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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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When did the meaning of "to like" flip?

In Old English and Middle English the verb "to like" was more like our modern "to please" in that the pleased thing is the object rather than the subject, as in "Bread likes ...
smocc's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
155 views

Is it possible that the word 'froward' in the KJV English is using the middle English definition of the word?

According to https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/froward - the following information was given for the word English word froward: "Once upon a time, in the days of Middle English, froward ...
Douglas's user avatar
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2 answers
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When did 'ut'/'uþ' from Old English and Middle English become 'out'?

When was the transition of the word form 'ut'/'uþ' to 'out'? I'd like to know about the frequency or first attestations.
trespda's user avatar
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1 answer
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Is there a name for this kind of sentence structure where a clause is in subject position and **it** appears anaphorically in the matrix clause?

An early 15th century example of a clause deployed in subject position but with an anaphoric it as object of the verb in the matrix clause: Þat þe sones of pore men gouernen may riche remes, telle it ...
TimR's user avatar
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2 answers
108 views

Middle English “Whan that” vs “Whan”

whan pronoun Definitions (Senses and Subsenses) whom MED online University of Michigan How does one construe “that” in the phrase “Whan that”? This seems to be the normal construction in ME, but ...
sks's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
441 views

What on God's green earth are "pulley shoes"?

I keep running into sources talking about pulley-shoes, pulley-toe shoes, pulley-toes, &c. even though they don't always play well with Google OCR and are basically invisible to vanilla searches. ...
lly's user avatar
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57 views

Are the different senses of "stale" really cognate?

This is a question about etymology. I have read all the freely available dictionary entries online, including etymoline, but they seem unclear at best if not downright contradictory. I do not have ...
desmo's user avatar
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13 votes
2 answers
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Chaucerian idiom: "any stain from Portugal"/"greyn of Portyngale"

I'm listening to The Canterbury Tales, and I noticed a phrase that made no sense to me: And certainly he has no need to dye His cheeks with any stain from Portugal It's a translation, so I looked up ...
BenRW's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
807 views

“Crone” and “Crony”

Looking at the etymology of crone, a derogatory term for an old frail woman, we see it is a Late Middle English word, derived from Middle Dutch croonje, caroonje ‘carcass, old ewe’ with possible ties ...
Mari-Lou A's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
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When is the old english letter Æ/æ modernised to A, E and AE?

The old english letter Æ/æ in various words have been modernised to either A (Æthelstan to Athelstan); E (Ælf to Elf, Æthelræd to Ethelred) and sometimes both A and E in the same word (Ælfræd to ...
asker2011's user avatar
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Would you modernise Ætheling as Etheling, Aetheling or Atheling? Why?

Various modernised spellings exist for Old English words containing the letter Æ and æ for example Ætheling can be modernised as Etheling, Aetheling or Atheling. Is there a reason to prefer one modern ...
asker2011's user avatar
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19 votes
2 answers
3k views

Is the use of "an" to mean "if" an invention of fantasy writers?

I've just read Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede, and the author has her characters speak in a vaguely Shakespearean manner, presumably to add atmosphere. In particular, her characters use ...
John Rennie's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
191 views

The Saxon word "Scop" as in "bard."

Old & Middle English/Germanic Languages–Scholars, please help. I'm interested in any information you might share on all senses of the Saxon word "Scop," meaning "Bard" or "...
BaldJoe's user avatar
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3 votes
3 answers
456 views

How did "ought" lose its original usage as the past tense of "owe"?

Ought is originally the past tense of owe (v.). It appears that this usage is retained in Scottish and in some dialects of English. The current use of ought in standard English is a modal auxiliary (...
ermanen's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
172 views

Were "Fell" and "Fel" both correct spellings?

I'm trying to describe evil magic and creatures to my players and to set the tone, I'm trying to use Middle and Old English words and phrases. After googling a while I couldn't find a definitive ...
Loki's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
150 views

How did -ing become a suffix for both present participles and nouns derived from verbs?

In non-modern and non-Middle-English Germanic languages, present participles and nouns derived from verbs look and sound very different: English: wend - wending - wending Middle English: wenden - ...
Vun-Hugh Vaw's user avatar
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14 votes
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The eerie origin of "eerie"

Eerie is a rather common word but its origin is somewhat strange. In fact, OED doesn't provide the origin of the word eerie, but provides the etymology where it is given as a variant of an obsolete ...
ermanen's user avatar
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-1 votes
3 answers
155 views

What words were used before "exist"?

The word "exist" was first used in English around 1568. The English must have had their own word for this before that. Which word did they use?
Alfreds English's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
577 views

Why does vowel length of Middle English trust not match its probable Old Norse etymon traust?

It's natural to expect retention of vowel length when a word is borrowed from ON to ME, and that's indeed what happened with e. g. ME adj. lọ̄s 'free; loose' from ON lauss. However, ME n. trust is ...
ain92's user avatar
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Was Middle English or something like it spoken during the late Anglo-Saxon period?

As far as I've been able to determine from Wikipedia and Googling (I'm not a linguist), Old English appears to have changed into Middle English very soon after the Norman Conquest (around the end of ...
Gabriel's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
359 views

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 ...
ermanen's user avatar
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27 votes
5 answers
8k views

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 ...
Mark Amery's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
843 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
166 views

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
794 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 ...
user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
387 views

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 ...
user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
531 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
2k views

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 ...
language's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
736 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" ...
user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
78 views

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 ...
B. Finizio's user avatar
25 votes
4 answers
5k views

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 ...
user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
242 views

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 ...
Tom O' Bedlam's user avatar
21 votes
2 answers
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 ...
Tom O' Bedlam's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
50 views

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 ...
Micah Windsor's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
331 views

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 ...
Maria Sokolova's user avatar
17 votes
4 answers
4k views

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'?
user393353's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
134 views

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"...
gktscrk's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
406 views

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 ...
user avatar
14 votes
5 answers
22k 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 ...
David Bourne's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
870 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? ...
Adamant's user avatar
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36 votes
3 answers
6k views

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 ...
Paul Richter's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
77 views

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): ...
tiopjkl's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
263 views

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 ...
tiopjkl's user avatar
  • 69
0 votes
1 answer
46 views

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, ...
Amin's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
147 views

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 ...
rapidkillerx's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
355 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 ...
Anatoliy Sydorov's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
149 views

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 ...
Anatoliy Sydorov's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
70 views

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). ...
Anatoliy Sydorov's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
Anatoliy Sydorov's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
235 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
Anatoliy Sydorov's user avatar