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

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What animal is a “weefil”?

What animal is depicted in this image labelled “weefil”?
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How do you conjugate Early Modern English verbs (other than present tense)?

I was wondering how one might conjugate verbs in early modern English in various tenses. I am aware of the fact that for second person and third person singular specifically, the verb endings are -est ...
21
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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 ...
21
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1answer
15k views

How obsolete is the word “overmorrow”?

I stumbled over the word overmorrow and wanted to know whether it is in use. So I used Googles Ngram Viewer and wondered why it has not found a single reference. Was overmorrow only used one time in ...
19
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3answers
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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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7answers
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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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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 ...
14
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4answers
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Difference between Thee and thou?

What is the difference between thee and thou and how are they used?
12
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4answers
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Shouldn’t “art” be “is” in “Our Father who art in heaven”?

The Lord’s Prayer begins in English: Our Father who art in heaven,hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Shouldn’t it be who is there, not who art? ...
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How and why have some words changed to a complete opposite?

One example that comes to mind is terrific which originally denoted something quite terrorising while now it has positive connotations... How and why did these changes occur?
11
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4answers
396 views

During what period of history did English use “ß”, the “sharp s” ligature?

The ß glyph is a lowercase letter than represents a ligature between a long s and a round s, and is still used today in (some versions of) German. Its uppercase equivalent is two characters instead ...
10
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5answers
361 views

“Cut their hawsers”

I'm annotating a late 16th or early 17th century English play for publication, and I'm having trouble making sense of a certain incident that takes place. I'm hoping someone familiar with Elizabethan ...
10
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2answers
602 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) ...
9
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1answer
761 views

Rhyming conventions of Early Modern English

I was reading the poem "To His Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell when something struck me as odd. Let me quote two passages: Thou by the Indian Ganges' side Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide ...
9
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2answers
362 views

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 ...
8
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1answer
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Word contractions in Shakespeare's plays

In Shakespeare's plays it is common to find contracted words, such as "o'er", "e'en", "sulph'uous", "ta'en". Is it just a literary device or those words were actually pronounced (in day-to-day speech) ...
8
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3answers
459 views

-est vs. -st verb endings in Early Modern English

I've been Googling for a little while tonight, but I can't seem to find any rules on this. Irregular ("strong") verbs seem to be pretty set in their endings: goest, dost. But when I get to something ...
8
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1answer
516 views

Capital Letters from 1700 [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Capitalisation of nouns in English (historically) After reading a recipe from 1747, I noticed that all of the nouns are capitalized. Is that a normal thing for that era? ...
7
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2answers
416 views

Why did the old pronouns and their respective endings vanish from daily usage?

If I’m not wrong, the verb conjugation in the past used to be: I have we have thou hast ye have he/she/it hath they have This conjugation is closer to its equivalent in the ...
6
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2answers
177 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 ...
6
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3answers
781 views

Is it ever effective to use modern and archaic grammar together?

A manuscript I'm currently editing has brought up a new (to me) problem - There's a character who speaks in archaic forms ("thee" and "thou", essentially). I've noted to the writer that this is coming ...
5
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5answers
988 views

Differences between dialects

I'm Italian and I'm trying to improve my English, but I have some difficulty speaking with and understanding people of different countries. For example when I study English in books it seems to be ...
5
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3answers
708 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
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2answers
641 views

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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2answers
637 views

Where is the root morpheme in Modern English abortion?

The question is not so easy as it seems. Let's analyze some derivatives: abortion, abortive, abortiveness, abortionist. The analysis of derivational suffixes (-ion, -ive, ive+ness etc.) helps to ...
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3answers
401 views

Middle English or Elizabethan English as a second language? [closed]

Are there books, web sites, or language courses designed for English speakers who want to learn Middle English or Elizabethan English in the same way that they would learn a foreign language? It would ...
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2answers
132 views

What did James V mean by “afferandly”?

In this letter from 1536, King James V of Scotland wrote in 1536: Veilbelouit frend, we grete yow. Forsamekill as we ar of pourpas to pas to Kelso, and to vesy owr Bordouris for ordoneng of ...
3
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3answers
666 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 ...
3
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4answers
951 views

Meaning of “owedst”

...Not poppy, nor mandragora, Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world, Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep Which thou owedst yesterday. — Shakespeare, Othello III.iii I ...
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5answers
506 views

Archaic text suggestions

I'm interested in learning Archaic English. As a starting point, I guess simple texts that are easy to comprehend would be a good choice. I would appreciate any suggestions.
3
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2answers
921 views

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 ...
3
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3answers
306 views

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 ...
3
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1answer
270 views

Where do we get “queen” from? [closed]

King comes from Old Norse konungr, and prince is from French principle, but I have found no definite etymology for queen as we know it. I have found assumptive connections such as to keenan and gna, ...
3
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2answers
82 views

Have the words 'horsemanshipp' & 'warr' been used so in writing, in the early 16th Century?

I was looking for origin of the word carousel, and I found the following, One of the purposes of the Royalle Carouselle, as it was called in a patent application of 1673, was to give "sufficient ...
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2answers
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When did we stop speaking Old 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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3answers
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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 ...
2
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7answers
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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 ...
2
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1answer
122 views

Noun verbs a-gerunding - the meaning of the “a-gerund” form?

The first time I saw this antiquated form was in Steeleye Span's interpretation of The Elf Knight ballad, but I tend to see it now and then and I don't quite know how it is used. Lady Isabel sits ...
2
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2answers
183 views

Is there any extant movement for the revival of elements of Early-Modern English in regular, or academic usage?

I love Early-Modern English. It seems to me that words in Early-Modern English encode more information than their counterparts in Modern English. I know of a few English reform movements, but none ...
2
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1answer
139 views

What does “sayd” (etc.) mean in old book clipping? [closed]

Quotation from A history of the cries of London ancient (p24, 25). Noisy parties of wits and Paul's men crossed to Bankside to see Romeo and Juliet, or Hamlet the Dane, or else 'The most excellent ...
2
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0answers
798 views

A thesaurus with archaic and obsolete words [closed]

Can you point me to any online thesaurus that contains obsolete, archaic, out-of-use synonyms for contemporary words? Google search is horribly unhelpful, yielding hundreds common thesaurus and ...
2
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0answers
476 views

Shakespeare: “Asses are made to bear” [closed]

When Petruchio invites Katherine to sit on his lap, she replies, "Asses are made to bear, and so are you." (Taming of the Shrew Act II, Scene 1.) The denotation is clear, donkeys (Equus africanus ...
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4answers
123 views

“To” versus “with” in early English

I've been reading John Donne's Song (Go And Catch A Falling Star) and my query is on the usage of to in the line "to two or three." Yet she Will be False, ere I come, to two or three. I ...
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2answers
370 views

What irregular verbs are there in Early Modern English?

Can anyone tell me, or direct me to a site where it would have a list of, irregular verbs in Early Modern English? I understand verbs such as "to be" or "to have", but how many more are there, and ...
1
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2answers
416 views

Future Subjunctive

I have a few issues to discuss linked to the Future Subjunctive. 1) Can "If I were you." mean the same as "If I were to be you." In other words, can "If I were you." have the reference to the future ...
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2answers
382 views

Where can I read old English text with new English explanations [closed]

I like old English like "Coole their heeles", "thee" ,"thy" ,"ye" etc. Where can I find old English text but with explanations and meaning? I would also like to read old text, can you list them ...
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1answer
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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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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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0answers
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Grammar corrections for song for Early Modern English play [closed]

I wrote a song for a play I'm writing where I utilize a degree of early modern english, it's not entirely in archaic prose as for many audiences that would be a turn off, as its a comedy and a ...
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0answers
469 views

Describe the detailed phonetic environment for the appearance/presence of /ɜ:/. [closed]

One recent vowel phoneme in English is /ɜ:/. It would seem that this sound only developed in a certain phonetic environment, or to phrase it differently: it only appeared under certain conditions.