Archaic or obsolete vocabulary and grammar.

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39
votes
7answers
11k views

Why use “of” in the phrase “delivered of a baby”?

With all the "Royal baby" craze comes something that really confuses me. All the news media used pretty much the same sentence to make the announcement: The Duchess of Cambridge has been ...
2
votes
1answer
215 views

The phrase - “I remain sceptical” vs “I continue to remain sceptical”

During a parent meeting , I heard a teacher say : I remain sceptical (on the progress of the child). and the parent questioning him- Why do you continue to remain sceptical? ...
0
votes
1answer
110 views

How is this sentence to be interpreted?

One thing that bothers me - a lot - reading older English texts, is the apparent tendency of writers to write what appear to me to be sentence fragments. For instance, today I found this old "map": ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

What do “orange” and “spindle-shanked beaux” mean in this quote?

While looking up the word "bye" I found this 18th century quotation. Our present race of spindle-shanked beaux had rather close with an orange wench at the playhouse, than engage in a bye battle ...
10
votes
8answers
4k views

Is there a similar word to 'twain' but meaning 'three' instead of 'two'?

I would like to split something into three parts, is there a phrase I can use with similar overtones to "cleave in twain"?
7
votes
5answers
48k views

“Much obliged” — Old-fashioned? Polite? Pedantic?

I've heard someone say "Much obliged!" a couple of times, instead of the usual "Thank you!". A common phrase in Portuguese ("Muito Obrigado") and maybe other languages, but certainly unusual in ...
2
votes
1answer
101 views

fare thee well - grammar

Why is this sentence using 'thee' (which is, afaik the oblique case) and not 'thou'? The second person singular -in this case- should be the subject, i thought. The subject is the one doing the ...
0
votes
2answers
205 views

Is “quoteth” equivalent to “quoth”?

Could any given usage of "quoth" be replaced by "quoteth" (and vice versa)? Is quoteth simply its archaic form, or is there a difference?
2
votes
1answer
225 views

Writing in King James archaic language [closed]

I'm currently working on an English project and I have chosen to rewrite a story (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad) in a biblical, King James style. I have done a large amount of reading but I do ...
0
votes
1answer
310 views

What is this letter/symbol called?

I found it in an old dictionary and I'm not sure what it means. It looks like the number "3", but the top of the three has been flattened(and slightly curved). I've only seen this in three or four ...
4
votes
2answers
8k views

What is a “hens party” and where is this phrase commonly used?

Where does the term come from, where in the world is the term used? I came across the usage in this article, with this paragraph as quoted: Keara O'Neil was on a shopping trip to find bridesmaid ...
3
votes
1answer
151 views

A quote by Disraeli, can you interpret and explain its meaning?

"Talk to women, talk to women as much as you can. This is the best school. This is the way to gain fluency, because you need not care what you say, and had better not be sensible. They, too, will ...
2
votes
1answer
412 views

Using pray instead of please in a sentence - Why? When? [closed]

I hear (mostly from people in the Humanities department) sentences that use pray instead of the word please: "Pray tell me, when will you be back?" Assuming that I haven't made any mistakes in the ...
12
votes
4answers
4k 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?
1
vote
2answers
371 views

Meaning of “sensorily”

As a non-native English speaker, I am having a hard time understanding what the author means by sensorily austere here. The quote is taken from Man in the landscape, by Paul Shepard. The desert is ...
0
votes
2answers
84 views

Use of “Yet” in Context of Older Writings

I've been trying to figure out archaic English grammar for a number of uses - an English assignment and an RPG, specifically - and have run into a bit of a speed bump. I am honestly stumped regarding ...
1
vote
2answers
96 views

What does it mean to have “whipped top”? (Shakespeare/archaic usage)

e.g. in the Merry Wives of Windsor, Act V, Scene 1: Since I plucked geese, played truant, and whipped top, I knew not what it was to be beaten till lately. I assume it's some form of game or ...
2
votes
2answers
324 views

What is the meaning of “40 leagues and 2”?

League is a widely found but rarely used unit of measurement, measuring roughly "one hour's hike" in many definitions. It tends to mean around 3 miles, or 5 km, in English use. Tolkien often wrote ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

What's a modern equivalent of “fie on thee”?

Is there a modern equivalent to the archaic expression "fie on thee"? I'm aware of expressions such as "damn you" and the like, but I'm looking for something less strong.
1
vote
3answers
1k views

Antonym/Opposite of “on the morrow”

If my birthday is on the 15th August and I tidy up on August 16th I can say: "I threw a huge party and tidied up on the morrow.". But if I prepared for the party on August 12th then what do I say? "I ...
-1
votes
2answers
191 views

Using conjunction “while” as an archaic prepositonal form for “until”

In my Penguin English Dictionary, I've encountered the word while marked as an archaic form for the preposition until. Furthermore, according to my online research, Oxford Dictionary states that it is ...
0
votes
1answer
144 views

What does “not perhaps” mean?

What exactly does "not perhaps" mean? I encountered it in Smith's The Wealth of Nations In Chapter I. Of The Division Of Labour: The effects of the division of labour, in the general business of ...
9
votes
5answers
9k 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
2k views

Best synonyms for “expanding / enlarging the Knowledge / Science / Wisdom” [closed]

I'm trying to invent the inscription to joke "certificates" which I'm going to send to some users of my site. Currently I come to: By this we, brethren of CodeAbbey, solemnly and unanimously ...
1
vote
1answer
195 views

Which versions of historical English are mutually intelligible?

English has changed tremendously from Old English to Modern English. Which intermediate versions are considered to be mutually intelligible? For that matter, what about asymmetrical intelligible?
5
votes
1answer
338 views

The use of “la”?

I have read many a novel set in the Regency period where la is used in conversations. La, Susan, don't be so bothersome What is its purpose and correct use? Thank you for your insights.
1
vote
2answers
506 views

Single-word “mirror” synonyms

I was looking for the synonyms of the noun mirror: A surface capable of reflecting sufficient undiffused light to form an image of an object placed in front of it. The majority of the synonyms ...
5
votes
9answers
6k views

Derogatory word or term for a peasant/lower class [closed]

What is a derogatory word or term for a peasant/lower-class person that is stronger or more insulting than pleb? It could be an archaic term used by nobles during the Middle Ages.
8
votes
3answers
1k views

What part of speech is “methinks”?

Dictionaries call this word a verb, but it doesn't seem to behave like any other verb in the English language. Another question on this site calls it a “conjoined pronoun-verb combination”, which ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

Exsanguination or Desanguination?

My wife was working on her lines for a play (Dracula) set in the early 1900s and one line caught my eye. It referred to the desanguination of the vampire’s victims. I’d always heard the term as ...
0
votes
1answer
372 views

Be it that,were to, and should - what were the differences between these conditionals?

Be it that John ask me, I shall answer him. Should John ask me, I will (or should? or would?) answer him. Were John to ask me, I would answer him. When writers used the foregoing ...
1
vote
1answer
436 views

“Tear(drop)” synonyms

I've been looking for the synonyms (especially poetic ones) referring to the nouns "tear" and "tear-drop". Unfortunately, there wasn't much for me to find. I've found two, poetic ones - "brine" and ...
1
vote
2answers
112 views

“Rejoice to hear it”

I came across the sentence, "I rejoice to hear it," and wasn't exactly sure how to read it. So I looked up "rejoice to hear," and found it again in a poem by Isaac Watts: How did my heart rejoice ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Why is the Elizabethan English incorrect in this quote?

I saw a Geico commercial with Elizabethan verb forms that bothered me because they were being misused: Trick Number 1. Lookest over there! Servant looks Haha! Madest thou look! So endest the ...
2
votes
1answer
224 views

Are “traditional comparisons” still in use?

When I was a student - and that was more years ago than I care to count - I learned quite a few idiomatic/traditional comparisons. Howver, I've never heard anyone use them ever since. I suppose they ...
0
votes
6answers
618 views

What is an archaic synonym for “teacher”?

What is an archaic synonym for "teacher"? I'm looking for an archaic, if possible Early Modern English word for the person teaching in pre-university schools (i. e. High School).
20
votes
5answers
31k views

Is “from whence” correct? Or should it be “whence”?

I just saw a parody on the Lord of the Rings, where one of the characters says: it must be cast back in the fire from whence it came! This struck me as odd, since I expected them to say "whence ...
2
votes
3answers
649 views

Noun-adjective reversal - was it ever in use in plain speech?

In some more or less archaic texts I found the order of noun and its adjective reversed at times, like: I traveled through nights starless, and roads unmapped. I wonder, is it a stylistic tool ...
1
vote
1answer
450 views

Shall, third person singular, archaic form

The second person of will and shall are wilt and shalt in the archaic form. The third person singular suffix is -eth, so we get willeth but what about shall? Thank you for your answers!
2
votes
3answers
722 views

Archaic conjugation of imperative verbs [duplicate]

I'm trying to learn the archaic conjugation (for fun) and I wonder if the imperative verbs in the archaic form can be conjugated with -est for the second person singular (ex: Eatest thy vegetables). ...
2
votes
2answers
496 views

“recce” — the reck which a reckless is lacking

While thinking about good antonyms for reckless, I noticed there’s no reckful nor any reck in English, for that matter. So, what would that reck be? Etymonline offers the following scrap: rece, ...
0
votes
0answers
37 views

once, twice, thrice… was there more? [duplicate]

I realize everyone uses 'four times', 'five times'... in case of denoting something repeating more than three times. Even 'thrice' is currently gradually going extinct. But did English ever possess ...
5
votes
1answer
203 views

Uncertain whether pirate talk be authentically or mockingly archaic

@ZhanlongZheng asked the following question on ELL: Barbosa: I defended her mightily enough, but she be sunk nonetheless. Jack Sparrow: If that ship be sunk properly, you should be ...
4
votes
4answers
825 views

Is there an old, rarely used word which means “an archaic word”?

I seem to recall from my youth, when my vocabulary was many times what it is today, learning a word (started with an 'a' I think) whose meaning was "an old, unused, or archaic word" or something ...
-3
votes
1answer
1k views

It's funny that you should say that. Why “say” not “said”?

There's an exercise in Murphy's Grammar in use unit 34. "It's funny that you should say that. I was going to say the same thing." Why not use past tense "said" but "say" here? Another should ...
19
votes
4answers
20k views

What happened to the “‑est” and “‑eth” verb suffixes in English?

What happened to them, and how were they once used? Straining my mind to sound archaic, I came up with the following: Dost thou thinkest thou can escape thy sins? and Bringeth me mine armor ...
-1
votes
1answer
99 views

Uses of “to scathe”

Would “We took down the foreyard and commenced to scathe it” make sense to a sailor?
8
votes
1answer
756 views

17th Century affectionate term for Mother

I'm writing a ghost story, and (in an admittedly well worn trope) a child ghost is looking for its mother; but how would a 17th century child affectionately refer to its mother? In short, what would ...
0
votes
1answer
853 views

Whereof, wherein, wherefrom, whereupon, whereby, wherewith, wherefore in a contemporary article?

I am publishing an article (research) and I am wondering whether theses words, albeit far more beautiful than their equivalent using which, can still be employed even though the OED described them as ...
-1
votes
3answers
170 views

Single word for “from then” or “from it” [closed]

I would like to use the archaic expression (from the family of hence, whereby etc.) to refine the sentence: "..the weights introduced in Exercise 2 and determined from it/from there" meaning the ...