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

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What does 'measuring cast' mean? (1660, UK)

Source: 'Things Necessary to be Continually had in Remembrance', by Sir Matthew Hale (1609-1676) If in criminals it be a measuring cast, to incline to mercy and acquittal. How do you ...
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“As I am wo/man” in Twelfth Night, II, 2 (Shakespeare): a case of indefinite article omission or no?

Are "As I am man" and "As I am woman" in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, II, 2 examples of indefinite article omission or not? This question is (e)specially directed towards those familiar with ...
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246 views

Early Modern English second person present tense when verb ends with ‑st

In Early Modern English 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 ...
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30 views

Ridpath's Boethius translation

I don't know if this is the right place to ask, but I'll do it anyway. I am a student from Austria and one of our professors has given us a task which seems rather demanding. He wants us to analyze ...
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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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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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62 views

Why did final -ie become so popular during early Modern English?

A hallmark of Early Modern English is that it exhibits a lot of variance between the use of final -y and -ie. In the 16th century -ie is even found in Old English words, eg stonie. And Mulcaster in ...
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What does “ioyning” mean?

From Butter’s news serial, 2nd August, 1622: The certaine Newes of this preſent Weeke. BROVGHT BY SVNDRY Poſts from ſeuerall places, but chiefly the progreſſe and arriuall of ...
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134 views

Earlier in the day meaning? [closed]

Today ,while reading news paper I came across the sentence "she had gone shopping earlier in the day " ....what does it mean ......? My conjecture "yesterday ?
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Which was the first dictionary and how was it decided which words went into it?

I've heard the riddle: "If Websters' was the first dictionary where did he get all the words from?" It has quite since intrigued me, honestly. Which was the first English language dictionary and how ...
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Roger Ascham his language

As I was finishing Ascham's "Toxophilus" I've stumbled over this phrase, the meaning of which remained unclear to me: "An other wil stand poyntinge his shafte at the marke a good whyle and by and by ...
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39 views

Is there a resource for viewing all the languages?

Maybe this is the wrong website, but is there a link to see all the languages (current and past)?
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3k views

Thank thou or Thank thee

How would Shakespeare have said "Thank you"? Can't decide if it is thee or thou, since it isn't really a sentence.
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110 views

How did you know when to say “thing haveth or something”? [duplicate]

I have been watching Hocus Pocus and wondered how people in the 1800s knew when to add eth on the end of words.
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73 views

A word or term for driver /car taking no passengers

I need a term or a single word in traditional English or modern English which specifies "a car which has nothing but the driver & empty seats" Please help.
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93 views

Childhood, English(England) rhymes are so disappointing,why? [closed]

When I was a kid, I was taught these poems: Georgie porgie Humpty Dumpty I know Humpty Dumpty was actually a canon, but still it was taught as Egg twins. So only take it on context of rhyme. Piggy ...
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What governed present subjunctive uses in archaic English?

Source, para 4 : p 2 of 2, 'Against YA', by Ruth Graham, slate.com Fellow grown-ups, at the risk of sounding snobbish and joyless and old, we are better than this. I know, I know: Live and let ...
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104 views

18th century phrase, the “Great End”

In the grant for the Philips Academy there is language which I find difficult to ascertain the real meaning. From the bottom of page 463 here ...to lay the foundation of a free public School or ...
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55 views

What does “gages and safety pledges” mean in Henry VIII era English?

What does gages and safety pledges mean in this old passage, and when is the Octave of St. Michael? The King to the Sheriff of Notthinghamshire: greeting. If John Smith shall make you secure to ...
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Archaic English new words: from a Nigerian [closed]

A Nigerian Governor was being interviewed by a local Television station. He was speaking of the political situation of Rivers state in Nigeria. Nigeria is an English speaking country because it was a ...
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Principles in the use of letters 'b', 'u' and 'v' in Early Modern English typography

I have been reading a medical book by one late surgeon Thomas Gale. I was wondering the following mix-up of letters 'u','v' and 'b'. This states: "to have the cure of". Letter 'u' is used in the ...
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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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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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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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135 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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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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464 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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893 views

“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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260 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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634 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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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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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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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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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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170 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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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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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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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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48 views

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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72 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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48 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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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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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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650 views

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 ...