murder’. If you are murdered, you must immediately leave the game. The Traitors must choose one person together and once this is done, the chosen Faithful receives a death warrant. Murders are sudden and shocking, as the rest of the Faithful won’t know who has been murdered until they fail to show up at breakfast the next day.


Example: ‘That mission was really tough.’

Just when you think The Traitors couldn’t get juicier, both sides must come together to complete Missions. The word mission originated in the late 16thcentury and was associated with religious missions, where the faithful would travel in an attempt to convert people to their religion. Over time, it was more commonly used in the diplomatic sense, that is, a journey undertaken by a person or multiple people for political or commercial reasons.

In  The Traitors, the players work together in a series of challenges and tasks for the opportunity to earn money for the prize fund. Think I’m A Celebrity style challenges, but with fewer bug boxes and mysterious items to eat. Previous missions have included a wicker man, bell ringing, sheep herding and Indiana Jones-esque artefact stealing. Successful completion of Missions gives players the chance to visit the Armoury, where one player can be awarded ‘the Shield’, granting them immunity from murders.

Share your favourite Traitors words and moments with us on Twitter @CollinsDict.

By Rachel Quin
Rachel Quin is a freelance marketer and copywriter with a love of language, books and cats.

All opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Collins, or its parent company, HarperCollins.

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