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 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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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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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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“the which” in early literature

I'd like to know what "the which" in the following passages refers to. While the "the which" in the second instance clearly refers to the large parlour, that in the first is quite ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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History of Neither Nor - Negative Meaning with Negative Verb Structure

I know that neither–nor yields a negative meaning if used in a sentence that has a positive verb structure. That is, when we say: Neither George nor James goes to school. we mean: George does ...
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“in like manner” v. “in the like manner”

1."in like manner" or 2."in the like manner" I thought that the latter is correct, but more digging points to the former. In Leviathan,of Hobbes, in like manner is used twenty five times, whereas ...
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What is the olden name for sideburns?

Upon search, I found out that sideburns has evolved from burnsides, named after the Civil War veteran and Rhode Island senator Ambrose Burnside. See here But surely sideburns existed before him, so ...
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Articles before “covenant”?

As I was going through Leviathan I realized that in some places Hobbes left an article before covenant, despite not placing the word in quotation marks: 1. "God is King of all the Earth by his Power: ...
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Why there is no article before “heire”? [duplicate]

The following passage is from All's Well That Ends Well: Shee is young, wise, faire, In these, to Nature shee's immediate heire: And these breed honour: According to the research I did on Cambridge ...
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Is capitalization of the personal pronoun “I” a modern thing in English? [duplicate]

In an answer to a question I asked, the user included an extract from a text seemingly written in older English. Not Old English, but definitely older English, made evident by the fact it spelled e.g. ...
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Why do some early modern English writers use an apostrophe in art (ar't)?

For example, in Verses upon the duke of Buckinghams returne from the Ile of Rees (https://www.english.cam.ac.uk/ceres/ehoc/lessons/lesson1/index.html) the poet spells "art" as "ar't" in the phrase "...
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What was the pronunciation of the a in “trap” in early to mid Modern English in the UK?

I have often read that in Old and Middle English the "a" sound in words like "trap" was pronouned /a/. When it comes to modern English, Wikipedia suggests that this was raised to /æ/ in early Modern ...
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How is “ought” used in this King James Bible verse?

There's a use of the word "ought" from the Bible I don't understand. I've highlighted the relevant word: Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: ...
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Devil take the hindmost!

I came across the following old proverb in which I noticed that a bare infinitive verb is used after a singular subject. Devil take ...
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What is the possessive case and the objective case of “ye?”

I know very well that archaically, "thou" is the nominative case for the modern day "you" while "thee" is the accusative case and that there is no distinction between the nominative and accusative ...
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Looking for a list of hapax legomena that have lost their meanings over time [closed]

These are words that have lost their meanings over time and can't be reconstructed from context, as it only appeared in that context once and not in others. I've searched with Google but came up empty....
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Origin of “rank hath its privileges”

It's often seen with "has," but the frequent appearance of "hath" suggests the saying may be much, much older. Early Modern English always suggests Shakespeare to me, but my Google-fu hath failed me ...
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Shakespeare's Macbeth “Conduct me to (mine) host” Mine host vs My Host

The first time I heard "mine host" in Shakespeare's Macbeth, I went to Wiktionary to see if it once was used instead of "my," however, I ended up with that it should not be followed by a noun but ...
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a conditional sentence with “had + past participle” in both the apodosis and the protasis

In older texts one finds this construction, which one may be tempted to call the past conditional second form (after the example of le conditionnel passé deuxième forme): If you had lied to me, I ...
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Early Modern English: Shakespearean Insult [duplicate]

I think many are familiar with the famous line from Shakespeare: Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. What I seek to do is keep the analogy but change ...
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793 views

Conjugation of 'shall' in Early Modern English

In Shakespeare's Macbeth, the Third Witch says to Banquo: "Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none" (1.3.65); if I want to quote that line and write it in the third person singular, how should I ...
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What is the meaning of 'plain' dangerous?

I watched a movie and found a line saying: It's just plain dangerous. They carry different diseases than we do. I am wondering what the meaning of 'plain' dangerous is? I checked Cambridge ...
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Is that an “r” in “worship” in a text from 1591?

I was trying to see how the Spanish word merced was translated into English in the 16th century, when I found this entry in a dictionary from 1591 by Richard Percyvall: I understand that the second ...