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Questions tagged [archaicisms]

Archaic or obsolete vocabulary and grammar.

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In Early Modern English, is it common to use “if thou do something”, or “if he do something”?

In the sentence patterns mentioned above, the predicates are uninflected. But in current English, such subjunctive usage only appears in the copula be (I assume). Eg., "whether it be" is a ...
user524868's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
62 views

Is it acceptable to conjugate the second person singular (thou's -st -est), analogically to the third person's -s -es?

I am writing my own tales and poems and in those I often need to use the pronoun THOU, to mark clearly the difference between plural and singular second person. There seems to be many intricacies and ...
algo's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
366 views

Cursed VS accursed

What is the difference between the term cursed and accursed? I have read that accursed sounds more archaic, but I wonder if there is any slight difference in meaning. I was surprised to learn of the ...
alelom's user avatar
  • 143
-2 votes
3 answers
322 views

Herewith versus herein. In this situation, is one or the other more grammatically correct and/or sense correct?

Without thinking, I typed to matt there Will do! I'll post it herein .. But it gave me pause; I tapped edit and Will do! I'll post it herewith .. Now I don't know which version of me had the ...
Fattie's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
573 views

Using the word 'yore' in ways other than "of yore"

Whenever I read the word 'yore' in a sentence, it's almost always used to say "of yore". For example: "The ways of yore have withered" Are there other grammatically valid ways, ...
Ludvig Boysen's user avatar
8 votes
5 answers
2k views

In H. P. Lovecraft's work - how is "The Prolonged of Life" understood when it comes to meaning?

I'm translating one of the stories into my mother tongue and I'm struggling with the name of one of the elder gods - "The Prolonged of Life". I do not really understand how this is meant to ...
Petr Ro's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
2k views

Meaning of "our eares are converted into cates"

In Archie Armstrong's Banquet of Jests (1641 edition), there's an account of a punning clergyman: A DIVINE willing to play more with words than to be serious in the expounding of his Text, made his ...
Luke Sawczak's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
258 views

What does "an eater of broken meats" mean from this Shakespeare play?

In the clip below from King Lear, what does "an eater of broken meats" mean, what does he mean by that. I know it is derogatory and is most likely meant to refer to an awful person. ...
Ross Bush's user avatar
  • 133
9 votes
2 answers
2k views

Meaning of "teen" in Aeschylus's play "The Persians"

I came across the phrase "how shall I bear my teen?" in Aeschylus' play "The Persians". I also saw "the children of teen" in "Seven against Thebes". What ...
Ellen's user avatar
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0 answers
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Is "ye" in the singular used with singular or plural verb conjugations?

I was writing some dialogue for a story and I wanted a character from the past to speak in an archaic/Early Modern English way, when I stumbled across this. In this instance, I'm using "ye" ...
Annatar's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
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Interesting construct, grammatically unclear

A Financial Times article has the following sentence: There isn’t a Classics or History of Art equivalent of a Cambridge don inviting a Madras clerk over on the strength of his papers, as GH Hardy ...
Smerdjakov's user avatar
5 votes
5 answers
1k views

What is the meaning of "the granite moulding of the inflexible jaw"?

I am quoting from the Return of Sherlock Holmes, The Missing Three Quarter by Arthur Conan Doyle : "Yet even without knowing his brilliant record one could not fail to be impressed by a mere ...
aissam's user avatar
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0 answers
113 views

Did all cats used to be feminine?

I have always believed --- from somewhere --- that in archaic English, cats were always referred to using feminine pronouns, regardless of what sex they actually were. But I thought to go and find a ...
David Given's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
1k views

Was “thee” ever used as a nominative?

In The Witch of Blackbird Pond, a youth novel written in the 1950s and set in late-17th century Connecticut, the title character uses thee as a nominative throughout, moreover with third-person ...
Graham Charles's user avatar
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2 answers
82 views

Why do we keep using the conjugated form of the verb "to do" before other verbs? [duplicate]

This seriously has me perplexed. I feel examples would better explain my question: "What did you eat?" vs "What ate you?" * Where did you go? vs "Where went you"? using ...
Cadmus's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
191 views

Is there an obscure word for a collector of obscure words?

I was reading a list on Mental Floss of "Obscure words for Collectors" with words like "Deltiologists" for people who collect postcards and "Arenophiles" for people who ...
Clyde M.'s user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
247 views

Has the word/name Beelzebub ever had a diaeresis?

I recognize that the diaeresis is not in the common English language anymore, but I was wondering if Beelzebub was ever spelt Beëlzebub, as I have found quite recently that I was pronouncing Beelzebub ...
Alex Bair's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
472 views

archaic (Victorian prosaic?) use of "but"

My daughter is a first-year uni student (a hapless English major, like I was). She encountered a particularly evil homework question that employed uncommon (archaic) uses of the word 'but'. For ...
Joel P. Rian's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
57 views

When (if at all) did "visit with" fall out of fashion?

When consuming media (films, books, etc.) set in historic eras, one often hears the phrase "visit with." For instance, in There Will Be Blood (set across the period 1898 - 1930), Daniel ...
user770884's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
275 views

What does "take a high line" means?

Quote:"The greatest and perhaps the wealthiest. I am aware, Mr. Holmes, that you take a very high line in professional matters, and that you are prepared to work for the work's sake. I may tell ...
aissam's user avatar
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13 votes
2 answers
704 views

Had rather; grammar explanation

In the Iliad (translated by Samuel Butler) I have lit upon the phrase had rather here: But the son of Peleus again began railing at the son of Atreus, for he was still in a rage. "Wine-bibber,&...
Jack's user avatar
  • 486
7 votes
9 answers
5k views

Unusual words used to denote a specific length of time? [closed]

I'm looking for unusual/uncommon words that refer to a period of time. Something like fortnight: (chiefly UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, dated in North America) A period of 2 weeks. (...
Christina Sims's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
286 views

What does "what man soever offendeth" mean?

What does the following sentence mean? He shall be punished, what man soever offendeth. (It is from the Internet site The Forest of Rhetoric silva rhetoricae.) I have a feeling that this means "...
kaoru's user avatar
  • 85
7 votes
1 answer
2k views

What's the archaic past tense for "say"?

And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and ...
Eddie Kal's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
120 views

English equivalent of German da- constructions

In German, the prefix da- can precede a number of prepositions, and in each case the compound da preposition is an anaphor, with the meaning of the preposition itself + it. For instance, the ...
Eric's user avatar
  • 706
0 votes
3 answers
145 views

I know that "What do you here?" is a valid sentence, but I can't quite parse it to explain to others

I've always been bothered by how people say the translation of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is terrible and full of errors, and the number one thing they point to for the error part of the ...
Mitchell Carroll's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
172 views

Wouldst thou like or likest?

The phrase "wouldst thou like" seems more appropriate to me, for the following reason: As far as I know, "thou wilt like" is correct, and "thou wilt likest" is not, ...
GPWR's user avatar
  • 111
3 votes
1 answer
120 views

What is the meaning of "lugubration"?

I could have sworn "lugubration" was a word, but dictionaries I check either draw a blank, or suggest it's a spelling error of "lucubration". And yet .. it shows up in historical ...
Erics's user avatar
  • 541
0 votes
1 answer
115 views

What does this (likely archaic) usage of "down" mean?

In one of a series of letters widely believed to be written by the serial killer Jack the Ripper (commonly referred to as the "Dear Boss" letter) the author makes use of the following phrase:...
jmcph4's user avatar
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0 votes
2 answers
260 views

Prepostition 'as to' in poetry

So I ran accross this line in a poem of Alexander Pope: Vice is a monster of so frightful mien As to be hated needs but to be seen; Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then ...
Ruh Muhaccer's user avatar
9 votes
3 answers
483 views

What does having a hat "on three hairs" mean, and where does that expression come from?

In my reading I came across this description: His old red coat was sponged and pressed, his whiskers shone with pomade, his cap was on three hairs, his cane under his arm, and his monocle in his eye. ...
Robusto's user avatar
  • 152k
0 votes
1 answer
154 views

How to parse/interpret the unusual wording on a diploma?

My SO just earned a PhD and received their diploma, and we were both puzzled by the wording. I'm copying it line by line, including punctuation (but omitting the school/personal specifics in brackets)....
wordsworth's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
703 views

Corpus vs. corpse

I found this definition on Wikidiff: "The difference between corpus and corpse is that corpus is the body while corpse is a dead body" While in Collins and Merriam Webster I found this ...
Learner's user avatar
  • 29
2 votes
1 answer
68 views

What are "the dear years" in Redgauntlet?

"Wandering Willie's Tale" is a short story embedded within Sir Walter Scott's novel "Redgauntlet" (1824). It's written in Scots and/or Scottish English (I'm not certain where those ...
equin0x80's user avatar
  • 623
0 votes
2 answers
60 views

What is meant by "offence can scarcely be visited on the quantity"

The full text is below. "Friend, be not tedious," said the Rajah of Travancore to a Christian missionary, in the sixteenth century, "remember life is short." I have endeavoured to ...
Upekha Vandebona's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
696 views

Why is "from" used in "from henceforth"?

The dictionaries unanimously include the word from in their definitions of henceforth: e.g. M-W: from this point on Henceforth, supervisors will report directly to the manager. Cambridge: starting ...
fev's user avatar
  • 34.5k
10 votes
7 answers
2k views

Word for "object of malignant joy"

I would need a literary synonym of toy, but which would also have the nuance of object of malignant joy. I would like to use it in the context of someone becoming the toy (?) of some evil powers ...
fev's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
3k views

Is there any difference between "thou wast" and "thou wert"?

Today I realised for the first time that in the KJV Bible both thou wast and thou wert are used, and I was intrigued by the need to have two forms for the same person and number of the past tense ...
fev's user avatar
  • 34.5k
2 votes
2 answers
157 views

"... His entreaties which are hearkened/hearkened unto by God"

The verb to hearken is an archaic verb which I need to use for my translation into KJV Bible style of English. I see it used with the prepositions to and unto in the KJV, but never in this structure: ...
fev's user avatar
  • 34.5k
10 votes
3 answers
2k views

Why "thine heart" but "thy whole heart"?

I have somehow picked up the use of the two different forms "thy/thine" from the KJV Bible, and I thought I knew the rule. Use thy before consonants and thine before vowels or before words ...
fev's user avatar
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3 votes
6 answers
39k views

Why is it 'three score years and ten' almost half the time and not always 'three score and ten years'?

Why is it 'three score years and ten' almost half the time and not always 'three score and ten years'? Note: I edited the question body and title in light of comments and answers pointing me to a ...
Matthew Christopher Bartsh's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
327 views

what does the sentence "all is not the moon surrounded by stars" mean?

I saw this sentence when watching Leonardo (2021). It sounds archaic and I'm confused. I've seen sentences like "all that glistens is not gold" and "all is not lost", but this one ...
nick king's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
274 views

A complicated sentence occurring in Tolkien's "Silmarillion"

I've come across a rather complicated sentence in Tolkien's work "The Silmarillion" and I'm afraid that I need some help at understanding its meaning, and therefore its grammar. It reads as ...
Cloudscape's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
128 views

A-roving, a-walking, a-verb participle: what is this called? [duplicate]

Is there a name for the archaic form of a-verb participle, as in a-walking? It appears in poetry and songs, for example, As I was a-walking down Paradise Street... Time is the stream I go a-fishing ...
Michael D. Maginn's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
55 views

Meaning of "make trim of"

In the Life of Flavius Josephus, as translated by Whiston in the 18th century, Josephus says: Moreover, when I was a child, and about fourteen years of age, I was commended by all for the love I had ...
user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
67 views

What does the apostrophe in the expression ‘I’ faith’ mean?

In older translations of Latin texts (and I would presume Greek as well), the phrase I’ faith is quite common. Examples from Plautus’ Menaechmus 2.2 and 2.3: CYLINDRUS I’ve catered well, and to my ...
Canned Man's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
341 views

Why did Thomas Paine use both "hath" and "has" in the same sentence?

My understanding is that "hath" is archaic, but has exactly the same meaning as "has". But then why would an educated writer use both in the same sentence when writing a formal ...
Citizen's user avatar
  • 49
2 votes
3 answers
1k views

What word was used with the meaning of "suicide" pre-1650s?

Online Etymology Dictionary puts the origin as such: "deliberate killing of oneself," 1650s, from Modern Latin suicidium Wiktiobary here puts: Suicide, 1651, New Latin coinage (probably ...
Tom O' Bedlam's user avatar
0 votes
3 answers
1k views

Are there any old third-person singular pronouns the way “thou” is an old second-person pronoun?

Thou is an old second-person singular pronoun in English. Are there any old third-person singular pronouns?
Make42's user avatar
  • 331
0 votes
3 answers
606 views

Is the Christmas carol “We Three Kings” intentionally ungrammatical for artistic reasons, or does it use archaic grammar?

I was listening to the “We Three Kings” Christmas carol, and I ended up taking note of the syntax. Given the use of the thou/thy/thee/thine pronouns for the second-person singular and the vocative ...
thepufferfish's user avatar

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