Questions tagged [early-modern-english]

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

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What is the "-sie" suffix meaning?

While playing Thief: The Dark Project, I noticed the use of the suffix "-sie" in some words, for example: woodsie, goodsie, treesie, etc. I struggled to find an explanation for this and ...
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History of "literally": Who changed the definition of "literally" to no longer mean "figuratively" in the first place? [duplicate]

According to my research, "literally" used to mean "figuratively", or at least it was used by many people to mean "figuratively" several centuries ago. Yet, although ...
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-2 votes
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Aren't English' "shoe" and French' "chaussure" related?

I was absolutely certain that shoe (en) and chaussure (fr) were cognates due to the obvious similarity between their first syllable, especially the pronunciation - that was until I looked them up on ...
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Understanding Nehemiah 13:24 in the King James Bible

The King James Bible reads in Nehemiah 13:24: And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people. ...
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Can you correct this “old English” quote?

There’s an “influencer” that came across my page who posted a quote (attributed to themselves) and I know it’s wrong but I’m not informed enough to know how wrong it is. I’m not going to do anything ...
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How authentic is the EModE in T. Nesbit's novel Beheld? [closed]

I checked out TaraShea Nesbit’s historical novel Beheld (Bloomsbury 2020) from my local library, after hearing an author interview about it on public radio. It is set in the New Plymouth colony in ...
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2 votes
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What's an early modern English excalmation roughly meaning "raise the roof!"?

I am a translator of Russian historical fiction set in the early modern period (mid-late 16th century) and I am looking for some good period-specific English equivalents of the phrase "жги-говори!...
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Meaning of “an” in Matthew (King James Version)

I'm having a little trouble parsing an in this context: Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee ...
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How and why were different inflections applied to third-person singular verbs in the Early Modern period?

I can't get my head around why and how inflections were used in Early Modern English. I know that they were used to mark person, number and tense and so on but how and why exactly?
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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 ...
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Is "-eth" (as in the verb "buildeth") always the singular? Is this inscription at Hoover Dam a mistake?

I was kind of surprised to find that one of the inscriptions on one of the towers at the Hoover Dam has what I thought was a typo, but I want to know if I'm in the wrong because I can't find anything ...
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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 ...
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"lift/raise all up to" or "lift/raise up all to"

I know the rule with phrasal verbs and pronouns is that If the object is a personal pronoun (me, you, him, us, etc.), we always put the pronoun before the particle: Oh, I can’t lift you up any more. ...
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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 ...
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Again = 'back, opposite direction'

In the OED, archaic again, under def. 1a, is 'In the opposite direction; back.' The last example given there is from John Bunyan, with "turn again": "Come then, Neighbour Pliable, let ...
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How Was "Feast" Pronounced in Early Modern English?

In Romeo and Juliet, Capulet delivers a speech to Paris about his consent for him to court Juliet. With the exception of the first three lines, his speech would follow a coupled rhyme scheme... 16 ...
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How was ‘only’ (‘onely’) pronounced in early modern English?

I have noticed in some older English literature, that ‘only’ is written ‘onely’. Was this merely an example of historical spelling, or does it reveal an earlier pronunciation not as modern /ˈəʊnlɪ/, ...
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Is there any situation where an article could be used in front of a pronoun?

I was reading an online copy of the King James Bible and (in John 18:1) found this: When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into ...
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When did the word "demon" (for evil spirit) come into popular usage in the English language?

The English word "demon" has been found throughout the New Testament in modern bible translations since the 19th century. However, in the 16th and 17th century and earlier (Tyndale Bible, ...
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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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What does "carry't" mean?

What does "carry't" mean? I can't find a definition for it on the web. Here's an example of its use from Shakespeare's Othello, the Moor of Venice: What a full fortune does the thick-lips ...
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What does "tenable" mean to Shakespeare?

Hamlet: If you have hitherto conceal'd this sight, Let it be tenable in your silence still, And whatsoever else shall hap to-night, Give it an understanding, but no tongue: Tenable seems a strange ...
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Merger of Early Modern English 'ir' with 'ur' and 'er'+'ear'

Before /r/, /ɪ/ merged with either /ʊ/ or /ɛ/, depending on context. After labials (plus clusters of labials and /l/) and alveolar stops (like in bird and dirt), the result was /ʊ/ (shown, among other ...
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Who coined "the eye of heaven"?

For the longest time I had always thought that Our great Bard had, with his poetic wonder, come up with "the eye of heaven" for his immortal, sonnet 18: Rough windes do ſhake the darling ...
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6 votes
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Was the Shark frightening to 16th / 17th-century English speakers?

Undoubtedly, in our Modern-mind-set, for many the mere utterance of the word "Shark" (more so when in the ocean, swimming) brings a sort of dread or at the least, undesirability to the ...
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Did Shakespeare really coin "Alligator"?

I have read many essays on the heavily debated subject of just how many words Our immortal Bard coined. I think it is safe to say, some of the words (and phrases) which are credited to him are ...
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3 votes
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Meaning of "Men are decayed, and studies: she is not." (17th century English)

Came across this passage from Ben Jonson's Discoveries(17th century): I cannot think Nature is so spent and decayed that she can bring forth nothing worth her former years. She is always the same, ...
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First use of "jack-o'-Lantern” in reference to the Carved-Pumpkin?

According to OED the etymology of "Jack'o'-Lantern" (as a name for the carved pumpkin) dates to 1834: Jack-o'-lantern: also jack-o-lantern, jack-a-lantern, jackolantern, 1660s, "night-...
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Meaning of Log [long] Life from 1564?

I was reading 16th century texts with early descriptions of the Americas for a poem I am writing and came across this delightful, yet quite cryptic and arcane phrase: "log life" but this ...
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Agreement between subject and verb in a number of / the number of [duplicate]

3 sentences:- A number of such incidents has/have been reported by the local residents so far. The number of such incidents is/are very low. The number of elephants in Kerala has/have been dwindling. ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Whose misadventured piteous overthrows doth

The following is taken from the prologue of Romeo and Juliet. I'd like to know why the plural noun overthrows takes the third-person singular auxiliary doth. From forth the fatal loins of these two ...
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7 votes
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What is the first mention/use of the word "America" in print in an English written/translated source

I am aware of the fundamental history of the etymology of the word "America" in regards to the land it represents: how Leif Eriksson first-named the Brave New World Vinland, and afterward ...
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21 votes
2 answers
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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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2 votes
1 answer
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Why are both "ye" and "you" used as subjects in Anne Bradstreet's To My Dear and Loving Husband?

As far as I know, in Middle English and Early Modern English "ye" was used for subjects and "you" for objects. Yet in "To My Dear and Loving Husband" by Anne Bradstreet ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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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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2 votes
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17th century vs modern english grammar

First of all English is not my native language so I apologize if the question seems somewhat simple. Reading through A Complete Collection of State-Trials, and Proceedings upon High-Treason, and ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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What is a yard of (pudding, ale, etc.)?

I was just reading William and Ceil Baring-Gould's sadly under-Annotated Mother Goose, in which rhyme #274 is: Hyer iddle diddle dell, A yard of pudding's not an ell; Not forgotten, tweedle-dye, A ...
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What did they use in Old English or Middle English before 'of course'?

I'm writing a story that heavily uses archaic or unusual English words, with a focus of non-Latin, non-French and non-Anglo-Norman derived words and how English might work without them. I found very ...
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Did the word "Crocodile" have a dreadful connotation in London 1600s?

I am writing a period-piece play based in London circa 1660s and wrote a poetic line that alludes to the crocodile as a "fearsome foe" or of much "danger and dread". I examined every mention of the ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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What does Meric Casaubon mean?

The below quote is from Book X, Verse 3 of Meric Casaubon's translation of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations : But remember, that whatsoever by the strength of opinion, grounded upon a certain ...
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13 votes
5 answers
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What is Middle English for 'Hello'?

I'm writing a text that includes Death personified (e.g., "The Seventh Seal" - Bergman; Doktor Faustus - Mann) He speaks in early modern English from the time of Chaucer. I'd like to know how he would ...
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2 votes
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What does "were this away" mean in this context?

I'm reading a description of the pyramids written by George Sandys (1577 - 1644). The paragraph reads: The top at length we ascended with many pauses and much difficulty; from whence with ...
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Can I say that sentence makes you special?

When someone comes from other country and they pronounce "good morning" in my local language (when that pronunciation is unique)... Then can I say: "that sentence makes you special" Or "that ...
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Has the verb "to import me" ever been commonly used in English the way "to concern me" is in the phrase "It does not concern me"?

In various Euro­pean lan­guages, most es­pe­cially in the Ro­mance ones, their own re­spec­tive cog­nates for our Latin-de­rived word im­port can be used as a verb in much the way as the verb con­cern ...
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What's the proper antique equivalent to "Don't you dare"? [closed]

What's the proper antique (using "thee") equivalent to "Don't you dare"? Dare thee not? Dare not thee? Something else?
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1 vote
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thyself = yourself, what is the equivalent of *others*?

Is there a Shakespeare style of saying others? Example: Know yourself, know others Know thyself, know ____ By others I mean other people in general. Could be an intended group but not enemy.
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1 vote
1 answer
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Translating old charm to modern language

About six or seven years ago, Chattox did fall out with one Hugh Moore of Pendle, as aforesaid, about certain cattle of Moore's, which Moore did charge Chattox to have bewitched: for which Chattox ...
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Why "him" in "For neuer resting time leads Summer on / To hidious winter and confounds him there, ..." instead of it or her?

There is a passage in William's V sonnet that confounds me : For neuer resting time leads Summer on, To hidious winter and confounds him there, Sap checkt with frost and lustie leau's quite gon. ...
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Why is ‘Earth’ often spelt with a lowercase e, even when referring to the planet?

The word earth has several meanings; the most central one is ‘soil, dirt’, that thing we walk on when we’re outside. It’s also used as a name for the planet we live on. The Lexico definition for this ...
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…down the primrose path

What is the origin of primrose used in the idiom primrose path, as defined by the Oxford Online Dictionary? primrose path The pursuit of pleasure, especially when it is seen to bring ...
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