Modern English was used from the late 15th century to the mid to late 17th century.

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“That heresies should arise, we have the prophesie of Christ…”

That heresies should arise, we have the prophesie of Christ; but that old ones should be abolished, we hold no prediction. This is a quote from Religio Medici (1643) by Thomas Browne. It's quoted ...
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What is the grammatical designation of “that” in “…that she may have…”?

The following sentence is the Modern English translation of a line from the Old English poem Judith: He (God) advanced a gracious favour to her, that she may have a steadfast faith. My question ...
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Word to describe the structure that holds/stores a shield (and possibly other weapons)

I am looking for a word that would used to describe either many shields, or a structure that would be used to carry them in storage. If I look at this medieval photo, there is a wooden structure on ...
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Early Modern English Dictionary API [migrated]

I am building a web application that allows users to transcribe, word by word, Early Modern English manuscripts. I want to tell users when a word they transcribed may be a new spelling variant of ...
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Odd possessive form of a proper name: Why does Dryden write “Lord Nonsuch his” instead of “Lord Nonsuch’s” but “Bibber’s” instead of “Bibber his”?

While researching a question posed on EL&U, I came across this list of the characters in John Dryden’s The Wild Gallant (1663), from a 1735 collection of Dryden’s works: DRAMATIS PERSONAE. ...
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Was the “Ye Olde Shoppe” ever used or is it just an ancient-looking construct of modern times?

Surely, if I were the owner of a shop selling archery goods and wanted to portray my shop as some kind of old-fashioned, high-quality traditional outlet, I might be tempted to call it “Ye Olde Archery ...
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3answers
84 views

“Up with the… ” (complete the saying for waking up early) [closed]

If you wake up early, what is the saying for this? Beginning with the words: "Up with the..."
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3answers
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What animal is a “weefil”?

What animal is depicted in this image labelled “weefil”?
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Recent grammar additions

A lot of questions have been dedicated to how evolution of English got many constructs of the old either fall out of use, merge, or evolve into different forms but still with 1:1 relation to original. ...
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What does the word 'Joll' mean in 18th century English?

What does joll mean in the following sentence? ... give him the upper or right hand, and walk not just even with him cheek be joll, but a little behind him, yet not so distant as that it shall be ...
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1answer
180 views

Is English considered easier to learn than most of the other languages in the world? [closed]

In comparison to the other languages, I think English is much more simpler. For example, compared to French, English nouns have no gender, adjectives have only one form and verbs have extremely simple ...
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Early Modern English second person present tense when verb ends with st

In EModE you normally would add -st or -est to verbs to conjugate them to the second person singular indicative tense (past and present), but what do you do for verbs that already end in -st or -est? ...
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“I must to England” in Hamlet: What does “must” mean without an infinitive?

What did "must" mean when used as a non-modal verb (sorry, I don't know the technical term) in Early Modern English? For example: I must to England; you know that? (Hamlet, Act III, Scene IV) ...
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3answers
175 views

Where can I find a modern English version of King James’s “Counterblaste to Tobacco”?

I find A Counterblaste to Tobacco by James I very interesting. Many people are under the impression that anti-tobacco sentiment began in the last century, and this document pretty thoroughly refutes ...
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465 views

Explanation of a sentence in “Adam lay ybounden”

In the carol "Adam lay ybounden", there's a line that goes: As clerkes finden, written in their book Is "finden" the infinitive form of "find"? I thought it should be "found" or maybe "would ...
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5answers
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Capitalisation of nouns in English in the 17th and 18th centuries

It seems to have been common practice in the 17th and 18th centuries in Britain to capitalise the first letters of nouns in English, e.g. At which Time he prov'd himself the Noah's Dove, that ...
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5answers
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No direct object in 'give thee faithfully to follow' ? (1670 UK, Isaac Penington)

Source: Para 5, Isaac Penington to Widow Hemmings (1670), by Isaac Penington If the Lord would show thee but this one thing, -- that to use "thee" and "thou" to a particular person is proper ...
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4answers
267 views

What would be the modern equivalent for “a curtain lecture”?

I chanced on this expression while reading a book by David Crystal. In a chapter dedicated to words that have disappeared from the English language, he mentions this gem in Samuel Johnson's ...
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2answers
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What's the subject of 'mind not so much to know' ? (1670 UK, Isaac Penington) [duplicate]

Source: Para 5, Isaac Penington to Widow Hemmings (1670), by Isaac Penington The Lord so guide thee, manifest himself to thee, help thee, and lead thee by his Holy Spirit and power, as that thou ...
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1answer
110 views

What is the early modern equivalent of ' I think ' [closed]

Would the term 'I think' be used in this era? I'm looking at translation for a piece of art, I'm wanting to translate flippant/meaningless language from today (things people say drunk, tweets etc.) ...
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1answer
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Differences between servant, maid, page, and attendant [closed]

In an airplane, the lady attending you is known as the attendant, besides sometimes being called a stewardess or air hostess. What does she do? Just serve you. Then what is that my maid does? ...
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3answers
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Figurative meaning of 'suit' - 1615 UK?

Source: p 105, The Law of Contract, 5 ed (2012), by O’Sullivan and Hilliard It is encapsulated in the difficult seventeenth-century language of Lampleigh v Braithwait (1615): A mere ...
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4answers
324 views

Why did the KJV use “thou” toward God?

The word "thou" (and similar variations of the Latin tu in other languages) was used between people for informal speech, and talking to people of lower standing. So why did people use it (most ...
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What does Abigail Adams mean by 'Score of misfortune' (1778 November, US)?

Original Source. Google Source: p 168, The Portable John Adams, by John Adams AA to JA [Braintree, 12-23 November 1778] I have taken up my pen again to relieve the anxiety of a Heart too ...
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1answer
68 views

Grammaticality - 'what care I then for the Ridicule' (1778 November, US)

Original Source. Google Source: p 169, The Portable John Adams, by John Adams AA to JA [Braintree, 12-23 November 1778] In vain do I strive to through of [throw off] in the company of my ...
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1answer
35 views

Which does 'your affection in the least diminished by…' mean? (1778 November, US)

Original Source. Source: p 168, The Portable John Adams, by John Adams AA to JA [Braintree, 12-23 November 1778] 1 cannot charge myself with any deficiency in this perticular as I have ...
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1answer
29 views

Why did Abigail Adams write 'all' twice? (1778 November, US)

Original Source. Source: pp 168-169, The Portable John Adams, by John Adams AA to JA [Braintree, 12-23 November 1778] I will not finish the sentence, my Heart denies the justice of the ...
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2answers
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When did Indo-European descendants stop speaking Old English? What were the influencing factors in the shift from Old English to Modern English? [closed]

There is Old English, and there is the English we speak now. When did exactly did the British (or Americans) change from speaking Old English to speaking the current form of English?
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Archaic meaning of 'procure' - 1615 UK

Source: p 105, The Law of Contract, 5 ed (2012), by O’Sullivan and Hilliard It is encapsulated in the difficult seventeenth-century language of Lampleigh v Braithwait (1615): A mere ...
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Does “'tis” means “this is” or “it is”?

I have found much trouble identifying the old word 'tis. Does it mean "this is" or "it is?" I have done some research and found that the dictionaries conflict. One said 'tis :An old English word ...
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What is the grammatical construction in “Be but sworn”?

I have found several questions asking for the meaning, but the thing that troubles me here is the grammar actually and i haven't found anything on that. In Shakespeare's sentence "Deny thy father ...
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How was “ben't” used, and when did it cease to be used?

In Jane Austen's The Watsons, the maid of the titular family utters the following sentence: "Please, ma'am, master wants to know why he ben't to have his dinner?" I have never encountered ben't ...
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1answer
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Are the following old English examples grammatically correct? [closed]

I have a question about two sentences I use. I would like to know if they are grammatically correct. I'm not particularly interested in hearing that they are old fashioned, out of date, or awkard. ...
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1answer
35 views

Is there a difference between 18thC 'pressing' and 20thC 'conscription'?

In Patrick O'Brians epic Albury-Maturin series, they describe the men on the ship as being "pressed from their chosen profession". My question is: Is there a difference between 18thC 'pressing' and ...
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News lacks plural but what about TIDINGS?

News is used only in the singular (being one of the uncountable nouns). There is an old-fashioned word meaning pretty much the same - tidings, so my question is: Is this expression used only in ...
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Etymology of “Sort”

Did the English word sort originate from the French word sort? e.g., sortie. Whereas, in French its meaning derives to out, exit, going out. How did it end up in English to mean category, ...
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1answer
168 views

Help with older English couplet

I was translating a text, but then the author quoted an old poem by an author named John Ball. I have seen it written in two different forms: "Be war or ye be wo; Knoweth your frend from your foo" ...
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English Typography in the 17th Century

I was browsing through some very old English texts when I came across this page from The memoires of Sir James Melvil of Hal-hill, by George Scot (1683). The first thing that struck me was the anatomy ...
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1610 Meaning of 'occasion'

Source: Journals of the House of Lords (1610) That whereas the House of Commons have already, among their Grievances, preferred a Petition to His Majesty, as of Right and Justice, That the Four ...
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Meaning of Early Modern English “iuie”

I found this phrase in Featherstone's Dedication at the front of an English translation of the Commentary on John by John Calvin: It is an old saying, (Right Honorable,) and no lesse true then ...
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“If a man write a better book, preach a better sermon…”

There is an old quotation attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson: If a man write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mouse-trap than his neighbour, tho' he build his house in the ...
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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 ...
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What does “thy” mean?

I read a sentence containing the word thy, but I cannot find the meaning of that word. Is it older English, or is it still used in contemporary English today?
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1607 writ by Edward Coke - Relative pronouns? [duplicate]

(Sir Edward) Coke further noted that legal disputes about such matters as inheritance of goods: are not to be decided by natural reason but by the artificial reason and judgment of ...
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Modern English to Early Modern English [closed]

What will be a proper translation from modern english to Shakespearean english of this line: The Demon I have faced, is the Demon I have become.
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Meaning - Conversation

(Source) And now Nineteen persons having been hang'd, and one prest to death, and Eight more condemned, in all Twenty and Eight, of which above a third part were Members of some of the Churches of ...
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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 ...
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Why did the personal pronoun “you” “survive” and not the others?

I was just wondering, since we started talking about the Early Modern English Period, for England the period of Renaissance, Shakespeare .... There were four cases in EMEnglish, thou (Subject case) ...
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What were nightmares called before “nightmare” was used in that sense?

Apparently the word "nightmare" has only been used in the sense of "bad dream" since c. 1829. Before then the term referred to the agent causing the dreams—a mare < mera, mære 'goblin, ...
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Pronunciation of “zounds?”

I came across the sentence "Fortunately their are a variety of different offerings out there with zounds of features." Disregarding the misuse of "zounds," how would Elizabeth I have pronounced the ...