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Colonel Hampton snorted contemptuously. Senile dementia! Well, he must have been senile and demented, to bring this pair of snakes into his home, because he felt an obligation to his dead brother's memory. And he'd willed "Greyrock," and his money, and everything, to Stephen. Only Myra couldn't wait till he died; she'd Lady-Macbethed her husband into this insanity accusation.

The above text is taken from the novel Dearest, by Henry Beam Piper. What does the phrase "Lady-Macbethed" means? Is it old usage, or do we also use this phrase in modern times?

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H. Beam Piper's writing is not what I'd call antiquated, just brilliant (and not so prevalent a lot of more recent sf.) –  livresque Feb 19 '13 at 20:35
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I think this is Too Localised. Lady Macbeth's role in "The Scottish Play" isn't part of English Language - it's just a piece of shared cultural knowledge among (reasonably) well-read Anglophones. But even someone who's never heard of Lady Macbeth can easily look it up on somewhere like Wikipedia; ELU isn't the place to address such cultural references. So it's also General Reference, or Off Topic Lit Crit, if you want to look at it that way. –  FumbleFingers Feb 19 '13 at 22:25
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Adding to what FumbleFingers says, I find it rather telling that the question is tagged "shakespeare", by the OP himself. With that in mind, I am not seeing much of a question here. –  RegDwigнt Feb 20 '13 at 1:22
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closed as off topic by FumbleFingers, MετάEd, tchrist, Kristina Lopez, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Feb 20 '13 at 19:15

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1 Answer

up vote 15 down vote accepted

She acted like Lady Macbeth did to Macbeth in Shakespeare's "Macbeth", goading and brow-beating him into a course of action he might otherwise have rejected as immoral, or not even considered.

Is it old usage, or do we also use this phrase in modern times?

Neither; the author is taking the well-known character, and turning her name into a verb to represent her actions in the play, and generalise it to similar actions by others. It's not a general usage.

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Should we boycott such devices? –  Edwin Ashworth Feb 19 '13 at 17:43
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One word: MacGyver'd –  JamesRyan Feb 19 '13 at 17:43
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@EdwinAshworth You've got a possible folk-etymology in there with device, though boycott is one of the more easily demonstrable cases. I recently saw a Facebook group that misspelled boycott three different ways and not once got it correct, which would have been a forgiveable enough mistake had their protest not been over the portray of something in 19th C Connacht! –  Jon Hanna Feb 19 '13 at 17:55
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Ah - beyond the Pale (and in the corridor of uncertainty). –  Edwin Ashworth Feb 19 '13 at 18:03
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@J.R. He's better known as a point of American modern cultural reference than otherwise. It's quite interesting that Quisling fulfills the same rôle in much of Europe, even where the history of the occupation of Norway is one of the least well-explored aspects of WWII history. Me, I'd like to use Pearse to mean "suicide mystic foolishly put in charge of a military action", but some consider that unpatriotic. –  Jon Hanna Feb 19 '13 at 20:01
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