I already know what the word disturb means, but I do not understand what disturb not means. I’ve seen titles that start with this, like Disturb Not the Dream and Disturb Not the Sleep, etc.

What does disturb not mean? Why does not follow the verb? What does not apply to, the thing it follows or the thing it precedes?

  • 3
    It's just a poetic way of saying don't disturb. Similarly there is a flower called a forget-me-not.
    – user339660
    Jun 9 '19 at 16:22
  • 2
    One phrase that uses this word order and is actually appears fairly often in everyday conversation (in some parts of the English-speaking world) is "Fear not" (that is, "Do not fear"). But the same order exists in telescoped form in the standard order of the "to be" verb in interrogatives—"Isn't ["is not"] it a beautiful day?" "Aren't [are not] you clever!" It's just that when we use the uncontracted form of "isn't" and "aren't" in these cases, we transpose the pronoun and the "not": "Is it not a beautiful day?" "Are you not clever?"
    – Sven Yargs
    Jun 9 '19 at 16:35
  • 1
    It means the same thing as don't disturb.
    – Annie
    Jun 9 '19 at 16:48
  • Gildor: ‘That Gandalf should be late, does not bode well. But it is said: “Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.” The choice is yours: to go or wait.’ // Frodo: ‘And it is also said, “Go not to the elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.“ ’
    – tchrist
    Jun 9 '19 at 18:22
  • “He who knows not and knows not he knows not, he is a fool: shun him. He who knows not and knows he knows not, he is a child: teach him. He who knows and knows not he knows, he is asleep: wake him. He who knows and knows he knows, he is a teacher: heed him.”
    – tchrist
    Jun 9 '19 at 18:26

to disturb OED

To move anything from its settled condition or position; to unsettle.

As in the sense of do not disturb:

  • 1664 J. Evelyn Kalendarium Hortense / Disturb not their beds..lest the seeds dry.


  • 1816 Shelley Alastor / With lightning eyes, and eager breath, and feet Disturbing not the drifted snow.

Disturb not, a much lesser used do not disturb and found in literary writings and prose.

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