Questions tagged [middle-english]

Middle English is the period in the history of the English language between the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century.

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What is the origin of "huge"?

What is the origin of the word huge (adj. and adv.) meaning "very great, large, or big; immense, enormous, vast"? Both OED and Etymonline say that it might be from an Old French word which ...
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27 votes
5 answers
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Why the "wedded" in "wedded wife"?

Typical wedding vows, per e.g. this website, often have phrasing like this (emphasis mine): [Groom’s name], do you take [Bride’s name] to be your wedded wife, to live together in marriage? Do you ...
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1 vote
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232 views

Why are "said" and "paid"/"laid" pronounced differently?

The words say, pay, lay are phonemically /seɪ/, /peɪ/ and /leɪ/ respectively (with the diphthong /eɪ/). Their past and past participles are respectively: /sɛd/ (or /sed/), /peɪd/ and /leɪd/. The past/...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Why did "it" lose its initial 'h' but other pronouns such as "him" and "her" didn't?

The pronouns it, him, her had an initial h in the older forms of English which has been retained in her, him, but lost in it (formerly hit). Etymology of it (Wikitionary): From Middle English it, hit ...
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3 votes
2 answers
342 views

Was there a /t͡ʃ/ to /k/ sound change from Old English?

I stumbled upon a strange thing while looking up the etymology of words ending in "le". I looked up "kettle" and saw that it was pronounced with /t͡ʃ/ in Old English and also in ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Why did the vowel in "Christ" become long in moving from Old English to Middle English?

I have read the following question and all the answers, and they do not answer my question, so it is not a duplicate: Why are the vowels in Christ and Christmas different? (and other strange diphthong ...
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6 votes
2 answers
295 views

Why did some English verbs lose nasal endings?

I saw this ending in many words of Old English origin where a word has -an in Old English but then lost in Modern English. Examples: habban, climban, sceþþan, singan, offrian etc. I noticed another ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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What does the phrase "or euer" mean in Middle English from the 1500s?

What does the phrase "or euer" mean in Middle English from the 1500s? It's often translated as "before", but I'm trying to find out specifically the cultural connotation of what ...
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4 votes
1 answer
421 views

Was there a D to TH sound change in English?

I looked up the etymology of "father" and see what Etymology Dictionary says: Old English fæder "he who begets a child, nearest male ancestor;" It clearly says "fæder" ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Is or was "too young for to marry" valid English, now or in the past?

I made a very serious effort to locate the name of this song, and to find more info on it. Sadly, I was unable to. All I have is this YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWTF6nRqNvU It ...
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23 votes
4 answers
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Why did the F of "sneeze" and "snore" change to an S in English history?

The etymologies of "sneeze" and "snore" suggest that they were once pronounced with /f/. Here is what Wiktionary (from which all the following information also comes) says: From ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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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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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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1 answer
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Usage of Middle English "fel it hap"

The OED entry for happen notes the following: In Middle English fel it hap meant "it happened." A search for the phrase reveals this OED entry and nothing else relevant. It is not clear ...
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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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17 votes
4 answers
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Why was 'Jesus' spelt 'Jhesus' in Wycliffe's Bible?

I found that in Wycliffe's Bible, Jesus Christ is spelt as "Jhesu Crist". Why was it spelt with 'Jh' instead of 'J'?
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1 vote
1 answer
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What was the meaning of "sometime" in Medieval England?

There are many questions here regarding "sometime" but none of them looked as if they referred to the Medieval context of the word. I was tempted to write "Middle English" instead of "Medieval England"...
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2 answers
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Origin of describing emotions with adjectives associated with taste

You might have seen that most of the adjectives that are related to taste are used to describe emotions. It is very common. It exists in many other languages. Salty, sour, sweet, bitter etc. We use ...
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13 votes
5 answers
15k views

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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0 votes
2 answers
315 views

Why is "slain" a past participle of "slay"? [duplicate]

Past participles in the English language usually end with -ed, but slain is one exception. Why can't we have just slayed rather than that and slain, too? And why can't slain be its very own verb? ...
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36 votes
3 answers
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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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3 votes
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What was the role of "compound" verbs in Middle English?

I was just reading a book where it is said that when perfect started to acquire modern meanings, "compound" verbs appeared. Here are some examples (I`m assuming with "compound" verbs on the right): ...
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What is the meaning of prefix -y in the following examples? [duplicate]

These are some exmaples from Choser: 1)He was war of me, how у stood Before hym and did of myn hood, And had ygret hym as I best koude. 2)A certein tresor that she thider ladde, And, sooth to ...
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Meaning of “See who by grace see may”

I am reading an English text in an old book and it reads: See who by grace see may, for the feeling of this is endless bliss, and the contrary is endless pain. This is the original text: See, ...
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Past tense questions in Middle English

I am attempting to ask a question that would be in past tense using middle English. The specific question is of the form “Person, where did you find this thing?” I was not able to find much about ...
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1 vote
2 answers
164 views

The Middle English infinitive form

Why do the Middle English words, that stay after "to" haven't got the Middle English infinitive ending "n"? Wycliffe's Bible Luke.16:3 Studylight: "And the baili seide with ynne him silf, What ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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What does Middle English “yreyn” mean?

What does Middle English “yreyn” mean? Wycliffe's Bible Isaiah.59:5 Studylight: "Thei han broke eiren of snakis, and maden webbis of an yreyn; he that etith of the eiren of hem, schal die, and ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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What does the Middle English "un" ending mean?

As I understood the Middle English "un" ending means possessive Pronouns (ourun), third-person plural past participle (fallun, comun, wonnun) or having the quality of (wollun, lynun, goldun, stonun). ...
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3 votes
1 answer
265 views

What does Middle English “cheping” mean?

What does Middle English “cheping” mean? Wycliffe's Bible (page 26) Mt.11:16 Studylight: "But to whom schal Y gesse this generacioun lijk? It is lijk to children sittynge in chepyng, that crien to ...
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3 votes
2 answers
172 views

Do words with "ij" (strijf, whijt, prijs, wijf, lijf, lijk, chijld) relate to Middle English?

Do words with "ij" (strijf, whijt, prijs, wijf, lijf, lijk, chijld) relate to Middle English? They are used in Wycliffe's Bible, but I don't see them at etymonline or wiktionary
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5 votes
1 answer
127 views

What is the Middle English letter?

What is the Middle English letter? Wycliffe's Bible (page 16) Mt.5:27 Studylight: "Ye han herd that it was seid to elde men, Thou schalt `do no letcherie." King James Bible: "Ye have heard that ...
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1 vote
0 answers
65 views

What is the letter combination?

What is the Middle English letter combination? In Mk.9:4 Studylight says it is "pp", but in Mt.21:26 it is not "pp". Wycliffe's Bible (page 76) Mk.9:4 Studylight: "...and Helie with Moises ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Spelling of Middle English "narrow"

What is Middle English spelling of "narrow"? Studylight says "narwy", but in my opinion the forth letter is "r". Wycliffe's Bible (page 19) Mt.7:14 Studylight: "...hou streit is the yate, and ...
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2 votes
1 answer
86 views

Does Middle English "w" relate to "uȝ"?

Does Middle English "w" relate to "uȝ"? plow plouȝ enow enouȝ raw rouȝ draw drouȝ tow touȝ
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4 votes
1 answer
307 views

What does Middle English "bihiȝten" mean?

What does Middle English "bihiȝten" mean? Wycliffe's Bible (page 87) Mk.14:11 Studylight: "And thei herden, and ioyeden, and bihiyten to yyue hym money. And he souyt hou he schulde bitraye hym ...
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9 votes
1 answer
306 views

What is the difference between "if" and "ȝif"?

What is the difference between Middle English "if" and "ȝif"? Wycliffe Bible Mt.6:23 In accordance with studylight.org: "...bodi shal be liytful; 23 but if thin iye be weiward, al thi bodi shal be ...
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6 votes
2 answers
235 views

In 1395, why was "her" used instead of "their"?

Why was "her" used here? Wycliffe Bible Mk.1:20 In accordance with studylight.org: "...brother, in a boot makynge nettis. 20 And anoon he clepide hem; and thei leften Zebedee, her fadir, in the ...
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4 votes
1 answer
594 views

What is this word in a sample of blackletter script?

What is this word "seneney"? Am I right?
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11 votes
2 answers
2k views

How does the "reverse syntax" in Middle English work?

I was reading the Romance of Tristan and I came across the passage: "Therefore did Tristan claim justice and the right of battle and therefore was he careful to fail in nothing of the homage he owed ...
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1 vote
1 answer
257 views

A name/word suggestion for person who travels the world and collects rare items of decor/furniture

For a project that I am doing, I need a name or word suggestion. The premise is that a individual is an explorer, or a traveller on adventures to far flung places, and collects & finds unique ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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The meaning of the Middle English word “king” [closed]

Why was the word (?verb?) "king" used in this (page 63) Mk.2:6 part of the Wycliffe Bible? The King James Version Mk.2:6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
141 views

The etymology and the Middle English spelling of "beginning" [closed]

This question is about historical spelling, but in my opinion the knowledge of the historical spelling relates with the etymology knowledge. The questions are: 1. Is the fourth letter in image 1 (y) ...
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4 votes
2 answers
3k views

How is 'wl-' pronounced?

How is 'wl-' pronounced at the beginning of a word? Of course, you just don't pronounce it at all, because there is no English word that begins that way and if there were, well, that's just not ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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A Dictionary for English used by poets like Chaucer

I am trying to read Canterbury tales by Chaucer. Now, I am not a native English speaker. So, the trouble I had in reading it goes like this. Take the beginning, "Whan that Aprille with his shoures ...
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6 votes
1 answer
108 views

When did "awkwarde" mean "backhanded"?

In an old tale about Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne this can be read: Robin thought on Our Lady deere, And soone leapt vp againe, And thus he came with an awkwarde stroke; Good Sir Guy hee ...
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23 votes
8 answers
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Was “lukewarm” a way of saying “warm warm”?

Someone used the expression “un-hot question” to describe a post that was in the HNQ (Hot Network Questions) despite not being “hot”. And my thoughts immediately turned to alternatives such as, ‘tepid’...
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2 votes
1 answer
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If you had a list of common words from Middle and Modern English, how many words would have been replaced?

If you compiled a list of common Middle English words and their corresponding Modern English translations, how many entries would have been replaced by an etymologically distinct word in Modern ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Where did the word "brat" in reference to a spoiled child originate?

I've heard that the etymology is unknown as the original word refers to a garment and the old English word bratt a cloak. None of these seem to point to how it came to be used derogatorily.
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0 votes
2 answers
274 views

Has there been any theory on the vowel /o/ that was inserted into words like "arrow"?

Words like tomorrow, sorrow, arrow, follow, borough contain /o/, as in the diphthong /oʊ/, which was /wə(n)/ in Middle English which was weakened from Old English /x/ or /ɣ/ + some sort of vowel. ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Middle English pronunciation of digraphs

I was reading Chaucer and I am unsure on the pronunciation of "ch" and "wh". It's written in the guide that all "ch" is read as in "church" and it makes sense in words like "chivalrye", but sounds ...
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