Questions tagged [archaicisms]

Archaic or obsolete vocabulary and grammar.

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1answer
63 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 ...
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25 views

Is 'which' when referring to a person archaic?

In many older texts, it's common to see the word 'which' being used as a relative pronoun instead of the more modern (?) 'who'. One may see: 'He had already told John, which was not there, that it ...
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1answer
49 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 ...
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1answer
46 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 ...
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1answer
25 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 ...
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1answer
116 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 ...
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3answers
63 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 ...
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3answers
86 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?
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3answers
187 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 ...
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0answers
105 views

Uncorrect vs. Incorrect; Do the two words have the same meaning?

I often heard professors at the University I was enrolled in use the word "uncorrect." The word 'uncorrect' is in some reputable English dictionaries, and conspicuous by its absence in ...
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1k views

Unusual or archaic usage of “young”

"Well, you've probably never been in a tighter place than you are today! If there's a lunatic hiding on this island, he's probably got a young arsenal on him - to say nothing of a knife or ...
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74 views

Is there a single word that means “next year”?

I remember reading a text (I think it was written in Early Modern English, so the word I'm thinking of might be kind of archaic) and seeing just one word that meant "next year," would anyone ...
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34 views

What were/are the rules regarding relative pronouns from c. 1800?

I've been reading some rather old literature, often ranging from the 18th Century through to the late 19th Century, and I'm trying to increase my comprehension of the material, at least to the extent ...
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2answers
95 views

Do people in Britain use this structure nowdays? Or is it considered archaic there? [closed]

I found it on one website about If I were/If I was usage, and I'm not sure it's common: If I had been a boy, I would have happily roamed outside all night. “if I had been” talks about a particular ...
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3answers
7k views

Why “Giraffe” as a name for the animal?

My question is based on my interest in the evolution of the Giraffe's name. Etymology Online Dictionary puts the following: Giraffe: long-necked ruminant animal of Africa, 1590s, giraffa(...)The ...
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1answer
66 views

Is the archaic meaning of “exact” different from how we use it today?

In the poem On his blindness by John Milton, we find these lines “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?” Keeping in mind the lines above and lines below the quoted line, the quoted might mean ...
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2answers
2k views

Deciphering two words from their Archaic spellings

I am translating the 1509, first English Translation of Sebastian Brant's The Shyp of foyls (The Ship of Fools), and came across two words which, for the life of me, I could not construe or make ...
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2answers
69 views

Affect in something? (a phrase from an older book)

Reading an old tale from C.A.Smith, there is the following sentence: About him, there was nothing whatever of the lineaments of our own period; and he even went so far as to affect in his costume an ...
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1answer
35 views

Figuring out the meaning and syntax of the English translation of Charmides

I was reading The Dialogues of Socrates translated into English and one particular sentence in Charmides sprung out as odd. I can't tell what it is trying to say, but I also can't figure out if it is ...
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3answers
75 views

What did “simples” mean in the 1800s?

This is from Mark Twain's "The Innocents Abroad": They flocked to our poor human doctor this morning when the fame of what he had done to the sick child went abroad in the land, and they ...
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1answer
41 views

Is “standard” an archaic synonym for an athletic team or club?

This was passed along to me (native US speaker) by a non-native speaker. A school in the UK asks for the following details... Games Teams and Standards Extra-curricular Activities ...in their ...
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1answer
40 views

Meaning of “for indeed”?

Given is the following paragraph (excerpt from The New Freedom, by Woodrow Wilson - 1913): For indeed, if you stop to think about it, nothing could be a greater departure from original Americanism, ...
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68 views

The Auxiliary “Be” in the King James Bible

The King James Bible has Job 30:2 as “Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me, in whom old age was perished?” which I understood to mean, “What use are their hands to me, men whose ...
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61 views

Prior to the 20th century, what was the noun for an individual person from a country whose demonym ends in '-ese'?

As a Redditor pointed out, using a demonym that ends in '-ese' as a noun sounds incorrect or at least awkward (especially a singular noun--someone on the thread writes, 'For example you could say “I ...
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1answer
144 views

What does “stat 1. c.18” mean?

I'm reading Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations and I keep seeing these chronologic references to reigns of kings and queens in England: By the 12th of Queen Anne, too, stat. 1, c. 18 What do "...
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18 views

Definition of “as to own”?

Prepping for the GED RLA test, I came across this sentence (from Excerpt from A Defense of the Constitution of Government of the USA by John Adams): If we should extend our candor so far as to own ...
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57 views

When was “in the which” correct English grammatical usage?

In the King James Version of the Old Testament, the phrase "in the which" is used in Genesis 1:29, 42:38, 19:29, 45:6 and Numbers 6:5. It is also used in the New Testament: Luke 19:30, 23:29, John 4:...
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33 views

“And” meaning “if” or “as long as”

Can anyone confirm that there is an archaic use of the word "and" meaning "if" or "as long as"? For example: "Yes you can, and you do no harm." If you can ...
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37 views

Contemporary synonym of “thereanent” or “thereabout”

I want to express that one thing concerns another, using an adverb, such as in: I mended the sink and wrote her a note thereanent / thereabout. Meaning: I mended the sink and wrote her a note ...
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1answer
59 views

Should I use [sic] when quoting the KJV 1611?

I am currently working on a project for my Grade 12 religion class, and it requires (surprise, surprise) Biblical quotations. I have decided to use the 1611 KJV Bible and quote verses with very ...
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1answer
160 views

Meaning of “Friday face” in 1592

I was reading a pamphlet from the year 1592, published in London, and came across a rather obsolete and bewitching phrase: "The Foxe on a time came to visit the Gray, partly for kindered cheefly ...
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141 views

Is Dun / dunning archaic?

verb (used with object), dunned, dun·ning. to make repeated and insistent demands upon, especially for the payment of a debt. noun a person, especially a creditor, who duns another. a ...
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128 views

'MURDER“ or ”MURTHER" ? — Question on when distinct (archaic) spellings for words were used and when not

Salutations, I am currently writing a play that is being regulated to the very distinct notions of authentically replicating the English language and its archaic spellings during its usage in London, ...
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1answer
202 views

Expression: “To wish sb./sth. at the devil” meaning?

"Sancho Panza, who was wishing the goatherd's loquacity at the devil,..." Context: The goatherd was relating a lengthy story to Don Quixote, it was late at night and Sancho Panza, Don Quixote's ...
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1answer
72 views

“Here am I” vs “here I am”

Is my understanding correct that here am I is just an archaic form of saying here I am? That is what Google seems to tell me.
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12answers
5k views

Does English use the word ‘thou’ in any situations nowadays? [closed]

Does English use the word thou in situations nowadays? For example, to humiliate an opponent by being overly familiar?
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1answer
941 views

Difference yea/nay and yes/no - four-form system [duplicate]

So, my brother is watching on tv a vote a in the American Congress. He says that the members are asked to vote with yea/nay (I have heard that from the Chamber of Commons in the UK as well). Now we ...
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1answer
193 views

Thirty days hath September, April, June and November?

According to everything I can find1,2, and all usages I can remember ever coming across, hath is the 3rd person singular present tense of have, and not the plural. So why does the rhyme go as follows?...
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148 views

Should 'dotard' be considered archaic?

I don't think I've ever heard or seen it used by anyone except N. Korea.
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83 views

What literary or author's style is this writer channeling?

In The Washington Post, Alexandra Petri wrote a satirical opinion piece criticizing anti-abortion laws in the United States by parodically lamenting the routine death of spermatazoa. I was struck by ...
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0answers
92 views

In my pronouns god me defend

The motto of the UK monarch is apparently not the same in all parts of the kingdom: In Scotland, it is: In My Defens God Me Defend Ok, but - how do I pronounce this? Is "defens" pronounced like ...
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1answer
114 views

What is an archaic, rare noun or word for an archetypal, vengeant, past tensive male character who is of the past that many aspire to be like?

What I mean is "someone of old" that people could be drawn to. One who is stuck in the past and in his ways and dislikes the future. Something like: • an originator • an innovator • a predecessor • ...
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2answers
2k views

In the old name Dreadnought, is nought an adverb or a noun?

The name Dreadnought, a class of naval ship, originates from the eponymous HMS Dreadnought. Wikipedia indicates that Dreadnought's name, and the class of battleships named after her, means "a ...
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1answer
60 views

auxiliary do-support: do murder

The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, page 98, reads Auxiliary do was used more widely in earlier stages of the language, and in certain genres one comes across archaic uses that go ...
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5answers
6k views

In 1700s, why was 'books that never read' grammatical?

Naomi Baron, in Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World (1 edn 2015). p. 16, quoted Daniel Defoe's The Compleat English Gentleman, composed in the early 1700s: I hate any thing that ...
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4answers
168 views

Stitched applications

In old cartoons there is often _____ hanging on the wall, reading "home, sweet home" and the like, often framed. As far as this question is concerned, this stuff is sewen, stiched, knitted, you tell ...
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0answers
38 views

17th Century term for Mother [duplicate]

I'm writing a story where my main character calls out for her mother, and I'm having trouble with what word I should be using. The story is set around the 1660s London, my main character is of low ...
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2answers
334 views

The popularity of the word “coeval” has been declining for over 100 years now. Why? [closed]

According to Ngram, anyway. The vast majority of English speakers seem to have no idea what the word means. Now why is that? UPDATE: After reading some of the responses: As a noun.
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2answers
187 views

Salute usage as Firecracker

Recently, I learned about another meaning for the word "Salute": A firecracker. However, I could find this definition in only one online dictionary (M-W): firecracker (q.v.) ... together ...
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1answer
161 views

Are any two words that are synonyms and homonyms of each other

Are there any examples of any English words that are both synonyms and homonyms of each other? I would guess that over time one would become considered an alternate spelling and die out, so perhaps ...

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