This is a line from the Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare

Grumio [to Hortensio]: Marry him to a puppet or an aglet-baby . . .

Although 'aglet' is an extremely uncommon word, its meaning can easily be looked up. Apparently, it is the sheath wrapped around the end of a shoelace, keeping the fibers from unraveling.


'Aglet-baby' is much, much more uncommon, if not actually completely exclusive to Shakespeare. It means, according to few sources, a figure or image drawn/carved into an aglet. Here is one source:


Although I found the definitions, the line (which is, I think, an attempt to ridicule) does not make sense. "Marry him to a puppet" is understood; but, "marry him to a 'aglet-baby'"?—what does Shakespeare mean exactly?

  • By researching "Puntal(e)" in Italian, I get the feeling that this is Italian-slang for "Spaniard". I still couldn't figure out what exactly in Shakespeare's head, but "a puppet or a Spaniard" makes more sense than the end of a shoe-lace. – Melissa Woodruff Ehrlich Jun 19 '19 at 17:26

More specifically, from The Stratford Shakspere, ed. by C. Knight (1854)...

The aglet-baby was a small carving on the head of the tag which carried the lace.
Aglet is from the French aiguilletle, a point.

...which I think contextually reflects and amplifies the preceding Marry him to a puppet.

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