10
votes
2answers
500 views

“Thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns"

“Thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns" What does this metaphor mean and what is the origin? I know it is an ancient one, but couldn't find anything else! Is it obsolete ...
8
votes
3answers
912 views

Meaning of “Where will wants not, a way opens”

I have been reading "The Lord of the Rings" and came across this phrase in the "The Return of the King". “Where will wants not, a way opens, so we say,” he whispered. “and so I have found myself.” ...
6
votes
2answers
160 views

What does “might” exactly mean in the following excerpt?

This is a excerpt from Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, and I want to know the exact meaning of might regarding the context. Some say by might we mean: being allowed to and some say it ...
3
votes
1answer
79 views

Is afeast or possibly affeast, afeest etc. a word?

My English (vai Liverpool)-Canadian mother used this word to mean 'disgusted by' or 'repulsed by.' Example: "he is afeast of mixed foods." meaning you think mixed foods are disgusting or inedible. I ...
12
votes
4answers
845 views

What is the origin of the word “conk”?

Is it obsolete to use this word? Where does it come from? I couldn't find the origin of this term. Can I use the phrase "The machine conked out" or should I replace conked out with something else?
3
votes
2answers
780 views

Meaning of “I would there were…”?

What is the meaning of "I would there were", as in this quote from Shakespeare's "A Winter's Tale"? I would there were no age between sixteen and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out ...
5
votes
1answer
236 views

Could “old fashioned” mean “angry” or “disconsolate” in early 19th Century England?

Patrick O'Brian wrote the Aubrey/Maturin seafaring novels during the late 20th Century, but the novels read as if they were written during the early 1800s (at least as far as I can tell, which isn't ...
4
votes
1answer
252 views

Outmoded word for “next Tuesday”

I am writing an email and wanted to refer to this coming Tuesday. The phrase "Tuesday est" popped into my mind (something Miss Marple might have said) but when I googled it I could find no reference. ...
5
votes
2answers
223 views

What is the meaning of “If the way Thou choosest, Lead to pain and loss”?

What is the meaning of "If the way Thou choosest, Lead to pain and loss"? How would you put it in modern English? It is a verse from Margaret E. Barber's song "The Path I Travel." The whole context ...
20
votes
5answers
1k views

King James Bible archaic style

I am currently reading the King James Version of the Bible and I have noticed some features that I would like to know more about. Almost every verse of the First Book of Moses starts with “and”. ...
4
votes
6answers
6k views

What does it mean to “beat one's breast”?

I'm reading The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and was wondering what was meant by the action of beating one's breast. eg. The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast, For he heard the loud ...
3
votes
2answers
7k views

What does the term 'divers places' mean?

In the King James Bible, Matthew 24:7 states: For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

“Would” with a present meaning—is this correct?

A great example I can think of: "Please, leave! I would be alone!" With would meaning something like, "I want to be alone." Is this correct, or not? EDIT: To further clarify, I am not aiming ...
7
votes
4answers
4k views

What does “pray” mean in phrases like “pray proceed”?

Is this an archaic form of "please proceed"? I have never heard in in speech but sometimes it appears in novels. My version of "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is full of it, apparently in place of ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Usage of “despair” in the phrase “being despaired of”

I am reading a 1892 novel, in which I see the sentence: For months my life was despaired of, and when at last I came to myself.... Is this an old use of the word "despair"? If the word "of" is ...